The more we learn about the Obama administration’s spying on Donald Trump, the worse it looks. The investigation into his alleged collusion with Russia never had any foundation to it. Feverish partisans pushed for the probe. Chief among them were John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director who despised Trump, and Peter Strzok, Brennan’s FBI liaison who texted his mistress that he was going to “stop” Trump.
The partisan origins of the probe are impossible to deny. But were they illegal? Can an administration just open up an investigation on a political opponent based on partisan hunches? This remains to be seen. Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has said that “quite a few more indictments” are likely to come from special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the probe. “[Then-Attorney General] Bill Barr, John Durham, and I, all looking at this intelligence, agreed there was not a proper predicate to open a criminal investigation into the Trump campaign, yet that happened,” he said.
The probe was a partisan fishing expedition from the beginning, evident in the fact that the FBI resorted to the outlandish use of a quasi-Republican spy, Stefan Halper, to infiltrate the Trump campaign. The media has almost completely ignored this sensational part of the story. But Mark Hemingway at RealClearInvestigations has done the reporting on Halper that the mainstream media won’t. His illuminating story on Halper raises more embarrassing questions for the FBI — questions that Durham’s final report will hopefully answer.
It is hard to imagine the FBI making use of an apparent Democrat with a checkered record to spy on a Democratic presidential campaign. Were the FBI ever caught doing so, the media would go berserk. But it has yawned at the Halper story, even though, as Hemingway shows, it reeks of the Washington swamp.
Hemingway first pokes various holes in Halper’s resume: “There is, for example, no public evidence for his claim, on a resume he submitted to the Ford White House, that he was class president at Stanford University in 1967, or a Fulbright scholar. Nor is there any for the claim on another resume that he held the prestigious position in the Ford administration listed.”
But even more remarkably, Hemingway reports that in 1994, Halper “was arrested in Washington D.C. for possession of crack cocaine — though the case file detailing the circumstances of the arrest has been destroyed.”
In another revealing detail, Hemingway reports that the FBI has been using Halper as a confidential informant for many years despite doubts about him:
Despite his checkered past, Halper returned to government work in 2008 – this time as an FBI informant. But controversy followed. According to an Inspector General report, in 2011 the FBI stopped using Halper as a “confidential human source” because of his “aggressiveness toward [his] handling agents” over a dispute about what he was getting paid for his services. The IG report also added that the FBI had additional concerns about “questionable allegiance to the [intelligence] targets.” The IG report doesn’t specify what “targets” the FBI was referring to, though it’s known that Halper had relationships with Russian intelligence.
This sounds similar to the FBI’s use of Christopher Steele, a former British spy whom the Democrats paid to compile opposition research on Trump. The FBI knew perfectly well that Steele was tainted but drew upon his smears anyways in its FISA warrant applications.
The FBI’s desperate reliance upon problematic, partisan, and entrapping sources proves the probe’s lack of foundation. Its purpose wasn’t to build on evidence but to find evidence. And even after the FBI came up empty, it still didn’t call off the investigation. The spying not only continued but intensified. The FBI, recall, even sent an alluring female confidential agent under the name of Azra Turk to shake Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos down for damning information. He said in testimony to Congress that she “never explicitly said I will sleep with you for this, but her mannerisms and her behavior suggested that she was flirtatious, and she was very open to something like that if I ended up providing what she wanted, whatever that was.”
In light of all of these sordid details, Durham’s final report should be a doozy. But Strzok and company don’t seem terribly worried about his findings. Strzok is still suing the federal government to get his FBI job back. He claims that he is the victim, not the villain, in this scandal. All of the high officials responsible for this fiasco — from Brennan to James Comey — continue to pose as great defenders of democracy, even though they derailed ours over a bogus probe. Figures like Christopher Steele who complained the loudest about Russian disinformation in the 2016 race did the most to disseminate it.
But even as the media tries to fumigate Spygate, its stench grows. Perhaps its principal architects will escape justice — it is often the case in Washington that the greatest scandal derives from what the ruling class deems legal — but they won’t escape the judgment of history. In the annals of political espionage, they will forever occupy a sinister place.