Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Is Chris Wray Cruising For A Bruising?

Before turning to John Solomon's latest major article, let's briefly consider FBI Director Chris Wray's track record since taking over at the FBI.

- He actively collaborated with Rod Rosenstein in delaying and thwarting GOP House investigators who were attempting to get to the bottom of the Russia Hoax. 
- He continues to delay DoJ investigative efforts by holding up declassification of key documents. 
- He has publicly contradicted AG Barr, saying that he disagrees with Barr's characterization of FBI actions during the 2016 campaign--and continuing, it now appears, virtually up to the present--as "spying." 
- Most recently, Wray responded to Senator Ted Cruz's call for a RICO investigation of Antifa by stating that the FBI views antifa as more of an ideology and noted that the FBI does not investigate ideology. He went on to suggest that the FBI was investigating "anarchist extremists" more or less as individuals.

Who can take a guy like this seriously? The FBI didn't engage in active "spying" on a political campaign and candidate? Really? Antifa activities are not coordinated? Really? Chris Wray is a waste of space.

Is it any wonder that one of Wray's remaining allies--Dan Coats--is being removed as DNI? Who thinks that when President Trump--only days after Wray's absurd statements about Antifa--stated that "[c]onsideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA ... a major Organization of Terror", Trump had not already discussed the matter with Bill Barr? Count on it: Bill Barr is NOT on the same page with Chris Wray. Discount Barr's public "nice talk," just as you should discount his public "my friend Bob" statements. I have no doubt at all that Barr has taken the measure of Wray.

In the wake of Coats' ouster from DNI, Paul Sperry tweeted:

Paul Sperry‏

BREAKING: Coats' ouster at ODNI is just the start of a major Trump shake-up of the Intelligence Community -- more changes are coming at other IC agencies
12:27 PM - 29 Jul 2019

I have to believe that Sperry is spot on: Trump--and Barr--are looking at taking control of the IC. And that has to include CIA and FBI. Barr has given Wray a chance to be a team player, but Wray is clearly playing for a different team.

With that in mind, John Solomon writes today that Chris Wray's FBI continues to cover for Team Comey's Russia shenanigans. Right. That comes in the wake of former Acting AG Matt Whitaker statements that James Comey is under investigation. Well, that came as a blinding revelation to sundance at CTH, who continues his juvenile disparaging of AG Barr. The bigger point, however, is that Solomon's (and Sperry's) detailed articles, citing sources who have given them peeks at key documents, are certainly authorized leaks. And when Solomon talks about Wray covering for the misconduct of a target of DoJ investigation, a message is being sent. That message is NOT that Barr and Trump have full confidence in and fully support Chris Wray. As Solomon concludes, covering for Comey's FBI is not acceptable, and that's "a lesson Chris Wray should learn, quickly."

So, Solomon is reporting that:

The FBI is going to court to fight the public release of a small number of documents the State Department sent to [the FBI] from Christopher Steele, the British intelligence operative and Hillary Clinton-paid political muckraker, during the 2016 election. 

What's at issue here are the documents relating to Christopher Steele and his "dossier" that former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec sent to the FBI, and which were only recently discovered--Chris Wray's FBI had been concealing them. Now, according to the FBI filing, releasing those documents would

Allow terrorist organizations and other hostile or foreign intelligence groups to deduce from these documents FBI means and methods of gathering intelligence, and thus thwart the US government; 
Jeopardize "the fragile relationships that exist between the United States and certain foreign governments”; 
Violate the "privacy interests" of FBI agents who don't want to answer questions about their investigations.

As Solomon says,

To hear the FBI tell it, the release of former Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec’s documents is tantamount to giving up the keys to President Trump’s nuclear briefcase, aiding the enemy or assisting terrorists.

