Friday, November 22, 2019

Deep State Spinning?

Sure looks like it. And, to be fair, Republicans are out there spinning, too, about what to expect from the OIG FISA report.

A few days ago John Ratcliffe was saying, Look, it doesn't take 500 pages (the reported length of the report) to say nobody did anything wrong. We've had other conservatives claiming that there will be indictments. And today President Trump said the report will be "historic," the "greatest scandal in history."

Now comes the NYT, to tell us that a low level (former) FBI lawyer is in trouble, but Strzok and Comey and the rest of the gang are gonna skate. That has led to despair in some circles. For example at TGP we read:
The Deep State is leaking and spinning ahead of Michael Horowitz’s much-anticipated report on FISA abuses which is set to be released shortly. 
According to leaks from the New York Times, Horowitz’s report will not condemn former FBI Director James Comey or former counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok. 
Rather, a low-level FBI lawyer named Kevin Clinesmith is facing criminal charges for ‘altering an email’ related to the Carter Page FISA documents. 
Recall, Kevin Clinesmith was one of several FBI lawyers who was previously referred for investigation by the DOJ IG for sending anti-Trump text messages over official FBI phones. 
Mueller fired Clinesmith for his anti-Trump text messages.

Interestingly, it's sundance at CTH who's telling conservatives to just chill. And along the way he provides interesting new details about Clinesmith's email altering activities.

I come down on sundance's side of this--as he says, I think the report will be more than what the NYT is spinning. Sundance begins with a programmatic passage (italicized portions are from the NYT article):

[…] More broadly, Mr. Horowitz’s report, to be made public on Dec. 9, portrays the overall effort to seek the wiretap order and its renewals as sloppy and unprofessional, according to the people familiar with it. He will also sharply criticize as careless one of the F.B.I. case agents in New York handling the matter, they said.
In my opinion, the report is going to be much more than that.  Why? Because they didn’t just get a ‘wiretap’, they got a Title-1 FISA authorized surveillance warrant; the most extensive and intrusive form of surveillance warrant possible.  A Title-1 warrant allows any and all surveillance. Wiretaps, bugs, electronic surveillance, physical surveillance, the works.  A Title-1 warrant is used against suspected terrorists in the U.S.

This makes sense to me. The idea that a FISA warrant essentially targeting Trump's campaign could be given the OK by Horowitz? That doesn't pass the sniff test. And I won't change my mind, no matter what Horowitz says. If the report says what the NYT is claiming, then the fix is in. I've seen fixes. I know.
[…] In particular, while Mr. Horowitz criticizes F.B.I. leadership for its handling of the highly fraught Russia investigation in some ways, he made no finding of politically biased actions by top officials Mr. Trump has vilified like the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey; Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy who temporarily ran the bureau after the president fired Mr. Comey in 2017; and Peter Strzok, a former top counterintelligence agent.
Notice the contradiction and the parsing: “in some ways he made no finding of politically biased actions“…  Some ways?  So there are findings of bias, just not in all ways.  Notice how they repeat a needed narrative tone, yet simultaneously contradicting their lead paragraph.
OK, here I have to take issue. Horowitz is NOT saying that there was bias in any way at all. But there were problems in the handling of the investigation. Duh! But sundance continues:
Again, take this stuff with the proverbial grain of salt.  This is the “small group” selling their narrative through their media allies.  They are trying to make an argument that they are simultaneously undermining.  That’s what happens in the narrative engineering process. 
This entire NYT article is fraught with the intent to be obtuse. 
[…] The early accounts of the report suggest that it is likely to stoke the debate over the investigation without definitively resolving it, by offering both sides different conclusions they can point to as vindication for their rival worldviews.
[…] The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court first approved wiretapping Mr. Page, who had close ties to Russia, as a suspected unregistered agent of a foreign power in October 2016, after he had left the campaign. 
The Justice Department obtained three renewal orders. The paperwork associated with the renewal applications contained information that should have been left out, and vice versa, the people briefed on the draft report said. 
“and vice versa”, meaning there was information that should have been included.  Yes, that would be the exculpatory information…. the absence therein speaks to the motive of assembly.
That's a  very important point. And the next one is fascinating to me, because it involves "another federal agency". What agency would that be?

The email Mr. Clinesmith handled was a factor during the wiretap renewal process, according to the people.
Mr. Clinesmith took an email from an official at another federal agency that contained several factual assertions, then added material to the bottom that looked like another assertion from the email’s author, when it was instead his own understanding.
Mr. Clinesmith included this altered email in a package that he compiled for another F.B.I. official to read in preparation for signing an affidavit that would be submitted to the court attesting to the facts and analysis in the wiretap application.
The details of the email are apparently classified and may not be made public even when the report is unveiled.
[…] Additionally, Mr. Clinesmith worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Russia investigation. He was among the F.B.I. officials removed by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, after Mr. Horowitz found text messages expressing political animus against Mr. Trump.
Wait, the article just said, including the lead paragraph, Horowitz found no evidence of political bias? 
Shortly after Mr. Trump’s election victory, for example, Mr. Clinesmith texted another official that “the crazies won finally,” disparaged Mr. Trump’s health care and immigration agendas, and called Vice President Mike Pence “stupid.” In another text, he wrote, in the context of a question about whether he intended to stay in government, “viva la resistance.”
In a June 2018 report by Mr. Horowitz about that and other politically charged texts, which identified him as “F.B.I. Attorney 2,” Mr. Clinesmith said he was expressing his personal views but did not let them affect his official actions.
The inspector general apparently did not assert in the draft report that any of the problems he found were so material that the court would have rejected the Justice Department’s requests to continue surveilling Mr. Page. But the people familiar with the draft were uncertain about whether Mr. Horowitz said the problems were immaterial, or instead avoided taking a position on that question.
[…] The report is also said to conclude that Joseph Mifsud, a Russia-linked professor who told a Trump campaign official that Russia had damaging information on Mrs. Clinton in the form of hacked Democratic emails — a key fact used to open the investigation — was not an F.B.I. informant. That undercuts an assertion of conservative critics of the inquiry.
No-one in conservative critic circles said Mifsud was an “FBI informant.”  The concern is whether he is a CIA, or Western Intelligence, operative…. not FBI.
You can continue reading the NYT article here.  The bottom line is there is going to be much more than presented in these weak defenses and media constructs.
Here's the bottom line.  Barr and Durham are not bound by this report. Horowitz at OIG is constricted as to how he conducts his investigations, but Durham has all tools at his disposal.


