In an article entitled “Russia Inquiry Review Is Expected to Undercut Trump Claim of F.B.I. Spying,” New York Times writer Adam Goldman tries mightily, yet fails, to debunk claims that Obama officials tried to spy on the Trump campaign. In the podcast below, investigator Dan Bongino deconstructs Goldman’s “propaganda” and in the end, makes a stunning new connection between FBI informant Stephan Halper and the former head of the SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, who was a source for Christopher Steele.
The headline says the report is expected to undercut Trump’s claim of F.B.I. spying. This was not just a “Trump claim.” Goldman and many others in the mainstream media have made the same claim. Let me refresh his memory. In a May 2, 2019 article, “F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet With Trump Aide in 2016,” Goldman wrote:
The woman [Azra Turk] had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.
The Conservative Treehouse’s “Sundance” wrote a hilarious headline which makes fun of this claim. It reads, “More IG Report Leaks – New York Times Reports FBI “Spies” Placed In/Around Trump Campaign Were Not Spying “On” Trump Campaign…”
Ahead of the IG report’s release, witnesses (those implicated in the report) are allowed to review the relevant section and are given the opportunity to submit a written rebuttal which is included in the final version. Since no one has seen the full report yet, Goldman’s claims are based upon the rebuttals submitted by mainstream media friendly witnesses which likely include Andrew McCabe, James Comey, James Baker, John Brennan and the like. All of these individuals have a “cover story” they would like the IG and the public to believe. Their rebuttals are mini-versions of what we can expect from their defense teams.
Goldman is trying to manage public opinion ahead of the report’s release. He is wrongfully presenting their “stories” as if they were fact. He is playing word games. He is also setting up “straw-man” arguments he can easily knock down.
Goldman’s lede says, “The F.B.I. never tried to place undercover agents or informants inside the Trump campaign, a highly anticipated inspector general’s report is expected to find.” And his first paragraph says the IG “found no evidence that the F.B.I. attempted to place undercover agents or informants inside Donald J. Trump’s campaign in 2016 as agents investigated whether his associates conspired with Russia’s election interference operation.”
For example, nobody has claimed the FBI placed agents inside the Trump campaign. Goldman himself reports that they sent informants to speak with Trump campaign associates such as George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.
Goldman downplays the significance of Christopher Steele’s dossier in obtaining the warrant to spy on Carter Page even though the acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told lawmakers they wouldn’t have obtained the warrant without it. He also downplays the role of Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud in pursuing George Papadopoulos.
Bongino has been telling his viewers for a long time that the FBI knew in January 2017 that the dossier was bogus because they had interviewed several of his sources. However, this has never been corroborated. Goldman’s article admits the FBI “interviewed some of Steele’s sources in January 2017 and found that their information differed somewhat from his dossier.” Bongino says:
We’ve been told for a long time that Steele wrote the dossier. Steele had worked for the FBI before. He was a credible source and it allowed them to sell it to the FISA judge. Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson’s wife indicated that Simpson played a large role in writing the document. (She made this claim in a now-deleted Facebook post.)
Bongino discusses the role of Stephan Halper in the dossier. We know that Halper was paid $1 million through Office of Net Assessment records. And that he spoke to Steele. Where did Halper get his information? Was Halper “double-dipping” and receiving money from other people too? Like the Russians?
DOJ official Bruce Ohr acted as a backchannel between Steele and the FBI. Here is an exchange between Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Ohr during his 2018 testimony before Congress.
Trey Gowdy: Did you and Chris Steele ever discuss Donald Trump?
Bruce Ohr: In the July 30th conversation, one of the items of information Chris Steele gave to me was that he had information that a former head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, had stated to someone — I didn’t know who — that they had Donald Trump over a barrel.
Person A gave this information to Steele. Person A had heard it from the former head of the SVR who was Vyacheslav Trubnikov.
From Glenn Simpson’s new book:
Steele said that one of his collectors (informants) was among the finest he had ever worked with, an individual known to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement. Neither Simpson nor Fritsch was told the name of this source, nor the source’s precise whereabouts, but Steele shared enough about the person’s background and access that they believed the information they planned to pass along was credible.
Ten days before the FBI submitted their first application to the FISA Court, Steele met at the State Department with then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec to discuss the dossier. (In May, investigative reporter John Solomon broke the bombshell story that Kavalec had noted Steele’s extreme political bias and had found several of his statements to be untrue. I posted about this story here.) She then forwarded her notes and an email to the FBI’s counterintelligence team. The following excerpt comes from Kavalec’s meeting notes. To the left of “sources,” it says “Trubnikov.”
Could Person A have been Halper? Did they know each other?
Bongino puts up a piece written on his website by Matt Palumbo, entitled “New Document Exposes Two Russian Dossier Sources” on May 17, 2019. Palumbo writes: “In May 2015, Trubnikov returned to teach with Halper at his seminar in Cambridge on “current relations between the Russian Federation and the West.”
Of course, this doesn’t prove that Halper was Person A. It proves only that they knew each other.
What do we know so far about Person A? He was an individual known to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement who was among the finest Christopher Steele had ever worked with. And he has a business relationship (at least) with Trubnikov.
Lovinger was later vindicated. (I posted about his story here.)
Bongino’s Questions: Was Steele paying Halper for that information? Was Halper double-dipping? Was a foreign national, Christopher Steele, paying a guy who was already being paid by the U.S. government to spy on a presidential campaign for information that spy was getting from a Russian intel head? I guess we’re going to have to figure that out. Wouldn’t that be an interesting money trail?