For the first time in its history, the FBI is losing the battle

Some 45 years ago, the pornographic film "Deep Throat” caused a sensation in the United States. The movie was not shown in Bulgaria, because the Politburo's sessions were led by narrow-minded old men. They screened “Star Wars,” but not "Deep Throat.” This is what I call a complete lack of social vigilance. Instead of shocking and disgusting the Bulgarian population with the moral degradation of capitalism, they dragged youth into the most magical, Hollywood fairy tale and were not able to lead them out of it. Around the same time, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward was meeting clandestinely with his top-secret informant in order to obtain facts in dribs and drabs about the Watergate scandal. I would remind the younger generation that this scandal involved the fact that the Republicans broke into the offices of the Democratic Party campaign headquarters, that President Richard Nixon knew about this and that he covered it up. Woodward and his co-author, Carl Bernstein, gave their secret informant the name “Deep Throat.”

Presidents’ Fear

It took three decades for the general public to learn that “Deep Throat” was in fact Associate Director of the FBI Mark Felt. After the publication of so many memoirs about those events, it became clear that Nixon was aware of Felt's actions, but didn’t dare get rid of him. And he could have. At the time, Nixon had to appoint a new FBI director, and he could have easily said, "Get rid of Felt and the post is yours. Investigate him, put him on trial for leaking confidential information, lock him up in a cell and throw the key in the Potomac River!" But Nixon didn’t dare, because Felt was Edgar Hoover’s man, the legendary founding director of the FBI, who had dirt that could have absolutely ruined any U.S. politician. If you had paid a hooker, the FBI knew about it. If you had taken a bribe, it was likely that Hoover had filmed it. If you had masturbated as an adolescent in the shower, the FBI surely had this information on file.

During the Watergate scandal, Hoover had recently died, but politicians trembled with fear about who had the dossiers and whether they would be disclosed at any moment. This is why Nixon, being the cunning fox he was, chose to resign, instead of squabbling with the FBI. God only knows what other sins were weighing on his conscience. From that moment on, it became a tradition for U.S. presidents to fear the FBI and refrain from insulting the agency under any under any circumstances. As the leading Democratic senator famously said last year, "You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you." He was directing this remark to Donald Trump.

2-0 for Trump

But obviously tradition is no longer what it was. Trump began picking on the FBI during his presidential campaign. In response, the bureau is fighting tooth and nail to rattle him with the story that he helped Russia manipulate the presidential election. For a year now, we have seen a clash of titans. When it seems that Trump is about to lose, he doesn’t; he strikes back. It has been more than a year since this confrontation began, and under the best scenario, it is a draw. In fact, it is more like 2-0 in favor of the president.

Trump is still a president while FBI Director James Comey was fired, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was brought into the spotlight and promised to retire soon, and the chief of the FBI's counterespionage section, Special Agent Peter Strzok, has been discredited, demoted and removed from the investigation into Trump. And it is not certain whether he will emerge safely from all this. Ultimately, Trump may get off his high horse, but the FBI would not be the winner because Republican lawmakers in Congress have gradually realized that they must counterattack. There are three reasons for this:

1. If Republicans leave the intelligence agencies to deal with the president, this violates the entire separation of powers structure. It will look as if the FBI is above all three government authorities, including legislative. U.S. politicians have not become used to this idea yet;

2. The Republicans themselves came under fire, and their supporters blamed them for not helping Trump and letting him go down on purpose. This was the truth to a large extent; and

3. If Republicans don’t do something, they may lose their seats in Congress. Since Trump is a total outsider among Republicans and on top of that, insulted the powerful Bush dynasty with his sharp remarks, the Republicans had no desire to save him from the beginning. Most of them despise him even now.

