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Justice Dept. disclosures cast fresh doubt on Trump-Russia investigation – The Washington Post


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Justice Dept. disclosures cast fresh doubt on Trump-Russia investigation – The Washington Post

The Justice Department has released a pair of documents casting fresh doubt on the judgment of senior law enforcement officials who investigated possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016, showing that one of the FBI case agents thought prosecutors were out to “get Trump” and that a key source of allegations against…

Justice Dept. disclosures cast fresh doubt on Trump-Russia investigation – The Washington Post

The Justice Department has launched a pair of documents casting fresh doubt on the judgment of senior police officials who examined possible links between Russia and the Trump project in 2016, revealing that a person of the FBI case representatives believed prosecutors were out to “get Trump” and that a crucial source of allegations versus the president had been previously examined as a possible Russian possession.

The disclosures come as President Trump and his allies wait for the results of an investigation by Connecticut U.S. Lawyer John Durham into how U.S. intelligence agencies examined Russian election disturbance four years back. Instead, Thursday night saw one disclosure made to Congress and another made to the courts.

It’s still unsure whether Durham will provide any findings before Election Day, but the 2 releases might serve a similar purpose: offering fresh ammo for conservatives’ arguments that the FBI’s pursuit of the president was unreasonable and unproven.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Attorney General Of The United States William P. Barr said the private whose information was used to put together much of a dossier of accusations versus the Trump campaign had been the topic of a nationwide security examination between 2009 and 2011, due to the fact that FBI agents suspected he might be working for Russia.

The individual’s identity has been kept secret for several years, however people familiar with the case said it is Igor Danchenko, an attorney born in Ukraine who operated at a Washington think tank when he came under suspicion by the FBI for his Russian contacts. Danchenko’s lawyer has acknowledged he gave Christopher Steele’s.

In 2016, Danchenko took a task from Steele, a British previous intelligence officer, to collect details about Trump’s negotiations with Russia; Steele later on wrote reports that claimed Trump and a variety of his close advisers were conspiring with Russia. Those reports were based in big part on an individual Steele called his “primary sub-source,” which was Danchenko, according to individuals knowledgeable about the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to elaborate on declarations in main documents.

Although Steele’s accusations were not relied on as a basis to open the investigation into Trump’s campaign, they were used to validate secret surveillance on a previous Trump project advisor, Carter Page. The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, later on discovered the court applications for that security were riddled with major mistakes and omissions.

Republicans quickly seized on the details of the FBI’s old suspicions of Danchenko.

In a declaration, Graham stated the “failure of the FBI to notify the court that the Main Sub-source was presumed of being a Russian representative is a breach of every responsibility owed by police to the judicial system” and a “little group of people” in the FBI and Justice Department need to be held responsible for their handling of the case.

The senator, a popular fan of Trump, did not identify those officials, however a part of his committee’s reexamination of the 2016 probe has actually focused intently on former FBI director James B. Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

An FBI spokesperson decreased to comment.

Danchenko’s attorney, Mark Schamel, stated: “As every objective examination has actually shown, Mr. Danchenko is an exceptional analyst who is honest and reputable.”

Separately, the Justice Department submitted a new document in the court fight over the conviction of previous nationwide security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his discussions with a Russian ambassador; he later decided to combat the case, and the Justice Department has asked a judge to throw out the conviction, a move that outraged some current and former federal district attorneys over what they say is political favoritism for a friend of the president.

Quickly prior to midnight Friday, prosecutors filed a summary of an interview carried out last week with FBI agent William Barnett, in which the veteran representative appointed to the Flynn case and the workplace of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III slammed what he called a “get Trump” attitude by some on Mueller’s group.

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Barnett stated he thought Flynn’s motive for lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador was to save his job, instead of to cover up collusion in between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The agent said the investigative actions they took were “lawfully justified” and he felt there was excellent factor to inspect other Trump advisers, however frequently Mueller’s team appeared to be pursuing a theory of Russian-Trump project collusion developed on “supposition upon supposition.”

In a 476- page report issued in 2015, Horowitz found there was not evidence that political bias affected decisions in the investigation.

It is not unusual for federal agents and district attorneys to disagree about the nature of an examination or the very best course of action, but it is incredibly unusual for those distinctions to be aired out in public court files.

The disclosure comes four days prior to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan is set to hear arguments over whether to dismiss Flynn’s case, and the Justice Department now points out Barnett’s statements as evidence of the “frail and shifting reasons” for the examination and the “irregular procedure” of Flynn’s FBI interview.

Barnett’s voluntary interview was conducted last week as part of a review of the Flynn case by Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney handpicked by Barr to reconsider the case.

The representative stated he thought the Trump campaign may have know the Russians were attempting to interfere in the election, but that was various from their having an explicit offer or a quid pro quo, according to the interview notes.

Barnett stated he believed prosecutors pursued a Trump-Russia conspiracy theory without much proof to go on. He even joked with others about playing a hypothetical video game of “Collusion Hint,” based on the popular board game, in which they would propose different individuals and places for the scene of the expected criminal offense.

In his interview, Barnett was especially important of Jeannie Rhee, a district attorney on Mueller’s team. He stated that in one rundown, she wished to “drill down” on the charges Flynn was paid for a speech in Russia, and seemed dismissive of Barnett’s assessment that there were rational factors for the payments, according to the court files released this week. Barnett alleged that Rhee seemed “consumed” with Flynn which she “had a program,” the files say, without specifying what that program was.

A person knowledgeable about the Russia examination said the briefing was a very early attempt to get special counsel prosecutors up to speed on the existing Flynn investigation. Eventually, Rhee was appointed to a separate probe– the examination of possible coordination between the Trump project and Russia.

The individual acquainted with the matter, speaking on the condition of privacy because of the matter’s political level of sensitivity, stated Rhee and Barnett dealt with various pieces of the investigation and had couple of interactions.

A Mueller representative declined to comment.

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