Shipwreckedcrew makes no pretense of hiding his disdain for those of us who believe--based on evidence--that candidate and then President Donald J. Trump was the victim of a "grand conspiracy":
Clinesmith Sentencing Statement Filed by Durham -- No Grand Conspiracy Revealed Regarding Clinesmith's Crime
The article curiously ignores key facts and shows little concern for the damage done to the credibility of the American federal justice system--which, he likes to remind us, he served for 22 years.
Here's how he begins:
This is sure to break the spirit of some, and reinforce the views of others that Attorney General Barr and now Special Counsel Durham are actively engaged in grand cover-up along with FBI Director Chris Wray regarding the FISA warrant obtained against Dr. Carter Page.
Why, one might ask, does SWC choose to frame the views of those who may disagree with him in such a harsh light? I have recently harshly criticized Barr regarding his actions, both as to his comments on the election as well as his curious appointment of John Durham as a Special Counsel. I haven't alleged a "grand cover-up"--more like a lack of courage or misguided concept of "healing wounds" by ignoring the cause of the wounds to the body politic. I'm sure there are many others who would share my point of view.
To SWC the "simple facts" are and have always been obvious: Clinesmith honestly, if mistakenly, believed that Trump was a "Russian operative":
To all those true believers I say — get over it. The simple facts were always obvious ... Kevin Clinesmith was a partisan Democrat supporter of Hillary Clinton who, prior to the election, believed he was a central player in what he viewed as one of the most historic investigations of espionage ever done by the FBI. He was going to be part of the crew that revealed Donald Trump to be the “Stalingrad Candidate.” Clinesmith was positive that Donald Trump was a Russian operative, with his election being the culmination of years worth of planning by Vladamir [sic] Putin. That meant those who Candidate Trump surrounded himself with as part of his Campaign likely had some role vis-a-vis the “Russian Connection.”
Ask yourself this: What exactly was it that made Clinesmith so "positive" that Trump was a Russian operative? We are fortunate to possess voluminous text messages of Clinesmith as well as of other key Russia Hoax players in the FBI. We learn plenty about their hatred for Trump the man, for Trump's policies--but virtually nothing at all about any honest belief that Trump was a "Russian operative". How curious.
Now ask yourself this. Assuming that Clinesmith was not alone in those views--and SWC will later assure us that Clinesmith was very much not alone--why did the FBI not open an investigation of Trump? That would be the very logical course of action to take. How can a a high official in federal law enforcement be so positive that a serious plot against our national security is forming, yet have no facts to back up that positive belief and take no action against the main threat? But this strange paralysis in the face of the Trump/Putin threat supposedly affected the entirety of FBI upper management--we know of no significant dissenting voices from that supposedly honest conviction.
Yet this, according to SWC, is how the FBI investigative process worked, beginning in 2017 and continuing for years thereafter. FBI upper management--not just Clinesmith--was supposedly "positive" that Trump was a "Russian operative". In the circumstances that could only mean that their real target was Donald Trump. Yet they never proposed to open an investigation on Trump, their target--not from the inception of Crossfire Hurricane until the final days of the Mueller Witchhunt. The entire campaign against Trump was done by indirect means. Here's how SWC explains it. The FBI concluded that Trump's campaign associates must be involved in Trump's role as a "Russian operative." Because who--as a "Russian operative" and a candidate for the US presidency--wouldn't blab about that double role to all his friends and associates, right? That would be exactly what the wily Vladimir Vladimirovich would instruct his prized recruit, Trump, to do--at least according to SWC's amateurish views on intel work. So they decided to target Trump through campaign associates.
On the other hand, let me propose a thought experiment. Perhaps the reason why the FBI didn't attempt to open an espionage investigation on Donald J. Trump was because they knew they had no basis for such an investigation. And they also knew that the mere attempt would have got set off all sorts of alarm bells in the Obama administration and Congress, whereas opening an investigation on an associate of Trump would accomplish (without fanfare) the real purpose: setting up a vehicle--a full investigation--that would serve as the basis for obtaining a FISA that would extend to Trump. This approach would also offer a further indirect benefit: the existence of such an investigation could also be leaked to harm Trump--the idea that one or more associate was being "looked at" as a Russian agent. Funny thing--that actually happened.
