Wednesday, March 27, 2019

UPDATED: When Did Mueller Know He Had No Case?

I've been arguing forever that the FBI had no probable cause to open a Full Investigation--as opposed to a Preliminary Investigation--on the make believe Russia collusion "enterprise" inside the Trump campaign: Crossfire Hurricane. Nevertheless, at the end of July, 2016, they went ahead and opened the Full Investigation, despite the fact that the "four Americans" were either no longer part of the Trump campaign or, at best, loosely associated with it. This move, however, allowed them to charge full speed ahead and obtain a FISA warrant just before the election in November, 2016--using the same inadequate, make believe "evidence."

Fast forward 6 months to May, 2017. There have already been two renewals of the FISA warrant, despite the fact that the sole "evidence" supporting it is the same bogus "dossier" allegations that failed to provide probable cause for either the original FISA or the opening of Crossfire Hurricane in the first place. Now, in May--2017--Rod Rosenstein decides to take the irresponsible and truly drastic step of authorizing a Special Counsel to continue the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, with no additional evidence whatsoever. Did he conduct a de novo review of the FBI's claim of probable cause? We don't know, but we do know that the claimed probable cause was just as inadequate in May, 2017, as it was in July, 2016. The "dossier" was already widely discredited, and yet Rosenstein recklessly plunged the country into two years of Russia Hoax hysteria, fueled by a media feeding frenzy and non-stop demagoguing by hate filled Dems. Did Mueller examine that claim of probable cause on his own--as he had an ethical obligation to do, just as much as Rosenstein did?

Andy McCarthy has a useful article out, which points the very real political implications of Mueller's irresponsibly prolonged investigation: Did Mueller Know There Was No Trump-Russia Collusion Before The Midterms?

McCarthy begins by noting that there never was any evidence of "collusion"--a term that he calls "endlessly elastic": it describes no actual crime and can be expanded or contracted at will to fit virtually any narrative. That alone tips off the Russia Hoax as a political operation, not a true investigation as authorized for the FBI to conduct. And then McCarthy raises the pertinent question:

There was never any such evidence. There was just unverified, sensational, hearsay nonsense – the Steele dossier generated by the Clinton campaign.
Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded that there was no criminal collusion, the question arises: When during their exhaustive 22-month investigation did prosecutors realize they had no case?

What's useful about McCarthy's article is that he gives Rosenstein and Mueller the benefit of the doubt as to opening the Special Counsel investigation--despite all the evidence to the contrary. And having given them that benefit of the doubt, he offers an answer to his question as to the latest point in time that anyone should reasonably extend that benefit of the doubt:

I put it at no later than the end of 2017. I suspect it was in the early autumn. 
By the time Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2017, the FBI had been trying unsuccessfully for nearly a year to corroborate the dossier’s allegations. Top bureau officials have conceded to congressional investigators that they were never able to do so – notwithstanding that, by the time of Mueller’s appointment, the Justice Department and FBI had relied on the dossier three times, in what they labeled “VERIFIED” applications, to obtain warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. 
And make no mistake about what this means. In each and every application, after describing the hacking operations carried out by Russian operatives, the Justice Department asserted:  

     The FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election were being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with [Donald Trump’s] campaign. 

Yes, the Justice Department continued to make that allegation to the secret federal court for months after Trump was sworn in as president.
Notably, in June 2017, about a month after Mueller took over the investigation, while he was still getting his bearings, the Justice Department and the FBI went on to obtain a fourth FISA warrant. [Vouched for by Rosenstein.] Yet again, they used the same unverified information. Yet again, they withheld from the court the fact that this information was generated by the Clinton campaign; that the Clinton campaign was peddling it to the media at the same time the FBI was providing it to the court; and that Christopher Steele, the informant on whom they were so heavily relying, had misled the bureau about his media contacts.

And then McCarthy points out that that was the last time the FISA was ever renewed. Tellingly, McCarthy notes that by August, 2017, when the FISA warrant would have been up for renewal and the FBI and DoJ would have been required to reaffirm their belief in the truth of the dossier-based allegations.

What's telling about that circumstance is this. By August, 2017, all the FBI officials who had previously made those affirmations were either fired or marginalized in total disgrace--pending dismissal. And the new officials were no longer willing to make those affirmations. But since the allegations in the four FISA applications were all based on essentially the same bogus probable cause on which the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was based, that can only mean that Team Mueller no longer believed in the claimed probable cause that formed the basis of its own authorization.

And so McCarthy damningly concludes:

When Special Counsel Mueller closed his investigation last week, he almost certainly knew for about a year and a half that there was no collusion case. Indeed, the indictments that he did bring appeared to preclude the possibility that the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin. 
Yet the investigation continued. The Justice Department and the special counsel made no announcement, no interim finding of no collusion, as Trump detractors continued to claim that a sitting American president might be a tool of the Putin regime. For month after month, the president was forced to govern under a cloud of suspicion. 

Let me repeat: Mueller had an ethical obligation both as a prosecutor and to the nation to inform DAG Rosenstein the moment he came to doubt that Crossfire Hurricane as a whole lacked probable cause. On McCarthy's showing--and giving Mueller every benefit of the doubt--Mueller had such doubts but did not act on those doubts as he was ethically obligated to do. Why, asks McCarthy? Here's his answer regarding when Mueller knew he had no basis for continuing the investigation:

We give Chuck Ross the last word, as his question is perhaps the most critical of all..."Excellent question. Surely it was before Nov 2018. And if Trump is cleared before then, do Dems take over the House?"

