Accuracy in Media

As evidence continues to mount that Obama administration officials spied on President Trump’s presidential campaign and transition, mainstream media has begun looking for ways to obscure or knock down the charges.

Asha Rangappa has become a weapon in that battle.

Rangappa, who was an FBI special agent from 2002 to 2005 and has since become a correspondent for CNN and an explainer of the world of counterintelligence.

She sat for an interview with Slate that published on May 1, in which she said Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave Trump’s legal team the questions Mueller would like to ask in an interview “as a way of showing they are trying to be accommodating and not ambush the president.”

Usually “the idea of interviewing someone is that you are getting their first off-the-cuff impression or response,” she told Slate. “You don’t want them to have the chance to really prepare.”

Rangappa agreed with the interviewer that Mueller’s team has not leaked.

“It does not surprise me at all,” she said. “He has pros.”

Others say the team has continually put out leaks – sometimes floating trial balloons through the press.

She made a tour of the country to explain what is going on in Washington. She visited Wyoming for lectures in two cities and was interviewed by the state’s National Public Radio affiliate, in which she said it was extraordinary that three intelligence agencies controlled by Obama appointees – the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency – all greed Russians had infiltrated the American election.

She also pointed to the “indictment in federal court that they [Russians] were engaged in social media campaigns,” but failed to mention the Mueller team has been chided by a judge for bringing the charges – in one case against a non-existent company – without having credible evidence of wrongdoing.

Last week, Rangappa wrote a piece for the Washington Post headlined, “The FBI didn’t use an informant to go after Trump. They used one to protect him.” 

Trump is outraged over reports the FBI monitored his 2016 campaign. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has subpoenaed information on the informant and what precipitated the investigation.

“But Trump and his backers are wrong about what it means that the FBI reportedly was using a confidential source to gather information early in its investigation of possible campaign ties to Russia,” Rangappa wrote.

“The investigation started out as a counterintelligence probe, not a criminal one. And relying on a covert source rather than a more intrusive method of gathering information suggests that the FBI may have been acting cautiously – perhaps too cautiously – to protect the campaign, not undermine it.”

She told CNN that it would be too risky to reveal whom the FBI had embedded into the Trump campaign.

“I think they’re going to be trying to come up with some … negotiation, compromise, where can satisfy Congress’ request while still preserving the national security concerns,” she said.

“You remember, Wolf, it’s not just about the danger to the source in this particular case. This impacts the FBI, CIA’s ability to gather sources generally. They have to assure people that the FBI, CIA … the government will protect them.  And this is sending a strong message to all kinds of cases that the government may not be able to do that for them. It’s pretty important for Justice to find some middle ground here, I think.”

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