Friday, April 17, 2020

Avenues Of Inquiry Into Team Mueller?

Today at CTH sundance does an overall nice job of evaluating an important document: a letter from Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers to Rosemary Collyer, Chief Judge of the FISC (the "FISA Court"). Demers, you might like to know, succeeded John P. Carlin as head of the National Security Division, as of February 22, 2018. Here's his Wikipedia bio:

Prior to his post in the United States Department of Justice, Demers served as the vice president and assistant general counsel at Boeing. Demers clerked for Diarmuid O'Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States. He worked in private practice before serving in the Office of Legal Counsel. Demers was on the leadership team of the United States Department of Justice National Security Division, first as senior counsel to the Assistant Attorney General and then as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Law & Policy. Demers is an adjunct professor of national security law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Demers' letter was dated July 12, 2018--in other words, at the height of the Mueller Witchhunt, with high hopes in the air that the Dems would retake the House in November and use the Mueller Dossier to impeach President Trump. What this letter is all about is the fact that, as a result of the efforts--largely--of Devin Nunes, serious and persistent questions had been raised publicly about the fraudulent nature of the Carter Page FISA order (and its three renewals). By the time Demers wrote his letter to the FISC it was well known that the application for the FISA had been largely based on materials developed by opposition research contractors working for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and that those materials were as suspect as that characterization makes them sound. Another major source behind the FISA application, it was well known by then, had been undercover FBI assets and foreign operatives who were used to target persons in the Trump campaign--"with no basis", as AG Bill Barr recently put it.

This knowledge was a problem for the anti-Trump DoJ, and especially because Michael Horowitz' DoJ-OIG had been investigating those four Carter Page FISA applications for nearly six months. It appears that Rod Rosenstein's DoJ (nominally still headed by Jeff Sessions) realized that they needed to get out in front of the OIG's eventual report (Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane Investigation) and try to placate the FISC--which was already exercised about FBI and DoJ fraudulent abuse of NSA databases under the cover of FISA's "702" provisions.

Rule 13(a) of the FISC Rules of Procedure requires that the government "immediately inform the Court if it discovers that a submission to the Court contained a misstatement or omission of material fact, including, among other things, the facts and circumstances relevant to the misstatement or omission." As sundance demonstrates in considerable detail, DoJ had been aware for many months--very likely even since 2016--that the Carter Page FISA applications were replete with misstatements and omissions of material fact. With so much of this becoming public knowledge, apparently Rod Rosenstein and Dana Boente (General Counsel for the FBI, but formerly Acting Deputy AG)--who had signed off on the last two FISAs--had begun to entertain doubts as to the FISC's ability to maintain a sense of humor in the face of DoJ's obvious failure to "immediately inform the Court if it discovers that a submission to the Court contained a misstatement or omission of material fact." So Demers wrote the letter.

Before beginning to write, I went back and reviewed the "probable cause" portion of the Carter Page FISA applications. It's a travesty--little more than a concatenation of misrepresentations, falsehoods, and non-sequiturs, masquerading as probable cause. We knew that already, of course, but it really is stunning to go back and look at it. As sundance demonstrates, however, the letter that Demers wrote actually doubles down on all that by maintaining that, even with all those "misstatements or omissions of material fact", the application satisfied the probable cause requirement. Or, as Demers puts it--as if to reassure the FISC that it had done its job--there was "sufficient predication for the Court to have found probable cause that [Carter Page] was an agent of a foreign power." Actually, the FISC--four separate judges--should be embarrassed at their naivete, lack of critical reading ability, and maybe even bias in approving these applications. Take your pick of one or more of those characterizations, but the applications really were that bad.

Sundance sees the motive behind Demers' letter this way:

This letter justifying the application and claiming the current information would still be a valid predicate therein, speaks to the 2018 DOJ needing to retain the validity of the FISA warrant …. My research suspicion is that the DOJ needed to protect evidence Mueller had already extracted from the fraudulent FISA authority. That’s the motive. 
In July 2018 if the DOJ-NSD had admitted the FISA application and all renewals were fatally flawed Robert Mueller would have needed to withdraw any evidence gathered as a result of its exploitation. The DOJ in 2018 was protecting Mueller’s poisoned fruit. 
If the DOJ had been honest with the court, there’s a strong possibility some, perhaps much, of Mueller evidence gathering would have been invalidated… and cases were pending. The solution: mislead the court and claim the predication was still valid.

