Saturday, October 24, 2020

Now They Tell Us

Here's the story at Zerohedge: FBI And GSA Gave Mueller 'Secret Access' To Trump Records. See, the Senate has come out with a report about this scandal.

Sound like deja vu all over again? That's because, if you've been paying attention to the Russia Hoax, you've probably read about this several times over the last few years. But the Senate Committee on Finance and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has just gotten around to writing it up. Who are the chumps who elect and pay these clowns? Oh, wait ...

You can read the executive summary--six pages--here. These paraphraphs below are a short summary:

According to the report, the GSA - without notifying the White House - reached out to the FBI following Michael Flynn's resignation as national security adviser and offered to retain records from the Trump transition team in early 2017. The records compiled eventually made their way into Mueller's office, according to the report.

"At bottom," continues the report, "the GSA and the FBI undermined the transition process by preserving Trump transition team records contrary to the terms of the memorandum of understanding, hiding that fact from the Trump transition team, and refusing to provide the team with copies of its own records."

"These actions have called into question the GSA’s role as a neutral service provider, and those doubts have consequences," the report reads. "Future presidential transition teams must have confidence that their use of government resources and facilities for internal communications and deliberations—including key decisions such as nominations, staffing, and significant policy changes—will not expose them to exploitation by third parties, including political opponents."

What would we ever do without the Senate?

However, if you want a very enjoyable read, one that'll bring a smile to your face, check this out:

Today in Trumpenfreude


  1. "These actions have called into question the GSA’s role as a neutral service provider...."

    Translation: It appears we have something called a "Deep State", who knew?
    It's good thing they have a staff to tie their shoes in the morning. What a hapless gaggle of buffoons
    Tom S.

    1. Now you see why Trump signed that executive order changing the status of government "workers" who deal in policy. He plans on firing some of them if not all.

      Rob S

  2. The hits just keep coming. And of this makes the DOJ/FBI look like utterly corrupted law enforcement institutions that have willfully turned a blind eye at these many episodes of lawlessness right in their own backyard. And that is the best that can be said of the FBI. A more accurate interpretation of events is that many of the senior executive staff were likely full-time participants in these criminal activities, and not just bunch of incompetent Keystone Cops.

    Barr is too smart not to know how bad this makes his organization look in the public's eyes. Any hint at sweeping this under the rug and Barr may find himself in the cross-hairs of a future Special Prosecutor. He's paying a big price to hide in the shadows until the election's over, and it damn well better be worth it.

    1. Barr has a c chance to be one heckuva American Hero, or Tokyo Rose.

    2. I am cautiously optimistic that, if we can get Trump over the finish line, the damn will break on very large conspiracies, and its going to flood very quickly. Too fast and too much for the socialists to put up any meaningful fight in the face of overwhelming swampiness.

    3. Trying to stay optimistic but we do need those 41 seats back in the house. Although taking 49 like the dems did in 74 would be better.

  3. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), has long had a plaque in his office quoting George Carlin: "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups."

    That perfectly describes the Deep State. But they're not just stupid. They're also very unethical, dishonest, and most of all, cowardly.


  4. Part 1)

    I remember reading an article from the past where SCO Andrew Weissmann mentions that the first thing he intended to do was to access all the GSA information provided by the Trump transition team.

    Then I found a Dec. 17th, 2017 article in Forbes written by a Frank Miniter. Here's what it says:

    How Mueller Got Trump's Presidential Transition Team's Emails

    If anyone who was on President Donald J. Trump’s presidential transition team is surprised that Robert Mueller obtained tens of thousands of their emails by only sending a letter—with no warrant to back it up—to the General Services Administration (GSA), an independent agency of the U.S. government established in 1949 to support federal agencies, then they are naïve.

    In this area especially, the Fourth Amendment has been shot full of loopholes.

    When there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy” the Fourth Amendment does offer some protection against unreasonable searches and seizures—meaning the government would have to go to a judge to obtain a warrant based on probable cause.

    But in a situation such as this, where a third party holds the records, courts have found there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

    In 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, for example, ruled, in Rehberg v. Paulk, that a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy once any copy of the email is delivered to a third party—the GSA, in this case, is a third party.

    Of course, every email sent over the Internet goes through third parties, so the Court was saying no email sent through an Internet service provider (ISP) is private. As the Fourth Amendment, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, was passed as restrictions on the government, it’s a strange distinction to say they can get our data from a phone company or ISP without a warrant, but many courts haven’t seen it that way.

    In this case, however, the GSA is saying they also informed the Trump presidential transition team that they would comply with any law-enforcement query.

    Nevertheless, lawyers representing the Trump presidential transition team have accused special counsel Robert Mueller of obtaining unauthorized access to the tens of thousands of emails.

    They also say some of the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege. This argument might be stronger in regards to some communications, but that fight would have to waged in court.

  5. Part 2)

    After this debate went public, Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, said, “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”

    Also, GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt says that Trump’s transition officials were told that “in using our devices,” this data “would not be held back in any law enforcement” query. Therefore, he argues, there was no expectation of privacy in regards to these emails.

    For these, and other legal reasons, this doesn’t appear to be a battle Trump’s attorneys have a chance of winning.

