now THIS is a real journalist ! .. not the fools of CNN/MSNBC/Huffpo and the rest of the FNM
Over the past month, a number of articles have made reference to the timeline surrounding the Obama administration’s counterintelligence operation into President Donald Trump’s campaign ‘s alleged ties to Russia.
Investigations conducted by Congressional and Senate committees are entering the second year and what has been pieced together by investigators – battling for documents every step of the way – challenges the information the FBI and former senior Obama administration have revealed about the investigation.
Their evidence is at odds with the DOJ/FBI timeline leaked to various news outlets indicating the investigation began in late summer of 2016. These discrepancies make it all the more important that the DOJ and FBI turn over documents to the Congressional oversight committees who are investigating what looks like an abuse and weaponization of the tools used by U.S. federal law enforcement and the intelligence community.
In a December 2017 article, I interviewed numerous intelligence officials and whistleblowers, who say what happened in the Trump campaign is a microcosm of ongoing abuse of the intelligence apparatus and explain why the American public has a right to know what happened.
But the FBI’s Russia/Trump investigation has become more of a Pandora’s box and the revelations lead to multiple unanswered questions on the part of all the players involved.
What was the evidence that allowed the Obama administration to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign? We still don’t have an answer but we’re closer than ever to unraveling what happened and why. If the FBI was truly concerned that Russians were trying to influence the campaign, why didn’t the Bureau give a defensive briefing to alert the campaign about these concerns? What role did the offices of the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA and NSA have in the investigation?
Unfortunately, the FBI and DOJ have stonewalled the American public’s right-to-know, along with congressional oversight efforts, and so many questions are left unanswered. What we do know is that a bulk of the information regarding advisors with the Trump campaign was gathered in England. We also know that Great Britain’s intelligence apparatus, along with other allied nations intelligence networks, were also gathering communications and data on officials of the Trump campaign while overseas.
How much information shared with the U.S. authorities and what was the nature of intelligence sharing?
Here is what the timeline, based on leaks in the press and information obtained by lawmakers, reveals and why it is so important that the President and Congress do everything in their power to find out what happened and wrap up this investigation.
FLYNN, PAGE, PAPADOPOULOS AND STEELE: A TIMELINE OF EVENTS Late 2015 (No date specified): According to several former and current western intelligence sources who spoke to this reporter, the investigations into President Donald Trump and his campaign began much earlier than has been reported and for that matter, it did not begin in the United States but rather across the Atlantic Ocean, in Great Britain.
Intelligence community counterparts in Great Britain, specifically GCHQ, which is similar to America’s NSA, had already begun looking into what they alleged was contact between Russians and some members of the Trump campaign and played “an early, prominent role” according to these sources. But whether that information was requested by the U.S. as assistance to an investigation here or whether the British began the investigation on their own is still not clear.
The Guardian reported that British Intelligence sources shared its signals intelligence on people connected to Trump campaign with the United States. However, The Guardian also reports that Germany, Poland, and Estonia also shared communications related to members of the Trump campaign with the United States. Great Britain, which is part of what is called the “Five-Eyes” alliance includes the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand and the countries often shared signals intelligence, raw communications between targets they were investigating.
John Brennan If what we are being told is true, who inside the U.S. and British intelligence agencies were aware that members of the Trump campaign had their communications intercepted by British intelligence, purportedly investigating the Russians? Was it the U.S. who asked the British to assist in a counterintelligence investigation or did the British do this on their own as claimed in The Guardian? If this did occur, how directly involved were CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in the information being shared by our allies? And how often had American political communications, unknown to the public, been intercepted by foreign governments for political purposes?
Moreover, if members of an administration collect information from allies based on overseas communications between opposition, what happens to that intelligence? How is it safeguarded from abuse and who or what agency has the oversight authority to ensure it is a legitimate counterintelligence investigation? Congressional oversight is always after-the-fact and lawmakers have been hampered by roadblocks set up by the DOJ, FBI and former senior officials of the Obama administration, who either have withheld documentation, evaded answering questions or lied.
If what the British and western intelligence officials are saying is true, then the investigation into the Trump campaign began much earlier than the FBI’s claims at the end of July 2016. More importantly, our allies may have been collecting more communications than we’re aware of on Trump campaign officials and volunteers. What we do know is that National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; Carter Page, a short time foreign policy volunteer for the campaign; Paul Manafort, a short-term campaign chair and George Papadopoulos, a young short-term foreign policy advisor were all caught up in the spying dragnet.
