In order to get Lindsey Graham’s point in this discussion with Harris Faulkner, first you’d have to know about the spy on Dianne Feinstein’s staff. Thanks to the collective silence of most media outlets, the audience for this argument might be somewhat limited — but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. Graham wants to know why the FBI warned Dianne Feinstein about a suspected spy but never bothered to tell Donald Trump about their suspicions over Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
“Great point,” responded The Right Scoop (starts ~2:40):
I’m gonna send a letter to Director Wray next week and ask him what is the policy? Why didn’t you tell president Trump that you had concerns about Carter Page? Is there a double standard here?
If this was a counter-intelligence investigation and not a criminal investigation, the FBI should have told President Trump they had concerns about Papadopoulos and Page. Why didn’t they do for Trump what they did for Feinstein?
Let’s not forget that the penetration in Feinstein’s case was much more significant, too. The warning from the FBI came after the man had been in Feinstein’s employ for “two decades,” as the local CBS affiliate noted last week. The FBI had evidence of direct and covert contact between the suspect and China’s intelligence operatives. Feinstein was also a high-value target as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, with access to the most sensitive information held by the US government, including from our intelligence partners around the globe. And yet, the FBI reached out to Feinstein rather than open a counter-intelligence probe with her as a potential target, even though Feinstein’s family has profited extensively through contacts with China during her tenure.
In contrast, Donald Trump was a businessman running for president with three questionable advisers. Graham doesn’t see why the FBI didn’t prioritize hygiene over investigation in that case as they did with Feinstein:
Why do you tell a Democrat when they hire somebody connected to China – it could happen to anybody’s office. When the FBI finds out that somebody’s working for us that may have connections to a foreign government, they should tell us…
When it comes to the Trump campaign, why didn’t they tell him about Papadopoulos and Cater Page? And at the end of the day, what has Carter Page done wrong? He’s still walking around a free man.
Here’s the point. A counter-intelligence investigation is designed to protect American institutions from infiltration. The right thing for the FBI to do is if they find somebody working for a political campaign, a bank, or any part of the government, is to inform the people in charge that this person you hired has got unsavory connections. That’s what they did for Feinstein. Why did they not do that when it came to Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos?
That’s a very good question … if we know for sure that the FBI didn’t give a specific warning to Trump about those three men. Are we positive about that? The FBI has said that they gave a standard security briefing to both the Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns after they locked up their respective nominations. The campaigns are responsible for properly vetting their staff and their advisers, after all, especially after getting even a generic counterintelligence briefing by the FBI about the need to do so.
If the FBI didn’t follow up when specific suspicions were raised about Carter Page, however, Graham’s got at least a good point about the differences between their treatment of Feinstein and Trump. Too bad readers of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times won’t know what Graham’s talking about.
Update: I wrote “Congress” where I meant “president.” Thanks to the Monster for the heads-up on my error.