Posted: August 6, 2019
Category: NATIONAL HEADLINES
Text messages between Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI at the time, and Jeremy Fleming, his then counterpart at MI5, now the head of GCHQ, also reveal their mutual surprise at the result of the EU referendum, which some US officials regarded as a “wake-up call”, according to a person familiar with the matter.
While Russia had previously been viewed as a country that would seek to interfere in western elections, the Brexit vote was viewed by some within the FBI as a sign that Russian activities had possibly been successful, the person said.
Their exchanges offer new insights into the start of the FBI’s Russia investigation, and how British intelligence appears to have played a key role in the early stages.
In one exchange in August 2016, Fleming noted that members of the FBI and MI5 had “met on our strange situation”, a veiled reference to discussions about Russian activities, according to the source.
In his text message about the August 2016 meeting, Fleming appeared to be making a reference to Peter Strzok, a senior FBI official who traveled to London that month to meet the Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. Downer had agreed to speak with the FBI about a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, who had told him that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in the race. The meeting was first reported by the New York Times.
Strzok and almost every senior FBI official who was involved in the initial Trump investigation has since left the FBI, including McCabe. In many cases, they were dismissed by Trump officials, ostensibly for unrelated reasons. Fleming was elevated to head GCHQ in 2017.