Archive for the ‘Comeygate’ category

Inside Judicial Watch: The Politicized DOJ — Mueller, Comey, Strzok, Yates, & More!

December 7, 2017

Inside Judicial Watch: The Politicized DOJ — Mueller, Comey, Strzok, Yates, & More! Judicial Watch via YouTube, December 5, 2017

 

Why is the FBI stonewalling congressional subpoenas on the Fusion GPS ‘Trump Dossier’?

October 7, 2017

Why is the FBI stonewalling congressional subpoenas on the Fusion GPS ‘Trump Dossier’? American ThinkerThomas Lifson, October 7, 2017

[W]hy not use the power of the executive to require the FBI to comply with congressional subpoenas? In fact, why not start playing hardball, and calculate the cost to date of the Meuller inquiry that has produced no hard evidence? The legal team he has assembled is of a standing where $500 an hour is a fair guess of their cost. Multiply that times at least 8 hours a day, times more than 20 attorneys, and we get a meter ticking at the rate of at least 80 thousand dollars a day, probably substantially more if we count non-attorney staff costs.

And remember that as POTUS, Trump can declassify anything that he wants.

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Could the story behind the “Trump dossier” be the Rosetta Stone of Russian manipulation of our electoral process in 2016? There is a strong and justifiable suspicion that the dossier was the critical bit of evidence that persuaded the FISA Court to reverse itself and permit monitoring of American associates of Donald Trump.  The dossier was originally begun as an opposition research project for Republican rivals of Trump, then funded by Democrats, and allegedly, finally funded by the FBI. We already know that some of the wild accusations in it were demonstrably false.

The House Intelligence Committee long has been looking into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and so far has come up with nothing. As in zero specific evidence. This was admitted by no less than Rep. Jackie Spier, a veteran Democrat member of the House of Representatives,

 

It is obviously worth investigating, then, how that dossier came to be created in the first place, and how it was used by various organs of the United States Government, if there is interest in getting to the truth behind Russia’s attempts to affect our elections. Yet, the FBI is refusing to hand over documents that have been subpoenaed by the House.  Kimberly Strassel explains in the Wall Street Journal

Witness how hard the Federal Bureau of Investigation is fighting to avoid divulging any information about the dossier. More than a month ago the House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to the FBI and the Justice Department, asking for dossier-related documents. Lawmakers were told to go swivel.

A little more than a week ago, the committee’s frustrated chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, took the case all the way to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who finally offered to make an FBI official available for a briefing. But the bureau is still withholding all documents. To date, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Judiciary Committee has not received any paper from the FBI on Russia matters, despite numerous requests, some countersigned by the Democratic ranking member, Dianne Feinstein.

As my friend Mike Nadler, emailed:

It’s hard to believe with a Republican president, House and Senate, that the FBI (with a Director appointed by Trump) is still able to stonewall Congressional investigating committees on information on the dossier.  Why won’t the new FBI Director just order his subordinates to cough up the documents?  Or the Attorney General order him to do it.  No one could claim that ordering release of this would be interfering in any investigation….

Indeed, Strassel avers, “[Senator] Grassley recently announced that Mr. Mueller’s separate inquiry would no longer be considered a legitimate reason for the FBI to withhold information from Congress.”

Ms. Strassel guides our attention toward an intriguing figure:

Increasingly, one name is popping up: Gregory Brower, who leads the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs. Mr. Brower is an odd man for the job. These gigs tend to go to more-junior people, since they involve the drudgery of answering calls from grumpy congressional staffers. Yet Mr. Brower is a former U.S. attorney—a job that requires Senate confirmation—and a former Nevada state senator.

Before his latest role, he was the deputy general counsel of the FBI. In that post he was described as a confidant of former FBI Director James Comey. It was Mr. Comey who installed Mr. Brower in the congressional affairs job, just a few days before President Trump fired the director.

Mr. Brower has been shutting down congressional requests and stonewalling ever since. He has even tried appealing directly to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office to squelch committee demands for documents.

And it looks very much as if a tag team cover-up may be underway, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller taking the key role in keeping inquiring eyes away from the FBI’s role in the Trump dossier’s utility on smearing the man who was to become POTUS:

Reuters reported Wednesday that Mr. Mueller “has taken over FBI inquiries into a former British spy’s dossier” against Mr. Trump. How very convenient. The Mueller team has leaked all manner of details from its probe, even as it had avoided the dossier. But just as Congress is ratcheting up pressure on the FBI, anonymous sources say that it’s out of the bureau’s hands.

Some Republicans might be tempted to cheer news that the special counsel is looking into the dossier. They shouldn’t. A Mueller takeover will make it even harder for Congress to conduct an independent investigation—which may well have been the reason for the move. Mr. Mueller has had months to look into the document, and his lack of curiosity so far speaks volumes. As a friend of Mr. Comey and a former FBI director himself, Mr. Mueller cannot be counted on to examine impartially whether the FBI was duped.

Indeed, there may be evidence of Russian collusion, not with President Trump’s campaign, but with those who seek to discredit him:

Sen. Richard Burr, who leads his chamber’s Intelligence Committee, noted on Wednesday that his dossier investigation has “hit a wall.” Mr. Steele has gone underground. Mr. Simpson won’t hand over relevant documents or say who paid him. The FBI is stiff-arming lawmakers. No one wants to talk about a dossier that Paul Roderick Gregory, a Russia expert at the Hoover Institution, found to read like something “compiled by a Russian, whose command of English is far from perfect and who follows the KGB (now FSB) practice of writing intelligence reports.” No one wants to discuss an array of Russian lawyers, lobbyists and Kremlin officials who may have been involved in its creation.

Mike Nadler’s question remains: why not use the power of the executive to require the FBI to comply with congressional subpoenas? In fact, why not start playing hardball, and calculate the cost to date of the Meuller inquiry that has produced no hard evidence? The legal team he has assembled is of a standing where $500 an hour is a fair guess of their cost. Multiply that times at least 8 hours a day, times more than 20 attorneys, and we get a meter ticking at the rate of at least 80 thousand dollars a day, probably substantially more if we count non-attorney staff costs.

And remember that as POTUS, Trump can declassify anything that he wants.

I hope that the reason Congress and the President are allowing themselves to be stonewalled is a matter of strategy and timing, not a matter of being intimidated.

It Was the Deep State that Colluded with the Russians, not Trump

September 24, 2017

It Was the Deep State that Colluded with the Russians, not Trump, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, September 24, 2017

(Lots of questions that require answers. — DM)

With each leak of his conduct – designed, I suppose, by his team to terrify honest men into lying to redeem the special counsel’s misbegotten efforts — Mueller looks more and more like a petrified enlistee in  the secretive repressive state force — the Stasi — as the wall is coming down and their conduct made public.

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As more and more leaks about the ongoing “Russian collusion” witch hunt by Robert Mueller appear in print, it seems to me that if Russia had been trying to erode our faith in our institutions, the Deep State is accomplishing what Russia failed to do.

The Obama claque’s efforts were initially intended to help Clinton when they thought she would win and no one would know about their crimes. Then they continued the unlawful spying to cover up their role in the worst case of misuse of federal power in our history, to effect the removal or emasculation of the President, and now they are desperate to cover up their illegal actions when all that failed.

A. Where we are today on “Russian collusion”?

Instapundit tweeted the answer succinctly: “The election was hacked!” turns out to mean, “Russia bought some ads on Facebook.”

Facebook is turning over ads presumably purchased by Russians during the campaign. Good — let’s see them. As the article notes:

The announcement that Facebook would share the ads with the Senate and House intelligence committees came after the social network spent two weeks on the defensive. The company faced calls for greater transparency about 470 Russia-linked accounts  — in which fictional people posed as American activists — which were taken down after they had promoted inflammatory messages on divisive issues. Facebook had previously angered congressional staff by showing only a sample of the ads, some of which attacked Hillary Clinton or praised Donald J. Trump.

As Tom Maguire reminds us, it would be unwise to assume this was a one-sided campaign: “Let’s see all the ads and find out whether Russia was winding up both sides. Back in the day it was believed Russia backed anti-fracking groups in Europe. Why not also in the US?”

