Friday, August 21, 2020

Brennan's Interview

Disgraced former CIA Director John Brennan was interviewed for 8 hours at CIA Headquarters today. The interview was led by USA John Durham. We're told by Brennan's team:

Brennan was informed by Mr. Durham that he is not a subject or a target of a criminal investigation and that he is only a witness to events that are under review.

Of course, if as a witness Brennan attempts to obstruct Durham's investigation ...

Brennan also confirmed, indirectly, that Durham remains focused on the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA):

Sundance has tried to redeem himself, after a self destructive post this morning in which he revealed a shocking lack of understanding of law and procedures surrounding FBI and CIA investigations and organization. Tonight, he emphasizes the likelihood of coordination among the the Intel Community heads (Brennan, Comey, Clapper), the DoJ under Rosenstein, Team Mueller, and the Senate Intel Committee (SSCI)--coordination aimed at bringing Trump down and removing him from office. This is what I have referred to as the Big Picture conspiracy of the Russia Hoax.

What we're all waiting to see is whether Durham can prove that Big Picture conspiracy, or will be confined to charging a few individuals with discrete criminal violations similar to what happened with Clinesmith. One of the keys to that conspiracy, as many have emphasized over the past several years, is the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), with its Annex--a summary of the Steele Dossier. In order to prove that the ICA was a deliberate fraud intended to justify fraudulent investigations--and, crucially, the Mueller witchhunt--Durham needs to prove that the conspirators new that the Steele material was fraudulent. That being the case it's no surprise that Durham's interview of Brennan centered on the ICA.

The conspirators have cleverly managed to distance themselves from being tied to conclusive knowledge of the fraudulent nature of the Steele material--despite the obvious facts. We know that Durham has tried to find proof of collusion between James Comey and Brennan on the ICA. The fact that Durham apparently told Brennan that Brennan was being treated as a witness probably means that that evidence--in the form of emails--has not been found. Brennan has therefore probably been able to push responsibility for the Steele material off on Comey. Comey, then, will be left to plead, in effect, unprofessionalism and incompetence, as opposed to criminal intent. The Danchenko interview could change that picture for events that came later than the inauguration, but by then Brennan was out of the official picture.

As sundance has maintained, the likelihood is that the role of the SSCI has been effectively covered up. Shipwreckedcrew maintains that the reason for this probably has to do with James Wolfe destroying evidence of his leak of the FISA application--wiping his phone. No evidence, no conviction, so the best the FBI could do at that point was get Wolfe for lying to investigators.

That leaves the FBI and the DoJ under Rosenstein--including, most particularly, Team Mueller--as the groups that are most obviously still at risk from Durham. Durham may be able to bring cases against a number of key players for their roles in separate episodes. Actually proving the Big Picture conspiracy will depend on how much cooperation Durham has been able to extract from the few who were closest to the top. Where his investigation stands in that respect is knowledge that we lack, but at least one reported cooperator--former FBI General Counsel James Baker--could be in a position to provide crucial evidence regarding Comey's knowledge of the Big Picture. Time will have to tell.

Until Durham's investigative work is finished it will be too soon to speculate on a major report that could expose the Bigger Picture. That will be a momentous decision for AG Barr. He has spoken of the right of the American people to an explanation of what was transparently a coup attempt--even if our legal system is not equipped to deal with such a circumstance. In that case, a report may be the best alternative.


  1. * Did the CIA tell Joseph Mifsud to frame George Papadopoulos?

    * Did the CIA tell Alexander Downer to frame George Papadopoulos?

    In the past, I assumed that the culprit was CIA, but now I am coming around to the opinion that the culprit was the FBI.

    Papadopoulos says he was told Arvinder Sambey, an FBI official, to travel from London to Rome to meet with Mifsud.

    Perhaps Sambei or another FBI official likewise arranged the meeting between Papadopoulos and Downer in London.

    If my speculation is true in the Mifsud and Downer incidents, then how is CIA Director Brennan going to be subjected to criminal charges?

    Was Michael Flynn framed by Brennan ? No, Flynn was framed by James Comey.

