Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Nice Margot Cleveland Article On FBI Targeting Of Papadopoulos

I don't want to quote much from Margot Cleveland's article,

Newly Declassified Papadopoulos Transcript Exposes Crossfire Hurricane Corruption
A newly declassified transcript calls into question the entire Crossfire Hurricane investigation: Why was it started, and why did it continue?

because it deserves to be read in full. What I like about it is that it gives an insight into the kind of thinking that was swirling around (think: toilet bowl) in the Crossfire Hurricane team. Either the top levels of the FBI were staffed by complete bozos who could not distinguish what they wanted to be true from their obligation to share relevant information with professionals who might come to a different conclusion, or ... they were totally corrupt.

Here's the short story.

The FBI had two tapes of informants talking with Papadopoulos--Stefan Halper and Jeffrey Wiseman. Of the two, Halper was not on close terms with Papadopoulos but Papadopoulos and Wiseman were (at least in Papadopoulos' mind) on quite friendly terms. Both Halper and Wiseman tried to elicit incriminating statements from Papadopoulos, concerning Trump campaign collusion with "the Russians" and involvement in the DNC "hack." Papadopoulos strenuously denied such ideas to both Halper and Wiseman. The FBI refused to accept that Papadopoulos was sincere and exculpatory and instead maintained that Papadopoulos was providing a "coached" denial--sort of a damned if you do, damned if you don't take. The FBI also refused to provide the transcript to Stu Evans at DoJ's Office of Intelligence. Evans had the job of vetting the Carter Page FISA and had serious concerns about the adequacy of the FBI's application.

Here's the FBI's reaction to the Papadopoulos - Halper recording:

While Papadopoulos’s September 2016 denials to Halper were strident and unequivocal, the IG report made clear that the Crossfire Hurricane team found them unconvincing. Case Agent 1, publicly known to be Joe Pientka, told the IG that “he and the team discounted Papadopoulos’s denials for several reasons.” 
The IG report noted that Pientka said, “[T]he Crossfire Hurricane team’s assessment was that Papadopoulos’s denial to the CHS was a rehearsed response.” His “response to the direct questions seemed weird,” Pientka said, “because it ‘seemed rehearsed and almost rote.’” Papadopoulos “went from a free-flowing conversation with [Halper] to almost a canned response,” Pientka claimed. 
The IG report further noted that “Case Agent 1 emailed SSA 1 and others to report that Papadopoulos ‘gave … a canned answer, which he was probably prepped to say when asked.’” According to the report, Pientka said that “it remained a topic of conversation on the Crossfire Hurricane team for days afterward whether Papadopoulos had ‘been coached by a legal team to deny’ any involvement because of the ‘noticeable change’ in ‘the tenor of the conversation.’” 
Another agent likewise told the IG that “his main observation was that when Papadopoulos was pushed for answers, he seemed to have a ‘prepared statement. It sounded like a lawyer wrote it.’” When the Office of General Counsel’s Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson later learned of Papadopoulos’s responses while working on a letter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, she said Papadopoulos’s statements to Halper sounded “self-serving” and “like a lawyered statement.” 
These excerpts make clear that the Crossfire Hurricane team uniformly viewed Papadopoulos’s denials to Halper as contrived.

In other words, if Papadopoulos admits collusion with the Russians, Trump is guilty. If Papadopoulos denies collusion with the Russians, it's a contrived, legally coached denial of the truth. Heads the FBI wins, tails Trump loses--because Trump is the real target in all this. By the way, isn't it remarkable that all these top level FBI types have such complete confidence in their mind reading abilities? Where did they get that? And why did they think Stu Evans (whom Paul Sperry says is emerging as key in the Durham conspiracy case) wouldn't share their view? Hadn't he taken the same mind reading training?

Anyway, Cleveland neatly turns the tables by pointing out that, if Papadopoulos may have sounded stilted and even strident while talking to Halper, the tone was quite different when he was talking to Wiseman.

The conversation was friendly and uninhibited. In the midst of these off-the-cuff and cordial exchanges, Papadopoulos chatted with Source 3 about politics, the DNC hack, and Russia.

