Thursday, February 28, 2019

MULTI-UPDATES: Michael Cohen In A Nutshell

Mark Penn begins his latest, and typically excellent, article with the following trenchant observation:

After bilking corporations out of millions of dollars for "insight" into his client, failing to pay his taxes, trying to entrap his client, and pleading guilty to lying to Congress, now-disbarred attorney Michael Cohen took his best shots at President Donald Trump, calling him a liar and a cheat. The testimony brought Congress to a new low after years of dead-end investigations of supposed Russia-Trump conspiracies.

It may be worthwhile to briefly review how we got to this point, and what the Cohen angle is really about.

Like just about everything else in the Russia Hoax, and as nearly as anyone can tell, Michael Cohen's travails began with the infamous Steele "dossier." When she wasn't honing her mid-life ham radio hobbyist skills, Nellie Ohr--former CIA analyst and wife of Bruce Ohr, a high DoJ official and (yes) FBI informant--browsed through NSA databases on behalf of Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS, in search of opposition research information regarding anyone associated with Trump. Courtesy of James Comey and the FBI, who made their access to NSA databases freely available to Nellie and Fusion GPS.

In early summer of 2016, as the campaign season was heating up, Nellie discovered that a Michael Cohen had traveled to Prague. Whether or not Nellie really assumed that the world only contained one Michael Cohen who might travel to Prague we cannot say for sure. However, by fall of 2016 the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation of Trump and his campaign was in need of a refreshed narrative, due to the fact that none of the original subjects were any longer with the Trump campaign. Either assuming for no apparent reason that only one Michael Cohen existed or, more likely, figuring that the coincidence of names was close enough for government work, the FBI and Chris Steele wove a new narrative about Cohen as the go between Trump and his masters in Moscow. And that was crucial to obtaining the first FISA:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Draining The Swamp

This morning Scott Johnson at Powerline linked to a review of Unmasking the Administrative State: The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century, by John Marini. The review is by Michael Anton, Draining the Swamp:

Michael Anton (born 1970) is an American former senior national security official in the Trump administration. He is best known for his pseudonymous essays written during the 2016 presidential campaign in which he supported Donald Trump and collaborated on the pro-Trump Journal of American Greatness blog. Anton was named Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Communications on the United States National Security Council. [Read More]

It's a long review, and one that may begin a bit slowly for those who aren't up on political philosophy, but it's hard to praise it enough for the insights into, well, The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century. In other words, the big picture of what the Russia Hoax is really all about and how it relates to American history--and America's future. I highly recommend Anton's review for its portrayal of the Russia Hoax and the monumental effort by the Deep State to reject Trump like an invasive foreign body. In particular, his application of Marini's thinking to a comparison between Nixon/Watergate and Trump/Russia Hoax is fascinating. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Here are some snippets:

The Road Ahead

It appears we won't be learning too much more about the Russia Hoax--at least nothing earth shaking--unless or until declassification begins in earnest. The fact of the matter is, any documentary information that would add significantly to our knowledge is almost certainly contained in FBI files. However, given the trajectory of events going forward, the wisdom of Trump's decision to delay declassification seems evident. Here's what I think that trajectory holds for us, tentatively. Declassification is always the wildcard, so we can only guess as to how that will play out and when.

The first thing coming up, of course, is the Mueller report. Since Mueller reports to the AG, Bill Barr, there are a number of issues that arise in that regard. First of all, lets be clear what the regulations governing a Special Counsel say.

Regarding a special counsels final report, we read,

At the conclusion of the Special Counsel's work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel. 600.8(c)

What's notable hear is that the the nature of the report is quite circumscribed and flows from the very nature of any Special Counsel investigation. As 600.1 makes clear, Special Counsels engage in criminal investigations, and thus their reports naturally conform to what you would expect from a prosecutor--with some specific details that are worth noting:

  • First, the report is to be made to the Attorney General--not to Congress or anybody else;
  • Second, the report is "confidential", and thus the Attorney General is the one who makes any decisions regarding dissemination or release of the report;
  • Third, the purpose of the report is to explain "prosecution or declination [of prosecution] decisions."

That third point is important. Note that the report is envisioned as being written from a prosecutorial standpoint. It is not envisioned as a "narrative," of the type we have grown used to from Mueller's indictments--in which broad allegations without any offer of proof are made.

Monday, February 25, 2019

You Want Collusion? I'll Give You Collusion!

Yesterday in a comment I linked to the excellent Michael Smerconish interview with law prof Jonathan Turley. Now, Smerconish and Turley are both liberals, but they did chapter and verse on "collusion" and they both came to the same end point: Ain't no collusion. Turley said the obligatory nice things about what a straight arrow Mueller is, but he also went down the line on IG Michael Horowitz and AG Bill Barr. He couldn't praise those two guys highly enough. And then he pointed out something interesting: If you want to find collusion, look no further than Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election. As Turley says, what Mueller has done a great job on has been exposing collusion with Ukrainians, but we're not hearing much about that. Watch the whole interview here--it's not long.

Of course, if you really want to find out about Ukrainian collusion, just read The Mechanics of Deception and you'll get enough detail on that to choke a horse. It's all out there--it's been out there for a long time--but some people don't want you to hear about that.

