That’s all folks – Mueller’s Investigation

 

Do you recognize Porky Pig from the Loony Tunes cartoons?    With Matt Whitaker now the new Attorney General,  there’s been a ton of speculation of what happens next.  Recent news media reports suggest the whole investigation is about to wrap up, with Mueller’s team writing the final report, and all going home for Christmas.    All this is based on leaks, which I believe are coming from Republicans in Congress.

Let me suggest that this isn’t true.   Mueller can not comment on the investigation.   There may be some attempt to develop a  progress report, but not a final report.    Rod Rosenstein knows what has occurred in Grand Jury proceedings.   These are closed door proceedings, used by prosecutors to show they have sufficient evidence to go to trial.  With Sessions gone, Rosenstein has to disclose what he knows to Whitaker, who will take it to the President, and in turn Trump will share it with own attorneys, who will share it with the media, if it helps their case.   I believe that’s why Rosenstein is still there.   They want to know what information Paul Manafort (Trump’s 2016 Campaign Manager) has given the Special Counsel.   What did Don McGahn (White House legal counsel until Oct 17, 2018) tell Mueller?  On the receiving end will be private attorneys Emmet Flood and Jay Sekulow, who have attorney-client privileges.

Information will likely flow from Whitaker to Republicans in the Senate and Congress, to help protect Trump.  When there is an active FBI investigation, this will be a very serious breach of security.

I believe more indictments are on the way.   Mueller’s team on Thursday was in the midst of  oral arguments in the US Court of Appeals, District of Colombia Circuit. The issue was the right to force through subpoena Andrew Miller, a former aid to Roger Stone, to appear in a grand jury.  In June 2018, Miller turned over documents to Mueller’s team.    Roger Stone appears to be the critical link between hacked information from the Democrat’s server and the Trump campaign officials.   Going after Miller, is a way to get Stone to cooperate or indicted.  As reported by ABC News:

More than a dozen individuals associated with Stone have met with the special counsel since last summer and many of those have appeared before the grand jury impaneled by Mueller’s team.

Andrew Miller is a really small fry in a big challenge to the authority of Mueller’s team.   The heavy weight against the authority of Mueller is  the National Legal and Policy Center, a well-funded conservative legal group with a deep history of mounting legal challenges against left-leaning organizations and Democratic politicians.

The claim being made in the Court of Appeals by Andrew Miller is that the appointment of Mueller and the  authority  given to his probe were improper,   hence  Mueller has no legal  authority to issue subpoenas or really investigate anything.  Of course, this is a direct legal challenge to Rob Rosenstein judgement and  the Session’s Department of Justice.    If Whitaker caves on this issue, we might as well say, “That’s all Folks”  not to the Russian probe, but to the principles of the  DOJ.

So,  Whitaker isn’t going to have a minute to get up to speed.   The decision yesterday was to allow the prosecution  to present oral arguments “pre-Whitaker” and possibly permit submission of new briefs later, adjusted to the directives of the new AG.   It’s all pretty crazy, but it will document if the Whitaker is taking steps to obstruct Mueller’s investigation.

Stay tuned (it’s only going to get crazier!),

Dave

Links:

For this blog, I decided to show the entire link, so my followers can see they come from the broadcast network.

Andrew Miller can try to drag his case out for as long as possible.  If he loses in the Appellate Court, he will ask the court to “stay” their decision, pending a request to be heard at the Supreme Court.   Under any normal proceedings,  Mueller’s team would oppose any stay.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/roger-stone-aide-prepared-supreme-court-battle-challenge/story?id=59069715

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/08/politics/roger-stone-andrew-miller-robert-mueller-court-russia-investigation/index.html

Note, the article below is from September 18, 2018 but I believe this is the time Trump was deciding how to handle Mueller’s investigation, through firings at the Department of Justice.  The reason was too much evidence was being discovered about Donald Trump, Jr.   The Session’s firing was postponed until after the mid-term elections.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Sessions and the Resignation Letter

Was Sessions fired or did he resign? 

Ok, he’s out.  Some are calling it a firing, others characterize Sessions departure as a resignation.  There is a resignation letter, so it is a resignation.  But, the first line says that he is resigning at the president’s request.    Sessions didn’t want to go.  He was greatly enjoying his final chance to serve the country.    See link below for Sessions’ letter.

The letter has no date on it.    A lot of speculation as to when it was written,  but most likely in September 2018,  when it now appeared Trump was going to fire Rod Rosenstein.

Sessions says in this letter that  the Department  “embraced” Donald Trump’s directive to be a strong law and order department, and then goes into the  many accomplishments of the Department.    It is an incredible defense of the work of the Justice Department.  And it is all about the good work of the Department itself, not himself.  If there is a bit of flattery, it is to Trump.  It is the best justification of why Sessions should not have been fired.

Sessions wasn’t protecting the Mueller investigation from interference by Trump.   After Jeff Session’s recused himself from the investigation,  that job landed to Deputy AG  Rob Rosenstein.  Sessions recused himself because he was part of the Trump campaign and participated in a meeting at the Trump tower in June 2016 where a Russian agent was present.   Sessions has testified over and over again, that he had never participated in any collusion with Russian agents, and nothing has every linked him to the scandal.  So, I believe him.   The recusal  meant  Bob Mueller had the liberty to investigate anyone associated with the Trump campaign, including Sessions.

Now, the Attorney General is Matt Whitaker and regarded generally as a Trump loyalist.   He can do tremendous damage to the Mueller investigation, if he wants   He can also recuse himself from the investigation and put Rosenstein back in charge.  This would immediately take the pressure he’ll be getting from Congress, but Trump could always fire him and Rosenstein.

What happens to Rosenstein, the man that knows too much?   Inside the Justice Department, he will no longer be overseeing the Mueller investigation.   Inside the Department, he would be bound by the Department rules, including not revealing anything he knows.  So, Trump may keep him there.   I don’t see him writing the kind of letter, that Sessions gave the President.

The Russian investigation is the hot potato.     Anyone touching it will inevitably draw the ire of Trump.   The irony is Sessions never touched the Russian investigation.  I don’t believe his recusal was ever the problem.   It was his honesty that got between him and Trump.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Jeff Session’s Resignation Letter

No collusion!

This is purely a semantics problem.  The verb “to collude” is not a standard legal term.   The lawyers understand this,  and know what Mueller is looking at the criminal act of conspiring with foreign entities, obviously Russian agents. So, if one simply substitutes conspiracy for collusion, then yes, we are likely getting close to charges of  conspiracy with those close to Trump’s campaign.