    The government, and therefore Mueller, has a lot of tools at its disposal to step around the Fourth Amendment to get documents. These include the “special-needs doctrine,” the “third-party doctrine” and National Security Letters (NSLs).

    A NSL is a form of administrative subpoena often used by the FBI. It is a “demand letter” issued to a particular entity or organization to turn over records pertaining to individuals. NSLs require no probable cause or judicial oversight. From 2003 to 2006 the FBI issued 192,499 national security letter requests.

    Trump’s lawyers should know that records stored on computers don’t necessarily have the same protections as those in a home desk. Today banks must report our transfers and transactions. Unbeknownst to us, private companies from Yahoo to Google to Bank of America often hand over emails and search results.

    Trump lawyers likely do know we are in a post-private age, where people are even beginning to think a lack of privacy is a necessary result of technology. It’s not. A commonsense interpretation of Fourth Amendment protections that admits it covers new technologies just as much as good, old handwritten letters would end this entire, complex and often semantic debate.

    But lawyers are paid to deal with the legal situation as it is, not just how it should ideally be. By going public with this fight, they are not only going to lose, but are going to look stupid losing.

    Senate committee's sitting on this for quite awhile I guess. Now they decide to get engaged. Geez.

    1. Too long to go into. My opinion is that the arguments Miniter presents are highly tendentious. Note that Mueller says they used "appropriate criminal process". They used NO criminal process for this--just a letter. Notice too that no mention is made of the fact that there was a MOU in which GSA agreed that the emails were Trump transition property. Nor was there any filtering for privilege--since a president would have executive privilege rights the transition should have, as well. There are lots of counter arguments, none presented. Read the exec summary that's only 6 pages. It was a setup, an NO NOTICE was given to Trump that would have allowed his lawyers to object.

    2. Agreed Mark. Just interesting to show what the prevalent thought was 3 years ago to today. A long time in between with no information shared re: GSA intent except for the article I'm trying to locate where Weissmann stated that the Mueller SCO initial starting point was the GSA info. I might have read an excerpt about it from his book where he shared his thoughts that the SCO was intended to be a "checking" function.

  6. I think the more probable the win for Trump in this election the more and more you will see the Republicans slowly coming clean on their misgivings and assistance efforts in the coup.

    They know Trump will behead everyone of them publicly after Nov 3rd.

  7. "Note that Mueller says they used 'appropriate criminal process'. They used NO criminal process for this"

    I'm glad you caught that. I was about to have to...words...thing. They knew full well that they had no legitimate legal basis from the start for anything. Dirtiest little not-so-secret in the District of Criminals.

  8. 1 last article from Buzzfeed back in 2017 where they have quotes from since deceased career GSA civil servant Lenny Loewentritt, Deputy General Counsel, GSA.

    "Career GSA staff, working with Mr. Loewentritt and at the direction of the FBI, immediately produced all the materials requested by the Special Counsel’s Office — without notifying TFA [Trump for America] or filtering or redacting privileged material," Langhofer writes.

    In a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Saturday night, Loewentritt — whose LinkedIn represents that he has worked at the agency since 1972 — disputed the claims made in the letter sent by the Trump campaign.

    "Beckler never made that commitment," he said of the claim that any requests for transition records would be routed to the Trump campaign's counsel.

    Specifically, Loewentritt said, "in using our devices," transition team members were informed that materials "would not be held back in any law enforcement" actions.

    Loewentritt read to BuzzFeed News a series of agreements that anyone had to agree to when using GSA materials during the transition, including that there could be monitoring and auditing of devices and that, "Therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed."

    Loewentritt told BuzzFeed News that the GSA initially "suggested a warrant or subpoena" for the materials, but that the Special Counsel's Office determined the letter route was sufficient.

    As to whether the Trump campaign should have been informed of the request, Loewentritt said, "That's between the Special Counsel and the transition team."

    Asked about Langhofer's letter and Loewentritt's statements — and after publication of this story — a spokesperson for the Special Counsel's Office, Peter Carr, told BuzzFeed News, “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”

    Beckler is a reference to "Richard Beckler", since deceased former General Counsel of GSA.

    The letter also makes a specific claim about communication between the government and the campaign — that Richard Beckler, then the general counsel of the GSA, "acknowledged unequivocally to [the Trump campaign's] legal counsel" in a June 15 discussion that the Trump campaign "owned and controlled" emails, and that "any requests for the production of PTT [Presidential Transition Team] records would therefore be routed to legal counsel for [the Trump campaign]."

    Langhofer puts much of the blame for the move on a career government employee, GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt, who he says was present for those assurances. (Beckler "was hospitalized and incapacitated" in August, according to the letter, and has since died.)

    To give proper credit:

  9. Murkowski today announced she will vote to support Judge Barrett.
    A Tell, on which way the wind is really blowing?
    Time for more Senators to lawyer up?

    1. I thought she might vote no out of solidarity to Collins so she would not have to be the sole GOP "no" vote. I still expect Collings to vote "no", but maybe she won't?

      Maybe Murky realized she has so ticked off conservatives that she could not afford one more betrayal.

    2. With Collins it's political calculation in a tight re-election campaign. With Murkowski it's merely shallow posturing in search of relevance. With Hirono it's just malignant disingenuousness.
      Tom S.