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Friday, December 13, 2019

Politics!

After writing almost non-stop yesterday, I'm taking a bit of a break--except that I've been working on a project that I hope to post in a day or two. A bit different.

Here's a must read article about the UK election: The fall of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ is a moment to celebrate. The reason this is so great is because of the parallels to the US and Trump. Read it with that in mind and you'll be amazed.

And here's a political must view, below--Mitch McConnell talking Impeachment Theater. Here's what's notable in it from my perspective:

1. No mention of doing a deal with Dems on Senate rules. Quite the contrary. Mitch's mantra is--whatever the President and his lawyers want we'll do. Dismissal? You've got it! Full trial? You've got it! Take that, Chuck! Dems have screwed the country around for three years and more and they expect Mitch to cut them some slack now? Nope.

2. McConnell expects full unity among the GOP, and thinks he may pick up a couple of Dems. Coupled with Dem defections in the House--big.

3. McConnell was given the chance to talk up his new memoirs. He took the opportunity to tout his shepherding of judicial appointments and specifically touted stiffing Obama and the Dems on their hoped for SCOTUS pick, Garland. Wormwood for Dems, but you know that will be the GOP Senatorial talking point for 2020.

4. The House needs to get something done to show they didn't run a clueless, anti-constitutional, do-nothing Congress for 2 years. Guess what? Trump and the Senate have more than enough accomplishments to run a kick ass campaign. They'll be in no hurry to do Pelosi, Nadler, and Schiff any favors in 2020.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Is Case Agent 1 Steve Somma?

All I know is what I read on the internet:





Second opinion:






More Barr Effect




UPDATE: What Should The Senate Do With An Unconstitutional Impeachment?

We've had discussions on this earlier. The difficulty is that it's uncharted territory, as Professor Alan Dershowitz says today. He goes on to state that IF articles of impeachment are voted out of the House, the Dems will have damaged our constitutional order by abusing its powers. Here are the options Dershowitz sees for dealing with this situation:

So, what options would the Senate have if the House voted to impeach on two unconstitutional grounds? Would it be required to conduct a trial based on "void" articles of impeachment? Could it simply refuse to consider unconstitutional articles? Could the president's lawyer make a motion to the Chief Justice — who presides over the trial of an impeached president — to dismiss the articles of impeachment on constitutional grounds? 
This is uncharted territory with little guidance from the Constitution or history. There are imperfect analogies that may be informative. If this were an ordinary criminal case, and a grand jury had indicted a defendant for a non-crime (say, having gay sex) or an unconstitutional crime, the trial judge would be obliged to dismiss the indictment and not subject the defendant to an unconstitutional trial. Impeachment, however, is not an ordinary criminal proceeding. So, the analogy is not directly on point. But impeachment by the House is similar in many ways to indictment by a grand jury, and a removal trial by the Senate is similar to a criminal trial, including being presided over by a judge. It is entirely possible that the president's lawyers may file a motion seeking dismissal of the impeachment as unconstitutional. It is impossible to predict whether such a motion would be entertained and if so, how it would be decided. 
Another option would be for the president's lawyer to seek judicial review of the House's unconstitutional action. Despite the fact that the Constitution says that the House shall be the "sole" judge of impeachment, two former justices have opined that there might be a judicial role in extreme cases. 
The most likely option for the president — and the one hinted at by White House sources — is for the Senate to conduct a scaled down trial focusing on the constitutional defects in the articles of impeachment. No fact witnesses would be called: that would turn the proceeding into a he said/she said conflict with no clear resolution. Only legal arguments — neater and quicker — would be presented before a vote was taken.

UPDATE: All Professor Dershowitz's hypotheticals fail to address all contingencies. For example, what happens to Zelensky's daughter?





UPDATED: FISA: Reform Or Abolish?

