I am not bothered by this commutation. The justice system failed Stone; he was convicted solely of process crimes related to the Russia Hoax, and both judge and jury in his case displayed strong evidence of bias. While some of his actions were poorly considered, the commutation of his sentence does not clear his record, so a substantial penalty remains. Given Stone's age, the obvious lack of risk to the public, the prevalence of COVID cases in the prison system along with other risks, and the painful comparison to SpyGate conspirators already let off the hook for similar and worse actions, commutation of his prison term seems entirely reasonable.
Trying to read the tea leaves about why it was released is probably futile. So long as the case is open, DOJ has an obligation to release material like this that they find. They might be releasing it as they find it, or they might be making the pointed decision to drip this stuff out to encourage Sullivan to comply with the writ of mandamus issued by the appeals court without showing their full hand.
It will be interesting to see the full documents, not just the summary description. In fact, since the documents were provided Tuesday, I'm a little surprised we haven't seen them already. But as usual, John Solomon has good sources.
Flynn has started talking, it seems. He may not be able to reveal details publicly, but I would be very surprised if he can't find a way to get the information into hands that will be able to use it effectively.
Flynn pretext investigation continued on Obama's orders
So says the just-releasedbombshell of Strzok's notes on the January 5th meeting, intended for Strzok's consumption. They appear to say that the Kisliyak call was legitimate, Biden proposed the Logan Act excuse, and Obama ordered the investigation to continue by saying "These are unusual times". Obama also said "Make sure you look at things" (ie, continue the investigation) and "have the right people on it" (ie, reliable Deep State folks).
At long last, justice is done. With the termination of the case should also come the termination of Judge Sullivan's gag order on Flynn preventing him from talking about the case in the media. If Flynn has anything to say to the public, he's now free to say it. And Trump is now free to put Flynn in a position of authority should he be so inclined.
AG Barr says the Kung Flu has slowed down the Durham investigation
I had already figured out that the virus was being used and overhyped for political purposes. The virus -- or more accurately the excessive hype and panic that induced and extended the economic lockdowns -- has effectively destroyed Trump's massive economic success in his first term. It serves as a very useful media distraction from anything related to Durham's investigation being declassified (in fact, the timing of that is particularly suspicious).
Remember that the Deep State's aim is simply to draw the matter out past the election. If they can beat Trump, they can shut down any investigations or prosecutions easily. That was also the aim of the Mueller investigation and even the impeachment proceedings -- it would be nice if either got Trump out of office, but it was always a long shot. The real goal was delaying any ability to investigate and prosecute past the election.
And a virus which conveniently shuts down court systems, and thus grand juries, for the 5 months or so between now and election day is just what the Deep State ordered.
There was an edit made there. Why? If it was trying to hide something Maria said in her initial response, the insertion of a without-glasses response (presumably recorded later, hence the continuity blip) is odd and serves as a very easy to notice and very easy to fix indicator of the edit. So why didn't they get it right?
My guess is that Maria said something that Barr doesn't want to be public yet, but I have no idea why they would make the edit so obvious.
More background on the investigation into Trump's foreign policy team
Sundance lays out the case. Start with this twitter thread. This is a good piece for understanding how the investigations into Page, Papadopolous, Flynn, Manafort, and (recently revealed) Phares all link together, and also form the link from the pre-election illegal surveillance and the post-election Mueller investigation.
Rosenstein testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee
Feinstein, who was involved on the Senate Intel Committee when this was going on, is the ranking minority member. Lindsey Graham chairs the committee, a Republican whose bark is louder and more painful than his bite.
So far, my impression is that Rosenstein is not going to do well, and claim to be basically ignorant of anything. With regard to the FISA approval he signed, he claims he relied on what he was told was in the application -- meaning he is claiming he signed it without reading it. He can't identify anything McCabe lied to him about, even in hindsight, though he does admit there were some things that he felt McCabe was not candid about. So far he's trying to defend his decisions based on what he claims to have known at the time (versus what we know now). That's basically claiming ignorance of everything his subordinates were doing.
One sticky point is that he was asked if any of the investigative steps Mueller took relied upon the Steele dossier. Rosenstein says he doesn't know about individual steps. That's a dodge. Mueller got at least one renewal of the Page FISA which was almost entirely based on Steele's "information".
Dana Boente forced to resign from FBI over SpyGate
We get a kind of backwards confirmation that there were multiple FISA warrants on Flynn, because one of the justifications for letting Boente go was that he signed them. I'm not sure if that is accurate or if the story is confusing the warrants on Page with warrants on Flynn. But Boente was definitely involved and is now gone.
I call this progress, but justice will require more than resignations.
Steele also testified he was paying his sources, meaning they had a financial incentive to make things up. Steele said he got some of his information from Hillary's lawyers, and names Susan Rice as someone at the high level of the Obama administration who knew or was involved as early as July. That's the first direct information linking this to Obama's inner cycle, aside from occasional Strzok-Page texts referring to the White House.
Steele got Alfa Bank story directly from Clinton, DNC lawyer
So thje FBI knew this story was coming from the DNC and Clinton campaign when Sussman pitched to the James Baker, a top FBI official at the time. The two had worked together previously and so knew each other. The FBI can't claim ignorance of the politics by hiding behind Steele here. Steele was involved to give this frame-job a "credible" front, but it seems it was all made-up bullshit and Clinton lies.
But using personal and political connections in this case is hardly unprecedented. The judge who accepted Flynn's guilty plea almost immediately had to recuse himself when it became clear he was friendly on a personal level with the infamous Strzok, and the text messages suggest a desire by Strzok to discuss the case with the judge off-the-record using a personal event as cover.
More interesting reading from the comments at Meaning in History, linked above. It's speculation about the why behind this frantic cover up effort. The author thinks it's all about the Iran nuclear deal, and Flynn knows stuff about that that he can't talk about with criminal charges hanging over his head. That's part of it. But the other big thing that's being protected, I think, is the extensive use of the US (and allies) intelligence assets to manipulate elections. That's the prize that the deep state is frantic to protect.
In other somewhat unrelated news, Senator Burr is stepping down from the committee over an FBI investigation into insider stock trading around the Kung Flu.
I can't help but think this is merely convenient timing, and he's actually leaving for reasons related to SpyGate. Although the FBI investigation into his trading habits certainly justifies his removal by itself.
Analysis. Basically Rice says that Comey had concerns about Flynn (as incoming National Security Advisor) speaking frequently to the Russian ambassador; not that classified information was being passed but that "the level of communication was unusual". There's some back and forth between Comey and Obama about whether they should hide information from Flynn.
The previously redacted portion is basically portraying all of this information about Flynn and the suggestions for how to deal with him as coming from Comey. I believe this to be defensively self-serving and untrustworthy.
UPDATE: I have an additional take here, upon reflection. It involves exactly what information the outgoing Obama admin is trying to hide from the incoming Trump administration. It's clearly not just generic sensitive information related to Russia. Such a policy would be impossible to enforce and would raise huge questions immediately. So it's not that. It's something specific.
It's the counterintelligence investigation into Flynn and Trump specifically. In other words -- the cover up.
Treasury whistleblower: Obama admin used Treasury to spy on Flynn, others
Including Congress, Manafort, senior staff on the Trump campaign, and Trump family members. At some point it has to become obvious that only the White House could be coordinating all these agencies, and that the targeting must be political. In fact the whistleblower says having a political predicate was routine.
It's now clear that Obama treated the United States exactly as a third-world dictator would.
Barr says he does not expect criminal probe of Obama or Biden
Bill Quick finds this disappointing. I do too, but I think there's a bit of a different perspective. I've commented before that a lot of what happened in 2019 (and really, in 2017 and 2018 too) was a negotiation between the Deep State and Trump. The Mueller investigation threatened impeachment to paralyze the President while the House Intel Committee investigated the Deep State. The negotiation was simple: mutually assured destruction, or drop the investigations. In 2018 the roles swapped; the Dems took the House and threatened impeachment, but Trump and Barr shut down Mueller and begin seriously investigating the Deep State. This made impeachment inevitable, but the details were to-be-determined and essentially irrelevant. It was always going to be some pretext, and so it was. But Trump did not blink, and beat the impeachment. Given the Senate, impeachment was always more of a public relations and reputational threat, and Trump proved stronger than those who sought to intimidate him.
Now Trump, through Barr, is setting the terms. He's saying to the Deep State: I won't go after Obama or Biden criminally. I'll expose them, but not prosecute. I'll beat Biden to a bloody pulp (politically, in the election) but I won't prosecute him and I won't prosecute Obama. Everyone else who participated is fair game.
That's the last peace offer the Deep State gets. They can stop the BS and have a fair 2020 election for all the marbles (and likely lose because Biden is both pathetic and compromised in Obamagate), but have their two major leadership figures left with freedom if not reputations intact... OR, the Deep State can fight dirty, tooth and nail, bring another impeachment right before the election or whatever else they plan to do. And if they choose to fight dirty, Trump withdraws the offer of protection, leaving Obama and Biden to face the legal consequences of their actions if (when) he wins in 2020.
It would be very disappointing for Obama and Biden to escape consequences. But remember that Barr is speaking hypothetically here. He doesn't "expect" either of them to face a criminal investigation or charges. That can change.
It's not necessarily improper to unmask someone, constitutional issues about the collection itself aside, if appropriate procedures are followed for an appropriate purpose. It is exceedingly improper (and, yes, illegal) to leak the unmasking as was done to Flynn. Logically, what should have happened in this case would be simple:
1) Obama kicks out Russian diplomats, creating an incident 2) Flynn, as incoming National Security Advisor, talks to the Russians and requests they do not escalate. 3) For whatever reason the conversation with the Russian ambassador gets intercepted and people ask who is this guy asking them not to escalate? 4) Flynn is unmasked to those individuals and they say "Oh, he's the incoming National Security Advisor. That makes sense." The issue gets dropped.
Instead, someone leaked the information to the press to create a scandal, which the FBI used to conduct an ambush interview and get Flynn fired.
So the question is: who leaked the call? That leak was illegal -- and likely it was one of the people on the unmasking list who did it.
Grenell declassified the Obama admin officials involved in unmasking
It seems likely this list will be a bombshell when it finally gets out, and possibly expand Durham's investigation. It's worth noting that unmasking by itself isn't necessarily improper, but leaking the results definitely is, and that appears to have happened several times. The real question is whether those unmaskings can be provably linked to leaks, and whether the information reveals more activity than Barr was previously aware of.
In his call with former officials, Obama says that the result of justice here puts the rule of law at risk. That is obviously bullshit; just look at the many Obama officials who lied to Congress and never even got charged with perjury for it. The actual threat to the rule of law comes from the Obama administration using the FBI and intelligence agencies to try to swing the outcome of an election, and then remove the duly-elected President in a political coup. The plot to frame Michael Flynn was only one of many actions taken by Obama that are better suited to a third world dictator than a US president.
Sultan Knish has a length article up saying the Russians had compromised Steele. This may well be true; Steele was friendly with Russians who had intel and government ties, and they may well have been feeding him information. Or more accurately, disinformation. But remember those same sources disclaimed the information, saying either Steele made it up or it was rumors and "bar talk".
"The Russians fooled us" is the FBI's fallback position to get out of trouble for deliberately abusing their counterintelligence powers to influence an election. We shouldn't let them evade responsibility that way.
And the proof of this is that the FBI interviewed Steele's sources and obtained those sources' disclaimer of the information even before the Mueller investigation began.
BOMBSHELL: Yates says Obama initiated the Flynn investigation
This appears to be the January 5th meeting about which Susan Rice wrote her "by the book" memo-to-self. Despite Rice's attempted ass-covering, this puts Obama right in the crosshairs of whoever is investigating the Flynn case.
Remember the timing. This meeting came right after the FBI had already decided to close their Flynn investigation based on other (baseless) allegations. Strzok had to intervene to keep it open, saying his bosses were interested in the case. And his bosses -- Comey and Obama, at a minimum -- were in that meeting.
To be fair, Obama said he didn't want any more information about the case. But to me that sounds more like a mafia don than a President. It has that sort of vibe: I don't know what you are going to do to solve this problem for me, and I don't want to know. I just want it solved. Never speak of it to me again.
If those two are cooperating witnesses we probably won't get those interviews for a while. If we aren't going to see prosecutions, then we will get the interviews probably shortly after the decision not to prosecute is made.