Best of the Web’s James Freeman thinks that, in any case, the notion that these ads swung the election is ridiculous on its face:

So the spending on fake Russian political ads identified by Facebook amounted to around 1/7,000th of what Mrs. Clinton spent on advertising. And of course these fake ad buys were not material in the context of Facebook’s total advertising revenues, which amounted to nearly $27 billion last year.

Is a $150,000 ad buy even big enough to require sign-off from Mr. Putin? If as some believe, Russian meddling was simply intended to discredit the likely winner, some poor Russian agent may now be headed to Siberia for engineering the election of a U.S. President who seems determined to drive down the price of oil.

Let’s hope Congress gets to the bottom of this. If $150,000 amounts to the entire iceberg, and it still managed to sink the S.S. Clinton, marketing majors will be studying these ads for years to come.

B. Using the Full Force of FISA to spy on a political opponent

Obama has a long history of spying on his opponents and releasing information damaging to them. It’s a lifelong pattern. He got two opponents’ sealed divorce records unsealed in order to use unsubstantiated claims in pleadings by estranged spouses against them. As President, he continued this practice. By way of example, the Obama Administration did that with IRS, collecting information about the activities and donors of conservative and pro-Israel citizen groups while it refused to grant them the tax-exempt status to which they were entitled. The EPA collected private information from farmers and ranchers and released it to environmental groups to help them in their battles against those farmers and ranchers. There’s no reason to suppose that this pattern didn’t carry over to the 2016 election, and plenty of evidence that it did. As Sharyl Attkisson points out, they did it with reporters and Congressmen.

Nobody wants our intel agencies to be used like the Stasi in East Germany; the secret police spying on its own citizens for political purposes. The prospect of our own NSA, CIA and FBI becoming politically weaponized has been shrouded by untruths, accusations and justifications.

You’ll recall DNI Clapper falsely assured Congress in 2013 that the NSA was not collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that.

There were also wiretaps on then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in 2011 under Obama. The same happened under President George W. Bush to former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.).

Journalists have been targeted, too. [snip]

The government subsequently got caught monitoring journalists at Fox News, The Associated Press, and, as I allege in a federal lawsuit, my computers while I worked as an investigative correspondent at CBS News.

As Attkisson reminds us, other Trump associates General Michael Flynn and Carter Page were also under government surveillance. As bad as that was, it was ”discovered [that] multiple Trump “transition officials” were “incidentally” captured during government surveillance of a foreign official. We know this because former Obama adviser Susan Rice reportedly admitted “unmasking,” or asking to know the identities of, the officials. Spying on U.S. citizens is considered so sensitive their names are supposed to be hidden or “masked,” even inside the government, to protect their privacy.”

She also specifically unmasked Steve Bannon, who met in the transition period with a UAE official so it’s altogether possible they were spying on him generallyas well.

If so, that would mean that four Trump associates had been spied on, multiplying the number of conversations with the President these people were listening in on.

Even more “unmasking”– revealing the names of those innocents scooped up in this broad surveillance — about 300 people had their privacy violated when the dyspeptic-looking UN Ambassador Samantha Power was revealed to have made almost one unmasking request a day, rapidly adding to the list as the inauguration approached.

Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was ‘unmasking’ at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 — and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.

Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.

C. The FISA Court surely was misled in order to get information to surveil and to continue surveilling Trump and his associates.

FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) permits blunderbuss intelligence gathering. It’s not designed to gather information on crimes in general, but only to act as a tool of counterintelligence or counterterrorism. And it certainly would be suspicious if efforts were made to misuse it to conduct domestic political spying. There’s only one legitimate reason to conduct surveillance on a U.S. citizen under FISA — to find out more about the activities of a foreign power or terrorist organization. Since in the process of scooping up so much information, other matters might be revealed, “minimization” procedures are used to mask the identities of those caught up in the sweep who are not involved in such activities.

CNN reported — with some obvious omissions and errors of law — that former FBI director James Comey secured secret FISA orders to wiretap Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Trump’s campaign manager, and that having received nothing from that order, then secured another FISA warrant in 2016 (after Manafort joined the Trump campaign) and continued that surveillance into 2017, after the election.

Further, CNN reported that two attempts were made in the summer of 2016 to obtain a FISA order, both of which were rejected, and an order was issued only after the third try. FISA rarely rejects such requests, so I think it fair to assume the court was suspicious of these requests, which smelled like political, not national security matters. I think it almost a certainty that the final request received the personal imprimatur of Comey (as Director of the FBI) and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

And what, you may ask, was different about the third and ultimately successful third attempt? I suggest it was the phony Steele dossier, which credible reports indicate was partially financed by Comey’s own FBI.

The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation took a sharp and notable turn on Tuesday, as news broke that it had subpoenaed the FBI and the Justice Department for information relating to the infamous Trump “Dossier.” That Dossier, whose allegations appear to have been fabricated, was commissioned by the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and then developed by a former British spook named Christopher Steele. [Ed: Sources for the most scurrilous allegations in it were from unnamed sources in Russia, most likely Russian government intelligence agents or liars working on a pay for dirt basis.]

The Washington Post in February reported that Mr. Steele “was familiar” to the FBI, since he’d worked for the bureau before. The newspaper said Mr. Steele had reached out to a “friend” at the FBI about his Trump work as far back as July 2016. The Post even reported that Mr. Steele “reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work.”

Who was Mr. Steele’s friend at the FBI? Did the bureau influence the direction of the Trump dossier? Did it give Mr. Steele material support from the start? The timing matters because it could answer the vital question of why the FBI wanted the dossier. Here’s one thought: warrants.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees spying activities, is usually generous in approving warrants, on the presumption law-enforcement agencies are acting in good faith. When a warrant is rejected, though, law enforcement isn’t pleased.

Perhaps the FBI wanted to conduct surveillance on someone connected to a presidential campaign (Carter Page?) but couldn’t hit what was — and ought to be — a supremely high bar for getting such a potentially explosive warrant. A dossier of nefarious allegations might well prove handy in finally convincing the FISA court to sign off. The FBI might have had a real motive to support Mr. Steele’s effort. It might have even justified the unjustifiable: working with a partisan oppo-research firm and a former spook to engineer a Kremlin-planted dossier that has roiled Mr. Trump’s entire presidency.

True Pundit claims that FBI connivance with GPS Fusion to create the dossier was not all it did to secure the final 2016 FISA warrant — it also set up a meeting in Trump Tower and used information gleaned from Britain’s GCHQ in NSA headquarters to unlawfully gather information on U.S. citizens.

From the beginning it was a set up to find dirt on Trump campaign insiders and if possible to topple Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations.

Before and after the 2016 election. And while this operation had many moving parts and alternating players, the mission to unseat Trump never changed. And it remains ongoing.

And none of it was very legal.

[snip]

Six U.S. agencies [the FBI, NSA, CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Treasury financial crimes division under DHS, Justice Department]created a stealth task force, spearhead by CIA’s Brennan, to run domestic surveillance on Trump associates and possibly Trump himself.

To feign ignorance and to seemingly operate within U.S. laws, the agencies freelanced the wiretapping of Trump associates to the British spy agency GCHQ.

The decision to insert GCHQ as a back door to eavesdrop was sparked by the denial of two FISA Court warrant applications filed by the FBI to seek wiretaps of Trump associates.

GCHQ did not work from London or the UK. In fact the spy agency worked from NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, MD with direct NSA supervision and guidance to conduct sweeping surveillance on Trump associates.

[snip]

The Justice Department and FBI set up the meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner with controversial Russian officials to make Trump’s associates appear compromised.

Following the Trump Tower sit down, GCHQ began digitally wiretapping Manafort, Trump Jr., and Kushner.

After the concocted meeting by the Deep State, the British spy agency could officially justify wiretapping Trump associates as an intelligence front for NSA because the Russian lawyer at the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was considered an international security risk and prior to the June sit down was not even allowed entry into the United States or the UK, federal sources said.

By using GCHQ, the NSA and its intelligence partners had carved out a loophole to wiretap Trump without a warrant. While it is illegal for U.S. agencies to monitor phones and emails of U.S. citizens inside the United States absent a warrant, it is not illegal for British intelligence to do so. Even if the GCHQ was tapping Trump on U.S. soil at Fort Meade.

