Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, called on House Democrats to invite Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to testify about his investigations of the FBI’s abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the committee, has resisted requests to invited Horowitz to testify about his office’s report of the FBI’s mishandling of surveillance against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Jordan renewed his request of Nadler after Horowitz released the preliminary results of an audit his office conducted of a sample of 29 applications that the FBI submitted to a federal court in order to spy on American citizens.
“Because of the pervasiveness and seriousness of the FISA application deficiencies — and the pending reauthorization of FISA — we renew our request that you invite Inspector General Michael Horowitz to testify at a public hearing promptly when the House returns to session,” Jordan wrote in a letter to Nadler obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Horowitz’s investigators found problems in all 29 applications selected for audit. A memo that Horowitz sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray said FBI agents failed to complete a series of procedures — called Woods Procedures — that are in place to ensure that investigators verify every piece of evidence that is cited in FISA applications.
Horowitz began the audit as a follow-up to his investigation into the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page.
That report found that FBI agents withheld information that undercut the bureau’s theory that Page was a Russian agent. Investigators also failed to disclose derogatory information regarding former British spy Christopher Steele. The FBI cited information from Steele throughout its surveillance warrant applications.
Horowitz’s latest report could potentially derail Congress’ reauthorization of several surveillance tools that the government uses to spy on foreigners and U.S. citizens.
The House struck a bipartisan deal on March 11 to reauthorize the surveillance tools after lawmakers agreed to enhance penalties and punishments for government officials who abuse the spy process. The Senate passed a 75-day extension of the surveillance laws on March 16.
An imam who spoke at a Bernie Sanders rally in Michigan over the weekend has previously said that ISIS was ‘somehow connected’ to Israel.
Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini has also previously decried the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage and called homosexuality ‘a form of disorder.’
Qazwini, who operates the Islamic Institute of America, also once praised Sanders as an ‘honorable man, even though he is a Jew.’
A Michigan-based Islamic cleric who spoke at a Bernie Sanders rally on Saturday has claimed in sermons that the terrorist group ISIS is “somehow connected to Israel,” and that homosexuality is “a form of disorder.”
Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini, the head of the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn Heights, appeared at Sanders’s 2020 presidential rally over the weekend, ahead of Michigan’s primary on Tuesday.
“I believe we need to send someone who cares about all Americans, and he treats them equally,” Qazwini said in a speech shortly before Sanders took the rally stage.
“We need someone who does not promote anti-Semitism in this country, someone who does not promote Islamophobia in this country, someone who does not promote white supremacy in this country, someone like Bernie Sanders who loves all and supports all,” Qazwini continued.
While Qazwini decried anti-Semitism at the rally, he has in the past alleged that ISIS worked with Israel to harm the image of Islam. In previous sermons supporting Sanders, he called the Vermont senator an “honorable man, even though he is a Jew.”
“I have no doubt that ISIS is motivated by an agenda run by the enemies of Islam,” Qazwini said during a sermon on Nov. 20, 2015, at Detroit’s Az-Zahraa Islamic Center.
He said that while ISIS has waged attacks in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern and Arab nations, Israel “has been completely safe” from the terrorist group.
“What does this tell you?” he asked his congregation.
“This speaks out. This speaks volumes: that ISIS somehow is connected to Israel, and ISIS is playing the role of the arm of the Zionist in the Muslim world to kill more Muslims and non-Muslims so it can define the name of Islam, so people can blame Islam for its atrocities.”
He went on to say that the “number one beneficiary of all these atrocities” was “the Zionist regime.”
Qazwini praised Sanders during a speech at the same mosque on Sept. 16, 2016, over his stance against what he called “the pro-Israeli lobby.”
“An honorable man, I truly consider him an honorable man, even though he is a Jew, but you know we have no problem with the Jewish people,” Qazwini said of Sanders.
“We have a problem with the Zionists, not with the Jewish people, like Bernie Sanders. He was the only one who was honest, and who did not even bow to the pro-Israeli lobby.”
Additionally, during a sermon on July 3, 2015, he lamented the Supreme Court’s decision days earlier to legalize same sex marriage, saying that the decision was the product of “the lobbying of homosexual groups” and that homosexuality is a “disorder.”
“Last week, my dear brothers and sisters, was a turning point in the history of the United States, where I believe it was a very disappointing moment in our history as Americans,” Qazwini said.
“Unfortunately, due to the lobbying of homosexual groups, the United States had to succumb to the pressure, and come to a point at which, instead of telling Americans that homosexuality is a form of disorder, they are telling Americans that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality,” Qazwini preached.
