Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Brian Auten And The Russia Hoax Big Picture

Paul Sperry--banned for life from Twitter--has a terrific investigative article today that goes into just about anything you'd like to know about current high level FBI analyst Brian Auten's involvement in the Russian Hoax. Sperry focuses most closely on Auten's involvement with the Steele Dossier:

Meet the Russiagate Prober Who Couldn't Verify Anything in the Steele Dossier Yet Said Nothing for Years

By Paul Sperry, RealClearInvestigations

March 30, 2021

I won't attempt to go through the wealth of detail that Sperry has on offer, which is greatly enhanced by his reference to Auten's testimony to Senate Judiciary staffers just last October. Here's a thumbnail summary of what Auten knew no later than January, 2017. In reading what follows, bear in mind that Auten was and is a Supervisory Intelligence Analyst, meaning, he has his own team of analysts at his beck and call:

1. Auten knew that the Steele "dossier" had been funded by the Hillary campaign.

2. Auten knew that nothing--repeat, NOTHING--in the Steele "dossier" that wasn't already public information had been verified or corroborated, despite the representations in that regard that were made to the FISA Court (FISC).

3. Not only that, but Auten knew that Steele was feeding the FBI "bullsh*t" in the "dossier"--supposed facts that Auten was able to debunk. That includes the claim that Michael Cohen had traveled to Prague.

4. Auten would also have been aware of the allegations being made against Carter Page--allegations that were a tissue of falsehoods. I can personally not imagine any scenario in which Auten would have been unaware of the falsity of those allegations--despite his claim that all Crossfire Hurricane investigations were justified. What would you expect him to say, with Carter Page suing?

5. Auten, of course, shared this information with the rest of the Crossfire Hurricane team. He also made no objections when this BS was knowingly submitted--repeatedly--to the FISC as if it were reliable information that satisfied the FISA requirement for probable cause.

But here's the thing. Very little if anything of this is news to investigators. Most of it was known and documented by Michael Horowitz in his FISA Report (Sperry goes into this). Much of it was probably also known by Congressional investigators, despite the best stonewalling efforts of Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray, as described by Kash Patel recently. That Auten hasn't been held to account is an obvious outrage, and so Sperry quotes a pair of former FBI agents:

“That analyst needs to be investigated,” said former assistant FBI director and prosecutor Chris Swecker, noting that Auten is a central, if overlooked, figure in the FISA abuse scandal ...


Former FBI Special Agent Michael Biasello, a 25-year veteran of the FBI who spent 10 years in counterintelligence working closely with intelligence analysts, said Auten should be “held accountable” for his role in what he described as FBI headquarters' blatant disregard for the diligent process FISA warrants demand.

“A FISA warrant must be fully corroborated. Every statement, phrase, paragraph, must be verified in order for the affiant to attest before a judge that the contents are true and correct,” he said. “I remember agents and analysts scouring warrants and affidavits obsessively to make certain the document was meticulous and accurate."

“To think the Crossfire team signed off on those FISA affidavits knowing the contents were uncorroborated is unconscionable, immoral and also illegal,” Biasello added. "All of them must be prosecuted for perjury, fraud and other federal crimes.”

Of course, as we've seen, Auten has been investigated. And he's still gainfully employed by the FBI at a high level of national security. What's up with that? After all that investigating and all that's known, is John Durham doing anything? Well ...

The bureau’s handling of the warrants is part of Special Counsel John Durham’s ongoing investigation into the government’s targeting of Trump and his campaign during the election, and later, the Trump presidency. In January, Durham secured a criminal conviction against top Crossfire lawyer Kevin Clinesmith for falsifying evidence against Page to help justify the last warrant issued in June 2017.

It could not be ascertained whether Durham has interviewed Auten — a spokesman did not return messages -- but Auten has hired one of the top white-collar criminal defense lawyers in Washington. And former federal law enforcement officials say Auten is certainly on Durham's witness list.

Frankly, I'm not holding my breath for Durham to act. We're talking about events that mostly were over with by mid-2017. Durham and Barr had all the time they needed, and still accomplished nothing. The Clinesmith "conviction"--yes, it's on his record, but we know that he won't even lose his law license--was a bad joke. There's no way I can see Clinesmith ratting out anyone above him in the chain of command at this point. And that's what this investigation should be all about, after all. Joe Pientka's and SA Barnett's involvement has long been known and documented, yet ... nothing. And now Auten.

