Details of the Justice Department’s multiple investigations into the origin of the FBI’s Russia probe, along with its surveillance of the president and his staff, are being kept secret for the time being.
However, information has recently started to spread within Congress that senior officers at the CIA lacked consensus as to whether Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered Russian operatives to assist Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the main assumption upon which the FBI’s Russia probe was based.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, while intelligence investigations concluded that Putin did intend to meddle in the U.S.-election process, by hacking computers and spreading propaganda through social media, it is less clear that U.S. intelligence believed Putin had a preference for Donald Trump to win the election over Hillary Clinton.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr is investigating how the CIA came to the conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian operatives to assist Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He has directed U.S. Attorney John Durham to interview senior CIA officers as part of his investigation, a move that CIA Director Gina Haspel is willing to comply with.
Barr seeks to better understand the connections between CIA sources of information and the FBI as the FBI’s counterintelligence activities against the Trump campaign began. If it turns out that the CIA did not agree that Russian interference intended to favor Trump, this would call into question how the Russian-collusion myth got started in the first place.
Barr may be investigating whether an anti-Trump faction within the FBI sought to frame Trump for colluding with Russian agents in the event that he won the election, as some Republicans believe. Colluding with a foreign enemy like Russia would provide the grounds for Democrats to pursue impeachment of the president after he took office.
According to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Democrats are nervous over comments Barr made before the Senate Finance Committee, which suggest Justice Department investigations are indeed heading in this direction.
In an interview with Fox News’ program “Sunday Morning Features with Maria Bartiromo,” on May 5, Jordan explained:
“[Barr] made four important points. First of all, he said spying did, in fact, take place. Second, he said there is a basis for his concern that the spying wasn’t properly predicated. Third, he said there was a failure of leadership at the upper echelon of the FBI. We know that for sure—Comey, McCabe, Bakers, Strzok, Page. We know there was a failure of leadership there. And then, fourth, [Barr] used two terms that I have never really heard before, and my guess is most Americans haven’t. He used the term ‘unauthorized surveillance’ and he used the term ‘political surveillance.’”