The FBI has been building its case against the Trump campaign since well before Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation was established roughly a year ago.
According to The New York Times, the bureau carried out a secret mission in the summer of 2016, dispatching two agents to London “on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.”
The Times notes that the reason for the mission was that the Australian ambassador claimed to have evidence that the Trump campaign knew about Russia’s election interference in advance.
More from the report:
Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.
The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane.
Secret subpoenas and government informants
Another element of The Times report that should worry the president’s team is the fact that the FBI got its hands on campaign phone records and even had one government informant meet with Trump aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
According to the report, “The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.”
The president’s shameless apologists will likely point to this as evidence that the FBI – or deep state, as they call it – was trying to derail the Trump campaign. In reality, the steps taken by the FBI show how seriously the bureau was taking this from the very beginning.
In other words, without serious evidence of criminal wrongdoing, none of this would have unfolded in the first place.
Trump and his supporters shouldn’t be giddy that today’s reporting somehow proves their hysteria about the FBI. It doesn’t. Instead, they should be shaking in their boots about the fact that the bureau had enough evidence to carry out these activities.
The president and his allies will almost certainly continue to wage war on Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, but this inquiry was clearly well underway before the two men were central to this explosive investigation.