Suppose you're part of a team of investigators and prosecutors targeting a major subject. You've had a "wiretap" on an associate of your subject--we'll call the subject "Donald" and the wire a "FISA"--since, oh, let's say since late October, 2016. Your FISA has turned up NOTHING. Zero, zilch, nada. It's now January, 2017, and Donald is scheduled to enter into a position of considerable power. What do you do?
You "tickle the wire." In other words, you create some activity that you hope might cause Donald to talk indiscretely--maybe to an informant, maybe over the phone, maybe in some other type of electronic communication.
In this case you send a weasel into the Donald's den. We'll call that weasel, "Jim." His job is to stir things up by telling Donald that people who just might know are saying outrageous things about him. The hope is that Donald will speak indiscretely to Jim or maybe communicate indiscretely. Then, just for good measure, you leak the whole thing to a friendly "news" network--your co-conspirator. We'll call that network "CNN."
And nothing happens. NOTHING. Except that a couple of months later Donald claims he was being wiretapped.
Question: What are the chances that Donald really was being wiretapped and that Jim was trying to "tickle the wire"?
Parry is very suspicious, and rightly so. I mean, I don't know, but it sure makes sense to me:
Now, to place these events into proper context, the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign (ludicrously code-named “Crossfire Hurricane”) had been underway since mid-summer 2016. As part of that investigation, in October 2016, the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to conduct electronic surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page and, by extension, the Trump campaign. That warrant was in effect for 90 days and was renewed again in January 2017 for another 90 days. The result was that the FBI’s electronic eavesdropping operation continued past Election Day and covered the Trump presidential transition and early days in the White House.
In other words, when Comey met with Trump, the FISA surveillance had been underway for three months and was ongoing. Given that no charges have ever been brought against Carter Page, it would appear that by the time of Comey’s approach to Trump, the FISA surveillance had been a dry hole. So it was that Comey resorted to the time-tested technique of “tickling the wire” by meeting with Trump and trying to scare him with tales of Moscow hookers and compromising tapes. And CNN’s reporting on the subject only increased the desired level of agitation.
Even if, as indeed turned out to be the case, Trump did not blurt out anything incriminating during the meeting, the possibility remained that he or his associates would be spurred to make damaging statements and admissions in their wire or oral communications. And, if that happened, the FBI would be intercepting and recording every word.
It makes sense. Trump may not have been the named subject of the FISA--that was Carter Page--but we've seen how that worked.
Nothing surprising here, but it does put an interesting spin on things. On the way the FBI was gunning for the President of the United States. Like J. E. Dyer, I really want to know the truth of this. I also really want to see it all wrapped up in a conspiracy indictment.
UPDATE: Jeff Carlson gets it. Comey lied to Congress, was running an investigation targeting Trump, but didn't have an open case file naming Trump as the subject--Comey’s Trump Tower Meeting Was Used for FBI’s Counterintelligence Investigation:
Former FBI Director James Comey’s first meeting with then-President-elect Donald Trump appears to have been part of the agency’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
Comey has described the Jan. 6, 2017, briefing at Trump Tower as a defensive briefing intended to inform the president-elect of salacious allegations contained in the so-called “Steele dossier.”
He had testified to Congress on June 8, 2017, that he “was briefing [Trump] on it because, because we had been told by the media it was about to launch. We didn’t want to be keeping that from him. He needed to know this was being said. I was very keen not to leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to him.”
Comey’s testimony to Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz, as part of the agency’s investigation into Comey, however, paints a different picture.
Comey told Horowitz that the information he obtained from his conversation with Trump “ought to be treated … [like] FISA derived information or information in a [counterintelligence] investigation.” In other words, his meeting with Trump had very direct surveillance overtones and intentions—and directly counters what he had testified to Congress.
According to his congressional testimony, Comey had told Trump at the Jan. 6, 2017, meeting that he wasn’t under investigation by the FBI, noting, “sir, we’re not personally investigating you.”
Prior to the meeting with Trump at Trump Tower, Comey met with FBI officials involved in the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the Trump campaign to discuss a strategy to obtain information and how to memorialize it right after the meeting.