    Was Carter Page framed by the CIA? No, Page was framed by the FBI.

    Was Christopher Steele controlled by a CIA case officer? No, Steele was controlled by FBI official Michael Gaeta, who was stationed in Rome (where Papadopolous met with Mifsud).

    Did Brennan want to put the Dossier into the Intelligence Community Assessment? No, Comey wanted to put it there.


    The FBI Counterintelligence Division chief, Bill Priestap, was obsessed with a paranoid idea that Donald Trump was colluding with Russian Intelligence. Priestap infected Comey, Andrew McCabe and some other top FBI officials wit the same paranoia.

    Priestap was using his resources in Europe (e.g. Sambey and Gaeta) to prove his paranoid idea.

    1. Mike, I maintain that Brennan was complicit in all that--but that he was clever enough to distance himself, planting seeds in the FBI that they had every reason NOT to act upon, but that they DID act upon. Brennan has guilty knowledge, and failed to warn against what was going on--but, as you say, how can that be proven. Durham understands that and has seen the ICA as Brennan's weak link in his defense.

      The one weaker link in the above is Downer. Who actually put him up to it? Was he another CIA asset who was 'on loan' to the FBI, like Halper and Mifsud? Could well be.

      I still see Priestap as not being part of the inner circle.

    2. In that Brennan was probably saved from himself by law: The CIA is not allowed to investigate US citizens on US soil. He had to hand it off surreptitiously

    3. Bingo! This is what I've been saying. The Russia Hoax remains nothing but a Clinton campaign dirty tricks op--BUT FOR the involvement of Comey's FBI. It doesn't matter, in that sense, that Brennan may have been the evil genius behind it all. What matters is that it doesn't get any traction unless the federal investigative branch gets involved. Comey didn't have to do that. He had every reason to think twice or thrice, but he went ahead. He trusted Brennan--what a mistake! However, FBI's lead role in the legal sense also implicates DoJ.

    4. "Comey didn't have to do that"

      It is odd, but Crossfire Hurricane was opened 3 weeks after Comey's press conference "exonerating" Hillary Clinton. One can almost believe that Comey opened the Trump investigation as a way to ingratiate himself with President-elect Clinton.

  2. Written law is at least in principle comprehensible. That is at once its advantage and disadvantage.

    The advantage is that people can (in principle) know in advance what's permitted or forbidden. The disadvantage is that malefactors can know in advance where the law has gaps or ambiguities that they can exploit.

    It is quite possible that the coup participants structured their crime spree to skirt the specific laws in place that one might expect to apply. I can accuse them of many things, including capital offenses, but I would never accuse them of being stupid. And at a higher level view, I don't think that the criminal law is adequate to handle all situations.

    1. We need to know what Barr and Durham know, and of course can't until they share their knowledge. We know there have been some cooperators, but how high a reach that has given Durham is unclear. Barr has hinted at significant developments, stating the Clinesmith ISN'T so significant.

    2. The meeting between Papadopoulos and Downer was arranged when the FBI was collecting evidence to justify the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

      A few days after Downer gave his memo about that meeting to the US Embassy in London, the FBI did open that investigation.

      Previously, I had assumed that Downer gave his memo to the CIA Chief of Station at the Embassy, but Kimberly Strassel reported that Downer gave his memo to another, State Department official there.

      Downer's memo about that meeting justified the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation. The meeting did not exert any known effect on the CIA.

    3. I meant to place this comment under my own above comment.

    4. And as long as Downer sticks to the story that he was acting as a diplomat and so passed his stuff off to a US diplomat, Brennan is as clean as a whistle in that. He may have suggested the op to the FBI, but absent documentation ...

      Priestap, I believe, was present in London for the Downer/PapaD meet. Correct me if I'm wrong. What I meant earlier re Priestap is, based on the way we see in the texts and emails that Lisa Page works around Priestap and goes direct to Strzok, with other indicators, I don't believe Priestap was trusted by the others and would not have been the leader of a crazy project like the Russia Hoax. He may have believed it--no rocket scientist, he--but I believe he was a follower.

  3. "Brennan was informed by Mr. Durham that he is not a subject or a target of a criminal investigation and that he is only a witness to events that are under review."

