Note: John Ubaldi is an op/ed writer. The opinions and comments stated in the following article, and views expressed by any contributor to In Homeland Security, do not represent the views of American Military University, American Public University System, its management or employees.
By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
The heads of U.S. intelligence and security agencies recently held a news conference during which they warned Americans about the dangers posed by Russia.
In attendance were Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Chris Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone and National Security Advisor John Bolton.
President Trump needs to understand their warnings and stop trying to merge unproven accusations of Russia’s collusion into his 2016 election campaign with Moscow’s attempt to meddle in U.S. elections. The president also needs to put forth comprehensive counterespionage efforts and cyber deterrence measures that will protect the U.S. from a cyber “Pearl Harbor.”
Unfortunately, Trump keeps claiming that there was no collusion. Much of the president’s disdain for this topic relates to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian collusion and meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Should Our Founders Have Feared a Trump or Obama Presidency?
Washington Post Writers Group columnist Richard Cohen penned a Real Clear Politics article called, “Trump is the Kind of President the Founding Fathers Feared.”
Cohen observed: “Has there ever been a president as obscene as Donald Trump — a president as obtuse, as ignorant, as base, as dishonest, as indifferent to precedent, as contemptuous of civil liberties, as critical of his own government and officials, as brutish, as cold to consequences, as hostile to the media, as casually racist and as self-centered? The answer is no. For comparisons, you have to look abroad.”
I am not so sure we need to look abroad to find a president whom our country’s founders would have feared more. One could plausibly look at a young, charismatic president who charmed a nation while his administration looked at ways to tamper with the Constitution with little media coverage. But then, why would the main-stream media investigate President Obama’s abuses of constitutional power when in fact they supported his presidency and overlooked his actions, and then supported his chosen successor?
WikiLeaks Exposes Media Collusion with Clinton Campaign
For two years, there have been repeated statements about Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump. But a larger picture has not been reported by the media.
WikiLeaks’ release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) showed many prominent national media outlets openly colluding with the Clinton campaign, assisting when and where stories would be released for maximum exposure.
Major media outlets failed to adhere to their own journalistic ethics as found in the “Society of Professional Journalists.” They are supposed to be the overseer against government corruption, much as they had been the “adversarial press” during the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals.
Unfortunately, the media have turned into a passive partisan press, openly supporting one party over another. They have not investigated serious abuses against the Constitution by a president, party and candidate they openly favored.
FBI Offered to Pay Christopher Steele to Find Trump Campaign Scandals
In the past few weeks, we have learned that the FBI did offer to pay Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign.
Even after the FBI offered to pay Steele, the Bureau knew he was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). We now know that the FBI used an informant to spy on members of the Trump campaign. Placing this action in context, the FBI participated in the political campaign of one political party to frustrate the efforts of the opposing political party.
First, it is necessary to understand the leadership of the FBI during this period. Beginning at the top, fired former director James Comey likely lied numerous times to congressional committees that the Steele dossier was not the primary source of the FISA application. This document was used to gain a warrant from a federal judge to conduct surveillance against former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page.
Comey wrote an FBI summary exonerating Hillary Clinton, even before Clinton and her various associates were even interviewed after having played major roles in the email scandal. At the same time, Comey leaked at least one likely classified document, utilizing FBI equipment on FBI time, to a personal friend all in an effort to get a special counsel appointed.
Comey was duplicitous while simultaneously informing the president that he was not the subject of an investigation, but suggesting to the media he was still being investigated.
DOJ Leadership Involved with Fusion GPS
Finally, Comey must have known, or should have known, that Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr was more involved than we were originally told. Ohr met with Fusion GPS, the originator of the Russian Dossier, where Steele worked and where Ohr‘s wife was employed in the Russia section during and after the election.
This month we learned hundreds of pages of previously unreported emails and memos from Ohr show he communicated openly with Steele and Fusion GPS founder Glen Simpson days before the FBI officially opened the Trump-Russia probe in the summer of 2016.
The allegation against Ohr is that he may have allegedly monitored and coordinated the spread of the Dossier to hurt the Trump campaign and eventually his presidency. Ohr never disclosed that his wife had been hired by Fusion GPS to aid Steele.
As John Solomon writes in “The Hill” this is the clearest evidence yet that a research firm hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC to find dirt on and defeat Donald Trump worked early and often with the FBI, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official and the intelligence community during the 2016 presidential election and the early days of Trump’s presidency.