Commenter Forbes has brought to my attention a new article by Angelo Codevilla on the subject of FISA. As it happens, I have in the past quoted Codevilla at length with regard to FISA. This new article, What About the FISA Court? summarizes his views in an accessible form. I'll return to Codevilla's views at the end of this post, but for now his summary will provide a good idea of what his views are:

Judicial pre-authorization for our national security bureaucracies’ actions has taught them dysfunctional practices and created a secret body of law that has undermined Americans’ civil liberties.

"Judicial pre-authorization" is exactly what the FISA regime is all about. The FBI goes to the FISC and if the FISC approves their application for a FISA the FBI will--absent the sort of criminality we've seen in the Russia Hoax--be immunized from all accountability for abuses. Short of actual criminality, the "mistakes were made" defense will defeat all attempts to enforce accountability. It's a system ripe for abuse.

I've written about the problem that FISA and the regime that it engendered since 1978 on a number of posts in the past. It's a thorny problem, constitutionally and, in the broadest sense, politically. In those past posts I cited the reservations of Judge Robert Bork, an outspoken critic of FISA, who forthrightly questioned its constitutionality and predicted the abuses we are now seeing. The two posts most on point at this time are these:

The Flaws In FISA Revisited

In this post I do two things. I present an excerpt from an article that Judge Bork wrote for the FBI. I originally did that as an addendum to the second, and earlier, of these two blog posts. I will paste in that excerpt directly, but first will add that the bulk of that post--and, if you're interested in FISA, please read the entire post--contains a terrific interview with Angelo Codevilla, who was a Senate staffer working on Intel matters when FISA was passed. Codevilla explains at length that like most laws that are proposed by the government bureaucracy, a primary goal is to protect the bureaucracy itself. As I like to quote Sir Humphrey Applebee: "The Official Secret Act isn't to protect secrets--it's to protect officials!"

Do yourself a favor and read it. And now Judge Bork:

Brilliance From Don Surber, The Indispensable Blogger

Read the whole thing: Editorial shows why newspapers should die. It's about the USAToday editorial demanding Trump's impeachment. And because every picture tells a story I've included this excerpt:


Hamiliton wrote, "A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."

In other words, he knew impeachments would be political circuses and he decided to pitch the tent in the Senate, which is the one body of government where every state is equal. That would prevent Virginia and New York from bullying the rest of the country.

Today, the threats are California and New York.
I have no doubt that given the fact that no crime was committed and an election looms in 11 months, that Hamilton would have rigorously opposed this constitutional lynching, as would Washington, Franklin, and every colonialist named Lee.

But USA Today believes it knows better and that it can somehow sway public opinion to have the Senate fire the president and turn its back on the will of the people in 30 states and one congressional district in Maine.

The newspaper never gave Donald John Trump an endorsement, a chance, or an apology. It has zero credibility with President Trump's supporters.

It's About Pressure Points

First off, a big hat tip to Thomas Lifson at AmThinker for bringing these two memes together in his WSJ’s Kimberly Strassel catches Glenn Simpson contradicting his own sworn testimony. Lifson starts his blog by quoting a terrific article by Charles Lipson, Unraveling the Criminal Web at Comey's FBI and Beyond. What Lipson is writing about is the most basic of investigative strategies when confronted with a criminal conspiracy: identify the weak link(s) and apply pressure. Lipson expresses it very well:

The way to unravel a criminal conspiracy is to begin with the weakest links, the ones already doomed by convincing evidence. Knowing they face serious jail time, these “weak links” have powerful reasons to cooperate with law enforcement. Flipping on their fellow conspirators is the best way, perhaps the only way, to lessen their own sentences. 
... 
This tried-and-true law enforcement technique is available to U.S. Attorney John Durham as he tries to unravel the FBI’s illegal surveillance of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, transition to office, and early presidency. ... 
... 
So, who are the weakest links as Durham’s investigation moves forward? One is surely Kevin Clinesmith, a lawyer in Comey’s FBI who is highlighted in the Horowitz Report (pages 186-190). ... Clinesmith not only altered official documents, he completely changed their meaning. The altered documents painted Carter Page as a foreign spy; the originals said there was no evidence for that. The exculpatory evidence was hidden from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts. The lies helped gain a secret warrant to spy on Page.

It's no news that Kevin Clinesmith is perhaps the most identifiable weak link in the Carter Page FISA fiasco. But the Carter Page FISA was also central to the larger Russia Hoax, the plot against the president, as Lee Smith says. And Clinesmith was also a central player in the rest of the Russia Hoax, including the Mueller witchhunt--not just a bit player in the Carter Page FISA. There's a lot he could tell Durham's investigators, if he's properly motivated to do so. Durham's job is to provide Clinesmith with the proper motivation--Clinesmith knows that and everybody he came in contact with during the entire run of the Russia Hoax, all the way up to the issuance of the Mueller Dossier, knows that, too. And so Lipson concludes:

FBI Reaction To Trump's Election

I knew this would be true--not all FBI agents were behind their top management's efforts to sabotage Trump. Not his campaign and not his presidency. Monica Showalter offers quotes via The Daily Beast of messages that some of these pro-Trump agents sent the morning after Trump's "surprise" victory--as quoted in the Horowitz Dossier.

I have nothing really to add. After all, this amounts to anecdotal evidence--it's not a poll of the state of mind within the FBI or anything like that. Still, it's a pretty good indication that the atmosphere in top management is somewhat rarefied. I've written in the past of the army of lawyers who, in recent decades, have been "parachuted" into top positions at the FBI, including placing former prosecutors into the Director's office. I spoke of this to Lee Smith, about the toxic, politicized, and antinomian culture that was thus imported. Smith was good enough to include my views in Chapter 15 of his book, The Plot Against The President.

As always happens, these changes in leadership also led to changes in the selection not only of agent candidates but, especially, of those who would rise through management ranks. The rise of the Strzoks and McCabes and Priestaps tells a lot about the cultural state of the FBI, in and of itself.

Showalter writes about some of this at Daily Beast reports presence of conservatives in the FBI like it's a bad thing. Note, of course, that the agents who are quoted, while apparently unapologetic, do feel embattled. Here's the quote from The Daily Beast:

The report released Monday by Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz revealed messages between several FBI employees celebrating President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory. 
One supervisory special agent wrote via instant message that he was “so elated with the election” and that watching election coverage was like “watching a Superbowl comeback.” The agent later explained his messages to Horowitz’s office, claiming that they thought Hillary Clinton would win and it was “energizing” to see Trump claim victory. “I didn’t want a criminal to be in the White House,” he said. 

Hey, that sounds perfectly reasonable to me! A lot more reasonable than the views of the Strzoks, Pages, and McCabes of the FBI world--let alone Jim "So Many Questions" Comey.

Two other FBI agents also expressed pleasure with the 2016 election results. “Shit just got real,” one employee wrote in messages uncovered by the IG report. “I saw a lot of scared MFers on... (my way to work) this morning. Start looking for new jobs fellas. Haha.” The other agent replied, “LOL.” In response, the employee remarked: “Come January I’m going to just get a big bowl of popcorn and sit back and watch.” The other agent replied: “That's hilarious!”

I have to say, I LMAOed when I read that. It gave me just a bit of hope. There's a lot of truth in Bill Haydon's observation to George Smiley that the health of the intelligence services reflects the health--or lack thereof--of a society. And that means there's a long road ahead, judging from the Horowitz Dossier.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

UPDATED: The Barr Effect?

Yesterday and today we were criticizing sundance and CTH--specifically regarding his juvenile smear at AG Bill Barr. This evening CTH is reporting that two DoJ officials are departing. CTH also notes that both were connected to the James Wolfe case, in which Wolfe--the security officer for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI)--leaked the Carter Page FISA to his girl friend, journalist Ali Watkins (NYT). Wolfe got off with a relative wrist slap, thanks to the intercession of his masters on the SSCI--who doubtless approved the leak. Notably, among those departures is Jesse Liu, US Attorney for DC--a hugely powerful position in the world of federal political crime. She'll be heading over to Treasury. Of course we'll have to see who takes her place, but I have to assume Barr will have a say in that. Is this clearing the decks for the empaneling of a new Russia Hoax oriented Grand Jury in DC? We'll see.