December 10, 2015: Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, goes to Moscow to give a speech at an event held by Russia Television, a Russian government-funded news agency known as RT. Flynn was paid $45,000 through his speaker’s bureau which arranged for him to speak at the event. Jill Stein, who was the Green Party’s presidential candidate, was also seated at the same table as Flynn, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Early March 2016: George Papadopoulos was working in London at the London Centre of International Law Practice. It was during this time in early March that he learns that he will serve as a volunteer foreign policy advisor on the Trump campaign, according to court records. He had only been with this organization for a short period of time:
Early March 2016: Fusion GPS approached the law firm of Perkins Coie which represents the Hillary for America Campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Fusion GPS presents the firm with a proposal to continue its opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump, which they had begun in 2015 under contract with the Paul Singer-connected Washington Free Beacon. March 10, 2016: An onslaught of malicious phishing email messages targeting people from the Hillary Clinton campaign were sent around. John Podesta – who responded to the phishing bait – allowed the hackers to gain entry into the campaigns most confidential emails, per reports. March 11, 2016: A Russian spy, Evgeny Buryakov, who posed as a banker in New York City, pleaded guilty to espionage-related charges. Court documents revealed Russia’s SVR, foreign intelligence service, was involved. Allegedly Carter Page, a graduate of the Naval Academy, who was outed as “Male 1” in media reports was approached by the Russians in 2013. The FBI then approached Page about his contact with the Russians. For the most part Page’s involvement in the FBI’s case remains a mystery. Questions still loom as to whether or not Page assisted the FBI in bringing charges against the Russian spies and the extent of his role, according to analysts. March 14, 2016: Professor Joseph Mifsud, allegedly in hiding now, was an honorary director with the London Academy of Diplomacy and was also with the London Centre of International Law Practice. Mifsud shows the direct interest in Papadopoulos and arranges a meeting. Mifsud, originally from Malta, was connected to both the British foreign secretary along with Western intelligence agencies, including the CIA, according to various reports and work history. Papadopoulos had gone to Rome as part of a visiting delegation from the London Center. In an article, Lee Smith with Real Clear Politics outlines Mifsud’s history and calls into question his direct ties with Russia, instead suggesting the professor’s ties appear to be stronger to western intelligence agencies and possibly Bill and Hillary Clinton. Smith refers to an interview Mifsud gave to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica shortly before he went into hiding saying,“The only foundation I am a member of…the Clinton Foundation.” March 21, 2016: Then-candidate Trump, who was under criticism for not having a foreign policy team in place, does an hour-long interview with the Washington Post, where he reveals a number of advisors selected for the campaign’s foreign policy team. Two of the people on the list are Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, who were brought on board by Sam Clovis. From The Washington Post: Trump began the hour-long meeting by pulling out a list of some of his foreign policy advisers.”Walid Phares, who you probably know. PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives. He’s a counterterrorism expert,” Trump said (during his interview with the Washington Post). “Carter Page, PhD. George Papadopoulos. He’s an oil and energy consultant. Excellent guy. The honorable Joe Schmitz, [was] inspector general at the Department of Defense. General Keith Kellogg. And I have quite a few more. But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with. We have many other people in different aspects of what we do. But that’s a pretty representative group.”
March 2016 (Date not specified): Shortly after Trump announces his foreign policy team, FBI Director James Comey, along with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe go to brief Attorney General Loretta Lynch about Carter Page. Why? Because Page had already been on the FBI’s radar during a 2013 investigation into Russian spies working in New York City. According to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia report, Lynch told lawmakers, “one of the possibilities the three of us discussed was whether or not to provide what is called a defensive briefing to the campaign, wherein there would be a meeting with a senior person with the campaign to alert them to the fact that…there may be efforts to compromise someone in their campaign.” The FBI, however, did not provide that briefing.
The report also noted “Page previously lived and worked in Russia and maintained contact with known Russian intelligence officers, including (redacted) who was described in a 2015 court filing as an SVR officer posted to the Russian Mission to the United Nations. Page previously worked with the FBI in the prosecution of (redacted) and other Russian intelligence officials.”