    Can we believe anything Brennan says?

    "validated by Mueller" and "bipartisan" "SSCI'

    Hiding behind....

    "fervent hope it will be apolitical"

    Setting the stage...

    Any other talking points?

    1. That Brennan is seen at this point--in a formal legal sense--as a witness doesn't mean he's out of the woods. It simply means that Durham and Barr understand that Brennan has been able to cover his tracks thus far.

    2. @Anonymous

      To restate the obvious...

      "Can we believe anything Brennan says?"

      - Brennan has repeatedly called or implied that Trump is a "traitor" or has committed "treason". If he can't or won't explain why he has said/done this, and prove that it is true, there is *no* reason to believe...anything he says.

      " 'validated by Mueller' and 'bipartisan' 'SSCI' ".

      -We objectively know that both Mueller and SSCI were not fact finding bodies, but were partisan groups trying to destroy Trump. Mueller knew there was no collusion, but spent two years trying to trap Trump in an obstruction of justice case. The SSCI leaked the Carter Page FISA to try to make the collusion case to the public. It will be hard (in fact, impossible) to accept that either has validated (or even attempted to validate) the whole, true story.

    3. That, I believe, is where sundance's focus on senatorial corruption pays dividends. What's being hidden is GOPe involvement in the attempted coup. Trump knows this, Barr knows this.

    4. I think we can believe Brennan's claim that he's not a suspect.

      IMO, his Trump-as-traitor lies prove nothing. They are speech that he knows is protected - will not or cannot be prosecuted. And in the likely event of ultimate progressive victory, history won't even condemn him.

      There's no downside for him to lie about Trump in protected venues. But On the other hand there's no upside to lying about the Durham investigation,

  4. I wonder how the Pentagon Office of Net Assessment figures in subsidizing the "spying." Who requested and who authorized the payments? Seems like another thread Durham would have pulled. This office pops up occasionally in reporting, but manages to remain below the waterline for the most part. Or is it inconsequential in the bigger picture?


    1. Yes. The general belief is that the 'other' Baker, the head of ONA--not FBI's General Counsel of the same name--who had David Ignatius as his contact was responsible for the Flynn leak of the phone call. He would also have been responsible for paying Halper--who, while he undoubtedly worked with CIA, was definitely an FBI operational asset for purposes of the Russia Hoax. Not only will Durham have been digging deeply into ONA, but the Senate (Grassley and Johnson) have also been auditing ONA. It's NOT inconsequential, especially because it leads to the origins of the Russia Hoax well before Crossfire Hurricane was opened.

  5. I appreciate your (and SWCs) corrections of Sundance's misunderstandings. Had I not been following your blog, I would be under much different beliefs than I am right now.

    1. You're welcome. This is inside baseball type stuff, and it's not easy for most people to wrap their heads around it. In fact, because of the intersection of criminal and intelligence principles within the national security context, it can be tricky even for lawyers.

    2. I remember reading years ago a statement by an intel. chief, if I remember correctly he was the head of the Abwehr during WWII, that he preferred to recruit upper echelon, meaning more or less successful, criminals as agents, not only because their technical skills overlapped with espionage "trade-craft" but their personal traits were already formed and naturally conducive to the work. Among other examples I remember specifically he mentioned an eye for detail and opportunity, excellent memory, a glib tongue, and the capacity to lie to anyone about anything with a cool demeanor and without a shred of remorse. I thought at the time, "The perfect lawyer."

    3. Unfair to many lawyers, but certainly applies to the Comey breed. Looks like he met his match in another career criminal--Brennan.

    4. "I would be under much different beliefs than I am right now."
      Same here.
      Mark, you've suggested that SWC's limited experience sometimes leads him to unwise jumps.
      Is there anyone else out there (blogging etc.), whose (range of) experience *approaches* yours?
      Or are we just "stuck" with mixing/ matching the combo of ("limited") folks like Turley, Dyer, & SWC?

