The newly released text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page indicating President Obama “wants to know everything we are doing” was initially thought by many pundits to be evidence that Obama lied when he insisted in media interviews that he stayed out of pending criminal investigations.
Later, however, evidence emerged that the context of the text messages was not the FBI’s criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s abuse of classified information but the probe of Russian influence on the 2016 election, a counter-intelligence matter.
As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out, while the president should maintain distance from ongoing criminal investigations, it’s normal practice to keep the chief executive abreast of counter-intelligence investigations. Democrats have seized on the fact that the Strzok-Page discussion was not about the Clinton email investigation, insisting it provides no ammunition for allegations of abuse by the Obama administration.
But missing in the sharply partisan debate is the fact that Obama’s interest in “everything we are doing” regarding the Russia counter-intelligence investigation bolsters the charge that he would have been aware of the warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. It was a warrant obtained, according to the memo issued one week ago by the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee, by presenting as primary evidence to a top-secret intelligence court the dubious anti-Trump “dossier” funded by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee, without informing the court of that fact.
As WND reported earlier this week, Democrats and the establishment media have engaged in a “frenzied” effort to discredit the Republican memo because they want to protect Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, contends constitutional lawyer and talk host Mark Levin.
He reasoned that because the spying on the Trump campaign was a counter-intelligence operation, Obama’s National Security Council and the White House must have known about it.
“We’re looking at the FBI and we’re looking at the Department of Justice, and we’re not looking at all at the White House,” Levin said. “It’s [Obama’s] FBI, his Department of Justice, his State Department, his candidate. I cannot believe for a moment that the National Security Council didn’t know about this.”
In addition, he said, Obama is implicated in the scandal over the wiretap intelligence collected on conversations Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak had with then-Trump campaign advisers Jeff Sessions and Michael Flynn, and the unmasking and leaking of Flynn’s name by Obama officials.
President can’t ‘interfere’
The Sept. 2, 2016, text exchange between Strzok, an FBI counter-espionage agent, and FBI lawyer Page referred to an upcoming briefing of Obama by then-FBI Director James Comey regarding possible connections between Trump, then the Republican nominee for president, and the Kremlin.
McCarthy points out that counter-intelligence is national security work, which is the principal duty of the political branches under the Constitution. Further, it’s an information-gathering exercise for the purpose of informing the president of threats to the nation.
That has implications for obstruction of justice angle of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, writes McCarthy.
A president cannot “interfere” with a counter-intelligence investigation, he argues, because keeping the president informed is the reason for such investigations.
McCarthy noted Mueller is working on the theory that Trump obstructed the Russia probe by pressing then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, firing Comey and then “threatening” to fire Mueller.
But President Trump, he asserted, “can no more obstruct the Russia investigation by taking actions that could conceivably affect it than Obama could obstruct the Russia investigation by being briefed on it and giving the FBI directions on it.”
“Counterintelligence investigations are conducted for the president,” McCarthy writes.
Levin argued that the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election turned from a counter-intelligence investigation into a criminal investigation after Comey leaked to media his memo regarding his conversations with President Trump. Comey, who charged in the memo that Trump encouraged him to drop the FBI’s Flynn investigation, later admitted he was hoping the memo would create the need for a special counsel.
The dossier, commissioned by the political research firm Fusion GPS with funding the Democratic Party, was written by former British spy Christopher Steele. According to the House Republicans’ memo, Steele held personal animus toward Trump and was “passionate” about ensuring Trump did not become president.