So the FBI looked around for a Trump "associate" to open their "most historic ever" espionage investigation on. And, lo! there was the hapless Carter Page, ready at hand:
Enter Dr. Carter Page. He went to Russia after all. He had some business affairs in the Russian energy sector. He talked to Russians in the United States. Russian intelligence agents had attempted to recruit him three years earlier.
Notice what SWC doesn't mention--the elephant in the room. Elephant? Yes, elephant. SWC ignores the fact that Carter Page had, for the preceding three years in New York, been an FBI asset and a key witness in one of the FBI's major successes against Russian intel operatives in recent years. As such, the FBI had been monitoring most of Page's communications with Russians during that time, through FISA warrants targeting the Russians. The FBI was perfectly fine with Page engaging with Russians in the US for those three years, and he cooperated fully with the FBI. It was only when Page openly told some Russian officials about his relationship with the FBI that the FBI became upset with Page. But then, Page also told the FBI what he had told the Russians. He wasn't hiding anything from anyone at that point.
You can think whatever you want about Page--I personally think he has to be a bit of a nut--but it's simply not logical to conclude from that episode that Page was a Russian agent. There was no basis for opening a full investigation on Page based on that episode. In fact, nothing in Page's past offered any basis whatsoever for opening a full investigation on him: traveling in Russia, working in Russia, talking to Russians in the US, being the subject of a Russian recruitment effort--none of that constitutes articulable facts for a reasonable belief that Page was ever a Russian agent. From the standpoint of Carter Page and US law, it's all legal and blameless activity.
All of this would have been well known at FBIHQ, as part of normal FBI reporting processes. It was certainly well known to the FBI agents in New York who participated in the FISA application process. And the upshot? The FBI's FISA application seriously misrepresents the nature of the FBI's past relationship with Page--something that would have made a big difference had they been more forthcoming with the FISC.
This background is all public knowledge, but instead of discussing Page's past relationship with the FBI, SWC focuses solely on the matter of Page's relationship with the CIA:
But then, nine months after the surveillance of Dr. Page first began, an inconvenient email landed in [Clinesmith's] inbox in response to an inquiry he made of the CIA. “Source check — what kind of relationship was there between the CIA and Dr. Carter Page in the past?” Answer – “Dr. Page was a source who provided the CIA with information on his contacts with Russian intelligence operatives, same as we told you in August 2016.”
How this happened is important, although SWC leaves it out. The reason that Clinesmith made that inquiry in the first place was because an FBI agent who was participating in the preparation of the final FISA renewal--and was obviously not up on all of Page's background--realized that Page fit the profile of a possible CIA asset. That's why the agent insisted, despite Clinesmith's attempts to deflect him, that Clinesmith obtain something in writing from the CIA that the agent could rely on. That's the email that Clinesmith altered, bad boy that he was, so that it would agree with his earlier denials. So, yes, the CIA email was inconvenient, to say the least, but it wasn't exactly a surprise. It was especially inconvenient in light of the FBI's own past dealings with Page, which the agent was apparently also ignorant of. Taken together, no FISA judge would be likely to sign a FISA warrant against someone like Page who had cooperated with both the CIA and FBI for many years--not without some pretty detailed explanation. However ...
Don't imagine for a moment that this was news to the FBI. Key persons within the FBI had long know for a certainty that Page was a CIA asset--because Carter Page told them that the very first time the FBI contacted him in New York. Nothing would surprise me less than to learn that the FBI--having been told by the Page about his CIA connection--had contacted the CIA about Page. In fact, I'd be very surprised to learn that they didn't do so, because the New York FBI case that Page was cooperating one was a very important case. I hope all this suggests something approximating a conspiracy within the FBI with regard to the Carter Page FISA application. The logical deduction from this is that Clinesmith was definitely not acting alone, and that the FISA process on Carter Page was a fraud from beginning to end. Here's what SWC says about this:
... the effort to get a FISA warrant on Dr. Page when there was ABSOLUTELY ZERO FACTUAL BASIS TO DO SO was the combined work of a couple of dozen people — all playing their particular roles.
