With Mr. Benvenuto concerned within the leak inquiries, the F.B.I. questioned Michael Bahar, a former Home Intelligence Committee employees member who had gone into personal observe in Might 2017. The interview, performed in late spring of 2020, didn’t yield proof that led to expenses.
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 stories in early 2017 and finally helped immediate each his ouster and federal expenses in opposition to him. The discussions had additionally been thought-about extremely labeled 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 legal case in opposition to Mr. Flynn interviewed a minimum of 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 pinnacle of the division’s counterterrorism part, briefed John C. Demers, the pinnacle of the Nationwide Safety Division, and Seth DuCharme, an official within the deputy legal professional 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, making certain that Mr. Biden’s appointees, together with Legal professional Normal Merrick B. Garland, would have a full understanding of the investigations.