Roger Stone alleges Special Counsel asked him to lie
This is not quite surprising or detailed enough to be a bombshell. Of course the special counsel is going to "ask" Stone to implicate others in the matter he is investigating. Of course the special counsel is not supposed to solicit lies, but he is supposed to apply pressure to get to the truth. Exactly how outrageous this is depends a lot on the details of that pressure and whether Stone was explicitly asked or pressured to lie.
But in the larger context, knowing there was nothing to any of this, the pressure looks particularly suspicious and improper.
So, they looked into Flynn, and asked other agencies for any derogatory information they have on him. (Gosh, do you think that information might also be useful to a political campaign?) They didn't actually get any, so the investigation was closed... except:
So Strzok ordered that the investigation stay open, stating that "the 7th floor" was involved. The top level of the FBI -- meaning Comey, McCabe, etc -- have offices on the 7th floor. That was January 4th. What happened on January 5th?
Getting someone to lie is not how this is supposed to work. That would be entrapment -- creating a crime where none existed.
The notes also indicate the FBI agents discussed whether to provide Flynn a Miranda warning and decided not to. It is becoming more and more clear that this whole case was a setup from beginning to end.
We'll see if the judge is willing to call a spade a spade soon, I suspect. More details here.
Craig Murray has a Twitter account and a blog wherein he comments on Seth Rich. The obvious logical leap is that he received the emails (or at least some emails) from Seth Rich at American University as mentioned above, or at least was aware of his role in leaking them. Which would sort of put an end to the idea that the Russians hacked the DNC to get them.
I find myself wondering how I missed this at the time. It was published in December of 2016.
To be sure, Craig does not say outright that he got the emails from Seth Rich, but he does say where he got at least some emails and is linked to Wikileaks, and is also commenting on the Seth Rich case.
Best guess? There's more than one leaker, and Wikileaks is keeping quiet to protect the other(s) involved.
Active measures to frame Trump with Alfa Bank allegations?
If, in fact, someone was trying to fake the appearance of traffic between the two systems, it would represent a significant piece of evidence for an actual frame job rather than simply making up rumors. The first question people should be asking here is who controlled those two domains (trump-email.com and contact-client.com) at the time. If it wasn't Trump or Alfa Bank, who was it?
If either side of that transaction is controlled by Fusion GPS or Intel Agency assets, we have a frame job. And there are more ways to do a frame job even if those domains are controlled by some Trump-related org and/or Alfa Bank; DNS is not a very secure protocol).
Boente was involved in SpyGate and thus this is not surprising news there. However, if Wray was also involved (the FBI denies it but who trusts them anymore?) it would be another sign that Wray is aligned with the Deep State rather than justice. If so, it would not be the first such sign, but perhaps the first one with a trail.
Flynn's attorney, Sydney Powell, has indicated that there is more exculpatory information not yet released:
If her claims are true -- and so far she has a better track record than the FBI -- that's quite an explosive collection of material the FBI released, and there's more to come.
Just like when Hillary "wiped, like with a cloth?" her server, this should be taken as an admission of guilt.
UPDATE: Probably also worth noting. He also wiped his communications with Fusion GPS... and did so "in early January 2017". IE, shortly after Trump was elected and the question of how to cover everything up was undoubtedly very active...
UPDATE 2: Bongino points out that the date Steele deleted the emails is the same date as the January 5th meeting at the White House which Susan Rice documented in an email to herself January 20th stating that Obama emphasized everything about the Trump-Russia investigation should be handled "by the book". That is, of course, intended as coverup (as in, "We will all (pretend) we did this by the book, so cover up anything that says otherwise").
Why is the President threatening to adjurn Congress?
It boils down to two linked issues: confirmations and recess appointments. Congress has for years (and probably decades -- the practice started under George W Bush IIRC, but even that was not the first use) used pro-forma sessions to block Presidents from making recess appointments while Congress was not in session. Why? Well, the Senate wants to exercise it's power to advise and consent in important positions, and if they go out of session, the President can appoint someone to the position and they lose their ability to block people they don't like -- at least temporarily.
But generally Presidents appoint a lot of people and the Senate, while often slow on confirming them all, usually manages to keep the important ones flowing and the less important positions are filled by "Acting" people. The people in "Acting" roles don't have full authority but do have enough to keep things moving. In short, normally the Senate doesn't have enough time to confirm everyone, but does confirm enough to keep the issue on the back burner.
Court ruling: FBI violated rights, illegally spied in 2017 and 2018
I think the violations of the law are obvious and indeed inherent -- the law being the Fourth Amendment. But the judges are actually talking about the authorizing law Congress passed, which is pretty bad, but at least attempts to provide some protections... which the FBI, CIA, and NSA evidently have been ignoring for at least 7 years (and probably a lot longer than that, but less politically).
Remember, this is after an earlier court ruling just a few years ago that criticized these exact practices (and in doing so, may have exposed SpyGate by forcing the perpetrators to change their methodology). And they are still bold enough to be doing this.
FBI says it didn't review file that tied Steele to Russian oligarchs
That's obviously a headline that will shock and horrify anyone with a decewnt bone in their body. Oh no! The FBI failed to review an intelligence file that would have exposed Steele's ties to Russia! They were negligent! They were incompetent!
Folks, we're well beyond negligent and incompetent here. The game being played is criminal indictments from Durham, and in that context, negligent and incompetent is a lot better than criminal charges -- especially when the reasonable punishments for negligence and incompetence (ie, losing your job) have already been applied.
So, this whole claim here boils down to "It wasn't our fault, we didn't know, we didn't look, we were stupid." But Steele was telling the FBI all about his Russian contacts; that was where he was claiming to get his information.
And what did his contacts say when the Mueller investigation interviewed them? They said it was all bullshit and bar talk that Steele either took out of context or make up completely.
So remember, the line that the Steele dossier was all Russian disinformation validates the claim that Russia interfered in the election (even if not as advertised, that will be glossed over) and remains an FBI defensive narrator to replace criminal culpability with aw-shucks-I-guess-they-got-me bullshit.
Footnotes from IG report on SpyGate to be declassified
It seems likely that Trump's recent actions in firing the ICIG Atkinson (who was clearly a Deep State operative whose involvement in SpyGate and QuidProQuoGate should have been notorious) and installing a new Acting DNI has allowed these actions to move forward. However, the matter is not quite so simple as that.
If you haven't been following why, exactly, Trump and Barr investigating Crowdstrike is such a big deal, this is a good way to catch up. And if that describes you, ask yourself whether the media sources you trust to keep you informed have actually been doing that.
The first two FISAs on Carter Page are still being looked into.
This should, logically, mean everything they found based on that information is fruit of the poisoned tree and inadmissible. But it's not clear they found anything from that warrant that was useful in criminal court. It was political intelligence they were after. If Mueller used it even just to generate leads to look into things (like the Cohen situation), that could rapidly run into problems. But we just don't know what role -- including an intermediate role without being directly submitted to a court -- the information collected from those wiretaps played in later prosecutions. DOJ will be looking into that.
There's potentially a lot of fallout here since it imperils the entire existence of the Mueller special counsel investigation, if that was predicated on anything found in the wiretaps.
IG Horowitz releases scathing review of FISA process
First, I will point out that this is not the Page FISA that has gotten so much attention. It is a supplemental report from the IG on all the OTHER FISAs out there that were not controversial or in the public eye.
For four of the FISA applications, they could not review the Woods file verification because it could not be found or did not exist.
He has basically found substantial flaws in every single application he reviewed. The FBI has demonstrated that this entire process cannot be trusted... that the FBI itself cannot be trusted.
I don't see how requiring the AG to sign off before surveiling government officials will prevent the CIA, NSA, DOJ, and FBI from spying on candidates in order to prevent them from becoming officials. Or protect the privacy rights of ordinary people at all. This may be better than a clean renewal, but not by much. Hopefully the Senate can make it stronger.
Not sure what changes are being proposed yet. But since it is being moved quietly, I suspect it is just a clean renewal, no reforms. Contact your representatives in the House and tell them no renewal without real reforms.
McCarthy: strange to prioritize individual liberty?
It's strange that prioritizing civil liberties of individuals is NOT Andrew McCarthy's first thought after Obama demonstrated repeatedly (starting with IRS abuse of the Tea Party in 2010-2012 and continuing to 2019 with SpyGate) that national security agencies cannot be trusted to resist politicization by at least one side of the debate. Well, perhaps strange is not the best word. McCarthy was only reluctantly brought around to the view that the FBI, CIA, et all, abused their power for political purposes. It's not really surprising that he would prefer to go back to his default position of trusting even agencies proven untrustworthy.
But the rest of us should refuse.
Elements of the FISA law have been abused. Trump has declared he will not sign a renewal of the law that does not contain reforms. We should stand with Trump and demand reforms to protect our rights. Yes, even if that costs some degree of security -- and the track record of the programs at issue here is pathetically bad. You can't find a needle in a haystack, but you can sure find a lot of straw that looks like a needle, especially if it associates with a political campaign you don't like.
Translator at Trump Tower meeting said nothing happened
FBI 302s associated with the Mueller team are starting to come out. One of the latest and most important releases is the interview with the translator at the infamous Trump Tower meeting which was used to paint Trump (via his son who attended) as being in cahoots with the Russians. The meeting was actually almost certainly a setup by Fusion GPS (who met with the Russian representative shortly before and after the meeting).
What's news is that Mueller's team interviewed the translator less than four days after the news of that meeting leaked -- and found out that nothing untoward happened at the meeting, the only topic of discussion was sanctions under the Magnitsky act, and all of that from a man who didn't like Trump and had ties to Hillary and the State Department.
And the Mueller team continued to investigate and allow the Russian Collusion myth to persist for 2 years (and, not coincidentally, a midterm election) before finally releasing a report.
Because we evidently can't trust DOJ and FBI even under a friendly administration and AG, we need to repeal the Patriot ACT to stop abuse of national security and intelligence tactics for political abuse. Legislative reform is absolutely necessary here.
The renewal date is March 15th. Write your Congressmen and tell them not to renew. It's a small step, but a necessary one.
This lawsuit seeking records on Seth Rich may expose a lot of deep state malfeasance. If the DNC emails released by Wikileaks were leaked (for which Seth Rich is pretty much the only publicly known possibility) rather than hacked by the Russians, the entire Russia hoax falls apart.
Trump recently pardoned a few people; less than just about every other President in recent history. The media promptly freaked out about that, and are now claiming that Trump offered to pardon Assange (the man behind Wikileaks, who published the DNC leaked emails, and the Podesta emails) in return for saying where Assange got the DNC emails from. The implication is that Assange would be pardoned in return for a lie, and the pardon is thus a corrupt bargin and obstruction of justice.
Third, the charges against Assange have pretty obviously been false from the beginning. In Europe he was accused of ... accidentally not wearing a condom during consensual sex and thus this is rape. Except those got dropped. The people involved seem likely to be plants, and not the kind you need to water every day. The other US charges are related to the Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning affair, and originate from the Deep State SpyGate team. They are also slim, revolving around helping with "hacking" that never happened.
So why the big stink about the pardon thing, when the Assange part wasn't in the news until the media injected it?
Because the Judicial Watch FOIA suggests more about Seth Rich will be coming out, and the idea of Trump getting Assange to testify somehow is obviously scaring the wits out of the Deep State. If Assange testifies that it wasn't Russia, and it was Seth Rich... all of Russiagate blows up.
Alleged Mifsud recording denies offering dirt on Hillary to Page?
So, let's review.
If it IS Mifsud, he said he doesn't work for any intelligence agencies, and did not say anything to Papadopoulos about dirt on Hillary. This would seem at first glance to be bad news for the SpyGate folks since it goes against the Russian narrative -- but the FBI is not claiming their investigation began with Mifsud and Papadopoulos. They claim it began after that.
If it ISN'T Mifsud... as Mifsud's lawyer says... who is it and what motive do they have for the claims?
Cui Bono? Who benefits?
The US intelligence agencies who desperately want to cover up their own involvement in this farce. Producing a fake Mifsud recording and leaking it to the media seems an easy way to create confusion and doubt over their involvement with the man who seems to remain in hiding or perhaps dead.
Given how the government has handled the Michael Flynn and Roger Stone cases, backing off of this case appears on its face to present a double standard. Democrats get a pass, especially if they are named Clinton. Republicans get nailed to the wall with the government asking nearly a decade in jail for similar acts.
If Barr wants Trump to stop tweeting criticism of DOJ, Barr needs to start delivering the prosecutions.
FBI agents violated the law to share secrets with Steele
Allegedly, of course. But the source is the IG report. The FBI receive most of Steele's information, but then meets with him in October. There, according to the IG report, they (several FBI agents from Crossfire Hurricane) shared with Steele the information they had gathered on alleged Trump-Russia links.