Deputy FBI Director Fired for Lying
After Comey, there was FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired for misleading or lying to federal investigators. McCabe oversaw the Clinton email investigation. A Clinton-affiliated political action committee (PAC) gave almost $700,000 to the unsuccessful political campaign of McCabe’s wife, who was seeking a seat in the Virginia state legislature.
Even now, the FBI refuses to hand over McCabe’s text messages to governmental authorities relating to his wife’s 2015 state senate campaign.
Then we have fired FBI investigator Peter Strzok and FBI legal Counsel Lisa Page, Both were involved in extremely unethical behavior and alleged potential political bias when the DOJ Inspector General released their text message exchanges that showed a strong animus against Trump and a deferential approach toward Hillary Clinton during the email investigation.
Once both Page and Strzok were removed from the Special Counsel’s probe. However, we still haven’t gotten a solid answer from Robert Mueller as to why they were fired months apart. Was this done to not raise suspicion? Why weren’t key congressional committees notified of this serious development, since both Page and Strzok were instrumental to both investigations?
DOJ & FBI Leadership Corruption
For those who swear an oath to protect the Constitution, there are numerous FBI and DOJ officials — James Baker, Peter Kazdik, Michael Kortan, David Laufman, Andrew McCabe, Bruce Ohr, Lisa Page, James Rybicki, Peter Strzok, and Sally Yates — who have been fired, resigned, retired or have been reassigned for alleged unethical or perhaps illegal activities. These are the same individuals who swore an oath to protect American civil liberties. They also may have allegedly violated that very trust. We still haven’t learned the full truth about the FBI’s use of spies into the Trump campaign.
As Cohen writes, the founders feared a president like Trump. But maybe the opposite is true: The founders feared a charismatic, young president who would entrance a nation, with a complicit media, all the while allegedly violating the Constitution he swore to protect.
Obama Administration Alleged Abuses of Constitutional Liberties
During the Obama administration, we saw the worst abuses of American civil liberties, including:
- The IRS targeting conservative groups
- The DOJ spying on the Associated Press
- The monitoring of phone calls and emails of fired Fox News reporter James Rosen
Under the Obama administration, we still don’t know how the “Uranium One” deal was linked to the DOJ, the Clinton Foundation, the DNC and the Clinton State Department? As the DOJ Inspector General reported, why was a principal associate deputy attorney general asking McCabe to end the investigation into the Clinton Foundation?
Why hasn’t there been a serious investigation into former President Bill Clinton’s $500,000 honorarium from a Russian investment firm linked to the Kremlin? After the Uranium One was signed, millions of dollars were deposited into the Clinton Foundation from Russian interests. Why?
Why hasn’t the media investigated why donations to the Clinton Foundation dropped off precipitously after the 2016 presidential election, or why Bill Clinton’s speaking fee’s dropped considerably?
Alleged Corruption by Intelligence Leadership
Now, we have congressional committees reinvestigating former CIA director John Brennan for alleged false testimony before Congress. Brennan, who was just stripped of his security clearance by Trump, allegedly lied about a controversial secret drone program, the CIA monitoring of Democratic Party staff computers on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Brennan should be questioned about the role he played in providing the Steele dossier to Nevada’s Democratic Senator Harry Reid, the DOJ and the FBI.
Brennan was also very active in working with the FBI to monitor the Trump campaign.
Then there is Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who allegedly lied to Congress in March 2013 when he was asked whether the National Security Agency was collecting “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans. In fact, NSA was doing precisely that.
Obama Administration Unmasks Americans
Various members of the Obama administration requested a record number of names associated with FISA surveillance, and many of the names were leaked to the media.
Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Powers was questioned under oath about why she made public numerous names even though her position had nothing to do with intelligence. She denied ever having done so. If Powers did not make the request, then who did and for what purpose?
Why did Obama loosen the rules regarding the release of the names of Americans abroad whose conversations were incidentally intercepted by NSA? In early January, weeks before the end of Obama’s presidency, then Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed an expansion of an executive order, which had already been signed by DNI James Clapper in December 2017. The executive order that allowed NSA to share intercepted personal communications with 16 other federal agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.
Was this a way to protect Obama and his administration if those names were leaked to the media, which eventually did happen? Why was this done at this time and for what purpose?
Alleged Constitutional Abuses at DOJ
The DOJ, along with the intelligence agencies engaged in many unethical and potentially illegal activities, such as signing misleading FISA warrants and presenting them to a federal judge without disclosing who financed, prepared or authenticated them.
What was the purpose pf Lynch’s secret meeting with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Arizona while the DOJ was investigating Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation?
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein became the top figure in the DOJ after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia collusion investigation. Rosenstein never distanced himself from possible conflict of interest after appointing Mueller to head the probe. Mueller and his team are investigating possible alleged Russian corruption, the Clinton email scandals, the FISA warrants and the collusion allegations.
House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has been interviewing many State Department officials about why Steele met with the State Department.
Abuses by Federal Agencies
Right now, we have alleged unethical and possible illegal lapses of constitutional law by many employees of the FBI, the CIA, the DOJ, the NSA and the State Department. These agencies allegedly directed agents, informants and employees to actively assist one political campaign over the other. After the 2016 election, they did everything they could to destabilize a constitutionally elected president.
We have yet to learn the full extent of the alleged constitutional abuses by Executive Branch departments for partisan purposes. Even though Congress has oversight responsibilities laid out in the Constitution, these very same departments prevented the release of incriminating information. When they were forced to produce requested documents, they were so heavily redacted they were almost undecipherable because these departments hid behind the cloak of national security.
Some of the principles who allegedly participated in constitutional abuses, such as former FBI director Comey, have written books and then spent weeks sparing with Trump, urging the American people to show their disdain for the president by voting against Republicans in the midterm elections in November.
John Brennan is a paid consultant for CNN. In this new position Brennan often mentions the various national security information that his sources give. That will end now that Trump has stripped him of his security clearances. But if you question his motives, it’s like you are disparaging the intelligence community.
Even former director of national intelligence James Clapper, who now is on the MSNBC payroll as a consultant, has alleged that Trump is a Russian intelligence asset.
Even before the 2016 presidential election, there were persistent suggestions that Trump was colluding with the Russians. So far, Special Counsel Mueller has not found any evidence to support that idea. Those who warn that Russia’s aim is to destabilize U.S. elections are the very same ones who allegedly abused their power during the Obama administration.
Cohen’s article focused on the Founding Fathers fearing a president like Trump. But the real fear might possibly have been a young charismatic individual with oratory skills who transfixed a nation with the willing accomplice of a fawning media that failed to in its due diligence, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn admonished in a Harvard Address in 1978.
Those who warned of Russian collusion were eerily silent by the flagrant abuses of constitutional authority by Obama administration officials. They allegedly engaged in unethical and illegal behavior, with the intention of electing Hillary Clinton, President Obama’s chosen candidate. Then when she lost they did everything they could to undermine the incoming president. For some strange but mythical reason beyond comprehension, there are those in the Democratic Party, among the “Never Trump Republicans, and those still working for the FBI, CIA, DOJ, NSC, and State Department who fail to comprehend how those agencies and their leaders were politicized during the Obama presidency with the aim of affecting the outcome of a U.S. presidential election.
The very same institutions our country holds in high esteem have been “weaponized” for partisan purposes while a complicit media fails to report on the serious constitutional violations.
We have only a mere sampling of the abuses by these custodians of the Constitution. Their warnings of a Russian threat to our elections are a smokescreen to cover up constitutional abuses unique in American history.
How would this situation have been handled if the alleged abuses had been the work of President Bush’s administration aimed against Barack Obama in 2008 and 2009? Would the anti-Trump text messages between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok have been considered as merely personal views? Would the media and the Democratic Party have been as forgiving if these two former FBI employees had criticized Barack Obama and his administration?
Liberties asserted in the U.S. Constitution are for everyone, not just for the people we like. Even those we dislike have the same rights as everyone else.
About the Author
John is a 30-year retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps with three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his time in the Marine Corps, John became a foremost authority on civil affairs as it relates to counterinsurgency and irregular warfare, and he is an author in various military journals. As a Marine who saw devastation and poverty in the Middle East, John personally organized $6 million dollars in humanitarian aid to Iraq, Afghanistan, Thailand, Nicaragua, and the Philippines. He is often featured on many national and local news programs such as the syndicated national news program “Washington Journal” and other radio and television programs. John is a frequent political commentator on KFBK-News Talk radio in Northern California and on WWJB-News Talk radio in Tampa, Florida. John has a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies from American Military University (AMU) with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies, and a Bachelor’s degree in Government from California State University, Sacramento.