As far as Cleveland could discover, no one in the FBI claimed that Papadopoulos' denials to Wiseman were coached:

So why didn’t the Crossfire Hurricane team members consider the possibility that Papadopoulos’s denials to Source 3 were legitimate? Arguably, the team had a solid basis for discounting his denials to Halper, but the transcript of Papadopoulos’s conversation with Source 3 reveals those same justifications don’t hold. This point goes well beyond FISA abuse and calls into question the entire Crossfire Hurricane investigation: Why was it started, and why did it continue? 
And why didn’t the IG report discuss how the Crossfire Hurricane team viewed Papadopoulos’s denials to Source 3? After extensively discussing the reaction of team members to Papadopoulos’s denials to Halper, the IG report is virtually silent on the impact of his continued denials. 
The report merely notes that Pientka “received a document with these Papadopoulos statements included in it a few days after the October 2016 meeting,” and that Pientka told the IG that “he was familiar with this CHS meeting at the time and probably reviewed the summary of the interview containing these statements.” Yet when asked why he had not shared the statements with the Office of Intelligence or included it in the FISA renewal applications, Pientka said he “did not recall” but “the information would not have been purposely withheld … but it may have been accidentally omitted.” 
The more significant query is why didn’t these denials give the Crossfire Hurricane team pause before it continued its investigation into Donald Trump? Barr is right: this doesn’t smell like a mere mistake.

And, of course, since the predication for Crossfire Hurricane--the investigation that was morphed into the Mueller Witchhunt--was supposed to have rested on Papadopoulos, why didn't Team Mueller take these considerations into account?


  1. I'm going with completely corrupt bozos.

  2. The extreme criminality that arose and persisted throughout the Obama Administration is well documented in tens of thousands of EC and paper evidence. If fully exposed, the prosecutions simply need to lay out this evidence and augment it with confirming testimony, as applicable. In the eyes of the average citizen, this is the right thing to do and they expect nothing less.

    But there is a problem with this version of justice. And that is that the number of criminals (private citizen, governmental, and Congressional) in huge (easily in the 100s). And the crimes committed are serious felonies that would demand serious prison time. And all of this would likely require many years of adjudication and consume large resources.

    For this reason, Barr/Durham are looking to focus in on a few primary malefactors and make examples of them. In theory, this would satisfy public demand for accountability without burning down the house in the process.

    The last ditch fallback position of the Deep State is for Brennan to take the fall and hope that the buck stops there. However, Brennan is a wimp and likely lacks the fortitude to play this role.

    Will the Deep State play the Arkancide card? We shall see. Hopefully Barr has learned from the Epstein debacle and has a Secret Service team watching his back.

    1. Actually, as AG, Barr has an FBI security detail!

      In my experience, conservative AGs have always treated their security details well and earned their loyalty. I expect that of Barr, who in the past has had a good rapport with street agents.

  3. MW wrote:

    >> Either the top levels of the FBI were staffed by complete bozos who could not distinguish what they wanted to be true from their obligation to share relevant information with professionals who might come to a different conclusion, or ... they were totally corrupt. <<

    I'll go with BOTH -- CORRUPT BOZOS!!

  4. There's a larger story here: what this saga tells us is what happens when someone looks for evidence to support a preconceived conclusion, or interprets evidence only in a way that supports that conclusion, instead of seeing where evidence leads, and forming a conclusion only after looking at the totality of the evidence.

    Call it "confirmation bias," or whatever you like. The key philosophical issue here is the difference between the old Baconian scientific method, and Popper's principle of falsification.

    Under the old Baconian method, scientists looked at evidence, formed an hypothesis, and then gathered evidence to support it. But that isn't logically reliable, as Karl Popper pointed out: it is building a case to support the hypothesis using inductive logic, which does not reliably produce a correct result in all circumstances.

    Popper thus reasoned the better why to evaluate an hypothesis was to to gather evidence to try to DISPROVE the hypothesis! This is deductive logic, which is sound in producing a conclusion, because all it takes to disprove an hypothesis is to find a single counter-example!

    If the FBI had bothered to think like a Popperian scientist, they would have formulated tests to try to disprove their hypothesis that the Trump Campaign was Colluding with Russia (e.g., focusing on the glaring evidence that the Steele Dossier was hearsay fabricated garbage woven into a tapestry of open source info.)

