Tuesday, April 30, 2019

UPDATED: About Mueller's Letter To Barr--And The Phone Call

It's important to understand the timing here.

Apparently Mueller took exception to Barr's 4 page letter that provided the Mueller Dossier's principal conclusions. Barr initially issued that letter shortly after receiving the Dossier--he wanted Barr to also release the executive summaries from the Dossier. Barr's position was simple: he issued his four page letter to fulfill the reporting requirements in the regulations. He did not agree with Mueller's idea of a partial release of the Dossier, preferring to release the entire document as a whole, with necessary redactions. That was exactly what Barr did.

Here is a key passage from the WaPo article:

A day after Mueller sent his letter to Barr, the two men spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials. 
In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials. Mueller did not express similar concerns about the public discussion of the investigation of Russia’s election interference, the officials said. Barr has testified previously he did not know whether Mueller supported his conclusion on obstruction. 
When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said. 
In their call, Barr also took issue with Mueller calling his memo a “summary,” saying he had never intended to summarize the voluminous report, but instead provide an account of its top conclusions, officials said.

UPDATED: Briefly Noted: Where Are We At This Point?

For the last few days there hasn't been too much in the way of actual news on the Russia Hoax front, although there have been some excellent summaries of where we stand and what we may be able to reasonably expect (or hope for). Where to begin?

I think the overall big picture has to do with Obama. I've insisted throughout--mostly in private emails--that the first law of bureaucratic behavior is CYA: Do not go out on a limb by yourself. Be sure that someone else has your back, has authorized whatever you do. There's only one place in the US Government that the buck stops, and that's the Oval Office. None of these important people like Lynch, Comey, Brennan, Clapper, and all their subordinates would have taken the risks they took, broken the laws they broke, unless they thought they were covered. Therefore the question is inevitable: What Did Obama Know and When Did He Know It?

What we may be seeing now is jockeying for position. On the Dem side, the House committees are trying to establish an alternate narrative to distract the public from where Barr's investigations are almost certain to lead: Obama. Thus, we hear that Barr is somehow hiding the truth of the Mueller Dossier; the American people want to know the truth about Trump's finances; it's all about GOP "obstruction". My own opinion is that the public is tired of Dem conspiracy theories and promises of future proof. None of it--none--has panned out. Further, two events--and which comes first remains to be seen--will, in my view, see the floor falling out from beneath the Dems in the House. One of those events will be when indictments of the real Russia Hoax conspirators start coming down--with the focus on spying on Trump and innocent Americans. As it becomes ever more clear, as well, that innocent people such as General Flynn were framed, public revulsion will increase. Promises of future proof will not be able to make the tangible proof of those indictments go away.

Monday, April 29, 2019

I Stand Somewhat Corrected Re Steganography

Commenter Joe raised the issue of steganography (also cf. Wikipedia) in comments at Chris Wray: Deep State Tool. Those comments were seconded by commenter Anonymous. The whole issue was raised on twitter by Ramses Goat, who claims that James Comey's weird tweets--accompanied by images--are actually clandestine communications that utilize steganography. If you read my responses, you'll see that I was skeptical about this. I still am, but I located a complaint in an FBI case from 2010 in which the claim is made that the Russian intelligence services do in fact make use of steganography on publicly accessible web sites. The relevant material begins on page 9 and there are a total of 13 references to steganography on pp. 9-11:

20. To further the aims of the conspiracy, Moscow Center has arranged for the defendants clandestinely to communicate with the Russian Federation. In particular, the conspirators have used, among others, the secret communications methods described below — steganography and radiograms. 
21. Steganography is the process of secreting data in an image. Moscow Center uses steganographic software that is not commercially available. The software package permits the SVR clandestinely to insert encrypted data in images that are located on publicly-available websites without the data being visible. The encrypted data can be removed from the image, and then decrypted, using SVR-provided software. Similarly, SVR-provided software can be used to encrypt data, and then clandestinely to embed the data in images on publicly-available websites.
22. As is set forth below, certain of the Illegals have communicated with Moscow Center by means of steganography. In each of the three judicially-authorized residential searches referenced above (the 2006 Boston Search, the 2006 Seattle
Search, and the 2005 New Jersey Search), law-enforcement agents observed and forensically copied a set of computer disks ("Password-Protected Disks"). Based on subsequent investigation as described below, I believe that the Password-Protected Disks contain a steganography program employed by the SVR and the

I remain skeptical that such a technique would be used in this manner--utilizing a Twitter account--when the person in question is an extremely high profile public figure who must presume that he is under investigation and subject to electronic surveillance. It seems too risky to use Twitter for these purposes in such circumstances, since surveillers using sophisticated software could conceivably access the hidden files.

This is a good example, if that were needed, of why I value the comments.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Chris Wray: Deep State Tool

Any notion that the Deep State would drop the Russia Hoax, leaving the fomenting of anti-Russian paranoia and hysteria to such disreputable stalkers of the President as Adam Schiff, were laid to rest by Chris Wray. As reported by the NYT, Wray spoke Friday to a predictably Deep State friendly audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in DC, seeking to stoke hysteria in anticipation of the 2020 election:

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director warned anew on Friday about Russia’s continued meddling in American elections, calling it a “significant counterintelligence threat.” The bureau has shifted additional agents and analysts to shore up defenses against foreign interference, according to a senior F.B.I. official. 
The Trump administration has come to see that Russia’s influence operations have morphed into a persistent threat. The F.B.I., the intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security have made permanent the task forces they created to confront 2018 midterm election interference, senior American national security officials said. 
“We recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game,” Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, said Friday in a speech in Washington, citing the presence of Russian intelligence officers in the United States and the Kremlin’s record of malign influence operations.
“So we are very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020,” he said. 
But outside of meetings with Mr. Trump, intelligence officials have continued to raise alarms. Officials including both Mr. Wray and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, have said Russia has aimed its influence campaigns at undermining faith in American democracy. 
“What has pretty much continued unabated is the use of social media, fake news, propaganda, false personas, etc. to spin us up, pit us against each other, to sow divisiveness and discord, to undermine America’s faith in democracy,” Mr. Wray said on Friday. “That is not just an election-cycle threat. It is pretty much a 365-day-a-year threat.”

Wray is either a fool--if he believes this nonsense about the social media threat posed by Russian based "troll farms"--or a knave--presuming that he actually knows better. More likely he's both. A fool for presuming to possess actual credibility, a knave for undertaking to fool the American people.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Briefly Noted: When did Mueller know there was no collusion?

The title references an article by Byron York: When did Mueller know there was no collusion?

What York does is simply provide the dates on which Team Mueller interrogated most of the best known supposed "colluders" or Russian agents. It turns out that most of them were interrogated quite early on. After quickly disposing of "collusion," presumably they had plenty of time for obstruction.

The Carter Page example is telling:

For example, a key figure in the conspiracy allegation, Carter Page, was not on the White House radar screen. But in a new podcast interview, Page, too, said the special counsel's office was finished with him by the end of 2017.
Page did five interviews with the FBI in March 2017, before Mueller was appointed. Page said he had just one appearance with Mueller's prosecutors, and that was in the grand jury on Nov. 17, 2017. Asked if that was the last he heard from the special counsel's office, Page said, "Yeah, essentially."

Five FBI interviews--before Mueller was even appointed! And only one later, before the GJ. I'm guessing the GJ appearance--six months later!--was an attempt to pin a perjury rap on Page. Pathetic, but the point is, with Page--the supposed courier between the Trump campaign and Putin--basically eliminated before Mueller got his Hillary lawyer team assembled, who thinks he really believed collusion was a thing? And, come to mention it, who thinks Rod Rosenstein believed that?

