Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all — The FBI and the Justice Department broke their own rules

May 21, 2018

The “deep state” is in a deep state of desperation. With little time left before the Justice Department inspector general’s report becomes public, and with special counsel Robert Mueller having failed to bring down Donald Trump after a year of trying, they know a reckoning is coming.

This is about cleaning out and reforming the deep state…

 Mueller grilled pharma giant that paid $400K to Trump lawyer

After year of investigation, Trump can rightly claim some vindication (No Wonder Hillary Is Bitter — The CIA and FBI Let Her Down)

May 21, 2018


Former Secretary of State and former Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds up a Russian fur hat, an ushanka, with a Soviet era hammer and sickle emblem, to the Yale College class of 2018 during her Class Day address at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., Sunday, May 20, 2018. As a tradition, Yale students and faculty wear humorous and playful hats during a Senior Class Day ceremony. (Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

It was called “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI counterintelligence operation that targeted Trump figures as part of the investigation into possible campaign ties to Russia. It was a poignant choice of a Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” that describes a man “born in a crossfire hurricane” who “howled at the morning driving rain.”

By Jonathan Turley
The Hill

It could be an apt description of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. After a year of media denials of his claims of surveillance targeting his campaign, Trump can legitimately claim some vindication. Indeed, with his rising poll numbers, the president must feel, in the words of the song, like “it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas.”The New York Times this week disclosed that the FBI made a conscious effort to use secret counterintelligence powers to investigate Trump officials and may have had a confidential informant who was used in connection with key Trump figures long before the November 2016 election. (Officials stated anonymously that this was a longstanding source who worked with both the FBI and CIA for years.)

In early 2017, President Trump was widely ridiculed for alleging that the Obama administration placed his campaign under surveillance. The response from experts on CNN and other sites was open mockery. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came forward to assure the media that he could categorically deny the allegation and stated, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” The range of media analysis seemed to run from whether Trump was a clinical paranoid or a delusional demagogue.
We now know there was, indeed, surveillance ordered repeatedly on Trump campaign figures before and after the election. Rather than acknowledge the troubling implications of an administration investigating the opposing party’s leading candidate for president, the media shifted to saying that there was ample reason to order the surveillance.That remains to be seen but much of the coverage brushes over the fact that no charges were brought against the principal target, Carter Page, or that the secret warrants for surveillance were based in part on a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a fact known but not fully disclosed by the FBI to the secret FISA court. The documented Russian interference, thus far, has been largely a Russian operation out of St. Petersburg that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has said was carried out without the knowledge of Trump campaign officials.Now the plot has thickened even further with the added disclosure of not just national security letters to gather documents related to Trump figures but also at least one confidential informant who met with campaign figures like Page and George Papadopoulos to gather information. In response to the New York Times report, Trump declared that the FBI planted “at least one” spy in his campaign to frame him. Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani ratcheted up the rhetoric and said, if the story is true, that former FBI Director James Comey should be prosecuted.The record does not currently support such a criminal conspiracy. However, if Trump and his counsel can be accused of overplaying the known facts, the media can be equally accused of ignoring the implications of the known facts. It should be a serious concern that the Obama administration used secret counterintelligence powers to target officials in the campaign of the opposing party. That is a practice we have widely criticized in other countries from Turkey to Russia to Iran.

Worse yet, the New York Times wrote that the decision was made to use the secret FISA court and counterintelligence personnel to conceal the operation for political purposes. According to the report, FBI officials consciously decided not to seek conventional criminal warrants or pursue a criminal investigation because it might be discovered and raised by Trump during the campaign. Thus, as Trump campaigned against the “deep state,” FBI officials hid their investigation deeper inside the state. FISA was not designed as a convenient alternative for the FBI and the Justice Department to avoid political costs or scrutiny.

