‘No Way Obama Was Not Told’—Former Intel Officer Tony Shaffer on Spying on Trump Campaign
With the Mueller report concluding there was no evidence of Trump–Russia collusion, Attorney General William Barr says he’ll now personally look into the origins of the collusion investigation.
So, what are the key details that need to be investigated? And, given the sensitive and irregular nature of the spying that took place on the campaign of Donald Trump, what high-level officials should have known about it?
In this episode of “American Thought Leaders,” Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek sits down again with Tony Shaffer, who was a senior intelligence officer in the Department of Defense, and is now acting president of the London Center for Policy Research. He’s also an advising producer for National Geographic, and a member of the Trump 2020 advisory board.
Jan Jekielek: So we’ve had a lot of great feedback from the last interview we did because you brought this very interesting and unique intelligence perspective to the whole Spygate, FISA abuse, this whole realm of inquiry. So I want to build on that a little bit more today if we can.
Tony Shaffer: Sure.
Mr. Jekielek: So we know that the attorney general is beginning to investigate the investigators. Perhaps there’s even been some investigations already going on. What are the priorities for Barr at this point in your view?
Mr. Shaffer: Well, I think one of the unique things about the last interviews, I’d like to believe, is I’m providing what someone who’s actually done this work has to deal with, to understand to be doing it successfully. So, within the framework of my understanding of intelligence collection operations, what I’d like to believe that Barr is going to be doing is going to be focusing on three primary areas. First, the basic authorities. The basic issue, which I’ve heard spun over the past five days, is: Oh, this was all “legitimate collection.” Now, that’s the key. That’s the key to the whole thing.
Because the people who are on other networks spinning this are saying: “Oh, yeah. We 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 adviser to President Barack Obama, actually used that term on Jan. 20, 2017, when she referred to this entire process. So … that is the start point right there—the authorities. From Rice, going all the way down the chain to the field operatives. There should be a very very clear paper train line of authorities and most importantly, who within those chains had all the information, and 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, Rice had to be somewhere involved in that process. EO 12333—executive order 12333—anybody can look at, stipulates the requirements for certain authorities to be granted relating to nondisclosed participation. So, the authorities are key. That’s where I was—
Mr. Jekielek: You’re saying that she would have had to have approved somewhere during—
Mr. Shaffer: No doubt. And as a matter of fact, I think her memo alludes to that fact that there was an approval process that she was part of because in that Jan. 20 memo, she talks about Obama insisting that things were done by the book. So there is acknowledgment that 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 the memo. So I’m saying, begin with what’s in plain sight. Go with what the Obama administration’s 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 which is notable in this is that the FBI, being a domestic law enforcement organization, was doing things overseas. And the authorities for that are extraordinary. Now, I know for a fact that the FBI can do what they call extraterritorial operations. I’ve actually been undercover with the FBI doing these things. 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’s a very high gate: counterterrorism or counterintelligence. These are the things which we know now to be true of the counterintelligence aspect of this. So there needs to be an examination of each agency’s role within this mosaic.
There’s a large picture now we’re aware of. We talked about that picture, to begin with, in the last interview. Now, we’re trying to fill in some of those pieces. So the mosaic of who was involved, how their authorities were used, needs to be the second component of this relating to understanding the whole thing. The third area, I think, is something the American public will be more interested in which is: How could this happen to a U.S. citizen? Why were U.S. citizens not notified properly of the FBI’s interest in this foreign counterintelligence activity?
So we’ve gone from the top from the authority, down to the who’s involved, down to the individual. And the individual—all the individuals involved here—you have to examine what were their rights regarding what their 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 were you trying to do lures? Were you trying to instigate some kind of entrapment to get them to act in interests that they would not normally exhibit? This is a huge issue. Papadopoulos, for example, when they made this whole full-court press to go after him, and I would argue, even used a honeypot and tried to entice him with money.
This is no small operation. And the question has to become: Had [George] Papadopoulos in some way indicated, through his own organic activities, that he was already in contact or predisposed to contact with the Foreign Intelligence Service? And if the answer is no, then you have no authority to begin even the opening of the door to have him do this stuff. And, by the way, all this happened overseas under the oversight of the FBI, so again it goes back to that agency issue. We have to essentially take and look at this as a pyramid of activity. And within that pyramid, you start filling in the pieces. Again, it’s a legal operation, as well as political, set of issues that you have to link together. This is no small task, and I admire the fact that Barr is actually taking this on. This is a hefty work product to have to deal with.