I believe there are more criminal  indictments to come.  It is both ill advised, and premature to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

There is more legal  hairsplitting between a “target” of an investigation and a “subject” of one.   Neither one is pretty as follows:

  • A “target” is a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.
  • A “subject” of an investigation is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation.

Donald Trump is the subject of the investigation and not the target of one.  He may be getting closer every day to being a target.

The White House continues to slam the news media,  FBI agents and the Department of Justice.   Exactly how far President Trump is willing to go to defend himself, and close family members is still hard to say.   It has been well established that Donald Trump, Jr.,  Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort attended a meeting with Russian agents in the Trump tower on June 9, 2016.

I believe Attorney General Jeff Sessions made an outstanding decision to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation.   I believe Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein’s selection of Robert Mueller to head the Russian investigation was excellent.  I am very impressed with FBI Director,  Christopher Wray (Trump’s nominated director) and hope that he is able to rise above partisan attacks from Congress.

The investigation is getting complicated.   Mueller has assembled what many consider, the most experienced career  attorneys and FBI agents, to complete the investigation.   White collar crimes, take a long time to litigate because there are teams of attorneys available for those charged with crimes.

The news media is doing a good job of getting the facts as they evolve.  I continue to rely on Wikipedia’s summary, which has assembled one of the best summary of the investigation and its results.   One has to distinguish between the real news reporting,  which recently is the  Manafort trial,  and the commentary which surround it.

There is definitely more to come.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Normally,  criminal investigations do not list every lawyer and FBI agent assigned to the case.  However, congressional leaders,  particularly Republicans in the House, have relentlessly subpoenaed thousands of documents in their attack on the Mueller investigation, to help the president and related campaign officials.

Wikipedia link 

 

 

 

A lot of real news is happening, Mr. President

“Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

This is the talk you might hear from some radical or religious cult.   Turn off the TV, don’t read the paper.  These are your enemies.  You have to be very paranoid to think everyone is lying to you.  But this is exactly what  Trump said at a speech in Kansas City to the VFW annual convention on Tuesday.

My advice is to do just the opposite:  Read, see and think.  Compare opinions, ask questions and do your homework.  Don’t stick with anyone.  A lot is happening.  Trump might not like it, but it is happening.   I don’t know exactly which news story he was referring to:   Scott Pruitt horrible record at the EPA or  Ryan Zinke at the Interior,  and their cozying up lobbyists  instead of protecting the environment, the NATO and Helsinki summit messes or the progress in the Mueller investigation.   Take your pick!

Reading means going beyond CNN.  If fact, I like the BBC for more broad coverage.  And news magazines like Time or Newsweek.  You might find our that Trump is furious about comments made by three former intelligence leaders,  John Brennan (CIA),  Michael Hayden (National Security Agency) and James Clapper (National Intelligence Agency).   Each of these three leaders, with long backgrounds in government service, has written a book, the latest one by James Clapper (Facts and Fears).

You might find out about how the White House barred a CNN journalist from the White House Press press briefing,  and the strong criticism from the head of Fox News, Jay Wallace, for this action.   This is very important, as a whole series of commentator deride the “liberal media,”  at the very top, they understand the importance of media access.    As discussed in the link below, something similar happened in the Obama administration with a Treasury Department press conference, and CNN refused to cover it unless Fox News reporter was allowed to attend.

I would plead with people to detach themselves from a rigid group mentality, so they can absorb ideas and political philosophies from both Republicans and Democrats.   Each party claims to be fiscally responsible, but the track record (really up today) shows that our deficits rise, no matter if it is a Republican or Democrat.

I am not a loyalist to any party or platform.   I spent 5 years working at a research center, which taught me the best researchers are great at asking questions, and thoroughly reading everything available on a topic.  Critical thinking is hard work.  You have to compare multiple sources of information and opinions.

I think the greatest people on this planet, are parents who congratulate their children whenever  they ask questions.   When a child extends questioning to both parents, and teachers, I think it’s time for parents to start a college fund.

I hope Americans read newspapers.  I try to read 3 newspapers, one printed and two on the internet.  I can’t compete with the oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, who reads five newspapers every day, beginning with the Omaha World Herald, which his company acquired in 2011.   I got that tidbit of information from Wikipedia, which seems to be doing a terrific job of providing unbiased and well documented information.

My New York Times just arrived.  Headline news:  “Raging fire turns Yosemite into a ghost town.”  Not fake news.  Front page picture on the Times, is Half Dome at Yosemite, barely visible with all the smoke. .    Also, “US and Europe ease trade feud”, outlining a deal (positive to Trump and EU leaders).   Also, news commentary,  “Cash flowing into Treasury starts to ebb,”  and concern about rising deficits (negative for Trump).   Just finished front page item,  “Promising Alzheimer Drug attacks brain changes and symptoms.” Hope it works.

Real news means going to the source.  In Chicago,  reporter Pam Belluck was there at the Alzheimer’s Association International  Conference to listen and explain in non-technical terms how the new Alzheimer’s drug works,  or really how it is intended to work.  Is Biogen going to soar this morning?  An Associated Press photographer,  Noah Berger, shot the photo of the haze over the 38,000 acre fire obscuring the view of Half Dome

Going past the front page, on to international section.   There is a heat wave in Japan, with peak temperatures going to 106 deg F, and 23,000 people have been hospitalized.  Yes, I’m thinking global warming, and how the acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler should be sent their immediately.  Shucks, there is no mention of global warming,  just the grim facts of how miserable conditions are.   Half the 23,000 people are over 65 years old (my group).

It was awful day in Paksong,  Laos, as flooding and the bursting of a dam caused thousands to flee.  This time, climate change was mentioned, by a group called  International Rivers, which has opposed hydroelectric dams due to the unpredictability of extreme weather events.

Trump would rather people be apathetic and focus on golf and just believe how good he’s doing.  No chance with me.  Sorry, but it’s his pep rallies which are loaded with crap.

Listen, read, and think for yourselves.  Please!

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

The White House Banned a CNN Reporter and Even Fox News Is Crying Foul

Wikipedia: Michael Hayden

Wikipedia: James Clapper

Wikipedia: John Brennan

 

 

 

The Helsinki Disaster

Trump’s responses to questions at Monday’s joint press conference may seem miles away by now.  But, I’ll repeat a few critical parts and add my comments given in italics. It was a disaster, on many fronts.  Unfortunately,  I don’t think Trump was “off his game”  on this one.  I think we’re going to see more excusing the actions of countries with not respect for human rights (Turkey, the Philippines and Egypt, come to mind)  and attacks on our friends.

