"Operation Crossfire Hurricane": FBI Sent Strzok On Secret Mission To London Before Election

The New York Times is out with a puff piece ahead of the highly anticipated DOJ Inspector General report expected any day now detailing the FBI's (mis)conduct during the 2016 US election. The Times piece is brought to you by yet more leaks from the FBI, with their account of the operation against the Trump campaign prior to former Director Comey's firing and the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. 

Key takeaways: 

  • The FBI's codename for the operation which began 100 days before the US election was Crossfire Hurricane, in reference to a lyric in the Rolling Stones song Jumpin' Jack Flash.

  • The FBI sent counterintelligence agents, one of whom was Peter Strzok, to London in the summer of 2016 to meet with Australian ambassador, Alexander Downer, to describe his meeting with Trump campaign advisor, George Papadopoulos.
  • The meeting with Downer was described as "highly unusual," and "helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation."
  • The FBI kept details of the operation secret from most of the DOJ - with "only about five Justice Department officials" aware of the full scope of the case.

Fearful of leaks, they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department. Peter Strzok, a senior F.B.I. agent, explained in a text that Justice Department officials would find it too “tasty” to resist sharing. “I’m not worried about our side,” he wrote. -NYT

  • Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was under investigation, along with Paul Manafort and another advisor "suspected of being a Russian agent himself." 
  • Christopher Steele's anti-Trump dossier memos didn't reach the FBI until mid-September 2016. 

The F.B.I. bureaucracy did agents no favors. In July, a retired British spy named Christopher Steele approached a friend in the F.B.I. overseas and provided reports linking Trump campaign officials to Russia. But the documents meandered around the F.B.I. organizational chart, former officials said. Only in mid-September, congressional investigators say, did the records reach the Crossfire Hurricane team.

  • Strzok texted his mistress Lisa Page with doubts over the case.

“I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections,” Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.

  • Donald Trump was not under investigation, "but his actions perplexed the agents." 

"A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts."

“It’s like the deep state all got together to try to orchestrate a palace coup,” Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, said in January on Fox Business Network.

The Times then delves into what they call "missteps" (and others might call unprecedented collusion between an establishment candidate, the previous administration, foreign officials, and high-ranking members of the US Intelligence Community to destroy Donald Trump's chances of winning the US election - then "salt the earth" with Russian conspiracy theories after he won). 

And there were missteps. Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, was cited by internal investigators for dishonesty about his conversations with reporters about Mrs. Clinton. That gave ammunition for Mr. Trump’s claims that the F.B.I. cannot be trusted. And Mr. Strzok and Lisa Page, an F.B.I. lawyer, exchanged texts criticizing Mr. Trump, allowing the president to point to evidence of bias when they became public. -NYT

"Missteps" indeed. The Times' fails to mention that McCabe authorized a self-serving leak to the New York Times claiming that the FBI had not put the brakes on the Clinton Foundation investigation, during a period in which he was coming under fire over a $467,500 campaign donation his wife Jill took from Clinton pal Terry McAuliffe. 

Instead, the NYT simply says McCabe was "cited by internal investigators for dishonesty about his conversations with reporters about Mrs. Clinton." 

The rest of The Times piece goes into how the FBI was super careful and by-the-book when it came to their totally legit investigation that was not launched because of the Steele dossier. 

“Folks are very, very careful and serious about that process,” said Sally Yates, former Deputy AG under Obama. “I don’t know of anything that gives me any concerns.

Strange - Congressional investigators and the Inspector General apparently disagree, strongly.