Sunday, July 22, 2018

Vorpal Russiagate

The major advance in the front concerns the applications to the FISA court to surveil Carter Page, which just dropped in a heavily redacted form thanks to Judicial Watch. You can read the whole thing here, as I did last night. Despite it being 400 some pages, it is heavily redacted and mostly double spaced with wide margins, so actual reading time is pretty minimal. I'm going to steal these impressions from commenter Yancy Ward at Althouse, who found basically what I saw, and put it into better words:
Believe it or not, I read the FISA applications in less than an hour. It is 90%+ redacted, so there are about 40 pages of actual material. The bulk of the material that is redacted appears to be nothing related to Page at all- it appears in procedures, minimization, and is connect otherwise to general descriptions of what Russia is thought to do in such areas- in other words, classified means and methods. Indeed, the only portions that are unredacted are the parts related to Page.

Here is the absolute truth- all of the applications rely on the Steele Dossier and the Isikoff story from September 2016- a story that Steele himself was the source for. Those are the only two pieces of "evidence" the FBI supplied to the FISA court that could reasonably be inferred to assign probable cause that Page was a knowing Russian agent. The only other things mentioned in regards to Page are that he lived in Russia for a time, travels there sometimes as an energy consultant, and was approached by Russian agents in the past, one of whom Page himself helped to trap and convict by serving as a willing FBI informant. That last part is incongruous with designating him as a Russian agent, but is included any way as an attempt, not to exonerate him, but to tar him.

Also, if you do a page by page comparison of all four applications, there is little material added from one to the other- if you compared the applications side by side, practically every redacted section is identical in shape and length and page designations. In other words, in each of the renewals, it is apparent that the FBI got jackshit from the surveillance- there was nothing they could add to each application, and so just mostly copied the first application serially.
My guess is that their surveillance of Page was just an excuse to get the rest of the Trump team surveilled on the second and third bounce principle.
In addition, none of the applications told the court that the Clinton Campaign is the one who paid Steele and FusionGPS- not a single time. Indeed, the only mention in all the applications of "Candidate 2" is in the very last renewal, and that section wasn't discussing who hired the law firm, but was instead discussing some letters Page wrote criticizing the Clinton Campaign. The FBI knew who hired the law firm- they knew Steele (Source 1) was hired by Glenn Simpson (aka US citizen), and they knew Simpson was hired by a law firm- i.e. the FBI knew which law firm and thus it was the Clinton Campaign. The applications studiously avoid mentioning "Candidate 2" at every point they describe the chain of cutouts- always ending with "law firm".

Finally, it clear the FBI confirmed nothing of the Steele Dossier. At no point does it appear that Steele revealed his sources to the FBI- they are always described as "subsources"- this is FBI legalese for "we don't even know the name so that we can designate them by number".

The House Intelligence Republican memo was correct on all counts. The Democrat memo was extremely misleading- there is nothing else other than the Steele Dossier and the story Steele sourced to Isikoff.
Ashe Schowe at the Daily Wire: The FISA Documents Used To Wiretap Carter Page Just Dropped
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached Page after the documents dropped, and he told them: “I’m having trouble finding any small bit of this document that rises above completely ignorance and/or insanity.”

Of particular note are a couple footnotes in the third FISA renewal application. One footnote mentions that Steele was paid by the FBI for his information, but “suspended its relationship” with Steele after it learned he had disclosed information to the media. “Subsequently, the FBI closed [Steele] as an FBI source,” according to the documents. Yet still, the FBI determined Steele’s information to be reliable because his previous reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” according to the application. The FBI states in this footnote that the “incident that led the FBI to terminate its relationship with [Steele] occurred after [Steele] provided the reporting that is described herein.

A later footnote claims that Steele said he only provided information from the dossier to his business associate (believed to be Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that was paid by Perkins Coie, the law firm used by the DNC, for Steele’s information), and not to the media, though information from the dossier was the basis for a September 23 Yahoo! News article about Page’s surveillance. But in late October 2016, the FBI learned that Steele had since contacted another media source because he was “frustrated” by former FBI Director James Comey’s letter about more Clinton emails found on the laptop of former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Steele, according to the FISA documents, “told the FBI that he/she was frustrated with this action and believed it would likely influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election." So he gave media outlets compromising information about a different candidate.

The FBI, even after learning what Steele had done, "continues to assess [Steele’s] reporting is reliable, as noted above, the FBI closed [Steele] as an active source."
Via Instapundit:

Please note that after 12 months of FISA surveillance, scofflaw "Russian agent" Carter Page is uncharged.

