- A former Bush administration official has released audio of his conversation from Jan. 10, 2017, with Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who was an FBI source during the Trump-Russia probe.
- Halper told Steven Schrage that Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, was likely not “going to be around long.”
- Schrage says he found the comment peculiar because Flynn became the target of intense media scrutiny two days later, after classified details of his conversations with a Russian diplomat were leaked to The Washington Post.
- Schrage, who studied under Halper at Cambridge, has revealed other details about his interactions with the longtime FBI source.
A professor who served as an FBI informant during the investigation of the Trump campaign told one of his students in early 2017 that incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn was not “going to be around long,” according to audio that the student published Sunday.
Steven Schrage, a former Bush administration official, released audio of a conversation he had on Jan. 10, 2017, with Stefan Halper, the FBI informant.
In the audio file, which Schrage included in an essay published by journalist Matt Taibbi, Halper is heard saying that he doubted that Flynn would last long in the Trump administration.
“If you go to the [National Security Council], you have to consider very carefully if you feel it’s appropriate for you to work for Flynn. I don’t think Flynn’s going to be around long. That’s just my guess,” Halper told Schrage, according to the audio recording.
“But Flynn’s reaction to that is to blow up and get angry. He’s really fucked. I mean I don’t know where he goes from there. But that is his reaction. That’s why he’s so unsuitable,” Halper also said.
Schrage studied under Halper at the time while working on his doctoral dissertation at the University of Cambridge, where Halper served as a professor in the school’s political department.
Schrage said he found Halper’s remark about Flynn curious because of the timing and because Halper would not have had any independent knowledge about Flynn’s tenure in the Trump administration.
“Halper would not have independently known Flynn, Trump’s most trusted security advisor, was about to go down,” wrote Schrage, who disclosed that he has met with U.S. Attorney John Durham. The Connecticut prosecutor is investigating several areas related to the Trump-Russia probe.
At the time of Halper’s remarks, the FBI was investigating Flynn as a possible agent of Russia and regarding a phone conversation he had in late December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Two days after the Halper-Schrage conversation, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius first revealed that Flynn spoke by phone with Kislyak. Flynn resigned as national security adviser a month later following fallout from revelations about the call with the Russian diplomat.
Halper’s role in the Trump investigation has long been a source of intrigue because of his connections to at least four separate Trump associates.
The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported in March 2018 that Halper met during the 2016 presidential campaign with three Trump aides: Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Sam Clovis. After it was reported that Halper was a longtime FBI source, a former Cambridge student named Svetlana Lokhova came forward with details of Halper’s interest in Flynn.
Lokhova has said she believes Halper was behind negative stories that appeared in the media in March 2017 that suggested she had improper contact with Flynn when he visited Cambridge in February 2014, when he served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
An FBI memo dated Jan. 4, 2017, said investigators had looked into allegations from a confidential human source who said that Flynn left with Lokhova after the 2014 Cambridge event. The source is not identified in the FBI memo.
Lokhova and her husband have told the DCNF that she did not leave the Cambridge event with Flynn.
According David Kramer, a former State Department official who provided the Steele dossier to BuzzFeed, Christopher Steele told him in December 2016 that he believed Flynn had an extramarital affair with a woman in the United Kingdom. A Justice Department inspector general report said that FBI agents who met with Steele on Oct. 3, 2016, offered to pay him to dig up dirt on various Trump associates, including Flynn.
Schrage said in his essay that he attended part of the event that Flynn attended and saw nothing improper going on.
“I attended part of their program and found nothing untoward, just typical academic fare,” Schrage wrote.
Rumors about Lokhova and Flynn appear to have made their way to the FBI as well as to Steele, the former British spy whose dossier the FBI used to surveil Page.
Republican lawmakers have expressed interest in Schrage due to his relationship with Halper and his role organizing a conference in Cambridge in July 2016 where Page first met the FBI source. Schrage personally invited Page to the event, which was also attended by high-profile luminaries such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6 and a close colleague of Halper’s.
Schrage dismissed the theory that he was working with Halper to set up Page. He said he invited the Trump aide on his own initiative in order to have someone affiliated with the Trump campaign at the event.
Halper met with Papadopoulos in London in September 2016 and offered $3,000 to the Trump adviser to write a policy paper about the energy industry in the Mediterranean Sea.
Several news outlets reported in May 2018 that Halper was a longtime confidential human source for the FBI. The DOJ IG report released on Dec. 9 said that Halper had been a source for the FBI since 2008. He was briefly suspended as a source in 2011 due to “mercurial” behavior and because the FBI questioned his relationship to one of his intelligence targets.
Halper’s FBI handler at the time was replaced by Steven Somma, a counterintelligence agent in the FBI’s New York field office. The IG report said that Somma was “primarily responsible” for some of the most egregious errors in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
After their first Cambridge encounter, Page met Halper at his home in Virginia on Aug. 20, 2016, and several more times through 2017.
According to the IG report, the FBI failed to disclose statements that Page and Papadopoulos made to Halper that undercut the theory that they were working as agents of Russia.