Briefly Noted: Soros, Ukraine, And The Russia Hoax; Peggy Noonan's Paean To The Establishment

Here are links to two excellent reads. The first appears at Gateway Pundit and serves as an excellent summary to the Ukrainian Connection to the Russia Hoax--which, not surprisingly is very much a Soros connection as well: Ukrainian Lawmaker Admits in Recording That Government Agency Linked to Soros Was Helping Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election. The information is dense--it's the big picture information that's only now coming out--but here's a teaser excerpt:

The Ukraine Crisis Media Center was founded in March 2014 by the Ukraine government and George Soros’ International Renaissance Foundation to give reporting on the Ukraine conflict the ‘correct’ spin. Soros has founded media lobby groups all over the world modeled on Media Matters for American, which he founded with John Podesta after the Lewinsky scandal nearly brought down Bill Clinton. 
Leshenko [sic] provided this info [so-called 'Black Ledger' pages linked to Manafort] to Clinton campaign staffer Alexandra Chalupa, as Epoch Times reports, who then passed this info on to Yahoo News reporter Michael Isikoff. Isikoff broke the story on Yahoo on Aug. 18, 2016, one of the first public mentions of purported “collusion with Russia” by the Trump team. Manafort had to step down as Trump’s campaign manager the next day. 
Chalupa also passed the Black Ledger info on to Glenn Simpson at Fusion GPS, who passed them on to staffer Nellie Ohr. Ohr passed the info on to her husband Bruce Ohr, Epoch Times reports.  On May 30, 2016, Nellie Ohr sent an email to Bruce Ohr and Justice Department staffers under the subject line “Reported Trove of Documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions’ ‘Black Cashbox.’” 
Bruce Ohr then used this Soros-derived info to begin the Justice Department surveillance of the Trump campaign code-named “Crossfire Hurricane”. 
George Soros had invested billions in Ukraine before the conflict broke out 2014, and was one of the primary players in the conflict with his nemesis Vladimir Putin. “With his Open Society Foundations, Soros was not only instrumental in helping bring down the government in Kiev, he also stands to make a sizeable profit out of Ukraine, especially thanks to his close ties to the new Poroshenko government. In January of this year, he met privately several times with the Ukrainian leadership,” neopresse wrote in 2015.

Is Rosenstein Throwing Comey Under The Bus?

I've speculated recently that Rod Rosenstein may still be at the DoJ because he's assisting the department in its inquiries about "what's been going on" with the FBI and DoJ. Among the remarks that Rosenstein offered at the Armenian Bar Association’s Public Servants Dinner in New York City last night were these:

At my confirmation hearing in March 2017, a Republican Senator asked me to make a commitment. He said: “You’re going to be in charge of this [Russia] investigation. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you’ll do it right, that you’ll take it to its conclusion and you’ll report [your results] to the American people.” 
I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion. I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges. 
Some critical decisions about the Russia investigation were made before I got there. The previous Administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America. The FBI disclosed classified evidence about the investigation to ranking legislators and their staffers. Someone selectively leaked details to the news media. The FBI Director announced at a congressional hearing that there was a counterintelligence investigation that might result in criminal charges. Then the former FBI Director alleged that the President pressured him to close the investigation, and the President denied that the conversation occurred. 
So that happened.

It sounds to me like Rosenstein is offering a justification for the Team Mueller mess of the last two years, suggesting that he had no alternative than to act as he did, take the course of action that he did. That he really meant to do the right thing all along, but, well, stuff happens.

While I don't buy those excuses for a moment, it's about what you'd expect at this point from a guy who finds himself more or less in the same boat with the FBI and Team Mueller after a 2-3 year deep dive into all things Trump has come up absolutely empty--and a new sheriff is in town and promising a real investigation. Hey, it wasn't me! It was that guy Comey that I trusted! How was I to know that Mueller would run totally amok with Hillary partisans as his sidekicks? How was I to rein it in once it got started? Sure I pledged to do it right, but, but, ... I didn't count on this amount of SHTF!

I just hope his cooperation will be worth any deal that he gets.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

January 2016: Obama WH Sought Russia Hoax Help From Ukraine

John Solomon has a new revelation regarding the Ukrainian Connection to the Russia Hoax. We know that the Ukrainian anti-corruption bureau (NABU) was set up by the FBI, with continued close ties. Operatives from NABU released two pages from Paul Manafort's "black book" to smear him while he was campaign manager for Trump. Now, in How the Obama White House engaged Ukraine to give Russia collusion narrative an early boost, Solomon provides some of the backstory.

Claiming confirmation from "multiple participants and contemporaneous memos," Solomon describes a WH meeting in January, 2016, that

brought some of Ukraine’s top corruption prosecutors and investigators face to face with members of former President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), the FBI, State Department and Department of Justice (DOJ).

The ostensible purpose for the meeting  was "training and coordination." However, the Ukrainian participants soon realized that the meeting was about a number of sensitive political topics. One had to do with Hunter Biden's involvement in a corrupt Ukrainian venture, but the second had to do with the possibility of reviving a two year old investigation into Paul Manafort involvement with the party of ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovych. The original investigation had been dropped without any charges being brought against Manafort.

Kulyk said Ukrainian authorities had evidence that other Western figures, such as former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig, also received money from Yanukovych’s party. But the Americans weren’t interested: “They just discussed Manafort. This was all and only what they wanted. Nobody else.”
Manafort joined Trump’s campaign on March 29, 2016, and then was promoted to campaign chairman on May 19, 2016. 

Here's what interests me. There is talk of targeting Manafort's lobbying firm: "a lobbying firm linked closely to then-candidate Trump." But this meeting was in January, 2016--two to three months before Manafort was associated with the Trump campaign. By all accounts Trump didn't reach out for Manafort--Manafort was pushed on Trump. A White House meeting seems rather over the top for what sounds like simple opposition research. Could there be more to this? Is it possible that Dem operatives were somehow behind maneuvering an unwitting Manafort into joining the Trump campaign? After all, an actual member of the Trump campaign ensnared in supposedly pro-Russian lobbying activities would have a lot more punch than "a lobbying firm linked closely to Trump."

One way or another, Solomon appears to be on to something big. The Russia Hoax narrative was a developed thing already in January, 2016, but to make it really take off there had to be a attention grabbing hook. That hook was Manafort. Coincidence?

Later, of course, Carter Page and Michael Flynn fit right into the Russia Hoax narrative. George Papadopoulos, on the other hand, had to be worked into the setup. But it all seems to lead back to the Obama White House.

Interesting times.

UPDATED: Tres Amigos Agree: Barr's The Guy To Do It

Mike Huckabee had three smart lawyers on his show last night to talk about how the "collusion tables" were going to be turned on the Dems: Rudy Giuliani, Robert Ray (former Whitewater Special Prosecutor) and Joe DiGenova.

DiGenova, among other claims to fame, was "there at the founding" of the FISA court (FISC). All three agree that Bill Barr, with his deep experience in the legal world of the CIA and his time at DoJ during a turbulent period of politics, is the perfect guy to take on the job of draining the Swamp and that he has the will to do it. Despite the focus, below, on the FBI and James Comey, they also agree that John Brennan at the CIA was at the center of the whole coup attempt.

Perhaps as importantly, DiGenova outlines some of the investigative behind-the-scenes events that tell us that Barr has the tools in place to do this. All this takes place during a seven minute segment of a longer video, from roughly 14:00 to 21:00.

To highlight, here are some of the important things that DiGenova notes. Much of this has already been discussed at various times, but DiGenova lays it out fairly succinctly so it's a good refresher:

  • For four YEARS the Obama Administration conducted an illegal spying operation, via access to NSA databases;
  • The mechanism for the spying was through the FBI, which provided four private contractors illegal access to NSA databases;
  • Adm. Mike Rogers, former head of NSA, personally went to the Chief Judge of the FISC and worked with her for months during 2016 to explain to her how this happened;
  • The FISC has already ruled that this operation violated the law, that Sally Yates and John Carlin at DoJ knew about it and lied to the court;
  • The FISC has already been told by DoJ who lied to the court, and that report has already been given to Bill Barr--he knows;
  • IG Horowitz will produce his FISA report in late May or early June;
  • IG Horowitz will produce another, separate, report focused on  James Comey alone; that report will be a "bombshell" that will produce criminal referrals.


