"How did you go bankrupt?" Bill asked.
"Two ways," Mike said. "Gradually and then suddenly."
-- Ernest Hemingway, "The Sun Also Rises"
See, it has always been suspicious that the anonymous current and former government officials who leak classified information to their media friends have been unable to coordinate their spin on the start of “Crossfire Hurricane” — the name the FBI eventually gave its Trump-Russia investigation.
When it began matters a lot. Back to McCarthy:
With the revelation last week that the Obama administration had insinuated a spy into the Trump campaign, it appeared that we were back to the original, Page-centric origination story. But now there was a twist: The informant, longtime CIA source Stefan Halper, was run at Page by the FBI, in Britain. Because this happened just days after Page’s Moscow trip, the implication was that it was the Moscow trip itself, not the dossier claims about it, that provided momentum toward opening the investigation. Then, just a couple of weeks later, WikiLeaks began publicizing the DNC emails; this, we’re to understand, shook loose the Australian information about Papadopoulos. When that information made its way to the FBI — how, we’re not told — the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation was formally opened on July 31. Within days, Agent Peter Strzok was in London interviewing Downer, and soon the FBI tasked Halper to take a run at Papadopoulos.
I’m not buying it.
I'm not either. More:
Last week, as controversy stirred over the possibility that the Obama administration had used a spy against the Trump campaign, the eagle eye of the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel caught a couple of key passages from the House Intelligence Committee’s recent report on Russian interference in the election — largely overlooked passages on page 54.
It turns out that, in “late spring” 2016, the FBI’s then-director James Comey briefed the principals of the National Security Council on “the Page information.” As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York observes in a perceptive column today, NSC principals are an administration’s highest-ranking national-security officials. In Obama’s National Security Council, the president was the chairman, and among the regular attendees were the vice-president (Joe Biden), the national-security adviser (Susan Rice), and the director of national intelligence (James Clapper). The heads of such departments and agencies as the Justice Department (Attorney General Loretta Lynch) and the CIA (Director John Brennan) could also be invited to attend NSC meetings if matters of concern to them were to be discussed.
We do not know which NSC principals attended the Comey briefing about Carter Page. But how curious that the House Intelligence Committee interviewed so many Obama-administration officials who were on, or who were knowledgeable about, the NSC, and yet none of them provided a date for this meeting more precise than “late spring” 2016.
If this is true, we're now into "what did the president know and when did he know it" territory. It's worth remembering that Andrew McCarthy isn't a carnival barker like Sean Hannity and he is writing from National Review, which has been the primary Never Trump calliope in right-wing media. So what happened? McCarthy looks at the timeline and makes an educated guess:
There are many different ways the Obama administration could have reacted to the news that Page and Manafort had joined the Trump campaign. It could have given the campaign a defensive briefing. It could have continued interviewing Page, with whom the FBI had longstanding lines of communication. It could have interviewed Manafort. It could have conducted a formal interview with George Papadopoulos rather than approaching him with a spy who asked him loaded questions about Russia’s possession of Democratic-party emails.
Instead of doing some or all of those things, the Obama administration chose to look at the Trump campaign as a likely co-conspirator of Russia — either because Obama officials inflated the flimsy evidence, or because they thought it could be an effective political attack on the opposition party’s likely candidate.
From the “late spring” on, every report of Trump-Russia ties, no matter how unlikely and uncorroborated, was presumed to be proof of a traitorous arrangement. And every detail that could be spun into Trump-campaign awareness of Russian hacking, no matter how tenuous, was viewed in the worst possible light.
We are now approaching the "late spring" of 2018, two years on. Sunlight has been gradual at best, but we're learning things suddenly now. And Andrew McCarthy isn't the only one looking for answers:
Congressional Republicans have been calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate alleged misconduct at the FBI and Justice Department for months now, and finally, a group of them will be introducing a resolution on Tuesday asking for just that.
Up to now, the Obama leftovers in the Justice Department, i.e., most everyone, have been trying to stonewall or kick things down the road. The latest gambit has been turn these new matters over to the Inspector General investigating other related shenanigans, but there's a jurisdictional issue there:
Washington D.C. attorney Victoria Toensing on Monday called Rosenstein's offer to expand the investigation "embarrassing and "a scam."
"He’s going to have the IG look into it? The IG? Now how is the IG going to talk to Sally Yates, who has left the Department?" she asked.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions two months ago, joining other congressmen in calling for the appointment of a second special counsel for that very reason.
“When I counted up 24 witnesses that he would not be able to access were he to investigate it, yeah only one conclusion, that’s special counsel,” Gowdy told Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer on Special Report back in March. Horowitz has no access to "anyone who no longer works for the Department of Justice, FBI, State Department," Gowdy explained.
Included on the list of witnesses would be former FBI director James Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, James Rybicki (Comey’s former chief-of-staff), and Clinton fixers Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer. Another name that could be added to the list is alleged FBI informant Stefan Halper.
Just a guess -- Donald Trump is going to see the wisdom of this request and make it happen.