As I noted in a comment earlier today, don't expect Barr to trash current DoJ employees publicly--it's not his style, and in the case of a presidential appointee (US Attorneys like Liu are just as much presidential appointees as Barr) relatively pointless. Watch what he does and watch what happens around him. Barr couldn't cashier Liu, but he certainly had input with regard to such an important position.

UPDATE:




Must Read: Bruce Swartz, Textbook Swamp Dweller

That's the title of an article by Jack Cashill at AmThinker today: Bruce Swartz, Textbook Swamp Dweller. I expect this sort of thing to continue for quite some time. The Horowitz Dossier is a treasure trove of names, facts, and dates. Researchers will be mining it for connections, which is what Cashill has done with Bruce Swartz. What Cashill's research shows is that Swartz has been part of the Clinton Organized Crime Family going back two decades. The continuity is stunning in its revelation of the scope of the Deep State/Swamp.

Swartz has been on our radar here for nearly a year. We first wrote about him in The FBI: Working Hand In Glove With Clinton Operatives and, very recently in connection with the Horowitz Dossier, again just yesterday in an update to AG Barr Speaks. Here's what I wrote in January:

When Ohr met Steele again in either late September or early October, 2016 he did so in company with quite a group: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page from the FBI, and three DOJ career officials from the criminal division, Bruce Swartz, Zainab Ahmad, and Andrew Weissman--currently Robert Mueller's deputy. ... this also probably means that they were planning for the FISA application, given that the application was submitted on October 21, 2016, immediately after Steele's October 20 report--the report in which Michael Cohen's famous trip to Prague for a "clandestine" meet superseded the clandestine Moscow meet of Carter Page, who was no longer with the Trump campaign. Which leads to the supposition that this meeting with Steele was to tell him, inter alia, that more detailed information was needed for the FISA application--which Steele duly provided, in the form of the now famous Cohen-Prague miscue.

All in all, it's an interesting picture: three officials from DoJ's Criminal Division meeting with the second in command of the FBI's CI division (accompanied by the Deputy Director's counsel) to plan for a FISA on--in effect--a candidate for the presidency. Coaching the asset on what was now needed for the FISA to go through, which would be typical Weissman tactics.And all this without informing the Acting AG, Sally Yates. Or so they say.

And yesterday:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Some Former FBI Officials Get It

Kevin Brock--see below for career specs--has a clever article at The Hill, but it's more than just clever. He hits on the important points about predication that Barr and Durham have been making. Here are some brief excerpts from a really good presentation--Misfired 'Hurricane': Comey's team abused Carter Page and the FBI. It's far more interesting than the title might suggest:

Imagine the Department of Justice inspector general (IG) conducting a review of the Jeffrey Epstein case. It might read something like this: “While it is clear that Mr. Epstein abused minor girls, there is no documentary or testimonial evidence that he was motivated by a deviant sexual interest in those young girls.” 
...  
The report by IG Michael Horowitz is one long expose of a confluence of actors at the top of the FBI who, by their own words, despised Donald Trump and came together to open and run an investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign, falsifying documents, withholding evidence and using a confidential source who had stated clearly that his goal was to prevent a Trump presidency.   
Despite these flashing lights, the IG essentially stated that since no one admitted to being motivated by their personal biases, he could not reach that conclusion. Thanks for that, but most Americans unencumbered by a law degree can detect the obvious without a lot of effort.  

Sundance: All Barr Wants Is A Gig On CNN

Really. He said that. Or something so close to that as to be indistinguishable.

I've always wondered who's behind sundance. Lately I've been thinking it's people associated with Jim DeMint.