A former intelligence director for the FBI, Kevin R. Brock, said a newly declassified document came out last week in which there’s been very little reporting. It was the origin document for the Crossfire Hurricane investigation into Trump’s campaign created by Peter Strzok, and Brock says it was worse than he ever expected.
He lays out two major problems with document. First he notes the document was created by and approved by Peter Strzok, which is completely absurd:
First, the document is oddly constructed. In a normal, legitimate FBI Electronic Communication, or EC, there would be a “To” and a “From” line. The Crossfire Hurricane EC has only a “From” line; it is from a part of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division whose contact is listed as Peter Strzok. The EC was drafted also by Peter Strzok. And, finally, it was approved by Peter Strzok. Essentially, it is a document created by Peter Strzok, approved by Peter Strzok, and sent from Peter Strzok to Peter Strzok.
On that basis alone, the document is an absurdity, violative of all FBI protocols and, therefore, invalid on its face. An agent cannot approve his or her own case; that would make a mockery of the oversight designed to protect Americans. Yet, for this document, Peter Strzok was pitcher, catcher, batter and umpire.
Brock notes that there were other names redacted that the document was cc’d to, and judging by the placement of the names he believes it likely included both Comey and McCabe:
Names on an FBI document are always listed in cascading fashion, with the most senior at the top and on down to the least senior. On this EC, Strzok is listed last, so the redacted names should be more senior to him. Those names could well include then-FBI Director James Comey, then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and then-Counterintelligence Assistant Director Bill Priestap. The document also establishes these redacted names as “case participants.”
Secondly, Brock addresses the non-existent justification Strzok used to fire up the investigation:
Second, the Crossfire Hurricane case was opened as a Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) investigation. A FARA investigation involves a criminal violation of law — in this case, a negligent or intentional failure to register with the U.S. government after being engaged by a foreign country to perform services on its behalf — that is punishable by fines and imprisonment. It is rarely investigated.
In a normal EC opening a FARA case, we should expect to see a list of reasons why the FBI believes individuals associated with a U.S. presidential campaign had been engaged by the Russian government to represent and advocate that government’s goals.
Got that? Strzok is asserting someone in the Trump campaign did work for another government and didn’t report it to the US government. That’s the basis, or at least that’s what he wanted it to be.
This, however, was no normal EC. Try as we might to spot them, those reasons are not found anywhere in the document. Despite redactions, it has been fairly well established that an Australian diplomat, Andrew Downer, met a low-level Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, in a London bar for drinks; Downer then reported the conversation, which eventually made its way to U.S. officials in London.
The Strzok EC quotes verbatim an email authored by Downer. In it, Downer claims Papadopoulos “suggested” to him that the Trump team had received “some kind of suggestion” of assistance from Russia regarding information damaging to Hillary Clinton and President Obama. In other words, a suggestion of a suggestion.
Strzok apparently took this nebulous reporting by Downer and then leapt to the dubious conclusion that Papadopoulos and unnamed others were engaged by the Russians to act as foreign agents on Russia’s behalf. This, despite Downer also offering two exculpatory statements in the same email: 1) It was “unclear” how the Trump campaign might have reacted to the Russian claims and 2) the Russians likely were going to do what they were going to do with the information whether anyone in the Trump campaign cooperated with them or not.
Strzok then concludes the EC by moving the goalposts. He writes that Crossfire Hurricane is being opened to determine if unspecified “individual(s)” associated with the Trump campaign are “witting of and/or coordinating activities” — also unspecified — “with the Government of Russia.” He doesn’t even mention Papadopoulos.
Strzok used this vague reporting from an Australian diplomat to justify a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, all based on a FARA violation that did not exist:
Ultimately, there was no attempt by Strzok to articulate any factors that address the elements of FARA. He couldn’t, because there are none. Instead, there was a weak attempt to allege some kind of cooperation with Russians by unknown individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign, again, with no supporting facts listed.
What this FBI document clearly establishes is that Crossfire Hurricane was an illicit, made-up investigation lacking a shred of justifying predication, sprung from the mind of someone who despised Donald Trump, and then blessed by inexperienced leadership at the highest levels who harbored their own now well-established biases.
To paraphrase a fired FBI director: No reasonable FBI counterintelligence squad supervisor in the field would have approved and opened that Strzok EC. They know the rules too well.
Yet this is what consumed the first three years of Trump’s presidency and what Democrats had hoped to use as a basis to impeaching Trump out of office. If Peter Strzok and his cronies aren’t prosecuted for this, what a grave injustice that will be.