When Cambridge graduate student Svetlana Lokhova, who was studying espionage history in hopes of writing a book on Soviet spies in 1930s U.S. academia, accepted a dinner invitation organized by Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 who was then master of Pembroke College, in 2014, she never imagined 3 years later she would be bombarded by a gaggle of prominent reporters, almost on the same day, asking her about a conversation she’d had with a man who had also been in attendance at that dinner, and one she says she barely remembered: Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
Nor did she imagine, when she saw her name later in the press as a woman who had apparently gone home with Flynn that night, she was being used in what she found out later — and has now become something of an expert on as she’s attempted to clear her name — was “a very serious intelligence operation” that was intended to stop the dual disruptors of Flynn, who as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under Barack Obama had wanted to audit the intelligence services and was fired; and new President Donald Trump, who had run on “draining the swamp” and had recently hired Flynn as his national security adviser against Obama’s warnings.
“I had deleted all the emails about that dinner,” Lokhova told RedState. “I had a newborn and quite frankly couldn’t even remember who Flynn was.”
She says she was later told by her professor, after reports began appearing in British and American media outlets that she was a Russian agent and possible “honeytrap” for Flynn, that it was all just a misinterpretation by the press about overblown squabbles on campus. Lokhova had been picked up from that dinner by her now-husband.
“At that stage, I didn’t realize it was an intelligence operation. I thought it was just anti-Russian nonsense in the press and wanted to clear the record and tell everyone to stop seeing Russian spies everywhere,” she says.
However she did know where the information was coming from because the source was reported to have been an American and there was only one American she knew at Cambridge who also knew about the dinner: Stefan Halper.
Halper we now know was sent — “Probably ordered by [then head of the CIA John] Brennan,” says Lokhova — to spy on Trump. Lokhova says he was the key to discrediting Flynn and Trump, and swinging the election toward Hillary Clinton in a 3-stage operation that included defaming Flynn, creating a narrative around any contacts he had ever had with anyone even remotely Russian, and using those contacts to cast suspicion on the Trump campaign and, later, administration.
“That’s where the insurance policy comes in,” says Lokhova, who in May filed a libel lawsuit in Virginia against Halper, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC and intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance. “They didn’t want to leave anything to chance…they knew that at the least many people would lose their jobs, and some may even be facing worse. Remember, Flynn at the 2016 Republican National Convention was yelling, ‘Lock her up!’ from the stage. They had to stop Flynn and Trump before Flynn and Trump stopped them.”
While Lokhova has only her side of the story to tell — and the judge in her libel case hasn’t been particularly kind to her — her story is a compelling one. After realizing that Halper was actually working on something larger than simply confusing the press about inter-departmental squabbles at Cambridge, she began using her skills as a student of espionage to determine what exactly she had inadvertently become a part of.
What she discovered was that Halper was a man who had 40 years of “dirty tricks” behind him and if that information had been available to the general public, they would have known from the outset that the Russia collusion probe was little more than smoke and mirrors.
“They went to enormous lengths to cover up his name,” Lokhova says, comparing those efforts to the efforts to protect the name of the “whistleblower” that set off the impeachment inquiry following Trump’s phone call with Ukraine.
“They deliberately termed Halper a ‘confidential human source’. What that does is it gives him legal protection but it also means everything he’s associated with is classified. Only his handler would know his name. That’s a sacred tenet in security services, so they used it to cover up 40 years of dirty tricks. Not to save his life, or the lives of others, or to protect an operation. Because the moment you know it’s Halper, you know that they never genuinely believed there was any Russian collusion because Halper has a history of being involved in very, very dodgy operations for 40 years.”
Lokhova believes that the intelligence operation to stop Trump started with Halper in 2015, and that discovery of recent Pentagon contracts showing payments to Halper offer evidence of that fact. The first one dated in September 2015 in which Halper says his intent is to interview Russian agents is particularly telling for Lokhova since he asked asked her to dinner shortly thereafter in January 2016.
“This is a man I had been in a department with for 5 years and who wouldn’t speak a word to me,” Lokhova says. “Now he’s asking me to dinner and wants to discuss my book?”
Lokhova believes that dinner was to validate her as a Russian agent — she says Halper later indicated that the only way she could have gotten some information for her book was if Putin had given it to her personally — and that validation was all Brennan needed to start the Russia collusion investigation, codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane.
And there’s little doubt that the FBI opened their investigation based on nothing more than hazy intelligence from the CIA.
“That’s all they needed, ” Lokhova says. “The 2014 meeting with me at the dinner, and validation that I was working as a Russian agent, which Halper attempted to provide at the January dinner [Lokhova did not attend that dinner].”
In short, says Lokhova, Halper was “activated” to try to “dirty up” Flynn beginning in September 2015. “They had to create the narrative and rewrite his whole history to make him look like a traitor to his country,” she says. “They used the 2013 trip to Moscow, the dinner with me in 2014, speeches he gave in 2015 to American companies they said had ties to Russia — they didn’t — and culminating in the dinner where he sat next to Putin…by the time Flynn had his conversation with [Russian Ambassador Sergey] Kislyak [in December 2016], they had already been watching him for over a year.”
Flynn, as we all know, was fired by the Trump administration for not being forthcoming about those conversations, particularly with Vice President Mike Pence. He was later convicted for lying to the FBI about his contacts with that same ambassador and is currently fighting to be exonerated.
As Lokhova gears up for own legal challenge, she hopes she can be of some service to Flynn’s lawyer if she’s called upon.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone from his team, but I would if they asked,” she says. “They [Halper et al] didn’t need to prove anything, just spread it in the press and initiate surveillance. They did everything they could to make this man who was very clean look like a traitor to his his country to keep themselves from being fired or even prosecuted. It was a very organized killshot.”
[Tomorrow, Part 2 – The Lawsuit]