Leakers to the New York Times confirmed in a story published on Wednesday that the FBI had run a spy operation on the Trump campaign that involved government informants, secret subpoenas, and possible wiretaps.
The story comes ahead of the release of the pending Department of Justice inspector general report on the FBI’s actions during the 2016 election, and likely is an attempt by the leakers to paint the FBI’s efforts in the most flattering light possible.
But the story revealed that the FBI – which is supposed to be an apolitical agency – was spying on the Trump campaign through phone records and with “at least one” human asset.
“The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos,” the Times reported, citing “current and former officials.”
The revelation of “at least one government informant” appears to confirm a Washington Post story last week in which leakers revealed that the FBI had a “top secret intelligence source” — a U.S. citizen who likely lived overseas — who had spied on members of the Trump campaign for the FBI.
The Post‘s report came out as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) was fighting the Justice Department for access to information on the source.
According to the Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel, the source meant “the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.”
“This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting,” she wrote in a piece last Thursday.
The Times‘ story also seems to conflict with what the FBI has previously maintained — that the investigation into the Trump campaign began with information that Papadopoulos had told an Australian diplomat he knew that Russians had stolen emails that would be embarrassing for Clinton.