‘Who’s Putting These Ideas in His Head?’
The former FBI agent Peter Strzok worries that Americans will never learn the full story about Trump’s relationship with Russia.
It's actually not even an interview in any traditional sense. It's more of a Trump-Hate venting session. Normally if a journalist interviews a controversial figure, the journalist will push and challenge the interview subject. Strzok is someone who was fired by the FBI after he helped launch unpredicated investigations into a presidential campaign using opposition research from the other campaign, then obtained FISA warrants that everyone who knows anything--Michael Horowitz at OIG, Bill Barr at DoJ, the FISA court judges--understands were fraudulent. He's now awaiting indictment and prosecution. In any normal world that would qualify Strzok as controversial, but not in the alternate reality inhabited by Applebaum and The Atlantic.
Well, there is the possibility that The Atlantic simply doesn't care about its reputation and is willing to sacrifice its credibility in an effort to stop what's beginning to look like a Trump re-election juggernaut.
So, instead of posing challenging, probing questions, Applebaum tosses out one debunked conspiracy theory after another. Strzok fields them, agrees, then tosses out one of his own, and so it goes--back and forth. Improbable as it would be in a normal interview, the two agree on everything, and it all comes down to: Orange Man Bad. Also Mean, because Strzok is gonna get prosecuted.
You can actually get the drift of it right from the title: ‘Who’s Putting These Ideas in His Head?’ Trump is afflicted with Wrongthink--bad ideas, ideas that no right thinking person could possibly hold. That's a dead giveaway, according to Strzok, that Trump has been "compromised" by the Russians. They're blackmailing him. Here's how that works:
[Trump] is on the campaign trail saying I have no financial relationships with Russia, while at the very same time, his lawyer Michael Cohen is in Moscow negotiating a deal for a Trump Tower, there are people who know that. Vladimir Putin knows that. As it happened, the FBI knew it. But nobody in the American public knew it. So the moment that he says it, everybody who knows about that lie has leverage over him.
Is Strzok really such a simpleton? Is this type of magical thinking really the way the FBI's CI agents operate?
You're probably saying to yourself, Wait a minute--Cohen was doing that basically on his own, remember?
Strzok has an advantage over you. He has availed himself of "public reporting." Really. That's how he knows this stuff:
Applebaum: Or why doesn’t he speak out against the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, or why hasn’t he spoken up for the democracy movement in Belarus? Do you think that there are other ways in which Trump is beholden to foreign powers?Got that? Those are two examples of Trump being blackmailed by Putin.
Strzok: It seems clear to me from public reporting that there are more.
Right. What could be more clear? Except that, if Putin really has the goods on Trump, Putin has set a pretty low price for his blackmail.
Helpfully, Applebaum leads off by sketching out Strzok's big picture of the Danger facing us as a nation:
As I read Strzok’s book, I found myself unexpectedly angry, because his narrative exposes an extraordinary failure: Despite multiple investigations by the FBI, Congress, and Mueller’s team, Americans have still never learned the full story about the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia or Trump’s own decades-long financial ties with Russia. Four years have passed since the investigation began. Many people have been convicted of crimes. Nevertheless, portions of reports produced by Mueller, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and others remain redacted. Investigations are allegedly ongoing. Details remain secret. Meanwhile, valuable FBI time and money were spent investigating which email server Hillary Clinton used—a question that, as it turned out, had no implications for U.S. security whatsoever.
Strzok himself was not exactly reassuring: He does not believe that Trump’s true relationship with Russia was ever revealed, and he now worries that it won’t ever be. It’s not clear that anyone ever followed up on the leads he had, or completed the counterintelligence investigation he began. He doesn’t say this himself, but after speaking with him I began to wonder if this is the real reason the Department of Justice broke with precedent in his case by not just firing a well-respected FBI agent but publicly discrediting him too: Strzok was getting too close to the truth.
So, maybe Mueller and Weissmann were in on the coverup, they were part of the fix for Trump to ensure he wouldn't be impeached? That must be why they never followed out Strzok's great leads! In fact, Applebaum actually does suggest that something funny was going on with Mueller's failure to fully explore "Donald Trump’s multiple Russian connections, going back three decades." And Strzok, of course, agrees. He wants us to believe that anyone who knew a Russian three decades ago should have his life turned inside out, because ... counterintelligence! No, really. He faults Mueller for only looking at ties to the Russian government and not just, hey, Russian people, Russian businessmen. Because Trump has these funny ideas. It must be blackmail.
