Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Grennell's Final Declassifications

FoxNews has a story out about formerly Acting DNI Grennell's final declassifications--Grenell declassifies slew of Russia probe files, as Ratcliffe takes helm as DNI. It will now be up to new DNI John Ratcliffe to decide which of the newly declassified documents will be made public. Of course the story leads with what, to my mind, will end up being a non-story--the call transcripts of Kislyak and Flynn. However there is mention of a document that is undoubtedly near the heart of the Durham investigation. It has with "manipulation of intelligence," which undoubtedly concerns John Brennan's "shaping" of the ICA, which was the basis for all subsequent coup and fake impeachment efforts. In that case, it's possible that Ratcliffe--undoubtedly in consultation with Barr/Durham--will withhold that document for the time being. As a former USA himself, Ratcliffe will fully understand whatever the dynamics are in that decision:

The documents include transcripts of phone calls that then-incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak had in December 2016, during the presidential transition period. Grenell said publicly last week that he was in the process of declassifying those files, after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked that he do so. 
Fox News has learned that the declassification review of those transcripts is now complete, and it will be left up to Ratcliffe on whether to release them publicly. 
Fox News has learned that Grenell also completed the declassification review of other documents related to the origins of the Russia probe — including one that a senior intelligence official told Fox News was “very significant in understanding how intelligence was manipulated to support launching the Russia investigation.” 
The official could not provide further details on that newly declassified document, but said that it will also be up to Ratcliffe to decide whether to make it public.

Speaking with Tucker Carlson, FoxNews' Ed Henry focused on the documentation regarding the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), stating that, if some of the other newly declassified documents are released, "it could get sticky for John Brennan in particular, because of some of the other info":

Major New Post In Process

Well, maybe that's a bit grandiose, but at least I'll be working hard at it. We'll see how it turns out. I'll try to be enabling comments fairly promptly but may not be participating too much. Unless we get significant new revelations.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Did Sullivan Help Set Comey Up With An Endowed Chair At Howard U.?

In September, 2017, after his role in the ambush interview and subsequent firing of Michael Flynn was well known, disgraced former FBI Director James Comey gave an address at Howard University in Washington, DC.:

Comey, who was appointed FBI director by President Obama in 2013 to lead the FBI, was fired by President Trump in May. His dismissal provoked the appointment of Robert Mueller, himself a former FBI director, as the special counsel tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Howard University named Comey an endowed chair in public policy last month, with his $100,000 salary going to provide scholarships to the school. "I look forward to contributing to this remarkable institution and engaging students and faculty alike," Comey said in a statement upon his hiring.

The Gateway Pundit is reporting that Emmet Sullivan was instrumental in getting that set up, although apparently misstating details:

Judge Sullivan worked with President [Wayne] Frederick to get Jim Comey as a guest speaker for a $100,000 fee.

TGP states that its lengthy blog on Sullivan's friends and family is based on material provided in large part by Yaacov Apelbaum.

I haven't seen Sullivan's role in this confirmed elsewhere, although he is a prominent alumnus of Howard U. If true, this would shed startling light on Sullivan's egregious and controversial actions as well as his words throughout proceedings in the Flynn case. The propriety of Sullivan not recusing himself also comes into question.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Undercover Huber's Analysis Of The Railroading of Papadopoulos

Earlier today Undercover Huber posted a masterful thread exposing the railroading of George Papadopoulos by Team Mueller. You can read it all here, but I want to highlight the part that really struck me, which has to do with Papadopoulos's initial appearance before a federal magistrate. This occurred the day after he was arrested at Dulles Airport, after reentering the US without the cash that had been planted on him in hopes of setting him up on a money laundering charge. It looks to me like a classic violation of the Right to Counsel.

The more you read about the Papadopoulos case the more you're impressed with how hard Team Mueller and the FBI worked at framing him. The sheer malevolence--the word UC Huber uses--is pretty stunning.

