As with all my stories, this is brought to you by groups encouraging massive youth voting, including The Civics Center. Consider donating or volunteering at the link.
And remember when we thought that in addition to the Mueller criminal investigation, the FBI was running a separate counterintelligence investigation about Trump’s ties to Russia.
And remember how Deputy A.G. Rod “Land the Plane” Rosenstein lied to the FBI because he secretly killed the counterintelligence investigation without telling the FBI, which thought Mueller was conducting a counterintelligence as well as a criminal investigation? This is detailed in a recent story by Alterego55, The reason Trump has appropriated US classified documents is far more sinister than you might think.
This is my second story on Trump Russia events few seem to remember, but need to be revisited in light of the explosive FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. The first story, last Thursday, was Remember when Trump gave Security Clearances to Kushner/Ivanka despite Lies.
I. The Extraction
CNN reported on September 9, 2019: Exclusive: US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017:
In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.
A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.
The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.
[Note: a recent post on Empty Wheel’s blog is the only recent mention of this issue I have found.]
So early in the Trump administration, in May 2017, according to CNN, our national security team did not trust the President of the United States to insure the safety of a high placed spy in Russia. This was in the same time period when Trump disclosed classified information to Russian diplomats [Lavrov and Kislyak] in the White House. According to a NY Times story on September 9, 2019,
The Moscow informant was instrumental to the C.I.A.’s most explosive conclusion about Russia’s interference campaign: that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself.
Note that the same Times article also cited some CIA officials saying concerns about Trump’s actions were not the reason for the spy’s “exfiltration.” My research has not yet found any update on this difference between the Times and CNN reports, but the circumstantial evidence, including the timing of the Lavrov/Kislyov meeting and the spy’s role in outing Putin’s aid to Trump, gives credibility to CNN’s report.
II. The Phantom Counterintelligence Investigation
The 2017 extraction happened at about the same time that Trump fired Comey and Robert Mueller was appointed special prosecutor. Comey’s investigation, continued by his Deputy, Andrew McCabe was initially a counterintelligence investigation into Trump and Russia.
McCabe discontinued that investigation at Rosenstein’s direction, because Rosenstein lied and told McCabe Mueller would be doing both a criminal and counterintelligence investigation. For those two years, the FBI and the public believed either that Mueller was doing both of these, or that there was a separate,”double secret” counterintelligence probe going on. I know I was waiting eagerly for that “other” counterintelligence report to be released.
In January 2019, the Times reported that the FBI had started a counterintelligence investigation in May 2017 that ultimately was subsumed into the Mueller probe. Trump then tweeted:
just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!
For once, he was right. There was no counterintelligence investigation. After the Mueller Report was released, in March and April of 2019, people like Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee became suspicious about the supposed counterintelligence investigation:
The Post: What, as you understand it, is the current status of that investigation into the president?
Schiff: The short answer is: We don’t know. Just as a reminder, this all began as an FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether people around then-candidate Trump were acting as witting or unwitting agents of a foreign power. So it began as a counterintelligence investigation, not as a criminal investigation. Now obviously a criminal case — many criminal cases — were spun off of this but we don’t know what happened to the counterintelligence investigation that James Comey opened.
Schiff was right to be suspicious because in August 2020 we found out there never was a counterintelligence investigation:
Mr. Rosenstein never told Mr. McCabe about his decision, leaving the F.B.I. with the impression that the special counsel would take on the investigation into the president as part of his broader duties. Mr. McCabe said in an interview that had he known Mr. Mueller would not continue the inquiry, he would have had the F.B.I. perform it.
With the help of co-conspirators like Rosenstein and Barr, Trump squelched investigation into his multiple contacts with Russia in the period before he was President, his role in our having to extract a high-up spy in Russia, his continuing obeisance to Putin and other suspect Russia involvement. He was impeached, but not convicted. He thought he got away with his Russian collusion and collaboration.