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:
the Special Counsel ... employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.
The total cost is reliably estimated to have been at least $34 million dollars.
In other words, for two years Robert "Bob" Mueller and his enablers were knowingly hamstringing the President of the United States. To take one very important example of this hamstringing effect, John Dowd, one of Trump's lawyers, has recounted that he repeatedly told "Bob" that the president needed to get the inquisition over with, because in negotiations with foreign leaders Trump would be asked: "But, Donald, will you still be here?"
But all of that incredible inquisition was against the law. Neither the FBI nor DoJ is authorized to investigate, let alone prosecute, anyone without some factual predicate. And McCarthy baldly states that there was no factual predicate. For good reason, in my opinion. Let's conduct a modest experiment.
Today Holman Jenkins at the WSJ--a well known NeverTrumper--has an article in which he asks: Can the Media Survive Mueller? What’s the future of news outlets that decided it wasn’t news if Steele was lying? Let's take a look at a brief passage from Jenkins' article, but we'll switch out references to reporters and the media and substitute references to federal investigators and prosecutors:
Let’s go back to the beginning. The FBI and DoJ were not wrong in being open to Christopher Steele (a paid advocate) and his handlers (also paid advocates), but they were wrong not to notice that the one incontestable fact Mr. Steele had put before them had nothing to do with Mr. Trump and Russia.
The one incontestable fact was that a paid advocate who was trading on his previous profession as a British intelligence agent, in the middle of a presidential election, was being shepherded around Washington by a notorious PR schemer and promoting allegations whose truth he was unwilling to vouch for and whose source he was unwilling to reveal.
Unless you are an exceptionally dim FBI agent or prosecutor, whenever somebody peddles a salacious story to you, a question naturally and unbidden leaps to mind: Is the real story the one I’m being peddled? Or is the real story the fact that I’m being peddled it?
Mueller would have surely been aware that none of his indictments and plea deals with Trump associates for lying and other offenses included any attempt to establish collusion-related crimes.
An honest prosecutor might even be asking if the collusion-investigation circus was ever necessary or justified in the first place.
Ask yourselves--if, as Jenkins asserts--journalists should have been aware of what "Steele and his handlers" were up to, how much more should professional investigators and prosecutors, backed by the full resources of the federal government, have been on their guard? Were they incompetent? Or were they aware that they were helping to perpetrate a hoax and an injustice, as McCarthy states? That none of this was the result of honest mistake is strongly suggested by new revelations that Team Mueller systematically sought to railroad targets into false guilty pleas by distorting relevant facts and even omitting exculpatory information in court filings (cf. Paul Sperry's overview: GOP Fears Mueller's Collusion Bias Lives On in Final Report as well as Laura Ingraham's interview with Devin Nunes).
Here, I think, we see the bar that McCarthy has set coming into very clear focus. Certainly Barr needs to investigate, as he puts it, the "genesis" of the Russia Hoax. Determine what "Christopher Steele and his handlers" (Fusion GPS, Bruce Ohr, and assorted FBI agents) were up to. Probe to see how far back the targeting of persons associated with the Trump campaign went. Investigate the abuse of NSA databases. Do all that, but to stop there would leave the investigation woefully incomplete and would allow the injustice of the entire proceeding that McCarthy has so aptly summarized to stand. Senators Graham and Grassley as well as Representatives Nunes, Jordan, and Meadows have brought all this and more to Barr's attention. Unless everyone involved is subjected to a searching investigation any other good things Barr may accomplish will pale in comparison to the corruption left unaddressed.
Let's return to our starting point, with McCarthy's reference to the lack of any factual predicate for the investigation. Determining whether such a factual predicate exists is the bread and butter work of all prosecutors. The initial determination may be made by the investigators, but the investigation won't go very far without the determination of a prosecutor that a real factual predicate does exist. If we skip over the earlier targeting of Trump associates to arrive at the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation in July, 2016, we face the initial question. What factual predication did James Comey think existed, that we now know did not exist? I say Comey, because there's just no way that the FBI initiates an investigation into a presidential candidate with Comey's go ahead. And yet, at the very inception of the investigation, as we have seen from Holman Jenkin's reflections, there was every reason to either delay proceed cautiously with any investigation--rather than charging full speed ahead for implementation of the extraordinarily intrusive implementation of a FISA. Fast forward nine months, and the investigator most knowledgeable with the facts was acknowledging that there was "no there there." No substance to the case, despite multiple FISAs. Which tells us pretty much all we need to know about the factual predication. And yet the case continued.
