Some officials within the FBI, which received its own copy of the whistleblower’s complaint in early September, chafed at a Justice Department move they believed was aimed at shutting down any inquiry at all, especially into potential counterintelligence issues raised by the allegations, according to a former senior U.S intelligence official who has discussed the matter with current FBI counterintelligence agents.
There were “guys who wanted to run with it,” said the former senior official. “People were pissed off.”
Others in the FBI were wary and “didn’t want to touch [the whistleblower complaint] with a 10-foot pole because of the Russia investigation,” said this former senior official.
FBI counterintelligence officials were particularly concerned about the claims — detailed in the whistleblower’s complaint — that the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and two of his associates may have been manipulated by Russian interests, said the former senior official.
The two associates in question are Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, both of whom were recently indicted by federal prosecutors for allegedly conspiring to funnel foreign money into U.S. elections.
“There were guys within the [intelligence community] who believe this is another Russian attempt,” the former official said. “People think Giuliani is being led down the primrose path.”
One question likely to be raised by the FBI’s inquiry is why the bureau is still interested in talking to the whistleblower given that the House has since taken testimony from others who have far more direct knowledge of the White House’s interactions on Ukraine issues.
Yet, largely overlooked in the impeachment debate so far is that the CIA analyst, whose complaint was forwarded to the FBI, specifically raised his concerns in the context of an intelligence threat to the country. “I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. Government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections,” the analyst wrote. [Continue reading…]