The added problem with using a counterintelligence operation is that it is easier to launch and conceal than a criminal investigation. While there is a “probable cause” requirement under FISA, it is not the same as the one contained in the Fourth Amendment. Virtually every FISA application ever filed by the Justice Department has been granted, with a couple of exceptions. The FISA investigation was based on loose claims of foreign influence and a little cognizable evidence of actual crimes.

For his part, Page continues to maintain that he accepted standard contracts to work with the Russians, as have hundreds of people in Washington. Clearly, the FBI should investigate any serious criminal conduct linked to Trump figures or the campaign. However, the publicly released FISA material describes interactions with Russians that could have applied easily to myriad other “Beltway bandits” who regularly cash in on foreign contracts, including leading figures of both parties. The still unresolved question is why these particular allegations of foreign contacts merited the extraordinary decision to target an opposing party’s campaign or campaign figures before a major election.

I have been highly critical of Trump’s attacks on the media. However, that does not mean his objections are wholly unfounded, and this seems one such example. There may have been legitimate reasons to investigate Russian influence before the election. Yet, very serious concerns are raised by the targeting of an opposing party in the midst of a heated election. These concerns will be magnified by the use of a confidential source to elicit information from Trump campaign associates, though officials deny that the FBI actually had an informant inside the campaign.

Just as it is too early to support allegations of a conspiracy to frame Trump, it is too early to dismiss allegations of bias against Trump. As shown by many of the emails and later criminal referrals and disciplinary actions at the FBI, an open hostility to Trump existed among some bureau figures. Moreover, the extensive unmasking of Trump figures and false statements from FBI officials cannot be dismissed as irrelevant.

As a nation committed to the rule of law, we need a full and transparent investigation of these allegations. All of the allegations. That includes both the investigation of special counsel Mueller and the investigation of these latest allegations involving the FBI. For many Trump supporters, this new information deepens suspicions of the role of the “deep state.” If we ever hope to come out of these poisonous times as a unified nation, the public must be allowed to see the full record on both sides.

Until then, many Americans across the country will continue to believe that, like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Trump was greeted after his election by being “crowned with a spike” right through his head.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.



The FBI Informant Who Wasn’t Spying

May 21, 2018

A secret source insinuated himself with Trump campaign officials. Ho hum.

The FBI Informant Who Wasn’t Spying

Well, what do you know. The Federal Bureau of Investigation really did task an “informant” to insinuate himself with Trump campaign advisers in 2016. Our Kimberley Strassel reported this two weeks ago without disclosing a name.

We now have all but official confirmation thanks to “current and former government officials” who contributed to apologias last week in the New York Times and Washington Post. And please don’t call the informant a “spy.” A headline on one of the Times’ stories says the “F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims.”

We’ll let readers parse that casuistic distinction, which is part of a campaign by the FBI and Justice Department to justify their refusal to turn over to the House Intelligence Committee documents related to the informant. Justice and the FBI claim this Capitol Hill oversight would blow the cover of this non-spy and even endanger his life. Yet these same stories have disclosed so many specific details about the informant whom we dare not call a spy that you can discover the name of the likeliest suspect in a single Google search.

We now know, for example, that the informant is “an American academic who teaches in Britain” who “served in previous Republican administrations.” He has worked as a “longtime U.S. intelligence source” for the FBI and the CIA.

The stories provide the names of the three Trump campaign officials who the informant sought to court— Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos —as well as specific dates and details of the encounters. He met with Mr. Page at a symposium at a “British university” in “mid-July,” and stayed in touch with him for more than year. He met with Mr. Clovis at a “hotel café in Crystal City,” Virginia, on “either Aug. 31 or Sept. 1.”

The informant didn’t previously know the three men but offered to help with the campaign. He also threw money at Mr. Papadopoulos, and the stories even report the exact language of the message the informant sent to Mr. Papadopoulos offering him a $3,000 honorarium to write a research paper and a paid trip to London. Media accounts differ about whether the informant asked the three men what they knew about Russia. But this sure sounds like a classic attempt to make friends for intelligence-gathering purposes.

