A former top Obama administration official made a stunning admission during a panel discussion on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this week. Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under Obama, openly admitted that her colleagues had gathered intelligence on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia before Donald Trump took office and then tried to hide the sources of that intelligence from the incoming administration.
“I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration,” said Farkas.
Note that by “the Hill people,” she means congressional Democrats and their staffers.
“I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy,” she said, adding that if “the Trump folks” found out how they knew what they knew, “they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence.”
The comments come as lawmakers on Capitol Hill clash over House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ claim last week that surveillance operations incidentally collected Trump team communications during the transition. Critics have accused Nunes of carrying water for Trump and called on him to recuse himself from Russia matters, but Nunes and his congressional allies have pushed back.
Aside from questions over whether communications were improperly gathered during the transition and before, there is speculation over how widely such information was disseminated. Farkas described a rush to spread the material before Trump took office.
“So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia,” she said. “So then I had talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew that they were trying to also help get information to the Hill.”
“That’s why you have the leaking,” Farkas explained helpfully.
According to Powerline’s Scott Johnson, Farkas “all but outed herself as a key source” for a New York Times story earlier this month that detailed the Obama administration’s efforts to undermine the incoming Trump administration.
The March 1 Times story ran under the headline “Obama administration rushed to preserve intelligence of Russian election hacking” under the byline of Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt. The Times reporters noted that they protected the identity of their sources because, you know, their cooperation with the Times was criminal or because their actions were otherwise legally problematic. The Times reporters put it this way in their March 1 story:
More than a half-dozen current and former officials described various aspects of the effort to preserve and distribute the intelligence, and some said they were speaking to draw attention to the material and ensure proper investigation by Congress. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing classified information, nearly all of which remains secret.
Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice recently argued on Fox Business that Barack Obama should be subpoenaed to testify before a closed-door committee hearing to get to the bottom of the spying allegations.
“He is the one through his associates saying, ‘I had nothing to do with this,'” Sekulow said.
He added that other Obama officials who had that power to “unmask” Americans should also be subpoenaed.
“Why don’t we also bring in some of his top officials like John Brennan, Clapper, Loretta Lynch — let’s ask them — Ben Rhodes…” he suggested. “I believe it’s time to put some Obama officials on the spot. If they refuse to cooperate — including the president himself — I think that’s telling.”