FBI markets fake encrypted cell phone to criminals
I find this extremely troubling. The FBI here created an explicit expectation of privacy under false pretenses and then spied on their "customers", presumably without warrants. I do not care that their actions appear to have resulted in catching real criminals; this action by the FBI appears entirely inappropriate and unconstitutional.
Patterico is working himself into a lather over a detail...
Patterico is not quite a NeverTrump guy. He's a California lawyer (prosecutor) who is usually intellectually honest and doesn't much like Trump. I'm cool with that, because usually he has good reasons for not liking Trump. This time, I'm not quite as onboard with his reasoning. He's talking about the Nunes memo.
While Patterico is right that this admission does mildly weaken the point of the memo, it is far from fatal. Disclosing to the FISA court that the Trump dossier was put together by an unspecified political entity is a far cry from disclosing that the dossier was put together by the candidate running against him, her political party, and the political party of the sitting President who runs the surveillance apparatus that the FISA applications seeks to use. It also makes a difference when the surveillance request is not against Trump (remember, reports are they tried for a warrant that mentioned Trump and got rejected) but against a temporary unpaid volunteer member of the Trump campaign, Carter Page. Does surveillance against Carter Page raise red flags of political interference? Not really... unless you realize that authorizing Title I surveillance of Page will retroactively authorize surveillance of everyone on the Trump campaign he has been in contact with. Did the FISA application disclose that Page was a Trump campaign member and that authorizing surveillance of Page would expose the entire Trump campaign to the same surveillance authority? No? Oh, I see.
Oh, and the FISA application described Page as, essentially, a Russian spy. In actuality, it appears Page was an undercover FBI agent or informant who was cooperating with the FBI in exposing Russian spies. Was that disclosed? No?
Well, they might not get the warrant.
Did they disclose in the renewals that Steele had been terminated as a source? That he had very strong political motivations and was shopping his "research" to media outlets, including the outlets they had previously cited as corroboration? No? Why not?
But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it was all disclosed properly and the Nunes memo was wrong to leave that out.
Why the FUCK did the FBI and DOJ request the FISA warrant? Why the FUCK did the FISA court authorize the warrant?
Saying "Gosh, it was all disclosed properly.." does not make the scandal go away. The FBI is still corrupt. The only thing that does is make the FISA court either corrupt, complicit, or incompetent. And before you say "Just one judge!", the FBI reportedly went to four separate judges, once each, to get the warrant and renew it. So four separate judges all saw this warrant request and approved it. If everything was disclosed, they are all implicated.
But I do agree with Patterico on one thing.
Release the Documentation. Let's see the FISA applications. Bring it all into the sunlight.
Claim: DOJ may have told FISA court of political origins of dossier
I rate this claim bullshit. Why bullshit? Because "ample disclosure of relevant, material facts" is just a way of claiming the court was informed without acting saying that the court was told that Hillary or the DNC funded the dossier. Because, you know, they can't claim that, because it isn't true.
There's a vast difference between saying, as the memo suggests, that the research into the Trump dossier was funded by "a US person" and saying that it was funded by "Hillary Clinton and her party organization who is running against Trump in the presidential election". A "US person" could be anyone, and while there are a lot of people who might have motive to research Trump in the hopes of finding something negative about him to damage his changes of winning the election, most of them have no particular motive to make things up, and even if they had such a motive, they lacked the media access to make a lie stick. Only someone with the resources of a national political party could reasonably expect to make something up and sell it to the media for long enough to swing an election.
So, yes, it makes a big difference whether you tell them the identity of the US Person funding the dossier. And also, you know, whether you tell the court that the source of the dossier is personally biased against Trump, is in fact self-admittedly "desperate" to ensure Trump does not win the election, and has been terminated from his position with the FBI over his partisan bias and contacts with the news media trying to publicize this.
So no, saying it was funded by a "US person" is not enough, not even if you also mention a political entity.
A credible case can be made for FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok talking to various reporters about the Trump-Russia investigation. This is mentioned in the FISA memo, sourced from various text messages from them that have been publically leaked, and some specific stories and reporters can be identified by closely examining the timing.
Why weren't Page and Strzok terminated for talking to the media? Are the rules different for FBI agents than paid informants? Weaker? Why?
Sure, at first, you can argue no one knew what they were doing (clearly in their text messages to each other they were trying to hide it from their colleagues). But then the messages came out. They were transferred, demoted... but not fired. Why not?
I ran across three facts related to the FISA memo today that, together, paint an interesting picture.
Trey Gowdy announced he would not run for re-election the day before the memo was released. He said he planned to return to the justice system rather than remain in electoral office. The timing is very interesting indeed.
I see three possible takes. Either, both, or neither could be true.
First, Trey Gowdy expects the memo to force out more people at DOJ and FBI, and would like to be nominated for one of their jobs. Probably not Sessions; but it would be reasonable to expect Rod Rosenstein or possibly Christopher Wray to leave the FBI as a result of the memo dropping.
Second, it's possible Trey is removing himself as a target for retaliation. If Trey is the primary author of the memo, but Nunes is taking the public relations fire for it, maybe Trey knows he is vulnerable (to blackmail or worse) and needs to stay in the background.
Third... Trey could be expecting an appointment as a special prosecutor in this case. That's where I'm going to lay my chips for now. It's too dangerous for Trump to fire people (he would risk being accused of obstruction of justice), but he or AG Sessions can appoint their own special prosecutor. Given that Trey is currently the only person who has seen the actual FISA warrant applications, he would be the obvious choice for special prosecutor here. He's partisan, sure, but no worse than Mueller and the FBI he would be investigating, and he's not conflicted.
UPDATE: Don't confuse this for a recommendation. I don't know these players enough to be making recommendations.
DOJ IG recovers missing text messages between Page and Strzok
Well, they sure didn't stay missing long, did they? As this incident should remind us, when the government wants to recover text messages, they can generally recover the text messages. When they don't want to recover the text messages, as with the case of the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, it's a cover up.
And speaking of coverups, I feel that I should point out that the IG had to use "forensic tools" to recover those missing text messages. That means someone tried to delete them, probably Page and Strzok themselves, which speaks to consciousness of guilt.
UPDATE: I meant to point out that the notification does not say "all" messages were recovered, which potentially leaves some wiggle room. We don't know how many messages were actually recovered, out of how many total.