On Sunday, amidst the ongoing Russia investigation, Trump announced he is demanding the Department of Justice investigate the claims that the Obama administration spied on his 2016 election. This statement came in the form of a tweet, of course, with the promise of an official statement to be released today.
This new demand follows Trump’s recently confirmed suspicions that an FBI informant spied on the Trump campaign. According to The Intercept, the DOJ and FBI didn’t deny the accusations that a FBI representative was used as an informant during the Trump campaign. However, they stressed the importance of not revealing the informant’s name, warning it could “jeopardize his life and those of others.” Following the FBI’s multiple announcements, the New York Times and The Washington Post confirmed the FBI informant’s existence without stating their name, as the FBI requested. Yet, both articles referred to the informant as a retired FBI agent who is now a professor in England. This information gives enough clues to the public to research his name, thus revealing the informant’s identity while still being able to say the publications adhered to the FBI’s request. Yet, the Intercept report states his name directly as Stefan Halper, and calls out the Post and Times for not revealing his name to the public. The interesting part of this entire scandal is Halper himself, who also oversaw a CIA spying operation inside the Carter administration on behalf of the Reagan campaign.
One of the many concerning aspects of this entire ordeal is the DOJ and FBI’s intense demands that the identity of Halper not be revealed. The Intercept report quotes Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying he “threatened his own colleagues in congress” when they attempted to find out the informant’s identity. Warner stated, “Anyone who is entrusted with our nation’s highest secrets should act with the gravity and seriousness of purpose that knowledge deserves.”
“Threatened” is a harsh word for Warner’s statements, and it isn’t strange that the DOP and FBI are protecting one of their longtime reliable employees during this firestorm of Presidential tweets that has turned Trump into the world’s most powerful cyberbully. In a report concerning his most recent demands, CNN calls the tweet “Trump’s power play.” Now, in this tangled web of scandal surrounding the DOJ, FBI and Halper, the Russia investigation and Mueller have been forgotten. Not to mention the newest demand that wraps Obama up in the entire show, despite zero factual evidence to support Trump’s claims that Obama spied on his campaign. Yet, news outlets write reports, just like this one, concerning the informant and his questionable past, as well as Trump’s tweets. This further weakens Mueller and the Russia investigation. The use of a FBI informant such as Halper during the 2016 election is apparently not shocking information, notes CNN, quoting former CIA operations officer Robert Baer. Baer states there was nothing unusual about using an informant in the Trump campaign due to the fears and accusations that Russian intelligence was trying to infiltrate the campaign. “That is what the FBI does for a living. It stops espionage. To do that, they run confidential informants into the suspects,” Baer said. So there you have it, nothing out of the ordinary and all tied back to the Russia investigation that Trump is trying to distract the American public from.
Yet, Trump needs to take his steps carefully as he puts on a show to distract the public. CNN notes that Trump’s actions are not yet illegal but reveals the danger of further action by stating, “some critics believe that Trump’s repeated pattern of leaning on the Justice Department and the FBI over the Russia investigation could come close to showing intent that could amount to obstruction of justice.” For now, it’s all one big show as Mueller tries to investigate the real problem at hand.