Trump Buddy Nigel Farage a 'Person of Interest' in FBI's Russia Probe

Guardian reports Farage piqued interest of FBI due to his connections to people related to both Trump campaign and WikiLeaks ■ House committee subpoenas former Trump aide Flynn and attorney Cohen

Nigel Farage and Donald Trump in Trump Tower
‏@Nigel_Farage/twitter

Nigel Farage, the former leader of the British UKIP Party, has been determined a "person of interest" in the American investigation into the ties of U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign with Moscow, the Guardian reported.

The Brexit lead campaigner piqued the interest of the FBI due to his connections to people related to both the Trump election campaign and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Guardian reported.

While being a person of interest, Farage isn’t a suspect in the investigation. It may, however, mean that he might have knowledge of the subject of the investigation.

The Guardian quoted a source as mentioning Farage's relations with Trump's political adviser Roger Stone, who in turn has been linked to hacker Guccifer 2.0, a suspected Russian agent.

Then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, welcomes pro-Brexit British politician Nigel Farage, to speak at a campaign rally in Jackson, Miss., Aug. 24, 2016.
Gerald Herbert, AP Photo

Farage dismissed the report as "hysterical," telling the Daily Mail that he has no connections with Russia and never had any business dealings with the country.

When asked about the Guardian report, a UKIP spokesman said it was absurd. 

"To my knowledge, the only serious Russian politician that Nigel has spent time with is Garry Kasparov," the spokesman said. 

Farage, who has campaigned for decades for Britain to leave the European Union, was a vocal backer of Trump. He met Trump in New York just days after the election and attended the inauguration in Washington. 

Farage met Assange in March this year at the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been holed up for five years. 

U.S. intelligence agencies reported in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw a campaign of computer hacking, fake news and propaganda intended to swing the election to Republican Trump over his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. 

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has accused Assange of seeking to interfere in the U.S. election when it distributed material hacked from Democratic National Committee computers during the 2016 campaign. 

Pompeo said Russia's GRU military intelligence service had used WikiLeaks to distribute the material and concluded that Russia stole the emails and took other actions to tilt the election in favor of Trump over Clinton.

Putin has denied conducting such a campaign. Trump denies any collusion between Russia and his campaign and has questioned the veracity of the U.S. intelligence finding.

On Wednesday, The U.S. House Intelligence Committee approved subpoenas for Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in connection with the Russia probe. 

The committee also approved subpoenas to the two men's firms, Flynn Intel Llc, and Michael D. Cohen and Associates PC, the committee statement said. 

"As part of our ongoing investigation into Russian active measures during the 2016 campaign, today we approved subpoenas for several individuals for testimony, personal documents and business records," Republican Representative Mike Conaway and Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who are leading the committee probe, said in a joint statement. 

At the same time, a feud erupted charges that the panel's Republican chairman also subpoenaed the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency without telling Democratic members. 

Committee aides complained that the chairman, Representative Devin Nunes, who publicly recused himself from leading the Russia probe in April following a secret visit he paid to White House officials, failed to consult Democrats on the subpoenas. 

The subpoenas asked the agencies to provide details of any requests made by two top Obama administration aides and the former CIA director to "unmask" names of Trump campaign advisers inadvertently picked up in top-secret foreign communications intercepts, congressional sources said. 

The former officials named in the subpoenas were Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and former CIA Director John Brennan. 

"Subpoenas related to the 'unmasking' issue would have been sent by Chairman Nunes acting separately from the committee's Russia investigation. This action would have been taken without the minority's (Democrats') agreement," said a senior committee aide, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

Another congressional source, who also requested anonymity, said Democrats were "informed and consulted" before the subpoenas were issued. 

The CIA declined to comment on the subpoenas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA did not immediate respond to requests for comment. 

U.S. privacy laws and intelligence regulations require that Americans' names picked up in foreign communications intercepts be concealed unless senior officials request them to be disclosed for intelligence or law enforcement purposes. Any such requests undergo rigorous legal reviews. 

Several U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that all such requests by Obama administration officials were properly scrutinized and appropriate.

Reuters contributed to this report.