The wiretaps, secured through illicit scheming, have been used by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 election, even though the evidence is considered “poisoned fruit.”

Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who spearheaded the Trump Tower meeting with the Trump campaign trio, was previously barred from entering the United Sates due to her alleged connections to the Russian FSB (the modern replacement of the cold-war-era KGB).

Yet mere days before the June meeting, Veselnitskaya was granted a rare visa to enter the United States from Preet Bharara, the then U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York. Bharara could not be reached for comment and did not respond the a Twitter inquiry on the Russian’s visa by True Pundit.

(More on the unusual visa granted to Veselnitskaya here. More on GCHQ operating from NSA headquarters here.)

In July, Bharara’s former associate US Attorney Andrew Goldstein was added to Mueller’s army of largely Clinton backers and contributors to the special counsel’s enormous team.

In sum, the contention by True Pundit is that the government first spied on Trump and then concocted a national security ruse and desperately sought a FISA warrant to cover up the political spying which occurred before the FISA warrant was ever issued.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal also suspect that the dossier was used to obtain the FISA warrant, and, if so, that requires a congressional investigation:

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

All of this is reason for House and Senate investigators to keep exploring how Mr. Comey’s FBI was investigating both presidential campaigns. Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the “integrity” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don’t cooperate in contempt.

I agree with Daniel Greenfield. Based on what I’ve read and observed, while the initial surveillance was to stop Trump and help Clinton, Obama used FISA to provide a “national security” cover for politically spying on Trump right up to the inauguration. As he notes, the first 2016 application was made the month after Trump obtained the nomination and the second in October, the month before the election.

As the unmasking picked up pace after the election, the reasonable assumption is that its purpose was to undo the results of the election or hamstring the incoming President.

Now Obama and his allies are or should be terrified that the scope of the illegal surveillance is revealing their criminal acts.

This is why I believe Mueller is growing increasingly desperate to find one crime by one person he can force by threat of jail to provide any shred of anything that might be used to justify their illegal espionage. Greenfield’s conclusion is apt: “The left is sitting on the biggest crime committed by a sitting president. The only way to cover it up is to destroy his Republican successor. A turning point in history is here. If Obama goes down, the left will go down with him. If his coup succeeds, then America ends.”

Why do I say that Mueller seems increasingly desperate? How else does one explain a middle-of-the-night pick-lock armed entry (and the search of his bedclothes-garbed wife) into the home of a man who by all accounts had been fully cooperating and turning over all requested documents? How else to explain requesting a court grant such a necessary special warrant on the ground that otherwise documents evincing a purported eleven-year-old crime would suddenly be destroyed? How else to explain the effort by Mueller to find out client information from the Skadden Arps and Akin Gump law firms, materials probably covered by attorney-client privilege? With each leak of his conduct – designed, I suppose, by his team to terrify honest men into lying to redeem the special counsel’s misbegotten efforts — Mueller looks more and more like a petrified enlistee in  the secretive repressive state force — the Stasi — as the wall is coming down and their conduct made public.

James Comey, Hillary’s Real Campaign Manager

September 1, 2017

James Comey, Hillary’s Real Campaign Manager, Front Page MagazineMatthew Vadum, September 1, 2017

Of course, critics savaged Trump’s rationale for axing Comey at the time, claiming as the supremely silly Russian collusion conspiracy theory was gaining traction in the media, that the president was obstructing justice to save his own skin.

Exploding in huge, scary fireballs of anger visible from orbit, they ridiculed him, calling him a budding dictator. They claimed he had created a dire constitutional crisis. They demanded his impeachment and imprisonment – or worse.

But once again it appears Trump was right about a media-saturated, manufactured matter of public controversy, one in a series that over the president’s brief time in office has whipped the yet-to-exhausted Left into a frenzy.

Hillary thought she was above the law. Apparently, the new evidence shows Comey thought she was, too.

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The insufferable, morally preening former FBI Director James B. Comey Jr., intentionally gave Hillary Clinton’s campaign a boost last year by deciding to sabotage the email investigation by exonerating the then-candidate before key witnesses had even been interviewed, new evidence suggests.

Citing Comey’s bungling of the Clinton email investigation, President Trump unceremoniously fired him by press release on May 9, three-and-a-half years into his 10-year term. Trump was attacked in the media for not caring about Comey’s presumably hurt feelings. He based his decision on a U.S. Department of Justice memo authored by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein that found Comey had, among other things, usurped then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s authority by taking it upon himself to unilaterally clear Clinton.

Rosenstein excoriated Comey, whose side of the story has long been championed by the media. “I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”

Comey’s endless posturing and palace intrigues damaged the FBI, causing morale to plummet. As a result, “the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice,” Rosenstein asserted. “That is deeply troubling to many Department employees and veterans, legislators and citizens.”

Of course, critics savaged Trump’s rationale for axing Comey at the time, claiming as the supremely silly Russian collusion conspiracy theory was gaining traction in the media, that the president was obstructing justice to save his own skin.

Exploding in huge, scary fireballs of anger visible from orbit, they ridiculed him, calling him a budding dictator. They claimed he had created a dire constitutional crisis. They demanded his impeachment and imprisonment – or worse.

But once again it appears Trump was right about a media-saturated, manufactured matter of public controversy, one in a series that over the president’s brief time in office has whipped the yet-to-exhausted Left into a frenzy.

Upon Comey’s dismissal, Trump said the FBI “is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement.”

Exactly right.

As Americans are now painfully aware, the congenitally devious Clintons had created a hacker-friendly, slap-dash private email system while she headed the U.S. Department of State to frustrate Freedom of Information Act requesters, shield Hillary’s correspondence from congressional oversight, and steer money to the international cash-for-future-presidential-favors clearinghouse known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The “homebrew” email servers Mrs. Clinton used are at the heart of the scandal over her mishandling of an Islamic terrorist attack in militant-infested Benghazi, Libya on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 that left four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.

Hillary thought she was above the law. Apparently, the new evidence shows Comey thought she was, too.

The case that the handwringing, sanctimonious Comey was thoroughly corrupt, exquisitely marinated in the swamp waters and flesh pools of decadent official Washington, was already fairly solid but with these new revelations it seems even more obvious that he was less top cop than grand inquisitor. He thought of himself as judge and jury, justice be damned. As long as he ended up looking good, all was well, in his eyes.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Judiciary subcommittee chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly sent a letter to current FBI Director Chris Wray yesterday about Comey’s conduct as head of the FBI.

“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that’s no way to run an investigation,” read the correspondence. “The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”

From reading redacted transcripts of interviews conducted last fall with senior aides to Comey – his chief of staff James Rybicki and Trisha Anderson, the FBI’s principal deputy general counsel of national security and cyberlaw – Grassley’s committee discovered that as FBI chief Comey prematurely drafted a letter clearing Clinton of email-related wrongdoing.

The testimony appears to establish that Comey started working on a public statement giving Clinton a clean legal bill of health before the FBI had gotten around to speaking with 17 witnesses in the probe, including Clinton and two of her senior aides, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson. The two senators noted that Comey began working on his exculpatory communique even before Mills and Samuelson brokered what the lawmakers called a “highly unusual” limited immunity deal with the Justice Department that prevented officials from looking into communications between the two aides and Colorado-based Platte River Networks, which oversaw Clinton’s unusual email system after she left Foggy Bottom to run for president.

“According to the unredacted portions of the transcripts, it appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton,” the letter by Grassley and Graham stated.

That was long before FBI agents finished their work. Mr. Comey even circulated an early draft statement to select members of senior FBI leadership. The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts.

As Daniel Greenfield freshly opined:

There was never any serious possibility that Hillary Clinton would have been indicted. And we know that. But throughout the process, Comey pretended that he was dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. But it was all a show. Comey and his top people knew what the outcome would be ahead of time. They were just going through the motions.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson last night that the new evidence “shows the investigation truly was a sham.”

Fitton added that the FBI also appears to have helped to pay for opposition research against Trump. He was referring to the Russian “piss-gate” dossier published by cat-video website BuzzFeed. “They started paying, it looks like, the expert behind the dodgy dossier … during the campaign.”

“We asked the FBI for documents about any payments they made to the author of the Trump-Russia dossier and they came back to us and they said we can’t even confirm or deny whether any such documents exist.”

