Seven Mysterious Preludes to the FBI’s Trump-Russia Probe

Carter Page. Top photo: FBI headquarters at night.
AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File

Real Clear Investigations, by Lee Smith, June 26, 2018:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation formally opened its Trump investigation after Western intelligence assets and Clinton-affiliated political operatives repeatedly approached the Trump campaign and tried but failed to damage it through associations with Russia, a growing body of evidence suggests.

Before the FBI began investigating the Trump campaign in an operation code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” there were at least seven different instances when campaign advisers were approached with Russia-related offers. Most of those contacts — including Donald Trump Jr.’s much-publicized meeting with a Russian lawyer and others in June 2016 — offered the prospect of information damaging to Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Two of these approaches were made by one U.S. government informant already publicly identified as such, Stefan Halper. Another was made by a man who swore in court that he had worked as an FBI informant. Two others were made by figures associated with Western intelligence agencies. Another two approaches included political operatives, one foreign, with ties to the Clintons.

President Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has asserted that dispatching Halper to follow the Trump campaign “protected” it from the Russians.

But Mark Wauck, a former FBI agent with experience in such tactics, sees an effort at entrapment. “What appear to have been repeated attempts to implicate the Trump campaign, in some sort of quid pro quo arrangement with Russians who claimed to have ‘dirt’ on Hillary,” Wauck told RealClearInvestigations, “look like efforts to manufacture evidence against members of the Trump campaign or create pretexts to investigate it.”

At the same time, in early spring, the Clinton campaign commissioned, through its law firm, the Washington, D.C.-based communications firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. The result was the infamous 35-page dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

It appears that neither the FBI nor the Clinton campaign’s paid operatives came up with anything of substance. The seven approaches to the Trump campaign, as far as is publicly known, generated no evidence of coordination with the Russians. No evidence has emerged to change former FBI Director James B. Comey’s description of key parts of the Steele dossier as “salacious and unverified.”

Nevertheless, the report of one person who reached out to a Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, was reportedly used to launch an official Department of Justice and FBI probe into the Trump campaign and the dossier was evidently a key piece of evidence used to secure a FISA surveillance warrant against Page.

Congressional Republicans are demanding that the DOJ and FBI inform Congress whether the FBI tasked informants to follow the Trump campaign before it officially opened its full investigation of the Trump team’s possible ties to Russia on July 31, 2016.

RealClearInvestigations pieced together the following efforts to connect the Trump campaign to Russia through published reports; court documents, including charges filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller; interviews with former FBI agents; and congressional investigators. RCI’s investigation raises questions about events routinely described as evidence of a Trump conspiracy to collude with Russia. As former agent Wauck suggests, taken together these efforts could be interpreted not as an investigation but a sting operation intended to dirty a presidential campaign.

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Also see:

Seven Scenes of possible entrapment from Russiagate: 1 of 2: that show a script and pattern. @LeeSmithDC

Seven Scenes of possible entrapment from Russiagate: 2 of 2: that show a script and pattern. @LeeSmithDC

Also see: