It’s long been known that Stefan Halper served as a confidential human source (CHS) for the FBI. Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse, while not identifying Halper by name, added many details concerning his extensive role in spying on the Trump campaign: Halper secretly recorded several conversations with Trump campaign advisors Carter Page and George Papadopoulos and, more troublingly, the FBI tasked Halper to tape an extensive conversation with Sam Clovis—a co-chair of the Trump presidential campaign.
Publicly available information on government contracts also reveal that Halper received hundreds of thousands of dollars for four projects he completed for the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessments. As part of his oversight responsibilities as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley has raised concerns about the merits of those contracts and further questioned whether Halper “used any taxpayer money in his attempt to recruit Trump campaign officials as sources.”
Grassley has yet to receive answers to his questions. And it remains unknown which Trump campaign officials Halper “attempt[ed] to recruit as sources,” as the IG report—or at least the unredacted portions of that report—make no mention of such efforts.
Something Grassley hasn’t probed, however, but merits further investigation is whether Halper received further funding from the Department of Defense “off-the-books” or through some pass-through conduits. Publicly available information suggests Halper had done so in the past.
Specifically, a syllabus for the intelligence seminar at the University of Cambridge where Halper taught alongside the former head of MI6, Richard Dearlove, listed Halper as leading a discussion of “The Afghan End Game.” And the summary of Halper’s scheduled October 7, 2011, seminar presentation noted that he had “recently completed a major survey of Allied end game options in Afghanistan for the then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.”
But a search for contracts awarded to Halper revealed only the four contracts Grassley inquired about, and the oldest contract awarded Halper had a start date of May 2012. A search of all available fiscal years, which dated back to 2008, revealed no hits for Halper in 2011 or earlier—the time period a contract would have been issued for his research project on Afghanistan. These facts suggest not all of Halper’s work for our government was captured in the contracting databases.
Of course, one wouldn’t expect the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to disclose its agents and sources publicly. But that didn’t stop “people familiar with the matter” from leaking to the Washington Post that “the professor”—easily identified as Halper from the details included in the Post’s article—had served as a source for both the FBI and the CIA.
Halper’s past relationship with the CIA highlights yet another possible task master for the 76-year-old during the 2016 election and raises the question of whether Halper was working for the CIA or another intelligence agency before the FBI brought him on as a CHS in early August 2016. The IG report’s conclusion that the FBI had not used any confidential human sources prior to the launch of Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, indicates Halper had another boss before then, because Halper first engaged with Page at a small dinner gathering at Magdalene College in Cambridge on July 10, 2016.
But additional facts raise still another possibility: that Halper was working with the Clinton campaign at this time.
On July 6, 2016, just days before Halper dined with Page and a dozen other select guests at Magdalene College, Halper spoke at a plenary lecture series at Cambridge on “the phenomenon which is ‘Trump’s maverick candidacy.’” A write-up of the talk noted that Halper “explain[ed] the deficits in Clinton’s campaign which have caused the campaign to become almost too close to call,” and then “concluded his talk by stating that if the media focuses on Clinton, she will lose, whereas if they continue to focus on Trump, he will lose.”
“This will be true despite Trump’s adept handling of the media that has resulted in him receiving two billion dollars’ worth of free media coverage,” Halper said, according to the blog post.
Four days after sharing his sage insights with the attendees of the lecture series, Halper welcomed Clinton surrogate and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and former Republican Party strategist and outspoken Never Trumper Vin Weber, to the same Cambridge conference Page attended. According to the Washington Post, Page’s presence at that conference came at the behest of Halper, whose grad student called and emailed Page an invitation to the seminar. The Post also reported that Cambridge paid for Page’s air travel and accommodations—a strange arrangement given that Page was not a featured speaker at the conference.
While at Cambridge, Page dined with Halper and a small group of other dignitaries. On August 5, 2016, the Washington Post also reported that while at the Cambridge conference, Page attended “a closed-door session co-chaired by former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright and Republican consultant Vin Weber.” Page declined to comment on the article, though, which portrayed Page as a Russian patsy and further laid the groundwork for the Russia-collusion conspiracy theory.
But if Page did not speak with reporters, who told the Post that Page participated in a “closed-door session” with Albright and Weber? Could it have been Halper?
This same time frame—late July to early August—was when Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, in concert with and on the payroll of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign, also began promoting the Russia-conspiracy hoax in earnest. While Steele worked the FBI, details from the dodgy dossier were also peddled to the press, as demonstrated by this July 26, 2016 text from Damian Paletta—then with the Wall Street Journal—show.
The text’s mention of Page’s supposed meeting in Moscow with Igor Sechin, and the Russian’s possession of “solid kompromat on Clinton as well as Trump,” mirrored portions of Steele’s July 19, 2016 memorandum. This suggests either Steele or Fusion GPS had begun plying the press with the dossier almost as soon as Steele penned that work of fiction.
Steele wasn’t the only one selling the Russia collusion story to the press, though, according to Svetlana Lokhova. Lokhova, a U.K. citizen of Russian descent and a former Cambridge Ph.D. student, sued Halper and others for defamation, alleging the defendants pushed the falsehood that she was a Russian spy and the paramour of Michael Flynn. (Her legal claims were recently dismissed, but Lokhova has promised an appeal.)
Lokhova told The Federalist that “Halper had been pushing the story that I was a Russian spy and Flynn’s mistress since December of 2016.” “The New York Times’ Mathew Rosenberg told me a source had been circulating these stories since December 2016,” Lokhova added. Lee Smith, in his book “The Plot Against the President,” confirmed the story that Flynn had a relationship with the Russian-born Lokhova had been circulated to the press starting in December 2016.
If Halper had been priming the press, as Lokhova claims, why and on whose behalf?
The FBI fired Steele for talking to the press, making clear that’s a no-no for a CHS. Conversely, the DNC and Clinton campaign paid for Fusion GPS to seed the media with tales of Trump’s supposed escapades. One must wonder, then, if Halper was helping in those efforts.
These questions deserve answers, and while it may not be the government’s business to inquire whether a political party is paying for propaganda, it sure the heck is its business to ensure the CIA and FBI aren’t.