One of President Donald Trump’s most explosive claims about the 2016 election — one that was dismissed out of hand until recently — was that his campaign was the subject of extensive surveillance.
Now, a former Trump aide is saying something even more explosive: There wasn’t just a mole inside the Trump campaign, there was a second spy and intelligence agency.
Michael Caputo is pretty much the definition of a political lifer. A media strategist, he worked with Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and various other Republicans. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he began doing work with the Russians.
This didn’t get the attention of too many people until he started working for Trump. Much like Carter Page, the low-level Trump campaign staffer whose ties to Russia became the subject of a million conspiracy theories, Caputo’s ties to the Russians became of intense interest to the overzealous FBI people charged with finding some sort of evidence that Trump was the Siberian Candidate.
Caputo appeared on Fox News just hours after Axios reported “President Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, recommended appointing Stefan Halper, an academic and suspected FBI informant on the Trump campaign, to a senior role in the Trump administration.”
That’s bad. According to Caputo, things were even worse.
“Let me tell you something that I know for a fact, this informant, this person that they planted, that they tried to plant into the campaign and even into the administration, if you believe Axios — he’s not the only person that came into the campaign!” Caputo said.
“And the FBI is not the only Obama agency who came into the campaign,” he added.
“I know because they came at me. And I’m looking for clearance from my attorney to reveal this to the public. This is just the beginning and I’ll tell you, when we finally find out the truth about this, Director Clapper and the rest of them are gonna be wearing some orange suits.”
Orange suits are an unlikely outcome, but Caputo’s statement indicates that Obama-era surveillance of the Trump campaign — once dismissed as tinfoil-hattery — might actually be very real.
Of course, Caputo may have a reason to prevaricate about such things. Kimberley Strassel doesn’t. She’s the Wall Street Journal writer whose reporting has indicated that she believes there was an FBI mole inside the campaign.
“The Bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a ‘top secret intelligence source’ of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe,” she wrote in an article earlier this month.
“When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.
“This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting,” she added. “It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough.”
During and after the campaign, Trump’s claims that he was surveilled (and that the surveillance was politically-motivated) were dismissed as baseless fantasies, yet another sign this was an unbalanced person who shouldn’t be normalized or believed.
And yet, here we are, weeks away from the inspector general’s report on the Clinton investigation, which doesn’t sound like it’s going to simply be the pro forma postmortem it normally would be, considering it involved a losing campaign. The report is expected to detail a whole host of tactics by the “deep state” that could easily be construed as being in service of the Clinton campaign and to the detriment of the Trump campaign.
If Caputo is telling the truth, this means there’s a whole host of issues here. Who was involved? The DOJ and FBI, obviously, but the CIA too? Other agencies under the aegis of the ODNI?
I can predict just one thing: Things are about to get very interesting for everyone who called Trump crazy when he talked about surveillance.
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