Navy Vice Adm. Michael Rogers testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 11, 2014, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to become an admiral and director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Services/Commander, United States Cyber Command. (Lauren Victoria Burke/AP Photo)
Last week, it was reported that Admiral Mike Rogers, who served as Director of the National Security Agency under President Obama, has been cooperating with U.S. Attorney John Durham’s criminal inquiry into the origins of the Trump/Russia collusion investigation. This was big news for two reasons.
I wrote about the first reason in a recent post, in which I called Rogers the “Unsung Hero.” He was one of the few Obama administration officials who actually had integrity, a man who noticed that something was amiss and acted. It was this man who traveled to Trump Tower on November 17, 2016, to brief then-President-elect Donald Trump that communications from the building were being tapped. He did not notify his superior, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, beforehand.
Later that day, the Trump transition team announced they were moving their operations to a new location in New Jersey. Within days, the Washington Post reported that “James Clapper and Defense Secretary Ash Carter had recommended the removal of Mike Rogers from his NSA position.” Rogers was not fired, for obvious reasons.
The second reason predates the FBI’s application to the FISA Court for a warrant to spy on Carter Page by a couple of years, but in light of IG Horowitz’s report, this story becomes even more relevant. Rogers discovered that American citizens were being spied upon and drew attention to the abuse of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the Obama administration. According to former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova, Section 702 allows the government to essentially weaponize the NSA’s ability to collect data and surveil private U.S. citizens.
Used as intended, it has been a useful law enforcement tool. Abused as it had been by Obama administration officials up until Rogers’ discovery in 2014, it became a weapon. DiGenova said, “For more than four years before the election of Donald Trump, there was an illegal spying operation going on by FBI [private] contractors — four of them — to steal personal information, electronic information about Americans and to use it against the Republican Party.”
In a Christmas Eve interview with WMAL radio station (audio below), diGenova explains how the FBI’s efforts to cover up the 702 spying brought us “Crossfire Hurricane.” Rogers discovered it and reported it to the FISA Court and said “she” stopped it (I assume “she” refers to FISC Judge Rosemary Collyer). DiGenova says it led to the “crescendo of activity by Comey, Clapper, and Brennan. It led to the so-called Crossfire Hurricane investigation to cover-up the previous spying that had been going on.”
Rogers has an electronic trail of all the spying that went on over five years. He has personal notes – like Jim Comey – only this time they are not self-serving notes, they are the truth…I have described Mike Rogers as the Rosetta Stone of this investigation…I can be fairly confident now in saying there will be a substantial criminal conspiracy indictment against a lot of people with the electronic spying.
That electronic spying that went on from 2012 through 2016 into NSA databases was used for unmasking people and then leaking that information to the press.
DiGenova is asked if this includes the unmaskings that involved Susan Rice and Loretta Lynch and he says yes.
Next, he directs our attention to the famous press conference given by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) in March 2017, while serving as the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes, whose efforts to expose the corruption have been monumental, was widely criticized after this presser. DiGenova explains what Nunes had just seen at the NSC prior to meeting with reporters. What he saw…
were spreadsheets which had been produced by the White House of the intercepts, the illegal NSA intercepts, and on it were the names of people, telephone numbers, to and from information, which led to the unmaskings. That’s what this is all about. It is truly remarkable that we have finally gotten here.
(Note: Nunes discussed this day in detail in an interview with Dan Bongino which aired on Tuesday. The audio is available here.)
They discuss the significance of the Obama White House using these intercepts, which are meant to be used to thwart terrorist attacks, against their opponents for political purposes. DiGenova calls it a stunning scandal of immense proportions that is being ignored by the Washington Post and the New York Times. He wants everyone to be aware of the April 2018 ruling by Judge Collyer about the spying by FBI contractors. He explains:
Collyer wrote an opinion where she exposed, on the public record, the names of all the people which had been blotted out…all the people in the DOJ and the FBI who were involved in the illegal database searches, the three FBI contractors for example, are named in there, but their names are blotted out. She told everybody about this and nobody did anything about it and nobody did anything about it on Capitol Hill except for one person, Devin Nunes. Nunes and Mike Rogers should both get the Medal of Freedom from President Trump. They are heroes, American heroes.
When Mike Rogers found out about the electronic spying that had been going on for years, and then about the spying that had been going on inside the Trump campaign, he not only went to the FISA Court, he went to Trump, you will recall on November 17, 2016 and warned him about what was going on.
At that very point, Ash Carter, the Secretary of Defense, and James Clapper, the DNI, tried to get Admiral Rogers fired. It didn’t happen because Obama knew that everything would come out immediately.
DiGenova is asked if he believes Judge Collyer is doing “enough” in reaction to the IG report. The answer is no.
This is too little, too late. This is grandstanding and save your ass kind of stuff by a federal judge. There should have been contempt hearings before the FISA Court already. She didn’t have to wait. She knew everything. She knew back in 2018 that there was illegal spying. She knew she’d been lied to in the Carter Page affidavit. She knew that the assistant attorney general for the National Security Division, John Carlin, had filed false annual certifications of compliance with minimization standards on 702 databases about Americans.
Let’s remember what this scandal is about…This is about spying on American citizens with no basis whatsoever. We now know the spying on Carter Page was completely baseless. He had nothing to do with the Russians. He was cooperating with the CIA. He was never charged with a crime…
As a result of this 702 database illegal spying by FBI contractors from 2012 through 2016, where they access telephones, emails, text message databases on Americans, not foreign nationals. Thousands of Americans were spied on. What did Judge Collyer do about it? Nothing.
Now, I want to see every one of those five judges up there on Capitol Hill in a hearing. They need to testify about the Carter Page warrant.
When they saw in that first warrant there was a political organization involved in opposition research, that warrant should have been stopped right there.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel devoted her column to exactly this. I wrote about this in a post entitled “Where Was FISA Court Judge Collyer’s Concern in 2018 When Devin Nunes Brought These Issues to Her Attention?” Nunes wrote to Judge Collyer on February 7th, 2018 to tell her what his committee had found during their investigation of the FBI’s four applications. He wrote, “The Committee found that the FBI and DOJ failed to disclose the specific political actors paying for uncorroborated information that went to the court, misled the FISC regarding dissemination of this information, and failed to correct these errors in the subsequent renewals.” Mr. Nunes “asked the court whether any transcripts of FISC hearings about this application existed, and if so, to provide them to the committee.” Collyer was dismissive. He tried again to bring this wrongdoing to her attention in June 2018 with the same result.
Judge Collyer failed to act when she should have. Once the FBI’s abuses were revealed to the world, she was forced to respond. DiGenova is entirely correct to call this “save your ass kind of stuff by a federal judge.”
For so long, we’ve waited for an Obama administration insider who was willing to speak the truth. The topic of the unprecedented unmaskings attributed to Samantha Powers and Susan Rice has come up often enough, but has always been dismissed. Up until now, there’s has been very little known about it. With his firsthand and technical knowledge, it is clear that Mike Rogers’ cooperation with the Durham Team will do much to clarify the “why” of it all and will help to fill in many of the blanks.
DiGenova said that Rogers has already met with members of the Durham team “multiple” times. It’s possible that information he’s provided led to Durham’s request for John Brennan’s communications records from the CIA. Either way, this is a monumental development.