Spying on the Trump Campaign: A ‘spy’ and an ‘informant’ have the same meaning

A confidential informant (CI) is a person who provides information to law enforcement about the CI’S knowledge about details of a potential crime. A Confidential Reliable Informant (CRI) is an informant that has produced such information in the past that led to successful arrests or convictions. A CRI is considered more reliable than a CI.

The police regularly use informants in drug cases. Typically the informant (also referred to as a “snitch” in the drug-world parlance) befriends a suspected drug dealer and then cooperates with the police to conduct a controlled buy.

It works like this. The informant arranges to buy a quantity of drugs from the suspect and then meets with the police to arrange the particulars. Usually, the cops provide the informant with marked cash and send him/her into the sale/buy location.

Once the informant completes the transaction and rejoins with the police, the dealer is either arrested or put under surveillance for future purposes.

The point is that the police work closely with informants all the time and CI’S and CRI’S are an integral part of the investigation process.

Of course, the government might use informants in a variety of other cases including campaign operations. President Trump contends that the government used a “spy” to infiltrate his 2016 campaign. He maintains that the FBI and even the Obama administration must have known about this clandestine operation.

The Washington Times reports “the FBI’s own guidelines restrict the deployment of informants to spy on Americans, such as the bureau’s decision to plant a human source among Donald Trump’s presidential campaign aides.”

The Times report adds “that the cautionary regulation is contained in the FBI’s nearly 700-page Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide. The restrictions are prompting national security analysts to say the FBI should have heeded its own rulebook, which encourages alternatives to human spies in any investigation, much less one into a presidential political campaign.”

Finally, the report states, “Instead, the bureau, during President Obama’s administration, took the momentous step of recruiting a national security academic, Stefan Halper, to spy on Trump associates by striking up what seemed to be innocent professional contacts.”


A “spy” is a person who secretly collects and reports information on the activities, movements, and plans of an enemy or competitor. The distinction between a spy and an informant is semantical. If the government used an informant to ingratiate himself with members of the campaign to collect and gather information about the campaign, they should be held accountable.

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