The internet was abuzz on Thanksgiving Eve with a report by the New York Times, Review is Expected to Undercut Trump Claim of FBI Spying. Here is the lede:
The F.B.I. never tried to place undercover agents or informants inside the Trump campaign, a highly anticipated inspector general’s report is expected to find.
Apparently, someone never informed the New York Times editors that they were reporting on a review of an FBI application, which was granted by a court, to SPY on at least one person affiliated with the Trump campaign. Ignore that piece of journalistic incompetence. In the same article, buried in the 14th paragraph is this inconvenient fact (the NY Times editor must have been stoned):
The F.B.I. did have an undercover agent who posed as Mr. Halper’s assistant during a London meeting with Mr. Papadopoulos in August 2016. And indeed, another Trump adviser, Peter Navarro, reportedly pushed Mr. Halper for an ambassadorship in the Trump administration.
The New York Times is simply doing preemptive spinning about the Horowitz Report without actually knowing what the conclusions are. It would not surprise me to learn that known FBI informants were not spying on the Trump campaign at the direction of the FBI. Nope. It is highly likely that paid FBI informants were spying on the Trump campaign under the auspices of the CIA. Since Inspector General Horowitz has no purview or authority to investigate the CIA, he will (and has) punt that issue to Prosecutor John Durham. Therefore, a conclusion that the FBI was not dispatching known FBI confidential human sources to spy on the Tump campaign is not proof that no spying occurred. As they say in Paris, au contraire.
Let us start with facts. There were at least three DOCUMENTED FBI Confidential Human Sources aka spies targeting the Trump campaign:
Gennady Vasilievich Vostretsov aka Henry Oknyansky aka Henry Greenberg
Felix Sater was an FBI informant since 1998. He was originally signed on as a "cooperator" in December 1998 by Robert Mueller's number two guy, Andrew Weissman. Felix Sater was a "lure" or "bait" who, starting in September 2015, tried to tempt Trump and his team, Michael Cohen in particular, to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Sater's efforts to entrap the Trump campaign started months before the FBI reportedly initiated Operation Crossfire Hurricane in July 2016.
Sater's work as an FBI paid informant was confirmed again in August (2019) by Judge Glasser in New York. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Felix Sater, a former business associate of President Trump, began working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1998, after he was caught in a stock-fraud scheme. As he pleaded guilty, Mr. Sater turned on his co-conspirators, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn wrote in an Aug. 27, 2009, letter, unsealed Friday, to U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser, who was overseeing the case. He had gone on to assist various agencies in different areas of law enforcement for years, they wrote.
The“Sater went above and beyond what is expected of most cooperators and placed himself in great jeopardy in doing so,” the prosecutors wrote in pushing for him to get a lighter sentence. On the strength of his continuing cooperation, they had put off his sentencing for more than a decade, an unusually long period for such arrangements.
John Brennan convened a secret task force at CIA headquarters composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI.
The unit functioned as a sealed compartment, its work hidden from the rest of the intelligence community. Those brought in signed new non-disclosure agreements to be granted access to intelligence from all three participating agencies.
We know of two other "spies" that were targeting the Trump campaign as well–Stefan Halper and Joseph Mifsud. Neither were on the payroll of the FBI. Halper's money was coming via a DOD contract and we do not yet know who was bankrolling Mifsud. If it was not the CIA then it was a foreign agent other than Russia.
Here's the bottomline–the spying against the Trump campaign goes way beyond the boundaries of Inspector General Horowitz's authority and ability to investigate. That is being done by John Durham, the special prosecutor designated by Attorney General William Barr. And Durham is conducting an extensive investigation of the spying. The Horowitz report is just the beginning of the unraveling of the plot to destroy Donald Trump.
James O'Neill says
Further evidence that the USA has ceased to be a democracy. T is difficult to think of a more blatant disregard for the principles of law and democracy.