I have included in the links that the transcript of the entire press conference as provided by National Public Radio.

Thank you. Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s U.S. foolishness, stupidity, and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable or anything in particular? And if so, what would you what would you consider them that they are responsible for?

TRUMP:  Yes I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame.  I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia, and we’re getting together and we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation in terms of stopping, have to do it, ultimately that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.  But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes.

I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart, it’s kept us separated.

There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore. So far that I know virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they’re gonna have to try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign. That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her. And I’m not even saying from the standpoint…we won that race. And it’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it. People know that. People understand it. But the main thing and we discussed this also is zero collusion and it has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries.

It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the [Mueller]  probe.

Trump’s answer is pretty clear.   He standing there side by side with Putin, and is saying is he wishes that the Russian interference in our elections in 2016 would be just swept under the rug.  When he holds US partially responsible,  this is pointing the finger to Obama administration policies.  It is as if, the Obama administration just didn’t know how to conduct diplomacy.   Trump is not going into any details on the US foolishness, but were the sanctions imposed by Obama really so foolish?  Russia was propping up the regime in Syria with military support, even after they used chemical weapons on their own people.  Russia has been involved in the assassination of dissidents outside their borders.  Residents of England were likely horrified at Trump’s statement were, as they witnessed the Salisbury poisoning (Sergei and Yulia Skripal).   Trump was obviously, avoided past conflicts, including the takeover of Crimea, support of separatists in Ukraine, and human rights abuses, such as the likely Kremlin ordered murder of Sergei Magnitsky in 2005, when he discovered tax fraud corruption among Russia’s richest citizens on a wide scale.  Dissidents and whistle blowers seem to turn up dead. The hand of the Kremlin at going after enemies of the state is worldwide. (see link)

REPORTER: For President Putin, if I could follow up as well. Why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided? And will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury?

TRUMP: Well, I’m going to let the president answer the second part of that question. But, as you know, the whole concept of that came up perhaps a little bit before but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election, which frankly, they should have been able to win because the electoral college is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know, than it is to Republicans. We won the Electoral College by a lot. 306 to 223, I believe. And that was a well fought, that was a well fought battle. We did a great job. And frankly, I’m going to let the president speak to the second part of your question. But just to say it one time again and I say it all the time, there was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign and every time you hear all of these you know 12 and 14 – stuff that has nothing to do and frankly they admit – these are not people involved in the campaign. But to the average reader out there, they’re saying well maybe that does. It doesn’t. And even the people involved, some perhaps told mis-stories or in one case the FBI said there was no lie. There was no lie. Somebody else said there was. We ran a brilliant campaign and that’s why I’m president. Thank you.

The question is actual about “election intervention.”   Trump steered the question to  collusion, and since he claims he had never personally met Putin before the election, he feels vindicated.  In Putin’s response, he says:  “We should be guided by facts. Could you name a single fact that would definitively prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense.”   So Trump and Putin see eye-to-eye on this.   Intervention  =  collusion = nonsense.   In Putin’s reply to extradition, he brings up the idea of swapping Mr. Browder for 12 indicted Russians.  Putin states: “They  [Browder business associates]  sent a huge amount of money – 400 million – as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.”   The actual figure is $400,000.   I will cover the actions of Mr. Browder in a separate blog.  Putin is not saying no to extradition, but simply saying that it has to go through proper channels.

The following is the question that has help cause an enormous backlash:

REPORTER, AP: President Trump, you first. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you sir is, who do you believe? My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?

TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coates, came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server but I have, I have confidence in both parties.

I really believe that this will probably go on for a while but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? 33,000 emails gone, just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn’t be gone so easily.  I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s thirty three thousand e-mails.

I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators, with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer. Ok? Thank you.

Trump could have answered this in two short sentences: (1) The conclusion of  election interference  by Russia in 2016 by US intelligence is right, and (2) Putin should not try this again.  He didn’t do either.   Even in the wake of the indictments of 12 Russian military officials, he wasn’t about to walk back on his hundreds of tweets stating that Mueller’s investigation was a witch hunt and the FBI under Comey was incompetent.   Mind you, Trump wasn’t asked if  there was  collusion or even involvement of the Trump’s campaign officials in this interference.   He was defending Putin more than the US government.   This “incredible offer”  was considered by the State Department as absurd.  

In one key phase,  Trump later said he misspoke, and meant to say wouldn’t instead of would.   Lawrence O’Donnell (MSNBC commentator) got it right, when he said the statement was beyond fixing.  To do so, was an insult to the intelligence of Americans.

I count a total of 23 sentences.  I count 19 of these sentences would fall under the category of FBI misconduct  in the areas of deliberately incomplete or improper investigation.  So, he is back on the witch hunt theme.      There’s only one statement (“My people came to me, Dan Coats, came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia.”)   Yikes!    Dan Coats is the Director of National Intelligence, and it is his job to provide the president of all national security threats from multiple US agencies.   Of course, Dan Coats immediately issued a statement after the press conference, stating that it was absolutely true that Russia interfered with our election.  

Trump  is demeaning the FBI because in 2015 and 2016, it was under Director Comey’s command.   The missing emails  is a mess It confuses  a subpoena from the Benghazi Committee in 2015, with the FBI’s investigation of the Russian hacked  DNC server in 2016.   The first statement about the server of the Pakistani gentleman is false, and the second one refers to accidental deletions of email that were not at Clinton’s direction.   The Benghazi Committee was just trolling for dirt on Hillary Clinton prior to the election.  All Trump was trying to do, is to attack the integrity of the FBI in years before he was president.

Russia is taking the lead, where the US is shrinking back globally.  It supports the Iran nuclear deal and is party to the Paris Climate Agreement.  It even came to the rescue of the World Health Organization, as US pressured countries not to introduce the breastfeeding resolution.   It is looking for strengthening economic ties with China, as we look to punish them with tariffs.   There is nothing more desirable in Putin’s priorities than restoring their hold on the Eastern European countries.   That’s why Putin brings up the Minsk agreements.

The word change only shows how Trump believes he can easily fool the American people.  Helsinki was a disaster for the US and a victory for Vladimir Putin.  Dialogue with Russia is important, but standing firm with Eastern Europe and NATO is vital.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Transcripts of Press Conference

Trump sides with Putin over US intelligence

Donald Trump’s ‘missing’ server comments get all of the details wrong

Clinton’s 33000 emails – Politifact

(The conclusion was that the deletion was not done at the direction of Clinton.  These were old emails, and to the technician in charge of the server, was a routine cleanup effort and unaware of the subpoena.  When he learned of the subpoena, he describes this as the “Oh shit” moment.

