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Leak hunting, Trump officials focused on Democrats in Congress

With Mr. Benvenuto involved in the leak investigations, the FBI interviewed Michael Bahar, a former staff member of the House Intelligence Committee who had been in private practice in May 2017. The interview, conducted in late spring 2020, did not provide any evidence that led to charges.

Prosecutors also redoubled their efforts to find out who leaked information relating to Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s senior national security adviser. Details of the conversations he had in late 2016 with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak appeared in news reports in early 2017 and ultimately helped spark his ouster and federal charges against him. him. The talks were also considered highly confidential because the FBI had used a court-authorized covert wiretap on Mr. Kislyak to monitor them.

But John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence and close ally of Mr Trump, appeared to interfere with the investigation into the leaks in May 2020, when he declassified the transcripts of the calls. The permitted disclosure would have made it more difficult for prosecutors to argue that the reports had harmed national security.

Separately, one of the prosecutors Mr Barr had asked to review the FBI criminal case against Mr Flynn interviewed at least one law enforcement official in connection with the investigation into the leaks after declassification of transcripts, a decision that someone familiar with the case labeled politically charged.

Bi-weekly updates on leakage investigations between senior officials continued. Julie Edelstein, deputy chief of counterintelligence and export control, and Matt Blue, chief of the counterterrorism section of the ministry, informed John C. Demers, chief of the National Security Division, and Seth DuCharme, an official of the deputy attorney general’s office. , on their progress. Mr. Benvenuto attended briefings with Mr. Barr.

Mr. Demers, Ms. Edelstein, Mr. Blue and Mr. Benvenuto are still at the Department of Justice, ensuring that those appointed by Mr. Biden, including Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, have a full understanding of the investigations .

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