Mind you, I think the claim to have recordings of Deripaska colluding about Trump is and has always been bunk. You think Deripaska wouldn't have noticed her recording things?
But that she overheard Deripaska talking about colluding with Trump... to the FBI, when they asked him about it, well, that wouldn't surprise me. That would be an easy conversation to misunderstand, especially hearing only one side, as you would overhearing a phone call.
Of course, it's equally possibly she was lying and has no relationship to Deripaska at all, or that she was telling the truth and was threatened into silence.
Nellie Ohr admits investigating travels of Trump family
This is confirmation of a theory long pushed by the Conservative Treehouse: Nellie Ohr, working for Fusion GPS, almost certainly used her access to the NSA databases to investigate Trump and his children. (Where else could she research their travel? She was a contractor and had access.)
This is also significantly -- hugely significant -- because it confirms that the investigation targeted the Trump family all along. She frames her research as being superficial and into the children's travel and Trump's real estate dealings, which are topics suitable for opposition research, but not for a federal contractor using intelligence databases.
It also confirms the timing of the investigation (as contractor access to the NSA databases was cut off before the election, on April 18th, probably by Mike Rogers, which forced the FBI to seek a warrant from the FISC).
It is shocking to me that this admission -- which took place in October, and has only recently been leaked to the press -- did not result in Ohr immediately being arrested for her crimes.
The only thing missing here, as I see it, is that Nellie is not quoted as using her access to NSA and other law enforcement/intelligence databases to do the research. In theory, as these are public figures, she could have used Google. But anyone could do that. You wouldn't need someone like Nellie, with her access, to do Google searches on the public net for press releases and news articles about semi-famous people traveling around.
It's short -- two pages -- and practically all of them are redacted. Notably, though, the unredacted portions do not faithfully describe who paid for the dossier. The description is technically accurate, but does not mention the Clintons, the Democrats, or political opposition research. Instead, the funding is described as coming from "private clients" only.
Remember, the FBI and DOJ knew where this was coming from. There is no way to spin this briefing document, being presented to the President, as anything less than deliberately deceptive. It was a weasel move, by a weasel of a man who does weasel things.
This release takes on a certain new significance given that Comey recently testified to Congress that he only knew the funding came from "private clients", not specifically who those clients were. It could even be argued that the release was timed to tell Comey what the documents said, so he could claim not to know anything more than what was in the documents.
Detailed comments below the fold. My overall impression is that we, again, lost out by having this held in a public forum. Comey can hide behind that to avoid answering important questions. He can also hide behind the Mueller investigation. I'd like to see this all public, but getting there requires investigators to be able to ask about classified things so the answers can then be declassified.
Sullivan throws a wrench into the Flynn sentencing, but for the wrong reasons
Because Judge Sullivan has previously seen some political schemes and machinations from the FBI (notably the Ted Stevens case), some people were hopeful that he would see through the FBI bullshit. Instead he seems to have latched on to the failure to register as a foreign agent charges (which Flynn got out of by way of the plea bargain with Mueller) and threatened Flynn into cooperating more. Disappointing.
Gotta wonder if the Deep State got to Sullivan.
UPDATE: For clarity, the failure to register charges involved Turkey, not Russia.
Comey talks to the media following second testimony
Comey testified to Congress for the second time today. He talked to the media afterwards. We should get a transcript sometime soon.
He says he was asked about "which form people filled out". This is either a reference to the 302s about the Flynn interview, or the procedures necessary to initiate a sensitive political investigation (which he previously admitted to not knowing or following).
He admits that he "took a decision away from Sally Yates" to avoid the appearance of political bias, which is the same reasoning he used when announcing that he would not recommend prosecuting Clinton himself (because Lynch was compromised by the tarmac meeting and other, unspecified, information). He says he did this "to make it necessary for Trump to burn down the entire FBI to stop the investigation" and was shocked that Trump was willing to do just that. He seems to think he is acting in a completely non-partisan manner and all his actions, no matter how improper or obviously partisan, are above reproach. It's disgusting.