But it is 2018, and it won’t be long before the midterm elections in November. This is when the entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate will be up for election. If the Republicans don’t strike back and leave Trump to fall in disgrace, they will certainly lose many of the mandates they have sought and will be forced into being the opposition. Opinion polls tare showing that the Republican Party’s ratings are catastrophic. Recently the Republicans lost the special senatorial election in Alabama; the most substantial Republican stronghold fell into enemy hands. And only a year ago, Trump won Alabama by nearly 20 points. And now that Alabama has been lost, what will happen in other states and constituencies? Things may radically worsen if Special Counsel Robert Mueller officially charges Trump with conspiring with Vladimir Putin just before the elections. If there is no evidence of conspiracy, Mueller may initiate proceedings against Trump for obstruction of justice. This will be the end of the Republican Party.

The Slow Realization of the Republicans

Special Counsel Mueller is also a former FBI Director and a close friend of fired former FBI Director Comey. When Trump sacked Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into the alleged Russian connection, as he was involved with Trump’s campaign and therefore subject to a conflict of interest. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel to continue the investigation, and in so doing, seriously scared the Republicans by hiring Democratic supporters and even close Clinton family associates for the team. Trump and his entourage seemed trapped. But as I have mentioned before, Trump's enemies among the Republicans started to get a clearer idea of what this might mean. If Trump loses, he will be replaced by Vice President Mike Pence. But Pence faces potential allegations of wrongdoing as well. And if Pence were to also fall victim, the person next in line for the presidency is the speaker of the House of Representatives. Most likely he would be a Democrat come next year.

The same whirlpool swept through Washington in 1973 and 1974. Back then, Spiro Agnew was the first to resign as vice president, and Gerald Ford, who was the house minority leader, took his place. After Nixon resigned, Ford became president. However, back then, power remained in Republican hands, whereas now there is a serious risk of losing the two chambers in Congress altogether as well as the presidency. That is why in the fall, Republicans started gathering facts about the allegations against Trump and the cover-up investigation against Hillary Clinton.

After months of criticism from within its legal team, the Department of Justice finally resumed its investigation against Hillary Clinton with respect to four possible charges. The most serious allegation is that as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton operated a “pay to play” scheme, meaning she offered consideration and her husband Bill Clinton’s attention to those who gave money to the “Clinton Foundation." There are various fact patterns, which if one wishes, can be used as evidence. Up until recently, there was no such desire. However, things changed at the beginning of the year.

Strike Back

After a huge effort by Trump's fellow party members, Republicans managed to obtain certain correspondence between FBI's special agent Peter Strzok and his girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who also worked on Mueller's investigation. By the way, Hoover would have fired both of them on the spot for conducting a relationship, even if they were single. And they are not. Afterward, Hoover would have blocked their access to any government position. But today, Strzok and Page still hold government jobs. Obviously, the FBI is not what it used to be. Strzok's text messages were requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and after prolonged bickering, the FBI handed over a total of 375 messages exchanged between March and December 2016, when the presidential campaign was in full force, and when the FBI’s preliminary investigation of Hillary's emails was taking place. That investigation was also headed by agent Strzok.

It is clear that he had an extremely negative opinion of Trump. He called him an “idiot,” a “loathsome human,” referred to his “bigoted nonsense” and so on. On Aug. 15, 2016, he wrote to his beloved, "Hillary should win 100,000 – 0," and later added, “I want to believe in the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office (Deputy FBI Director McCabe) that there’s no way for Trump to get elected. But I am afraid we can't take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

It seems from these text messages that the FBI might have had a plan to stop Trump, and that it took on the task of assisting Hillary from the very beginning of the campaign. At the same time, Special Agent Strzok, who was also chief of the counterespionage section at the FBI, played a crucial role in Hillary Clinton's email investigation while she was still serving as secretary of state and had evidently covered up everything. It’s worth recalling that Hillary was investigated for intentionally saving classified information on unprotected private servers and laptops. In the United States, this is a serious violation of the law.

In the FBI's final report, Strzok personally crossed out the phrase "grossly negligent" and replaced that phrase with "extremely careless." The first phrase could have led to criminal charges, while the second was more of a friendly remark. Ultimately, then-FBI Director Comey held a press conference where he announced that Hillary had indeed committed serious errors, but did not recommend legal charges against her. Readers may remember that a Trump dossier went public last January; it was an extremely suspicious political smear put together by Christopher Steele, a former agent of the British secret service MI5. Translated into English, the agent’s surname means "steel" and coincides with the Russian word for "Stalin” (made of steel). The media envisaged him as the new James Bond. But lately, it’s been found that Steele made personal contact with aforementioned FBI special agent Strzok.

