A look at the latest leaks about the Obama administration’s spying on the Trump campaign.
Deep in the New York Times’s account of “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI’s codename for spying on the Trump campaign, is a hilariously bland paragraph about John Brennan and James Comey teaming up to dig dirt on Trumpworld. If you blinked in the course of reading the lengthy article, you might have missed it:
The F.B.I.’s thinking crystallized by mid-August, after the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, shared intelligence with Mr. Comey showing that the Russian government was behind an attack on the 2016 presidential election. Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation. The Crossfire Hurricane team was part of that group but largely operated independently, three officials said.
Contained in that oh-so-nonchalant line — “Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation” — is one of Obamagate’s biggest ticking time bombs. When it blows, John Brennan, whose demented partisanship led him to run an anti-Trump spying operation straight out of CIA headquarters, will feel much of the blast.
The gathering winds for Crossfire Hurricane, after all, came largely from that blowhard. Panicking at the sight of Donald Trump’s Super Tuesday wins in March 2016, Brennan had by the following month formed the beginnings of a spying operation against him, and managed to enmesh a bunch of other agencies in it, thinking that would keep the outside of the CIA’s cup clean. How do we know this? Because a “senior” member of the intelligence community — back when such a figure thought talking out of school about such matters would serve the cause of delegitimizing Trump — leaked the existence of the operation to the BBCin January 2017:
Last April , the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was – allegedly – a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.
It was passed to the US by an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States. The CIA cannot act domestically against American citizens so a joint counter-intelligence taskforce was created.
The taskforce included six agencies or departments of government. Dealing with the domestic, US, side of the inquiry, were the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice. For the foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation, there were another three agencies: the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic spying.
David Corn and Michael Isikoff, authors of Russian Roulette, gingerly refer to this anti-Trump spying operation as the “working group at Langley,” an undertaking so outré that even Brennan called it an “exceptionally sensitive issue.”
Since they are engaged in propaganda and stenography rather than investigative journalism, Corn/Isikoff and the Times are content to leave this part of the story fuzzy. As the most crucial period in this debacle — the period that would bring out its unfounded, partisan origins the most clearly — they don’t want to look too closely at it. Better to dispatch it all quickly with the Times’s line, “Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation.”
But make no mistake about it: that the FBI and the CIA, on little more than the say-so of a virulent Trump hater like Brennan, were meeting to spy on the campaign of Hillary’s opponent makes Watergate look like a tenth-rate burglary. Nixon, at his most Machiavellian, wouldn’t have thought to form a “working group at Langley” against McGovern. But Obama, via Brennan, did the equivalent for Hillary.
For all intents and purposes, Crossfire Hurricane did not begin in July 2016 but at the moment Trump emerged as Hillary’s rival. Brennan, shortly thereafter, was bringing CIA agents, FBI agents, NSA agents, and an assortment of Obama’s political aides together in one room at CIA headquarters to bat around ideas on how to smoke out the campaign of Hillary’s opponent. Out of these meetings came the plot to infiltrate the Trump campaign.
Notice the timing of all the grooming and entrapment of George Papadopoulos, a twentysomething Trump campaign volunteer in London whom the Australian ambassador, Alexander Downer, suddenly wanted to meet in May 2016 for an evening of sozzled political chitchat. That timing corresponds perfectly with the brainstorming meetings of Brennan’s Langley group.
British intelligence, through various planted stories, has bragged about its role in helping Brennan spy on the Trump campaign. It must have served as the bridge between Brennan and Downer. Famous for greasing the wheels of the Clinton Foundation, Downer was looking for ways to ingratiate himself with what he presumed was the next administration. So he was happy to serve as a cog in Brennan’s dirty machine.
One can only laugh at the sheer brazenness of the propaganda in the Times’s opener about Downer:
Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.
Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.
First of all, Downer had no “evidence.” All he had was the memory of speculative remarks (the kind anybody following the news could have made) that he had pumped out of a minor campaign volunteer during a meeting he set up, according to the Daily Caller.
The threadbare character of this episode (not to mention the possibility that Papadopoulos might have simply been regurgitating speculation fed to him by a mole) is almost too stupid for words. But then Brennan’s Langley group needed something, anything, to get the dolts over at the FBI to open up a formal probe. Presumably, it was Brennan and other Obama political appointees who participated in the “tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra.” Or did Obama himself get on the phone with the Australian PM to discuss how to break through a diplomatic impasse touching on a matter as grave as the Downer-Papadopoulos pub crawl?
What a farce. But it is an entirely plausible one given the partisan progenitor at the heart of it, John Brennan, whose idea of a normal day at the CIA was to turn its offices into the Clinton War Room.