    5. Mixing and matching is actually a good idea. Compare what I say here with what other people say, be discriminating.

    6. Mark! You'll never win a Pulitzer with that attitude.

  6. Mark --

    Let's posit that Brennan has distanced himself from overt, prosecutable criminal acts to destroy Trump, bring down his government, etc. Isn't it the CIA's job to be the 'unseen hand'?

    But wouldn't Brennan still be exposed to criminal liability on the various conspiracy charges that you (and I and others) have articulated here and elsewhere? Didn't he pass off the bogus Steele Dossier to Harry Reid? Didn't Carter Page work for CIA, too? Didn't Brennan attend the January 5 2017 WH meeting with the other conspirators?

    Is there any question he was a player>

    1. Yes, he could still be implicated in the Big Picture conspiracy--depending on what others can tell Durham. For example, perhaps investigation of Baker at ONA will turn up Brennan's involvement. There's no doubt at all of his involvement, but he was very, very careful.

      Giving the dossier to Harry Reid--or McCain, or Graham, or Rubio or ...--isn't a crime in and of itself. Nor is attendance at the WH meeting. Note that at the meeting all the decision making seems to have involved the FBI. Brennan can say, Hey, I'm not a lawyer. I thought these high powered people like Obama and Comey and Yates knew the law and were on the up and up, or were working 'by the books'. What did I know? CIA doesn't get involved in intra-US investigations so I didn't understand what was going on.

      He also gave the dossier to Obama, as I understand. He was very active, but as far as any investigative activity--as opposed to political BS--the fingerprints all belong to the FBI and DoJ. Barr rightly doesn't want to criminalize politics--and that consideration is probably the reason behind the constitutional definition of 'treason.'

    2. The best, and tried and true, method for the DCI to keep his hands clean is by running the op "off the books" -- using personnel who are not regular CIA employees, and either laundering the money, or getting offshore entities to do the funding.

      He could still be up to his eyeballs in this, but the CIA documentation will not necessarily reveal it.

  7. As someone commented upthread, there is little reason to trust anything coming from Brennan or his attorney while not under oath, and even if they were, I'd take a grain of salt with whatever they said even under oath. He could be doing a Sid Blumenthal act -- the Clinton creep who testified to a GJ and then lied through his teeth moments later outside the court house about what he was asked and what his answer were.

    Arguendo, even if he was told by Durham he's not a target, he's still on the hook if new evidence emerges, if he lied to Durham's investigators, and he's still potentially on the hook in the spin-off investigations by Bash and other US As who Barr picked to supplement aspects of Durham's investigation.

    Beyond that, what I find notable is they took 8 hours to grill him. There must have been a boat load of questions and classified docs they asked him to explain.

    That's far longer than the perfunctory courtesy-grilling Comey's guys gave Hillary before he said she should not be prosecuted. That tells me Durham is digging deeply into things, and has lots of documents and testimony to determine if Brennan was being truthful.

    The larger picture: the question no one is asking is how did a nobody like PapaD get targeted so quickly after joining the Trump Foreign Policy group? Suddenly Mifsud was all over him, telling him he's heard that "Russia has dirt on Hillary and might share it," and offering to set him up with meetings/intros to Russians he knows.

    I do not believe that happened by pure chance.

    re: ONA: if they were laundering CIA funding to Halper, what makes you think Halper (and others like him with phony overpriced contracts with ONA)were NOT involved in other dirty off-book operations directed by CIA? IF CIA were running off-book ops, that's one of the ways they'd pay part time operatives so there's a cut-out.

    Lastly, I reiterate my observation that in the waning months of the Mueller Inquisition, the SCO was shedding prosecutors as they approached the release of the Mueller Report; in Durham's case, in the past year we have seen multiple US As picked by Barr to supplement Durhams work, taking various issues off of Durham's plate and investigating them in parallel to Durham. He additionally has hired MORE prosecutors during the late Spring. On balance, these are not indicators of criminal investigation that is not turning up usable evidence; they indicate the exact opposite. There is no need for more prosecutors if there is no expectation of numerous prosecutions.

    My hunch is the ONA is the money flow "Pandora's Box" that could reveal things that are far beyond what we have heard so far.

    If this is just FBI reacting to what fell in their lap, who targeted PapaD, and who told Mifsud to cozy up to him and tell PapaD that the Russians had dirt on Hillary? Who gave Mifsud the TWO Blackberries he turned over to Barr/Durham?

    1. Re the 8 hours and boatload of questions ...

      I've been in that position, and it can be rough. In Brennan's case, I don't care that they told him he wasn't a subject or target, they were super prepared and hoping to catch him. Whether they did will be up in the air. This wasn't like a trial where there's been discovery, and he has no real way of knowing what else Durham had learned. That's because Durham doesn't share with sundance. :-)

    2. In the towergate timeline it speaks to PapaD getting cozied up to by a familiar old buddy from his past who was recruited and paid for by the FBI to encourage PapaD to get involved with the Trump campaign so I read this to suggest is well planned in advance to find someone to infiltrate the campaign. Mifsud too on FBI
      or CIA payroll well before CH was established by Brennan, Clapper, and Comey, and Obama.

      Why Obama? Obama wanted Clinton to win to maintain his legacy. we all know that. Obama knew Trump was sharing in his candidate platform his plans to build walls, tear up the Iran treaty, break up anything Obama did. Obama's distate, dislike, and hatred for Trump and those around him (Flynn) was pure evil. He was going to do whatever he could to leverage the Federal gov't, his cronies in Congress, intelligence community, and support Hillary's DNC angle of Fusion GPS, Perkins, etc...

      It's a very sad time and reflection on our Republic. Inability to bring corruption charges may have a long lasting impact on our Republic. It's a tall order for Barr & Durham. Perhaps the expectations are too high. They're human after all. Wish I could help. Maybe we'll get some divine intervention as SD alludes too?

      I just gotta believe that somehow, somewhere this conspiracy has to be understood by the American people. Guessing November's election may be the only avenue. Just don't know how the criminals will actually realize the crimes they've committed as they don't perceive them that way.

    3. "Inability to bring corruption charges may have a long lasting impact on our Republic", assuming that
      our Republic lasts that long.
      More likely, Inability to bring corruption charges will convince many millions, that our current Republic is past salvaging, and that it's time for a breakup.

      "they don't perceive them that way."
      To these brats, everything they do is *wonderful*, *because* it's being done by these brats (*to* a Basket of Deplorables)!

    4. Re "Mifsud on FBI or CIA payroll," if Mifsud was in fact carrying out an op (no guarantee about that, btw - though it's of course possible), there would've been no need to take the risk of putting him on either of those two payrolls. Even with no upfront pay at all, an opportunist like Mifsud would've known the payoffs would come in the form of business opportunities after the Clinton victory. And if he somehow did get paid before the election, it would've been probably by a foreign player of some kind, and certainly not - I don't think, anyway - the USG.

  8. It's pretty frustrating to see Brennan getting away with his role in the coup.

    It reminds us that we have only gotten so far because there are some really indiscrete, or overconfident, people in the DoJ and FBI and also that clever people can really get away with a lot.

    Even more, it seems to close the door on scrutiny of the CIA, which really needs a housecleaning.

    One can hope that future plea deals and indictments will be substantial enough to expose him to broad condemnation.

  9. If Brennan has covered his tracks so far, then he's covered his tracks. Whatever it is he did, assuming he did anything, and I think he did (regardless of his motivation), he's going to walk.

    Clinesmith, a minnow, has been bagged. Wolfe, an apex SSCI predator, walked, with help from both sides of the aisle. It's coming up on Labor Day.

    My frustration meter is starting to ping.

    1. I wouldn't necessarily agree that the Wolfe case is completely gone- remember, the plea deal was made by Rosenstein and his underlings, not Barr. If that plea was corruptly offered, I guarantee you it is under Durham's aegis.

    2. Much could hinge on normal practice in such deals.
      How often do such deals work like many pardons (e.g. of Nixon), by wiping slate clean on "ALL fed'l crimes between dates XX/XX/XX and YY/YY/YY?"
      As opposed to listing a slew of possible charges?

  10. My guess is that given his statement Brennan probably stated early on in the interview that the ICA was properly predicated, validated by Mueller, and the SSCI and dug his heels in at that point.