Mr. Jekielek: So you alluded to this moments ago that last week … The New York Times got a leak about this second agent that was basically spying on the campaign. Let’s use the term …
Mr. Shaffer: Spying is a term of art that I think everybody recognizes is true.
Mr. Jekielek: Yeah. Well, as it turns out, it’s a pseudonym. What do you make of that scenario?
Mr. Shaffer: Well, this scenario is one that I do know exists, it is rarely used. I mean, remember, we’re talking here about overseas operations of the FBI, where you’re using third parties, third-nation intelligence operatives. There’s absolutely no way MI5 and MI6 were not aware of this. You do not do things on the British soil, any British soil, without telling the British you’re doing it. So they had to be aware. They went to the London School of Economics and used them as some form of either witting or unwitting cutout. That requires huge authority to actually have waivers for the outreach to do that. And then, of course, the individual herself. Being essentially put together, put up as an agent. We in the intelligence community are very cautious when we involve someone who’s going to be what we would call an agent provocateur. There are all sorts of things that can go wrong. And that’s 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 see what happened in these instances, where those instances went, regarding other intelligence agencies and being tasked to do a follow-up or extended collection on this issue. And this is where those linkages are going to be very important.
Let me say one thing about the nature of this leak. Someone from the FBI leaked this information to a friendly outlet: The New York Times. Now, think about that for a second. Why would someone leak national security information of this nature? By the way, so far nobody from either side, either the president’s side, or the FBI, or the Democrats have denied this. Nobody is out there saying: “Oh, this 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 “Well, he’s crazy, we had to spy on him.” That’s what they’ve done. They’ve completely switched the narrative. And now you see this subtle, but direct: “We weren’t really spying. We were doing legitimate collection activities against individuals of interest.”
So this is what is most critical about, in my judgment, the complete denial of authority to do these operations … they knew from Day One they weren’t authorized, but now they’re trying to shift the narrative to make it as if: “We had to do it. Don’t worry about it. It’s all legitimate.” And that’s why the FBI or someone in the FBI leaked to The New York Times.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s shift gears for a moment. You had an article, recently, about media bias narratives and so forth.
Mr. Shaffer: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: And this is very interesting. We’re in the middle of seeing this exactly as you describe, this shift in narrative. Tell a little bit more about how this narrative has shifted up to now, in your view, in these pivotal points?
Mr. Shaffer: Yeah, it’s a great question. Let me say for the record, because it’s public, that I went on the record on March 4, 2017, and said we would come to find that there was a complete conspiracy behind the scenes to spy on the Trump campaign. Now, if you recall that period, no one was ready to say that, and I think that’s been proven correct. And then you go back and look at what I said, everything I said was completely true. Now, the reason I said it was because I understood how the community works. I understood how the mechanical pieces work and what the authorities would have to go into it to have.
It’s taken almost two years now for it all to play out, but here we are. And to that point, some of us looked from Day One at what is the evidence and what does the lack of evidence tell us? We were not predisposed to some political narrative. Now, I may have been completely wrong, but I didn’t think it would be, by the fact that I was simply looking at the information that was available or the absence of key information relating to what should be there, but is not. It’s called being an intelligence officer.
Mr. Jekielek: Or, actually, a journalist.
Mr. Shaffer: Or actually a journalist! Imagine that: the idea of looking at objective facts and trying to figure things out. So that’s what’s been lacking in the mainstream journalists, it’s like they decided this was what the story is. This is our aspiration. So if it doesn’t fit our aspirations, ignore it until it gets too big or you can’t ignore it. Oh, we have to explain? So that’s what they do. They either have information which is related to an aspirational desire regarding an outcome, or when they can’t get there, it becomes excuse-making or trying to explain it away. That’s what it is. That’s not journalism. That’s essentially trying to populate the minds of the audience with a certain perception of reality which is not related to the facts at hand.