Why is Auten still employed in the job he's held all along in the Russia Hoax context? Why is he not being squeezed to rat out anyone above him?

Is it possible that he's not being squeezed, that he retains his job and representation by FBI lawyers (before the Senate Judiciary Committee) precisely because important people don't want Auten to be a witness in any prosecution--just as Clinesmith got his own wrist slap and absolutely nothing has been heard about Pientka paying any price or serving any prosecutive purpose? In other words, Auten is being paid for silence regarding the real principals in the Russia Hoax, just as Clinesmith is also being paid for his silence. The charade goes on.

Consider what Sperry documents:

As one of the FBI's leading experts on Russia, Auten was highly familiar with the subject matter of the dossier and the Russian players it cited. He also had a team of intelligence analysts at his disposal to pore over the material and chase down leads. They even traveled overseas to interview the dossier’s author, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, and other sources.


A 15-year FBI veteran, Auten assisted the case agents in providing information on the reliability of FBI informant Steele and his sources and reviewing for accuracy their information cited in the body of the applications, as well as the footnotes. He also sifted through the emails, text messages and phone calls the FBI collected from the wiretaps on Page. He met with top Crossfire officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, briefed McCabe and then-FBI Director James Comey, and even ran meetings with case agents and analysts regarding the election-year investigation, which he testified “was done as a 'headquarters special.’ "

In addition, Auten personally met with Steele and his “primary sub-source,” a Russian emigre living in the U.S., as well as former British intelligence colleagues of Steele. Auten also met with former Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and processed the material Ohr fed the FBI from Glenn Simpson, the political opposition research contractor who hired Steele to compile the anti-Trump dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign. He was involved in key source interviews where David Laufman and other top Justice officials were present, and shows up on critical email chains with these officials, who are also subjects of interest in the Durham probe.

Auten also attended meetings of a mysterious top-secret interagency entity, believed to have been overseen and budgeted by then-CIA Director John Brennan, known as the “Crossfire Hurricane Fusion Center,” or the Fusion Cell. Finally, it was Auten who provided analytical support to Special Counsel Robert Mueller when he took over the Crossfire case in May 2017. He brought his team of six analysts with him to Mueller’s office.

Are you getting the picture? Auten knew and interacted closely with everyone who was anyone in the context of the Russia Hoax. He knew pretty much all there was to know--as we set out above. Knowing all that, why did he act in this manner:

As early as January 2017, Auten discovered that the dossier was larded with errors, misspellings, factual inaccuracies, conflicting accounts and wild rumors, according to a Justice Department inspector general report on the FISA abuses. Instead of disqualifying the dossier as evidence, the report found he let its unsubstantiated innuendo go into the FISA applications.


... when a top Justice national security lawyer [Stu Evans] initially blocked the Crossfire team’s attempts to obtain a FISA warrant, Auten proactively turned to the dossier to try to push the case over the line.

With his access to Comey and McCabe at the FBI and Laufman at DoJ, what conceivable reason could Auten have had for not warning them that the "dossier" was pure, unadulterated, bullsh*t--created and paid for by Hillary Clinton? One reason I can conceive of is that Auten knew that these people didn't want him to tell them that, because they wanted it all to go forward no matter what. Which leads to the question, Why didn't Barr and Durham squeeze Clinesmith and Auten and Pientka and etc. over a year ago? Please don't tell me they didn't know what the Russia Hoax was all about long ago, and also please don't tell me that I'm the only person who's wondering this. I mean, the only person besides sundance. I'm sure Devin Nunes and Kash Patel and Donald Trump and anyone else who isn't brain dead is also wondering.

Why would Barr and Durham do something like that? Here's my speculation. It is speculation, but since nobody in the government thinks We The People are entitled to be told the truth of this coup attempt, speculation is what we're left with.

Start with Donald Trump. Why was the Deep State--the Intel Community, to include the military as well as the three letter Intel agencies--so determined to keep Trump out of the White House? Was it because he wanted to cut taxes? Was it because he wanted to take control of our borders? Was it because he wanted to appoint constitutionally 'originalist' judges? I don't think so. The Deep State is not that much of a tool of the Dem party. They're willing to support anyone who will support their national security and Imperial agenda. Think: Dubya. 