It's entirely possible, but the problem is that I have yet to see any evidence used in a trial that appears to derive from a FISA. Of course, that doesn't mean FISA derived information may not have been used in the course of the investigations--I'm thinking of Papadopoulos and his travels, in particular the way he was set up upon returning to the US at Dulles. The FISA derived information would not have appeared in any of the actual court filings in that case. We may be hearing more about that Papadopoulos case from John Durham, and especially about what Team Mueller knew about the FISA's origins and whether they may have used information gathered from a FISA that they knew was fraudulent--just not at a trial.

However, it's also possible that the motive--or additional motive--was simply the realization on the part of Rosenstein and Boente that unless Trump could actually be removed from office--always a very long shot--they could both find themselves in very deep doo-doo indeed, for their roles in misleading the FISC. By July, 2018, Rosenstein and Boente were probably aware that Bill Barr was very much in the running to replace Jeff Sessions as AG. They would have known that Barr would never recuse himself from the Russia Hoax and they would also be well aware of Barr's reputation as one of the foremost and most aggressive litigators in the country--who also possessed a wealth of experience in National Security law and DC political infighting. The prospect of facing that type of an AG come November had to be unnerving for them. Perhaps the letter was about hedging bets. We'll have to see how that plays out.

As I've said, sundance goes into detail on how the letter continues to mislead the FISC. You can follow the link for all the "who struck John" of it. For our purposes here I'd like to point out one aspect of that that could turn out to be very important for Durham's conspiracy case. Sundance writes:

Two more big misstatements within the July letter appear on page #9. The first is the DOJ claiming that only after the application was filed did they become aware of Christopher Steele working for Fusion-GPS and knowing his intent was to create opposition research for the Hillary Clinton campaign. ...
According to the DOJ-NSD claim the number four ranking official in the DOJ, Bruce Ohr, never told them he was acting as a conduit for Christopher Steele to the FBI. While that claim is hard to believe, in essence what the DOJ-NSD is saying in that paragraph is that the FBI hoodwinked the DOJ-NSD by not telling them where the information for the FISA application was coming from. The DOJ, via John Demers, is blaming the FBI.

Sundance is right that this claim is very hard to swallow. However, he fails to point out a very important aspect that offers a lot of support for his argument and may also indicate a particular direction in which Durham's conspiracy case may move. The easiest way to do this will be to simply paste in a lengthy excerpt from Must Read: Bruce Swartz, Textbook Swamp Dweller. What we learn is that the nucleus of Team Mueller was already consulting with Bruce Ohr and even meeting with Chris Steele as early as late September or early Octobe of 2016! And they were likely discussing the upcoming Carter Page FISA application. Horowitz, in his report, places a lot of emphasis on how improper this was, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Durham has been looking at these interactions, as well. This means that Barr and Durham have multiple avenues of inquiry into Team Mueller, going back months before Rod Rosenstein's illegal establishment of a Special Counsel investigation into the president. Sounds exciting to me.

So, refresh your recollection:

That's the title of an article by Jack Cashill at AmThinker today: Bruce Swartz, Textbook Swamp Dweller. I expect this sort of thing to continue for quite some time. The Horowitz Dossier is a treasure trove of names, facts, and dates. Researchers will be mining it for connections, which is what Cashill has done with Bruce Swartz. What Cashill's research shows is that Swartz has been part of the Clinton Organized Crime Family going back two decades. The continuity is stunning in its revelation of the scope of the Deep State/Swamp.