The FBI is not being run, Fitton said, by “someone with the interest of the American people [in mind] in terms of getting some transparency about the misconduct of the FBI during the Obama administration as they were working to, really, nail Trump through this really awkward – and let’s put it this way – conspiratorial relationship with the authors of the Trump dossier.”

By now politics junkies don’t need to be reminded it was at an unusual, much-watched presser on July 5, 2016, that Comey acknowledged the massive body of evidence that was accumulating against Clinton and described it at some length. He stipulated that the former secretary of state probably broke the law when she used hacker-friendly private email servers to conduct official business.

But after airing this very dirty laundry, Comey inexplicably gave Clinton a pass. “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

Guided by politics, not the law, Comey pontificated that Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified documents but that there was no evidence of criminal intent. He made this statement even though the relevant national security statute does not actually require intent: mishandling intelligence, even inadvertently, is enough to land people with less pull than Hillary has, in hot water.

As former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote at the time, “the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require.”

So, as it turns out, Comey was ripped from his powerful perch in the nick of time.

Some critics say the media-savvy, morally preening Comey presided over a J. Edgar Hoover-like reign of terror while he ran the FBI.

Comey was far more powerful than an FBI director ought to be. When the president fired Comey, Brit Hume observed, “For better or worse, no FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover had taken so large a role in the political life of this country as James Comey.”

Around the same time Tucker Carlson was positively scathing in his assessment of Comey’s tenure. He said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were intimidated by Comey – and for good reason.

Just how powerful was James Comey? Let’s put it this way: He was feared in a way that no appointed bureaucrat should ever be feared in a free society. Time and again elected lawmakers on both sides came on this show and expressed worry and concern about his behavior, but they did so only during commercial breaks with the cameras off. Why? Because they were terrified at the prospect of criticizing him in public. They certainly don’t have that fear of the sitting president of the United States and that tells you everything you need to know about Jim Comey.

That sounds about right.

Republicans and the Lost Art of Deterrence

August 1, 2017

Republicans and the Lost Art of Deterrence, American Greatness, July 31, 2017

(How about media bias against Candidate and then President Trump? — DM)

In a logical world in which Republicans enjoy monopolies on political power, they would have dispensed with the progressive strategy of emasculating the Trump administration through endlessly hyped fake news accounts of quid pro quo Russia-Trump subversion. And they would have done so by themselves taking the offensive.

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In a perfect and disinterested world, when Washington, D.C. is deluged in scandal, a nonpartisan investigator or prosecutor should survey the contemporary rotten landscape. He would then distinguish the likely guilty from the probably falsely accused—regardless of the political consequences at stake.

In the real cosmos of Washington, however, the majority party—the group that controls the House, Senate, presidency, and U.S. Supreme Court—if it were necessary, would de facto appoint the government’s own special investigatory team, and then allow it to follow where leads dictate. Its majority status would assure that there were no political opponents in control of the investigations, keen on turning an inquiry into a political circus. That cynical reality is known as normal D.C. politics.

But in contemporary Republican La-La Land, the party in power with control over all three branches of government allows its minority-status opponents to dictate the rules of special investigations and inquiry—a Jeff Sessions recused, a Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excused from his investigations of unmasking and leaking, a Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel, friend of to-be-investigated James Comey, and employer of partisan attorneys.

Is naiveté the cause of such laxity? Do Republicans unilaterally follow Munich rules because they hope such protocols will create a new “civility” and “bipartisan cooperation” in Washington?

Demonizing Resistance 
Or is the culprit civil dissension among the ranks, as the congressional leadership secretly has no real incentive to help the despised outsider Trump? When Republicans get re-elected on repealing and replacing Obamacare during the assured Obama veto-presidency, and then flip in the age of surety that Trump would reify their campaign boasts, should we laugh or cry? Is the Republican establishment’s aim to see Trump’s agenda rendered null and void—or does intent even matter when the result is the same anyway?

Or is the empowerment of progressive conspiracy-mongering due to fear of the mainstream media, which demonizes principled resistance to progressivism and lauds unprincipled surrender to it?

Or, lastly, is the cause a bewildering misreading of human nature? I say “bewildering” because conservatives supposedly brag that they are the more astute students of unchanging human nature, while progressives are purportedly naïve believers in therapeutic remedies to perceived human frailties?

If any of the above, the Republicans had better soon wise up. For eight months, progressives have swarmed the media and our politics with false charges of Russian collusion, aimed at delegitimizing both a president and his conservative agenda.

In a logical world in which Republicans enjoy monopolies on political power, they would have dispensed with the progressive strategy of emasculating the Trump administration through endlessly hyped fake news accounts of quid pro quo Russia-Trump subversion. And they would have done so by themselves taking the offensive.

Endlessly refuting each week’s new progressive charges—no, Donald Trump did not watch sick sex acts with prostitutes in Moscow; no, Donald Trump did not send his lawyer to Eastern Europe to rig the election; no, three swing states did not have their voting machines rigged; no, the electors will not betray their constitutional responsibilities; no, Trump is not going to be removed through impeachment, the 25th Amendment, or the Emoluments Clause—achieves nothing but to undermine public confidence in the conservative effort to undo the Obama agenda. They are no more serious stories than the scandal sheet allegations that Trump shorts his guests a scoop of Häagen-Dazs, that his wife is an illegal alien, or that his son is autistic. Apparently, Republicans don’t get it that when a president is smeared as watching urine-porn in Moscow or getting Russian hush money for undermining Hillary’s campaign, then the abyss between such charges and assassination chic in the popular media, is considerably narrowed.

Go Full-Bore on Real Scandals
The salvation of both the Trump Administration and the Republican congressional fate in the 2018 elections is to reestablish political deterrence—accomplished by going on a full-fledged offensive against real, not merely perceived or alleged, political scandals. Only that way will the accusers feel the predicament of the accused, especially as there is real merit to Democratic liability in a way that charges of Trump collusion have largely proved a political fraud. Only when deterrence is achieved, will the Democrats be forced to concentrate on agendas, issues, laws, and messages, not on ambushing the president.

The Republicans should announce far more forcefully to the media that Vladimir Putin may have been funneling via shady third-parties millions of dollars to anti-fracking groups. Such collusion, if proven through investigation, really is treasonous—given that the crashing price of oil, brought about solely due to North American frackers, is about the only check on Putin’s ambitions that the West enjoys. So, to take one example, did the San Francisco-based, family-controlled, and hedge-funded Sea Change Foundation receive laundered Russian money to help enhance its anti-fracking messaging? If so, when, how, and who?

Secondly, Republicans should go full bore on the most explosive scandal of the age, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigations into the surveilling, unmasking, and leaking of American citizens by key members of the Obama Administration, likely done for perceived political advantages.

Rather than envisioning the ethical Devin Nunes as a liability to be controlled, the House leadership should see him as an asset to be encouraged to uncover inconvenient truths—especially given that progressives see the unprincipled Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as a resource in hiding a scandal. After all, what in the world was the self-righteous and self-described civil libertarian and humanitarian Samantha Power doing, as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in allegedly reading, unmasking, and leaking intelligence reports on conservative private citizens during a national campaign?

Thirdly, we forget that Hillary Clinton’s scandals were terminated not by exonerating investigations, but by the fact that she lost a presidential campaign, and thus they were no longer deemed disruptive of an election.

No one has ever really understood exactly why Russian interests paid such lucrative honoraria to Bill Clinton or gave so lavishly to the Clinton Foundation, or why they cut an advantageous deal to acquire substantial interests in North American uranium holdings, but apparently did not prove so generous both before and after Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and her announced presidential candidacy. When Clinton not only destroyed requested emails, but also lied that they were all neither classified nor connected to government business, and faced no consequences at a time when regular citizens went to jail for such transgressions, then there is no equality under the law left to speak of.

Fourthly, what an Orwellian world it is when progressives allege “obstruction of justice” (which  Mueller’s burgeoning team of lawyers is apparently investigating) in the case of Donald Trump’s sloppy, off-handed, and out-loud wishes to FBI Director James Comey that he hoped “good guy” Michael Flynn did not get ruined by a loose investigation.

Yet obstruction is not much pursued even when no one seems to deny that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch met stealthily for private discussions with the spouse of a suspect of a current Justice investigation (subsequently dropped), and when she unapologetically seems to have directed the self-described moralist, Director Comey again, to alter the nomenclature of his ongoing investigation of fellow Democrat and presidential candidate Clinton (and Comey shamelessly acceded to Lynch’s detailed requests).

Fifthly, there is the surreal case of Imran Awan and his tribal clan, the frauds, cheats, and possible blackmailers, who worked as techies for Democratic congressional representatives and in particular for former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schultz apparently maintained some unfathomable relationship with the disreputable Awan that would force her into utterly untenable positions to protect his skullduggery. And unlike other allegations of collusion, the Florida congresswoman appears on video unapologetically threatening the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” unless he returns computer data concerning possible crimes to Awan.

Reestablish Deterrence or Lose
Finally, no one has ever fully gotten to the bottom of the Fusion GPS/Steele dossier, the fountainhead (thanks to Buzzfeed and CNN) of the entire Russia-Trump collusion mythos.

The much passed-around file was one of the most repugnant episodes in our recent checkered history, with evidence of ethical and perhaps legal wrongdoing on the part of Republican primary candidates, the Clinton campaign, the office of Senator John McCain, the FBI, and the Obama administration, who all at various times trafficked in preposterous and pornographic untruth, in some cases leaked the smears to the toady press, and apparently believed that it was the silver bullet that would put down the Trump werewolf.

Reestablishing deterrence—or what a mellifluous constitutional scholar and recent Nobel Peace Laureate once variously called “taking a gun to a knife fight,” “getting in their faces,” and “punishing our enemies”—is not quite Old Testament eye-for-an-eye, but rather, given human nature, the only way to stop a progressive and media lynch mob.

In the old West, a sheriff did not save those falsely accused in his jail by walking outside to the street to calm an armed and frenzied hanging mob through reason and appeals to sobriety.

Forget about Trump and the Russians. The real action is with the Awan brothers and Fusion GPS.

July 28, 2017

Forget about Trump and the Russians. The real action is with the Awan brothers and Fusion GPS., The American SpectatorScott Mckay, July 28, 2017

From a press release that hit on Thursday…

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Judiciary Committee Republicans today sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate unaddressed matters, some connected to the 2016 election and others, including many actions taken by Obama Administration officials like Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter follows yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee approval of H. Res. 446, as amended, to request documents pertaining to the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary Clinton.

In their letter, the Judiciary Committee members express concern that the directive given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller is narrow in scope and many concerns arising out of the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath are not being investigated. The members call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate grave concerns such as former Attorney General Lynch’s directive to former FBI Director Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the investigation into former Secretary Clinton; the FBI and Justice Department’s investigative decisions related to the Clinton email investigation, including the immunity deals given to potential co-conspirators; selected leaks of classified information that unmasked U.S. persons incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community; and the FBI’s reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, among many others issues.

If you’re sick and tired of the never-ending “Trump And The Russians” scandal, which for all its hype has produced scant little actual evidence of anything other than desultory cooperation on the part of the president’s camp with an investigation it quite reasonably believes is a kangaroo court, this letter from Goodlatte’s committee might just be what the doctor ordered.

Because as Washington scandals go, Trump And The Russians doesn’t even make it out of Double-A ball. What Goodlatte and the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee want is a special counsel to take us up to the Triple-A or major league scandal level, because there are opportunities for playing time available.

The unmasking issue still has a lot of undiscovered meat on its bones; we’ve already seen a little evidence of that. The Lynch-Comey-Phoenix Airport nexus deserves a lot more scrutiny than it’s received, as do those immunity grants. And the leaks without a doubt deserve a full investigation, and some smug SOB’s from the Deep State surely deserve lengthy prison terms.

But the Fusion GPS business — and the long-simmering and now-burgeoning Awan brothers scandal — are monsters hiding in D.C.’s closet. Here’s to both those scandals continuing to crackle and spark over the next several months, on the way to full explosions the legacy media can no longer contain.

Readers of this column already have an understanding of the Awan brothers scandal, as this space covered a substantial amount of the background of it back in February when things first started happening. Click here to see that background; we’ll give a very short summary of it now.

The central figure in this scandal is a Pakistani national named Imran Awan, who appears to be connected in some way to his country’s intelligence service. Awan is an IT professional who was hired in 2004 to handle computer equipment for Florida Democrat congressman Robert Wexler, and he then picked up a job as a shared staffer to work for Wexler’s colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Awan rode along with Wasserman Schultz as she ascended to the top of the Democratic Party structure, and soon not only was his boss the chair of the Democratic National Committee but Awan’s relationship with her led to his building a client list of some 80 Democrat House members who were using either Imran or other members of his family (a pair of brothers, one of their wives, his own wife) in a sizable little empire he’d built.

And in the meantime, the Awan family was engaging in a pattern of financial activities that looked a whole lot like a mafia operation — questionable real estate deals, bank fraud, kidnapping and extortion, a used-car dealership that might well have been a front for moving stolen cars to Pakistan for sale, and so on. Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Monday as he tried to flee the country while the FBI and Capitol Hill Police were closing in on a bank fraud indictment. In January he had wired some $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to two individuals in Pakistan; he was trying to board a flight to Lahore when he had the cuffs put on him.

But the real juice with the Awans isn’t the bank fraud or the possible stolen cars. The real scandal here is the stolen computers — and the stolen information. It’s alleged that the Awans illegally downloaded documents from their clients, some of whom were on the House Intelligence Committee and other sensitive committees, and even walked off with congressional computers. The FBI, in fact, seized a number of CPU’s and hard drives found at a house owned by Imran that he was renting to a military couple after the tenants had found the equipment partially destroyed in the garage and called the authorities. We don’t know what was on those hard drives.

There are even allegations the Awans were blackmailing their clients with information they’d found in their e-mails. Your imagination can likely conjure up all kinds of entertaining scenarios around that theme.

But the piece de resistance with the Awan brothers scandal is the revelation that Imran Awan, with his foreign intelligence connections, his criminal appearance and his persistent financial problems despite apparently not lacking in the ability to make a buck, had the password to Wasserman Schultz’ iPad from which she answered her e-mail… as DNC chair.

Forget about the Russians and their supposed hacking of the DNC e-mails. If you’re really curious about who got to that information and would have been in a position to shop it to the highest bidder, Imran Awan is the most likely culprit in the room.

Things are moving very quickly on this case, and it’s somewhat telling that Awan was released on bond after being caught trying to flee the country. He has a tracking bracelet on his ankle, but what makes more sense is that he may have turned states’ evidence in exchange for being let out of jail. Awan’s attorney is former Bill Clinton go-fer Chris Gowen, and the lawyer’s statement after he’d been arrested reads like a press release from a campaign operative rather than a criminal attorney; bizarrely so, one might say. It might be that Awan is rolling on Wasserman Schultz and the Clintons have decided to hang her out to dry in order to insulate themselves from whatever blowback the DNC e-mails might generate for them.

Or maybe that isn’t possible anymore. Former Washington police detective Rod Wheeler, who you’ve probably seen on Fox News from time to time and who most recently was in the news as having done some private snooping in the Seth Rich case, has intimated there is a connection between that case and that of the Awan brothers. We’re not going to try to connect those dots without more information, but one’s imagination might run riot with those.

Meanwhile, Republicans in both the House and the Senate are exceptionally curious about Fusion GPS, and with good reason. In case you’re not familiar with this outfit, it’s the “opposition research and strategic communications” firm co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson which played a significant role in the 2016 election. It was Fusion GPS which commissioned the infamous and debunked “pee pee dossier,” written by former British spy Christopher Steele, sourced largely from Steele’s Russian contacts and containing a mountain of scurrilous and implausible allegations about Donald Trump’s misbehaviors. Fusion GPS was initially contracted by anti-Trump Republican donors, but after Trump got the GOP nomination it was Democrats paying the freight for their work product… and before it was over it looks like James Comey’s FBI, amazingly, was picking up the tab.

That last part is of special interest to Sen. Charles Grassley and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has made a priority out of Fusion GPS, and had called Simpson to testify. He did, but only in private, and only after threatening to take the Fifth. That’s his right, but what does an oppo researcher need the Fifth Amendment for?

