So the Gray Lady admits now that the FBI had a government informant – also known as a spy – who met several times with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Here’s the NYTimes on the delicacy of a possible government informant (we still don’t know who) talking to Page and Papadopoulos:

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump’s allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.

You learn something new every day with the Russia probes and Mueller’s team, don’t you? For us unwashed and enciphered masses, who knew such a thing as a ‘national security letter’ existed? And that it functioned as a sort of secret subpoena? Is this what was used to survey Carter Page? Was a national security letter what was handed to a FISA court? Detailing the contents of the Steele Dossier likely? Or was the national security letter the counterpart to the Steele Dossier? Was the national security letter the document that contained the government informant’s reports?

Deputy AG Rosenstein clamored about how the DOJ wouldn’t be extorted when the Nunes threatened a subpoena to pry information from them on the Mueller probes and the FBI investigation that preceded the probes. Now, as Mollie Hemingway writes at The Federalist:

But far from holding the information close to the vest, the government has repeatedly leaked information about this informant, and even that it was information about an informant that was being sought by Congress. From leaks of personally identifying information to the Washington Post, we’ve learned that this source works with the FBI and CIA, and is a U.S. citizen.

In The New York Times, additional information about a government informant leaked, including that the source met with Papadopoulos and Page to collect information. The information on an alleged source in the Trump campaign is so sensitive they can’t give it to Congress, but they can leak it to friendly press outlets like the Post and Times. It’s an odd posture for the Justice Department to take.

It seems that this in-depth article in the NYTimes has two main functions:

  • To admit that the FBI did indeed spy on Trump’s campaign and to get ahead of the story perhaps before the DOJ’s Inspector General’s report on the FBI probe comes out. As CNN has reported, the IG’s report is now in its final stages.
  • To legitimize the spying by the FBI of the opposition candidate’s aides during a presidential election campaign. Remember, the FBI launched a counter-intelligence investigation against the Trump campaign. It did so shortly after wrapping up a criminal investigation against Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server while Secretary of State. As much as Hillary might still blame Comey for her loss, that soft-balling of her possible crimes was what helped keep her in the race. With Trump they have yet to find evidence of collusion – although they’ve nailed Flynn and Papadopoulos for contradictory testimony. We’ll see if Flynn decides to challenge those charges in court.

But have no fear, the media are still at it suggesting there’s lots more for Mueller to do and find in his probe. There are suddenly quite a few stories on the Trump Tower meeting, somehow suggesting that recycled details about that meeting are hard and fast proof of collusion, or something of that sort. They can’t back down now, especially seeing what’s likely coming in the Inspector General’s report. By mixing and matching bits of evidence that may if anything suggest Trump’s team was set up, they can point to the shadow of a rumor of a possible confluence of interests between Trump and Russia and therefore claim Mueller’s tactics and methods – as well as Comey’s and Brennan’s back in 2016 – are justified.

By the way, isn’t it cute the name they chose for their sting operation? Crossfire Hurricane. It comes from an old song that we Baby Boomers used to dance to way back, sung by some shaggy haired Englishmen (one of them was mostly Welsh actually: Brian Jones). Who came up with that name?? Comey?? An aging Baby Boomer using the lyrics from a Stones song to name a counterintelligence investigation that went looking for criminal evidence and still hasn’t found any. It gets more ridiculous and more worrying every day.