So what we’ve seen over the past few years over this is the complete diminution of the mainstream media as a legitimate source of information, by the fact you’ve proven pretty much wrong in every aspect of the so-called Russian narrative. What I find fascinating now, is that there is a black hole right do this in several things I’ve written lately. At the center of the Mueller report, there is an artifact called the Steele dossier. And to this day, nobody in authority has been willing to sit down and investigate how that dossier came to exist? Who paid for it? And what was the legality of its existence? And, most importantly, how did an opposition research document, paid for by political campaigns from a foreign national, come to be used as legitimate intelligence. I have never in my 35 years of working as a member of the intelligence community, advising members of the intelligence community— being on the outside examining activities—I’ve never heard of that done, ever. Not once. But, yet, Mueller didn’t address a single issue of what we just talked about. Not a thing.
Even though that is the primary artifact that drove the basis of the entire investigation, he never once questioned the origins of that document or how it came to be. And, by the way, how it failed essentially to support any of the allegations ultimately, because first off, collusion is not a crime, but more importantly, there’s nothing in that document that actually has been proven to be even remotely correct. So it’s this fundamental lack of clarity and lack of interest by Mueller himself which has resulted in the mainstream media also ignoring the obvious issue of who paid for this, how did they get away paying for a document from a foreign source—a British subject—and most importantly, the information I have from my sources is that that information was fed to Steele by the Russian intelligence service. They saw this as an opportunity, it’s called feed material. They treated Steele as an offensive counterintelligence guy. Basically, he was a guy that they knew was going to be feeding information into our political process and they said: “Oh, what a great opportunity. Let’s give him some really juicy stuff that’s gonna really spin things up.”
I don’t think the Russians even understood the immense success they would have by creating this false information, giving it to Steele and then allowing it, like a virus, to get into our political system, because that is the virus which has maintained the momentum of this Russian narrative, and, yet, no one’s willing to actually look at [its] origins. It’s completely irrational. And that’s why I believe the mainstream media has completely shown itself to be incapable of reporting facts—objective facts—because they were so focused on a specific outcome. They will not ask hard questions, to include Jake Tapper, will not ask hard questions about where this information came from, was the information legal, and how did it become treated as opposition research like legitimate information, raw information, or any other information in the intelligence process, which has never been done before.
Mr. Jekielek: So this isn’t about the exact origins of the dossier but in terms of the exact origins of the DOJ investigation.
Mr. Shaffer: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: I saw that there’s a CNN poll that was saying over two-thirds of Americans are interested in knowing these origins. Presumably, that would apply as well to the dossier?
Mr. Shaffer: Well, exactly. And that’s what’s the key issue. … You’re asking a key question that, as a journalist … and thank you for asking the question. Where did it come from? And why haven’t we had anybody in the Mueller investigation ask that very same question? Think about it. I mean, you and I do this for a living. We ask questions, we seek answers. Do you really believe that someone of the level of Mueller, who has been a professional investigator all of his career, somehow forgot to look at this? … There’s no conceivable way he could have not looked at this, without a reason not to look at it.
Mr. Jekielek: It does sound outstanding when you put it that way, right?
So let’s come back to this idea of authority. You’re mentioning that’s a critical piece that has to be looked at. Given the scope and, let’s say, unusual or maybe rare, nature of the types of data, types of collection that was done, and and types of activities which were engaged in, what kind of authority would have been required in the FBI, and CIA, since it looks like also there is a CIA connection?
Mr. Shaffer: Yeah, there’s a very clear distinction that we can use as a rule of thumb that’s based on the law. If you are a U.S. citizen, you have the constitutional right to believe that you have basic freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom to own a weapon, freedom of assembly, all these freedoms. And the presumption is the government—your government—will not do anything to interfere with any of that, as long as you’ve not been so predisposed to commit a crime, to be involved in a terrorist organization, or spy for a foreign nation. That’s it. Those are the three big ones that if you’re a U.S. citizen, on the intelligence side, we can look at. If you have an incidental or proven link to a terrorist organization, you are fair game. If you have a common routine contact with a foreign intelligence officer, you’re fair game.
Mr. Jekielek: And that’s kind of what was kind of used as the pretext. That what was the one, right?