This ought to disturb anyone who wants law enforcement and U.S. intelligence services to stay out of partisan politics. We can’t recall a similar case, even in the J. Edgar Hoover days, when the FBI decided it needed to snoop on a presidential campaign. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Chairman, is seeking documents to learn exactly what happened, what triggered this FBI action, and how it was justified. This is precisely the kind of oversight that Congress should provide to assure Americans that their government isn’t spying illegally.

Yet now the same people who lionized Edward Snowden for stealing secrets about metadata—which collected phone numbers, not names—claim the FBI informant is no big deal. James Clapper, Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, claims it was even a “good thing” that the FBI was monitoring the campaign for Russian influence.

Forgive us if we don’t trust Mr. Clapper, who leaked details related to the notorious Steele dossier to the press, as a proper judge of such snooping. Would he and the press corps be so blasé if the FBI under George W. Bush had sought to insinuate sources with Obama supporters like Rev. Jeremiah Wright or radical Bill Ayers during the 2008 campaign?

Incredibly, Democrats and their media friends are painting Mr. Nunes as the villain for daring even to ask about all this. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is making the rounds warning that “the first thing any new” committee member “learns is the critical importance of protecting sources and methods.”

Sure, but as far as we know Mr. Nunes hasn’t disclosed the source’s name—certainly not to us—even as anonymous Justice officials all but paint a neon path of details to the informant’s door. Justice and the FBI have disclosed more to their media Boswells than they have to the people’s representatives in Congress.


As is his habit, President Trump belly-flopped into this debate over the weekend with demands that Justice investigate whether his campaign was spied on. Justice officials quickly asked the Inspector General to investigate, and this will polarize the political debate even further.

But the stakes here go beyond Mr. Trump’s political future. The public deserves to know who tasked the informant to seek out Trump campaign officials, what his orders were, what the justification was for doing so, and who was aware of it. Was the knowledge limited to the FBI, or did it run into the Obama White House?

As important, what are the standards for the future? Could a Trump FBI task agents to look into the foreign ties of advisers to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2020? Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein need to clear the air by sharing what they and the FBI know with the House. This is bigger than blowing a source whose identity Justice leakers have already blown. This is about public trust in the FBI and Justice.

Appeared in the May 21, 2018, print edition as ‘The Informant Who Wasn’t Spying.’

Justice Department to Review FBI Probe of Trump Campaign

May 21, 2018

President demanded such an investigation in tweets denouncing Mueller probe as a partisan ‘witch hunt’

Donald Trump, shown here at a campaign rally in June 2016, said Sunday he wanted to know if the FBI or Justice Department under the Obama administration infiltrated his campaign for political purposes.
Donald Trump, shown here at a campaign rally in June 2016, said Sunday he wanted to know if the FBI or Justice Department under the Obama administration infiltrated his campaign for political purposes. PHOTO: RICH PEDRONCELLI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department asked its internal watchdog to examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, after the president demanded Sunday that the department investigate the motives behind the inquiry.

Earlier Sunday, in one of a series of tweets targeting the probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump wrote: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Mr. Trump was referring to a man who approached at least two Trump campaign aides in 2016 in connection with the counterintelligence investigation into the campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller took over that investigation last May when he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The Wall Street Journal has identified the suspected informant as Stefan Halper, an American who was a foreign policy scholar at the University of Cambridge until 2015. Mr. Halper couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Stefan Halper

The Journal made no agreements to withhold his name from publication and is one of several media outlets identifying him. Some lawmakers and law-enforcement officials have expressed concern about compromising sources for the investigation, saying it could put lives in danger, hurt investigations and damage international partnerships.

Donald J. Trump


I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!

Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said Sunday afternoon that the agency had asked the inspector general to expand a probe into how the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal prosecutors obtained warrants from the nation’s secret spy court to surveil a onetime Trump campaign aide. The goal, Ms. Flores said, is to examine “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”

Mr. Rosenstein said in a statement Sunday: “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

The move by the deputy attorney general to follow an extraordinary order by the president to probe an investigation into his own campaign is the latest turn in a struggle between the White House and the Justice Department. Mr. Trump has more than once considered firing Mr. Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who have survived in their roles in part by meeting the demands of the president or his supporters in Congress. Mr. Rosenstein oversees the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump has railed against the investigation regularly in the year since it began and has stepped up his attacks in recent days. He and his lawyers have seized on reports about the informant as evidence in their view that the probe isn’t about Russia’s efforts to influence the election but rather a partisan attack leveled by a Democratic administration.

Former law-enforcement officials have said informants in a probe involving a presidential campaign should only be used for law-enforcement or foreign-intelligence purposes, not for political ends.

The president’s latest attacks come as his lawyers are seeking to negotiate the terms of a possible interview with Mr. Mueller, who already has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 19 individuals in the investigation, on charges including lying to investigators and tax and bank fraud.

Mr. Halper served in three Republican administrations, under former presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. During the Reagan administration, he served as a senior adviser to the Justice Department. He also served as an adviser to former President George H.W. Bush’s campaign, and later became a harsh critic of former President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, co-authoring a book on the subject in 2004 called “America Alone.”

Mr. Halper met with Trump campaign aides Carter Page and Sam Clovis, according to their lawyers. Mr. Page had been on the radar of U.S. counterintelligence officials for years over his dealings with Russia, and Mr. Clovis has met with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors over his involvement with a onetime campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. Neither Mr. Page nor Mr. Clovis have been accused of wrongdoing.

Mr. Page confirmed the encounter, and a lawyer for Mr. Clovis said that he and Mr. Halper had only discussed China.

Presidents typically avoid ordering the Justice Department to undertake certain investigations and usually refrain from commenting on any ongoing probes to avoid the appearance of meddling in an investigation.

Mr. Trump has made no such efforts. He has attacked the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt”—issuing seven tweets on the subject on Sunday morning alone—and has accused Mr. Mueller, a registered Republican, of having partisan motives. The special counsel is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as whether the president sought to obstruct justice. Mr. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction, and Moscow has denied election meddling.

The president has repeatedly alleged wrongdoing in the Russia investigation in the past. In March 2017, he said he “just found out” that former President Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower before the election, adding that Mr. Obama was a “bad (or sick) guy.” That assertion was widely discredited.

The president’s lawyers also have sought to use recent revelations about the alleged informant’s contacts with Trump campaign aides as a bargaining chip as they negotiate with Mr. Mueller’s team over the conditions of a possible interview with Mr. Trump.

Rudy Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers, on Sunday said the special counsel about a month earlier had conveyed to him “as a possibility” that the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice could be wrapped up by Sept. 1 if Mr. Trump agreed to sit for an interview. Asked whether he believed the probe would end by that timeline, Mr. Giuliani said: “We hope.”

The president’s legal team previously has offered a number of end points they expected for the Mueller probe. Last year, Mr. Trump’s lawyers repeatedly said they expected the probe to close by the end of 2017.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at and Peter Nicholas at

Appeared in the May 21, 2018, print edition as ‘Trump Demands FBI Probe.’

Trump demands an investigation into suspected FBI surveillance of his 2016 campaign

May 20, 2018

  • Trump plans to officially demand that the Justice Department probe reports that the FBI look into reported surveillance of his 2016 campaign.
  • Last week, Trump blasted reports that an informant was secretly feeding the bureau information as “worse than Watergate”

May 20, 2018 — 1415
Donald Trump

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would demand an investigation into whether the FBI had placed surveillance on his 2016 campaign — and whether such activity was ordered by his members of the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Ramping up a public war of words between the Oval Office and the law enforcement agency, the president said that he would formally request the Department of Justice probe the FBI’s role in investigating his campaign. His remarks come amid reports that the agency had placed a confidential informant somewhere in Trump’s organization, while he was a candidate.

