DOJ inspector general looking into FBI informant in Trump-Russia investigation
The Justice Department’s watchdog is reportedly looking into an FBI informant who was a source for the bureau’s Russia investigation during the 2016 election cycle.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigators are asking questions about Stefan Halper, an American professor at Cambridge University, who met with members of President Trump’s campaign, according to the New York Times.
Halper was asked by the FBI to collect information on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who was surveilled by the government, and George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI and who agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
But Halper went further and also met with Sam Clovis, a former national co-chairman of the Trump campaign, a move which has prompted concerns about the academic’s activities as it’s not clear whether the FBI asked him to make contact with Clovis.
Halper’s identity as an FBI informant was leaked to the media in May 2018, after which Trump and his allies alleged his campaign was the target of a politically motivated scheme. Trump tweeted the FBI embedding a spy in the 2016 campaign would be the “all time biggest political scandal” if true.
Attorney General William Barr testified before a congressional panel on Tuesday, his first time doing so since Mueller completed his investigation. Barr said he is “reviewing the conduct” of the FBI’s initial investigation into the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016.
Barr also testified Horowitz’s investigation into possible abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the Justice Department and FBI should be “complete probably in May or June, I am told.”
Last month, Barr provided a four-page summary of Mueller’s roughly 400-page report to Congress stating that Mueller did not establish the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016. Barr also said Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump committed obstruction of justice. Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed there was insufficient evidence to show Trump obstructed justice.
The FBI launched its original Russia investigation in July 2016, two weeks after Page says he met with Halper, and was later wrapped into Mueller’s inquiry.
The investigation was prompted by Australian diplomat Alexander Downer informing the FBI that Papadopoulos told him Russia had stolen emails related to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2016 election.