So, this morning at Powerline, Scott Johnson had a nice blog on A redaction mystery solved. It seems that Mueller's sentencing memorandum on Paul Manafort has redacted publicly available information. Why would he do that? Aren't redactions for, like, secret stuff? Ah, well, there's a bit of a story to that, but it's not long and it's not terribly complicated.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


So, CNN has published a piece by a former official in Obama's National Security Council--a current law professor--in which the former official, Joshua A. Geltzer, constructs a new anti-Trump narrative. In this narrative he asserts that there is an actual danger that Trump--if he should lose in 2020--would refuse to vacate the Oval Office. Therefore, Geltzer calls on 

"four key sets of governmental actors across the United States that can commit now to certain steps that would help to isolate President Trump should he refuse to hand over power peacefully."

Obviously, this is a call--two years ahead of any transition--to isolate President Trump now. Geltzer is proposing that the Electoral College, Congress, state governors and even the U.S. military should, effectively, assert ahead of an election that a sitting president and current candidate is a danger to the nation.

What's really going on here? I think it's a type of deflection technique. In the wake of the government shutdown shambles, Trump is polling better than ever; the public is widely supportive of his policies. The Russia Hoax has fallen flat and is largely perceived by the public to be an illegitimate politically motivated attack on the President. Further, with the McCabe revelations it's widely perceived that the FBI was involved in an actual attempted coup--an attempt to overthrow the results of a national election. The Left is now desperate to deflect attention from their won attempted coup and to direct public attention at Trump. But notice, as part of this technique they're making tin foil hat type allegations against Trump that, in fact, mirror what was going on during the 2016 election and the early months of the infant Trump administration. The difference is that to accomplish this, to direct the attention that is focused on the now patent crimes of the FBI and DoJ, the new narrative must be sensationalistic. It must be easier to assimilate than the complex maneuverings that are being uncovered at the FBI and DoJ. Thus, this latest desparate throw of the narratival dice.

Of course, there's more at stake here. It's quite clear that, while the FBI and DoJ where the lead elements in the coup effort, they were supported by a Deep State network throughout most of the leading departments and agencies of the Obama Administration, especially in the Intelligence Community. And most serious of all, this effort was coordinated with foreign intelligence services (also here, and passim) against the government and constitutional structure of the United States.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Bill Barr: Deep State Actor--Or Not?

One area in which I've received a fair amount of pushback from commenters has been my belief that Bill Barr may be exactly what is needed as AG if the country is to navigate the Russia Hoax--undoubtedly the most significant political scandal in our history--without grave damage to our constitutional form of government. The Team Mueller "probe" phase may be winding down, but no one should be under any illusion that calm waters lie ahead.

As far as Barr himself goes, let me offer two brief quotes for the positive case, from differing perspectives. First, Jonathan Turley, a very liberal law professor who also happens to be a leading expert on impeachment. In 5 myths about William Barr he writes in frankly glowing terms of the presumptively conservative Barr, with an added caution:

I testified Wednesday in favor of his confirmation before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I have known Barr for many years and represented him, along with other former attorneys general, during the Bill Clinton impeachment period. He is one of the best lawyers I have ever known, as well as one of the most educated and circumspect. For that reason, I have been taken aback by many false accounts of his views and background.
People are free to disagree with his view of executive power or with his tough on crime approach. However, critics seems to be more interested in reconstructing his record than in recognizing it. Even the most direct answers seem to get distorted.

Next up, Conrad Black, a Trump partisan, presents the hopes--and the reason for hope--that many Trump supporters place on Barr in The Greatest Constitutional Crisis Since the Civil War. In doing so he also alludes to a fact of political life in this republic that I pointed out in a comment recently: Barr is not the sole hope; he is not operating totally on his own:

This entire monstrous travesty [the Russia Hoax] is finally coming apart without even waiting for the horrible disappointment of the special counsel’s inability to adduce a scrap of evidence to justify his replication of Torquemada as an inquisitor and of the Gestapo and KGB at rounding up and accusing unarmed individuals who were not flight risks. The collapse of this grotesque putsch, under the irresistible pressure of a functioning attorney general and Senate committees that are not hamstrung by NeverTrumpers, will cause a revulsion against the Democratic Party that will be seismic and prolonged.

So, with that introduction, let's turn to what we know about Barr and his past relationship to the Deep State. Because the fact of the matter is, Barr does have strong ties to the Deep State, ties that go back to the very beginnings of his career in Washington.

Who We Are As Americans?

Who are we, as Americans? Liberals regularly parrot that arrogant mantra popularized by Obama: "That's not who we are as Americans," or other words to that effect.

Mark Penn has a disturbing answer to that question, Who we are as Americans, or Who we are becoming, in his latest must-read article: Defending the First Amendment, even for Roger Stone. We've written about Judge Amy Berman Jackson's actions before,


The Myth Of Equal Protection

The Meaning Of The Roger Stone Indictment

Saul Alinsky, The Arrest Of Roger Stone, And The Uses Of Power

her blatant favoring of Team Mueller against American citizens--actions that should shame us all, as Americans. Authorizing secret police style raids on non-violent defendants, holding such defendants indefinitely in solitary confinement to force their cooperation, gagging defendants while the government leaks at will.

