Spygate Indictments Coming, Says Former Intelligence Operative Tony Shaffer

August 15, 2019 Updated: August 30, 2019

What is the status of the different investigations into the investigators headed by Attorney General William Barr, and what should the attorney general do next?

How, according to former intelligence operative Tony Shaffer, did former CIA director John Brennan appear to have a “critical role” in starting the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.

What does the fact that no “defensive briefings” were given to campaign members tell us about whether they were actually approached by Russian operatives?

This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

Today we sit down with Tony Shaffer, who was a senior intelligence officer in the Department of Defense, and is now acting president of the London Center for Policy Research. He’s also an advising producer for National Geographic, and a member of the Trump 2020 advisory board.

We discuss the current status of Attorney General William Barr’s investigations and why, according to Shaffer, indictments are forthcoming.

In addition, we consider what we can expect from the Hong Kong protests and the Chinese regime, from the perspective of a former intelligence operative.

Mr. Jekielek: Tony Shaffer, wonderful to have you back again on American Thought Leaders.

Mr. Shaffer: Good to be here again. Good to be here in the greatest city on earth, New York. Thank you for coming up and talking to me again.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s wonderful. And, I mean, we talked last May. I think this was around the time when the Attorney General Barr, he had just gotten his mandate I think. And we were doing a bit of speculation about where things could go, what he should investigate. So where have things gone since? What are you aware of?

Mr. Shaffer: Well, the IG report, I think, is helping to shape a lot of the attorney general’s thinking about what to do next. There has been credible reporting that criminal referrals were issued for leaking classified information by a number of people to include a guy named Jim Comey, which they deferred to prosecutors. That is to say that the IG recommended prosecution, it went to the Department of Justice, and then Barr decided not to prosecute. Now, a lot of people were upset about that. I’m not because I think there’s more to come, to the point. I think a lot of that information that they’re receiving is now going to the criminal side for additional investigation. You don’t want to go after someone for something minor if you think they’ve actually done something major. It’s like grabbing someone for moping with intent to loiter versus someone who did a murder and you want to go get him for that. You don’t want to charge him prematurely before you get all the evidence. So I think that’s what’s going on.

The second piece of this has been I think missed [by] the general public but equally important. As you review the foreign counter intelligence operations that were ongoing during the period of ‘15, ’16, and into ’17, there’s two factors you have to examine first. Some of these operations were probably legitimate foreign counterintelligence operations. That is to say that there—despite the drama we’ve seen—there were actually spies attempting to suborn U.S. citizens to steal information. So anything that is a legitimate, sanctioned operation that should be focused on preventing the loss of technology, critical information, or access to individuals with access to the U.S. government, those are legitimate operations that should be maintained.

Separate from that, as we’ve seen with [Joseph] Mifsud, with [George] Papadopoulos, and others, there’s an appearance that the very foundation of foreign counterintelligence operations were essentially not justifiable. As a matter of fact, not a single Russian was involved. So it’s hard to justify an operation where you’re attempting to indict people or entice people to have contact with the Russians if there’s no Russians involved. So that’s the thing. You have to establish legitimate operations, maintain those, and separate out those surgically that were either illegal or ill thought or otherwise compromised from the beginning. The bottom line is no one wants to compromise real U.S. national security, but we have constitutional requirements for accountability. And that’s, I think, what Barr’s trying to sort through right now.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so let’s talk a little bit about these characters. But you said something really interesting, which is that there were no Russians involved. So John Solomon recently has obtained this Mifsud’s audio testimony. If we believe it, it implies that there weren’t any Russians. That’s kind of a bombshell thing to say, to me. What do you mean there were no Russians involved?

Mr. Shaffer: So, from personal experience–we talked about this, I think in sometime over the last few interviews–I was actually targeted by the Anna Chapman network. The first thing that happened when the FBI detected that, they were obligated, no matter what my background is, me being a former line intelligence officer, knowing all the tricks, their first obligation was to come give me a defensive briefing. I, as a U.S. citizen, had the right to not be accosted by the FBI for anything I did or not do by the fact that I was not in contact with the Russians, the Russians were planning to contact me, therefore, the FBI came and briefed me.

