That's the title of a rather smart article by former prosecutor George Parry.
Suppose you're part of a team of investigators and prosecutors targeting a major subject. You've had a "wiretap" on an associate of your subject--we'll call the subject "Donald" and the wire a "FISA"--since, oh, let's say since late October, 2016. Your FISA has turned up NOTHING. Zero, zilch, nada. It's now January, 2017, and Donald is scheduled to enter into a position of considerable power. What do you do?
You "tickle the wire." In other words, you create some activity that you hope might cause Donald to talk indiscretely--maybe to an informant, maybe over the phone, maybe in some other type of electronic communication.
In this case you send a weasel into the Donald's den. We'll call that weasel, "Jim." His job is to stir things up by telling Donald that people who just might know are saying outrageous things about him. The hope is that Donald will speak indiscretely to Jim or maybe communicate indiscretely. Then, just for good measure, you leak the whole thing to a friendly "news" network--your co-conspirator. We'll call that network "CNN."
And nothing happens. NOTHING. Except that a couple of months later Donald claims he was being wiretapped.
Question: What are the chances that Donald really was being wiretapped and that Jim was trying to "tickle the wire"?
Parry is very suspicious, and rightly so. I mean, I don't know, but it sure makes sense to me:
Now, to place these events into proper context, the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign (ludicrously code-named “Crossfire Hurricane”) had been underway since mid-summer 2016. As part of that investigation, in October 2016, the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to conduct electronic surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page and, by extension, the Trump campaign. That warrant was in effect for 90 days and was renewed again in January 2017 for another 90 days. The result was that the FBI’s electronic eavesdropping operation continued past Election Day and covered the Trump presidential transition and early days in the White House.
In other words, when Comey met with Trump, the FISA surveillance had been underway for three months and was ongoing. Given that no charges have ever been brought against Carter Page, it would appear that by the time of Comey’s approach to Trump, the FISA surveillance had been a dry hole. So it was that Comey resorted to the time-tested technique of “tickling the wire” by meeting with Trump and trying to scare him with tales of Moscow hookers and compromising tapes. And CNN’s reporting on the subject only increased the desired level of agitation.
Even if, as indeed turned out to be the case, Trump did not blurt out anything incriminating during the meeting, the possibility remained that he or his associates would be spurred to make damaging statements and admissions in their wire or oral communications. And, if that happened, the FBI would be intercepting and recording every word.
It makes sense. Trump may not have been the named subject of the FISA--that was Carter Page--but we've seen how that worked.
Nothing surprising here, but it does put an interesting spin on things. On the way the FBI was gunning for the President of the United States. Like J. E. Dyer, I really want to know the truth of this. I also really want to see it all wrapped up in a conspiracy indictment.
UPDATE: Jeff Carlson gets it. Comey lied to Congress, was running an investigation targeting Trump, but didn't have an open case file naming Trump as the subject--Comey’s Trump Tower Meeting Was Used for FBI’s Counterintelligence Investigation:
Former FBI Director James Comey’s first meeting with then-President-elect Donald Trump appears to have been part of the agency’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
Comey has described the Jan. 6, 2017, briefing at Trump Tower as a defensive briefing intended to inform the president-elect of salacious allegations contained in the so-called “Steele dossier.”
He had testified to Congress on June 8, 2017, that he “was briefing [Trump] on it because, because we had been told by the media it was about to launch. We didn’t want to be keeping that from him. He needed to know this was being said. I was very keen not to leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to him.”
Comey’s testimony to Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz, as part of the agency’s investigation into Comey, however, paints a different picture.
Comey told Horowitz that the information he obtained from his conversation with Trump “ought to be treated … [like] FISA derived information or information in a [counterintelligence] investigation.” In other words, his meeting with Trump had very direct surveillance overtones and intentions—and directly counters what he had testified to Congress.
According to his congressional testimony, Comey had told Trump at the Jan. 6, 2017, meeting that he wasn’t under investigation by the FBI, noting, “sir, we’re not personally investigating you.”
Prior to the meeting with Trump at Trump Tower, Comey met with FBI officials involved in the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the Trump campaign to discuss a strategy to obtain information and how to memorialize it right after the meeting.
"Like J. E. Dyer, I really want to know the truth of this. I also really want to see it all wrapped up in a conspiracy indictment."ReplyDelete
Anyone who wants the Rule of Law supports what you wrote.
I think the country is beyond trusting Congressional commissions. People have a pretty good idea who the responsible parties are. They're willing to learn more, but they want results.Delete
Yes. My hope is that those who think like we do are motivated to vote and to speak out.ReplyDelete
The thought that comes to mind is entrapment or a sting. Luring Trump into some sort of a false move.ReplyDelete
In another way, Trump's reaction to the scenario he was confronted with shows him to be far move stable and in control of his faculties, judgment, and emotions than Clown Comey.
"The thought that comes to mind is entrapment or a sting. Luring Trump into some sort of a false move."Delete
You'd be absolutely right if it were a matter of a criminal prosecution. Notice that Comey apparently likened it to a CI investigation. IOW, they were seeking a resignation or, since this was before inauguration, a withdrawal. It's still illegal, since they're clearly targeting Trump without a case opened on him, but they figure they can get away with it. It's a clear violation of the Guidelines. The question is, does it violate any law? It probably doesn't, however it could undoubtedly be used as evidence to support the conspiracy theory of prosecution that I've described.
Notice how I said the act was "illegal," but then contradicted myself, in effect, by saying it violated the Guidelines but probably not a law. So, not actually illegal. But evidence of an illegal conspiracy, without being itself illegal.Delete
Yes, I've thought that the co-conspirators in the activities and efforts to effect the election and electoral outcome, brazen as they were, may not have individually committed any illegality in the strict sense--going as far as each did to the edge. That many undoubtedly violated official guidelines for professional conduct and investigatory procedures was the partisan sacrifice they were willing to make. Success in their insurance policy efforts likely meant those efforts would remain undiscovered/undisclosed, thereby escaping any scrutiny, nor pay any price.Delete
Three lemons turning up on that pull of the slot machine arm was furthest from their imagination.
As I've previously mused, a network of nods and winks, all knowing the objective, without a purported leader coordinating the efforts, makes for a boatload of misconduct. But does that misconduct add up to a felony conspiracy? I'd guess probably--if only because no one has rationalized away the very exceptional conduct.
That media has ignored the underlying story--the biggest US political scandal for anyone alive today--means they don't want it uncovered and revealed to the public.
To use a Sherlock Holmes analogy, the media is the dog that didn't bark.
Right. But here's briefly how violating Guidelines--a firing offense--could play into conspiracy charges. Simply put, knowingly violating the Guidelines can be used as evidence of intent to forward a broader conspiracy to defraud the government of honest services. That broader conspiracy--a violation in and of itself--could include both Guideline violations as well as violations like false statements in the FISA applications that were violatins of criminal statutes. That's part of why Comey is foolish to gloat because he wasn't prosecuted for the leaks. Even if this leaks only violated internal Guidelines, they could later be used as evidence of intent in a broader conspiracy indictment.Delete
My fondest hope.
Yes, absolutely. You've concisely stated what I have in mind, though outside my field of experience to articulate it:ReplyDelete
"knowingly violating the Guidelines can be used as evidence of intent to forward a broader conspiracy to defraud the government of honest services. That broader conspiracy--a violation in and of itself--could include both Guideline violations as well as violations like false statements in the FISA applications that were violatins of criminal statutes."
"Evidence of intent" being the key thought in my mind for a successful prosecution. It's my idea behind the three lemons. E.g., actions taken to secure the FISC warrant, using media leaks, running agent provocateurs at Papa, "tickling the wire" and other efforts to "trigger" Trump into infelicitous reactions, and coming up empty.
Here's the thing ...Delete
An act that is not necessarily criminal in and of itself can become criminal if it is performed to further a conspiracy. That's what makes conspiracy law so powerful. So, if there's a conspiracy to rob a bank, if someone rents a car (not a criminal act) in order that the car can be used for the getaway, they can be prosecuted as co-conspirators even if they didn't perform any other act associated with robbing the bank.