Read the whole thing--it's excellent. Here are a few choice excerpts:

Roger Stone can no longer criticize Judge Amy Berman Jackson, but I sure can. She should be removed from the Stone case without delay for her threats to jail him over mere speech and the extreme prejudice she has expressed against the defendant.

Of course Roger Stone makes ridiculous and often inane pronouncements. He’s Roger Stone. But that’s what the First Amendment is for — holding public officials (or anyone else, for that matter) accountable for their actions and calling them out boldly.

[Stone's public statements that] ... special counsel Robert Mueller has used a technicality to avoid random judge selection and get the same Obama appointee that denied bail to Paul Manafort in a highly unusual move, was core-protected political speech. It’s criticism of the powerful by the powerless.

Judge Jackson’s argument that Stone could prejudice the jury pool, given what’s gone on in this case, is absurd. It’s a lame excuse to insulate the judge from legitimate criticism. The special counsel arrested Roger Stone with guns drawn, amphibious units and bullet-proof vests, as though they were attacking a terrorist compound, not a Florida retirement home with a dog and a deaf wife. And the cameras from CNN were there, in advance, to capture the whole event. It was broadcast around the world. Now, that’s what I would call prejudicial.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Can Barr Simply Release Mueller's Report?

I can't recommend highly enough Victoria Toensing's article today: Why Mueller's report (no matter how much Dems clamor for it) must be kept confidential. Recall that Bill Barr's confirmation hearing testimony regarding release of Mueller's report was studiedly non-committal. On the one hand, he forthrightly stated that he favored releasing as much as possible but, on the other hand, he rightly refused to commit himself ...

Barr said he envisions two reports, and only one for congressional and public consumption. 
Barr has said he takes seriously the “shall be confidential” part of the regulations governing Mueller’s report. He has noted that department protocol says internal memos explaining charging decisions should not be released. 
During his confirmation hearing, Barr said that he will draft, after Mueller turns in his report, a second one for the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. But here again, the regulations provide little guidance for what such a report would say. 
The attorney general is required only to say the investigation has concluded and describe or explain any times when he or Rosenstein decided an action Mueller proposed “was so inappropriate or unwarranted” that it should not be pursued.
Barr indicated that he expects to use his report to share the results of Mueller’s investigation with the public, which the regulations allow him to do. But he hedged on specifics and said his plans could change after speaking with Mueller and Rosenstein.

What Toensing does, brilliantly, is explain what's at play here.

First of all, there has been a fair amount of loose talk in the media about Mueller's "report to Congress." Ain't no such beast. That's how the old Independent Counsel statute worked, but the Independent Counsel statute expired and was replaced with the current Special Counsel regulations. The IC reporting requirement was always constitutionally problematic, because it blurred the fundamental "separation of powers" structure of the Constitution. As Toensing explains (and I alluded to here), the Special Counsel regulations correct that problem:

Mueller's Honor

This will be quite brief. You can read commentary on this story from the always excellent Don Surber here: FBI let billionaire rape girls, and by Paul Mirengoff--who has been on Alex Acosta's case--here: Federal Judge: Acosta broke the law in Jeffrey Epstein’s case.

You can get a better overview by doing some pretty elementary searches, but for a quick and dirty yet still good overview go to Techno Fog's twitter feed. Start with the tweet that Techno Fog has had pinned at the top of his feed since May 24, 2018--pasted in below--and then keep reading. You thought Mueller had his hands full with the Russia Hoax? You thought Bill Barr had a plateful of business already?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Trisha Anderson Quibbles

What is a "spy"? What is the meaning of the verb "is"? Who knew our high level FBI officials had a taste for such arcane speculation? Jeff Carlson has shared some additional tidbits from Trisha Anderson's House testimony, Testimony by FBI Lawyer Trisha Anderson Reveals Extensive Role in Trump, Clinton Investigations, which reveal that Anderson possessed that penetrating type of mind.

It may be well to refresh recollections regarding exactly who Trisha Anderson is. We previously cited a press release from the DC law firm of Covington & Burling, where she was a protege of Eric Holder, who recruited her to DoJ. Her government legal experience ran like this (most recent first):

* Federal Bureau of Investigation, Principal Deputy General Counsel 
* U.S. Treasury Department, Assistant General Counsel for Enforcement & Intelligence 
* U.S. Department of Justice, Associate Deputy Attorney General; Attorney-Adviser at the Office of Legal Counsel 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Eli Lake: The Rosenstein Conundrum

Eli Lake, who some might say has a checkered past, has an interesting take on the latest round in the McCabe v. Rosenstein spat.

I'll paste in the heart of Lake's article, but you can read the rest of it here: Rod Rosenstein Has Some Serious Explaining to Do: Why would the deputy attorney general help Trump fire the FBI director, then investigate the president for doing so?

But even if the juiciest details of McCabe’s account cannot be verified, this case still raises important questions about the circumstances that led to the Mueller appointment. As McCabe tells it, Rosenstein effectively counseled Trump about how to fire Comey — and then took part in frantic meetings to discuss the crisis created by Comey’s firing.
Thankfully, Congress will be holding hearings on this matter. Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said as much over the weekend. The committee should give Rosenstein an opportunity to explain himself. 
Beyond that, it should also ask how the FBI came to see itself as the arbiter of what is in the national security interest of the U.S.

