Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, May 24, 2019
President Donald Trump on May 23 directed the heads of the CIA, FBI, State Department and other agencies to cooperate with Attorney General William Barr as he investigates the origins of the Russia investigation.
A majority of American voters in a recent poll sided with Barr’s decision to investigate the investigators which in this case directly involved U.S. intelligence agencies. The IC (intelligence community) is required to operate rigorously independent of partisan political agendas in serving U.S. national security interests.
A Hill/Harris-X survey conducted last week found that 62 percent of registered voters agreed with Barr’s decision to investigate the probe’s origins.
While faithfully airing the talking points of key Democrats in reaction to the expanding Barr investigation, major corporate media accounts have not noted the signs of mounting anxiety from those responsible for the Russian investigation that targeted Donald Trump.
Kevin Brock, former FBI assistant director for intelligence, wrote in an op-ed for The Hill that “In just the past week, we’ve seen a rush to comment by the former directors of national intelligence and the CIA. The FBI’s former general counsel has chimed in publicly and, of course, fired FBI Director Comey has been on a media offensive, practicing character assassination as a strategy with Barr among those in his crosshairs.
Intelligence community leaders “aren’t used to being held to account by the Justice Department, and their oversight by Congress generally is mild,” Brock noted. “Theirs is a comfortable world, obfuscated and kept mysterious by the liberal use of their classified-information shield. The demonization of Attorney General Barr has begun — a sign that he is probably on the right track. And the IC leaders are on notice.”
The Hill/Harris poll found that the new inquiry, which will be headed by Connecticut-based U.S. Attorney John Durham, was more popular among Republicans (74 percent approved) and independents (68 percent approved). Democrats saw a majority (52 percent) disapproving of the move.
The president triggered additional Democratic Party unease by releasing a memo authorizing Barr to “declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence” regarding the investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign was unlawfully spied on.
Trump directed the agencies to “promptly provide such assistance and information as the attorney general may request in connection with that review.”
Trump reiterated on May 23 that he believes several former Obama administration officials may have committed treason in spying on his campaign.
“They have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Asked to name specific individuals who may have committed treason, Trump mentioned former FBI Director James B. Comey; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; former FBI agent Peter Strzok and his FBI paramour, Lisa Page; and “probably people higher than that.”
The president noted that Page and Strzok, who ended up working on the Mueller investigation, exchanged text messages about creating an “insurance policy” in case Trump won the 2016 election.
“That’s what they said, and that’s what they meant,” Trump said. “That’s treason. They couldn’t win the election, and that’s what happened.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Associated Press last month that she doesn’t “trust Barr,” but she trusted special counsel Robert Mueller. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Barr of “peddling conspiracy theories.”
California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff called Barr’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe “un-American” in a May 23 tweet.
“While Trump stonewalls the public from learning the truth about his obstruction of justice, Trump and Barr conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies,” Schiff wrote. “The coverup has entered a new and dangerous phase. This is un-American.”
Journalist Michael Tracey tweeted in response to Schiff’s outburst: “It’s un-American to produce government documents that reflect poorly on my political allies, and are likely to show that the conspiracy nonsense on which I’ve staked my career was a complete fraud. I’m Adam Schiff, and I approve this message.”
Chuck Ross, a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation, tweeted of Schiff: “Old enough to remember you reading off parts of the now-debunked dossier in an open congressional hearing.”
Kevin Brock wrote about the Obama administration intelligence chiefs: “Each appears to be anxious about his own role in handling the controversial Steele dossier from the Trump-Russia investigation, and so there is some elbowing under the basket to get optimum positioning. And who can blame them? The attorney general has stated that he is going to focus particularly on the dossier’s exploitation, and specifically on the actions of the leadership of those agencies.”
Brock also said those players are, in essence, “using their easy access to public media platforms to coordinate and communicate their stories among themselves.”
Durham, Brock wrote, “may be licking his chops as a prosecutor since a certain element of finger-pointing among the principals has emerged.”
Christopher Steele’s dossier “is clearly a Russian intelligence operation (‘active measure’ in (IC) intelligence community-speak) that took advantage of a cooperative outreach by the Hillary Clinton campaign,” Brock wrote.
“If these IC leaders didn’t recognize it as such, then it truly was amateur hour at the top. The more troubling scenario would be if each made a conscious decision to ignore the obvious Russian interference attempt and, instead, wring political value out of the dossier.”
The CIA, Brock noted, “has its own set of restrictions about the use of assets against Americans, and this deserves Durham’s focus as well. Former CIA Director John Brennan has commented on his belief in the sufficiency of FBI predication to investigate the Trump campaign but has said little about the CIA’s role in all of this. Durham will want to make sure that CIA asset activity didn’t somehow help create that predication.”