Another Watergate — But John Brennan Should Be The Target
Recent events — such as the convictions of two former Trump aides, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, following Trump’s retributive withdrawal of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance — have some pundits talking excitedly about new Watergate proceedings aimed at the White House.
But the only deserved excitement should be felt by Brennan, the deceitful quarterback of the Russian Collusion team, as the current chaos helps to run out the clock on any investigation and possible indictment of himself.
As Watergate is inevitably compared to the present situation, we should recall what the scandal was and what it was not. The wrongdoing was rooted in abuses by the party in power during an election, not by a relatively powerless contender, as Trump was in 2016. The Nixon administration used the machinery of government for spying on and sabotaging the campaigns of its political enemies, then enlisted the CIA and FBI in a failed coverup.
All of this is beginning to look like small beer when compared to Brennan’s orchestration of the CIA, FBI, GCHQ (British intelligence) and the media to smear Trump as conspiring with thug Vladimir Putin to rig the 2016 election. This charge not only criminalized the incoming president but also delegitimized him from the start, far worse than anything Nixon’s operatives did.
Brennan and his partisan cohort, former FBI Director James Comey, have long maintained the fiction that the “Russian collusion” counterintelligence case was not opened until July 31, 2016, and that claim is supposedly based only upon a meaningless statement made to lowly Trump aide George Papadopoulos.
Indeed, almost laughably, the lie is put to this timing claim simply by noting that the statement (about Russian hacking) was made to Papadopoulos in early April 2016 by Joseph Mifsud, himself a “human source” engaged by Brennan and GCHQ as part of an already ongoing investigation.
We also know that an “interagency” taskforce had been formed by Brennan in December 2015 and that it had voted in April 2016 to deny a “defensive briefing” to Trump, while preparing its first unsuccessful application for a FISA warrant.
So this claim of a July 31, 2016, start date is clearly a lie, but to what end? As we will see, it was highly important to Brennan’s scheme that we not focus on the many months of investigative goose eggs by three behemoths (the CIA, FBI and GCHQ).
Recall that according to the respected journal The Guardian, Brennan first received a tip about electoral collusion in December 2015. On December 28, 2015, FBI lawyer Lisa Page inquired of FBI Counterintelligence Deputy Peter Strzok about his plans to get approval for “LUREs,” or human source informants. All of this history Brennan has consciously ignored as if it never occurred. Again, why the lie about timing?
The answer starts with the hiring of Fusion GPS by Clinton and the virtually simultaneous hiring by Fusion of both Christopher Steele and Nellie Ohr, a former and/or continuing CIA contractor. Most commentators, understandably, point to Ohr’s husband Bruce as a subsequent conduit between Steele and the FBI. But this focuses the public on the aftermath of Steele’s hiring, not its prologue, which is far more important.
Within a month or six weeks of being hired, Steele and Ohr produced a stunning report of June 20, 2016, a) detailing collusion between Trump and Putin, according to Trump insiders, Sources D and E; and b) the lurid peeing prostitute story, to explain Russian kompromat on Trump.
To judge the credibility of this report, let’s examine the origins of the Fusion team. Are we to believe that the CIA and GCHQ had been working on Russian collusion for six months, when, serendipitously, Fusion just happened to hire an ex-GCHQ spy and an ex-contractor for the CIA to investigate the same subject?
I was born at night, but not last night. Moreover, Clinton’s sponsorship would have been concealed only if it was planned from the outset to be used for some official purpose such as, for a wild example, a FISA warrant, and not merely for “oppo” research.
At the same time as Steele was being hired, the “interagency team” was failing in its first FISA bid. So we can infer as well that from the outset a renewed application was intended, using Steele’s report so as to improve upon the then-failing FISA application.
We can at the point of Fusion’s hiring confidently assert that Steele and Nellie Ohr were suggested by Brennan for the main purpose of obtaining a FISA warrant Brennan otherwise couldn’t and that the warrant necessarily would be relying on shaky evidence.
How does this, however, tell us that Brennan knew the Steele investigation would be fraudulent? More specifically, how can we say that Brennan knew that Sources D and E were really one source, Sergei Millian, clearly a non-credible Russian asset posing as a Trump insider?
Millian had, by April 2016 — before Steele and Ohr were hired — begun worming his way into the life of Papadopoulos, recently named to the Trump team. The only entity with a motive to send Millian to Papadopoulos was Brennan’s inter-agency team.
But knowing as well the likely falsity of any Millian claim of collusion, Brennan, fearing honest oversight, could not risk stamping CIA approval on anything Millian said. So Brennan needed Steele as the seemingly reputable cutout for a knowingly fraudulent report, upon which he could obtain a FISA warrant.
When Clinton did not win, Brennan’s team focused on delegitimizing the newly-elected President. Obama official Evelyn Farkas openly expressed the widespread partisan worry that all of the anti-Trump intelligence work would be lost to posterity if it were not quickly publicized, which the FBI’s James Comey and DNI James Clapper readily accomplished in January 2017, as Brennan had attempted through Harry Reid pre-election.
Brennan knew he was on his way out but still had the justice system in place to harass Trump in a way that would make Nixon blush. The FISA warrant was renewed three times, thanks to Comey, while Bruce Ohr remained a conduit between Steele and the FBI.
When Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel in May 2017, the highly partisan FBI Counterintelligence Deputy Peter Strzok hesitated joining the team because “there’s no big there there.” Brennan above all knew that.
This has not kept Brennan from repeating the smears of Trump/Russian collusion, suggesting falsely that such claims are based upon classified information he cannot share. Brennan is doubling down on his fraud, hoping that Trump is impeached before Brennan is exposed.
The President at this point would be too crippled to go after Brennan. Rosenstein won’t (he was part of the FISA process) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. And Trump may not win Senate confirmation of a replacement for Sessions. If not, and if Trump continues to avoid declassification of key documents, Brennan may indeed run out the clock on his well-deserved indictment.
Indeed, as Trump faces cascading legal and impeachment charges, an omnipresent, well-paid television pundit will likely be, yes, John Brennan, happy to divert attention from his own wrongdoing.
Who says that crime does not pay?
John D. O’Connor is the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the co-author of “A G-Man’s Life: The FBI, Being ‘Deep Throat,’ and the Struggle for Honor in Washington” and is a producer of “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” (2017), written and directed by Peter Landesman.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.