Beyond this conundrum, there's also the obvious question that has troubled us all along. Before taking the momentous step of siccing a Special Counsel on an infant presidential administration, what steps did Rosenstein take to ensure that the allegations that formed the basis of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation were anything more than a opposition political narrative funded by the Clinton campaign and implemented by partisan hacks? In other words, a hoax? As Trey Gowdy indicates, and as we expanded upon earlier today, it has always been clear that Crossfire Hurricane was opened on the basis of the infamous Steele "dossier," a farrago of nonsense and outright lies. Did Rosenstein conduct any due diligence into that? Or how about this: Did Rosenstein pay any attention at all to the FISC report of Chief Judge Rosemary Collyer (also discussed earlier today)? That was a huge deal, and it had to do directly with the whole Russia Hoax. What was Rosenstein thinking about when he renewed the Carter Page FISA? Lots of questions. We the people could use some answers.

Beware Conservative Tree House Conspiracy Theories; Gowdy Unbound?

I hate to have to do this, but it's necessary to criticize some of the speculation that's appearing at CTH. However, before I do that, kudos to CTH for linking to an important interview with Trey Gowdy, who appears to feel unbound now that he's no longer in the House. Gowdy speaks forthrightly on a number of important topics and regarding key players such as McCabe and Schiff. Watch it. Trey Gowdy fires off on McCabe's Russia probe 'bombshells'. Gowdy is suggesting that McCabe may be making up stories that Devin Nunes is unable to refute because Nunes isn't allowed to speak regarding proceedings of Gang of Eight meetings. I cautiously believe that Gowdy may be right--that McCabe is making 'stuff' up, just as I cautiously believe that in his book McCabe makes up the story about Trump supposedly saying (re North Korean missile capabilities): "I don't care; I believe Putin."

Gowdy also makes a key point regarding the Opening EC for Crossfire Hurricane--the document that I continually cite as key to understanding the entire Russia Hoax. Gowdy--a former prosecutor--stresses that Strzok, who wrote the EC, specifically states that the investigation is into the Trump campaign and four named individuals in the Trump campaign. That means that Crossfire Hurricane was never a counterintelligence investigation that focused on Russia election "meddling." It always targeted Trump. And that means it always relied primarily on the Steele "dossier."

OK. That said, sundance unfortunately engages in some baseless speculation, riffing off Gowdy's remarks, which ignore basic documentary/testimonial evidence. Specifically, sundance states:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Former FBI Officials Speak Out

Laura Ingraham did a very good interview re Andrew McCabe's remarkable admissions. She speaks with two former FBI officials, at very high levels: Kevin Brock and Terry Turchie (I knew Terry somewhat before he went to FBIHQ). I couldn't agree more with what they're saying. They sum up what the traditional "culture" of the Bureau was until relatively recently. And McCabe comes across, to me, as dangerously unhinged from reality. They both also make the point that I've hammered at over the months: the importance of understanding the various Guidelines that control all Executive Branch agencies, including the FBI. The FBI is not supposed to be out there freewheeling, opening up investigations on whims or "hunches." Brock and Turchie make it clear that McCabe and Comey were NOT acting within their official jurisdiction.

Former high-ranking FBI officials on Andrew McCabe's alarming admissions

Monday, February 18, 2019

Report: Barr Will Soon Name A Deputy To Replace Rosenstein

It's being reported that Bill Barr will be selecting--possibly as early as this week--Jeffrey Rosen to be his Deputy AG, replacing Rod Rosenstein who will depart within a matter of weeks. If true, this comes as no surprise.

Rosen is a longtime partner of Kirkland and Ellis, Barr's firm, so that means Barr knows and trusts him. Rosen also has government experience, having served during the Bush years at USDOT as well as general counsel and senior policy advisor at OMB. Most recently he was confirmed in May, 2017, as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation, and that means Rosen is also well known to the Trump White House. My understanding is that this means that Rosen will not need to go through confirmation hearings again, but can step right in as DAG. That's one more sign that Barr intends to hit the ground running at DoJ.

Another interesting aspect of Rosen's past experience is that in 2015-2016 he chaired the American Bar Association's Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. That's significant, because Trump has made administrative and regulatory reform a key feature of his administration. Both of Trump's SCOTUS appointments, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, have strong backgrounds and strong views in that area of the law. Having someone like Rosen with a strong background in administrative and regulatory law as DAG will be a major help to all departments.

Rosen, as Deputy AG, will supervise FBI Director Christopher Wray. However, I assume that Rosen will rely heavily on Barr's past experience with the FBI to guide him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

First Sign Of A Barr Effect?

