John Brennan’s CIA Trump Task Force by Larry C Johnson

John Brennan

I was mildly amused by Paul Sperry’s recent tweet announcing as “breaking news” that Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, set up a Task Force to target Donald Trump. This should not be considered something “new.” I reported on this almost one year ago (October 2019 to be precise). You can check out the original pieces here and here. The following provides an updated, consolidated piece.

While chatting in late October 2019 with a retired CIA colleague, he dropped a bombshell–he had learned that John Brennan set up a Trump Task Force at CIA in early 2016. One of my retired buddy’s friends, who was still on duty with the CIA in 2016, recounted how he was approached discreetly and invited to work on a Task Force focused on then Presidential candidate Donald Trump. The Task Force members were handpicked instead of following the normal procedure of posting the job. Instead of opening the job to all eligible CIA personnel, only a select group of people were invited specifically to join up. Not everyone accepted the invitation, and that could be a problem for John Brennan

A “Task Force” normally is a short term creation comprised of operations officers (i.e., guys and gals who carry out espionage activities overseas) and intelligence analysts. The purpose of such a group is to ensure all relevant intelligence capabilities are brought to bear on the problem at hand. I am not talking about an informal group of disgruntled Democrats working at the CIA who got together like a book club to grouse and complain about the brash real estate guy from New York. It was a specially designed covert action to try to destroy Donald Trump.

A “Task Force” is a special bureaucratic creation that provides a vehicle for bring case officers and analysts together, along with admin support, for a limited term project.  But it also can be expanded to include personnel from other agencies, such as the FBI, DIA and NSA. Task Forces have been used since the inception of the CIA in 1947. Here’s a recently declassified memo outlining the considerations in the creation of a task force in 1958.  The author, L.K. White, talks about the need for a coordinating Headquarters element and an Operational unit “in the field”, i.e. deployed around the world.

Screenshot_2020-09-08 CIA TASK FORCES - CIA-RDP63-00309A000100030054-4 pdf

While a “Task Force” can be a useful tool for tackling issues of terrorism or drug trafficking, it is not appropriate or lawful for collecting on a U.S. candidate for the Presidency. But Brennan did it with the blessing of the Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper.

A Task Force operates independent of the CIA “Mission Centers” (that’s the jargon for the current CIA organization chart).

So what did John Brennan do? My friends said that a Trump Task Force was running in early 2016 and may have started as early as the summer of 2015. Recruitment to Task Force included case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and admin personnel were recruited. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did.

But this was not a CIA only operation. Personnel from the FBI also were assigned to the Task Force. We have some clues that Christopher Steele’s FBi handler, Michael Gaeta, may have been detailed to the Trump Task Force (see here).

So what kind of things would this Task Force do? The case officers would work with foreign intelligence services such as MI-6, the Italians, the Ukrainians and the Australians on identifying intelligence collection priorities. Task Force members could task NSA to do targeted collection. They also would have the ability to engage in covert action, such as targeting George Papadopoulos. Joseph Mifsud may be able to shed light on the CIA officers who met with him, briefed on operational objectives regarding Papadopoulos and helped arrange monitored meetings. Was the honey pot (i.e., the attractive woman) named Azra Turk, who met with George Papadopoulos, part of the CIA Trump Task Force?

The Task Force also could carry out other covert actions, such as information operations. A nice sounding euphemism for propaganda, and computer network operations. There has been some informed speculation that Guccifer 2.0 was a creation of this Task Force.

In light of what we have learned about the alleged CIA whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella, there should be a serious investigation to determine if he was a part of this Task Force or, at minimum, reporting to them.

When I described this development last November to one friend, a retired CIA Chief of Station, his first response was, “My God, that’s illegal.” We then reminisced about another illegal operation carried out under the auspices of the CIA Central American Task Force back in the 1980s. That became known to Americans as the Iran Contra scandal.

We know one thing for certain about he work of this Task Force–it failed to produce any intelligence to corroborate the specious claim that Donald Trump was colluding with the Russians. Even though the despicable Brennan has continued to insist that Trump was/is under the thumb of Putin, he failed to provide any substantive information in the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment that supported the claim.

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29 Responses to John Brennan’s CIA Trump Task Force by Larry C Johnson

  1. Deap says:

    The curious “leaks” of Michael Cohen tapes on both Cuomo and Zucker, broadcast by Tucker Carlson, makes me think Cohen also has some Trump tapes.
    Cohen of course would be be more than willing to drop any Trump tapes into Tucker Carlson’s lap too – or at least work a tease dropping these bit player tapes on others first to weasel a Trump pardon forCohen at the 11th hour ,in return for not dumping his Trump tapes pre-election on Carlson’s lap too.
    Do you think these “leaked” Cohen tapes are just coincidentally coming out now – or was Micheal Cohen a fifth column all along, and even in direct cahoots with Brennan too? Other Trump business partners were IC assets, why not Cohen who would do anything for a buck and publicity.

