Conservative group ran secret surveillance on FBI in bid to discredit Trump critics: report
Donald Trump at a rally, photo by Gage Skidmore.

Supporters of Donald Trump went to extraordinary lengths to discredit perceived critics, according to a bombshell new report by The New York Times.

"A network of conservative activists, aided by a British former spy, mounted a campaign during the Trump administration to discredit perceived enemies of President Trump inside the government, according to documents and people involved in the operations. The campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump's national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau's ranks," the newspaper reported.

"The operations against the F.B.I., run by the conservative group Project Veritas, were conducted from a large home in the Georgetown section of Washington that rented for $10,000 per month. Female undercover operatives arranged dates with the F.B.I. employees with the aim of secretly recording them making disparaging comments about Mr. Trump," The Times reported. "The campaign shows the obsession that some of Mr. Trump's allies had about a shadowy 'deep state' trying to blunt his agenda — and the lengths that some were willing to go to try to purge the government of those believed to be disloyal to the president."

Twitter has suspended the accounts @project_vertitas and the account of founder @JamesOKeefeIII.

"Central to the effort, according to interviews, was Richard Seddon, a former undercover British spy who was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns and other targets. He ran field operations for Project Veritas until mid-2018," the newspaper reported. "Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group's operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming."

The effort allegedly sought to oust McMaster from the Trump administration.

"This account is drawn from more than a dozen interviews with former Project Veritas employees and others familiar with the campaign, along with current and former government officials and internal Project Veritas documents. The scheme against Mr. McMaster, revealed in interviews and documents, was one of the most brazen operations of the campaign. It involved a plan to hire a woman armed with a hidden camera to capture Mr. McMaster making inappropriate remarks that his opponents could use as leverage to get him ousted as national security adviser," the newspaper reported.

According to the report, it all started after McMaster reportedly called Trump an "idiot."

"The operation against Mr. McMaster was hatched not long after an article appeared in BuzzFeed News about a private dinner in 2017. Exactly what happened during the dinner is in dispute, but the article said that Mr. McMaster had disparaged Mr. Trump by calling him an 'idiot' with the intelligence of a 'kindergartner.' That dinner, at an upscale restaurant in downtown Washington, was attended by Mr. McMaster and Safra A. Catz, the chief executive of Oracle, as well as two of their aides. Not long after, Ms. Catz called Donald F. McGahn II, then the White House counsel, to complain about Mr. McMaster's behavior, according to two people familiar with the call," the newspaper reported.