Has Adam Schiff got the inside word that Peter Strzok was right all along--that after 3 years or more of Deep State investigation and collusion there just ain't no 'there' there? Has McCabe's total outing of the Deep State Coup attempt got him running for cover? Is he trying to position himself for a possibly colder and crueler environment with Bill Barr running DoJ--complete with declassification and making foks available to testify? It sure looks that way. Look what he said on CNN's State of the Union:

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bill Barr, Trump's Tax Records, And The Impeachment Fishing Expedition

Traditionally, presidents and vice presidents have voluntarily released their tax returns. President Trump has declined to do so, and it's no secret that those returns are at the top of the Democrat wish list. Those with some background in investigative matters will know that Congress has made it extremely difficult for anyone except the IRS to get their hands on tax returns. However there is a significant exception to the general rule of non-disclosure. 26 USC 6103(f) allows certain Congressional committees seemingly blanket access to tax returns:

(f) Disclosure to Committees of Congress
(1) Committee on Ways and Means, Committee on Finance, and Joint Committee on Taxation
Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

It sounds cut and dried, but is it?

UPDATED: More Re McCabe's Coup Plotting And Blame Shifting

I have to admit that I am, at times, puzzled by sundance at CTH. I give him full credit--he's done yeoman work on the Russia Hoax and other issues that I've taken full advantage of. And I'm certainly not alone in that regard. On the other hand, at other times he seems oddly tone deaf in analysis, and that seems to crop up in particular with regard to legal matters. I assume that reflects on his source(s).

For example, when the first information on McCabe's upcoming 60 Minutes interview was released sundance immediately proclaimed it some sort of legal strategic masterstroke--a view I found baffling, because I thought it was a bonehead move born of desperation:

The McCabe interview is, to me, remarkable. I can only assume that he knows he's going to jail and wants to be sure he won't be the only one. The actual effect of his previous leaks and now this interview is to completely out the Russia Hoax as--a hoax, from beginning to end. That may not be his or 60 Minutes' intent, but it will be the reality. 

By now, we've all seen that McCabe's camp realizes they've screwed up, big time. As I predicted, the general commentariat has quickly realized the enormity of his admissions, and McCabe is desperately attempting to backpedal--a maneuver that usually leads to a fall. In his case, another fall. Monica Showalter at American Thinker captures that:

Kimball On McCabe And The Deep State

For the last few days I've been juggling personal and family business with obsessively reading about McCabe's remarkable admissions--upcoming on 60 Minutes. For my money, a shortish piece--but here's a link to the full article--by Roger Kimball says it all. It really is this simple, once you get past all the subterfuges. Excerpts:

... Andrew McCabe, ... admits that he was at the center of a plot to unseat the President of the United States. The Times put it this way: ‘McCabe Says Justice Dept. Officials Had Discussions About Pushing Trump Out.’

There follows a few hundred words of brow-wrinkled prose about their ‘so alarmed,’ ‘dire concerns’ that the President had just fired their guy, FBI director James ‘higher loyalty’ Comey, that they got together and wondered how they could entice the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to collude (ooo, there’s that word!) to invoke the 25th Amendment and jettison a guy they didn’t approve of.

The Times story is cast in their best anodyne prose, carefully tilted to make it seem as if this was perfectly reasonable, business-as-usual stuff.

But it wasn’t reasonable, and it is business-as-usual only in a banana republic or a polity that is essentially ruled by hyper-bureaucratized administrative apparatus. [Comment: He means Deep State]


‘Justice Department Officials Had Discussions About Pushing Trump Out.’ Think about it. On May 9. the President fires his employee, James Comey. Panic in Bureau. Scarcely a week later, the Big Boy Scout, Robert Mueller is appointed by Rod Rosenstein to be Special Counsel in charge of the Get Trump battalion. It’s a real flood the zone operation. Pre-dawn raids, full-press intimidation, careers ruined.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Jack Goldsmith On "Barr’s Remarkable Non-Commitments About the Mueller Report"

Jack Goldsmith--

Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002-2003

is on record that he expects Bill Barr to be a "great" Attorney General. For that reason his comments from Wednesday, 2/13/19, on Barr's confirmation hearing remarks as they relate to the release of all or part of the forthcoming Mueller report are well worth reading. Among other things you'll learn lots about what the special counsel regulations require in terms of a final report. But of most interest are his remarks that take off from John Dowd's stated expectation that there may well not be any report--or not one that is released to Congress or the public. And Dowd specifically noted that any Mueller report would have to go through an AG Barr.

Briefly, Goldsmith states:

“I don’t think there’ll be a report,” President Trump’s former attorney, John Dowd, recently told ABC News. “I will be shocked if anything regarding the president is made public, other than ‘We’re done.’” Referring to a possible report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Dowd suggested Mueller won’t release a detailed public accounting of the results of the investigation because he has nothing on Trump. 
Another reason there might not be a public report—or, at least, not much of one—is because William Barr, who will likely be attorney general by the end of the week, might not release one. It is Attorney General Barr’s decision, not Mueller’s, whether to give any information in Mueller’s report to Congress and the public. As we show in this post, Barr in his confirmation hearings committed himself to being transparent, consistent with a strict adherence to applicable laws and regulations. And the applicable laws and regulations require Barr to report very little to Congress or the public.  

