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The Hoarse Whisperer @HoarseWisperer
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Since this has been lightly reported in the U.S. but seems to be newsworthy, here’s an interesting-ish tidbit on how the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation began and gained steam...

According to the reporting and official testimony, the FBI began investigating Trump-Russia at least in part because of intelligence tracking back to Trump aide George Papadopolous.

The FBI had allegedly gotten wind of:

1) Papadopolous’ conversations with Russian actors about hacked emails “damaging to Clinton”

2) The possibility he was working toward facilitating Trump-Russia collusion on the acquisition, use and/or release of those emails

Not long after the FBI had allegedly picked up the Papadopolous scent, an Australian diplomat, Andrew Downer, just so happened to find himself at a wine bar with a drunk and chatty George Papadopolous.

What a coincidence!

During their long, boozy bender, Papadopolous told Downer about the existence of the hacked emails.

Downer than reported that intel back to Australian officials who then passed it on to U.S. Intel - which thus confirming the basis for an investigation.

According to a report in an Australian paper this week, the FBI then set up a hasty meeting with Downer to debrief on his intel.

The expediency of that meeting suggests the FBI was already on red alert even before that tip though.…

Diplomatic protocols aren’t quickly shunted aside and the FBI doesn’t hustle up meetings just because some low-level rando shared some drunken gossip.

So, the official narrative is likely just a convenient cover. Downer wasn’t a witness; he was an operative.

Along those lines, we learned this week that our intel guys tapped an informant to reach out to Papadopolous and Carter Page.

The informant, a professor, got together with Papa for drinks and tried to get him talking.

Jeez, that sounds familiar.

That’s what Andrew Downer, did... and Downer did it *before* the investigation officially even began.

Let that one sit for a minute.

An informant was running an intel op on Trump-Russia collusion earlier than the public story admits.

So, the question is: Who tapped Downer for that assignment?

Well, it could have been the Australian intel unit known as the ASIO.

Downer has more than his fair share of connections to the ASIO - which isn’t shocking for a diplomat.

The wrinkle though: Australia is a member of the “Five Eyes” agreement - the five-nation intelligence-sharing pact which includes the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.K..

Under the Five Eyes deal, all five countries are required to share intel with the other four.

So, putting an informant from one of the other countries to work on something is little different than tapping one of your own guys.

Translation: with U.S. intel already on the Trump-Russia trail, sending in Downer was just as good as sending in an American professor.

In fact, it was better. It aroused less suspicion from Papa. It got him talking...

...and most importantly, it yielded a tidy public rationale for the Trump-Russia investigation that masks whatever sensitive intelligence actually prompted Downer to be deployed in the first place.

For us, this makes for slightly interesting news.

First, it suggests the U.S. was on the Trump-Russia trail as it was going down.

They were watching and collecting intel at it was unfolding.

The implications are pretty tasty/

Our intel operations have likely known exactly what happened from the start...

...and as a result, the Mueller investigation is more about building cases against the main players and supporting cast than uncovering the central crimes.

Our intelligence assets and partners followed the story in real-time.

Mueller is fleshing out the supporting evidence to prosecute the actors...

...and half of that exercise is solely to keep from burning your intel ops just to prosecute one set of crimes.

In other words, prosecuting crimes uncovered by sensitive intelligence is mostly an exercise in finding other evidence to use instead.

It’s not about investigating who did what.

It’s about not blowing up your intelligence assets to prove it.

While it feels to us like Mueller is a detective hunting for clues, it’s clear the detectives were on the case from the start.

Mueller is connecting the minor players to the crime; proving the conspiracy; and building cases for prosecution.

This may seem like wonky small-ball but taken together, it is becoming increasingly clear:

Mueller and team are less “investigating collusion” and more building a prosecution of the syndicate involved.

That’s a positive - even if it’s somewhat agonizing to wait for...

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