Late Spring (no specified date given by Obama Officials): After speaking to Lynch, Comey briefs the National Security Council Principals about Page, according to the Russia Report (page 54). Those interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee, however, did not specify the date of the meeting to lawmakers, only recalling it was in late spring. Still, despite concerns, the FBI did not provide a defensive briefing to the Trump campaign about Page or raise any awareness about Russia’s interference. The Washington Examiner’s Byron York, describes: “…the principals committee includes some of the highest-ranking officials in the government, including the secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, and Homeland Security, the attorney general, the head of the CIA, the White House chief of staff, U.N. ambassador, and more.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power (Remember her? she unmasked over 300 people at the end of her tenure.), Attorney General Loretta Lynch, among other senior officials were briefed on the matter. What did Obama know, what did Valerie Jarrett know? Those are questions that are still left unanswered:
March 29, 2016: Paul Manafort and his partner, Richard Gates, join the Trump campaign. Like Page, both men were also on the FBI’s radar. Manafort and Gates worked as political consultants for Ukrainian politicians backed by the Kremlin. April 2016: Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer Marc E. Elias, with the law firm Perkins Coie, goes back to Fusion GPS to retain the research firm for an investigation into Trump’s campaign and alleged ties to Russia, according to a letter. Perkins Coie was also representing the DNC in addition to the Hillary Clinton Campaign. According to Luke Harding, The Guardian former British spy Christopher Steele begins working for Fusion GPS co-founder and friend Glen Simpson in April. Steele was no stranger to Washington D.C. circles. He had a long time relationship with the FBI and was connected to officials in the State Department, many of whom were closely connected to Hillary and Bill Clinton. According to the Washington Post article, which first reported who paid the research firm, “Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.” NOTE: Harding interviewed Steele for his report in The Guardian, which stated that he began working for Fusion in April but other articles and Congressional testimony suggest Fusion GPS hired Steele in June. These dates are confusing but important. If Steele turned in his first part of the dossier in June, there is a reason to believe he was working much earlier for Fusion GPS.
April 26, 2016: Papadopoulos has a meeting with Professor Joseph Mifsud in London. According to court documents, Papadopoulos tells the FBI that Mifsud told him about a recent trip to Moscow. Mifsud allegedly said that while he was in Moscow he met with “high-level Russian government officials” that claimed to have information on Hillary Clinton. May 4, 2016: Papadopoulus gives an interview to The Times, in London, where he garners attention for lashing out at Prime Minister David Cameron saying, the PM should apologize for calling Trump “divisive, stupid and wrong.” This interview gets the attention of the Australian Diplomat Alexander Downer, who is upset by Papadopoulos’ remarks regarding Cameron and arranges to meet with him. The meeting was scheduled for May 10, 2016, according to reports and interviews with Downer. May 10, 2016: Papadopoulos agrees to meet Downer at London’s Kensington Wine Room. According to Downer, they only had one drink and he was meeting to respond to Papadopoulos’s interview with The Times. It was then that Papadopoulos referred to the information Mifsud had relayed to him about Moscow having information on Clinton. Downer, in an interview with The Australian news magazine, said articles referring to a heavy night of drinking were false. He said that “by the way, nothing [Papadopoulos] said in that conversation indicated Trump himself had been conspiring with the Russians to collect information on Hillary Clinton. It was just that this guy, [Papadopoulos], clearly knew that the Russians did have material on Hillary Clinton — but whether Trump knew or not?” Downer also indicated that “(Papadopoulos) didn’t say Trump knew or that Trump was in any way involved in this. He said it was about Russians and Hillary Clinton; it wasn’t about Trump.” In fact, he noted that Papadopoulos “didn’t say dirt; he said material that could be damaging to (Clinton). No, he said it would be damaging. He didn’t say what it was.
It was the conversation during this meeting, according to a story in the New York Times in December 2017, that would open the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation “Crossfire Hurricane,” which was to probe any coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
According to Chuck Ross with the Daily Caller Papadopoulos believed Mifsud was referring to the 30,000-plus emails Hillary Clinton had deleted from her server. Andrew McCarthy in National Review noted that this scenario makes more sense because “it was those emails that Donald Trump harped on throughout the campaign and that were in the news when Mifsud spoke with Papadopoulos in April 2016. While there are grounds for concern that Clinton’s emails were hacked, there is no proof that it happened; Clinton’s 30,000 emails are not the hacked DNC emails on which the “collusion” narrative is based.”
June 20, 2016: Former British spy Christopher Steele turns over the first part of his work on the dossier to Fusion GPS, according to The Guardian. July 2016: According to the book Russian Roulette, Victoria Nuland, with the State Department, who knows Steele, gets a summary of the dossier through Jonathan Winer, also the State Department. According to the book, she gave permission for an FBI agent in London to meet with Steele. July 5, 2016: Steele met with FBI Agent Michael Gaeta in London at Steele’s home. At that point, Steele gave Gaeta a copy of the dossier he has put together. July 7, 2016: Carter Page makes a trip to Moscow for a speaking engagement on July 7, but not as an official member of the Trump campaign. July 11-12, 2016: Just days after leaving Moscow, Carter Page attends an event at the University of Cambridge called 2016’s Race to Change the World: How the U.S. Presidential Campaign Can Reshape Global Politics and Foreign Policy. Page received the invitation to attend the event at the end of May. Page told this reporter that this is when he first met Stephan Halper, an emeritus professor of the university. Halper’s contact with Page suggests he was already an informant being used by the FBI in their counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. Interestingly, Page was not invited to speak at the event but event organizers paid for his trip to attend. It is now widely circulated in reports that Stephan Halper was the informant used by the FBI to keep tabs on the Trump campaign. If this is true, who inside the FBI or DOJ authorized him to do so and why? July 19 – December 13, 2016: There would be 16 more memos put together by Steele and his final December memo would be given to Rep. John McCain through a representative, as reported by The Guardian. NOTE: On May 16, 2018, The New York Times and The Washington Post, citing anonymous sources, revealed the name of the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian influence in the Trump campaign. In the articles, which reference the operation Crossfire Hurricane, sources stated that Halper didn’t reach out to Trump campaign officials until July 31st. This, however, is clearly not the case as Carter Page began speaking with Halper in mid-July during his trip at the London conference.
