Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence

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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:07 am

Cambridge Prof with CIA, MI6 Ties Met with Trump Adviser During Campaign, Beyond
by Chuck Ross
The Daily Caller
3:10 PM 05/17/2018

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Days after Carter Page’s high-profile trip to Moscow in July 2016, the Trump campaign adviser had his first encounter with Stefan Halper, a University of Cambridge professor with CIA and MI6 contacts.

The conversation seemed innocent enough, Page tells The Daily Caller News Foundation. He recalls nothing of substance being discussed other than Halper’s passing mention that he knew then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But the interaction was one of many that the pair would have over the next 14 months, through a period of time when Page was under the watchful eye of the U.S. government.


Their relationship included a number of in-person meetings, including at Halper’s farm in Virginia.

Page’s encounters with Halper were quite different from those that another Trump campaign adviser had during the campaign with the 73-year-old academic. As TheDCNF reported exclusively in March, Halper and George Papadopoulos met several times over a period of a few days in Sept. 2016. Several days earlier, Halper contacted and met with a third Trump campaign official. That official, who has requested anonymity, told TheDCNF that Halper expressed interest in helping the campaign.

Unlike with Page, Halper’s relationship with Papadopoulos was ostensibly more of a business arrangement than a fledgling friendship.

Halper, a veteran of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, unsolicitedly contacted Papadopoulos on Sept. 2 with an offer to fly the Trump associate to London for several nights to discuss a policy paper about energy issues in Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Papadopoulos, who has worked on energy issues at various think tanks, accepted the offer and flew to London.

Papadopoulos and Halper met several times during that stay, having dinner one night at the Travellers Club, an Old London gentleman’s club frequented by international diplomats. They were accompanied by Halper’s assistant, a Turkish woman named Azra Turk. Sources familiar with Papadopoulos’s claims about his trip say Turk flirted with him during their encounters and later on in email exchanges.

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Stefan Halper (Youtube screen capture)

Papadopoulos wrote the paper and delivered it in early October. He was paid $3,000 for the work. Days before making that payment, Halper had finalized a contract with the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon’s think tank. Federal records show that Halper has been paid $928,800 since 2012 for work on four policy projects for the Pentagon. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)

***

Halper’s contacts with Page and Papadopoulos are significant because they are two of four Trump associates who were targets of an FBI counterintelligence investigation nicknamed “Crossfire Hurricane.” Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn were the other two.

The investigation melded exactly one year ago on Thursday with the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Page has said he is not a target of that investigation, while Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with another professor, Joseph Mifsud.

The New York Times published an extensive report on Wednesday detailing the origin of “Crossfire Hurricane,” which was formally opened on July 31, 2016.

The probe was opened based on a tip from Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the U.K. Downer said that in May 2016, Papadopoulos told him during a conversation in London about Russians having Clinton emails.


That information was passed to other Australian government officials before making its way to U.S. officials. FBI agents flew to London a day after “Crossfire Hurricane” started in order to interview Downer.

It is still not known what Downer says about his interaction with Papadopoulos, which TheDCNF is told occurred around May 10, 2016.

About two weeks before that, Papadopoulos met in London with Mifsud. Papadopoulos has told the special counsel that during their conversations, Mifsud claimed to have learned that the Russian government had Clinton emails.

Emails were also brought up during Papadopoulos’s meetings with Halper, though not by the Trump associate, according to sources familiar with his version of events. The sources say that during conversation, Halper randomly brought up Russians and emails. Papadopoulos has told people close to him that he grew suspicious of Halper because of the remark.


The Times’ Wednesday report included a major bombshell: Current and former government officials told the newspaper that “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos.” (RELATED: Report: Government Informant Spied On Two Trump Campaign Aides)

That detail matches up with a May 8 report from The Washington Post that an American citizen who has been a longtime FBI and CIA source has provided information about the Trump campaign that is now in the hands of the special counsel’s office.

