By now, many readers are aware of Kimberley Strassel’s deduction, which she wrote about on Thursday, that the FBI’s 2016 probe of the Trump campaign involved a human source. By human source, she means a spy on the inside.
The tangential details that indicate this have come to light because of the House Intelligence Committee’s demand to understand the basis for the 2016 investigation. In its oversight role for agencies created by Congress – like the Department of Justice and the FBI – the House has every right to make such demands.
Strassel lays the groundwork:
The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it agreed to brief House Intelligence Committee members about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.
The stunning implications, of course, are the conclusion Strassel suggests: that the “top secret intelligence source” was someone inside the campaign spying for the FBI.
Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. 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.
All well and good. It appears Strassel is right (if the Washington Post’s sources are right). Strassel thinks she has the name. And people all over the Internet certainly think they have it this morning (Friday). Since we don’t know for sure, I’m with Strassel – it would be irresponsible to suggest a name – and won’t do so here.
But I do want to highlight a curious point about all this. Strassel herself mentions it, although without additional reflection:
Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details [about the “top secret source”]. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. 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.”
This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.
It is desperation, and still is even if you think about it twice. The “loss of human lives” rationale for not being forthcoming about covert operations invokes the concern that enemy agencies could put your covert operatives on a hit list if they’re outed.
Of course, we never want that. Russians, Chinese, international terrorists hunting our spies or their families down, so they can be captured, tortured, murdered? No way.
But we’re, er, talking about the Trump campaign here. Does DOJ, which has been stonewalling Congress on this for months, suspect Trump of having a hit squad? Does DOJ suspect Trump of being in league with someone who has a hit squad?
If so, that would be a national emergency. The very last thing DOJ should be doing is sitting on that information, waiting for Mueller to indict some more Russians for ID theft, or catch another Dutchman in a “false statement.”
It continues to be, let’s say, informative, how the earnestly enunciated rationales of the Russiagate narrative keep falling apart on the slightest examination.
And, of course, the enduring question remains: what kind of show was the Obama administration running, to do things this way (i.e., putting a spy in the Trump campaign)?
Exit point: yes, I’ve seen the name everyone is repeating all over the Web as the probable spy against the Trump campaign. Maybe it was that individual, although I’m not convinced the person had the campaign access to be effective. The individual basically had no role in the campaign at all.
In fact, if it was that person, such a reality would indicate that DOJ’s stonewalling theme about putting “human lives” at risk is an even bigger sham. Information from that person may have been used to justify the 2016 investigation, but not because the individual had the access to really know anything. It might well have been hearsay from someone who did have access – however slight – and was used to bolster the semblance of an otherwise nonexistent case.
But we’ll see. I don’t expect Devin Nunes or Trey Gowdy to expose the name, if DOJ and FBI want it to remain secret.