    But one only does that if one is interested in the Truth, which should inform us about what the FBI/DOJ/Foggy Bottom and their pals in the IC were all up to when they went after the Trump Campaign and anyone associated with it. They studiously followed 16th century methods of investigation, assuring that they could ignore/wave away any inconvenient evidence that could falsify the conclusion they had already decided they wanted to arrive at.

    1. Well, I'm not a fan of Karl Popper. However, I will say this--testing a case against possible alternative and falsifying hypotheses is pretty standard in the LE and prosecution. The fact that all contrary evidence was not merely ignored but was *buried*--hidden from people like Stu Evans who had a need and a right to know--speaks volumes about the true motivation.

    2. Exactly; systematically burying (or altering) exculpatory evidence can only mean they were trying to AVOID falsification of their preconceived hypothesis.

      And that's is not an "oversight" or "administrative snafu." It's intentional willful investigatory malpractice.

    3. Or obstruction of justice, if done after the fact.

  5. There are two curious aspects revealed in MC's article.

    The first is "that Papadopoulos’s denial to the CHS was a rehearsed response.” The second is that Pientka "was familiar with this CHS meeting at the time and probably reviewed the summary of the interview containing these statements.”

    Regarding the first--how many PapaD conversations has any investigator experienced? A live conversation will include many changes in tone and emphasis that will be obscured in a mere transcript. Even the IG report includes ellipses, so there a blindness/deafness to the context.

    As well, speaking as a non-lawyer, when discussing legal and regulatory matters of which I'm familiar, knowledgeable, experienced, I make a point to speak carefully with precision so as not to leave any doubt. Is that "coached" or "rehearsed"? Nope.

    I'm regularly asked if I'm a lawyer after such responses or interjections because the listener believes I know what I'm talking about. And that's because I do.

    Why a campaign operative would be believed to be "coached" or "rehearsed" when addressing legal issues associated with political campaigns--rather than informed and knowledgeable, and speaking with clarity, escapes me. It's a presumption of bias, not a factual and logical conclusion.

    As to the second curiosity, Pientka read summaries of a conversation, with statements read absent context. Pitiful. He's not reading a summary of facts and information, he's reading subjective observations which can be read however the summary is drawn up. Double pitiful.

    1. Good points. If I'm the case agent or supervisor in a case like this I read the transcript.

      Stuff like this is why diGenova (I think it was) called Pientka the biggest liar among them all--quite an honor.

    2. And isn't it interesting that Pientka was painted as a white hat for his alleged role in the Flynn interview (at least one of the interviewers purportedly concluded that Flynn was truthful), merely because Strozk has proven himself a black hat down to his core?

    3. There's a story there and one helluva book to be written. More than one.

      Did Pientka suffer pangs of conscience? Did something happen that led him to think he'd be the fall guy? Something happened. I'm convinced he's been cooperating for some time.

    4. Mark, I'd say that right there tells you the difference between being present for the interview and reading a transcript or summary at some later date.

      They made a point of having Pientka give an intel briefing to Trump, Flynn, et al., so that Pientka could size-up Flynn's normal demeanor--using the briefing as an investigatory tool--in preparation for the days later Strzok/Pientka ambush interview of Flynn.

      It's pretty clear that the FBI want words ordered in a phrase or statement that could purposed for their incriminating or guilty mind objective--irrespective of context, inflection, inference, and meaning.

      It explains why in the day and age of video recorded interviews the FBI relies upon hand written notes summarizing interviews, formalized into 302s days later, and used as evidence. It also reveals the process was corruptly used in the Flynn case--as is seen from subsequent disclosure (and non-disclosure) of the mix-up in the identity of the note-taker, the timeline of the production of the 302 (not w/in the 5 day requirement), and the host of revisions to same 302.

  6. A few men have possibility covered themselves in glory, or at least appear to have done the right thing. Stu Evans and Admiral Mike Rogers come to mind; maybe some NYFO agents who pressed for the Weiner laptop to be checked out.

    They seem to be dwarfed by the bad guys. Of course I am only speaking of the cabal, and not saying the whole of FBI and DOJ are corrupt.