Not a single defensive briefing was provided at any point to any member of the Trump campaign, despite the fact that there were Russians, Russians, Russians all over the place. So there’s only one way of explaining that. If there were no actual Russian agents, and I challenge you to go look, has any legitimate Russian name of a Russian operative ever been brought up other than through Fusion GPS? Has there been any names of any Russian operatives who were attempting, as a foreign asset, attempting to contact the Trump campaign? No, it’s been [Stefan] Halper. It’s been Mifsud. It’s been [Alexander] Downer. Those aren’t Russian guys. Those aren’t Russian assets.

But they were portraying themselves or enticing members of the Trump campaign to either entice them to have contact with the Russians or imply they had contact with the Russians. There’s no Russian … they’re there for the Russians at this point as far as I can tell, and nor is any source I’ve spoken to indicated to me that there’s some secret source or something that they’re holding back on. It just doesn’t exist. So that’s what it is. It’s apparent for me as a professional that if no Russian intelligence officers were involved, you would never give a defensive briefing because there’s nothing to brief defensively about, which then indicates to me it was all a setup.

Mr. Jekielek: Isn’t another explanation that there were Russians involved, but for some reason the defensive briefing wasn’t given? Is it even a possibility?

Mr. Shaffer: No, because, ultimately, going back into my experience, the Anna Chapman network, that network was rolled up. That network was destroyed. Within two weeks of my defensive briefing, next thing you know they’re arresting people and sending them home. That would have been the result of the attempted penetration of the Trump campaign. And I’m pretty sure, while I am skeptical of Mueller’s investigation, even he couldn’t have misssed real Russians being involved. Remember, all he indicted were Russian bots overseas. There was no Russian operatives indicted incidental to his investigation of the Trump campaign.

Mr. Jekielek: Wow. So, actually, you mentioned Stefan Halper.

Mr. Shaffer: Yes, I did.

Mr. Jekielek: How is he fitting into all of this in your mind?

Mr. Shaffer: So the Halper issue is one that’s most troubling by the fact that he, apparently, during this period of working as an asset via the FBI or John Brennan’s CIA, we don’t have that all clear yet, was being paid by the Pentagon. So, and handsomely I might add. I mean, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars for academic work in an organization called the Office of Net Assessment. Office of Net Assessment, for background for your audiences, is a Cold War-driven entity established by a man whose nickname was Yoda. It was an organization which was run by Andy Marshall for a long time, did global assessments of the future. Andy stepped down under the late years of the Obama Administration and had a completely unqualified Air Force retired lieutenant colonel come in, and there appears to have been a departure from their primary mission, notably, and this is public knowledge, the Office of Net Assessment hasn’t actually produced an actual survey or assessment in like 10 years.

So I was kind of like, I guess they’re trying to find purposes for their work, and Halper apparently was one of their academics. But everything indicates to us from the review that he was indeed one of those who are being used to entice others to either pretend to have contact with Russia or enticing the Trump folks to have contact with Russia. So his role, and this is problematic, and it does need to be examined in more detail.

Mr. Jekielek: Another character, of course, was Christopher Steele and when we were speaking in May, one thing you mentioned was that no one’s really looked at the origins of the Steele dossier. Where do you think things have come?

Mr. Shaffer: Well, that’s something that I haven’t been able to find for a fact that someone is actually doing a deep dive into that. There are three things that should be looked at regarding the Steele dossier. First off, to your point, who wrote it? Steele paid people, sources in Moscow, to put that together from, what I believe now, is abundantly clear [are] discredited sources. I believe that those sources were Russian intelligence officers who were essentially feeding information to Steele for purposes of disrupting our system. They did a very good job. So who were they, and how did they do that?

