US

FBI Used Confidential Sources Who ‘Already Had’ Trump Campaign Contacts, Bureau Lawyer Told Congress

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
  • An FBI official testified to Congress in August that the bureau relied on confidential sources in addition to Christopher Steele who had pre-established contact with the Trump campaign as part of “Crossfire Hurricane.”
  • Trisha Anderson testified that some of the FBI’s sources “already had campaign contacts.” 
  • An alleged FBI informant named Stefan Halper met with several Trump aides during the campaign, though the bureau has not acknowledged he was a confidential source.

A top FBI official acknowledged in congressional testimony last year that the bureau’s investigation of the Trump campaign relied in part on confidential sources who had established contacts with Trump campaign advisers.

Trisha Anderson, the principal deputy general counsel, told congressional investigators in an Aug. 31, 2018 deposition that the FBI relied on sources who “already had campaign contacts” to gather the information from Trump’s team.

“To my knowledge, the FBI did not place anybody within a campaign but, rather, relied upon its network of sources, some of whom already had campaign contacts, including the source that has been discussed in the media at some length beyond Christopher Steele,” Anderson said, according to The Epoch Times, which published portions of Anderson’s testimony on Tuesday.

Anderson did not identify the sources beyond Steele that the FBI used. But her reference matches up with what’s been reported about Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who is reportedly a longtime CIA and FBI informant.

The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported on March 25, 2018 that Halper initiated contact during the campaign with three Trump campaign officials: Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos. The New York Times and Washington Post later reported that Halper was a longtime government informant. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused Trump Aide’s Suspicions)

Anderson’s disclosure came during a back-and-forth exchange about the terminology used to describe the FBI’s sources. Anderson disputed the notion, floated by some Trump supporters, that the bureau placed a spy on the Trump campaign.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Carter Page, former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, speaks to the media after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee is conducting an investigation into Russia's tampering in the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Carter Page, former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, speaks to the media after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“First, the word ‘spy’ did not seem commensurate with what I understood had been done in this particular case. And the other thing was the verb, the use of the verb ‘place’ a spy or ‘place’ a source within a campaign,” Anderson said.

The FBI has not publicly named any of its confidential sources beyond Steele, a former MI6 agent who has supplied the FBI with information for years. He was hired in June 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that investigated Donald Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Russian government. While working on that project, Steele met in early July 2016 with FBI agent Michael Gaeta. He would also meet with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.

Steele was considered a confidential human source, or CHS, but was not paid by the FBI for his Trump-related work. The FBI formally cut ties with Steele on Nov. 1, 2016 because of his unauthorized contacts with the press. But after Trump’s election win, FBI officials asked Ohr to establish a back channel to Steele.

The FBI has not identified any other sources, including Halper, but a bureau official has recently acknowledged that its counterintelligence investigations into Trump aides relied on multiple CHSs.

“The FBI has protected information that would identify the identities of other confidential sources who provided information or intelligence to the FBI” as well as “information provided by those sources,” David M. Hardy, the head of the FBI’s Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS), said in court papers submitted on Oct. 19, 2018.

Hardy was arguing against the disclosure of information redacted in applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Carter Page.

“This includes nonpublic information about and provided by Christopher Steele, as well as information about and provided by other confidential sources, all of whom were provided express assurances of confidentiality,” wrote Hardy.

Hardy also revealed that the FBI paid CHSs who were cited in the FISA applications.

“The FBI protected specific information about payments to CHSs on two pages of each FISA application,” he disclosed.

Hardy’s statement suggests that the FBI had CHSs beyond Steele, since the ex-MI6 officer was not paid for his Trump-related work.

Halper, who worked in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, had his first known contact with Page at a conference hosted at Cambridge University on July 11-12, 2016.

That was around three weeks before the FBI opened counterintelligence investigations on four Trump aides. Former FBI Director James Comey told Congress in December that four investigations were opened. It has separately been reported that the four initial targets of the probe were Page, Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.

The FBI has not addressed why Halper would have established contact with Page prior to the launch of a formal investigation against him or the Trump campaign. Page has told TheDCNF that his July 2016 interaction with Halper was the first time he met the former professor.

Halper and Page remained in contact through September 2017, the same month that the fourth and final FISA warrant against Page expired.

Foreign policy advisor to US President Donald Trump’s election campaign, George Papadopoulos and his wife Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos arrive at US District Court for his sentencing in Washington, DC on September 7, 2018. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Halper contacted and met with Clovis in late August 2016. Clovis has said that he and Halper had a general discussion about the campaign and their mutual interest in China. Days later, Halper reached out to Papadopoulos with an offer of $3,000 to write a policy paper about energy issues in the Mediterranean Sea, an area of interest for Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos accepted the offer and flew to London on Halper’s dime in mid-September 2016. There, Papadopoulos met with Halper and his purported assistant, a woman named Azra Turk.

Papadopoulos claims that Halper asked him during one dinner meeting whether he was involved in Russia’s hacking of Democrats’ emails. Papadopoulos said he was not involved in hacking since it would be illegal. He claims that Halper grew frustrated with him during the exchange.

Papadopoulos wrote the paper and Halper transferred the $3,000 payment to him in early October 2016.

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