Donald Trump was in favor of coming to an understanding with Russia in the interests of a major strategic vision designed to counter China. The Deep State is fully aware of the China threat, but they were deathly opposed to any rapprochement with Russia--they did not want Russia to have any seat at the strategic table at all, unless a puppet could replace Vladimir Putin. Thus, the Russia Hoax, because that was the one thing that the Deep State really cared about with regard to Trump. Hillary, they knew, could be counted on to follow their agenda.

Now, Bluto Barr. I had thought that Barr, a religious man, could have seen the threat that the Dems pose to America. Perhaps he does, but as a lifelong (in terms of his government service life) and fully paid up member of the Deep State, what if he decided that the Deep State agenda had to be defended against the Trump strategy? Barr came of age in government and the Deep State during the Cold War and its immediate aftermath--when Russia, or the USSR, was the Great Satan for Republicans. Just maybe he cannot adjust to a world in which Russia could be in some way an ally. He might regard a president, like Trump, who harbored such ideas as a threat to the true and good Deep State agenda. Would that be enough to persuade Barr to slow walk the Russia Hoax investigation--perhaps justifying the lack of justice by the rationalization that some top officials had lost their jobs?

Remember Jack Goldsmith? Back in January, 2019, I discussed Goldsmith's views on the Deep State, which he presented in this article:

The 'deep state' is real. But are its leaks against Trump justified? Even the most severe critics of the US president should worry about this subtle form of anti-democratic abuse.

Count on it--Bluto Barr knows Jack Goldsmith and is familiar with Goldsmith's ideas. Here is the excerpt from Goldsmith's article that I quoted to present Goldsmith's views on what role the Deep State might have in presidential politics:

The entire article is very much worth reading. It's written in an eminently reasonable style, on the one hand, but on the other hand from a distinctly NeverTrump standpoint: We have an unprecedentedly terrible President, but has the Deep State gone too far? Here is his core concern, in his concluding paragraph:

If surveillance comes to be seen through a domestic political lens, with domestic political winners and losers, the intelligence community will have a very hard time acting with needed public credibility. 

To understand that last part, you need to go back to the beginning and ask: What might be an example of why the intelligence community needs to have public credibility when it acts? Surely if they are acting within the laws, they will have public credibility. Presumably Congress and the President that We The People elect will see to that, right?

Well, Goldsmith seems to see the Deep State as a quasi-constitutional entity, with a legitimate role to play beyond their legal mandates. Think about this:

America doesn’t have coups or tanks in the street. [Comment: We do now!] But a deep state of sorts exists here and it includes national security bureaucrats who use secretly collected information to shape or curb the actions of elected officials. 
Some see these American bureaucrats as a vital check on the law-breaking or authoritarian or otherwise illegitimate tendencies of democratically elected officials. 
Others decry them as a self-serving authoritarian cabal that illegally and illegitimately undermines democratically elected officials and the policies they were elected to implement.

The truth is that the deep state, which is a real phenomenon, has long been both a threat to democratic politics and a savior of it. The problem is that it is hard to maintain its savior role without also accepting its threatening role. The two go hand in hand, and are difficult to untangle.

What if Barr came to view part of his role as AG to be to put the brakes on an investigation--the Russia Hoax--that, if it came to fruition in the form of prosecution of high level Intel Community officials (think: Comey, Brennan, Laufman, etc.) would guarantee Trump a landslide. In those circumstances Trump reelected would be Trump on steroids--if you can imagine that--and it would be Trump with the whip hand over the Intel Community and Deep State. Barr, by putting the brakes on Durham, by advising against replacing Wray, would not be going full Goldsmith, in the sense of initiating an actual coup. Nevertheless, he would be providing an opening for the Dems to regain the White House and maintain the Deep State national security, even if that required him to turn a blind eye to widespread vote fraud. Which he did do.

Barr would justify this as defending the Executive Branch against an existential threat--a president who harbored dangerous ideas that jeopardized national security, even though Barr knew Trump was sincere and not a Russian agent. Barr would, in this telling, view himself as acting for a higher good. He might even see himself as a hero.