  1. Mid-level sacrificial lamb? Possibly facing a referral from OIG, not synonymous with facing criminal charges. And if true (you did say NYT, right?), one could be forgiven for expecting the usual "PROSECUTION WAS DECLINED" for conduct that would more than likely land any other American in the hoosgow.

    1. Yes, that's what the spin is. I don't normally piggyback on other bloggers, but I was struck by the fact that sundance--usually quick to sniff a sellout--wasn't buying this. Two points:

      1) Durham and Barr are not bound by OIG and are conducting a parallel but still separate investigation.

      2) Trump doesn't oversell things.

      If your speculation proves correct, I'll be the first to say the fix was in.

  2. There is much left to be revealed. As examples, the mining of the NSA archives for dirt on Trump began in 2015, fully a year before the FISA was approved. Also, the FBI installed and monitored listening devices within the White House prior to Trump moving in. That alone was a criminal act that not even the Deep State can deep six. Barr is not planning a whitewash (and Clinesmith is actually a trivial player in the coup). Rudy was on the right track also and he is a deadly crime fighter. Soros purchased Obama in a pay-to-play scheme operating out of the Ukraine. That is where this is headed, and it is historic.

    1. I want to believe this, reason tells me it must be true. That Trump seemed so confident this morning is a big plus. That had to come from his briefing from Barr.

  3. I read Horowitz's report on Comey (seems like ages ago) as particularly scathing, (i.e the Jan 6 ambush masquerading as defensive brief) Obviously that didn't stop Comey & Co from spinning completely the opposite. I still can't believe it.

    I would like to think that nothing would surprise me after that. But still, it does.

    I continue to believe (apparently wrongly) the media will rectify... I still cannot identify the logic to the overwhelming cohesiveness of the anti Trump media campaign. I don't believe there's been anything like this in modern history.

    1. That's Trump's merit--he has galvanized the opposition, thus smoking them out. A real service. But I'll admit I'm getting antsy.

    2. If I'm understanding you correctly, you are getting antsy about the media correcting itself, correct?

      It seems that only sustained opprobrium from the People will make a dent. In liberal TV shows, they love to have a scene where a conservative is discredited as a hypocrite and all the people walk away from him.

      If the media/Deep State/Uniparty are exposed and people turn on them, we could see change. Trump has helped these charlatans rip their masks off.

      It ain't pretty what's beneath the surface of these wicked men.

    3. I'm antsy for results. Like Don Surber says, no excitement without indictment.

  4. FWIW, I submit

    --that nothing in the NYT article is the result of a Horowitz or DOJ leak,

    --that most of the NYT article is based on leaks from Clinesmith's lawyers (who apparently have had access to the fractions of Horowitz' report that involve him).

    --that other persons referred to in the article as 'persons briefed on the matter' don't know anything for sure (see many weasel words in the article)

    --that, accordingly, there is very little reporting in the article and lots of spin.

    --and there is no reason at this point to even begin to trust the NYT.

    I am suspending judgment until more is known.

  5. "You can continue reading the NYT article here."

    Happily, I can't. I cancelled my NYT subscription (again) yesterday.

    I cancelled it (again) a year ago and they lured me back with a $4/month digital subscription. I do a lot of historical research (on subjects unrelated to this fun stuff) and the NYT archives are very useful because it once was a newspaper which in many respects reported stuff factually.

    Yesterday they published an op-ed by Glenn Simpson which again more or less paints Trump as a Putin dupe who benefited from Putin's attempt to swing the election to Trump. So, in my opinion, the NYT is not only grotesquely biased, they offer their platform to Mrs Clinton's minion who has had as much responsibilty as anyone for the national nightmare we are living through.

    So when I cancelled and told them why they texted me a message offering to extend my subscription for another year at $1 week.

    No deal.

    They must be desperate. They are desperate.

    1. Right. Every time I wonder whether I should accept the "come back" offers from WSJ they run another Peggy Noonan bunch of BS. Nope.

      Don Surber had a very nice take down (again) of Noonan yesterday:

      Noonan and the vapid response team

  6. This NYT article confirms my premise, as I wrote Thursday about CNN's report on this "low-level" lawyer-->I have the feeling this "report" is a preview of what's to come as the DNC-MSM obfuscates, modifies, or walks back previous reporting.

    Drown the public in minutia and obscurantist details, and pound away at Orange Man Bad narrative, while exclaiming "who ya gonna believe, me? or your lying eyes?"

    What's an even higher state of desperation called? Cuz the NYT is getting there...

    1. Right. This is what I try to address in my new, and long, post.