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Monday, December 2, 2019

MULTIPLE UPDATES: Breaking: Barr Disagrees With Horowitz

Specifically, what Barr is reported as maintaining is that the FBI lacked a justification for opening its Crossfire Hurricane investigation. In legalese, he's saying that the predication for the investigation was inadequate as measured by the requirements of the AG Guidelines for National Security Investigations. That's what the WaPo is reporting tonight: Barr disputes key inspector general finding about FBI’s Russia investigation.

Recall that disgraced former FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that Crossfire Hurricane was "a full enterprise counterintelligence (CI) investigation." What that boils down to--plugging the specifics of the Crossfire Hurricane into the conceptual framework of the AG Guidelines--is this:

The FBI possessed specific and articulable facts that gave reason to believe that 1) "four Americans" - Carter Page, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and Paul Manafort - constituted an "enterprise" or "group in fact" within the Trump campaign, and 2) that "enterprise" was engaged in activities that were a threat to the national security of the United States on behalf of Russia.

Nothing I have seen over the past three years supports that claim. Everything I have seen indicates that the FBI's sole reliance on source information that could not be verified--and in many cases was speculation of the rankest sort--fell well short of a reason for the FBI to believe that it possessed the required factual basis.

Assuming the accuracy of the WaPo's reporting, I'll surprise no one by saying that I agree with Barr. As it stands, I'd say that Horowitz's report will soon be shown to be essentially a whitewash because it will have failed to forthrightly address the clear lack of predication for the FBI's actions. As I've stated endlessly over the last three years, that is the fundamental issue--little else truly matters. By stating that the FBI's investigation had sufficient predication the door will be left wide open for a repeat of this fiasco. In a practical sense, it will mean that the FBI's decisions will not be second guessed. That will mean that no substantive reform of the FBI will occur unless John Durham's investigation lives up to its promise and the Deep State will be able to breathe more easily.

Here are excerpts from the article:


Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’s inspector general on one of the key findings in an upcoming report — that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is due to release his long-awaited findings in a week, but behind the scenes at the Justice Department, disagreement has surfaced about one of such aHorowitz’s central conclusions on the origins of the Russia investigation. ... 
Barr has not been swayed by Horowitz’s rationale for concluding the FBI had sufficient basis to open an investigation on July 31, 2016, these people said. 
... 
It’s not yet clear how Barr plans to make his objection to Horowitz’s conclusion known. The inspector general report, currently in draft form, is being finalized after input from various witnesses and offices that were scrutinized by the inspector general. Barr or a senior Justice Department official could submit a formal letter as part of that process, which would then be included in the final report. It is standard practice for every inspector general report to include a written response from the department. Barr could forgo a written rebuttal on that specific point and just publicly state his concerns. 
... 
The attorney general has privately contended that Horowitz does not have enough information to reach the conclusion the FBI had enough details in hand at the time to justify opening such a probe. He argues that other U.S. agencies, such as the CIA, may hold significant information that could alter Horowitz’s conclusion on that point, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. 
... 
People familiar with the draft language of Horowitz’s report said while it is critical of some FBI employees, and found some systemic problems in surveillance procedures, it overall does not agree with Trump’s charge that the investigation was a “witch hunt” or a politically motivated attack on him first as a candidate and then as president. 
Instead, the draft report found that the investigation was opened on a solid legal and factual footing, these people said. 
Part of Barr’s reluctance to accept that finding is related to another investigation, one being conducted by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, into how intelligence agencies pursued allegations of Russian election tampering in 2016. ... 
...