Oh, and about that wasted of valuable FBI time that was spent investigating which server Hillary's emails were on. Applebaum quotes from Strzok's book:
“If Clinton’s email had been housed on a State Department system, it would have been less secure and probably much more vulnerable to hacking than it was on her private server.”
Yeah, I'll bet David Petraeus wishes he thought of that one!
But let me offer some examples of things that somehow don't get covered in this interview. In fact, these are words and phrases that don't appear even once in the interview.
That's right. Not mentioned once--despite the fact that Applebaum and Strzok do an elaborate dance around the Chris Steele issue. Get a load of this:
Applebaum: Let me ask you about one very confusing element of this story, namely the dossier provided by the British former agent Christopher Steele. You have said many times that this dossier was not the reason you opened the investigation into the Trump campaign. By the time it emerged, the investigation had already begun, based on other kinds of stories, including that of the Australian high commissioner in London, who heard George Papadopoulos bragging about his links to Russia in a wine bar. But what impact did the Steele report have on your investigation?Got that? We're supposed to believe that the Trump investigation was based on that really reliable story the FBI got from Aussie "diplomat" Alex Downer. Never mind what what Mifsud said, nor the documentable fact that Papadopoulos had no Russian connections. We're supposed to believe, at this late date in the ongoing Russia Hoax, that this transparent subterfuge was good enough to open a full counterintelligence investigation on a presidential campaign. The only confusing thing, according to Applebaum, is that some people have this crazy idea that the Steele dossier had something to do with opening the investigation.
Strzok: The Steele report was a problem for the investigation, because it sent people off on a series of wild-goose chases. ...
The report was very typical of information that the FBI often receives. It comes from several sources, including some suspect sources. Some of it is bullshit, and some of it is rumor, and some of it is disinformation. From our perspective, some of it was a distraction: It didn’t talk about George Papadopoulos, or much about Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn, or all the things going on in the social-media environment, and these were the things we were focused on. There was a lot about Carter Page, who in the end made up, I think, seven pages of Mueller's whole report. Carter Page was a tiny little slice of this whole huge host of activity.
Carter Page was just "a tiny little slice"? Four FISA warrants later? All of which were based on the hoax Steele dossier obtained from the Clinton campaign--two of which followed on the Danchenko interview that debunked Steele's entire hoax dossier. That was some distraction--and some "tiny little slice"!
"No there there."
Nope, Applebaum doesn't go there, not even hinting that Strzok had expressed a belief that there was "no there there" in the Trump investigation. So he doesn't get to take credit: See! I toldja! I said there was "no there there," and "Bob" Mueller has just proven that I was right!
Which leads to "no collusion."
Finally, we get to what Strzok believes--without any pushback or second guessing from Applebaum--was "an egregious miscarriage of justice." Yes, he's referring to "the Department of Justice ... walking back [Michael Flynn's] guilty plea". You might think that Applebaum would ask Strzok why the FBI thought it was appropriate to question the National Security Adviser about routine conversations with a foreign ambassador, but you'd be wrong. She doesn't go there.
And what better way to close out this charade of an interview, than to once again propagate the big lie about "sanctions." In fact, Flynn had not discussed the "sanctions" but rather the "retaliatory" expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US. Flynn had simply urged the Russians to keep things within normal bounds and not to escalate.
All in all, pathetic.
However, for an excellent takedown of Strzok and the Atlantic in connection with the latest hoax, let me recommend: Peter Strzok Promotes Debunked Atlantic Story Against Trump, But Gets Dropped on His Head by the White House.
Where to even begin? Strzok is either dangerously non compos mentis or exceptionally dishonest. Could be both (after all, this is the clown who dines with Rick Wilson). But what Strzok's really so concerned about is that the public has stubbornly refused to believe the conjurings he and the rabidly anti-Trump cabal desperately want the public to accept despite the known facts. That's what grates at all of them night and day.ReplyDelete
"his lawyer Michael Cohen is in Moscow negotiating a deal for a Trump Tower"
Patently false. But the former counter-intelligence agent extraordinaire either doesn't know that or does know it and is knowingly lying about it. Just one of virtually innumerable examples in their relentless jihad to smear and destroy Trump.
