Thursday, March 15, 2018

Russiagate: McCabe in the Crosshairs

Andrew McCabe, Jim Comey's second in command at the FBI, and acting Director after President Trump fired Comey, is now facing possible last minute firing. WaPo: FBI disciplinary office recommends firing former deputy director Andrew McCabe
The FBI office that handles employee discipline has recommended firing the bureau’s former deputy director over allegations that he authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter and misled investigators when asked about it, leaving Attorney General Jeff Sessions to decide whether he should fire the veteran official just four days before his expected retirement date, people familiar with the matter said.

The recommendation from the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility is likely to add fuel to the political fire surrounding former deputy director Andrew McCabe, who abruptly stepped down from his post earlier this year but technically remained an FBI employee.

McCabe was hoping to retire Sunday, when he becomes eligible for his full benefits. If he is fired first, he could lose those. President Trump has long made McCabe a particular target of his ire, and the recommendation to fire the former No. 2 FBI official could give him new ammunition.

The disciplinary process is still ongoing at the highest levels of the Justice Department, and no final decision has been made on the discipline McCabe will face. The call will ultimately be made by Sessions because of McCabe’s seniority, a person familiar with the matter said.
Ace:  But they're such dedicated, selfless professionals!
McCabe is technically still an employee, though using his vacation days to sit on leave until he becomes eligible for full benefits.

Commenters who know the federal system have told us that retirement benefits are calculated pro rata, so even if, hypothetically, McCabe were retroactively fired as of the day of his leave (which he probably could not be), we'd be talking about the difference between 100% of retirement benefits and 99.8% of retirement benefits.

Still, a firing, even after he's retired (is that possible?), would be a symbolic victory.
Hot Air: Jeff Sessions May Fire Andrew McCabe — Days Before He Qualifies For Federal Pension
For all the right-wing suspicions about McCabe’s liberal bias, from supposedly colluding with Peter Strzok to try to take down Trump to supposedly admitting that there would have been no Russiagate probe without the dubious Steele dossier, it’s his investigation of Hillary Clinton that might land him unemployed and without a pension. McCabe went on “terminal leave” after Chris Wray saw something concerning in the upcoming IG report about McCabe. Presumably that was the “lack of candor” described above when McCabe was questioned by the IG about a news story on the Clinton Foundation that appeared shortly before the election. That story claimed that the Obama DOJ was trying to slow-walk an FBI investigation of the Foundation; apparently McCabe himself authorized sources to tell the paper that he had defended the FBI’s authority to keep investigating to his DOJ bosses. A bad headline for Hillary, needless to say. And potentially a very bad outcome for McCabe for being “not forthcoming” about it with the IG.

It sounds like Sessions has all the cover he’d need to drop the axe on McCabe. The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility has recommended that McCabe be firedand, as noted, “lack of candor” is typically punished with termination. The X factor, as always, is Trump. McCabe’s allies inside the Bureau surely don’t like the fact that he’s been a punching bag for Trump and the broader GOP for months, replete with insults about his wife. Trump has also complained publicly about McCabe’s pension, remember?

Without all of that political baggage, Sessions could fire him and claim, justifiably, that it was all done by the book, however unfortunate it may be that McCabe would be denied his nest egg. Because he’s been saddled with that baggage, though, Sessions will inevitably be attacked as doing Trump’s dirty work by humiliating a political enemy at the Bureau if he cans him.. . .

Sessions may feel some sympathy for McCabe, knowing firsthand what it’s like to be a presidential scapegoat publicly lashed by POTUS on social media. He also knows that Trump’s doing some spring cleaning in his cabinetand that he’s highly likely to be on his way out at the DOJ soon too, in which case he has little to lose by pissing Trump off in refusing to fire McCabe. To the contrary, he might enjoy the opportunity to show some defiance. He could even argue that it’d be unfair to accelerate McCabe’s firing in the name of denying him his pension since, after all, the IG report hasn’t even been formally issued yet.

Or does he go in the opposite direction, canning McCabe on the theory that Trump will be pleased and might reward him by leaving him in charge at the DOJ for awhile longer? Tick tock.
My own thoughts. First, this may by OPR getting out ahead of the upcoming IG's report, in effect saying "Look, we can do out jobs," although I don't consider recommending firing a malefactor in the last week of his terminal leave to be exactly doing their job right. Hopefully you get them a little earlier. Second, it shows that conservatives were right, there was something deeply fishy going on at the top leadership of the FBI under Obama and Comey, and that fish doesn't smell very fresh.

And now on with the remainder of Russiagate. Leaker Comey is going to have books to sell. Extreme secrecy surrounds Comey book manuscript. The former FBI director's book, due out in April, is expected to offer a window into his experience working for President Donald Trump. No pension to protect.
James Comey’s book is getting the Harry Potter treatment.

“A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” the upcoming memoir from former FBI director James Comey, is set for publication on April 18 — and with anticipation rivaling that of the cult children’s favorite, the publisher is taking extreme precautions to prevent potentially explosive revelations detailing Comey’s interactions with President Donald Trump from leaking.

Instead of circulating multiple print drafts among the editors and agents working on the book, the publisher, Flatiron Books, has implemented a password-protected electronic system so that only those involved in the project have access to it.

