Lee Smith at Real Clear Investigations has a lengthy analysis of the early contacts with Trump campaign official prior to the official launch of the FBI’s counterintelligence probe known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”

How extensive the FBI or other US intelligence/law enforcement agencies’ contacts with Trump campaign advisers were prior to the July 31, 2016 start date for the official investigation has been a great mystery for journalists and congressmen willing to ask.

Congressman Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has been trying to get to the bottom of these contacts and the exact origin of the FBI probe for several months and has still been met with stonewalling from the Justice Department.

Smith has detailed as many as seven contacts with Trump campaign figures that have been made public:

Before the FBI began investigating the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia in an operation code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” there were at least seven different instances when campaign advisers were approached with Russia-related offers. Most of those contacts — including Donald Trump Jr.’s much-publicized meeting with a Russian lawyer and others in June 2016 — offered the prospect of information damaging to Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

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Two of these approaches were made by one U.S. government informant already publicly identified as such, Stefan Halper. Another was made by a man who swore in court that he had worked as an FBI informant. Two others were made by figures associated with Western intelligence agencies. Another two approaches included political operatives, one foreign, with ties to the Clintons.

That’s a lot of interactions with the Trump campaign at the hands of US intel affiliates. All of them, coincidentally, had the same offer: Dirt on Hillary from the Russians.

Smith’s reporting suggests that’s not a coincidence:

But Mark Wauck, a former FBI agent with experience in such tactics, sees an effort at entrapment. “What appear to have been repeated attempts to implicate the Trump campaign, in some sort of quid pro quo arrangement with Russians who claimed to have ‘dirt’ on Hillary,” Wauck told RealClearInvestigations, “look like efforts to manufacture evidence against members of the Trump campaign or create pretexts to investigate it.”

At the same time, in early spring, the Clinton campaign commissioned, through its law firm, the Washington, D.C.-based communications firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. The result was the infamous 35-page dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

And we know that dossier was used to justify at least one FISA surveillance warrant against one fo the Trump figures targeted by these initial contacts, Carter Page.,

As of this date, there has been no public evidence presented to suggest that there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government for the purpose of meddling or obstructing in the 2016 presidential election. Furthermore, the dossier that is at the center of so much of the justification of the initial investigation as well as Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel appointment has been labeled “salacious and unverified” by none other than former FBI Director James Comey and no evidence has been presented to dispute that claim.

Smith’s reporting is detailed and thorough and the entire article deserves your attention.

Two key take aways:

The efforts to bait the Trump camp into accepting some kind of “dirt” on Hillary from the Russians sure smells like entrapment. And, despite all the efforts, the only contact that developed into anything was the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. which was coordinated by a figure connected with Fusion GPS, the same company who assembled the bogus Steele dossier. And that meeting, it appears, was a non-event.

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