What I want to do know is spell out the implications of all this, which will also suggest the significance of the timing of this coming declassification--because I assume (for reasons I'll spell out below) that the declassification will happen.
First, let's simply review what I wrote earlier, including my transcript of the entirety of Graham's brief remarks.
Yesterday Sen. Graham did a 44 minute interview with Trey Gowdy. Among other topics of interest, Graham mentioned that he has finally been able to review a classified FBI memo--40 pages long--that was referenced by IG Horowitz in his FISA report. Graham states that he is working to get that memo declassified.
The memo in question documents the three day debriefing of Christopher Steele's supposed "subsource." The relevant portion of the interview can be found between the 9:50 and 11:15 minute marks. Here is my transcription of that portion:
... I believe that the FBI was on notice that it [the Steele dossier] was unreliable, continued to use it anyway. I believe that they misled the FISA court, and here's the key question.
On January 21st through the 24th the Russian subsource, the guy who provided ALL the material for the dossier, is interviewed by the FBI for three days. He's interviewed again in March. There's a memo about that interview. Horowitz found it. It was 40 pages. My staff has finally got to look at it--it's classified. I'm gonna try to get it UNclassified. The Horowitz Report suggests that the result of the Russian subsource interview put great doubt into the reliability of the dossier in terms of being able to get a warrant.
Here's the question. Is it possible that an interview of that magnitude--that basically shredded the key document to get a warrant--that the people at the top, McCabe and Comey, were never told, 'Oh, by the way, our entire case has collapsed.' I'm looking at that.
I believe I can answer that question: No. That's not possible.
First, let's briefly dispose of the notion that McCabe and Comey could possibly NOT have known of the result s of the debriefing of the subsource. McCabe and Comey would have known and authorized the trip by the agents to the UK to do the debriefing and would have been fully cognizant of the significance of the undertaking for the case against Trump. Remember, that debriefing was done beginning on the very first day of the new administration. The point was that Comey and McCabe authorized the debriefing because they very much needed to know the lay of the land, legally and therefore investigatively. They knew. Period.
Now, as for Senator Graham seeking to have this memo declassified, who seriously thinks that Graham would publicly announce that he was going to seek declassification--approval for which would have to come from Trump's declassifier-in-chief, AG Bill Barr--without having previously discussed the matter with Barr? Of course he did. The memo itself simply confirms what we all know: Chris Steele was peddling utter BS. What could possibly be such a big secret about a farrago of lies? No, the memo was kept under wraps because Durham was using it in his interrogations of witnesses and targets, using it as a control to test their truthfulness. Naturally Durham wouldn't want them to have access to that memo, which would defeat his purpose in using it. That means Durham is done with that part of his investigation. The declassification will proceed as a matter of course, but will also serve the purpose of calming the conservative natives who fear that nothing has been happening--that Barr is covering something up, that Graham is just pretending to be doing any oversight or investigation.
Next, what does this memo tell us about the Barr/Durham investigation?
Obviously we're probably not going to learn any real bombshells. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I expect that what we'll learn will basically be confirmation in detail of what we already know (via Horowitz) in general outline form. That's fine, but what else can we deduce from this?
Regarding the FISA against Carter Page, we know that there was the original FISA warrant that was approved in late October, 2016, and three renewals--in January, April, and June, of 2017--the last of which occurred about a month after Team Mueller was set up.
I assume that the first renewal--in January, 2017--was approved shortly before the 40 page memo was finalized. I say that because Horowitz, in his report, states that the final two renewals were to be considered invalid--those two would clearly have been approved after the results of the debriefing debunking Steele's "dossier" were well known. No less an authority than Andy McCabe--disgraced former Deputy Director of the FBI--has assured the world that without the "dossier" there would have been no FISA against Carter Page.
But here's a question. What was there to prevent the FBI--once it learned that the original and the just approved renewal FISAs were based on utter BS-- from saying, in effect, "Oh sh*t, FISA court. We goofed. We're shutting that FISA down immediately while we review everything that went into the applications." I'll answer that question. There was absolutely nothing preventing the FBI from shutting it all down immediately. In fact, they had an obligation to do so. They just didn't because, ... Trump!
Obviously this puts Comey and McCabe in a pretty tight spot, in terms of criminal exposure. Especially since we're told that Comey's lawyer, James Baker, is cooperating with Durham. Count on it--Baker knows all about this.
Where does this leave Team Mueller? Obvioiusly, if they knew that the FISA that they obtained against Carter Page was based on fraudulent information via the Steele "dossier", Team Mueller--or at least anyone on the Team who knew of this--would also have criminal exposure. In that light, consider this: James Baker, who certainly knew the Carter Page FISA was a fraud--no later than January, 2017--remained General Counsel of the FBI until December, 2017. Oh. He had a duty to inform Team Mueller about the fraudulent nature of that FISA. Not only that, but two other persons well known to us--Peter Strzok and Lisa Page--were both part of Team Mueller and also would have been fully aware of the results of that January, 2017, debriefing of Steele's "subsource", contained in the 40 page memo. They, too, would have had a duty to bring that to the attention to the responsible leaders of Team Mueller: "Bob" and Andrew Weissmann.
Who thinks that Baker, Strzok, and Page--at a minimum, there could be others--kept that to themselves and are going to take the fall for this entire hoax? I suppose that's possible. People do do stupid things--but ... that stupid? Color me very skeptical. But also, rest assured that Durham is all over that.
Now here's another question in that regard. Do we have any reason to suppose that Team Mueller was, in fact, aware that the Steele "dossier" was a hoax? I mean, beyond the fact that Andrew Weissmann had been part of the conspiracy dating back to possibly as early as September, 2016, and certainly no later than early October, 2016? I think we do.
We know that Chris Steele on several occasions asked his good friend Bruce Ohr to offer his (Steele's) services to both the FBI and to Team Mueller. This went on into the summer of 2017. And yet, to Steele's expressed frustration, Team Mueller did not take Steele's offer up. Why not? My guess is because they knew that Steele could very well end up being toxic for anyone who could be shown to be in contact with him--as in, if a connection to Steele came out under cross examination at a trial, that could be a real SHTF moment. And so they kept Steele at arms length or, rather, further. But they did make use of the FISA, counting on plausible deniability regarding the basis for it. This should tell you why the thrice demoted Bruce Ohr is still hanging around--he has a lot to tell the investigators and has no doubt been regularly consulted regarding the answers that the investigators have received from others.
That, I very strongly believe, is what one part of the Durham investigation has been focusing on. Consider this to be one prong of a two pronged scrutiny of Team Mueller, the other prong being the Michael Flynn case.
So, if that 40 page memo is soon to be declassified--perhaps within weeks, once the final redacting is done--we have some notion of how close Durham is to completing some major parts of his investigation, as well as what he's been concentrating on.