Saturday, August 31, 2019

Seven Days In May

Tonight shows sundance at his best. He provides us with a fascinating timeline of events between the firing of James Comey and the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel. What we see from this timeline is that DAG Rod Rosenstein's appointment letter was a subterfuge. That letter claims that Mueller's mandate was simply to continue the investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane. This was supposedly about Russian interference in the 2016 election, but the reality was quite different. The reality was that Mueller was appointed in order to force President Trump from office--whether via resignation (probably preferred) or by providing grounds for impeachment. Russian "collusion" had long been known to be a fairy tale or pipe dream at best. Nevertheless, hiding the ball, as an investigative strategy for entrapping Trump, contrary to the requirements of the Special Counsel regulations can't change the regulations. Which means that the predication for initiation of the Special Counsel must be evaluated on the facial meaning of Rosenstein's letter--that Mueller was continuing Crossfire Hurricane, an "enterprise" counterintelligence investigation. If that investigation lacked predication, then so did the Team Mueller operation.

Here is a summary of the timeline that I've extracted from sundance's much longer and fuller post. I provide it in this way because I believe it speaks for itself, and because I also believe that sundance's focus on the Comey memos distracts from the larger picture to some extent. That said, however, I agree with sundance that the leaking of the memos--or portions of them--played a role in instigating the Special Counsel appointment and justifying a decision that had already been made.

Here are those seven days in May, 2016--if we omit the first day:

Tuesday May 9th: 
FBI Director James Comey fired @ 5pm
Wednesday May 10th:
- DAG Rod Rosenstein called Robert Mueller to discuss the special counsel appointment @ 7:45am. 
- Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe immediately began a criminal ‘obstruction’ investigation. Wednesday May 10th; he immediately enlisted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. 
- A few hours after the Rosenstein-Mueller phone call James Comey’s office was being searched; the searching FBI officials know nothing about Comey's memos. 
Thursday May 11th: 
- The New York Times prints an article, based on information seemingly leaked by Comey and Comey's lawyer friend Daniel Richman, about a dinner conversation between the President and the FBI Director. This is the so-called “Loyalty” article re Trump asking Comey whether Comey will be loyal. 
Friday May 12th: 
- McCabe meets with Rosenstein to discuss the ongoing issues with the investigation and firing. Discuss appointment of Special Counsel, which McCabe strongly favors. 
- Mueller meets “in person” with Rosenstein. 
- FBI agents go to Comey’s house to retrieve FBI property; neither James Rybicki (Comey's chief of staff, who is present) nor Comey inform the agents about the memos.
- May 12th, is the date noted by David Archey when FBI investigators had assembled all of the Comey memos as evidence.  However, no one in the FBI outside the “small group” knows about the memos.
Saturday May 13th: 
- Another meeting takes place between Rosenstein and Mueller, this time with AG Jeff Sessions also involved. 
Sunday May 14th: 
- Comey transmitted copies of Memos 2, 4, and 6, and a partially redacted copy of Memo 7 to Patrick Fitzgerald, who was one of Comey’s personal attorneys.  Fitzgerald received the email and PDF attachment from Comey @ 2:27 p.m. 
Monday May 15th: 
- Per McCabe, he and Rosenstein confer again about the Special Counsel approach. 
- Rybicki calls the FBI official in charge of recovering FBI property from Comey to notify him of Comey’s memos. The memos were “stored” in a “reception area“, and in locked drawers in Rybicki’s office. 
Tuesday May 16th: 
- Comey takes photographs of both pages of Memo 4 with his personal cell phone. Comey then sent both photographs, via text message, to Richman. 
- Rosenstein takes Mueller to the White House for a meeting in the Oval Office between President Trump, VP Pence, Mueller and Rosenstein. While the meeting is ongoing the NYT publishes a story re Trump asking Comey "to end Flynn investigation (NYT)." The story was based on Comey memo leaks to Richman. 
- An evening meeting is held at DoJ. Tashina Gauhar takes notes. Others present: Lisa Page, Rosenstein, and McCabe. This is the meeting when Rosenstein suggests recording President Trump. 
Wednesday May 17th: 
- Rosenstein and McCabe give an afternoon briefing to the Intel “Gang-of-Eight” on Rosenstein's intention to appoint a Special Counsel: Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Devin Nunes, Adam Schiff, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Richard Burr and Mark Warner. 
- After the meeting Rosenstein announces the appointment of Mueller.
What is clear from a review of all the related and released information is the FBI small group (McCabe, Page, Strzok, Rybicki, Baker) were hiding the ongoing FBI investigation from other FBI officials (including the SSA Whistleblower), inside the department after Comey was fired.

