Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Turning Over The 2016 Rocks

That's the theme of Holman Jenkins' column in today's WSJ: "Who Will Turn Over the 2016 Rocks?" Jenkins, in line with his NeverTrumpism, buys into the idea that James Comey--among others--was "played by the Russians" (re a supposed forged email chain), even while backhandedly acknowledging the difficulties of that position:

"Making further mincemeat of Mr. Comey's rationale [the supposed email chain], the inspector general has revealed that his FBI colleagues judged the Russian intelligence to be 'objectively false' and possibly a Kremlin plant."

Nevertheless, Jenkins finishes off with some big picture observations of the lay of the land facing the Deep State and its Fourth Estate lackeys. I offer them here as food for thought for the Thanksgiving weekend, as we await solid news in the coming weeks:

Wafting above all is an odor of 1963, when the press deliberately ignored Lee Harvey Oswald's communist affiliations in favor of a distracting talking point about right-wing extremism in Dallas. Do I think the republic today can survive a full airing of the US intelligence community's inept actions in the 2016 race? Yes, and with minimal shock at this point. It's the FBI and CIA that are unlikely to survive without undergoing a sweeping institutional housecleaning. 
Which brings us to the latest inspector general's report due in a couple weeks, itself a down payment on a criminal investigation now in the hands of US Attorney John Durham. Because Washington is seldom keen to prosecute even plainly illegal leaks when Republicans are the victims, and because unprofessional credulousness in the face of dubious "intelligence" (like the Steele dossier) is not about to become a crime, the cathartic prosecutions of Obama intelligence officials that some Trump loyalists crave are unlikely to happen. 
Many of us avidly await the coming revelations for a different reason: to see if the mainstream media will finally interest itself in the truths of 2016.  Looming over the fourth estate is a quietly important question: whether continuing to collude in a coverup can remain consistent with commercial survival.

My reactions:

1) I don't doubt that the republic can survive a full airing of the intelligence community's actions in 2016--and, indeed, for the last 3-4 years, and probably more. The far bigger question is, whether the republic can survive without such a full airing. That appears to me to be doubtful.

2) Jenkin's characterization of the Intelligence Community's actions over the past years as "inept" is clearly absurd. Kevin Clinesmith's faking of evidence wasn't "inept", it was criminal. Nor was opening NSA databases to opposition research contractors for the DNC, concealing negative information from the FISC, refusing to look at Democrat collusion with Ukraine against Trump in 2016, merely "inept." And, of course, there's much more.

3) Whether the fourth estate can survive the latest massive revelations of their corruption and survive commercially is a question that has already been answered. If they survive it will only be in attenuated form and without the presumption of credibility they once enjoyed.

Another interesting aspect of Jenkins' article is that he skips from the "odor" of media corruption that was on full display in 1963 (as some of us recall) all the way to 2016. What happened to the Nixon years--and indeed all the years up to the present?

In fact, it's somewhat amusing, but also very telling, that a part of the Impeachment Theater effort to sell another leftist coup has involved efforts to revive the memory of "The Movement" from the Sixties and Seventies and, especially of Watergate. Not surprisingly it was none other than disgraced prosecutor Andrew Weissmann--late of Team Mueller and author of the Mueller Dossier--who turned up on MSNBC to tell the Dems how to sell impeachment:

"The key thing that the Democrats have to think about is, where are you going to be at the end? What is it that you’re going to be asking people to really care about? And you need to find out — and make the case for — why should there be impeachment where people vote to convict as opposed to acquit now, and not sort of let it go to the election?" Weissmann said on MSNBC. 
He said Democrats "needed to focus on that this was about election interference in our election" and encouraged more analogies to the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation.

We first saw the Nixon comparisons when Comey was fired--the media just can't seem to help themselves and comically believe the rest of the country is also always ready to relive the glory days of Watergate. The significance of this latest recrudescence (the mot juste, I believe) of the Watergate mythology was not lost on Geoff Shepard: Trump impeachment and Watergate – As a Nixon defense attorney I can compare them. (It's a fine article--read it all.) He notes the coordination of talking points:

Following the lackluster Trump impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller prosecutor Andrew “The Pit Bull” Weissmann took to cable news to coach Democrats on their performance. He urged them to go bigger and bolder with their argument by comparing President Trump’s conduct directly to President Richard Nixon’s in the Watergate scandal.
Days later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did just that by claiming: “What [Trump] did was so much worse than even what Richard Nixon did.”