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George Papadopoulos (LinkedIn)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has asked the Department of Justice for documents related to the source, but the agency has claimed that providing the information would put the source’s life at risk. Revealing information about the source would also jeopardize relationships with foreign intelligence services, the DOJ has argued. (RELATED: Secret Source Who Aided Mueller Probe Is Deemed Off Limits To Congress)

Whether Halper is that source has been a subject of some speculation over the past week, with Halper’s name being floated by TV and radio pundits as well as Internet sleuths. Congressional investigators have refused to confirm or deny whether he is. The FBI declined comment when asked about The Times’ reporting about the informant. But current and former government officials have told TheDCNF that he is a person of significant importance to the investigation, though they have not said whether he is a source for the FBI or CIA.

Whoever the source turns out to be, the fact that the FBI had an informant spying on the Trump campaign is likely to generate bitter partisan debate. Democrats will likely defend the maneuver on the grants that Trump aides’ activities warranted surveillance. Republicans have already started to point out that the use of informants undercuts Democrats’ denials that the government surveilled members of the Trump campaign.

***

Page’s relationship with Halper tracks closely with the period when the Trump adviser was under heavy scrutiny from the federal government.

By the time he joined the campaign in March 2016, Page was already known to the FBI, though not because of any criminal activity. FBI agents interviewed him in 2013 as part of an investigation into a Russian spy ring operating in New York. Page said he met with one of the Russians and provided him with academic papers he had written.

The FBI put Page back on its radar at around the time he joined the Trump campaign. In late-spring 2016, top government officials, including then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then-FBI Director James Comey, discussed whether to alert the Trump campaign to Page’s past interactions with the Russian spy ring. But government officials decided against providing the information.

Page’s visit to Moscow, where he spoke at the New Economic School on July 8, 2016, is said to have piqued the FBI’s interest even further. Page and Halper spoke on the sidelines of an election-themed symposium held at Cambridge days later. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6 and a close colleague of Halper’s, spoke at the event.

Page was invited to the event in June by a University of Cambridge doctoral candidate.

Page would enter the media spotlight in September 2016 after Yahoo! News reported that the FBI was investigating whether he met with two Kremlin insiders during that Moscow trip.

It would later be revealed that the Yahoo! article was based on unverified information from Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier regarding the Trump campaign. Steele’s report, which was funded by Democrats, also claimed Page worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on the collusion conspiracy.


Page and Manafort have vehemently denied the allegations, with both men saying they don’t know each other.

The FBI and DOJ would cite the dossier and the Yahoo! article in an application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against Page. The spy warrant was granted on Oct. 21, 2016, weeks after Page left the Trump team. The warrant would be renewed three times, in January, April and June. It expired in Sept. 2017, at around the time that Page and Halper fell out of contact. Page did not describe his final contacts with Halper. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: In Private, Papadopoulos Denies Collusion)

***

Halper has links to the CIA stretching back decades. His late father-in-law was Ray Cline, a CIA legend who served as director of the agency’s bureau of intelligence and research. Halper also worked with a team of former CIA officers on George H.W. Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential primary bid.

Halper was reportedly in charge of a team of former CIA analysts who kept tabs on the Jimmy Carter campaign.

At Cambridge, Halper has worked closely with Dearlove, the former chief of MI6. In recent years they have directed the Cambridge Security Initiative, a non-profit intelligence consulting group that lists “UK and US government agencies” among its clients.

In Dec. 2016, both Halper and Dearlove threatened to resign from the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar because of what Halper said was “unacceptable Russian influence on the group.”

Halper has not responded to numerous requests for comment. A man answered a phone call placed to Halper’s number in March but denied that he was the professor. Azra Turk, the woman who accompanied Halper during his meetings with Papadopoulos, recently shut down her phone service.

Correction: This article initially referred to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation as “Hurricane Crossfire.” It is named “Crossfire Hurricane.”
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:18 am

F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims
by Adam Goldman, Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg
New York Times
May 18, 2018

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President Trump accused the F.B.I., without evidence, of planting a mole inside his campaign to undermine his presidential run. But the F.B.I. in fact dispatched a confidential informant to meet with Trump campaign advisers as it began its investigation into possible links between his campaign and Russia.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump accused the F.B.I. on Friday, without evidence, of sending a spy to secretly infiltrate his 2016 campaign “for political purposes” even before the bureau had any inkling of the “phony Russia hoax.”

