Saturday, June 23, 2018

Retailing Russiagate

We'll start off today with an article by David B. Rivkin Jr. and  Elizabeth Price Foley: Mueller’s Fruit of the Poisonous Tree "It makes no difference how honorable he is. His investigation is tainted by the bias that attended its origin in 2016", unfortunately behind the WSJ paywall. Fortunately, it's been heavily excerpted from by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation may face a serious legal obstacle: It is tainted by antecedent political bias. The June 14 report from Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, unearthed a pattern of anti-Trump bias by high-ranking officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Some of their communications, the report says, were “not only indicative of a biased state of mind but imply a willingness to take action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.” Although Mr. Horowitz could not definitively ascertain whether this bias “directly affected” specific FBI actions in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, it nonetheless affects the legality of the Trump-Russia collusion inquiry, code-named Crossfire Hurricane.

Crossfire was launched only months before the 2016 election. Its FBI progenitors—the same ones who had investigated Mrs. Clinton—deployed at least one informant to probe Trump campaign advisers, obtained Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wiretap warrants, issued national security letters to gather records, and unmasked the identities of campaign officials who were surveilled. They also repeatedly leaked investigative information.

Mr. Horowitz is separately scrutinizing Crossfire and isn’t expected to finish for months. But the current report reveals that FBI officials displayed not merely an appearance of bias against Donald Trump, but animus bordering on hatred. Peter Strzok, who led both the Clinton and Trump investigations, confidently assuaged a colleague’s fear that Mr. Trump would become president: “No he won’t. We’ll stop it.” An unnamed FBI lawyer assigned to Crossfire told a colleague he was “devastated” and “numb” after Mr. Trump won, while declaring to another FBI attorney: “Viva le resistance.”

The report highlights the FBI’s failure to act promptly upon discovering that Anthony Weiner’s laptop contained thousands of Mrs. Clinton’s emails. Investigators justified the delay by citing the “higher priority” of Crossfire. But Mr. Horowitz writes: “We did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on [the] investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”

Similarly, although Mr. Horowitz found no evidence that then-FBI Director James Comey was trying to influence the election, Mr. Comey did make decisions based on political considerations. He told the inspector general that his election-eve decision to reopen the Clinton email investigation was motivated by a desire to protect her assumed presidency’s legitimacy.

The inspector general wrote that Mr. Strzok’s text messages “created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations.” The report adds, importantly, that “most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation.” Given how biases ineluctably shape behavior, these facts create a strong inference that by squelching the Clinton investigation and building a narrative of Trump-Russia collusion, a group of government officials sought to bolster Mrs. Clinton’s electoral chances and, if the unthinkable happened, obtain an insurance policy to cripple the Trump administration with accusations of illegitimacy.
As Glenn quips:
It seems pretty clear that this is a case of investigating a man in the hopes of finding a crime, rather than investigating a crime and hoping to find the man behind it.
There's more at the Instapundit link. On a practical level, I can't imagine going into court on any of his charges, and surviving cross examination on the source of their evidence. The first thing I would do is call Strzok to the stand. Unless of course, it's a D.C. jury . . .

Via Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 06.21.18" Power Line asks Did The FBI Frame General Flynn? He should be withdrawing his guilty plea and preparing to call Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok to the stand:
In my opinion, the likelihood of getting a criminal conviction of General Flynn on the basis of a Form 302 was vanishingly small. If the government can’t prove what Flynn said–exactly–there is no way they can convict him of what amounts to perjury. So I find Flynn’s statement that he didn’t do anything wrong, but pled guilty to a single count to preserve what little net worth he has left, to be credible.

We also know that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn, one of whom was Peter Strzok, reported that they thought he was telling the truth, which is probably strike four in any possible prosecution. Against that background, an interesting new development emerged today: Congressman Mark Meadows suggested in an interview with The Hill that the Form 302 on Flynn’s interrogation may have been altered to facilitate prosecution:
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) suggested Thursday in an interview wth Hill.TV’s “Rising” that evidence may have been tampered with in the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“Justice should be meted out evenly, and yet we’re finding that evidence could have been tampered with,” Meadows said.
Meadows suggested one focus is whether FBI interview reports — known as 302 reports — about Flynn were altered to improve the chances he’d be prosecuted.
“I brought this up with the inspector general the other day. Some of those key witnesses will be asked to appear before House Oversight,” he added.
The question about the FBI interview reports, he said, was “were they changed to change the outcome of prosecution decisions. I think they might have.”
“We’re not going to yield until we get an answer,” he added.
Not too many years ago, a claim that the FBI fabricated evidence to facilitate a prosecution would have seemed incredible. Today, given what we know of the corruption of the Bureau under the Obama administration, such a claim appears entirely plausible.
IBD: Clinton Email IG Report: Why Is The FBI Still Covering For Discredited Agents At The Heart Of The 'Investigation'? Honor Among thieves. Da Caller: BAD NEWS: It Looks Like The DOJ Official Who Tipped Off Podesta Is Unlikely To Face Legal Consequences, But CNN: Let’s Face It, Trump’s Responsible For Erosion In Confidence In Mueller.