Halper, who has close ties with the CIA and MI-6, is now at the center of the controversy surrounding the FBI’s investigation and whether or not he was used as an informant by the FBI to gather information. But this wasn’t Halper’s first rodeo. The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald’s article reveals that Halper was also utilized by the CIA during President Ronald Reagan’s campaign against former President Jimmy Carter.
July 16, 2016: Carter Page revealed on his Twitter account that Halper was already in touch with him earlier than stated by the FBI and DOJ. In fact, on July 16, Page sent an email to a senior Trump campaign official about Halper, indicating Halper’s desire to help the campaign.
Carter Page, Ph.D. @carterwpage From an email I sent to a senior member of the Trump campaign on July 16, 2016... regarding a Professor who: "offered a range of possibilities regarding how he and the University might be able to help"
Will be good to discuss this and other topics with @IngrahamAngle tonight!
4:03 PM - May 21, 2018
July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks releases the DNC emails connected to the campaign that FBI officials believe were hacked when John Podesta clicked on the malicious email sent to him in March, as reported by The Washington Post. July 2016 (date not specified): Australian diplomat Alexander Downer reports his conversation with Papadopoulos to the FBI. July 25, 2016: FBI confirms it’s investigating the Democratic National Committee hack, as reported by Politico. July 31, 2016: According to the New York Times and the Washington Post the FBI opens its investigation now known as Crossfire Hurricane into the Trump campaign and alleged ties to Russia. Sources close to the current investigations being conducted in Congress and the Senate have told this reporter that based on all the evidence it appears the counterintelligence investigation began much earlier, possibly as early as March. August 2, 2016: Two FBI agents that had been dispatched to London, send a summary of their report and interview with Downer to headquarters. Embattled FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, was one of the agents to interview Downer in what is considered highly unusual because Downer was a diplomat, as reported. August 29, 2016: Stephan Halper sends an email to Sam Clovis, who was the former national co-chairman of the Trump campaign. It was Clovis who brought Page and Papadopoulos onto the Trump campaign as foreign policy advisors. As stated by The Washington Examiner’s Byron York in his interview with Clovis, he met with Halper several days later in Virginia. Clovis, who is not suspected of any wrongdoing, recounts to York that Halper did not divulge that he knew Page and seemed very interested in Papadopoulos. Clovis tells York: “This is just my speculation — I have no knowledge,” Clovis told me. “I think [Halper] was using his meeting with me to give him bona fides to talk to George Papadopoulos. He used Carter Page to get to me and he used me to get to George. George was the target. I think George was the target all along.”
Clovis’s theory is that Halper was trying to link Papadopoulos and the 30,000-plus emails that Hillary Clinton unilaterally deleted from her private email system. Halper was hoping “that somebody would bite in the campaign … his goal was to drag George into this to say the Trump campaign tried to get access to those emails from Russia.”
September 23, 2016: Yahoo News Michael Iskoff publishes an article saying U.S. Intelligence officials are investigating Carter Page and his connections to Russia. The story, which was used as part of the evidence to gain a warrant to spy on Page, also relied on the same information Christopher Steele provided the FBI in his unverified dossier. According to the House Intelligence Committee investigation, the FISA application on Page was actually “derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News.”
October 1, 2016: The Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported in his January 16, column that Christopher Steele met with an FBI agent In Rome. Ignatius writes: “That encounter took place around Oct. 1 (2016) in Rome with Steele’s old FBI contact. At this meeting, the FBI official asked Steele if he had ever heard of Papadopoulos, according to an official familiar with the meeting. Steele hadn’t.” According to congressional officials and reports, Steele was offered $50,000 by the FBI but was never paid after it was discovered he had been speaking to reporters about his dossier in violation of the contract he had as an informant for the FBI.