Donald J. Trump


I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!

Last week, Trump reacted to the suggestion of potential FBI spying as being “bigger than Watergate.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported this week that allies close to the president were working to expose the source.

Trump and the FBI have been locked in an unprecedented public battle. The president and his allies have long complained about a “deep state” agenda of government officials actively working to undermine his presidency.

In an interview with The Post this week, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani — Trump’s personal lawyer — accused law enforcement officials of “covering” for actions committed by the Obama administration.

Trump says he will ask Justice Department to look into campaign surveillance

May 20, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would ask the Justice Department to look into whether his 2016 presidential campaign was infiltrated or surveilled.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Trump wrote on Twitter.


Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during the Prison Reform Summit at the White House. Credit Jonathan Ernst – Reuters

Cambridge professor outed as FBI informant inside Trump campaign

May 20, 2018

A Cambridge professor with deep ties to American and British intelligence has been outed as an agent who snooped on the Trump presidential campaign for the FBI.

Multiple media outlets have named Stefan Halper, 73, as the secret informant who met with Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos starting in the summer of 2016. The American-born academic previously served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations.

The revelation, stemming from recent reports in which FBI sources admitted sending an agent to snoop on the Trump camp, heightens suspicions that the FBI was seeking to entrap Trump campaign aides. Papodopoulous has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Page was the subject of a federal surveillance warrant.

“If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” President Trump tweeted Saturday, calling for the FBI to release additional documents to Congress.

The Halper revelation also shows the Obama administration’s FBI began prying into the opposing party’s presidential nominee earlier than it previously admitted.

Halper’s sit-downs with Page reportedly started in early July 2016, undermining fired FBI Director James Comey’s previous claim that the bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign began at the end of that month.

Halper made his first overture when he met with Page at a British symposium. The two remained in regular contact for more than a year, meeting at Halper’s Virginia farm and in Washington, DC, as well as exchanging emails.

The professor met with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis in late August, offering his services as a foreign-policy adviser, The Washington Post reported Friday, without naming the academic.

Clovis did not see the conversation as suspicious, his attorney told the paper — but is now “unsettled” that “the professor” never mentioned he’d struck up a relationship with Page.

Days later, Halper contacted Papadopoulos by e-mail. The professor offered the young and inexperienced campaign aide $3,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to London, ostensibly to write a paper about energy in the eastern Mediterranean region.

“George, you know about hacking the e-mails from Russia, right?” the professor pressed Papadopoulos when they met, according to reports — a reference to Trump’s campaign-trail riffs about Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server.

Sources close to Papadopoulos told NBC News that he now believes Halper was working for an intelligence agency.

Highly detailed descriptions of the FBI informant in Friday reports in The New York Times and Washington Post pegged Halper in all but name. Outlets including NBC and Fox News subsequently connected the dots. The revelation confirms a March report in the Daily Caller that outlined Halper’s repeated meetings with Papadopoulos and Page.

It is not clear if the professor was paid to speak with Trump campaign figures, but public records show that he has received large payments from the federal government in the last two years.

The Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment — a shadowy think tank that reports directly to the secretary of defense — paid Halper $282,000 in 2016 and $129,000 in 2017.

Halper has close personal and professional ties to the CIA reaching back decades. He is the son-in-law of a former deputy director of the agency and worked on the 1980 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush, who had served as CIA director.

When Bush became Ronald Reagan’s running mate, Halper was implicated in a spying scandal in which CIA officials gave inside information on the Carter administration to the GOP campaign.

Meanwhile, reports emerged Saturday that Donald Trump Jr. met in August 2016 with a representative of Saudi crown princes, who offered pre-election help to his father’s campaign.

An Israeli political strategist who attended the meeting told the New York Times that their plan to carry out a pro-Trump social media campaign did not go forward.


Trump Should Get Details on Informant Before Mueller Interview, Giuliani Says

May 20, 2018

President’s lawyer seeks information about person said to have been used by U.S. investigators

Rudy Giuliani in November 2016.