SWC is quite right--and right to capitalize the words--that there was ABSOLUTELY ZERO FACTUAL BASIS for the FBI to obtain a FISA warrant against Page. But he doesn't seem to quite understand why that was so. The reason there was no basis for a FISA warrant was primarily because there was no factual basis to ever have opened a full investigation on Page in the first place. This is the fundamental problem with the FISA application, which almost no one addresses, and in a way it's far more basic and more concerning than a "misguided" reliance on Chris Steele and Hillary Clinton.
SWC seems to think that no one but Clinesmith among this "couple of dozen people--all playing their particular roles" had specific knowledge of Page's past relations with both the FBI and the CIA. That's the height of naiveté. I don't say that all of those couple of dozen people knew, but it's not remotely possible that more than just a few people in the FBI didn't know--or suspect strongly enough to be duty bound to ask--about Page's past. Case agents, Supervisors, Unit Chiefs, Section Chiefs--and probably more. And remember--they all knew that this application was going before a federal judge and would be represented as true to the best of their knowledge.
Understood in this context, it's easy to see how inadequate the rest of SWC's account is. Consider this statement:
As revealed by the IG Report, there was already a sentiment among investigators that the surveillance was not being productive, and the FISA warrant should have ended in June 2017.
They had that "sentiment" by June, 2017? Really? Can anyone identify anything in the previous iterations of the Carter Page FISA that would have led a reasonable person to conclude that the FBI was really on to something hot with that FISA? That they were making real progress toward some legitimate investigative goal? Again, there were multiple renewals of the original FISA warrant. In order to obtain a renewal the FBI needs to specifically document that the FISA has been productive--or, if it hasn't been productive, explain why it hasn't and explain why they believe it will be productive in the next 3 months. This is not a matter of having a "sentiment"--this is supposed to be based on articulable facts contained in the renewal application. I understand that there's some responsibility on the part of the FISC, but the FBI--and DoJ--are the subject matter experts in this on whom the FISC relies.
SWC acknowledges that the FBI knew--before they ever applied for the FISA--that there was no basis for the FISA:
The truth is that the FBI had the information it needed in August 2016 that undercut the claims made to the FISC about Page’s prior contacts with Russian intelligence agents, and his reporting on those contacts to the CIA.
But those contacts of Carter with the CIA that SWC is referring to were 3 years or more in the past, by the time of the original FISA application. What the FBI also knew was that Page had been a trusted asset of the FBI until early 2016--and that's even more damning. If they thought that Carter Page had fooled them, they should have told the FISC about that, as part of their evidence that Page was a Russian agent. They didn't do that because they knew that would be opening a can of worms. Instead, they smeared Page as a Russian agent, withholding the very considerable evidence to the contrary.
But SWC blithely assures us that there was no conspiracy here, that the only criminal act that occurred can all be laid to Kevin Clinesmith--and no one else. Oh, there may be a basis for a civil suit against the others who worked on the FISA applications, but nothing criminal.
How could this be? SWC believes in the sincerity and honest intentions of those couple of dozen FBI officials who were involved. No, really:
There were many members of the FBI, including senior management, involved in orchestrating or furthering the entire Russia hoax investigation. ... They were all aided in their efforts by their shared psychosis that Donald Trump worked with Vladamir [sic] Putin and the Russian government to win the 2016 election.
A couple of highly educated, highly trained, highly experience, lawyers and investigators and government officials--all with a shared psychosis that Vladimir Putin was on the verge of, effectively, taking control of the US government. It was a shared psychosis, but sincerely held. And yet, despite this shared psychosis these professionals--lawyers and investigators with decades of experience among them--apparently made no effort whatsoever to convince anyone else of this imminent threat to our national security--or even our national existence. Surely at least a few in this collection of dozens of psychotics would have attempted to convince others in the DoJ or NSC of this threat! Isn't that what psychotics in that position would be expected to do? But no, not according to SWC. He has made the diagnosis, and the psychotics won't even have to convince a court of their insanity, by being forced to raise it as a defense.
Are you buying that scenario? Me neither! Go ahead and call me a conspiracy theorist.