There may have been an FBI spy interacting with the Trump campaign in 2016, Kimberly Strassel reported in the Wall Street Journal Thursday evening, adding fuel to long-held suspicions that an FBI/DOJ mole had attempted to ensnare Trump campaign advisers in some sort of Russian collusion trap.
This revelation comes after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein again backed down after a protracted fight with Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, allowing members to view classified documents about “a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.”
The FBI and DOJ had apparently been hiding the critical information from congressional investigators for months in order to protect the top-secret intelligence source.
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.
Nunes doggedly pursued the matter, last week issuing a letter and a subpoena demanding more details, but Rosenstein’s response was to accuse the House of “extortion” and claim that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” was a constitutional “duty.”
“Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall,” Strassel notes. “And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in ‘loss of human lives.’”
The FBI and CIA’s “top-secret intelligence source,” according to the Washington Post’s anonymous law-enforcement leakers, is a U.S. citizen who was involved in the Russia counterintelligence investigation.
Explains Strassel: “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.
Also potentially problematic is the timing of the spy operation, because it could indicate that the FBI has not been straight with congressional investigators about when their counterintelligence investigation started. The bureau insists that the basis for their probe was George Papadopoulos’ drunken ramblings in July of 2016.
But if the spy was put in place prior to that, the FBI has some explaining to do.