Crossfire Hurricane (FBI investigation)

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Crossfire Hurricane was the code name for the counterintelligence investigation undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2016 and 2017 into links between Trump associates and Russian officials and "whether individuals associated with the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign were coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election."[1]

The investigation was officially opened on July 31, 2016, initially due to information on Trump campaign member George Papadopoulos's early assertions of Russians having damaging material on Donald Trump's rival candidate Hillary Clinton.

From late July to November 2016, the joint effort between the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Security Agency (NSA) examined evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election. The FBI's team enjoyed a large degree of autonomy within the broader interagency probe.

The FBI's work was taken over on May 17, 2017, by the Special Counsel investigation of 2017–2019, which eventually resulted in the Mueller Report. Mueller concluded that Russian interference occurred in a "sweeping and systematic fashion" and that there were substantial links with the Trump campaign, but that the evidence available to investigators did not establish that the Trump campaign had "conspired or coordinated" with the Russian government.

Trump and his allies repeatedly asserted that political bias influenced the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. A subsequent inquiry by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, released in redacted form in December 2019, did not find political bias in the FBI investigation, and determined that the investigation was properly predicated on a legal and factual basis. Attorney General Bill Barr and his designated investigator John Durham publicly stated their belief the evidence justified opening only a preliminary rather than a full investigation and indicated they would continue to investigate.[2] The Inspector General also determined that the FBI made 17 errors or omissions — some of them severe — in its FISA warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) for surveillance of Trump aide Carter Page.[3][4] Horowitz nevertheless attributed the warrant problems to "gross incompetence and negligence" rather than intentional malfeasance or political bias.[2]

Origins

After working on the Ben Carson campaign as a foreign policy adviser, in early February 2016 George Papadopoulos left the Carson campaign. Also in early February, he reached out to the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP) asking if it was hiring, agreed to join, and arrived in London to begin work. On March 6, Papadopoulos accepted an offer to work with the Trump campaign.[5] As part of his duties with the LCILP, on March 12 he traveled to the Link Campus University in Rome to meet officials with the University. While on this trip, on March 14 he met Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud and informed the professor about his joining the Trump campaign.[6] On March 21, the Trump campaign told the Washington Post that Papadopoulos was one of five foreign policy advisers for the Trump campaign.[6] Mifsud took more interest in Papadopoulos, and met him in London on March 24 with a Russian woman posing as "Putin's niece".[7]

Mifsud traveled to Moscow in April 2016, and upon his return he told Papadopoulos that Russian government officials were in possession of "thousands of emails" that could be politically damaging to Hillary Clinton.[7][8] On May 6, Papadopoulos met Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to Britain in a London bar, and told him about the Clinton emails over drinks.[7] After WikiLeaks released hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails on July 22, the Australian government on July 26 advised American authorities of the encounter between Downer and Papadopoulos, which spurred the FBI into launching the Crossfire Hurricane investigation on July 31.[9][10]

In March 2017, FBI Director James Comey confirmed in a congressional hearing that the FBI had been investigating Russian interference as part of its counterintelligence mission. He further confirmed that the probe included links between Trump campaign members and the Russian government, and "whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts".[11] Comey added in a June Senate hearing that President Trump had not been personally under investigation until Comey's departure from the FBI.[12][13]

In his May 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, CIA director John Brennan stated that he had convened in late July 2016 a group of officials from the CIA, NSA and FBI to investigate Russian interference.[14][15] In a July 2017 interview, Brennan described this group effort as a "fusion cell".[16] Brennan also testified that he gave the FBI leads involving "contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign", that were beyond the CIA's mandate to pursue. He said that this information "served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred."[17]

In February 2018, the Nunes memo, written by staff for U.S. Representative Devin Nunes, stated: "The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok",[18] rather than the Steele dossier as asserted by, among others, President Donald Trump, Nunes, and several Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.[19][20][21] A rebuttal memo by Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee confirmed that the investigation was opened on July 31, 2016, and stated that Christopher Steele's memos "played no role in launching the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference and links to the Trump campaign." The counter-memo added that the FBI investigative team only received the Steele dossier in mid-September, "because the probe's existence was so closely held within the FBI."[22][23] The New York Times reported in April 2019 that investigators received the dossier on September 19, 2016.[24]

In April 2018, the House Intelligence Committee, then in Republican control, released a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as the American response to it. The report stated that the FBI opened its counterintelligence probe in late July 2016 "following the receipt of derogatory information about foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos."[25][26][27]