Paul Sperry‏


BREAKING: The next hoax to fall -- that the Russians interfered in election "to help Trump win." Stay tuned ...

12:41 PM - 2 Apr 2019

Paul Sperry‏‏


BREAKING: FBI agents Joe Pientka and Mike Gaeta, along with DOJ official Stu Evans, are figuring prominently as witnesses in IG Horowitz's investigation of department FISA abuses. The findings in the forthcoming IG report are said to be "devastating."

11:36 AM - 25 Apr 2019

George Papadopoulos


Replying to @paulsperry_
I have been told that Michael Gaeta was Joseph Mifsud’s handler in Rome.

12:24 PM - 25 Apr 2019

Paul Sperry‏


DEVELOPING: It is now looking as though there is more evidence that Obama had a heavier hand in interfering in the 2016 election than Putin

1:12 PM - 25 Apr 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Guardians Of The Deep State

Well known NeverTrumper Holman Jenkins has a nice article today at the WSJ in which he concludes: Our politics will be healed only when voters know what our secret agents know (subscription wall). Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, he doesn't suggest when or even whether we should start holding our breath.

Jenkins begins with an example that has received surprisingly little attention. Jenkins' example has to do with Carter Page's commencement address at the New Economic School (NES) in Moscow in July, 2016. Mueller (cf. pp. 98-101 of the Mueller Dossier) tries to play up this incident as an example of how

Page's affiliation with the Trump Campaign took on a higher profile and drew the attention of Russian officials after the candidate named him a foreign policy advisor,

further noting that

The NES commencement ceremony generally featured high-profile speakers; for example, President Barack Obama delivered a commencement address at the school in 2009.

Obviously, Carter Page is hardly in the same "high-profile" category as POTUS, so the suggestion that Page's appointment as foreign policy adviser to the campaign had made him a celebrity of some sort is little short of laughable. And that leads one wonder: just what was going on with this invitation? Could this invitation have been part of an attempt to puff up the centrality of Russia to the Trump campaign? Was the idea of inviting Page suggested to the NES by Western intelligence operatives? That's speculative of course, but then nobody--least of all Mueller--has shown much interest in that angle. Why not?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ISIS And The Russia Hoax

While we await IG reports, Congressional testimony, the empaneling of Grand Juries, indictments to handed down, and all that stuff ...

The other day I wrote in a comment:

My view is that what led the Deep State to regard Michael Flynn as "an existential threat," was the report he did at DIA which called out Obama for basically creating ISIS. The reason that posed an existential threat to the Deep State was because ISIS was part of a broader strategy. To have examined that more closely would have dragged in much, much more. So, despite his more or less conventional views in other areas, Flynn had to be neutered. 
The same applies to Trump. Trump was too open to "revisionist" or "non-orthodox" foreign policy views that conflicted with the established Deep State policy. This is why he was perceived as such a threat. In fact, Trump's revisionism probably was viewed as running far deeper than Flynn's. 
As things stand, I would rate Trump's success in furthering his views against the Deep State as only moderate to this point, largely because he's had his hands full fighting off Team Mueller and GOP Deep Staters.

Today Zerohedge has an interview - article that I highly recommend: How CIA & Allies Helped Jihadists In Syria: French Covert Ops Expert Exposes New Details. Here's the short intro that will give you the overview, but the article is rich in detail (some of which I'll include):

Maxime Chaix has written a shocker of a book in which he reveals insightful information on the support which several Western intelligence services provided to jihadist militias in Syria, starting with the CIA. His investigation reveals a multi-faceted state scandal and points out the murky game played by the Western powers and their Middle Eastern allies in the Levant.

So, in other words, at the heart of this book (La guerre de l’ombre en Syrie - The Shadow War in Syria) is the Clinton/Obama policy in the wake of the Iraq War and the "Arab Spring". That would be the policy that Flynn criticized when he was at DIA and whose criticism Trump adopted. Does that give you some idea of why the Deep State regarded both Flynn and Trump as "existential threats," and why the combination of the two in the White House increased that threat exponentially? Here's how the interview begins (but do yourself a favor and read the whole thing):

Monday, April 22, 2019

Deconstruct The Mueller FBI

Regular readers will be familiar with my explanation of how the FBI got to be the way it manifestly has become. Of course there are larger social dynamics at work in what took place, but I have always focused on the more visible mechanisms by which the transformation was effected. The mechanism I have identified, and regularly pointed to, was the the rotation of DoJ lawyers through top positions in the FBI, a process which subordinated the FBI's investigative function to the often politicized agenda of DoJ's prosecutive role. That agenda, of course, was normally far more liberal than the traditional approach of the FBI, and during the Obama administration became overtly leftist, with a goal of implementing through lawfare Obama's stated goal of "fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

This process by which the FBI was brought under the thumb of DoJ's political agenda was greatly advanced by Robert Mueller, and was continued by his protege James Comey, during their years at the head of the FBI. No better example can be given than the career of another Mueller protege, Andrew Weissmann, who moved back and forth between DoJ, the FBI, and private practice--serving for years as the top lawyer in the Mueller/Comey FBI. This is utterly antithetical to the traditional career ethos and organizational loyalty that prevailed at the FBI pre-Mueller. As I wrote in Why Andrew Weissmann:


What Weissmann's contribution to the Russia hoax might have been is suggested by his previous career.

Weissmann is best known as a hard charging prosecutor, but one with a reputation for being willing to take ethical shortcuts to make the big case. This led, in 2005, to the US Supreme Court unanimously overturning the conviction in his biggest case: the Enron Case. The criticism of Weissmann's "intimidating" "scorched earth" tactics that arose from the Enron Case made Weissmann a hot potato in the legal world, but fortunately for him he landed on his feet--as Special Counsel to a friend and former colleague, FBI Director Robert Mueller.
This was Weissmann's first gig at the FBI, and lasted probably less than a full year while he looked for a more lucrative position--by the end of 2005 Weissmann went into private practice at Jenner and Block in New York. But in 2011 Weissmann returned to the FBI and his mentor Mueller, serving as General Counsel under Mueller until the end of Mueller's term in September, 2013. He continued at the FBI under James Comey until January, 2015, when he returned to DoJ as head of the Criminal Fraud Section. His final career move, to date, was his reunion with Mueller, joining Mueller's Special Counsel team in June, 2017.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Briefly Noted: The Flynn FD-302; Levin And York

CTH has an excellent piece today regarding the Deep State jihad against Michael Flynn: Second Scope Memo – Rosenstein Authorizes Mueller to Target Michael Flynn Jr… I won't attempt to summarize all that's in the lengthy piece. Here my goal is relatively modest--to focus on the issues surrounding the FBI FD-302 that summarized the interview with Flynn, and served as the basis for his eventual guilty plea.

I'm sure everyone has heard a lot about FBI "302s", but it may be worthwhile to go over the basics.

Often you'll find it said that a 302 is an agent's "interview notes". That's both true and not true--or, not entirely true. When an agent conducts an interview--i.e, potentially, simply speaks to someone--but depending on circumstances, he may take written notes. Those notes will be retained as evidence in what used to be called a 1A envelope. Those notes serve as backup for and confirmation of the contents of the actual 302, which is formalized summary of the interview/contact/investigation when it is anticipated that it could become the subject of testimony at a trial. So, since it's a summary it's true to say that these are "notes," but they can be much more extensive than the handwritten notes.

