Let us put this all together by looking at what Spygate meant to many of the main actors in the saga and their motivations for involvement.
John Brennan, former CIA Director
Here was a man whose career at the CIA was one of a desk-bound analyst who knew whose ass to kiss and when. As a station chief when assigned to Saudi Arabia, he blew his only assignment- recruiting an Iranian. He stayed just relevant enough through the Bush administration and managed to worm his way into Obama’s West Wing as a homeland security adviser, then parlay that position into CIA director after David Petreaus was forced to resign. Is it possible he had something to do with that scenario? For John Brennan, he got to play the role of spy which he failed so miserably at while in Saudi Arabia.
Some have claimed that Brennan had no money in the game because he served under Clinton, Bush and Obama. He was “bipartisan.” Maybe in his choice of employers that is true, but not when it came to his ambitions. It did not matter the party affiliation of who was in power. That is not what motivated Brennan.
Further, despite his shortcomings and possibly a little because of his noted ass-kissing, he managed to end up in positions of power. One cannot help but to think that perhaps despite his own shortcomings, Dennis Montgomery was onto something with Brennan. In his insatiable desire for power or to prove his worth in the world of clandestine spy operations, one should not think Brennan was above establishing an illegal spying apparatus or taking one over in order to further himself. Whether it was HAMMER and the accusations of Dennis Montgomery, access to NSA intercepts, or dispatching spies into the political campaign of someone he felt was a danger to him and/or his aspirations, Brennan was not above it.
Candidate Trump was highly critical of the intelligence community on the 2016 campaign trail, particularly over the Iraq War. Brennan was a career CIA bureaucrat during that time. Did he feel Trump was a personal threat?
There is no mistaking Brennan’s feelings about President Trump. In a word, it is hatred. Was it hatred with some raw, unverified or uncorroborated intelligence that motivated Brennan? Or did he fit the intelligence around that hatred? In either case, Brennan does not come off as a dispassionate intelligence official, but more as a political hack which is exactly all those hearings in the aftermath of Watergate warned against.
James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence
As for the DNI, James Clapper, this writer always viewed him as a goofy dupe. He likely went along and got swept up in the tide reliant upon the musings of Brennan. No one doubts his technical intelligence prowess in the area of geospatial intelligence. But much like Brennan, he was a deskbound bureaucrat in the right place at the right time as concerns Obama.
James Comey, former Director of the FBI
James Comey was a man placed in an impossible situation either way and could not have anticipated the chain of events that swept over him when he accepted the role of FBI director. Of course, that says little about him. Comey is, above all else, beholden to the FBI as an institution, but he was certainly not dispassionate when it came to reviewing the intelligence being fed to him by the IC, his own analysts, and the people he relied upon at the FBI. It was as if people like Brennan and McCabe wore him down into submission. Yet in the end, his actions were those of a weasel who draped himself in an American flag and sees himself as a defender of democracy. That is a scary thought.
Andrew McCabe, former interim FBI Director
For Andrew McCabe, the motivation was political given his wife’s source of campaign financing. That failed Virginia state senate candidacy of his wife was supported by a PAC run by Terry McAuliffe, who would become the governor of that state, who was a key fundraiser for the DNC and Hillary Clinton, and who had loaned the Clintons money to get a mortgage on their home in Chappaqua. McCabe, despite all his achievements (many suspicious and dubious) at the FBI, was blinded by politics.
Peter Strozk and Lisa Page, former FBI and DOJ investigators
For Peter Strozk and Lisa Page, it was personal. The text messages show that they both, for whatever reason, simply hated Donald Trump. When you are in a position of power in the key federal law enforcement agency, one has to put that hatred aside and assess the evidence objectively. Here, neither did so. Instead, Strozk found himself brought into the Mueller investigation. Only after the text messages became publicly available did Mueller banish him from his team, but this illustrates Mueller’s shortcomings also.
Christopher Steele, former member MI6
Christopher Steele, it was revealed, was nothing more than a political opposition researcher and not a good one at that. He has found himself sued in British court where more information about the origins of his dossier’s claims came to public light. The Alfa bank server incident is one example where information was fed to him by a lawyer for the DNC and Clinton campaign and he ran with it without checking its veracity. In many areas, he seemed to fill in publicly known facts and make assumptions about actions without any verifiable proof, most likely spurred by an active imagination and his supposed understanding of Russian intentions.
Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS, political opposition researchers
For Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS, it was an opportunity to make a name for itself, and money that motivated him. In 2012, a business intelligence firm dabbled in political opposition research by targeting Mitt Romney. He succeeded in 2016 but sullied the name of his company in the process by relying on Steele.
When the DNC took over funding of the research, Simpson claimed he hawked it because of what he had learned about Trump up until that point. Most of it was simply rehashed research writer Wayne Barrett had done. There were likely other things in those research notes that never made into Barrett’s manuscript. Why? The most likely answer is they were uncorroborated facts and innuendo.
By the time Trump announced his candidacy, everyone knew that as a real estate developer Trump crossed paths with some nefarious organized crime characters and Russian businessmen along the way. This is the whole basis behind the efforts to get Trump to release detailed financial information so that forensic researchers can connect dots and claim their “Aha!” moment.
Just as the leadership of the DOJ and FBI were blinded by their past reliance on Steele as a contractor, so too was Simpson and Fusion GPS.
Bruce Ohr, et. al., members of DOJ/FBI cabal of Trump-haters
With Bruce Ohr and others, it was protecting the institutions they belonged to. Their motivation was part dislike of Trump, part misinterpreted tidbits of “evidence,” and part protection of the institutions they served. They were inculcated into an organization that considered itself on the front lines between American democracy and outside characters, in this case- Russia. In essence, the tables turned and they became, through their actions, unwitting dupes of Russia.
George Papadopolous, low-level Trump campaign adviser
George Papadopolous has been largely exonerated despite spending a few days in jail over nothing having to do with Russia. Subsequent revelations have shown that he was set up and he was an unwilling dupe with a loose tongue. Perhaps Brennan did his homework with Papadopolous since his bar room talk with Alexander Downer supposedly set the whole thing in motion. It should be recalled that Downer reached out to Papadopolous, not the other way around, and only after the bug had been planted in his head about Russia having “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
Carter Page, low-level Trump campaign adviser
Despite a FISA warrant and three renewals, not a single shred of evidence of Carter Page’s alleged connections to Russia were ever discovered. Instead, he was a victim of a 2013 incident and targeted accordingly. Again, this shows that low level, rather inconsequential Trump campaign advisers, eager to pad a resume given their shortcomings elsewhere, were targets.
Michael Flynn, short-lived Trump National Security adviser
Michael Flynn ended up virtually bankrupt and forced into a guilty plea by government pressure on his son. The legal wrangling and actions of federal judge Emmett Sullivan could fill a whole book. After the DOJ dropped charges against Flynn, Sullivan refused to accept the withdrawal of a guilty plea. It makes no sense since the defendant and the prosecutor agree and as an impartial judge, that should be it. Sullivan’s actions are hard to explain. In one lasting twist of the knife, could Brennan have gotten to him also?
Robert Mueller, former FBI Director and Special Counsel
Robert Mueller went mumbling off into the sunset leaving his “obstruction of justice” caveat waving in the wind. But the whole purpose of his investigation proved there was no Trump-Russia collusion. Instead, he managed to indict Russian intelligence officials and agents that will never see the inside of a US courtroom, some alleged hackers and bot farm people, including an entity that did not even exist, and some people for process crimes.
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Vladimir Putin is still president of Russia and likely having the last laugh. In the final analysis, one has to assume that about $200,000 in Facebook ads swayed an election since that is perhaps the only thing Russia could be definitively linked to with the Trump campaign. Talk about getting bang for your buck!
Barack Obama, former US President
One person not laughing is Barack Obama who had his two signature achievements- Obamacare and the JCPOA- neutered or shredded. The Susan Rice CYA memo further showed that the whole thing extended into the Oval Office. If it didn’t, then Obama allowed his DOJ, FBI, and CIA run rogue operations. Either he knew and approved, or he was really unaware. For something as important as Russia meddling in a US presidential election, especially with so much on the line regarding his legacy, either scenario casts him in a bad light.
Donald Trump, current US President
The biggest victim is President Trump whose campaign, transition, and Presidency have been dogged by the allegations. Just as Bush was seen as an illegitimate winner, Trump will be seen as worse by the detractors- an illegitimate winner who was also a puppet or dupe of Putin. But Trump got the last laugh when he was elected in 2016 and, hopefully, reelected in 2020.