Thursday, May 16, 2019

Bill Barr: The Answers I'm Getting To My Questions Don't Hang Together

In a preview to a longer interview that will air on Fox News, AG Bill Barr offered his usual frank assessment:

"I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions and I've found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I've gotten don't hang together, in a sense I have more questions today than when I first started," Barr told Fox News' Bill Hemmer in an interview set to air Friday on "America's Newsroom."
"Why does that matter?" asked Hemmer. 
"People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we're worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale," ...

Hemmer then added a teaser for the full interview tomorrow (Friday). According to Hemmer, Barr is personally troubled by what happened between the election and the inauguration. According to Hemmer, the one specific example that Barr kept returning to was the Trump Tower meeting on January 6, 2017, between disgraced former FBI Director James Comey and Trump, when Comey tried to blackmail, er, when Comey briefed the President Elect about the salacious claims of the Steele "dossier". Weirdly, all those salacious claims appeared in the press within days of the meeting.

Hemmer: "He clearly has a lot of questions about that ..." Yeah. Go figure. And the answers he's gotten "don't hang together."

Interesting, though, that Barr should say, in almost so many words: If we're worried about foreign influence on our elections, by the same token we should be worried about whether our own government abused their power and put their thumb on the scale. Putin and Obama both.


  1. "Murder will out"

    Seems some persons of interest are auditioning for the part of Lady Macbeth wandering about apparently trying to remove something from their hands.

    1. If I had to choose, I'd probably pick the narcissist Comey. But he needs to hand over people higher up the chain, and he's already fairly high up. That would mean, to me, the Obama WH.

  2. I have a different interpretation of "the insurance policy" than you do, Mark. I think that Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were discussing the possibility that Donald Trump might win an Electoral College victory by a small margin.

    A small number of Electoral College voters -- a couple dozen or so -- might be persuaded to change their votes from Trump to Clinton when the Electoral College voted on December 19, 2016. Those voters might be persuaded by information that Trump had won that victory only because he had cooperated with the Kremlin's alleged meddling in the election.

    In this regard, a FISA warrant was needed to collect communications among Trump's supporters that could persuade those Electoral College voters.

    As it turned out, Trump won by such a large margin in the Electoral College that it would be impossible to flip enough Electoral College voters.

    Although no known attempt was made to use the Kremlin-collusion argument to persuade Electoral College voters, William Barr might have some information that trying to use that "insurance policy" was discussed during the period between Election Day, on November 8, and the Electoral College vote, on December 19, 2016.


    In this regard, I suggest that you read an article that was published on November 5, 2016, three days before Election Day. The article was written by Joe Lauria, who now is the editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and Sunday Times of London. Lauria's article was re-published recently by Consortium News.

    Lauria's article includes the following passages:

    .... If Clinton should lose a squeaker, she has two options to try to overturn the election and make herself president—and both involve blaming Russia. She can try to influence America’s bizarre electoral college system, or get at least two allies in Congress to challenge its certification of the election. ...

    According to one scenario, the four electoral votes in Maine could decide this election. ....

    If Clinton loses by a few electoral votes she could challenge the results by claiming that Russia tampered with the election. The public has been prepared with unproven allegations that are widely disseminated by corporate media and widely believed. With the media not previously demanding evidence of such a claim and if the intelligence agencies back her up, her only challenge might be to convince the needed number of Republican electors to change their votes to put her over the top.

    There are only 26 states that require electors by law to vote for the candidate who won the state’s popular vote. Virginia has issued only an advisory to do so. The other 24 states have no such laws, freeing electors to vote their conscience and against their own party.

    The swing state with the most electoral votes that doesn’t bind its electors by law is Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes. Other states in play such as Arizona, Utah, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire also have no laws to keep an elector from changing his or her vote. Ohio and Florida, the two biggest swing states, do bind the electors by law.

    Clinton’s camp would be faced with turning a number of electors around to vote against the Republican candidate and switch their vote to her. Clinton has to convince them that a changed vote would uphold American democracy against the interference of a supposedly hostile state that threw the election for Trump.