Here are those excerpts re the initial appearance:

Undercover Huber

That sealed Court appearance in Virginia lasted 4 mins, was delayed by hrs (GP left detention for the courthouse at 08:30am, it didn't start until 03:02pm) & was presided over by only a Magistrate Judge (who then just transferred case to DC) who spelled BVGs name wrong as "Gratt”.
11:48 AM · May 24, 2020

Papadoupolos wasn’t represented by Counsel at that initial appearance, even though he had been represented by the same Counsel (Thomas Breen and co.) since Feb 2017, who had attended multiple FBI interviews with him too. The Mag Judge wasn’t made aware of this by the SCO.

Yet GP's Counsel (Mr. Breen) had been informed of GP's arrest and spoken to GP twice the night before  (see FD-302 extracts) & knew of his court appearance the next day (see extract from Politico interview) So this "obstruction" charge is really going “by the book” so far .

The overall effect on the disorientated @GeorgePapa19 appears to have been profound. He describes in his book how he took the “serious jail time” threat seriously, fearing spending *25 years in prison.* Note: he'd never even been arrested before & had no Counsel present to help.

What GP's lawyers could've said at that initial hearing is out of scope of this thread - they could've noted GP didn't even commit those alleged crimes in "D.C" (they took place in Illinois, so the venue was wrong) & his lawyers *personally knew the obstruction charge was false*

Now here is Undercover Huber's overall conclusion, which he wrote up separately. Obviously I don't agree with UC Huber's notion that Barr and Durham are about to let Kevin Clinesmith off "scot free." Nevertheless, the narrative is compelling, and I wouldn't want to be in Clinesmith's shoes when it comes time to pay the piper.

UPDATED: Recommended Read: Curiously Odd Decision By Judge Sullivan to Hire Beth Wilkinson

Shipwreckedcrew hereby solidifies his reputation as an experienced prosecutor who is able to explain complex legal matters in everyday language. While I don't fully agree with his conclusion, the whole piece is worth your time to read to get the big picture of what's going on.

Curiously Odd Decision By Judge Sullivan to Hire Beth Wilkinson

The fairly lengthy article summarizes the entire Flynn case, obviously glossing over the earlier parts:

Just when you thought the Gen. Flynn case couldn’t get any more weird.
Let’s briefly recap the madness:

However, I want to urge readers not to skip over the early parts. You may think it's old history, but I want to suggest that it may explain why AG Barr thought it might be a wise move to allow the Flynn case to play out in Sidney Powell's capable ends--that it was already winding down to its logical conclusion quite rapidly, and it would be better to avoid a controversial intervention until the reason for intervening was patently clear.

From that perspective, I think the summary helps to show that that's exactly what was going on--until Sullivan ran totally off all judicial rails, appointing himself prosecutor.

Read it with an open mind. Yes, this is a major case in the Russia Hoax. Nevertheless, Barr has bigger fish to fry--and those fish will be even more controversial. Therefore he needs to proceed methodically to set the groundwork for those coming prosecutions, while avoiding an appearance of stage managing processes that are supposed to be handled at the US Attorney level.

But then by all means move on to the question of Sullivan hiring Beth Wilkinson:

Saturday, May 23, 2020

MULTIPLE UPDATES: Remarkable: Sullivan Hires Hugely Expensive Lawyer

I can think of two possible reasons for this off hand. 

One reason is that Sullivan may possibly fear disciplinary action for his contumacious actions--contumacious toward obvious DC Circuit precedent. He may feel he needs help in fending off the consequences of his action.

The other reason may be that he feels he needs help in explaining his actions. I have a problem with this, however, in that the Court of Appeals ordered the "district judge" (Sullivan) to respond. I took it that that meant the Court of Appeals wanted Sullivan's own explanation for his actions. Like TechnoFog (also below) I have to wonder whether the Court of Appeals will even allow this--who ever heard of a judge calling in a boutique defense lawyer to explain an order he has given, when the Appeals Court has asked him for an explanation? If he can't explain his own orders he should step down. Is he really flipping the Appeals Court off?

All things considered, I have to go with the first alternative, but we shall see. 

The federal judge who refused a Justice Department request to immediately drop the prosecution of former Trump adviser Michael Flynn has hired a high-profile trial lawyer to argue his reasons for investigating whether dismissing the case is legally or ethically appropriate. 
In a rare step that adds to this criminal case’s already unusual path, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has retained Beth Wilkinson to represent him in defending his decision to a federal appeals court in Washington ... 
Wilkinson, known for her top-notch legal skills and get-results style, is expected to file a notice with the court in the coming week about representing the judge. ... 
A federal judge doesn’t typically hire private counsel to respond to an appeals court, ... 
Sullivan also asked retired New York judge John Gleeson to examine whether Flynn may have committed perjury while pleading guilty to lying about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador. Flynn’s lawyers then accused Sullivan of bias and asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to intervene. 
On Thursday, that higher court took the extraordinary step of ordering Sullivan to answer within 10 days. The court also invited the Justice Department to comment. 
Wilkinson, a go-to advocate for prominent officials snared in major Washington investigations and high-stakes legal battles, now joins the fray. Wilkinson represented Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh when he was a Supreme Court nominee and battling accusations he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were both teens. Her firm also represented [Cheryl Mills] longtime confidant of Hillary Clinton amid an investigation into whether Clinton, then secretary of state, had mishandled classified information while trying to avoid using government emails.

Mike Davis and TechnoFog ask a highly pertinent question:

On FBI Inspections

Yesterday's announcement by current FBI Director Chris Wray that the FBI's Inspection Division would be, what else, inspecting bad behavior by the FBI in the Michael Flynn case was greeted with considerable derision. About time! was about the mildest comment.

Shipwreckedcrew is a former federal prosecutor who has become a bit of an overnight sensation on the conservative interwebs--deservedly so, since he offers knowledgeable insight on legal/prosecutive matters in an easily understood style. Noting the rough reception Wray's announcement received, shipwreckedcrew attempted to defend the FBI's Inspection Division. Judging from the tone of his article this morning at RedState, Visits By FBI Inspections Division Can Have Real Consequences — Heads Often Roll, it seems he must have received a fair amount of pushback from former agents. Deservedly so. Here's how the article begins:

The announcement on Friday that FBI Dir. Christopher Wray has ordered FBI Inspections Division to look into the FBI’s activity in the investigation of General Michael Flynn was met with quite a bit of skepticism and cynicism.  I made some efforts on Twitter to convince readers that within the FBI the Inspections Division is taken seriously, and their arrival at a particular field office is normally a circumstance filled with dread. 
Based on my own discussions with FBI agents over the years, the general sentiment from the “rank and file” in the offices subjected to inspections is that they believe the inspection team shows up knowing that certain people  have been targeted for “scrutiny”, and that a visit from the Inspections Division is really to “collect some scalps”. 
I think a bit of background on how inspections in the FBI are conducted might help readers understand why I have this view.

He goes on to explain how inspections are conducted--an accurate account in the "by the book" sense. He spends a fair amount of time describing how regular inspections of FBI Field Divisions are conducted. However, the Inspection Division is not confined to those types of inspections and can be called in for specific issues or to examine the handling of specific cases--such as the Flynn case. Here's his overview of the process, which can be tweaked to apply to most cases:

A Cuban American Perspective On Lockdown Violations

I know you won't be exactly blow away by this, and may not even consider it news, but ...

Poll: Democrats Much More Likely Than Republicans to Snitch on Neighbors for 'Lockdown' Violations

Nevertheless it's worth reading, as further documentation of our ongoing Culture Wars. Sample:

“Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say they’d report neighbors for holding a social gathering in violation of coronavirus stay-at-home orders, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. 
“There is a huge partisan difference,” Rasmussen said. “By a 44% to 31% margin, a plurality of Democrats would turn in their neighbors. By a 60% to 25% margin, Republicans would not." 
Any more questions about why Cuban-Americans register majority Republican, and why many of us have an instinctive—almost visceral—revulsion to many Democrat policies? 
Though not mentioned, even by the conservative media, with regard to this issue, Castroite Cuba is the historic prototype of a snitch society.
Maybe it was a coincidence that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio—a Democrat who honeymooned in Cuba and quoted Che Guevara during his micro-campaign--seemed particularly fond of installing neighborhood snitch/rat groups in his realm.

Friday, May 22, 2020

MAJOR UPDATE: File Under: Where Do They Find Time?

As if dealing with FISA abuse and all isn't enough, OIG's plate is kept full with matters such as these:

Significant findings:

The OIG investigation found that the SAC sexually harassed six subordinate employees while serving as the SAC and two subordinate employees while serving in a previous position as a Section Chief at FBI Headquarters, failed to report an intimate relationship with a subordinate, engaged in actions following the end of that relationship that created a hostile work environment for the subordinate, and lacked candor during the SAC’s interview with the OIG, all in violation of FBI policy. The OIG investigation also found that the SAC violated the Department of Justice’s zero tolerance policy with respect to sexual harassment. 
The OIG has completed its investigation and provided its report to the FBI for appropriate action.

One suspects that the zero tolerance policy is honored in the breach until such time as it can no longer be ignored or swept under a rug.

UPDATE: Adam Mills has a nice article on the general topic, Justice Department Protects Its Own from Tax Prosecution, (which in turn contains a link to a much longer article by Eric Felten, Accused in Justice Dept.'s Upper Echelon, and Innocent Until Scot-Free).

The general topic, of course, is how to deal with corruption among those charged with upholding societal standards of morality, as embodied in the laws. I remember as a very young first office agent (that's Bureau lingo--we were transferred several times in our careers) getting into an argument with another first office agent, also a lawyer. He maintained that the laws we enforced had nothing to do with morality. It was wrong to disobey the laws simply because the laws were the laws. He later rose to a fairly high level in the Bureau, and I was reminded of him when I recently saw his name on the list of 2000 former DoJ/FBI officials calling on AG Barr to resign over the dismissal of charges against Michael Flynn. I was mildly gratified to see how few ex-Bureau people had signed on.

More broadly, Wikipedia has an informative article Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? that summarizes the dilemma nicely. As I have urged in the past, the dilemma becomes especially pressing when the highest standard for conduct becomes--as it seems to be in modern America--a purely positivist one, usually measured by the criminal law or the strictures of PC think. It then, logically, reduces morality to whatever you can get away with. If Bill Haydon is right that the intelligence services are the measure of a society's help, we're in a bad way.

Anyway, Wikipedia:

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–348). It is literally translated as "Who will guard the guards themselves?", though it is also known by variant translations, such as "Who watches the watchers?" and "Who will watch the watchmen?". 
The original context deals with the problem of ensuring marital fidelity, though the phrase is now commonly used more generally to refer to the problem of controlling the actions of persons in positions of power, an issue discussed by Plato in the Republic. 
This phrase is used generally to consider the embodiment of the philosophical question as to how power can be held to account. It is sometimes incorrectly attributed as a direct quotation from Plato's Republic in both popular media and academic contexts. There is no exact parallel in the Republic, but it is used by modern authors to express Socrates' concerns about the guardians, the solution to which is to properly train their souls.

Who will guard the guardians? It's none of your business, but since you ask, the guardians will guard themselves--which is the whole incentive for becoming a guardianin the first place. That seems to be where we're at. You can tell from the howls of rage from the elite when AG Barr suggests the some standards of right and wrong actually have objective value.

UPDATED: Four Important Reads: Liberal Schadenfreude

While waiting for whether there will be late Friday revelations in the aggregated Russia Hoax scandal, here are four important stories on major shakeups in the Left Universe--as Thomas Lifson describes it at AmThinker: Media, Higher Education, Government Schools (aka "public" schools), the organs of mass indoctrination. Start with Lifson's thoughtful article:

Propaganda organs of the left hard hit by lockdown

The nation’s blue state governors seem to be far more enthusiastic about lockdowns than their red state counterparts, perhaps because they recognize that the small businesses being driven toward extinction are a key component of the GOP base. But if their motives are so ruthless, perhaps they need to reckon with the damage being done to the key propaganda organs of the left: progressive media, higher education, and government schools.

From there he covers the three bases of mass indoctrination, and the forces shaking their foundations.

Also at AmThinker, Monica Showalter takes a specific example--and it's delish:

Schadenfreude: Mommy Warbucks shuts her purse on The Atlantic's lefty denizens

The Lefty social revolutionaries thought they were shielded from the real world because they had The Billionaires on their side, not hated greedy shareholders. Joke's on you, suckers!

