Sunday, October 25, 2020

Manafort, Flynn--And A Dog That Hasn't Barked Yet

John Solomon continues to plow through the FBI spreadsheet that purports to fact check the Carter Page FISA application. He's come across an interesting detail:

Memo suggests FBI opened Manafort probe before Trump hired lobbyist but gave no warning

Some question why bureau didn't give Trump a defensive briefing in spring 2016.

A footnote (#332) appears to indicate (it's redacted) that the FBI opened an investigation on Manafort on January 13, 2016, but never provided the Trump campaign with a defensive briefing about Manafort. 

Solomon consulted Kevin Brock, a former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI. Brock laid out the general principles behind providing defensive briefings:

"Some may wonder why the Trump campaign wasn't warned by the FBI that the bureau had Manafort under investigation when Trump made him his campaign manager in June 2016.  The answer lies in the distinction between a criminal investigation and a counterintelligence investigation," he said.  

"If the case against Manafort opened by the FBI in January 2016 was strictly based on suspected financial crimes, then the FBI was under no obligation to disclose their case," Brock explained. "However, if the FBI instead opened a counterintelligence investigation that January into Manafort's ties to Russia-supported political operatives in Ukraine, then, yes, a defensive national security briefing to candidate Trump by the FBI sometime in the summer of 2016 would have been a normal and prudent course of action. But we now know the Crossfire Hurricane team at the FBI was not inclined to brief the campaign on anything.”

Tom Fitton, working off Brock's observation that the FBI was transparently "not inclined to brief the [Trump] campaign on anything," makes what I think is a pretty sound observation:

"Given that Manafort's work in Ukraine necessarily involved a national security component, Trump should have been notified ...

In other words, Manafort had been working in Ukraine for years and was well known to be employed by the party that favored better relations with Russia--a position that was disfavored by George Soros and his lackeys in the Obama administration. Any way you slice it, it's difficult to imagine that, as Fitton says, there wouldn't be some national security component to the Manafort investigation and that Trump deserved to be informed. My understanding, subject to correction, is that in the prior investigation of Manafort there had been a FISA warrant issued. If so that would be confirmation that the FBI had viewed Manafort as a national security risk. In those circumstances, it's hard to justify not briefing Trump.

Catherine Herridge wrote a brief tweet on the Flynn case:

To appreciate what's being said here, let's go over the background a bit.

First of all, the interview of Michael Flynn was no ordinary interview. It was a potential make or break interview--for the Trump administration itself. The FBI and DoJ were hoping that they would be able to leverage Flynn's perfectly professional conversations with Russian ambassador Kislyak into a presidency ending scandal.

Next, recall that, of the two FBI agents, Peter Strzok did the talking in the interview and Joe Pientka "took the notes." Actually, given that the modus operandi that had been decided on for the interview by the FBI was that Flynn should be put at ease, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that Pientka didn't sit through the interview jotting down as close to verbatim as possible whatever Flynn said. That would hardly have put Flynn at ease. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Pientka wrote up interview notes immediately after leaving the White House, In much the same way that disgraced former FBI Director dashed to a waiting vehicle and wrote up his notes after leaving Trump Tower in early January, 2017, after attempting to blackmail Trump. However it worked, I presume that Strzok and Pientka discussed the interview in depth immediately afterward and arrived at a meeting of the minds as to what had transpired--which, given the importance of this interview, Pientka embodied in detailed notes after the fact. After all, we know that Strzok later briefed the FBI's and DoJ's top brass that he and Pientka believed Flynn was telling the truth.

But that was when the problems started, because that wasn't the narrative that the FBI--McCabe and Comey--wanted.

Now, we all know that 302s are supposed to be finalized within five days of an interview. Which makes sense, because the whole purpose of a 302 is to be a basically contemporaneous account of the salient points in an interview. Waiting 21 days defeats the purpose entirely--and especially because it's a glaring violation of Bureau regulations. It's the kind of thing you can get in trouble over. This was a long and detailed 302, but the matter in hand was super important--the fate of the Trump administration potentially hung in the balance. I would have expected that Strzok would drop everything else and devote the next day, or a major part of it, to writing it up. The facts--the 21 day delay, the multiple electronic accesses by both agents--suggest that something was up. And more to the point, it's not much of a stretch to imagine that the agreed upon narrative, as between Strzok and Pientka, had fallen apart. And the big question is: Why? 

Well, after all the water over the dam, it's not much of a mystery. But there is a dog that hasn't barked--yet. While we've seen the 302 of SA Barnett's interview with the Durham team, we haven't seen Joe Pientka's 302. We know that he was interviewed by IG Horowitz, but don't anyone try to tell me that he hasn't been interviewed--perhaps more times than Pientka himself can recall off hand--by Durham's team as well. Just as I suspect that there may well be several Barnett 302s, the same goes for Pientka. Those are not being made public, and I'm sure there's a reason for that. The targets of Durham's investigation know the reason.


  1. This explains a revelation in Lee Smith's Plot Against the President I've mentioned elsewhere in your blog posts that Eric Ciaramella--the impeachment "whistleblower"--solicited a Ukrainian prosecutor visiting the White House in January 2016 for information on Manafort.

    Manafort was in rehab at the time. The Iowa caucus wasn't until February.

    Anyone who thinks the Russia Hoax had anything to do with Donald John Trump can disabuse themselves of that notion--it was a disinformation campaign prepared in 2015 to be used against the Republican nominee for President of the United States, no matter whom that nominee happened to be!!!

    1. The only thing that causes me to question this theory is the text between Strzok and Page lamenting that Ted Cruz was finally mathematically eliminated from the Republican nomination... On the other hand, DC elected officials may be easier to control, so the Russia Hoax could have been used behind the scenes to keep folks in line. We seem to be quite fortunate to have made it to this point.

  2. Think you used enough exclamation points there, Butch?