“This is not a moment that we as Americans should be proud of our history,” he continued. “This is a moment that Americans would look back at with so much regret and sorrow, that we are legalizing something that is normal, something that is against human nature.”
“We need to spread the awareness, my dear brothers and sisters, that this is a red line that this society is crossing, unfortunately,” Qazwini said.
Qazwini’s position on gay marriage is in stark contrast with his preferred presidential candidate.
“People have the right to love who they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation,” reads Sanders’s campaign website.
Qazwini did not respond to a request for comment. The Sanders campaign also did not reply to a request for comment.
Hunter Biden cited political connections in 2019 while pitching the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law on letting him teach a drug policy course, emails reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation show.
The talks broke down after Hunter failed to “submit further materials for the proposed course,” a UCLA Law spokesman told the DCNF.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said in October 2019 that Hunter was “gonna be teaching at law school next year.”
Hunter Biden touted his political connections in 2019 while unsuccessfully pitching the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law on letting him teach a course on drug policy, emails obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation show.
In his pitch, Biden listed off a number of possible guest speakers, most of whom had ties to his father, Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“In 2019, Hunter Biden inquired about the possibility of teaching a course at UCLA School of Law, and he and school leaders held preliminary conversations about the possibility,” the law school’s executive director of communications, Bill Kisliuk, told the DCNF in an email.
“Mr. Biden subsequently did not submit further materials for the proposed course, which is a required step when the school is considering adding a course. There are no plans for Mr. Biden to teach at the law school,” Kisliuk added.
Joe Biden, who now leads the Democratic primary after a strong Super Tuesday performance, told reporters in October 2019 that Hunter was “gonna be teaching at law school next year.”
Hunter moved to Los Angeles in early 2018, though little is known about his activities there. During his father’s presidential bid, Republicans have set their sights on Hunter’s ties to foreign companies, including in China and Ukraine.
Hunter served on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings through April 2019, leaving the position weeks before his father announced his presidential bid. He was also on the board of a Chinese private equity firm through October 2019.
Emails reviewed by the DCNF show that school officials were slow to embrace Hunter’s proposal.
Hunter emailed the law school’s dean, Jennifer Mnookin, in July 2019 to share his vision for the course he wanted to teach.
Hunter, whose struggles with drug abuse have been widely publicized, said he “would like to focus on domestic and international drug policy” in the proposed course. He also attached a syllabus of a course he taught for Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
“I will have some combination of key decision makers, leading thinkers, policy implementers and grass roots advocates as guests for each topic,” he wrote.
He ticked off high-profile figures as possible guests or co-teachers of the course, including former Obama administration officials and friends of his father.
“For instance I’d like to have former Attorney’s [sic] General Dustin McDaniel of Arkansas and Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island to discuss their roles in the state class action suits brought against Purdue Pharma and possibly a prosecutor involved in the criminal cases against the Sackler family,” he wrote.
“For plan Colombia the El Chapo extradition [sic] I’m certain I could get former President Pastrana of Colombia to discuss how he implemented ‘Plan Colombia’ with the US government along with Christopher Putala and Manus Cooney who were both chief’s of staff (Democrat and Republican) to the judiciary committee at the time,” Hunter continued.
“I would also invite former FBI Director Louis Freeh and possibly the US Attorney responsible for that extradition and indictment. For a the class [sic] on decriminalization I would invite [California] Governor [Gavin] Newsom (may be a long shot but I know he would consider it if his schedule allows),” he added. “The list goes on.”
McDaniel represented Hunter in a paternity lawsuit until withdrawing as counsel in December 2019. Others on Hunter’s list have direct ties to his father.
Pastrana, the former Columbian president, worked with Joe Biden during the latter’s time in the Senate and has also described Biden as his friend. Putala is a lobbyist who once worked for Joe Biden in the Senate.
Freeh once described Joe Biden as a “dear friend” of his. Hunter reportedly recruited the former FBI chief in 2016 to serve on the legal team of Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romanian real estate magnate convicted of bribery charges in Bucharest.
Mnookin, the law school dean, indicated in her email that she met with Biden and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden.
“It was great to meet you and Melissa last month, and I very much appreciate your following up and sending along the attached syllabus,” she wrote in an Aug. 9, 2019, email. “I think this offers some very exciting possibilities, and I look forward to seeing what we may be able to do.”
Mnookin passed along Hunter’s email to another law school official, Steven Bank.
