By Chuck Ross
Attorney General William Barr is reportedly working closely with the directors of the CIA, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to review the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, as well as surveillance efforts against the Trump campaign.
According to CNN, Barr is working with CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and ODNI Director Dan Coats on the interagency review.
Barr told Congress in April that he planned to form a team within the Justice Department to investigate whether the U.S. government improperly surveilled the Trump campaign.
“I think spying did occur,” Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 10.
“Yes, I think spying did occur,” Barr repeated, adding, “but the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated.”
“I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”
On Monday, it was reported that Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to investigate the matter.
The probe is running parallel to a Justice Department inspector general’s investigation into the FBI’s handling of surveillance warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, is also reportedly investigating the FBI’s use of confidential informants, including dossier author Christopher Steele and former Cambridge professor Stefan Halper. (RELATED: Barr: ‘I Think Spying Did Occur’ Against Trump Campaign)
The FBI officially began its investigation of the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, after receiving information from the Australian government about George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser.
The bureau relied heavily on information from Steele, a former British spy, to obtain foreign intelligence surveillance warrants against Carter Page. Horowitz is investigating whether the FBI properly disclosed information about Steele and his investigation to the judges who approved the spy warrants against Page.
The FBI has also not explained why Halper, a longtime FBI informant, made contact with Page at a political event held at the University of Cambridge in England three weeks before receiving the information on Papadopoulos.
Halper was also in contact with Papadopoulos. The pair met in London in September 2016 after Papadopoulos accepted an offer of $3,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to discuss writing an academic paper on Mediterranean energy security issues.
Halper was accompanied on the operation by a woman he claimed was his assistant. But The New York Times has reported that the woman, who used the alias Azra Turk, was working as a government investigator. It is still unclear if she was working for the FBI, CIA, or another agency.
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.
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