In June 2018, the Office of the Inspector General released a report on its counter-investigation into the FBI's investigation of the Hillary Clinton email controversy. This report stated: "On July 31, 2016, just weeks after the conclusion of the Midyear investigation [into Clinton], the FBI opened its investigation of Russian interference in the ongoing presidential election [...] the Russia investigation, which touched upon the campaign of then candidate Trump."[28]

The Mueller Report of the Special Counsel investigation, completed in March 2019, states that the Papadopoulos information about Russia having acquired damaging material on Clinton "prompted the FBI on July 31, 2016, to open an investigation into whether individuals associated with the Trump Campaign were coordinating with the Russian government in its interference activities".[29][30]

The "Crossfire Hurricane" codename was taken from a line of "Jumpin' Jack Flash," a Rolling Stones song that opens with the line, "I was born in a crossfire hurricane."[31]

Investigations

The FBI's concerns became clear after Brennan shared intelligence about Russian interference with Comey in mid-August 2016. The FBI investigation, code named Crossfire Hurricane, had a large degree of independence from inter-agency efforts to investigate Russian interference.[32] According to an April 2018 House Intelligence Committee report, a "fusion cell on Russian election interference, which was comprised of analysts from the CIA, FBI, and NSA […] operated through the election". The report also wrote that the fusion cell itself stood down in mid-November 2016.[27]

Crossfire Hurricane initially targeted several people connected to the Trump campaign: Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.[32][33] During the investigation, the FBI used national security letters to obtain phone records and other documents. FBI agents, believing that Trump would lose the election, and cognizant of Trump's claims that the election was rigged against him, were careful to ensure that the investigation did not become public, as they feared that if Trump lost he would blame his defeat on the revelation of the investigation.[32] However, after the election, texts on December 15, 2016, from the FBI lead investigator Peter Strzok to FBI attorney Lisa Page showed that Strzok was likely aware of what he took to be politically motivated leaks from other intelligence agencies, although the texts showed Strzok and Page themselves typically coordinated their public communications with the FBI press office.[34]

The Office of the Inspector General's June 2018 report states that Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, "and several others from the Midyear investigation [by the FBI into Hillary Clinton] were assigned to the Russia investigation, which [the Office was] told was extremely active during this September and October [2016] time period." Strzok "was assigned to lead the Russia investigation in late July 2016", and E. W. Priestap had a supervisory role over the Russia investigation during an unspecified time period.[28]

This investigation's work continued into May 2017.[35] In May 2019, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told The Washington Post that after Comey was fired, congressmen were no longer briefed on the status of the FBI counterintelligence investigation into Trump associates, despite the multiple criminal investigations spawning from it.[36]:328

FISA warrants

The FBI had surveilled Carter Page under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant beginning in 2013 or 2014, on concerns that Russian intelligence was attempting to recruit him.[33][37] Trump announced his candidacy for President in June 2015, and Page joined his campaign on March 21, 2016.[38][39] After Michael Isikoff of Yahoo! News reported on September 23, 2016, that Page was being investigated by American intelligence for his contacts with Russian agents,[40] Page immediately left the Trump campaign, while two campaign spokesmen denied that he had ever been a part of it.[41][42]

During the summer of 2016, the FBI applied for a warrant to conduct surveillance on four members of the Trump campaign, but this application was rejected by the FISA court as too broad.[43]

On October 21, 2016, the FBI filed a new FISA warrant application for Page alone, expressing the FBI's belief that the Russian government was collaborating with Page and possibly others associated with the Trump campaign,[44] and that Page had been the subject of targeted recruitment by Russian intelligence agencies.[45] The rationale advanced in support of this warrant relied in part on Page's prior activities, in part on intercepts of Russian communications or confidential human intelligence sources, and in part on a "dossier" of raw intelligence findings gathered by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.[32] The Steele dossier alleged that Page had originated the idea of leaking the DNC emails,[46] and that he was negotiating a share of Rosneft in exchange for Trump lifting sanctions against Russia if elected.[47] The application disclosed that the dossier had been compiled by someone "likely looking for information that could be used to discredit" the Trump campaign, but did not disclose that it was indirectly funded as opposition research by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.[48] Steele had previously worked with the FBI and was considered trustworthy.[32]

The request was signed by Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and Judge Rosemary M. Collyer issued the warrant, concluding there was probable cause to believe that Page was a foreign agent knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence for the Russian government.[49] The warrant on Page was renewed three times, each for an additional 90 days.[32][45][49] The extensions were issued by three different District Court judges: Michael W. Mosman, Anne C. Conway and Raymond J. Dearie. The first two extensions were signed by Comey, and the last one by his deputy Andrew McCabe after Comey was fired. In addition, Acting Attorney General Dana Boente signed the first extension, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed the last two.[32][45]