But there’s more with Fusion GPS. On Wednesday Tucker Carlson had as a guest on his show one Thor Halvorssen, a Venezuelan native of Norwegian descent who runs a watchdog outfit called the Human Rights Foundation, and Halvorssen told a harrowing story of Fusion GPS attempting to destroy his life with a smear campaign because he’d blown the whistle on a crooked contract one of Fusion’s clients had with the Venezuelan government to build power plants. That story also got told in a letter Halvorssen sent to Grassley’s committee. And then there is Fusion’s other client, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the “Russian lawyer” whose meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort has been bandied about as some sort of smoking gun proving collusion with the Russians. It turns out that Veselnitskaya had hired Fusion to help her push to overturn the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions bill targeting crooked Russian oligarchs and human rights abusers. In none of these cases did Fusion bother to register under FARA, the Foreign Agent Registry Act, which would put them on the wrong side of the law.

Grassley’s committee, and Goodlatte’s committee, would like to know if this entire Russian business was a setup cooked-up by Fusion’s dirty-tricks shop with the collusion of a few actors in the Obama administration. It’s hard to blame them.

There’s a lot of debate about Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra these days, but nobody is really denying the swamp exists. And nobody can — not with Fusion GPS and the Awan brothers skulking around in the muck.

House Judiciary Committee Officially Approves Effort to Launch Investigation of Comey, Lynch

July 27, 2017

House Judiciary Committee Officially Approves Effort to Launch Investigation of Comey, Lynch, BreitbartMatthew Boyle, July 26, 2017

Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee has officially approved an effort to launch an investigation into former FBI director James Comey’s leaking activities and apparent mishandling of a federal investigation by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The new investigative effort, authorized by the passage of the amendment in the Judiciary Committee, 16-13 along partisan lines, digs deep requesting documents and information related to Comey’s leaks of conversations he had with President Donald Trump before Trump fired him. According to the Washington Post, Democrats on the committee were infuriated Republicans pressed forward with the probe.

“This is the most astonishing moment I’ve ever experienced in the Judiciary Committee,” one Democrat, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), said. “To take a question about the firing of James B. Comey and turn it into a question about Hillary Clinton? The chairman has left the room. Justice has left this room. Common sense has left this room. A lot of stuff has left this room, and maybe never entered it.”

The amendment was offered by Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Mike Johnson (R-LA). It passed Wednesday evening, authorizing the opening of the Judiciary Committee probe. It remains to be seen if subjects of the investigation will cooperate, and if they do not cooperate it remains to be seen if the Committee will use its broad subpoena power to compel document production and testimony.

It also remains to be seen if House Speaker Paul Ryan will support the probe, or intervene and use his power to block it. Ryan’s spokesman has not responded to Breitbart News’s requests for comment on this matter.

“There is little question that members of Obama’s administration repeatedly broke protocol throughout their investigations into Hillary Clinton,” Johnson told Breitbart News in an emailed statement. “What is unclear, however, is why we have received few answers over the past twelve months to our questions about their actions, especially concerning the former attorney general and FBI director. The House Judiciary Committee has continued to seek answers on various issues of interest stemming from their hearings and oversight responsibilities. This is simply an effort to finally get some of those important questions answered.”

The effort was first reported by Breitbart News on Tuesday, when a draft copy of the amendment was circulated demonstrating these conservatives’ efforts to probe deep into the left’s network of leaks and corruption.

The probe is wide-ranging and includes a mandate for the House Judiciary Committee to dig deep into Lynch’s order to Comey that he should refer to the criminal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s illicit email server as a “matter,” not an “investigation.” Clinton was the failed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

The probe also will press for document production regarding Comey’s communication with Columbia University Law Professor Daniel Richman, Comey’s friend, of conversations Comey had with President Trump. Richman was the vessel through which Comey leaked to the media details of those conversations with the president after his firing, with an apparent intent of using the media pressure from said leaks to spark the launching of the special counsel investigation of the Russia scandal. That special counsel investigation is being led by Comey’s longtime friend Robert Mueller, another former FBI director.

The investigation will also, per the amendment passed by the House Judiciary Committee, dig into Comey’s decision to “usurp the authority” of Lynch by making his “unusual announcement” that Hillary Clinton would not face criminal charges over the email scandal. It will inspect Comey’s knowledge of the firm Fusion GPS, the firm that made the fake news anti-Trump dossier that Comey brought to Trump’s attention when he was president-elect, and look at any “collusion” between Comey and Mueller—the special counsel leading the Russia probe now—especially regarding Comey’s leak through Richman to the media.

The probe, too, will look into Comey’s potential knowledge of “unmasking” of intelligence and surveillance collected on Donald Trump’s campaign or transition teams—and specifically any role that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice played in that.

But that’s not all: The probe will dig into potential immunity deals given to “co-conspirators” in Hillary Clinton’s email server scandal, including specifically Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, and John Bentel.

It will also look into matters related to the Clinton Foundation’s influence from foreign governments and specifically the Uranium One deal exposed by Clinton Cash—whereby Russians obtained ownership in U.S. uranium assets. And it will investigate the infamous tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch in Phoenix at Sky Harbor International Airport.

Biggs, one of the sponsors of the now approved amendment to officially launch the committee probe, told Breitbart News in an interview before the measure was introduced that the American people want answers to these questions.

“My constituents ask the same questions that so many people want to know the answer to, and that is why have all these investigations stopped?” Biggs said. “There was a whole lot of fire there and they just seemed to end when the new administration came in and I think there’s two or three reasons,” Biggs said in a brief phone interview on Tuesday afternoon. “Number one, I think you want justice and that leads to number two—if you don’t have justice and you’re not following the rule of law then government and lawmakers and those who enforce the law are held in derision by the public. They lose faith and confidence in those they elect and so I think this is really important to get back to those basics and find out what happened and so that’s why I think it’s important.”

Gaetz, another original sponsor, said in an emailed statement that this is a step in the right direction. “It’s time for Republicans in Congress to start playing offense,” Gaetz said.

And Jordan, the fourth original sponsor, added that Democrats have for years “obstructed justice,” but they will no longer succeed.

“For the past several years, Democrats have obstructed justice and blocked every Congressional investigation imaginable,” Jordan said in an emailed statement to Breitbart News. “Now they want to investigate? Ok, let’s investigate! Both parties have criticized James Comey over the past year for his performance as FBI director. Even Sen. Feinstein says there should be an investigation into Loretta Lynch and James Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation. Let’s have a special counsel for that and see how serious Congressional Democrats are about getting to the truth.”

Is it time for the DOJ to reopen the probe into Clinton?

July 19, 2017

Is it time for the DOJ to reopen the probe into Clinton? Judicial Watch via YouTube, July 19, 2017

(But that would be misogynistic and besides, it’s just old news.  Let’s just keep trying to impeach President Trump. That gets lots of headlines.– DM)

 

Printing The Legend: The Growing Gap Between Comey’s Image and Actions

July 12, 2017

Printing The Legend: The Growing Gap Between Comey’s Image and Actions, Jonathan Turley’s Blog, Jonathan Turley, July 12, 2017

(The media created the false Comey legend. Having created it, the media continued to rely on it, along with the false legend it created about Trump. — DM) 

In one of my favorite Westerns, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” Jimmy Stewart reveals to a reporter that he was not the man who killed villain Liberty Valance — a legend that transformed him from a perceived coward to an inspiration hero and resulted in his being elected U.S. senator and ambassador to Great Britain. The seasoned reporter listens to the whole story, but in the end says that he will not print it.

He states the rule simply as “[w]hen the legend becomes fact…print the legend.” In many ways, James Comey is the Jimmy Stewart of the media production of “The Man Who Shot Lying Trump.” From the outset, reporters and Democrats (who had been calling for Comey’s firing or questioning his judgment) declared him to be the man who fearlessly stood up to a president demanding loyalty pledges and discarding legal and ethical standards.

It seems that in both Westerns and politics, you print the legend.

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Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the curious coverage surrounding James Comey and his leaking of his memos on meetings with President Donald Trump.  With the confirmation hearings of Comey’s replacement, Chris Wray, today, the status of the memos may come up in the Senate.

