Friday, March 22, 2019

Some Relaxing Russiagate

So, here we sit coffee in hand on another Friday morning wondering if the Mueller report is going to come out today or not, if by come out we mean have William Barr acknowledge that Mueller has sent him the "final" paper work for him to review and decide what to release. It's getting pretty close to the pre-release date given by Amazon for their book "The Mueller Report", with a planned release date of March 26, or next Tuesday. I'm betting against it; I think the Mueller crowd will try to keep the investigation on Trump up to the 2020 election. Speaking of the Mueller crowd, Nice Deb reports Top Prosecutors Leave Mueller Team After GOP Reps Complain to AG Barr.
Zainab Ahmad and Andrew Weissmann -- two top prosecutors on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team -- have left the team in recent days, sparking speculation that the Russia probe is wrapping up. One Republican congressman, however, thinks something else may have prompted their departures.

On Fox News Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) speculated that a letter he and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) sent to Attorney General William Barr on March 1 may have prompted the pair's departures.

In the letter, Reps Jordan and Meadows questioned the independence of Ahmad and Weissmann, pointing out that both were involved in discussions with DOJ official Bruce Ohr as he transferred unverified anti-Trump dossier material from Fusion GPS into the FBI and DOJ.
These were folk who were involved with investigation before Mueller was appointed, and who, if you believe Sundance at CTH, were more the drivers of the investigation than Mueller ever was. So, whether they were pushed, or left for lack of work, it does signal the investigation is rounding some kind of corner.

RCP, Data Show MSNBC Has Been Robert Mueller's Biggest Fan. Funny, I didn't think Rachel swung that way. She might be disappointed, Letter from deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offers potential road map to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe - Sources familiar with the probe believe there are no more indictments expected, (ABC). No more indictments? Where's the fun in that?

AP, Trump says public should see ‘ridiculous’ Mueller report. Pirate's Cove, Trump Shoots Down Major Argument Against Releasing Mueller Report
“I don’t mind,” he said when asked whether the report should be public. “I mean, frankly, I told the House if you want, let them see it.”
However, interestingly, Aaron Blake, who wrote the Washington Post analysis article above, continues
As I wrote during Barr’s confirmation period, DOJ guidelines combined with Trump’s status as the sitting president created something of a Catch-22 for the Mueller report:
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 says that, unless and until details are revealed by court order as part of an indictment or other proceeding, they must be kept secret. This is to guard against the government releasing derogatory things about people for political purposes.
Lots more to that, but it breaks down to the notion that it kinda must be kept secret, unless there is an indictment or other proceedings. And they sure do not seem to have anything on Trump, and, based on the non-leaks these past years, there is nothing, despite all the Russia Russia Russia conspiracy idiocy.
And don’t forget that Trump himself last week suggested that fellow Republicans at least profess to be all in favor of transparency with the Mueller report. “Makes us all look good and doesn’t matter,” he assured.
“Play along with the game!” he added.
Perhaps Trump has been advised he might as well do the same — and that statements of support for the report’s public release ultimately will not matter.
I hadn’t gotten beyond the first half of the article when I wrote about Trump’s statement being a psych-out for the conspiracy minded. I didn’t expect the Washington Post to go there so fast.
Another bend in the road, The Daily Wire, Top Ukrainian Official Opens Investigation Into Alleged Plot To Boost Hillary In 2016 Election, Report Says and from John Solomon at Da Hill, As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges. Fancy that, another Slavic nation trying to influence our election.
Ukraine’s top prosecutor divulged in an interview aired Wednesday on Hill.TV that he has opened an investigation into whether his country’s law enforcement apparatus intentionally leaked financial records during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in an effort to sway the election in favor of Hillary Clinton.

The leak of the so-called black ledger files to U.S. media prompted Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign and gave rise to one of the key allegations in the Russia collusion probe that has dogged Trump for the last two and a half years.

Ukraine Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko’s probe was prompted by a Ukrainian parliamentarian's release of a tape recording purporting to quote a top law enforcement official as saying his agency leaked the Manafort financial records to help Clinton's campaign.
Ann Althouse,  "ADDED: It should say "As allegations of Russia collusion fades." The collusion didn't fade. There was no collusion. Apparently." You can't prove a negative, but if you spend enough time and money investigating something, and you can't find it, we assume it didn't happen. And lest we forget Hillary's other major failings, Judicial Watch Uncovers More Classified Emails in Hillary Clinton’s Unsecure Email System (Flopping Aces). I think it's about time for another Special Counsel, don't you?