NOTE: The Senate Judiciary Committee sent a criminal referral on Steele on January 4, 2018, which stated “[The] FBI relied on admittedly uncorroborated information, funded by and obtained for Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in order to conduct surveillance of an associate of the opposing presidential candidate. It did so based on Mr. Steele’s personal credibility and presumably having faith in his process of obtaining the information.”
[T]here is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one of which bears on his credibility…
October 31, 2016: FBI is granted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Application warrant on Carter Page. There were three more FISA warrants on Page, each renewed every 90 days by law and ending in September 2017. As I previously reported, DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed off on the final FISA application on Page and that application would have contained all the evidence gathered from previous investigations. According to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia report the bulk of the FISA warrant relied heavily on Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier.
The question here is why didn’t the FBI get a warrant to spy on Papadopoulos if the bureau was so concerned about the connections he alleged to Mifsud? Or did they try to get a warrant but failed to have enough proof for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court?
November 3, 2016: Despite multiple offers to help the Trump campaign, Halper suggests that Clinton would be the better candidate, as reported by Sputnik Russian news.
November 8, 2016: Election Day.
November 9, 2016: President Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States after the vote is tallied.
November 10, 2016: Former President Obama, who fired Flynn based on multiple disagreements over the administration’s policy in the Middle East and Islamic State crisis, warns President Trump about Flynn.
November 18, 2016: Flynn is named by Trump as Incoming National Security Advisor.
December 22, 2016: Flynn has a phone conversation with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Dec. 28, 2016: Executive order 13757 is signed by Obama announcing sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak contacts Flynn, according to Flynn’s plea agreement.
December 29, 2016: Flynn calls a senior member of the Presidential Transition Team to discuss what if anything he should discuss with Kislyak. Flynn is on vacation with his family. He then calls the Russian Ambassador and has multiple short phone conversations with Kislyak. Flynn calls back the senior Presidential Transition Team official, in Mar-a-Lago, to let them know what he had discussed with Kislyak, according to the plea agreement.
January 5, 2017: Then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates have a meeting at the White House about Russian interference in the election.
January 6, 2017: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asks then FBI Director James Comey to brief then President-Elect Donald Trump on the contents of the dossier after their national security briefing with the President-elect at Trump Tower, according to Comey’s memos and as reported.
January 10, 2017: CNN’s Jake Tapper, publishes the first report about the intelligence chief’s briefing on Steele’s dossier, citing senior officials with knowledge.
NOTE: The House Intelligence Committee Russia report found that Clapper was not truthful and had multiple conflicting statements regarding his communications with CNN reporters about the contents of the dossier and the briefing given to then President-elect Trump. Clapper is suspected of leaking the information to CNN on the dossier Comey testified was unverified and salacious, as reported. Comey noted in his memos that news agencies had the Steele dossier for some time but they were unwilling to publish the unverified dossier unless they had a “news hook.”
January 10, 2017: Shortly after CNN’s report, Buzzfeed publishes the Steele dossier.
January 12, 2017: The Washington Post columnist David Ignatius publishes a column leaking the highly classified contents of Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak. Senior Obama government officials tell Ignatius that Flynn discussed the sanctions – including the expulsion from the U.S. of 35 Russian diplomats- with the Russian Ambassador. In the article, they try to accuse the incoming National Security Advisor of violating the Logan Act, an obscure law that forbids U.S. citizens from negotiating with nations in a dispute with the United States.
January 15, 2017: Vice President-Elect Mike Pence tells CBS’s Face the Nation that he spoke to Flynn and there was no discussion of sanctions, according to the transcripts.
January 20, 2017: Inauguration Day. But that wasn’t all that took place, on her last day as National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent out the last email on her official White House account. In it she recounts the Jan. 5 meeting she had with Obama, Biden, Yates and Comey. The email was discovered by the Senate Judiciary Committee and in a letter they sent, to Rice. The Chairman Charles Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham questioned Rice, asking why she would send such a memo to herself. She stressed repeatedly in the email that Obama wanted any investigation into Trump to be done “by the book,” as reported.
“The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book,” wrote Rice. “From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming [Trump] team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.”
January 24, 2017: FBI Special Agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka interview Flynn at the White House about his conversation with Kislyak. Flynn is not aware that the agents were coming to the White House to conduct an official interview as the FBI had been conducting security briefings with the new transition team that week.
NOTE: The agents did not believe Flynn lied about his phone conversations with Kislyak. Comey also told lawmakers the agents did not believe Flynn lied, as reported and according to the House Intelligence Committee Russia report.
January 26, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates goes to the White House to notify the administration that Flynn is not telling the truth and could be blackmailed by the Russians (which on its face is extreme since there was no evidence that Flynn had been lying).