Remember: The DNC Was NOT Hacked By The Russians

The current buzz about the Russia Hoax--which will certainly continue through the weekend and into next week--is about the apparent willingness of the disgraced former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe to demolish the whole Russia narrative in order to be sure that others will go down with him--and most of all, Rod Rosenstein. Paradoxically as it may seem, this may be a good time to recall a key part of the whole Russia Hoax narrative, one that has largely been ignored: the patently false claim that the DNC was hacked by Russians. This episode has special significance because of the active involvement of the Clinton campaign attorneys from Perkins Coie, who were also intimately involved in contracting with Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS for the Steele "dossier" on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

Fortuitously, yesterday The Gateway Pundit had a guest article on the subject by no less an expert than William Binney (with an assist from Larry Johnson). For anyone not familiar with Binney, here is the Wikipedia version of his career:

Binney ... [after joining the Army with a BS in Math] was found to have strong aptitudes for mathematics, analysis, and code breaking, and served from 1965 to 1969 in the Army Security Agency before going to the NSA in 1970. 
Binney was a Russia specialist and worked in the operations side of intelligence, starting as an analyst and ending as a Technical Director prior to becoming a geopolitical world Technical Director. In the 1990s, he co-founded a unit on automating signals intelligence with NSA research chief Dr. John Taggart. Binney's NSA career culminated as Technical Leader for intelligence in 2001. He has expertise in intelligence analysis, traffic analysis, systems analysis, knowledge management, and mathematics (including set theory, number theory, and probability).
After retiring from the NSA, he founded, together with fellow NSA whistleblower J. Kirk Wiebe, Entity Mapping, LLC, a private intelligence agency to market their analysis program to government agencies.

The Government took a dim view of Binney's post-retirement whistleblowing. Although Binney has never been arrested, much less tried, for any of his activities, Government efforts to discourage his activities led to incidents such as this:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


UPDATE: I'm updating to add something I should have said originally. Assuming that Bill Barr is confirmed as AG, as expected, both he and Michael Horowitz at OIG may take a more than casual interest in this matter. It is a question of respecting a core institution of our criminal justice system, the Grand Jury.

MORE: Late yesterday there was word that the DoJ is actively investigating the leak of Michael Cohen's bank records. Those bank records were obtained via a Grand Jury subpoena, so that means the investigation involves a violation of Rule 6(e)(2)(B) -- see below. This pattern of occurrences could be seen as the Special Counsel's modus operandi--leaks of Grand Jury testimony and material.


Roger Stone's attorneys have filed a motion requesting a "Show Cause Order". What this means is that Stone's attorneys believe that, in the facts that they allege in the motion, they establish a prima facie case that Grand Jury secrecy rules codified in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure have been violated by the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC). Specifically, this refers to the fact that CNN had a "draft" copy of the Stone indictment at the time of Stone's arrest--two and a half hours before the indictment was unsealed by the Court. Not only that, but CNN is stated to have told Stone's attorneys that they received the "draft" from the OSC. The problem with that is that the indictment had been sealed by the Court at the OSC's request, but the "draft" copy was in fact identical to the supposedly sealed indictment--the copy in CNN's possession could only have come from the Government, as per CNN's statement, and is identical to the indictment that the Court ordered sealed.

So, Stone's attorneys are asking that the OSC be required to show cause why they didn't commit contempt of the court order that sealed the indictment. In other words, the OSC should be required to rebut the prima facie case that Stone's attorneys claim they have established. That would involve presenting some reason to believe that the disclosure was made by some person outside the OSC.

The person most affected by this motion is the "AAW" who drafted the indictment: Andrew Weissmann, senior deputy to special counsel Robert S. Mueller. Will this be a case of live by the leak, die by the leak?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

John Dowd Speaks Out

ABC News has done a bang up interview with former Trump attorney John Dowd. For anyone who doesn't know who John Dowd is, read his Wikipedia page: John Dowd. Big league player, attorney, big time experience both in the law and in Washington.

I've edited and condensed the transcript of the interview, boiled it down. Read the original for all the detail and the full context, uncondensed, listen to the audio. But it really speaks pretty much for itself. I've bolded what I thought jumps out. Here goes:

ABC NEWS' KYRA PHILLIPS: So, John, word is the Mueller report is going to drop within the next couple of weeks.

JOHN DOWD: I don't think there'll be a report. The rules of the department say, no report.

ABC NEWS' CHRIS VLASTO: So you don't think the public's gonna see anything. You think it's $40 million. Mueller investigated it. And that's it.

DOWD: The idea that you would take that information and make it public, you know, violates the whole concept of the grand jury. What's the grand jury for? To protect the innocent. ... Does that ever get reported? No.

PHILLIPS: Do you respect what Mueller is doing? I know you know Mueller well.

DOWD: Well, I respected it in the beginning. My style is I always trust the other side, until I didn't. In my opinion, on March 5th, we were done. He had everything. He said he had everything. He told me that no one had lied. He told me they had every document we asked for. He told me that it was nothing more. He told me that the president was not a target. That is, he did not have any exposure, that he was a witness subject, which is perfectly normal for someone's conduct you're looking at, but they don't have exposure. What people don't understand about the president is you have too much information in your life. I mean, the amount of information that he intakes every day, gets prepared for, is staggering. And in my questioning him or talking to him--you know, first question, easy. Second question, easy. Third question, he wasn't sure. And he doesn't like being unsure. So he'll guess. There's your trap, right there. It's not whether he lies or not. 