The real problem, of course, is that Kavalec's documents (and she has in recent weeks begun cooperating with DoJ investigators) shine a glaring and very unwelcome light on the FBI's criminal conduct in the Russia Hoax. As Solomon is quick to point out, the weakness in the FBI's argument is that:

The Russia collusion narrative has been thoroughly and conclusively debunked--including by Team Mueller; therefore 
Releasing information to the public from the fictional documents that Steele previously provided to
1. The Clinton campaign (through Fusion GPS),
2. The DNC,
3. The media (journalists such as David Corn, and outlets that including the WaPo and NYT)

can hardly be equated with divulging secrets as sensitive as the FBI describes.

And to show how absurd the FBI's claims are, as well as what they want to hide, Solomon provides examples of documents that his sources have seen and, helpfully, described to him. One of those documents is a memo that, on Steele's recommendation, Kavalec downloaded from a commercial internet download service. Right. So much for sensitive sources and methods and jeopardizing our relations with foreign powers! And what was in that memo?

The document, according to my sources who have seen it, lays out a theory that Steele and some liberals spread late in the 2016 campaign that unusual computer pings between a Trump Tower server and Alfa Bank in Russia might be a secret communication channel by which Trump and Vladimir Putin were hijacking the election. 
The theory has been written about in the media. Kavalec downloaded the file from Steele via a commercial internet download service and transmitted it to [then-FBI section chief Steven] Laycock on non-classified email. 

But here's the kicker:

... the State Department included notations on Steele’s five pages of research strongly calling into question his Alfa Bank theories before sending it to the FBI. In other words, they challenged the veracity and quality of Steele’s intelligence. 
Under the FBI’s human source rules, a U.S. government’s negative assessment of an informer’s information would constitute “derogatory information” that would have to be disclosed to the FISC if Steele’s work was being used to support a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant. 
Eight days after Kavalec sent Laycock her annotated version of Steele’s Alfa Bank research, the FBI submitted to the FISC an application that won the agency permission to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. 
The bureau did not include State’s assessment. Instead, agents declared they possessed no derogatory information about Steele.

Oh! Awkward, right? Rep. Mark Meadows has taken note of the FBI's ridiculous court filing and wrote to Attorney General William Barr last week to say that the memo was “based on open source media reporting” and that the FBI’s claim that revealing it would harm sources and methods is “completely unfounded.” And Solomon further notes:

Even the tight-lipped special counsel Robert Mueller went out of his way during testimony last week to say the Alfa Bank theory “is not true.”
So if Mueller could talk about it and the information was transmitted in a non-classified manner, why would the FBI go to such lengths to fight its release?

Good question! After all, these "shenanigans" happened under disgraced former FBI Director James Comey--so what's it to Wray? And yet, as Solomon notes:

Wray took over the FBI long after such misdeeds occurred. But for some reason, his team has fought relentlessly to keep information secret from Congress and the public about Team Comey’s Russia case.

Yeah, "for some reason." Maybe that reason has something to do with who Wray's political backers are.


  1. The FBI should just get it over with.

    * Write a report explaining to the public what happened.

    * Punish the culprits.

    * Improve policies and procedures.

    * Move on.

    This continuing cover-up just causes the public to suspect that the FBI still is hiding misdeeds that are much worse than the public imagines.

    The FBI should have done all this two years ago.

    1. Mike, what you're saying makes perfect sense. The fact that Wray hasn't taken such obvious steps to this stuff behind suggests that he's not really concerned with the FBI's institutional best interests as most people would understand them: credibility with the American public. It suggests that he's more concerned with preserving Deep State influence.

    2. Wray's career of riding on Comey's coattails means he's too conflicted to be effective. He got picked for FBI based on his resume while assiduously avoiding who he was associated with, i.e. Comey.

    3. Interesting observation. You have to believe that whoever recommended him would have known of that connection?

    4. Who recommended him to Trump. Probably Rosenstein.

    5. That was my first thought, but then I thought, wait, would Trump have taken that recommendation from Rosie right after Rosie appointed Mueller? I have some contacts who say that it may have been the same WH people recommending judges to Trump. He's got the kind of credentials that would appeal to them.