I do wonder whether these people just aren't all that bright. The Flynn case is a case in point. Strzok and Pientka thought that Flynn believed that was he was saying was true. It was. Strzok thought that it was factually untrue, but the reason he thought that was because Strzok thought expulsion of diplomats was a "sanction", whereas Flynn knew it wasn't--it was simple retaliation. Flynn assumed Strzok understood these things, i.e., that he wasn't an idiot.Delete
The NYT actually made the distinction, referring to:
"President Obama's decision to  expel Russian diplomats and  impose new sanctions".
Two separate things. Flynn only discussed #1.
We're constantly left to attempt to ascertain not whether a purveyed falsehood is untrue, but whether it's the result of stupidity or malice.Delete
"The anger from media and other Dems that even weak GOP politicians don't seem to be falling as easily for their latest anti-Trump information operation -- after years of witnessing such ops play out on Kavanaugh, Russia, Covington, Jussie Smollet, etc., etc. -- is palpable."Delete
"Strzok also says the Steele dossier 'didn’t talk...much about Paul Manafort' when the central dossier allegation is that Manafort ran the Collusion conspiracy. So he’s either lying or getting it wrong, kinda like the FISA he helped with"Delete
-->"Despite multiple investigations by the FBI, Congress, and Mueller’s team, Americans have still never learned the full story about the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia or Trump’s own decades-long financial ties with Russia.<--ReplyDelete
Hey Anne, how about some evidence? You write for a newspaper that was awarded a Pulitzer for investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, you think the resources would've been devoted to airing out all the evidence behind such assertions...or are you just a hack, repeating empty, evidence-free allegations??
Clowns all around.
Mark, thanks for reading so we don't have to.
The Atlantic, once a terrific, if liberal monthly going back to 1857, is now a steaming pile of leftist goo. The nail in the coffin, as the magazine drifted ever further leftward, was its takeover by Steve Jobs's widow, Laurene, a true California "maroon."ReplyDelete
When the history of these times is written, and blame is parceled out, those locusts in Silicon Valley will be in for a good bit of it.
The Atlantic fits comfortably in line with Izvestia and Pravda. All being untruthful as the day is long.ReplyDelete
The saving grace is this entire sordid affair is that even with the “best” the Deep State had to offer, they couldn’t pull off the coup. They bungled it with simpletons like Sztrok & Page, & former FBI heads who were way past their prime.ReplyDelete
Bottom line seems to be intelligent, competent people don’t become bureaucrats thankfully.
Strzok's comments remind me of the losing trial lawyer's lament, "the jury just didn't understand the case!" To which, any sane person responds, "Well, you dumbass, it was your job to explain it to them!!"ReplyDelete
Here, it was Strzok's 'job' to investigate and explain the 'Russian interference' to us, and now he's complaining that people don't understand it? He is a retard, apologies to anyone who has challenges and struggles with them. Strzok has no excuses, he's just dumb and dishonest. He doesn't even seem to realize that he just indicts himself further and further whenever he opens his mouth. Now, I wish Durham would take a turn...
Thanks for reading it so we don't have to.ReplyDelete
Last weekend, BookTV broadcast an hour-long interview of Anne Applebaum by Jacob Weisberg about her new book Twilight of Democracy. I admire Applebaum as a historian, and so I began watching the interview with genuine interest.ReplyDelete
The basic idea of this interview turned out to be that Applebaum and Weisberg agree completely that President Trump is an authoritarian who is destroying democracy in the USA. Since Weisberg did not challenge Applebaum on any point, even for the mere sake of argument, I found the interview to be tedious and stopped watching the interview about half-way through it.
Essentially, the interview consisted of two people, both of whom suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome, egging each other on for an entire hour.
I agree. This was a pretty poor excuse for an interview. Imagine if an honest person--not necessarily pro-Trump, but open minded and curious--had the opportunity to do a well informed interview with this guy.Delete
Here's a less than flattering take on her:
> Well, there is the possibility that The Atlantic simply doesn't care about its reputation and is willing to sacrifice its credibility...ReplyDelete
I don't think that anyone who reads the Atlantic would consider outright lies in the service of ousting Trump to be a knock to their credibility. At best they'd lie to themselves that the Atlantic told the truth as best they knew it and damn all evidence to the contrary.