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.