By Brian Cates
When new declassifications are made regarding what happened in the key period from January to June of 2017, it is important to look at the early Spygate events with a fresh pair of eyes.
A good reporter can use recent disclosures to reassess their understanding of past events. Reporters who can’t or won’t do that will not have an accurate grasp of the story, and thus do their readers a disservice.
Many pundits, reporters, and media personalities on the Right have, at this point, set-in-stone narratives about Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein. New information must be followed wherever it leads. You cannot let an old narrative stop you, no matter how popular it is or who seemed to be publicly endorsing it.
Sessions has been characterized as being a coward paralyzed by the overwhelming task of defending the President who appointed him from a host of saboteurs inside the law enforcement agencies he was leading. Rosenstein is viewed as a backstabbing snake and a top Spygate plotter, supposedly conspiring to remove President Trump from office.
The recent declassifications show that these narratives are wrong. It now looks as though the much-maligned Rosenstein was running the very public Mueller Special Counsel’s Office and the very secret Durham investigation at the same time.
- All the major Spygate scandal players knew by September, 2016 that the Trump/Russia collusion narrative being peddled to them by various political operatives was coming straight from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Handwritten notes by CIA Director John Brennan show he briefed President Obama on the Clinton dirty tricks campaign on July 28, 2016.
- U.S. Attorney John Durham started his Spygate-related investigations—likely related to the leaking campaigns engaged in by the plotters—in April, 2017.
- Durham was assigned to investigate the coordinated Spygate leaking campaigns inside the FBI by Rosenstein because Sessions had recused himself from all Trump/Russia and 2016 election-related matters on March 2, 2017, more than a month before Durham was tasked to begin investigating.
- Rosenstein was already overseeing Durham’s Spygate leak investigation before James Comey was fired and the Mueller Special Counsel was formed in May, 2017.
- Lead Crossfire Hurricane agent Peter Strzok is seen in a text message discussing multiple other federal counterintelligence investigations targeting Trump and associates for Russian collusion before Crossfire launched on July 31, 2016.
- None of these other multiple counterintelligence cases targeting Trump had been publicly revealed before.
- Durham’s Special Counsel Office is already investigating these long-hidden counterintelligence cases. They can only be declassified if letting the public know about them would not interfere with Durham’s ongoing work.
Of course, the biggest revelation of the new declassifications is that the entire time he was overseeing the Trump/Russia-related Mueller Special Counsel’s investigation of the President, Rosenstein was also overseeing a Trump/Russia investigation being led by Durham.
Two very different investigations
One investigation that Rosenstein oversaw was very public. Frequent leaks about the Mueller Special Counsel's work appeared in the news media for the 22 months it was active.
Many of these leaks were inaccurate and even deliberately misleading, including one stating that General Flynn had flipped on the President and was singing like a canary to Mueller about the supposed Russian collusion the Trump campaign had been involved in.
The other investigation Rosenstein oversaw? Nobody even knew about it. There were no leaks from April of 2017 all the way to January 2019, when Durham’s name first surfaced in news reports related to congressional testimony that had occurred in October of 2018.
While those inside and around the Mueller Special Counsel's Office held the rapt attention of the nation with frequent news coverage based on what often turned out to be false leaks, the Durham investigation continued under complete radio silence. Not only were there no leaks concerning Durham's work, the media never caught wind he was there.
The contrast between the two investigations that Rosenstein had oversight of could not be starker.
Was Sessions' recusal real?
The big question that immediately arises in the face of these new declassifications about Durham, and when he really started his Spygate investigations, is who it was that appointed him.
In his text messages to Lisa Page, Strzok does not state who gave the case to Durham. He limits his comment to lamenting that the case was not assigned to the FBI’s own National Security Division rather than an outside investigator like Durham. Strzok labels the investigation being handed to Durham as "bad news."
And this puts us face to face with the real issue. Either Sessions’ recusal was real, or it was not. Either Rosenstein was running all the Trump/Russia 2016 election-related DOJ investigations, or he was not. Which is it? Who was really in charge? There are many reasons to believe Sessions' recusal was real because of the numerous conflicts of interest he faced.
The media on both the Left and the Right has managed to downplay the real bombshell from Devin Nunes’ March 22, 2017 press conference when he revealed that several members of the Trump transition team were having their electronic communications “incidentally” intercepted, compiled, unmasked, and then placed in reports that had been circulated at the highest levels of the outgoing Obama administration.
Four years later, the only Trump transition team member who has been positively identified as having their text messages, emails and phone calls intercepted and unmasked is Trump's former National Security Advisor, General Flynn. Who were the other Trump team members that were being spied on during the transition period? We still don't know. But it's clear from Nunes' presser that this was far more than just one person. It was multiple team members.
Who was on the Trump transition team from November, 2016 to January, 2017?
- Donald J. Trump
- Donald Trump, Jr.
- Ivanka Trump
- Jared Kushner
- Mike Pence
- Mike Pompeo
- Rudy Giuliani
- General Michael Flynn
- Devin Nunes
- Jeff Sessions
It is likely that the Spygate plotters were spying on Jeff Sessions, and therefore Sessions could not be in charge of overseeing investigations related to the 2016 election because he was part of the Trump campaign, and later, the Trump transition team. No Attorney General can oversee an investigation in which they are personally involved.
The conflict of interest is glaring. This is why Sessions recused himself on March 2 of 2017 and handed the oversight of Trump/Russia and 2016 election-related investigations to his top deputy Rosenstein.
It was important for Sessions to recuse himself from handling any investigations involving people who had been spying on him for months, ever since he publicly began campaigning with and for Donald Trump in February of 2016. Their surreptitious surveillance of Sessions likely continued even after he was sworn in as Attorney General on Feb. 9, 2017.
The leak campaign targeting Sessions as compromised by Russia continued right through the former Senator assuming the office of Attorney General. These continued leaks by "anonymous officials familiar with the matter" culminated in the absurd spectacle of Sessions having to testify in front of Congress that he was not a Russian agent or engaged in collusion with the government of Vladimir Putin.
And so, we see that if Sessions’ recusal was real, and there is no reason to believe it was not, then it was Rod Rosenstein who charged Durham with investigating the Spygate leaks in April, 2017.
Is it only a coincidence that just a week after departing Attorney General Barr revealed Durham has been running a new Special Counsels Office, DNI Ratcliffe declassified new Strzok/Page text messages showing the existence of multiple federal counterintelligence investigations of the Trump campaign that have been hidden from sight for more then four years?
Ratcliffe declassifying this now means that making this revelation public will not interfere with Durham’s ongoing investigation, which means Durham has been investigating these newly revealed FBI cases that targeted Trump and his associates prior to the launch of Crossfire Hurricane.
Now here is the $64,000 question nobody but UncoverDC is asking: Why didn’t any of this explosive evidence leak out before it was officially declassified through the proper channels beginning in October? How do you put the fear of God into experienced leakers like James Comey, John Brennan, the entire Mueller team, or dozens of members of the U.S. Congress?
Remember, these are people with a bevy of corporate media stenographers at their disposal. Any of them could have leaked all of this information long ago. Why didn’t they?
Brian Cates entered the political journalism arena in March 2012, following the death of Andrew Breitbart. He is currently a writer for the Epoch Times and UncoverDC. Brian is based in South Texas and is the author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!”