It's a theory. Think about it.


  1. "Think: Dubya."
    And Chinese $$.

  2. The more I think about this, the sicker I get. It has been hard to realize that Barr was not going to do anything and that Durham may just be another fantasy that was doomed from the start. This is when I stop talking and wait to see if anything more happens…but it is not in the front of my mind anymore...

  3. Interesting theory. Clearly there was someone(s) that would go to great lengths to keep Trump from being reelected. We have seen it over and over from the media, to politicians, to election processes, to the various government officials of the bureaucracy (obviously the deep state at the top, but regular employees at base). Isn’t just amazing that sleepy Joe slides in and the bureaucracy just starts humming again. Executive orders, courts, the justice department, response to covid, border wall, foreign affairs, every comment, every policy of trump was such a huge effort. Every day, every comment, every move, was resisted, lampooned, criticized or harassed. Yet sleepy Joe gets a pass on everything. If you did not believe in a deep state before protecting itself, it’s impossible not to now. Question though, how did big tech get roped into all this?

    1. The deep state controls big tech

  4. This is partially where I have already arrived in my assessment of Barr.

    I cannot ignore his obvious religious convictions and simply dismiss him as a lying scoundrel because he tricked me into thinking he was on my side.

    Nor can I dismiss his many speeches about the rule of law, the precipice towards which our society is careening, etc: his sincerity and conviction were obvious.

    I also consider his commitment to the unitary executive and his resignation letter, which was respectful toward Trump and listed some of his important accomplishments.

    How to reconcile all of this?

    I conclude that, whatever his personal opinion of Trump may have been, Barr probably saw his role as a high wire act between saving the institution of the presidency from the plainly bogus Deep State Russiagate Coup while also saving the Deep State itself from the cliff it was driving toward.

    I can see where the Russia theory also could have motivated Barr, but I can't be confident. China is clearly the greater threat now, even if Russia shouldn't be underestimated.

    Given his past tone deafness, which led to the Oklahoma City bombing, I wonder if Barr perceives the role that the FBI and IC are playing with respect to the breakdown of the rule of law and destruction of faith in our institutions.

    1. Deep waters, but ultimately misguided, I believe.

    2. Couldn't agree more.

    3. What's the old saying... he who trys to serve two masters, ends up serving none...


    4. @mistcr
      "How to reconcile all of this?"

      Don't forget, before Barr ever worked for the DoJ, he took an introductory course in moral ambiguity from the CIA.

    5. @Cassander yes, can't ignore his time in the CIA.

      I stop short of accusing him of moral ambiguity, only because that excuse is too facile IMO.

      I think he needs to be viewed through the deep state, unitary executive filter. Savior of the presidency, even if government OF, BY and FOR the people must perish from the earth.

    6. @mistcr

      And Bill's father, Donald Barr, served in the WWII OSS. He might well have shared some 'war stories' with son,, Bill.

      I guess I used the term 'moral ambiguity' to try to describe the moral compass of one who can rationalize doing deeply immoral things in the service of some other, arguably moral, goal. It seems to me that what the CIA frequently does is frequently seriously morally ambiguous...if not worse. Perhaps that's your point.

  5. This make sense.

    mistcr Wrote:
    saving the institution of the presidency from the plainly bogus Deep State Russiagate Coup while also saving the Deep State itself from the cliff it was driving toward.

    Bill Barr seems to have been all about saving the FBI and DOJ Reputation. From what I read that happened at Ruby Ridge.

    My viewpoint, after what has come out, the FBI's reputation is in tatters.

    An FBI So Corrupt It Lets Mass Shooters Rampage Needs To Go

    So what am I missing? Or was Bill Barr's worry that power would be removed from the DOJ / FBI? Or was it that proof would have come out about the over reach by the DOJ and FBI? Where right now it's slowly leaking out, and there is still a lot unknown.

    Mark's idea, that Barr was trying to avoid a Trump 2.0 makes a lot of sense. For if the Spygate stuff had come out, Trump's would have been reelected in even more of a landslide. Of course the cheating may have kept pace.

