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Monday, March 25, 2019

A Bit More On "Obstruction"

Interest in Bill Barr's summary of the "Mueller report" has quickly shifted--quite properly--to calls for investigation. Real investigation, this time, of the real crimes. But it's still worthwhile to reflect a bit more on what the Mueller/Weissmann team tried to pull off. For that CTH offers an excellent starting point at the end of its summary blog: A Review of the Barr “Principal Conclusion” Notification, Overlaying Three Years of Background Research…

First, sundance offers a general theme:

What we find in the Barr letter about the Obstruction investigation is blood boiling. Here Team Mueller intentionally politicize their non-finding in an attempt to open the door for Nancy Pelsoi and Jerry Nadler to exploit an impeachment angle.

We all expected that, of course, but it's worth the reminder. But then sundance moves on to what's really good news:

Team Mueller intentionally tells AG Barr they cannot make a determination of obstruction, and thereby force Barr to make the decision; and make it look political. 
...
In my opinion it’s almost certain AG Barr saw this coming, which is why he forced DAG Rod Weaselstein to stick around, share in the decision and deflect the politics.

Sundance has an excellent point here, and it includes the very good news that we have an AG in Bill Barr who is shrewd and deft in dealing with underhanded legal tactics. If clownish conmen like Nadler and Schiff think Barr will be an easy mark for them, they need to rethink that--or, better, maybe their too deluded to do the necessary rethinking.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

UPDATED: Bill Barr's Summary Of Team Mueller: Short And Sweet

As expected, Barr delivered a summary report to Congress. Four pages. He summarized the Team Mueller effort as it bears on Trump and the Trump campaign under two headings: "Collusion" and "Obstruction".

Collusion


There wasn't any. Not by the Trump campaign and not by anyone associated with it. This confirms, by its wording, what I said yesterday: Mueller's mandate was to continue the investigation of the four Americans who were the subject of Crossfire Hurricane. Trump was never a subject. There is no reference to Donald J. Trump in the collusion section. That's it.

Just to make this totally clear. The Crossfire Hurricane investigation was about "four Americans," none of whom were Trump. Rosenstein told Mueller: Complete the investigation. That means that to reach Trump on "collusion" Mueller needed to go throught the "four Americans": Page, Papadopoulos, Manafort, and Flynn. Four dry holes. Mueller never laid a glove on Trump.

Obstruction


This section is all about Donald J. Trump, and has nothing whatsoever to do with James Comey and his firing. Mueller thinks that there are "difficult issues" of law and fact concerning whether Trump obstructed his (Team Mueller's) investigation. Mueller doesn't "conclude that the president committed a crime," but "doesn't exonerate him." Because of the "difficult issues" Mueller decided against ... any decision at all, leaving it to Barr to decide.

In making his decision Barr says two things. The first aspect requires a bit of reading between the lines. Barr states that many of the president's actions that bothered Mueller were conducted "in public view." I take it from that that, basically, Mueller didn't like being criticized by Trump. That in his (Mueller's) view, subjects of a witchhunt are supposed to shut up, to grin and bear it. Barr--and Rosenstein--after consulting with top DoJ officials had a very different view and simply state: the evidence is insufficient to support such a charge and, specifically, that decision has nothing to do with the constitutional status of the president. However, beyond that, Barr (and Rosenstein, presumably) then go on to state that they reviewed the actions that Mueller objected to and conclude that "the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct." In other words, they basically reject Mueller's theory of obstruction out of hand.

Here are two key sections re obstruction (all emphases mine):

After reviewing the Special Counsel's final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, DAG Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that "the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference," and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President's intent with respect to obstruction. Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President's actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department's principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.

In general, I think Barr and Rosenstein did a smart thing with regard to obstruction--they allowed Mueller his say, they acknowledge he had a concern, but if anyone objects you can count on it that Barr will be ready to go into the details and explain how ridiculous Mueller's theory of obstruction is.