In fact, F.B.I. agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign.
The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page, who was also under F.B.I. scrutiny for his ties to Russia.

The role of the informant is at the heart of the newest battle between top law enforcement officials and Mr. Trump’s congressional allies over the F.B.I.’s most politically charged investigations in decades. The lawmakers, who say they are concerned that federal investigators are abusing their authority, have demanded documents from the Justice Department about the informant.

Law enforcement officials have refused, saying that handing over the documents would imperil both the source’s anonymity and safety. The New York Times has learned the source’s identity but typically does not name informants to preserve their safety.

Democrats say the Republicans’ real aim is to undermine the special counsel investigation. Senior law enforcement officials have also privately expressed concern that the Republicans are digging into F.B.I. files for information they can weaponize against the Russia inquiry.

Over the past two days, Mr. Trump has used speculative news reports about the informant, mostly from conservative media, to repeatedly assail the Russia investigation.

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday. “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story. If true — all time biggest political scandal!”

No evidence has emerged that the informant acted improperly when the F.B.I. asked for help in gathering information on the former campaign advisers, or that agents veered from the F.B.I.’s investigative guidelines and began a politically motivated inquiry, which would be illegal.

But agents were leery of disrupting the presidential campaign again after the F.B.I. had announced in a high-profile news conference that it had closed the case involving Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to current and former law enforcement officials.

After opening the Russia inquiry about a month later, they took steps, those officials said, to ensure that details of the inquiry were more closely held than even in a typical national security investigation, including the use of the informant to suss out information from the unsuspecting targets. Sending F.B.I. agents to interview them could have created additional risk that the investigation’s existence would seep into view in the final weeks of a heated presidential race.

F.B.I. officials concluded they had the legal authority to open the investigation after receiving information that Mr. Papadopoulos was told that Moscow had compromising information on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” months before WikiLeaks released stolen messages from Democratic officials. As part of the operation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, the F.B.I. also began investigating Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his future national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Details about the informant’s relationship with the F.B.I. remain scant. It is not clear how long the relationship existed and whether the F.B.I. paid the source or assigned the person to other cases.

Informants take great risks when working for intelligence services, Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified before Congress on Wednesday. Their identities must not be exposed, he said, hinting at congressional efforts to obtain the name of the source. “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.”

One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, acknowledged on Friday that neither the president nor his legal team knew with certainty that the F.B.I. had implanted a spy in the Trump campaign, as he and the president had alleged.

“I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,” Mr. Giuliani said on CNN. “For a long time, we’ve been told there was some kind of infiltration.”

The informant is well known in Washington circles, having served in previous Republican administrations and as a source of information for the C.I.A. in past years, according to one person familiar with the source’s work.

F.B.I. agents were seeking more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails, and one month after their Russia investigation began, Mr. Papadopoulos received a curious message. The academic inquired about his interest in writing a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a subject of Mr. Papadopoulos’s expertise.

The informant offered a $3,000 honorarium for the paper and a paid trip to London, where the two could meet and discuss the research project.

“I understand that this is rather sudden but thought that given your expertise it might be of interest to you,” the informant wrote in a message to Mr. Papadopoulos, sent on Sept. 2, 2016.

Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the academic and one of his assistants, a young woman.

Over drinks and dinner one evening at a high-end London hotel, the F.B.I. informant raised the subject of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails that had spilled into public view earlier that summer, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The source noted how helpful they had been to the Trump campaign, and asked Mr. Papadopoulos whether he knew anything about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Papadopoulos replied that he had no insight into the Russian campaign — despite being told months earlier that the Russians had dirt on Mrs. Clinton in the form of thousands of her emails. His response clearly annoyed the informant, who tried to press Mr. Papadopoulos about what he might know about the Russian effort, according to the person.

The assistant also raised the subject of Russia and the Clinton emails during a separate conversation over drinks with Mr. Papadopoulos, and again he denied he knew anything about Russian attempts to disrupt the election.

After the trip to London, Mr. Papadopoulos wrote the 1,500-word research paper and was paid for his work. He did not hear again from the informant.