Secondly, just the entire chain of custody regarding the information–who paid what, when, and why was it ever introduced to any court or any U.S. official body as intelligence? Never in any operation I’ve ever been involved in has political opposition research been introduced to anything I’ve ever done as intelligence information. The U.S. government is supposed to develop its own information independent of media, independent of paid sources, for any number of obvious reasons.

And, lastly, why did people like James Comey knowingly depart so severely from the internal controls, which are supposed to prevent this from happening. And this circles back to your question about Barr and where he’s going with some of this. I think that’s where some of this is going to circle back on us. Why did these people depart so extremely from the required process, procedures, and policies, which would never have allowed this to happen in a normal circumstance?

Mr. Jekielek: Something that just strikes me, actually, is the Mueller report was rehashed when Mueller came to testify, right?

Mr. Shaffer: What a great performance that was, too, I might add.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, to your point, a lot of people have said that he didn’t seem to have very good command of the report itself. What do you make of that?

Mr. Shaffer: Well, I think it was written by committee. By all accounts, Judicial Watch and others have done good accounting of the money spent. I mean, we’re talking about 30-plus million dollars. Half of that was spent on his own staff, and that’s a pretty big staff. I think I could, between you and me, I think I could generate a lot of paper with $14 million at my disposal. Trust me, just trust me on that. Anybody wants to give us $14 million? I’ll do it. But that’s my point. They generated a lot of paper, and I would argue it wasn’t well written. It didn’t look at core issues. The authorities issues were never fully explored.

Essentially, it was a document done by a committee who really weren’t all that anxious to get to the truth, which I would argue the Steele dossier, it’s origins, they had kind of this path they wanted to go down and try to find a way to establish that there was a collusion, something collusion, which by the way, collusion is not even a crime. So they were actually out to prove something that even if it existed, really wouldn’t meet the rise to the level of requiring an indictment or a grand jury. And all you came away with was a sense that I think … that Mueller was not actually the guy driving the bus. I think it was his deputy, [Andrew] Weissmann. And I think that that’s why that they wanted people there to advise Mr. Mueller during his testimony because they knew this is going to be an issue. And it actually was.

Mr. Jekielek: And speaking of collusion, I think with the Mueller report we know conclusively there was none. Yet, we had two, two-and-a-half years of narratives about how the collusion, it’s just around the bend. There’s this unnamed source and so forth, both by politicians and media and so forth. It feels like some serious credibility issues here.

Mr. Shaffer: Well, I see those credibility issues. I think you see those credibility issues. The question becomes, does the American people understand what’s happened? I think some of the ratings of the what–I dunno if you want to call it mainstream or legacy networks. I know Rachel Maddow’s audience fell off a lot. CNN continues to be in a tailspin. And I’d like to believe it being in a free-market economy that people are going to quit watching news outlets which clearly did not even have a legitimate attempt in telling the truth. … If you go back and look at my record, I said in March of ’17, we would come to find everything we found out. And I was looked at like I’m totally insane. Maybe I am, but not on this point.

That’s my point though, is that people were not willing to suspend the narrative and actually look at people, like me who are professionals, and it’s like maybe they know something we don’t. Instead, we were shouted down by the mainstream media, made it look like we’re tin foil hat wearers, that we didn’t know what we’re talking about. So I think it’s a very dangerous thing to do. The Fourth Estate’s job is to actually try to find a way of telling the truth, not presuming the truth and then trying to shape the narrative to meet what they want. It’s not aspirational, but that’s what … their aspirations were certain objectives which were not based in reality or fact.

Mr. Jekielek: One of the things that we talked about–you just reminded me, actually–was … I remember you used this term predicated. Were these investigations predicated properly and so forth, right? Hence your interest in the Steel dossier’s origins and so forth. Do you know any more about that at this point? Obviously, this is connected with these other investigations.

