A report in the New York Times, transparently timed and placed by officials within the intelligence apparatus trying to get out ahead of internal investigations, outlines how the FBI sent counterintelligence spies to engage with Trump campaign officials in 2016.
In a stunning admission The New York Times describes how the FBI enlisted a female agent to work the “operation” in the U.K. during August-September 2016 posing as an aide for U.S. intelligence asset/FBI informant Stefan Halper.
Halper was an FBI operative and Cambridge professor who set up meetings with Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos. The female agent used a fake name, Azra Turk, and presented herself as an assistant to Stefan Halper; however, she was actually an undercover intelligence operative of the FBI.
NYT […] 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 F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.
The American government’s affiliation with the woman, who said her name was Azra Turk, is one previously unreported detail of an operation that has become a political flash point in the face of accusations by President Trump and his allies that American law enforcement and intelligence officials spied on his campaign to undermine his electoral chances. Last year, he called it “Spygate.”
Ms. Turk went to London to help oversee the politically sensitive operation, working alongside a longtime informant, the Cambridge professor Stefan A. Halper. The move was a sign that the bureau wanted in place a trained investigator for a layer of oversight, as well as someone who could gather information for or serve as a credible witness in any potential prosecution that emerged from the case.
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Mr. Halper, Robert D. Luskin. Last year, Bill Priestap, then the bureau’s top counterintelligence agent who was deeply involved in the Russia inquiry, told Congress during a closed-door hearing that there was no F.B.I. conspiracy against Mr. Trump or his campaign.
Obviously the group (CIA, DOJ and FBI) who constructed the political surveillance and spy operations are trying to present their side of the story, prior to investigation by AG Bill Barr and the soon-to-be-released IG report.
The London operation yielded no fruitful information, but F.B.I. officials have called the bureau’s activities in the months before the election both legal and carefully considered under extraordinary circumstances.
They are now under scrutiny as part of an investigation by Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general. He could make the results public in May or June, Attorney General William P. Barr has said. Some of the findings are likely to be classified.
It is unclear whether Mr. Horowitz will find fault with the F.B.I.’s decision to have Ms. Turk, whose real name is not publicly known, meet with Mr. Papadopoulos.
Mr. Horowitz has focused among other things on the activities of Mr. Halper, who accompanied Ms. Turk in one of her meetings with Mr. Papadopoulos and also met with him and other campaign aides separately. The bureau might also have seen Ms. Turk’s role as essential for protecting Mr. Halper’s identity as an informant if prosecutors ever needed court testimony about their activities.
Notice how the leaker of this information to the New York Times appears to have direct knowledge of exactly what IG Horowitz has investigated. This leaked story is coming from within the still employed corrupt elements of the FBI.
[…] This account was described in interviews with people familiar with the F.B.I. activities of Mr. Halper, Ms. Turk and the inspector general’s investigation. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the subjects of a continuing inquiry.
As part of Mr. Horowitz’s investigation, his office has examined Mr. Halper’s past work as an F.B.I. informant and asked witnesses about whether agents had adequate control of Mr. Halper’s activities, people familiar with the inquiry have said.
While in London in 2016, Ms. Turk exchanged emails with Mr. Papadopoulos, saying meeting him had been the “highlight of my trip,” according to messages provided by Mr. Papadopoulos. “I am excited about what the future holds for us :),” she wrote.
Notice how The New York Times is intentionally conflating the timing and sequencing of events in this article.
[…] One of the agents involved in the Russia inquiry, a seasoned counterintelligence investigator out of New York, turned to Mr. Halper, whom he viewed as a reliable and trusted informant. They had a longstanding relationship; the agent had even spoken at an intelligence seminar that Mr. Halper taught at the University of Cambridge, discussing his work investigating a Russian espionage ring known as the illegals.
[That section tells the possibilities of who the FBI agent might be. [TWE] George J. Ennis, Jr. (ASAC NY Counterintelligence), Alan E. Kohler Jr. (SSA, NY Counterintelligence) and Stephen M. Somma (SA, NY Counterintelligence) attended the intelligence seminar by Stefan Halper in 2011 (LINK). Alan Kohler, FBI representative at the United States Embassy in London, returned to the seminar in May 2014 (LINK) George Ennis was named the Special Agent In Charge of the Administrative Division at the New York Field Office on April 1, 2015, having had a background in counterterrorism and counterintelligence. (LINK)]
Mr. Halper had the right résumé for the task. He was a foreign policy expert who had worked for the Pentagon. He had been gathering information for the F.B.I. for about two decades and had good contacts in Chinese and Russian government circles that he could use to arrange meetings with high-ranking officials, according to a person briefed on Mr. Halper’s relationship with the F.B.I.
The F.B.I. instructed Mr. Halper to set up a meeting in London with Mr. Papadopoulos but gave him few details about the broader investigation, a person familiar with the episode said.
His job was to figure out the extent of any contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russia. Mr. Halper used his position as a respected academic to introduce himself to both Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Page, whom he also met with several times. He arranged a meeting with Mr. Papadopoulos in London to discuss a Mediterranean natural gas project, offering $3,000 for his time and a policy paper.
[…] The F.B.I. also decided to send Ms. Turk to take part in the operation, people familiar with it said, and to pose as Mr. Halper’s assistant. For the F.B.I., placing such a sensitive undertaking in the hands of a trusted government investigator was essential.
British intelligence officials were also notified about the operation, the people familiar with the operation said, but it was unclear whether they provided assistance. A spokeswoman for the British government declined to comment.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed that British intelligence spied on his campaign, an accusation the British government has vigorously denied. Last month, the president quoted on Twitter an accusation that the British had spied on his campaign and added: “WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!”
When Mr. Papadopoulos arrived in London on Sept. 15, he received a text message from Ms. Turk. She invited him for drinks.
In his book, “Deep State Target,” Mr. Papadopoulos described her as attractive and said she almost immediately began questioning him about whether the Trump campaign was working with Russia, he wrote.
Mr. Papadopoulos was baffled. “There is no way this is a Cambridge professor’s research assistant,” he recalled thinking, according to his book.
The day after meeting Ms. Turk, Mr. Papadopoulos met briefly with Mr. Halper at a private London club, and Ms. Turk joined them. The two men agreed to meet again, arranging a drink at the Sofitel hotel in London’s posh West End.
Notice how Ms. Turk is the primary focus of the interaction.
Turk emailed Papadopoulos; Turk text’d Papadopoulos; Turk met him for drinks etc. However, Halper only “met briefly” with Papadopoulos with Turk present. FBI agent Turk is the working operative here, agent Halper is simply the inconsequential cover.
During that conversation, Mr. Halper immediately asked about hacked emails and whether Russia was helping the campaign, according to Mr. Papadopoulos’s book. Angry over the accusatory questions, Mr. Papadopoulos ended the meeting.
The F.B.I. failed to glean any information of value from the encounters, and Ms. Turk returned to the United States.
Mr. Halper continued to work with the F.B.I. and later met with Mr. Page repeatedly in the Washington area. The two had coincidentally run into each other in July as well at Cambridge, according to people familiar with the episode.
At the urging of Mr. Page, he met another campaign aide, Sam Clovis, Mr. Trump’s campaign co-chairman, to discuss foreign policy. (read more)
It’s obvious the people who ran these spy operations into the Trump campaign are nervous now. After years of denying spying; and after weeks of apoplectic pearl-clutching over AG Barr’s use of the word “spy”; the New York Times now outlines spying directly?
Make sure you go back and re-read the House testimony transcript of how Papadopoulos describes this interaction with Turk and Halper (embed below). Start around page 101