I am a patriot and I value American democracy. It doesn’t matter if one likes or dislikes President Trump, the revelations that an FBI informant was snooping around in the 2016 Trump presidential election campaign clandestinely to find dirt on the candidate (and members of his campaign) should be disturbing to everyone. This spying caper sheds some disconcerting light on the involvement in the 2016 election by President Obama and his team. The irony of this latest political wrinkle is that the whole brouhaha about accusations of Russia’s interference and potential collusion, trying to sabotage the election, which so far is unfounded, cannot compare to the FBI and the Justice Department actually spying using the KGB rulebook. This has opened the door to a plethora of new details about what was going on during the election campaign and how our federal agencies, which are supposed to be independent, were politically involved to alter the course of the election.
This has emboldened Republican demands for a full accounting of how the Russian investigation began. The new revelations have renewed Republican calls for a special counsel. House Representatives Lee Zeldin, Ron DeSantis, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz, amongst others, are presenting a resolution detailing misconduct at the highest levels of the Justice Department and the FBI regarding Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse, the end of the Hillary Clinton email probe and the beginning of the Trump-Russia investigation. It is a tall order, but too much funny business has occurred that should make us all uncomfortable and desire answers.
Furthermore, former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo claims that there might be not one but two informants: “Let me tell you something that I know for a fact. This informant, this person that they tried to plant into the campaign, he’s not the only person who came at the campaign, and the FBI is not the only Obama agency that came at the campaign.” He asserts that when the truth comes out, “Director Clapper, referring to the former Director of National Intelligence, and the rest of them (referring to former director of the FBI James Comey, former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, and Hillary Clinton will be wearing some orange suits.” I don’t think President Obama has clean hands either. During the investigation, since it happened on his watch, it might be prudent to find out what Obama knew and when did he knew it.
The informant in question was in contact with at least three Trump campaign officials. Sam Clovis, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos trying to lure them into incriminating themselves and Donald Trump. Rep. DeSantis opined, “I don’t think that the Justice Department’s going to be able to investigate themselves. I think that they’ve resisted our inquiries here in Congress for long enough, and so it’s time that we did have a special counsel.”
Have the parents who give consent for their children to be given daily psychiatric drugs been told about the FDA’s findings?
Will they be?
The Justice Department and the FBI outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. When Rep. Nunes wanted more information on the informant, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein doubled down and refused to give the necessary documents, accusing the House of “extortion.” In our system of “checks and balances,” the Congress has the constitutional mandate to investigate the Executive Branch. Rosenstein was definitely in violation of the law.
Trump said last Sunday that he is formally seeking a Justice Department probe into whether government agents surveilled the campaign for political purposes and whether any such demands came from the Obama administration. Vice President Pence commented that “the American people have a right to know whether the FBI infiltrated President Trump’s campaign in 2016.” The Vice President is correct. There is nothing more dangerous or scary to the welfare of our republic than operatives from our federal agencies abusing their authority by taking sides for ideological or personal reasons and then using the vast resources at their disposal to damage and delegitimize those they oppose.
The informant in question is Stefan Halper, a Cambridge professor with deep ties to American and British intelligence. The American-born academic had previously served in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations. This guy is no tzadik. Public records show that he received large payments from the federal government in the last two years. The Department of Defense Office of Assessment paid Halper $282,000 in 2016 and $129,000 in 2017. (There is talk that he received up to a million dollars for his “work.”)
Halper has been a known entity with close personal ties to the CIA going back decades. When George H.W. Bush (who had previously been CIA director) became Ronald Reagan’s running mate, Halper was implicated in a spying scandal in which CIA officials gave inside information on the Carter administration to the Republican campaign. It seems that Halper doesn’t care which side he spies for, as long as he gets paid for it.
President Trump responded in a tweet after James Clapper said, “Trump should be happy that the FBI was spying on his campaign.” “No, James Clapper. I am not happy. Spying on a campaign is illegal and a scandal to boot.”
I truly hope justice will be done and this blot on America’s reputation is dealt with as soon as possible. Halper now lives in London. Let’s hope he stays there and out of our government’s operations. Good riddance!
Cynthia Zalisky is the Executive Director of the Queens Jewish Community. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org