  2. Deap says:

    The night before the Mueller report came out pundit Brennan on prime time TV (whomever he was working for CNN, MSNBC?) claimed Trump would be facing multiple indictments.
    The next day when his distinguished punditry proved 100% false, Brennan then claimed on prime time TV his source (sources?) were obviously wrong. And they moved quickly on to the next topic.
    Brennan was obviously operating off of some form of inside intelligence (or just making things up for effect and a paycheck?) .
    Just a few lines were uttered on both nights, but now in retrospect, Brennan did admit some sort of intelligence gathering group was passing on this critical information to him – bogus or not. He claimed was in some sort of insider loop.
    It would be good to review both those pre-and post Mueller report statements now. Who was he hoodwinking and should he have been paid for his “insights”?

  3. Deap says:

    Was Brennan’s “source” Michael Cohen?

  4. walrus says:

    Cohen is a know nothing “would be if they could be”. I have described this type before. He had no access to Trump, the person, as opposed to a tenuous business relationship with Trump the company.

  5. Fred says:

    “But Brennan did it with the blessing of the Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper. ”
    Obama isn’t mentioned at all? I wonder who was actually running the show.

  6. turcopolier says:

    IMO Obama was VERY careful about this.

  7. Fred says:

    I’m sure he was. He’s being very careful about all the current actions on the left too. He’ll be running what’s left of the democratic party, if they don’t succeed in bringing down the constitutional republic this election.

  8. TV says:

    So, where’s Durham?
    Hiding under his desk or…..making a deal for a partnership in a big time DC law firm (the swamp)?

  9. Jack says:

    For a community organizer Obama is pretty crafty. He found favor with the Chicago big money who backed him for the Illinois legislature and then the Senate. And then directly to the presidency. Now he’s best friends with David Geffen and Richard Branson and hangs out with the billionaire class.
    He is the “puppeteer” of the Democratic Party, IMO. I’m convinced that if Biden fails, Michelle will run and likely beat an establishment Republican in 2024.

  10. plantman says:

    Who do you think was the ringleader in this operation: Brennan, Comey or Clapper?
    To me, it seems most likely that it was Brennan (with Obama’s reluctant approval). Comey and Clapper don’t strike me as the kind of guys who would risk everything on an operation that could backfire.
    What I’d really like to know is whether Director Brennan communicated with elites outside the agency who might have encouraged the spying to begin with. Can you clarify this point? Does the CIA take orders or instructions from powerful-connected elites outside of the agency??

  11. scott s. says:

    It seems we know that NSA identified unreasonable queries of their comms database in 2016, leading Adm Rodgers to shut off access. Immediately after, we see FBI getting involved and setting up Crossfire Hurricane. After the election, we see FBI working with DoJ NSD to move the op into a special counsel organization which then runs the op. It appears the Senate Select Committee (Burr/Warner) was complicit in the op, not to mention Schiff.

  12. FakeBot says:

    I’m not sure Obama wants to run the Democratic party. It’s likelier he wants to secure his legacy and play a supportive role within the party rather than lead it.

  13. Deap says:

    Obama’s community organizing skills are null. It was only a title; never an actual product. He will remain the token figure head of the party; but hot heads under the radar are now its life and blood of the Democrat party today. With no small dose of our tax dollars.
    Democrats produce nothing; they only consume. There is a brewing turf war within the Democrat party between their historic connection to the government unions and the new socialists – two very different forces with two very different goals. Ironically, the Democrat government unions created the new wave of Democrat socialists.
    Watch how this play out – Biden is clueless about what is now seething under his titular party head. Didn’t Biden promise he would put Alexandra Cortez in a key administrative position?