Mr. Shaffer: Yeah. So because of that issue and the British being involved, it’s a bit more complex I think than other investigations. There’s some, I think, examining of overseas activities, one of which has been in the news is the chief of station in England during the period this was all happening was Gina Haspel, the current director of CIA. And one of the pieces that has to be parsed regarding the very predicate issue is that some people who were downstream, and I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d like to believe that Ms. Haspel, as the chief of station, was probably given taskings relating to the Steele dossier and these other things that were going on without understanding that the taskings were based on a nonexisting predicate, that there was no legitimate predicate. Often, as an operative, you were told, these are the five things you need to do as part of this larger operation.

Mr. Jekielek: Because the other stuff’s need to know, right?

Mr. Shaffer: Precisely. And I’ve run operations–

Mr. Jekielek: We’ve heard that a million times.

Mr. Shaffer: And it’s true. It’s absolutely correct. So you may well be involved in something that may not be completely legal within the context of your own activities, but you don’t know that. You’re given these things to do. So I would argue that within a system right now, there is essentially a review of people’s actions. And some of those actions may have been taken for the wrong reasons.

I’ve been investigated a number of times for things I was directed to do, which I thought at the moment were completely authorized. And they were, but it turned out they weren’t completely legal. Nobody died when I did it. … But I’m just saying that there are things that you do as an operative–the whole waterboarding thing. Let’s go back to that, very quick. I don’t want to get into that as a topic. People who did the waterboarding thought everything they were doing was completely legally sound, and, obviously, they were second-guessed after the fact. So this is a feature of the intelligence system that has to be sorted through for this purpose as well, regarding the predicate of the operations they were directed to run.

Mr. Jekielek: How important are these investigations that Barr is ultimately leading that are playing that right now?

Mr. Shaffer: I think it’s hugely important for the things we’ve already established. First off, the integrity of the actual intelligence collection system. U.S. citizens are presumed to be innocent and need to be essentially respected. The EO 12333, which I’ve had people get all upset because I talk about it in these interviews.

Mr. Jekielek: OK.

Mr. Shaffer: No, I’m serious. I mean they get upset because … I think one of them said I’m disrespecting the FBI by bringing up these sorts of things. Now, I think you go back and look at our interviews. I’ve never talked about sources, methods, anything technical, but the people are upset because I’m talking about process. The process needs to be reviewed, and those things which were violated were U.S. citizens rights to include candidate Trump, now President Trump, Papadopoulos, Mike Flynn–if these people were wronged by the system that needs to be made right. No U.S. citizen should presume that the FBI can just decide, “We don’t like you and we’re going to do something to mess you up.” So we’ve got to cleanse the system and make sure that that system works.

Secondly, to your point about the narrative, someone at a very senior level during that entire period was feeding information to the mainstream media who are considered credible. I’ll just say it. I think it was Jim Clapper, I think it was John Brennan, I think it was Susan Rice. I think it was a handful of others who had such credibility with mainstream media that without regard to strong evidence, they would say something and they would take it as fact. That’s dangerous. And those people need to be held accountable for the purposes of having manipulated thinking for purposes of a political end state or end goal. We can not have intelligence officials, former or current, involved in attempting to sway domestic thinking, domestic politics based on their prior access or knowledge of foreign intelligence operations. That cannot be sustained. And because we saw, and what I think is an attempted coup by these individuals, and that’s something that we just can’t sit back and pretend it didn’t happen.

Mr. Jekielek: So speaking of John Brennan, Durham is tasked with looking at the origins of the investigation. It’s kind of increasingly looking to at least some folks that I’ve read that Brennan was kind of critically involved [inaudible].

Mr. Shaffer: He was critically involved. There was meetings early in 2016 which he was involved in, which I believe–I only have one source on this–but I believe that that was kind of the origins of the entire plot, that Brennan himself was somehow involved in the kind of laying out the arc of what we now see as the Russia narrative.

Mr. Jekielek: Wow.

Mr. Shaffer: That’s my assessment. I’m saying this purely as an intelligence officer, kind of knowing the lay of the land, how things work within the community.