Wikipedia:  Bill Browder 

Wikipedia: Magnisky Act

FBI Honesty and Integrity

I’ve been working my way through the 500 pages of the Inspector General report, and at the same time, listening to FBI Christopher Wray and the Inspector General Michael Horowitz in the congressional hearing.   Occasionally, I listen to Fox News nonsense, to hear Lou Dobbs and Ed Rollins tell me what a horrible state we are in with subversive Democrats pulling the strings, operating in some deep state cabal.

Cabal:   a secret political clique or faction. “a cabal of dissidents” synonyms: clique, faction, coterie, cell, sect, junta, camarilla;

We were doing just fine with James Comey, as Director of the FBI, and Christopher Wray is also very capable. I’ve included Director Wray’s biography.   I think Trump believed he could change the course of the Russian investigation with Comey, and was upset when this wasn’t working.  He won’t have any better success with Wray and can’t afford to fire Wray.

The chief complaint against FBI Director Comey was excessive transparency.  His disclosure to Congress in October 2016  of reopening the email scandal likely  hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected.   Director Wray spoke about the need for balancing  two essential competing requirements – the need to keep the Congress’s oversight committees informed on FBI work in general, and the need to keep FBI sources and methods confidential during an ongoing investigation.   I call this the simultaneous need for transparency and opaqueness.   At some point, he will be accused of concealment of vital information sought by Congress.  It’s all part of the job.

Finally,  the texting stuff between FBI Special Counsel Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok.    In hindsight,  the chief crime in all this, was their decision to use FBI issued cell phones to carry on personal conversations.   They did this because they were in a relation and did not want their spouses to know.   In one exchange on Aug. 8, 2016, according to the IG report, Page wrote, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok’s response: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”    It should be remembered this was supposed to be a personal  private conversation, and joking, exaggeration  or excessive chutzpah are allowed.   The inspector general conducted over 100 interviews,  and ultimately cleared Page and Strzok of any political bias in the decisions they were involved in.

Revealing the personal chatter between these two individuals gets pretty silly at some point.  It was a relationship for god sake- they were sharing intimate secrets and passions.    Peter Strzok by August 2016,  had potentially damning information on Trump’s campaign officials, but it was complicated and highly circumstantial.   If he wanted to, he could have done severe damage to Trump’s campaign.    He and everyone at the FBI kept a tight lid on what they knew at the time.   Strzok chose opaqueness,  as any other decision would compromise his professionalism at the FBI.  Yet, partisan Republican are going after Strzok  big time, because he was part of the Mueller investigation, and the only one they have some dirt on.   He is the Director of Human Resources at the FBI, so there is nothing in his current work they can attack.

Everyone in the FBI is entitled to personal political opinions.  They can love or hate the current or future president.   But, what will not be repeated for a long time, is personal conversations on government issued cell phones.   There is spying on employees at work in private businesses, and cellphones become much more of a liability than an asset.

Director Comey would have been blasted by Republicans for concealment of critical information, had he not gone public with his announcement in July 2016,   Loretta Lynch was also routinely attacked by Fox News and conservatives in Congress in 2016, for what appeared to be a rubber stamp of Comey’s clearing Clinton of wrongdoing.   There wasn’t a winning option in all of this.

Trump has gone off into another orbit on this, saying the IG report exonerates him of firing Comey and that Comey’s conduct was criminal.  Wrong on both accounts.  The firing of Comey was pretty close to obstruction of justice, as Trump was asking for Comey’s loyalty in the investigation of Michael Flynn.   That’s why Comey was fired and not his excessive transparency in July 2016.

What the IG didn’t find is likely why the Democrats are embracing the report.   The IG found no evidence that the political bias of FBI agents had any role in the investigation.   The email investigation was done thoroughly by the FBI.

Bottom line:  All evidence points to an honest and hardworking FBI in 2016, 2017 and we still have one today.

Stay tuned,

Dave

See link below:

Factcheck.org: Trump Misleads on IG Report

Christopher Wray

Director Wray – Wikipedia:

Wray joined the government in 1997 as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. In 2001, he moved to the Justice Department as Associate Deputy Attorney General and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General.[10]

On June 9, 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Wray to be the 33rd Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. Wray was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on September 11, 2003.[11][12][13] Wray was Assistant Attorney General from 2003 to 2005, working under Deputy Attorney General James Comey. While heading the Criminal Division, Wray oversaw prominent fraud investigations, including Enron.[10][14] In March 2005, Wray announced that he would resign from his post.[15] His last day at the Justice Department was on May 17, 2005.[citation needed]

In 2005, Wray received the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Justice Department’s highest award for public service and leadership.

 

 

Trump’s fixer man, Michael Cohen, and his secret business dealings

Michael Cohen is both a lawyer and a business man.    Search warrants  were served on Mr. Cohen because he is  being investigated for possible campaign finance violations, bank fraud and wire fraud.   It is part of a federal grand jury investigation which was empaneled months ago.  On Monday,  Mr. Cohen lost in his request to have all items seized in the raid returned to him.     It was established in court, that in the last year and a half,  Cohen provided legal advice to only three clients,  Donald Trump,  Elliott Broidy and Sean Hannity.   Sean Hannity denied he was Mr. Cohen’s client.

In their search, investigators also sought to obtain records relating to Cohen’s ownership of taxi medallions — high-value assets that are often used as collateral for loans, according to people familiar with the matter.  The value of the medallions was sharply dropping in value, as a result of Uber and Lyft.   Between April and June 2017, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance filed seven tax warrants against Cohen and his wife for $37,434 in unpaid taxi taxes due to the MTA.[13]

Prosecutors are following the money on this one.   The  $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, might be the most visible sign of shady business, but I suspect there are far bigger targets.   Elliott Broidy  needed Cohen’s help to hide the fact that his affair with Playboy model, Shera Bachard, who he made pregnant, and Cohen arranged a 1.3 million dollar payment to hush up the affair.    The child was aborted.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Broidy was a national deputy chairman of the R.N.C.’s finance committee, a title he shared with Mr. Cohen.  Mr. Broidy is the second member of that committee to resign this year amid questions involving their behavior with women and deals to silence them.

So,  how big is this swamp?   Here is more from the New York Times article:

During the wide-ranging October meeting, Mr. Broidy raised numerous topics high on the agenda of the United Arab Emirates, a country that has given his security company a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He pitched the president on a paramilitary force his company was developing for the U.A.E. and urged Mr. Trump to fire Rex W. Tillerson, then the secretary of state, who the U.A.E. believed was insufficiently tough on its rival Qatar.