Sundance rightly stresses that what we see here is the immediate initiation of an obstruction investigation--on the bogus notion that Trump's exercise of his constitutional powers to fire executive officials could somehow be a criminal act. We also see an immediate reaching out to Mueller by Rosenstein. The wheels of the Special Counsel appointment process are set in motion without delay--although we can only speculate at this point as to the details of their discussions. In the meantime, right up to Mueller's appointment, Comey and his allies are leaking to assist that process, which strongly suggests that there may have been coordination between the fired Comey and the small group of plotters.


  1. That last part would be discoverable with grand jury subpoenae. I don't see these people meeting face to face to coordinate this.

    I know I have offered this theory before, but I think it quite probable that the entire firing of Comey was a planned event by the small group- they needed an overt act by Trump for public support, and decided on that one. I wouldn't discount the possibility that Rosenstein was in on the entire thing if I am right.

  2. One that has bothered me for quite a while is the story about how Rosenstein came to write the report on Comey's fitness for the job of FBI director. Do we know for certain that Trump directly requested this? I will try to do a web search on this- I feel like I have done this before, but can't remember.

    1. That's my understanding, off the top of my head.

  3. I waded through Sundance's long article before I happened to find your summary here. Your summary is very useful.


    In Sundance's August 29 article First Review of IG Report, he wrote:

    Comey’s memos were essentially FD-302 reports ...

    Having read much of the IG report, I think that Sundance is wrong on that point. I would appreciate your expert opinion about that.


    Somewhere in the IG report (as I recall), there is a statement that Comey said that his reason for causing the appointment of a special counsel was that President Trump had hinted that Trump himself had tape-recorded his conversations with Comey. Since Trump might possess such tape-recordings, a special counsel was needed in order to get possession of such tape-recordings and to prevent their destruction.

    That was news to me. Maybe Comey said something similar when he testified to Congress about leaking to the press through Richman.

    That justification by Comey does not make sense to me. Comey could have more simply declared publicly that the FBI should take the possession and prevent the destruction of such recordings. For that narrow concern, a special counsel was not needed. Also, the leaking through Richman was not needed.


    As I think more about this, I think that Comey leaked the loyalty memo through Richman as a means to rally his former FBI troops quickly.

    Comey wanted to communicate to his former FBI colleagues the issue that was most important in his own mind. That issue was that Trump supposedly had demanded Comey's loyalty foremost -- above his loyalty to the FBI.

    In Comey's mind, he was fired because he had equivocated when Trump had demanded his loyalty. Comey had been fired because his loyalty to the FBI was above is loyalty to President Trump.

    Comey wanted to communicate that concept to the FBI quickly. He told Richman to leak the essence of that memo because that was the fastest practical way to communicate that issue to his former FBI colleagues.


    In Comey's mind, foremost loyalty to the FBI meant continuing the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation, even though that investigation might prove that President Trump was a witting agent of the Kremlin.

    Comey could not reveal that investigation publicly at that time, but he could communicate quickly through Richman that he had been fired over such a loyalty dilemma.

    1. Ah, I'm glad it was useful. That's what I was hoping.

      Re sundance's comment about fd-302s, I think he's actually making an important point, but one that is easier to appreciate if you compare it to what Sidney Powell says at one point in her brief.

