Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Massive Trove of Russiagate Gold

So much here it's hard to know where to start, but let's go with reactions to the New York Times story which alleged the FBI opened a counter intelligence probe of the President for firing James Comey. Red State: Why Did The FBI Launch An Unapproved Investigation Of President Trump?. The article blames McCabe protecting his job, but I would push it back on Obama. Moon of Alabama: The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump. Daniel Chaitin at WaEx, Devin Nunes: Counterintelligence bombshell shows FBI leaders 'had no real evidence against the Trump team'
"This is yet more evidence that FBI leaders actually had no real evidence against the Trump team," Nunes said in a statement obtained by the Washington Examiner's Byron York. "Instead, they were simply trying to undermine a president they didn't like and avenge Comey's firing. By relying on the Steele dossier — a fraudulent document funded by Democrats and based on Russia sources — FBI leaders were either complicit or too oblivious to notice they were being used in a disinformation operation by the Democratic Party and Russian operatives."
Fox, Newt Gingrich: Reported FBI probe of Trump was led by anti-Trump fanatics who betrayed Constitution
The extraordinary story published Friday night in The New York Times headlined “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry into Whether Trump was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia” tells us how deeply sick the Washington establishment has become.

A group of bureaucrats – elected by no one – sat in a room and decided they would investigate the new president of the United States for possible treason. Let me repeat: treason. This is, after all, the implication of this investigation.

This group of bureaucrats reports to no one in elected authority. In a Justice Department where employees gave 97 percent of their presidential campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton, the hostility toward – and fear of – newly elected President Trump was deep.

The senior members of the Justice Department (all promoted under the Obama administration) were clearly prepared to go all-out to repudiate the verdict of the American people in the 2016 election. . . .
Daniel Greenfield at Front Page: NY Times: Counterintelligence Investigation Was Payback for Trump Firing Comey.  Ace: FBI's Pretext for Opening an Investigation Into Trump? The Theory (Quite Possibly Championed by James Comey) That Putin Called Trump to Tell Him "Fire That Son-of-a-Bitch Patriot and Righteous Beacon James Comey!!!"
Hey -- you don't know for certain that it didn't happen that way until you investigate, riiiiight?

Can't wait to hear about the results for the similar investigation into Obama for saying on a hot mic that he would deal more generously with Russia after the election, when he had "more flexibility."
Wrong, because the counterintelligence investigated long before Trump won the election. It started with Brennan trying to sabotage Trump during the campaign. However, it intensified and turned into the Mueller probe after Trump fired Comey. Flopping Aces' Dr John Comey’s FBI became the Stasi and staged a coup against Trump. The FBI is inherently one or two steps away from becoming Stasi. They need a brushback pitch every few years to keep them in their lane. Now is the time. At Breitbart, Joel Pollak: Time to Scrap the FBI and Start Over. Maybe. It could be a little harsh, there are a lot of good people at the FBI, but scrap the name and the upper levels.

CNN: Transcripts detail how FBI debated whether Trump was 'following directions' of Russia
Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who was dismissed from Mueller's team and later fired over anti-Trump text messages, texted Page in the hours after Comey's firing and said: "We need to open the case we've been waiting on now while Andy is acting," a reference to then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
So, yes, it was in the wings before Trump fired Comey.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air: Trump: “I Never Worked For Russia,” And The Question Is A “Disgrace”, settling the question once and for all, right?

As is often the case, Trump crystallizes it all with a tweet: "They got caught spying on my campaign and then called it an investigation" is a great line. Powerline: Are you sure Alger done it this way?

