Judicial Watch, the dogged organization that forces the government to produce documents it would rather hide, believes that it may finally have gotten hold of the FBI memo that started the Obama administration’s spying, first on the Trump campaign and then, when Trump won, on the Trump presidency. If the email Judicial Watch received is indeed the charging memo, it is a document so careless and ephemeral that it shouldn’t have been used to investigate a ham sandwich, let alone a presidential candidate and incoming president.
The “electronic communication” the government produced is heavily redacted. Nevertheless, there’s enough information in it, especially when combined with what we’ve already learned about Crossfire Hurricane, to show that there was no legal or practical justification for the investigation. (You can see the document here, and the full text is at the bottom of this post.)
The first thing one notices is that Peter Strzok’s name is all over it. He’s a one-man FBI. The document is cc’d to Strzok, he’s listed as a Counterintelligence contact, he approved the document, and he drafted the document.
To refresh your recollection about the smirking Strzok, in his emails to his paramour, Lisa Page, he referred to Trump as a “loathsome human being,” “an idiot,” “a f**king idiot,” and “awful.” Strzok devoutly wished for a Hillary victory. Disturbingly, he believed that it was up to him to “protect our country” from Trump. The Crossfire Hurrican opening document may reflect that delusional sense of self-importance.
The email announces that “[a]n investigation is being opened based on information received by Legat [Legal Attache] on 07/29/2016.” So what is that information? Almost nothing.
An unnamed government (we know it was Russia) was allegedly seeking “prominent people” in Trump’s campaign “to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President.” George Papadopoulos is named as one of those “prominent people.” That’s a stretch, to say the least. Papadopoulos was an unpaid foreign policy adviser. Further, it’s neither unusual nor illegal for countries to try to line up contacts with a potential president.
The next paragraph alleges that Papadopoulos said that the Russians had suggested that “they (the Russians) could assist the Trump campaign with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.” That Russia allegedly made this offer does not mean that the Trump team engaged in any wrongdoing that would justify an investigation.
Having written the above, Strzok then reframes the same alleged Russian offer to Papadopoulos with a significant addition (emphasis mine):
Mr. Papadopolous [Redacted] also suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama). It was unclear whether he or the Russians were referring to material acquired publicly of through other means. It was also unclear how Mr. Trump’s team reacted to the offer. We note the Trump team’s reaction could, in the end, have little bearing of what Russia decides to do, with or without Mr. Trump’s cooperation.
The emphasized language is fascinating, for it simultaneously seems to explain why the FBI started spying on Trump, while also making clear that the FBI had no justification for spying on Trump. The lack of justification appears in this language: