President Trump is meeting Monday with Senior FBI, DOJ and DNI officials at the White House to discuss classified documentation requested by the House Intelligence Committee and whether or not members of the Obama administration authorized the use of a long-time informant of the CIA and FBI to investigate members of his 2016 campaign. The meeting came on the heels of the President’s demand Sunday for the Justice Department to investigate the FBI’s operation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, which included surveillance of members of the Trump campaign.
And this meeting is crucial because it will be a major opportunity for the President to order the Justice Department and FBI to turn over classified information requested by the House Intelligence Committee that may finally lead to the answers related to the scope of the FBI’s surveillance on the Trump campaign. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will be at the White House to discuss the classified nature of the request by the committee and they will argue against the disclosure of the documents.
Rosenstein agreed four hours after Trump’s demand on Sunday to comply and designated DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to conduct an investigation into the matter and whether informants were used in the campaign. But that may not be enough.
Horowitz’s investigation into the FISA application coincides with ongoing investigations by the House Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Devin Nunes, which is also looking at the circumstances surrounding the warrants used on Carter Page.
And spying on Page, didn’t mean just investigating Page. It meant that anyone communicating to Page was also gathered up in the dragnet and possibly anyone those people were communicating with.
There were four FISA warrants issued on Page, the first warrant was granted on October 21, 2016. The other warrants were renewed every 90 days, meaning the last FISA warrant, which was signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, lasted until the end of September 2017, almost seven months into Trump’s presidency. Each time an application is submitted to extend a FISA warrant, law enforcement must produce a separate finding of probable cause including additional information collected from the prior warrant that would support the continuation of the surveillance.
So what was the additional evidence presented to the secret court every time the additional FISA warrant was renewed when Page was no longer a part of Trump’s circle?
And why did Rosenstein approve the final FISA? By that time the FBI had already been aware that the dossier, which was put together by former British spy Christopher Steele, was questionably sourced. They also knew the dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the law firm cut out Perkins Coie. And all of that relevant information was omitted to the FISC court, according to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia report.
It was former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on June 8, 2017, to the Senate Intelligence Committee that revealed the dossier has not been verified. Comey and the Bureau had to have known before the first FISA warrant was issued that the dossier, which made the bulk of the first application had not been confirmed. Remember, Steele was let go by the FBI, after he lied about leaking information from his dossier to members of the media by the Fall of 2016.
Comey told Fox New’s Brett Baier this month in an interview that it was a “mosaic” of information that the Bureau used to apply for the warrant, as he downplayed the dossier’s importance in the FISA warrant application. What was the mosaic and were there any red lines crossed, i.e. were government support assets sent into the campaign and was the FBI paying opposition to conduct investigations into members of the Trump campaign?
Well, it would come to reason then, that Rosenstein knows what that mosaic is. After all, he’s fighting to keep the information from going to the House Intelligence Committee staff.
The answers to these questions, however, may lie in the classified information requested by Nunes’ committee from the DOJ on April 24. It is the same request that Rosenstein and Wray refused to comply with, citing national security implications if the information is released. Subsequently, Nunes signed a subpoena on April 30, demanding the documents.
On Sunday, Nunes told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo that “we asked for specific documents that we still have not received from the Department of Justice…all we’re asking for is give us the documentation you used to start this investigation.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 20, 2018
“Only the release of the documents…can give conclusive answers,” President Trump
So what can Trump do to ensure a proper review of these documents and what could be one of the biggest scandals in modern American politics?
He could declassify the handful of documents requested by the House Intelligence Committee several weeks ago and let the cards fall where they may. It appears that he’s being advised by some White House officials not to do so. Instead, he is being asked to wait for the investigation to play out but that could be dangerous. Horowitz does not have the authority to question those who have left the government and an investigation, although necessary, could nearly a year to complete. Although Horowitz is investigating the FISA application process, the newly disclosed information regarding an informant inside the campaign would compound the workload and direction of the investigation.
So an option would be to get the classified documents turned over to the Committee and this it what the President demanded in a Saturday Tweet, saying “only the release or review of the documents that the House Intelligence Committee (also, Senate Judiciary) is asking for can give the conclusive answers.”
If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal. Only the release or review of documents that the House Intelligence Committee (also, Senate Judiciary) is asking for can give the conclusive answers. Drain the Swamp!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2018
A never-ending investigation at this point would allow the DOJ, which has stonewalled Congress for more than a year, to bury the documents in yet another ongoing investigation that will be out of sight of the public and then, like many things in Washington, buried in the swampy waters never to be seen again.
And this may be the reason Rosenstein agreed to act only four hours after the President’s tweet Sunday to have Horowitz take the lead on the investigation into whether the FBI and DOJ used an informant to infiltrate the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.
I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”
The demand by Trump for an investigation came after several stories published in The New York Times and The Washington Post revealed the FBI had an informant, or spy, in the 2016 Trump campaign. The New York Times article, which included interviews with more than a dozen federal officials connected to the investigation, revealed not only that an informant had been used in the investigation into Trump’s campaign but outed the name of the operation: Crossfire Hurricane. The FBI and DOJ have provided more classified information to the New York Times and the Washington Post than to the committees requesting the information, numerous sources said.