Asked if he takes any responsibility for the hit the reputation of the FBI has taken, he blames Trump for "lying". That's bullshit; Comey was at the head of the agency while it behaved in a nakedly partisan manner to influence the Presidential election in 2016. Blaming Trump for the actions in which Trump was a victim is absurd, and he wasn't in office for the Clinton investigation.
He blames others and says they should be ashamed for being silent. This is the man who said he couldn't remember or didn't know under oath over 200 times.
He's "proud" of the way the FBI interviewed Flynn, despite admitting previously he "took advantage" of the chaos in the incoming administration.
He won't comment on whether the memos he leaked were classified. Of course not. That would embarrass him.
Guess what, Comey? You are a weasel who does weasel things.
BOMBSHELL: Comey likely knew about the Trump tower meeting in June 2016
Why is this important? The meeting happened June 9th, and the investigation didn't open until the end of July, and Comey says he can't answer because the question touches on Mueller's investigation. But if he didn't know about the meeting he could answer that. If he knew, and can't answer, it's because it was related to the Mueller investigation -- which didn't exist at the time.
So Comey knew about the meeting before the investigation opened in July.
How? Did he get the information from Steele, or Perkins-Coie through Baker, or surveillance on Trump?
Manafort's passports do not show trips to meet Assange
So, maybe one stamp in 2016, but it might also be 2010. I imagine the date of that last stamp can probably be proven with other data. Even if Manafort was in London, it doesn't prove he met with Assange, but the lack of stamps relevant to all of the claimed meetings throws serious doubt on the accusations.
Since we don't know what was asked or answered, I can only hope (and trust) that the President's attorneys double and triple checked every answer to avoid any possible hint at a process crime.
How Mueller writes his report now that the Democrats are in power is going to depend on how honest he is. If he's a Democrat operative, he'll write something to justify impeachment even if it's flimsy. The Dems know it won't pass the Senate, they just want the vote for political reasons to encourage turnout. If he's just interested in protecting the FBI and DOJ as institutions, he'll write something bland and keep a few threads open, trusting that the Dem House won't press the issue.
A new tidbit about Alexander Downer, Australian 007
The Australian diplomat who spoke to George Papadopoulus in a wine bar about Russians and may or may not have spoken about emails turns out to be a former Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Australian counterpart to the CIA reports directly to that position.
Gee, that doesn't sound like a setup at all, does it?
Funny how a supposedly non-political investigation had to wait until after the elections to begin writing their final report. I mean, I could understand waiting until after the elections to release it. But if you start writing immediately after the elections, it sort of suggests that you needed to know the outcome of those elections to determine what you would write.
What follows is my own summary of key information from the interview, but I urge you to listen to the whole interview at a minimum.
George was working (unknowingly) for an CIA-FBI front group. His employers set up the meeting with Mifsud (the supposed Russian agent) in a facility in Rome used to train western intelligence agents. The person who set up the meeting is the FBI's chief legal counsel in the UK. The people introducing Mifsud's companion as "Putin's niece" (she's not) were Director-level positions at the center, meaning they are all in the scheme.
George speculates (based on two news sources contacting him to ask about it) that there was a FISA warrant on him. That would be an explosive bombshell revelation, because we have only heard about the FISA warrant on Carter Page so far.
George describes traveling to Israel and being arrested and interrogated about social media campaign influence in the US. "Arrested" is perhaps an understatement; he said he was afraid for his life. (These were the people who gave him $10K intended to entrap him on returning to the US; George also suspects the bills were marked).
George describes a number of people offering him money and introducing him to women ("honeytraps"). One of them offered him $30K/mo and an office in New York... if he worked simultaneously for the Trump administration. That guy set up a lot of behavioral red flags and was recording the conversation. Papadopoulos refused the offer.
One of the honeytraps is named "Azra Turk" (a Turkish national). George suspects she is a CIA or western intelligence asset rather than FBI, which would also expand the scandal.
George describes a number of times when he was probably recorded, at least one in a meeting with Halper, and refuses to cooperate and asks to be left alone.
George describes his meeting with Australian ambassador Downer. It also included Downer's "girlfriend" an Australian intelligence officer. It was not a chance meeting, it was orchestrated. And George thinks that conversation was being recorded, and says emails did not come up during that conversation at all. George says that is false. George also says neither of the participants were drunk (one drink each) and that it was not a friendly meeting.
