The trajectory of the investigation into possible involvement between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 elections, an investigation that has which stunned the world, is clearly beginning to boomerang. The disclosures of the last few weeks offer a disturbing string of evidence of immoral and potentially illegal actions taken by Barack Obama’s administration against Trump’s election campaign team. The facts show that the suspicious activity began in the crucial months before the election on Nov. 8, 2016 and continued long after the Manhattan billionaire was elected.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has come to resemble a tragicomic figure who has run out of lines in the third act. He was entrusted with the task of looking for something which is not there, along with carrying out the dreams of progressive liberals, who want to remove the president. Today this most deeply-seated goal seems increasingly further away. But the cherry on top of the troubled investigation is the discovery that intelligence agencies under the Obama administration used a secret informant to infiltrate Trump’s campaign.* Now, the president, his fans and a number of neutral observers versed in constitutional law are labeling this espionage and unlawful, dangerous interference by the state against a political opponent.
The liberal anti-Trump media, the Democratic Party and James Comey, the former FBI director who was fired by Trump, are betting on a different interpretation: that the informant was not a spy, but a “confidential human source,” and that this was not “dangerous state interference against a political opponent,” but a healthy and lawful investigation of possible collusion with Russia. At this stage, the only thing which the media, Comey and the Democrats do not have is evidence. And almost two years have passed since the beginning of the “Russian investigation,” which includes, as we understand, an unprecedented amount of surveillance and espionage.
The debate over whether the Obama administration was spying on Trump’s presidential campaign is possible only in the present political and journalistic climate. Columnists, intellectuals, professors and “leaders of public opinion” would hardly have allowed George W. Bush to get away with this if they knew that during his presidency, intelligence services had placed an informant inside Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, someone who would have operated under cover and collected information from several officials linked to the opposing candidate. The question as to whether this can be defined as “spying” and whether this is a scandal at all would have been viewed at least as a matter of bad taste if we were discussing Obama. Of course, this would have been considered spying, a scandal and a case of brutal state intervention in the presidential election. There would have been comparisons to “Watergate,” and Bush would have been the new Nixon.
But the situation today is different. Today, this is simply a crusade for justice and democracy. The truth is that some people from high-level intelligence agencies are hoping for the scalp of the current presidential administration. They have forgotten that ultimately they report to the executive branch and that they are trying to operate as a fully independent superpower unaccountable for its actions, regardless of how suspicious those actions are. Appointed agents, bureaucrats and technocrats, principally beholden to elected politicians, act as if they were omnipotent “masters of the universe.”
The picture we are getting of the situation involving a spy and presidential games has been getting dramatically clearer and more detailed in recent days. It is already known that the person who the FBI used to infiltrate the Trump campaign in 2016 is Cambridge professor Stefan Halper, who had a longstanding association with the CIA and British intelligence. It is not yet clear whether he was the only informant implanted in Trump’s circle. Halper’s task was to establish contact and extract information from at least three official representatives of the pre-election team of the unpredictable Republican populist.
The main target of the Cambridge professor’s spy mission was Trump campaign adviser Carter Page who was suspected of having dubious contacts with Russian intelligence officers. Halper and Page met in July 2016 and talked about various topics. According to Carter Page, it is clear he was suspicious of Halper. Halper, however, mentioned to Page that he knew then campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Page had many additional meetings with the FBI’s informant over the next 14 months. At the same time the FBI got a wiretapping order from the court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to tail Page. Nearly two years later, after extensive wiretapping and monitoring, there is no evidence that Page was compromised, and accordingly, there are no criminal charges pending against him for plotting with a foreign state to intervene in the U.S. presidential election.
In September 2016, the FBI’s informant established contact with another adviser from Trump’s campaign: George Papadopoulos. Halper, a veteran of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, offered to accompany Papadopoulos to London to discuss writing a political article about energy issues related to Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Trump adviser Papadopoulos, who had dealt with these topics at various think tanks, accepted the offer. In London, both had dinner together several times, visiting exquisite clubs frequented by high-ranking diplomats. They were accompanied by Halper’s assistant, a woman by the name of Azra Turk. According to sources close to Papadopoulos, she flirted with him during the meetings and through email. The impression we get from this activity was that Halper wanted to entrap Papadopoulos by getting him to concede to committing a criminal offense or conspiracy. Unlike the approach Halper used with Page, Halper used a business proposal and the company of a young lady.
Papadopoulos wrote up the research and sent it to Halper during the first days of October. He received $3,000 from Halper for the job. Official federal documents show that days before making the payment to Papadopoulos, the informant finalized a contract with the Office of Net Assessment, a think tank within the Pentagon. This included work on four projects for which Halper received a total of $928,000.