The news articles broke late last week. The New York Times article broke the same day Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, were supposed to meet with Rosenstein at the DOJ. Both Nunes and Gowdy declined to attend the meeting when the DOJ revealed that they would not be giving them the documentation the Committee had requested.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official said the FBI and DOJ use “national security” implications every time it’s asked to turn over documentation to Congress. He noted “the rules for the handling and protecting of classified material are solely in place for protecting sources and methods, not malfeasance and embarrassment. This has nothing to do with protecting sources and methods – it has everything to do with protecting themselves and broken institutions.”
This cat and mouse game has lead to burgeoning battles for more than a year behind closed doors on Capitol Hill and inside the DOJ’s marbled offices in Washington D.C.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 20, 2018
Leaks and Liars
Over the past week, a mountain of leaks regarding classified information regarding the FBI’s operation into the Trump campaign have been shared with The Washington Post and The New York Times. Many lawmakers and sources closely connected to the FBI and DOJ this reporter has spoken with believe the leaks came from the DOJ and Bureau in an effort to stay ahead of the story and frame the narrative.
Both major newspapers have published extensive details about an FBI operation, selectively named Crossfire Hurricane. It was the Bureau’s namesake for the clandestine operation to investigate the Trump 2016 campaign. It’s also the name of a Rolling Stone’s song and its lyrics are telling. The lyrics were used as the title for the 1986 comedy Jumpin’ Jack Flash, about a British spy who turns over valuable data to an unsuspecting American woman, Whoopi Goldberg’s character, after being pursued by the Russians. Sound a little familiar?
“I was born in a cross-fire hurricane And I howled at the morning driving rain But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas But it’s all right. I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash It’s a gas, gas, gas…”
The leakers may now be caught in the crossfire themselves. The DOJ has warned that any information confirming the name of the informant could lead to prosecution. But here’s the irony, an informant goes by a codename within the Bureau and DOJ. The only people with access to the details of the informant’s real name, as well as the operation’s name would be the informant’s handlers at FBI, or CIA and a select few at DOJ.
Both The Washington Post and The New York Times, at the request of the DOJ, did not publish the name of the “informant” due to national security concerns and possible threats to his life or others. The extensive details given to the papers, however, could have only come from them and the process of deduction led to the outing of the alleged spy in numerous outlets, according to numerous law enforcement and counterintelligence officials who worked similar cases told me.
The former senior U.S. intelligence official, who worked as a clandestine officer, told this reporter that it is imperative an investigation be conducted into the Bureau and Obama Department of Justice.
“It appears the FBI created the probable cause to trigger an investigation,” he said. “I would have never believed in my life that this would occur in America. We never in our history have had armed representatives of the state involved in usurping the wishes and the actions of the public at large to unseat a duly elected president. You can’t overstate the importance of this because they have weaponized the national security tools that are designed to protect the US from external enemies and weaponized it to go after a campaign and sitting president.”
The Curious Case of Stefan Halper
The extensive details revealed in The Washington Post and The New York Times along eventually led to the revelation that the alleged informant was Stefan Halper, a professor at the University of Cambridge with extensive ties to the CIA and FBI. Halper, a foreign policy analyst who holds dual citizenship with U.S. and Great Britain had been in contact with four members of the Trump campaign in 2016.
Carter Page, who worked for a short time as a volunteer on the campaign, told this reporter that he first met Halper at a conference at the University of Cambridge in July, 2016. The conference was titled the 2016’s Race to Change the World: How the U.S. Presidential Campaign Can Recharge Global Politics and Foreign Policy.
There were many speakers at the event but Page was there as a part of the audience. Also in attendance was former head of the British spy agency MI-6 Sir Richard Dearlove.
Another attendee at the event was Madeliene Albright, who was a very close friend of the Clintons, and had spoken with Carter several times during the event.
“Most of the conversations I had with Halper were after I was being attacked by the media because of the fake dodgy dossier story,” Page said. “In my conversations with him he was very sympathetic and understanding. Or at least the way he was portraying himself – only time will tell if it was sincere.”
Page, who currently has a number of lawsuits against news agencies for libel, noted that “Madeliene Albright was always trying to get me to go into public debates. I told her I was there just as a listener, just as an attendee.”
Page noted that after the “dodgy dossier had its premiere on Yahoo News,” Albright was once again trying to get him to have a public debate.
Page, like the other three Trump campaign advisors who had contact with Halper, still don’t understand the full picture or if Halper, who has not been confirmed as being the informant, was the only source working for the FBI.
And Page, who had four FISA warrants to spy on him, said he’d be more than happy to see them made public and for an investigation to finally reveal what really happened during the 2016 election campaign.
Clarification: A previous version of this story stated that Christopher Steele, the former British spy hired by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee in April 2016 to investigate alleged ties between Trump and Russia, was in attendance at the 2016’s Race to Change the World: How the U.S. Presidential Campaign Can Recharge Global Politics and Foreign Policy. Carter said he he did not know if Steele was in attendance because he did not know Steele. He was referring to the fact that Steele and Dearlove attended the same university.