Monday, February 11, 2019


A remark I made following the most recent blog post,

What's needed is what amounts to a spiritual makeover of "the American people," one that would allow for a principled remake of the country. 

sparked two comments from differing yet converging perspectives.

Commenter Joe addressed this remark from a specifically Catholic perspective and related it to the upsurge of abortion extremism in the US. Obviously this relates, as well, to politics in the Trump era. Trump's strong support of pro-life policies, including in his judicial appointments, is well known. Further, he is well known to listen closely to the advice of a devout Catholic, Kellyanne Conway--who was also the primary writer of Trump's wildly successful and outspokenly pro-life SOTU address. Joe goes so far as to tentatively relate some of what we're seeing in our public life to possible "End Times" signs. Rod Dreher addresses those darker concerns in light of recent events in a riveting blog: The Age Of Antichrist.

On the other hand, commenter Steven Fine wrote from a specifically Jewish perspective, drawing attention to "Catholic concern over Islamization and other issues as expressed by William Kilpatrick" at Crisis Magazine. The relation of these Catholic concerns (Islamization, abortion, gender politics, etc.) to the politics of both the Trump presidency and the West in general is clear enough. However, Steve also draws attention to the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Benedict XVI (as was, Joseph Ratzinger as is) and his replacement by Jorge Bergoglio, currently known as Francis I (I won't get into the fraught controversies over these events). It's not hard to see that Steve relates Bergoglio's policies regarding immigration as playing very much into "Islamization," both in Europe and in the US. That conservative Jews should share those Catholic concerns is not new. However, coming as they do at a time of the Vatican II Church's growing embrace of Islam, in tandem with the increasingly overt anti-Semitism of the Left--with which the Catholic bishops typically align--must be troubling. Bergoglio's own well known and close ties to Soros operatives can only add to that sense of alarm.

So, the convergence I see in these two commenters is the recognition and concern that the Catholic Church--arguably the central institution of the Western world--should be playing a conservative role (in the broad sense of preserving the cultural principles of the West) but is instead abandoning that traditional role. The moral and spiritual leadership that not only Catholics but also non-Catholics have come to rely upon--in the moral, spiritual, and intellectual arenas--is degenerating into a modernist style Babel and withdrawal from any claims to leadership.

That appearance of collapse was only strengthened last week when Bergoglio traveled to the Dar-al-Islam--the House of Islam, Abu Dhabi--to formally renounce the Catholic faith in favor of a type of Neo-Gnostic syncretism, claiming: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, ... are willed by God in His wisdom.” The symbolism of the event could not have been starker, and it should be raising alarms among all those--Catholic and non-Catholic alike--who share a concern for not merely the health but the very survival of Western civilization.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Here's The Difference.

As you'll recall, back when Devin Nunes was still chairman of the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff launched an 8 month ethics inquiry into Nunes because Nunes had met with a source without informing the committee. This arguably slowed down the GOP investigation into the Russia Hoax.

Today we've learned that Schiff met personally with Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS in July at a security conference in Aspen, CO. It now seems certain, based on Bruce Ohr's recently leaked testimony, that Simpson lied in his own testimony to the Intel Committee.

Will GOPers play turnabout and demand an ethics inquiry into Schiff?

They may, but here's the difference.

When Nunes was sidelined the Speaker of the House was NeverTrumper Paul Ryan.

Nancy Pelosi, also a NeverTrumper--same party!--is now the Speaker.

See the difference?

Won't happen.

Trisha Anderson Clarifies

Jeff Carlson has more excerpts from the testimony of a key Russia Hoax player at the Epoch Times today. Previously, in Trisha Anderson: Andy McCabe and Sally Yates Read The FISA Application "Line By Line", we reviewed Gregg Jarrett's summary of Anderson's testimony. In that post we noted that Anderson, as head of the National Security Law Branch (NSLB) at the FBI, was in a key position to know pretty much all there was to know about the Carter Page FISA application: all FISA applications had to be signed off by her for approval. Further, while in the case of "ordinary" FISAs one might have expected the top leadership at DoJ and FBI to rely on people like Anderson to vet the application in detail, in the case of the Carter Page FISA application, Anderson told the House, it was FBI Deputy Director McCabe and Deputy AG Yates who read the application "line by line." In the normal course of approval, Anderson would have vetted the application for "probable cause," and she would have been the final approver to demand to know whether the probable cause had been verified--before the application was sent to the top officials for their signatures.

Today, we learn from Carlson, Senior FBI Lawyer Did Not Read Carter Page FISA Before Signing Off on It: Congressional testimony by Trisha Anderson highlights unusual process used by FBI and DOJ to obtain FISA warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, that Anderson did her best to distance herself even further from the approval process, and in the process of distancing herself did two things:

* She made clear that all the normal FISA approval procedures were essentially reversed for the Carter Page FISA; and
* She thereby threw Andy McCabe and Sally Yates under the wheels of a bus that is moving at top speed with no brakes.

Here's how Anderson's Aug. 31, 2018, testimony went--as far as we have it:

Mr. Breitenbach: You had mentioned earlier that all FISAs have to be signed off, have an approver at an SES [Senior Executive Service] level. In OGC? Or is that anywhere inside the FBI?