"Questionable judgment". For an intel type, that's the kiss of death. They live on their judgment.
In other words, these are probably people named in the assessment, having been given the chance to review it, and are now leaking to friendly reporters to soften the blow.
In other words -- the FBI had the assessment in hand prior to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th FISA renewals, and probably had it before the 1st application but think maybe that isn't provable. And they did not disclose it in the FISA application, but they think maybe they can stretch a vaguely worded footnote they put in to cover it.
James Baker was heavily involved in SpyGate. And he was the one paying Halper in 2016. Game, set, match.
BUT: Horowitz's report may not deal with this aspect since it is under the umbrella of a different IG. And the DoD IG appears to be passing on the political aspects and simply pointing out Halper's expenses are BS. Is someone -- Durham? -- looking into what Halper was really doing?
Details on the FISA court ruling outlining FBI abuse
In other words, the FBI is not tracking the justifications for searches of US persons. If they aren't tracked, at all, they can't be audited for compliance or punished for non-compliance. And they also aren't applying the rules put in place to protect US citizens from unjustified surveillance.
Papadopoulos expands the scope of the SpyGate abuse
Reading only a little between the lines, it appears Papadopoulos was targeted by the State Department in 2015 when he joined the Ben Carson campaign, and by intelligence officials who already knew all about him when he later joined the Trump campaign. That expands the scope of the campaign targeting to Republican campaigns other than Trump and substantially earlier than the FBI claims their investigation began. This activity is likely not from the FBI, but from intelligence operatives at the CIA and NSA, possibly with foreign intelligence assistance.
John Solomon is a reporter who has been doing excellent work reporting on SpyGate. This work got him fired from The Hill, likely due to political pressure, and he was in the process of setting up a new news agency.
Finally, we may see some justice. Assuming we get to see the discovery, and the DNC doesn't settle quickly to avoid exactly that (and would Page accept a settlement?), the results are likely to lead to Clinton. And there are a LOT of people Page can sue over this.
FBI hiding information about Seth Rich, and it involves Strzok
Details here. We don't know the exact content (it is mostly redacted), but we know Strzok was somehow involved, and the FBI was concerned about this enough that the person preparing the response declared under penalty of perjury that there were no responsive records... when there clearly were.
Durham investigation expands to Office of Net Assessment
This is the office that was paying Stefan Halper significant money for "research papers" that were overpriced, not to spec, and possibly fraudulent (some of the people reported as coauthors don't remember working on the papers). If Halper was being paid by the US government for his already known activities related to the Trump campaign, Michael Flynn, and others... some of which predate the official start of the FBI investigation.. then who tasked him and authorized the pay?
Steele's dossier sources designed to exploit an FBI flaw?
Strange how Steele's resume and dossier came to the FBI perfectly prepared to exploit this flaw in the FBI's record keeping system. Steele was considered credible (albeit not by his original case handler!) and the FBI's system could only track his own credibility, not that of his foreign subsources.
This approach to the FBI really looks like it was designed by someone who knew the limitations fo the FBI's system and wanted to make it hard to identify and track the actual sources for Steele's information soi their credibility could be measured and potentially consequences applied. Instead Steele became the front man for everything.
Here's the thing. Both Comey and Brennan are claiming the other wanted to include the "crown material" (ie, Steele dossier) in the assessment. They know that being the one left holding that is dangerous. We also know Horowitz has probably already had a look at Comey's emails, and Durham is now reading through Brennan's. One of them is lying, and they both have made statements under oath about this.
Hmm... there's McCabe's name again. Remember, he's the whose wife's first run for political office got donations from Clinton-linked financiers to the tune of $700K or so. And he keeps showing up pushing the dossier. Durham should be scrutinizing McCabe very closely.
Yes, personally. He certified to the court that a FISA warrant was the least intrusive way to get information about Carter Page, despite Page's letter directly to Comey volunteering to be interviewed by the FBI on their investigation. Again, the letter was to Comey directly (and cc'd to the Washington Post) and Comey personally signed a FISA afterwards.
Does the Page FISA fraud invalidate all of the Mueller warrants too?
Remember, all of those warrants were based on the idea that Trump was colluding with Russia. And all of the Trump-Russia collusion was based on the hoax dossier.
Doesn't that invalidate not just the main FISA warrant against Carter Page and the Trump campaign, but also all the Mueller investigation warrants? At a minimum, those applied for after the dossier was known to be a hoax.
This puts McCabe in an even more central position regarding pushing the Clinton material into government investigations, undermines Comey's denials of pushing the Steele material into the ICA, and for the first time suggests Obama held an active rather than passive role in pushing the dossier material.
Note that, however strongly worded the letter may be, it is effectively demanding new policies and procedures rather than issuing contempt of court orders. Thus, it is unlikely to deter further abuses as none of the people involved have suffered real consequences... at least so far. Durham is still in play.
A good article that lays out what Horowitz should have been able to discern, but ultimately refused to see: The Hidden Hand that explains why many apparently disconnected events took place.
For example: why did a single drunken conversation between a low-level staffer and a foreign diplomat lead to a full blown FBI investigation? It's like someone at the FBI was waiting for it. And they probably were.
And, why did a lawyer on the investigative team falsify a document? It's something that will undoubtedly have hugely negative consequences for him personally. It's not a discretionary thing that can be explained away. It's a very serious matter with little apparent reason to do it.
Read the whole thing. The connections are damning.
As for the larger plan -- DOJ/FBI blaming CIA/NSA -- I think that's been their plan all along. Their argument is basically "We were dupes". That doesn't fly, because they had to swear things to the FISC that simply were not true, including that they had verified the unverifiable (ie, false) information they presented.
There must be accountability for the whole operation. FBI, DOJ, CIA, NSA, State Dept; all the way up to the White House.
Despite the lack of significant criminal referrals and the refusal to take anything short of a written confession as evidence of bad intent, the Horowitz report does do something significantly positive: it validates the reporting on the SpyGate controversy for one side, and destroys that reporting on the other. Nunes' initial memo outlining the problem is validated, and Schiff's counter-memo is exposed as a tissue of lies. The dossier is demonstrated to be the primary reason for granting the FISA, and is proven false. The FBI is proven to have known it was a pile of lies, yet continued to rely on it before the court, withholding exculpatory information and even falsifying data to the court.
While certain aspects are not proven (eg, the role of the intelligence agencies in creating the investigation using agents such as Mifsud), they are not disproven either.
So while the report is clearly imperfect and fails to bring the conclusions to their proper end with criminal referrals, it does significantly advance the ball for our side. If this was the final play, it would be a tie -- neither side got what they wanted. But it's not. Durham and Barr are clearly still pursuing matters.
So we're in the final quarter and the score is tied. It's up to Durham now.
UPDATE: A comment made late in the Senate hearing that I just noticed. Asked why the report doesn't specify criminal referrals, Horowitz responds that he felt the conduct within was so serious that he simply forwarded the whole report to DOJ/Barr to make those decisions. So, effectively, everyone mentioned in it has been referred for potential criminal prosecution.
UPDATE: Initial conclusions are that Horowitz identifies a lot of errors, mistakes, problems, procedures that were not followed, and so on, but fails to bring it home. It's a hefty black eye for the reputation of the FBI but doesn't really offer consequences other than suggesting a lot of performance reviews. It's not a whitewash, more like a greywash.
As for Horowitz himself, this report combined with the Clinton email report strongly suggests that Horowitz (an Obama appointee, remember) is playing a sacrificial defense game. He's admitting what he has to, doesn't have all the necessary information, and refusing to draw the obvious conclusions.
Unfortunately, as in this case, McCarthy doesn't always get it. There is no conspiracy theory that "Ukraine hacked the DNC email accounts" that Trump bought into. Here are the facts:
There is an argument that the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks by an insider rather than hacked. The likely candidate for the leaker is Seth Rich, a DNC staffer found murdered in DC after the publication of the emails. The only person who likely knows, Wikileaks founder Assange, has said nothing to contradict this and some things that seem to support it, including offering a reward for information leading to Rich's murderer. There is strong evidence that the emails were leaked (copied to a local USB device) rather than hacked (and transferred over the internet).
The involvement of Seth Rich is speculation. The conclusion that the server was hacked comes entirely from Crowdstrike (no one else has examined the server) and is forensically weak. Crowdstrike has a history of forensically mis-attributing things to Russian hackers, and Hillary Clinton was running an operation to tie Trump to Russians and election interference. That's a strong motive for misrepresenting the source of the emails, and preventing examination of the evidence (ie, the server) by neutral parties.
The Ukraine angle also comes from Crowdstrike, which has connections to the Ukraine and may have physical possession of the "hacked" server. Examination of the server would probably (if the evidence has not been destroyed at this point) prove or disprove the hack versus leak theory. Given that companies' links to the Ukraine, it is not unreasonable for Trump to ask Ukraine for help investigating Crowdstrike's involvement in the 2016 elections and possession of evidence related to the DNC hack.
That angle is not proven, but it's not a conspiracy theory either, and asking for evidence to determine the truth is not a characteristic of conspiracy theorists.
Svetlana Lokhova gets into the SpyGate investigation
Her information and details suggest Halper played a central role -- and was paid for it with tax dollars via the Office of Net Assessment. The CIA was likely behind Halper's involvement, seeking to convince the FBI to open an investigation that could be used to keep surveillance on Trump active after the NSA's access got shut down. Steele's claimed Russian sources may well have been filtered through Halper at best -- and just made up by Halper or others at worst.
Over at Meaning In History, they are reading the Schiff report. Among many other bits of horror, the report indicates that Schiff has been obtaining the phone records of his own committee members (specifically Congressman Devin Nunes and aides), the personal attorney to the President Rudy Giuliani, and journalists (specifically John Solomon).
This strikes me as hugely significant. Once more the Democrats are spying on their political opponents for political purposes, and they are doing it brazenly. Either they are in a desperate panic over what is about to come out about SpyGate, or... they have been doing this all along, and somehow it never got exposed previously. Or perhaps both.
The New York Times tries to spin parts of the IG FISA report, but there are some holes in their narrative. Readers, do not believe the leaks, because they are 100% certain to be disinformation and spin. Wait for the report. It may be good, it may be bad, and maybe a wise reader can gain some insight into the contents by reading the leaks. But don't believe the leaks.
If Barr has any brains, and according to previous reporting, individuals are being shown only those portions of the report that they are personally involved in. That means this leak likely comes from a small group of people around the individual featured most prominently in it. I'd say canary trap, but the report will be released soon anyway.
I'm going to lay this prediction marker down, just in case. I think the Horowitz report on FISA abuse will include one or more criminal referrals for specific improper acts (such as altering an email) while taking the broader position that the FBI (largely, with individual exceptions) believed they were acting in good faith, while Durham prosecutes the CIA players who arranged the setup, and possibly those involved in the Mueller investigation/coverup.
Remember, Horowitz has limited scope, and he was tasked with FISA abuse only. The CIA activities, involving Mifsud, Burina, Halper, and so on, are mostly outside of that scope... but not outside of Durham's scope.
UPDATE: Meaning In History has a similar take. And he also reminds us that that charge against Clinesmith (for altering an email) means Clinesmith is going to get squeezed for info on the Corrupt Organization known as the "resistance". It might even be appropriate to think of Clinesmith as "the first domino".
The story here is that, as confirmed by John Solomon, Marie Yovanovitch (formerly ambassador to Ukraine) publicly interfered in the internal politics of that nation by calling for the firing of a certain prosecutor; presented a list of individuals to that government that they were instructed not to prosecute, some of which had criticized Manafort; and the State Department confirmed that a list of names was presented and associated with a request not to prosecute.
That certainly seems like the US embassy was exerting pressure on Ukraine to block prosecution of corruption. That seems questionable at best, and corrupt at worst... and it matches up quite well with what Biden bragged about (ie, getting a prosecutor investigating corruption fired by threatening to withhold aid), and combined with Biden's son (not to mention individuals associated with former SecState Kerry and other prominent Democrats) being paid by those under investigation... well, it looks like corruption followed by pressure to cover up the corruption.
There were also allegations Yovanovitch was making comments critical of Trump (which would certainly be grounds for removal, if any were needed, but a President can remove ambassadors at will).
Did Strzok lie in his Special Counsel exit interview?
Undercover Huber makes the case on Twitter. It has to do with the switcheroo over who took notes, who conducted the interview, and who wrote the FD-302. Note also that editing the 302 could also be a serious felony charge depending on the substance of the edits (eg, if it was edited to support a false-statements charge that wasn't supported by the actual interview); this is on top of that exposure.
Former AG says IG report on FISA will be the most consequential in years
Anyone paying attention is already extremely troubled, but Whitaker is in a position to know better than most. Particularly the comment about "How they do business generally" suggests this will be a wide-ranging report rather than a narrowly focused one.
Did Comey edit some of his memos to create an obstrution trap?
Gateway Pundit speculates. There's an interesting coincidence: four of the memos, those specifically collected by the FBI from Comey, describe conversations with only Comey and Trump participating. And there may be earlier copies delivered to the Senate that could be used for comparison.
If true, this could hang Comey. But for now, it's just interesting speculation, unless someone can get access to the original documents that supposedly exist.
Remember when the Democrats were making a big deal about the alleged Trump tower in Moscow? How Trump's lawyer, Cohen, was supposedly working hard to make some kind of secret deal during the election and that was supposedly proof of Trump's connections to and collusion with Russians?
The man pursuing that deal was FBI informant Felix Sater. At this point, it's well established that the Trump tower meeting with a few Russians was a setup arranged by Fusion GPS; that the mention of Hillary's emails by Papadopulous was incepted by Western intelligence associate Mifsud; that Carter Page, the purported target of the FISA, was a prior FBI informant; that the Russian moving in NRA circles was actually being directed and targeted towards high level politicians by Chris Bryne, CEO and ... yes... FBI informant. And let's not forget the Mike Flynn charges, which were a fraud from beginning to end and twice on Sundays. There's more I'm leaving out, including Halper, who was paid $600,000 in 2015 and 2016 to pretend to write papers while doing very odd things around Trump campaign staff.
People need to go to jail for this. All the way up to the top.
Read the filing, too. "Evidence of entrapment" may even be understating the case here. I'd argue it's proof of entrapment.
UPDATE: Meaning in History points out that the prosecution of Flynn was conducted by the Mueller special counsel team, containing the same people who had interviewed Flynn and (initially) reported he was telling the truth. In other words, Mueller (or his team) knew and prosecuted him for years anyway.
Durham's SpyGate investigation is now officially a criminal investigation
I'm honestly not sure why this step is only being taken now; it seems likely there was more than enough available evidence before. My guess is that Durham and Barr wanted to keep the investigation a non-criminal one as long as possible for some policy or procedural reason, and this change has some policy or procedural reason to be happening right now.
First, Clapper and Brennan have been making noise in public about Durham wanting to interview them. Why would they make noise about that? The only reason that makes sense is that they think they are targets and would be at risk if they were interviewed. They are probably right about that; they are almost certainly targets, and sitting to an interview would make them sitting ducks for the kind of perjury trap that got Michael Flynn in so much trouble. So, likely they refused to be interviewed voluntarily, and they are no longer employed by the government, so IG Horowitz doesn't have any lever to make them agree. A criminal investigation can compel them to either talk, or plead the 5th.
Glenn Simpson: Steele dossier went directly to Obama
Another bombshell, and this one pretty clearly implicates Obama in everything that was based on the Steele dossier (or any of its component parts).
Be alert for the attempts to tie the beginning of the effort to Republicans, and keep in mind that desperate the feverish efforts of the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Mueller, all of the Russian collusion was proven to be nonsense in Mueller's own report.
Boom? Does the FBI have possession of two Mifsud cell phones?
Mifsud is, of course, the "mysterious Russian agent" used to set up SpyGate; it's likely he's actually Western intelligence tasked with ... well, setting up SpyGate. He's been in hiding and seems to feel his life is in danger. Since he literally has information that could implicate both Clinton and Obama in the greatest abuse of government power in our national history, he's probably right. Just look at what happened to Epstein.
Judicial Watch investigates monitoring of journalists
If this list is even halfway accurate, this is huge news. This list is filled with journalists who have been heavily reporting on the SpyGate scandal. If they were monitored, and the monitoring ordered by the ousted Ambassador to Ukraine (who was likely involved in SpyGate itself)... "BOMBSHELL" has been a bit overused but certainly explosive.
Was Journalist John Solomon spied on? How many others?
His sources say yes, and based on his journalism about SpyGate, he has very good sources. He's far from the only person to be inappropriately spied on lately, too. According to a new report from the FISA court, the FBI/CIA/NSA did not stop abusing their surveillance capability in 2016. They continued to abuse it through 2017 and 2018, with illegal searches in the tens of thousands.
I'm reserving judgment on Horowitz until we see his report on FISA abuse. He's generated referrals before, even if they were not actually acted on. His report on the Clinton email investigation did seem tough, but generated little in terms of consequences. (No, "bias training" for all FBI employees is not "consequences").
Disturbingly, the linked article reports Horowitz did not interview Page, which seems a major oversight. And seeing articles like this appear -- with people expressing doubts -- sounds to me like battlespace preparation for a nothingburger. Not because there's no meat, but because the chef was unwilling to fry it.
Did Obama order Democrats to get dirt on Trump from Ukraine?
Asking a foreign government to cooperate with an investigation of credible allegations of corruption with real evidence (even a video recording of an admission!) is legitimate, even if the suspect is running for the nomination to oppose you. You don't get a pass from corruption laws because you run for office -- or rather, you shouldn't, even though it seems to work that way for Democrats. Thatg's what Trump has been doing: asking for cooperation with legitimate investigations.
Giuliani seems to be saying Obama actually ordered Democrats to dig up "dirt" on an opposition candidate.
If true, there's a substantial difference between the two. A legitimate investigation versus a political hit job.
Now, we don't know yet what Giuliani is describing. We'll have to evaluate that when we see the evidence. But we do know what Biden admitted to doing -- conditioning US aid on firing a prosecutor investigating the company his son worked for. That seems corrupt on its face.
Mind you, we know a little about what came out of Ukraine in 2016 about Trump. This was the "black ledger" allegations against Manafort. There is speculation they might be straight up fakes. If that's what Obama ordered and what Ukraine delivered, it's election interference by fraud and abuse of office.
Obama has shown no reluctance to interfere in foreign elections himself, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him soliciting interference to help his party at home.
So far, the FBI, DOJ, and intel community have proven completely incapable of policing their own. They had to lose an election before any of their malfeasance was revealed, only a few people have been fired, no one has actually been charged. The contrast with the charges filed against Michael Flynn and a years-long special counsel investigation into the President himself on trumped-up charges (pun definitely intended) along with surveillance and entrapment schemes conducted against other innocent Americans for political reasons is very sharp.
The first intelligence whistleblower plot failed. Now, it's becoming obvious that AG Barr has been talking to foreign leaders about their interference in our 2016 election: Italy, Australia, Great Britain... Mifsud, Downer, Halper. Probably that's what panicked the Deep State into trying such a rushed ploy to begin with. Now, caught without a plan in the tattered remains of their coup attempt, the Deep State throws up another IG to try to create a roadblock. Will the State Dept IG claim that Barr's legitimate investigation into election interference in 2016 is really an attempt to interfere in the 2020 elections? Will there be desperate attempts to spin real investigations into impeachable offenses? No doubt. Only the details are unknown.
The spin is being cranked up to 11.
Most likely, this means big stuff is about to drop.
A so-called whistleblower claims Trump was speaking with a foreign leader and made some sort of promise the intel guy didn't like, so the intel guy ran to Congress and leaked the information. The Treehouse guys connect breadcrumbs and think the leaker is likely Sue Gordon, and her real motive is likely to get protections under whistleblower laws that would make it harder to fire her. There are also some suggestions that it may be an attempt to protect Biden.
Biden's quid pro quo here, protecting his son from a corruption investigation, was obviously corrupt itself. Undoing it and suggesting Ukraine restart he investigation we demanded them stop under a prior government seems legitimate. But the Democrats will try to spin it as political interference, gambling on no one knowing what Biden and his son were up to.
It's now generally accepted, if not 100% proven, that the Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a mysterious Russian woman was set up by Fusion GPS. Among other evidence, the woman met with Fusion GPS both before and after the meeting. And, of course, Fusion GPS was working with the Hillary campaign and Christopher Steele to convince the FBI to investigate the Trump campaign for Russian collusion that did not exist.
As far as I know, this is new information, and it would be devastating to the FBI's narrative if they were directing Sater to encourage deals with the Russians while they were trying to investigate the Trump campaign for Russian connections. And, yes, the Russian building angle has been used in various Democrat attempts to smear Trump, most particularly with respect to Cohen's congressional testimony.
And, conveniently, Sater was mentioned in the Mueller report several times but not his status as an informant. That's not necessarily surprising (it's reasonable to put a high priority on protecting the names of sources) but when those sources are being used to entrap innocent people and conduct a political coup, the public interest outweighs the secrecy.
UK disowned Steele before Trump inauguration, FBI likely knew
Before Trump's inauguration also means before Mueller's investigation and before at least one and possibly two of the FISA renewals. There are people who claim Mueller's team interview them about it, meaning Mueller provably knew about it. And yet it's not in his report, and his investigation continued.
We've heard brief mentions of the FBI's "verification log", essentially a spreadsheet laying out the claims that Steele made and what had been found when those claims were looked into. But now, John Solomon is reporting on the details of that spreadsheet, and it's messy. It also proves exactly how much the FBI knew about Steele's credibility when they applied for the warrants.
Giuliani: Deliberate efforts to cover up wrongdoing
Meaning in History thinks Giuliani is pointing at Wray as the coverup artist. I'm not so sure that's what Giuliani is saying here, necessarily, but I do think Wray is neck-deep in covering up elements of SpyGate. What I think has been happening is that people in Europe (Ukraine, Italy at least, maybe in the UK) have been trying to reach the FBI to tell their side of the story, and the FBI has been ignoring those requests. That could be Wray, it could be underlings. As far as I can tell, it took these people (Mifsud in Italy, some elements of the Ukraine government) going to the media and getting media attention before they got officially noticed.
Hannity thinks so. I think so, and I have for a long time, on a low-key way. Why? Some of the messages between Page and Strzok read, to me, like Page was very much not happy with Strzok towards the end. It sounded like a woman scorned and the end of an affair. (and, you know, having your "I had an affair with my coworker while plotting a coup" text messages published nationally seems likely to end an affair by itself). Not to mention she is still married (NOT to Strzok, but her original husband) which is not compatible with staying loyal to Strzok. And if that's the mindset she is in, cooperating is the logical course. Plus, trying to stay out of jail is a big incentive too.
So, yeah, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if Lisa is cooperating. But this is the first time we're seeing people talk about it...
BOMBSHELL: Mifsud prepared to testify to setup operation
So here's the deal. Mifsud -- a man with extensive ties to Western intelligence agencies and politicians with documented photographic evidence -- says he was tasked with meeting Papadopoulos and feeling him information on Russian dirt about Hillary. Mifsud then says he was tasked with introducing Papadopoulos to Russians. Again, tasked. Later, Papadopoulos talks with Downer and mentions Russian dirt on Hillary. (No emails mentioned either time -- all three parties agree on this).
It seems certain now that this whole operation was a setup designed to give the FBI a deniable reason to get an investigation opened into the Trump campaign. And the deception continued past the election, past the inauguration, all the way into the Mueller report, which describes Mifsud as a Russian agent.
So who tasked Mifsud with setting up Papadopoulos? Let's follow that up the chain.
So I think I just made an important implied connection here. Let me walk you through it.
Gowdy is urging the release of transcripts of Papadopoulos' meetings with Halper and some sort of agent whose nom-de-plume was "Azra Turk". But why does he have to urge the release of those transcripts? Why can't Barr, to whom Trump just delegated declassification authority, just release them?
Answer: there's a process, and even after Trump or Barr starts the ball rolling, the "owning agency" controls release to some extent. If it was the FBI's agent and the FBI's transcript, the FBI would control release. But the FBI's director (Wray, a Deep State ally) can be overridden by Barr as DOJ. So why are the transcripts still being held up?
They are not being held up by Wray -- they are were being held up by DNI Coates, who Trump just fired. This is probably why Coates got fired. And it's probably why the Deep State is pushing Sue Gordon or someone else who will protect them in the role. They want these transcripts (and other declass issues, too) in safe hands. Safe for them.
But... if Wray doesn't control the transcripts related to Papadopoulos and Halper and the mysterious Azra Turk, and if it's Coates who was controlling them, then which agency was controlling Halper and Azra Turk?
Mark Wauck asks the question. I think the answer is no. The idea that the FBI honestly believed they were spying on Trump because he was a Russian agent is absurd. Remember, as just a few counterpoints among many, that Kavalec debunked at least three elements of Steele's claims before the FISA was applied for the first time: there is no Russian consulate in Miami, Michael Cohen has never been to Prague, there is no secret communications channel between Alfa Bank and Trump Tower; and the FISA application did not pass on any of this derogatory information about Steele and his story to the court. They were told directly it was BS and went ahead with it, swearing under penalty of perjury that the information was "verified" when it was not.
The idea that the FBI was fooled by Steele (and the story will eventually evolve into "and fooled by the intel agencies") is their version of an "Aw, shucks... but I meant well" cover story. It's a defensive posture that, if believed, paints them as good-faith actors who just got duped. And that gets them off scott-free of criminal charges.
McCabe, Strzok sue ... alleging politically motivated firing
It's hard to believe these lawsuits (Strzok, McCabe) will have any merit after what the IG report has said about them and their behavior. McCabe already features prominently in one report that described him as "lacking candor" (ie, lying) to the IG, and both he and Strzok were major players in the Hillary email investigation (yes, another IG report on that topic) plus the currently unreleased report in progress on FISA abuse. These two should feel lucky they aren't in jail; instead they are suing...
But they have a reason, and I think I know what it is. If there are indictments coming down for them, as part of the IG's report, they'll need money for lawyers. Probably they have already found lawyers and have been prepping for this. Suing for unlawful termination is a useful move to prepare the battlefield in the media and invite a future jury to view any prosecutions through a political lens.
More importantly, with the lawsuits comes the ability to open up a gofundme account for "legal expenses" that will probably flow to the same lawyers preparing to defend them from criminal charges. And it's a lot easier to get people to donate to your lawsuit over "unlawful termination" than over your defense against criminal charges of lying, leaking, and spying.
It may also be useful as a shield against media inquiries when the IG report is released (as in "I can't comment on pending litigation").
Sue Gordon is out of her positionafter an Oval Office meeting with Trump. She was Dan Coates deputy who will also be resigning. She was also the choice of many in the intelligence community and Congress to take over the role from Coates after he resigned... notably, though, she was the favorite of Trump's known enemies and weak friends.
So what's really going on?
We have active criminal investigations into the intelligence community's actions to spy on Trump. We have an IG report that is going through the review process before being released. We have a series of leaks in the media trying to frame the events of SpyGate. We have various other efforts to frame the narrative, including Strzok and McCabe suing for unlawful termination. There is, in short, a whole lot of activity by the Russia Hoax conspiracy.
They are the people who get to review and comment on the IG report before it is finalized and released. Dan Coates was the intelligence community member who would be required to authorize declassification of the contents of the report or its supporting documents. When he is removed, Sue Gordon takes that role until a replacement is confirmed.
So what's happening is this: 1) The IG report and related declassification requests go out 2) Coates refuses to declassify enough to satisfy Trump and/or Barr 3) Trump fires Coates and nominates a supporter from Congess 4) Under massive fire from the intel community, the nomination is withdrawn. The intel community practically demands Sue Gordon as the replacement. Given her posting as chief of station for CIA in London during the events in question, Sue is likely involved up to her neck in SpyGate and could be trusted to protect herself and other members of the conspiracy. 5) Trump calls Sue Gordon to a meeting and asks her to declassify. She refuses. 6) Trump fires Gordon based on her refusal.
What happens next? Trump finds out who is next in line after Gordon and asks them the same question until someone says yes. And then the IG report comes out.
Looks like we're going to get declassification starting ... tomorrow?
... according to Joe DiGenova. The catalyst was removing DNI Coats, an Obama holdover. DiGenova also indicated in very strong terms that this is a criminal investigation of an attempted coup, not just an internal review.
What they need is presumably information on Mifsud, and there are rumors Mifsud has suddenly come out of hiding and is willing to be interviewed (perhaps already has been). Reports are also that as the release of the Horowitz FISA report approaches, people are coming to him to be re-interviewed to make sure they tell him all the things they suddenly remembered...
Weissman was desperately looking for dirt on Trump
So desperately, even early in the Mueller investigation, that he was offering plea deals with complete immunity to defendants in cases he had no authority over, and telling them what he wanted them to say. Apparently no one was willing to lie.
Biden threatens to use opposition research on opponents
The real question isn't whether Biden uses opposition research. The real question, given that he spent 8 years as Obama's vice president while Obama abused the FBA, CIA, and NSA as political tools, is: where did Biden get this opposition research?
FBI use of "black ledger" against Manafort suspect
Well, we know the Steele dossier is bunk... wait, two documents?
Once again, the FBI relied upon a document they knew was fake to open an investigation, obtain search warrants, conduct armed SWAT-style raids, and generally abuse their authority to violate civil rights under color of law.
And, in addition, it appears the FBI leaked information to reporters and then cited their stories in court.
Meadows is asking the Justice Department IG to investigate. Good. But the courts need to get involved too, lest the requirement to testify truthfully become a dead letter.
It certainly appears that Rosenstein was giving Mueller free reign to dig up pretty much anything Mueller wanted to dig up. Many of the elements of the additional scope memo(s?) remain redacted, but at least one concerned Manafort colluding with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election. Notably, Manafort was never even charged with that. And that was just in the expanded scope memo we knew about; it now appears a third secret scope memo exists, dated October 20th, 2017.
UPDATE: The scope will be limited to his contacts with US intelligence. That means he won't be able to talk about anything he did purely for Fusion GPS or Hillary. It may still provide valuable information, as current US intelligence agencies are run by people who were likely involved. In fact, if Steele talks about operations in London, he might well implicate current CIA Director Gina Haskell.
Mueller worked with the IRS to target the Tea Party (political spying, not just delaying applications), and was then asked to investigate the Tea Party scandal and found no wrongdoing. Then Mueller set up an arrangement with the CIA around the time the Tea Party scandal started to become a problem; the arrangement started in 2012 and lasted until 2016 and allowed the CIA to use FBI access authority for domestic spying (likely with political motives). When THAT got shut down, Mueller -- who had left the FBI -- was brought back in as special counsel to "investigate" (ie, cover up) what he himself had set up.
Anti-Trump FISA application followed unusual approval path
So what is the takeaway here? Well, first, the FISA application clearly followed an unusual, top-down, very much not "by the book", dare I say political process. By the time it reached Trisha Anderson's desk, who would normally see it first, it had already been approved "informally" by McCabe and Sally Yates had already signed it.
McCabe is infamous for his pro-Hillary involvement in the Hillary email investigation, and for this anti-Trump involvement in the Trump investigation, and also for the $500,000+ in campaign donations his wife received from Hillary-linked donors while all this was going on.
Yates is infamous for getting herself fired over a relatively trivial policy position during the early Trump administration. It suffices to establish her anti-Trump bias.
Anderson clearly admits she didn't do her job to review the FISA because her superiors had already signed off on it.
Second point. Remember Susan Rice's last minute email to herself saying Obama said to do it all "by the book"? This is the last firewall before this scandal reaches Obama. "He said to do it all by the book!" This is clearly not by the book.
Third... whether we believe her that she didn't look at the application or not, she signed off on it. That makes her complicit. It's not the informal approvals that matter. It's her signature.
Weissman knew about Papadopoulos entrapment scheme
The entrapment operation against Papadopoulos has been known for some time now. It was obvious from the first accounts we heard from Papadopoulos that it was an entrapment operation. However, this is the first evidence we have seen that Mueller's team was the one definitively behind it and knew what was going on in advance. This is more than just a tip that Papadopoulos was flying into the US with an undeclared $10,000 cash from some guy in Israel who tried to recruit him -- it's evidence Weissman was preparing the groundwork before the events.
IG Horowitz: final three FISAs obtained illegally, first one still in doubt
... and not in much doubt following the Kavalec email, where the State Dept calls out Steele as a political hack doing opposition research and smear operations, points out that anyone at the State Dept engaging with him is in violation of the Hatch Act (prohibiting campaign activities by government officials with government resources), and notifying the FBI of those concerns before the first FISA was issued.
Note that the report from IG Horowitz has not yet been released; this is a characterization of its current conclusions from DiGenova.
Funny how Comey never applied those consequences when he was in a position to do so. It's only now, when AG Barr looks to be seriously investigating the whole of SpyGate, that Comey starts trying to feel Strzok and Page to the lion hoping he will be eaten last. Comey is hoping that Strzok and Page will act as cutouts -- a term of art in espionage whereby the cutout is caught and exposed as a spy, but doesn't or can't reveal anyone else involved in their operations. Especially not anyone higher up the chain.
But the evidence suggests Comey is not the only one feeding people to the lion. Comey himself is being fed to the lion. His FBI investigation itself -- the FISA warrant, the obstruction of justice, the special counsel, all of it -- is merely smoke and mirrors to cover the spying performed by the Obama administration on political opponents by the CIA and NSA. Not just on Trump and his campaign, either.
This stuff goes all the way back to 2012, which, as you will recall, is roughly when the Tea Party IRS scandal was exposed, which also involved... spying on political opponents.
We have text messages from the Page/Strzok pair saying that the White House was running the investigation, or at least thinks they were. We have meetings between DOJ, FBI, and White House representatives. We have Rice's last minute "by the book" email proving that Obama knew at some point before the transition happened.
And we have allegations that the spying goes all the way back to 2012. Let me remind you that's about the same time the IRS spying stopped because they got caught.
When you start taking flak, you know you're over the target.
What did you know and when did you know it, Ben?
You know, if you have nothing to hide, you won't mind if Barr and Horowitz subpoena all of your emails and phone calls and meeting notes and go through them with a fine toothed comb, right? After all, the Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.
The investigation into SpyGate should be at least as vigorous.
Gosh. A political spying operation going on for more than four years before Donald Trump was elected, targeting Republicans? That would cover... Barack Obama's re-election campaign in 2012 against Mitt Romney.
So, Assange finally wore out his welcome in the Ecuadore embassy in London. This was probably inevitable, but the timing is interesting. Right after Mueller releases his report to Barr, Assange gets kicked out and immediately arrested? Timing does not seem coincidental, especially since the key Russian Collusion allegations are that Assange published the DNC emails which were allegedly obtained by Russian hackers. The alternative explanation -- as Assange tells it -- is that they were leaked to him by an insider within the DNC. Speculation is that the leaker was Seth Rich, who was subsequently murdered in what may -- or may not -- be a robbery gone wrong.
So we will have to wait and see what Assange is charged with. If he's charged with the DNC "hack" -- or more likely conspiracy with the DNC "hack" since he probably did not conduct it himself -- it means someone is trying to keep him locked up and under threat so he can't contradict the official story on those events... or else he actually did it.
If he's NOT charged with the DNC hack (and/or conspiracy), Russian Collusion is toast. No Russian hackers, no possible collusion, and Hillary's opposition research fairy tale goes up in smoke.
If he is charged with other hacking, especially Russian-linked espionage type hacking (eg his involvement with Bradley Manning) but not the DNC hacking, it may be a smokescreen to imply he was involved in the DNC hacking. There's another DNC-related hacked -- someone with an account there had their account phished via email -- and that would confuse the situation still further.
But the key thing to keep an eye on is whether Assange is charged with hacking the DNC in a criminal conspiracy to influence the 2016 election. If not, then not only is Russian Collusion dead, but so is Russian Hacking. It's all a hoax at that point.
So unless more indictments appear later on, the idea that the Russians hacked the DNC emails and gave them to Assange can no longer be taken seriously. It, too, was part of the Russia Hoax. A DNC insider leaked them to Assange, probably someone annoyed that Bernie was being cheated out of the nomination.
Dossier based on posts from "random individuals" on CNN website
CNN is so tightly connected to the Clintons that it has been referred to as "Clinton News Network". Many commentators there are Clinton officials or campaign staff. If Steele was drawing "evidence" from random individuals posting to CNN's websites, what are the odds those "random individuals" would be connected to the Clinton campaign and/or researchers like Nellie Ohr or other people with access to intel databases who needed to covertly and deniably communicate their findings?
Of course, such "sources" don't exactly meet criteria for admissibility in court, either.
Fake News Russian Collusion out, real Ukrainian collusion in
To be fair, the Ukrainian collusion part is still alleged. But there's tape, a court ruling, an active criminal investigation, and contacts with the Obama administration via the US embassy in the Ukraine.
In his investigation, Mueller employed 60 people for 2 years, 3000 subpoenas (!!!!), 500 search warrants, 230 requests for communication records, 50 orders authorizing "pen registers" (wiretaps that only report who you talked to but not the content), 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed 500 people. It's not clear how many of those were focused on the process crimes and unrelated criminal matters Mueller was trying to use as leverage, but it's clear he left no stone unturned and found nothing regarding the central matter of his investigation.
The President and his 2016 campaign are completely vindicated.
The individuals whose prior criminal acts made them vulnerable are not, except to the extent their association with the President brought them under unprecedented and excessive scrutiny.
Mueller chose to examine the facts concerning allegations of obstruction of justice while leaving it to the Attorney General to decide whether those facts amounted to obstruction. The Attorney General determined they did not.
The letter suggests more information will be released when possible (ie, when the material that cannot be released, such as grand jury information, is identified and removed).
It's likely Congress will attempt to seize on the obstruction issue as grounds for impeachment, but this is very plainly a step too far that can only be taken due to political desperation at this point.
And now the tables turn. Prosecute those who abused the national security and law enforcement agencies of our government while seeking to dictate the results of an election. Drain the swamp. Lock Hillary up, and her little cronies too.
UPDATE: Wait a sec. Mueller asked for help from 13 foreign governments? That seems like a dangerous intrusion on the President's power to conduct foreign policy, especially in an investigation effectively (if not formally) targeting the President.
Basically, in her testimony, Lisa Page admitted that both investigations were heavily political, that the Clinton investigation was swept under the rug (she says by DOJ's rules), and that the Trump-Russia investigation was started with no evidence and never managed to actually find any.
Again, the fact that a "friendly" DOJ has to be sued to get answers means they are simply trying to cover up as much as possible. And it calls into question how "friendly" DOJ really is. Hopefully, Barr will change things.
Bill Quick asks if this is real. Pretty sure that's a negative. Telltales are all in the keywords: "Trump's orbit", rather than Trump, and "possible" collusion rather than simply collusion.
If they had anything on Trump directly, they would say that. They did not.
If they had evidence of actual collusion, they would say that. They did not.
In both cases, they used language to imply as much as possible while weaseling out of making the actual accusation. So what do they have?
Cohen, a convicted liar, told Congress that he overheard a phone call between Roger Stone and Trump telling Trump that Wikileaks was about to release something on Clinton. Problems: Wikileaks denies ever talking to Stone, Stone denies ever talking to Wikileaks, and Wikileaks had already publicly teased their release before the phone call allegedly happened. Maybe Cohen is telling the truth and Stone was implying he was in contact with Wikileaks when he was not. Maybe Stone is telling the truth and Cohen is making things up that are impossible to disprove based on publicly admitted allegations. Trump's response: "Wouldn't that be great?" is not the response of a man with insider knowledge engaged in illicit collusion. If he was engaged in such, he would know it was coming.
Cohen, a convicted liar, also told Congress he heard Trump Jr tell Trump Sr that "the meeting is all set up". Cohen assumes and alleges this referred to the Trump Tower meeting. There is, I think, no reason to believe this; how many meetings must both Trumps participate in on a daily basis? Even if the assumption is correct, everyone at the meeting says it went nowhere. The evidence suggests the meeting was set up by Fusion GPS deliberately to give the impression of Russian collusion.
If they had anything else, it would have leaked already.
Should Mueller and Horowitz release their reports simultaneously?
Roger Simon argues yes, in the interests of transparency and fairness. There's one problem with that; Horowitz has apparently not been interviewing witnesses, meaning his report can't possibly be ready at the same time. I believe, based on various reports, that Mueller is probably using his "Don't interfere with my investigation" card to stop IG Horowitz and his colleague prosecutor Huber from actually investigating anything until Mueller is done.
That makes a simultaneous report a non-starter; does anyone believe the Mueller report won't leak long before Horowitz and Huber are done when they haven't even started yet? Hell, I'd bet on the Mueller report leaking within the day.
The email contained "requests" and Baker conveyed a meeting within 24 hours to discuss it. The people Baker notified were: Comey, associate Deputy Director Bowdich, assistant director for national security Steinbach, assistant director for counterintelligence Priestap, Comey's chief of staff Rybicki, analyst Moffa, assistant director (acting) Herring, assistant director for public affairs Kortan, deputy general counsel Trisha Anderson, and of course the two lovebirds Strzok and Page. If I remember correctly, this was the week before the election.
There was in fact a conference call scheduled among those people as a result, and of course, Comey issued another letter two days before the election "clearing" Clinton. There are multiple lies documented, including Strzok lying that no new classified emails were found on the laptop. A lie by omission, as well, as they had only examined approximately 3,000 of the 340,000 emails on the laptop.
The emails obtained also document an offer of a quid pro quo: more funding for FBI positions in return for downgrading the reason for redacting released material to "from classified to something else."
We don't know what happened in that conference call, but we know the results: Comey's second letter falsely claiming to exonerate Clinton two days before the election, the examination of the laptop was halted pretty much immediately (long before the contents could be properly examined), and, of course, the return of Strzok, Page, and the rest of the conspirators to looking desperately for dirt on Trump as an insurance policy.
A reminder: Priestap was head of FBI's counterintelligence during the time this was going on, and he's generally considered to be a cooperating witness with the investigation into SpyGate. But for some reason, he can't talk about some of the trips he took to London during the same timeframe; supposedly they are connected to the Mueller investigation but he claims he didn't meet the known London players. So who did he meet and why was he there? And why can't he tell Congress?
FISC called on Mueller to explain surveillance abuses
In other words... Mueller has a pattern of covering up for FISA abuses, specifically involving omission of relevant information, and he's successfully covered up those abuses for the past 16 years. That likely puts the abuses in 2003 or 2002. And it highlights his involvement now in covering up similar FBI abuses that violated the Woods procedure he promised then would prevent future abuses like those he covered up.
Why, then, aren't the current FISC judges willing to enforce the laws in the way that the earlier ones were? Why aren't FBI and DOJ supervisors?
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.
In all those alleged crimes, not a single one would exist without the Mueller probe. We already know Mueller is willing to basically make up false statements charges from whole cloth (based on interviews where the FBI interviewer didn't think there was any intention to deceive; see the Mike Flynn case). In this case we've seen the basic allegations before. Some of Stone's emails vaguely reference what WikiLeaks will release next, basically guessing what it might be, and Mueller is claiming that was actual foreknowledge that Stone is lying about when he says it was just a guess.
So the factual question is whether Stone was actually communicating with "Guccifer 2.0" or Wikileaks, or whether he was just bragging to puff himself up and give the impression he had inside information. Notably, Mueller has not charged him with hacking or conspiracy to hack, or anything related to hacking, and Wikileaks has denied communicating with Stone. Just to lying and "obstructing" (which probably translates to not cooperating and encouraging other people not to cooperate).
The media (CNN) was informed so they could be present at the arrest, which was a full tactical armed raid. That shows a certain amount of inappropriate public relations thinking on the part of whoever leaked the information. Did this guy really need a pre-dawn raid by a team of tactical FBI agents in armor, aired on CNN? No. The whole thing was staged for media impact.
Given the steady drip drip drip of incredibly damaging quotes from congressional testimony on this topic, and the failed attempt to refocus attention on Trump via the false Buzzfeed story alleging Cohen was ordered to lie, indicting Stone and arresting him in this very visible way feels like an attempt to redirect the narrative.
On the one hand, this shows them paying careful attention to what they signed -- a much better professional look than Rod Rosenstein's (paraphrased) "I don't really need to read the things I sign". On the other hand, it puts McCabe and Yates in the uncomfortable position of having still signed at least one FISA application based on Hillary's dossier, despite their careful review, and not including information about Steele's personal and financial partisan motives, despite being warned about them by Ohr.
The relationship is pretty simple. Trump ran as a Republican. De facto, the NRA supports Republicans nationally. (This is because the Democrats demonstrated they could not be trusted, as a whole, but individuals are evaluated as individuals when running for office). The NRA spent a lot of money on this election in particular because there was an open Supreme Court seat at stake, and it was previously held by a very pro-gun Justice. Of course the stakes were high.
But the implication here is insane.
Emphasis mine. This is just an attempt to smear Trump by association with the NRA by association with a single Russian possible agent.
So, an entirely trivial amount of money, no accusations of wrongdoing on the part of the NRA, no crime for Mueller to investigate, and yet he has a budget of millions to spend -- and will force his targets to spend even more defending themselves from baseless political charges.
Given those answers -- especially Barr's long-standing personal and professional relationship with Mueller -- I cannot see how Barr can be expected to provide the restraint Mueller's special counsel role has so far been lacking.
I wonder if Trump knew that when he nominated Barr? Somehow, I doubt it.
Someone should tell him before Barr is confirmed, in case he wants to nominate someone without such conflicted personal relationship.
Huber is being blocked by Mueller's investigation. He can't see or do anything until Mueller is done. And Mueller will make sure that he doesn't end his investigation before he has make sure all evidence is thoroughly cleaned up.
Graham files legislation seeking to protect Mueller
Linsey Graham was a major McCain ally and well-known RINO until very recently -- specifically, he seemed to find his spine during the Kavanaugh hearings. Since then he seems to have lost it again. On Mueller specifically, remember that Graham is closely linked to McCain, and McCain was involved with retrieving a copy of the dossier, giving it to the FBI, and providing it to the media.
In other words, it is likely Graham's public statements are an attempt to get on Trump's good side in public while in official actions and legislation threatening Trump with Mueller to protect the Deep State and possibly his own involvement in SpyGate.
It seems to me the intelligence community has been picking winners and losers in the US elections for some time now, and Trump's surprise win has thrown a wrench in their election machine. We get this under control now -- in the next two years, before Trump's re-election campaign in 2020 -- or we lose the chance.
UPDATE: It turns out the 302s from seven months later were an interview of Strzok describing the interview of Flynn. The original 302s were filed under seal. (One marked draft, one not). The timeframe on the original 302s confirm that they were referred to by Strzok and Page in already released text messages discussing approval by McCabe. They are also redacted in significant portions, which makes it hard to evaluate Flynn's honesty closely without the matching transcript of the call.
Let's not forget that leaking the transcript of the call itself was a felony. No one seems to be looking into who leaked that.
The idea is that Cohen's payments to two bimbos were technically campaign contributions intended to influence the election rather than to shut them up to prevent generic reputational damage to Trump's marriage. Looked at objectively, that's somewhat flimsy, and charging a campaign finance violation like that as a felony is almost unprecedented. As potential felony charges, these could be treated as the basis of impeachment by the now-Democrat House. And of course there is huge demand for impeachment, stoked and stroked for two years now by the media and the Deep State on both sides of the political aisle.
But the Senate is extremely unlikely to convict and remove. Democrats would need 20 GOP votes in the Senate, and it seems unlikely they will get that. Any GOP member voting to remove a Republican president can expect enough of his base to stay home in the next election to doom him, even if they have to wait a few years. There would be dramatic losses among those up in the next election, even if they voted against, simply as a matter of getting to who you can get to. Within the Republican party it would mark the transition from a cold war of paperwork and politics for control of the party to an open party split.
I don't think Comey necessarily lied to Congress here. I think he pushed back on Trump's request to investigate the origin of the dossier because he knew where it came from (and yes, he did probably lie to Congress about that). But his FBI was already trying to verify the dossier ... meaning, find out whether or not it was true.
I think the FBI's efforts to verify the dossier consisted of trying to get warrants on the four people named in the FISA warrant application. That is, instead of presenting the FISA court with verified information containing probable cause of a crime, they presented the FISA court with a line of bullshit and hoped their wiretap would be retroactively self-verifying.
Will Trump be charged with campaign finance violations?
Andy McCarthy thinks so. I don't, but mostly because DOJ policy forbids indicting a sitting president. I think Mueller will write a report saying he would have indicted Trump if Trump was not the president. He will then pass it off to Congress and invite them to consider impeachment.
Will they? The Democrats just took the House. Of course they will at least consider it. They have the votes to do it if everyone votes straight party. They can even afford to lose quite a few weak seats if they want to try to protect them. On the other hand, trying to get Trump removed from the Senate is a political non-starter, needing 67 votes when they have only 47 or so. So, to the extent that they try to impeach, they will use it as a political weapon to damage his reelection chances.
Should they? Using very weak campaign finance charges combined with even weaker lying about sex and/or lying about Moscow hotel deals, all taking place before Trump became president, none of which at this point appears to involve Trump directly but merely his campaign, to try to remove a president is facially absurd. So far there's basically no proven personal nexus to Trump's actions; campaign finance violations are usually cured by fines not felonies; Trump has the "I trusted my lawyer to do it legally" defense; Cohen's cooperation and credibility have been destroyed by his admissions of lying and the violation of attorney-client privilege. You couldn't get a conviction in an ordinary court after the necessary cross-examination and tossing out of the tainted evidence.
Historically, lots of presidents have had various affairs, including payoffs, without facing impeachment. Clinton did face impeachment for lying about it, but not removed... and his impeachment was considered one of the biggest political mistakes in modern history. (I supported it, but mostly because of all the other crap he had done, ie, Waco, etc). Edwards, as a candidate in the primary, was charged with campaign finance violations for paying off his mistress in a similar but not identical scheme. He was not convicted, as I recall.
Mark Levin has convincingly argued that using personal money to make such payoffs is both legal and necessary as they are not "campaign expenses", which would negate any disclosure requirements. (Edwards used money from supporters to make the payoffs; the exact financial structure of Trump's payoffs is unknown).
As a layman, all I can tell you is that campaign finance laws are a legal morass that appears to be impossible to avoid violating. Politicians are regularly caught up in violations and pay fines. I can't recall any of them being removed from office over the matter.
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.
State Dept disseminated Russiagate documents hours before Trump took office
We knew there was an effort to do this before, but we didn't know the details. Now we know more. It's noteworthy that Senator Corker, a Republican, is on the list of recipients. I seem to recall Corker was instrumental in getting the Iran deal through the Senate by pretending it wasn't a treaty (which would need a two-thirds vote). It's also noteworthy that this effort took place after Trump had won the election. In other words, rather than treating Trump as the incoming president due (at a minimum) respect, they conspired against him.
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.
Mueller cannot accept Whitaker as his boss and still complete the tasks he was given as special counsel. The real tasks, that is: keeping the attention on Trump and off of the Clintons' and Obama's malfeasance with our intelligence agencies and other crimes. So, of course he's going to report to Rosenstein first for as long as he can do so.
And that means Rosenstein has to go. Read the whole thing; there are 9 more reasons to fire Rosenstein immediately.
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.
Read the whole thing. But at least part of this answer is explained by the Hillary campaign needing a reason to pay Perkins Coie for legal services rather than opposition research. Casting Steele's dossier as legal services is batshit fucking insane, but that appears to be what they are trying to do. Imagining that they could challenge Trump's election if they lost on the basis of phantom Russian collusion should be even more batshit fucking insane, but it seems to be working so far.
Document here. Power Line analyzes it briefly, and finds that the denials that resulted in Flynn's guilty plea are actually pretty weak. Of the four things he supposedly lied about, two of them were more of a "I don't remember" than a lie, and the remaining two are still less than a firm denial. Given that Flynn was the incoming National Security Advisor and the conversations themselves were perfectly legitimate, I just don't see criminality here. Obviously a person will not remember his conversations with the perfect accuracy of a transcript. That's just how memory works.
If in fact Flynn did not accurately inform his superiors (Trump, Pence, etc) about the content of the conversation, that's a different question and possibly a firing offense regardless of intent. It's awkward, even potentially dangerous, to have your National Security Advisor talking to Russia and asking for things without passing that on. But that's a matter for Trump and Pence to consider, not something that criminal law really embraces. Especially not in a blatant perjury trap like this.
Actually, calling this a perjury trap seems inaccurate. A perjury trap is giving someone the opportunity to lie deliberately, knowing you can catch them in the lie. This was more like going to Flynn with the determination to manufacture a lie.
We're already pretty sure that the dossier on Trump and the Carter Page FISA warrant came from a desperate attempt to get legal authority for spying that Mike Rogers, as NSA Director, had cut off (and initiated an audit of). If Mike Flynn had intended to order an even broader audit, and this became known, and if the abuses were as common and as significant as they seem to be, then this would represent a huge motive for the entire Obama administration to go after him. They could safely fire Flynn to block his audit while the Obama administration was in power, but when Trump hired him, the Obama administration would surely realize the audit was back on the table.
Also -- the 302 on which they are basing the whole Flynn prosecution is an interview of Strzok after Lisa Page was fired and days before Strzok was fired. They were fired because the texts revealing their bias came out. Those texts came out at the same time. Therefore, Mueller know Strzok was compromised when he conducted this interview, and I can only assume Mueller kept Strzok on for a few more days solely or primarily to conduct this interview which he then used to charge Flynn. Why else keep him on for a few more days?
It seems the judge has noticed Flynn is being railroaded and hopefully is going to get the facts. I hope he does get them and throws out the charges. Better justice delayed than justice denied.
New emails reveal FBI knew FISA warrant on Page was fatally flawed
I used "flawed" in the headline to keep it short. We don't know exactly what the emails say, but read the article. It says the emails say the FBI knew pretty much everything we know now: the media contacts, the circular reporting used as evidence, Steele's bias and paid opposition research role, everything.
The FBI and DOJ bet the farm they could outlast two years of a Republican House by stonewalling and playing political games. They won that bet. But they made a similar bet with Trump about 2020, and that one is still in play.
Mueller deleted text messages from Page, Strzok phones
These were the phones used by Page and Strzok, now infamous for their thousands of biased text messages while they worked to exonerate Clinton and smear Trump, after the joined Mueller's team but before their texts were exposed. When those texts were exposed, they were forced to leave Mueller's team... and their phones were reset,destroying any text messages they had exchanged while working for Mueller.
The IG report proceeds to whitewash this clear destruction of evidence.
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?
BOMBSHELL: Comey stumbles on Baker's contact with Perkins-Coie
Baker, FBI general counsel at the time, has testified that he received information from Perkins-Coie and passed it on to others. He said this was unusual ("unique", even). Comey is claiming to have absolutely no knowledge of this. Would Baker have done that and never mentioned it to Comey? Seems unlikely. My gut tells me Comey is lying here, and that he knew it was going on. Comey is claiming tips like that happened all the time, and he wants to see what Baker testified to before he answers. This is serious stumbling by Comey.
BOMBSHELL: Comey can't hold the end of July timeline!
Comey can't dance fast enough. He first denies any information gathering about Trump at the FBI before the last week of July, then walks it back and admits "it's possible I knew at the time." It was absolutely going on, and he absolutely knew about it (and still does, but he has to claim a memory lapse to avoid talking about it).
BOMBSHELL: Comey's lawyers agreed believing the testimony would be essentially public
I've discussed before that Comey and others are hiding behind classification rules and the fiction of a continuing investigation exception to protect themselves from answering dangerous questions. That's why Congress insisted that this testimony be taken behind closed doors. But Comey's lawyers seem to think that the agreement between Comey and Congress precludes such topics, effectively making the setting public and defeating the point of a closed hearing.
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.
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?
The Democrats are clearly terrified that replacing AG Sessions with acting-AG Whitaker will have dire consequences for their control and the dual sword and shield role he has played in preventing Trump from draining the national security swamp. They are openly threatening Whitaker should be exercise oversight over Mueller and his witch hunt. Given Mueller's utter lack of results related to the President and his campaign, that terror strongly suggests that Rod was covering for them and they know it. Without Rod and with Mueller neutered, their goose is cooked.
Luckily, Rod himself has already established the precedent for how the DOJ can handle subpoenas from the House of Representatives. Silence and counter-investigations.
What infuriates me is that Republicans held the House for years and held endless hearings without ever seriously taking the issues to court or otherwise seriously challenging the swamp creatures in DOJ and FBI. They had the chance to blow this thing wide open and they wimped out.
But this situation may not play well for the Democrats in 2020. When Republicans held the House, the Senate, and the White House, they were uneasy allies... a mix of true believers and swamp creatures surrounding Trump, a slugger with nothing to punch because they all pretended to be friends. If the Democrats give Trump something to punch for the next two years, they may end up regretting it.
Note: I don't endorse those tactics in general, but the Democrats badly need several large doses of their own medicine.
Over at Conservative Treehouse, there's a good explanation for something that has been puzzling me: the bizarre plea bargain of James Wolfe, which transformed the crime of leaking classified information to the media into a much lesser charge of lying to the FBI. The transition from a full-bore prosecution of leakers to a much reduced plea bargain now makes sense. What happened?
First, Sessions ordered a leak investigation, and that took place. It turned up (presumably among others) James Wolfe, who (as a staffer for the Senate intelligence committee) leaked classified information to (again among others) Ali Watkins. Everything was going swimmingly; he was arrested, charges were in the process, and so on.
Second, James Wolfe said he would go to trial, and that he would call Senators to testify in his defense. Presumably, he would say they ordered him to release the information, so it was not unauthorized. This became publicly known, and functions essentially as a blackmail threat, only in public. Suddenly, Senators are interested in helping with his defense.
Third, details of the indictment against Wolfe are leaked. The details basically prove that Wolfe leaked the unredacted Carter Page FISA warrant to the media.
Fourth, suddenly Wolfe gets a sweet plea deal and no need to call Senators to testify at his trial, which won't happen.
The question is, what happened between steps Three and Four?
The answer appears to be: The revelation that the leaked material was involved in the Russian Collusion investigation shifted supervision of the leak inquiry from AG Sessions to Rod Rosenstein due to Sessions' recusal from Russia matters. Rosenstein promptly plea-bargained with Wolfe to protect the Senators who participated in SpyGate.
That plea bargain demonstrates conclusively which side Rosenstein is on, and it isn't the side of Truth, Justice, and the Trump way.
Rosenstein must be removed from supervision of anything related to SpyGate. Removing Sessions, and his recusal bubble, is the simplest way the President can do that. And preventing a Senate-confirmed non-conflicted AG from taking over Rosenstein's current supervisory role is why Whitaker is under withering attack and the vote counts in Florida and possibly Arizona are being manipulated to keep the Republicans in the Senate from having a strong enough majority to confirm someone willing and able to properly cut this Gordian knot.
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.
The new acting AG will take over. This is normal. (Sessions was recused from Russian matters because he helped Trump with his campaign; the new acting AG has no such potential conflicts). I don't think anyone has a feel for the Acting AG on this issue yet -- except presumably Trump. So Rosenstein losing his supervision of Mueller is normal.
Rosenstein resigning on the other hand is not.
Did Trump finally accept the resignation Rosenstein had reportedly offered? Did the new acting AG ask for a resignation? Did Trump?
It looks like Trump is moving fast following the elections.
In a sane world, taking a meeting in which nothing of substance was offered and no money changed hands would be less serious than paying myriad unidentified Russian intelligence sources to lie about your political opponent and enable your own government to spy on said opponent.
Apparently we do not live in a sane world.
If the Dems won the House, Mueller was always going to come up with something to keep threatening Trump and avoid the full declassification that would expect the FBI, DOJ, CIA, etc to full sunlight.
I guess this is it. Mueller can effectively threaten Trump Jr with prosecution for that meeting and keep the threat live for another two years while Trump has to run for re-election.
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.
Without the threat of immediate declassification hanging over his head, Rosenstein is feeling his Wheaties. If he went before Congress and testified honestly, it would be a disaster for him and fuel continued leaks to the press about what he said -- leaks that would be very personally damaging. And if he went before Congress and testified falsely, he would face criminal liability. Rosenstein feels like he's worked something out with Trump that will let him thumb his nose at Congress temporarily. Probably only temporarily, because his position still sucks. But long enough, perhaps, to get past the midterms.
Should Rosenstein be removed from Mueller investigation?
I think Rosenstein is clearly conflicted in the investigation, and has mistakes of his own to cover up. At the same time, Trump's threat to declassify material that would reveal Rosenstein's role gives Trump a certain amount of leverage on Rosenstein -- and thus on Mueller. To restrain Mueller, is it worth allowing Rosenstein to manage to exposure and cleanup of the FBI and DOJ corruption?
I don't trust Rosenstein and I don't want him in charge of anything. I don't think Rosenstein is a friend of the President. But I'm suspicious of leaks from McCabe (a known hostile) and testimony from James Baker (not known to be friendly) implying Rosenstein was a part of their operation and should be fired. Why would those two suddenly be talking up the coup unless they are trying to get Rosenstein fired? And why would they be trying to get Rosenstein fired unless they felt he was inimicable to their current interests?
My take is this:
1) The coup discussion was serious. We've had lots of press leaks about 25th amendment being invoked, and the meeting where this all started was right after James Comey got fired and right before Mueller was appointed. The obvious conclusion is that they decided at the meeting to get Mueller in place, meaning they rejected the other options.
2) The "wear a wire" comment was probably sarcastic. Wearing a wire to spy on the president would be suicidally stupid even for a trusted cabinet member. So Rosenstein was probably being sarcastic (not quite the same as joking...) about this but not about the rest.
3) The situation has changed a lot since then. Rosenstein, like Comey, is a weasel. Unlike Comey, Trump knows Rosenstein is a weasel and has a firm grip. Rosenstein has incentives to be a good little weasel until Trump is done with him, which should be as soon as Trump has put Mueller to bed and found a confirmable replacement for Rosenstein.
"Confirmed other evidence", which we haven't seen yet. That's going to be interesting when it comes out.
Those tapes should be interesting to hear, too. They will likely answer the question of whether the spies approaching various Trump campaign staff actually got anything worth opening an investigation. I suspect they did not, and the tapes will offer proof of that.
Who, or what, is the second source and why is it explosive?
We know about foreign intelligence helping out already, but we don't have official confirmation. And "key allies" practically begged Trump not to declassify, so something related to foreign intelligence is probably hiding behind the redactions. But what are the specifics?
That has certainly been the plan up until now. But Trump's order contains the word "immediate". And if they try to redact what they release, it also contains the words "without redaction".
Why would the DOJ defy such a Presidential order?
Rosenstein is toast. He incriminates himself by the public release of these documents, or he resigns in protest and they get released anyway, or he gets fired and they get released anyway. When you play the Game of Coups, you win or you go to jail, and it looks like Rosenstein is going to jail.
President Trump orders declassification of FISA warrant, texts
This is interesting. Obviously for anyone following SpyGate it's likely to be a gold mine of new information and confirmation of existing suspicions if and when it happens. But the manner in which is may happen seems interesting.
We're not just getting, say, leaks from Congressional staffers describing what they have seen in private, or yet another partial release of slightly less redacted material. The statement says "no redactions".
And we got it as a statement from the White House, not as an actual document release from DOJ. And we know Trump has been publicly (via Twitter and otherwise) pushing for this for some time, and (via less public channels) getting resistance and pushback. So what that tells me is that Trump is, publicly, through White House channels, issuing an order to his subordinates to declassify and release the documents.
Either those subordinates will follow the orders, or they will refuse and resign, or they will be fired.
That's why the order is public. It's to justify the firing if the order is refused.
We'll see what happens. But any of those three options lead to fireworks.
Bob Woodward found no evidence of Russian collusion, despite finding lots of other things people supposedly told him that they now deny telling him. I get the feeling he sold the book on Watergate 2 and then had to make up a lot of thinly sourced quotes when he didn't find shit.
We have confirmation from new Strzok text messages that he wanted to open a case and file charges within 2 hours of Comey being fired "while Andy is acting" (as in, presumably, while Andrew McCabe was acting as FBI director). More evidence the whole thing was planned out to target the President with an internal coup.
Lisa Page's deposition indicates that more than 9 months into their investigation of the Trump campaign, they had found no evidence of collusion, despite their use of national-security wiretap authority and multiple human sources. She frames it as "we still couldn't answer the question." A better characterization seems to be that they didn't like the answer.
It's amazing that it takes pressure from Congress, pressure from the President, and pressure from the legal system via groups like Judicial Watch to get these documents. It's almost like the FBI and DOJ, including the people making the decisions about what to release and what to withhold or redact, have something to hide.
Google openly opposed Trump, supported Hillary during campaign
I'm honestly not sure what the rules are here. This is clearly a lot more campaign-related than paying off a bimbo eruption, and it's not a person but a corporation doing it. And we have email proof not only that it happened, but that it was motivated to help one candidate rather than being non-partisan. Does that matter?
Read the whole article for more, including hints of a smart-phone-based voter record that "aggregates all that is known about them".
I'm skeptical about campaign finance regulation as a matter of principle, but there are all sorts of other potential issues here, including user privacy and abuse of a dominant market position.
Listen to the whole thing, especially if you haven't been keeping up. Dan covers the whole chain of events, from the NSA shutting down FBI contractor access to their database (were some of those contractors Fusion GPS and Nellie Ohr?), to the efforts to get a FISA warrant based on the dossier that likely came from that NSA database (due the Michael Cohen in Prague mistake), to the efforts to set up Page and Popadopoulos, to the Trump Tower meeting setup.
He picks up on a couple new points that I had missed. One is that Nellie Ohr was working for Fusion GPS all the way back to 2015. That means she was working at Fusion GPS while the FBI contractors (still unspecified) were abusing the NSA database (85%!!! of the accesses to the database did not comply with the appropriate privacy procedures).
A second is that Andrew Weissman was being kept in the loop by Bruce Ohr during the investigation and was then hired by Mueller for his special counsel investigation. So, Weissman (along with, at least, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page), was effectively investigating events he was involved in and likely has criminal liability in. And Weissman is still on Mueller's team.
Finally, Bongino goes through the links Mueller has to practically every significant figure involved in this case. Mueller is linked to Comey, to Russian oligarchs who helped the FBI investigate, to Hillary lawyers... the list goes on and on. Mueller practically knows every key player personally.
Is he going to rat on his friends? Of course not.
He's going to sweep the whole thing under the rug by keeping the focus on Trump.
Congressman Meadows sends letter demanding Ohr investigation
Not much actual news here; a Congressman sending a letter happens pretty often. But the demand to investigate Bruce Ohr and his involvement in Spygate is significant, as it indicates growing Congressional discontent with AG Sessions and John Huber, the prosecutor Sessions appointed to investigate Spygate. We have heard basically nothing about Huber's investigation so far, which could be good or bad; hearing nothing could mean there are no leaks or it could mean there is no activity to leak. Finding out that Ohr had not yet been interviewed when he testified to Congress on these matters appears to indicate that the needle is pointing more towards no activity to leak.
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.
Rosenstein said it wasn't him. The Federalist makes a good case it was Sally Yates, who resigned rather than defend Trump's travel ban in court. That decision may have made headlines at the time, but it may also have removed her from a position where she could influence ongoing events in the Spygate matter. Oops.
The Obama admin stripped a Trump-supporting Pentagon analyst of his security clearance after the analyst complained about contracts with one Stefan Halper.
We are now pretty sure what Halper was doing for the money. He was trying to rig the election. And the White House stripped his clearances to shut him up -- both in general, and to prevent him accessing anything Halper was doing with his clearances.
Never mind that the other person he complained about was Chelsea Clinton.
One of the other big revelations from this Friday's document dump was the fact that the FBI did in fact pay Steele for his dossier work. This was rumored before, but now we know. This raises some interesting questions (like, was he getting paid twice for the same work?), but the main impact of this fact is that the FBI was funding Clinton's opposition research and smear campaign. Almost certainly knowing about his political motives and source of other funding.
It's one thing to take in information passively about a political figure, and investigate it if there is some merit and the information can be confirmed. It's quite another to pay the opposition research out of FBI coffers while he is no doubt continuing to dig up dirt. By nature of his employment, you can't trust the oppo guy to give you good information, and you certainly can't fund his efforts to get (or make up) more for political purposes.
The fact that Horowitz refused to take calls on this casts his entire report into doubt. His job wasn't to fix the problems, it was yet another modified limited hangout. Drop the information already known, but keep the remedies in-house and out of course by refusing to admit to bias actually influencing anything even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
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.
More Cohen data leaked in violation of attorney-client privilege
Details here. Fox says the tape came from Lanny Davis, Cohen's attorney, rather than the police who raided Cohen. Whether this represents Cohen being cooperative, or Cohen making a desperate cry for help from Trump (financial or otherwise), is unknown. As far as I am concerned, the contents of the tape are a nothingburger; it's Trump discussing whether and/or how to pay off a playboy playmate to keep quiet about an alleged affair from over 10 years ago. If there's a crime here, it's blackmail, and Trump is the victim, and then doubly so for Cohen, his attorney, violating attorney-client privilege to release the tape, never mind taping his client in the first place. I don't give a shit about an alleged consensual affair while Trump was a private citizen.
House Intel committee asks POTUS to declassify part of FISA app
I sure would like to know what the House Intel committee thinks is under the redactions on those pages. You may also be interested in the broader summary of issues with the application. And they are serious issues. Andrew McCarthy, who spent some time defending the FISA application before he actually saw it, said this:
One of the questions that needs to be asked is "Is this the usual evidentiary standard for FISA cases?"
If so, the court needs to be shut down as a rubber stamp and the entire process redesigned and reformed.
If not, the judges who approved this application need to be examined for evidence of bias along with the FBI, DOJ, and intelligence community.
Trump considering revoking clearances of some Obama officials
With the exception of Hayden, whose name I don't recognize offhand, all of these people deserve to lose their clearances.
Comey: leaking to the press in an effort to impeach the president, lying to the president, being a weasel and doing weasel things.
Clapper: Involvement in the FISA abuse against the Trump campaign and administration, and leaking.
Brennan: Involvement in the FISA abuse against the Trump campaign and administration, and leaking. Plus voting for a communist party candidate.
Rice: Unmasking and lying about it.
McCabe: Already fired for lying and leaking, participated in the FISA abuse, and his wife took political contributions from Clinton while he was running the investigation into her emails.
UPDATE: Hayden was a CIA director for Bush and has been outspokenly anti-Trump. I'm not sure if frothing at the mouth while calling the current president Hitler is outside the bounds people holding a security clearance, but this one still seems a little questionable to me. Given their involvement in abusing the intelligence agencies against Trump, however, the rest should lose their clearances immediately.
House Judiciary Committee passes resolution demanding docs
Speaker Ryan has been generally squishier than I would like on this, but he appears to be on board for the moment. Presumably the testimony from Wray and Rosenstein Thursday will be their last chance to make excuses.
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.
They are backpedaling frantically because they know they found nothing, and because their found nothing, their actions in Spygate open them to criminal prosecution. So, suddenly, they weren't investigating the Trump campaign at all, they were just trying to protect it from the Russians.
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?
Of course he's using her as cover to wage a political operation. That's been obvious since day one.
Avenatti needs to come forward with his sources for the banking information because it was almost certainly obtained illegally and certainly was leaked illegally.
I'm not sure on the ethics of anyone hiring Trump's personal lawyer for advice on the incoming administration. That seems an ethical minefield. But it seems like that's on Cohen's ledger, not Trump's, even if it's true. The payments may be true, though some involve the wrong Michael Cohen, but why should we believe the alleged reason for them without proof? Avenatti is just as much a paid Democrat operative as Fusion GPS.
And I doubt Avenatti or other Democrat operatives could stand to have their financial records subjected to similar scrutiny. They won't like the new rules when Trump's DOJ and FBI find excuses to raid their lawyers' offices.
A gate of water by any other name would smell as foul
Fire them, reveal their name and crimes publicly, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. The raid on Cohen's offices -- the personal lawyer of the President of the United States -- is quite literally worse than Watergate, because it was done under color of law.
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.
Page: "Please, my love, caress me and reassure me that Trump will never be my president."
Strzok: "Don't worry, my petunia. We'll stop him."
IG: "Because Strzok did not write down how, exactly, he would stop Trump becoming president, we cannot link this clear and obvious evidence of bias to any specific investigative act, therefore, no harm, no foul. However, we recommend a banner on all FBI-owned mobile devices reminding users they have no expectation of privacy while using them, to ensure such an embarrassing incident is never again revealed to the public."
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.
Report: Comey defied authority, Lynch rebuked in IG report
Given the timing and the subject matter covered, that means insubordinate to Obama's officials. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but the examples given by the leaker seem to be pointing towards Comey's decision to personally announce he would not recommend charges and to inform Congress that he was reopening the investigation shortly before the election.
Frankly, that sounds like a pro-Comey spin calculated to appeal to both sides. On the right, it reads as, "Gosh, look at this upright moral figure defying Obama's DOJ to do what he thought was right!" On the left, it reads as, "It's all Comey's fault Hillary lost! He should never have defied authority!"
Supposedly the report cites Comey for failing to consult with Lynch before his announcement. I don't know if he consulted her or not. I know that Lynch had publicly said she would take his recommendation while privately refusing to recuse herself after the tarmac summit, and I also know (from Page-Strzok texts) that Lynch knew damn well Hillary would be exonerated. So I'm not sure I buy this part.
In fact, the whole article reads like spin doctoring. I don't trust it. I want the real report.
No details on exactly what she was rebuked for, aside from (obviously) the tarmac meeting, but we've heard enough hints that there are more things she did that deserve rebuking.
Remember as you read that the article is based on leaks, and the leaks are likely coming from people with a personal stake in softening the report or directing the attention it gets in one direction or another.
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.