Elder Patriot – Hoo boy. If what Patrick Byrne told the world this week is true, then it appears that the DOJ/FBI had multiple tracks running simultaneously to justify a surveillance warrant application to the FISA Court in order to spy on the Trump campaign.
There’s little reason, at this point, to doubt Mr. Byrne. He gave four interviews this week and the information and circumstances that he discussed were remarkably consistent.
His longest interview was with Fox News’ Martha Maccallum:
This was the second of four interviews he gave where he outlined what he described as political espionage operation being run by the FBI:
Byrne claims he held a low-level security clearance which required him to report suspicious contacts. In this case, that was a young Russian national, Maria Butina.
When he reported his relationship with Butina, Byrne says that he was instructed to introduce her to the campaigns of Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump.
Looking back at what is already known about the FBI’s running assets at Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and other Trump associates, it would seem that Butina was being used in a similar fashion to create the appearance to the FISA Court that Team Trump was cozying up to Russians.
That would justify employing the entire toolbox of surveillance techniques against her and, using the court’s two-hop rule, virtually everyone associated with Donald Trump.
As the field of Republican presidential contenders narrowed, Byrne says he was told to focus Butina’s contacts to the Trump campaign, exclusively.
Byrne began to become suspicious of the FBI’s intentions and made exculpatory statements to agents telling them he thought she was simply an ideologically driven young person with a desire to see the relationship between the U.S. and Russia improve
The agents were “apologetic” about asking Byrne to essentially force-feed Butina into the Trump campaign but they claimed, according to Byrne, that these were orders from Peter Strzok that had been passed down from James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Bill Priestap, and John Carlin.
However the chain of commands came down to him in actuality, the structure described by Byrne created plausible deniability for those above the agents who were directing Byrne’s actions.
According to Byrne, in December of 2015 he warned FBI officials there was the potential that his efforts, his reputation and those who trust him, may result in Butina gaining entry into campaign confidences.
His suspicions were raised as to the FBI’s motives after FBI agents told Byrne that was their intent.
The order came from high up in the FBI. They wanted Butina to gain deep access into the Trump campaign. Mr. Byrne realized the potential that a corrupt political motive was driving these orders, but he didn’t say anything at the time.
Pause on that. This was no street-level group. Comey was the FBI director. McCabe was his deputy director before succeeding him at the top. Priestap was the head of the counterintelligence division. And, Carlin was head of the DOJ/National Security Division.
Between the apologetic attitudes of the agents handling him, and the high-level DOJ/FBI directors giving the orders, coupled with his own view that Butina was just an ideological innocent, Byrne became uncomfortable with things.
Byrne was being asked to be a civilian handler of a Russian national, a role that he viewed as having the potential to go sideways.
Should the DOJ/FBI decide to define Butina as an “agent of a foreign power” everyone she had come into contact with would be fair game to be targeted by the full force of the U.S. intelligence surveillance apparatus.
After Butina proved useless in dirtying-up members of the Trump team, special counsel Robert Mueller order her to be held in solitary confinement, likely to keep her from exposing the corrupt operation.
Byrne became incensed when he learned that his exculpatory statements regarding Butina had been kept from her attorneys. He decided to go public with what he knows and quit his position as CEO of Overstock.com.
Here’s the kicker. When Comey and McCabe were asked about Byrne’s allegations, they gave carefully worded denials that didn’t actually deny the Byrne-Butina operation was directed by them.
They only denied requesting Byrne to engage in a romantic relationship with Butina. Neither Comey nor McCabe flatly denied using Butina in a counterintelligence operation against Trump.