In the conservative blogosphere, there is often talk of a coup against President Trump by the intelligence community. While we have to wait for the IG report and those mandated by Attorney General William Barr for a final answer, it has come to no one’s surprise- thanks to some great, true investigative journalism- that while the Democrats talk about the veneer of obstruction, there is an even stronger veneer of an attempt to sidetrack and/or undermine the Trump candidacy, transition, and ultimate presidency. And while most of the attention has been on the IC and FBI/Justice Department, this writer believes that there was certainly complicity, if not outright collusion (yes- I went there) with foreign governments, but not on the part of Trump.
Let is harken back to the early days of the Trump candidacy. Here and elsewhere, the entrance of Donald Trump into the GOP sweepstakes was not taken seriously. But, as the campaign carried on, many within the political establishment came to see Trump as an existential threat. The sudden and unexpected rise of Trump was not a welcome sight. He was an unconventional candidate with true allegiances to no one within government. Brash, boastful and ignoring political correctness, he was not short of money and he did not care what others thought of him when push came to shove. He was challenging the domestic political status quo.
Likewise, he was doing the same when it came to international affairs. He challenged monetary policy, regulations, international trade agreements, Congress, the United Nations, the European Union, China, NAFTA, and NATO. Here was a man challenging the entire “new world order” and everything that went with it.
It is obvious that then CIA Director John Brennan became the point man in undermining Trump. The big question now is whether this was a self-appointed action, which is bad enough since it shows a rogue intelligence establishment, or whether orders came from higher up. My guess? There are enough layers of plausible deniability between the Oval Office of Obama and Brennan and we may never learn the real story. However, none of this reflects positively on the Obama legacy.
Nevertheless, it was Brennan who took unofficial snippets of foreign intelligence compiled by contacts and associates abroad. Most of those contact were in Great Britain, but also Australia. The list of British connections is the longest. Implicated are Robert Hannigan, former head of the British CSHQ, the equivalent of our NSA. It was in late 2015, according to Brennan’s Congressional testimony, that the British started complaining about Trump. In the summer of 2016, Hannigan travelled to Washington and met with Brennan regarding alleged ties between Trump and Moscow. Three days after Trump’s inauguration, Hannigan unexpectedly retires.
Former MI6 head, Richard Dearlove, has also been connected with the coup. A close associate of Stefan Halper (a key figure in this scenario) is well-documented. Dearlove and Halper attended a Cambridge forum attended by Michael Flynn. According to the narrative, Dearlove and Halper became concerned about an apparent contact with a Russian academic in attendance- Svetlana Lokhova. At this alleged meeting, Lokhova denies interacting all that much with Flynn other than some pleasantries. This is the source of concern to a former MI6 head?
Another name that often goes unmentioned is former British Ambassador to Russia, Sir Andrew Wood. Wood was a close associate of Christopher Steele, the author of the salacious dossier. It was Wood who insisted that after the information was relayed to Brennan that they should take it to the FBI. One other British connection of interest is a private intelligence firm called Hakluyt. Guess who was on the board of Hakluyt for some time and maintained ties with them? The answer: Alexander Downer, the Australian diplomat whose tip allegedly started the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign.
One of the methods used was the “spy trap.” Prominent among them were operations targeting low level Trump campaign advisors George Papadoplous and Carter Page. The attempt was to establish a relationship between Trump and Russia. Provided it could be used to maximum effect, the context mattered little. The infamous meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 is a perfect example. Yet, it cannot be denied that British intelligence officials were behind these attempts.
Brennan was using information gleaned from unofficial intelligence sources, many with personal motives, to create a process for a case with the FBI. There were repeated transfers of this unofficial information to the FBI in an attempt to open a counterintelligence operation. It should be mentioned that Brennan had no official intelligence information to pass along to the FBI, just unofficial reports.
Once the FBI started an investigation on or about July 31, 2016, Brennan then briefed the Gang of Eight Congressional leaders of this intelligence. However, unlike traditional protocol, he briefed each person separately which calls into question what he told each person. Brennan later presented three reports on Russian meddling in the election on October 7, 2016 before the election, on December 29, 2016 during the transition, and the infamous intelligence assessment on January 6, 2016. Notably, NSA Director Mike Rogers refused to go along with that assessment totally.
We can get into the details of Victoria Nuland at the State Department who had to approve of contact between Christopher Steele and FBI agent Mike Gaeta in London. However, we know that despite Nuland’s stamp of approval, Gaeta and Steele had met in Rome in June 2016 and we know that Steele had already started to compile the dossier on Trump. Nuland was, at the time, an Under Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs.
Most of this “conspiracy” traces back to Great Britain and their intelligence services and their associates in private intelligence firms, former members, and contacts. What was the motivation for British interest in the 2016 election? I think the answer could be found in the Brexit referendum held on June 23, 2016. Prior to that vote, a cursory view of British coverage of the issue, and coverage here in the United States, noted that Trump fully supported the Brexit movement. There is no doubt that the government in power at the time in Great Britain was against the referendum.
Just as Trump’s election in the United States represented a threat to the status quo, so did a Brexit vote in favor of leaving the European Union. Both were predicated upon “My Nation First” and both Trump’s candidacy and the Brexit movement were motivated by immigration dynamics. In short, on both sides of the Atlantic, the prevailing governments feared and looked with distrust upon rising populist movements.
Additionally, there are indications that the Russians, from Senate hearings, CIA analysis and British authorities, were involved in the Brexit question. The estimated investment by the Kremlin is somewhere between one and 1.4 million pounds (British), mainly through the Russian Internet Research Agency. They were also implicated in Facebook and Twitter postings in the 2016 election in the United States.
All of this information points to the fact that there was certainly some Russian involvement, through social media, to sow discord in electoral processes in Western nations. In the US, the monetary investment was minuscule compared to that in Great Britain. But, this should have come as no surprise to anyone since there was certainly evidence that Russia was involved in cyber warfare in election processes in France, Holland, Germany, and other Central European countries. For crying out loud, they managed to hack the German parliament!
So, knowing this and assuming the brain trust at the State Department, Homeland Security, and the intelligence community were likewise aware, the question becomes why play into the hands of Russia? The answer, this writer believes, is that what started off as an “insurance policy” took on a life of its own. It became a narrative that spread like a cancer readily egged on by a media that despised Trump as much as the status quo political class despised Trump.
What is more disturbing is that while we point to Moscow and Democrats see a Russian fingerprint everywhere, we should be looking to London instead. It was they and their operatives- a consortium of foreign intelligence officials, contacts and associates- who stand at the center of this whole thing. Either that or the Russians are just more smarter than anyone realizes.