The Justice Department Inspector General’s report released last week documenting serial abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court by the FBI during “Operation Crossfire Hurricane” said that the bureau had placed informants inside the 2016 Trump campaign.
In addition, the FBI placed operational informants among associates of then-GOP candidate Donald Trump, the Washington Times reported Friday.
The IG’s finding appears to be the first official acknowledgement that the FBI, then under President Obama, Director James Comey, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, that bureau-paid spies — known officially as “confidential human sources — were close to the would-be president.
IG Michael Howowitz’s report, the Times said, tends to downplay that finding. However, he does note that one information reported directly to agents running Crossfire Hurricane, a counterintelligence operation led by agent Peter Strzok.
“We also identified several individuals who had either a connection to candidate Trump or a role in the Trump campaign, and were also FBI CHSs, but who were not tasked as part of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” the IG report said.
“One such CHS did provide the Crossfire Hurricane team with general information about Crossfire Hurricane subjects Page and Manafort, but we found that this CHS had no further involvement in the investigation.”
That was a reference to Carter Page, an adviser whom the FBI wiretapped for a year, and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, the Times reported.
Strzok’s team selected them and two additional Trump associates, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and former adviser George Papadopoulos, as subjects to investigate in August 2016.
The Horowitz report said Crossfire agents assigned “several” informants to all four subjects.
The most well-known of them was Stefan Halper, a professor at Cambridge University in the UK who ingratiated himself to Page and Papadopoulos.
President Trump has said that the FBI was spying on his campaign, a claim that has been ridiculed by Comey and other Obama intelligence officials including former CIA Director John Brennan.