Going Forward


For the rest, going forward, Barr states that he's "mindful of the public interest in this matter" and that his intent is to release as much as is possible, "consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies." From what he goes on to write, it appears that Barr's major concern with releasing more has to do with Grand Jury 6(e) material.

That is all.

UPDATES: "That is all"? Just kidding.

Something I remarked upon but didn't include, GP states it well. It's important because it illustrates the bankruptcy of the Team Mueller operation:

STUNNING: Without Examining DNC Server or Offering ANY PROOF – Mueller Still Claims DNC Was Hacked by Russia and Sent Emails to WikiLeaks!
Gateway Pundit by Jim Hoft

After tens of millions of dollars wasted on a witch hunt Robert Mueller releases letter still claiming that the DNC was hacked by Russians and sent emails to the DNC.  Yet to date there is no evidence of DNC server being obtained and reviewed by the FBI or Mueller team and no evidence that Mueller ever spoke with WikiLeaks who released Hillary Campaign Manager John Podesta’s emails!

MORE:  President Trump: "It began illegally. And hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side. This was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully somebody’s going to be looking at the other side."

BINGO!

UPDATE 2: Nadler: "Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making ..."

Of course Barr knew this was coming. Nadler should hope that it's true that "God takes care of fools and babies", because based on his confirmation testimony it's pretty clear that Barr doesn't suffer fools gladly. What a buffoon Nadler is.

UPDATE 3:

@DevinNunes
The Russia investigation was based on false pretenses, false intel, and false media reports. House Intel found a yr ago there was no evidence of collusion, and Democrats who falsely claim to have such evidence have needlessly provoked a terrible, more than two-year-long crisis.
1:55 PM - 24 Mar 2019

But Weissmann and Mueller kept at it.

UPDATE 4:

“Revenge is sweet and not fattening.” - Alfred Hitchcock


UPDATE 5: Mark Penn, former Clinton pollster and adviser:

It’s time for true bipartisan investigation of how and why this was allowed to smear and destroy so many people when there was nothing there. Those who launched this disruption of the presidency on the basis of questionable evidence and procedures should be held accountable for their actions. Those who were investigated but not charged should have their legal fees reimbursed.

UPDATE 6:


Lindsey Graham

@LindseyGrahamSC

 Could not agree more.  

See you soon.

-------------------------------

James Comey

@Comey
So many questions.

UPDATE 7:

Glenn Greenwald

Verified account

@ggreenwald

And as for the growing "isn't-it-time-to-move-on-dot-org" sentiment: no way. This wasn't some 2-week story. This was the single biggest story the US media fixated on for *3 years* & got the crux of it totally & completely wrong in a very damaging way. It's accountability time.

4:15 AM - 25 Mar 2019

UPDATE 8:

Kim Strassel, WSJ:

This is more than an exoneration. It’s a searing indictment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as a reminder of the need to know the story behind the bureau’s corrosive investigation.


Trust Me On This

Ya gotta read Matt Taibbi: It's Official - 'Russiagate' Is This Generation's WMD. I'm only halfway through, but it's even better than the title.

In addition to his attacks on the press, I like his argument that this whole Russia Hoax started long before the "official opening" of Crossfire Hurricane. That, I think, is where research is needed--was there US government involvement in that prestory, and if so who was involved?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

What Does The Mueller Report Actually Say?

Well, that should be easy, right? The report will summarize the investigation. But here's the tricky question: Exactly what was Mueller's investigation all about? If we can't answer that question, we're totally in the dark as to what to expect.

This is something I examined in some detail in Mueller's Enterprise Witchhunt. According to Rod Rosenstein--who should know, since he appointed Mueller and set the scope for Mueller's investigation--the Mueller investigation was no more than a continuation of Crossfire Hurricane (CH). Don't believe me? Here are Rosenstein's exact words:

The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump; ...

