New text messages released Thursday show FBI officials spied on a Fox News executive over the course of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation that targeted President Donald Trump as a secret Russian agent who illegally stole the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016. The FBI surveilled and recorded a phone call between former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and an unnamed vice president at Fox News, according to a text message sent to fired former FBI official Peter Strzok just weeks before Trump was inaugurated as president in 2017.
Agents were targeting former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, who later pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents during the Russian collusion investigation. The FBI used the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, as a legal pretext to investigate and spy on Papadopoulos, as well as former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and former Trump affiliate Carter Page.
“I know you’re not point on this anymore, but [George Papadopoulos] got a call from the VP at Fox News yesterday, who advised that the government was conducting ‘checks’ on him a few months back,” an unidentified individual whose name is redacted in the report texted to Strzok on January 12, 2017. “I haven’t listed to the exact audio, but I’m guess[ing] that’s the FARA checks that we did with DOJ on our 4 main guys; especially given the article that you pushed yesterday.”
Neither the individual who sent the message to Strzok nor the Fox News executive was named in any of the text messages released on Thursday by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. Strzok was fired from the FBI in 2018 after text messages surfaced showing that he used the Russia collusion investigations as an “insurance policy” to get rid of Trump in the event he became president. The FBI named its investigation of Papadopoulos “Crossfire Typhoon.”
Because the Obama DOJ never received a warrant to spy on Papadopoulos, it is likely that the FBI used a so-called National Security Letter to spy on Papadopoulos and Fox News. By using a National Security Letter, a demand sent to telecommunications firms to provide communications information about a specific federal target, Obama’s DOJ and FBI were able to avoid legal requirements to receive a court-approved warrant to secretly spy on an American citizen.
Papadopoulos did not respond to The Federalist’s request for details about the phone call.
The Obama administration previously targeted former Fox News Washington Correspondent James Rosen in 2010, falsely claiming the Fox reporter was a potential terrorist co-conspirator in order to track Rosen’s movements, telephone records, and personal e-mails. According to Fox News, the Obama White House even seized records containing the phone numbers of Rosen’s parents over the course of the federal inquisition into Rosen. The Obama DOJ falsely accused Rosen of violating the Espionage Act, suggesting that he was a traitor to the United States in order to get access to his phone calls and e-mails.
Although members of the corporate media repeatedly claimed that Trump’s criticism of journalists on Twitter constituted a violent attack on the First Amendment and the free press, no corporate media outlets have criticized the Obama administration for secretly recording phone calls with a cable news network executive without even bothering to seek a warrant.