    My 2 cents, Trump losing had the positive effect of showing the corruption, incompetence, and power of the uniparty, media, politicians, big tech, and government (state and Federal). I'm still in a state of disbelief on what has been revealed. Good news is there will be a lot of fresh blood in the GOP next election cycle.

  6. “My 2 cents, Trump losing had the positive effect of showing the corruption, incompetence, and power of the uniparty, media, politicians, big tech, and government...”

    Sort of like the commies winning the Russian, Chinese and Cuban revolutions had the positive effect of eventually showing how corrupt the commies are?

    That’s a bit over the top in its sarcasm (and sorry for that), but what good is it for a few previously blinded voters (most of those who see the corruption now saw it plenty clearly well before November 2020) to finally see the corruption if that same corruption obliterates any semblance of free and fair elections, thus making the newfound wisdom days late and dollars short? We’re not necessarily there yet, but that for certain is what’s being attempted with every ounce of energy the authoritarians in and out of government have.

    If by some miracle, elections are sufficiently free and fair to flip Congress in ‘22, I’ll joyously eat my hat of cynicism. I promise, no one will be happier than me should this come to pass.

  7. Even now I can't get over the perfidy of Barr.

    I've been following politics a long time. I have never been as blindsided as I was by what Barr did. He had first-hand knowledge of everything you've been writing about, Mark, regarding the Russia hoax.

    And he lied and walked away. I don't see any ideals or higher calling in his high wire act. Remember what he did at Ruby Ridge. That's probably the real Barr.

    1. I wonder whether Republicans Bill and Christine Barr have had their good friends, Republicans Bob and Ann Mueller, over to their house in DC for an intimate dinner yet this year. They can discuss all the good they did while working for the Justice Department during the Trump Administration.

    2. Yes, Ruby Ridge is very important.

      And what was the lesson? Just following orders? Is there accountability anywhere up or down the chain of command in the government?

      Is that what the unitary executive is in his mind? Only the president is accountable, and that every four years?

      It's pretty weak sauce, especially when you consider that bureaucrats don't share in the executive's accountability.

    3. @mistcrMarch 31, 2021 at 2:40 PM
      "Yes, Ruby Ridge is very important."

      To wit:

    4. I was disgusted by that at the time. It was clear to me that it was unjustified and that agents committed perjury.

    5. @Mark

      And how do you feel about AG Barr's role...based on what you now know today?

      And what about the Bureau?

      That's probably not an easy question...

    6. I had hoped that the intervening years had given him time to reflect. As for the Bureau, at the time I thought what happened was the result of a handful of bad apples.

  8. Brad Crawford wrote:
    > it for a few previously blinded voters

    My guess the amount of voters that have been seriously red pilled is up 300%. From say 20 million to 60 million.

    This is a huge change in the Overton window in the GOP. Before uniparty gop were seen as heroes, and now they are seen pretty negative. What Trump has done is rip the masks off, and show the true state.

    Compare perception before and after Trump

    1. Building the wall
    2. Power of big tech
    3. Reputation of doj and fbi
    4. Competence of doj and fbi
    5. Partisanship of doj and fbi
    6. Politicization of doj, fbi, and courts
    7. Belief there is one system of justice
    8. Belief the us can be energy independent
    9. Critical race theory
    10. Chamber of commerce gop support
    11. Election legitimacy
    12. So called conservative pundits and outlets. Cruise ship conservatives...
    13. John McCain
    14. Gop establishment
    15. Credibility of the us press
    16. Credibility of the us Intel community
    17. Fox News
    18. Reputation of us military leadership
    19. China’s image
    20. Competence / credibility of cdc / fda
    21. Bringing back manufacturing to us
    22. Ability to grow jobs
    23. Political standings of Democratic back bench. Newsom, Cuomo, Whitner, etc
    24. Big business credibility
    25. School teachers and unions overall care about their students.
    26. Value of higher education
    27. Idea us is doomed to decline, and China overtake us
    28. Credibility of congress
    29. Deregulation is good
    30. Moving gop to more of a workers party, color blind, and the Democrats to one more of the elites
    31. That it’s pointless to fight back against the press
    32. That professional sports is non political
    33. Antifa is a myth
    34. Defunding the police works
    35. Bush family credibility - Jeb!
    36. Romney credibility

    There are many more.

    Trump shattered so many Overton windows. He has moved the conversation, and the us is like a super tanker, it. It takes time to change direction.

    I wish Trump had been re-elected along with gop control of both houses. If we had a fair system, he would have been. Instead through means fair and foul, the uniparty United to make Trump lose. I am still in a bit of shock over the scale of the voter fraud, and how it was allowed to happen and by whom, but that’s spilled milk. The truth is slowly leaking out.

    I had no idea things were this bad, and politics is a hobby / interest of mine. The last 4 years have been eye opening for me, and I still feel a bit of a state of shock.

    1. And the Trump effect is continuing to play out--BLM, Sedition Hoax, Kristi Noem and World War T, etc.

    2. A thoughtful response, Ray, one I very much agree with. Note the date I wrote was not 2016 but Nov 2020: post-Trump, not pre-, so I was just saying the big eye-opening period was 2016 to Nov 2020, not Nov 2020 till today.

      I won’t argue there isn't some meaningful number of people who were still blind in Nov 2020 but now can see at least a little more clearly after election night and its grim aftermath. But I think whatever positive effect those newly opened eyes may have, it so pales in comparison to the positive effects there would have been if the elections had been free and fair and the rightful winners had actually, officially won, that the positive effect of the post-2020 open eyes is really hard to get much excited about. As I mentioned, if the elections in ‘22 are free and fair enough to allow those newly opened eyes to help yank the authoritarians from power, I’ll promptly and joyously revise my dim view of things.

      Either way, though, thanks again for the many excellent points.

  9. Over all, in the world of US government wrongdoing, Trump Russia is still a pretty small chapter when compared to some of its other malfeasance and the bigger "tell", nonfeasance.

    Pearl Harbor? For a filtered and highly controlled document the Senate Pearl Harbor Committee report is one hell of'a read.

    JFK? Ignore the "who killed Kennedy" conspiracy aspect. Just look at the aftermath of what we KNOW transpired during the "investigation" of that.

    Using the IC against a presidential candidate or even a sitting president gets to be chump change when you put it up against throwing the investigation of a murdered one. Or the death of 416,800 US solders after sitting back and letting a naval base be blown to snot.

    Tonkin Bay?

    If you think the press involvement is a new aspect I'd have to point out William Randolph Hearst the USS Maine.

    Like I said about the election, these are just OUR generations curb stompings. But we have a solid century of data to reflect on when it comes to "the government's" hoodwinking it's population and the historic is pretty astounding!

  10. Bob,

    Thanks for your original comment. It got me thinking, which I appreciate.

    And you reply caused more thinking, so now my head hurts...

    Inflections points for me in my political journey with Trump:

    1. Wrist slap for Clinesmith, and the entire waiting for Durham narrative.

    2. Judge Sullivan

    3. Time Magazine election article

    4. Trump talking of shower heads that perform poorly.

    5. Romney’s impeachment vote

    6. Paul Ryan’s do nothing Congress

    7. John McCain’s thumbs down and his funeral

    8. Seeing an fbi billboard asking for insurrection information in my la suburb, plus entire establishment looking other way on voter fraud, and insurrection B.S. GW bush’s reputation took a further hit with me,

    9. On New Year’s Day, in Pasadena, seeing a person with a f*** Biden flag on Colorado Blvd

    10. Attacks on Trump rally attendees in San Jose, as the police stood by. And then nothing happened. Oh, I forgot, the city apologized.

    11. Constant lawfare against Trump with nationwide injunctions.

    12. Gop Senate allowing the Democrats to slow walk Trump appointees, no recess appointees, and then when Biden is elected, no reciprocation.

    13. Demonization of HCQ

    14. mostly peaceful protests narrative and Antifa is a myth

    15. Spying on Trump

    16. Hunter Biden scandal censorship

    17. Big tech unpersoning Trump

    18. Military and deep state pushback on getting out of Syria.

    19. The backing of big tech censoring Covid information they don’t agree with.

    20. The gop establishment war with Trump, they have the idea it’s better a Democrat wins, than a Trump supporter. Just as they did with the tea party.

    I’m still trying to accept some of the above. The demonization of HCQ I am still shocked by. I view it as just Evil.

    1. ListMeister! 13-17 alone are one helluva series.