    Further, IMO, I would think Durham and team would pivot to hypothetical questioning then given your thoughts Mark that there may be specific criminal charges or emphasis on the SC charges.

    For example, questioning Brennan as to what does he think the rationale would be to continue to renewal's on Page when Mueller knew the contents were false?

    Or maybe he wanted statements on what he shared with Obama during 2016 to keep him informed relative to all of this. Isn't Obama supposedly the one to suggest to his Administration to blame the Wikileaks releases from the DNC on Russia?

    1. Here's the problem:

      "questioning Brennan as to what does he think the rationale would be to continue to renewal's on Page"

      That's a total softball for Brennan. He just says, 'I'm CIA--what do I know about FISA. Go ask the FBI.'

      This is why Durham has been looking for documentary evidence.

  11. The target is Brennan, an he knows it too. His goose is cooked by dozens of incriminating EC and paper documentation that Durham obtain last year based upon whistleblower leads. Durham has been using that to guide his interviews and more than a few minions have got themselves into more hot water and were forced into cooperating. Lisa Page, in particular, has been devastating in her testimony and Baker really had no choice but to cooperate.

    Comey is the key to getting to Brennan, and there is lots of incriminating documentation on him. He has been too cute by half throughout this whole debacle and has no allies anywhere. His only path to a lighter sentence is to blow the whistle big time. Comey is, and always has been, a dirty cop and he has absolutely no compunction about stabbing Brennan in the back.

    1. Just because it's wishful thinking doesn't mean it won't come true. So I'm all behind everything you're saying, though it's pure hope on my part, and no actual evidence.

  12. Shipwreckedcrew's latest:

    "John Brennan Was Put in a Perjury Trap Yesterday — A Completely Legitimate One"

    >> <<

    "Second, conducting the interview at the CIA facility is an interesting decision. Why not question him at DOJ or FBI HQ? The CIA is not a law enforcement agency. John Brennan no longer works for the CIA. Any CIA records that may have been needed over the course of the interview could have been made available in a secured facility at both those locations.

    But that “records” excuse may have been the very justification given for the selection of the CIA HQ as the location for the interview.

    DOJ and the FBI HQ are in Washington DC. CIA Headquarters is in Langley, Virginia.

    If you are geographically challenged, you can read the distinction as “United States District Court for the District of Columbia” v. “United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.” If John Brennan offered any false answers to the investigators during the interview, the venue for that “false statement” crime is in the EDVA, not in DC federal court.

    Third, Shapiro’s statement claims that Brennan was told by Durham that he is neither a “target” nor “subject,” and that he is only a witness to events under review. Maybe that’s true, but it does not sound true to me. And the statement does not say that comment was made to Brennan yesterday before the interview took place." [snip]

    He elaborates further on Brennan's potential status for the interview.....

    [skipping several paragraphs]

    "John Durham and his team did not come to the decision to interview Brennan over the course of eight hours for the purpose of “filling in the blanks” on “events that are under review.”

    The purpose of the interview was to get Brennan to confirm or deny information that others have provided up to this point about Brennan, and what he instructed others to do.

    John Brennan was placed into a perjury trap yesterday because he’s shown himself willing to perjure himself in the past in order to evade scrutiny.

    Yesterday, the ability to avoid the trap was completely within his control — all he had to do was tell the truth. For the most part, Durham’s investigators knew the truth.

    John Brennan doesn’t come from a world of objective “truths” and “lies”. For Brennan, the “truth” is always malleable to fit his needs at any given moment.

    That’s CIA tradecraft. He sees himself as a master of such “dark arts” based on his decades in DC. Others have long viewed him as a clown.

    That’s why, as a prosecutor, you save a liar like John Brennan for last. He can’t help you because you can’t rely on what he tells you.

    So your interview is not done for the purpose of helping your case.

    And you do it in Virginia and not DC because of what you plan to do next."

    1. They could have pulled a Flynn. "No, no way your a target. As a matter of fact no reason to even have a lawyer present. We just have a couple of odd strings to tie up. All very routine."