The Department of Justice’s investigation into the origins of Trump-Russia “spygate” is focused on “a small group at the top” of the FBI at the time, Attorney General William Barr said.
“A lot of the people who were involved are no longer there,” Barr said on May 31.
The anti-Trump dossier, funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, was crucial in the FBI’s launching of the Trump-Russia probe.
The dossier’s impact inside FBI headquarters is a topic of investigation by John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut. Barr has assigned him the task of finding out how and why the FBI targeted the Trump campaign — which means a focus on the dossier.
Durham, the attorney general said, has the power to compel former officials to testify. The Justice Department inspector general does not.
“These counterintelligence activities that were directed at the Trump campaign were not done in the normal course and not through the normal procedures, as far as I can tell,” Barr said.
The attorney general said he wants Durham to find out “what was the predicate for it,” “was everyone operating in their proper lane” and “what was the evidence.”
Barr “has made it clear he wants to know … just how far did the discredited dossier take the FBI into the depths of a nearly three-year Trump investigation?” Washington Times correspondent Rowan Scarborough noted in a June 2 report.
Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, pitched his dossier to the FBI in these terms: Donald Trump was a Russia spy, co-conspirator and financier of computer hacking.
“What were the standards that were applied? What was the evidence?” Barr told CBS News, adding that his focus is not on the rank-and-file but on senior FBI leaders.
Steele “influenced their attitudes,” Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, told The Washington Times. “Remember, they had a relationship with Steele. Steele was former MI6. So Steele probably biased them in some way because they had worked with Steele previously.”
Beginning in July 2016, “dossier material was widely circulated and landed at the FBI and Justice Department headquarters, the White House, Congress, the State Department and various news bureaus in Washington,” Scarborough noted. “That summer and fall, the only person known to be making election conspiracy allegations to the FBI against Trump was Steele, an operative paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign.”
The FBI used the Kremlin-sourced dossier to obtain at least four wiretaps on a former Trump campaign volunteer.
Additionally, the FBI’s decision to place an informant on campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos amounted to “dangling a confidential informant in front of a peripheral player in the Trump campaign,” Barr added.
Published under special arrangement with World Tribune