Mr. Jekielek: So with respect to the IG report, there’s a lot of people kind of buzzing around the fact that it may play out in a similar way to the way the report around the Clinton emails came out where a lot of inconsistencies, a lot of issues were seemingly found but, basically, no repercussions. Any thoughts on this?

Mr. Shaffer: Well, I hope not. I think a lot of folks like myself who have lived on both sides of the system being both investigated and having to investigate, I feel very strongly, as do others, that there cannot be a two-tier justice system. I’m one of those who believes that the whole Clinton email thing needs to go back and be re-looked. There’s no presumption that there was double jeopardy. There was no jeopardy to begin with, and I think that’s the issue here. We do know for a fact that Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, I would argue a number of others, to include James Comey himself, have stipulated publicly and privately in interviews information which is provably false. At minimum, false official statement, probably worse than that.

So the idea that we could sustain a two-tier justice system is just not viable. Anything I would get in trouble for, they should get in trouble for, probably they should get in more trouble for since they’re presumed to be held to a higher standard. And I think that’s where, I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m hearing that there’s going to be some level of indictment somewhere down the road.

Mr. Jekielek: Speaking of Peter Strzok, he’s launched a lawsuit for full dismissal.

Mr. Shaffer: God bless him.

Mr. Jekielek: So some people I’ve seen are saying, well that’s very interesting. I’m very excited about the discovery phase of this. Tell me what you think of that.

Mr. Shaffer: Well, the discovery is going to be amazing. I don’t think he wants that, but if he opens them up to it that’s fine. This is where I think it’s all going to go. The bottom line is if you work for the government and that device is a government device, anything on that device belongs to the government, no matter if it’s personal or not. It could be texting your wife a list of things you’re going to pick up at the store after you get off work. It’s still the government’s information. It doesn’t matter if it’s personal or not. If it’s on a piece of equipment owned by the government, you use that piece of equipment willingly, you’re not forced to use it, especially in this day and age where you can have your own phone, that information is the government’s.

So everything that Peter Strzok is up upset about, as much as it’s very revealing, very embarrassing, it’s not covered by the Privacy Act because he communicated on a government piece of gear. I used to be the G6, the senior communications officer of an army division. We dealt with this all the time. If you knowingly sign a piece of paper or tab something on a webpage saying, I acknowledge this is a U.S. government piece of equipment, they own everything you say. So this is, in my judgment, going to go absolutely nowhere. And I don’t know what Strzok’s trying to do actually, maybe just draw attention to himself for some book or something down the road. But legally speaking, there’s no foundation for him to claim that his information was private because he chose to communicate on a government system.

Mr. Jekielek: So who’s advising him here?

Mr. Shaffer: I don’t know. I’d have to go back and look, but whoever it is, is advising him very badly.

Mr. Jekielek: Tony, any final words around the investigating, the investigators, the Mueller report, and so forth? I want to cover a few other things before we finish up.

Mr. Shaffer: I appreciate the continued update. We’ve been able to have a conversation we’ve updated since we started this back in the spring of this year. And, I think, in three months we’re going to have a way better understanding of the direction of the investigation regarding who’s going to be indicted and why there’s issues relating to those charges. I do believe you’re going to see some level of charges come out of this.

Mr. Jekielek: OK. You bring this very interesting intelligence operative perspective to things. I wanted to shift gears to another topic that’s very important to us at The Epoch Times, which is China and of course Hong Kong. That’s the big thing in the air right now. And every day there’s new information we’re getting. Looking at where things are now with Hong Kong at the level of protests, you know, rumored PLA getting ready to do something. Where do you think things stand for Hong Kong?

Mr. Shaffer: Hong Kong is in a very difficult situation. A lot of us back, I think it was, was it ’97 that the British departed and the Chinese came in. We felt–many of us who observed that felt it was only a matter of time before those Western ideals of freedom and free speech were going to be eroded. That Hong Kong was a small island of, essentially, free thought in an otherwise very red sea of communism.