Thomas Lifson at American Greatness: Lisa Page revealed under oath that there was no basis for Mueller's appointment
The Mueller special counsel investigation was launched to probe charges that the key FBI officials developing evidence in the case thought were baseless.  That's a bombshell accusation that appears to have been confirmed by lovebird-turned-songbird Lisa Page, according to John Solomon.  It tends to confirm the suspicion that the Mueller probe is a cover-up operation to obscure the criminal use of counterintelligence capabilities to spy on a rival presidential campaign and then sabotage the presidency that resulted.
. . .
Last night, John Solomon of The Hill revealed that he has obtained information from sources who heard Page's testimony in two days of sworn depositions behind closed doors that she offered a bombshell confirmation of the meaning of one of the most enigmatic text messages that the public has seen (keep in mind that there are many yet to be released). Writing in The Hill, Solomon explains:
[T]here are just five words, among the thousands of suggestive texts Page and Strzok exchanged, that you should read.
That passage was transmitted on May 19, 2017. "There's no big there there," Strzok texted.
The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign.
Since the text was turned over to Congress, investigators wondered whether it referred to the evidence against the Trump campaign.
This month, they finally got the chance to ask. Strzok declined to say – but Page, during a closed-door interview with lawmakers, confirmed in the most pained and contorted way that the message in fact referred to the quality of the Russia case, according to multiple eyewitnesses.
The admission is deeply consequential. It means Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."
The truth behind the Mueller probe is looking uglier and uglier. Pursuing bogus accusations without foundation is the very definition of a witch hunt – President Trump's term for Mueller's team of Hillary-supporters.
Sundance at CTH: Peter Strzok Statements About Weiner/Abedin Laptop Conflict With DOJ Inspector General Claims About Weiner/Abedin Laptop…

The Manhattan Contrarian, Francis Menton: Another Joke From The Mueller Gang
And now yesterday we are treated to another indictment from the Mueller gang. This time it's twelve individuals; no corporate entities. To read the indictment in full, go here. Most of the internet commenters offering "takeaways" on this new indictment seem to me to miss everything important, so I'm going to throw in a few thoughts:
  • The big crime is the same amorphous "conspiracy to defraud the United States." Can't they come up with a real crime?
  • The defendants are all identified as operatives of the Russian military or intelligence services. Since when does our Justice Department devote its valuable time and resources to issuing "indictments" against military and intelligence officers of foreign powers, other than those caught in the U.S. as spies? I've never heard of it; and in spending some time on Google, I can't come up with another example. Does any reader know of a comparable prior instance? Even if there are one or two prior instances, it's rarely or never done because it is a total waste of time.
  • No corporate entities are indicted this time. They're not going to make that stupid mistake again! With no corporate entities in the mix, it is a virtual certainty that none of these Russian nationals is going to show up to defend. Now the Muellerites can really say whatever they want without any risk of being called on it!
  • The core allegation here is that these defendants are the guys who succeeded in hacking the DNC and Podesta information by means of a "spearphishing" campaign, and that they then strategically released the information in the run-up to the 2016 election. Does Mueller actually have any evidence that that is true? Don't worry, you will never find out. There will never be discovery or a trial in this case. It could be real, or it could be completely made up.
  • There actually is a good way that the Mueller gang could come up with definitive proof of hacking of the DNC servers and of who are the perpetrators -- by taking possession of and analyzing the servers themselves. Did the Mueller team do that? No. Preposterous! So what is their alternative source of information? They don't say!
  • Not a single American is included in this indictment, definitely including any and all people associated with the Trump campaign, however remotely. But, even in the absence of any mention of Trump or anyone in his campaign, is there anything in this document that might give a clue as to whether Trump or some campaign member may have been involved in hatching this hacking gambit with the Russkies? Well, they play it down as best they can, but how about this from paragraph 37 of the indictment: "The Conspirators also released documents they had stolen in other spearphishing operations, including those they had conducted in 2015 that collected emails from individuals affiliated with the Republican party." That's right, the operation as alleged wasn't even exclusively targeted at Democrats as opposed to Republicans, and began long before Trump was even the likely, let alone presumptive, Republican nominee. For all you can tell from this indictment, the Russian operation could even have begun well before Trump announced his candidacy.
  • The hacked information at issue here is the documents showing the Hillary campaign manipulating the Democratic party nominating process to the disadvantage of Bernie Sanders. Question: Is that information something likely to have had an effect in swinging voter sympathy to Trump over Hillary; or was the purpose of its use more likely an effort to weaken Hillary's position after her probable victory in the election?
The WSJ's Kimberly Strassel on Brennan and the 2016 Spy Scandal
. . . But the man who deserves a belated bit of scrutiny is former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan. He’s accused President Trump of “venality, moral turpitude and political corruption,” and berated GOP investigations of the FBI. This week he claimed on Twitter that Mr. Trump’s press conference in Helsinki was “nothing short of treasonous.” This is rough stuff, even for an Obama partisan.

