Since The Daily Caller, The Washington Post, and The New York Timesreported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation were spying on the Trump campaign the linguistic gymnastics the liberal news media has employed to say that none of this happened is astounding. There was no spy, there was just an informant trying to gather information under false pretenses.
President Trump accused the F.B.I. on Friday, without evidence, of sending a spy to secretly infiltrate his 2016 campaign “for political purposes” even before the bureau had any inkling of the “phony Russia hoax.”
In fact, F.B.I. agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign. The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page, who was also under F.B.I. scrutiny for his ties to Russia.
F.B.I. agents were seeking more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails, and one month after their Russia investigation began, Mr. Papadopoulos received a curious message. The academic inquired about his interest in writing a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a subject of Mr. Papadopoulos’s expertise.
The informant offered a $3,000 honorarium for the paper and a paid trip to London, where the two could meet and discuss the research project.
“I understand that this is rather sudden but thought that given your expertise it might be of interest to you,” the informant wrote in a message to Mr. Papadopoulos, sent on Sept. 2, 2016.
Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the academic and one of his assistants, a young woman.
How is that not spying? Again, this spy vs. informant faux debate among liberals is, well, both highly entertaining, but also an explicit example that the Left has decided to disregard what words mean. And it’s now leached into the former intelligence ring of the Obama administration, which makes sense. These people executed these activities during the former president’s tenure in the Oval Office. And yet, no one seems to be willing to ask Barack Obama what did he know. None of this could have been conducted without him knowing. On CNN, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence under Obama, pretty much said there was no spying, but there was spying, but also it was a good thing, too (via RCP):
"They [the Obama admin's FBI] may have had someone who was talking to them in the campaign, but, you know, the focus here... is not on the campaign, per se, but what the Russians were doing," Clapper said.
But if there was an intelligence agent "observing" the Trump campaign's interactions with Russia, "that's a good thing because the Russians posed a threat to the very basis of our political system."
"I think it's hugely dangerous if someone like that is exposed," Clapper said of the yet-unnamed spy inside the Trump campaign.
Well, we pretty much can decipher that it was Stefan Halper, a longtime CIA operative and professor at Cambridge University. We know this because the media gave away everything but his name; the Daily Caller reported on it and named him as the source, unlike other mainstream outlets. He’s well known, and his activities have been documented before. In the 1980 election, Halper and other intelligence operatives spied on the Carter campaign for Reagan, funneling information about the then-president’s foreign policy. This operation was exposed in 1983. It’s not like he’s a Tom Clancy character working in the shadows. This time, however, the spying was not done by a political campaign, but a sitting presidential administration using the nation’s intelligence apparatus.
Clapper again repeated the non-spy claims on The View (via Politico):
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Tuesday that the FBI was not at any point spying on the Trump campaign.
“They were not. They were spying — a term I don't particularly like — on what the Russians were doing," Clapper said during an appearance on The View to promote his new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From A Life In Intelligence.”
The FBI, Clapper said, was simply trying to answer the question, "Were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence?"
Oh, and guess who else chimed into the conversation: former FBI Director James Comey. Mr. ‘I restarted the email probe on Clinton because I thought she would win and it would legitimize her victory,’ said the following on Twitter, "Facts matter. The FBI's use of Confidential Human Sources (the actual term) is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?"
Facts matter. The FBI’s use of Confidential Human Sources (the actual term) is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?— James Comey (@Comey) May 23, 2018
You see, it’s not spying, just a confidential source palling around with Trump officials to gather information on them, but it’s not spying. The Wall Street Journal editorial board had some choice words for Clapper and those who are aghast by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who is rightfully asking for document relating to these charges:
Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Chairman, is seeking documents to learn exactly what happened, what triggered this FBI action, and how it was justified. This is precisely the kind of oversight that Congress should provide to assure Americans that their government isn’t spying illegally.
Yet now the same people who lionized Edward Snowden for stealing secrets about metadata—which collected phone numbers, not names—claim the FBI informant is no big deal. James Clapper, Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, claims it was even a “good thing” that the FBI was monitoring the campaign for Russian influence.
Forgive us if we don’t trust Mr. Clapper, who leaked details related to the notorious Steele dossier to the press, as a proper judge of such snooping. Would he and the press corps be so blasé if the FBI under George W. Bush had sought to insinuate sources with Obama supporters like Rev. Jeremiah Wright or radical Bill Ayers during the 2008 campaign?
Incredibly, Democrats and their media friends are painting Mr. Nunes as the villain for daring even to ask about all this. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is making the rounds warning that “the first thing any new” committee member “learns is the critical importance of protecting sources and methods.”
I remember the Left’s disdain and hatred for George W. Bush, but this is something else. This is something more disturbing. Leave Trump out and it’s still the same problem: a sitting president had the intelligence community and his FBI/DOJ spy on the campaign of the opposing party in an election. Yes, Obama was not running for another term, but this is a rather explicit example of interference. The irony of the Left’s Russophobia and lectures about Trump cozying up to authoritarian regimes as of late is that this is essentially how such governments treat their elections, but there’s an appalling silence, even disregard for the fact because Trump is president.