And people tend to forget that the People’s Republic of China is still communist. It’s still a communist nation. And I think we in the West had been naive, and I think almost serendipitous in our view of, “oh, no, no, we should open markets and let them do all these things.” And this is why I do support President Trump’s policy of really taking a hard line.

The Chinese economy is very artificial, and I think things like Hong Kong really propped up the economy. Hong Kong was a big producer of a lot of things. It was a center of commerce. And I think it’s just taking this time for the Chinese–the People’s Republic of China–to work to erode and get people numb to the idea of Hong Kong becoming more like the rest of China rather than Hong Kong, which was what it was when it was a British colony.

Mr. Jekielek: But this extradition law, basically, was the straw that broke the camel’s back of erosion it would seem.

Mr. Shaffer: Yes, it would. And I think that’s where people are going to have to make a decision on what they think is best relating to the international relationships with China. I think China is just simply showing its true colors here.

Mr. Jekielek: And how do you think that’s going to play out internationally?

Mr. Shaffer: Badly. I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I think that we are in a time where you would not necessarily, I don’t even predict, I don’t even know what forecast how President Trump would react to this. But I don’t think that we can fully judge what will happen. Again, Taiwan is another issue as well. It remains unresolved. Taiwan believes, and I do believe it’s a Taiwan Republican. It’s a separate nation. China thinks they own it. … And my former think tank Center for Advanced Defense Studies, did a deep dive for a corporation, I can’t get into, that looked at China as entity. And we called it the inside-out study. We actually became China for purposes of it. China is becoming much more nationalistic than communistic. Let me explain that. The Chinese government feels that their history, their laws, their traditions, all those sorts of things go back longer than Western civilization. So their view is, we have the right to reclaim territory and islands that we originally owned. Who are you to tell us we we can’t do that?

Mr. Jekielek: Wait a sec. They’re building islands.

Mr. Shaffer: I know. They’re trying to increase their dominion of what they believe to be space that they should essentially dominate–the Pacific Rim to start with. And I think, people have been really not–Joe Biden. He’s made comments about how China’s this backward nation. Like, I don’t know where Joe Biden’s been. China is a robust economy. They’re moving forward and trying to reestablish this very big nationalistic control of the region. And the Hong Kong issue is but one bump in the road.

I think we’re going to have issues with Taiwan and not in the too distant future. And this is what we have to expect–that China’s becoming more nationalistic. They’re using a communist framework, no doubt, but it’s becoming a very nationalistic country pushing for dominance of the region.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, it’s the combination of communism and this … I don’t know if Manifest Destiny is the right term?

Mr. Shaffer: I think that is a good term that they see for themselves.

Mr. Jekielek: But I similarly feel it doesn’t bode well.

Mr. Shaffer: No. And I think their economy is one of the dominating factors. They’ve used in the Middle East and Africa, this soft power, the idea of coming in to help build infrastructure, very effective. They have not had a more direct military position to use on influence. They use the soft power. With that said, it’s incremental. They don’t see things in four-year cycles like we do. It’s more generational, and they’re very patient about how they will do this.

Mr. Jekielek: So just recently, aside from Hong Kong, Xi Jinping reneged on a number of things, buying the farm products and stopping fentanyl, which has obviously been disastrous for America. So now there’s this 10 percent increased tariff on $300 billion of goods. Where do we stand in the trade war in your view?

Mr. Shaffer: Well, I know a lot of free traders. I was meeting with some free traders this week, and they’re not happy. A lot of folks think that President Trump’s approach is not going to work. I’m one of those that believes that doing nothing was the wrong answer. And where this is all going to go, I think we’re going to see the Chinese attempt to wait us out. I think they believe that their economy is sufficiently strong that they can basically avoid having to deal with President Trump and his team on this issue.