Mr. Page, a Navy veteran, served briefly as an adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign until September 2016. He said that he first encountered the informant during a conference in mid-July of 2016 and that they stayed in touch. The two later met several times in the Washington area. Mr. Page said their interactions were benign.

The two last exchanged emails in September 2017, about a month before a secret warrant to surveil Mr. Page expired after being repeatedly renewed by a federal judge. Mr. Trump’s congressional allies have also assailed the surveillance, accusing law enforcement officials, with little evidence, of abusing their authority and spying on the Trump campaign.

The informant also had contacts with Mr. Flynn, the retired Army general who was Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser. The two met in February 2014, when Mr. Flynn was running the Defense Intelligence Agency and attended the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, an academic forum for former spies and researchers that meets a few times a year.

According to people familiar with Mr. Flynn’s visit to the intelligence seminar, the source was alarmed by the general’s apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance. The concern was strong enough that it prompted another person to pass on a warning to the American authorities that Mr. Flynn could be compromised by Russian intelligence, according to two people familiar with the matter.


Two years later, in late 2016, the seminar itself was embroiled in a scandal about Russian spying. A number of its organizers resigned over what they said was a Kremlin-backed attempt to take control of the group.

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Fandos, Sharon LaFraniere, Katie Benner and Eileen Sullivan.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:00 am

Intelligence experts accuse Cambridge forum of Kremlin links: Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, resigns from Cambridge Intelligence Seminar
by Sam Jones, Defence and Security Editor
Financial Times
December 16, 2016

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Sir Richard Dearlove, the ex-chief of MI6, has cut his ties with the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar © FT montage/Photographs: Alamy, Getty

A group of intelligence experts, including a former head of MI6, has cut ties with fellow academics at Cambridge university, in a varsity spy scare harking back to the heyday of Soviet espionage at the heart of the British establishment.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the ex-chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and former master of Pembroke college, Stefan Halper, a senior foreign policy adviser at the White House to presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and Peter Martland, a leading espionage historian, have resigned as conveners of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar — an academic forum for former practitioners and current researchers of western spycraft — because of concerns over what they fear could be a Kremlin-backed operation to compromise the group.

Mr Halper said he had stepped down due to “unacceptable Russian influence on the group”.


The seminar, established by Christopher Andrew, the official historian of MI5 and former chairman of the history faculty at the university, is one of the most respected networks in its field.

Recent attendees at its discussions, held every Friday at Corpus Christi college, have included Mike Flynn, president-elect Donald Trump’s choice as US national security adviser, and Sir Simon Fraser, the recently retired permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office.

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Peter Martland and Stefan Halper quit the CIS along with Sir Richard Dearlove. Christopher Andrew co-chaired the rival CSI before his resignation in the spring, which was unrelated to Veruscript

Sir Richard and his colleagues suspect that Veruscript — a newly established digital publishing house that has provided funding to set up a new journal of intelligence and to cover some of the seminar’s costs — may be acting as a front for the Russian intelligence services.

They fear that Russia may be seeking to use the seminar as an impeccably-credentialed platform to covertly steer debate and opinion on high-level sensitive defence and security topics, two people familiar with their thinking said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Financial Times has been unable to independently substantiate their claims — and no concrete evidence has been provided to back them.


The three stepped down as conveners before the start of the Michaelmas term. Sir Richard confirmed his resignation as convener but declined to comment further. Mr Martland did not respond to a request for comment.

Their concerns come against a backdrop of growing paranoia about Russian subversion in the west. With relations between London and Moscow at their lowest ebb since the height of the cold war, Britain’s spy agencies are working overtime to try and counter Russian covert action in the UK.

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The seminars are held every Friday at Corpus Christi college © Dreamstime

Spurred by the mounting concern over Russian meddling in the US presidential election, western spooks are rushing to try and get a fuller picture of the Kremlin’s strategy for manipulating information to influence opinion.

A senior Whitehall security official said that while the authorities could not comment on specific investigations into covert Russian meddling, they were nevertheless aware that suspicions such as those flagged at Cambridge were “the kind of thing that we are aware of being of concern”.

