When it comes to uncovering the “deep state” efforts to undermine President Donald Trump, The Hill’s John Solomon has stood out.
Since Trump’s inauguration, he’s been one of the few Washington journalists devoted to chronicling the false statements and false impressions that were used to feed the Russia “collusion” story that plagued the Trump administration for its first two years.
And in a column published this week, he outlined 10 sources of still-classified information that could, if declassified, blow apart the lie once and for all.
Solomon began by describing how “foot-dragging” in the American intelligence community had hindered the full story of misbehavior in the Justice Department, the FBI and intelligence agencies regarding the Russian probe.
In that probe, how the FBI under then-Director James Comey obtained surveillance warrants for Trump campaign associate Carter Page from the secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to oversee government spying on American citizens is particularly crucial.
Then Solomon listed sources of information that are still being kept under wraps, “that, when declassified, would show more completely how a routine counterintelligence probe was hijacked to turn the most awesome spy powers in America against a presidential nominee in what was essentially a political dirty trick orchestrated by Democrats.”
That’s a heavy charge, but Americans won’t be able to know the full truth of it, Solomon wrote, until they can see the following:
Former British spy Christopher Steele’s interviews with the FBI. Steele was used as a source by the FBI even though his vehement views about then-candidate Trump were known to the bureau, as well as his desire to destroy the possibility of a Trump presidency.
“It would be a huge discovery if the FBI fed Trump-Russia intel to Steele in the midst of an election, especially when his ultimate opposition-research client was Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC),” Solomon wrote.
The House Intelligence Committee interviews. Before the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms, the Republican-controlled intelligence committee interviewed top players in the Russian probe.
“There are several big reveals, I’m told, including the first evidence that a lawyer tied to the Democratic National Committee had Russia-related contacts at the CIA,” Solomon wrote.
Documents surrounding FBI sources Stefan Halper and Azra Turk. Halper is the septuagenarian academic who courted Page and fellow Trump campaign associate George Papadopoulos. Turk was his much younger female assistant.
“My sources tell me there may be other documents showing Halper continued working his way to the top of Trump’s transition and administration…,” Solomon wrote. “These documents would show what intelligence agencies worked with Halper, who directed his activity, how much he was paid and how long his contacts with Trump officials were directed by the U.S. government’s Russia probe.
Internal FBI emails. An email chain from October 2016 — identified by Rep. Devin Nunes when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is particularly important, given how close it was to the November election, Solomon wrote.
“My sources say it will show exactly what concerns the FBI knew about and discussed with DOJ about using Steele’s dossier and other evidence to support a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting the Trump campaign in October 2016. If those concerns weren’t shared with FISA judges who approved the warrant, there could be major repercussions,” Solomon wrote.
Potentially exculpatory information from Page and Papadopoulos. According to Solomon, the FBI had recordings of both Trump campaign aides making statements that demolished the idea the campaign was working with Russia. Those statements have not been made public.
“Papadopoulos told me he told an FBI undercover source in September 2016 that the Trump campaign was not trying to obtain hacked Clinton documents from Russia and considered doing so to be treason,” Solomon wrote. “If he made that statement with the FBI monitoring, and it was not disclosed to the FISA court, it could be another case of FBI or DOJ misconduct.
Materials provided to the congressional “Gang of Eight.” Eight members of the House and Senate are responsible for oversight of the nation’s intelligence communities. Still-classified materials shown to the bipartisan group document flaws in the Russia “collusion” probe, Solomon wrote.
“Of all the documents congressional leaders were shown, this is most frequently cited to me in private as having changed the minds of lawmakers who weren’t initially convinced of FISA abuses or FBI irregularities,” he wrote.
An FBI spreadsheet documenting Steele’s inconsistencies. Given how important a role the former spy played in the whole drama, it would be helpful if the American people got to know just how unreliable Steele really was.
“A document I reviewed recently showed the FBI described Steele’s information as only ‘minimally corroborated’ and the bureau’s confidence in him as ‘medium,’” Solomon wrote.
The Inspector General’s interviews with Steele. Solomon wrote that IG investigators had interviewed Steele extensively about his work with the Clinton campaign while he was serving as an FBI source.
“It is clear from documents already forced into the public view by lawsuits that Steele admitted in the fall of 2016 that he was desperate to defeat Trump, had a political deadline to make his dirt public, was working for the DNC/Clinton campaign and was leaking to the news media,” Solomon wrote. “If he told that to the FBI and it wasn’t disclosed to the FISA court, there could be serious repercussions.”
The FBI’s third application to renew the FISA court’s warrant to keep Page under FBI surveillance. This application was signed personally by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in June 2017.
“It is the one FISA application that House Republicans have repeatedly asked to be released, and I’m told the big reveal in the currently redacted sections of the application is that it contained both misleading information and evidence of intrusive tactics used by the U.S. government to infiltrate Trump’s orbit,” Solomon wrote.
Records of other governments being involved. The surveillance of the Trump campaign didn’t occur in an international vacuum. Intelligence agencies from Great Britain were involved, as well as the government of Australia and possibly Italy.
“Members of Congress have searched recently for some key contact documents with British intelligence,” Solomon wrote. “My sources say these documents might help explain Attorney General William Barr’s recent comments that ‘the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign, to me, is unprecedented and it’s a serious red line that’s been crossed.’”
There’s no doubt at this point that a number of serious lines were crossed by the “deep state” and its investigation of the Trump campaign — then the Trump presidency.
If the American news media had more reporters like Solomon, willing to dig for the real story rather than scoring cheap victories with attacks on the Trump presidency, Americans would doubtless know more about those lines now.
With the departure of former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, there’s going to be a new top spy in the country.
That could be, as Solomon wrote, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, who is now serving as ambassador to the Netherlands.
Regardless of who it is, though, it raises the possibility that all this information will eventually become public, and Americans will learn the real truth about the “deep state” and Donald Trump.
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