Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Russiagate Strip Tease

Slowly but surely peeling off the obscuring clothing. You can really see whose ox is going to be gored by Trumps promised declassification of the first Carter Page FISA request, and Peter Strzok's, Lisa Page's, James Comey's, Bruce Ohr's and Andrew McCabe's text messages. Da Caller: Democrats Make Last-Ditch Effort To Block Trump Declassification
Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mark Warner, sent a letter Tuesday asking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to provide an “immediate briefing” to the Gang of Eight before declassifying and releasing the documents.

The four Democrats expressed “profound alarm” at Trump’s order to declassify the records. Trump ordered the Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to begin the process to declassify 21 pages from a June 2017 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application taken out against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. (RELATED: Here’s What You Need To Know About Trump’s Declassification Order)
Huh. Democrats Really Don’t Want Those Carter Page FISA Docs Released
The curious part of all this is that some of the people who have been screaming the most loudly about transparency (when they want information damaging to the President to be released) are now suddenly the people who are concerned about protecting sources and methods or compromising the investigation. We should also be reminded that it’s the President and his top intelligence officials who make the final call on what information should be classified. It’s also their responsibility to live with the results of any declassification.
. . .
The senior Democrats involved in this have been poo-pooing the idea that there was something improper going on in relation to the origins of the investigations into Ohr and Page, as well as the Steele dossier. If that’s the case, why are you worried about the public seeing this information? If they want to keep a lid on it this badly, that makes me suspect it really is material we need to see.
Sundance at CTH: Report: FBI and DOJ Officials “Scrambling to Respond” To Declassification Directives…
First, the article:
WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officials, blindsided by President Donald Trump’s order that they make public highly sensitive files in the Russia investigation, are hoping the White House will allow them to conduct a formal declassification review and damage assessment before they are forced to release the documents, current and former officials tell NBC News.
Senior executives at the FBI, Justice Department and Office of the Director of National intelligence were scrambling Tuesday to respond after being taken by surprise by a White House press release Monday directing them to release classified material they had previously determined should not be made public. (more)
. . . Many of the corrupt lower-level officials within the administrative state have goals in conflict with with sunlight and truthful discovery. Other officials, like FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, have more specific goals to protect their institutions. Because the preservation of the institution is the primary focus, their goals may therefore align with the more openly corrupt officials.

This is the nature of political bureaucracy. It is not a grand conspiracy, it is more often ordinary corruption. However, failure to accept this simple truism leads to cognitive dissonance, intellectual dishonesty and, even worse, creates a false perception of what is possible.
I don't see how this could be a surprise, they've been foreshadowing this for weeks. Roger Simon at PJ Media  Democrats Go Full Stalin on Kavanaugh and Declassification
Not surprisingly, the press and the Democrats are screaming bloody murder — the press because they want to control the flow of information for their own propaganda and business purposes and the Dem politicians because the totalitarian impulse and intended sabotage behind the entire Russia probe is about to be exposed with all its spying on Trump's people and the president himself, before and after his election.

The greatest fear is that the actual provenance of this attempted coup will be revealed. Just how high did it go? There's a reason Susan Rice wrote that odd ex-post facto email saying Obama told the other officials to do things "by the book."

No doubt the FBI/DOJ will do their best to slow-walk the release just as they have before. The solution is simple. Trump should give them a deadline. If they still delay, he should fire them. If they use the oh-so-tired-and-ridiculous "sources and methods" excuse, he should fire them nine ways to Brooklyn and shoot them through a cannon. That's the biggest piece of self-serving bull around. Enough of this Stasi-NKVD behavior.
Sara Carter: GOP Lawmakers Laud Trump’s Order to Declassify FISA Docs
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) who, on Tuesday was assisting with Hurricane Florence relief efforts in North Carolina, told that President Trump’s decision to declassify the documents was a bold and necessary move to uncovering the truth of what happened during the Russia probe. . .

As for the president’s order Tuesday, Meadows said, “declassifying the documents is the only true way for the American people to understand the elevation of concern that members have had for months. We applaud President Trump’s boldness for taking this step and we encourage the administration to expeditiously release the documents.”

“We look forward to the transparency and the start of a process that will once again elevate the FBI and DOJ to the most trusted law enforcement agency on the globe,” Meadows added.
. . .
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told Fox New’s Shannon Bream Monday that Pelosi is entirely wrong. “There will be no sources and methods being exposed here but what will be disclosed, the American people will find out that there was no basis for these FISA warrants,” he said.
James Gagliano at the WaEx: Carter Page says the FBI will 'soon shine bright' again — he's right, but it'll get worse before it gets better
Trump's decision will make for impassioned debate, some on both sides of the partisan divide will earnestly argue that these releases will, once again, endanger “sources and methods” — a reference to the practice of intelligence collection and analysis.