The documents show that Mr. Broidy has worked closely with George Nader, an adviser to the U.A.E. and a witness in the special counsel’s investigation, to help steer Trump administration policy on numerous issues in the Middle East. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, is examining Mr. Nader’s possible role in funneling Emirati money to finance Mr. Trump’s political efforts. There is no indication that Mr. Mueller’s team is looking into Mr. Broidy.

In 2009, Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty to charges that he made nearly $1 million worth of illegal gifts to New York State officials in order to win an investment of $250 million from the state’s public pension fund. Among the gifts were trips to Israel and Italy, payouts to officials’ relatives and girlfriends and an investment in one relative’s production of a low-budget movie called “Chooch.”

It is also reported that there are no emails between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen.   Trump apparently doesn’t use email.

If true, can you imagine the gall of Broidy, wanting to get rid of the secretary of state,  because of his business dealings in the UAE.    Our environmental policies, have been sold out to the fossil fuel companies,  but was  Trump also trading in our relations with other Middle East countries to help support his donors?    Broidy was also on Trump’s inaugural ceremony committee, where millions  were unaccounted for according to MSNBC’s Rachel Madlow and others (see link).

I’m honestly not that interested in Stormy Daniel’s hush money contract, or  Elliot Broidy’s affair,  but the Middle East connections, by way of George Nader.  This might help Mueller’s team.

At this point, it is a legal battle between the president’s lawyers who want to do anything possible to impede the review by the “taint team”  verses the Department of Justice who want to know to get the team’s  review done as soon as possible.   Judge Kimba Woods has stated that case law on confidentiality, applies equally, be it the president of the United States, or the man on the street.   This has also been the opinion of the Supreme Court,  dating back to claims of Executive Privilege in the days of Nixon and Watergate.   Judge Woods  will likely decide soon whether a Special Master should be appointed.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Whatever happened to the money from Trump’s inaugural committee?

 

Client-Attorney Privilege/ Alan Dershowitz

It is very common knowledge that the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office to seize information relevant to the Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniel’s cases.   Michael Cohen is Trump’s personal lawyer.

There’s been so much commentary on the raid, that it seems hardly worth adding to it.  However, the one person who doesn’t seem terrible angry is Michael Cohen, as follows:

Two days after FBI agents raided his home and office—reportedly seeking documents related to hush payments made to women with whom President Trump allegedly had an affair, among other information—the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen had this to say: “I just want my stuff back.” That comment, made to ABC News, was Cohen’s first remark since telling CNN on Tuesday that the raiding federal agents were “extremely professional, courteous and respectful,” contradicting the president’s claim that agents “broke into” his lawyer’s office.

I stated before that it seemed everything was done by the book.  The Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, signed off on the search warrant.  He is a Trump appointee.  There were multiple checks on this search warrant.   Michael Cohen is under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance contributions.

The items seized from Michael Cohen are with the “taint team” to determine if what information is relevant under the scope of the search.  It is another safeguard to protect the rights of Michael Cohen, against unreasonable searches.

Alan Dershowitz, the very well known defense attorney and former Harvard professor, doesn’t see it this way.  He obviously doesn’t believe there are enough checks in the system, to allow a search and still protect the legitimate privacy of an attorney’s records outside of what is criminal evidence.  An article appearing in The Hill,  is provided in the links.  He has appeared on Fox News network, with the same opinion.  Others, particularly on CNN and MSNBC,  have voiced far more confidence in the judicial system and believe prosecutors will respect the rights of Mr. Cohen.  I am particularly concerned, when Alan Dershowitz states that FBI raids should be limited to only “major crimes”  which he then states this isn’t one of them.   What will remain in the hands of judges, is the evidence that was used to support the search warrant, so Dershowitz, like the rest of us, is completely in the dark.

We have First Amendment rights of free speech.   This is the protection for individuals, who espouse very unpopular opinions including radicals on the far right and left of the political spectrum.   It  protects  gay rights activist and  atheist organizations.   When high powered attorneys  seek to intimidate people to give up their rights in exchange for money,  I think this is worthy of an investigation.   It is particularly egregious if the Daniel’s contract was invalid and payments were violations of campaign finance laws.   The Supreme Court allows massive donations to be given to political parties, to monopolize the air waves during campaigns.  The courts can not condone campaign violations which also silence dissent during a campaign.

To ignore potential violations of law helps create new rights for the wealthy and powerful class, a form of immunity from the law.  Donald Trump felt that he could have his lawyer fix  his indiscretions through physical harm and hush money to gain the silence of others, leaving him in the clear.    This was done to help his campaign for president, running on a campaign who claimed (until today) that his opponent was crooked.   The First Amendment is needed for small people or people who work for small organizations.

Dershowitz further states that the raid will make people afraid to seek legal advice.  I seriously doubt it.   A good lawyer will be sure to take steps to ensure confidentiality by having a client sign a contract to represent them in a specific matter.   The problem Trump has, is that he wanted Cohen to fix everything, and leave him in the clear.   It likely made Cohen a partner in crime.

Dershowitz goes on, to state this highly intrusive manner of collecting evidence, was done for political reasons.  Again, this seems contrary to facts as there were reviews of this warrant in the Justice Department and the Southern District of New York.  If a similar raid were conducted on Hillary Clinton’s office, it would have to go through the same court system.  I would support this as well.

I believe Michael Cohen subdued reaction is because he knows the FBI has a mountain of incriminating evidence against him.   The role of Trump’s fixer came to an abrupt end, and now the fixer has some real negotiating to do with authorities instead of Trump’s occasional indiscretions.

The late night comedians, such as Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, are having a tremendous amount of fun over the irony in all of this.   Trump appointed an Attorney General, who has been as tough as nails on illegal immigration, drug use and against sentencing reforms.   Yet, Trump is steadfastly trying to make himself an exception to the heightened law and order approach of the Justice Department.

Trump is saying in essence, “Go after criminals, but stay away from my campaign officials and their contacts.”

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/382459-dershowitz-targeting-trumps-lawyer-should-worry-us-all

Wikipedia:  Jeff Sessions

Search warrant for Michael Cohen, Trump’s Personal Lawyer

It appears to me nothing illegal or unethical or disgraceful has occurred. Prosecutors know about white collar crime, and they are just following the money. Attorney-client privileges are not absolute, meaning what is a lawyer’s computer or cellphone can never be seen by law enforcement officers. But it has to be done through the courts based on probable cause. Court decisions acknowledge the need for confidentiality in the defense of clients and this has resulted in more rules in law office searches, designed to protect privileged information.  There are exceptions.   President Trump has stated repeatedly he had no knowledge of hush money being paid to Stormy Daniels or the contract, so the client-attorney privilege is gone in this particular matter.

The potential criminal charges against Trump’s personal lawyer are bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. This is serious stuff. The search warrant was executed on part by a referral from Robert Mueller’s office. The decision to seek a warrant was in the office of the Southern District of New York. The lead US Attorney for the Southern District is Geoffrey Berman, who is a recent Trump appointee. Only the courts can approve a warrant based on probable cause. All the specifics on the rationale for the search warrant are confidential by law. The American people do not have the right to know everything – and that’s how our justice system has always operated for the good.

Before anything is given to prosecutors, there must be an initial neutral examination of the seized material as explained below, and more completely in the second link:

The critically important interests protected by the attorney-client and work product privileges can be preserved only if the seized materials are examined by a neutral judicial officer, or by a Special Master appointed for this purpose, to determine which materials are or are not encompassed within the privileges. Such a safeguard is essential, as a number of courts have recognized.

 

This means what was seized by the FBI, is in the control of a court appointed neutral judicial officer. The person would have no connection to Michael Cohen, the Justice Department or the Southern District of NY.
Will Michael Cohen sue for irreparable harm to his practice? Absolutely. Will he get the blessings from the legal establishment to push back? Maybe. Will he be indicted? I haven’t a clue. Will this help Mueller’s investigation? Ditto.

There’s a whole pile of other questions, which no one on the outside can answer. For the time being, it appears to me nothing illegal or unethical or disgraceful has occurred.

Stay tuned,
Dave

Links:

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,  Challenging the Law Office Search,  Weinberg and Homan, 1996.

The above link in from 1996.   The Fourth Amendment provides all Americans the right against unreasonable searches.  The sixth amendment provides the right to legal counsel.   Many of the rules governing legal search warrants have been the result of various court cases.   The protections available through the Fourth Amendment were strengthened by the Mapp v. Ohio court decision, which made excluded all evidence obtained illegally to be used in any court proceeding  in the US (exclusionary rule).  If the FBI breaks into an office, without first obtaining a legal search warrant, then none of the information from the search is admissible.

Privilege (evidence)

Privilege belongs to the client.  If Trump had stated that Cohen acted on his behalf, then he could use attorney-client privilege to shield Cohen.  Instead, he denied knowing anything about the payoff, so the claim of privilege evidence is gone.  It also appears that more liberal judges, tend to be give more weight to client’s rights in attorney-client privileges, than to the law enforcement’s needs.  The Andresen v. Maryland case upheld the legitimacy of the search warrant over the dissent of Brennan and Marshall.

Trump lashes out as Cohen raid fuses Russia probe and Stormy case

I’m really don’t think “fuses” is the right word.   Robert Mueller really separated his probe from Michael Cohen case, when he handed it off the the Southern District office.  It seems Trump wants to lump them together as one grand conspiracy.

Changes in the Administration

I did not  comment on the firing of Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State or Andrew McCabe,  Deputy Director of the FBI.  In both cases, I was really hoping that Trump would not fire them.   Rex Tillerson seemed to be working in the same mode as John Kerry and Hillary Clinton,  with a lot of travel and face to face meetings.   I think this was particularly important. He did not take sides in the Saudi Arabia – Qatar crisis, as Trump had done, but stated we would help facilitate an eventual end to the blockade of Qatar.  He understood the priority should be in Middle East unity in fighting terrorism, and Qatar with a US military base has helped this effort.   Trump on the other hand,  seems to want to intensify the Sunni-Shia rift, siding with the Saudi’s and against Iran.

There are hot spots all over the world, Yemen,  Somalia, Libya and northern Syria.   It is the United States “soft power”  that  helps keep the peace.    Proxy wars intensify as outsiders supply the equipment, making any negotiations more difficult.  Syria, Libya and Yemen are classic proxy wars.  There should be widespread condemnation of massive human rights violations,  the most recent on in the ethnic cleaning in Myanmar of the Rohingya,  the 600,000 survivors of this genocide are now living in Bangladesh.  I don’t think Mike Pompeo is ready to look beyond partisan politics.

There is no question that Andrew McCabe was fired from the FBI, as was Director James Comey, because he was doing his job, and would not be influenced by politics.   Russian meddling in the US elections to help Trump win the elections did happen.   The manner of the firing of Tillerson,  Comey and McCabe,  through Twitter or the media,  showed Trump could a very mean and disrespectful.

Now,  I am very fearful of Trump’s  new administration selections, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State and John Bolton, National Security Adviser.

The most urgent decision is on Iran, and the likely US pull out of the Iran nuclear accord in May 2018.  In the House,  Mike Pompeo led the charge against the Iran Nuclear Deal.  The New Times editorial on John Bolton, was scathing:

Yes, John Bolton is really that bad

The good thing about John Bolton, President Trump’s new national security adviser, is that he says what he thinks.

The bad thing is what he thinks.

There are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton is to lead the country into war. His selection is a decision that is as alarming as any Mr. Trump has made. His selection, along with the nomination of the hard-line C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, as secretary of state, shows the degree to which Mr. Trump is indulging his worst nationalistic instincts.

Mr. Bolton, in particular, believes the United States can do what it wants without regard to international law, treaties or the political commitments of previous administrations.

He has argued for attacking North Korea to neutralize the threat of its nuclear weapons, which could set off a horrific war costing tens of thousands of lives. At the same time, he has disparaged diplomatic efforts, including the talks planned in late May between Mr. Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. He not only wants to abrogate the six-party deal that, since 2015, has significantly limited Iran’s nuclear program; he has called for bombing Iran instead. He has also maligned the United Nations and other multilateral conventions, as Mr. Trump has done, favoring unilateral solutions.

Over a 30-year career in which he served three Republican presidents, including as United Nations ambassador and the State Department’s top arms control official, Mr. Bolton has largely disdained diplomacy and arms control in favor of military solutions; no one worked harder to blow up the 1994 agreement under which North Korea’s plutonium  program was frozen for nearly eight years in exchange for heavy fuel oil and other assistance. The collapse of that agreement helped bring us to the crisis today, where North Korea is believed to have 20 or more nuclear weapons.