  14. akaPatience says:

    I remember the eye-opening essay about the CIA Trump task force, especially in light of Brennan’s self-assured posture that only briefly slumped (along with all of his brethren on the Left) when the Mueller report finally came out and dashed such great expectations. We can only hope that the Durham probe will expose and at the very least somehow strongly condemn and spell out WITH EVIDENCE in no uncertain terms any seditious activity. After hearing that Trey Gowdy doubts any more prosecutions will come of the probe, I’m not going to hold my breath for perp walks.
    Laughably, the Left’s still beating that same old Russian Dead Horse though. Just as with the DNC’s lackluster national convention, I’m surprised, almost shocked actually, that in spite of the overwhelming support of the “creative class”, Democrats can’t come up with a better hoax. On the other hand I can’t remember the last time I was dying to see a new film, buy a new book or recording, or tune into a new TV drama, so while it could just be me, I suspect the “creative class” ain’t quite what it used to be…
    Re: Michael Cohen comments: I have to agree with walrus and take exception to the MSM characterization of Cohen as “Trump’s personal attorney”. My husband and I have a small real estate company but even so, we’ve simultaneously employed several attorneys for various personal and business needs and our holdings are minuscule compared to Trump’s. SO I seriously doubt that the MSM’s inference about Cohen’s role and insight into Trump’s private and business dealings – that he knows all – is greatly exaggerated.

  15. Deap says:

    Cohen does not need to “know all”, if he was recording Trump. He just has to dole out a few juicy sound bites prior to Nov, with our without context when they did contact each other pre-2016.
    Cohen’s chance to make Trump squirm since Cohen just demonstrated he was willing to do this to Cuomo and Zucker – so will he or won’t he IF he has Trump tapes too – just crude talk at this point would not be welcome as Trump tries to take the edge off his usual “gruff” personality.
    No magic carpet to the White House for anyone. I also think people don’t like giving any race like this away too early in the game – all the prior elections have swung back and forth almost daily, until they finally broke on election day.
    Even John McCain and Romney were still nip and tuck until the final hours if one watched certain indicators. Ironically, the only race called conclusively before election day was Clinton-Trump 2016, and we know how that finally worked out. So more cat (Trump) and mouse (Biden) on a seesaw for a few more months.
    All of which begs to say, where the heck is the Durham Report and when will we start seeing accountability for Democrat/Obama high crimes and misdemeanors?
    There is a deep cynicism even in California that “no one gets punished” for anything any more, unless you are unlucky enough to be a law abiding, responsible person. Everyone else gets a free ride and a double standard of justice – and it is causing a lot of anger out here. “Law and order” is a building hunger our west.

  16. Christie says:

    I hope Larry or someone on this forum can discuss this new Mondoweiss piece, pertaining mostly to the G2, Flynn, and Steele material:
    Various independent media journalists covered the ‘favor’ Flynn did for Israel, but not the MSM.
    This Lee Smith piece may have been discussed here before, but if not, comments would be welcome on that as well.
    “How Russiagate Began with Obama’s Iran Deal Domestic Spying Campaign”,

  17. Bill H says:

    Where is the Durham Report? Hahaha. We’ve had the Durham Report. One small fish indicted. That’s it. Were you really expecting more?
    I said when the “investigation” was first made public that it was a red herring, a tool to keep us from making noise because we would be pinning our hopes on this “report” that would make everything wonderful. I said then that it would never be anything but a pacifier dangling in front of our noses, like a carrot keeping a donkey dragging the cart along.

  18. akaPatience says:

    Correction: I meant to say I DON’T doubt the MSM’s characterization of Cohen’s insight is exaggerated.
    Back to the main topic: I wonder if, as in the FBI anti-Trump efforts, there’s any damning CIA electronic evidence like texts or emails?

  19. Deap says:

    This article came out in May 2020 – essentially why did Obama want to frame Flynn?
    It was Iran-gate; not Russia-Gate that drove the Obama spying and the Russia-gate cover-up, according to this author.. Was this the motivation for the Trump Task Force in your post- to spy on Team Trump to learn if they were going to undo Obama’s Iran “legacy”, particularly since Flynn was advising them?
    The Flynn Spygate unraveling is far more credible as Iran-gate, and ties up many of the very loose ends, much better than the Russia-gate nonsense. If this is the more credible explanation of Obama’s Spygate, what happened after this article was published several months ago in May, during the height of the “pandemic”. Has this theory been debunked?
    And is its current article re-circulation right now tying Obama to Iran-gate spying the reason Adam Schiff, out of no where, is back to screaming Russia-gate yet again?
    And everyone else on the left is back to screaming high crimes, misdemeanors and impeachment ……yet again. Gheesh – long and complicates article but it did gel for me. Including explaining the always mysterious role played by Samatha Powers, the Queen of US Unmaskers.
    Still waiting to hear more about Obama’s Ambassador to that tiny Italian enclave San Marino, that got in his licks unmasking Flynn too. Who was he fronting at the time. And why San Marino?

