The inspector general’s report on FISA abuse revealed significant, systemic malfeasance by the FBI. But as bad as the IG’s findings were, the details included in last month’s 478-page report suggest worse is coming when U.S. Attorney John Durham concludes his investigation into the Russia collusion hoax.
Three aspects of the IG’s report foreshadow the possibility that more revelations of misconduct are yet to come, implicating other parts of the U.S. intelligence community and possibly those of our supposed allies.
First, we have the IG’s findings that the FBI did not use any confidential human sources (CHSs) or undercover employees (UCEs) prior to the July 31, 2016, launch of Crossfire Hurricane, and the report’s conclusion that the New York Field Office had not used any CHSs to target Trump campaign associate Carter Page during its previously launched investigation into Page. According to the IG report, “all of the members of the Crossfire Hurricane team told the OIG that no investigative steps of any type were taken prior to receipt of the predicating information for the Crossfire Hurricane investigation on July 28, 2016, and we found no evidence to the contrary.”
Second, the IG report reveals that the FBI did not have access to the databases of other members of the U.S. intelligence community. We know this because one of the early investigative steps the Crossfire Hurricane team took, according to the IG report, was to “send names of, among others, individuals associated with the Trump campaign to other U.S. government intelligence agencies for any further information.”
We also know the FBI did not have access to the source files or databases for other intelligence agencies because the FBI only learned that another government agency had approved Page for “Operational Contact” based on a memorandum provided to the FBI. Later, when the FBI sought to clarify whether Page had been a source for that agency, an FBI attorney wrote the liaison for that agency, asking whether Page had been a source. He had, but as the IG report revealed, the FBI attorney then altered the email to indicate that Page had not been.
The IG report did not identify the other agency. But Page told The Federalist that while he had “helped several of the agencies,” in this instance, he was “pretty sure they meant my support of the CIA.” No matter which intelligence agency it was, the IG report shows that the FBI didn’t have direct access to the records or source files for other members of the intelligence community.
The third significant point to note concerns the material the IG had access to and reviewed. According to the report, the IG was “given broad access to relevant materials by the Department [of Justice] and the FBI. In addition, we reviewed relevant information that other U.S. government agencies provided the FBI in the course of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. However, because the activities of other agencies are outside our jurisdiction, we did not seek to obtain records from them that the FBI never received or reviewed, except for a limited amount of State Department records relating to Steele; we also did not seek to assess any actions other agencies may have taken.”
FBI Might Not Have Exclusively Spied on Trump
These three points, when considered together, establish that if any sources were run against the Trump campaign before July 31, 2016, they were not controlled by the FBI, but by other members of the intelligence community, and that that information was withheld from the FBI.
When considering this possibility, there are two names that come to mind: Joseph Mifsud and Stefan Halper.
According to the IG report, the FBI launched the investigation into the Trump campaign after an unnamed “Friendly Foreign Government,” widely known to be Australia, reported that in May 2016, “then Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos ‘suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama).’” The IG report added that “Papadopoulos stated that the source of the information he shared with the FFG official was a professor from London, Joseph Mifsud.”
The FBI had nothing to do with Mifsud, the IG concluded, noting it had searched the FBI CHS database, called Delta, and “the FBI’s Delta files contain no evidence that Mifsud has ever acted as an FBI CHS.” It bears mention, though, that we know from the IG’s previous audit of the FBI’s CHS validation process, released in November 2019, that “the FBI’s official electronic record-keeping system for CHS management” “does not identify and track extraterritorial sub-sources.” Accordingly, as the IG concluded, the Delta system “will lack complete and accurate information on its CHS coverage stemming from extraterritorial sub-sources.”
As part of the investigation, the IG also interviewed individuals and reviewed documents to determine if there was any evidence that Mifsud had been “working with the FBI and this was some sort of operation” to entrap Papadopoulos. The IG concluded that none of the witnesses or documents supported that allegation, adding in two footnotes that the FBI had requested some information, but what, and from whom, was redacted.
Had the FBI received any documents or information from other U.S. intelligence agencies concerning Mifsud, the IG report would have likely provided some hint of that fact. So, it appears the FBI did not learn anything more about Mifsud than that summarized in the special counsel report, which was bareboned and demonstrated a complete lack of curiosity about the man who triggered the investigation into the Trump campaign.
Durham ‘Is Not Just Looking at the FBI’
In brief, the special counsel noted that the FBI had interviewed Mifsud in February 2017, at which time he acknowledged he had met Papadopoulos, “but denied having told him about any suggestion or offer from Russia.” “Mifsud also told the FBI that ‘he had no advance knowledge Russia was in possession of emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and, therefore, did not make any offers or proffer any information to Papadopoulos.’” Mueller would conclude, though, that Mifsud had also lied about some of his contacts with Papadopoulos.
But that the FBI did not know more about Mifsud does not mean the wider U.S. intelligence community didn’t, either directly or through intel shared from our Western partners. As the IG report demonstrates, the FBI would not have access to other intelligence information or databases, and in the investigation into the FISA abuse, the IG did not “seek to obtain records” concerning the “activities of other agencies are outside our jurisdiction . . .”
That’s where Durham comes in. “He is not just looking at the F.B.I.,” Attorney General William Barr said during an interview on Fox News, “He is looking at other agencies.” It is a “much broader investigation,” with Durham “looking at all the conduct—both before and after the election,” the attorney general noted.