February 13, 2017: Flynn is fired by the White House for apparently misleading Vice President Pence about his conversation with Russia.
Annony Mouse's Link
Annony Mouse's Link
She ALMOST became President, people.
Mueller is shooting blanks.
Via Law and Crime:
Here’s something to keep an eye on in the Russian troll farm case: last month, one of the defendants, Concord Management, asked the court to review the grand jury’s instructions to see if that might be used to support a motion to dismiss a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
It’s no surprise that prosecutors led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller want to stop that.
In a new court filing issued Friday, Mueller cited U.S. Supreme Court case law and argued that the defense failed to give a “particularized need” or “compelling necessity” as to why they should be able to review the instructions. Second:
…Concord Management’s central premise — that Count One is defective for failing to allege a heightened standard of “willfulness” — is contrary to precedent in this Circuit, which holds that the mens rea of substantive crimes does not carry over to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Back in mid-May, Concord’s attorneys wanted to verify that Mueller didn’t include a “knowingly and willingly” instruction to the jury in the charge of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., referred to as “Count One” above and below.
“[V]iolations of the relevant federal campaign laws and foreign agent registration requirements administered by the DOJ and the FEC require the defendant to have acted ‘willfully,’ a word that does not appear anywhere in Count One of the Indictment,” they wrote. “This sleight-of-hand does not relieve the Special Counsel from the requirement that the indictment contain all of the elements of the offense charged.”
They argued that the absence of “willfully” from the indictment served as a “particularized need” to obtain relief: the court should review the instructions to see if these support a motion to dismiss. Keep Reading
Establishment DC types who reflexively defend Mueller haven't explained how they came to trust him so completely. It's a question worth asking given the bumpy historical record of Mueller's tenure as FBI director.
Journalist Mike Allen of Axios recently said that one word described Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and that word was “unafraid.”
The context for his remarks on Fox News’ “Special Report” was that Mueller had just spun off to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York a bit of his limitless investigation into President Donald J. Trump. Allen’s comment was like so many others from media and pundit types since the special counsel was launched. If there’s one word to describe the media’s relationship to Mueller, it’s “unquestioning.”
Pundits and politicians have said, repeatedly, that he is “somebody we all trust” with “impeccable credentials.” No matter what his office does, from hiring Democratic donors to run the Trump probe to aggressively prosecuting process crimes, he is defended by most media voices. Criticism of Mueller by people who aren’t part of the Trump Resistance is strongly fought, with claims that disapproval of anything related to Mueller and how he runs his investigation undermine the rule of law.
The media and establishment DC who reflexively defend Mueller haven’t explained how they came to trust him so completely. It’s a question worth asking given the bumpy historical record of Mueller’s tenure as FBI director from 2001 to 2013.
For instance, as I noted to Allen, Mueller was also “unafraid” at completely botching the anthrax killer case, wasting more than $100 million in taxpayer dollars, destroying the lives of multiple suspects, and chasing bad leads using bad methods. Let’s look at that and other cases involving how Mueller and those he placed in positions of power used their authorities and decided what charges to pursue. The Anthrax Bungling
Shortly after the terrorist attacks in 2001, letters containing anthrax were mailed to media outlets and the offices of Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., killing five people and infecting 17 others. The FBI quickly focused on an innocent man named Steven Hatfill, relentlessly pursuing him for years while the real killer walked free. As Carl Cannon wrote about the botched case, ridiculous and aggressive methods were used to go after the wrong man:
So what evidence did the FBI have against Hatfill? There was none, so the agency did a Hail Mary, importing two bloodhounds from California whose handlers claimed could sniff the scent of the killer on the anthrax-tainted letters. These dogs were shown to Hatfill, who promptly petted them. When the dogs responded favorably, their handlers told the FBI that they’d ‘alerted’ on Hatfill and that he must be the killer.
Mueller and his deputy James Comey were certain they had the right guy. They didn’t, and taxpayers had to pay Hatfill $5.82 million for the error. When that settlement was announced, Cannon noted:
Mueller could not be bothered to walk across the street to attend the press conference announcing the case’s resolution. When reporters did ask him about it, Mueller was graceless. ‘I do not apologize for any aspect of the investigation,’ he said, adding that it would be erroneous ‘to say there were mistakes.’
The man the FBI decided was responsible for the anthrax killings killed himself as the FBI pursued him, but reports from the National Academy of Sciences and the Government Accountability Office were critical of the bureau’s scientific conclusions used to determine the man’s guilt.