UPDATE 1:

UPDATE 2: I'll be happy to eat my words/opinions, as expressed above. Sundance is arguing that the WaPo story is disinformational, claiming that Horowitz's mandate did not run to the origins of the Russia Hoax, only to whether the FISA was properly obtained:

Horowitz was not tasked to go anywhere near this [i.e., predication for the Crossfire Hurricane investigation].  Horowitz is looking at whether the DOJ and FBI complied with internal DOJ/FBI rules and processes during their FISA application and use within the FISA court.
The Washington Post wants to sell a narrative that AG Bill Barr is not accepting the inspector general finding on the origin of the Russia investigation; but the inspector general did not investigate the origin of the Russia investigation. The purpose of the WaPo report is to intentionally conflate the two issues.

I get the point, but here's the problem: the two issues are related. In order to even apply for a FISA order, the FBI must first have a Full Investigation opened. It would make sense, therefore, for the IG to examine whether the FBI had followed the AG Guidelines in opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation as a Full Investigation (as opposed to, say, a Preliminary Investigation). It could, in fact, be argued that the IG was bound to conduct such an examination.

OTOH, it's possible that the IG--knowing that Barr had tasked John Durham with getting to the bottom of the origins of the Russia Hoax--refrained from a determinative conclusion but instead stated that based on available information he accepts that the Full Investigation was properly predicated. From that it's possible that the WaPo's sources would try to spin that Horowitz had given a blanket endorsement to the opening predication, when that might not really be the case.

I would still want to disagree, however. I would maintain, and have done so, that even on the available information the Full Investigation did not have the required predication. And I would hope that Barr would agree with my assessment.

UPDATE 3: Further confirmation that OIG did examine the predication for the Crossfire Hurricane full investigation--which investigation was then used to apply for the Carter Page FISA. On February 28, 2018, Senators Graham and Grassley--both on the Senate Judiciary Committee--wrote a letter to IG Horowitz asking him to address a long laundry list of issues in his investigation. Most of the issues listed, numbering thirty one, were in fact concerned with FISA matters. However, two points relate directly to the question of predication for the Crossfire Hurricane full investigation:

18) Was Peter Strzok aware of Steele’s claims when he opened the so-called Trump/Russia counterintelligence investigation? Did Mr. Steele’s claims play any role in the decision to open this investigation, despite the stated basis of foreign intelligence regarding George Papadopoulos? Was there any discussion at the FBI about whether to cite to Steele’s information in opening the investigation?
19) To what extent did Mr. Steele’s information form any part of the basis for the FBI to expand its investigation from Mr. Papadopoulos to Mr. Page, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and Mr. Manafort?

So, while I certainly hope that sundance will be proved to be correct in the end, you can see that the neat distinction of issues that he attempts to postulate doesn't really hold up. I assume that the two senators were pretty well briefed on the parameters of the OIG investigation.

45 comments:

  1. Lindsey was just on Hannity, stressing that the failure of the Russia probers, to tell Trump of possible Russian infiltration, will be a main focus of his probing of Horowitz's report.
    I would hope, that Lindsey's probing would emphasize the two-step reach of the warrant which DoJ sought from the FISA court.

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    1. Gregg Jarrett is also supposed to be on:

      @GreggJarrett:
      "I’ll be on Hannity tonight at 9, eastern. We’ll discuss new report that AG Barr does not believe the FBI had a legal basis to launch its investigation of Trump in July of 2016, as I argued in both my books, The Russia Hoax and Witch Hunt."

      Graham's approach is sensible as it exposes the likelihood of bias and unfair treatment of Trump as compared to Clinton. Nevertheless, to me predication is the whole ball of wax.

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    2. "...may hold significant information that could alter Horowitz’s conclusion on that point...."

      Not likely. If this is true, and not just media making smoke, then Horowitz has completed his Spirit Dance ceremony and will defend the sacred tribe. Giving up some individuals as a blood sacrifice is nothing to the Deep State.
      It will be ballyhooed as validation of the entire sordid mess and deeply undercut Barr & Durham's efforts as petty political retribution.
      Tom S.

