Saturday, June 15, 2019

Briefly Noted: News Roundup

It's a bit of a slow newsday. Here are a few items worth noting, however.

Let's start with a couple of tweets from Paul Sperry that tend  to confirm earlier word:

Paul Sperry‏


BREAKING: House GOP leadership has soured on Comey replacement Wray. They r now convinced Wray's not part of the FBI cleanup & not cooperating w AG Barr & is in fact part of the cover-up of #SpyGate scandal after burying documents & refusing to make people available for interview
7:41 PM - 14 Jun 2019

It has been previously reported that IG Horowitz's wrapup is being delayed by Wray's stonewalling on document release. Difficult to say definitively at this distance, but I've made by view of Wray pretty clear. I'd like to see Barr muscle him. Publicly. Obviously there's politics involved here, but the situation seems unsatisfactory--the legacy Mueller FBI that Wray is running must be stopped in its tracks.

Paul Sperry


BREAKING: House Republicans r upset w what they call Sen Graham's showboating since taking over Senate Judiciary from Grassley, who they say was "serious" bout getting to bottom of #SpyGate. But Graham's just putting on "charade" on Fox for S.C. voters & "not doing a f*cking thing"
7:30 PM - 14 Jun 2019

We've seen these rumors before, too. Graham is talking a good game, but what action is he taking? I'm willing to assume that Graham doesn't want to step on Barr/Durham toes and that there's a need for a higher profile pol to do some "showboating" on TV. Could that be the coordination with Barr? Who are the "House GOPers?" We're not told. It's another situation worth watching.

OTOH, significant evidence that Barr hasn't lapsed into somnolence--even as he's threatened with contempt in one area Barr takes "aggressive" action in another. He's clearly not shying away from confrontation:

Breaking, Barr Tells Congress They Are Not Getting Trump’s Taxes
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not violate the law by refusing to provide President Donald Trump’s tax returns to Congress because the confidentiality of returns is protected under the law, the Justice Department said in a legal opinion released on Friday. 
Federal law “protecting confidentiality of tax returns prohibited the Department of the Treasury from complying with a request by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for the president’s tax returns,” a department official said in the opinion provided to the Treasury Department. 
The memorandum from Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, who heads the Office of Legal Counsel, supports the position already taken by the Treasury Department. It is likely to draw fire from Democrats in Congress who have argued the legal reasoning is misguided. 
“While the Executive Branch should accord due deference and respect to congressional requests, Treasury was not obliged to accept the committee’s stated purpose without question, and based on all the facts and circumstances, we agreed that the committee lacked a legitimate legislative purpose for its request,” Engel wrote. 
“This is a pretty aggressive argument from DOJ, basically saying that Congress is lying about its purpose for wanting the president’s tax returns and that as a result, the IRS need not provide them even though the statute doesn’t require Congress to have *any* reason,” USA Today reporter Brad Heath Said. 
“The main argument? Congress is using pretextual reasons to get them when they really just want to simply make the returns public,” Politico reporter Kyle Cheney said.

While the USA Today reporter is correct in stating that this is an "aggressive argument that DoJ is advancing," it can also be said that it's simply a very straightforward argument. The reporter is also correct that the law, as written, doesn't require Congress to have any reason for demanding the tax records. However, as I've written before, Bill Barr, Trump's Tax Records, And The Impeachment Fishing Expedition, it's widely accepted that "whatever the tax code might say, Congress has to have a legitimate purpose for an inquiry." In other words, any time Congress acts it must act within its Constitutionally delimited powers--which are strictly legislative in nature. The absence of limiting language in a statute, therefore, should not be considered dispositive of the issue. Congressional oversight and investigation must have some relation to legislation, and the Executive Branch--which is a separate and equal branch of government--need not simply take Congress's word for the legitimacy of its purpose. That's especially true given the deluge of public statements from the Democrat leaders concerning their real purpose.

Finally, Techno Fog tweets regarding DoJ's admission regarding the Crowdstrike report regarding its examination of the DNC server. There have been a variety of inaccurate reports on this: AmThinker stated that this was in the Manafort case (it's in the Roger Stone case) and CTH has stated that the FBI Never Saw Crowdstrike Report on DNC Russian Hacking Claim. Techno Fog gets it right. The FBI did see the report--but only a redacted version. The redactions were said to pertain to remedial defensive measures that were taken. But ...

Techno Fog


The DNC's lawyer provided the Crowdstrike reports to the Govt. He said the redacted parts weren't relevant to the investigation. 
The FBI never looked into it. Full DOJ response here:
8:14 PM - 14 Jun 2019

No, that doesn't seem satisfactory.


  1. #BREAKING# (in my daydreams): AG Barr's news conference today was seen as a rare public rebuke of FBI Director Wray. Sources say President Trump and AG Barr both expect Wray to resign in response to Barr's statement that he's "quite disappointed in the ongoing behavior of the department's leadership". The sources say Barr is "all in" on assisting US Attorney Durham's investigation into what the sources say is "the culture of above-the-law arrogance" that has animated Barr to return to his old job as AG.