Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the two officials who were running the FBI at the time — Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — told her in April 2016 they had information that Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page was connected to Russians.
That was months before the official launch of “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI operation aimed at investigating alleged ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Moscow on July 31 of that year, The Epoch Times reported Tuesday.
Lynch told Horowitz that in the spring of 2016 Comey and McCabe pulled her aside following a weekly meeting at FBI headquarters in Washington to share information regarding Page that Lynch believed came from someone within the intelligence community.
“According to Lynch, Comey and McCabe provided her with information indicating that Russian intelligence reportedly planned to use Page for information and to develop other contacts in the United States, and that they were interested in his affiliation with the campaign,” the report, released by the DOJ IG on Dec. 9, says.
The FBI’s New York City field office opened a counterintelligence probe into Page as early as April 6, 2016, the Times reported. The office told the IG the investigation was opened due to Page’s contacts with Russian intelligence officers and because Page had told Russian officials he was one of the unnamed witnesses in a U.S. indictment of Russian intelligence officers.
The IG’s report said the New York field office monitored Page to see if Russian officers would contact him again.
“The findings of the inspector general confirm the claim by House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who told The Epoch Times in October that there is evidence the Trump campaign was being investigated long before the FBI opened a formal probe in late July 2016,” the news site noted.
“There are many indications that surveillance was being conducted against the Trump campaign before the official opening of the investigation,” Jack Langer, the spokesman for Nunes, told The Epoch Times.
“If this is the case, we want to know what exactly happened, why it happened, and who ordered it. This is an issue of continuing concern to Intelligence Committee Republicans.”
Lynch’s version of events differs from what Comey and McCabe told the IG, however.
Both men told the IG they did not recall briefing Lynch about Page in the spring of 2016. Comey told the IG he was not aware of Page until mid-2016, while McCabe said he wasn’t aware the NYC field office was probing Page, the report said.
Also, it’s unclear if the field office was aware that Page was a CIA asset who concentrated on Russian contacts, a fact revealed by the IG’s report.
In addition, Comey’s claim that he wasn’t aware of the Page investigation appears to conflict with what the IG report says regarding notification by the New York Field office of FBI headquarters.
The field office sent FBI HQ a “director’s note” and a separate “Director’s Brief” on the matter to be held April 27, 2016, a footnote in the IG report states.
However, the IG was unable to question Comey about the matter because he declined to have his top secret security clearance renewed.