Wednesday, June 19, 2019

UPDATED: John Solomon Blockbuster: Ukraine Ledger As Bad As Steele Dossier?

This morning I was bemoaning the fact that we've had little true news for some weeks, now. The heady days of document and testimony revelations appeared to be over. However, this afternoon John Solomon has come out with another blockbuster report. Right up front I want to make two quick points:

1. Solomon's report reflects and supports Rudy Giuliani's advice back in mid April of this year--going forward, we need to Pay Attention To Ukraine.
2. At the same time Solomon's report explains why patience is required, as I explained in Barr And Durham Are Focused On The CIA. The need to secure cooperation from foreign governments and their intelligence services means that Barr and Durham will need the active assistance of other persons and agencies within the US government, beginning with the POTUS himself. And their efforts will be resisted by the FBI and the CIA--the two agencies with the most to lose by the truth coming out.

That said, the opening paragraphs of Solomon's article, FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway, contains some of the most trenchant reporting I've seen in many months. Bear in mind, the "black cash ledger" is supposed to have been a record of payments to Paul Manafort:

When the final chapter of the Russia collusion caper is written, it is likely two seminal documents the FBI used to justify investigating Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign will turn out to be bunk. 
And the behavior of FBI agents and federal prosecutors who promoted that faulty evidence may disturb us more than we now know.
At its best, the Steele dossier is an “unverified and salacious” political research memo funded by Trump’s Democratic rivals. At worst, it may be Russian disinformation worthy of the “garbage” label given it by esteemed reporter Bob Woodward. 
The second document, known as the “black cash ledger,” remarkably has escaped the same scrutiny, even though its emergence in Ukraine in the summer of 2016 forced Paul Manafort to resign as Trump's campaign chairman and eventually face U.S. indictment. 
In search warrant affidavits, the FBI portrayed the ledger as one reason it resurrected a criminal case against Manafort that was dropped in 2014 and needed search warrants in 2017 for bank records to prove he worked for the Russian-backed Party of Regions in Ukraine. 
There’s just one problem: The FBI’s public reliance on the ledger came months after the feds were warned repeatedly that the document couldn’t be trusted and likely was a fake, according to documents and more than a dozen interviews with knowledgeable sources.

Please note that last unbolded part: Yes, this is according to sources, but it's also "according to documents." Solomon's sources have shown him documents that confirm what he's saying. Obtaining those documents couldn't possibly have been easy--which is why it's only after two years of the Russian Hoax that we're even hearing about the existence of such documents.

Solomon's sources are Ukrainians, and one of them includes a long time informant (Konstantin Kilimnik) for the US government. The warnings to "senior US officials" came as early as August, 2016:

..., Ukraine’s top anticorruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, told me he warned the U.S. State Department’s law enforcement liaison and multiple FBI agents in late summer 2016 that Ukrainian authorities who recovered the ledger believed it likely was a fraud. 
“It was not to be considered a document of Manafort. It was not authenticated. And at that time it should not be used in any way to bring accusations against anybody,” Kholodnytsky said, recalling what he told FBI agents.  
Likewise, Manafort’s Ukrainian business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, a regular informer for the State Department, told the U.S. government almost immediately after The New York Times wrote about the ledger in August 2016 that the document probably was fake. 
Manafort “could not have possibly taken large amounts of cash across three borders. It was always a different arrangement — payments were in wire transfers to his companies, which is not a violation,” Kilimnik wrote in an email to a senior U.S. official on Aug. 22, 2016.

And then there's the fact that Team Mueller knew all about these warnings, yet went ahead and used the "black cash ledger" anyway in their search warrant affidavits. That's very serious stuff:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and the FBI were given copies of Kilimnik’s warning, according to three sources familiar with the documents. 
Submitting knowingly false or suspect evidence — whether historical or to support probable cause — in a federal court proceeding violates FBI rules and can be a crime under certain circumstances. “To establish probable cause, the affiant must demonstrate a basis for knowledge and belief that the facts are true,” the FBI operating manual states.

How did Mueller skirt those requirements? Instead of citing the actual "black cash ledger," what they did was to cite media reports about the ledger. Helpfully, "the feds" (Solomon's non-specific term) served as the source for at least one of those articles. Who thinks they told the judge considering their search warrant affidavit of the role they played in manufacturing the evidence they were citing in the affidavit? Me neither.

I strongly suspect that this "evidence" was behind the notorious no-knock entry at Manafort's residence, when they held the pajama clad Manaforts at gunpoint and searched Manafort's wife before even allowing her out of bed. I'm guessing the reason given to the judge to justify these extraordinary tactics was fear that the ledger--supposedly in Manafort's physical possession--might be quickly destroyed. Flushed down a toilet, maybe. Did you hear that they recovered the ledger? Me neither.