Althouse, "John McCain received the fake and phony dossier. You hear about the dossier? It was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton." "And John McCain got it. And what did he do? He didn’t call me. He turned it over to the FBI hoping to put me in jeopardy...." I can understand his long simmering resentment. People can be both heroes and cads. Althouse is on the subject of phony fact checks, it this case by NYT. Julie Kelly at AmGreat, McCain’s Key Role in Fueling Post-Election Trump-Russia Hysteria. Look, the same people calling McCain a hero now were calling him a Nazi when he opposed Obama.

With liberty and Just Us for All" CNS News IG: DOJ Declined to Prosecute FBI Agent Who Worked for FBI Contractor, Filed False Financial Disclosures, Sexted on FBI Phone
The Department of Justice has declined to prosecute an FBI agent—who has now resigned—who worked for an FBI contractor while still with the FBI, made “false representations” relating to mortgage loans, filed false financial disclosure forms and “exchanged sexually explicit text messages” on a government cell phone, according to the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Justice.

“Prosecution of the SSA was declined,” the IG said in an investigative summary.

The IG issued the investigative summary on February 5. On March 15, asked the Justice Department six questions about the case. The department has not responded.
And brother Mark, the lawyer, sent me this one from RCP: Is an FBI Interview a G-Man's License to Lie?  on the well known problems with basing prosecutions on FBI 302 summaries of interviews.
At 10:38 on the morning of Feb. 4, 2019, the deputy for United States District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said, “Good morning, Your Honor. This is a sealed proceeding, and the courtroom has been locked.”

It was a hearing at which lawyers for Special Counsel Robert Mueller would argue that Paul Manafort had lied to them during 12 interviews, both before and after striking his plea bargain on foreign lobbying and money laundering charges. We know what was said behind those locked doors because a word-for-word transcript was made of the courtroom proceedings.

Strangely, there was no such transcript of what Manafort had said in his interviews. This made it difficult to reconstruct what his responses to questioning had been, let alone determine whether they were truthful. But if there was no transcript, surely the court could consult a videotape of his interrogation, the sort of recording that is standard practice for local police who are interviewing, say, a suspected car thief. And if there was no videotape for the judge to watch, surely there was, at the very least, an audiotape.

But no. The bureau has insisted instead, for more than half a century, on summarizing its interrogations, of everyone from witnesses to targets, in a type of memo designated an FD-302 or just “302.” Those memos have been used in recent high-profile investigations to summarize the statements of Manafort, Hillary Clinton, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, among others. Many were shocked to learn that Clinton’s interview with the FBI about her handling of classified emails was not tape-recorded. They may be more shocked to learn that is standard FBI procedure.

Judge Jackson, who would ultimately side with Mueller’s team on the question of Manafort’s truthfulness, was flummoxed at first. She didn’t quite know what to make of the accusations Manafort had lied after he had pleaded guilty and promised to cooperate. Flummoxed, because she was trying to reconstruct from 302s what had and hadn’t been said.

“That's not the way the 302 read to me when I read it,” she said in response to the prosecution’s characterization of Manafort’s testimony. “This is the problem with not having grand jury testimony, but having to look at a 302.” Clearly frustrated, the judge added, “I may not be able to resolve it on the face of the 302.”
Mark says:
I’ve taken hundreds of witness statements, and made memos like 302s. I’ve taken hundreds of depositions, with verbatim transcriptions and video. I have written hundreds of declarations, statements under oath.

You should not be able to secure a perjury charge based on a 302, a summary of notes of an interview. It violates fundamental notions of due process. Does anyone think that Peter Strzok, even if he believed he was unbiased, created a fair summary of testimony, days or weeks after an interview. From personal experience, I can tell you that if you don’t prepare your memo of an interview within 24 hours, the accuracy is at best suspect.

We should end this practice. The DOJ conviction rate might drop from 99% to 95%, but it’s worth the price. The potential for abuse is enormous.
It will take a judge to decide not to roll over for the FBI. And then have it appealed to the Supremes.

Aynaz Anni Cyrus at AmericanThinker says to ignore The Kushner Security Clearance Noise. Done.

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