The contacts that Page and Papadopoulos had with the FBI informant show that both were targets of a counter-intelligence investigation into Trump’s campaign, called at the beginning, “Crossfire Hurricane,” which commenced in July, 2016. Neither Page nor Papadopoulos were particularly important figures on Trump’s team when he decided to run for president. But in the meantime, the investigation crossed paths with two more people from Trump’s circle, this time higher up. They were then campaign manager Manafort and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
The reason for launching the investigation is still foggy. The New York Times argues that the investigation had its beginning when Australian politician Alexander Downer signaled alarm about a meeting with Papadopoulos. According to Downer, Trump’s campaign adviser Papadopoulos drunkenly told him during an evening in a London bar that the Russians had access to all of Hillary Clinton’s infamously deleted emails. At the time, she was being investigated for abusing the use of classified information and deleting more than 30,000 emails from her personal email server.
Since then, various journalists have managed to find several serious gaps in The New York Times version of how the investigation began. Discrepancies with respect to important dates and the absence of logic raise questions about the idea that Papadopoulos’ drunken words were the reason why intelligence agencies initiated a major investigation into potential links between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign.
According to observers critical of Mueller’s investigation, it was completely unfounded from the beginning and a tool for political lynching at the outset. After it was confirmed that the FBI had an informant in Trump’s campaign, the president ordered the Justice Department to investigate, in order to find out whether U.S. intelligence agencies were used for political purposes by the Obama administration.
Heat directed against the special counsel is also coming from Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Even before the informant’s identity was known, Nunes asked for the declassification of documents which would reveal exactly what the FBI’s secret source was doing in the opposing party’s presidential campaign and who he was. The Justice Department refused to reveal the information and pointed out that the reason was due to national security and the impact disclosure would have on relations with partner intelligence agencies. But Halper’s name was leaked to friendly media such as The New York Times, where he was depicted as a valuable “confidential source” who did nothing wrong. Some conservative journalists in the United States have noticed a pattern of conveniently leaking important investigative information precisely when there is increased pressure from the official declassification of documents. They believe this is the way to soften the blow and mitigate the scandal.
Anonymous sources in the intelligence agencies have leaked bits of information in a controlled manner to the friendly and servile media, which massages the information ideologically and presents it to the public from the desired and pre-selected angle. This has happened on several occasions since the beginning of the investigation and confirms the fears that the vast liberal media have turned into the propaganda arm of the so-called deep state.
The public debate has become highly polarized following the disclosure of the information about an infiltrator in Trump’s campaign. The Democrats defend the maneuver with the argument that businessman Trump’s advisers deserved to be monitored. The Republicans point out that this directly contradicts the previous statements of both the media and the Democrats that Obama’s government had members of Trump’s campaign followed.
The likelihood that the entire investigation was based on a discredited dossier that was full of unconfirmed rumors and prepared by the former British spy, Christopher Steele, is growing, not to mention the fact that it was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. This means that it is possible that Obama’s administration carried out a large-scale surveillance operation on a presidential campaign by using a speculative document to justify its actions, and that the dossier was compiled and ordered by the opposing candidate in that campaign. Let’s take a look at what the scheme would look like if the suspicion that this was the main reason for launching the “Russian investigation” is confirmed.
Hillary Clinton pays a former British spy to prepare some “dirt” on Trump. He speaks with Russian sources and gathers a collection of sensational rumors and unconfirmed charges in a dossier. Nobody can prove the accuracy of the allegations. Nevertheless, the FBI uses the dossier as a legitimate document to justify tailing people from Trump’s team and even having a secret informant infiltrate the campaign. And all along, people from the intelligence agencies illegally leak information to the media in order to create universal distrust of the newly elected president. This is how the stories about the “Russian conspiracy” and “Trump is Putin’s puppet ” were born. The FBI and the Justice Department used the dossier to get a court warrant and monitor Page pursuant to FISA. Under this 1978 act, in order to monitor a U.S. citizen, it is necessary to have compelling evidence that the citizen is conspiring with officials from a foreign state. There is no such evidence with regard to Page. However, the FISA order was renewed three times. Subsequently, Page’s name was illegally leaked to the media, which grabbed a megaphone and shouted propaganda to the whole world. “Behold!” the media cried. “This is the connection to Russia’s conspiracy with Trump. The elections were compromised. Impeachment! Impeachment!!!”
At this moment, however, no one has presented solid evidence of real collusion between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign. But, there is evidence that Obama politicized the whole U.S. intelligence apparatus. The intelligence agencies did not simply investigate suspicious advisers surrounding Trump. They moved against the political opposition. This thesis is supported by the recently disclosed messages from FBI agent Peter Strzok, in which he discusses “insurance in case of Trump’s election, as improbable as that was likely to happen.” Former FBI Director Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA’s Director John Brennan are engaged in an open war with the current presidential administration. It is known that they all actively opposed Trump and were sure that Hillary would win without a problem. Today, they have permanent media platforms, but also deeply discredited reputations. Soon there will be new disclosures about the origin and development of the Russian investigation. Will some irrefutable proof finally appear against Trump? Or will the investigation cost the scalps of some former intelligence lords as it boomerangs back to the Obama administration?
*Editor’s note: President Donald Trump alleged that the FBI inappropriately spied on his presidential campaign, based on unsubstantiated claims concerning a retired American professor who spoke with members of Trump’s campaign. Intelligence experts say that did not amount to spying. In fact, FBI agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers after the FBI received evidence that the two campaign advisers had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign.