GOP Senate Chairman Seeks Subpoena For ‘Spygate’ Professor

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, is seeking authority to subpoena Stefan Halper, the former Cambridge professor who worked as an FBI confidential source during the Trump-Russia probe.

The Senate panel will hold a vote Wednesday regarding subpoenas for 41 witnesses Johnson wants to interview as part of a broad review of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign and other intelligence-gathering activities regarding Trump associates.

The committee voted along party lines in June to authorize subpoenas to compel testimony from 35 witnesses. Politico published an updated list on Monday of witnesses Johnson’s wants to subpoena.

The list includes Halper and his FBI handling agent, Steven Somma. Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the top Democrat on the committee, wrote in a letter to Johnson on Monday that he opposes granting the subpoenas.

Republicans have questioned the FBI’s relationship with Halper, who has worked for four Republican administrations.

The FBI tapped Halper to meet with and secretly record three Trump campaign advisers: Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Sam Clovis. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)

Halper first met Page on July 10, 2016, at a political event at the University of Cambridge. The FBI did not officially open Crossfire Hurricane until July 31, 2016.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson questions Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "Authorities and Resources Needed to Protect and Secure the United States," on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Erin Schaff

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson on Capitol Hill. REUTERS/Erin Schaff

FBI officials denied to investigators with the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (IG) that Halper was working on the bureau’s behalf when he had his first contact with Page. The FBI directed Halper’s second meeting with Page, which occurred on Aug. 20, 2016.

Halper reached out to Papadopoulos in early September 2016 under the guise of meeting to discuss energy issues related to the Middle East.

Halper lured Papadopoulos to London to discuss writing an academic paper for $3,000 on energy issues. During their meetings in London, Halper plied Papadopoulos about the Trump campaign’s possible contacts with Russia, according to a declassified transcript of their conversations.

While Halper served as an FBI source, he received more than $1 million in contracts from the Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment to produce academic studies on geopolitical issues involving Russia, China and India.

Both Page and Papadopoulos denied to Halper that the campaign was coordinating with Russia before the election. But according to an IG report, Somma, the FBI handling agent for Halper, failed to disclose that information in applications to conduct surveillance on Carter Page.

The report said that Somma was “primarily responsible” for several other failures during the Trump-Russia investigation. Somma took part in the initial interview with Steele dossier source Igor Danchenko.

But the IG report said that the FBI agents in the interview failed to disclose in surveillance warrant applications against Page that Danchenko made statements that called the credibility of the dossier into question.

The FBI relied heavily on information from the dossier author, Christopher Steele.

The IG report does not fault Halper with any wrongdoing. It said that Halper, who is referred to as “Source 2,” became an FBI source in 2008.

The bureau briefly cut ties with him in 2011 because he showed “questionable allegiance” to an intelligence target.

Johnson seeks interviews and documents from several high-profile figures, including James Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok.

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