With Mr. Benvenuto concerned in the leak inquiries, the F.B.I. questioned Michael Bahar, a former House Intelligence Committee employees member who had gone into personal observe in May 2017. The interview, carried out in late spring of 2020, didn’t yield proof that led to fees.
Prosecutors additionally redoubled efforts to seek out out who had leaked materials associated to Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first nationwide safety adviser. Details 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 in opposition to 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.
But John Ratcliffe, the director of nationwide intelligence and shut ally of Mr. Trump’s, appeared to break the leak inquiry in May 2020, when he declassified transcripts of the calls. The licensed disclosure would have made it harder for prosecutors to argue that the information tales had damage nationwide safety.
Separately, 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 no less than one regulation enforcement official in the leak investigation after the transcripts had been declassified, a transfer that an individual aware of 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 National Security Division, and Seth DuCharme, an official in the deputy legal professional common’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 Department, guaranteeing that Mr. Biden’s appointees, together with Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, would have a full understanding of the investigations.