A thought occurred to me recently that I should have thought of a long time ago, namely that the FBI has responsibility for collecting intelligence, including national security intelligence, within the United States but is prohibited from operating outside of the United States. The CIA, on the other hand, has responsibility for collecting intelligence data, including national security intelligence, outside of the United States but is prohibited from operating within the United States. The NSA operates both within and outside of the United States, but is limited to gathering electronic information.
This means that for Robert Mueller to investigate the possibility of Russian collusion by either Trump or someone connected to him Mueller almost certainly needed to work with the CIA and NSA to know what was going on and had been going on outside of the United States. Despite this I have not seen a single reference in the media to the fact that Mueller is almost certainly working with the CIA and NSA during his investigation.
This has worked to Mueller’s advantage is two ways.
First, Trump’s criticisms of the FBI and claims that the FBI is out to get him have largely fallen on deaf ears. But the American people have a better opinion of the FBI than the CIA and if someone had realized early on that the CIA was involved Trump’s then his criticisms would have been a little more believable. For example, his claims that there is a conspiracy against him is easier to believe if you know that there are three agencies, the FBI, CIA, and NSA, cooperating in the investigation than if you think the FBI is going it alone.
Second, I suspect that some of the instances of people such as Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort getting caught lying to Mueller or the grand jury happened because they thought that Mueller had no way of knowing about things that happened outside of the U.S. For example, Paul Manafort may have assumed that Mueller had no way of knowing any details about Manafort’s dealings with Oleg Deripaska. But I would be willing to bet that the CIA has a rather large dossier on Deripaska and another only slightly smaller dossier on Manafort.
In conclusion I wonder how many other members of the Trump administration, past or present, or Trump associates have lied to Mueller or the grand jury believing that Mueller could not know about things that happened outside of the U.S. I would bet that there are some. Roger Stone anyone?