Roger Kimball: Watergate by Any Other Name
Familiarity, it is said, breeds contempt. It also breeds indifference. For almost three years now, the intelligence services and police apparatus of the deep state have worked tirelessly to undermine Donald Trump. Beginning sometime in the late winter of 2016, when Trump’s presidential campaign was showing unexpected signs of strength, John Brennan—the Communist-voting apparatchik turned media mouthpiece whom it pleased Barack Obama to appoint as director of the CIA—began ringing alarm bells about Trump’s possible relations with the Kremlin. His concern was based on two things. One was a report, spurious as it turned out, about “contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians.” The other was that brittle sense of entitlement, fired by paranoia, that membership in the higher echelons of the deep state’s nomenklatura breeds. . . .
Well, now we have the pushback to pushback. Apparently, a memo went out from Bezos' WaPoo to quick, write some more article about how bad Trump is and that collusion is real, or at least could be. Sorry if you can't read them, but I couldn't possibly quote them all, and wouldn't want to.Never Trumper Max Boot: Here are 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset. 19; he forgot the Russian dressing. Annie Applesauce, The Trump-Putin revelations tell us what we knew all along. That we hates Trump. Jennifer Rubin, It’s undeniable: Trump and the Russians are locked at the hip, in your mind. Asha Rangappa? The FBI can’t neutralize a security threat if the president is the threat. Greg Sargent, Trump talked up Russia during now-revealed secret Moscow project talks and Trump is doing immense damage. He has a hidden helper. Paul Waldman, Why the Russia scandal will define the next two years of Trump’s presidency. More Rubin: No president has ever been asked: Are you a Russian agent?. The editorial bored, Trump’s denials about his business ties in Russia are not credible. Whew! All those bonuses are going to tax the dwindling Bezos fortune!

Not to be out done Carl Bernstein tells CNN that the Draft of Mueller's final report says Trump helped Putin 'destabilize' the US (Daniel Chaitin, WaEx). Comey buddy Benjamin Wittes: at the Atlantic. The Chain Reaction That Began When Trump Fired James Comey Is Speeding Up. Tom Nichols at USA Today, All signs point the same way: Vladimir Putin has compromising information on Donald Trump.

C. Mitchell Shaw: Whistleblower, New American, Obama-era Deep State Surveillance Program Spied on Trump, Judges, Others implicates Mueller in the spying prior to the 2016 election.
As part of what President Trump has repeatedly called a “witch hunt,” the Obama administration collected confidential data on Trump and others, according to freedom activist lawyer Larry Klayman, who is also the founder of both Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch.

Klayman’s claim is not new. In fact, it is not even really his claim. It comes from his client, former NSA and CIA contractor Dennis Montgomery, who “left the NSA and CIA with 47 hard drives and over 600 million pages of information, much of which is classified,” showing “the spy agencies were engaged for years in systematic illegal surveillance on prominent Americans, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, other justices, 156 judges, prominent businessmen such as Donald Trump” and Larry Klayman himself, according to a an op-ed piece written by Klayman in March 2017. The purpose of that illegal Deep State surveillance — Klayman surmises — is “for potential coercion, blackmail or other nefarious purposes.” . . .
From the Wombat's In The Mailbox: 01.14.19, the Victory Girls: Lisa Page & The FBI – The Gift That Keeps On Giving
During her testimony, Page said her role was to “bridge the gap and transition between what we as a team knew and the evidence that we had gathered to date on the collusion investigation and sort of imparting that knowledge to the new special counsel team.”

Read that carefully. She was to help in the “sort of imparting” of knowledge to the new special counsel team. While you might be inclined to say she simply misspoke and didn’t mean they weren’t being completely honest with the new team or not giving over all the evidence they had gathered, remember this: she was the FBI’s assistant general counsel. She has been trained to consider her words carefully before speaking. Was this her being unclear or was it a slip of the tongue?

Page reiterated the talking point we’ve heard so many times, claiming there was and is no bias against Trump. However, she did admit the FBI put more emphasis on the Trump investigation than it did into looking at HRC.
It's clear now that the Mueller investigation is the "official" child of the illegal ops run by the intelligence agencies against Trump and the campaign. Page and Strzok were there to provide the continuity. Noah Feldman at Bloomberg: Rosenstein Bent the Rules to Protect Mueller — and It Worked - The deputy attorney general should have recused himself at least twice, but didn’t, and stood up to Trump in the process. and he says that like it's a good thing.

