FBI violated its own rules to spy on Trump campaign

D.C. McAllister:
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The threat assessment stage of the FBI’s investigation in 2016 likely occurred sometime in late winter/early spring because former Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified that she met with Comey about the intelligence "matter" during this period. At this early stage, she and Comey decided not to tell the Trump campaign about possible national security threats regarding his campaign. When the topic was revisited in late spring, they again decided to say nothing.

This choice to remain silent was a deviation from established guidelines. Investigators are tasked with "detecting and interrupting criminal activities at their early stages, and preventing crimes from occurring in the first place," which is much more preferable than "allowing criminal plots to come to fruition."

According to the DIOG, assessments and investigations should be proactive to stop crimes or "national security-threatening activities." In other words, law enforcement can’t just sit back and eat popcorn while they watch subjects weave their way toward a crime, so they can catch them in the act. The purpose of law enforcement is to actively stop danger in its tracks, not urge it on with passive observation.

Considering that the sanctity of a national election was at stake, investigators should have immediately informed the campaigns of the potential threat. Both CIA Director John Brennan and DNI James Clapper admitted to Congress that they had "concerns" about collusion, but they didn’t see any "evidence of collusion." These concerns should have translated into warnings to the campaign. Instead, the Obama administration "stood down" and watched these "activities" unravel. At worst, they possibly played a hand in creating circumstances to push the investigation forward into more serious stages that allowed for more intrusive techniques, such as spying.

During the low-level assessment stage, there can be no use of a human source or undercover agent. It’s strictly forbidden. Only public records, information from other departments, voluntary interviews, etc., can be used at this stage. When the investigation transitions into the preliminary stage, the FBI can use "intrusive" undercover operations—a "spy" or an informant. The difference between a confidential human source and an undercover agent (or spy) is inconsequential regarding their intrusiveness because they’re both secretly gathering information.
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Why did Brennan send a CIA crony with a shady past abroad to spy on a political campaign adviser? Could it be that Halper’s purpose wasn’t to discover information, but to twist it, to manipulate his targets to bend to the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, something a qualified undercover agent wouldn’t do? Was he looking to set someone up as a foreign agent instead of merely gathering information?
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There is much more.  This is a long piece that looks at the action of the intelligence community and the law enforcement community.  It seems clear they did not follow the rules and they had an unwarranted fear of Trump and his campaign and this led them to take actions that look like entrapment of some low-level participants in the campaign.

Kimberley Strassel also unwinds the curious case of an Australian named Downer and his ties to Papadopoulos who appears to have been entrapped by those engaged in this scheme but the intelligence agencies and the FBI.

Sara Carter breaks down the timeline of the investigation and finds discrepancies with the storyline the FBI has pushed.

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