What's behind FBI-DOJ stonewall on probable FBI spy in Trump campaign?
We may be on the verge of uncovering a shocking abuse of its powers by the FBI that it and the Department of Justice frantically have been concealing from Congress and the American people. Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal has been doing superb detective work, and has uncovered strong hints of an FBI spy planted in the Trump presidential campaign. Her latest article, published last night, can be found here outside the WSJ paywall.
The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents 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.
Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes's request for details on this secret source was "wholly appropriate," "completely within the scope" of the committee's long-running FBI investigation, and "something that probably should have been answered a while ago." Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it. ...
Thanks to the Washington Post's unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes's request deals with a "top secret intelligence source" of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take 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 would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly "unmasked" Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.
Strassel rightly points out that timing is of the essence:
[W]hen precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn't being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide's loose lips.
For the moment, the stone wall is standing, but probably not for long.
Here is the May 3 letter from Assistant A.G. Stephen Boyd responding to a subpoena from House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, claiming that "disclosure of responsive information to such requests can risk severe consequences, including the potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interference with intelligence activities."
Sara Carter points out that it took a threat to hold A.G. Sessions in contempt to get a closed-door meeting at the DOJ to discuss the classified information being withheld:
Department of Justice Attorney General Jeff Sessions has bought himself time from a threat of contempt of Congress for failing to produce classified information lawmakers requested after the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a colleague attended a closed-door meeting Thursday afternoon with members of the DOJ and intelligence community.
Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, and House Intelligence Committee member Congressman Trey Gowdy, R-SC, met with representatives from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, FBI and DOJ in an effort to obtain or view the classified information requested several weeks ago on a particular individual related to the Special Counsel's probe on alleged collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia.
Following the meeting, the two chairs issued a statement that expresses surprising patience, indicating to me that something big is on the way:
"We had a productive discussion today with officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Justice, and FBI in which we raised questions related to information requested from the Intelligence Community," according to a joint statement released by Nunes and Gowdy. "The officials committed to holding further discussions of these matters, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue next week to satisfy the Committee's request."
What could cause the two congressmen to be so patient? My guess is that they learned that a criminal investigation is underway. In other words, the people who authorized the placing of a spy in the Trump campaign and other abuses will be indicted, and premature disclosure of this information could imperil the prosecution.
Consider the already delayed DOJ inspector general's report. I.G. Horowitz was expected to testify May 8, but that has been delayed until possibly June. There is reason to believe that criminal referrals will be part of that report and that indictments may be forthcoming following its completion.
I am as impatient as anyone to learn more about this scandal. But I also want to see the ultimate prosecutions be successful. I have long defended A.G. Sessions in the belief that as a former prosecutor, he is a stickler about dotting the is and crossing the ts so that solid cases don't get thrown out of court on procedural errors.
My patience timeline shamelessly includes November 8, 2018 as the most important deadline