Reliable evidence of Russia’s information war to back up such assertions has been in short supply, however. Indeed, the dispute at Cambridge revives uncomfortable memories of cold war fearmongering — and has sharply divided dons at the intelligence seminar.

While the febrile intellectual atmosphere at Cambridge in the 1930s — charged with radical new socialist thinking and invigorated by a fractious international environment — was an ideal recruiting ground for young, charismatic Soviet agents such as Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, whose work was the acme of cold war intelligence gathering, the modern academic milieu is a less obvious target for Russian espionage.

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Cambridge undergraduates vote under the watchful eye of a policeman in 1935 © Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Prof Andrew, whose books on the KGB are among the most exhaustive on the history of Russian information warfare as well as the infamous Cambridge spy ring of the 1930s, said the suggestion of a Russian covert operation to compromise the seminar was “absurd”.

The seminar is “entirely unclassified” Prof Andrew pointed out, adding that the new Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism was not formally affiliated to the gathering.

Some of the academics the FT spoke to suggested that the dispute over the seminar might be tinged by an element of competition: Sir Richard and his colleagues who have departed from the seminar run a separate organisation — the Cambridge Security Initiative — which pursues a similar, though more commercially-oriented, agenda.

The CSI, which also holds regular briefings and discussions, counts Sir Iain Lobban and Sir David Omand, both former heads of the electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, as members of its advisory board.

Prof Andrew was co-chair of CSI alongside Sir Richard but resigned in the spring. He said his resignation was unrelated to any matters regarding Veruscript. All of the individuals the FT spoke to emphasised that they hoped the two organisations would have an amicable future relationship.

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Four members of the 'Cambridge Five', graduates of Trinity College, who passed information from British Intelligence to the Soviet Union in the 1940s and 1950s. Clockwise from top left, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby and Guy Burgess

Neil Kent, the lead convener of the seminar and editor-in-chief of the new journal also stepped back from the CSI. Mr Kent, a linguist and expert in Russian culture, said it was “inconceivable” that the Russian government was in any way involved.

“Cambridge is a wonderful place of conspiracy theories but the idea that there is a Machiavellian plot here is ridiculous,” he said. “The idea any of us would be involved in anything that smacks of Russian influence . . . it’s real Reds under the bed stuff — the whole thing is ludicrous.”


Mr Kent is responsible for building the links between the seminar and the organisation at the centre of the controversy, Veruscript. It was established by a friend of Mr Kent’s from Cambridge, Gleb Cheglakov, a Russian physicist.

According to Mr Kent, the new journal will cost roughly £50,000 a year to run and, although start-up funding is being supplied by Veruscript, ultimately it will draw on other sources of finance, to ensure its independence.

Mr Kent said he did not know where Veruscript’s money came from.

Corporate records show Veruscript is run by a company called AGC Partners, based in London.

Mr Cheglakov told the FT that the company was set up by himself and his wife using their own money. The company, which boasts a slick website and employs about a dozen people, claims it will shake up the academic publishing business by paying for peer reviews of its articles by approved academics.

AGC Partner’s corporate records show it was established in 2012. Mr Cheglakov said he was its cofounder although it is legally fully owned by Nazik Ibraimova, his Kygryz wife. Ms Ibraimova could not be reached for comment. The FT attempted to reach the company a number of times by phone and email.

Corporate records show Ms Ibraimova initially funded the company with a series of £50,000 loans made in six-monthly increments. In the past year, the company has significantly expanded. Its accounts show a loss of £410,000 in 2015, the last year for which figures have been filed.

“As we are in start-up mode, all journals are currently operating at a loss with Veruscript picking up the costs,” Mr Cheglakov said in a statement. The business is looking to significantly expand, he added. “[We] will publish journals from across the research spectrum: sciences, humanities and social sciences . . . We are a truly community-based publisher. [The] Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism Studies is our first journal to launch but we are also in the process of launching journals in areas as diverse as Functional Nanomaterials, Quantum Matter and Energy Storage.”

Mr Cheglakov did not specifically address the question of any connection between the company and the Russian government.


He stressed that all of the journals backed by Veruscript would be completely editorially independent of the organisation. “We aim to be a force of good within the publishing industry,” he said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.
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