Sharyl Attkisson: 8 signs a U.S. counterintelligence operation was launched against Trump

by WorldTribune Staff, May 27, 2018

The “widespread misuse of America’s intelligence and law enforcement apparatus” against the Trump campaign has become evident in recent weeks, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson wrote in a May 23 op-ed for The Hill.

From left, former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Attkisson is an Emmy-award winning investigative journalist, formerly at CBS and currently the host of Sinclair’s Sunday TV program, “Full Measure.”

Attkison listed eight signs “pointing to a counterintelligence operation deployed against Trump for political reasons”:

  • Code name: The operation reportedly had at least one code name that was leaked to The New York Times: “Crossfire Hurricane.”
  • Wiretap fever: Secret surveillance was conducted on no fewer than seven Trump associates: chief strategist Stephen Bannon; lawyer Michael Cohen; national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner; campaign chairman Paul Manafort; and campaign foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
  • National security letters: Another controversial tool reportedly used by the FBI to obtain phone records and other documents in the investigation were national security letters, which bypass judicial approval. Improper use of such letters has been an ongoing theme at the FBI. Reviews by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General found widespread misuse under (special counsel Robert) Mueller – who was then FBI director – and said officials failed to report instances of abuses as required.
  • Unmasking: Was frequently deployed by at least four top Obama officials who have subsequently spoken out against President Trump: James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence; Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Susan Rice, former national security adviser; Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general. It’s been revealed that Power made near-daily unmasking requests in 2016. Prior to that revelation, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed ignorance. When asked if he knew of unmasking requests by any ambassador, including Power, he testified: “I don’t know. Maybe it’s ringing a vague bell but I’m not — I could not answer with any confidence.”
  • Changing the rules: On Dec. 15, 2016 – the same day the government listened in on Trump officials at Trump Tower – Rice reportedly unmasked the names of Bannon, Kushner and Flynn. And Clapper made a new rule allowing the National Security Agency to widely disseminate surveillance material within the government without the normal privacy protections.
  • Media strategy: Former CIA Director John Brennan and Clapper, two of the most integral intel officials in this ongoing controversy, have joined national news organizations where they have regular opportunities to shape the news narrative – including on the very issues under investigation. Clapper reportedly secretly leaked salacious political opposition research against Trump to CNN in fall 2017 and later was hired as a CNN political analyst. In February, Brennan was hired as a paid analyst for MSNBC.
  • Orchestrated Leaks: There’s been a steady and apparently orchestrated campaign of leaks – some true, some false, but nearly all of them damaging to President Trump’s interests. A few of the notable leaks include word that Flynn was wiretapped, the anti-Trump “Steele dossier” of political opposition research, then-FBI Director James Comey briefing Trump on it, private Comey conversations with Trump, Comey’s memos recording those conversations and criticizing Trump, the subpoena of Trump’s personal bank records (which proved false) and Flynn planning to testify against Trump (which also proved to be false).
  • Friends, informants and snoops: The FBI reportedly used one-time CIA operative Stefan Halper in 2016 as an informant to spy on Trump officials. Another player is Comey friend Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor, who leaked Comey’s memos against Trump to The New York Times after Comey was fired. We later learned that Richman actually worked for the FBI under a status called “Special Government Employee.” The FBI used former reporter Glenn Simpson, his political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and ex-British spy Christopher Steele to compile allegations against Trump, largely from Russian sources, which were distributed to the press and used as part of wiretap applications.

“These eight features of a counterintelligence operation are only the pieces we know,” Attkisson wrote. “It can be assumed there’s much we don’t yet know. And it may help explain why there’s so much material that the Department of Justice hasn’t easily handed over to congressional investigators.”

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