      Sundance's comment actually goes to the way Comey viewed his activities. A 302 is simply a report of investigation that may end up as testimony at a trial. Classically, that would be a report of an interview, but it could also be the report of a physical surveillance (think: fisur of an espionage subject making a dead drop, etc.) or an analysis of bank or phone records (or the equivalent nowadays). So, sundance's point in saying that the memos are essentially 302s is that Comey viewed himself as engaged in investigative activity, as an undercover agent. He saw himself as an investigator attempting to gather evidence that could be used--possibly at a trial, possibly for impeachment purposes first, or possibly just to force a resignation. But investigation.

      The significance of this view of his activity is something you touch on in your next comment, when you state that there were simply no grounds for any investigation. That's what we've been discussing all these months, and you're exactly right. The centrality of this issue is touched on by Sidney Powell when she states that "Flynn was the subject of a pretextual counter-intelligence investigation." And that's what Comey was engaged in against Trump. But the big point of this is that pretextual investigations are illegal investigations.

      The big question for Barr is--what to do about such egregious, criminal, misuse of investigative authorities. So, that, IMO, is what sundance is pointing at.

      For the rest, I'm more in agreement with your second comment. I don't see Comey as having any loyalty to the FBI as such, but only to himself and secondarily to the Swamp.

    2. Mike,

      I think that your analysis is overly charitable to Comey. Not that you are overly charitable to him; just when you impute his loyalty to the FBI.

      Comey is a weasel. Trump saw right through him. Trump was right to ask for his loyalty, in that he (Trump) likely knew of his activities through ADM Rogers. I've seen no evidence in his presidency that Trump asks for dishonest loyalty. Again, I-m not ascribing these comments of mine and implying that you said any of this.

      There's a line from Perry Mason where the killer is revealed. These revelations were always dramatically rendered. One man said "I wish I could have killed him a thousand times."

      I wish Trump could've fired Comey a thousand times.

  4. My May 2017, the FBI should have figured out that the Steele Dossier was not grounds for any investigation like Crossfire Hurricane.

    The FBI had had the Dossier already for a half year. The concoction was absurd on its face, and the FBI apparently did not know who Steele's alleged sources were.

    Nevertheless, the FBI leadership -- in particular, Comey -- intended to go on and on with this absurd investigation.

    I am reminded of the song that Pete Seeger sang about President Johnson and the Vietnam War.

    ... We were knee deep in the Big Muddy,
    But the big fool said to push on. ...

    We were, waist deep in the Big Muddy
    And the big fool said to push on. ...

    We were, neck deep in the Big Muddy
    And the big fool said to push on ...

    1. I agree. If this had been a purely partisan political matter I think cooler heads might have prevailed and the Dem leadership might have said, in effect: We're getting in over our heads, the risks now outweigh potential benefits, we need to back out of this. And it would probably have worked. I don't think Trump would have pushed an investigation--but for what was perpetrated against him, especially by the Mueller operation.

    2. I should have continued. What I see rather than a simply partisan struggle here is that the Dem party has become a movement to, in Obama's words, "fundamentally transform America." That means to transform the constitution in the broadest sense--to transform the whole concept of what government is about and its relationship to the governed. Two different worldviews, if you will. That's why the hysterics of the "resistance," that's why even the self designation of "resistance"--I believe it goes beyond merely the fairy tale of an illegitimate election.

      For the Swamp of the Deep State, motives are more cynical, but I think the commitment to a globalist ideology of an oligarchy ruling the masses--the classical liberal ideal, actually--is the motivating force for resisting Trump as an existential threat. Trump was a threat to upset that apple cart by giving the deplorables a real voice. This is why IMO they kept "pushing on."

    3. With respect to your follow on comments to Mike.

      Everything that you said is spot on. We need to oppose them with everything that we've got.