That’s what Mr. Brennan is—a partisan—and it is why his role in the 2016 scandal is in some ways more concerning than the FBI’s. Mr. Comey stands accused of flouting the rules, breaking the chain of command, abusing investigatory powers. Yet it seems far likelier that the FBI’s Trump investigation was a function of arrogance and overconfidence than some partisan plot. No such case can be made for Mr. Brennan. Before his nomination as CIA director, he served as a close Obama adviser. And the record shows he went on to use his position—as head of the most powerful spy agency in the world—to assist Hillary Clinton’s campaign (and keep his job).

Mr. Brennan has taken credit for launching the Trump investigation. At a House Intelligence Committee hearing in May 2017, he explained that he became “aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons.” The CIA can’t investigate U.S. citizens, but he made sure that “every information and bit of intelligence” was “shared with the bureau,” meaning the FBI. This information, he said, “served as the basis for the FBI investigation.” My sources suggest Mr. Brennan was overstating his initial role, but either way, by his own testimony, he as an Obama-Clinton partisan was pushing information to the FBI and pressuring it to act.

More notable, Mr. Brennan then took the lead on shaping the narrative that Russia was interfering in the election specifically to help Mr. Trump—which quickly evolved into the Trump-collusion narrative. Team Clinton was eager to make the claim, especially in light of the Democratic National Committee server hack. Numerous reports show Mr. Brennan aggressively pushing the same line internally. Their problem was that as of July 2016 even then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper didn’t buy it. He publicly refused to say who was responsible for the hack, or ascribe motivation. Mr. Brennan also couldn’t get the FBI to sign on to the view; the bureau continued to believe Russian cyberattacks were aimed at disrupting the U.S. political system generally, not aiding Mr. Trump. . . .
Michael Walsh at PJ Media has a simple suggestion; a Vorpal Sword: Donald Trump, Jabberwocky, and the Deep State's Gordian Knot
A better of use of Trump's sword, however, would be to swing the vorpal blade, snicker-snack, at the Gordian Knot that is the Rosenstein-Comey-Brennan-Clapper-Mueller-CNN-New York Times-Washington Post axis of evil and, like Alexander the Great, unravel the Deep State with one mighty blow. For the great knot of Russiagate-Stormy Daniels-Michael Cohen-DNC hacking-election tempering-emoluments clause-Trump Foundation-Putin is a thicket of intertwined snakes that will only continue to writhe and entangle themselves ever more until an end is put to their own manifest collusion. For what the Left is doing is (like the aliens in Independence Day) using our own "satellites" against us, in this case our over-lawyered legal system, via which they can "raise questions" and launch charges with near-absolute impunity, there being no penalty for prosecutor-driven false allegations.
Stephanie Baker at Bloomberg Quint: Democratic Consultants to Get Dragged Into Paul Manafort Trial
Several prominent Democrats who once worked with Paul Manafort have been dragged into court filings ahead of his fraud trial, most prominently Tad Devine, the 63-year-old political consultant who ran Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

The names appear on a list filed this week by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller of documents he could show to the jury that will be selected next week in Alexandria, Virginia. Among the hundreds of exhibits are emails and memos between Manafort and several go-to political and advertising strategists of the Democratic Party for two decades, including three others who also worked on Sanders’ 2016 bid.

Maybe that's the plan here too. David Willman, Los Angeles Times is outraged that Manafort faces federal trial with a hint of a presidential pardon. If he cheated on his taxes, put him in jail. But if all they can "prove" is a nebulous "conspiracy to defraud the United States, pardon him.

Looks like the bond between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen is starting to crack: Trump blasts former attorney Michael Cohen for secretly recording conversations. You might ask your lawyer if he or she is recording your conversations. Axios: Michael Cohen privately questions Trump's fitness to be president, but not that privately, apparently. Look, I question Trump's fitness too, but compared to the alternative?

1 comment:

  1. Alternatively: "It's honestly kind of amazing that *every single one* of the assertions about inadequacies about the FISA application by Nunes are just directly refuted by the FISA application. Utterly dishonest in its entirety."