Why focus on Trump?

Here's a passage from a June 6, 2018 article by Ivan Pentchoukov ("Spy Operation on Trump Campaign Started as Early as December 2015, New Texts Suggest"):

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released 500 pages of documents and texts on June 4, the bulk of which consists of messages between Page and Strzok.  One message, which was previously redacted, shows that FBI agents were working to recruit double agents as early as Dec. 28, 2015.

"You get all our oconus lures approved?" Strzok wrote to Page.

"No, it's just implicated a much bigger policy issue," Page responded.  "I'll explain later.  Might even be able to use it as a pretext for a call."

According to Chris Farrell, a former counterintelligence officer who ran double agent operations for the U.S. Army, "oconus" stands for "outside the continental United States," while "lures" refers to people used as bait to snag a potential double agent.

We do not know what the bigger policy issue was, but we do know three things about this exchange:

  1. this text exchange took place in the context of the Trump campaign;
  2. it took place almost five months before the May, 2016 meeting between George Papadopoulous and Alexander Downer frequently cited by the FBI and Democrat media as the trigger event giving rise to the FBI's interest in the Trump campaign; and
  3. the FBI subsequently paid multiple informants, including Joseph Mifsud, Stefan Halper, and someone known as Henry Greenberg, to initiate what look like standard recruiting efforts against people, including George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Michael Caputo, and Roger Stone, associated in one way or another with the Trump campaign.

The timing is particularly intriguing because, while Obama's inner circle would have known Hillary Clinton well enough to understand the risks she posed as the Democratic Party's heir apparent and thus be deeply worried about her ability to defeat whomever the GOP put up, assuming them so prescient as to focus all their efforts at sabotage and compromise on the Trump campaign more than six weeks before the Iowa caucuses strains the bounds of credulity.

Basically, if people like Obama, Jarrett, Holder, Lynch, Rhodes, Brennan, and Clapper had held a meeting in August 2015 to discuss Republican threats to their efforts to undermine the American idea, they might have worked from a list similar to the one below:

Candidate

Danger to us if elected

Chance of becoming GOP nominee

Jeb Bush

None

high

Ben Carson

High

none

Chris Christie

High

middling

Ted Cruz

Medium

middling

Carly Fiorina

None

none

Jim Gilmore

None

none

Lindsey Graham

None

none

Mike Huckabee

High

none

Bobby Jindal

None

low

John Kasich

Low

low

George Pataki

None

none

Rand Paul

High

none

Rick Perry

Medium

middling

Marco Rubio

None

middling

Rick Santorum

High

none

Donald Trump

High

low

Scott Walker

High

high

In September, both the Walker and Perry campaigns imploded, ostensibly because poor polling presaged fundraising failure, but really because staff conflicts and naïve missteps pounced on by the hypercritical Democratic media mob decapitated both campaigns, and neither Walker nor Perry had the cash, guts, and media support needed to do what McCain did in similar circumstances: fire nearly everyone and start over.

Despite this, the biggest threats the Obama people faced in December didn't come from Donald Trump; they came from Chris Christie and Ted Cruz.  So why focus the FBI on Donald Trump?

Chris Christie withdrew on February 10, nominally because he had publicly hung his hat on winning the New Hampshire primary but, in reality, because the unrelenting fake news attacks on him with respect to Bridgegate (of which he was acquitted), the infamous "Obama Hug" (which had not happened), and his inability as governor to surmount a long-term program of silent bureaucratic and judicial non-co-operation with those seeking to rebuild after Sandy had left him dispirited and willing to acquiesce to negative advice from the same political professionals on his staff who had maneuvered him into this position.

That left Ted Cruz, who fought through to the Indiana primary and didn't suspend his campaign until May 3 but made numerous absurdly bad decisions – choosing to skip, for example, states like New Hampshire despite having the money, and the mindshare among committed conservatives, to do well in most of them.

What was different about the Trump campaign in December of 2015 was that he had no name-brand political staffers or advisers – he had kitchen cabinet people like Palin, Gingrich, and Giuliani, but no one with the kind of vulnerabilities that come with long histories of work on the peripheries of power in Washington.

A bit later, some of those people – including Lewandowski and Priebus – would join the campaign, but something else had also happened by then: Admiral Mike Rogers had started the inspector general investigation into improper data access and related FISA abuses within the NSA, thereby cutting DNC operatives like Nellie Ohr off from this source of kompromat about people not yet (as of early December, 2015) identified with the Trump campaign.

The suspicion, in other words, is that the Obama clique chose to focus the FBI's attention on getting someone into the Trump campaign, not because they assessed him as the greatest threat (a proposition that, despite his fling with birtherism, simply isn't credible, given the political zeitgeist in place in December of 2015), but because they didn't already have people in place in his campaign.

A suspicion is, of course, far from a conviction – but the early focus on Trump is not easily explicable in other terms.  The questions raised by the Obama team's timing are relatively easy to answer: just have the congressional and other investigators now looking at misuse of the FBI and other agencies by Obama's people extend that review to key decisions made in the other campaigns.