Swartz has been on our radar here for nearly a year. We first wrote about him in The FBI: Working Hand In Glove With Clinton Operatives and, very recently in connection with the Horowitz Dossier, again just yesterday in an update to AG Barr Speaks. Here's what I wrote in January:

When Ohr met Steele again in either late September or early October, 2016 he did so in company with quite a group: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page from the FBI, and three DOJ career officials from the criminal division, Bruce Swartz, Zainab Ahmad, and Andrew Weissman--currently Robert Mueller's deputy. ... this also probably means that they were planning for the FISA application, given that the application was submitted on October 21, 2016, immediately after Steele's October 20 report--the report in which Michael Cohen's famous trip to Prague for a "clandestine" meet superseded the clandestine Moscow meet of Carter Page, who was no longer with the Trump campaign. Which leads to the supposition that this meeting with Steele was to tell him, inter alia, that more detailed information was needed for the FISA application--which Steele duly provided, in the form of the now famous Cohen-Prague miscue.

All in all, it's an interesting picture: three officials from DoJ's Criminal Division meeting with the second in command of the FBI's CI division (accompanied by the Deputy Director's counsel) to plan for a FISA on--in effect--a candidate for the presidency. Coaching the asset on what was now needed for the FISA to go through, which would be typical Weissman tactics. And all this without informing the Acting AG, Sally Yates. Or so they say.

And yesterday:

UPDATE 2: At the top I briefly referenced the significant fact that the same group of people who were involved in the Crossfire Hurricane pretense investigation were also involved in the Mueller witchhunt. To understand what I'm getting at, recall that Barr specifically mentions that his direction to Durham to concentrate just as much on the post-election period as on the origins stems from things that Horowitz uncovered. One of the things that Horowitz uncovered--actually, we've known this for a long time and I've placed great stress on it--is that Bruce Ohr was keeping several DoJ attorneys apprised of the FBI case. All three attorneys who were named by Ohr in his House testimony went on to play key roles on Team Mueller--Andrew Weissmann, Zainab Ahmad, and Bruce Swartz. These attorneys had actually met with Steele before the FISA. So when I say that the same people are involved, it's not just Strzok and Page. And, importantly, Horowitz points out that those attorneys had no reason to be involved during that time period, and that it was improper for Ohr to be briefing them. This is why Durham will necessarily be examining the Team Mueller operation. [My mistake: I say above that Swartz was on Team Mueller. As Cashill points out, Swartz did not play an official role on Team Mueller, implying--I believe correctly--that he had an unofficial role.]

Cashill also points out the significance of what the Horowitz Dossier has to say about Bruce Swartz:

The Inspector General’s Report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) features a heretofore unheralded costar by the name of Bruce Swartz, the assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division. Swartz was also the supervisor of the feckless Bruce Ohr, husband of Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr and frequent breakfast buddy of Christopher Steele of Steele dossier fame.

Cashill goes on to document what Horowitz has to say about the way in which Swartz inserted himself into the Manafort investigation:

As Swartz himself acknowledged, he had a Javert-like zeal to bring Manafort to justice. “Ohr and Swartz both told us that they felt an urgency to move the Manafort investigation forward,” reported Horowitz,  “because of Trump's election and a concern that the new administration would shut the investigation down.” This urgency translated into frequent semi-covert meetings with the FBI lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Strzok told the IG that Swartz wanted him to "kick that [investigation] in the ass and get it moving." 
Swartz continued to “weigh in” on the Manafort investigation even though it was clearly outside his jurisdiction. ... 
Swartz hoped to get the cooperation of an unnamed “foreign national” to help squeeze Manafort.  According to Ohr, he and Swartz had “information that Manafort [was]... somehow... a possible connection between the Russian government and the Trump campaign."

One suspects that the foreign national in question was Oleg Deripaska, whom disgraced former FBI Deputy Director McCabe and Bruce Ohr were focusing on in the fall of 2016.

Swartz admittedly did not advise DoJ leadership of his maneuverings. He claimed the meetings were on the hush-hush to keep the Manafort investigation from being "politicized." More likely, Swartz hoped to pressure Manafort into rolling over on Trump and did not want Trump’s people to know about his intentions.
The "unusual level of interest" in the Manafort case by Swartz, Ohr, and Weissman caught the attention of some of their colleagues. Reported the IG, “The former senior Department leaders we interviewed expressed serious concern about Swartz's assertion that not informing Department leadership about case-related investigative activities somehow protected the Department.”

