With Mr. Benvenuto concerned within the leak inquiries, the F.B.I. questioned Michael Bahar, a former Home Intelligence Committee workers member who had gone into non-public apply in Might 2017. The interview, carried out in late spring of 2020, didn’t yield proof that led to fees.
Prosecutors additionally redoubled efforts to search out out who had leaked materials associated to Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first nationwide safety adviser. Particulars about conversations he had in late 2016 with the Russian ambassador on the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, appeared in information experiences in early 2017 and ultimately helped immediate each his ouster and federal fees towards him. The discussions had additionally been thought of extremely categorised as a result of the F.B.I. had used a court-authorized secret wiretap of Mr. Kislyak to watch them.
However John Ratcliffe, the director of nationwide intelligence and shut ally of Mr. Trump’s, appeared to wreck the leak inquiry in Might 2020, when he declassified transcripts of the calls. The licensed disclosure would have made it tougher for prosecutors to argue that the information tales had harm nationwide safety.
Individually, one of many prosecutors whom Mr. Barr had directed to re-examine the F.B.I.’s prison case towards Mr. Flynn interviewed at the very least one legislation enforcement official within the leak investigation after the transcripts have been declassified, a transfer that an individual conversant in the matter labeled politically fraught.
The biweekly updates on the leak investigations between prime officers continued. Julie Edelstein, the deputy chief of counterintelligence and export management, and Matt Blue, the top of the division’s counterterrorism part, briefed John C. Demers, the top of the Nationwide Safety Division, and Seth DuCharme, an official within the deputy lawyer basic’s workplace, on their progress. Mr. Benvenuto was concerned in briefings with Mr. Barr.
Mr. Demers, Ms. Edelstein, Mr. Blue and Mr. Benvenuto are nonetheless on the Justice Division, guaranteeing that Mr. Biden’s appointees, together with Lawyer Normal Merrick B. Garland, would have a full understanding of the investigations.