Growing Indicators of Brennan’s CIA Trump Task Force
02 November 2019
by Larry C Johnson
The average American has no idea how alarming is the news that former CIA Director John Brennan reportedly created and staffed a CIA Task Force in early 2016 that was named, Trump Task Force, and given the mission of spying on and carrying out covert actions against the campaign of candidate Donald Trump.
This was not a simple gathering of a small number of disgruntled Democrats working at the CIA who got together like a book club to grouse and complain about the brash real estate guy from New York. It was a specially designed covert action to try to destroy Donald Trump.
A “Task Force” is a special bureaucratic creation that provides a vehicle for bring case officers and analysts together, along with admin support, for a limited term project. But it also can be expanded to include personnel from other agencies, such as the FBI, DIA and NSA. Task Forces have been used since the inception of the CIA in 1947. Here’s a recently declassified memo outlining the considerations in the creation of a task force in 1958. The author, L.K. White, talks about the need for a coordinating Headquarters element and an Operational unit “in the field”, i.e. deployed around the world.
A Task Force operates independent of the CIA “Mission Centers” (that’s the jargon for the current CIA organization chart).
So what did John Brennan do? I am told by an knowledgeable source that Brennan created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. It was an invitation only Task Force. Specific case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and admin personnel were recruited. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did.
This was not a CIA only operation. Personnel from the FBI also were assigned to the Task Force. We have some clues that Christopher Steele’s FBi handler, Michael Gaeta, may have been detailed to the Trump Task Force (see here).
So what kind of things would this Task Force do? The case officers would work with foreign intelligence services such as MI-6, the Italians, the Ukrainians and the Australians on identifying intelligence collection priorities. Task Force members could task NSA to do targeted collection. They also would have the ability to engage in covert action, such as targeting George Papadopoulos. Joseph Mifsud may be able to shed light on the CIA officers who met with him, briefed on operational objectives regarding Papadopoulos and helped arrange monitored meetings. I think it is highly likely that the honey pot that met with George Papadopoulos, a woman named Azra Turk, was part of the CIA Trump Task Force.
The Task Force also could carry out other covert actions, such as information operations. A nice sounding euphemism for propaganda, and computer network operations. There has been some informed speculation that Guccifer 2.0 was a creation of this Task Force.
In light of what we have learned about the alleged CIA whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella, there should be a serious investigation to determine if he was a part of this Task Force or, at minimum, reporting to them.
When I described this to one friend, a retired CIA Chief of Station, his first response was, “My God, that’s illegal.” We then reminisced about another illegal operation carried out under the auspices of the CIA Central American Task Force back in the 1980s. That became known to Americans as the Iran Contra scandal.
I sure hope that John Durham and his team are looking at this angle. If true it marks a new and damning indictment of the corruption of the CIA. Rather than spying on genuine foreign threats, this Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of Putin.
John Brennan’s CIA Trump Task Force
Could it become Obamagate?
PHILIP GIRALDI • NOVEMBER 12, 2019
There is considerable evidence that the American system of government may have been victimized by an illegal covert operation organized and executed by the U.S. intelligence and national security community. Former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director Jim Comey appear to have played critical leadership roles in carrying out this conspiracy and they may not have operated on their own. Almost certainly what they may have done would have been explicitly authorized by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his national security team.
It must have seemed a simple operation for the experienced CIA covert action operatives. To prevent the unreliable and unpredictable political upstart Donald Trump from being nominated as the GOP presidential candidate or even elected it would be necessary to create suspicion that he was the tool of a resurgent Russia, acting under direct orders from Vladimir Putin to empower Trump and damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Even though none of the alleged Kremlin plotters would have expected Trump to actually beat Hillary, it was plausible to maintain that they would have hoped that a weakened Clinton would be less able to implement the anti-Russian agenda that she had been promoting. Many observers in both Russia and the U.S. believed that if she had been elected armed conflict with Moscow would have been inevitable, particularly if she moved to follow her husband’s example and push to have both Georgia and Ukraine join NATO, which Russia would have regarded as an existential threat.
Trump’s surprising victory forced a pivot, with Clapper, Brennan and Comey adjusting the narrative to make it appear that Trump the traitor may have captured the White House due to help from the Kremlin, making him a latter-day Manchurian Candidate. The lesser allegations of Russian meddling were quickly elevated to devastating assertions that the Republican had only won with Putin’s assistance.
No substantive evidence for the claim of serious Russian meddling has ever been produced in spite of years of investigation, but the real objective was to plant the story that would plausibly convince a majority of Americans that the election of Donald Trump was somehow illegitimate.
The national security team acted to protect their candidate Hillary Clinton, who represented America’s Deep State. In spite of considerable naysaying, the Deep State is real, not just a wild conspiracy theory. Many Americans nevertheless do not believe that the Deep State exists, that it is a politically driven media creation much like Russiagate itself was, but if one changes the wording a bit and describes the Deep State as the Establishment, with its political power focused in Washington and its financial center in New York City, the argument that there exists a cohesive group of power brokers who really run the country becomes much more plausible.
The danger posed by the Deep State, or, if you choose, the Establishment, is that it wields immense power but is unelected and unaccountable. It also operates through relationships that are not transparent and as the media is part of it, there is little chance that its activity will be exposed.
Nevertheless, some might even argue that having a Deep State is a healthy part of American democracy, that it serves as a check or corrective element on a political system that has largely been corrupted and which no longer serves national interests. But that assessment surely might have been made before it became clear that many of the leaders of the nation’s intelligence and security agencies are no longer the people’s honorable servants they pretend to be. They have been heavily politicized since at least the time of Ronald Reagan and have frequently succumbed to the lure of wealth and power while identifying with and promoting the interests of the Deep State.
Indeed, a number of former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Directors have implicitly or even directly admitted to the existence of a Deep State that has as one of its roles keeping presidents like Donald Trump in check. Most recently, John McLaughlin, responding to a question about Donald Trump’s concern over Deep State involvement in the ongoing impeachment process, said unambiguously “Well, you know, thank God for the ‘deep state’…With all of the people who knew what was going on here, it took an intelligence officer to step forward and say something about it, which was the trigger that then unleashed everything else. This is the institution within the U.S. government…is institutionally committed to objectivity and telling the truth. It is one of the few institutions in Washington that is not in a chain of command that makes or implements policy. Its whole job is to speak the truth — it’s engraved in marble in the lobby.”
Well, John’s dedication to truth is exemplary but how does he explain his own role in support of the lies being promoted by his boss George “slam dunk” Tenet that led to the war against Iraq, the greatest foreign policy disaster ever experienced by the United States? Or Tenet’s sitting in the U.N. directly behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the debate over Iraq, providing cover and credibility for what everyone inside the system knew to be a bundle of lies? Or his close friend and colleague Michael Morell’s description of Trump as a Russian agent, a claim that was supported by zero evidence and which was given credibility only by Morell’s boast that “I ran the CIA.”
Beyond that, more details have been revealed demonstrating exactly how Deep State associates have attempted, with considerable success, to subvert the actual functioning of American democracy. Words are one thing, but acting to interfere in an electoral process or to undermine a serving president is a rather more serious matter.
It is now known that President Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. Rather than working against genuine foreign threats, this Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of President Vladimir Putin, a claim that still surfaces regularly to this day. Working with James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Brennan fabricated the narrative that “Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.” Brennan and Clapper promoted that tale even though they knew very well that Russia and the United States have carried out a broad array of covert actions against each other, including information operations, for the past seventy years, but they pretended that what happened in 2016 was qualitatively and substantively different even though the “evidence” produced to support that claim was and still is weak to nonexistent.
The Russian “election interference” narrative went on steroids on January 6, 2017, shortly before Trump was inaugurated, when an “Intelligence Community Assessment” (ICA) orchestrated by Clapper and Brennan was published. The banner headline atop The New York Times, itself an integral part of the Deep State, on the following day set the tone for what was to follow: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says.”
With the help of the Establishment media, Clapper and Brennan were able to pretend that the ICA had been approved by “all 17 intelligence agencies” (as first claimed by Hillary Clinton). After several months, however Clapper revealed that the preparers of the ICA were “handpicked analysts” from only the FBI, CIA, and NSA. He explained rather unconvincingly during an interview on May 28, 2017, that “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique,” adding later that “It’s in their DNA.”
Task Force Trump was kept secret within the Agency itself because the CIA is not supposed to spy on Americans. Its staff was pulled together by invitation-only. Specific case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and administrative personnel were recruited, presumably based on their political reliability. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did because it came with promises of promotion and other rewards.
And this was not a CIA-only operation. Personnel from the FBI also were assigned to the Task Force with the approval of then Director James Comey. Former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele’s FBI handler, Michael Gaeta, may have been one of those detailed to the Trump Task Force. Steele, of course, prepared the notorious dossier that was surfaced shortly before Donald Trump took office. It included considerable material intended to tie Trump to Russia, information that was in many cases fabricated or unsourced.
So, what kind of things would this Task Force do? The case officers would work with foreign intelligence services such as MI-6, the Italians, the Ukrainians and the Australians on identifying intelligence collection priorities that would implicate Trump and his associates in illegal activity. And there is evidence that John Brennan himself would contact his counterparts in allied intelligence services to obtain their discreet cooperation, something they would be inclined to do in collegial fashion, ignoring whatever reservations they might have about spying on a possible American presidential candidate.