Predictably the effort fell totally flat, which is in line with what Andrew Klavan tells us (follow the link to his fine article, too), quoted in a piece by Ed Driscoll:

Recently, reading Mark Levin’s Unfreedom of the Press, I was reminded that, before reporters went on their great crusade against Richard Nixon, they had overlooked a whole lot of corruption in the Democrat presidents who preceded him. 
Levin tells how John F. Kennedy, with the knowledge of his brother and Attorney General Robert, nudged the IRS into auditing conservative groups. With Kennedy approval, the FBI was also employed to investigate those the administration disliked, including Martin Luther King Jr. Lyndon Baines Johnson would later increase the politically motivated auditing and spying. None of this was uncovered until later on. 
Ben Bradlee — the editor of the Washington Post, where Woodward and Bernstein broke the Watergate story — was well aware of his pal Kennedy’s misuse of the tax and investigative agencies. Not only did he not report it, he allowed himself and his paper to be manipulated by information JFK had wrongly obtained. 
This totally changes the Watergate narrative. Nixon’s dirty tricks and enemy lists may have been creepy and wrong, but the press exposure of these misdemeanors came after years of ignoring similar and worse malfeasance by Democrat administrations. 
That changes what Watergate means. That transforms it from a heroic crusade into a political hit job, Democrat hackery masquerading as nobility. The press turned a blind eye to the corruption of JFK and LBJ, then raced to overturn the election of a man they despised—despised in part because he battled the Communism many of them had espoused. 
What is it Karl Marx said: History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce?
Read the whole thing. While the left launched Watergate to destroy Nixon, the discovery by the American people that It Didn’t Start With Watergate, as Victor Lasky accurately titled his 1977 book did much to make the distrust of government an “unexpectedly” bipartisan affair in the 1970s. Or as David Frum puts it in his 2000 book How We Got Here: The 70s The Decade That Brought You Modern Life — For Better Or Worse: 
Some blame Watergate for this abrupt collapse of trust in institutions, but not very convincingly. For one thing, the decline in trust begins to appear in the polls as early as 1966, almost a decade before the Watergate was known as anything more than a big hole in the ground alongside the Potomac River. For another, the nation had managed unconcernedly to shrug off Watergate-style events before. Somebody bugged Barry Goldwater’s apartment during the 1964 election without it triggering a national trauma. The Johnson administration tapped the phones of Nixon supporters in 1968, and again nothing happened. John F. Kennedy regaled reporters with intimate details from the tax returns of wealthy Republican donors, and none of the reporters saw anything amiss. FDR used the Federal Bureau of Investigation to spy on opponents of intervention into World War II—and his targets howled without result. If Watergate could so transform the nation’s sense of itself, why did those previous abuses, which were equally well known to the press, not do so? Americans did not lose their faith in institutions because of the Watergate scandal; Watergate became a scandal because Americans were losing faith in their institutions.
Which brings us back to Andrew Klavan’s article above, in which he writes, “History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce … Like the Nixon takedown, the attacks on Trump come after years of turning a blind eye to the corruption of a Democrat. Obama’s IRS campaign against the Tea Party? His lies about Benghazi? His Fast and Furious fiasco? His shutdown of a massive drug investigation to appease Iran? No big deal. Obama was, as almost every mainstream outlet has declared, ‘scandal free.’”

Read the whole thing.


  1. I just commented on an old post of your blog, and then this new post appeared. This is a good place to repeat my comment.


    I have just reread Jeff Carlson's article, and I again am puzzled by one paragraph:

    [quote; emphasis added]

    On Nov. 22, 2016, [Kevin] Clinesmith sent another instant message to [Sally] Moyer, “commenting on the amount of money the subject of an FBI investigation had been paid while working on the Trump campaign.” Moyer responded, “Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?” Clinesmith replied, “Hell no.” and then added, “Viva le resistance.”

    [end quote]

    I assume that the subject of an FBI investigation is Carter Page, but I am puzzled about who was paying some remarkable amount of money to Page.

    * The Trump campaign staff?

    * The FBI?

    * The CIA?

    I think the most plausible explanation is that Page was being paid by the CIA. Perhaps the FBI discovered this fact belatedly after the election, or perhaps the FBI concealed the fact in its FISA application.

    This fact continued to be concealed in the first renewal applications. Only in the last renewal application was Clinesmith compelled to address the fact that Page had been a paid informant of the CIA while working on Trump's campaign staff in 2016.

    The e-mail that Clinesmith altered for the last FISA renewal was an e-mail from the CIA saying that Page was a paid CIA informant while on the Trump campaign staff in 2016.

