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Pentagon reverses course in Trump campaign spy case

The Pentagon

A federal employee who claims he was punished for questioning a $1 million payment to a man who spied on the 2016 Trump presidential campaign has won a key concession.

The Washington Times reports Pentagon officials have abruptly reversed course and will give a lawyer for Adam Lovinger access to an internal memo that concluded Lovinger was guilty of security violations before any investigation was completed.

Lovinger contends his security clearance was revoked as retaliation for whistle-blowing.

The Pentagon originally blocked access to the memo. It then handed over three blank pages to his attorney, who protested.

On Oct. 1, the Pentagon finally provided the full document.

Government watchdog Judicial Watch recently filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain copies of relevant documents in Lovinger’s case.

“Americans want to know if the Defense Department was working with the corrupt FBI, DOJ and other Obama agencies to spy on Donald Trump,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton when the lawsuit was filed.

Lovinger has questioned the government’s payment of about $1 million to Cambridge professor and FBI informant Stefan Halper to spy on the Trump campaign regarding it’s relationship with Russia.

Judicial Watch said Halper also has high-level ties to both U.S. and British intelligence.

Government records show the Office of Net Assessment, a small Defense Department unit known as the Pentagon’s think tank, paid Halper a total of $1,058,161 for four contracts that lasted from May 30, 2012, to March 29, 2018.

More than $400,000 of the payments came between July 2016 and September 2017, after Halper offered work to a Trump campaign volunteer and a trip to London to entice him into disclosing information about alleged collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, Judicial Watch said.

Judicial Watch has been trying to obtain records related to Halper’s contract, the scope of the work, reports, analysis, abstracts, summaries and similar records.

The internal memo could play a pivotal role in Lovinger’s case. Written by Barbara Westgate, who directs the Washington Headquarters Services, the memo was listed as evidence by the Pentagon’s Consolidated Adjudication Facility, which she oversees and which decided to remove Lovinger’s clearance. He was suspended without pay after a decade of Defense Department assignments.

Westgate concluded Lovinger “violated security policies.” But his lawyer, Sean Bigley, told the Times the memo found his client guilty before the investigation was completed months later.

Bigley told the Times the process is supposed to be objective.

However, he said, that “didn’t happen here because they were unduly influenced by their superiors at WHS, who directed, managed and rigged this case from Day One.”

The Times said conservatives have suggested that Lovinger, a Trump supporter, is a victim of the “deep state,” Obama administration holdovers obstructing the president’s agenda.

Lovinger also had raised questions about “costly academic-type studies that seemed to him to be a waste of taxpayer money,” the report said.