We have heard that shrill warning from the Left’s national security folks before. Recall the wails, lamentations, and gnashing of teeth over Rep. Devin Nunes’ decision to “release the memo”? Yeah, me too. Good times. That “unconscionable breach of security” was treated as if it would lead to public executions of U.S. sources in Red Square. To be fair, the GOP touted it inaccurately as “a bombshell.” Truth be told, its release landed with a barely perceptible “pfffft.” No analyst in good faith could suggest now that anything contained within it endangered anyone or anything.

But, still, we are awaiting the same impasse now. When the FISA application targeting Page is released — along with the attendant communications between the FBI and DOJ cabal who were called out and admonished in the June inspector general’s report — neither side will admit defeat. Personally, having experience working outside the country and overseeing criminal, counterterrorism, and counterintelligence matters for the FBI as part of my duties as the FBI’s senior official in Mexico, I do not feel this declassification and release will endanger any “sources and methods.”

I am also not certain there will be any “there” there, in regards to a “smoking gun” that indicates any criminal activity by DOJ or FBI employees. I surmise — having had many Title III affidavits during a 25-year FBI career “kicked back” by a judge demanding more supporting evidence to approve — that we may simply witness “sloppy work,” a rush to validate their presuppositions; the very dangerous malady, in investigative realms, of confirmation bias.
. . .
And it, no doubt, irks me that some continue to dismiss my criticisms of certain FBI senior executives’ malfeasance as indicative of an “anti-FBI” bias. That is laughable on its face. Comey, McCabe, Strzok, and DOJ employees Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr have done irreparable damage to the FBI I love and devoted fully one-half my life to. Make no mistake about it – I am criticizing certain employees, and not the agency, or its 35,000 mostly amazing public servants.

But this document dump will certainly not aid in repairing the FBI’s image with the public. In an April PBS NewsHour, NPR, and Marist poll, sadly, only 54 percent of Americans said they were confident in the FBI. And when queried as to whether the FBI was just doing its job or purposely biased against the Trump administration, there was a 10 percent drop in confidence (from 71 percent to 61 percent) from February.
ABC News claims Trump 'dossier' stuck in New York, didn't trigger Russia investigation, sources say, which strikes me as nonsensical, considering it was being written in Washington D.C. by Nellie Ohr, circulated at DOJ and the FBI, and being shopped to the press by Christopher Steele and the DNC.

But how long until he is an MSNBC commentator? Former FBI official Andrew McCabe has book deal

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air: Manafort Pardon Coming? Mueller May Have Made Sure It Won’t Work
Will Donald Trump pardon Paul Manafort to confound special counsel Robert Mueller and his attempt to use the former campaign manager as a material witness? That already seemed less than likely, but Politico’s Josh Gerstein discovered that Mueller played eight-dimensional chess in the plea agreement with Manafort. If Manafort seeks a clemency action — or even if he gets one without asking — Mueller will come after Manafort’s remaining assets and use his confessions to get more convictions:
The 17-page deal doesn’t explicitly prohibit Manafort from seeking a pardon, but some lawyers said it appears to extract a promise from Manafort not to seek another form of executive clemency that could relieve him of the obligation to turn over tens of millions of property to the government as part of the plea bargain. The agreement also says prosecutors can come after the five identified homes or apartments, three bank accounts and a life insurance policy now or at any point in the future “without regard to the status of his criminal conviction.”
Another part of the deal says that if Manafort’s guilty pleas or convictions are wiped out for any reason, prosecutors immediately have the right to charge him with any other crimes he may have committed previously or confessed to during recent plea negotiations.
So Mueller heard all the pardon chatter too, to no one’s great surprise. The one big hole in the pardon strategy is that Trump can only forgive federal crimes. Some of what Mueller alleged against Manafort crosses over into state-level crimes too, which may or may not be prosecutable in the case of a pardon. (In New York, it’s not, although the state attorney general wants to change that.)
I'm not sure I understand the constitutionality of an executive branch prosecutor like Mueller being able to tie knots that the President, the head of the executive branch, can't undo.

From Chuck Ross at Da Caller: Comey Suggests Mueller Probe Is ‘In The Fourth Quarter’
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s recent guilty plea suggests the Mueller probe “is in the fourth quarter,” former FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.

“The way you normally do investigations is you work from the bottom up, and so they’re getting pretty high,” Comey said in an interview with St. Louis’ NPR affiliate.

“But again, the reason I’m hesitant to even say that is [because] Bob Mueller’s conducted his investigation like a pro – you know nothing about it except through his public filings, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And so I can’t say with certainty where he is.”

Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Happy Birthday, Alysha Nett! and FMJRA 2.0: More Than A Feeling out and about.

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