Posted by Curt on 5 May, 2020 at 8:37 am. 2 comments already!


Key data points typically make a lot of things fall into place.  It only took two releases from the trove of Justice Department documents on the Michael Flynn case to have that effect this week, and it continues to evolve.  A picture is resolving itself of how “Spygate” transitioned from one phase to the next between the 2016 election and Donald Trump’s inauguration day.  And it looks as bad as it seemed it would, from the early clues. Flynn targeted first

We don’t need to go into a lot of detail in a news article on this.  Most of the work has already been done, months, or even years ago.  I will link to a few previous articles for those who are interested in understanding the matter in greater depth.

For a shorter read, I append here a small tweet series I sent on Friday.

As laid out in this article from Thursday, the date on which Peter Strzok intercepted and reversed the close-out of the FBI’s Flynn investigation – 4 January 2017 – tells us a great deal.  It tells us the decision to do that was part of the same operational move as the decision to move on the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) and the Steele dossier: to brief them to Obama (on 5 January) and sell them to the public as a narrative about Trump.

Those things all went together, as the maneuvers of a transitioning campaign to bring down Trump.  They went with the “leak” to Washington Post writer David Ignatius the following week, which was published at the same time the Steele dossier was posted online by BuzzFeed, and which showcased the classified intelligence on Michael Flynn’s phone calls with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.  That was the same intelligence the FBI had before 4 January, when its agents were ready to close the investigation of Flynn because it revealed no wrongdoing. (Much of this was previewed, incidentally, in an article from May of 2018.)

First target

Once we have that under our belts, we can move on to the next level of understanding.  That’s the level at which it becomes crystal clear why the first target was General Flynn.  It’s because Flynn was going to be installed as Trump’s national security adviser: the supervisory keeper of the National Security Council.

And the NSC was where the anti-Trump “holdovers” from the Obama administration (a) had been executing the top level of the Spygate campaign, and (b) probably intended to continue running certain aspects of it, even after Trump was inaugurated.

There have been several clues in this regard.  Reporting from as early as March 2017 indicated that much of the “unmasking” of U.S. persons for the Spygate operation was being done at the NSC.  The reason, which I outlined in an article from quite a while back, is that the NSC is the least-auditable entity in the federal government.  There are formal arrangements for auditing its activities, as with all federal agencies, but their effectiveness depends on the attitude of the president himself.

Because of the prohibitions and restrictions surrounding the use of U.S. person information (USPI) by the federal law enforcement agencies (which have one role) and the CIA (which has another), using USPI for the purposes of the Spygate operation has to be done at a level higher than all of them.  That’s the only level at which boundaries can be crossed without leaving a hard paper trail, primarily on the president’s say-so and without fear of intervention by monitors or auditors.

The NSC is the obvious worker-bee hive for something of that nature, which is why it became the venue for the interagency task force formed the first week of August 2016 to work the “Russia-Trump” theme for the Obama administration.  The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane was an agency aspect of that, as was the intelligence task force of “about three dozen” analysts from the CIA, NSA, and FBI, sponsored by John Brennan.

The NSC has representatives from all the relevant agencies.  It has every kind of special-access I.T. network in the federal government, and it’s located in the White House complex.  And as Admiral Mike Rogers could tell you, it’s beyond the reach of auditors from a subordinate agency like NSA.  NSA may detect what’s going on at the NSC, but that doesn’t mean it can shut down what’s going on.

The Carter Page FISA series is another clue.  It makes starkly clear what Spygate was about: spying on the Trump campaign.  The important thing at this point is not even so much that it was undertaken as that it was continued into the first five months of the Trump administration.

That’s a strong clue that the Spygate principals wanted to keep spying on Trump.

Structural moves, their meaning now made clear.

So is the gun-decked effort to get a special counsel appointed.  James Comey acknowledged that he leaked memos from his specially crafted memo stash about Trump to the media, in the hope of getting a special counsel operation going.  That operation would have the power Spygate needed: the ability to keep trying to find – or manufacture – dirt on Trump, using the tools of law enforcement, and calling it an “investigation.”

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