Admittedly Swartz didn't write Horowitz a letter stating that his extraordinary interest in a case outside his jurisdiction was politically motivated. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to at least surmise that Swartz's out of bounds interest in a person connected to Trump derived from an improper political motivation. But then Horowitz doesn't mention what Cashill does--Swartz' many years long connection the Clinton organization, along with Andrew Weissmann. And that shines an interesting light on Swartz's probable motiviations. Instead:

It seems likely that Swartz lied repeatedly to The IG’s office about the reasons for his unseemly meddling, and Horowitz more or less scolded him for it.


  1. There was some suggestion, especially when he testified, that Mueller appeared to be a figurehead only, and not entirely on top of his own operation. The suggestion being he was a shell of his former self due to age related decline. Just think of the sort of terrible people who might conspire to get Mueller in place to be taken advantage of. I don't know if that speculation is true, but the alternative can only mean Mueller was in on the conspiracy.

    1. Read a bit about Mueller's past and you'll quickly realize he's no Boy Scout.

    2. To say mueller practices “situational ethics” would be putting it mildly. And to think I shook this Princeton @$$hole’s hand.


    4. @ Anonymous

      You wrote: "And to think I shook this Princeton @$$hole’s hand."

      Funny thing about shaking an @$$hole’s hand. After you do it, you can't wipe the feeling off. It lingers a long time, maybe forever if the @$$hole is a big enough @$$hole.

      Some twenty years ago a former law partner and major league @$$hole betrayed me and later came around to apologize but I would not accept his apology. As he left he stuck out his hand and unthinkingly I shook it. I still can't wipe the sensation away.

      In 2018 I shook Mitt Romney's hand. Same feeling...

  2. He's no Boy Scout, all right. And he's got a lot to answer for.....

  3. Yacob Aplebaum's analysis of Mueller's testimony is that Mueller was putting on an act. He points out that whenever GOP Congress critters asked him a question, his recollection suddenly faltered, and he had to flip through his notebook before answering, wasting precious GOP question time, and finally resorted to all manner of "I can't recall" responses.

    OTOH, when Dems asked him question, Mueller's responses were generally quick, precise, and detailed!

    IOW, Mueller memory problems were asymmetric, and appeared to be selectively employed on GOP questions, along with many dilatory tactics.

    From this, and many other bits of evidence, Aplebaum concluded Mueller was lying and putting on an act as needed during his testimony.

    1. I can believe it.

      Btw, I lost a comment this morning. First time I can recall.

    2. "... lost a comment ... "

      First, a pattern, then a conspiracy!


    3. To EZ's point, irrespective of the question of Mueller's memory faculty, the asymmetric response would indicate he had advance notice of the Dem's questions so that he could be promptly responsive to them.

      That form of responsiveness has previously been speculated as the result of "coaching" or being "rehearsed." And judged a reason not to be found credible by the FBI.

      Law enforcement and investigatory conclusions have ventured quite far into stagecraft and stylistic performance.

    4. For anyone interested, here's Aplebaum's analysis:

      Robert Mueller’s Deflective Force Field

      >> <<

    5. EZ - Aplebaum's analysis is A+.

      It changed my view of the testimony. It took a LOT of mental agility to escape committing perjury. Very interesting what questions he answered, with lots of details, and those he did not. Excellent analysis.

  4. I wonder, what impact the investigation of Trump, and all the associated false scandals had on the mid term elections.

    My guess is the Senate and House GOP basically slow walked / ignored Trump on most things, till he took out 3 sitting Democratic Senators. Until then they thought Trump would be forced out of office by the FBI / DOJ / Intel Agencies / Democratic Operatives Schemes.

    I am still amazed Trump survived all this, and how "sprawling" it was. And got Kavanaugh confirmed.

    1. It is the reason the Democrats won the house.