Is the CIA Still Covering Up?

The Federalist has a story about the CIA continuing to frustrate any investigation into America’s worst-ever scandal, the Russia hoax. It is the kind of story I often don’t pay attention to, as it is based on the accounts of “multiple senior U.S. officials.” So take it for what it is worth. But Sean Davis has a good track record, I think, and the story has a ring of plausibility to those versed in bureaucratic affairs.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Gina Haspel is personally blocking the declassification and release of key Russiagate documents in the hopes that President Donald Trump will lose his re-election bid, multiple senior U.S. officials told The Federalist. The officials said Haspel, who served under former CIA Director John Brennan as the spy agency’s station chief in London in 2016 and 2017, is concerned that the declassification and release of documents detailing what the CIA was doing during the 2016 election and the 2017 transition could embarrass the CIA and potentially even implicate Haspel herself.

The first rule of bureaucracy is that officials in any agency will prioritize protecting their organization over any other objective. It seems to be a rule of human nature.

“Haspel and [FBI Director Christopher] Wray both want Trump to lose, because it’s the only chance they have of keeping their jobs,” one senior intelligence official told The Federalist. “They’re banking on Biden winning and keeping them where they are.”

I find this sadly plausible. Why have the CIA and, especially, the FBI not cleaned house, given what we now know about malfeasance in those agencies during the Obama administration and the first years of the Trump administration? Well, to be fair, the top level of the FBI is pretty well cleared out. But how about the CIA?

The Federalist first reported last week that Haspel had emerged as the primary roadblock to declassification of materials showing that the U.S. intelligence community knew prior to the 2016 election that the allegations that Trump colluded with Russia were themselves the products of Russian disinformation. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released a declassified summary last week that disclosed that Russian intelligence officials were aware that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had planned to smear Trump as a treasonous Russian asset to distract from the Clinton’s e-mail scandal. As part of her operation, Clinton hired a foreign agent who was himself working for a sanctioned Russian oligarch to spread unverified smears against Trump. One of the key sources of collusion allegations peddled by that foreign agent via the now-infamous Steele dossier was suspected by FBI authorities of being a Russian spy.

That is a good summary of our present state of knowledge about the Russia hoax and the representatives of the Democratic Party who perpetrated it.

“It’s far more important for Haspel to block any embarrassment of herself or her agency than to have full transparency and accountability,” another senior intelligence official told The Federalist. “She’s just hoping she can get past the election so the documents will never come out.”

The Federalist’s sources accuse Gina Haspel of lying to the White House and actively covering up the CIA’s involvement in the Russia scandal:

Officials also accused Haspel of repeatedly lying to the White House about the status of documents that are in the pipeline for declassification and release. These officials said that Haspel has consistently provided baseless excuses for her failure to produce certain documents, falsely claiming that she can’t physically locate documents, or that her agency doesn’t technically own them and therefore cannot release them.

“Haspel has repeatedly lied to the president about the status of documents to be declassified,” one intelligence community source said. “She will claim they don’t know where they are, or which agency technically owns them, and then we’ll find out she had them the entire time and just didn’t want them to see the light of day.”

The Federalist says that frustration with Gina Haspel in the administration is reaching “nuclear levels,” but it doesn’t make sense to fire her before the election. For the next four weeks, she has job security. After that, of course, it could be too late.

As Scott has written repeatedly, it seems likely that we will never get entirely to the bottom of America’s worst scandal. If Trump loses, as now appears quite possible, investigations will be shut down permanently, and whatever is hidden will remain hidden. Still, I think the outlines are very clear, and the key facts are not in doubt. History will not be kind to either the Democratic Party or the federal bureaucracy. Assuming there is any difference.

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