The editorial goes on to show how often Bolton dismissed diplomacy and US soft power to create a more peaceful world.  Instead,  the one well woven thread, was that we should use military action to support our objectives, no matter what the consequences were, including international condemnation.  As National Security Adviser, Bolton does not need congressional approval.

One last entry into the White House staff,  is  combative lawyer Joseph diGenova, replacing John Dowd.  As Trump explained, “I’m fucking do it my way”  which is never be defensive,  never apologize, but to launch an aggressive attack on those he considers in his way.   It is more of “do them harm before they can get going at you.”   DiGenova claimed the Russian investigation was all a big conspiracy,  and Donald Trump was being framed.  So, it’s fine to trash the Justice Department, FBI and CIA, as an acceptable defense.  And of course, the mainstream media.

So, we have a case of out with the good or not so bad,  Gen McMasters,  Rex Tillerson, Andrew McCabe, and I guess John Dowd,  and in with the bad to terrible,  John Bolton,  Mike Pompeo and Joseph DiGenova.

I have not added links to this story, as there are many editorials on the White House changes available on the Internet.  The month of May is looking to be particularly  bad, with both the North Korea summit and the Iran Nuclear Deal on the table.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s Letter

Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe has been fired two days before receiving his pension by AG Jeff Sessions.   His letter summarizes a chain of events in which he corroborates damaging testimony of FBI Director Comey, then  the president launches a vendetta against him, ultimately leading to his firing.  His reference to attacks against his family, are based on the Trump’s tweet (Dec 23, 2017):

“How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump tweeted on July 25, 2017.

The accusation is considered False by factcheck.org.  A  factcheck link is provided at the bottom of this blog, which shows this to be more Trump’s BS especially made for Fox News.  McCabe was called a “bad actor based on his behavior” by WH Press Secretary Sanders.

McCabe’s letter also confirms what some have claimed in the media –  he did not close down the Clinton investigation early, but  continued to investigate her emails against “people in DOJ who opposed it.”  So ironically, while Trump was claiming a Clinton investigation cover-up,  McCabe was doing just the opposite – a thorough investigation no matter how long it took, which likely helped Trump win the election.

So honesty, persistence and dedication to your job can get you ridiculed by the President and ultimately get you fired.

I believe Sessions was likely threatened by Trump, either to fire McCabe or be fired himself.   McCabe was leaving anyway, but stripping of his pension seems to add insult to injury.

McCabe’s Letter

I have been an FBI Special Agent for over 21 years. I spent half of that time investigating Russian Organized Crime as a street agent and Supervisor in New York City. I have spent the second half of my career focusing on national security issues and protecting this country from terrorism. I served in some of the most challenging, demanding investigative and leadership roles in the FBI. And I was privileged to serve as Deputy Director during a particularly tough time.

For the last year and a half, my family and I have been the targets of an unrelenting assault on our reputation and my service to this country. Articles too numerous to count have leveled every sort of false, defamatory and degrading allegation against us. The President’s tweets have amplified and exacerbated it all. He called for my firing. He called for me to be stripped of my pension after more than 20 years of service. And all along we have said nothing, never wanting to distract from the mission of the FBI by addressing the lies told and repeated about us.
No more.

The investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has to be understood in the context of the attacks on my credibility. The investigation flows from my attempt to explain the FBI’s involvement and my supervision of investigations involving Hillary Clinton. I was being portrayed in the media over and over as a political partisan, accused of closing down investigations under political pressure. The FBI was portrayed as caving under that pressure, and making decisions for political rather than law enforcement purposes. Nothing was further from the truth. In fact, this entire investigation stems from my efforts, fully authorized under FBI rules, to set the record straight on behalf of the Bureau, and to make clear that we were continuing an investigation that people in DOJ opposed.

The OIG investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter. It was the type of exchange with the media that the Deputy Director oversees several times per week. In fact, it was the same type of work that I continued to do under Director Wray, at his request. The investigation subsequently focused on who I talked to, when I talked to them, and so forth. During these inquiries, I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.

But looking at that in isolation completely misses the big picture. The big picture is a tale of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized, public servants are attacked, and people who are supposed to cherish and protect our institutions become instruments for damaging those institutions and people.

Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey. The release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former Director Comey’s accounts of his discussions with the President. The OIG’s focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the Administration, driven by the President himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn. The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens. Thursday’s comments from the White House are just the latest example of this.

This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work.
I have always prided myself on serving my country with distinction and integrity, and I always encouraged those around me to do the same. Just ask them. To have my career end in this way, and to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair. But it will not erase the important work I was privileged to be a part of, the results of which will in the end be revealed for the country to see.

I have unfailing faith in the men and women of the FBI and I am confident that their efforts to seek justice will not be deterred.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:

Trump Wrong About Campaign Donations

Russian meddling in the US Elections

Russia meddled in the United States 2016 elections.  This is no longer speculation.  Indictments from a grand jury have been handed down indictments on 13 Russian nationals.  I assume none will be extradited to the US for trial.   I have no idea if  trials in absentia are possible. Already, there has been a response from one indicted Russian, that these charges are absurd and that 13 Russians could hardly change the results of an election.  The indictments do not conclude the meddling changed election results.

There was an impact; it just can’t be assessed.     It was a small group of professionals who came here to influence our election, likely supported by a larger dedicated group in Russia.  I don’t know how many more Russians were involved within the US, who the Justice Department could not indite because they just don’t have sufficient evidence.  The Russians came here with cash to spend and I suspect most of it went to help Donald Trump.  Moreover, whatever their operatives were spending on the ground here, their Russian counterparts were likely spending much more on planning and directing as dirty a campaign as possible against Hillary Clinton.   Mueller does not need to identify the full extent of the Russian meddling to get indictments, just that significant expenditures were made.  A cool million probably satisfies this threshold.

The question which should be asked, is why Russia thought they could pull this off and sway the election in favor of Donald Trump?   I think you have to look at how few people really determine the outcome of a Presidential election.   Hillary Clinton lost Florida by 112,911 votes.  If she had won Florida, she would have a total of 256 electoral votes.  At that point, winning one or two  “swing states” would have put her over the top (270 electoral votes).   Clinton lost Pennsylvania by 44,262 votes, and  20 electoral votes she needed to secure victory.

How to influence the election in 2016 was obvious to Russians or anyone else following the US elections.  Florida was #1 swing state.  Northern Florida was predominately Republican and the more people who voted in the north, the better Trump’s chances of winning.   Dressing up a  woman in prison suit with a sign “Crooked Hillary” to get the media’s attention was perfect.  If the electorate only knew!

