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EXCLUSIVE: British University Deserves More Scrutiny Over Stefan Halper Ties, Says Researcher Who Knows FBI Informant

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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  • A Russian-British historian who crossed paths with Stefan Halper at the University of Cambridge said the prestigious British college deserves more scrutiny over what it knew about Halper’s relationship with the FBI. 
  • “Cambridge University was either negligent or complicit with regards to Halper,” said Svetlana Lokhova. 
  • Halper’s FBI handler, Stephen Somma, visited Cambridge in November 2011. 
  • Halper met Page at a Cambridge event July 10, 2016, several weeks before the FBI officially began investigating the Trump campaign. 

A Russian-British historian who studied at the University of Cambridge said the college deserves more scrutiny over what it knew about the FBI’s relationship with Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who was a confidential human source for the bureau during its investigation of Trump campaign associates, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“The University of Cambridge was a pivotal place for Spygate,” said Svetlana Lokhova, an academic who studied Soviet-era espionage under one of Halper’s closest associates, Christopher Andrew.

Cambridge has been unwilling to talk about Halper ever since the Daily Caller News Foundation reported in March 2018 that he had a series of contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign with three Trump campaign aides, Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos.

After confirming that Halper was an FBI informant, that Cambridge staff had been instructed not to discuss Halper, The Washington Post reported in June 2018. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)

Lokhova, who is writing a forthcoming book about Halper, said she filed several unanswered complaints with her former school seeking an investigation of Halper.

She said she believes Halper to be behind rumors that ended up in the press in 2017 that she had improper contacts with Michael Flynn in February 2014, at an event hosted by the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, which Halper co-convenes with Christopher Andrew and Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6.

Halper hosted or met with several key figures at Cambridge or in the U.K. who would become involved in some way in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.

He met Trump campaign adviser Carter Page at a Cambridge event July 10, 2016. He used his ties to Cambridge to establish contact with George Papadopoulos in September 2016.

Through the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, Halper hosted Vyacheslav Trubnikov, the former chief of Russia’s SVR intelligence service, and his own FBI handler, Stephen Somma.

Somma’s ties to Halper were confirmed in a New York Times report Sunday.

According to the newspaper, Somma is the FBI counterintelligence investigator referred to as “Case Agent 1” in the Justice Department inspector general’s report of FBI surveillance during Crossfire Hurricane, the investigation of the Trump campaign.

Sir Richard Dearlove (L), Christopher Andrew (center), then-DIA Director Michael Flynn (R), at Cambridge University, Feb. 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy Svetlana Lokhova)

The inspector general’s report said “Case Agent 1” — now known to be Somma — was Halper’s handler at the FBI since 2011. Somma, who works out of the FBI’s New York field office, spoke at a seminar in November 2011 on the topic of “The Illegals,” a Russian spy ring uncovered in the U.S. in 2010.

The Cambridge Intelligence Seminar in February 2014 hosted Flynn, who then served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. That visit would later become the source of discredited news stories alleging some sort of improper contact between Flynn and Lokhova, who attended a dinner for Flynn during his Cambridge visit.

Trubnikov also visited Cambridge in 2012 and 2015. Halper used Trubnikov as a contributor to a study that he conducted in 2015 on behalf of the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon’s internal geostrategic think tank.

Christopher Steele, the former spy whose dossier the FBI used to investigate the Trump campaign, told a State Department official that Trubnikov was a source of some kind for his dossier.

Lokhova said she is convinced Halper used Cambridge as a cover to carry out intelligence-gathering activities against targets of American and British intelligence services. The only question in her mind is whether Cambridge knew what Halper was up to.

“Cambridge University was either negligent or complicit with regards to Halper,” she told the DCNF.

She added: “They should have never appointed someone with his background to teach students. They either failed basic background check, or they knew and therefore are complicit.”

Lokhova has long had suspicions about Halper, though she did not learn that he was an FBI informant until it was widely reported in May 2018. (RELATED: FBI Agent Faulted In FISA Report Has Finally Been Identified)

She accused Halper in a lawsuit of spreading false stories suggesting that she had Flynn had improper contact during his Cambridge visit in 2014.

Three years after the event, after Flynn was fired as national security adviser, news stories surfaced suggesting Lokhova had suspicious encounters with Flynn. Lokhova and Flynn have vehemently denied the innuendo, and other attendees at the event have corroborated their stories.

Halper has responded to Lokhova’s lawsuit in court filings, saying that she has not provided proof that he was a source for news stories about Flynn.

Lokhova has also expressed suspicion at an invitation she received to a dinner at Halper’s home in February 2016, while she was still conducting research at Cambridge.

Christopher Andrew, the Halper colleague who mentored Lokhova, invited her through email to the dinner in January 2016.

Lokhova was skeptical of the invitation at the time because she and Halper hardly knew each other at Cambridge. The few times they did interact, Lokhova says that Halper was dismissive and rude toward her. She has also said some of her colleagues at Cambridge told her Halper was spreading rumors that she was a Russian asset.

While Halper’s links to Page, Flynn, Trubnikov and Lokhova have been detailed in various media reports, his contacts with Somma, the FBI investigator, remain largely unexplored.

Somma is singled out as one of the main villains of the Justice Department inspector general’s report.

The inspector general’s report criticized the FBI for 17 “significant” errors and omissions in its applications for surveillance warrants on Carter Page.

The report said Somma was “primarily responsible” for errors in six different areas of Crossfire Hurricane.

The breadth of Somma’s errors appears to be due in large part to his involvement in several key areas of Crossfire Hurricane.

Not only was Somma Halper’s handler, but he was also who opened the case file on Page, a former Naval officer who worked for Merrill Lynch in Moscow in the early 2000s. The inspector general’s report stated that Somma began pushing for a FISA order on Page “almost immediately” after the investigation was opened July 31, 2016.

On Aug. 11, 2016, Somma and other FBI investigators met with Halper, who is called “Source 2” in the IG report. They met again the following day to develop a plan to covertly monitor Page and Papadopoulos.

Somma told the inspector general he was unaware of Halper’s interaction with Page at Cambridge in July 2016. He said he sought out Halper because the former GOP operative had worked on the George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan presidential campaigns.

On Sept. 2, 2016, Halper reached out to Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. Halper invited Papadopoulos to London later that month, under the guise of discussing an academic paper on energy issues in the Middle East.

According to the inspector general’s report, Somma failed to disclose exculpatory information that Page and Papadopoulos told Halper during conversations that the FBI informant secretly recorded with them.

Page told Halper in an Aug. 20, 2016, conversation that he had never met or communicated with Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman. That contradicted the Steele dossier, which stated that Page was working with Manafort as part of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Russian government.

Papadopoulos told Halper in a conversation Sept. 15, 2016, that he had no knowledge of the Trump campaign working with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.

The inspector general’s report also stated that Somma mishandled information related to the Steele dossier, which the FBI cited extensively in its court filings to spy on Page.

Somma was aware that substantial portions of the dossier were either inaccurate, or contradicted by Steele’s main source, according to the inspector general. He took part in a January 17, 2017, interview with the source, who has yet to be identified. The inspector general’s report stated that the Steele source said Steele embellished or misrepresented key parts of the dossier.

Somma failed to disclose that derogatory information in the last two surveillance applications on Page.

The FBI declined comment on Somma.

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