A man bites dog story: Jim Jordan Criticizes DOJ For Seizing NYT Reporter’s Materials In Leak Case
“Ali [Watkins] had all her material just grabbed,” Jordan (R-Ohio) told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday. “It is not supposed to work that way. That is not how the First Amendment operates. And my concern is we’ve seen so many encroachments on our liberties from the government.”
Meanwhile the ACLU seems to be willing to give up free speech for conservatives.

Comey jumps onto the issue du jour: James Comey: 'You stare at children crying – what kind of people are we?’ Your official actions never separated children from their parents, right? Especially when the crying child was a "fake news" picture.
But the girl’s father told The Washington Post on Thursday night that his child and her mother were not separated, and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed that the family was not separated while in the agency’s custody. In an interview with CBS News, Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz, who was among the first to encounter the mother and her daughter at the border in Texas, said the image had been used to symbolize a policy but “that was not the case in this picture.”

Ruiz, who was not available for an interview Friday, said agents asked the mother, Sandra Sanchez, to put down her daughter, nearly 2-year-old Yanela, so they could search her. Agents patted down the mother for less than two minutes, and she immediately picked up her daughter, who then stopped crying.
More evidence for the coming Comey/Daniels or Daniels/Comey 2020 ticket (I can't say who'll be on top): Stormy Daniels Says She’s Headed to the Border Next Week As Soon as She Figures Her Best Course of Action. Nope I won't give you another Stormy Daniels picture. I've run out of non-NSFW ones.  But we hear Comey say “I’d Rate Donald Trump A One Out Of Ten As President”. You have your opinions, but now that you're no longer FBI director there's nothing you can do but whine. Notice, he goes out of the country to bash the American president. Don't bother coming home Jim, if we want you we'll extradite you.

Now we know shit's getting deep: Tom Arnold says he's teaming up with Michael Cohen and 'taking Trump down' Maybe he can join Mueller's team of objective prosecutors.
Arnold then told NBC News that he met with Cohen as part of a show he is working on for Vice, in which he searches for incriminating videos of the president.

"This dude has all the tapes — this dude has everything,” Arnold told NBC News. "I say to Michael, 'Guess what? We’re taking Trump down together,’ and he’s so tired he’s like, 'OK,' and his wife is like, 'OK, f--- Trump.’”
Expecting Mueller to get a boner over this one: National Enquirer sent stories about Trump to his attorney Michael Cohen before publication, people familiar with the practice say. Like rich people have never had influence over the press before.
Federal prosecutors subpoenaed American Media Inc. as part of their investigation into Cohen, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week. A Justice Department official said Pecker did not fall under the regulation that governs when and how prosecutors can obtain records of members of the news media.
. . .
Pecker declined to be interviewed for this story. Dylan Howard, the company’s chief content officer, called it “completely false” that Trump and Cohen “were told in advance, and copies were shared in advance, and that they had some sort of sway over who the magazine attacked on any given week.”
Judge turns down Manafort's bid to nix money laundering charge
Manafort's defense team argued that the tens of millions of dollars he's accused of laundering didn't qualify as the proceeds of criminal activity because lobbying for a foreign entity in the U.S. is legal and the only crime Manafort may have committed in that regard is failing to register.

But U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed.

"It is a crime to 'act' [as a foreign agent] 'unless' one has registered – the statute does not simply state that the failure to register is unlawful," Jackson wrote in a nine-page decision issued Friday. "These laws are not just about paperwork; their object is to ensure that no person acts to advance the interests of a foreign government or principal within the United States unless the public has been properly notified of his or her allegiance."
Note that Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group hastily filed after the charges were filed against Manafort. Also note that Mueller shows no interest in similarly prosecuting the Podestas.

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