There is increasing evidence that the FBI planted a mole inside Donald Trump's presidential campaign during the election. And it is also increasingly possible that it did so with the assistance of British intelligence.
When the House Intelligence and Oversight committees subpoenaed information about this report, the Justice Department declined to comply, saying that to do so would compromise an "ongoing investigation" and might risk the lives of its sources.
As Kimberly Strassel of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal noted: "We also know that among the Justice Department's stated reasons for not complying with the Nunes subpoena was its worry that to do so might damage international relationships. This suggests the 'source' may be overseas, have ties to foreign intelligence, or both. That's notable, given the highly suspicious role foreigners have played in this escapade. It was an Australian diplomat who reported the Papadopoulos conversation. Dossier author Christopher Steele is British, used to work for MI6, and retains ties to that spy agency as well as to a network of former spooks. It was a former British diplomat who tipped off Sen. John McCain to the dossier. How this 'top secret' source fits into this puzzle could matter deeply."
They alluded to domestic and "international" sources.
In our book "Rogue Spooks: The Intelligence War Against Donald Trump," we raise the specter that the U.K. and its equivalent of the CIA — MI6 — initiated the Russia collusion scandal. Now it appears very possible that U.K. intel set "traps" for Trump campaign operatives to get them to brag about collusion with Russia.
Foremost among these was the meeting in a British pub between former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and George Papadopoulos, a volunteer in the Trump campaign. The 29-year-old Papadopoulos, over drinks, boasted of his pivotal role in Trump-Kremlin co-ordination. Was this a chance meeting? What was a former foreign minister doing talking to the likes of Papadopoulos?
It was this conversation that the FBI cited as the basis for issuing a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign officials and possibly the candidate himself.
If this meeting was an "intelligence trap" by the U.K. spy agency, it casts new doubt on the entire basis for the scandal, the warrants, the surveillance and the Mueller probe.
The entire allegation of collusion with Russia may have been dreamed up by MI6. Consider (reprinted from "Rogue Spooks"):
1: It was Government Communications Headquarters — Britain's NSA — that first warned the U.S. that the Russians had hacked the Democratic Party's computers. Back in September 2015, long before the FBI and CIA knew anything about it or showed any interest in it, GCHQ was waving warning flags about Russian hacking. For a long time, the U.S. did nothing about it.
2: During the campaign and even after, both MI6 and GCHQ routinely passed along classified intelligence information to the U.S. intelligence community about Trump's associates.
3: It was Christopher Steele, an ex-MI6 spy, who says he wrote the dossier that contained all the unsubstantiated and unreliable but nevertheless explosive material about Donald Trump. Was Steele only a former MI6 agent? Bear in mind what the Russian embassy said: "MI6 officers are never ex."
4: It was Steele who went to the FBI, without telling his American client, in July 2016, to tell them about his dossier and urge them to investigate Trump and his associates.
5: It was former U.K. Ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood — a secret business associate of Steele's — who first approached Sen. John McCain to alert him about the dossier and warn him about the danger that Trump might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail if the dossier was actually true. Wood tried to throw the press off his trail by saying that he "had never worked professionally" with Steele, but that claim was contradicted by sworn statements filed in court.
6: It was to London that an associate of McCain's traveled for a prearranged meeting under clandestine circumstances to obtain the dossier.
7: Numerous uncontradicted published reports indicated that Steele shared his intelligence with MI6, and he admitted he received "unsolicited raw intel" — perhaps coming directly from British intel sources.
8: It was former colleagues of Steele and Wood who, along with Wood, offered a virtual echo chamber of comments to the press about Steele's credibility. None of them had seen or verified the document.
9: The director of MI6, Alex Younger, used notes from Steele's dossier in his first public speech. Younger and Steele — and Wood — had all been colleagues in British intelligence.
10: As noted, two weeks after the dossier containing all the negative information about Trump was published — and three days after the inauguration — Robert Hannigan, the popular director of GCHQ, abruptly resigned, citing family illnesses, giving only six hours' notice. The Guardian reported that "his sudden resignation prompted speculation that it might be related to British concerns over shared intelligence with the U.S. in the wake of Donald Trump becoming president."
11: MI6 issued a DA notice when the dossier was published and Steele's identity was revealed. This government directive requested that all media refrain from reporting anything at all about Steele for nine hours — enough time for him to escape from London.
12: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and several government ministers were briefed on the Trump dossier before the U.S. inauguration and decided to stay quiet about it.
All roads may lead to London.