‘No one’s even sure whether this is a criminal investigation or not…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) As a Justice Department probe into the Russia collusion hoax that cast a pall over President Donald Trump’s early presidency begins to close in, some of the CIA analysts behind it are beginning to lawyer up.
On Monday’s “Morning Joe,” NBC News reporter Ken Dilanian said that agents involved in the faulty intelligence assessment feared the investigation being led by special prosecutor John Durham may turn into a criminal probe, the Washington Examiner reported.
“It’s really not clear where he’s going with this, but a lot of people are very rattled,” Dilanian said. “Those CIA analysts I mentioned had to hire their own lawyers because no one’s even sure whether this is a criminal investigation or not.”
Despite earlier speculation that Durham—who reportedly spent considerable time investigating in Europe—may soon be wrapping up his work, Dilanian reported over the weekend that, in fact, the investigation is expanding.
In recent weeks, several cases closed by the Justice Department’s inspector general have pointed to glaring evidence of misconduct among the top brass of the intelligence community, both during and in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.
One widely publicized IG report, for example, found that former FBI Director James Comey improperly purloined classified FBI material when he gave memos of his early meetings with Trump to a Columbia University professor who then leaked them to media sources.
Justice IG Michael Horowitz also has rebuked Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and counterespionage agent Peter Strzok for their part in a widespread culture of selectively leaking information to the press.
While the IG reports have, in some cases, recommended prosecution, the DOJ thus far has declined the cases. However, that has only fueled more speculation that Durham’s far-reaching investigation may offer something of a denouement.
Both Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have also been named focuses of the investigation, which now has pushed beyond its earlier scope to include actions taken in January 2017 as Trump was preparing to take office.
Dilanian said that even the Deep State‘s network of spies and leakers was, for once, being kept in the dark.
“If it is a criminal investigation, what is the allegation of wrongdoing?” he wondered. “No one I talked to can answer that.”
With no charges yet having been filed, however, the CIA operatives’ decision to seek legal counsel raises even more questions about what dubious conduct they need to be shielded from.
Appearing earlier this month on CNN, where he is now a paid analyst, Clapper seemed eager to deflect accountability by claiming he and his cohorts were merely following the orders given by then-President Barack Obama.
“The message I’m getting from all this is, apparently what we were supposed to have done was to ignore the Russian interference, ignore the Russian meddling and the threat that it poses to us,” Clapper told CNN anchor Jim Sciutto, “and oh, by the way, blown off what the then commander in chief, President Obama, told us to do, which was to assemble all the reporting that we could that we had available to us.”
Dilanian echoed a similar talking point, suggesting on Twitter that the lingering suspicions of partisan collusion between the Hillary Clinton campaign, U.S. intelligence community and foreign agents were merely a “fever dream” of the president’s base.
Below is what Trump’s base thinks Durham will uncover. Implicit in this fever dream is that CIA/FBI should have ignored a stream of intelligence from foreign partners about Russian outreach to the Trump campaign–and the president’s comments to the Russians about firing Comey. https://t.co/ypjB1hTIl4
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) October 21, 2019