Employees of intelligence agencies may be “very scared and very worried” of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the origins of the Obama administration’s surveillance of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015 and beyond, speculated Hans von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow, in a Monday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host David Ng.
Under James Comey’s former directorship of the FBI, the federal government surveilled Trump’s political associates as early as 2015, ostensibly as a “counterintelligence” operation on alleged Russian “interference” in 2016’s presidential election.
In May, Attorney General William Barr appointed U.S. attorney John Durham to head the aforementioned investigation of the Obama administration’s surveillance of Trump’s campaign, including the use of surveillance warrants via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA),
Von Spakovsky said, “If these CIA analysts were providing false information or false and fraudulent assessments in order to get a counterintelligence operation started against the president, then boy, they’d better get lawyers, because they not only engaged in an abuse of their authority, but they probably broke federal law in what they were doing.”
“We know there’s a problem in the intelligence agencies,” said von Spakovsky of political and partisan functionaries within the intelligence agencies. “All you have to do is look at the ridiculous whistleblower complaint filed by the non-whistleblower against the president in a phone call in the Ukraine to understand that there is a lot of bias inside of our intelligence agencies, which does not give one a great deal of confidence in the accuracy and credibility of the work they’re supposed to be doing, which is analyzing the national security threats to the United States.”
Von Spakovsky contrasted Durham’s investigation with a forthcoming report from the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz regarding possible abuses of power by the FBI in its obtainment of a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign official Carter Page.
“The inspector general only has the power to report on any wrongdoing, fraud, [or] abuse that he finds,” von Spakovsky stated. “An inspector general can make a recommendation at the end of the report [that] the Justice Department prosecute someone, but he has no power to do it. John Durham, on the other hand, as a U.S. attorney, can also issue a report just like the IG did, but if he finds criminal wrongdoing, he can impanel a grand jury and criminally prosecute anyone that he believes may have broken the law.”
Von Spakovsky added, “Everyone should remember it is against the law for the CIA to operate domestically, and if they were engaging in domestic operations to spy on American citizens, including people working inside the Trump campaign, then they did break federal law and they are in a lot of trouble, or they should be in a lot of trouble.”
“If [the CIA] discovers foreign espionage going on inside the United States, they have to turn that over to the FBI,” continued von Spakosvky. “The FBI has a huge counterintelligence division whose only job it is to stop foreign espionage going on inside the United States. The CIA cannot do that. Their task is to operate abroad and to gather intelligence for the United States. Counterintelligence [is] the FBI’s responsibility.”
Von Spakovsky went on, “If the CIA handed over false information or information they had not checked and verified to the FBI, then the CIA people are potentially in trouble, as would be the FBI if they then did not verify or check the information they were getting from the CIA. We know they didn’t do that when it came to the Steele dossier. The FBI didn’t check any of that information.”
“I think … maybe folks in the intelligence agencies [are] very scared and very worried about the investigation that John Durham is doing, and hoping that this distracts the public and distracts Congress,” estimated von Spakovsky.
Comey has mocked concernsabout the FBI’s surveillance of Trump’s campaign as “conspiracy theories.” He also denied that the FBI — under his directorship — “spied on the Trump campaign” or engaged in “corruption.”
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