George says there was someone inside the Trump campaign acting as a confidential source and probably feeding information out to the FBI. Congress knows who they are. Hopefully the rest of the world will find out soon as the truth of this whole operation comes out.
Apparently, it's because Jerome Corsi is connected to Roger Stone. Stone is an associate of Trump, apparently, and works with the National Enquirer. I assume this is Mueller following up on Cohen's guilty plea to "campaign finance" charges that involved shell corporations and payoffs to bimbo eruptions.
I use the term advisedly. Clinton was credibly alleged to have groped and even raped people, although his most famous affair with Lewinsky was consensual. Trump has been accused of having consensual sex and paying the women to keep quiet about it. When they don't, that's a bimbo eruption. Sorry, Stormy.
In any event, the odds that either Jerome Corsi or Roger Stone have anything to do with Russian collusion to influence the 2016 election -- which is Mueller's only area of authority -- seems very low. Mueller is likely looking for more "campaign finance" crimes he can use to coerce guilty pleas that purport to implicate Trump. And he wants those because he desperately needs leverage.
I have a hunch that this declassification process is what prompted Mueller's public negotiation attempt. Mueller's job (his real job) is to protect Obama, the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, and the Clintons, probably in that order. (There's a non-zero chance Obama is actually just above the Clintons on Mueller's priority list; if that's the case Obama should be very worried). Mueller needs to protect them because they went way, way out on a limb to spy on Trump during the presidential campaign, and if the full extent of their interference is exposed, it could easily lead to outrage or even criminal charges.
Declassifying documents so the general public can see them renders the FBI attempt to protect those documents moot, and plants a massive egg on the face of everyone involved -- including the intelligence community actors who have so far received relatively little scrutiny, and possibly (if not in these documents, then in later batches) on the political actors. If Trump starts declassifying things, that opens a can of worms that probably can't be closed. All the schemes would be exposed and the information out in public.
That's good for Trump, assuming he's innocent of the Russian collusion charge. That's why Mueller has been desperately digging for something else he can use as leverage. He's nailed a few people for tax issues and rarely-used registration laws, flipped Michael Cohen for more tax issues and got him to plead to a probably-invalid campaign finance crime, but it hasn't given him any real leverage on Trump. And it's Trump he needs leverage on to avoid the declassification scenario.
Articles of Impeachment introduced against... Rosenstein?
The only problem with the idea of impeaching Rosenstein is that the Senate will never vote to convict. That said, a vote to impeach in the House would give Trump political cover to remove Rosenstein without being credibly accused of obstruction of justice. ("I don't want anyone in my administration who has been impeached by the House" is an entirely justifiable reason for firing Rosenstein). Similar rules can be applied to lower level officials with a simple majority in the House; the Senate might need some fiddling but putting the rule in a reconciliation bill should let it through with a simple majority. And the principle would be a significant step towards accountability when the President is, unfortunately, politically hamstrung by a conspiracy against him among his own officials.
Trump tower meeting a nothingburger, says translator for Veselnitskaya
We don't have to take just his word for it. Remember, Fusion GPS was taking money from Russians to lobby Trump about the Magnitsky Act even as they were taking money from Hillary to "investigate" Trump. They could kill two birds with one stone by setting up a meeting with Trump Jr under false pretenses of providing dirt on Hillary and using it to try to sell Trump Jr on the Magnitsky act changes they wanted.
McConnell is one of the "gang of eight" Brennan briefed about the operation. Of course he wasn't surprised; he's heard it all before, at least assuming Brennan's individual briefings to each Gang of 8 member actually contained the same information. (I'm skeptical about that; why brief them individually then?)
So I'm not surprised that McConnell isn't surprised. McConnell is a swamp creature. The sooner he circles the drain, the better.
Despite the White House chief of staff showing up before the meeting to state the President's position that all possible information should be shared, the FBI and DOJ are still covering things up.
