This case presents a daunting damage and risk assessment for the U.S. intelligence community.

The FBI arrested one of its former agents Saturday on the suspicion that, before and after he left the bureau, he committed a series of crimes that include taking money from a former foreign agent and violating U.S. sanctions against Russia by working with and on behalf of an oligarch with known ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Charles McGonigal, retired since late 2018, was the special agent in charge of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York office, the largest in the bureau. Disturbingly, McGonigal’s alleged criminal relationship with foreign intelligence operatives is said to have begun while he was the head of counterintelligence operations there and continued after his retirement. Allegations included in a federal indictment against McGonigal and a former Soviet and Russian diplomat mention their use of shell companies and a forged signature to conceal the involvement of the oligarch. Another indictment just against McGonigal accuses him of taking a large cash payment from a former foreign agent while inside a car.


Now’s a good time for Joe Biden to invite the FBI into his house
A consent search would not only benefit Biden, but it would also be beneficial for the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Regarding multiple discoveries of improperly stored classified documents from Joe Biden’s time as vice president, President Biden’s lawyers assert that they “quickly turned all the classified documents over to authorities and have cooperated fully with the appropriate government agencies.” As has already been noted, that level of cooperation distinguishes the Biden documents matter from the reportedly obstruction-laden fiasco involving hundreds of sensitive documents at former President Donald Trump’s properties. If Biden wants to make an even stronger contrast between himself and Trump, there’s yet another step to take: Consent to a search of his properties.


Why the Jan. 6 committee’s 845-page report wasn’t long enough
The committee blew its chance to make needed recommendations to our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

If you haven’t yet read the final report of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, let me issue this spoiler alert: It was all Trump’s fault. In more than 800 pages of painstakingly assembled evidence, the committee convincingly makes the case that former President Donald J. Trump was the catalyst behind the violence at the Capitol and the attempts to overturn a valid 2020 presidential election. The committee’s investigation is compelling, and its findings are damning. Yet, what the committee chose not to fully investigate, and not to find, leaves a gaping hole in its otherwise impressive work.

The committee’s report failed to fully address the law enforcement and intelligence-related failures that could have prevented or mitigated the Jan. 6, 2021, violence at our nation’s Capitol. That missing piece makes it more likely than not that the domestic terrorism we saw that day could happen again. By deciding to make “Trump did it” its mantra, the committee let that message, albeit a legitimate one, get in the way of its larger mission.


Bringing down the leaders of the Oath Keepers should not be the government’s end goal.

Tuesday’s convictions of five Oath Keepers — including founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes and top deputy Kelly Meggs who were found guilty of the gravely serious charge of seditious conspiracy — may seem like game-winning goals, but they’re just critical points the Justice Department put on the board right before halftime. The government’s successful prosecution sidelines some strong players, but the captains and coaches we have reason to suspect called the shots on Jan. 6, 2021 (former President Donald Trump and his minions) remain on the field.

To win the game, special counsel Jack Smith, who’s been appointed to investigate Trump’s role in the violence of Jan. 6, needs to use the same playbook that worked against the Oath Keepers. That is, he should be looking to see if seditious conspiracy and obstruction of Congress charges are warranted for Trump and those in his inner circle.

The early Friday house invasion and attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in their California home is a reminder of something we learned in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol: that the U.S. Capitol Police Department is grossly understaffed and disgracefully underfunded. The department, which is the first line of defense as members of the House and the Senate go about their business in Washington and in their home districts, is still understaffed, its chief said in August. Speaker Pelosi was reportedly the person Friday morning’s attacker was seeking. But she wasn’t home, and her security personnel had traveled with her. That the home of the speaker, who’s second in the line of presidential succession, had no fixed police presence is confounding.

That the home of the speaker, who’s second in the line of presidential succession, had no fixed police presence is confounding.

On Monday afternoon, the Justice Department filed charges against 42-year-old David DePape on allegations of attempted kidnapping and assault with intent to retaliate against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member. In California state court, he’s expected to face charges that include attempted homicide, first-degree burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with serious bodily injury, elder abuse and threatening a public official or family member.


Days after the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, Steven D’Antuono, the head of the FBI’s Washington field office, said the FBI had no intelligence that suggested there would be anything that day but a lawful pro-Trump rally. Six months later, FBI Director Christopher Wray reiterated the claim when he told Congress that the agency he leads had had no specific “intelligence indicating that hundreds and hundreds of people were going to breach the Capitol complex.”

