Democrats defend FBI following reports it spied on Trump's election campaign

President Trump and prominent Republicans have responded to reports that one or more Federal Bureau of Information informants played a central role in the Justice Department investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Trump campaign collusion by stepping up their charges of a political witch-hunt.

On Wednesday night, the New York Times posted a front-page article detailing the far-reaching intervention of the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency in the Trump election campaign, even as the FBI was intervening against the campaign of Hillary Clinton through its investigation of Clinton’s emails. Trump responded with a series of tweets denouncing the Russia investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Included in the 4,000-word Times account was the assertion that “at least one government informant met several times with [Trump campaign aides] Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.”

The Washington Post reported Friday: “The source is a US citizen who has provided information over the years to both the FBI and the CIA, as the Post previously reported, and aided the Russia investigation both before and after Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, according to people familiar with his activities.”

Indicating that the informant is involved in other intrigues by US police and spy agencies both abroad and within the US, the Post added, “The stakes are so high that the FBI has been working over the past two weeks to mitigate the potential damage if the source’s identity is revealed, according to several people familiar with the matter. The bureau is taking steps to protect other live investigations that the person has worked on and is trying to lessen any danger to associates if the informant’s identity becomes known, said these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence issues.”

Trump tweeted Wednesday that “the Obama FBI ‘SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH EMBEDDED INFORMANT.’ If so, this is bigger than Watergate!”

On Friday, he said of reports of an FBI informant inside his 2016 campaign, “if true” it is the “all time biggest political scandal!”

Congressional Republicans and right-wing media outlets such as Breitbart News are escalating their demands that Justice Department officials overseeing Mueller’s probe honor subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence Committee for documents on the origins of the investigation, including information on the reported FBI spies.

In an interview given Thursday to the pro-Trump Sinclair Broadcasting Group, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (Republican from California) reiterated his call for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the documents.

The Democratic response has been to rush to the defense of the FBI and declare unqualified support for its operations, as well as those of the Central Intelligence Agency and other federal police and security agencies. The Democrats are backing FBI Director Christopher Wray, who told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that the agency opposed revealing the identity of its informants to Congress, which legally and constitutionally has oversight power over the FBI.

Wray justified this assertion of unchecked police powers on the grounds that revealing the identity of “human sources” would jeopardize “their lives and the lives of their families.” Invoking the justification for police state measures that have been implemented on the pretext of fighting the “war on terror,” he added, “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.”

The latest developments in the political warfare in Washington underscore the reactionary and anti-democratic character of both factions within the ruling class and the state. For the working class, there is absolutely nothing to choose from in the struggle between the ultra-nationalist, anti-immigrant and pro-corporate forces fronted by the billionaire real estate and gambling mogul and the no less pro-corporate allies of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency who are represented by the Democratic Party and most of the corporate media.

The Democrats are doing nothing to oppose Trump’s attacks on Medicaid, food stamps and a host of other social programs, or his tax handouts for the rich. They fully support his massive increase in military spending. They instead oppose Trump from the reactionary standpoint that he is “too soft” on Russia and too reluctant to escalate the US military intervention in Syria. This is combined with concerns that he is not up to confronting the threat to the entire political and economic system posed by the growing resistance of the working class to capitalist austerity and inequality.

Minority Leader Charles Schumer (Democrat from New York) responded to Trump’s tweets in a speech delivered Thursday from the floor of the Senate. Schumer declared: “I would say to the president, it’s not a ‘witch-hunt’ when 17 Russians have been indicted. It’s not a witch-hunt when some of the most senior members of the Trump campaign have been indicted. It’s not a witch-hunt when Democrats and Republicans agree with the intelligence community that Russia interfered in our election to aid President Trump.”

In other words, it’s not a witch-hunt if the intelligence and police agencies of the capitalist state—responsible for countless crimes, assassinations, wars, frame-ups and coups, all based on lies—say it’s not a witch-hunt.

Friday’s Washington Post carried an op-ed piece by Democratic columnist Ruth Marcus headlined “The witches are real.” She wrote: “Our system—in particular, a Justice Department that is part of the executive branch but that maintains necessary independence from political meddling; prosecutors who operate in appropriate secrecy but within guidelines and with judicial oversight—is working as intended…

“Nothing in the conduct of the Mueller probe suggests anything other than the diligent professionalism that he is known for.”

No evidence has been presented to substantiate the allegations of Russian government “meddling” in the US elections or the claim that Vladimir Putin was instrumental in tipping the electoral vote to Trump. The widely cited “proof” of Russian efforts on social media to “sow discord,” discredit American “democracy” and boost Trump actually points to the concocted character of the entire anti-Russian narrative. The alleged purchase by unidentified Russians of $100,000 worth of Facebook ads, even if true, would be less than a footnote in a $4 billion presidential campaign.

On the other hand, the recent press reports add to a wealth of information showing that the US intelligence and spy agencies, operating behind the backs of the American people and without any democratic accountability, manipulated the 2016 elections on a scale that massively outweighed anything Moscow could have attempted.

The real threat to the democratic rights of the American people comes not from Russia or foreign terrorists, but from the US government itself, which is completely controlled by a vast military/intelligence complex allied to the financial oligarchy. Both major parties are beholden to this “deep state” machine for surveillance and repression.

The Democratic Party evinces not the slightest concern or opposition to this police state apparatus. Its ringing defense of the FBI and CIA coincides with its critical role in supplying the votes necessary to confirm “black site” torturer Gina Haspel as CIA director earlier this week.

It comes, moreover, in the midst of a congressional election campaign in which the Democratic Party is fielding dozens of candidates—one quarter of all Democratic challengers in competitive House districts—who come from the intelligence agencies, command positions in combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan, or civilian positions in the Pentagon, State Department or National Security Council.

The author also recommends:

The CIA Democrats (Pamphlet available from Mehring Books)
[7 March 2018]