“As Vice Dean for Curricular and Academic Affairs, I typically help craft the schedule and identify and develop proposed new courses, although the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty have the final say on approving any proposed additions,” Bank wrote in an email to Hunter.
“In determining whether this would be a good fit for the Law School, it might helpful for us to talk further,” he added, and asked when “it might be a good time for us to have a phone call to discuss further.”
Hunter replied in ten words: “Please let me know when you are available to speak.”
“Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, although I hope I didn’t give you the impression in my e-mail that this was a rush,” Bank replied. “If we decided to move forward, this wouldn’t even be considered by the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty until Spring 2020 for a Spring 2021 slot most likely.”
Talks between the two parties apparently broke down sometime after that.
The emails between Hunter and the UCLA officials were obtained through the California Public Records Act and provided to the DCNF.
The emails fill in some of the gaps of what Hunter has been doing in the months since his father began running for president.
Biden moved to Los Angeles following a divorce from his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle. He and Melissa Cohen Biden, his current wife, live in a $12,000-per-month house in the Hollywood Hills, according to a glowing profile of Hunter that The New York Times published Friday.
Biden acknowledged his struggles with drug addiction in that profile, telling the Times that he was addicted to crack for four years. He has since taken up painting as therapy to deal with his struggles with addiction.
Though Hunter is now based in L.A., he was conspicuously absent at his father’s rally there Tuesday night after his strong Super Tuesday showing. The former vice president was accompanied on stage by his wife and sister.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who vowed when she announced her White House bid in 2019 not to take “a dime of PAC money in this campaign,” refused Thursday to disavow a super PAC raising money to support her candidacy.
“Do you want the super PAC supporting you to stand down?” a reporter asked Warren outside of a campaign stop in Nevada. The super PAC in question, Persist PAC, formed this week to support the Massachusetts Democrat.
“So look, the first day I got in this race over a year ago, I said I hope every presidential candidate that comes in will agree, no super PACs for any of us,” Warren replied.
“I’ve renewed that call dozens of times, and I couldn’t get a single Democrat to go along with it,” she said.
Warren defended her about-face on super PAC money in terms of gender and told reporters that she and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota were the only Democratic presidential candidates who did not have super political action committees supporting their campaigns.
“We reached a point a few weeks ago where all of the men who were still in this race and on the debate stage all had either super PACs or they were multi-billionaires and they could just rummage in their sock drawers and find enough money to be able to fund a campaign,” Warren said.
“And the only people that didn’t have them were the two women,” she continued.
NEW: Here is video of Warren declining to disavow the new super PAC supporting her:
“If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in. I'll lead the charge. But that's how it has to be. It can't be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only 1 or 2 don’t.” pic.twitter.com/byxQRjGMfs
Warren has run largely on opposing support from lobbyists, billionaires and super PACs, which can receive unlimited donations from individual donors as long as they do not coordinate directly with a candidate’s campaign.
“I’ve already said that I will run my campaign differently — no Washington lobbyist money, no PAC money, no auditioning billionaires to run a super PAC for me, and no dark-money groups devoted to supporting this campaign,” Warren wrote in a post on Medium on Feb. 25, 2019.
“I’m not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign,” Warren vowed during her campaign announcement on Feb. 9, 2019.
“I’m not taking a single check from a federal lobbyist. I’m not taking applications from billionaires who want to run a super PAC on my behalf, and I challenge every other candidate who asks for your vote in this primary to say exactly the same thing,” she said.
Elizabeth Warren: "I'm not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign. I'm not taking a single check from a federal lobbyist. I'm not taking applications from billionaires who want to run a Super PAC on my behalf." Via CBS pic.twitter.com/QBchCOyAbz
But Warren’s idealism has seemingly been tested by lackluster campaign fundraising and disappointing showings at the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, where she finished third and fourth, respectively.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Sunday that he and other Republicans will begin calling witnesses within weeks for hearings related to Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine, as well as the FBI’s surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Graham pledged in an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
In the interview, Graham urged GOP Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to call the chief of staff to former Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about concerns he reportedly raised about Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company where Biden served as a director.
Biden joined the firm in 2014, shortly after his father took over as the Obama administration’s main liaison to Ukraine following the overthrow of its pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Republicans have questioned whether Joe Biden, as vice president in 2016, improperly pressured the Ukrainian government to shut down an investigation into Burisma. Joe Biden and Democrats have accused Republicans of using the Burisma issue to distract from impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Democrats allege that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into the Bidens in exchange for military assistance.
