Our POV| On Friday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to issue a warning to those in the Deep State who “spied on his 2016 presidential campaign, going on to call their actions “treason,” explaining that “long jail sentences” may be on the horizon.
“My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!” the President tweeted.
My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2019
Fox News reports:
Trump’s claim that the campaign was “conclusively” spied on follows Attorney General Bill Barr’s testimony that “spying did occur” against the Trump campaign in 2016.
The attorney general is pursuing a formal review into the conduct of that investigation. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Barr had appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney from Connecticut, to lead that investigation — to cover “all intelligence collection activities” related to the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election and any misconduct during the early stages of the FBI’s original Russia probe.
According to sources familiar with the investigation, Durham has been working on his review of the Russia investigation “for weeks.” He is expected to focus on the period before Nov. 7, 2016—including the use of FBI informants as well as alleged improper issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants. Durham was asked to help Barr “ensure that intelligence collection activities by the U.S. Government related to the Trump 2016 Presidential Campaign were lawful and appropriate.”
One source who spoke to Fox News explained that Attorney General Barr is collaborating with Durham’s joint probe with FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, as well as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Durham is also working alongside DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who Fox explains “is currently reviewing allegations of FISA abuses and the role of FBI informants during the early stages of the Russia investigation.”
It was in April on Capitol Hill that Barr first announced the probe.
“I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted in the summer of 2016,” the Attorney General testified on April 9.
Fox explains, “The FBI’s July 2016 counterintelligence investigation was opened by former senior agent Peter Strzok. The FBI, at the time, was led by former Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe—both fired during the Trump administration. It has been widely reported that in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election, the FBI used informants or other investigators to make contact with Trump campaign officials. That issue is part of Durham’s probe, as well as Horowitz’s, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.”
The most recent example was reported on by the New York Times earlier in May. An investigator for the United States Intel community reportedly pretended to be a Cambridge University research assistant during September of 2016, attempting to push former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos on the Trump campaign’s possible connections to the Russian government.
The undercover investigator was under the alias Azra Turk. She met Papadopoulos in a London bar, asking him point blank whether or not the Trump campaign had been colluding with Russia.
“Papadopoulos told Fox News that he saw Turk three times in London: once over drinks, another time over dinner, and then once with Stefan Halper, the Cambridge professor who has been a longtime FBI informant. The Times noted that Turk had apparently been sent to oversee Halper, and possibly to provide cover for Halper in the event Turk needed to testify,” according to Fox News. “Papadopoulos told Fox News that Turk was trying to ‘seduce’ him in an effort to ‘make me slip up and say something that they knew I had no info on.’”
In the meantime, Christopher Wray has strayed from Attorney General Barr’s characterization of the actions taken by the FBI as “spying.”
“That’s not the term I would use,” Wray said to lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee when questioned if FBI agents take part in “spying” when following FBI policies and procedures.
“Lots of people have different colloquial phrases,” he stated. “I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity, and part of investigative activity includes surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes, and to me the key question is making sure that it’s done by the book, consistent with our lawful authorities.”
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