House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is the latest Republican to attack President Trump’s claim that the FBI wrongly spied on his campaign during the election. This isn’t surprising considering the deepening political divide among Republicans over Trump’s policies, but Ryan, like others siding with the Obama administration, fails to address or explain irregularities in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation.
Democrats who have been briefed by the FBI on the investigation say they have seen “no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a ‘spy’ in the Trump campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy agreed, saying he believed Trump would be “just fine” once he finds out what happened. “I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said. Ryan stood by Gowdy’s statement.
One doesn’t have to be party to a secret intelligence meeting to ask some very legitimate questions about the FBI informant and have serious doubts about the conclusions drawn by Gowdy, Ryan, and the bobble-headed cabal of Democrats.
First, let’s put to rest the notion that the outed snitch, Stefan Halper, was just gathering information on Russia and not spying on Trump advisers. Follow the logic here. Former FBI Director James Comey told Congress in no uncertain terms that the full investigation that began on July 31, 2016, was into Russian interference and “the Trump campaign.”
Not Russian interference in general. Not Russian interference into the “campaigns.” The Trump campaign. So, yes, this has a lot — if not everything — to do with Donald J. Trump. Any preliminary investigation involving a covert operation prior to the full investigation would be to find facts relating to the focus of the full investigation. If, therefore, the Trump campaign was a focus of the full investigation, it was also a focus of the preliminary, and any contacts with team members within the scope of the inquiry must be seen in that context.
Second, The New York Times reported that the FBI used a covert human source (spy) to seek “more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails.” Oh really? Then why was Carter Page, not George Papadopoulos, the first person Halper approached in June, before the FBI had a whiff of Papadopoulos listening to some shady professor with ties to the Clinton Foundation yapping about information from the Russians — information that never materialized and probably wasn’t about actual emails in the first place?
Page has never been associated with the hacked emails, only connections to Russians through his work as an energy consultant. He also came under scrutiny for giving a speech in Moscow in July 2016 — a speech that was the focus of Christopher Steele’s sleazy dossier, which the FBI says it didn’t know about when it deployed Halper. Additionally, arrangements were made for Page to attend a Cambridge Symposium where he would meet Halper before the campaign adviser even gave his speech in Moscow.
Third, if Halper were gathering information on Russia’s possession of hacked emails, then why use such an intrusive method in relation to a campaign adviser? FBI guidelines are relentless in their directives to use the least intrusive methods possible at every stage of an investigation — and many of those are in the context of some serious stuff, like possible death and mayhem from terrorism.
If least intrusive methods should be used in those instances, if possible, don’t you think they should be used in gathering information on hacked emails? As the guidelines say, “If the threat is remote, and an individual’s involvement is speculative, and the probability of obtaining probative information is low, intrusive methods may not be justified.”
The emails had already been hacked; therefore, Halper’s operation was not to prevent a crime since it already happened. So the threat was remote.The possibility of Page having anything to do with emails was speculative at best. The success of Halper’s sniffing around Page and others from the campaign on the chance of finding actual evidence was quite low. Yet, an intrusive method was used.
And don’t let anyone tell you use of the confidential human source is not intrusive. The FBI guidelines say it is exactly that, which is why they’re not allowed to be used until the preliminary stage of the investigation (not in the assessment stage), and even then with great reservation.
Fourth, according to regulations, an investigation involving a political candidate is a sensitive matter investigation and, as such, is to be approached with caution and trepidation. Special considerations are to be made and Justice Department authorities are to use prudence when choosing to cross that line. They are to consider the severity of the national security threat, the probability that the investigative methods will be successful, the risk of pubic exposure and “the adverse impact or the perception of the adverse impact on civil liberties and public confidence,” and the risk to national security if nothing is done, i.e., what will happen if the political candidate and his team are not investigated.
Given the caution the FBI was required to take, why use such an intrusive method to contact Trump team members? Why not simply ask them what the Russians told them, if they weren’t under suspicion as many have claimed? Why not alert the Trump team to the threat, as guidelines propose, thus preventing any further damage, not just to the election but to confidence in our judicial system?
Finally, if the FBI was willing to use an undercover source to make contact with Trump team members to gather information about hacked emails, then why did they not do everything in their power to examine the source of the hacked emails — the DNC servers? The FBI was willing to dive into a sensitive matter investigation, risk violating privacy rights, risk losing public trust, risk an international incident by deploying a human source instead of a trained undercover agent overseas, yet they would not seek every legal avenue to examine the scene of the crime. What insanity is this?
Instead, the FBI relied on a private company, CrowdStrike, with ties to the DNC and the Obama administration to inform them of who hacked the DNC computers? They spied on Trump advisers, failed to alert the campaign of danger, yet glossed over the crime itself. Why? Given that the FBI says it was merely gathering information about the hacked emails and not intruding on the Trump campaign in the slightest, it seems they should have spent their time digging into what the Russians actually did and follow those leads.
As you can see, the claim that the FBI followed appropriate procedures and protocols is simply bogus. While they adhered to some technical aspects of procedures after deciding to employ certain intrusive methods, the decision to use those methods ran counter to procedures designed to protect the credibility of the Bureau and the civil liberties of American citizens. Why? An inquiry into this matter, as well as many other irregularities in the investigation, is needed to answer that question.
I go into further detail about the stages of the investigation, use of a human source, and how the FBI violated procedure in its first FISA request in a recent post, shedding even more light on the dubious nature of the actions of the Obama administration in its investigation of the Trump campaign.