Real Clear Investigations reports that Inspector General Michael Horowitz will say in his upcoming report that, although James Comey told President Trump he was not a target in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Comey had actually been spying on Trump to see if the president was colluding with Russia. If an Obama-appointed Justice Department official so concludes after a lengthy investigation, it will be devastating for Comey.
Such a finding would fully vindicate Trump’s decision to fire Comey, a decision that many of Trump’s opponents have argued constitutes, or is evidence of, obstruction of justice. It would also confirm the claim that the “Deep State” was out to get Trump.
It now looks like Comey’s unwillingness to say publicly that Trump was not a target, as he had told the president privately, was the result of the FBI Director’s secret effort to build a conspiracy case against Trump. Comey hoped that such a case would emerge and, naturally, didn’t want to be on record as saying anything that would support Trump’s innocence. Nor did he want Trump to know that he wasn’t in the clear.
What did Comey’s spying on the president consist of? According to RCP’s Paul Sperry, Horowitz has found that Comey “had an agent inside the White House who reported back to FBI headquarters about Trump and his aides.” In addition, Comey “did some online sleuthing, personally searching Trump on Google and even looking through hours of YouTube videos of him.”
Comey also took notes and wrote memos about his phone conversations and meetings with Trump. This is well known. However, I don’t consider it spying or otherwise improper. It was the prudent thing to do.
Far less innocuous is evidence that Comey was working with Obama’s team to set Trump up. Sperry reports:
Although Comey took many actions on his own, he was not working in isolation. One focus of Horowitz’s inquiry is the private Jan. 6, 2017, briefing Comey gave the president-elect in New York about material in the Democratic-commissioned dossier compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Reports of that meeting were used days later by BuzzFeed, CNN and other outlets as a news hook for reporting on the dossier’s lascivious and unsubstantiated claims.
Comey’s meeting with Trump took place one day after the FBI director met in the Oval Office with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss how to brief Trump — a meeting attended by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who would soon go to work for CNN.
Although the “spying” angle may be the sexiest part of Sperry’s story, let’s not forget about the lying. It was part and parcel of the same treachery.
It looks like Comey didn’t want to tell Trump that he was under investigation because doing so might have hampered his ability effectively to spy on Trump. Yet, as a former FBI counterintelligence agent and lawyer told Sperry, the FBI lacked legal grounds to treat Trump as a suspect:
They had no probable cause against Trump himself for ‘collusion’ or espionage. They were scrambling to come up with anything to hang a hat on, but had found nothing.
We’ll have to wait for the issuance of IG Horowitz’s report before we can draw firm conclusions about the degree of Comey’s treachery. Some of it is already a matter of public record, but if the final report produces the additional “dots” described by Sperry, it will represent strike three against Comey and his fellow, like-minded Deep State operatives.