Jan Jekielek of "The Epoch Times" hosts Tony Shaffer, a former DoD intelligence officer and a member of the Trump 2020 advisory board, to discuss Attorney General Bill Barr's statement that he is going to investigate the origins of the FBI investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign.
TONY SHAFFER: What I'd like to believe Mr. Barr is going to be doing is focusing on three primary areas. First, the basic authorities. The basic issue which I've heard spun over the last five days is this was all "legitimate collection." Now that's the key to the whole thing because the people are on other networks spinning this denied they were spying to begin with, but now that we know they were spying, it was all done "by the book." And I use that term very clearly because Susan Rice, the national security advisor for President Obama used that term on January 20, 2017, when she referred to this entire process.
That is the start point, the authorities. Going from Susan Rice all the way down the chain to the field operatives. There should be a very clear paper chain, line of authorities, and most importantly who within those chains handled the information on what dates. I can tell you for a fact, based on my own experience being a practitioner, that an operation like this where U.S. citizens are involved, Susan Rice had to be somewhere in that process. Executive order 12333, anybody can look at it, stipulates the requirements for certain authorities to be granted relating to nondisclosed participation. So the authorities are key, that's where I would start.
JAN JEKIELEK: So you're saying she would have had to approve somewhere down the line?
TONY SHAFFER: No doubt. And as a matter of fact, I think her memo alludes to that fact that there was an approval process which she was part of. Because in that January 20, 2017 memo she talks about President Obama insisting that things were done "by the book," so there is an acknowledgment that President Obama was somehow aware of the Russia investigation and what James Comey was doing as well. It's all there. She wrote it all in a memo.
I'm saying begin with what's in plain sight. Go with what the Obama administration has already admitted to and start from there.
The second area that Barr should look at are the agencies involved and their authorities. One of the things that is notable is that the FBI, being a domestic law enforcement organization, was doing things overseas. The authorities for that are extraordinary. I know for a fact that the FBI can do what they call "extraterritorial operations." I've actually been undercover with the FBI doing them. But again, it takes significant and high-level authority to do that. For the FBI to be engaged in two types of activities, in particular, there is a very high gate: Counterterrorism or counterintelligence. And these are the things which we know now to be true, the counterintelligence aspect of this. There needs to be an examination of each agency's role within this mosaic. There's a large picture now we're aware of... The mosaic of who was involved and how their authorities were used needs to be the second part of this relating to understanding the whole thing.
The third area is something more than the American public will be interested in, I guess. How could this happen to a U.S. citizen? Why were U.S. citizens not notified properly of the FBI's interest in this counterintelligence activity? We've gone from the authority, down to the who's involved, down to the individual. And all the individuals involved here, you have to examine, what were their rights regarding what the perception was? Were they actually used because there was a proposition of a clue that said they were colluding? Or were they completely clean and you were trying to do lures, were you trying to instigate some entrapment to get them to act in interests that they would not normally have exhibited? That's a huge issue.
Papadopoulos for example, they made this whole full court press to go after him, and I would argue they even used a honey pot, and trying to entice him with money. This is no small operation. And the question has to become, had Papadopoulos in some way indicated in some way through his own organic activities that he was already in contact or predisposed to contact with a foreign intelligence service? And if the answer is no, then you had no authority to begin even the opening of the door to have him do this stuff. And by the way, a lot of this stuff happened overseas under the authority of the FBI.
We have to look at this as a pyramid of activity and within that pyramid, you start filling in the pieces. Again, it is legal, operational, as well as political set of issues you have to link together. This is no small task. And I admire the fact that Attorney General Barr is actually taking this on. It is a hefty work product to have to deal with.
JAN JEKIELEK: You alluded to this a minute ago. Last week the New York Times got a leak of a second agent that was basically spying on the campaign.
TONY SHAFFER: Let's use the term. Spying is a term of art. I think everybody recognizes it as true.
JAN JEKIELEK: Tell me, [agent] using a pseudonym, what do you make of this scenario?
TONY SHAFFER: The scenario is one that I know exists, and is rarely used. Remember, we're talking here about overseas operations of the FBI, where we're using third parties, third nation intelligence operatives, there's absolutely no way MI-5 and MI-6 were not aware of this. You don't do things on British soil, any British soil, without telling the British you're doing it.
They went to the London School of Economics and used them as some form of witting or unwitting cutout. That requires huge authority to actually have waivers or outreach. And of course, the individual herself, being put together as an agent. We in the intelligence community are very cautious when we involve someone who is going to be what we'd call an agent provocateur -- all sorts of things can go wrong with what she was doing here. She was trying to provoke some action or response, which was then recorded for purposes of trying to expand collection in other areas. Like I said, we need to know what happened in these instances and where those instances went regarding other intelligence agencies being tasked to do followup or extended collection on this issue. And this is where those linkages are going to be very important.
But let me say something about the nature of this leak. Someone from the FBI leaked this information to a friendly outlet, the New York Times. Think about that, why would someone leak national security information of this nature? By the way, no one from either side, either the president or the FBI or the Democrats have denied this. No one says it didn't happen. As a matter of fact, you now see the former Obama folks out there trying to justify this. This goes back to the change of narrative from "President Trump is crazy, we didn't spy on him," to "He's crazy, we had to spy on him." That's what they've done, they've completely switched the narrative and now this subtle but direct, "We weren't really spying we were doing legitimate collections activities against individuals of interest."