Trump Will Provide Classified Intelligence to Kremlin
This is what today’s headlines should read, because it conveys what will actually happen when the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of National Intelligence are forced to comply with the President’s reckless order to declassify and publicly release numerous classified documents in the name of “transparency.” According to a September 17, 2018 press release from the White House, the documents to be declassified will include:
- Pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page
- All FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation
- All FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications
- All text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction [blacking out portions of text], of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr
The backgrounds of the people in question are:
- Carter Page:
- American citizen who regularly does business in Russia
- Lost a large amount of money if Russian investments
- Came to the attention of the FBI in 2013 when the FBI believed that he was being actively recruited by Russian operatives
- Became Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Adviser in March 2016
- Gave pro-Russia speech in Moscow in July 2016
- Went to Moscow again in December 2016
- Bruce Ohr
- High-ranking Department of Justice official with expertise in Russian organized crime
- Long-time friend of highly regarded Russia expert/former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele; Steele had been contracted to begin investigating Trump’s activities in Russia in mid 2016 by research firm Fusion GPS (the company paid indirectly by the Clinton Campaign to do opposition research into Trump); Steele’s interviews with his trusted sources in Russia resulted in the “Steele dossier”
- Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele apparently had conversations after and possibly during the campaign about the information that Steele was uncovering
- Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS on the different aspects of the same Trump project that Steele was hired to work on (see article of this coincidence)
- James Comey
- FBI Director during the 2016 Campaign and for the early months of the Trump Administration
- Fired by President Trump in May 2017, triggering special counsel investigation into Trump for obstruction of justice
- Andrew McCabe
- Deputy Director of the FBI during the 2016 Campaign
- Temporary acting Director of the FBI after James Comey was fired
- Was found by the DOJ Inspector General’s office to have made unauthorized releases to the media and to have “lacked candor” when asked about it
- Peter Strzok
- Former FBI Chief of Counterespionage
- Led FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server
- Worked for first two months of Mueller investigation into Russian interference in 2016 election
- Removed from Mueller investigation after Mueller learned of anti-Trump text messages between Strzok and an extramarital mistress, Lisa Page, sent between August 2015 and December 2016
- Discussed a “media strategy” in texts with Page
- Lisa Page
- Former FBI lawyer
- Briefly served on Mueller investigative team
- Had affair with FBI officer Peter Strzok
There may be validity to initiating a deeper investigation into the actions of some of these individuals and determining whether their personal political biases crept into their professional activities. However, declassifying and releasing these documents to the public is not the appropriate way to do that. The information should instead be evaluated by a special counsel and/or by the courts. Releasing the information publicly will contribute to the legitimacy of an obstruction of justice case against the President and will jeopardize our national security.
When we hear that a government document is being released to the public, we typically envision the public as the average American citizen. In American culture, such transparency with the public is generally considered a good thing. Yet when the government assigns a “classified” label to certain information, there is a reason for that. That reason for classifying the information is usually important and should be bypassed only with thorough consideration of the unintended consequences.
The President’s public release of classified information about an active investigation into himself can provide otherwise unobtainable insights that enable witnesses and accomplices to shape their stories to match the known facts while concealing vital, still undiscovered information. This would be tantamount to obstruction of justice, similar to providing inside police information to a criminal about that criminal’s own case.
Far more alarmingly, however, are the national security implications of the President’s decision. Successful intelligence and law enforcement operations depend on the security of “sources and methods.” This is shorthand for maintaining confidentiality of how information was obtained (disclosure of which would tip off guilty parties and foreign adversaries about, for example, what modes of communication to avoid) and who the information was obtained from (disclosure of which could at best result in those informants and spies no longer being useful sources of information, or could at worst result in those individuals and their families being killed).
In Russia, the mafia and the Kremlin have a symbiotic relationship. What benefit can Russia gain from knowing about the communications between Russian organized crime expert Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele, who relied on numerous individuals inside Russia to compile his dossier? Which of Steele’s sources might be revealed in the declassified documents? How valuable would the Kremlin find information about how Russia’s election interference activities were first uncovered and how the investigation proceeded from there?
Even if names are redacted, the descriptions of dates and locations can enable a foreign adversary to determine how their activities became compromised, and who compromised them. By rendering certain intelligence sources and methods less useful or even useless, the President is jeopardizing our national security, making it that much harder for our intelligence community to determine what hostile adversaries are up to. He also may be intentionally or unintentionally tipping off Putin on how to cover tracks of Russian election interference activities being investigated by Mueller.
Trump’s decision to publicize valuable, unredacted, classified information is not only a disclosure to the average American: it is a prized treasure trove of information for the Kremlin.
– rob rünt