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    3. It has been pointed out to me that the phrase "sacred tribe" is, in some circles, considered anti-Semitic code. My intended reference was to Tribus Imperium, or Deep State, not Biblical Jewish tradition.
      Clarity of meaning is something that I sometimes can only wrest from the keyboard with great exertion.
      Tom S.

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    4. I get it. A populism or tribalism of the elite Deep State may sound paradoxical, but ...

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    5. Based on Horowitz's work on Hillary case, I expect his to waffle and wiggle but if pushed will get it right. Recall the Goudy's examining of Horowitz.

      Rob S

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  2. Off topic, but maybe of interest. I scanned the Guidelines document and noticed that a Preliminary Investigation allows for "interviews and pretext interviews of the subject". Immediately thought of Sidney Powell's points a few weeks back, and how the coverage of the dossier gave Strzok the "pretext to go interview some people." It is just so disappointing that our government and all its assets were constantly scanning for reasons to pounce on team Trump.

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    1. That's exactly right, and good for you for taking the time to read that stuff. Very important--it's what all the investigations of the investigators are based on. McCabe testified point blank: no dossier, no FISA. But that also means, no Full Investigation.

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  3. And, Lindsey stressed that anything like this, from the WaPo, should be treated with much wariness.
    If the IG is indeed insisting on such BS, could he eventually be vulnerable to charges of Obstruction/ conspiracy?

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    1. No, it's just his opinion.

      I did say "assuming the accuracy of the reporting," but I suspect it's more or less correct. I'll apologize if I'm wrong.

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    2. sundance is now arguing that the WaPo is being its usual deceitful self, in that Barr would lack reason to beef, vs. the IG "ducking" conclusions on how the DOJ and FBI secured the warrant.
      sundance expects Barr's main thrust (in any reaction to the IG rept.) to be an emphasis on how the IG lacked the scope, to do justice to the evidence about the dubious predicate claims of the Russia probe.
      " Horowitz was/is focused on the DOJ and FBI compliance with LEGAL requirements for the FISA application."

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    3. Yes. Refresh the page to see my updates, in which I address his points. He may in the end be correct--I sincerely hope he is and that I fell for spin. However, it's not quite as simple as he suggests. We'll have to wait and see.

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  4. The OIG report will not be a whitewash, nor will it serve as an effective defense for the coup conspirators. It will simply raise a ruckus on both sides and send the spin cycles into hyperdrive. This is not (and never has been) purely a legal battle playing out like a Perry Mason TV drama. Rather, it is political warfare in which the legal system is but one of the fields of combat.

    I have argued that Barr would have been well served by hiring a military strategist with combat experience as a key aide. In this kind of conflict, the advantage typically accrues to the combatant that takes the initiative and presses the attack, thereby putting the adversary back on his hills and fighting defensively. The way to accomplish that could have been to indict some low level participants for whatever crimes are applicable (as examples, perjury or leaking classified documents to the press) and then run these individuals through the ringer (hello Manafort stle). Then the floodgates of whistle-blowing open wide and Horowitz becomes irrelevant as the dominoes start to fall. Just sayin'.

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    1. You may well be right, and maybe I got too worked up at this point.

      Re tactics, what you suggest might work when you know you have nothing--as with Team Mueller. But we've seen how that has backfired with Flynn, likely with Papadopoulos eventually, Page (never charged at all). Manafort? I'm not so sure that case is a closed book yet.

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  5. Sundance is correct- the IG was never charged with validating whether or not Crossfire Hurricane had a proper predication. He was charged with determining whether or not the FBI properly followed procedures for getting the FISA warrant on Carter Page.

    Here is what I think WaPo and the FBI/DoJ conspirators are doing- none of them have seen the actual conclusions of the IG's report- all they have seen are the sections that concern their own actions as will be described in the report. I suspect that Horowitz will deep criticize the procedures for getting the application, but will, in the end, write that that he couldn't determine whether or not a fraud was perpetrated on the FISA court- I am sure all the witnesses covered for each other in this regard. This is what WaPo and the NYTimes are spinning, and the spinning is taking a new tactic this evening- they will conflate that lack of conclusion as a vindication for the entire operation, Crossfire Hurricane included, and try to paint Barr and Durham as going off the reservation.