Confidential informants

From July 2016, Stefan Halper, a secret informant for the FBI, spoke separately to Trump campaign advisers Sam Clovis, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, starting with Page. Halper then met Clovis and Papadopoulos separately in the period of August 2016 to September 2016. Page said that he "had extensive discussions" with Halper on "a bunch of different foreign-policy-related topics", ending in September 2017.[50][51] A former federal law enforcement official told The New York Times that Page and Halper's initial encounter at a London symposium on July 11–12, 2016, was a coincidence, rather than at the direction of the FBI.[50][52] Clovis's attorney said that Clovis and Halper had discussed China during their sole meeting on August 31 or September 1, 2016, and Clovis stated in May 2018 that it appeared Halper was only offering his assistance to the campaign.[50][53] On September 2, 2016, Halper contacted Papadopoulos, inviting him to London to write a paper on Mediterranean oil fields, which he did.[50] On September 15, 2016, Halper met Papadopoulos in London and asked if he knew of any Russian efforts to disrupt the elections; Papadopoulos said he did not.[50] The New York Times reported in April 2019 that the FBI had asked Halper to approach Page and Papadopoulos, and that it was unclear whether he had been asked to contact Clovis.[54]

In May 2019, the Times reported that Page had urged Halper to meet with Clovis, and that the FBI was aware of the meeting but had not instructed Halper to ask Clovis about Russia matters. The Times also reported that the FBI had sent a female investigator using the name Azra Turk to meet with Papadopoulos while posing as Halper's assistant.[53] Papadopoulos described Turk as suspiciously "flirtatious", and believes she was affiliated with the CIA or Turkish intelligence.[55] The Times stated that the FBI considered it essential to add a trained and trusted investigator like Turk as a "layer of oversight", in the event the investigation was ultimately prosecuted, and the government needed the credible testimony of such an individual without exposing Halper as a longtime confidential informant.[53]

Transition to Trump administration

On January 5, 2017, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Mike Rogers briefed President Obama about an intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which Obama had ordered in December.[56][57] The discussion touched on the Steele Dossier and the relationship between incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.[56] Following that briefing, President Obama met with Comey, Vice President Joseph Biden, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Rice documented the meeting two weeks later, on January 20, in an email she sent just before leaving the White House for the last time.[56] According to Rice's email, during the meeting, President Obama stressed that the continuing investigation should be handled "by the book" and that he was not "asking about, initiating, or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective". The email also stated that Obama directed them to be "mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia" with members of the incoming administration.[58]

On January 6, Comey, Clapper, Brennan, and Rogers briefed President-elect Trump on the intelligence report.[59] Before the briefing, it was planned that Comey would separately brief Trump on the most salacious aspects of the Steele dossier "in the most discreet and least embarrassing way".[60] As Comey later described it: "At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the president-elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment."[61] Comey also assured Trump that he was not personally under investigation. He later testified that the FBI leadership had discussed the assurance in advance, and that one member of the team – later revealed to be FBI General Counsel James Baker – had raised concerns about it.[62] Specifically, according to Comey's testimony, Baker felt that although "it was technically true [that] we did not have a counterintelligence file case open on then-President-elect Trump" nevertheless because of the scope of the investigation, Trump's "behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope of that work."[63] Later, in August 2019, the Office of Inspector General released a report quoting witnesses who said that Comey, along with the senior leadership at the FBI, "discussed Trump's potential responses to being told about the 'salacious' information, including that Trump might make statements about, or provide information of value to, the pending Russian interference investigation."[60]

File:Report of Investigation of Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey's Disclosure of Sensitive Investigative Information and Handling of Certain Memoranda.pdf
Report of Investigation of Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey's Disclosure of Sensitive Investigative Information and Handling of Certain Memoranda

Takeover by special counsel

On May 8, 2017, Trump dismissed Comey from his tenure as FBI Director.[64][65] Over 130 Democratic lawmakers of the United States Congress called for a special counsel to be appointed in reaction to Comey's firing.[66]

On May 17, 2017, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel under the applicable Department of Justice regulation, and the Special Counsel investigation (also known as the Mueller probe) took over the Crossfire Hurricane efforts, which were still ongoing at the time.[9][35][65][67] Rosenstein's authority to appoint Mueller arose due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions's March 2017 recusal of himself from investigations into the Trump campaign.[65][67][68]

In June 2017, Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who had led the Crossfire Hurricane investigation up to this point, became a member of Mueller's team.[69] In August 2017, Stzrok was removed from the team and reassigned to the FBI's Human Resources department following the Inspector General's discovery of text messages from Stzrok expressing a low opinion of Trump and stating his preference that Clinton should win the election by an overwhelming majority.[70][71][72]