The Senate is poised this coming week to vote to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment related to his actions toward Ukraine.
Graham said he also wants to hear from Kerry’s stepson, Christopher Heinz, who was a business partner of Hunter Biden. State Department emails show that Heinz contacted officials at Foggy Bottom on May 13, 2014 to raise red flags about Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma, which has been investigated for corruption.
The South Carolina senator also wants to hear from George Kent, a State Department official who testified in the Trump impeachment hearings that he raised concerns about Burisma in 2016.
Graham said that Republicans will “eventually get to Hunter Biden” after the first round of witnesses are called. He also said that he “can prove beyond any doubt” that Joe Biden’s efforts to root out corruption in Ukraine were undermined by Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board.
“We’re not going to give him a pass on that,” said Graham.
Graham said that his committee expects to call former FBI officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe and former Justice Department officials Rod Rosenstein and Sally Yates to testify about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants that they signed in order to wiretap Page.
“When it comes to FISA, I’m going to call Rosenstein, Sally Yates, McCabe and Comey to find out how a warrant was issued to Carter Page on four different occasions without adequate foundation and find out about how the Department of Justice and FBI became so out of bounds when it came to Trump,” he said.
The Justice Department inspector general (IG) issued a report on Dec. 9 that found the FBI submitted false and misleading information about Page to obtain the four warrants. The Justice Department conceded on Jan. 7 that two of the warrants were “not valid.”
The IG report said that FBI agents failed to inform the court that issues FISA orders about exculpatory information related to Page. The report also said that investigators failed to disclose numerous problems with the Steele dossier, which the FBI cited extensively in its FISA applications.
Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden said Tuesday that his choice for vice president will have to be “immediately” capable of taking over as commander-in-chief because “I’m an old guy,” he told an audience in Iowa.
The remark highlights what is widely considered the former vice president’s biggest political liability. If elected in November, he will be 78-years-old by Inauguration Day, making him the oldest president ever sworn into office by eight years.
Biden was initially asked if he would select California Sen. Kamala Harris as his second-in-command. Biden praised the former presidential candidate, saying that “she has the capacity to do just about anything.”
But he said that his first requirement for vice president is that the person is capable of taking over as president.
“For me, it has to be demonstrated that whomever I pick, there’s two things: One, he’s capable of immediately being a president because I’m an old guy,” Biden said.
He immediately qualified his candid remarks, saying that he is “in great health” because he works out every morning.
“Look, one of the reasons I’m running is because of my age and my experience,” Biden said during a debate on Oct. 15.
“With it comes wisdom,” he continued. “We need someone to take office this time around who on day one can stand on the world stage, command the respect of world leaders from Putin to our allies, and know exactly what has to be done to get this country back on track.”
Biden has been dogged by concerns about his age throughout the campaign. His chief critics have pointed to his repeated gaffes on the campaign trail, and several speeches where he misidentified cities and states, or mixed up decades when certain events occurred.
An official with a Turkish-American advocacy group contributed $1,500 to Rep. Ilhan Omar last month, campaign records show. He also met with the Minnesota Democrat.
Omar was scrutinized over votes she cast Tuesday that are seen as favorable to the Turkish government.
Omar was the only House Democrat to vote against imposing sanctions against Turkey. She was also one of only 14 lawmakers to not support a resolution recognizing the Ottoman empire’s genocide against Armenians more than a century ago.
Halil Mutlu contributed to Omar’s campaign last month, records show. His group, the Turkish American Steering Committee, has waged a public relations campaign against the genocide resolution.
The co-chairman of a Turkish-American advocacy group with close ties to Ankara contributed $1,500 last month to the campaign for Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is under fire this week over votes she cast supporting Turkish government positions, campaign finance records show.
Omar and the activist, Halil Mutlu, were also photographed together at an event for the Turkish American Steering Committee (TASC), a U.S.-based nonprofit that has for years waged public relations campaigns in support of Turkish government policies and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mutlu, who Turkish media outlets have reported is Erdogan’s cousin, is co-chairman of TASC, according to the group’s website.
Founded in 2015, TASC has orchestrated a public relations push to cast doubt on whether the Ottoman empire committed genocide against Armenians more than a century ago.
The group has also held rallies outside the White House condemning Syrian Kurds as terrorists, a position held by the Turkish government. Media reports show Mutlu, a physician based in Connecticut, has also led TASC protests outside the Pennsylvania home of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim cleric who Erdogan wants extradited back to Turkey.
