With Mr. Benvenuto concerned within the leak inquiries, the F.B.I. questioned Michael Bahar, a former House Intelligence Committee workers member who had gone into non-public follow in May 2017. The interview, performed in late spring of 2020, didn’t yield proof that led to prices.
Prosecutors additionally redoubled efforts to search 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 stories in early 2017 and finally helped immediate each his ouster and federal prices towards him. The discussions had additionally been thought-about extremely categorised as a result of the F.B.I. had used a court-authorized secret wiretap of Mr. Kislyak to observe 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 felony case towards Mr. Flynn interviewed at the least one legislation enforcement official within the leak investigation after the transcripts have been declassified, a transfer that an individual accustomed to the matter labeled politically fraught.
The biweekly updates on the leak investigations between high 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 National Security 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 Department. Their continued presence and management roles would appear to make sure that Mr. Biden’s appointees, together with Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, would have a full understanding of the investigations.