Mueller placed Special Agent Van Harp in charge of the initial investigation. He had been “accused of misconduct and recommended for discipline for his role in a flawed review of the deadly Ruby Ridge standoff,” according to a Washington Post report. He had helped “prepare an incomplete report on the 1992 Ruby Ridge siege that had the effect of protecting high-level FBI officials, according to a confidential 1999 report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.”
After Hatfill sued the FBI, Harp admitted that he talked to the media about the anthrax case due to political concerns at the bureau. According to The Atlantic:
Special Agent Harp, who initially headed the anthrax investigation, conceded after Hatfill sued the government in August 2003 that the FBI had been sensitive to accusations that it had stumbled in other high-profile investigations, and that it had consciously sought to assure the public that it was working hard to crack the anthrax murders. Part of providing such assurance involved actively communicating with news reporters. Questioned under oath, Harp admitted to serving as a confidential source for more than a dozen journalists during the case, but he insisted that he had never leaked privileged information about Hatfill, or anyone else for that matter.
Hatfill’s attorney’s found the latter claim highly improbable. The Democrat Berger Treated Gently
As aggressive as Mueller can be about pursuing the wrong man, he showed surprising leniency and laxity when it came to the case of Samuel “Sandy” Berger, a Clinton White House national security adviser. In the run-up to testifying before the 9/11 Commission that sought to examine the failures that led to those terrorist attacks, Berger visited the National Archives to review classified documents with his notes on them.
But instead he intentionally removed and destroyed multiple copies of a classified document the commission should have reviewed for national security purposes, and lied to investigators about it. He was found to have stuffed the documents in his socks and otherwise hidden them. His punishment was that he was allowed to plead guilty in 2005 to a single misdemeanor. He served no jail time but had to give up his security clearance for three years.
The staff of Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., authored a 60-page report about the theft of the documents, in which he said “The Justice Department was unacceptably incurious about Berger’s Archives visits.” Republican Scooter Libby Charged, But Not The Leaker
As lax and lenient as the Department of Justice was with Berger, the opposite was true in other cases. After Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA employee was leaked, a special counsel operation was set up to investigate the leak. Mueller’s deputy Comey pressured John Ashcroft to recuse himself from the case on the grounds he had potential conflicts of interest.
Comey named Patrick Fitzgerald, his close personal friend and godfather to one of his children, to the role of special counsel. Mueller, Comey, and Fitzgerald all knew the whole time that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the leaker. Yet they set things up so Fitzgerald would aggressively investigate the Bush administration for three years, jailed a journalist for not giving up a source, and pursued both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
Comey even expanded the investigation’s mandate within weeks of setting up the special counsel. Libby, who was pardoned by President Trump last week, was rung up on a process charge in part thanks to prosecutorial abuse by Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald encouraged a witness to give false testimony by not providing exonerating evidence to her and Libby’s attorneys. The Wall Street Journal and Commentary have write-ups on the saga. Republican Ted Stevens Railroaded
In 2016, the FBI kept getting involved in the presidential election. Political considerations rather obviously played a role in Comey showing deference to Clinton in July 2016 in the investigation into her mishandling of classified information. Political considerations also played a role — he says subconsciously — in Comey’s decision to announce a probe into Clinton’s mishandling of classified information had been reopened shortly before the election.
It wasn’t the first time the FBI meddled in a U.S. election. In 2008, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, was indicted by a federal grand jury following a lengthy investigation by the FBI and found guilty eight days before Election Day. Stevens narrowly lost his re-election bid as a result and died in a plane crash a couple of years later.
The prosecutors in that case repeatedly withheld exculpatory evidence that would have yielded a different verdict. The convictions were voided by U.S. District Court Judge Emmett G. Sullivan, who called it the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct he’d ever seen. Stevens’ attorney complained about FBI abuses and said:
‘To us, while this is a joyful day and we’re happy that Sen. Stevens can resume a normal life without the burden that he’s carried over these last years,’ he said, ‘at age 85, it’s a very sad story too. Because it’s a warning to everyone in this country that any citizen can be convicted if the prosecutor ignores the Constitution of the United States.’
An Israeli Spy Ring That Wasn’t
Another black mark on Mueller’s record at the FBI was the pursuit of what the bureau dramatically claimed was an Israeli spy ring operating out of the Pentagon. The news broke in August 2004 that a spy working for Israel was in the Department of Defense.
It turned out that the bureau had gone after a policy analyst who had chatted with American lobbyists at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Charges were also pursued against two AIPAC employees. Those charges were later dropped and the sentence of the first person was dropped from 13 years to 10 months of house arrest and some community service.
The Washington Post wrote:
The conspiracy case against two former AIPAC lobbyists came to an inglorious end in May when the government dropped all charges after 3 1/2 years of pre-trial maneuvers.