    1. Mike, I wondered about this, too. The OIG account (p. 448 of the entire pdf - - doesn't shed much light on this.

      Overall, I tend to come down on the idea that the money in question was paid by the Trump campaign, for the reason that later in the exchange Moyer made the comment that:

      "Trump was 'going to eliminate all of our pensions in order to pay for people like' the person discussed in the instant message exchange, and FBI Attorney 1 and FBI Attorney 2 then began a discussion of federal pension and retirement issues."

      The idea seems to be that if Trump pays advisers so lavishly he'll have to reduce the benefits of more low level Federal employees. An interesting level of paranoia.

    2. I doubt that Carter Page received more than a trivial salary from the Trump campaign staff during 2016.

      I think that the Clinesmith-Moyer exchange revolved around the following idea:

      So, now Trump will become President and will appoint Carter Page to some, high-paying job.

      Meanwhile, President Trump soon will fire us (Clinesmith and Moyer, etc.) before we are fully invested in our pensions.

    3. Right. The only one of the "four Americans" who were subject of Crossfire Hurricane that this would fit (Page, PapaD, Flynn, Manafort) would be Manafort. By the time the exchange between Moyer and Clinesmith took place, 1/22/16, I believe only Flynn was still connected to Trump, and he would have been on the transistion team at that point. Or angling for his NSA job. The only one of those four who would have received money from the campaign would have Manafort. I believe the others were all unpaid advisers, hoping to make it in the administration.

    4. Hmmm.

      In theory, Manafort (not Page) might have been paid some huge amount of money by the Trump campaign staff while he was being investigated by the FBI.

      In practice, though, Trump probably was stingy about paying all advisors and managers on his campaign staff.

      Even if Manafort was paid a huge amount of money per week, he was the campaign manager only for a few weeks, so his total earnings were limited.


      It makes a lot of sense that Page might have been a paid informant of the CIA. He lived and worked as an American businessman in Russia for a long time and continued to travel into Russia while he was on Trump's campaign staff in 2016.

      If Page indeed was a paid CIA informant, then the FBI must have found out that status before applying for the first FISA warrant against him. I imagine that Clinesmith hid the e-mail he received about Page from the CIA in the fall of 2016.

      Then when Clinesmith was preparing the final application to renew the FISA warrant, he was compelled to provide the e-mail belatedly, but he altered it.

      That's my speculation.

    5. I agree it makes total sense that Page would have been a CIA asset. However, trust me on this, there is no way in the world that the CIA would ever acknowledge that to the FBI--and far less of a chance that they would EVER disclose the amount of any payments they had made to him.

      I can only speculate on what the other agency would be that the email came from. I doubt the CIA. I suspect rather that it was from State, which is quoted in the FISA app as confirming that Page was an agent of a foreign power.

    6. there is no way in the world that the CIA would ever acknowledge that to the FBI--and far less of a chance that they would EVER disclose the amount of any payments they had made to him.

      A FISA application is a very exceptional situation.

    7. Heh. I can think of no situation that would be exceptional enough for that.

    8. I read the exchange in the OIG report on FBI Attorney 2 and I don't see any reference to Carter Page. As the assumed subject of the "commenting on the amount of money paid to..." quote from the report, it seems ambiguous--as it's a paraphrase summary, not a direct quote of the instant messaging conversation.

      The manner of inclusion appears odd as its format is different than the other IM conversations cited just above it. The paraphrasing gives the appearance of obscuring the substance (who was paid what) of the IM, while reinforcing the inappropriate nature of the rambling and complaining conversation in order to include the concluding "Viva la resistance" quote.

      While Carter Page may be an obvious choice as the subject, it's just not clear to me he is. YMMV.

    9. Yes, I believe the paraphrasing was intended to conceal the identity. Seems silly.

    10. The CIA Director from January 23, 2017, until April 26, 2018 was Mike Pompeo.

      The two last FISA renewal applications were dated April 7 and June 29th, 2017 -- both while the CIA Director was Pompeo.

      It's reasonable to assume that Pompeo might have ordered the CIA to make an exception to the usual rules and to inform the FBI that Carter Page had been a paid CIA informant during 2016.


      That possibility does not fit well, however, with the Clinesmith-Moyer exchange on November 22, 2016.

      Also, Clinesworth's altering of a CIA e-mail ordered by Pompeo would have been extremely reckless.

    11. "It's reasonable to assume that Pompeo might have ordered the CIA to make an exception to the usual rules and to inform the FBI that Carter Page had been a paid CIA informant during 2016."

      I totally disagree. Plus ...

      There's no way that they CIA would allow its fingerprints to be on a FISA of a US Person--that's domestic spying.

