In a letter last Wednesday, Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) exposed that longtime informant Cambridge University professor Stefan Halper, received taxpayer's funds in order to spy on the Trump campaign. His letter to the director of the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) James Baker included what was flagged as suspicious payments to Halper, which included DOD contracts that he may not have done and others from what was said to be "unknown" foreign entities.
In the article provided by Fox News, the senator deems it "unacceptable" how the DOD spent most of 2019 dodging his requests for more information regarding Halper's contacts with U.S. officials and stated that the information the DOD gave raised more questions. The ONA functions as the Pentagon's internal thinking chamber. In a contract awarded in September 2015, Grassley notes
Professor Halper lists former Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Vyachesla Trubnikov, as a consultant and adviser to a paper delivered... Trubikov is a known Russian intelligence officer, who was listed by Christopher Steele as a source in the now-debunked Steele dossier, which was used as a predicate to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Back then, Page told Fox News that Halper "intensified" communications with him prior to the warrant application, telling host Maria Bartiromo
I had a longstanding relationship with Professor Halper. I always believe in 'innocent until proven guilty' but my conversations with him intensified right in the month before my illegitimate FISA warrant in September 2016, when all these defamatory articles were being placed by the [Democratic National Committee]. ... Professor Halper was being very positive, you know, like a Harriet Tubman figure. He understands sort of the injustices, or he presented himself as understanding that... and I sort of trusted him."
In the letter, the senator said that Halper was awarded a contract for his travels to Japan, with unknown third parties paying for portions of these travels, including hotel expenses where he conducted several interviews with Japanese officials for a government project relating to the relationship between China and India, raising the question 'who exactly paid for the travel and hotel expenses, and why?"
Other than these issues labeled here, Grassley also flagged what appears to be problematic ONA projects, writing
The fact that taxpayer money was used to support these project calls into question ONA's ability to be a proper steward of the people's money and whether ONA has acted consistent with its mission and purpose. Did Professor Halper even disclose his relationship with former Deputy Foreign Minister for Russia Vyascheslav Trubnikov to yourself or any other ONA official prior to completion of contract number HQ0034-15-C-0100 (The Russia-China Relationship: The Impact on the United States' Security)?
Does this relationship with a Russian intelligence officer suggest that there may be biased and unreliable information contained within the deliverable? Can ONA state for certain that Halper did not use taxpayer money provided by DoD to recruit, or attempt to recruit, sources for the FBI investigation into the now debunked theory of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia? Are you, or any other ONA official, aware of any other relationships Professor Halper had with foreign intelligence officers?"
Trump campaign's deputy director of communications Matt Wolking supports Grassley's sentiments towards the DoD's actions being "shady as hell." Wolking wrote "Grassley raises questions about whether Stefan Halper's work for DoD at taxpayer expense was 'influenced by foreign individuals or entities. Seems like a good question given Halper's collaboration with a known Russian intelligence officer. Did Halper use taxpayer money to target the Trump campaign?"