    It is a clever tactic, but it won't work- Durham has an actual grand jury and the ability to compel testimony from witnesses who no doubt stiff-armed Horowitz.

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    1. I think you and sundance are mistaken. FBI failure to conform to the grounds for opening FBI investigations is well within OIG's jurisdiction--and in fact is closely related to the grounds for deploying investigative techniques, esp. FISA. It's not just a question of procedure, but of having a basis to put the process in motion.

      I agree that if Durham's grand jury work produces results Horowitz's report will be forgotten.

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    2. They, the media, will certainly spin it as validating the investigation and thereby "exonerating" the whole crew. Funny that Mueller's lack of findings didn't "exonerate" Trump but, as they say, "Each case is different."
      Tom S.

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    3. Mark, you have made an important point. FISA was just an investigative technique. Badly misused and abused, it was not the main thing the anti-Trumpers were after. That “main thing”, aka a plot to take Trump down, would have been the predication, the reason why they were obtaining the FISA warrants. The FISA warrants were devices.

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    4. Yes, Bebe--nail, hammer, bang!

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  6. We are being played by news outlets that are known tools for people who used to be the hunters. They abused their positions of trust and are now the hunted and are leaking furiously, all in probable violation of the non-disclosure agreements they presumably signed when they reviewed their portions of Horowitz's report. I say we should just chillax, ignore the toy cat lazers until the report drops in a few day and we'll see who says what for realz.

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  7. "Lindsey was just on Hannity, stressing that the failure of the Russia probers, to tell Trump of possible Russian infiltration, will be a main focus of his probing of Horowitz's report."

    Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of Lindsey's own spinning. Graham says he wants to know why FBI treated Trump differently (than, say, Diane Feinstein) by failing to inform him of their belief that the Russians were trying to infiltrate his campaign.

    FBI failed to inform Trump because they were investigating Trump to frame him not because of any supposed Russian infiltration!

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    1. I'm sure that's what Grahams is getting at, but it's frustrating that he doesn't spell it out. He hints around the edges of real issues. That's not enough.

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  8. I see that Thomas Lifson quotes me at AmThinker. I think he handles it judiciously.

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    1. I expect that as the Barr & Durham show approaches opening night your going to see a considerable uptick in traffic at this site. Time to start casting about for a literary agent perhaps? ;-)
      Tom S.

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  9. Again, pray and beseech the Lord, that Barr and Durham have no reservations about revealing the facts of this.

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  10. The criteria for any investigation, even intel/counter intel, is probable cause, PC.

    If the PC was bad, fraudulent, or otherwise tainted, Fruit of the Poisonous Tree should then be then prevail.

    Barr and I guess Durham are working in the above.

    Any criminal investigation always takes into account politics and possible fallout. Always and that is a fact everywhere in the US.

    So, are we going to experience a whitewash due to perceived public anger possibly resulting in real public anger or are we going to get a factual accounting of what occurred which also may result in massive public anger?

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    1. Yes, "reasonable belief" is basically equivalent to "probable cause." Barr and Durham have made the determination that they have PC.

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  11. https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/12/judge_jeanine_obama_started_the_trump_hate.html

    Mark, your mention of Thomas Lifson's mention of you this morning caused me to visit the AT page where I came across this post by Catharine Evans re Obama.

    There's nothing particularly new or revealing in her post, but it did serve to focus my thinking about Obama.

    As you may remember I have wondered (out loud on your site) a few times in the past who the fountainhead of evil is in this nauseating tale. I've wondered whether it is Bill or Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, or two of them or all three.

    Various cases can be made, and Evans identifies several (good) reasons why it was Obama. She may well be right but I suspect there is much more despicable behavior to be unearthed as the onion is peeled back.