      There's no reason in the world for the CIA to tell anyone else, including the FBI, how much they pay assets.

    12. IIRC Manafort volunteered to be the Trump campaign manager, no pay.

      Carter Page, like PapaD, was an unpaid volunteer on a Foreign Policy Advisory Board to the campaign.

  2. Two quick points

    1 Re "Clinesmith sent another instant message to [Sally] Moyer commenting on the amount of money the subject of an FBI investigation had been paid while working on the Trump campaign"

    Could this have been Flynn? Hasn't there been speculation that there was a FISA on Flynn as well?

    2 Re loss of trust beginning in 1966:

    Don't forget that Watergate was preceded by VietNam. By 1966 it was apparent to (many of) us teenagers (at the time) that not only were we being lied to, but that there was something profoundly wrong about spraying Agent Orange on civilians and soldiers coming home in a body bag in service of those lies...

    I look forward to taking a more careful trip through your post, Mark, and through the links you have provided. Thank you very much for the information you provide here and for the opportunity you give your commenters to (hopefully) contribute.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. See my comment above. I don't believe Flynn was paid by the Trump campaign. Otherwise, it could have been.

      Tx, it's fascinating to place all this in a longer perspective.

    2. On the 60s, esp. Jenkins on Oswald/ Russia, I say that the mistrust of MSM was less about their ducking looking at Oswald’s ties to Russia, that about looking at how J. Edgar or CIA could’ve allowed him back into the U.S., w/o a 24/7 tail on him, esp. once JFK’s W.H. announced a plan for JFK to go to Dallas.
      And, about how the limo could’ve had no Sec. Svc. guys anywhere near enough to JFK, to cover him after the first shot rang out.
      I know of NO successful SNIPER attack, ever launched on a high official of a major democracy, by a “lone wolf”.
      See books etc. by Jefferson Morley (see*Version*=1&*entries*=0 ),
      and Vince Palamara (see e.g. ),
      on how the Sec. Svc. effectively took the day off.

      And, there’s also been mistrust, about how the hell Ruby could’ve been allowed into the Dallas P.D. basement, like he owned the joint, w/o being frisked by Feds.
      It should’ve been a slam dunk for J. Edgar to ensure Oswald’s safety in police custody (like Epstein’s safety 56 years later), even tho J. Edgar had no “official” clout with Dallas P.D.
      Knowledgeable folks knew that, official clout or no, when J. Edgar said “jump”, the prudent response was “how high?.

    3. By "a high official of a major democracy", I mean, someone getting protection from a Sec. Svc. - type agency.
      A group of CONSPIRATORS (led by LTC Bastien-Thiry) shot up De Gaulle's motorcade a year+ before JFK was in Dallas, but all of their c. 200 rounds missed De Gaulle, thanx partly to sound setup of his security arrangements.
      So, when a Sec. Svc. gives a damn, they can force even well-planned conspiracies into low-percentage operations.

  3. PS -- One postscript:

    I can't help but mention, and I know you have disagreed with me repeatedly about this, Mark, over the past year...but I have doubted the virginity of Carter Page and George PapaD since their stories first became known. For that matter I have also doubted what team Sam Clovis (remember him) was really on.

    I admit I have come to believe both Page and PapaD were 'used' to obtain a FISA warrant and provide a 'Russia Collusion' hook, respectively, and are therefore 'victims', but I somehow can't bring myself to believe they weren't (both of them) recruited in some way by the bad guys to work on the campaign.

    Feel free to disagree. I am resigned to it. :)

    1. My theory has been--and I see no one talking about this--that there was a spy working on the Trump campaign who sought out people who could be planted in the campaign to frame/compromise Trump as colluding with Russia. The idea still makes sense to me, although less now perhaps:

    2. there was a spy working on the Trump campaign who sought out people who could be planted in the campaign to frame/compromise Trump as colluding with Russia.

      Maybe that spy was Carter Page.

      Page has been complaining publicly that he has not been allowed to read and comment on the upcoming IG report.

    3. Don't know what' going on there, but it's interesting. OTOH, I had personal experience re an OIG report that I would've been more than happy to comment on.

  4. Replies
    1. I heard a lecture he gave, and was quite bowled over by it. I've got his new book bookmarked at Amazon but blogging somehow keeps getting in the way.

  5. At some point in the future, the media will admit Obama's faults. Unfortunately, it'll be too little too late.

  6. Carter page STILL refuses to say a bad word about Stefan Halper, who we know was payed a million bucks for no documented work through the Office of Net Assessment. What if Halper was the paymaster, funneling money to Page (and others?) through ONA to disguise it's origin/purpose?