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.
The filing also reveals further contents of the Comey memos that give us really serious reasons for wishing to see these documents in unredacted form. Firstly, in paragraph 12:
The memos also identify specific foreign governments and officials and reflect particular, non-public interactions between them and the United States Government, the public disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to affect the United States' relationships with those countries.
So, that's what Trump meant when he said "allies" were "begging" him not to declass. Relations with those countries might be affected. As in, the American people might be totally POed to find out that our "allies" are ... not really allies of America but of the Democrat party, or, the Progressive Movement, or ...
Next, in paragraph 14:
The FBI is protecting its use of at least one particular technique or procedure in the pending Russia investigation [Crossfire Hurricane], which is discussed in the Comey Memos--i.e., use of confidential sources.
Well, we know all about the sources that were used early on against the likes of Page, Papadopoulos, maybe in the Trump Tower context, but I for one would really like to have a full disclosure of list of sources used. Who knows, some of our elected representatives might appear on that list! And I think at this point We The People deserve to know that, too. Yes, I know all about the protection of "sources and methods," but I like to think I have some apprectiation for the protection of the Republic, as well. I rate protection of the Republic much higher than "sources and methods" of the FBI. I wanna know all this stuff.
There’s also really good news in here. Think about it. Now we know the entire anti-Trump operation is memorialized in writing. There is documentary evidence of the entire operation within these memos. We did not know that before this moment.
Therefore, it looks like President Trump can add the Comey Memos to the pre-existing declassification list. At any time, President Trump now has a set of documents he knows to exist that his office can ask to be released. The investigation is over.
Oh, yes, and do you know who else has been reading this? Bill Barr, the guy who told Congress today that he's "trying to get my arms around" how all this nonsense Russia Hoax got started in the first place. It's nice to have that kind of road map to use for your investigation. Barr's handpicked team will appreciate that when they start digging in.
Yesterday, responding to commenter Yancey Ward, I suggested a distinction regarding the whole business of "collusion" versus "obstruction," and I think the distinction I have in mind deserves to be set out at a bit more length. A lot of people want to downplay the importance of the "collusion" angle and say--it's always been about the obstruction. I think it's important to keep both collusion and obstruction in play. The two aspects really go hand in hand (the Cohen case is an exception).
To begin with, we know that "collusion" is a bit of rhetoric. What Crossfire Hurricane was really about was an alleged--but now known to be non-existent--conspiracy to violate some criminal statute of the United States, almost certainly bribery. We also know that there was never any evidence against Trump. The strategy was to claim that a handful of Americans who had ties to Trump and also had ties to Russia would be smeared as constituting a conspiratorial "enterprise" within the Trump campaign that conducted the business of the conspiracy on Trump's behalf. So, we have Page, Manafort, Flynn--and Papadopoulos, whose ties to Russia had to be conjured out of thin air via operatives like Halper, Mifsud, and Downer. None of these people have been charged with anything remotely resembling the originally alleged conspiracy, and AG Barr has forced Mueller to publicly admit that there was no evidence, that it never happened.
However, that doesn't mean that Team Mueller--which was simply a continuation of Crossfire Hurricane--ever stopped trying to produce some colorable case for such a conspiracy. In support of this, I point to the concerted attempts to implicate Don Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner in a corrupt scheme tied to the Trump Tower meeting. Those attempts have only recently been abandoned, and the whole point of much of that effort was to establish a link to Trump Sr., via the famous phone calls by Don Jr. The other evidence that "collusion" was never abandoned is in the Roger Stone case, as well as the efforts to implicate Stone's associates Michael Caputo and Jerome Corsi. Once again, the whole point of these efforts was to somehow tie the "Russian hacks" and the release via Wikileaks to the Trump campaign, if not to President Trump himself. "Collusion" was always central.
And yet, it was also always a longshot. Strzok said so, himself. So why all the effort, if the likelihood of tying Trump himself to "collusion" was always slim to none?
This is where obstruction comes in, and here I agree that obstruction was in play at an early stage--certainly as soon as Trump tried to do the decent thing with regard to Flynn. But it really came center stage when Trump fired Comey. The issue with obstruction, however, was and always has been that to charge obstruction there has to be actual obstruction of a real crime. That didn't happen with Flynn, as even Comey admitted. Nor did it happen ipso facto with Comey's firing--there only could have been a plausible obstruction case following Comey's firing if Trump had done something to actually halt Crossfire Hurricane or render the investigation ineffective. Trump never did that, and his extensive cooperation put the kibosh on any viable obstruction case.
But notice, what's going on in all this. "Collusion" focuses on Trump associates, not so much on Trump himself (that's the unrealistic longshot, Strzok's "no there there"). Obstruction, on the other hand, is totally focused on Trump. That's a longshot, too, in this sense: It only becomes realistic if Trump can be goaded into some action to derail Team Mueller. That can only happen if he interferes in the "collusion" investigations or, in the Cohen case, in the campaign finance investigation. Fortunately, Trump had excellent legal advice as well as the shrewdness to follow that advice to the letter. He simply trusted in his own innocence to win through.