Omar came under intense scrutiny Tuesday over two votes she cast on resolutions aimed at punishing Turkey over its incursion earlier this month against Syrian Kurds.
Omar was the only Democrat to vote against imposing sanctions against Turkey over air strikes against the Syrian Kurds, who have worked with U.S. forces in the fight against ISIS. The House voted 403-16 in favor of the measure.
The Minnesota progressive received the blowback for her defense of a neutral vote she cast on a resolution to recognize the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians during Ottoman rule in 1915 as genocide. The House overwhelmingly passed the resolution, 405-11, with three lawmakers, including Omar, voting “present.”
In a statement after the vote, Omar asserted that the genocide resolution was being used as a “cudgel in a political fight” against Turkey, which is a NATO ally of the U.S. She also said that she was withholding judgment on the genocide question until an “academic consensus” had been formed.
Advocates for the Armenian genocide resolution said that Omar’s statement mirrors propaganda pushed by the Turkish government.
“Essentially, this is a Turkish talking point that she’s throwing out,” Aram Hamparian, the executive director Armenian National Committee of America, which has advocated heavily for a vote on Armenian genocide, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“She is lining up to carry Turkey’s water on this.”
U.S. lobbyists on the Turkish government payroll have fought for decades to prevent votes on any resolutions that refer to the Armenian deaths as a genocide. While the government has acknowledged that mass deaths occurred, Erdogan and other Turkish government officials use phrases like “events of 1915” in lieu of the term “genocide.”
TASC has helped in that effort. In 2015, the group launched a campaign called “Let History Decide” to counter Armenian groups’ push for a genocide resolution.
On Monday, ahead of the House vote, TASC urged supporters through social media to contact their lawmakers to oppose the resolution.
Liberal pundits blasted Omar over her defense of her votes.
“This is awful,” liberal New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg tweeted in response to Omar’s statement.
The freshman Democrat has been one of President Donald Trump’s harshest critics, especially on social justice issues. But she has remained largely silent on Erdogan, with whom she met in New York City in September 2017, when she served in the Minnesota House.
Under Erdogan’s watch, Turkey has become the world’s leading jailer of journalists, according to Amnesty International. That’s in large part thanks to Erdogan’s crackdown on news outlets seen as favorable to Gulen, who operates a worldwide network of supporters as part of the Hizmet movement.
Erdogan has also acknowledged that an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, was held in a Turkish prison for more than two years as a bargaining chip in hopes of gaining Gulen’s extradition back to Turkey. Turkish authorities arrested Brunson in October 2016 on charges that he had links to the Gulen movement and Kurdish separatists, both of which are considered terrorist groups by the Turkish government.
Wess Mitchell, a State Department official, called the charges “laughable” during an April 18, 2018 congressional hearing. The Trump administration negotiated Brunson’s release in October 2018.
NBA player Enes Kanter, who was born in Turkey and is an outspoken critic of Erdogan, blasted Omar for being the only Democrat to vote against sanctions. He said Omar “seems like on #DictatorErdogan’s payroll working for his interests.”
There is no evidence that Omar has been paid by the Turkish government. It is illegal for foreigners to make campaign contributions to U.S. politicians.
TASC’s newsletter, which includes a photo of Mutlu and Omar, touted the lawmaker as “one of the first two female Muslim Representatives elected to Congress.”
“Dr. Mutlu expressed his appreciation for Rep. Omar’s continued support for Turkish Americans and Muslim Americans,” a photo caption reads.
TASC maintains close ties to Erdogan, routinely hosting the Turkish president during his visits to the U.S., including on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month.
“TASC is a reliable apologist for Erdogan. There’s no space between them,” Hamparian, the executive director of ANCA, told the DCNF.
Mutlu and other TASC officials were present at the May 16, 2017, attacks outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. against a group of Kurdish protesters, the DCNF previously reported. Mutlu was seen in video from the incident leading a pro-Erdogan chant aimed at protesters who were assaulted in the melee.
Nine protesters, including women and elderly men, were injured in the attacks, The Washington Post reported at the time. Two Turkish-American supporters of Erdogan’s were arrested, and charges were filed against around a dozen of Erdogan’s bodyguards and security personnel.
Mutlu was not accused of wrongdoing during the assault.
Emails leaked in 2016 also showed that TASC officials had direct contact with top Turkish government officials, including Berat Albrayrak, the Turkish energy minister and son-in-law to Erdogan.