Was the point of giving an approx 2 week head start on when the IG’s report would ‘come out’ simply to give all sides a chance to spin ‘what it really means’ before the public had a chance to see things for themselves? To me, anyway, it reflects poorly on Barr, assuming he had the power to prevent this. ANd of course poorly on the Times and Post, et al for running with this spin. Just let us see the damn report! It’s like an insider’s game. Personally, I’m weary of this kind of bullshit. Yeah I know, who cares? Tell it to the Chaplin. I keep thinking of the line from Cool Hand Luke, ‘its your world boss’. It’s their world…we’re just the audience.
You would have thought that both the Agency and the Bureau knew in advance that Gennady Vasilievich Vostretsov was a violent felon with crimes in both Russia and the U.S.. Ergo, since Vostretsov was a violent felon committing crimes on U.S. soil, one would have thought that the Bureau would put him in lock-up pending extradition back to Russia to stand trial for his crimes in Russia. You would have thought that DOJ would have coordinated with the FSB on the matter.
Now the Agency is another elephant in a card board box, did they in addition to paying Vostretsov to commit his dirty work on U.S. soil, did they provide him with expensive digs in both LA and Miami paid for by the Agency like they did with the dangle who had supposed connections Putin?
Makes me wonder if Vostretosov had a direct line to Brennan for coaching on his story lines.
Bill H says
“The F.B.I. never tried to place undercover agents or informants inside the Trump campaign,” says the New York Times.
Interestingly, NBC News says precisely the same thing, almost word for word, and adds, “although some low level staffers made some mistakes on forms submitted for warrants.” I believe the Times said the same thing about mistakes on warrants, which you quite properly didn’t cite because it wasn’t pertinent to your point.
CNN reported that “The F.B.I. never tried to place informants inside the Trump campaign, although some low level staffers did make some mistakes”
When three different suspects all give the same story, essentially word for word, in order to avoid being charged with a crime, you can be very sure that they have been coached – that is, told what to say.
“JournoList” lives. It never really disbanded, it apparently just went further underground.
The MSM sing the same talking points, day after day, like a choir sings an oratorio. It’s basically a consolidation and coordination of left-wing bias. I wonder why they even bother having several news outlets, with all of the associated overhead, when they continuously deliver the same messages? It’s rare for a renegade reporter to deviate from the party line. Thankfully it still happens on occasion.
You say–“John Brennan convened a secret task force at CIA headquarters composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI.
The unit functioned as a sealed compartment, its work hidden from the rest of the intelligence community. Those brought in signed new non-disclosure agreements to be granted access to intelligence from all three participating agencies.”
Repeat: “Those brought in signed new non-disclosure agreements to be granted access to intelligence from all three participating agencies”!!!
I suppose this means that John Brennan had access to all electronic communications gathered on Trump campaign officials by the NSA. That suggests to me that the intel agencies now have almost absolute power over future elections in the US. All the agency chiefs have to do is concoct some wacky pretext for expanding their surveillance net (Like “collusion”) and, presto, they have immediate access to all private conversations between presidential candidates and their lieutenants.
Do the American people really want John Brennan and his crooked spawn to choose our future leaders??
I certainly hope Durham can crack this nut, otherwise this country is headed for the landfill.
I’ve been surprised to learn that it wasn’t IG Horowitz that uncovered the Strzok-Page texts but rather Strzok’s wife. With all of the so-called investigators involved in the “Russian collusion” matter, turns out it was a scorned wife who unearthed the Rosetta Stone of the hoax.
And now Sundance on the CTH has an item addressing the claims of former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne that he was used in an FBI op that tried to dirty up Trump campaign associates via Maria Butina:
Given FBI “help” extended to Whitey Bulger for intel on the Mafia in Boston, Mueller covering, what WOULDN’T they do in hunting Trump? CIA/FBI, peas in a pod, the truth is not in them.
Paul Damascene says
Larry, thanks for the clarifications (and the reassurance). Your entry so consistently mentions payment that I find myself wondering how to correctly relate payment and spying. That is, one can be an unpaid informant (Sater could be acting simply in exchange for a delay in sentencing, though that might also constitute payment perhaps?).
Others could just be acting as good citizens, patriots or under direct question by the authorities. None of which would necessarily entail payment, but some of which could constitute spying (perhaps??) even if unpaid…
Further, spying here isn’t the only thing that might be considered illegal, improper or otherwise censurable. True?