Trump Task Force members could have also tasked the National Security Agency (NSA) to do targeted collection. They also would have the ability to engage in complicated covert actions that would further set up and entrap Trump and his staff in questionable activity, such as the targeting of associate George Papadopoulos. If he is ever properly interviewed, Maltese citizen Joseph Mifsud may be able to shed light on the CIA officers who met with him, briefed him on operational objectives regarding Papadopoulos and helped arrange monitored meetings. It is highly likely that Azra Turk, the woman who met with George Papadopoulos, was part of the CIA Trump Task Force.
The Task Force also could carry out other covert actions, sometimes using press or social media placements to disseminate fabrications about Trump and his associates. Information operations is a benign-sounding euphemism for propaganda fed through the Agency’s friends in the media, and computer network operations can be used to create false linkages and misdirect inquiries. There has been some informed speculation that Guccifer 2.0 may have been a creation of this Task Force.
In light of what has been learned about the alleged CIA whistleblower there should be a serious investigation to determine if he was a part of this Task Force or, at minimum, reporting to them secretly after he was seconded to the National Security Council. All the CIA and FBI officers involved in the Task Force had sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, but nevertheless were involved in a conspiracy to first denigrate and then possibly bring down a legally elected president. That effort continues with repeated assertions regarding Moscow’s malevolent intentions for the 2020 national elections. Some might reasonably regard the whole Brennan affair, to include its spear carriers among the current and retired national security state leadership, as a case of institutionalized treason, and it inevitably leads to the question “What did Obama know?”
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
FBI Lawyer Referred for Criminal Prosecution by Horowitz Was Primary FBI Attorney on Trump–Russia Case
Kevin Clinesmith sent multiple text messages showing strong anti-Trump bias, including ‘Viva le resistance’
BY JEFF CARLSON
24 CommentsNovember 24, 2019 Updated: November 26, 2019
A former FBI attorney reportedly referred for criminal prosecution by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz—for allegedly altering an email connected to the surveillance warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page—was assigned in early 2017 as “the primary FBI attorney assigned” to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into alleged Russian election interference.
The lawyer, who has been identified as Kevin Clinesmith in media reports, had been incorrectly portrayed by many members of the media as a “low-level” or junior member of the FBI’s legal team.
Text messages obtained by Horowitz, covered in a June 2018 report, showed that Clinesmith had a strong bias against Trump, texting “Viva le resistance” after Trump’s election.
Clinesmith worked on both the Hillary Clinton email probe and the Trump–Russia investigation. He would also later become a member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and was one of the FBI officials—along with FBI agent Peter Strzok—who was removed by Mueller after Horowitz discovered FBI text messages expressing political bias against Trump.
The New York Times reported on Nov. 22 that Clinesmith was removed from the special counsel’s Russia investigation in February 2018 and resigned from the FBI “about two months ago.”
Clinesmith has reportedly been referred for criminal prosecution by Horowitz for altering “an email that officials used to prepare to seek court approval to renew the wiretap”—also known as the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) renewal—on Page, the NY Times reported.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained an initial FISA warrant on Page on Oct. 21, 2016, along with three subsequent renewals, with the final FISA warrant expiring in September 2017.
According to the NY Times article, the “paperwork associated with the renewal applications contained information that should have been left out, and vice versa.” Clinesmith reportedly altered an email that “was a factor during the wiretap renewal process.”
Clinesmith allegedly “took an email from an official at another federal agency that contained several factual assertions, then added material to the bottom that looked like another assertion from the email’s author, when it was instead his own understanding.”
This altered email was then included in a package that was prepared for another FBI official to read in “preparation for signing an affidavit” to be submitted to the FISA court “attesting to the facts and analysis” in the application.
The IG’s findings regarding Clinesmith’s email alteration have reportedly been sent to John H. Durham, the federal prosecutor assigned by Attorney General William Barr to examine the origins of the FBI’s Trump–Russia investigation. The finding may have formed a partial basis for the elevation of Durham’s investigation to a criminal investigation from an administrative review.
The NY Times noted that the specific “details of the email are apparently classified” and may not be made public even when the inspector general releases his report on Dec. 9.
Clinesmith’s Politically Driven Messages
Clinesmith was described as “FBI Attorney 2” in a June 2018 report by the inspector general titled “A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election.”
According to the report, which reviewed the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, Clinesmith was assigned to the investigation, codenamed “Midyear Exam,” in early 2016. The report notes that Clinesmith “was not the lead FBI attorney assigned to Midyear and he told us he provided support to the investigation as needed.”
But Clinesmith played a far more critical role in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. Clinesmith was cited in the report as being “the primary FBI attorney assigned to that investigation beginning in early 2017.” As noted previously, Clinesmith then transitioned to the special counsel investigation until his removal by Mueller upon the discovery of certain instant messages by Horowitz.