In a Sept. 8, 2016, email, Ibrahim Uyar, who then served as TASC’s president, told Albayrak that he had been interviewed by the FBI about his links to the Turkish government.
“They are accusing me of trying to intervene in American politics on behalf of our president and working as a secret agent in the name of the Republic of Turkey,” Uyar wrote, according to a translation of the email, which was published by WikiLeaks.
Neither TASC nor Omar’s office responded to requests for comment.
Attorney General William Barr has met with foreign intelligence officials, including during a trip to Italy earlier in September, regarding an investigation into surveillance activities against the Trump campaign, The Washington Post reported.
Barr was joined in the meeting by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, WaPo reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
“As the Department of Justice has previously announced, a team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating the origins of the U.S. counterintelligence probe of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign,” department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told Politico in a statement. “Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the President has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the Attorney General and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials.”
Barr tapped Durham earlier in 2019 to lead a broad investigation into FBI and CIA activities in the run-up to an investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.
He has said he is concerned that intelligence agencies improperly spied on the Trump campaign and has said he wants to find out if the FBI and CIA directed any intelligence-gathering activities at Trump associates before July 31, 2016, which is when the bureau opened its counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.
Barr took up the probe after the end of the special counsel’s investigation, which failed to establish that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. The special counsel also said there was no evidence that Trump associates acted as agents of Russia.
Barr has already made requests of British intelligence officials, according to WaPo. The Associated Press also reported that Trump asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to work with Barr on the investigation. A Justice Department official told the AP that Barr asked Trump to make the request of Morrison.
The Justice Department declined comment for WaPo’s story.
The Australian government provided the tip in July 2016 that led the FBI to open the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
The tip came from Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat who met in London on May 10, 2016, with Trump aide George Papadopoulos. Downer said in a memo he wrote after that meeting that Papadopoulos said Russia might help the Trump campaign during the election.
Papadopoulos denied making the remarks and has accused Downer of working for Western intelligence agencies to collect information from him. Downer has denied the allegation.
Ten days before that meeting, Papadopoulos met with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who has ties to Italy. Papadopoulos said that Mifsud told him during the meeting, also in London, that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.
Papadopoulos has denied handling any Clinton emails or telling anyone on the Trump campaign about Mifsud’s remarks. He has never been accused of working with Russians, though he did plead guilty Oct. 30, 2017, of lying to the FBI about the timeline of his contacts with Mifsud.
Papadopoulos also said Mifsud was working with Western intelligence. Mifsud has not been seen in public since just after Papadopoulos took his plea deal, and has reportedly been living in Italy in hiding.
Barr and Durham have inquired about Mifsud, according to WaPo.
Stefan Halper, an alleged FBI informant, also operated on British soil as part of the Trump-Russia probe. He met with Trump adviser Carter Page at Cambridge on July 10, 2016. The pair remained in contact for over a year. Halper also invited Papadopoulos to London in September 2016. He lured the Trump aide to the U.K. under the guise of writing a policy paper for $3,000.
Halper introduced Papadopoulos to his purported assistant, Azra Turk. Turk was actually a government investigator, and that British authorities okayed the operation against Papadopoulos, The New York Times reported.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Monday he will meet with Attorney General William Barr during the week to discuss how to release documents he said will paint an “ugly and damning” picture of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
Republicans have pressed for the declassification of a slew of FBI and Justice Department documents related to the Russia probe, including FBI interview transcripts known as 302s. Republicans have said some of the information shows the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by relying on the unverified Steele dossier to obtain wiretaps against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“I’m going to meet the attorney general this week to talk to him about how to best tell the story. I don’t want people to conjecture as to what happened,” Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “I want you to read it.”
“I want you to see all the 302s that we possibly can give to you. I want you to see the full [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant application. I want to release the transcripts of the confidential informants talking to Papadopoulos,” he said.
President Donald Trump appeared poised earlier in 2019 to begin classifying many of the documents, but he ceded control over the process May 23 to Barr. Trump’s order granted Barr the authority to declassify the Russia documents as he saw fit. Barr also appointed U.S. attorney John Durham to lead an inquiry into federal government agencies’ activities involving the Trump campaign.
The Durham probe is operating alongside a Justice Department inspector general’s investigation into the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page.
“I think it’s going to be really damning and ugly, and people did some really bad things that are dangerous for the country,” Graham said of the eventual release of the documents.
He also predicted the information will receive a small fraction of the coverage of what former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report received.
“It will be 10% of the coverage that the Mueller report got — it’s a shame.”