If you're saying to yourself, wait a minute, that means a 302 is classic hearsay--you're right. But the 302 is nevertheless a powerful tool for the prosecution. Why that's so is explained at this very informative and readable blog: What is an FBI 302? The Problematic Nature of FBI Agents’ Interview Memos (note that the author correctly refers to the 302 as a "memo" rather than as "notes"). I'll summarize it a bit.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Was The FBI Connected To The Trump Tower Ruse?

In the penultimate post--Papadopoulos And The Enterprise--I made a few references to suspicions I've long held regarding a possible role of the FBI in the famous Trump Tower meeting between the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya (and companions) and Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner:


Techno Fog has a tweet that plays right into some of my obsessions. In this post I mention that evidence that this whole Russia Hoax was planned months before the first steps were taken. I've also repeatedly stated that I suspect FBI involvment somewhere in connection with the Trump Tower meeting, that was nominally run by Fusion GPS. Now read Techno Fog:

Techno Fog

Isn't it curious that Fusion GPS and former FBI informant Steele would look into Trump/Russia after the FBI/IC started that same inquiry?
What are the odds?
Are the basic assumptions all wrong- was Fusion not retained for campaign research, but to bolster the FBI investigation?
4:40 PM - 20 Apr 2019


In private correspondence a friend suggested to me that the FBI may have used Fusion GPS to undertake this approach because there was something about it that they didn't want to be involved in. I think this avenue of speculation has great merit.

If we apply my usual approach--look to administrative guidelines to supply a context within which to understand official actions--we can make sense of this. As I've maintained for the past two years, it is a virtual certainty that before Crossfire Hurricane was opened the FBI had some sort of Preliminary Investigation opened on Page, Papadopoulos, and possibly others (Manafort may already have been the subject of a Full Investigation, but ...). However, there's no reason to believe that there was any open case on Don Jr. or Jared Kushner. That means that the FBI could not officially make this kind of undercover approach to those two, and especially not because there was the possibility that The Donald himself could be drawn in. That type of investigation could only be undertaken with an open case. That leaves open the possibility that Techno Fog suggests, that the FBI and Fusion GPS ... "colluded" on this project. That would still be borderline legal/illegal, but deniable.

Papadopoulos And The Enterprise

One aspect of the Russia Hoax that may appear puzzling at first glance is the amount of effort the FBI put into framing George Papadopoulos--overseas travel, cooperation with foreign intel services, possibly borrowing assets for use in the entrapment schemes that were designed to ensnare Papadopoulos in the Russia Hoax narrative. By comparison, Carter Page seems to have fallen right into their laps--which is exactly the case.

I think this will make more sense if viewed from the perspective of what the FBI was attempting to accomplish within their administrative framework--into which everything had to fit.

It appears that a decision was made early on that trying to label a single person--or even two more or less unconnected persons--associated with the Trump campaign as a Russian spy would not be sufficient. If that had been tried, the failure to warn and brief Trump would have been utterly implausible. What was needed was to present a plausible case that the supposed Russian connection to the Trump campaign was systemic. For that what was needed was a network of individuals that was active in a key part of the campaign--the foreign policy shop. If such a de facto network of Russian agents working within the Trump campaign could be plausibly claimed, then the FBI could do what it actually did do with Crossfire Hurricane--open an "enterprise counterintelligence investigation," with the de facto network being the targeted "enterprise."

As I explained in Mueller's Enterprise Witchhunt, an "enterprise investigation" is defined in the FBI's guidelines (DIOG) as follows:

Enterprise defined: An enterprise is a group of persons associated together for a common purpose of engaging in a course of conduct. The term “enterprise” includes any partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact, although not a legal entity.
Associated in fact defined : The term "associated in fact" means the persons have an ongoing organization, formal or informal, and that the persons function together as a continuing unit. (DIOG 8.2)

The problem for the FBI, then, was to establish such an "enterprise", an informal group of persons functioning as a unit in fact, although not a legal entity. Who would be the members?

Now They Tell Us ...

But did they ever tell the FISA Court (FISC)?

Anonymous sources, including one in DoJ, are now telling us that the FBI "had doubts" about the Russian source for Christopher Steele's "dossier." The NYT reports:

By January 2017, F.B.I. agents had tracked down and interviewed one of Mr. Steele’s main sources, a Russian speaker from a former Soviet republic who had spent time in the West, according to a Justice Department document and three people familiar with the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. After questioning him about where he’d gotten his information, they suspected he might have added his own interpretations to reports passed on by his sources, one of the people said. For the F.B.I., that made it harder to decide what to trust.
Agents did not believe that either the source or Mr. Steele was deliberately inventing things, according to the former official. How the dossier ended up loaded with dubious or exaggerated details remains uncertain, but the document may be the result of a high-stakes game of telephone, in which rumors and hearsay were passed from source to source. 
Another possibility — one that Mr. Steele has not ruled out — could be Russian disinformation. 

Let's go step by step.

By January, 2017, FBI agents had "tracked down" one of Steele's "main sources." Really? Tracked down ... how? Pardon my skepticism, but I think a proper translation of this narrative would run something like this ...

By January, 2017, the FBI had finally persuaded Steele to allow them to speak to someone whom he claimed was a source of information for his dossier. In other words, by that point in time Steele had worked out a story with a Russian he knew, had rehearsed it, and thought it might work for purposes of an interview. And who was this dynamite source, who could pass on what Westerners were meeting with which Putin insiders? "A Russian speaker from a former Soviet republic who had spent time in the West." That's not very impressive as sources go, even allowing for protection of the "source's" identity.

But then they drop a real bombshell--this source, this "Russian speaker from a former Soviet republic who had spent time in the West," turns out to have been passing on tittle tattle from other "sources." And of course neither the FBI nor Steele would, even accepting that this was true, have access to those sources--who may or may not have ever existed. Obviously Steele must be a big John le Carre fan, since this reads exactly like the "source Merlin" setup in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy--with Steele, appropriately enough, playing Bill Haydon, the Russian "mole."

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Mueller Inquisition Is Over--All Clear Yet For Mifsud?

Joseph Mifsud, George Papadopoulos' "professor" and a somewhat promiscuous asset for Western intel agencies (he seems to work for just about everyone), has long been a key figure in the Russia Hoax. We detailed that on November 14, 2018, in Call For The Dead. As we reported back then, although Mifsud had been reported "missing" and presumed dead, investigative reporters, including Lee Smith, believe he had been given a new identity by MI6 and told to "lay low." Well, Papadopoulos was strong armed into a guilty plea back in October and Team Mueller has been shut down by Bill Barr. Maybe it's OK for Mifsud to come out of hiding?

As if on cue, the Italian newspaper Il Foglio is reporting that Mifsud has been hiding in more or less plain site, living in an apartment near the Links University--an intel related institution--in Rome. Chuck Ross has the story, introduced by these bullet points:

  • The special counsel’s report alleged Joseph Mifsud made false statements to the FBI regarding his interactions with George Papadopoulos.
  • Mifsud was also reported to have lived for months at an apartment owned by Link Campus, a Roman university that has ties to Western intelligence.
  • Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Mifsud, who has not faced charges.

Ross also notes:

The [Mueller] report does not discuss whether charges were considered against the Maltese mystery man. But his treatment is in contrast with how the Mueller team handled Papadopoulos. 

Indeed. As James Comey might say: "So many questions."

UPDATED: Nunes: The Only Thing Of Relevance In The Report ...

In a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity yesterday, Devin Nunes honed in on what he called, with reason, "the only thing of relevance that was in today's 450-page report." As quoted by the Washington Times, Nunes stated:

"When you look at what happened today, remember we talked a lot about the scope memo. What were the directions given to the special counsel? Well, we now know hidden on page 11, very thinly, still veiled, but we now know they used the Steele dossier, the Clinton dirt, the Clinton-paid-for dirt as part of the memo for the special counsel that directed the special counsel what to do," Nunes told host Sean Hannity.
"On Carter Page and Paul Manafort, that information came from political opponents, the Clinton campaign fed right into the FBI, directed to the special counsel to go investigate what was in the infamous Steele dossier," Nunes said.
"That is the only thing of relevance that was in today's 450-page report," he emphasized.
"Rosenstein then directed them to use that dirt, that dossier, which I think makes up the bulk of what is in the scope memo, that we have still yet to be able to see," Nunes told Hannity.