    Just to dwell on the case against Obama for a few moments, I think Evans correctly identifies a few of the things Obama did which have served to divide and tear down this country.

    Focussing narrowly on the 2016 election I'd like to add a few facts and issues:

    1 Obama almost certainly put his finger on the scale when he told Chris Wallace in March or April that Hillary was merely careless in her use of a private server and didn't intend to violate national security. Strzok and Comey have largely taken the rap for changing 'negligent' to 'careless' in Hillary's exoneration but it seems more likely to me, today, that they simply got the word...from Obama himself.

    2 If its true that the effort to slime Trump, both before and after the election, largely arose in John Brennan's office, one has to ask why Brennan (himself) would take the unprecedented step of trying to nullify a presidential election. It seems unlikely to me that Trump's politics per se were so anathema that Brennan would activate a coup attempt simply on the basis of politics. Yes, its also possible that over a decades long career in the CIA Brennan had done some stuff that he was terrified Trump would expose. But neither political differences or personal historical wrong-doing would seem substantial enough for Brennan to risk 'everything' by launching an all out coup attempt against an elected President. As you (and I) have observed, bureaucrats rarely drift off the reservation in high risk (potentially career and reputation destroying) operations without authority...from their principal. In this case, Barack Obama.

    3 So why did Obama authorize Brennan to do it? The several reasons why people do things like this which come to mind are: (i) for power; (ii) for greed; and (iii) to cover up criminal activity in pursuit of power and greed. I submit that we don't know all the answers yet, but increasingly, to me, anyway, they would seem to revolve around corruption in the Obama Administration involving China, Russia, Ukraine and Iran...and massive amounts of money...for starters. Add in the known but tip of the iceberg corruption of the Bidens and the Clintons and I suspect you have the beginnings of a horrific ball of grotesque yarn which is about to be unwound.

    I honestly don't see how the Dems can stop it at this point, impeachment or not. It looks like the train has left the station.

    So...Obama protected the Clintons. Brennan (tried to) protect Obama and the Clintons. They all bet the ranch on the attempt to destroy Trump to cover up what they are covering up.

    What they are hiding must be massive.

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    1. I agree with that overall perspective and would only add what seems to me to be implicit in your account--that Obama was probably not a very strong figure and was pressured into some actions by others, but was inherently cautious about risk taking.

      I do think the train has left the station--with Durham the locomotive. It's frustrating to see the Deep State at work spinning, but I think the facts will out.

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    2. From a logical point of view, there is no way Obama could be insulated. None.

      Sorry, Reagan knew about Iran/Contra either pre or post. Things just do not work at that level without knowledge from the president. Unless, of course, we have had no real constitutional government.

      Even if Obama was misled, his supposed Constitutional pedigree, scholar and the like, should have given him a clue or three that things were nefarious.

      However, Obama is on record ssying that the Constitution is a negative liberty on the power of the government suggesting he understands that the Constitution is a constraint on the government all the while lamenting about this immutable fact.