What are we to make of this? I make out three points of interest:

  • First, Mueller is not starting up a new investigation--he's taking over an already existing investigation, the same one that was confirmed by Comey two months earlier. 
  • Second, and very importantly, Mueller's investigation is not authorized as a general investigation into Russian "active measures" (i.e., interference, meddling) in the 2016 campaign but instead is rather narrowly focused on "coordination between people associated with the Trump campaign and the Russians."
  • Third, unlike what probably most people think, this investigation is not necessarily about Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America.

Don't believe me on that last point? Well then, would you believe James Comey? After all, he should know. He was Director of the FBI at the time and he told President Trump no less than three times that he (Trump) was not under investigation. I for one believe Comey--at least technically. Of course I believe the Russia Hoax was all about "getting" Trump. Ousting him. But while I wouldn't buy a used car from Comey, I do believe he's far too smart and careful to blunder into outright perjury quite so easily. Here's how I summarized Comey's testimony, under oath (link above), regarding the FBI investigation that was initiated in July, 2016:

UPDATED: Mark Meadows Swings, It's Way Back, It's ... Gone!


Yep, it's a home run for Mark Meadows--of course. Isn't this what we've talking about here for two years? Isn't this what the Russia Hoax has always been all about? The key documentation is the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Without CH, there's no Carter Page FISA but, more importantly, there's no Team Mueller. Why? Because, according to Rod Rosenstein, Team Mueller is simply a continuation of the "Enterprise Witchhunt" that was CH. Now that Team Mueller is done, there are all sorts of things that may come out. Including documentation on exactly what CH was all about.

And that raises some very interesting questions about what the Mueller Report actually says. I'll get into that a little later, because I want to put some ideas out before Barr speaks for the record. Hey, at this point, why not go out on a limb. Hint: I'll be relying on Rod Rosenstein's letter to Chuck Grassley. In the meantime, idle speculation is welcome!

But, one final word below the tweet.



I find it interesting that my Democrat colleagues immediately demand the full release of the entire Mueller report, yet they spent 2 years blocking the public from seeing the underlying documents that “justified” the investigation in the first place. Why not release all of it?


Why not release all of it? I think CTH is right about that. Releasing ALL of it should be a non-starter of an idea, and I don't expect Barr to fall for that--it's nothing but a distraction tactic. CTH:

With the investigation spanning 22 months, over multiple continents, that full investigative file would be like a massive grand jury library of evidence.  Likely millions of pages of documents, multiple reports, interviews etc. 
Keep in mind this file also would include wiretaps, electronic intercepts and physical/electronic surveillance.  Most of that file would be innuendo, supposition, suspicion and investigative lines of inquiry.   That file would hold the seeds for weaponizing unfounded accusations etc; that’s why Pelosi and Schumer would want it. 
Also keep in mind Mueller’s team is almost guaranteed to have been telling their allies about all of the juicy accusations they were investigating. 
It’s highly likely Pelosi, Schumer and the Lawfare community already know, in summary, what is deep inside the Mueller Team’s investigative file.  The majority of that file is unfounded speculation that was researched; but it would be the holy grail of opposition research for weaponization; including the possibility of wiretaps inside the White House.

UPDATE: Undercover Huber gets it, too:


I think Mueller feared getting shut down before he even got started, as the original predicate for the investigation was going to unravel as soon as those FISAs and related docs were turned over If Muller ever testifies to Congress this is a crucial time period to explore /ENDS



Friday, March 22, 2019

UPDATED: Bill Barr Notifies Congress: Special Counsel Report Has Landed On His Desk

Short and sweet. Barr has received the report and he so informs Congress, providing the information specified in the regulations. The report explains "the prosecution or declination decisions." There are no proposed actions that Barr regards as "so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued." Barr will consult with Rosenstein and Mueller to determine whether more information from the report can be released to "Congress and the public," "consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department's long-standing practices and policies." Further, Barr states that he remains "committed to as much transparency as possible."

The reference to "Congress and the public," to me, indicates that Barr isn't about to go down the road of non-public briefings to Congress. That, he believes, would not serve the public weal.