Mr. Shaffer: I’ll come back to that in a second. And then the other area, obviously, is if you have done things or have affiliations with family members who may be overseas, and you’re naturalized, but you still have people in the old country. That’s something that we have been able to look at kind of obliquely. So if you’re a U.S. citizen, but you’ve got some connections in your home country, someone could leverage those against you. So those are the three big categories which give us enhanced ability to spy on American citizens. That’s it. So that middle one is the one which is that is what we have to look at here regarding the [George] Papadopoulos issue and all these other folks [like] Stefan Halper.
Even incidental contact with an intelligence officer doesn’t require that they collect against you. As a matter of fact, if you today were walking over here to get on the ferry and some intelligence officer comes up [to you]. You don’t know he’s an intelligence officer—he’s a Russian. So, he talks to you and you strike up a conversation. You have a casual talk. That’s no big deal. If the FBI is monitoring the Russian, and he talks to you, do you know what the FBI is supposed to do?
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me that he’s a [spy]?
Mr. Shaffer: Bingo! You get a free lunch.
Mr. Jekielek: Wonderful. Sounds reasonable.
Mr. Shaffer: It sounds reasonable. And that’s what the requirement is. So, if you are not presumed to have had any other contact, that they have looked at the situation, the FBI has come to you, saying: “Look, that guy who was trying to sell you the tennis racket, he’s really a Russian. He’s probably developing.” Do you know how I know this? Because this has happened to me—by the Russians. Several years ago, the Russians were targeting think-tank individuals in Washington. So one day, an FBI agent shows up in my boss’s office and says, “Hey, we need to talk to Shaffer. He’s not doing anything wrong, but they’re about to approach him. This is what they’re going to do to try to recruit.” So what does my boss say? “Go talk to Tony.” I sit down for about 45 minutes. The FBI briefs me on what’s going on and what to do. That is what is required when you have a U.S. citizen—even an intelligence officer—who is going to be approached or has been approached, who hasn’t by their own act of interest attempted to gain contact with Russian intelligence. And that’s what appears to have happened here.
Nobody, of all the Trump folks and to my understanding—based on everything I’ve read, the people I’ve talked to—ever once reached out to try to contact the Russians for purposes of intelligence operations or officers. Was there contact with Russians? Yes. There was contact with pretty much any foreign national that had an interest in working with the United States, with the new administration. But that is not the same. That is, you know, if you talk to a Venezuelan, does that mean you’re supporting Hugo Chavez or Maduro? No.
So this is where, in my judgment, the authorities were hugely and clearly abused. And this goes back to the first part of our interview, of why the authorities launching these operations become so critical. Because there are very bright lines regarding what a U.S. citizen must be told if they’re approached, versus what a U.S. citizen doesn’t have to be approached if they are willingly walked up and are working with an intelligence officer. They’re very different and very distinct. And this is where, even if Papadopoulos, for example, was in contact with the Russians and was somehow turned, it doesn’t mean you don’t tell Trump or the campaign that this guy has gone rogue and this guy is now working with the Russians. That’s what the requirement is. So you can’t simply ignore the fact that someone in the Trump organization is working for the Russians, and so we’re not going to tell Trump.
It doesn’t work like that because Trump is a U.S. citizen, and as a citizen and his corporation and his campaigns considered a citizen, they had to be notified because they weren’t suspected of any wrongdoing. And to this day, nobody has said, “Trump told him to go out and contact the Russians.”
Mr. Jekielek: In fact, the Mueller report extensively tried to find this thing.
Mr. Shaffer: Precisely. So that tells me there was no existing precondition to authorize the intelligence operations using “dangles” and these “honeypots” to try to get the information.
Mr. Jekielek: So, it’s looking even worse right now for the FBI, I guess.
Mr. Shaffer: I want to be very careful because I have a lot of friends in the FBI. I’ve worked with them undercover three different times over my career. And let me say that those agents, some of the agents I’ve worked with, “Operation Dark Heart” my book. I guess I can say his name, Matt and I— an FBI agent and I—went into combat to interrogate and break, not physically, to break an individual who was working for the IRGC. … Matt was amazing; we did a great job and information was obtained. We prevented other bad acts from happening. I’ve also worked with the FBI in Athens again … [the Greek far-left terrorist organization] November 17. I’ve run into one of the agents the other day. We were talking about the op. … The FBI was able to break the back of November 17 before the Olympics in Athens. I think it was 2002 [or] 2003. Again, great operation. So, the FBI can do amazing things.