  20. Deap says:

    Connecting the dots – Obama’s San Marino Ambassador unmasks Micheal Flynn
    The Atlantic Media Company, parent company of the Atlantic Magazine the wife of Obama’s former US Ambassador to Italy – Linda Douglass -, who himself had been curiously caught up among the many 11th hour unmaskings of Gen Flynn. For as yet undisclosed reasons.
    Atlantic Magazine, part of the Atlantic Media Group, now partly owned by Steve Job’s very wealthy widow Laurane Jobs and rabid anti-Trumper, is taking great delight dropping bogus bombs against Trump, that can’t even last for a 24 hour credibility cycle. With the promise of many more to come.
    Will Linda Douglass be delving into her husband and San Marino Ambassador’s great treasure trove of Obama era unmaskings to provide these daily TDS hit pieces? A classified no-no. Or just continue to make stuff up.
    Or does this recent leftist media hit piece frenzy mean Russia-gate, Iran-gate and/or Obama Spy-gate is finally going to be broken open?
    Such a small, small world. Why was Obama’s Ambassador to San Marino unmasking Micheal Flynn? And his wife just happens to now work for the Atlantic Magazine.

  21. j. casey says:

    Mr. Johnson:
    May I suggest an article updating the recent moves in the Flynn case? Looks like the prosecution is playing to time?

  22. Jimmy_W says:

    Iran-Gate might be the motivating, proximate cause for Obama to approve the overall “counterintelligence” mission. With Russia-Gate the legal cover / excuse. For Brennan / Comey / et al, however, it does not seem like the personal reason for their involvement. The Trump anti-Borg inclinations is probably what motivated the Borg to go after him.

  23. Artemesia says:

    Deap, my initial reaction to your mention of an Italian connection was to point to Michael Ledeen, Flynn’s co-author and, apparently, consultant – colleague.
    Ledeen is known for his Italian connections — he is thought to have been responsible for the yellow-cake fabrication that pushed along Iraq war.
    But the SanMarino connection appears to be on the other side of the ledger that Ledeen inhabits — tho one should put nothing past that crafty warmonger.

    “Iran has long been Ledeen’s bête noir, arguing that .the country has been heavily involved in supporting attacks against U.S. forces in hotspots across the globe.[9] “No matter how well we do, no matter how many high-level targets we eliminate, no matter how many cities, towns, and villages we secure, unless we defeat Iran we will always be designing yet another counterinsurgency strategy in yet another place. We are in a big war, and Iran is at the heart of the enemy army.” ‘

    If Flynn’s anti-Iran sentiments are as unhinged as Ledeen’s, then I have little sympathy for his troubles, even though it appears that Ledeen’s view prevailed in the Trump administration. Flynn: twice back-stabbed.
    I followed John Kerry’s and Wendy Sherman’s negotiations carefully; I listened to hours and hours of the Congressional debates over the deal — not a treaty, the debates seemed a sop to Congress; I listened as Iranian representatives (Mousavian, iirc) explained that the Deal was not good for Iran and most Iranians understood that, but that Iranians would go along to show good faith; because they were backed into a corner; and because of the belief that an Iran that was engaged in robust trade with Europeans & others would “come in from the terror cold.” I was at American University when Obama announced that the JCPOA was affirmed.
    From an “America First” perspective I endorse(d) Obama’s vision, as the Forward article explained it:

    “[JCPOA} was his instrument to secure an even more ambitious objective—to reorder the strategic architecture of the Middle East.
    Obama did not hide his larger goal. He told a biographer, New Yorker editor David Remnick, that he was establishing a geopolitical equilibrium “between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran.” According to The Washington Post’s David Ignatius, another writer Obama used as a public messaging instrument, realignment was a “great strategic opportunity” for a “a new regional framework that accommodates the security needs of Iranians, Saudis, Israelis, Russians and Americans.”
    The catch to Obama’s newly inclusive “balancing” framework was that upgrading relations with Iran would necessarily come at the expense of traditional partners targeted by Iran—like Saudi Arabia and, most importantly, Israel. Obama never said that part out loud, but the logic isn’t hard to follow: Elevating your enemy to the same level as your ally means that your enemy is no longer your enemy, and your ally is no longer your ally.”

    From my America First pov, “rebalancing” USA relations such that Israel — not a formal ally and never a trustworthy informal ally (ask survivors of USS Liberty), and other states in MidEast all held positions on a more level playing field in the eyes of American foreign policy, is appealing.
    The Forward article failed to mention Ledeen, but it was, unsurprisingly, unapologetically pro-Israel and from a decidedly Jewish perspective.
    The Forward’s tone and underlying assumptions were and are offensive to me.

  24. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Regarding the statement
    “The Task Force members were handpicked instead of following the normal procedure of posting the job.
    Instead of opening the job to all eligible CIA personnel, only a select group of people were invited specifically to join up.”
    Two questions naturally arise:
    Who was doing the selection, and
    was the politics of the candidates a factor, perhaps a very big factor, in the selection process?
    For another case where “the right people” were requested by a political officer, consider this:
    Flynn Docket #231 (dated 2020-06-24), Strzok’s Notes, quotes “P” saying:
    “Make sure you look at this [matters dealing with Flynn] – have the right people on it”.
    This was also mentioned in a Senate floor speech by Chuck Grassley:
    “Right” to whom, and by what criteria?
    Did the FBI director not know this was an important matter, which required the best investigators?
    In any case, we can see who was put on it, such Trump-haters as Strzok, Page, and Clinesmith.
    Just Trump’s bad luck, or something more deliberate?

  25. Deap says:

    Artemesia, thanks for your insights.
    There was not really an “Italian” connection in the Iran-gate piece bur rather the curiosity why Obama’s Italian ambassdor had interests in unmasking Michael Flynn, since his name showed up on the odd list of Obama persons who did unmask Flynn.
    His name being there – Ambassador Phillips – may have been there due to his other Obama connections, or his wife Linda Douglass’ Obama connections. Or his wife’s current connection to the tabloid Atlantic Magazine.
    Not really anything Italian per se, or even wee San Marino. Other than perhaps a mutual veneration for things Machiavellian-as this unfolding story twists and turns..

  26. Jack says:

    Math majors…what is the likelihood that more than 10 top Mueller officials all put their phones in airplane mode and then forgot the password and used too many passwords to wipe em out?
    Wouldn’t the network carriers have all the communications from these phones including text messages?
    Adam Housley a former Fox reporter who broke some big stories during his time, has been tweeting that there are more people likely to be indicted than Clinesmith in the Russia Collusion hoax probe.
    Unless these happen in the next few weeks it will depend on who wins the election. If Biden wins the coupsters will be home free to get their own Netflix series.
    It would appear that the Mueller special counsel was a corrupt attempt to cover up the origins and machinations to frame an opposition presidential candidate and then oust a duly elected president.

  27. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Re:All those SCO lawyers having their phones wiped/erased.
    If that isn’t a conspiracy, then what is?
    Of course it was manifest conspiracy.
    That shows you why so many people, in the media, in politics, in social media,
    have made such an effort to demonize “conspiracy theories.”
    So that when real conspiracies arise and are uncovered, describing them as what they truly are can be derided.

  28. Deap says:

    LJ,, the Brennan secret Trump Task Force is finally getting some wider publicity.
    Red State is now running a story with links to more articles about this – the Corpulent Vindman
    . We heard it here first from you as you point out – a long time ago. So how frustrating is it when you know about something like this, and it does not get the immediate traction it should be getting but maybe it needs to wait for wider context ……and an organic acceptability in the readers themselves which may well be closer now to the Durham report/cases coming to fruition:
    Let’s see where the now “breaking” info about the separate Brennan Trump Task Force finally breaks now. It does tie into Brennan lying under oath, does it not? Look how long it took to dig into Benghazi and still don’t think the story ever finally came together – what was the CIA really doing there with such a large base, and why were they running the cover story it was consulate – you busted that one too.

  29. Deap says:

    Explosive stuff – RedState – Digging into the Corpulent Vindman”:
    VIPS to the forefront for a must read:
    ……”Some former and still-serving members of the US Intelligence Community speculate that the Obama administration compromised communications security in the White House and National Security Council prior to Inauguration Day 2017.
    Their goal was setting traps for privileged classified communications that could be collected and spun by trusted agents in the media to undermine Trump policies, and to sow suspicion and discord among Trump White House/NSC personnel.
    This would involve setting up long-dwell passive collect-and-store sensors that would gather information for later downloading by Obama embeds loyal to former CIA Director John Brennan or former FBI Director James Comey who remained in the White House and on the NSC staff with access.
    Another possibility is that the previously existing White House fiber optic networks might have been spliced or tapped by induction at some point outside the walls of the facility/building, at which point the data could be routed clandestinely to an external collection source, and perhaps decrypted using codes provided by those same Obama embeds.
    Either way, these measures might have been implemented by the Obama embeds to ensure that the passive sensors were protected from detection by periodic communications security sweeps aimed at detecting communications compromises, bugs, and unauthorized taps.
    It is quite possible that the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) would agree with this assertion based on past disclosures from the organization. Note that a key member of VIPS is William Binney, a former senior technical officer at the National Security Agency and whistleblower who argued convincingly on technical grounds that the DNC server was not hacked by Russia, but rather that information was downloaded internally and leaked by an insider, as reported here. ……..

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