Here is the column:

In one of my favorite Westerns, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” Jimmy Stewart reveals to a reporter that he was not the man who killed villain Liberty Valance — a legend that transformed him from a perceived coward to an inspiration hero and resulted in his being elected U.S. senator and ambassador to Great Britain. The seasoned reporter listens to the whole story, but in the end says that he will not print it.

He states the rule simply as “[w]hen the legend becomes fact…print the legend.” In many ways, James Comey is the Jimmy Stewart of the media production of “The Man Who Shot Lying Trump.” From the outset, reporters and Democrats (who had been calling for Comey’s firing or questioning his judgment) declared him to be the man who fearlessly stood up to a president demanding loyalty pledges and discarding legal and ethical standards.

The problem with that narrative is not the criticism of the actions of President Trump, but the consistent efforts to ignore the equally troubling actions of former FBI Director Comey. Yet, if Trump was to be the irredeemable villain, Comey had to be the immaculate hero. The script glitch centered on three allegations — all of which were actively denied by legal experts. First, Comey leaked memos of his meetings with Trump. Second, those memos constituted government material. Third, the memos were likely classified on some level.

Yes, the memos were leaked.

As I previously wrote, various legal experts went on the air on CNN and other cable news programs to dismiss the allegation (that a few of us printed) that Comey “leaked” his now famous memos detailing meetings with the president. Experts declared that leaks by definition only involve classified information — a facially ridiculous position that was widely stated with complete authority. Whether someone is prosecuted for a leak is a different question but a leak is the release of nonpublic information, not just classified information. University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Claire Finkelstein, CNN Legal Analyst Michael Zeldin, Fordham Law Professor Jed Shugerman, and others dismissed the notion that such memos could be deemed “leaks.”

Comey was a leaker, and he leaked for the oldest of motivations in Washington: to protect himself and hurt his opponents. Comey knew he would be called before the Congress and that these memos would be demanded by both his own former investigators as well as congressional investigators. That could have happened in a matter of days but Comey decided to use a friend to leak the content of the memos to the media (after giving the memos to his friend). In doing so, Comey took control of the media narrative and was lionized by the media.

Recently, the Senate Homeland Security Committee released a majority report that correctly referenced the Comey “leaks.” The report detailed a massive increase in leaks against the Trump administration but highlighted the leak by Comey. What makes that reference most troubling is that Comey was the person with the responsibility to find the leakers in the Trump administration. Yet, after the president expressly asked him to find leakers, Comey became a leaker himself. Moreover, as FBI director, Comey showed no particular sympathy to leakers and his department advanced the most extreme definitions of what constituted FBI information.

Yes, the memos were government property.

When some of us noted that these memos clearly fell within the definition of FBI information and thus they were ostensibly government (not private) property, there was again a chorus of experts dismissing such allegations against Comey. Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent assured CNN that these constitute merely “personal recollections” and would not fall into the definition of government material. Others joined in on the theme that these were like a “personal diary” and thus entirely his private property. Obviously, removing FBI material would not be a reaffirming moment for the Beltway’s lone, lanky hero. But that is what he did.

All FBI agents sign a statement affirming that “all information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America” and that an agent “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”

These were memos prepared on an FBI computer about a meeting on an FBI investigation with the president of the United States in the Oval Office and other locations. The contents were important enough that Comey immediately shared them with his highest management team and consulted on how to deal with the information.

The FBI has now reportedly confirmed that the memos were indeed government property. The Hill, quoting “officials familiar with the documents,” has reported that the FBI has told the Congress that these memos are indeed government documents.

Yes, the memos were classified.

If Comey did leak government property, a third issue was whether the information was considered classified. Once again, the classified status does not determine if this was a leak (it was) or if it was government information (it was). However, many experts insisted that the material was clearly unclassified.

Comey’s representation of the unclassified status struck me as highly questionable at the time. I noted that the information would have likely been classified on some level, including “confidential” under governing standards. Moreover, FBI employees are not given free license (or sole authority) to write things in an “unclassified fashion.” That is why there are classification reviews. Information coming out of meetings with the president are routinely classified, let alone information deemed material to pending investigations.

As I noted earlier, the standards that Comey enforced as director belied his own account. The FBI restricts material generated in relation to investigations as “FBI information.” FBI rules cover any “documents reflecting advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated.” Under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI routinely claims this type of information as either classified or privileged or both.

Comey however repeatedly assured the Senate that there was nothing classified or privileged in the memos. In an exchange with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Comey said, “Well, I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way — and — and this committee gets this, but sometimes when things are classified, it tangles them up. It’s hard…” Then Warner interrupted to say, “Amen.”

However, the issue was not the writing of the memos but their removal from the FBI and their leaking to the media. There is a reason why “sometimes when things are classified, it tangles them up.” It is called classification review. That does not give you license to transfer the information into a separate document and declare it a “Dear Diary” entry. That is a loose interpretation that Comey as FBI director never afforded to his subordinates and it would effectively gut the rules governing privileged and classified information.

Not surprisingly, The Hill reported that indeed the memos have been declared classified by the FBI. The newspaper maintains that four of the memos had markings indicating they contained classified material at the “secret” or “confidential” level. It is not clear whether the memos leaked to Comey’s friend and then the media included these memos or contained classified or privileged information.  However, the finding shows that Comey was wrong in claiming that he wrote the memos to avoid any classified information and the removal of the classified memos constitutes a violation of federal rules and FBI protocols.

None of this takes away from the seriousness of Comey’s allegation or the need to investigate possible obstruction of justice. However, it does raise serious questions about own Comey’s judgment and the legality of his actions. Yet, the coverage on these findings has largely been crickets.

It is much like that final scene in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”? After Jimmy Stewart unburdened himself that he was a fraudulent hero, he boarded the train back to Washington and thanked the conductor for his kindness. The conductor simply responded, “Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance!”

It seems that in both Westerns and politics, you print the legend.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. He was cited in the Senate Homeland Security Committee report on media leaks during the Trump administration.

The views expressed by contributors are their own ad are not the views of The Hill.

Putin Wins Big

June 23, 2017

Putin Wins Big, Jewish Media Resources, Jonathan Rosenblum, June 23, 2017

(Putin is winning because the national focus is on non-events. Hence, our faith in the electoral system has been damaged and the ability of the Trump administration to focus on the agenda Trump was elected to pursue has been limited. The Congress, rather than focus on legislating, is preoccupied with investigations of non-events. That’s good for America’s enemies and bad for America. President Trump’s successes in focusing on his agenda despite the many distractions speak well of him. — DM)

Smith makes an insightful distinction between “consolations, vicious self-sung lullabies” and “conspiracy theories.” Examples of the former would be: Hillary lost because the Russians hacked the election; our children died because the Jews poisoned the wells.

But such “consolations,” as vicious as they may be, only become full-blown conspiracy theories when weaponized through the mass media for political use. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be the classic example of such a conspiracy theory. And, Smith points out, Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” do not have the platforms “to proliferate weaponized narratives capable of doing real damage to our polity – the elites do.” And those elites — the press, the intelligence community, political parties – have been used to legitimize a conspiracy theory.

James Kirchik, another anti-Trump pundit (as well as a brilliant analyst on many issues) laments the way the “confirmation bias” has resulted in well-meaning, liberal anti-Trump journalists reporting stories that they want to be true and are emotionally true for them – e.g., stories of threatened or actual violence against minorities – but are factually false.

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It is certain that Russia launched a massive hacking campaign to undermine the U.S. electoral process in 2016. That is a major issue that needs to be thoroughly investigated, and steps taken so that it does not recur.

Though the Russian involvement in the 2016 election targeted both presidential candidates at various times, it likely damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign more. Confirmation in the emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee that the DNC had actively favored Clinton over her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders, infuriated Sanders supporters. Conceivably enough of those supporters could have decided not to vote for Clinton based on those emails to have made a difference in the three crucial battleground states – Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Thus far, however, the primary focus on the Russian hacking has been with respect to the far-fetched claim that the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign fashion in some fashion The obsessive focus on that issue has turned the hacking into a major victory for Vladimir Putin by introducing an unparalleled degree of rancor and paralysis into the American political system.

