by George Neumayr, from The American Spectator
As Trump won primary after primary in 2016, a rattled John Brennan started claiming to colleagues at the CIA that Estonia’s intelligence agency had alerted him to an intercepted phone call suggesting Putin was pouring money into the Trump campaign.
The tip was bogus, but Brennan bit on it with opportunistic relish.
Out of Brennan’s alarmist chatter about the bogus tip came an extraordinary leak to the BBC:
that Brennan had used it, along with later half-baked tips from British intelligence, as the justification to form a multi-agency spy operation (given the Orwellian designation of an “inter-agency taskforce”) on the Trump campaign, which he was running right out of CIA headquarters.
The CIA was furious about the leak, but never denied the BBC’s story. To Congress earlier this year, Brennan acknowledged the existence of the group, but cast his role in it as the mere conduit of tips about Trump-Russia collusion:
“It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.”
But if his role had truly been passive, the “inter-agency taskforce” wouldn’t have been meeting at CIA headquarters. By keeping its discussions at Langley, Brennan could keep his finger wedged in the pie. Both before and after the FBI’s official probe began in late July 2016, Brennan was bringing together into the same room at CIA headquarters a cast of Trump haters across the Obama administration whose activities he could direct – from Peter Strzok, the FBI liaison to Brennan, to the doltish Jim Clapper, Brennan’s errand boy, to an assortment of Brennan’s buddies at the Treasury Department, Justice Department, and White House.
The bogus tip from Estonia led the group into its first cock-up: sending FBI agents to sniff around the computer server connected to Trump Tower. After that effort flopped, Brennan’s group had to go back to the drawing board (on the electronic intelligence front, it had already hatched plans for national security letters and FISA warrants).
Someone in the group must have proposed blasting a swampy old CIA source and Hillary supporter, Stefan Halper, into the Trump campaign orbit to see if he could catch a couple of minor campaign volunteers out in collusion.
Halper had entered the Deep State through a door opened by his father-in-law, Ray Cline, whose work for the CIA was legendary. Behind that door Halper found a treasure trove of jobs and government contracts, making his life as a transatlantic jet-setting academic possible. Brennan’s Langley group had access to Halper’s file and sized him up as the perfect embed: a Republican-oriented foreign policy scholar who could plausibly interact with Trump officials while serving as a nexus between the CIA and Brennan’s friends in British intelligence. Halper’s ties to Richard Dearlove, a former head of British intelligence, are well known, and Halper knows Alexander Downer, the pub-crawling Aussie diplomat, through a mutual association with Cambridge University.
That Halper came out of the brainstorming of Brennan’s group is clear from the fact that his first known meeting with Carter Page preceded the formal opening of the FBI’s probe. The Washington Post hinted at the role of Brennan’s group in hatching Halper:
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