The project is stored under a code name so that staffers who are not involved in the project wouldn’t know where to find it if they tried. At warehouses that will ship out copies of the book, workers are being asked to sign nondisclosure agreements, according to people familiar with the procedures.
And about as pertinent to reality as a Harry Potter yarn.

Clapper And Flynn: Is The Justice Department Adhering To A Double Standard On Perjury? Yes they are.
While giving congressional testimony under oath, Clapper responded untruthfully to a question from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden about whether the NSA “collect[ed] any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans.

“No, sir,” he asserted. “Not wittingly.”

Clapper would later admit in a written statement that his response was “clearly erroneous,” and that he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act,” the provision covering the NSA’s bulk metadata collection. During an MSNBC interview however, he suggested that his statement during congressional testimony was the “least untruthful” he could make in the face of a “When are you going to … stop beating your wife kind of question.”

A bipartisan cadre of officials would press for charges to be brought by the Justice Department under two administrations, to no avail.
The statute of limitations is now expired, and, in Bill Ayers famous words,  Clapper is guilty as hell and free as a bird.

Via Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: Pi Day 2018", Shark Tank brings us DeSantis Comments On Russian “Collusion”
In an interview with Fox news, he commented that “There’s no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We’ve got to move on to that. Now, Russian activity, I think they are malevolent, and I think we should try to deal with that in one voice.”

He then explained that he believes “the problem with this is since Trump was elected it was politicized and the Democrats tried to lump Trump in with some type of nefarious Russian activity. And there’s just no basis for that other than the Steele dossier, which is not verified. There has never been evidence put forward. They’ve been doing this for over a year. They made the right decision. It’s time to move on.”
but from Weasel Zippers Schiff Wants 30 More Witnesses Called For Russian Collusion Investigation
The 21-page status report document released Tuesday included a list of 30 witnesses Democrats want to call, from White House aides past and present to officials linked to the NRA, the campaign’s digital operation and the Trump Tower meeting.
 . . . and then another thirty, and then another 30, right up to the Presidential election.

Byron York: House GOP delivers blow to Trump-Russia collusion story. Will others follow?
Would-be believers in collusion could suffer another disappointment later this year when the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee releases its report. Shortly after the House findings were made public, the chairman of that committee, Sen. Richard Burr, told CNN he has not seen evidence of collusion in the more than a year his committee has been looking for it.

"'I've read a lot about it, but I haven't seen any' evidence of collusion, Burr said," according to the CNN report. "Asked about repeated efforts by Russians to coordinate with the Trump campaign, Burr said: 'It's collusion on part of the Russians, I guess, but not the Trump campaign.'"

Burr's official position is that the investigation into collusion continues, but he has sent out signal after signal that he doesn't think it happened -- an opinion that supports what House Republicans found.
 The Real Collusion Story The story as a novella. But read it anyway to refresh your memory.
The key was the double-tracking of the dossier. Hillary Clinton’s enablers channeled it simultaneously into the press and into the government. They then recruited people inside government to verify to the outsiders that it was a serious document, a guide to the intelligence that reporters were not allowed to see. Without this double-tracking and official or quasi-official authentication, journalists would never have believed that they were catching a glimpse of what Brennan and the FBI saw in their crystal balls — pardon me, their top-secret monitors. And without leaks about investigations, journalists would have had no dossier-related news to report. Official statements that the dossier “was being looked into” transformed it into a legitimate topic for reputable news outlets.
Seth Rich Parents Slap Fox News With Lawsuit Over Withdrawn Conspiracy Reports
It’s not the first lawsuit over Fox News’ pursuit of conspiracy theories in the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, but it might end up being the costliest. Rich’s parents filed their lawsuit yesterday, nearly ten months after their Washington affiliate fingered Rich as the Wikileaks source for the DNC’s e-mail hack and claimed that police and the FBI had covered it up. The suit names Fox News, its reporter, and a contributor as respondents as the parents allege that they deliberately cooked the report for both monetary and political profit.
. . .
Fox retracted the story but never actually admitted it was fake. They’ve been smart enough to keep quiet ever since. Butowsky, a donor to Trump’s campaign, still says that there’s meat to the story — which the Riches’ attorney will no doubt cite when the time comes
. . .
Will this lawsuit succeed? That’s a good question, as a false story is not necessarily a legal liability. The story smelled from the start, but then again, media outlets can blow stories without incurring civil liability. The Riches will have to prove that Fox and the other respondents had malicious intent and reckless disregard for the truth to win this lawsuit, which claims wrongful mental anguish based on deception and fraud rather than a direct defamation action
I still wonder if he was the person that Glenn Simpson of FusionGPS said was killed over the Steele dossier. The whole story stinks to high heaven. Charles Glasser at  Instapundit, Being Smpathetic is Not Enough:
In light of the Supreme Court’s Snyder v. Phelps ruling, though, I don’t see how this case has much change to get out of the starting gate as a matter of law. In that case, a family who lost a son in combat were mortified at the Westboro Baptist Church holding odious and offensive protests at the funeral, including holding signs that read “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “Fag troops.” Pretty ugly stuff. I’d be offended too.

That said, the Supremes got it right:
“Given that Westboro’s speech was at a public place on a matter of public concern, that speech is entitled to “special protection” under the First Amendment. Such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt. “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
As sympathetic and truly victimized as the family is, allowing this kind of tort claim to apply to news reports opens the floodgates for every snowflake on the left or puritanical prude on the right to sue media for merely “offensive” speech, even if it is incorrect.

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