It was a curious case: First, the lobbyists, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, were charged under an obscure section of the Espionage Act of 1917, a law that had been used only once before — unsuccessfully and never against private citizens for disclosing classified information. Second, they were targets of a bizarre sting in which they were fed false information suggesting that the lives of U.S. and Israeli operatives in Iraq were at risk and that American officials were refusing to take steps to protect them. The accusation was not that they brokered this information to some foreign enemy but that they offered it to everybody they could, hoping, among other things, to get a reporter from The Post to publish it so that it might draw the attention of the right U.S. officials and save U.S. lives. In short, even if the two were guilty as charged, they look more like whistle-blowers than spies.
It turned out the probe was led by David Szady, the same man who notoriously missed Russian spy Robert Hanssen in his midst while he spent years targeting an innocent man named Brian Kelley, an undercover officer at the CIA. For this good work, Mueller named him assistant director for counterintelligence. Incompetent Supervision
Many of these examples of prosecutorial misconduct and abuse were done not by Mueller but by underlings. He should have been aware of what they were doing, which means he should take responsibility for the errors. If he wasn’t aware, that’s a very bad sign regarding his competence to supervise his special counsel deputy Andrew Weissman.
If Mueller had no effective supervision against the abuses of the above underlings, why would anyone trust him to supervise his good buddy Weissman, whom he picked to run lead on his probe of Trump? Weissman destroyed the accounting firm Arthur Anderson LLP, which once had 85,000 employees. Thanks to prosecutorial abuse, jurors were not told that Arthur Anderson didn’t have criminal intent when it shredded documents. The Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction, but it was too late to save the company.
Weissman also “creatively criminalized a business transaction between Merrill Lynch and Enron,” which sent four executives to jail. Weissman concocted unprecedented charges and did not allow the executives to get bail, causing massive disruption to the families before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed most of Weissman’s case.
One could also argue that the above failures, save the Stevens case, were actually Comey’s responsibility. That’s arguably true as well, but it also shows just how bizarre it is that Mueller was named to investigate a situation in which his friend and partner in prosecutorial abuse is so intimately involved. This Is About More Than Trump
The media scoff in feigned outrage at President Trump’s claims that the FBI has a reputation that is in tatters. But the last 15 years of leadership of the FBI under Mueller and Comey have largely shown that to be true because of how the FBI handles it cases.
In recent months, the FBI lost a high-profile case against Omar Mateen’s widow Noor Salman, who was charged with material support of ISIS and lying to the FBI about it. The case was an absolute mess. The jury foreman said, “I wish that the FBI had recorded their interviews with Ms. Salman as there were several significant inconsistencies with the written summaries of her statements.” The jury felt that the widow had been bullied into signing a false confession.
On the day after the Pulse shooting, Comey promised the bureau would provide transparency as the case was handled. Almost immediately, the claim of transparency was shown to be false when the FBI redacted the killer’s statements about his Islamist terrorism beliefs in a transcript of his calls with Orlando 911. The bureau was also less than transparent about the fact that Mateen’s father was a long-time FBI informant. James Bovard has much more.
Or what about the recent mistrial declared in the Cliven Bundy standoff? Here’s The Oregonian:
A federal judge Wednesday declared a mistrial in the prosecution of Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy, his two sons and a co-defendant, citing the government’s ‘willful” failure to turn over multiple documents that could help the defense fight conspiracy and assault charges in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff…
The judge listed six types of evidence that she said prosecutors deliberately withheld before trial, including information about the presence of an FBI surveillance camera on a hill overlooking the Bundy ranch and documents about U.S. Bureau of Land Management snipers outside the ranch….
‘The failure to turn over such evidence violates due process,” the judge said…..
Yesterday, Comey told Meghan McCain on The View, “Public confidence in the FBI is its bedrock.” That’s true. And the lack of confidence in the FBI is not the result of Trump and his insults but a pattern of abuse of prosecutorial discretion going back 15 years or so. Mueller is responsible for 10 years of that.
The denizens of DC no doubt have had great interactions with Mueller and the men he put in charge of high-profile cases. But those who were wronged in the Anthrax, Libby, AIPAC, Enron, and other cases might have a different view. Those who observe how differing rules have been applied to people in seemingly partisan fashion should not be dismissed.
As former judge and Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week, “Mr. Mueller is not a bad man, nor is Mr. Comey. It’s just that both show particular confidence when making mistakes, which makes one grateful for safeguards like the attorney-client privilege.”
The media should not be so quick to gloss over these mistakes solely because of anti-Trump animus. Journalists who take their role seriously should be skeptical of powerful government institutions and how they can abuse their authority.