Each day brings more evidence of a plot involving intelligence and law enforcement officials to destroy Donald Trump using the pretext of Russia. This is not a theory. It is a fact. While many of the specific details about who actually made key decisions remains to be revealed, there is abundant evidence in the public record that exposes the skeletal framework of this plot. To put it bluntly, Trump has been a target of a coup d'etat that has relied of information warfare rather than actual arms. But the objective of the plotter was no different from a traditional coup, such as the one that removed Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973. In fact, it appears that the CIA has been involved in both efforts.
Let's go through the evidence. The first piece comes courtesy of the dump of John Podesta emails. Podesta is in contact with Brent Budowsky (a longtime Democrat operative who served in senior congressional staff positions including legislative assistant to former Senator Lloyd Bentsen; extensively involved with the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and Intelligence Officers Death Benefits Act). In that email sent on 21 December 2015, shortly after noon, Budowsky recommends using Russia to bludgeon Trump. His email states it starkly:
Best approach is to slaughter Donald for his bromance with Putin
Budowsky's message to Podesta was not just a rant on Trump. It included a detailed discussion of Syria and the need to distance Hillary from the Obama policy while also lamenting Vladimir Putin's support for the Syrian Government of Bashar al Assad. This is a critical point to understand. The plot against Trump was not based on a simple dislike of someone perceived as an uncouth bully from New York. His policy stances on issues like Syria and NATO were viewed as an attack on the establishment status quo. Such effrontery could not be tolerated.
There is solid reporting that British intelligence agencies--MI6 and GCHQ to be precise-- were involved early on in trying to tie Russia to Trump. Both the Guardian and the Independent (British newspapers) published detailed reports in April 2017 about those intelligence activities:
Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.
GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.
A piece in the Independent on the 14th of April made a similar point:
This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information under the "Five Eyes“ agreement, which calls for open sharing of certain types of information among member nations the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
The notion that exchanging such information was "routine" is a bald face lie. What we are talking about are intercepted communications of persons associated with the Trump campaign. Such "interceptions" are not just stored on some computer. No. They are transcribed and published as a piece of what is known in the intelligence community as a piece of Signals Intelligence aka SIGINT. Intelligence about alleged ties between a major U.S. Presidential candidate and the Russians is anything but "routine." It is extraordinary and requires extraordinary measures in handling such information.
So, how does such a "routine exchange" take place? The process started with the U.K.'s Joint Intelligence Committee:
The [British] Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) is an interagency deliberative body responsible for intelligence assessment, coordination and oversight of the Secret Intelligence Service, Security Service, GCHQ and Defence Intelligence. The JIC is supported by the Joint Intelligence Organisationunder the Cabinet Office. . . .
[It is responsible for] maintaining liaison with Commonwealth and foreign intelligence organisations as appropriate, and to consider the extent to which its product can be made available to them.
The CIA's Chief of Station regularly attends the meeting of the JIC, which provides a venue for the U.S. and the U.K. to share sensitive intelligence with each other. There are somethings that are so sensitive that they are passed verbally rather than run the risk of putting such information into a document.
The absurd notion that the info about Trump people was handled routinely was exposed as total farce in late March 2017, when Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News went on air and reported that GCHQ was intercepting Trump communications. The Brits had a meltdown:
GCHQ's involvement in the investigation is controversial, with Mr Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, having previously accused the "British spying agency" of bugging Trump Tower on behalf of Barack Obama. Mr Spicer cited an unsubstantiated report on Fox News, from which the television station later distanced itself.
At the time GCHQ diverged from its usual policy of refraining from commenting to the media, describing the allegations as "nonsense".
Fox executives, under pressure from British authorities, moved quickly to sanction the Judge:
Fox News has suspended its legal affairs commentator Andrew Napolitano after his uncorroborated allegation that former President Barack Obama used the U.K.’s spying operation to monitor President Donald Trump provoked an international incident.
The suspension only lasted nine days. Then came the report from The Guardian corroborating Judge Napolitano's initial report:
But both US and UK intelligence sources now acknowledge that GCHQ played an early and important role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.