Insty: MICHAEL WALSH: FOR REAL ‘RUSSIAN COLLUSION,’ LOOK TO THE DEMOCRATS. - Dalton Trumbo, Paul Robeson, I.F. Stone, and Ted Kennedy could not be reached for comment.
UPDATE: “All right, I’m getting into this late because I thought it was a joke. Do Dems believe Trump was born in Russia and sent here or did they flip him here as a teen in military school or did he flip himself at age 70 because the Communist light bulb went off?” — Dennis Miller.
At Da Hill, Dems zero in on Trump and Russia and WSJ, Democrats Promise Probe of Trump Meetings With Putin. Never-Trumper David Frum, Subpoena the Interpreter It's not like he promised more flexibility with them after his re-election or anything. Matthew Walter: The 5 most likely Trump impeachment scenarios. The Show Trial must go on! CNN: Cruz: People outside DC are not concerned with Russia investigation. Well, some of us are, apparently.
"There is an incredible divide between Washington and the rest of the country when it comes to Bob Mueller and the Russia investigation," Cruz said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The mainstream media, Washington, is obsessed with it. And when you get outside the Beltway, I don't find anybody concerned with this at all."
Hot Air reads NYT because you cannot:  Trump Says He Alone Can Do It. His AG Nominee Usually Agrees.
Mr. Barr’s argument derived from his broad view of executive power: The Constitution, he claimed, does not permit Congress to make it a crime for the president to exercise his executive powers corruptly — even if he were to fire a subordinate, pardon someone or use what Mr. Barr termed his “complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding” to cover up crimes by himself or his associates.

The claim that the framers of the Constitution empowered presidents to impede investigations for corrupt ends goes too far, many legal scholars say. But Supreme Court precedents offer few definitive guideposts, giving the attorney general broad latitude.
Edd Morrissey at Hot Air: Barr: “Vitally Important” To Let Mueller Finish His Investigation. Yes, sadly if you end it prematurely, democrats will whine forever. But Allahpundit: I Support William Barr For Attorney General, Says … Joe Biden. Us old white guys need to stick together. I stand by my prediction of zero Democrat votes, just on the asshole principle.

CNN, Trump's legal team rebuffed request for Mueller interview in recent weeks. Why would anyone in their right mind talk to Mueller's crew voluntarily after he's shown time and time again, if you don't say what he wants, they hang a perjury charge on you? A little off the main line but Margot Cleveland at Da Federalist points out Missing Key Documents About Alleged Misconduct By Robert Mueller’s Lead Prosecutor. Just a lucky coincidence?

Rosenstein planning a parting gift to Trump or just bureaucrats empowering fellow bureaucrats?  John Solomon at Da Hill Rosenstein, DOJ exploring ways to more easily spy on journalists
For months now, the Department of Justice (DOJ) quietly has been working on a revision to its guidelines governing how, when and why prosecutors can obtain the records of journalists, particularly in leak cases.

The work has been supervised by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office, especially since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions departed, but is not wrapped up.

The effort has the potential to touch off a First Amendment debate with a press corps that already has high degrees of distrust of and disfunction with the Trump administration.

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is aware of the effort but has not been given a final recommendation. Sources close to Whitaker say he will await final judgment but, in recent days, has developed reservations about proceeding with the plan.

“After a lengthy period of turmoil and regular criticism from President Trump, DOJ has enjoyed a period of calm normalcy that has put employees’ focus back on their work and not the next tweet. Matt doesn’t want to disrupt that unless a strong legal case can be made,” a source close to the acting AG told me.
Betsy Woodruff at Da Beast: Kremlin Blessed Russia’s NRA Operation, U.S. Intel Report Says. But sadly, U.S. Intel has a long history of being political, and wrong. Sometimes both simultaneously, leaving room for doubt which the Kremlin can exploit. Althouse: "'Well, well, well,' went the general line in the Russian media, 'look what we have here.'"
I guess that's a pretty rough translation, printed in "Fake News as ‘Moral Imperative’? Democrats’ Alabama Move Hints at Ugly 2020" by Jim Rutenberg in the NYT. The Russian media, we're told, "were downright gleeful over new reports that a group of Democrats had used online disinformation in the campaign against Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama in 2017."
Their reaction was understandable, given the news that American political operatives had tried the same kind of troll operations that United States intelligence officials believe the Russian government used in an attempt to swing the 2016 presidential election to Donald J. Trump.
The Russian news outlet Sputnik jumped on the news, saying last week that the Alabama operation “seems to cast Democrats’ Russiagate accusations into further doubt.”
From the Atlantic  Imagine the Stormy Daniels Scandal in Any Other Presidency - It’s mind-boggling to think what would have happened had Barack Obama or George W. Bush paid off a porn actress to cover up an alleged affair.. Why not reach back a little further to Bill Clinton, LBJ or JFK? We know what happened, the media actively colluded to cover it up.

Whew, I was beginning to think I'd never get through it.

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