Nunes is right, although he appears to have failed to take his point all the way back to what Barr calls the "genesis" of the Special Counsel inquisition--the opening EC for the Crossfire Hurrican investigation. Let's take it step by step.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

UPDATED: Shoddy Legal Analysis, Or ...?

Life's too short to read hundreds of pages of "we didn't find anything." However, one thing is fairly clear--when Bill Barr wrote his famous 19 page memo trashing the Special Counsel office's (i.e., Weissmann's) obstruction theory, he was basically spot on. Yes, Rod Rosenstein claimed Barr didn't know all the facts. Of course he didn't, but he saw where things were heading and he was basically right. Rosenstein might argue that he never would have allowed Mueller to claim obstruction for a perfectly legal act by the President, but if that were really the case why allow the charade to continue? And why subject the country to the continuing hoax?

Perhaps Rosenstein had real doubts about the Weissmann obstruction theory--any honest attorney would!--and that might explain the abusive unlimited time that was allowed to try to coerce Flynn and others into claiming something that somehow seemed like "collusion." Something, anything, to hang a hat on, even if that hat was only: We can't prove "collusion" so we're not charging it, but we still suspect it. And so we think Trump was obstructing. But as of February 14, 2019, they had still come up with nothing.

And that's the point at which Barr stepped into the picture and shut the little game down.

Will Chamberlain puts it nicely:

Will Chamberlain‏


This shoddy legal analysis kept the investigation going for 18 months Into acts that were clearly not criminal. The damage Weissmann and Mueller have done by entertaining this garbage is incalculable.
8:45 AM - 18 Apr 2019 from Washington, DC

Of course, the real question is: Was it "shoddy legal analysis" motivated by a willingness to to act outside the law to "get Trump"?

I'd love to have been privy to the conversations Barr had with Rosenstein and Mueller.

UPDATE 1: Sean Davis sees it that way, too, re "collusion":

Sean Davis

Verified account


The breathless tone of the collusion section of the report and the blatant omission of material facts pertaining to actual Russian collusion by the Clinton campaign makes clear that Mueller and his lawyers were desperate to find collusion by Trump. And yet they still found none.
9:08 AM - 18 Apr 2019

UPDATE 2: Here's my bottom line. If you read the report you'll drive yourself crazy because--if you know anything about the actual events--you're going to quickly realize that it's a tissue of misrepresentations. At best. People on Twitter are knocking themselves out even now pointing out one misrepresentation--whether by commission or omission--after another.

This is why Giuliani is coming out with his rebuttal report.

The fun will start there, and will continue when Mueller is dragged before the House by Nadler. A foolish move by Nadler, because the GOPers want nothing better than to get a chance to grill Mueller over his misrepresentations in court filings and failures to disclose exculpatory evidence. Not to mention his clear conflicts and his hiring of a radically biased staff.

UPDATED: Mueller On Obstruction

As we've become used to, Barr kicks the liberals to the curb.

Mueller didn't prove obstruction on his own theory, but

That theory was nonsense to begin with.

It was all Andrew Weissmann trying to somehow make the president look bad.

Good luck with that.

And I absolutely loved Barr's terse explanation why his friend "Bob" wasn't there--he's not the Attorney General.

UPDATE 1: via Breitbart--more classic Barr:

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday corrected a reporter’s assertion that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was “his,” reminding him that Mueller authored the report on behalf of the Justice Department. 
“There’s a lot of public interest in the absence of the special counsel and members of this team. Was he invited to join you up on the podium? Why is he not here?” asked the New York Times’ Eric Lipton. “This is his report, obviously that you’re talking about today.” 
“No it’s not,” Barr shot back. “It’s a report he did for me as the attorney general. He is required under the regulation to provide me with a confidential report. I’m here to discuss my response to that report and my decision to — entirely discretionary to me — to make it public since these reports are not supposed to be made public.”

UPDATE 2: Sidney Powell, who literally wrote the book on Andrew Weissmann, makes the important point:

Sidney Powell‏

The #obstruction statute DOES NOT EVEN APPLY to an #FBI investigation!
The only two courts that have addressed this issue have decided squarely AGAINST #Weissmann's bogus theory.

The point she's making is that Weissmann relies on 18 USC §1512 (c). Problem: That statute pertains to "officials proceedings." The two courts Powell refers to held that an FBI investigation isn't an "official proceeding" for purposes of the statute.

The title of Powell's book is Licensed To Lie. Appropriate when it was first written and still appropriate now.

UPDATE 3: From the report via this excellent post by law prof Glenn Reynolds--and this must really hurt the lunatic left. At the same time Team Mueller tries to smear Trump they have to admit to ... exemplary behavior on his part. Exemplary. Let that sink in Lefties and NeverTrumpkins:

... as the Special Counsel's report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel's investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation."

Reynolds continues:

... normal people should be pleased and relieved that there was no collusion, even as they should be angry that a huge chunk of our political class seriously maintained that the President of the United States was a Russian puppet. That claim, based more on a desire to undo the 2016 election than on any actual evidence, was a poisonous corruption of our political discourse, and those involved should be -- but won't be -- ashamed.

UPDATE 4: Will Chamberlain has a theory on how and why Barr became AG--it's all about obstruction:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

UPDATED w/ SOLOMON: DiGenova To Hannity: Obama Knew From Day One

Brennan and Clapper got the go ahead from Obama. DiGenova added that Barr will soon empanel several Grand Juries and start draining the Swamp.

I can't think of any time DiGenova has been wrong on this Russia Hoax. I'm sure he has excellent sources. Very encouraging.

UPDATE: John Solomon is saying the same, but with more detail: The Russia Hoax began in January, 2016, and it began inside the White House. He's saying: "I interviewed all the people that are working in the IG probe, the Senate Judiciary probe, around Attorney General Barr, and I tried to come up with the ten seminal questions." And the title of the video piece is: Ten Post-Mueller Questions That Could Turn The Tables On The Russia Collusion Investigators.

John Solomon: Obama Administration Spying on Trump Began in January 2016 -- Evidence Is Coming [Next Week]

Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators

What those ten questions show is that Barr's intent is to get some indictments, and then put the squeeze on those people.


Soon, the dust will settle from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, and Americans will have a fuller understanding of why prosecutors concluded there wasn’t evidence to establish that Donald Trump and Russia colluded to hijack the 2016 election. 
But a very important second phase of this drama is about to begin, as Attorney General William Barr, Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) put the Russia collusion investigators under investigation. 
The process of meting out accountability has begun. 
Horowitz, my sources tell me, has interviewed between 50 and 100 witnesses in his exhaustive probe. Graham and his predecessor as Judiciary chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), laid out the most important investigative issues they saw in a letter last year. This month, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) sent a letter to DOJ identifying eight potential criminal referrals. His committee last year also released a memo on abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that may have occurred during the Russia probe. 
And President Trump reportedly is readying an order to declassify five key buckets of documents on alleged FBI abuses.

Briefly Noted: The Devin Nunes Interview With Laura Ingraham

Yesterday Devin Nunes was interviewed by Laura Ingraham. As summarized at CTH, Nunes began by listing three areas of particular concern (my comments follow each numbered item:

(1) The targeting/framing of Michael Flynn ...