Sundance sees these leaks as coming from investigation targets who are allowed to read and comment on and rebut the draft report language addressing them. Thus, this is probably “spinning” by targets and their media pals to try to “set the narrative” before the report is released. Horowitz can rebut these “target” comments in the final report and the “targets” are not provided any rebuttal material prior to the final report release, so it will be quite interesting to see what the report actually says when final….
Finally, CROWDSTRIKE element in Trump’s phone call to Ukraine is coming out of the shadows.
And what very much appears to be a deliberate Democrat disinformation campaign against its very mention: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2019/11/crowdstrike-conspiracy-wrapped-conspiracy-inside-oleg-atbashian/
Stephen Richter says
so we have this IG investigation that takes forever to complete, and when people ask why so long the answer is the scope was increasing and we have to get it right. Now, with the report finally being released, people are told the IG never had the jurisdiction necessary and we have to wait for Durham.
How many “average Americans” even knew we had an Inspector Generals” office? Everything ultimately has been a good civics lesson.
You didn’t know that every major government agency has an IG? you are American?
1. Sater states that he was trying to do the Moscow deal to make money, on his own. Not prompted by FBI.
2. I don’t see in that super long pdf for Steele where there is a payment record. Please give the exact page. There are some pages on the form, that are for payments. But no indication that a payment was made. My recollection is that FBI was PLANNING to pay Steele, but never did. (Correct me if wrong, like to see the actual page number.)
3. The Greenberg thing is the most interesting (and mysterious). Still, it’s not 100% proven to me that he was prompted by the government to make the approach. Perhaps likely, but I don’t see why you refer to it as a fact.
4. In general, there is a bad habit from our side to state speculation, even likely speculation as fact. See this from Sundance all the time. Really gets in the way of serious sleuthing and discussion though. The problem is one gets confused over what really is fact, versus what is speculation. (An easy one is all the speculation that Mifsud was an intel asset, versus just a networker–who knows for sure.)
P.s. To one of your commenters: My recollection was that the Strozk texts came to light because of Lisa Page being questioned on the McCabe leak. Have seen a lot of our side jumping to conclusions that the Strozk wife was the precipitant (but all the recent document said was that she had access and threatened).
blue peacock says
My speculation is that the Horowitz report on FISA abuse will be similarly uninteresting compared to his earlier report where the executive summary essentially said there was no malice just stupidity. No one broke the law.
It seems that Horowitz & Barr and the rest of the crew are gonna veer on the side of protecting the “institution” and avoid any harassment from the MSM.
Trump has punted and punted on declassification. If he wants to hang it all out for everyone to see, its just a signature away. So far he has preferred to tweet rather than do anything about it.
Michael Scheuer talks in an interview to CBN about the Deep State/Borg insurrectionist coup underway against Trump.
This IG report as such will have these foreseeable effects: it will be used to predicate administrative changes, disciplinary actions, etc within the relevant Departments and Agencies (or, as likely, consumed, digested, and expelled); it will be used for political posturing across the board to present a picture of Government doing the right thing; it will be spun every which way to Sunday to support the political agenda of the interested party or media organ.
Both the IG investigation and the Congressional impeachment charade are holding onto our attention by the force of inertia, diminishing sound and the numbers of the furious growing fewer and looking more ridiculous by the day.
The real action is with John Durham. Durham and Barr will determine the scope of the investigation moving forward and the IG, the interested parties in Congress, the spinners, the media can cheer or caterwaul but in actual effect, they’ll be doing it from the stands. Durham is a serious prosecutor and he has been adding resources. An investigation does not put on more resources without a reason.
John Helmer’s latest
has fascinating details of links between various IC people and media “experts” in the “Trump = Vlad’s Chump” camp. Entertaining too.
New take on the Russian interference in the 2016 election – they were just trying to harvest eyeballs in a marketing scheme – some made political posts, others used cat videos a study now reports.
The goal was to create a Russian marketing scheme; not affect a US election (so they say):