They’re going to go for 2020 hoping for some change, probably a Democrat, I think their desire is Joe Biden. Joe has been very weak in his comments on China. I think he would have a very weak policy that would return to an Obama-type policy where China is able to run the table without regard to our interests. So I think that’s what China’s counting on.

I think they’re making a huge error. I think they will see their economy really tank. And I think this is going to be an opportunity for other nations to step in to enhance their trade relationship and economic relationship with the United States. So I think the Chinese strategy of waiting is what they’re going to do, and I don’t think it’s going to serve them well.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, there clearly is some economic upheaval, right? They’re depreciating the yuan to the point where now the U.S. has labeled them as a currency manipulator quite accurately.

Mr. Shaffer: Right. Quite accurately, right. Way overdue.

Mr. Jekielek: What’s the impact of that going to be?

Mr. Shaffer: I think you’re going to see the Chinese take it into shorts on a number of things that they’ve been trying to do regarding their influence globally. There are some vulnerabilities I think are going to be highlighted by this too, that may not be quite so obvious, for example, fuel. The Chinese economy depends heavily on Middle Eastern oil, heavily. And anytime you have to pay more for that, it’s going to diminish your economy.

So I think if your currency is labeled something toxic, and you can’t use your currency to buy as much as you used to, or it’s more difficult to enter in transactions, things become much more expensive. And I think because the economy, if you depress the economy regarding production, let’s say … you’re not selling as much, so you don’t have as much money on hand, hard currency. And at the same time you have energy requirements, which are more expensive, it’s going to tank your economy even more. So I think that’s what they’re doing here. I think … they’re not going to be able to export as much, not make as much money. They’re going to have as much, if not more, fuel requirements, which is going to be more expensive. It diminishes their ability to do things globally. I think that that’s what you’re going to see is a real tanking of their economy.

Mr. Jekielek: I recently did an interview where we had a studio audience so to speak, and someone asked a question. Question was, which is more dangerous to America, China or Iran? And clearly, the answer was both are, and there were some details that were given. But … there’s this kind of level of unholy alliance here, China and Iran. Can you speak to that?

Mr. Shaffer: Well, the Chinese, North Koreans, and Iranians, and even to a certain extent, the Pakistanis have all kind of been working behind the scenes in this kind of anti-American relationship. Each nation has their own reasons for being anti-American, and they do tend to work together on things which benefit them. The Chinese have been very helpful with the North Koreans on things. The North Koreans have been very helpful with Iran on things.

So it’s all related. And the American intelligence community, I think, has done a pretty good job of mapping this. They actually work together in their clandestine acquisition networks. Sometimes the Chinese can get something that someone wants, and they give it to them or sell it to them. So it’s something that’s been very effective, and that’s how they function. It’s not like they’re monolithic. It’s not like they all think as one, but they do cooperate on things which would benefit them both economically and militarily. And so they do do that level of cooperation.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, we’re going to finish up in a moment. Any final words either on the “investigate the investigators” side or the China side?

Mr. Shaffer: Well, the China side, the thing that we have to examine, and I think we as intelligence officers, or think tanks, do. We have to look at the reality for which it is, not for which we want it to be. There’s something that we’ve studied, I’ve studied both in London Center and other think tanks, is something called confirmation bias. Sometimes people who are experts tend to project their beliefs on what they want a situation to be rather than look at the objective facts. So, I think … for both issues we’ve talked about today, we need to look at what are the objective facts regarding the Russia investigation. What are the legalities? And remove all emotion.

The same with China. I think far too many people have looked at China with rose-colored glasses, many of which I think made a lot of money off China because China being a communist nation can kind of direct from a very strategic level who wins and who loses–crony capitalism. So we need to examine that for who’s benefited and why. And have those relationships benefited the American people or allies? And I would argue, probably not. So we need to look at that again with clear, steely eyes about what the facts are, and then reassess what we’re going to do with China.

Mr. Jekielek: Tony Shaffer, it’s such a pleasure.

Mr. Shaffer: Great, thank you.Hope that’s helpful. Thank you for having me again.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 
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