That Flynn was targeted and framed by holdover Obama operatives, including Sally Yates at DoJ and James Comey and Andrew McCabe at the FBI is clear enough. Apparently Flynn's guilty plea was motivated by family concerns, especially the threatened prosecution of his son. However, there have been persistent credible reports that McCabe persuaded the two agents who interviewed Flynn--Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka--to change their 302 report to make it more damaging to Flynn. While Team Mueller was still operative they were able to keep Strzok and Pientka insulated from inquiries by IG Horowitz, but now Pientka is being interviewed by Horowitz's investigators. Flynn's sentencing has been repeatedly delayed, but these new developments could impact even the guilty plea itself. Stay tuned.

(2) The use of Joseph Mifsud as an asset by the CIA/FBI running a counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign.

In the interview, Nunes is adamant about the need to learn more about Mifsud--which has proven exceptionally difficult because a Western intelligence service is reported to have given him a new identity and is hiding him from official investigators. Amusingly, Nunes reports that Team Mueller--in the face of all evidence--continues to maintain that Mifsud was a Russian agent. This as well as the whole Steele issue is an area that is ripe for the application of some serious diplomatic pressure to gain access to these two intel operatives.

UPDATED: Has McCarthy Set The Bar(r)?

Andy McCarthy did a fine interview yesterday on WMAL. The whole interview is worth a listen, but in the course of it McCarthy did something notable. Over three quarters of the way through he spoke the truth. That alone might not seem notable, but what caught my attention was that he spoke the truth in an utterly unnuanced, the emperor-has-no-clothes, way. And there was just enough legalese in his remarks that they should have sent shivers up certain people's spines--if that hasn't happened already. In doing this I believe McCarthy has set the bar for success in defending our constitutional order.

Here's what McCarthy said (you can find the audio here or here at about the 6:25 mark):

Look, two years, the Justice Department, the FBI, the Special Counsel, put the country through an investigation of the President of the United States, on no factual predicate, that he was in a conspiracy with Russia, under circumstances where if you read the Special Counsel's indictments it has to have been pretty clear to him, since at least the end of 2017, that there was no Trump - Russia conspiracy, right?

I and others have been saying essentially the same thing for a long time, but McCarthy's rendition has the virtue of cutting to the very heart of the matter with admirable economy of words. McCarthy understands that, technically, James Comey was speaking truthfully when he told President Trump three times that he wasn't the subject of the Russia Hoax investigation (I explain the technicalities here: Mueller's "Enterprise" Witchhunt), but McCarthy also understands the reality of what was going on: it was Trump who was the real target.

So, let's rephrase McCarthy's statement of the facts: For two years the Special Counsel, conducted an investigation of the President which had no factual predicate--and for most of that time he was fully aware of what he was doing but kept doing it.

What are we talking about here, when we speak of "an investigation"? We're not talking about just any ordinary investigation. The enormity of Mueller's Inquisition is simply staggering. Here's what Barr said in his report of the main conclusions of Mueller's inquisition:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Briefly Noted: Grassley, Graham Put Bill Barr on Notice; Review Of Recent Events

There's been a lot going on behind the scenes, with occasional public glimpses. Today Gateway Pundit provides the text of a letter that Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham have sent to AG Bill Barr. As GP says, the two senators put Barr on notice that they expect a deep dive into the FBI's coverup of the Hillary investigations--particularly the email one. I doubt that this has been far from Barr's mind--although he's undoubtedly busy preparing for upcoming Congressional testimony. However, Graham and Grassley no doubt want to keep this issue present in the public consciousness.

An indispensable read for anyone who wants to keep the seemingly disparate events of the last two months or so sorted out is Jeff Carlson's A Common Thread in Events Ahead of Mueller Report. While Carlson's blog is too long to quote, here are a few excerpts to show how he attempts to organize recent events. There's a lot going on, some of which doesn't even rise to the surface of even the best news sources, so this is very helpful.

On March 7, Barr had a meeting with U.S. Attorney John Huber of Utah, who serves as vice chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. The meeting was notable as Huber had been appointed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate “all the allegations that the House Judiciary Committee members sent to us.”

A day after Barr’s meeting with Huber, on March 8, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) released a transcript of a congressional interview with DOJ official Bruce Ohr. The release would be the first in an ongoing series of transcript releases ...

David Kramer, a longtime associate of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), revealed that he had contact with at least 14 members of the media regarding the Steele dossier.

Swedish bank Swedbank “may now be facing substantial fines for money laundering that could put pressure on its capital buffers.” The story was notable as it tied into existing investigations in Danske Bank’s Estonia money-laundering case, which originated with the release of the Panama Papers.
The investigation into Swedbank began in 2016, but new allegations were raised that the the Swedish bank withheld information from U.S. investigators. Allegations were recently made by Swedish press that Trump’s former campaign chairman received “nearly one million dollars in black money through Swedbank” from accounts linked to the former president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych.
This ongoing investigation, which remains under-reported, is looking into allegations of money laundering across major financial institutions in multiple countries. It’s likely that the investigation will only grow larger.

On March 22, Catherine Herridge of Fox News released two pages of texts between former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Lisa Page, some of which related to obtaining the FISA warrant of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Specifically, some of the texts reflect concerns from the Department of Justice (DOJ) over “possible bias of the chs,” or confidential human source, likely referring to Steele.
Page noted that “This might take a high-level push.”
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) went on Fox News and stated that he had talked to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz “very recently to get an update in terms of timing,” saying that Horowitz hoped to be done with his investigation into FISA abuse in May or June.
Ratcliffe said that Horowitz was looking into the origins of collusion, along with probable cause used by the FBI to initiate their investigation, in addition to his investigation into FISA abuse. Ratcliffe also noted that Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah, has “been dispatched to look into the criminal aspects” that might be associated with Horowitz’s work.
Giuliani, who said the Justice Department “should investigate this,” raised questions over foreign government involvement in the origination of the Russia collusion allegations. Specifically, Giuliani asked “how many Ukrainians were involved and was the embassy in the Ukraine involved in helping to develop some of this evidence? That’s all very, very important to pointing out where this started. This was a frame-up. An old-fashioned frame-up.”

And there's lots more.

UPDATED: The Elites Mourn Loss Of A Tourist Attraction

Did you hear? Notre Dame in Paris burned yesterday. And the world mourns the loss of a "cultural and historical site"--but not so much of a house of worship. Nor will you hear any of the Western liberal elite stating the obvious: While the fire at Notre Dame appears to have been a tragic accident, the rising tempo of attacks on Christian faith--whether on the faith of nominees before the US Senate or the widespread and increasing attacks on Christian faith throughout the West--are no more than the predictable, and largely desired, results of the policies of those same elites who fuel the hatred. The efforts to ban Christian believers from public life, from education, from government and the courts, increase daily in virulence. But the globe trotting elites want a few tourist attractions preserved. That the barbarians they have enable care little for such niceties should not come as a surprise. The history of Notre Dame tells us all we need to know in that regard. The rage and hatred that was everywhere apparent was part and parcel of the founding of the modern liberal West as well as of the Marxist movement that in its various forms has succeeded it.

UPDATE: Lifesite News has a story about a former reporter for the BBC who speaks of the anti-Catholicism and crushing ignorance of Christianity at the BBC. The reporter blames this for the inability of the the network "to appreciate Monday’s tragedy as more than the “destruction of a particularly well visited tourist attraction.”

UPDATED: A Reminder While We Wait

I don't normally offer links to the work of others unless I have something to add. This morning, however, while we wait for Thursday--and the promised release of the redacted Mueller report--Ed Rogers offers what I hope portends light at the end of the tunnel that is the Russia Hoax. And I can't do better than to quote from his relatively brief article. It's a warning to Democrats that they just may be about to get what they claim to have wished for. 