With that said, you have leaders who have long ago abandoned the principles that govern the field agents’ activities every day. I know agents who are very sincere and very much committed to their oath of office. At the same time, they have individuals over them—the McCabes, the Strzoks, the Comeys of the world—who would literally sell their mother, throw their mother under the bus for purposes of gaining additional political influence or access. So it is that senior-level rot that I’ve been very critical of, and I think what we’re going to now find in these investigations is that was the point of wrongdoing within the FBI.
Mr. Jekielek: What level of authority would have been required to authorize this extensive level of collection activity, almost what looks like possibly entrapment activity?
Mr. Shaffer: So to authorize the departure from the normal policies and requirements of EO 12333, which the FBI has to live by as well, is held in one place and one place only. That’s the National Security Council. Because when you do things that can be perceived as abusing one’s individual rights, be it either as an individual or as a group, the only place that can permit you to essentially waive that requirement of notifying someone that they’re being approached or have been approached and they are in danger—the only place that can be waived is the White House. There are good reasons why that other than the White House you cannot have this. You don’t want people just running around saying: “Yeah, I know he’s not really with the Russians, but we’re just gonna pretend he is and we’re going to do collection against him.” You don’t want that. So the default position is if you’re not suspected of any conflict or involvement with the Russians, they need to notify you as a U.S. citizen. “Hey, you know, we’re the federal police and we’re notifying you that you’re in danger.” That’s the requirement.
So when all the checks and balances are examined, there are huge programs every year. Every year, every FBI agent or intelligence officer goes through oversight training that reinforces what I’m telling you. And you cannot vary from that. I’ve been investigated myself for having inadvertently taped a conversation with someone who was an asset, and there was a perception that I somehow violated his rights, believe it or not. And that’s how serious they take these things. So, to actually do something for you as a U.S. citizen, or the FBI was told to do whatever you want, the only place that could happen is the National Security Council and that would have been the time of Rice. Let me say it again, because I know … this isn’t something that’s just a theory.
I’ve actually had to engage in operations, which I can’t get into, which involved having to essentially be less than truthful with a group of U.S. citizens, based on an intelligence collection operation … I can tell you is that it was for a great purpose and we were authorized essentially to have a waiver to them, but it was only granted by the National Security Council. And the second part of that, if it gets to Rice, there’s absolutely no way that Obama was not told in some form of what was going on, because everything was at stake. This is not some individual in Minot, North Dakota, who had incidental contact with a Russian asset who wanted to go to a shooting range. This was for all the marbles. And I would argue—
Mr. Jekielek: The campaign.
Mr. Shaffer: The campaign. So there’s absolutely no way in the world that this issue, once it got to Rice, was not brought to Obama’s attention in some form. He had to know. There’s absolutely no way he didn’t. And I would argue Rice’s Jan. 20 memo backs my argument, by the fact that she said—Obama didn’t say this, but she said—that Obama insisted that the operation that James Comey was running regarding the Russia issue be run by the book. That, to me, is a valid question for someone to go ask Rice.
Mr. Jekielek: So there is also this joint CIA-FBI …
Mr. Shaffer: Taskforce.
Mr. Jekielek: Taskforce, right, that was created. Would someone like [former CIA Director] John Brennan, at that level, need to be involved?
Mr. Shaffer: Yeah. By all accounts, Brennan did put together this task force, and I believe it was in late 2015, early 2016, where they were bringing together folks to examine this Russian issue. And elements of the Pentagon were also brought into that: things like Stefan Halper. Stefan Halper became essentially, from my understanding, there’s an investigation of Halper ongoing, I’ve got to be careful about that. But he was essentially being paid by the U.S. government by something called the Office of Net Assessment, working for a guy named Baker who, by all accounts, was fully witting … of Halper’s activities, paid him something like $200,000 to go do studies. And Halper was under the direction of John Brennan and his task force to go out and do these meetings, these foreign policy things. So this is where there’s another gray area, which I don’t think is always gray, where you had the director of CIA working with a Pentagon asset, attempting to have that Pentagon asset interface with U.S. citizens. So I think this is Brennan’s roundabout way of being involved in this larger collection activity. It could be because Halper had contact with Papadopoulos and others within the campaigns.
As a matter of fact, Halper attempted, I think, to apply for a job in Trump administration after the Trump victory in November of ’16. So these are all things which have to be again, examined. This goes back to Part One, when I said after you establish the understanding of the authorities, you have to look at the agencies who were all involved in this, and what were they doing. So this goes to Brennan, and I think it puts him in a very dangerous position of having involved himself in domestic political intelligence operations, which CIA is not authorized to do. Not at all.
Mr. Jekielek: Interesting. So you’ve mentioned now CIA and FBI, obviously, are agencies that need to be looked at. Where else do we need to look?
Mr. Shaffer: Well, NSA is going to have to be examined. Admiral Mike Rogers, during the same period we’re talking, was involved in, I think, gave certain members in administration the heads-up on some of the collection activities which relate to FISA. Now, NSA is in a very difficult position. NSA, essentially, has two different sets of authorities. They have Title 10, which essentially is traditional military activities, the so-called warrantless wiretaps that President Bush did, he did under Title 10, using NSA as a military organization. I’ve worked on Title 10 operations. The most famous, which you may have heard of, is Able Danger. Able Danger was an operation to go after al-Qaeda. It wasn’t intelligence, it was meant to go and be a lethal operation. That’s the Title 10 authorities. And they also have Title 50 authorities, which then support both CIA’s requirements regarding signals intelligence (SIGINT), as well as FBI signals intelligence. And a lot of time, NSA is simply the technical provider of access, not necessarily the validator of the authorities. I’ll say that in defense of NSA. NSA sometimes would get tasked by FBI to go do X, Y, and Z.
Mr. Jekielek: They’re providing the service.
Mr. Shaffer: Providing the service. They have the pipes, they have the technicians, they have the capability. So they essentially are doing what they believe to be legitimate intelligence collection operations through the intelligence mechanisms they use, which is primarily focused on SIGINT and internet-type stuff. And they presume that when they get that tasking, to have been validated by authorities within the FBI. And this is one of those areas where, again, I think Mike Rogers and others … became very suspicious to some of the tasks that they were getting from the FBI, which resulted in them kind of, I think, taking their own internal look of trying to ascertain of some of these things being properly done. That relates back to Susan Rice again, which is the unmasking issue. NSA provides to a number of customers what they call raw SIGINT. I’ve talked a little bit about this in my book “Operation Dark Heart,” about the use of raw SIGINT in combat, and what it can do for you. What it can do in domestic situations is provide a clear three-dimensional understanding of who’s talking to who.
And what’s most frightening here is that lacking any legitimate foreign intelligence prerequisite saying that there’s a foreign intelligence collection, it gives you a great deal of ability to spy on a campaign, because you know exactly who’s talking, and then there’s the internals. The internals are the term for the actual content. So it’s one thing to track … the link analysis … It’s one thing to track that, but then go to the unmasking, which then you get to see who it is, exactly, and what they’re saying. And so this is where there’s another huge error to be looked at regarding potential and, I think, very likely abuse.
Mr. Jekielek: Presumably, Barr is going to look at CIA involvement, FBI involvement, NSA involvement. There’s also this other piece that I’m recalling. It’s that some of this data was actually given raw to contractors.
Mr. Shaffer: Yes. When I was doing this actively, the Holy Grail for NSA was raw SIGINT. You just never gave it out. I mean, Five Eyes, our allies, were the only other-than-NSA entity that could have the raw SIGINT, and even that was like pulling teeth. What happened under the Obama administration, and this has been well-documented, there were diminutions, or thresholds, regarding requirements for limiting the sharing of raw SIGINT. And that is the internals. There’s another classified term I want to say, but it basically illustrates kind of the nature of what’s going on within these conversations. And the idea that you would give these to non-sworn officers is completely insane.