Criminal charges

George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5, 2017, to making false statements.[73] On January 27, 2017, Papadopoulos had lied to FBI investigators regarding his contacts with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor with connections to Russian government officials.[74] The special counsel's office was unable to fully investigate Papadopoulos's activities with Sergei Millian, a Belarusian native turned American citizen, because Millian did not cooperate with investigators. Millian previously said he had "insider knowledge and direct access to the top hierarchy in Russian politics".[75]

Flynn pleaded guilty on December 1, 2017, to making false statements. On January 24, 2017, Flynn had lied to FBI investigators regarding his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the United States.[76]

Manafort pleaded guilty on September 14, 2018, to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice for witness tampering, and one count of participating in a conspiracy against the United States. NBC News wrote that Manafort's conspiracy charge was related to "money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Account Reports, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lying and misrepresenting to the Department of Justice."[77]

Stone was arrested on January 25, 2019, and charged on seven counts, including witness tampering and lying to investigators.[78]

Page was not charged with a crime by the special counsel investigation. Its report said: "The investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election".[79] However, with incomplete "evidence or testimony about who Page may have met or communicated with in Moscow [...] Page's activities in Russia – as described in his emails with the [Trump campaign] – were not fully explained."[75]

Conclusions

On March 22, 2019, the Special Counsel investigation was concluded, and the Mueller Report was submitted that day.[80]

The Mueller Report concluded that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election did occur "in sweeping and systematic fashion" and "violated U.S. criminal law".[81][82] The first method detailed was "a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton",[83] which also sought to "provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States".[84] The second method of Russian interference saw the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, hacking into email accounts owned by people associated with the Clinton presidential campaign or Democratic Party organisations, followed by the publication of damaging hacked material.[85][86][87]

To establish whether a crime was committed by members of the Trump campaign with regard to Russian interference, the special counsel's investigators used conspiracy law, and not the concept of "collusion".[88][89] They used the concept of "coordination": "an agreement – tacit or express – between the Trump campaign and the Russian government on election interference".[90]

The Mueller Report writes that the investigation "identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign", found that Russia "perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency" and that the 2016 Trump presidential campaign "expected it would benefit electorally" from Russian hacking efforts. Ultimately, "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities".[91][92]

However, investigators had an incomplete picture of what had really occurred during the 2016 campaign, due to some associates of Trump campaign providing either false, incomplete or declined testimony, as well as having deleted, unsaved or encrypted communications. As such, the Mueller Report "cannot rule out the possibility" that information then unavailable to investigators would have presented different findings.[93][94]

Barr/Durham counter-investigation

As of May 2019, Attorney General William Barr is conducting an investigation into the origins of the FBI probe, whether surveillance was adequately predicated, potential overreach by FBI or Department of Justice (DOJ) leadership, and whether the Steele dossier was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.[95][96] Barr assigned John Durham, the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, to lead the investigation.[97]

Upon the December 2019 release of the Justice Department Inspector General's findings that the investigation was properly opened on a factual and legal basis, Barr and Durham publicly stated their belief the evidence justified opening only a preliminary rather than a full investigation and indicated they would continue to investigate.[2]

2019 Justice Department Inspector General report

File:Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane Investigation.pdf
DoJ Inspector General report – Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane Investigation

In March 2018, the Justice Department's Inspector General, Michael E. Horowitz, announced that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) had opened a review of the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation, the informants used, and the process followed to authorize surveillance of Carter Page,[54][98] a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign.[99]

On December 9, 2019, Horowitz released his report on the findings of the DOJ OIG investigation. The OIG found no indication that the investigation of Trump and Russia was motivated by political bias, but did make 17 "basic and fundamental" errors and omissions in its warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to surveil Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign.[99][4][100][101][102] The report found that the FBI's investigation had a factual basis and was initiated for an authorized purpose,[101] stating: "We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced" the agency's decision to open the investigation.[103] The report did, however, criticize the FBI for mistakes related to the FBI's application to the FISA Court for a warrant to wiretap Carter Page, and found that in one application to renew the FISA warrant, an FBI lawyer had altered an email from a CIA liaison to make it appear that Page had not been a source for the CIA,[101] although Page had in fact "been approved as an operational contact for the [CIA] from 2008 to 2013."[103][104] The report did not speculate on whether the warrant application would have been rejected had "any particular misstatement or omission, or some combination thereof" been corrected.[101] During Senate testimony after the report's release, Horowitz attributed the warrant problems to "gross incompetence and negligence" rather than intentional malfeasance or political bias,[2] and stated: "The activities we found don’t vindicate anyone who touched this. The actions of FBI agents were not up to the standards of the FBI."[105] As a result of the findings, Horowitz announced a broader review of the FBI's FISA warrant application process, to study whether problems with the process are systemic.[101]