Democrats have been forthright in their eagerness to get the full Mueller report. Those who propped up the collusion narrative are determined to do anything and everything to try to bend the report to their liking and count on their allies in the media to keep the collusion story alive. ... 
The Democrats let everyone know that they were not finished with their quest for collusion, but to their surprise Barr let them know at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing last week that he was just getting started. Specifically, he said, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. ... I think spying did occur." Barr’s delivery was low-key, and his words were few, but you could hear jaws dropping all over Washington. 
It deserves repeating: Even though Mueller is through, Barr is not. Almost instantly, Democrats attacked the attorney general. They are demanding that Barr retract his comments and not investigate spying on the Trump campaign. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went so far as to say that Barr had gone "off the rails.” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) piled on, tweeting that “AG Barr must retract his statement immediately or produce specific evidence to back it up.” 
Barr has assembled a team to study the “spying” that he says took place. Specifically, he will determine whether the spying was “adequately predicated.” This means asking who initiated the spying, how it was approved and what was done with the information that it produced. ... They will be the factual findings of an attorney general whose only mission is to go where the evidence leads him. 
I have known Bill Barr for decades. He is the right man at the right time. He has been attorney general before — from 1991 to 1993 — and this is probably his last job. He does not need to posture or worry about his post-government career. He won’t be affected by the attacks from partisan Democrats who fear that his investigation may reveal misdeeds by some of their own. ...

If anyone needs convincing that this is necessary, recent revelations that confirm the partisan arbitrariness and disregard for decency that characterized the Mueller inquisition should suffice. That James Comey was regarded as a witness rather than a key subject speaks volumes, as do the revelations of how innocent people were bamboozled by Mueller's vicious partisans. Particularly bad news for the Dems is that the key House investigators are just as eager as the Dems claim to be to get their hands on all the details. That is a desire born of real confidence.

UPDATE: Here's an article that captures the Barr moment--for those of a certain age: Bill Barr’s Key Statement Was Overlooked: The Attorney General's reference to the Vietnam War period is central to today.

A most amazing thing. The Attorney General advises the Senate that he intends to look into whether government intelligence services improperly targeted a presidential candidate’s election campaign, and a Senator felt the need to ask him: “And can you share with us why you feel the need to do that?” 
What a strange question for a senator to ask! As if the targeting of a presidential candidate by government services is an everyday and acceptable occurrence, not worthy of attention. 
Then, in reply, Barr said something which has been little remarked upon, but which to me seems the essence of the Age. He said: “The generation I grew up in, which is the Vietnam War period, people were all concerned about spying on anti-war people and so forth by the government, and there were a lot of rules in place to make sure that there’s an adequate basis before our law enforcement agencies get involved in political surveillance.” 
I am of the same generation as Barr, so for those readers too young to remember the old days, let me second his reminder.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

What Was Behind The Mueller Appointment?

Allow me a bit of speculation. A sorta jeu d'esprit, if you will

Have you ever asked yourself, why did Bob Mueller ever take the job of Special Counsel--a job that has turned into a turd in the punchbowl of his life?

Obviously the cunning manipulator behind it all--a veritable pĂ­caro, as it turned out, unlikely as it may seem--was Rod Rosenstein. But how did it actually work?

To understand that, I think we have to accept the idea that Rosenstein has put out--that, while he wrote the memo justifying Comey's firing, he never really believed Trump would do it. Whoops!

At that point, when what had seemed unthinkable had actually happened and Rosenstein was taking the blame, it seems clear from most accounts that Rosenstein just about lost all his marbles. He became the focus of vituperation for all the best DC swamp dwellers and opinion shapers whose good opinion he valued. He began engaging in unhinged conduct. How bad did it get for Rosenstein? This bad: he actually engaged in loose talk with McCabe (a true crazy) about removing Trump through the 25th amendment, even volunteering to wear a wire into the Oval Office.

But then, Rosenstein got a shock that jolted him back to reality. Fueled by all that loose talk, McCabe went ahead and opened an obstruction investigation on the POTUS, apparently without consulting first with Rosenstein. The insanity of this move and its legal threadbareness jolted our boy Rod back to reality--and to the extreme precariousness of his position. Gone were fantasies of revenge against Trump. Sheer survival had become the name of the game.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Rudy On A Roll: Pay Attention To Ukraine

Rudy Giuliani was on Fox News last night, as DC waits for Barr's redacted Mueller reported. As one would expect, he had some choice words, but also some possibly significant words. Of course he teed off on Comey (I've done myself to simply reproduce the flow of Rudy's comments):

[Comey] probably perjured himself with regard to the FISA applications.
He presented the Steele dossier as if it was a piece of intelligence.
Never did anything to corroborate it.
Coulda asked Steele, When was the last time you were in Russia?
He'da told ya nine years ago.
Or ya coulda looked at his passport documents.
There was a specific allegation that Michael Cohen was in Prague on a certain date. I can't imagine FBI agents on their own not checking out with the Passport office.

Where it got even more interesting was when Rudy was asked: "Are you going to have a rebuttal ready if there's information that suggests that they came close to obstruction?"

Friday, April 12, 2019

ALREADY UPDATED: Was The Russia Hoax Really About Cyber Crimes?

No. But ...

CTH has a fascinating post up reporting on remarks today by Rod Rosenstein at the Metropolitan club of Washington. CTH quotes a Bloomberg story.

Here's the relevant entirety of the Bloomberg story:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report describes Russian cybercrimes during the 2016 election. 
The report, which is expected to be released soon, will clear up questions about the Russian campaign to interfere in the election President Donald Trump won, Rosenstein said in a speech given to a private group at the Metropolitan Club of Washington, according to three people in attendance. 
Rosenstein joked that his last day at the Department of Justice will be “one of these days,” the people said. He also said that it will take the U.S. some time to extradite WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange from the U.K. in order to prosecute him.

CTH sees this as the Deep State desperately trying to maintain the legitimacy of the Team Mueller extension of the Russian Hoax (i.e., Crossfire Hurricane), and quotes Barr's summary of the Mueller report to support his thesis:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Briefly Noted: Trey Gowdy On The Opening EC And Consensual Monitoring

CTH has links to a pair of Fox interviews that Trey Gowdy did during the last few days. While there was a great deal of discussion of reaction to Bill Barr's statement about FBI "spying", there were also a few additonal nuggets to be had from the interviews.

First, and very briefly, without providing details Gowdy confirmed that to his personal knowledge consensual monitoring was used by the FBI in their Russia Hoax investigation. This was a topic in our two most recent James Baker posts over the last two days. I presume that Gowdy is referring, at the least, to George Papadopoulos being recorded, but the potential for much wider use by FBI informants is there.

Second, Gowdy addressed Barr's comments re the failure of the FBI to provide the Trump campaign with a defensive briefing about their suspicions, as is normally done. Gowdy stated that, in response to his queries on that score, the FBI told him that when they attempted to provide the briefing one of the persons they had concerns about (in context, Manafort or Flynn) was in the room with Trump. When Gowdy pressed the issue, asking whether the FBI had ever attempted to follow up, Gowdy was told "we have no good answer."

Finally, Gowdy recounted that he had received two different accounts from the FBI regarding the opening of the Russia investigation. The first version was that the FBI had a general investigation going on the Russian threat and over time a few Americans came into focus. However, Gowdy was able to read the opening EC, written by Peter Strzok, and that EC was very specifically focused on the "four Americans" Comey mentioned in his Congressional testimony: Manafort, Flynn, Page, and Papadopoulos.

As I explained (again) in James Baker: Light On Informants And The "Russia" Investigation, there really is no contradiction here. The first account probably referred to a Threat Assessment or Preliminary Investigation, the second clearly to the Full Investigation that we know as Crossfire Hurricane. What is problematic in all this, as discussed in the linked post, is that there are clear indications (as Gowdy notes) that the focus on the Trump campaign began much earlier than the opening EC would have one believe. Count on it--these are issue that are being closely scrutinized by DoJ and Barr. I've always maintained that the opening EC is a bit of a Holy Grail for an investigation of the investigation. As Barr himself stated, he will want to see whether the investigation was adequately predicated (it wasn't). But the same goes for the earlier investigative activity in which Page and Papadopoulos were targeted virtually from the first day they joined the Trump campaign.