Part of that broader investigation concerns Mifsud, with Durham and Barr reportedly having traveled to Italy to meet with Italian intelligence agents about the mysterious Maltese professor. Attorney Sidney Powell, who represents Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, added to the intrigue by revealing she has learned that Durham obtained two Blackberry devices Mifsud used. However, neither Barr nor Durham have confirmed the claim.
Durham Knows a Lot More than Horowitz Does
What Durham has learned to date is unknown. But following the release of the IG report, a statement by the U.S. attorney indicates it is much more than what IG Michael Horowitz uncovered. After noting his “utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff,” Durhan noted that his “investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department.”
Rather, Durham stressed that their “investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.” and “[b]ased on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”
Besides Mifsud, the IG report raises more questions about FBI CHS Halper. We know that Halper had spoken with Page in mid-July 2016—before the launch of Crossfire Hurricane. But the IG report was adamant that the FBI agents involved “each told the OIG that the FBI did not have anything to do with any operational activities against Carter Page prior to the start of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation on July 31, 2016.”
So, was another agency running Halper at that time? Or was the man identified as “Source 2,” who had once been closed as a CHS for “aggressiveness toward handling agents as a result of what [he] perceived as not enough compensation,” gratuitously chatting up Page?
We also know Halper was already on the payroll of the Department of Defense at that time. Sen. Chuck Grassley raised questions about those payments and the overlap with his work for the FBI, in a recent interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo.
In “overseeing waste of defense money,” Grassley noted, Halper’s name shows up as a contractor at the “same time that he is involved in Russiagate.” Grassley added that he wanted the DOD IG to question Halper, but that there was “some question about his health.” So, now, all we have are questions, Grassley said, such as “where does his payment of $1 million overlap with the timeline and getting ahold of Carter Page and Sam Clovis?”
Halper’s outreach to Page in mid-July, however, was not his only pre-Crossfire Hurricane link to Trump-campaign-connected people. As the IG report explained, Halper told the FBI he “had known Trump’s then campaign manager, Manafort, for a number of years and that he had been previously acquainted with Michael Flynn.”
Another Reason to Suspect Halper Was Freelancing
It is Halper’s prior acquaintance with Flynn, when coupled with allegations contained in a lawsuit the Russian-born Svetlana Lokhova filed against Halper and the IG’s finding that the FBI had not used Halper prior to July 31, 2016, that further suggest that Halper was serving as a source for more than just the FBI during the Russia collusion investigation.
Lokhova’s lawsuit, which the Russian historian filed last year, detailed her connection to Halper, and her brief meeting of Flynn in 2014 at Cambridge, where Halper maintained an academic position. According to her complaint, “in January 2014, while working to complete her Ph.D. at Cambridge University, her mentor Professor Christopher M. Andrew (‘Andrew’), and Sir Richard Dearlove (‘Dearlove’), invited Lokhova to attend a group dinner with Flynn,” who then served as President Barack Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. After the dinner, Lokhova spoke briefly with Flynn.
Then came an unexpected dinner invitation: Two years later, Andrew invited Lokhova and her partner (David North), to dine at his house with Halper and his wife. While Andrew “‘stated the purpose of the dinner was to discuss the book that Lokhova and he were authoring,’ Lokhova notes that she was perplexed by the “unexpected invitation” because Halper had never previously expressed an interest in her research. In fact, as Lokhova tells it in her complaint, Halper fell asleep during her Cambridge seminar presentations and avoided any contact with her.”
Lokhova declined the January 2016 dinner invitation, alleging in her complaint that it was merely a pretext “to probe her for information relating to Flynn in the hopes that his FBI handlers might find a basis upon which to file an application to conduct and spy on General Flynn.”
But according to the IG, the FBI had not yet tasked Halper with investigating any of the targets of Crossfire Hurricane. So, was Halper’s interest in Lokhova purely professional? Or was he working for another agency?
Here’s Another Clue
What happened next provides a clue: On February 19, 2017, Andrew, Lokhova’s former mentor at Cambridge, “penned an article for the London Sunday Times, ‘Impulsive General Misha Shoots Himself in the Foot.’ That article portrayed the unnamed Lokhova’s brief meeting with Flynn during a dinner event two years prior at Cambridge as the beginning of a compromising relationship between Flynn and a Russian spy.”
Andrew’s article prompted several other outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post to run stories about Flynn and a supposed Russian spy. Then in a March 31, 2017, story The Guardian claimed “Multiple sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the CIA and FBI were discussing” Flynn’s meeting with Lokhova at Cambridge, and that U.S. and U.K. officials were troubled by Flynn’s encounter with Russian-linked Lokhova.
The Guardian’s claim is consistent with former CIA Director John Brennan’s congressional testimony. “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign,” Brennan told Rep. Trey Gowdy. “As we came upon that, we would share it with the bureau,” the former CIA head added.
Brennan refused to identify the specific individuals connected with the Trump campaign for whom he had “encountered information and intelligence” that he shared with the FBI. But the more intriguing question is: Who provided him that information and intelligence?
That brings us back to Durham, who The New York Times reported “has requested Mr. Brennan’s emails, call logs and other documents from the C.I.A., according to a person briefed on his inquiry.”
So, we wait for Durham. But, as Grassley stressed during his interview last week with Bartiromo, Durham’s investigation “has the full support of Attorney General, and the Attorney General has the full support of the President of declassifying.”
When the declassification comes, it will include much more than the FBI records the IG reviewed, which alone established overwhelming evidence of misconduct. How much more malfeasance took place in broader the intelligence community remains to be seen.