Barr backed by NY Times exclusive on spy’s approach to Trump campaign

by WorldTribune Staff, May 3, 2019

Attorney General William Barr’s claim to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that the Trump campaign was spied on by U.S. intelligence angered top Democrats. But it was promptly supported by a May 2 report by The New York Times.

In a report headlined “FBI Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet With Trump Aide in 2016”, the Times article said that the Obama administration deployed multiple spies against the Trump campaign in 2016.

President Barack Obama and James Comey in the Rose Garden of the White House on June 21, 2013, where Obama announced Comey’s nomination to succeed Robert Mueller as FBI director. / FBI photo

Trump campaign associate George Papadopoulos was a key target of the spying operation, the report said.

The report also said that long-time informant Stefan Halper was tasked with collecting intelligence on the Trump campaign. It also details how a woman was sent overseas under a fake name and occupation to oversee the operation. The woman’s real name is not mentioned in the article, though the Times says she went by “Azra Turk” and has a relationship with an unidentified federal intelligence agency.

Molly Hemingway noted for The Federalist that “The NYT also admits in its article that the aggressive and unprecedented action of deploying spies and luring American targets overseas to collect intelligence on a rival political campaign ‘yielded no fruitful information.’ It is not clear whether information collected by Halper and ‘Turk’ was used to justify formal spy warrants against any U.S. citizens.”

The report began: “The conversation at a London bar in September 2016 took a strange turn when the woman sitting across from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, asked a direct question: Was the Trump campaign working with Russia?

“The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The FBI sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.”

Papadopolous tweeted: “I agree with everything in this superb article except ‘Azra Turk’ clearly was not FBI. She was CIA and affiliated with Turkish intel. She could hardly speak English and was tasked to meet me about my work in the energy sector offshore Israel/Cyprus which Turkey was competing with.”

American Spectator columnist Dan Flynn noted that “Banana republics send government operatives to infiltrate opposition campaigns. Real republics do not do that sort of thing. The Obama administration crossed the Rubicon here, and once you cross that river one does not generally go back. This is sad. With this precedent, expect more of this — administrations using the power of the state for underhanded, partisan action — in the future.”

Hemingway added: “The leak that fueled the Thursday NYT bombshell was likely placed in anticipation of the formal release of even more damaging information about how U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies potentially abused their authority to punish the government’s political enemies. The article specifically references the forthcoming release of an extensive inspector general review of potential improprieties at the Department of Justice.

“By leaking the information to the friendliest of friendly reporters, including Michael Schmidt at the Times, the individuals who ran the anti-Trump operation are likely hoping to spin the news in their favor.”

When a cadre of anti-Trump operatives controlled the FBI and DOJ, “this type of leaking and concealing of information worked well,” Hemingway wrote. “Most major media outlets have chosen to ignore the spying scandal in favor of non-stop anti-Trump advocacy. That left actual fact-finding and truth-seeking to a small group of media outlets and a handful of elected lawmakers tasked with oversight of the nation’s spy agencies.

“When William Barr took over as attorney general, it was the first time in years the agency had any real political accountability. Trump’s first attorney general recused himself from overseeing anything related to the 2016 campaign, and his deputy who took over is alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to oust the president.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s former defense attorney said it was a “unprofessional” for special counsel Robert Mueller to send a protest letter to Barr that later leaked to the press.

John Dowd told The Washington Times that Barr had offered to allow Mueller read his summation of the special counsel’s report before its release. Mueller declined.

Mueller then reacted to the memo by sending “a bit snitty” (Barr’s words) letter of complaint.

“That’s absolutely unprofessional,” Dowd said. “I go back to the 400 pager. Why are you jamming the attorney general with a 400-page report that you are declining charges. It was only to force him to dump it into the public trough. It is such a farce and for Mueller to be part of it is ridiculous. It is shameful.”

Dowd said the Mueller attack and the leak are part of a pattern of the special counsel’s staff.

“I suspected they were up to no good just like the president predicted,” Dowd said. “His instincts were right from the beginning. These guys are up to no good. I think it was designed just like his report was designed to keep the narrative going.”

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