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.


  1. I have strong mixed feelings about Gowdy (& his stupid hair). He makes it sound like the FBI fully intended to brief Trump on their Russian whatever suspicions. I simply don't believe that was ever the case. I don't think the evidence and the timeline does either.

    I think the agents, whoever they are in this case, are lying, or were lying, trying to cover their hindquarters.

    I'm not saying Gowdy is light in the shoes, corrupt or on the other team. But after watching him on TV, over the years, he's given me the feeling he's trying to have it both ways, in case he later on turns into a Democrat and wants his government job back.

    In these investigations, he always seems to go just so far, ask a few sharp questions, and then jump back. He never goes in for the kill. And he always seems pretty darn ready to make excuses for bad guys.

    I mean, on the foreign nations meddling into our affairs front, we have the British and the Australians, not the Russians. What has Gowdy said about that? It seems that both these nations KNOWINGLY tried to stop Trump and if that failed, agreed to a seditious compact with CIA & FBI to get Trump impeached.

    Priestap all but lying about being in (redacted) London gives that game away.

    And Preistap should go to prison too.

    The left now thinks that calling AG Barr bad names and insulting his lifetime of integrity is going to win him over to their side. I think they need to rethink that.

    1. Re Gowdy, I too have been less that impressed with him over the years, nor do I regard him as among the GOP's best questioners. However, it appears that he feels much more free to speak openly now that he's out of Congress and that his eyes have been opened a bit.

      I disagree that he gives the FBI a pass on intending to do a defensive briefing--he clearly regarded that excuse as non-credible.

      Re Priestap, I assume that the House had a fairly clear idea of Priestap's real role before his testimony and so didn't bother making a big deal about his trips to London--just got it on the record and made sure that his answers showed that there was involvement with the Russia Hoax.

      My overall impression of Priestap is that 1) he isn't terribly bright, and 2) he's a suckup. Which suggests that he'll cooperate when Barr's investigators come knocking.

  2. Yesterday, Ashton Gray published a new article that attempts to clarify exactly when Crossfire Hurricane was established.

    I recommend that you read Gray's article. Gray's writing style is rambling and snide, but he does assemble much interesting information.

    In this article, Gray quotes various FBI definitions of procedures -- enterprise investigations, predicated investigations, etc. I would appreciate your expert comments about Gray's use of those definitions.

    Gray also develops an interesting timeline of events from July 19 through July 31, 2016. The latter date is the supposed official date when Crossfire Hurricane was established.

    1. Just got back, Mike, but will do. CTH was saying last night that Strzok (who wrote the opening EC) basically just took Brennan's memo and inserted into an FBI form. Could be--there seems little to no doubt that Brennan was a driving force, maybe THE driving force behind most of this.

    2. I finished the article--and, yes, his writing style is very annoying. In sum and substance, he's saying nothing that I haven't already said--at perhaps tedious length, and repeatedly. But he also leaves some important things out.

      To me it's a no-brainer that the FBI had

      "some sort of preliminary “investigation” had to have been being done—by somebody—for at least weeks, if not months, prior to 28 July 2016, in order to develop “predicating information” on FOUR, count ’em, FOUR different American individuals working with the Trump campaign."

      Of COURSE they did. The author should have done some more digging in the FBI Guidelines, and he would've learned that there are at least two types of such investigations: Threat Assessments and Preliminary Investigations. My problem isn't that the FBI opened such investigations on the Russian threat--it's that the real focus appears to have been on the Trump campaign from the very start and that assets were being used to draw (entrap) people (Papadopoulos) into the Russia Hoax who in fact never had NO Russian connections. As I've said over and over, this preliminary investigation has all the appearances of a cover story for an op that was designed to gin up the appearance of sufficient probable cause to open a Full and then get a FISA, basically, on the Trump campaign.

      As for CH being opened a few days before the 31st, that's just silliness. The opening doesn't happen until the EC is written, no matter when you actually get the "predicating info." It can take days to get the EC written. That's all a non-issue, IMO.

      So, after all that buildup, what's the significance of this? He simply says: "This matters because this MATTERS."

      I certainly commend him for doing the research, but he should have done a bit more. It IS important to get this stuff right for a proper understanding, and that's why I spend so much time on it.

      Also, thanks for the article, because there were some useful links in it.

    3. Thanks for spending the time to read the article and then to provide your expert opinion.

    4. Not a problem. As I said, he did well to look some of that stuff up, but he stopped too soon and tried to take what he had a bit too far. Along the way, however, he did some useful research.

    5. Let me expand on that just a bit.

      A Preliminary Investigation--if additionally acquired predicating info warrants--be upgraded into a Full Investigation. OTOH, if the new info is distinct enough from what you were originally looking at then you might want to open a Full separately and continue with the Preliminary as before. So, flexible.

      Also, probable cause for a Full and for a FISA under that Full are two separate things. The PC for the FISA must be PC that the targeted devices (phones, computers, etc.) are being used for clandestine intel purposes. You could have PC that the target is an agent, but not that he's using any identifiable device. I'd like to see that for the Carter Page FISA. PC that he talks to Russians on his phone isn't the same as PC that it's used for clandestine intel purposes.

      All this will be looked at.

      BTW, I listened to Mark Meadows talking to Byron York. Meadows said that they never got to talk to Joe Pientka--who was FBI contact with DoJ--but that IG Horowitz is definitely talking to him. And that may also impact the Flynn case now that Mueller has been shut down.

  3. A lot of what transpired in Spygate makes sense when you begin with an evolving criminal premise. What began as devious political opposition research, evolved into a covert (and illegal) campaign to prevent Trump's election, and then morphed into a full-fledged soft coup to remove Trump from office. Most of the small group who managed these developments were already dirty cops to some extent, and once they crossed the threshold into overt criminal acts (e.g. taking bribes,leaking etc.), then it was a small progressive slide into serious criminality. This story of evolving criminal behavior is as old as the hills and DOJ/FBI personnel are not immune.

    The Deep State wants to rewrite this history in such a way as to make everything look legal and plausibly justified. To me, that is an even worse crime because it buries the rule of law in a whitewash of double standards and coverup. The people of this country deserve better. And if the coverup succeeds, then history is guaranteed to repeat sometime in the future with far more damaging consequences.