In my day, you would never allow a contractor to have anything but access to finished products, because of the [Edward] Snowden issue. Snowden was a contractor who was able to get all sorts of internals, and look at the damage he did. And I think that was something we did during our time doing this in the early 2000s. Then I thought it had gone away after the Snowden thing but apparently not. The contractors were the ones who compromised all the CIA’s tools regarding their cyber hacking program. The guy’s been in jail now. So it was a contractor. And I could tell you a humorous story about Mike Pompeo. We sat down and talked to Mike about this. But we had to basically talk to the then-director of CIA about the fact that, look, when we did this on DOD, we air-gapped everything, we didn’t put things online and oh, by the way, we didn’t give it to contractors. They had to be a uniformed officer or civilian. They cannot be someone who is a contractor, who has basically has no oath of office, who has no real obligation to follow the rules and requirements protecting the information. So it’s a very dangerous thing to reopen that door.
Mr. Jekielek: Why would you do it?
Tony Shaffer: It’s a very dangerous thing to reopen that door, because I think some people want to have that information made available to others. That’s the only reason I can think of. It’s that you leave the door open because you want someone to walk through it. I don’t know who it is, but that’s the only reason you do it.
Mr. Jekielek: So, presumably, there’s another area of investigation?
Mr. Shaffer: It’s going to be a large investigation, if they do it right. It’s going to be a very large, comprehensive, very detailed investigation, absolutely.
Mr. Jekielek: What else is … we’ve covered a big part of the intelligence apparatus here. Is there anything missing?
Mr. Shaffer: Well, I think the one piece we didn’t cover—which I think is going to be critical—is how do you find people who are qualified to do the investigation?
You cannot have the FBI do it. You cannot have DOJ do it. You have to have a way of finding people who have not been tainted by the original acts of omission, commission, or legality. And you have to have people who, essentially, are going to be willing to go where the evidence leads. And it could lead to some very, very bad places. And this is why I think the left is so afraid right now of what might come out of this. And let me go on the record and say this for your audience. I think we’re going to find other candidates, besides Trump, were being spied on—if we dig deep enough.
I don’t think this was unique to Trump. I think Trump emerged as the front-runner and they had to double down, and I would argue that the whole scheme of Russian narrative was created to be a tool of punishment after the fact, after a so-called Hillary Clinton victory. This is going to be used to, essentially, destroy his career to make sure he never came back, and thereby creating conditions for, essentially, indefinite and continuous use of the intelligence community as a political tool of the Democratic Party.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s the IG, the DOJ Inspector General Horowitz … he has a report forthcoming. What do you make of that?
Mr. Shaffer: I think that’s one of the reasons the FBI leaked the information to The New York Times because I think they know it’s bad. And I think—
Mr. Jekielek: It’s the tip of the iceberg?
Mr. Shaffer: Yes, it is. Let me explain why I believe that to be true.
Horowitz is an IG, and I’ve actually talked to another IG who actually knows him and worked with him. The IGs are simply going to examine the deviations from internal policy. That is to say that, if regulation says you’ve got to shine your shoes every five days and you don’t do it every five days, you only did it four, I write that up. Now, the political consequences of you not shining your shoes is not addressed. Oh, was that something that offended the world leader when you were out and about, because you didn’t polish your shoes that day? Well, that causal link is not going to be examined. It’s just going to be you didn’t polish your shoes, and it’s going to be a violation, that’s it. So the political aspects beyond the technical examination of either the deviations, that’s it. That’s all it’s going to be.
So I think a lot of people are looking for way more to come out of Horowitz than what he could even do, legally based on being an inspector general. They’re very carefully regulated, so that he can focus on DOJ and FBI deviations of regulations and procedures. That’s it. He will not address the extended issues such as CIA. He will not address the extended issues of NSA. He will not address the extended issues of … the Steele dossier and beyond: Was this proper or not? He will never address Chris Steele. He will never address who paid for it, if it was paid for by private money. These are the things which I think Barr is going to have to do … outside of the IG investigation.
Mr. Jekielek: So, basically, these will be almost like a set of leads?
Mr. Shaffer: Yes, absolutely. Well, one would think, yes. And I think they will be very instructive and helpful in helping the attorney general scope and begin planning for extended investigations.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.