The New James Bond Brings Golden Showers

The story begins in September 2015, when the company Fusion GPS, famous for producing opposition research, received a request from a right-wing publisher to start collecting damaging material on the Republican candidates running for president. The money came from a rich supporter of candidate Sen. Marco Rubio. But when Rubio’s failed to win the nomination, the money stopped and Fusion GPS found a much more generous sponsor − Hillary Clinton. This black public relations factory received about $20 million in order to continue the “good deed,” and about $2 million of that amount went to retired British agent Steele, who was considered a Russia specialist. In the past, Steele had led investigations into Russian secret service officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in London, and into the corruption in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, known as FIFA, and Steele brought down the entire football federation management team. So the Russians are well acquainted with and respect him.

In exchange for money Hillary paid to Fusion GPS, Steele produced a collection of information from an unknown-to-him source, information that revealed that Trump was a puppet of Putin, and that they have a hold over Trump based on discrediting information. One of the juiciest episodes involved Trump’s visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant, where he stayed in the same hotel room as his predecessor Barack Obama. The report says that compelled by his unquenchable and spiteful competitiveness, Trump hired a few prostitutes and paid them to perform a “golden rain" act and urinate on him in the same bed that Obama had once slept in. Naturally, Russian intelligence knew about the orgy and are said to hold this against Trump’s family.

The Dossier’s Destiny

Sometime in July 2016, Steele handed his report over to an FBI agent in Rome, and in October 2016, a month before the election, he gave it to journalists from one of the most well-known media outlets. However, the media outlet found the content extremely questionable, and filed it away. It was only in January 2017 that Trump’s dossier was published in BuzzFeed, a website with a dubious reputation, and the media again took this information as being extremely doubtful, but we hoped they could prove it to be true.

Then it was learned that the Steele dossier had been previously provided to then President Obama by the directors of the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency, three U.S. intelligence agencies. Furthermore, the U.S Secret Service Agency had advised Israeli intelligence not to share any secrets with Trump’s team as those could be leaked to Kremlin. Probably the same instructions were sent to all other allies, but only the Israelis brought this up, because they already knew that Trump would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In March 2017, acting CIA Director Michael Morrell acknowledged that the whole dossier might have been fabricated. It was most likely that former agent Steele didn’t have and couldn't have had any serious informers in Kremlin. He could have simply given the money to some acquaintances, who then paid their own secret informers, who in turn provided the information. Probably there were no secret informers and the acquaintances simply took the money and got creative. Whatever contacts Steele may have had in Russia, there is an 80 percent chance that they worked for the former KGB. If they did not work for the KGB, there is no way they could have obtained such information. And in this world of unlimited information opportunities, it is easy to find people who are serious enough and can easily prove that Michael Jackson is Lenin's grandson. I wonder whether the very KGB might have sent its adversary on a wild goose chase.

The Republicans Are Chasing Steele and the Moles Away

When the dossier hit the fan, Steele went deep underground. Last summer, he emerged from hiding and the two most senior Republicans from the House Committee on Homeland Security jumped on a plane to London to have a chat with Steele, but he refused to meet them. Later as a result of British intelligence connections, the committee compelled Steele to testify before Robert Mueller’s commission, but what he told them still remains a secret. The committee only shared the fact that Steele stood by what was in the dossier. On Jan. 5, 2018, two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation against Steele alleging that he probably lied to the FBI and Mueller’s investigation team.

On its face, this is an investigation into whether the FBI was involved in an illegal conspiracy against the U.S president. In particular, there are very serious doubts that this suspicious dossier gave the FBI a reason to launch an investigation into Russian intervention in the U.S. presidential election. There are also claims that after Hillary stopped paying Fusion GPS, the FBI offered to take on the cost. And perhaps they actually paid Fusion GPS. All this is still an entangled web of secrets and intrigue which is yet to be untangled, and this information could be the plot for dozens of books. Once the buried hatchet has been dug up, Republicans on the U.S. congressional committees may put more pressure on the FBI to spill the secrets.