James Kirchik writing in the May 3 American Interest (“Who Killed the Liberal World Order”), describes how at last September’s G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, then President Obama confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Russian hacking of the DNC, and told him to “cut it out” or “face serious consequences.” In October, according to Bloomberg News, the White House used a cyber version of the “red phone” to convey to the Kremlin detailed evidence of Russian hacking of voter data banks in numerous states. On both occasions, Putin, who had long since taken Obama’s measure, did nothing in response.

WHATEVER THE REASON Putin decided to interfere with the 2016 election, it was not because he feared Obama or Obama’s legacy-bearer, former Secretary of State Clinton. Starting with Clinton’s declared “reset” of relations with Russia, shortly after the Obama administration entered office in 2009, until Obama issued his warning at Hangzhou, the United States had repeatedly stood down in every possible confrontation with Russia.

The 2009 reset itself took place in the wake of the assassinations by Russian intelligence agents of Alexander Livinenko in London, where the former Russian intelligence operative he had been granted political asylum, and of Russia’s leading investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Russia was also busy hardening control of areas of Georgia occupied by Russian troops. As part of the reset, the Obama administration abandoned plans to provide Poland and Czechoslovakia with anti-missile defenses.

During the 2012 presidential debates, Obama mocked his Republican opponent Mitt Romney for listing Russia as the United States’ primary international foe. “The 80s called. They want their foreign policy back,” teased Obama. And even prior to the 2012 campaign, Obama told Putin’s sidekick Dmitry Medvedev that he’d be able to be “more flexible” after the campaign, and asked for a little breathing room from Russia.

All Obama’s shows of good will, however, went unreciprocated by Putin. In 2013, Putin granted asylum to Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who had exposed the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance methods. The same year Putin cracked down on foreign-funded NGO’s, and invaded the Ukraine. Obama refused to supply the Ukrainians with defensive weapons, as the United States had committed to do in the Budapest Memorandum, drafted when the former Soviet republics gave up their nuclear stockpiles.

In 2015, Soviet forces entered Syria in force to shore up the Assad regime, fairly daring the United States to challenge them. Previously, Putin had humiliated Obama by offering him a lifeline, when the latter refused to enforce his own redline against Assad’s deployment of chemical weapons.

PUTIN HAD reasons to prefer Trump to Clinton. He harbors a paranoid belief that Hillary orchestrated protests against him in 2011. And, writes Kirchik in the Los Angeles Times, he appreciated that Trump’s ignorant outbursts made “American politics – and by extension America – look like a foolish country.”

Putin may also have thought that Trump’s neo-Jacksonian, quasi-isolationist campaign talk would serve Russia’s interest in carving out a sphere of interest in its near abroad. But, as Kirchik notes in his American Interest piece, Obama’s “interconnected world,” without American power to back it up, had already resulted in a reduction of American influence and allowed Putin free rein in Russia’s near abroad.

The Russians were as shocked as everyone else, however, by Trump’s victory. Their goal was not so much to defeat Clinton, as to render it difficult for her (or Trump) to govern and to thereby “weaken the world’s last superpower,” writes Professor Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations Prague in Tablet. And their means for doing so was to reduce America’s democratic legitimacy by calling the election results into question and reducing the scope for compromise and consensus in the American political system.

Or as veteran Moscow correspondent David Satter argued in the June 12 Wall Street Journal, Putin did not so much support Donald Trump, as he sought American political paralysis. The differences between Trump and Clinton were simply not that significant in his view.

Putin’s method is to sow chaos, to light a hundred brushfires and see which ones turn into full-fledged forest fires. “Putin is not a chess player,” writes Galeotti. “He and his people are improvisers and opportunists. They try to create multiple potential points of leverage, never knowing which will prove useful or not.”

One of those prongs was the so-called “Trump dossier, compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele based on information “sold” to him by Russian intelligence officials. The document bears all the marks of a classic Russian disinformation campaign. “The kind of gossip that fills the Trump Dossier, writes Galeotti, is common currency in Moscow, “even if very little of it has any authority behind it aside from the speaker’s own imagination.”

One thing is almost certain: The Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians. Both Senator Diane Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees investigating Russia’s electoral involvement, respectively, have confirmed that they have seen nothing to implicate Trump or his aides in collusion with Russia.

The absence of collusion is, moreover, logically demonstrable. If there were collusion, the Russians would undoubtedly possess evidence of it. Since coming to office, the Trump administration has taken a much more aggressive anti-Russian stance than Obama ever did – targeting with cruise missiles an airfield and planes of Russian ally Bashir Assad and just this week shooting down a Syrian plane in a dogfight; allowing Montenegro’s entry into the NATO alliance; denying Exxon-Mobil a waiver for energy exploration in Russia; and sharply criticizing Russian support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. If Putin possessed incriminating evidence on Trump, he would have already revealed it in order to destroy President Trump. Elementary, my dear Watson.

DESPITE THE LACK OF ANY PLAUSIBLE EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION, Russian interference in the 2016 election has set in motion a “self-sustaining process,” in Galeotti’s words, in which “America is tearing itself apart with little need for Russian help.”

It is hard to know for sure whether those most actively promoting the Trump-Russian collusion narrative really believe it themselves or just see it as the best way of bringing down the president. About the latter they might be right. Already the anti-Trump forces have succeeded in gaining the appointment of a special prosecutor, and the scope of the special prosecutor’s investigation has expanded to legally flimsy charges of obstruction of justice against Trump. Once a special prosecutor is in the saddle there is no way of knowing where things will go. The longer the investigation continues the greater the chance of a prosecution for something entirely tangential to the original investigation.

Patrick Fitzgerald, for instance, was appointed special prosecutor to investigate the outing of CIA employee Valerie Flame. From the very outset of the investigation, he knew the source of that information; Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage was the one who told it to columnist Robert Novak. Armitage, however, was never prosecuted. But Fitzgerald carried on for years, until he claimed the scalp of Vice-President Richard Cheney’s top aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, on perjury charges, over statements given to investigators about which there were conflicting memories.

Putin has succeeded in driving a wedge between President and the intelligence agencies upon which he must rely for crucial decisions. Every week, a new leak emerges from some anonymous intelligence official – leaks which, if true, would subject the leaker to up to ten years in prison. Yet the source of these leaks has received little attention from the FBI or other investigative bodies.

Lee Smith bemoans in Tablet that the president’s very real flaws, which are “plain to every sentient being on the planet,” have been supplanted as a topic of discussion by a “toxic fabulism typical of Third World and Muslim societies.” “A vulgar conspiratorial mind-set [has become] the norm among the country’s educated elite . . . and is being legitimized daily by a truth-telling bureaucrats who make evidence-free and even deliberately false accusations behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Smith makes an insightful distinction between “consolations, vicious self-sung lullabies” and “conspiracy theories.” Examples of the former would be: Hillary lost because the Russians hacked the election; our children died because the Jews poisoned the wells.

But such “consolations,” as vicious as they may be, only become full-blown conspiracy theories when weaponized through the mass media for political use. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be the classic example of such a conspiracy theory. And, Smith points out, Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” do not have the platforms “to proliferate weaponized narratives capable of doing real damage to our polity – the elites do.” And those elites — the press, the intelligence community, political parties – have been used to legitimize a conspiracy theory.

James Kirchik, another anti-Trump pundit (as well as a brilliant analyst on many issues) laments the way the “confirmation bias” has resulted in well-meaning, liberal anti-Trump journalists reporting stories that they want to be true and are emotionally true for them – e.g., stories of threatened or actual violence against minorities – but are factually false.

He points to the non-stop anti-Trump vitriol from the Twitter feed of the New York Times assistant Washington D.C. editor, Jonathan Weissmann – anti-Trump vitriol that matches his own – as an example of the mainstream press having lost any claim to the public’s trust about the news stories it publishes.

In the short-run the beneficiary of the mainstream media’s reporting of baseless stories, such as that the Russians successfully hacked voting machines in key states, is Donald Trump. By refuting the wilder accusations, he can evade the more substantive ones and, at the same time, stoke the anger that brought him to the presidency in the first place.

But in the long-run, the current state of political toxicity, manifested last week in an assassination attempt against GOP congressman, and the loss of credibility of our major media organizations weakens America and its place in the world. And the big winner from that is Vladimir Putin.