Deep-State Standoff

The FBI spy in the Trump campaign, and a lot more, must come in from the cold.

Gina Haspel’s appearance last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee created a certain buzz but was hardly the biggest spy story in town. That prize belonged to the snoop the FBI had planted in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. This was not a new story and veteran observers had been keeping close watch.

Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review, had been “dead-on accurate” in his testimony that the FBI had a spy inside the Trump campaign for the stretch run of the 2016 race. In his Senate testimony on August 22, 2017, Simpson explained that Steele had met with at least one FBI agent in Rome, and the FBI had intelligence from an internal Trump campaign source, a human source inside the Trump campaign. 

This was an explosive revelation and, following the publication of his testimony on January 9, 2018, Simpson did his best to walk it back. The revelations are now the subject of the ongoing battle between the House Intelligence Committee and the DOJ. Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal has been keeping close track on that front. 

The DOJ had finally “agreed to brief House Intelligence Committee members about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.” The DOJ knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, “but instead deliberately concealed it.”

As Strassel noted, House investigators even “sniffed out a name,” not a welcome development for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who like Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to believe he is a head of state. Rosenstein accused the investigators of “extortion,” as though they were threatening his family for a ransom payment. Rosenstein also said it was a constitutional duty to refuse revelations of FBI files, and the DOJ trotted out what Strassel called the “daddy of all superspook arguments,” that lives were at stake. 

This desperation told Strassel that “whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI,” but some items were already clear. The FBI had been maintaining that it launched the probe over “the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos” but the FBI, James Comey et al are “suspiciously vague” on the launch date. The FBI was likely spying on the Trump campaign long before, and the source may be overseas, with ties to foreign intelligence. 

Strassel takes this to mean that “the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.” This is a “major escalation” from the electronic surveillance, and Strassel recalls that the FBI failed to tell the FISA court that its information “came from the Hillary Clinton campaign.” 

Strassel thinks she knows the spy’s name but she is holding off pending confirmation from her sources. What is clear, she writes, “is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the FBI’s 2016 behavior, and the country will never get the straight story until President Trump moves to declassify everything possible.” 

Andrew McCarthy says the mole in the Trump campaign is unknown to the public but that Devin Nunes, “has learned that if he is catching flak, he is over the target.” So no surprise that, as Julie Kelly notes in American Greatness, “The Deep State Mob Targets Nunes.” 

Comey, “the consigliere of the Deep State Mob,” has joined with fired prosecutor Preet Bharara to mock Nunes in the media. CNN national security analyst Asha Rangappa repeats the claim that Nunes’ demands for information risk lives and Susan Hennessey of the Brookings Institution tweets that Nunes cannot be trusted and Paul Ryan should replace him with Mike Conaway. 

So the California Republican has doubtless found the target-rich environment. As revelations await, observers should recall a couple of key back stories. 

The “resistance” to duly elected president Donald Trump, writes Michael Walsh, “was an intelligence operation from the start, engineered by Barack Obama, James Clapper, John Brennan, Loretta Lynch, leading Democrats, rogue Republicans, and using a deeply partisan and thus compromised media as its vengeful Greek chorus.”

One of the “primary components” of the deep-state coup was the decision of the previous administration, one week before Trump’s inauguration, to expand the National Security Agency’s raw-intelligence distribution lists to the entire intelligence community. This act, Walsh explains, opened up “many more avenues for ‘unmasking’ – and leaking – the names of Americans caught up in the NSA’s electronic nets.” The Democrats “were able to leverage the transition in order to change as many rules and embed as many apparatchiks as possible before formally turning over the reins to the new kids.”

This is what happens when, with no apology to John Goodman in The Big Lebowski, a nation elects a president whose defining story is “historical fiction,” as David Garrow said of Dreams from My Father. This is what happens when that president names his successor and tilts the deep state in her favor. Even so, Donald Trump carried the day. 

The most powerful man in the world surely has the best sources about the deep-state spy in his campaign, and a lot more. The sooner it all emerges the better. The future must not belong to those who disrespect the voice of the people.