Interesting days.

Briefly Noted: Barr's Questions; Nunes Speaks Out

Mr. Barr told the Senate Wednesday that one question he wants answered is why nobody at the FBI briefed the Trump campaign about concerns that low-level aides might have had inappropriate contacts with Russians. That’s “normally” what happens, Mr. Barr said, and the Trump campaign had two obvious people to brief—Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, both former federal prosecutors. 
It wasn’t only the Trump campaign that the FBI kept in the dark. The bureau routinely briefs Congress on sensitive counterintelligence operations. Yet former Director James Comey admits he deliberately hid his work from both the House and the Senate. And the FBI kept information from yet another overseer, the judicial branch, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee had paid for the dossier it presented as a basis for a surveillance warrant against Carter Page, a U.S. citizen. 
Why the secrecy? Mr. Comey testified that the Trump probe was simply too sensitive for members of congressional intelligence committees to know about—an unbelievable statement given the heavy publicity he gave the investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s improper handling of classified information. 

Undercover Huber:

Undercover Huber

@DevinNunes just called the Mueller report a “Mueller dossier” on @seanhannity radio show & said people like Andrew Weismann don’t get special treatment and “will be held accountable” 
Also: zero chance Mueller didn’t know there was No Collusion “the day he walked in the door” 
1:37 PM - 11 Apr 2019

James Baker Enunciates His Obstruction Theory

Day Two of former FBI top lawyer James Baker's House testimony, now available, contains some fascinating moments. By far the major portion of the testimony was devoted to the question of obstruction of justice, and Baker was quite forthcoming with regard to his own views as well as the obstruction discussions that took place within the FBI. Before turning to that, however, I'd like to address some other matters that tie into recent blog posts here.


In discussing the various levels of FBI investigations yesterday (James Baker: Light On Informants And The "Russia" Investigation) I mentioned once again what I refer to as "consensual monitoring" -- I'm not sure what the current terminology is. This term simply refers to recordings, whether in person or over a phone, made with the consent of one of the parties. Obviously the consenting party is either an FBI agent or a cooperating witness/informant. Unlike FISA, a special court order is not required to conduct consensual monitoring, although specific approval is required. Nor is it necessary, as with FISA, to have a Full Investigation in place (Crossfire Hurricane). Nothing, to my mind, would be less surprising than to learn that this technique was deployed against Trump associates, such as Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and others--whether before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane or after. Rep. Mark Meadows seemed to be under the impression that this technique is "extraordinary," but such is not the case. Here's a portion of Meadow's exchange on this subject with Baker (I've removed interjections by the FBI's lawyer):

Mr. Meadows: Was George Papadopoulos surveilled by extraordinary measures?
Mr. Meadows: So, in any event, you're instructed not to answer it. Would it surprise you to know that there is credible evidence that Mr. Papadopoulos was surveilled in a manner with either tapes or some kind of recording device? Would that surprise you?
Mr. Meadows: So, Mr. Baker, then, let me ask it in more of a generic sense. Is it common practice for the FBI to actually surveil individuals without their knowledge, U.S. citizens, and tape them for investigative purposes with confidential human sources?
Mr. Baker: So, as a general matter, it is an approved investigative technique under Attorney General guidelines and internal FBI policy to allow that to occur with appropriate predication and appropriate approvals. (pp. 101-102)

Now, the context in which the possibility of such consensual monitoring becomes particularly important relates to George Papadopoulos (who, unlike Carter Page, was prosecuted and pled guilty). The question would be, did Stefan Halper--for example--record any of his conversations with Papadopoulos? Did those recordings contain exculpatory statements by Papadopoulos (as he claims), and were those recordings made available to Papadopoulos' lawyers--as they should have been?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

UPDATED: Barr: I'll Be Reviewing Both The Genesis And The Conduct Of FBI/CIA Spying

Whoa Nellie!

You can tell he's using the bottle to hide a grin.
That's a guy who's enjoying himself.

AG Barr testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee today, and Democrats wanted to know where he'll be going with his investigation into the Russia Hoax. What they heard must have them, well, puckering? (Video here.) He wants to investigate "the genesis and the conduct." The genesis, as in, where it all came from. Gosh, that sounds scary thorough!

ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: As I said in my confirmation hearing, I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016. And a lot of this has already been investigated, and a substantial portion of it has been investigated and is being investigated by the office of the Inspector General, but one of the things I want to do is pull everything together from the various investigations that have gone on, including on the Hill and in the [Justice] Department, and see if there are any remaining questions to be addressed.

James Baker: Light On Informants And The "Russia" Investigation

It has long been known that the FBI used informants or assets ("confidential human sources" in bureaucratese) in attempts to "lure" persons associated with the Trump campaign into incriminating statements. These "lures" took place both in the United States and abroad (OCONUS, Outside the Continental US). Interestingly, we know from the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that the FBI was seeking approval for the use of the "OCONUS lures" already in late 2015, well before Trump had won the GOP nomination and also before Carter Page and George Papadopoulos had joined the Trump campaign. Nevertheless, as soon as Page and Papadopoulos joined the campaign in late March or April, 2016, the FBI swung into action with their informants to target these two. All this is now well known, and it seems notable that the FBI's interest was already focused on Republicans rather than Democrats with ties to Russia and Ukraine.

This knowledge takes on greater importance going forward when we examine the new information to be gleaned from a NYT article yesterdays (h/t/ CTH), in which we learn, all the way at the end, that IG Michael Horowitz has launched an investigation into one of those FBI informants, Stefan Halper:

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Comey Memos And More Obstruction


CTH has a fascinating piece today regarding the long running and ongoing litigation between CNN and the FBI. CNN has been seeking the release of the memos that James Comey wrote to document his meetings with President Trump. Only, a newly released filing by the FBI (originally filed on October 13, 2017) reveals that those memos contain a lot more than just documentation of those meetings. Apparently, each time Comey met with Trump he went back to FBIHQ and wrote up a memo which embodied not only his version of the meeting but also a complete update of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation--what had been done up to that point, what additional investigation was planned, what sources and methods had been and would be used, etc. Not surpisingly, the FBI says that release of the Comey memos would "suggest a map of possible investigative activity."

For example, in paragraph 8 we read:

"the memos discuss sensitive details regarding the progress of the pending Russia investigation [Crossfire Hurricane] ... Specifically, additional witnesses are identified and a confidential human source is identified by both true and code name, as well as evidence obtained therefrom, and investigative steps taken or not yet taken in the investigation as of the dates of the meetings [with President Trump] ..."

Two quick points:

1) To identify a confidential human source by both true name and code name in the same document is a huge No-no. That's the kind of thing that would lead to serious disciplinary action against an agent and his superiors. Worse, if Comey removed these documents or copies of them from FBIHQ after his firing for however short a period that would clearly constitute theft of official documents--documents that should have been highly classified.

2) Any judge reading this filing in October of 2017 would undoubtedly assume that as of October of 2017 the FBI and the Special Counsel had complete faith in the legitimacy of the Russia Hoax and that the investigation was focusing on President Trump.

Overall--and we may learn more about this with AG Barr's release of the Mueller report--the impression you get from this is that Comey was conducting investigative interviews with President Trump. Just how legitimate that was would, of course, depend on the legitimacy of the entire Crossfire Hurricane in the first place--which we now know for certain was zero.  Even such hard core anti-Trumpers as Strzok and Page knew at the time that there was likely "no there there." There seems to be no doubt at all that Trump was being targeted for removal. When Comey went to speak with Trump, Comey saw himself as conducting evidence gathering expeditions. The only thing needed was some connection to the "four Americans" whom Comey says were the subjects of Crossfire Hurricane. And all this was, essentially, being done against the POTUS on the basis of Chris Steele's creative writing and imagination, which every single official who has testified to Congress has stated was unverified.