This is Mueller’s show.   No one really knows where his investigation is going, and his team as kept things pretty buttoned up, as they should be.   My take is Russia did a whole lot more, including working with Trump’s team before the election to get dirt on Hillary, through the email hacks.  We shall see.

Stay tuned,

Dave

News Junkies

There are health junkies, sports junkies, car junkies and news junkies.   Last Sunday, I happen to stumble upon a Porsche show, with models going back to the late 1950’s.   It was phenomenal.  These were car junkies.

News and sports junkies have something in common.  They know the history of players.  They can do a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking.  Example:  “What an idiot,  the wide end receiver was wide open and he decides to run with the ball.  I could have done 10X better.”

This is the case of FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, whose idle conversations on the news of the day and office politics has been blown way out of proportions by the right wing news media.   They were sharing their common interest in politics.   They thought their conversations were private.   They said mean things about both Democrats and Republicans.  This was part of an extra-marital affair.   The affair ended and so did Strzok assignment to Mueller’s team.

Initially, Peter Strzok was the agent in charge of investigating Hillary Clinton’s email.   It meant working nights and weekends, reviewing reams of emails.   I think the text messages to Lisa Page, a lawyer with the FBI, were at times an emotional release to the pressures of work.   The conclusions of the Wall Street Journal are:

Texts critical of Mr. Trump represent a fraction of the roughly 7,000 messages, which stretch across 384 pages and show no evidence of a conspiracy against Mr. Trump. Rather, a broader look shows an unvarnished and complex picture of the lives of an FBI agent and lawyer who found themselves at the center of highly charged probes.

Further the WSJ article states:

They logged long hours and frequently worked on weekends. They seemed dedicated to their jobs but didn’t hesitate to chastise or criticize many others beyond Mr. Trump, including their colleagues and each other. In deeply personal office chatter, they come across as intense, ambitious and unsure of their standing in the bureau.

The short text messages were understandable.  They were real busy.  After the email investigation concluded,  Peter Strzok was assigned to Mueller’s Russian investigation team for two months, before the text messages were discovered.  He was reassigned to work as the  head of Human Resources for the FBI.

Peter Strzod also suggested a change in Comey’s memo on Clinton’s email investigation, indicating that she was “extremely careless”  instead of “grossly negligent” to avoid a misrepresentation that her actions fit the legal definition of the crime of “grosss negligence”  as Secretary of State.    So, this was a change to clarify Comey’s statement.

If there was any inappropriate done  in Peter Strzok  work  either in the email or the Russian investigation, it would be in the text messages to his confidant.  All there is a lot of office chatter after very long hours at the office.

The take away message is,  your right to privacy changes dramatically once you pass through the office doors of your work.   The Fox news commentator’s obsession with FBI conspiracy theories  and misrepresentation is for rating purposes only.   I hope the best for these two FBI agents.   Time to move on.   You can call the entire Patriot’s team  f**king  idiots, and no one will come after you.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Inside the FBI Life of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, as Told in Their Text Messages

 

 

 

 

Nunes Memo

The Honorable Adam Schiff
Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Declassified by order of the President
February 2, 2018

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members
From: HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

 

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation Update

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a US citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.

The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. 1805(d)(1)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the ISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the ISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard — particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. Law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of — and paid by — the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News — and several other outlets – in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington DC. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.”

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations — an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September — before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October — but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling — maintaining confidentiality — and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files – but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.

a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

4) According to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was — according to his June 2017 testimony – “salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, Whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.

 

 

The Nunes Memo: Basic documents

The likely release of the House Committee on Intelligence memo, as prepared by the Republican majority on the committee is absolutely wrong.   What is astoundingly wrong, is that neither the Justice Department nor the FBI were given adequate time to review the memo, prior to a vote of the committee to make it public.

The Deputy Attorney General met with White House officials to explain why release of the memo would be “extremely reckless” according to the New York Times.  The Department of Justice can not respond openly as the Russian investigation is proceeding.   Everyone who works in law enforcement know the importance of keeping information secret.  Until actual criminal charges are presented in court,  those individuals, be they Americans or foreign nationals, do not have the right to know what the bits and pieces of the  FBI or Department of Justice’s  “raw intelligence.”     The House Committee is undercutting the FBI and Department of Justice abilities to do their job – which is to catch individuals involved in criminal acts and present the case in court.

Trump has previously made wild  allegations on wiretapping:

@realDonaldTrump (March 4, 2017). “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing fois a und. This is McCarthyism!” (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Twitter.
@realDonaldTrump (March 4, 2017). “Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Twitter.
@realDonaldTrump (March 4, 2017). “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Twitter.
@realDonaldTrump (March 4, 2017). “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”” (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Twitter.

Since this came from the White House,  the FBI investigated the alleged wiretapping as claimed by Donald Trump and found zero evidence to support his accusations as per Wikipedia.

Representative Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, vowed to investigate the [wiretap]  claim, later stating that the committee had found no evidence for Trump’s statement. At a House Intelligence Committee open hearing on March 20, 2017, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey stated that neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice (DOJ) possessed any information to support Donald Trump’s wiretapping allegations. Nunes stated on March 23 that the Trump administration’s communications might have been legally monitored during the transition period as part of an “incidental collection”.[1]

In a September 1, 2017 court filing, the DOJ declared that “both the FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets.”[2][3] Later in the same month, CNN reported that the FBI wiretapped Paul Manafort in 2016–17, either during or after his tenure with the Trump campaign. Some commentators cited this report as vindication for Trump’s claims, while others noted that it did not confirm the accuracy of Trump’s original tweets, and that it is still unknown whether any surveillance of Manafort took place at Trump Tower.[4][5][6]

 

Washington, D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691
January 31, 2018
FBI Statement on HPSCI Memo

The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.

With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.

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House Representative Devin Nunes heads the House Intelligence Committee, investigating the Russian interference with the 2016 election.  While the memo itself is very brief,  documents that it relied on, particularly the application of a search warrant to the FISA for Carter Page were long (some applications go over 100 pages) and are based on many other classified documents.

The appropriate course of action would be not to release either the Republican or Democrat memos to the public.   If there were allegations of misconduct within  the Department of Justice,  this would be handled best by submitting these allegations to the White House and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

This is a mishandling of classified materials on US intelligence by an obviously partisan legislative group, and is shameful.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

A Google search on the Nunes memo.    I like this one because it is simply stating the facts.  Adam Schiff  said yesterday that the memo sent to the President had been changed after it was voted on in committee.  Wow.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/30/politics/cordero-nunes-memo/index.html