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    3. Cassander is right about the fact we haven't yet actually gotten a glimpse of the real iceberg yet.
      To take your locomotive metaphor a bit farther: it seems like we're caught up in a spinoff of the Buster Keaton film "The General" (based on a true story) with Durham pursuing a group of Gov't hijackers across the countryside, trying to keep the engine on the tracks of legality and having to deal with road blocks, torn up tracks, misdirection and the occasional cannonball. My greatest concern is that the Trump-Barr locomotive will run out of steam (time) before the miscreants can be cornered.
      As to Obama: what do we really know about the, probably, least vetted President in our history? We have the official narrative, but many questions still abound. Who paid for his Ivy League credentials that are a golden Wonka ticket to the top tiers of our society? How did he get in? What were his grades that he so smoothly moved to what ever institution he desired, and were so impressive as to be make him a guest lecturer on Constitutional Law (a subject he is woefully deficient in) at a premier university? Who pulled those strings? There are no coincidences in politics and the skids were too well greased for Obama to be an accidental President. Opponents miraculously withdraw, public records or either sealed or unsealed seemingly dependent on what is advantageous to his advancement, FEC requirements become mere guidelines for his campaigns. John Gotti and Al Capone could only dream of manufacturing such "luck". Why is he (literally) inseparable from Valerie Jarret? Does anyone really believe that Lois Lerner just went rogue or the Holder-Clinton comedy team dreamed up and implemented Fast & Furious on their own account or that Bill and Loretta just accidentally found themselves in the same airport at the same time? Really? The list of missing pieces goes on and on, and not only are we told by the media it's unimportant, we are told it is none of our business by the same people that, ex-post facto, change or re-write laws to get at Trump's tax records.
      Obama, in my opinion, was groomed from a very early age. In my opinion he was/is a front for person, or more probably persons, unknown and that is an important part of what is being hidden.
      So yes, it should lead, I think, to Obama; but it shouldn't necessarily stop there.
      Epstein didn't kill himself and Obama would probably prefer to not do the same.
      Tom S.

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  12. Actually, there's no way a President would know who is receiving $ from a Slush Fund set up to provide Secret payments around the world - that was the 1980's Iran Contra & that was Obama Office of Net Assessment spying on Trump's people. Both Presidents wanted whatever was happening to happen, but both Presidents were probably kept out-of-the-loop.

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    1. Is there really or is it just precedent?

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  13. I can think of one other theory for the spinning being done right now- that the IG's report really is damning. And it is being set up to claim that Horowitz was coerced into changing his report.

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    1. I was thinking about that earlier. It's a real possibility. Hannity last night claimed that "my sources" told him that Barr had had intense discussions with Horowitz in the course of which Barr had reportedly, and literally, said things like: Two plus two is four--can't you do basic math? In my view, the most likely topic for that would be the disconnect between PC for the FISA and predication for the underlying investigation.

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    2. Yeah, Yancey, that'd be right out of the Left's standard playbook.
      We'd better hope, that more GOP than Dem Senators (on Judiciary) will have seen the IG rept., before the IG is grilled next week, so that this spin can be effectively sent to its deserved grave.

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    3. Yeah, Yancey, sounds right from the Lefty playbook.
      Hopefully Lindsey etc. can get ready to kill such a ploy, e.g. by phrasing just right a question the the IG next Wed., to the effect of
      "Did the AG ever at all press you to adjust your report? When, if ever, is the last time he spoke to you about it?"

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    4. "Two plus two is four--can't you do basic math?"

      If in fact the AG did commmunicate something along that line to or in regard to the IG, it would not be the first time such a sentiment was directed at Horowitz. As to the implications of that, infer what you will.

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  14. Dan Bongino has the best take I have seen on all of this. Check out his podcast Episode 1125 posted 3 hrs ago at www.bongino.com and on Soundcloud.

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    1. I'm pretty much on board with him. I would disagree to the extent that I believe the original opening and the original FISA were both criminal. The FBI was deluded by Brennan to the extent that they thought they could get away with it.

      Does Barr know things Horowitz doesn't. Absolutely.

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    2. Yeah, I'm really liking it. He's got the facts at his fingertips. Predication--total garbage.

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    3. And I also really like that he thinks, as I was saying yesterday, that Halper simply made the Trubnikov "intel" up.

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  15. Between reading Mr. Wauck and Dan listening to Bongino, I think that we get a pretty good description of what is going on.

    I am looking forward to December 9 and whether Horowitz's report pleases or displease me, Barr and Durham are the plenary powers in all of this.

    I have no idea what is in his report but I do believe that the WaPo and NYT are spinning it. It's in their nature to do so.

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  16. "listening to Dan Bongino." Cut and paste error.

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