That's exactly the question many others are beginning to ask. We The People deserve and need an answer to that question, and it needs to be a thorough answer after searching inquiry. Until such an answer is given, we continue in a Constitutional crisis. Lindsey Graham is calling for AG Barr to appoint a new Special Counsel. For me, based on the scope and complexity of the Russia Hoax conspiracy, that's an entirely reasonable way to address this continuing crisis.

UPDATE 1: Say it like it is, Devin!

Likely since he walked in the door of the phony investigation.

UPDATE 2: Lee Smith came out with a new article this afternoon: System Fail: The Mueller Report is an unmitigated disaster for the American press and the ‘expert’ class that it promotes. It's lengthy, but here are a few excerpts that are relevant to this post:

But here’s all you need to know about the special counsel probe:
Mueller should have filed his report on May 18, 2017—the day after the special counsel started and he learned the FBI had opened an investigation on the sitting president of the United States because senior officials at the world’s premier law enforcement agency thought Trump was a Russian spy. Based on what evidence? A dossier compiled by a former British spy, relying on second- and third-hand sources, paid for by the Clinton campaign. 
Instead, the special counsel lasted 674 days, during which millions of people who believed Mueller was going to turn up conclusive evidence of Trump’s devious conspiracies with the Kremlin have become wrapped up in a collective hallucination that has destroyed the remaining credibility of the American press and the D.C. expert class whose authority they promote. 
Mueller knew that he wasn’t ever going to find “collusion” or anything like it because all the intercepts were right there on his desk. As it turned out, two of his prosecutors, including Mueller’s so-called “pit bull,” Andrew Weissman, had been briefed on the Steele dossier prior to the 2016 election and were told that it came from the Clintons, and was likely a biased political document. 
Weissman left, or was pushed out of, his employment with the special counsel a few weeks ago, after the arrival of a new attorney general, William Barr, who had deep experience in government, including stints at the Justice Department and the CIA. ... 
The Mueller report is in. But the abuse of power that the special counsel embodied is a deadly cancer on American democracy. Two years of investigations have left families in ruins, stripping them of their savings, their homes, threatening their liberty, and dragging their names through the mud. The investigation of the century was partly based on the possibility that Michael Flynn, a combat veteran who served his country for more than three decades, might be a Russian spy—because of a dinner he once attended in Moscow, and because as incoming national security adviser he spoke to the Russian ambassador to Washington. What rot.

UPDATE 3: Byron York has interviewed John Dowd, Trump's former lawyer (June 2017 to March 2018), extensively. Dowd recounts that as of March, 2018, Mueller personally confirmed to Dowd that Trump had "no exposure." While that may have been the first time Mueller categorically confirmed that fact to Dowd, the reality has to be, as I have long argued, that this had long been known. Dowd's words:

Dowd, who was Trump's lawyer from June 2017 to March 2018, said Mueller was hampered by two daunting problems. The first was that Mueller could not establish that a crime had occurred — that there had been conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to fix the 2016 election. Indeed, the Mueller report, as quoted in Attorney General William Barr's summary of its findings, said "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities" and "the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference." 
Mueller and the president's team went back and forth on the question of a presidential interview for quite a while. "[Mueller] said, 'Well, John, I need to know what was in the president's head,'" Dowd recalled. "I said you already do, you know in real time." 
The conflict dominated a difficult March 5, 2018, meeting. "I asked, what's the president's status?" Dowd said. "[Mueller said] he's a witness-slash-subject. And I said, you mean he has no exposure? He said that's right. So I knew then for sure, by inference, that [Mueller] had nothing to proceed on in the collusion and conspiracy area." 
Still, Mueller said he needed to interview Trump, and that he might subpoena the president. 
"He dropped that on the table, and I reacted very strongly," Dowd recalled. "I said go ahead, you're threatening this president with a subpoena. It's doubtful whether the [Justice Department] Office of Legal Counsel would have approved such a thing. ... But beside that, I said, well go ahead. I want to hear what you tell the court is your basis to do it when you don't have a crime, you've just told me [Trump] doesn't have any exposure, so what are you going to tell a U.S. district judge? Because we're going to move to quash this thing. And Jay Sekulow and his team were ready to do it ... We're ready to do it if you want to do it."
"Then he backed off, he said don't get upset," Dowd continued. 
"I said, look, what basis do you have to do it? We're not afraid of a grand jury subpoena. You want to do it, you've got yourself a war and you're going to lose it. 

What's clear from this is that Mueller was trying to bluff Dowd and Trump into a perjury trap style interview. The problem: Mueller's bluff was backed by exactly zero, and Dowd knew it.


  1. The scope memo from Rosenstein to Mueller, in either August or September of 2017- I don't remember- is probably a key piece of evidence in answering this question. I am willing to bet that Mueller asked for clarification at that time because "there" wasn't found.

    1. That's an entirely reasonable surmise, but this is what Rosenstein told Grassley about that memo:

      Rosenstein's Letter To Grassley: No Uncharged Allegations

      "In August 2017, Special Counsel Mueller received a written internal memorandum from the Acting Attorney General. The memorandum eliminated the ability of any subject, target, or defendant to argue that the Special Counsel lacked delegated authority under 28 U.S.C. § 515 to represent the United States. The names of the subjects were already in Department files, but we did not publicly disclose them because to do so would violate the Department's confidentiality policies."

  2. I found this interesting:

    Imperator Rex says you should carefully read pgs 135-149 here, where Donald Trump's FD302 is discussed during the takedown of the Five Families.

    Rudy Giuliani was the SDNY US Attorney at the time.

    1. Yes, a more readable version of all that is here: ENDGAME : POTUS Trump's Vindication Nears.

      A lot of smart people, like Scott Adams, have been pointing out for a long time that Trump knows how to stage 3 act drama, in which the 3rd act is always the protagonist staging a huge comeback from the brink of disaster.