Of course this is what Mueller is going to do. There was never any doubt. Right before the election, he delivers his big indictments (or his report, if he can't actually get anything solid enough to indict), setting up a "blue wave" in the House followed immediately by impeachment hearings that last two more years and culminate in an impeachment vote immediately before the 2020 presidential election.
Derailing that won't be easy, but throwing Clinton and Obama and their minions in jail for abusing the national security infrastructure to steal a national election might just do it.
Remember all the news stories about how Trump didn't have a foreign policy team and asking who his foreign policy advisers were? The questions from the media that prompted Trump to prepare a list of advisers hastily and get it out there?
I wonder how many of those news stories could be traced back to Hillary and her campaign?
Technically, Mueller doesn't have to care about public mockery and derision. But being taken seriously is the only defense he has against Trump simply choosing to fire him. It seems likely being forced to drop the charges against the Russians would effectively end Mueller's probe, being an admission that he doesn't have anything related to his mandate. If he failed to do so, Trump would easily be able to afford the political cost of firing him.
His memo was about Comey's firing and what Rosenstein claimed Trump asked him to include in the memo. He gave the memo to Mueller. This appears to be part of a consistent pattern among the Obama administration holdovers and specifically the scheme team implicated in Spygate.
Most of the discussion of spying has been about Carter Page, because the FBI filed for a FISA warrant to spy on him based mostly on the Clinton-funded opposition research Steele dossier. But he's not the only direct individual victim. He's just the one we have the (obviously fraudulent and deficient) paperwork for. The others we know have been spied on via leaks, but not what legal justification was used.
Michael Flynn may have been intercepted talking to the Russian ambassador. It would be legal to wiretap the Russian ambassador pretty much constantly. But they waved BS Logan act violations around when he was the issue, which makes me think they got a warrant based on those allegations.
The rest we just don't know.
And don't forget the hundreds of "unmaskings" which are technically within the powers of some officials, but which were likely done in service of political motives.
House resolution to compel Rosenstein to release SpyGate documents
Gowdy and Ryan have previously expressed support for the FBI's position here, but Ryan is part of the Gang of 8 who would see them anyway (and who was probably briefed on at least some of the investigation earlier than the rest of Congress, so is somewhat tainted by it). Gowdy is probably just a blowhard who is easily talked into supporting law enforcement.
But the article says Jordan and Meadows spoke with Ryan and Gowdy before this announcement, so I assume they are behind it.
If so, let's hold the vote ASAP and force the FBI to start submitting to oversight. They have slow-walked long enough.
As for Ryan and Gowdy, both, apparently, have closets with flesh-challenged bones in them. Not really a surprise.
Note to Congress: start playing hardball. Appealing to Trump won't do much; he cant really interfere much while Mueller is active. It's up to Congress and oversight to get the information out there to help Huber.
Note to the DOJ: When you are denying that your official threatened Congressmen conducting legitimate oversight, it is not wise to repeat the threat:
As far as I am concerned, this is clear and unambiguous grounds for Trump to fire Rosenstein, and I wouldn't be surprised if that is exactly why it leaked.
Not said: the "someone working with Russians" is Christopher Steele, and he admitted paying Russians for the information compiled in the dossier. So, yes, Hillary (through several layers of cutouts) paid Russians to (probably) lie about Trump to produce opposition research. Probably the Hillary campaign, through Steele and Fusion GPS, were paying the Russians to cooperate in setting up the Trump campaign -- specifically the meeting with Veselnitskya.
The fact that Mueller, whose theoretical remit includes Russian interference in the US election, is not investigating this publicly known Russian collusion with the Hillary campaign is enough by itself to discredit his investigation.
The Democrats are hoping they can keep a lid on this until November, then win the House and shut down the investigations. Agents are probably right to fear massive retaliation, both political and personal.
What Mueller appears to be claiming is that he received his full mandate as special counsel from Rosenstein exclusively in verbal communications, meaning that only Rosenstein and Mueller together could agree on what was within or without the scope of the investigation.
I do not see how such a claim could possibly be valid or stand up to legal challenge.
Mueller is essentially claiming that, due to the lack of a written mandate, his authority derives from Rosenstein the man rather than the lawfully appointed (Acting) Attorney General. His unwritten mandate is fluid, and can change to meet the needs of the moment he finds himself in.
This is not consistent with the rule of law.
But of course, Rosenstein couldn't risk giving Mueller a well-defined mandate, because Mueller was going on a fishing expedition; he didn't know what he would find, but to be politically useful, he had to pursue whatever he found.
Review of Cohen's seized files not going well for prosecution
Remember, if it's privileged, the government should never have been able to see it at all. A warrant doesn't get around attorney-client privilege, the bar is much higher than that. And if it's not privileged, that doesn't mean it is in any way criminal. It just means the government got a warrant and can legally look at it and use the material.
FBI to share more details of informant with Congress?
I'll believe it when the members of Congress release the information publicly.
If you want to see the evidence, Ryan, you have to actually look at it.
So here's the catch: Halper didn't work on the Trump campaign. He only met with at least three members of the campaign, pumped them for information, and applied for a job with the campaign that he did not get.
So Halper -- who probably works for the CIA, not the FBI -- was certainly engaged in intelligence gathering from the Trump campaign. He was certainly spying on the campaign. If he was not "an informant within the campaign", it wasn't for lack of trying.
McCabe requests criminal immunity in return for testimony
Should he get it? I will answer in six words. "The White House is running this." Except that McCabe has already been fired for lying to the FBI, so whether his testimony can be trusted is open to question.
I'd like to know what McCabe knows and who he can implicate, but this should be a plea bargain, not an immunity deal.
Even assuming he actually was colluding with Israel -- which I don't actually assume, other than hypothetically -- this is a long ways away from colluding with Russia. And Mueller's brief only covers colluding with Russia.
At some point, you have to stop Mueller from charging people with made-up crimes unrelated to his limited special counsel mandate just to get leverage.
And before saying Trump should just start pardoning people, there's an argument that's what Mueller wants. While there's an active investigation Mueller can claim was being "obstructed", Trump would be wise to avoid any directly connected pardons. Not because use of the pardon power could be criminal obstruction of justice, but because Mueller would certainly describe it that way to Congress in an impeachment report.
I don't know if Papadopoulos was colluding with Israel, or Russia, or anyone at all. I do know that Dan Bongino's show from June 5th, 2018, floated the interesting idea that Papadopoulos was arrested in a hurry -- without even getting a warrant ahead of time -- on the same day the IG notified Mueller's team of the text messages from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and also that Papadopoulos mentioned the "Maltese Professor" Mifsud before being very vigorously told to shut up. Bongino speculates that Mifsud was the push component, trying to put information about Hillary's emails from Russians into the Trump campaign, so that Halper and others could try to pull the information out and use it against Trump.
If that read is accurate, Papadopoulos was arrested to shut him up so that the information about Mifsud and the entrapment side of the operation would stay quiet.
I don't think it's going to stay quiet. I think it's out there now, and the effort to shut Papadopoulos up was too little too late.
John Solomon, of The Hill, has two pieces of supposedly breaking news about Spygate. The only thing actually new in his breaking news is the justifications and excuses his sources are offering to try to spin the story.
The first is that the FBI began spying on the Trump campaign before the investigation had an official predicate:
That's not so much a scoop as an admission. We've known that the investigation, including the actions by the spy Halper, took place earlier than July, and that the investigation supposedly started in July. There have been efforts to try to push the date backwards, but those have now failed; Solomon's sources appear to be admitting the approaches by Halper started before the official investigation was opened, and that that was a violation of the the rules.
But it's also there to conceal the big admission: the Obama White House was involved.
Those words (bolded above) were redacted in the original release, if I remember correctly. And the spin is where Solomon says the White House was trying to take over the investigation. That's not what the message says. The White House is running this. Not trying to, and being rebuffed by loyal nonpartisan FBI agents. Is Running.
In other words, we have documentary evidence (and likely testimony from Page and Strzok as cooperating witnesses, at a minimum) that the political spying on Trump was run from the White House, and Rice's email to herself demonstrates that it was run right from the top -- Obama himself. Mind you, Rice was trying to cover for him by saying Obama told them to do it all "by the book". But the evidence is that the FBI, CIA, NSA, and others did not do it "by the book". The evidence makes Rice's email a transparently self-serving cover story. It also exposes as a lie Ben Rhodes' claim in his book that Obama did not know about the investigation until he left office. Oops; in their hurry to cover their own ass they forget to coordinate their stories.
Unless Obama left a paper trail of secret pardons on his way out the door, people will be going to jail for this.
But Mueller can't admit that (if he even knows) because it would destroy the Russian collusion narrative. The DNC email "hack" is the black hole that the whole scandal revolves around without ever shedding any light.
That's where the sudden need for a FISA warrant came from. Most likely, if the Obama administration (following Mike Roger's audit) had simply dropped the issue, punished the contractors, and let the election happen normally, it would have all been swept under the carpet. Instead, they doubled down, got their FISA warrant under false pretenses, and tried to use it to cover up their past activities and make sure Trump lost.
Trusted FBI source and Russian oligarch denied Russian collusion with Trump
I'm betting they didn't disclose that to the court, meaning a lie by omission. Even if a Russian denial (admittedly a Russian they apparently trust enough to work with to the tune of $25 million, which presents its own ethical and legal issues for Mueller) would not sink such an application, it is a factor that should be weighed by the court, especially with so much weight being placed on Steele's single-source credibility.
Mueller is now vulnerable to a conflict of interest charge in his role as special counsel because of his involvement with Deripaska.
Mueller was likely involved in the Whitey Bulger case where 4 innocent men were jailed for murder
Mueller was appointed as FBI director shortly before 9-11 and was absent from his post for 33 days during that time
The FBI missed warnings during that same period that might have led them to catch the hijackers before they struck
Completely botched the anthrax cases, costing a $6 million settlement and a suicide
Boston Marathon bombings also happened on his watch, and the FBI failed to act on multiple tips
While special counsel investigating alleged Russian collusion, failed to ask Wikileaks who provided the emails they leaked, while alleging those emails were leaked by the Russians in collusion with Trump
Raided Trump's personal lawyer Cohen, but the judge (with Clinton-Soros connections) would not allow the prosecutors to review the material themselves. Despite this, the material has been leaking into the media at a breakneck pace, suggesting they did in fact review it
Judge TS Ellis is demanding Mueller document his scope of authority to bring charges against Manafort
Indicted supposed Russian companies that he expected to never appear in court, until they did, and started demanding to see his evidence against them
Formed an alliance with New York AG Schneiderman, who has since resigned over allegations he abused multiple women in what he claims was "role-playing"
Granted immunity to a person who has pled guilty to child pornography charges
If he's right, it's not the first time Halper engaged in a little election meddling on both sides. And there are some very large payments from government accounts to him. It looks very much like the intelligence community is for hire and willingly takes money to help decide elections. That's a bigger scandal than even I expected.
Yes, elections. He apparently has close ties to the Bush family, which has surprisingly amiable relations with the Clintons. There are indications he meddled in the Reagan-Carter race, in the other direction, perhaps explained by his connection to the Bushes (George Bush Sr was Reagan's VP candidate). And if he'll do it twice, why wouldn't he or others do it much more often than that?
The claims from the intelligence community that revealing his name would jeopardize his life seems absurd and self-serving. Unless, you know, they think someone would object to him fixing elections for the intelligence community rather violently.
Funny how all these upstanding straight shooters from the left always turn out to have skeletons in their closets when you bother to open them. In this case, a Russian billionaire in 2009 (under Obama, when Mueller was running the FBI) spent about $25 million trying to rescue an FBI agent captured in Iran. The operation ended when then Secretary of State Clinton refusing to make a statement that would allegedly have shifted the blame away from Iran.
Funny how leaving Americans to die is better for Clinton then a little diplomatic lying. Of course, the Russian billionaire involved has since been caught up in legal issues over ties to Paul Manafort, whom Mueller has charged, and the aid he gave to the FBI in that case may have been illegal as well.
Russian company demands dismissal of Mueller's charges
I don't claim to know if any of these companies actually did what Mueller is accusing them of or not. But Mueller should not be allowed to get away with sham indictments designed to smear a president. He should have to prove his charges.