Clinesmith was cited in the 2018 report for sending politically driven messages and had an entire section, named “FBI Attorney 2 Instant Messages,” devoted to his actions and text messages.
One example of Clinesmith’s messages showing bias was sent on Oct. 28, 2016, immediately following a letter sent by then-FBI Director James Comey to Congress, in which he notified them of the reopening of the agency’s investigation into the Clinton Midyear Exam:
“I mean, I never really liked the Republic anyway,” Clinesmith wrote.
He also wrote the following:
“I just can’t imagine the systematic disassembly of the progress we made over the last 8 years. ACA is gone. Who knows if the rhetoric about deporting people, walls, and crap is true. I honestly feel like there is going to be a lot more gun issues, too, the crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost, they have to deal with an incumbent in 4 years. We have to fight this again. Also Pence is stupid.”
On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election, and following Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss, Clinesmith sent an instant message to Sally Moyer, a unit chief at the Office of General Counsel, who was also known as “Attorney 1” in the report, that read, “I am so stressed about what I could have done differently.”
Clinesmith Investigated Trump’s Staff
Clinesmith’s messages cited in the 2018 report also included a notable concern and admission, “Plus, my [expletive] name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff.”
The term “his staff” appears to relate directly to the individuals employed by Trump.
On Nov. 22, 2016, Clinesmith sent another instant message to Moyer, “commenting on the amount of money the subject of an FBI investigation had been paid while working on the Trump campaign.”
Moyer responded, “Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?”
Clinesmith replied, in part, “Viva le resistance.”
The Woods File
Besides attempting to portray Clinesmith as a low-level FBI employee who had little or no bearing on the actual decision-making process, there has also been speculation that Clinesmith’s document alterations may have been limited to underlying Woods documents.
Woods files, which provide facts supporting allegations made in a FISA application, are attached to every application and are provided by the originating FBI agent in each case.
A FISA warrant allows for some of the most invasive methods of spying on an American citizen and must receive formal approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which requires that there be probable cause to believe the proposed target is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.
When asked by Congress in an Oct. 3, 2018, testimony about the FISA process, James Baker, who was the highest-ranking FBI lawyer at the time of the Carter Page application, described a FISA warrant as allowing for “a set of highly intrusive surveillance techniques” that are used “to provide the FBI with foreign intelligence information.”
During his testimony, Baker was asked why the FBI failed to disclose the political motivations of Christopher Steele, who was paid, through Fusion GPS, by the Clinton campaign to produce a dossier on Trump. The dossier, which consists of a number of memos written by Steele, was extensively used by the FBI in the Page FISA application.
Baker testified that this fact should have been vetted during lower levels of preparation.
“So the people filing the FISA application and the people who checked the Woods file to verify that the way this works is that they would not have had any information that was derogatory about Source #1 at the time that this was submitted,” Baker said.
“That there might exist in the files of the FBI or in somebody’s memory some interaction that might be derogatory and that it didn’t make it into the files, I don’t know that that happened or didn’t happen. That kind of thing in theory, in theory could happen. So, but the people responsible for this FISA should have believed that that was accurate at the time and should have had documentation to support that assertion.”
However, as previously reported in an earlier Epoch Times article, Moyer (listed as “Attorney 1” in the inspector general’s report) told lawmakers that only the originating agent and the supervisory special agent in the field actually look at the Woods file during the preparation of a FISA application:
Somers: “So you don’t — do you review the Woods’ file?”
Somers: “Did you review the Woods’ file in the Carter Page application?”
Moyer told investigators that “the person that’s signing the application is relying on the individuals who have signed the Woods form that they have the Woods file.” These individuals would be the case agent and the supervisory special agent in the field.
Somers: “Okay. So beyond the case agent, who looks at a Woods’ file?”
Moyer: “The supervisory special agent in the field.”
Somers: “In the field. But no one else out of the field of that chain looks at a Woods’ file in general?”
Moyer: “That is correct, except both of those individuals sign the Woods’ form indicating that the facts are true and accurate and that they have documents to support those facts.”
Moyer stipulated that in some cases, the supervisory special agent at FBI headquarters who is signing off on an application might choose to review the Woods file, but that it wasn’t done for the Page FISA.
Somers: “Do you know if that happened in the case of Carter Page?”
Moyer: “I don’t think it did in this case.”
In other words, Moyer’s testimony shows that besides the case agent and the field agent, no one—including Clinesmith—even looked at the Woods files. Furthermore, the change to the email by Clinesmith was reported to be of significance to the FISA renewal.
As stated above, the “email Mr. Clinesmith handled was a factor during the wiretap renewal process,” the NY Times reported.
It isn’t yet known which FISA renewal was affected by the alleged email alteration of Clinesmith, or if he did so at anyone’s direction. The inspector general’s report of FISA abuse, currently scheduled to be released Dec. 9, is expected to shed more light on this matter.