Obviously, behind the scenes, this battle is a matter of life and death due to the fact that if Trump loses the presidency, he could drag Hillary Clinton down and even send her to jail. It is very likely that the entire professional leadership of the FBI could be beheaded. Again, most recently, the Department of Justice inspector general began looking into whether Deputy FBI Director McCabe should have removed himself from the investigation against Trump because of McCabe’s family ties to people on Hillary's side. It turned out that in 2015, McCabe's wife was the Democratic Party nominee during a Virginia senatorial campaign and as a result, she received more than $700,000 from Hillary's team. According to American protocol and law, in cases like this it would have been inappropriate for McCabe to participate either in the investigation of Hillary's email or in Mueller’s investigation about Russian intervention and Trump’s complicity in it. Instead, McCabe played a central role.

It is expected that the inspector general's report will be ready sometime in March or April and McCabe will retire far in advance.* His needs only two more months of service to receive full retirement benefits. In the last couple of weeks, information has emerged about more sins committed by two senior officials in the Department of Justice, who worked against Trump in a subversive way all along. One of them is Peter Kadzik, who was very close with John Podesta, chairman of Hillary's presidential campaign. At the same time, Podesta was a central figure in the FBI ‘s investigation into Clinton’s emails. It is obvious he was covering things up. The second senior official is Bruce Ohr, an associate deputy attorney general. His wife, Nellie Ohr, happens to be an employee of Fusion GPS, the firm which generated the opposition research, and which asked Steele to produce the Trump dossier. Nellie Ohr passed as an expert on Russian matters and apparently orchestrated events. Thanks to her, Bruce Ohr also met Steele several times.

May I remind you that the FBI reports to the Department of Justice and its agents work closely with justice officials. And this is the picture that emerges behind all of this. I have already mentioned FBI special agent Strzok and his notorious text messages to his girlfriend several times. We know from these text messages that there was a discussion in the FBI deputy director’s office about how to interfere with Trump’s presidential campaign. Simultaneously, the same people who investigated and exonerated Hillary also took on the task of looking at what was under Trump’s bed.

Back in June and July 2016, the same people requested permission from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to tap Trump’s offices, but the court denied the request. In October, a month before the election, Strzok and Bruce Ohr met with Steele and submitted a new request for surveillance at the same time. This time the court granted permission. Now these two men are accused by Trump’s supporters of receiving permission based on fraud and falsification by relying on the suspicious Russian dossier supplied by Steele. It’s no wonder, considering that the very dossier was commissioned by Nellie Ohr, the wife of a senior official at the Department of Justice, with the complicity of FBI agent Strzok and paid for with Hillary Clinton's money. This is a very intricately laid thread, but we are about to unravel it all. If all this turns out to be true, we are looking at a new Watergate. Moreover, this scandal would be twice the scale of the one that led to Nixon’s resignation. This time the president may lose, but the “Deep Throat” would not get away with it either.

Bright readers will probably remember that sometime in March 2017, Trump wrote the much-celebrated tweet, “Terrible! Just found that Obama had my “wires tapped” while he was in Trump Tower just before the election night victory. “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" (McCarthyism refers to the so-called witch hunt for Communists by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.) The next tweet shows that even then Trump was aware of the whole conspiracy. “Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier! NEW LOW!" Trump tweeted.

In response, the media branded Trump an idiot and Obama swore that he didn’t do anything. We now know that he lied. Either he lied, or he had no idea what his staff was up to. So we have a very interesting year ahead of us. By the end of the year, we may see revelations that could lead to the president's impeachment, an indictment against the former president and the former secretary of state, and a serious purge in the Department of Justice, the FBI and some other secret services. We can only lean back comfortably in our armchairs and be entertained.

*Editor’s note: On Jan. 29, Andrew McCabe announced his intention to retire on March 18.