Here Showalter quotes Forbes

Thursday, May 21, 2020

UPDATED: Overall Looks Like A Favorable DC Circuit Panel For Flynn

The three judges who are handling Powell's Petition for a Writ of Mandamus are:

Neomi Rao - Trump; notable:

In an October 11, 2019, opinion of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Rao was the dissent in a 2-1 ruling to affirm a district court ruling supporting a congressional subpoena for President Trump's records from accounting firm Mazars USA LLP. Her opinion stated, "allegations of illegal conduct against the president cannot be investigated by Congress except through impeachment."

Karen LeCraft Henderson George H. W. Bush; notable:

In February 2020, Henderson joined the opinion of Circuit Judge Thomas B. Griffith when the majority held that the United States House Committee on the Judiciary could not enforce a subpoena upon President Trump's former White House Counsel, Don McGahn.

Robert L. Wilkins - Obama

Sullivan has ten days to respond to Powell's petition. Sidney Powell comments: "The short time-table recognizes the seriousness of the issue to the proper administration of justice." Also, note that the court specifically invites a response from the government.

UPDATE 1: shipwreckedcrew:

In more than 30 years of practicing law, almost exclusively in federal courts, I have never seen a federal appeals court direct a district court judge to personally respond to a litigant’s motion, petition, or appeal.

Flynn was fortunate to draw the panel he did. It consists of Karen LeCraft Henderson, a Bush 41 appointee, Naomi Rao, a Trump appointee, and Robert Wilkins, who was appointed by Obama.
That panel’s order is “per curiam.” There is no indication that Judge Wilkins disagreed with it.

Hans Mahncke:

Hans Mahncke
The D.C. Circuit just asked Sullivan to answer this exact question, i.e. on what basis does he claim to have discretion not to dismiss? He could have asked the parties to write briefs. Now he's been ordered to do it himself. 
Quote Tweet

Hans Mahncke
 · May 13
The only legitimate question that Sullivan can ask is whether he has any discretion not to dismiss? That’s it. If he thinks he might have some discretion then he should either figure it out himself or ask the lawyers to write briefs. Instead, he’s allowing the mob to smear Flynn. 
5:51 PM · May 21, 2020

If you can't get enough of this:

UPDATE 2: Here's the unrolled thread by John M. Reeves that commenter EZ pointed to. Very thorough explanation:

DiGenova On The Flynn/Kislyak Call

Appearing on the Howie Carr show this week, Joe diGenova weighed in on the non-unmasking of Michael Flynn with regard to the famous Flynn/Kislyak call. DiGenova comes down on the side of those who say that the the monitoring of the call was not done by traditional FISA means as I've described them--picking Flynn up on the FISA for the Russian embassy. You can get a good link here, with the relevant portion near the end. Here's a word for word transcript of what Joe says:

I think it's going to become pretty clear that Michael Flynn was NOT unmasked but was rather the subject of a separate intelligence electronic surveillance by a foreign intelligence service at the request of John Brennan. Most likely the United Kingdom GCHQ, which is their NSA. When you look at the timeline in all the of the unmaskings of Flynn, those were done within a timeline that shows that the Kislyak conversation was not conducted in the United States. The Kislyak conversation was when Flynn was in the Dominican Republic and Kislyak was in Moscow for the Orthodox Christian Christmas, which is January 2nd. And so that means that in order for them to be wiretapped and have their calls intercepted that had to be done by a foreign power. And if you do that at the request of the United States, and you know that a US person is your target, and not Kislyak, that is a crime. That is a violation of federal law. You cannot wiretap an American citizen overseas under circumstances like that.

I want this on the record so that, if I turn out to be wrong, anyone who wants to rub my nose in it will have a good point of reference. Sitting here right now I see many problems with what Joe says.

First, what Joe has right--and I don't mean to sound flippant when I say that. He's right that to have targeted Flynn while he was overseas (in the Dominican Republic) in the absence of a FISA order on Flynn would have been illegal.

The problems start with the statement that "Kislyak was in Moscow for the Orthodox Christian Christmas, which is January 2nd." The Russian Orthodox Christmas is NOT on January 2nd. The Russian Orthodox Christmas is actually on January 7th--about nine days after the phone call, which was on December 29th.