Shocking? Well, prepare yourself for a bigger shock:

Three months later, the FBI went further in arguing probable cause for a search warrant for Manafort’s bank records, citing a specific article about the ledger as evidence Manafort was paid to perform U.S. lobbying work for the Ukrainians. 
“The April 12, 2017, Associated Press article reported that DMI [Manafort’s company] records showed at least two payments were made to DMI that correspond to payments in the 'black ledger,' ” an FBI agent wrote in a footnote to the affidavit. 
There are two glaring problems with that assertion. 
First, the agent failed to disclose that both FBI officials and Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who later became Mueller’s deputy, met with those AP reporters one day before the story was published and assisted their reporting. 
An FBI record of the April 11, 2017, meeting declared that the AP reporters "were advised that they appeared to have a good understanding of Manafort’s business dealings" in Ukraine. 
So, essentially, the FBI cited a leak that the government had facilitated and then used it to support the black ledger evidence, even though it had been clearly warned about the document.

Again, was the judge to whom the search warrant affidavit informed of this? What do you think? Me neither.

Solomon asked emeritus Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, an acknowledged authority in criminal law, about these tactics:

“They are supposed to cite the primary evidence and not secondary evidence.
“It sounds to me like a fraud on the court, possibly a willful and deliberate fraud that should have consequences for both the court and the attorneys’ bar.”

What Dershowitz leaves unsaid, at least explicitly, in referencing the requirement to prefer primary over secondary evidence is that the secondary "evidence"--the media reports--were actually manufactured by Team Mueller. That's why Dershowitz refers to it as a fraud on the court.

Solomon concludes:

In the end, the best proof that the FBI knew the black ledger was a sham is that prosecutors never introduced it to jurors in Manafort’s trial. 
The question of whether the Mueller team should have used the ledger in search warrant affidavits before that is for the courts to decide.

I hope these tactics remind you of Roger Stone's objections to the search warrant affidavit in his own case, in which the FBI and DoJ has been forced to admit that their narrative is based on purported physical evidence to which they were denied access. And I hope Judge Amy Berman Jackson reads Solomon's article.

I suspect that AG Bill Barr and John Durham probably have decided views on the propriety of these tactics. They may weigh on it further down this road.

ADDENDUM: Above I talked about the degree to which seeking cooperation from foreign governments could require patience. Another very real factor is this. We're used to thinking of the "small group" at FBIHQ: Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Baker. If we're on the ball we may also call to mind Joe Pientka and Michael Gaeta. But Durham will definitely want to interview other FBI agents as well--especially those in Ukraine, maybe those in Rome and London as well, and also in New York. Lots of work and, geographically, it's simply time consuming. We do need to be patient, and hope that Solomon's sources keep coming through.


  1. Un-effing-believable! Weissman and Mueller need to be prosecuted. They should take Manafort's place in solitary confinement.

    1. Yes. And I suspect they're feeling some anxiety. As I've said before, this is Durham's second go round with Mueller and he may have a real incentive to target him.

  2. Manufactured evidence (citing media who reported a "leaked" "story") is corruption of the worst sort--criminal conduct at the bar. This practice seems to follow Mueller/Weissman. Those two should be at the top of the list for prosecution and conviction. Add those who signed off on the Page FISA warrant, and Samantha Power for all the unmasking, and I'm good...

    1. But there's more.

      I'll admit, I want to see Mueller and Weissmann nailed in the worst way. I mean, I want in the worst way, well, yeah, nailed in the worst way, too.

  3. If true, this is total corruption. To cite a leak you were responsible for is just ridiculous corruption.

  4. This would fall within Horowitz's mandate. And could explain--speculation--why so many of Team Mueller are leaving DoJ. They don't want to be under the gun with Horowitz. I hope that's the reason. I want a criminal investigation of it all.

  5. Mueller and Weissmann have a long history of rogue prosecutions followed by Appeals Court reversals, so none of this is a surprise. The key takeaway here is that neither has ever suffered any consequences for these acts, and in fact, have only seen their careers rise as a result of this conduct. That is the cancer that is infecting DOJ and DC elitism. The damage to Manafort (and Flynn and Papadopolous) is in the rearview mirror. The Bad Guys won and did so by corrupt and criminal perversion of the rule of law. Not one single coup conspirator has even been indicted after three years of an ongoing coup. Huber was a shining star of hope for two years, and now we know it was all just a head-fake by Sessions. No one should place any hope in Barr/Durhan until we see a real indictment of one of the principles in the coup.

    Barr is playing a dangerous game with public sentiment. If he slow-walks everything and then tries an 11th hour whitewash after the 2020 election, this country will see a revolution.

    1. Would you like me to copy this comment and paste it in to every one of my posts, to save you the trouble of repeating yourself endlessly?

  6. I apologize and will stifle myself so you need not have do so. The Bad Guys have been winning for over a decade now and that is depressing. It's not just a war of words, they have ruined many lives and will not stop until someone pushes back.

    1. I wasn't asking you to apologize for your views nor to stifle yourself. It's simply that many of your relentlessly defeatist posts are no more than retreads in which--as in this case--you ignore everything that is said in the post.