- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A controversial White House intelligence analyst connected to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has joined a congressional committee investigating Russian election meddling.

Derek Harvey, briefly President Trump’s National Security Council Middle East director, will soon rejoin the House Intelligence Committee, where he has worked before.

An appointee of Mr. Flynn, a central figure in the Russia saga, Mr. Harvey left his executive branch position over the summer when Mr. Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMaster, purged the NSC of Flynn loyalists.

A confidant of former U.S. commander in Iraq and later CIA Director David Petraeus, Mr. Harvey was also an ally of former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and considered one of the NSC’s most hawkish members regarding issues, such as Iran. The retired Army colonel and former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst also pushed to expand the U.S. military mission in Syria to pursue Iranian proxy forces there.

He also supported President Trump’s desire to declare Iran in noncompliance with the Obama-era Iranian nuclear accord. Debate on the issue has been hot since July, the last time the deal was up for review.

Earlier this year, after Mr. Flynn stepped down from his position as national security adviser for misleading top officials about his meetings with foreign contacts to the White House, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, also stepped down from heading the committee’s Russia meddling probe because of an ethics review into his handling of classified information.

Part of the probe focused on a White House visit Mr. Nunes made to view supposedly secret information without telling other committee members.

While Democrats and a bipartisan Senate investigation have focused mostly on Russian hacking efforts and possible links to the Trump campaign, Mr. Nunes has been an outspoken proponent of a very different side of the story — the possibility that the Obama White House spied on Trump campaign and transition personnel to help the campaign of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

This line of inquiry raises the possibility that Obama-era officials, including former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, inappropriately asked to identify or “unmask” American citizens caught up in U.S. intelligence intercepts of foreign figures. Ms. Rice has denied any wrongdoing.

While serving on the NSC, Mr. Harvey worked with another Flynn appointee later purged by Mr. McMaster, former Senior Director for Intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick.

It was Mr. Cohen-Watnick who supplied Mr. Nunes the intelligence intercepts, some of which reportedly contained references to Mr. Flynn, that launched the unmasking narrative.

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