by William Whitten
In late July 2016, FBI Director James Comey notified certain members of the Obama White House, along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the FBI’s opening of the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
CIA Director John Brennan was already aware, since he was the one who had been providing the FBI with information regarding the Trump campaign.
Brennan testified to Congress in May 2017, “I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion—cooperation occurred.”
We also know that Brennan was in contact with UK Intelligence—at the very highest of levels. Robert Hannigan, the head of the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (also known as GCHQ), flew to the United States in the summer of 2016 to personally brief Brennan.
The matter was deemed so important that it was handled at the “director level,” face-to-face between the two agency chiefs. Clapper later confirmed during congressional testimony the “sensitive” stream of intelligence from Europe.
He told Congress it was accurate that “Over the spring of 2016, multiple European allies passed on additional information to the United States about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians.”
But here’s the thing. The Intelligence Community (IC), the Obama administration, and the political establishment never expected Trump to win. And when he did win, the IC was suddenly faced with a very real problem. How do they properly cover up their actions?
And how do they hobble the new Trump administration? As it turns out, the timeline of their actions in the first few months of 2017 tells a story; It’s one of an establishment response to the very real threat that the young Trump administration presented to the long-standing—and corrupt—political structure of our nation.
On Jan. 5, 2017, “following a briefing by IC leadership on alleged Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election, President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office.”
Then-Vice President Biden and senior foreign policy adviser Susan Rice also were present.
“That meeting reportedly included a discussion of the Steele dossier and the FBI’s investigation of its claims.”
According to an email written by Rice, Obama asked Comey “to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team.”
Comey said he would.
Note Obama’s concern over the sharing of classified information with the incoming Trump team. That concern would shape the events of the next several months.
On Jan. 10, 2017, Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had refused access to its servers. Comey claimed that the FBI made “multiple requests,” but ultimately struck an agreement with the DNC that a private company, Crowdstrike, would get access and share what it found with investigators.
In other words, Comey told Congress that the information from the DNC servers was now walled off from oversight. During that same hearing, Comey was asked by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) if the FBI had investigated relationships between associates of Trump and the Russian government. Comey told Congress that he couldn’t confirm or deny an active investigation, thereby triggering a media onslaught that triggered doubt among millions of Americans.
Comey said he couldn’t comment in public on a possible investigation into allegations of links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
“I would never comment on investigations—whether we have one or not—in an open forum like this, so I really can’t answer one way or another.”
The Senate hearing had been organized to specifically look into the US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia intervened in the election to benefit Trump. In a matter of no small coincidence, it was the same day that the Steele dossier was released by BuzzFeed and reported by CNN.
On Jan. 11, 2017, Trump, no doubt concerned by the flood of leaks from the intelligence community, conducted his first sting. In order to identify the people leaking classified information to the press, Trump very specifically didn’t tell his staff that the IC was about to brief him. After that briefing, the news was leaked to the press, leading Trump to conclude the leaks were coming from the IC.
“I have many meetings with intelligence,” Trump said. “And every time I meet, people are reading about it.”
Later that day, Clapper was forced to put out a formal statement decrying the leaks from the intelligence community.
“I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.”
But in his statement, Clapper also referenced the Steele dossier, stating that he and President Trump also “discussed the private security company document, which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and Congressional staff even before the IC became aware of it.”
Clapper said that he “emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product” and that he did not believe the leaks came from within the intelligence community.”
He stated that the IC “has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.”
He also claimed that “part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.”
However, a House Intelligence report later found that when Clapper was initially asked about leaks related to the IC assessment in July 2017, Clapper flatly denied discussing the Steele dossier or any other intelligence related to alleged Russian hacking of the 2016 election with journalists.
But under subsequent questioning, Clapper suddenly acknowledged discussing the “dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper,” and acknowledged that he might have spoken with other journalists about the same topic.
The next day, on Jan. 12th, Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz announced his initiation of a review of actions taken by the FBI in the leadup to the 2016 presidential election.
This announcement wasn’t publicized and only became public knowledge almost a year later, in December 2017, when a New York Times article on the removal of then-FBI agent Peter Strzok from Robert Mueller’s inquiry disclosed Horowitz’s investigation.
The NY Times noted that Horowitz was leading a “broad examination of how the F.B.I. handled the Clinton email investigation.”
The article also noted that “Horowitz declined to characterize his findings but said that he hoped to have a copy of his report released by March or April” of 2018.
At the time, the news of Horowitz’s investigation was received with a large degree of optimism, but in hindsight, one can see that what that investigation did was effectively tie up any outside investigations into the FBI for two years.
Also of note is that the IG’s investigation was virtually all-encompassing, he was “looking” at everything. That also meant that almost everything the FBI and the IC had done fell under the umbrella of Horowitz’s supposed investigation. Horowitz’s report wouldn’t be released until December 2019.
Horowitz would later call Trump’s presidency “a challenging time … particularly in the last year” during a Feb. 10, 2021, online discussion hosted by Harvard Law School and moderated by Jack Goldsmith and Bob Woodward.
At one point during the discussion, Goldsmith noted that the Trump administration represented a “most extraordinary and unprecedented assault” on our norms and our institutions. Goldsmith then asked Horowitz, “what happens when a president is elected precisely to break norms.”
Horowitz responded, saying, “I agree with Bob and I agree with you. That was what happened here, it was norm-breaking.”
He continued, stating that “norms didn’t matter,” and telling Goldsmith that “it was certainly a challenging time” for the IG community.
But several other crucial events also transpired on Jan. 12, 2017, the most important being the first renewal of the Carter Page FISA. It also marked the date that the Clinton Global Initiative announced that it would close on April 15 of that year, as donations continued to dry up as the Clintons no longer held true political power. It was also on that day that Washington Post reporter David Ignatius cited government “sources” regarding Michael Flynn’s calls with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
I used to believe in and worry a lot about climate change. The future seemed dismal. Then, the East Anglia emails emerged and I read how the climate “scientists” lie and suppress any information that contradicts their religion.
Likewise, how could anyone ever believe the DOJ, FBI, IC or Democrat leadership elite ever again until and unless they admit to these onerous, destructive, anti-American lies and sedition and take action to correct it? Trump was faulted (by the stupid left that thinks everyone is even MORE stupid than they) for not trusting the IC, but he had already confirmed definitely that the IC community was actively undercutting him, so why would he? Why would he go to Putin and accuse him of things told him by an IC that had proven they would not hesitate to set him up for failure? Does anyone but me see the inherent danger to the security of the nation by that legitimately earned distrust?
THIS is the “existential threat to our democracy”. Scurrilous people permanently within our government that will destroy policies they do not personally agree with are the threat that will block good policies and protect those that weaken the nation.