The spy, Azra Turk, pretended to be an aide to Stefan Halper, the retired professor who was exposed a year ago as a U.S. government spy targeting the Trump campaign.
The New York Times didn’t disclose which agency Turk worked for, describing her instead as a “government investigator.” When asked by CNN if Turk was an FBI agent, New York Times reporter Adam Goldman declined to be more specific, leaving open the possibility that Turk may have worked for another domestic or foreign intelligence agency. Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos believes Turk worked for the CIA and has ties to Turkish intelligence.
The New York Times claims to have received details about Turk from “people familiar with the operation.” The newspaper didn’t disclose the woman’s real name.
Halper lured Papadopoulos to London by offering Papadopoulos $3,000 to write a research paper. When Papadopoulos met with the two spies, Turk bluntly asked him whether the Trump campaign was working with Russia.
The FBI sent Turk to London as part of its “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation of the Trump campaign. The bureau reportedly started the investigation in late July 2016, after receiving intelligence that Papadopoulos had mentioned to an Australian diplomat that Russia had rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.
Responding to the report, Papadopoulos suggested that the Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, was also an intelligence asset sent to target the Trump campaign.
“What is the media going to do when Congress reveals that Alexander Downer was an asset sent to make contact with me? The old narrative is about to get obliterated. Read my testimony to Congress. They have it all,” Papadopoulos wrote on Twitter.
What is the media going to do when congress reveals that Alexander Downer was an asset sent to make contact with me? The old narrative is about to get obliterated. Read my testimony to Congress. They have it all.
— George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) May 3, 2019
The revelation that a second spy targeted the Trump campaign further buttresses President Donald Trump’s assertion that the Obama administration weaponized executive branch agencies to spy on his campaign. The president responded to the report on May 3, calling the revelation “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,'” Trump wrote on Twitter. “This is bigger than WATERGATE, but the reverse!”
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
Attorney General William Barr told Congress in April that he believes the Trump campaign was spied upon, and has directed a team to determine whether the spying was adequately predicated.
Meanwhile, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is investigating a parallel FBI operation that utilized a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to spy on former Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Barr told Congress that Horowitz’s investigation is due to conclude this month or next month.
The FBI obtained the warrant targeting Page using evidence from the infamous Clinton-funded Steele dossier. The document was composed by former British intelligence office Christopher Steele using second- and third-hand sources with ties to the Kremlin.
Special counsel Robert Mueller took over the reins of the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign in May 2017. Mueller finished his probe in March, concluding that neither Trump nor anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.