Ms. Anderson: In NSLB, in my particular branch. 
Mr. Breitenbach: In NSLB? 
Ms. Anderson: Yeah. Uh-huh. 
Mr. Breitenbach: Okay. Who was that SES approver for the Carter Page FISA?
Ms. Anderson: My best recollection is that I was for the initiation. 

What Anderson is saying is that, for the first or initial authorization of FISA coverage on Carter Page, she was the SES approver. As we know, there were also three renewals of that initial authorization, but the underlying probable cause for those renewals remained essentially the same, relying heavily on the Steele "dossier"--the "crucial" factor, as McCabe stated in his testimony.

However, Anderson was at pains to emphasize that her role as approver was to serve as the last "backstop," meaning that she relied on the previous review by "many people," both in the FBI and at DoJ. Here's how she explains that:

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Buzzfeed Source Was Felix Sater--Oh My!

Paul Sperry has tweeted that "career criminal" Felix Sater was Buzzfeed's source for their "narrative" that Trump asked Michael Cohen to lie to Congress--a "narrative" that was renounced by Mueller after thinking it over for a while.

Paul Sperry

BREAKING: Buzzfeed's "Deep Throat" source is Felix Sater, the crook-turned-asset/informant groomed by Clinton admin & handled by EDNY Loretta Lynch & Mueller attack dog Weissmann & the Source E of pee tape/other apocrypha for Clinton dossier Mueller using as Russiagate case theory
6:58 PM - 24 Jan 2019

You can read about Sater at the Felix Sater Wikipedia page, or you can read Gateway Pundit's take. Or you could double your pleasure by reading both!

According to Wikipedia:

Felix Henry Sater (born Felix Mikhailovich Sheferovsky; Russian: Фе́ликс Миха́йлович Шеферовский; March 2, 1966) is an American former mobster, real estate developer and former managing director of Bayrock Group LLC, a real estate conglomerate based out of New York City. ... 
In 1998, Sater pleaded guilty to his involvement in a $40 million stock fraud scheme orchestrated by the Russian Mafia, and became an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal prosecutors, assisting with organized crime investigations. In 2017, Sater agreed to cooperate with investigators into international money laundering schemes. 
... According to the FBI, Mikhail Sheferovsky was an underboss for Russian Mafia "boss of bosses" Semion Mogilevich and convicted of extorting money from local restaurants, grocery stores, and a medical clinic. 
Felix Sater is reportedly a childhood friend of Michael Cohen.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Myth Of Equal Protection

Citizens of these United States are supposed to receive Equal Protection under our laws. Somehow that doesn't always seem to work out, now that we have a Deep State--and if you don't believe there is such a thing, noted legal scholar Jack Goldsmith is here to educate you about the reality of the system we live in. In these United States in the twenty first century, equal protection of the law is--a legal fiction.

Is it equal protection when the prosecutor gets to pick the judge? I don't think so, but that's what has happened in the Roger Stone case. Using the claim that Stone's case is somehow "related" to the Paul Manafort, Team Mueller has bypassed the usual random selection of judges afforded to most defendants and had the Stone case assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is currently holding Manafort in solitary confinement.

Robert Barnes‏

How did the SAME federal judge in a district of 21 judges manage to get "randomly assigned" the email case, the Manafort case and the #RogerStone case? By the flagrant misuse of "related case" listing from team #Mueller to make sure their deferential Obama-appointed judge oversaw 
8:16 AM - 1 Feb 2019

The alleged crimes are different and the defendants are different and the evidence is totally different and unrelated, so how are the two cases related? Well, the prosecutor is the same--but that's not what the "related case" rule is about. It seems Team Mueller was pleased with Berman Jackson's handling of Manafort. And now she seems poised to treat Stone in similar fashion:

Brad Heath

A federal judge warned Roger Stone today not to treat the criminal case against him as "a book tour," and said she's considering imposing a gag order to quiet him.

12:08 PM - 1 Feb 2019

Think about that. Stone was arrested in a completely unnecessary and highly public predawn raid by 29 heavily armed FBI agents before CNN cameras, in what  was clearly an abusive and prejudicial operation intended to poison the jury pool. That had nothing to do with Stone--it was strictly the choice of Team Mueller and the FBI. And now the judge is telling Stone that he may no longer be allowed the exercise of his First Amendment rights? According to USAToday, Berman Jackson

said she was concerned that the continued publicity surrounding the case against the 66-year-old political operative could “taint” the jury pool. She gave Stone's lawyers and federal prosecutors until next Friday to tell her whether she should issue an order preventing them all from talking publicly about the case. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Bill Priestap's Partially Leaked Testimony

Jeff Carlson has the summary of the latest (partially) leaked testimony at the Epoch Times. This time it's the testimony of Bill Priestap, recently retired from the position of Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division. There are only a few significant takeaways from his testimony.

First, Priestap flatly contradicts disgraced former FBI Director Comey's frankly non-credible claim that Priestap told him (Comey) not to brief Congress re the Crossfire Hurricane case. Non-credible, because Comey first states that the practice is to brief the Gang of Eight Intelligence group on "sensitive cases," but then claims Crossfire Hurricane was not briefed because it was "a matter of such sensitivity"--its sensitivity is precisely why it should have been briefed. Here's how the questioning of Comey went: