Monday, June 17, 2019

Excellent New Dem Hearing Strategy

Darren Samuelsohn at Politico is reporting on an excellent new Dem strategy to get witnesses to talk to them. They say they plan to call witnesses who were never part of the Trump administration and who, therefore can't assert executive privilege:

Darren Samuelsohn


House Democrats hope to make an end run around Trump’s executive privilege by calling witnesses like Corey Lewandowski and Chris Christie.  @politico

12:47 PM - 17 Jun 2019

Read all about it here. Not everyone thinks it's such a great idea, although they say they'd look forward to it. Joe DiGenova is one of those, and he offers the example of a previous attempt to browbeat Corey Lewandowski. Follow the embedded link below for the unexpurgated version of Lewandowski's, um, remarks to House Dems on that previous occasion:

But Democrats may regret calling witnesses who remain loyal to Trump and are willing to push back on lawmakers, said Joe diGenova, a former federal prosecutor who represented two witnesses in the Mueller probe: Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for the president’s legal team, and Trump campaign aide Sam Clovis. 
“You know what happens in a hearing like that, the witness says, ‘You know what, Mr. Nadler, go to hell. I’m sick of you. I’m sick of what you’ve done to my family,’” added diGenova, who nearly joined the president’s team of personal attorneys in March 2018 and continues to give Trump informal legal advice. 
“If they want to do that, I’d be there with a camera to watch that. How stupid. They think people are going to roll over and play dead for these morons? They may accept just to have the opportunity to spit in the face of Elijah Cummings, Schiff and Nadler, and I would recommend that they do it,” diGenova said. 
“If they want to call Corey [Lewandowski], that’d be their biggest mistake,” diGenova added. “Ooohoo! I hope they do it. They’re going to regret it.” 
Lewandowski reportedly had that exact experience when he testified to the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors last year, telling Democrats he no longer intended to answer their “f---ing” questions.

Barr: No Rikers Island For Manafort

This is a signal that Barr is on top of every aspect of the Russia Hoax, including Team Mueller's actions and those of allied locals. 

The NYT is reporting that DoJ has stepped in and nixed the Manhanttan District Attorney's sadistic plans for Paul Manafort:

Paul Manafort Seemed Headed to Rikers. Then the Justice Department Intervened.
The decision came after Attorney General William Barr’s top deputy sent a letter to state prosecutors. Mr. Manafort will now be held in a federal lockup while he faces state charges.
Manhattan prosecutors were surprised to receive a letter from the second-highest law enforcement official in the country inquiring about Mr. Manafort’s case. The letter, from Jeffrey A. Rosen, Attorney General William P. Barr’s new top deputy, indicated that he was monitoring where Mr. Manafort would be held in New York. 
And then, on Monday, federal prison officials weighed in, telling the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Mr. Manafort, 70, would not be going to Rikers. 

Barr And Durham Are Focused On The CIA

At this point in the Russia Hoax investigation it has become increasingly apparent that former CIA Director John Brennan was at the very heart of the whole Russia Hoax. For that reason I've tried to focus on the significance of the Task Force that Brennan--in cooperation with Obama and his top staff--assembled in summer of 2016. The Task Force was ostensibly to focus on Russian "meddling" in the election, but there is little to no doubt that the Task Force was driven by what is known as the "Steele dossier". We won't quibble over the authorship--the main point is simply the made-up character of the dossier, that it was a false narrative put together for political purposes and then weaponized through the US Intelligence Community (IC) against candidate Trump and, later, against President Trump by Team Mueller. In that sense Team Mueller can be viewed as an extension of the Task Force, both in an offensive sense (targeting the POTUS) and in an defensive sense (attempting to ward of investigation of Obama administration and IC criminality).

I've been a champion of AG Bill Barr and his avowed purpose of getting to the bottom of the Russia Hoax. However, in recent weeks commenters have expressed frustration that there has not been massive declassification and publication of relevant documents and that there have been no indictments. I believe the reason for this is relatively straightforward.

Hitherto, attention has largely focused on the FBI criminality, and in particular on the fraudulent FISA that was opened and renewed three times against Carter Page. Of course, that FISA followed upon the dossier-driven opening of the Crossfire Hurricane Full Investigation, and the FISA itself was therefore undoubtedly dossier-driven as well. Given that background, the Team Mueller operation could only have been also dossier-driven--as I've argued at great length over the months. That view has, I think, been totally vindicated. In a sense, therefore, the focus on the FBI has been the easy part of the Russia Hoax investigation, simply because the opening of investigations, the applications for FISA coverage, all involve the creation of extensive paper trails. There can be no doubt whatsoever that, if Barr wished to, he could indict a fair number of former FBI officials today.

However, that would not insure getting to the "origins" of the Russia Hoax, as Barr is determined to do. FBI involvement in the Russia Hoax was necessary because the FBI, as our lead counterintelligence (CI) agency, must be the agency to open investigations and apply for electronic surveillance of US persons via FISA. But, as we have seen, the FBI wasn't the true originating and driving force behind the Russia Hoax. That honor goes to John Brennan of the CIA and the inner circle of the Obama Administration and its State Department. To get to that level Barr will need to work up from the level of the FBI.

Stephen Cohen: The Most Dangerous Moment in U.S.-Russian Relations

For those of you not really familiar with Stephen F. Cohen, he was a big name back in the Cold War days. He was part of the dueling Russia narratives then current, and still current in changed form. Cohen, a professor (now emeritus) of Russian studies at Princeton and New York University, was considered on the right to be an outright apologist for the then Soviet Union. His opposite Neocon number was the late Richard Pipes, a professor of history at Harvard for nearly four decades and an influential adviser to President Reagan.

Cohen's wife is revered by Progressives and notorious (reviled?) among conservatives--Katrina vanden Heuvel, New York heiress and editor, publisher, and part-owner of the progressive magazine The Nation. Cohen himself has long written regularly for The Nation. But times change and roles have changed to some degree. Cohen has taken up the cudgels against the Russia Hoax and appears regularly with the likes of Tucker Carlson--to the sputtering dismay of the Left in much the same way Alan Dershowitz has been denounced. Cohen's particular angle is the danger that the reckless--and false--Leftist collusion narrative raises for US-Russian relations. He has come out with a book which expresses his fears: War with Russia: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate. Here's the blurb from Amazon, to give you a flavor for Cohen's angle:

America is in a new Cold War with Russia even more dangerous than the one the world barely survived in the twentieth century. The Soviet Union is gone, but the two nuclear superpowers are again locked in political and military confrontations, now from Ukraine to Syria. All of this is exacerbated by Washington’s war-like demonizing of the Kremlin leadership and by Russiagate’s unprecedented allegations. US mainstream media accounts are highly selective and seriously misleading. American “disinformation,” not only Russian, is a growing peril. 
In War With Russia?, Stephen F. Cohen—the widely acclaimed historian of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia—gives readers a very different, dissenting narrative of this more dangerous new Cold War from its origins in the 1990s, the actual role of Vladimir Putin, and the 2014 Ukrainian crisis to Donald Trump’s election and today’s unprecedented Russiagate allegations. 
Cohen’s views have made him, it is said, “America’s most controversial Russia expert.” Some say this to denounce him, others to laud him as a bold, highly informed critic of US policies and the dangers they have helped to create.

With that introduction, back in April, 2017, Cohen gave an interview to Democracy Now--an interview which, in my view, has stood the test of time, or at least of the succeeding two years, quite well. Note that to Cohen's credit he came out against the Russia Hoax in the very early days of the Trump administration, before Team Mueller came into being, and his views have remained consistent. He's saying the same things to Democracy Now that he says to Tucker Carlson. The whole interview can be found here, Stephen Cohen: This is Most Dangerous Moment in U.S.-Russian Relations Since Cuban Missile Crisis, but I've excerpted a large portion of Cohen's comments, which appear to be particularly relevant in light of the recent provocative NYT article and my own recent comments with regard to Trump's national security team (to include Pompeo). So, ...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

MULTIPLE UPDATES: Is This One Of Unknown's Black Swan Events?

For some time now commenter Unknown has been asserting that "Black Swan" events have been planned by the Deep State to bring down Trump. Could the latest NYT leak--obviously a leak--be such an event? Note that it's headlined as an "escalation" rather than "retaliation," as one might expect from the article--U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid:

WASHINGTON — The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said. 
In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

It seems clear that any energy sector accident at all in Russia will now be suspected Trumpian sabotage. Suppose another Chernobyl accident should occur? Trump. He's a maniac, bringing us close to nuclear holocaust. He's "literally" Hitler, or worse--he's Trump!


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Briefly Noted: News Roundup

It's a bit of a slow newsday. Here are a few items worth noting, however.

Let's start with a couple of tweets from Paul Sperry that tend  to confirm earlier word:

Paul Sperry‏


BREAKING: House GOP leadership has soured on Comey replacement Wray. They r now convinced Wray's not part of the FBI cleanup & not cooperating w AG Barr & is in fact part of the cover-up of #SpyGate scandal after burying documents & refusing to make people available for interview
7:41 PM - 14 Jun 2019

It has been previously reported that IG Horowitz's wrapup is being delayed by Wray's stonewalling on document release. Difficult to say definitively at this distance, but I've made by view of Wray pretty clear. I'd like to see Barr muscle him. Publicly. Obviously there's politics involved here, but the situation seems unsatisfactory--the legacy Mueller FBI that Wray is running must be stopped in its tracks.

Paul Sperry


BREAKING: House Republicans r upset w what they call Sen Graham's showboating since taking over Senate Judiciary from Grassley, who they say was "serious" bout getting to bottom of #SpyGate. But Graham's just putting on "charade" on Fox for S.C. voters & "not doing a f*cking thing"
7:30 PM - 14 Jun 2019

We've seen these rumors before, too. Graham is talking a good game, but what action is he taking? I'm willing to assume that Graham doesn't want to step on Barr/Durham toes and that there's a need for a higher profile pol to do some "showboating" on TV. Could that be the coordination with Barr? Who are the "House GOPers?" We're not told. It's another situation worth watching.

OTOH, significant evidence that Barr hasn't lapsed into somnolence--even as he's threatened with contempt in one area Barr takes "aggressive" action in another. He's clearly not shying away from confrontation:

Friday, June 14, 2019

Why Is Bruce Ohr Still Working At DoJ

This morning commenter Cassander asked

Why is Bruce Ohr still an employee of the Department of Justice? 

I responded (slightly edited and expanded):

I think that comes down to IG Horowitz's FISA investigation--Ohr is key to that inquiry because he's the person who conveyed the dossier directly to the FBI and was Steele's handler. As long as Ohr remains employed at DoJ he's under Horowitz's thumb, so I think some sort of deal for his cooperation was made at a VERY early date. I'll provide a link to an article that points out that Ohr gets exactly ONE mention in the Mueller report. That one mention is simply a cite to a Trump tweet. In other words, Mueller probably never talked to Ohr, but Horowitz has probably been doing so on an ongoing basis. So here's that article:
Mueller 'Strzok Out' With His Whitewash Report:

"On page 323 of the report, the special counsel acknowledges that he is aware of the origin of the Russia hoax because he quotes the president's Aug. 24, 2018, tweet asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI agent Peter Strzok, Justice Department lawyer Lisa Page, DOJ official Bruce Ohr, and Christopher Steele and "his phony and corrupt Dossier." But somehow neither Sessions, nor Mueller, nor anyone else has been able to put 2 + 2 together and come up with the correct answer. 
"Indeed, if you want to gauge the complete inadequacy of the Mueller Report, consider this: President Trump’s tweet is the only mention in the report of Ohr, whose wife worked for Fusion GPS, the firm behind the dossier. It is the only mention of Strzok. It is the only mention of Page. Considering their central role in framing the president, that is the equivalent of the Warren Report somehow relegating Lee Harvey Oswald to a single footnote." 
I think that also means that when Horowitz is done, Ohr will be talking to Durham.

To that let me add something that's quite speculative but, so it seems to me, ultimately has to be relevant.

HUGE? Flynn's Full Legal Team Shows Up

I want to be clear right up front. I can't claim to expertise regarding defense tactics, and especially not at this level. The reason I added the question mark--HUGE?--is because the exact significance of this news is unclear. Sidney Powell is the only attorney for Flynn whose name appears on the filing that requests an extension of Flynn's sentencing in the case before Judge Sullivan. It appears at this stage that the three additional attorneys will represent Flynn in the separate case in the Eastern District of Virginia. That case is against Flynn's former partner, and Flynn will be a witness in that case as part of his cooperation with Team Mueller. OTOH, the cases are closely related and I would have to assume that there will be cooperation between all the attorneys representing Flynn. The fact that such a high profile legal ethics expert as Hodes is part of the team is, I think, suggestive.

That said ...

Politico's Darren Samuelsohn, in a series of tweets, reports that Sidney Powell is only one of Flynn's new attorneys. Per Gateway Pundit:

The team consists of new members — Jesse Binnall, Philip John Harvey & W. William Hodes, along with Sidney Powell — to represent him in his ongoing case. 
These attorneys have entered notices of appearance in the EDVA case against Flynn’s former business partner where Flynn is expected to testify.

W. William Hodes is the author of “Law and Lawyering” a nationally recognized treatise on legal ethics that is updated annually. Hodes was a member of the Advisory Council to the American Bar Association’s Ethics 2000 Commission.

This should keep Robert Mueller and his far left “pitbull” Andrew Weissmann up at night.

Per Samuelsohn at Politico:

Assessing The Assessment

A few days ago commenter Mike Sylwester noted in a comment to Brennan's Task Force--The Heart Of The Russia Hoax that the Brennan task force that was assembled to stop Trump appears to have excluded analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Department of State (DoS) from its work. This, despite the fact that DoD and DoS representatives with Democrat political connections played key roles in propagating the Russia Hoax. The task force's work, of course, included coming up with the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that has been perhaps the fundamental driver of the whole Russia Hoax narrative. As a result, the ICA has been getting renewed scrutiny.

This morning I was taking a look at an article by Ray McGovern, DoJ Bloodhounds on the Scent of John Brennan, which also focuses on reporting that Brennan's task force is being targeted by Barr and Durham. It happens that McGovern's article closes with a pointed reference to the Intelligence Community Assessment and its exclusion of any views that might have been, well, independent. Earlier, in About that IC Assessment: Paul Sperry Has Good News, we quoted Sperry's reporting that GOP Congressional investigators have been honing in on the production of that Assessment and, in particular, the growing likelihood that--like virtually all else Russia Hoax--it was essentially a byproduct of the Steele "dossier":

Staff investigators for GOP Rep. Devin Nunes’ intelligence committee, for one, are now going over “every word” of the ICA — including classified footnotes — to see if any of the analysis was pre-cooked based on the [Steele] dossier. On Tuesday, Nunes sent letters to Obama intel officials responsible for the report. He demanded former top spook John Brennan and intel czar James Clapper provide answers about how they used the dossier in intel reports and when they learned the Clinton camp paid for it. 
Under oath, Brennan has denied knowing the Clinton campaign commissioned the dossier. He also told the House intelligence panel the CIA didn’t rely on the dossier “in any way” for its reports on Russian interference. Committee staff are taking a second look at his May 2017 testimony. 
Clapper, for his part, conceded in a recent CNN interview that the ICA was based on “some of the substantive content of the dossier.” Without elaborating, he maintained that “we were able to corroborate” certain allegations.

In that light, here are the closing paragraphs of McGovern's article, in which McGovern highlights the exclusion of DIA and DoS from the task force and, therefore, from any voice in developing the ICA:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Snapshot Of The Mueller FBI

Yesterday at a House Intelligence Committee hearing two retired FBI agents were called by the Democrats as expert witnesses. Per Jeff Carlson:

Witnesses at the hearing—titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume 1″—included Robert Anderson and Stephanie Douglas, described by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as former executives from the FBI’s counterintelligence division. Left out of Schiff’s description of Anderson and Douglas was that both witnesses had worked under former FBI Director Mueller prior to his role as special counsel.

Sean Hannity interviewed Devin Nunes and Mark Meadows afterwards. Here are some excerpts:

NUNES: What was amazing to me, ... is there were two retired FBI agents on the stand there, ... What I was amazed at is the lack of concern by these former FBI agents, one of whom Peter Strzok used to work for and, look, they served their country and I'm sure they did a great job, but when I brought up the fact that we probably shouldn't be using counterintelligence capabilities in this country to target a political campaign, they just sat there. ... I know we always say, oh, this happened at the very top of the FBI, but I will tell you, if that attitude permeated throughout the counterintelligence capabilities, and if retired FBI agents think its OK to use counterintelligence against political campaigns, I think we've gone a long way in this country, ...
MEADOWS: ... Even some of the witnesses here today on Capitol hill? They're supposed to be experts? They hadn't even read the Steele dossier!

So how unimpressive is that? Most Americans probably think being an FBI agent, working at the higher levels at FBIHQ, working CI, protecting against espionage and all that stuff--that's pretty impressive, requires smarts and dedication, a sharp, inquiring mind. Right? And here we are, talking about THE BIGGEST SCANDAL IN FBI HISTORY, even in US history, and it happened within a few years of them leaving the job. One of them even formerly supervised a major player in all this, Strzok.

So Nunes asks them, What do you think of the FBI using CI capabilities to spy on political campaigns? And "they just sat there." How intellectually unengaged do you have to be, given their background, to have no opinion on that, or none that you're willing to offer?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Durham Is Focusing On The Task Force And The ICA Assessment

Excellent. AG Bill Barr is on the same page we described earlier today: Brennan's Task Force--The Heart Of The Russia Hoax. Barr recognizes the Task Force and the ICA Assessment as twin lynchpins in the Russia Hoax.

The NYT has an article out that reports that AG Bill Barr's prosecutor of choice for the Russia Hoax "review", John Durham, "wants to better understand the intelligence that flowed from the C.I.A. to the F.B.I. in the summer of 2016." That means, the Task Force. And the NYT understands that:

In the summer of 2016, the intelligence community formed a task force housed at the C.I.A. to investigate Russian interference. The group shared intelligence with F.B.I. investigators who opened the bureau’s Russia inquiry ...

Further, Durham is focusing on the analytical process behind the production of the ICA Assessment.

Specifically, the article (Justice Dept. Seeks to Question C.I.A. Officers in Russia Inquiry Review) reports that Durham will soon seek to interview two CIA employees who were key to that CIA/FBI cooperation in 2016--and it should come as no surprise that the same personnel who were involved in the Task Force were also involved in the production of the ICA assessment (Peter Strzok, on the FBI side, was also involved in both):

One of the C.I.A. officers he wants to question works at the agency’s counterintelligence mission center that would have been one conduit for the C.I.A. to pass intelligence to the F.B.I. about Russian attempts to reach out to the Trump campaign, or information that the agency uncovered about Moscow’s interference campaign. C.I.A. officers at the center work closely with the F.B.I. on complex cases like hunting down traitors and helping validate the agency’s informants. 
The senior analyst whom the Justice Department wants to talk to was involved in the C.I.A. assessment of Russian activities in 2016, ...

The article makes two additional points:

Sperry Tweets Highlights Of HPSCI Hearing

Paul Sperry is tweeting highlights from today's HPSCI hearing, at which two FBI officials testified. Here are a few of his tweets:

Paul Sperry‏

4 hours ago
BREAKING: In (LIVE) hearing, Nunes just pronounced: "The counterintelligence department over at the FBI is in big trouble."  
40 minutes ago
BREAKING:Rep Stefanik asserted that Comey "circumvented" requirements to brief Gang of 8 about counterintelligence investigations of a federal campaign in March 2017 & instead broke the rules to publicly confirm for 1st time the FBI was investigating members of the Trump campaign

60 minutes ago
BREAKING: Rep. Ratcliffe suggested during line of questioning in today's HPSCI hearing that the FBI had "exculpatory" info (likely ref to alleged transcripts of recorded convos) re Papadopoulos & yet w/h it from FISA affidavit, which names him as part of alleged Russian conspiracy

1 hour ago
Nunes pointed out that "numerous" current government officials and former officials -- including anti-Trumper Gen. Hayden -- have appeared many times on RT and some have even taken RT money, and yet they were not put under counterintelligence investigation like Lt. Gen. Flynn.

2 hours ago
All Schiff & Dems & their witnesses have in terms of any "collusion" is Manafort sharing polling data to Kilimnik even tho Kilimnik was US asset (not Russian agent) & he was Manafort's partner in political consultancy & the polling data came from firm contracted by consultancy!

2 hours ago
BREAKING: Schiff's FBI witnesses -- both of whom worked for Mueller when he was FBI director -- claimed under oath they have never read the Steele dossier

No, I don't believe that last bit either.