Did the FBI Have a Spy in the Trump Campaign?
Something tells me Glenn Simpson did not make a mistake. Something tells me the co-founder of Fusion GPS was dead-on accurate when he testified that Christopher Steele told him the FBI had a “human source” — i.e., a spy — inside the Trump campaign as the 2016 presidential race headed into its stretch run.
The Justice Department’s inability, or at least unwillingness, to reveal exactly how, when, and why the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation has fueled suspicions that a spy who worked for both the FBI and the CIA was deployed against the Trump campaign, probably in Britain — where Papadopoulos had met with suspected agents of the Kremlin, and where Steele compiled the dossier via reports from his unidentified sources.
From painstaking research, Nunes and committee staff believe they have identified such a spy. When they demanded information about this person — whose name remains unknown to the public — the Justice Department’s response was not “No, you’re wrong, there was no spying.” It was first to bloviate that the department would not be “extorted” (Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s unusual understanding of what is more commonly known as congressional oversight) and then to claim that providing the information sought by the committee would risk “potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interference with intelligence activities.”
By now, Nunes has learned that if he is catching flak, he is over the target.
.. Simpson explained that Steele had met with at least one FBI agent in Rome in mid to late September 2016. The former British spy had provided the unverified allegations he had compiled to that point
.. Simpson explained to the Senate committee (my italics):
Essentially, what [Christopher Steele] told me was [the FBI] had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source, and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing, and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump campaign.
.. Sounds like the FBI, with support from the CIA, had some cooperative intelligence venture with British authorities that enabled the Bureau to monitor Trump-campaign figures. That is significant because Papadopoulos has acknowledged meeting in Britain with people who claimed Kremlin ties and who told him Russia had thousands of Clinton’s emails. Did the FBI’s British operation involve using a spy to interact with Trump-campaign figures, such as Papadopoulos, on British soil? Brennan didn’t say.
.. Christopher Steele, the former British spy with extensive British intelligence and FBI connections, told his friend Glenn Simpson that the FBI had penetrated the Trump campaign with a “human source” who was helping corroborate the dossier.
For years, a joke among Trump Tower employees was that the boss was like Manhattan’s First Avenue, where the traffic goes only one way.
That one-sidedness has always been at the heart of President Trump’s relationship with his longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who has said he would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump. For years Mr. Trump treated Mr. Cohen poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice, threats of being fired, according to interviews with a half-dozen people familiar with their relationship.
.. “Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage,” said Roger J. Stone Jr.
.. Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that Mr. Cohen, who has a wife and two children and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could end up cooperating with federal officials
.. The trove included documents dating back decades
.. since the raid Mr. Cohen has told associates he feels isolated.
.. Mr. Trump has long felt he had leverage over Mr. Cohen, but people who have worked for the president said the raid has changed all that.
.. “Ironically, Michael now holds the leverage over Trump,” said Sam Nunberg
.. Mr. Nunberg said that Mr. Cohen “should maximize” that leverage.
.. “The softer side of the president genuinely has an affection for Michael,” Mr. Nunberg said. For instance, Mr. Trump attended the bar and bat mitzvahs of Mr. Cohen’s children. “However, the president has also taken Michael for granted.” Mr. Nunberg added that “whenever anyone complains to me about Trump screwing them over, my reflexive response is that person has nothing to complain about compared to Michael.”
..Mr. Stone recalled Mr. Trump saying of Mr. Cohen, “He owns some of the finest Trump real estate in the country — paid top dollar for it, too.” In Mr. Trump’s worldview, there are few insults more devastating than saying someone overpaid.
.. whom he has admired since high school.
.. He has told interviewers that he has never heard Mr. Trump utter an inaccuracy or break a promise.
.. “He clearly doesn’t think that Michael Cohen is his Roy Cohn,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer, referring to Mr. Trump’s former mentor and the president’s ideal for a pit bull-like defender. “I think his abusive behavior to Michael is animated by his feeling that Michael is inadequate.”
.. Prosecutors have argued that Mr. Cohen did little actual legal work for Mr. Trump
.. When Mr. Trump ran for president in 2016, Mr. Cohen was given no official role on the campaign.
.. Particularly hurtful to Mr. Cohen was the way Mr. Trump lavished approval on Mr. Lewandowski in a way he never did for Mr. Cohen. When Mr. Cohen told Mr. Trump that he believed that Mr. Lewandowski had been behind a negative story about Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump dismissed the comments as simple jealousy, and didn’t pay attention, according to two people familiar with the incident.
As a video camera secretly recorded the conversation, Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix boasted about his ties to Donald Trump’s election campaign, saying that he had met the candidate in 2016 “many times” and suggested he was integral to the victory.
“We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy,” Nix told a person posing as a potential client on a recording released this week by Britain’s Channel 4 News.
.. Nix told The Washington Post in an October 2016 interview that he could not be involved in the campaign’s strategy because he was a British citizen.
.. However, The Post reported Tuesday that Cambridge Analytica’s voter persuasion strategy was guided by conservative strategist Stephen K. Bannon in the years before he became Trump’s strategist
.. Bannon oversaw the effort to siphon up Facebook data to create a powerful voter targeting tool and was a top executive at Cambridge when it tested themes such as “drain the swamp” later harnessed by Trump.
.. Kogan said in an interview with BBC Radio that he did nothing wrong and was being made a “scapegoat.” He said he was “assured by Cambridge Analytica that everything was perfectly legal.”
.. Cambridge Analytica repeatedly insisted this week that it used no Facebook data in the models that it did for the Trump campaign.
There’s been evidence that the Trump campaign did a massively better job of taking advantage of Facebook than any other campaign, Republican or Democrat, had previously.
There’s also evidence that Facebook’s advertising models were a massive help — the Trump campaign and affiliated organizations were paying much lower advertising rates than the Clinton campaign + affiliates, largely because Facebook’s model prioritized the kind of controversy-and-outrage-generating stuff Trump was putting out there (since controversy and outrage drive engagement, and engagement is the metric Facebook cares about).