But at Thursday’s hearing of the House Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., touted “evidence that President Trump was aware of the risk of violence” and that “the FBI, U.S. Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police and other agencies all gathered and disseminated intelligence suggesting the possibility of violence at the Capitol prior to the riot.”


It’s time for law enforcement to wash off the stink of Oath Keepers
Nine Oath Keepers, including its founder, have been charged with seditious conspiracy, one of the most serious federal crimes.

According to The Associated Press, the names of hundreds of law enforcement officers, military troops and elected officials were among the names of 38,000 Oath Keepers on a leaked membership list analyzed by the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism. Oath Keepers is a domestic extremist group closely associated with the violence on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. Nine of its members, including its founder Stewart Rhodes, have been charged with seditious conspiracy, one of the most serious crimes in federal law.

The ADL identified over 370 individuals who appear to currently work in police agencies, and, disturbingly, some of them are active chiefs of police and sheriffs. There were also more than 100 on the lists who may be actively serving in our military. It gets worse. Analysts also found over 80 Oath Keepers were either running for or were serving in public office as recently as last month.


The Justice Department’s case for obstruction at Mar-a-Lago is growing stronger
It looks like Trump and others knew what he had, knew where it was, and knew not all of it had been returned.

After the Department of Justice’s 36-page response to former President Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review material the FBI seized from his home, we could be inching close to someone, maybe Trump himself, being charged with obstruction of justice. Tuesday’s well-crafted objections to Trump’s request constitute a simple, yet persuasive, smackdown of the Trump team’s flawed legal logic. There were a number of eyebrow-raising revelations by DOJ, but more important was the department’s subtle but sustained theme of obstruction.

In addition to learning that the FBI search uncovered 100 more classified documents than Trump had already turned over and that the sensitivity of those documents was so high FBI agents executing the search warrant didn’t all have the required clearances to handle them, we got even more evidence that the government suspects there have been attempts to obstruct its investigation.


The National Archives and the Department of Justice gave too much deference to Trump and for far too long.

If someone had told me during my FBI career that I would eventually spend five years on national television explaining the complexities of foreign counterintelligence and violent domestic terrorism, I’d have wondered “Why?” If they had said I’d be doing so because of the actions of one individual, I’d have wondered “Who?” Those questions were long ago answered. Now, since the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, and the supporting affidavit has been released, I’m being asked to explain the subtleties of document classification, which has many Americans asking “What?” As in, what do the government’s various classification labels mean, and what is at stake if there are boxes of highly classified documents stored in an unauthorized place by an unauthorized person?

We’ve learned that months before the Mar-a-Lago search, in the January transfer of documents from Donald Trump’s golf resort to the National Archives, 150 classified documents were recovered. Those documents contained about 700 pages of classified information, including “special access program” data. We also know that after a subsequent recovery and the FBI search, the total number of classified documents rose to 300. After the search, FBI agents handed a list – called a “return” – to a Trump attorney, documenting the nature of the seized items. That return revealed seizure of four sets of Top Secret documents, three sets of Secret documents and three sets of Confidential documents. Importantly, FBI agents noted that they found documents marked “Sensitive Compartmented Information” or SCI. As if this wasn’t dramatic enough, The Washington Post reported that FBI agents during the Mar-a-Lago search were looking for nuclear secrets.


Disinformation, lies and conspiracy theories are airborne and spread by contact.

The Trump death toll climbed last week. On Friday, a man armed with an assault-style rifle tried to breach security at the Cincinnati, Ohio, FBI field office. After fleeing that office, authorities say Ricky Shiffer exchanged shots with police and was eventually killed by law enforcement in a cornfield near Wilmington. The Ohio man, who was already under investigation as a potential threat, wasn’t the first deluded victim of the deadly contagion of disinformation spewing from a depraved former president and his soulless sycophants, and it’s not likely he’ll be the last.

As Alyssa Rosenberg wrote for The Washington Post, at least four of Trump’s supporters died at the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot: “Ashli Babbit, who was shot while trying to climb through a broken window; Kevin Greeson, who suffered a fatal heart attack; Benjamin Philips, who succumbed to a stroke; and Rosanne Boyland, whose official cause of death was “acute amphetamine intoxication,” but who was caught up in a crush of bodies on the Capitol grounds. Christopher Stanton Georgia died by suicide later that month after he was arrested on unlawful entry charges stemming from Jan. 6. We also know that three police officers died following their defense of our Capitol.