Attorney General William Barr’s review of surveillance against the 2016 Trump presidential campaign is “broad in scope and multifaceted,” a Justice Department official told Congress this week.
In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, Justice Department official Stephen E. Boyd provided a summary of Barr’s review. Nadler, a New York Democrat, had asked for details of the investigation, which is being led by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut.
“It is now well established that, in 2016, the U.S. government and others undertook certain intelligence-gathering and investigative steps directed at persons associated with the Trump Campaign,” Boyd wrote Nadler.
He added that “there remain open questions relating to the origins of this counter-intelligence investigation and the U.S. and foreign intelligence activities that took place prior to and during that investigation.” (RELATED: Trump Gives Barr Authority To Declassify Russia Probe Documents)
“The Review is broad in scope and multifaceted, and is intended to illuminate open questions regarding the activities of U.S. and foreign intelligence services as well as non-governmental organizations and individuals,” Boyd wrote.
He did not explain the references to foreign intelligence services or non-governmental organizations.
However, it is known that the Australian and British governments were involved in some degree to the counterintelligence activities against Trump associates. And Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, a former British spy, investigated Donald Trump and his campaign associates on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Barr has said he is concerned with what he has learned about surveillance activities carried out by the FBI and other intelligence agencies against the Trump campaign. He shocked Democrats on April 9, when he testified that he believed that “spying did occur” against the Trump campaign.
He clarified later that he aims to find out if the surveillance activities against the Trump campaign were legal and properly predicated.
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The FBI relied heavily on an unverified dossier from Steele to obtain foreign surveillance warrants against Page. The dossier has been largely debunked by the special counsel’s report, which found no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
The FBI also used informants, including former Cambridge professor Stefan Halper, to make contact with Trump campaign advisers, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
One question that has yet to be answered is when Halper was first tasked with contacting Trump associates.
Halper first met Page on July 10, 2016, at a forum at Cambridge. The FBI did not open its investigation of the Trump campaign until July 31, 2016. Halper would meet Papadopoulos in London in September 2016.
Boyd said that Durham’s team has requested that intelligence community agencies preserve certain records, ensure that witnesses pertinent to the review be made available for interviews, and to identify and assemble documents relevant to the review.
Boyd also addressed concerns raised by Democrats that Barr will declassify and release information about sources and methods used in the investigation. President Trump authorized Barr on May 24 to declassify any information he obtains as part of the review.
“[I]t is of great importance to the Department to protect classified information by preventing the unwarranted disclosure of sensitive sources, methods, techniques and materials where such disclosure would endanger the personal safety of U.S. government employees or friendly foreign partners, harm U.S. national security interests, or compromise the ability of U.S. government agencies to conduct their important work to protect the American people,” Boyd wrote Nadler.
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