Here's a passage from a June 6, 2018 article by Ivan Pentchoukov ("Spy Operation on Trump Campaign Started as Early as December 2015, New Texts Suggest"):

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released 500 pages of documents and texts on June 4, the bulk of which consists of messages between Page and Strzok.  One message, which was previously redacted, shows that FBI agents were working to recruit double agents as early as Dec. 28, 2015.

"You get all our oconus lures approved?" Strzok wrote to Page.

"No, it's just implicated a much bigger policy issue," Page responded.  "I'll explain later.  Might even be able to use it as a pretext for a call."

According to Chris Farrell, a former counterintelligence officer who ran double agent operations for the U.S. Army, "oconus" stands for "outside the continental United States," while "lures" refers to people used as bait to snag a potential double agent.

We do not know what the bigger policy issue was, but we do know three things about this exchange:

  1. this text exchange took place in the context of the Trump campaign;
  2. it took place almost five months before the May, 2016 meeting between George Papadopoulous and Alexander Downer frequently cited by the FBI and Democrat media as the trigger event giving rise to the FBI's interest in the Trump campaign; and
  3. the FBI subsequently paid multiple informants, including Joseph Mifsud, Stefan Halper, and someone known as Henry Greenberg, to initiate what look like standard recruiting efforts against people, including George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Michael Caputo, and Roger Stone, associated in one way or another with the Trump campaign.

The timing is particularly intriguing because, while Obama's inner circle would have known Hillary Clinton well enough to understand the risks she posed as the Democratic Party's heir apparent and thus be deeply worried about her ability to defeat whomever the GOP put up, assuming them so prescient as to focus all their efforts at sabotage and compromise on the Trump campaign more than six weeks before the Iowa caucuses strains the bounds of credulity.

Basically, if people like Obama, Jarrett, Holder, Lynch, Rhodes, Brennan, and Clapper had held a meeting in August 2015 to discuss Republican threats to their efforts to undermine the American idea, they might have worked from a list similar to the one below:

Candidate

Danger to us if elected

Chance of becoming GOP nominee

Jeb Bush

None

high

Ben Carson

High

none

Chris Christie

High

middling

Ted Cruz

Medium

middling

Carly Fiorina

None

none

Jim Gilmore

None

none

Lindsey Graham

None

none

Mike Huckabee

High

none

Bobby Jindal

None

low

John Kasich

Low

low

George Pataki

None

none

Rand Paul

High

none

Rick Perry

Medium

middling

Marco Rubio

None

middling

Rick Santorum

High

none

Donald Trump

High

low

Scott Walker

High

high

In September, both the Walker and Perry campaigns imploded, ostensibly because poor polling presaged fundraising failure, but really because staff conflicts and naïve missteps pounced on by the hypercritical Democratic media mob decapitated both campaigns, and neither Walker nor Perry had the cash, guts, and media support needed to do what McCain did in similar circumstances: fire nearly everyone and start over.

Despite this, the biggest threats the Obama people faced in December didn't come from Donald Trump; they came from Chris Christie and Ted Cruz.  So why focus the FBI on Donald Trump?

Chris Christie withdrew on February 10, nominally because he had publicly hung his hat on winning the New Hampshire primary but, in reality, because the unrelenting fake news attacks on him with respect to Bridgegate (of which he was acquitted), the infamous "Obama Hug" (which had not happened), and his inability as governor to surmount a long-term program of silent bureaucratic and judicial non-co-operation with those seeking to rebuild after Sandy had left him dispirited and willing to acquiesce to negative advice from the same political professionals on his staff who had maneuvered him into this position.

That left Ted Cruz, who fought through to the Indiana primary and didn't suspend his campaign until May 3 but made numerous absurdly bad decisions – choosing to skip, for example, states like New Hampshire despite having the money, and the mindshare among committed conservatives, to do well in most of them.

What was different about the Trump campaign in December of 2015 was that he had no name-brand political staffers or advisers – he had kitchen cabinet people like Palin, Gingrich, and Giuliani, but no one with the kind of vulnerabilities that come with long histories of work on the peripheries of power in Washington.

A bit later, some of those people – including Lewandowski and Priebus – would join the campaign, but something else had also happened by then: Admiral Mike Rogers had started the inspector general investigation into improper data access and related FISA abuses within the NSA, thereby cutting DNC operatives like Nellie Ohr off from this source of kompromat about people not yet (as of early December, 2015) identified with the Trump campaign.

The suspicion, in other words, is that the Obama clique chose to focus the FBI's attention on getting someone into the Trump campaign, not because they assessed him as the greatest threat (a proposition that, despite his fling with birtherism, simply isn't credible, given the political zeitgeist in place in December of 2015), but because they didn't already have people in place in his campaign.

A suspicion is, of course, far from a conviction – but the early focus on Trump is not easily explicable in other terms.  The questions raised by the Obama team's timing are relatively easy to answer: just have the congressional and other investigators now looking at misuse of the FBI and other agencies by Obama's people extend that review to key decisions made in the other campaigns.