The New York Times ran a front-page story Thursday confirming Attorney General William Barr’s congressional testimony that the Obama administration “spied” on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The headline reads, “F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet With Trump Aide in 2016.”
The story details Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos’ meetings in London in September 2016 with FBI informant Stefan Halper and a woman pretending to be the Cambridge University professor’s assistant, who went by the name Azra Turk.
According to The Times, the FBI made Halper partially aware of the counterintelligence investigation it was conducting against the Trump campaign regarding possible collusion with Russia, dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane.”
The FBI instructed Halper to set up the meeting, in which Papadopoulos was put up in a five-star hotel and lured to London by the offer of $3,000 to write a policy paper on a Mediterranean natural gas pipeline project in which he was an expert.
“The F.B.I. also decided to send Ms.Turk to take part in the operation, people familiar with it said, and to pose as Mr. Halper’s assistant,” The Times reported. “For the F.B.I., placing such a sensitive undertaking in the hands of a trusted government investigator was essential.
“British intelligence officials were also notified about the operation, the people familiar with the operation said, but it was unclear whether they provided assistance. A spokeswoman for the British government declined to comment.”
Papadopoulos spoke about the meetings on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Thursday. He related that Turk was attractive and was “very flirtatious” with him. He said she invited him to drinks before his scheduled meeting with Halper the next day and out of the blue asked him if the Trump campaign was working with Russia.
Papadopoulos said he quickly came to believe Turk was not Halper’s university assistant, based on her behavior.
When he met with Halper the next day, the professor immediately questioned him about hacked emails and whether Russia was helping with the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos said he addresses the meeting in detail in his recently released book, “Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump.”
The then-Trump campaign adviser described Halper as “very belligerent” toward him during the meeting, which Papadopoulos decided to end early.
He said Turk then took him to dinner that night, where she continued to try to press him for information about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
While Papadopoulos told Carlson he found The Times story an accurate account of what happened, he disagreed with the paper’s reporting that Turk was an FBI asset. Instead, he believes she was working for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Carlson noted whether Turk was sent by the FBI or the CIA, she was working for the Obama administration in a spying operation against the Trump campaign.
“That’s absolutely what happened,” Papadopoulos said.
He then asserted the British government was also likely engaged in the effort.
“Let me explain why,” Papadopoulos said. “The day I met with Stefan Halper and Azra Turk in London, I was invited by the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet with them at their offices, including with Tobias Ellwood, who was the No. 2 at the time under (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) Boris Johnson.”
Papadopoulos also pointed to a tweet by Trump last week, which reads: “Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson accuses United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign.” @OANN WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!”
“Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson accuses United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign.” @OANN WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2019
The president took note Friday that The Times was “finally” running a front-page story on the spying directed against his campaign by the Obama administration, tweeting, “This is bigger than WATERGATE.”
Finally, Mainstream Media is getting involved – too “hot” to avoid. Pulitzer Prize anyone? The New York Times, on front page (finally), “Details effort to spy on Trump Campaign.” @foxandfriends This is bigger than WATERGATE, but the reverse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
Barr stood by his use of the word “spying” in relation to the surveillance activities directed against the Trump campaign when questioned about it before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
The attorney general also reaffirmed his commitment to reviewing the circumstances related to the launch of Crossfire Hurricane.
In addition to the activities directed against Papadopoulos, the FBI obtained multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The warrants reportedly were secured at least in part through the submission of a dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to the FISA court. The Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign funded the dossier through the opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Barr suggested to GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah that surveillance of the Trump campaign might predate Crossfire Hurricane and go beyond the FISA warrant against Page and Halper’s work.
“Many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant and a FISA warrant,” Barr said. “I’d like to find out whether that is in fact true. It strikes me as a fairly anemic effort if that was the counterintelligence effort designed to stop the threat as it’s being represented.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.