UPDATES: Via CTH:

... Laura Jarrett (daughter of Valerie Jarrett) delivered the bad news to her colleagues on CNN.  After she spoke directly with a DOJ Official, and asked them if there was any possibility of sealed indictments existing/remaining. Alas, the answer was: “no, it’s over; everything is over; it’s done.“

If you follow the link to CTH there's a CNN video featuring the usual talking head suspects. It's, like, CONTENT FREE. Simply seven minutes plus of handwringing and clutching at straws. It's pretty funny, but one can only take so much.

And credit where it's due. Mueller was funded through August, he and Weissmann wanted to continue leaning on Flynn. Barr shut them down.





Dershowitz States The Principle Re FISA Fraud Really Well

I don't have a transcript, so I'll link to the video. Alan Dershowitz states the principles behind the fraud that the FBI perpetrated on the FISA Court (FISC) very clearly. It's really important to have this clear in your minds. As he says, the FISA proceedings are ex parte: the target of the warrant or order doesn't get to present an opposing view to the FISC--they aren't even aware of the proceedings. That means that the FISC is relying on the integrity and crediblity of the FBI. The FISC has to be able to trust the FBI to make a full, unbiased presentation--even while advocating their position--and not to omit relevant facts. That clearly didn't happen in the Carter Page case, and there need to be consequences for all those involved.



Rosenstein's Letter To Grassley: No Uncharged Allegations

Last night Paul Sperry tweeted out a core Bill Barr quote, which I believe is from Barr's confirmation testimony before taking office as Attorney General. Barr is addressing the politically motivated demands of Dem senators that the much anticipated "Mueller Report" be made public. Few things are that easy, as Barr notes: a special counsel report is explicitly supposed to be "confidential" (for sound and principled legal reasons of long standing) and it is the Attorney General--not the special counsel--who reports to Congress regarding the conclusion of any investigation. The reason should be obvious to anyone concerned for fairness: a special counsel is a prosecutor and as such works for the Executive Branch, nor for Congress. As Barr made clear in his testimony, he favors transparency but will not sacrifice fairness and legality to satisfy partisan demands. Anyway, here's the tweet of Barr's remark:



AG Barr: "Under current rules, that [Mueller] report is supposed to be confidential and the attorney general would report to Congress about the conclusion of the investigation. There may be discretion there about what the attorney general can put in that report [to Congress]."


The tweet itself was, I assume, prompted by an ABC News article: Letter from deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offers potential road map to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe: Sources familiar with the probe believe there are no more indictments expected.

The letter in question was written on June 27, 2018, by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein--acting as the supervisor of Team Mueller in place of the recused Jeff Sessions--in response to a request by Chuck Grassley for information regarding the status of the Special Counsel. Grassley was, at the time, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter is quite lengthy but also quite informative. And it has a direct bearing on what we can expect from the Mueller Report--or, for that matter, the Barr Report. Rosenstein, as he expresses himself in the letter, is very much in agreement with the views that Barr expressed in his confirmation testimony. Here are three highlights.

Andy McCabe And Lisa Page Texted!

They emailed, too, and spoke with each other on their phones, but up till now we've only seen some of the Strzok/Page texts. It appears that that's about to change. Interesting as those texts have been, I suspect the McCabe/Page communications will have plenty to tell us--and none of it will redound to the credit of the major Russia Hoax players.

To set the stage for the Fox News article that discusses some of those communications, here are some entries from a Paul Sperry twitter thread re McCabe:



With all that in mind, would you trust McCabe to run a fair and impartial investigation of anything involving the Clintons? Recusal for McCabe from the Hillary email case would seem to a no brainer, yet McCabe fought furiously to remain involved. Apparently it was only the determination of James Baker, Comey's counsel, that succeeded in forcing McCabe to step aside. And, of course, we also know from Baker's testimony that the top level of FBI executives were fully aware that the Russia Hoax was totally driven by Clinton campaign operatives, such as Michael Sussman and Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS. But McCabe was a key to pushing the Clinton Russia Hoax operation within the FBI.