    Clinton has to convince such so-called “Faithless Electors” to vote against their state’s popular will. This has happened in seven previous elections. In each of them only one elector changed his or her vote. This occurred in 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1988. ....

    1. Mike, I'm not so sure you do disagree with me. My views were expressed in About That Insurance Policy (2/6/18), in which I compared my views to what I termed a more "offensive" oriented theory of the "insurance policy" which is similar to Lauria's. Basically, I concluded that the two are not irreconcilable--it needn't be "either-or."

      My concluding paragraph:

      Which goes back to Carter Page and his FISA being "it", the insurance policy that would 1) justify to a possible President Trump all the hinky stuff the FBI had been up to during the campaign, but also 2) provide a window into Trump's world for political intelligence purposes--and just maybe for leverage over Trump.

    2. And of course there's this article from 12/18:

      "Anti-Trump dossier author was hired to help Hillary challenge 2016 election results

      "British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who wrote the Democrat-financed anti-Trump dossier, said in a court case that he was hired by a Democratic law firm in preparation for Hillary Clinton challenging the results of the 2016 presidential election.

      "He said the law firm Perkins Coie wanted to be in a position to contest the results based on evidence he unearthed on the Trump campaign conspiring with Moscow on election interference."

      Also, FWIW, Devin Nunes is pretty adamant that the issue the insurance policy text specifically references is not the collusion charge/Russia investigation writ large, but the narrower need to get the Page FISA. Sorry, no time to dig up links, but I'm pretty sure the most recent Nunes appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox show has him spelling this out pretty clearly. Despite Hannity's trademark constant interruptions of his guests, Nunes manages to get a word or two in that are worth hearing.

    3. Two things. First, anything Steele says at this point is bound to be self serving--not necessarily to be taken at face value.

      Second, I think it's necessary to draw a distinction between Steele's interests and those of the FBI. Yes, they both wanted to defeat Trump. However, as Steele explained to Kavalec, he was "balancing" four sets of interests: FBI, clients (DNC), NYT, etc. What might be an "insurance policy" for the FBI--and that metaphor was the FBI's--might not be that important to Steele.

      The "insurance policy" metaphor itself is basically defensive--an insurance policy is supposed to defend against an unlikely event, as Strzok explained to Page. That's why, for the FBI, the "insurance policy" is bound to be a CYA thing--that's the nature of the bureaucratic mindset: always CYA. But that doesn't mean that it can't also have an offensive dimension. So the FISA is the insurance policy, and they were determined to get it even just days before the election--CYA. After the election, after a period of despair, they probably realized the FISA might also be of use going forward against Trump.

      Kinda thinking through the keyboard.

    4. I guess what I'm saying is that Steele's primary intent with the dossier could well have been different than the FBI's. For the FBI it came to be a key to a CYA insurance policy, but for the Clinton gang, Podesta and so forth, it was offensive in nature.

    5. Thanks, Mark. Honestly, as far as I can tell, the way you describe the defensive, CYA use of the Page FISA is just what Nunes was getting at. IOW, in case Trump wins, we're going to need this to get the goods on him to neutralize the threat, this would-be cancer on the system, moving forward.

      Re the offensive use of Fusion/Steele/DNC/Clinton, it's hard to think that's not right. After all, *they're* overriding interest was in winning the election. Steve McIntyre, of / @ClimateAudit (and as sharp as they come), has argued forever that Brennan, working with Fusion, et al, had it as his highest goal to steer the FBI into getting the investigation going before election so that media could report the fact at the right time and in the right way to torpedo Trump's candidacy. Though most of my knowledge is second- and third-hand, what knowledge I have jibes perfectly with everything you're saying here. And while only Strzok mentioned the actual words "insurance policy," there had to be - also as you say - other conceptions of insurance policies not actually described as such (that we know), but implied all the same.

    6. But notice that McIntyre's theory is different than Lauria's. According to McIntyre, the purpose was to torpedo the Trump candidacy before the election. Lauria is saying that it was to be used after the election to torpedo a presidency.

      Of course those uses aren't mutually exclusive. I believe it's nature as oppo research means it was always intended for offensive use by the Clinton campaign, not as an insurance policy in case Trump won.