In the OIG report the focus with regard to this IM exchange is with the politically charged and anti-Trump nature of the comments, in the course of which Clinesmith uses the now well known phrase: "Viva le resistance.” However, in our discussion was focused on a different topic that is referenced in the IM exchange: the amount of money an unnamed person was paid while working for the Trump campaign. Thus, for our purposes, here is the relevant passage from the report (I've inserted the surnames for ease of reading):
The third exchange we identified was on November 22, 2016. Clinesmith sent an instant message to Moyer commenting on the amount of money the subject of an FBI investigation had been paid while working on the Trump campaign. Moyer responded, “Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?” Clinesmith replied, “Hell no.” and then added, “Viva le resistance.” Moyer responded that Trump was “going to eliminate all of our pensions in order to pay for people like” the person discussed in the instant message exchange, and Moyer and Clinesmith then began a discussion of federal pension and retirement issues.
The question, then, is: Who is this person who was apparently paid a considerable sum of money "while working on the Trump campaign"?
Commenter Mike Sylwester suggested that the person in question was Carter Page, and that the IM commentary between Clinesmith and Moyer arose from the FBI becoming aware in the course of preparing the FISA on Page that Page was a highly paid CIA asset. In that context, the two FBI lawyers were expressing surprise at the amount of money the CIA had paid Page.
I countered that Paul Manafort, as campaign manager (for a time), seemed a more likely candidate to have been paid large amounts by the Trump campaign. I also maintained that the CIA would likely never 1) identify an asset to the FBI except in dire circumstances, 2) would never identify the size of asset payments. To do either of the above would be extraordinarily amateurish tradecraft and would lead to the names of CIA assets being bandied about among nitwit FBI lawyers with absolutely no need to know about such matters.
In addition, there are two other factors that militate against Carter Page as the person in question:
Carter Page acted as an FBI asset in a Russian case that ended up in court in New York. The CIA would never want a highly paid asset to be outed in that way over what, from their perspective, would be a nickel-dime case.
Carter Page, IMO, didn't act like a highly paid asset during the campaign. To cite one example, he declined an invitation from Madeleine Albright to speak, while attending a conference of international bigwigs in Cambridge. If Page were a highly paid CIA asset that would be exactly the type of opportunity for advancing himself in influential international circles that the CIA would expect him to cultivate.
This morning commenter Anonymous supported Mike Sylwester's view by pointing out that Page has never voiced any animus toward Stefan Halper, that Halper was apparently paid by the CIA through the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), and that therefore maybe Halper was a CIA "paymaster" who distributed payments to assets such as Page. Anonymous also pointed out that Manafort seems to have worked as campaign manager gratis. (This leads to other issues. I have long wondered, despite reported explanations, how Manafort was connected to the Trump campaign. Lefty commentators have long speculated that "Russia" was paying Manafort to manage Trump's campaign. The entire Ukrainian angle, however, opens up other avenues of explanation.)
While the reasons I give above are, I believe, sufficient for rejecting Carter Page as the person in question, I would also reject generally the notion that Halper would be used by the CIA as a "paymaster" for a highly valued asset. The primary reason would be that the CIA would reject as terrible tradecraft the identification of one asset to another as an asset. Instead, there are far more secure means of funneling payments to assets--payments for contractual services, etc.
After reviewing the matter, I strongly suspect that the person in question is actually Michael Flynn. Here are my reasons.
First, we can be reasonably certain that the person in question was one of the "four Americans" whom disgraced former FBI Director Comey identified in Congressional testimony as the subjects of the FBI's enterprise CI investigation, Crossfire Hurricane. Those "four Americans" are Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. Thus, states that the person in question was "the subject of an FBI investigation."
Second, a further reason to narrow the identification down to one of the "four Americans" is that Clinesmith describes the person as having received large payments "while working on the Trump campaign." Here, I jumped to a conclusion in suggesting Manafort, thinking that this meant that the person was paid by the Trump campaign. That supposition, I now believe, was unwarranted. Clinesmith says no more than that the person received large payments while working for the Trump campaign, which leaves open the possibility that the person received payments from outside sources. That leaves all four Americans as possibilities--including Manafort, who may still have been receiving money from Oleg Deripaska or various Ukrainian oligarchs.
Third, and tellingly, Moyer appears to identify the person as someone who will soon be named to an important position in the new Trump administration--one that could command a significant salary:
Moyer responded that Trump was “going to eliminate all of our pensions in order to pay for people like” the person discussed in the instant message exchange, ...
That eliminates three of the "four Americans," because by that time, November 22, 2016, the only one of the four who was in the running for a post of any sort in the Trump administration was Michael Flynn.
The question then becomes, Did Michael Flynn receive large payments of any sort "while working on the Trump campaign"? Of course, that begs the question as to Flynn's exact relationship with the campaign--was he "working on" the campaign, or simply associated with it? I think we can ignore that in considering the IMs, because Moyer and Clinesmith would not have been making fine distinctions--they were making a different point.
The NYT has the answer for us in an article dated March 10, 2017--Michael Flynn Was Paid to Represent Turkey’s Interests During Trump Campaign. I have always believed that Flynn displayed startlingly poor judgment, given that he was actively seeking a top position in what he hoped would be a Trump administration.
WASHINGTON — The candidate he was advising last fall was running on a platform of America First. The client he was working for last fall was paying him more than $500,000 to put Turkey first.
Michael T. Flynn, who went from the campaign trail to the White House as President Trump’s first national security adviser, filed papers this week acknowledging that he worked as a foreign agent last year representing the interests of the Turkish government in a dispute with the United States.
His surprising admission, coming more than four months after the election, raised further questions about the rise and fall of a presidential confidant who was forced to resign after 24 days in office for withholding the full story of his communications with Russia’s ambassador. Even now, out of government and out of favor, Mr. Flynn and his contact with foreign figures presented a new headache for a White House eager to move on.
Mr. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, registered as a lobbyist last year but did not file papers with the Justice Department registering as a foreign agent, providing a fuller understanding of his role, until Tuesday. While he did not work directly for the Turkish government, the firm that hired him, Inovo, is owned by a Turkish-American businessman with links to leaders in Ankara and asked him to work on an issue important to the government.
The White House said that Mr. Trump did not know that Mr. Flynn was acting as a foreign agent when Mr. Trump appointed him national security adviser, a position that gave him access to classified meetings and materials. But a person briefed on the matter, who insisted on anonymity to describe private conversations, said Mr. Flynn’s lawyer contacted a lawyer for Mr. Trump’s transition team before the inauguration to ask whether Mr. Flynn should register given his work for Inovo.
The transition lawyer offered no advice, saying it was up to Mr. Flynn. After the inauguration, the person said, Mr. Flynn and his lawyer each raised it again with a White House lawyer, only to be told once more it was up to him. Mr. Flynn had no comment on Friday. His lawyer wrote the Justice Department that Mr. Flynn decided to register retroactively “to eliminate any potential doubt.”