The report debunked claims, promoted by Trump and his allies, that the Steele dossier had prompted the opening of the Russia investigation, and reiterated that the FBI investigation had in fact started in late July 2016, based on a tip from Australian officials regarding Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.[3] The report also refuted Trump's assertions that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page had initiated the investigation; that decision was made by William Priestap, the assistant FBI director for the Counterintelligence Division.[106] The report criticized the FBI, however, for relying on information from the Steele dossier even though one of Steele's sources told the agency that his statements had been mischaracterized or exaggerated.[4][3] The OIG investigation found no support for Trump's claims that President Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.[3] The OIG also found no support for Trump's claims that the FBI had implanted a "spy" within his 2016 campaign,[3] finding "no documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivations influenced the FBI's decision" to use informants (known within the FBI as "confidential human sources" or "undercover employees") "to interact with Trump campaign officials in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation."[106]

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray stated that he accepted the OIG's findings and had "ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the Report’s recommendations," and added that it was "important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization."[101] Trump responded by attacking Wray by name on Twitter.[107] Attorney General William Barr rejected the OIG's key conclusion and continued to assert that the FBI's investigation into Trump was unjustified.[108][109] James Comey, the director of the FBI who oversaw the Trump-Russia investigation and was fired in May 2017 by Trump, acknowledged the "significant mistakes" identified by the inspector general, but staunchly defended the FBI and criticized Trump's attacks on investigators.[99] In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Comey wrote: "the truth is finally out, ... and those who smeared the FBI are due for an accounting" and called upon Attorney General Barr to "acknowledge the facts" and "stop acting like a Trump spokesperson."[110][111]

References

  1. Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane Investigation (redacted for public release), Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Justice, p. i.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Savage, Charlie; Goldman, Adam (December 11, 2019). "Withering Criticism of F.B.I. as Watchdog Presents Russia Inquiry Findings". New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named OpryskoDebunked
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  5. Mueller, Robert S. (2019-04-19). The Mueller Report: The Final Report of the Special Counsel into Donald Trump, Russia, and Collusion. Simon and Schuster. p. 82. ISBN 9781510750173. On March 3, 2016, Clovis arranged to speak with Papadopoulos by phone to discuss Papadopoulos joining the Campaign as a foreign policy advisor, and on March 6, 2016, the two spoke. Papadopoulos recalled that Russia was mentioned as a topic, and he understood from the conversation that Russia would be an important aspect of the Campaign's foreign policy. At the end of the conversation, Clovis offered Papadopoulos a role as a foreign policy advisor to the Campaign, and Papadopoulos accepted the offer.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  10. Multiple sources:
    1. Zappone, Chris. "George Papadopoulos spreading disinformation to Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 27, 2019. After Papadopoulos told Downer in 2016 that Russia possessed damaging material about then-US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Downer told US authorities, helping prompt the investigation led by Robert Mueller.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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    3. "Robert Mueller's report on Trump-Russia probe may name Australians". SBS World News. Retrieved March 27, 2019. The drinks — Downer and Papadopoulos say they only had one gin and tonic each — were credited with sparking the FBI investigation that eventually led to Mueller's appointment.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    4. "Alexander Downer interviewed by FBI over Russian interference in US election, report says". ABC News. Retrieved March 27, 2019. The results, summarised and sent to Washington on August 2 last year, reportedly laid the foundations for what is now special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The breakthrough stemmed from a night of heavy drinking Mr Downer had with former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos at the Kensington Wine Rooms in London in May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    5. Mitchell, Peter. "Downer, Papadopoulos, a few gins and the Mueller probe". The Australian Financial Review. Archived from the original on September 12, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2019. It was a meeting between Downer and Papadopoulos at London bar the Kensington Wine Rooms in May 2016 that has been credited with sparking the FBI investigation into Russia election interference that then led to the Mueller probe.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  13. "Full text: James Comey testimony transcript on Trump and Russia". June 8, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2019. SEN. JAMES RISCH: I gather from all this that you're willing to say now that, while you were director, the president of the United States was not under investigation. Is that a fair statement?
    COMEY: That's correct.
    RISCH: All right, so that's a fact that we are rely on?
    COMEY: Yes, sir.
    <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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Further reading

Template:Special Counsel investigation (2017–2019) Template:Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections