Durham’s Investigation: Incriminating Inference in the FBI’s Empty Russiagate Predication

The vaporous predication for the FBI’s opening of its “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation of “Russian collusion” is often attributed solely to anti-Trump bias, with no more to learn from its study. But sustained examination shows it to be not only pretextual but also designed to conceal American history’s most insidious governmental treachery since Benedict Arnold.

According to the FBI, the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation was opened on July 31, 2016, because lowly Trump aide George Papadopoulos had been told by one Professor Joseph Mifsud that Russia had emails harmful to Hillary Clinton. Two weeks later, Australian (FFG) diplomat, British-connected Alexander Downer, pried from Papadopoulos that Russia had dirt on Hillary, which he repeated in July to an American embassy in London. 

Because both Mifsud and Downer were Western intelligence plants, without any knowledge of Russian designs, this was clearly a bootstrapped, circular predication. That millions of common citizens also suspected Russia had email dirt on Hillary did not seem to dampen FBI ardor.

Quickly thereafter, the FBI opened highly secretive “SIM” (Sensitive Investigation Matter) investigations on Trump advisors Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Michael Flynn, and George Papadopoulos without any actual evidence, on the speculation that they were the most likely conspirators. 

Later, the FBI was adamant to Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the CIA’s “Brennan did not provide the FBI any intelligence that predicated the opening,” nor did Comey’s team “become aware of Steele reporting until September 19, 2016.” Rather, “predication . . . was based solely on the FFG (Downer) information.” 

All of these denials, as shown below, are arrant nonsense, but why is the FBI staying so far away from these two sources? Wouldn’t both Steele’s and Brennan’s investigations strengthen the nonexistent basis for opening Crossfire Hurricane? 

Did the FBI know of Steele’s conspiratorial allegations before July 31, 2016? It sure seems so. In late April 2016, Mary Jacoby, wife of Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, visited the White House, presumably to get approval for DNC expenditures on the project. It is a reasonable inference that Jacoby would have informed her contacts that a major purpose of Steele’s work for Simpson would be to engage the FBI as the foundation for sensational media leaks. If so, did the White House and DNC hide this plan from the highly partisan FBI Director James Comey? That seems unlikely. 

In February 2016, Steele was briefed as an FBI informant. On what task? In any case, we know that Steele reached out to and engaged FBI agent Michael Gaeta in London on July 5, 2016, after Gaeta received permission from the State Department. Steele handed him Report 80, soon followed by the explosive Report 94, which together contained essentially all the allegations later used to support a FISA warrant. Gaeta, who formerly worked for the FBI’s flagship office in New York (NYFO), soon contacted its Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC). By July 28 the reports were in New York, when Gaeta was told that the FBI’s Executive Assistant Director, coincidentally a Crossfire Hurricane team member, was informed, as well as unnamed counterintelligence agents. 

There was much more activity within the FBI between July 28 and August 4. Interestingly, when the four SIMs were opened on Page, Manafort, et al. on August 10, the Steele reports which the FBI had in hand explicitly excoriated Page and Manafort. The Steele reports also tracked perfectly with the theory announced by Clinton’s Campaign Manager Robby Mook on July 25, 2016 that the Russians had released “hacked” DNC emails right before the Democratic convention, at the same time the Trump campaign was weakening its platform against Russian aggression toward Ukraine. All very coincidental, yes? 

FBI work had been hand in glove with Brennan’s CIA, which had received SIGINT (foreign signal intelligence) from friendly foreign countries since late 2015. Indeed, in a December 2015 text, FBI lawyer Lisa Page asked Peter Strzok if he had received approval for “OCONUS lures” (assets that could lure subjects of interest outside the continental United States, so they could be electronically monitored). Strzok’s boss, Bill Priestap, made a hurried trip to an undisclosed European destination, most likely London, in May 2016, just as Papadopoulos was being played in London by Western intelligence assets. Under existing protocols, Papadopoulos, a U.S. citizen, would not have been subject to such an operation without the express approval of Brennan. 

Based on the above, it is not surprising that Brennan himself has been widely quoted as claiming his work was the basis for the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane operation. So, given that both Brennan and Steele clearly had been all over “Russian collusion” for months prior to July 31, 2016, why wouldn’t Comey’s Crossfire Hurricane team admit the influence of these obvious sources, thus buttressing its empty predication? 

The FBI knew that if ever declassified, however, Brennan’s notes of July 26, 2016, would show that Russian intelligence was well aware that Hillary Clinton was, per an advisor, proposing “to vilify Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security forces.” 

This was followed by a July 28, 2016, Oval Office meeting including Comey, revealing this plot. Then on September 7, 2016, Brennan forwarded to Comey and Strzok an investigative referral based on the same Hillary Clinton scheme.

These two documented notices—of July 28 and of September 7—could not be avoided by Comey if ever declassified.

But why avoid Steele’s work? Steele has told investigators, per his contemporaneous notes, that he had told Gaeta that “Democratic Party associates” were paying him, and the “ultimate client” was the Clinton campaign. Another FBI field office learned that the “Democratic National Committee” and one other individual were commissioning the Steele work. On August 2, according to the Horowitz report, four members of the Crossfire Hurricane team, including Strzok, were so informed. Yet the FBI never told FISC of this sponsorship in any of the four FISA applications, a highly material fact that should have been disclosed.

Perhaps even more chilling, the FBI knew that Simpson, Steele, and sub-sources were a rogues’ gallery of Russian spies, agents, and oligarchic retainers. Simpson was working at the time for the Russian oligarchic Katsyv family and Prevezon Holdings in a huge Magnitsky Act case, along with Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, she of the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting imbroglio. 

Steele was the main intelligence advisor, since 2010, for one of Putin’s closest allies, oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Primary sub-source Igor Danchenko had been investigated as a Russian spy and had worked for Steele and Deripaska for years. Danchenko’s covert source, Clinton-connected politico Charles Dolan, was a registered foreign agent for Russia, “was very trusted by Putin’s people” and “well-connected in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.” Steele has also claimed to have relied on former Russian spy head Vyacheslav Trubnikov and “Putin’s Rasputin” Vladislav Surkov. 

If Putin was truly plotting with Trump, would his close allies so openly betray him, or were they instead mollifying (and getting kompromat on) the presumed next U.S. president?

It is no wonder that Comey has testified that Brennan’s September 7, 2016 referral didn’t “sound familiar” and “doesn’t ring a bell.”

At 6-foot-8, perhaps insufficient blood has managed to climb to the former director’s hippocampus, where memories are stored and retrieved. And perhaps CIA referral recipient Peter Strzok had diverted his cerebral blood to more primal purposes. 

But common sense tells us that Comey’s cohorts were not memory-challenged Inspector Clouseaus, but, rather, were more like diabolical Lex Luthors, ruthlessly plotting to take down a despised newcomer politician for partisan ends. 

We trust this explains the gossamer-thin predication for the wasteful, divisive “Russian collusion” nonsense we have all endured.

About John D. O'Connor

John D. O’Connor is a former federal prosecutor and the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the author of Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate, and Began Today’s Partisan Advocacy Journalism.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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