It seems clear that at this point any investigation needs to examine the involvement of not only Comey and McCabe at the FBI but also that of AG Loretta Lynch, her Deputy Sally Yates, and the entire cabal of lawyers responsible for the phony FISA applications.
When we arrive at the appointment of Mueller, the same dynamic applies. I've recently propounded my views on how the actual appointment worked. For our purposes today, the important point is that at every decision making step of the investigation, a review of the factual predication needed to be made. That means that the removal of Comey and McCabe from the scene did not absolve Rosenstein and Mueller from making that determination. And the longer the investigation continued--from its inherently dodgy origins--with the employment of ever more intrusive techniques, the more unlikely it became that any reasonable justification could be offered. Rosenstein and Mueller need to answer for that.
Devin Nunes has stated that Mueller--and, by the same token, Rosenstein and the FBI leadership--knew there was no factual predication from the very inception of the Special Counsel inquisition. McCarthy initially favored a cutoff date that focused on Mueller's failure to seek renewal of the FISA. While there is good reason for that view, he now favors the view of John Dowd--at the latest, Mueller knew there was no factual predication for the investigation by late 2017. And yet it continued for over a year past that point. For virtually the entire period, Christopher Wray was Director of the FBI. He had a duty to raise an alarm regarding the lack of factual predication, given that he was deeply involved in stonewalling Congressional oversight. He needs to answer for his actions and inactions. As also his top lawyer Dana Boente--who approved a renewal of the Carter Page FISA.
All of these people need to testify before a Grand Jury. Barr cannot allow the fact that his wife and Mueller's wife attend the same Bible Study group, or that they attended the weddings of each other's offspring, interfere with this necessary step. I don't see any other way. It must happen. That is the lowest bar by which to measure Barr's success in addressing this gravest of crises for our country.
The other day I mentioned the inherently corrupting practice of DoJ lawyers rotating between DoJ and the FBI leadership levels and back again. I believe that this practice, which became standard under Mueller's directorship, is extraordinarily dangerous to the rule of law in our criminal justice system. It joins the investigative function and the prosecutive function--in practice, disallowing the necessary separation. Thus, I wrote:
I believe Mueller's basic loyalty is not to the FBI per se, which he ran for so many years, but rather to the Deep State, i.e., the Legal/Intel Establishment. The FBI, after all, has always been under DoJ, and in the last two or three decades has become joined at the hip with DoJ through a revolving door of lawyers transferring between Main Justice and the FBI top management. Think: Mueller himself, James Comey, James Baker, Andrew Weissmann, Lisa Page, Trisha Anderson, and many more.
All those mentioned--and there are many more--have gone through that revolving door and all played prominent roles in the Russia Hoax that has so poisoned our public life and endangered our constitutional order. To those names I add: Christopher Wray and Dana Boente.
UPDATE: Mark Meadows speaking to Maria Bartiromo: IG Horowitz will be making criminal referrals with his report on FISA abuse:
“Jim Jordan and I met with DOJ Inspector General Horowitz — he and his team have been doing a great job, and I might add an independent job to verify some of the things that we have long assessed as problems.”
“We’re fully anticipating that the inspector general’s report will come out as Attorney General Barr said in the next four to six weeks, and I think it’s highly likely that we’ll see criminal referrals coming from them that will correspond with what Chairman Devin Nunes has already put forth.”
A portent of things to come?
UPDATE 2: The Washington Times has a pretty good editorial, making the same point:
A fully told story begins with a conflict and ends with a resolution. When Robert Mueller’s redacted report is made public this week, Americans will have a chance to read for themselves the final word on suspected collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. That should be the end of the story, but given that many Democrats still think that a coup is the only way they can get rid of the president, it probably won’t be. Still untold is an accurate account of how a charge of collusion got started in the first place. The last chapter of this sordid story must be the prequel.
Mr. Barr will have the benefit of inquiries into aspects of the Trump-Russia investigation as he conducts his search for the facts. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz says the findings will be made public as early as May. A separate inquiry by U.S. Attorney John Huber into the Obama Justice Department’s lies to the FISA court, and the exoneration of the Clinton campaign, was an attempt to steal the 2016 election. Only when the prequel to the Russia-Trump collusion story is written will we know whether the attempted coup has been fully exposed.
Conservative and even "moderate" opinion appears to be gelling in favor of a thorough-going deep dive into the Russia Hoax.