President Donald Trump shouldn’t agree to talk with special counsel Robert Mueller without knowing more about a man said to have approached Trump campaign aides in 2016 as part of the U.S. investigation into Russian election interference, his lawyer said Saturday.

Rudy Giuliani said Mr. Trump could be “walking into a trap” unless federal prosecutors make clear the role played by the suspected informant and whether the person compiled any “incriminating information” about Mr. Trump’s associates.

Mr. Giuliani’s comments suggest the Trump legal team is seeking leverage in the latest rounds of monthslong negotiations with Mr. Mueller about the terms under which the president would testify.

“What we intend to do is premise it on, ‘If you want an interview, we need an answer to this,’ ” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview.

In recent days, Mr. Trump and his allies have been moving more aggressively to try to discredit the Russia investigation, edging closer to a collision with the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation. They have seized on reports about the informant as evidence in their view that the Russia probe is motivated by political animus toward the president and not Russia’s efforts to influence the election outcome.

In a tweet on Saturday, Mr. Trump suggested that federal agents had been “infiltrating” his campaign “for the benefit of” his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. For his part, Mr. Giuliani in the interview said before agreeing to talk, the Trump team would seek to learn more about what he described as a breach of the campaign’s “private communications.”

But former law-enforcement officials have said informants in a probe involving a presidential campaign could be used for law-enforcement or foreign-intelligence purposes, but not for political ends.

The suspected informant met with Trump campaign aides Carter Page and Sam Clovis. Mr. Page had been on the radar of U.S. counterintelligence officials for years over his dealings with Russia, and Mr. Clovis has met with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors over his involvement with a onetime campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. Neither Mr. Page nor Mr. Clovis have been accused of wrongdoing.

Congressional Republicans are demanding records from the Justice Department about both the informant and other aspects of the investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign. Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a close ally of Mr. Trump, has gone so far to threaten to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress if he doesn’t supply information about the person—an extraordinary threat from a committee chairman to an attorney general of his own party.

Last week, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, to turn over the requested information, a person familiar with the matter said. The Justice Department disputed that account of the meeting but declined to elaborate.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), who co-signed a letter to the president on Tuesday asking him to direct the Justice Department to release the records, said in an interview Saturday: “Any instruction that the Justice Department may have gotten from Gen. Kelly is consistent with where I’ve come to understand the president’s position to be.”

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Rosenstein has at times shown a willingness to meet congressional requests for information. But the department has resisted Mr. Nunes’s latest demand, even during a classified briefing with the congressman last week with intelligence officials. Mr. Nunes didn’t respond to an invitation from the Justice Department to meet with intelligence officials again this week.

Officials have told Mr. Nunes that providing him with the requested information would put lives in danger, hurt investigations and damage international partnerships.

A former senior Justice Department official familiar with the department’s thinking said the requests for information about confidential human sources are a red line for Mr. Rosenstein and others who believe providing such details would set a dangerous precedent.

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Mr. Rosenstein have been making increasingly pointed public statements about the dangers of giving too much access. Mr. Rosenstein has said the Justice Department wouldn’t be “extorted” or succumb to threats, and Mr. Wray this past week added that “the day we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.”

People close to the White House are dismissive of that argument, saying broadly that Justice Department is merely trying to suppress potentially embarrassing information.

Reports of a government informant have migrated in recent days from conservative news outlets to the mainstream press, with the Washington Post and New York Times publishing articles on Friday.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have spent the past several months discussing with Mr. Mueller’s team the parameters of a possible interview, which Mr. Trump had said he is eager to do. The special counsel is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as whether the president sought to obstruct justice. Mr. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction, and Moscow has denied election meddling.

Mr. Page, who was a Trump foreign-policy adviser, said he met with a person who is now believed to be the informant in July 2016. The event, a symposium on the 2016 election, was held at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. on July 11 and 12.

The suspected informant asked to meet Mr. Clovis, a Trump campaign co-chairman who had initially helped assemble the foreign-policy team, in late August 2016, presenting himself as a professor and foreign-policy expert who wanted to help the campaign, according to Victoria Toensing, a lawyer for Mr. Clovis.

The two met just outside Washington, D.C., and discussed China, Ms. Toensing said. “Russia never came up,” she said. “The conversation was only about China.”

Write to Peter Nicholas at and Sadie Gurman at

Don’t blame Trump for running out of patience with Mueller

May 20, 2018

Breaking News: President Trump is a patient man. That may sound shocking, but consider the evidence.

Nearly 15 months have passed since Trump dropped a bomb on law enforcement and the intelligence agencies. Early in the morning of March 4, 2017, he tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is ­McCarthyism!”

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

He was immediately denounced as a crackpot paranoid and the media Praetorian Guard defenders of Barack Obama demanded that Trump apologize to their Dear Leader.

No apology was forthcoming, ­although the White House suggested the quotation marks around “wires tapped” gave the president wiggle room on what exactly he meant. That turned out to be an important distinction amid mounting evidence that something very dirty took place, although the precise details of what, when and how remain maddeningly murky to this day.

The drip-drip-drip of evidence included reports that Paul Manafort, briefly Trump’s campaign boss, was wiretapped by the FBI. It also included the fact that Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, was picked up on wiretaps aimed at a Russian ambassador.

There is also the tale of Carter Page, a distant star in the Trump galaxy whose phone calls and ­e-mails were intercepted under an order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.

Along the way, we learned of the extreme bias against Trump by top members of the FBI and CIA during the Obama years, including reference to an “insurance plan” in the event he won the election. Suspicions of a “deep state” were bolstered by a torrent of insider leaks and the unmasking of the names of innocent Americans picked up by foreign surveillance, patterns that revealed members of the “resistance” movement held key jobs in the government even after Trump fired James Comey as head of the FBI.

As shocking as these developments were, they are being eclipsed by new reports. In recent days, credible evidence emerged showing there was another level of surveillance on the Trump campaign that involved either an insider talking to the FBI or a paid spy trying to entrap aides into committing wrongdoing.

The Washington Post and The New York Times, the conduit of nearly all anti-Trump law-enforcement leaks, are spinning the story as something other than what it obviously is: proof that members of the Obama administration targeted the Trump campaign in one of the dirtiest political tricks in American history.

As for the claim that Trump is a patient man, it is true the president uses Twitter to express anger at these developments and to complain that much of the media is trying to hide the facts instead of reveal them.

But other than using the bully pulpit and his First Amendment rights, the president has not used the considerable power he has to reveal the truth. He could declassify nearly all the government documents showing what the FBI, the CIA and others did in the early days of the investigation into his campaign, before special counsel Robert Mueller picked
it up a year ago.

Trump could, for instance, order the release of the documents used to obtain the surveillance warrant on Page. That would resolve the issue of the role played by the Russian dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and whether the FBI told the court that Hillary Clinton’s campaign financed Steele’s work.

Trump could also order the release of documents detailing whether the FBI paid Steele, and what role, if any, the supposed drunken chatter of former aide George Papadopoulos had in launching the probe in the first place.

That the president hasn’t dropped any of these bombs is all the more remarkable when you consider the arrogant obfuscation taking place at the Department of Justice. Congressional subpoenas and Freedom of Information requests aimed at getting the material are routinely slapped down as top officials at DOJ and the FBI take the astonishing position that the legislative branch’s constitutional oversight role is limited by their simple say-so.

Many documents that were released were so heavily redacted that the only reasonable conclusion is that officials are hiding facts so as not to embarrass themselves and their institutions.

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who created Mueller, even attacked members of Congress who threatened to impeach him for his stonewalling stance.

Those people, Rosenstein told reporters, “should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”

His defense of secret police powers is a defense of a secret police force operating outside political accountability. And it’s all happening at a cabinet department run by Trump’s own attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

As I argued long ago, Sessions’ appointment was Trump’s most costly mistake. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from anything having to do with the 2016 campaign, despite Trump’s order not to do so, set in motion Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller and gave oxygen to the partisan attempt to undermine and even upend the presidency.

That Sessions and Rosenstein still have their jobs is another example of Trump’s patience. Although the president has considered firing both, as well as Mueller, he hasn’t done it, perhaps because he has been warned he would pay a heavy political price and that many Republicans in Congress would abandon him.

Nonetheless, I believe the president is running out of patience. Like Kilauea, the Hawaiian volcano that smoked and belched before erupting, Trump gives signs he is gearing up for a war to save his presidency.

His new tone toward Mueller, voiced most frequently by Rudy Giuliani after joining the president’s legal team, is a prime example. Giuliani is focused on the many conflicts of interest involving Mueller, who headed the FBI under Obama, and the members of his prosecuting team who ­donated to Hillary Clinton or ­supported Democrats.

The former New York City mayor has disputed Mueller’s powers to indict or subpoena a sitting president and refuses to commit the president to the interview Mueller requested.

Although Giuliani has looked rusty and unprepared at times, Trump likes his bruising style and can point to polls showing declining public support for Mueller.

I also believe Trump will overrule Sessions and Rosenstein on the document issues. He has publicly berated them and urged them to speed up the release, but they haven’t given much ground. Unless they act, he must so the public can learn to what extent the Obama team corrupted the government in a bid to stop Trump and hand the White House to Clinton.

As for the timing of any Trump actions, reports of a spy in his campaign could speed up events. In a recent tweet, the president cited the reports before adding: “If so, this is bigger than Watergate.”

Tick tock, tick tock.


Cambridge Analytica ‘under investigation by FBI and Justice Department’

May 16, 2018

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Political consulting firm at the centre of a data privacy scandal worked for Trump presidential campaign and has been tied to Brexit vote

By Jeremy B White San Francisco

The Independent US

Federal investigators are reportedly investigating Cambridge Analytica, the political firm implicated in a data privacy scandal.

The Justice Department and the FBI have opened an inquiry into the now-defunct company, according to the New York Times, speaking to former employees and banks that worked with the company.

Cambridge Analytica obtained Facebook profile information encompassing as many as 87 million users, a transfer that was not revealed until after the company had gone on to work for the Trump presidential campaign.

An ensuing uproar has since led the company to cease operations amid an exodus of customers. But the data transfer’s aftermath is continuing to unfold.

How the company came into possession of and then used personal information is of particular interest investigators, who were said to have reached out to Facebook.

A survey app developed by Aleksandr Kogan harvested the data of both users and their friends, Facebook has said, which was then passed to Cambridge Analytica. The company failed to delete the data despite certifying it had, Facebook said (Cambridge Analytica disputes this).

While Cambridge Analytica has said the information gathered by Mr Kogan was not used in service of the Trump campaign, the consulting firm’s potential role in both Donald Trump’s election and the Brexit vote has attracted intense interest.

In the runup to the presidential election, Cambridge Analytica touted its ability to appeal to distinct segments of the electorate with what it called “psychographic” profiling – an approach that dovetailed with the Trump campaign’s embrace of Facebook’s tools to precisely target advertisements to certain groups.

Mark Zuckerberg admits ‘my mistake’ as 87m Facebook users could have seen data accessed by Cambridge Analytica


A prominent backer of the company, Robert Mercer, and his daughter have used their wealth to gain substantial clout in Republican politics – including by supporting the far-right news website Breitbart, whose chairman Steve Breitbart who initially was one of Mr Trump’s closest counselors.

In the UK, members of Parliament have uncovered evidence of what they call linkages between Cambridge Analytica and the Brexit campaign.

The UK’s information commissioner earlier this month ordered the company to turn over all the data it had collected on an American professor.