by Chuck Ross
The FBI’s lead agent on its investigation of Michael Flynn told prosecutors that a confidential source’s allegation about an incident involving the former national security adviser in 2014 was likely false, according to a government document.
Special Agent William Barnett said in an interview with a federal prosecutor on Sept. 17 that the Crossfire Hurricane team obtained the information about Flynn from a confidential human source (CHS) who provided information regarding Carter Page.
Barnett, who works in the FBI’s Washington field office, said that the CHS harbored suspicions about Flynn following an event the retired general attended in 2014 in which he unexpectedly left with another person.
The allegation matches closely with a rumor that appeared in the media regarding Flynn and a Russian-British researcher at the University of Cambridge in February 2014.
Barnett said in an investigative memo that was previously released in the criminal case against Flynn that the CHS claimed to have witnessed the incident in question. That memo also indicated that Flynn’s contact was Russian.
According to the latest memo, Barnett said he initially believed the information was concerning and “potentially significant” to the Flynn investigation. But Barnett said that intelligence analysts were unable to locate information that corroborated the report concerning Flynn’s contact. The bureau reached out to foreign intelligence agencies for information for the investigation but found nothing derogatory about Flynn or the other person, the memo says.
According to the memo, Barnett made it clear that he did not believe the CHS’s claim that Flynn left the event with the person. The memo does not say whether Barnett believed the source was lying about the incident.
“BARNETT found the idea FLYNN could leave an event, either by himself or [redacted] without the matter being noted as not plausible,” the memo says.
“With nothing to corroborate the story, BARNETT thought the information was not accurate.”
Barnett, who described the Flynn investigation during an interview with U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen, also questioned the basis for the FBI’s investigation of Flynn, who was given the code name Crossfire Razor. Barnett said that predication for investigating Flynn was “not great” and that he “did not understand the point” of the probe.
Barnett’s assessment of the Flynn investigation would seem to call the reliability of the CHS into question.
The CHS who provided the Flynn information has not been identified, but a Justice Department inspector general’s report regarding Crossfire Hurricane discusses only two sources used in the Carter Page investigation: Christopher Steele, a former British spy, and Stefan Halper, a former University of Cambridge professor.
Barnett wrote about the allegations in a memo on Jan. 4, 2017 that recommended closing the investigation of Flynn. The agent said that there was insufficient evidence that Flynn was working as a Russian agent, as the FBI initially suspected.
Barnett’s 2017 memo contains a few additional details about the CHS tip about Flynn.
Barnett wrote that the FBI source claimed to have witnessed Flynn and a person of Russian nationality leave an event together. The source said they believed that the person’s father was a Russian oligarch. According to Barnett, the source said that the Flynn event occurred in 2014 while he was still in the U.S. intelligence community.
Svetlana Lokhova, a former researcher at the University of Cambridge, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that she believes she is the person who the FBI source mentioned to investigators.
Lokhova, who studied Soviet-era espionage at Cambridge, attended an event hosted by the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar for Flynn in February 2014, when he served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Rumors about Flynn and Lokhova at the Cambridge event first appeared in the The Wall Street Journal and Guardian in March 2017. Both stories contained innuendo from anonymous sources suggesting that Flynn and Lokhova had suspicious contacts and that Lokhova was considered a possible national security risk.
The reports stopped short of calling Lokhova a Russian spy, but they said that American and British intelligence authorities had concerns about her interactions with Flynn at Cambridge.
Besides Barnett’s internal FBI memos, there are other indications that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team was skeptical of the Flynn-Lokhova story.
An FBI agent from the Washington field office emailed Peter Strzok on April 3, 2017 regarding the Guardian report.
“Pete, I’m sure you’re tracking, but this has gotten too deep,” the FBI agent wrote.
The identity of the sender is redacted, so it is unclear if Barnett was the author of the email.
Strzok forwarded the email to then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and added the comment: “Not good.”
Lokhova has vehemently denied having any inappropriate contact with Flynn, saying that she only spoke briefly with him at the Cambridge event and left with her husband. An official with the Defense Intelligence Agency who was with Flynn told The Journal that he did not see anything at the Cambridge event that concerned him.
Lokhova, who has sued Halper, The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets, has asserted that she was the victim of a smear campaign aimed at linking Flynn to Russia.
According to a Justice Department inspector general’s (IG) report, the FBI used only a handful of CHSs in Crossfire Hurricane. Of those, only two — Steele and Halper — were involved in the investigation of Carter Page.
Both also had links to Flynn.
The FBI used Halper to meet with and record Carter Page and fellow Trump aide George Papadopoulos.
The IG report said that Halper told the Crossfire Hurricane team that he was previously acquainted with Flynn, but it does not say that he provided the FBI with information about the former Trump adviser.
Halper was a co-convener of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar along with Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, and Christopher Andrew, a historian who was Lokhova’s mentor at Cambridge. Both Dearlove and Andrew posed for photos with Flynn at the dinner.
It is unclear whether Halper attended the dinner. Lokhova has said that Halper was not at the event.
The Washington Post reported on June 5, 2018 that Halper and Dearlove were “disconcerted” over attention that Flynn paid to Lokhova.
Steven Schrage, a former State Department official who worked on his doctorate degree under Halper, has said that Halper was not at the Flynn dinner. Schrage has also released an audio recording of himself and Halper discussing Flynn’s future position in the Trump administration.
Halper is heard in the recording telling Schrage before the start of the Trump administration that, “I don’t think Flynn’s going to be around long.”
Steele was also aware of allegations regarding Flynn and Lokhova.
David Kramer, a former State Department official who obtained a copy of the dossier from Steele, told the House Intelligence Committee that Steele told him in December 2016 that he believed that Flynn had an affair in the U.K. with a Russia-born woman who had dual citizenship.
“There was one thing he mentioned to me that is not included here, and that is he believed that Mr. Flynn had an extramarital affair with a Russian woman in the U.K.,” Kramer testified in December 2017.
Lokhova, who was born in Russia, has dual citizenship in both Russia and the U.K.
The FBI also offered to pay Steele “significantly” to dig up dirt on several Trump associates, including Flynn. The IG report said that FBI agents said in an Oct. 3, 2016 meeting with Steele that they would pay him “significantly” to find information about the Trump associates and Russia.
Halper and Steele had a common acquaintance in Dearlove, the former chief of MI6. Steele, who was at the spy agency during Dearlove’s tenure, reportedly met him in late 2016 to discuss Steele’s investigation of Trump.
The FBI declined comment for this story. A lawyer for Halper did not respond to a request for comment. Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, has declined requests for comment.
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