Chuck Ross, DCNF
The White House has ordered the Department of Justice and FBI to expand congressional access to FBI files about a confidential informant who met with members of the Trump campaign.
The New York Times reports that the White House overrode concerns from FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats regarding FBI documents about Stefan Halper, a former University of Cambridge professor who was a longtime FBI and CIA source.
Halper, a veteran of three Republican administrations, made contact during the 2016 campaign with three Trump advisers: Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos.
The information on Halper had been restricted only to the Gang of Eight, a group of lawmakers that consists of the Republican and Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress and the two intelligence committees. The White House push will allow all members of the intelligence committees to view the Halper records.
Democrats on the Gang of Eight sent a letter to Coats on Thursday expressing concern over expanding access to the Halper files.
“We believe your decision could put sources and methods at risk,” reads the letter, according to The Times.
California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence panel, has been locked in a heated battle with the DOJ over the records. The Republican has accused the DOJ and FBI of obstruction for refusing to release the documents. Nunes has led an investigation into potential surveillance abuses at the FBI and DOJ during its collusion investigation.
Halper’s activities have been dubbed “Spygate” by President Donald Trump and many of his supporters. They argue that the FBI took improper steps to keep tabs on members of the Trump campaign. Democrats and other Trump critics have defended the use of an informant, saying they are common law enforcement tools.
But Republicans have also pointed to the timing of Halper’s activities and questioned whether the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign earlier than the bureau has previously acknowledged.
Halper met Page on the sidelines of a conference held at Cambridge beginning on July 11, 2016, nearly three weeks before the FBI launched Crossfire Hurricane, its counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Page and Halper stayed in contact through September 2017.
Halper reached out to Papadopoulos in early September 2016 with an offer to pay the young Trump aide to write a policy paper about global energy issues. Papadopoulos accepted the deal and flew to London to meet with Halper.
Papadopoulos has told associates that he grew suspicious when Halper randomly began asking questions about Russia’s involvement in stolen Democratic emails.
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