One source told the Guardian the British eavesdropping agency was the “principal whistleblower”.
GCHQ is the British version of the NSA. It intercepts emails and telephone calls and (thanks to Ed Snowden) the information is stored in massive databases and can be retrieved at will.
But it is not only the Guardian that confirmed the GCHQ role. The New York Times reported on 1 March 2017 (more than a month before the Guardian article appeared) that the Brits and the Dutch were collecting such information and sourced this to three former U.S. government officials:
In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government. Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.
American allies, including the British and the Dutch, had provided information describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials — and others close to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — and associates of President-elect Trump, according to three former American officials who requested anonymity in discussing classified intelligence.
Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates.
How did the Brits know who to look at? So far we have been told that the first to be targeted was George Papadopoulos and that occurred in March of 2016. Yet, both the New York Times and The Guardian are reporting from multiple sources that there was intelligence collected on associates of Trump. And The Guardians asserts this started in late 2015.
What needs to be clarified is whether the Brits first approached the U.S. intelligence community, which means ultimately communicating with CIA Director John Brennan and/or DNI James Clapper. Or, did Brennan or Clapper approach the Brits and request their help. Or was it a simultaneous approach.
Regardless of how this started, we can easily deduce that what the Brits passed through "intel channels" came as a SIGINT report that was classified as TOP SECRET and probably had some additional caveats or codewords attached to it. It is very likely that such information would be placed in a Special Access Program category aka SAP. This means access to the information would be highly restricted and tightly controlled. But it also means that people like John Brennan and James Clapper had absolute knowledge that the Brits were supplying intelligence reports claiming that Trump associates were in contact with Russians.
That leaves a very simple question--When did Brennan and/or Clapper first brief President Obama? Information currently on the public record indicates that Obama was briefed on these matters in late July 2016 or early August 2016. After Obama was briefed, CIA Director John Brennan went to the Hill and briefed Senator Harry Reid on the tawdry allegations. Despite being told about allegedly damning Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, Obama continued as late as October to insist that it was ludicrous:
Mrs. Clinton was off the campaign trail on Tuesday, preparing for her final debate with Mr. Trump on Wednesday, so it fell to Mr. Obama to rebut Mr. Trump’s assertions. The president did so with obvious relish.
There is no evidence, he said, that a presidential election has ever been rigged. He said there was little indication that it could be, given that elections are run by state and local authorities, with people from both parties supervising polling sites and ballot counting.
This is more than a case of "the dog that did not bark." We have press reports that conversations among Trump associates were intercepted that implicated them in Russian collusion. The Steele Dossier, in the very first report, claimed the relationship with Trump went back to at least 2011. Yet, despite this supposed mountain of intelligence, no actual evidence has surfaced to corroborate these outlandish claims. To the contrary, there is evidence of sedition by government officials.
As I noted in my previous piece that focused on George Papadopoulos and the coordinated effort to frame the Trump Campaign as Russian Lackeys, the actual intelligence does not show that Trump associates took the initiative in reaching out to have contact with Russians. Nope. The Trump associates--Papadopoulos and Carter Page in particular--were baited with information. Once they took the bait and communicated that information back to other Trump associates, their communications were seized by the Brits, put into a SIGINT report and then shared with the US intelligence authorities.
This duplicitous, machiavellian tactic allowed CIA Director Brennan and DNI James Clapper to pretend that the information about Trump links to Russians came from independent sources that just happened, innocently, to stumble on the intelligence. Yet, if there was actual intelligence that demonstrated that the Trump campaign had been in touch with and coordinating with the Russian Government that would now be in the public domain. Does anyone really believe that someone like Adam Schiff would not have leaked that explosive information to an eager member of the anti-Trump press?
The outlines of the conspiracy against Donald Trump are becoming more clear. More investigation is needed, but the questions that need to be asked and answered are coming into focus. We do know one thing with certainty--the Clinton campaign to "slaughter Donald Trump" has failed. Identifying and punishing those responsible for this failed plot remains unfinished business.