  2. Does the FBI imagine that it can continue to piss off the 63 million people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016?

    He won the election in 2016 and is likely to continue to be the President into 2025.

    Just tell those 63 million voters frankly what happened.

    In general, the people who voted for Trump were people who have supported and defended the FBI for the past many decades.

    1. Same as above. Chris Wray doesn't give a rip about those 63 million voters.

  3. The salience of Wray's conduct is not merely incompetence or even corruption by the nation's highest law enforcement officer. It's that it reveals that the criminality instituted under the Obama Administration was systemic and extremely serious. They literally co-opted and corrupted nearly every senior official in the intelligence and law enforcement agencies, who then were enticed well beyond the normal DC limits of corruption and actively participated as crime bosses running individual mafia type families.

    This is the elephant in the room that no one will speak of. This was the essence of the motivation that turned decent men into rank criminals.

    I now believe that the reason Barr is slow-rolling the revelations is because if the full truth came out all at once (with no indictments), the citizens of this country would be actively considering a real 1776 style revolution all over again.

    1. I'd say they took full advantage of their 8 years in power--Obama said he wanted to "transform" America, and he meant it.

      In line with what you're saying, Wray's conduct suggests to me that he believes that Trump is a passing thing and that he (Wray) needs to cultivate the Establishment.

  4. I completely agree with all the points made here saying that Wray is motivated to protect (Mark's words) "Deep State influence.” That said, and as trivial a truth as it may seem, I think it can't be said too often that while the end may be to protect & to serve the Swamp, writ large, the primary means is sabotaging the Trump reelection campaign.

    The answer to nearly all the Swamp's prayers (not to mention those of the Chinese Communist Party and countless other foreign adversaries) is Trump out and a good little swamp creature in in 2020 — the better to bury all the evidence and go back to selling American blood and treasure on the cheap with. Wray, et al are working the clock, hoping to string things out enough so that, by the time the investigative poop starts hitting the fan in earnest, it will be full campaign season and the sedition revealed can be discounted or dismissed as pure politics that does little to alter the basic dynamic of Orange Man Bad. The mission is to keep it planted in the public psyche that Trump is a pariah long enough that whatever eventually happens in the investigations, it will be too little, too late to shock the suburban swing voters out of their blissful ignorance of who the bad guys really are and what it is they've really done.

    This race against time explains much of the behavior we see from every nook and cranny of the Swamp: politicians, media, judges - everyone. To a man they know that if Trump gets four more years to keep opening the doors of their skeleton-filled closets and undoing our scandalous economic dependency on China, both the cause and the welfare of the America Last crowd will be set back indefinitely.

    Trump clearly didn’t understand going into the presidency - shockingly and to his everlasting discredit - the degree to which personnel truly is policy. It’s a pretty safe bet he gets that now, and hopefully the dismissal of Chris Wray and others of his ilk is no longer a matter of if, but when, and that right soon.

    1. I think you're absolutely right about personnel. The Sessions appointment proves both points. He has said he gave Sessions the AG gig out of a sense of loyalty--didn't understand the importance. OTOH, he now says it was his biggest mistake--gets it. I suspect he's very fortunate in having Barr to give input on all sorts of matters.

  5. I knew Wray was a bust when he first said that the FBI culture wasn't bad and that ethics training was what he was going to roll out.

    Typical bureaucratic response. He needs to go. And abolish the ten year term for FBI directors. That is way too long for an important position with such power. It's longer than a presidential or senate term.

    1. Have you ever heard diGenova talk about Wray? He practically foams at the mouth.

  6. He's not one to mince words, is he? My only criticism with Joe is that he should say things are coming. He has given some dates that have slipped. It's understandable but it gets me excited, only to be let down.

    1. I'll forgive him if we get some big news by the end of the week.

  7. Being Joe DiGenova means never have to say he's sorry.

    But, I agree. Let's see Brennan, Weissmann and the whole gang sweat.