Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Russiagate, with Added Ratcliffe

The hubbub over Muellermas appears to be largely behind us. On to Mifsud Mania! Courtesy of the Wombat's In The Mailbox: 07.30.19, Tom Maguire at Just One Minute picks up the thread in Joseph Mifsud, Maltese Man Of Mystery
Lee Smith, also writing for Real Clear Investigations, provided lots of background on Mifsud last May 2018. My fave from that article: Mifsud denies being an MI6 "agent", which fans of the genre (but not all legacy journalists) understand is quite different from being an MI6 "asset".

And the latest hook is the failure of Mueller to charge Mifsud with false statements, even though Mueller had no problem indicting unreachable Russians in Lenningrad and other Americans closer to home. Why so shy about the guy whose interactions with Papadopoluos ostensiblytriggered Crossfire Hurricane? Who knows? One day Mifsud may be singing a song under the bright Congressional lights and we'll be reading about the Maltese Canary.

But do let me highlight a problem faced by Mueller and noted by Mr. Felten: charging both Papadopoulos and Mifsud with false statements may have been challenging . . .
So who do you charge, the Trump loving Papadop or the assetfor the deep state? I think the choice was obvious. Capt Ed. at Hot Air, Russiagate Hinges On Mifsud — And The Mystery Of Why Mueller Didn’t Pursue Him
At the moment, the prospects for getting an answer to the question seem poor. Michael Horowitz’ inspector-general investigation into the beginnings of Operation Crossfire Hurricane will get released soon, perhaps in September, but Horowitz’ scope is the Department of Justice. The CIA would be beyond his purview, which means he’d only be able to determine what the FBI knew about Mifsud, if much of anything.

Appointing John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence might uncork more, but if there is more, why isn’t CIA director Gina Haspel providing it? Mifsud’s name and picture are all over the place, so it’s not as if he can operate as an active asset now, if indeed he ever was one in the first place. As president, Trump can choose to declassify anything he likes (although with some potential for drastic consequences). Jim Jordan shouldn’t have to be berating Mueller about Mifsud; if there’s something besides smoke there, Trump and his team can provide it.

The best guess for why Mifsud hasn’t been fully explained is because he’s just not fully explainable. The lack of charges against him should be explained, however, because it certainly leaves the impression that the special counsel was playing favorites with obstructors.
Brian Cates at Uncover DC, The Return of Professor Joseph Mifsud, International Man of Mystery!
I’ve had a working theory for almost two years now that the SpyGate plotters needed at least ONE actual, real, live Russian agent in all of this, and they picked Mifsud to play that role….willingly or not.

I surmise that at the time Mifsud sat for an interview with the FBI back in February of 2017, he had yet to discover his FBI handlers had ‘volunteered’ him for the role of the being the only real Russian agent in the story.

Now its clear Durham’s investigative team has looked at the narrative about Mifsud that was told by the FBI in it’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and in the Mueller report, and they simply aren’t buying it.  They want to talk to Mifsud himself.

And I believe if Mifsud ever does talk and reveal what he knows, this is going to cause a whole set of very real problems for people who’ve bought into the narrative that he was a genuine Russian agent making a real offer of Russian help to a Trump campaign advisor.
One bright spot in all this is that Mifsud will never be able to ply his trade, whatever it is, in the open again.

A reminder from Nice Deb at AmGreat, Joe diGenova: The DOJ Will Begin Dropping ‘Hugely Embarrassing’ Declassified Documents on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to it, but I've been disappointed before. Could this be part of it, sundance at CTH, James Comey Under Investigation – John Huber Investigating Comey Memos – Declaration Release This Week…. One can hope. The Guardian reports how Secret texts cast light on UK’s early role in Trump-Russia inquiry
Text messages between Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI at the time, and Jeremy Fleming, his then counterpart at MI5, now the head of GCHQ, also reveal their mutual surprise at the result of the EU referendum, which some US officials regarded as a “wake-up call”, according to a person familiar with the matter.
. . .
Their exchanges offer new insights into the start of the FBI’s Russia investigation, and how British intelligence appears to have played a key role in the early stages.

In one exchange in August 2016, Fleming noted that members of the FBI and MI5 had “met on our strange situation”, a veiled reference to discussions about Russian activities, according to the source.

The text messages between the two men were infrequent and cryptic and did not contain specific or sensitive materials, but occurred with some regularity after the referendum in June 2016.
With Boris holding the whip hand, expect more British cooperation in the probes. But, of course, the conspiracy originated in the Obama White House. Gateway Pundit, Transcripts Obtained of Former FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki Testifying Russia Conspiracy Came from Obama’s White House

From Liz Shield at AmGreat, Rep. Devin Nunes Says Mueller’s Team Obstructed Congressional Investigation. One of several theories long advanced by sundance at CTH is that a primary goal of the Mueller investigation was to provide an excuse to keep materials on FBI/DOJ activities secret for as long as possible.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) appeared on Maria Bartiromo’s Sunday talk to show to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before congress last week.  In his interview, Nunes says that the Mueller team would not turn over requested transcripts and information to the House Intelligence Committee for its investigation when the committee was under Republican control.

“The Mueller dossier team wouldn’t let us have them,” says Nunes.
Also from Nice Deb at AmGreat, Did John Brennan Lie to Congress About 2016 Gang of Eight Briefings? Well it wouldn't be the first time.

David McKay at AmSpec has The Seven Dumbest Things Democrats Demand You Believe. Only seven? And from the Cambrian Dissenters, As A Dog Returns to His Vomit So A Fool Returns to His Folly

The fight over the Ratcliffe nomination as DNI is starting to generate heat. Via Wombat's In The Mailbox: 07.30.19, Power Line, A DNI Trump Trusts? The Horror!
But the Democratic/media/intelligence community drumbeat against Ratcliffe ignores this important reality: The nation is ill-served when the president doesn’t trust his top intelligence adviser.

Because President Trump trusts Ratcliffe, or at least doesn’t view him as an adversary or tool of his adversaries, there is a chance that Trump will take Ratcliffe’s intelligence briefings seriously. With Coats, there was no such chance.

As Eli Lake reports, Trump kept Coats “out of the loop.” Thus, Trump hasn’t been getting “the intelligence” the Washington Post thinks “he needs” from the current director.

If Ratcliffe tells Trump only what the president wants to hear, then Trump still might not get “the intelligence he needs,” and the fact that the director is back in the loop will be of no consequence. But I don’t assume that Ratcliffe will act in bad faith.
Capt. Ed, Coats’ Resignation A Win For … Pompeo? Yeah, I'm OK with that. Sundance at CTH, Soft Coup and Impeachment Crew React to Removal of Dan Coats…. Comey and Brennan not pleased? That's telling; they've got a lot to lose potentially.

And, Ratcliffe’s Job Interview? “There Were Crimes Committed During The Obama Administration” Yep. Hopefully we'll get a clearer look at that under Ratcliffe.

Hot Air cites NYT in Trump’s Choice Of A Partisan For Top Intelligence Post Rattles Critics. And that's a good thing. ABC claims Trump's pick for intelligence director misrepresented role in anti-terror case, but reading the article, it seems like a matter of interpretation.

At the New Yorker, Trump’s Message to U.S. Intelligence Officials: Be Loyal or Leave. It should be sufficient if they wouldn't plot against the President. Mediaite, Ralph Peters Blasts Trump’s DNI Nominee as Unqualified: ‘You’re Gonna Put a Monkey in There?’ I'm not impressed. AllahPundit prays Is Trump’s New Pick For Intelligence Chief About To Be Blocked By The Republican Senate?

Fox News, Judge dismisses DNC hacking lawsuit against Trump team, says claims 'entirely divorced from the facts'
A federal judge in frank terms Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) against key members of the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over hacked DNC documents, saying they "did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place" and therefore bore no legal liability for disseminating the information.

The ruling came as Democrats increasingly have sought to tie the Trump team to illegal activity in Russia, in spite of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings that the campaign in fact refused multiple offers by Russians to involve them in hacking and disinformation efforts.

President Trump, in a tweet late Tuesday, noted that the judge in the case, John Koeltl, was appointed by Bill Clinton. The president called Koeltl's decision "really big 'stuff'" and "yet another total & complete vindication and exoneration."
. . .
Republicans, meanwhile, have focused increasingly on the DNC's own apparent role in the origins of the FBI's probe into the Trump campaign, which began in the summer of 2016 -- after British ex-spy Christopher Steele, a longtime FBI informant funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign, began work on his now-discredited dossier.

The dossier was used in secret surveillance warrants to monitor members of the Trump team, and later fueled media reports that kept the investigation going, despite many apparent problems with its reliability. Multiple DOJ reviews into the dossier's use, and related matters, were ongoing.

The chances of the FBI securing a secret 2016 surveillance warrant for a Trump campaign aide were “50/50” without the controversial anti-Trump “dossier,” according to testimony in recently confirmed congressional transcripts from senior FBI lawyer Sally Moyer to House investigators.

And, Papadopoulos on Sunday told Fox News he was heading back to Greece to retrieve $10,000 that he suspected was dropped in his lap during the campaign as part of an entrapment scheme by the CIA or FBI. Federal investigators want to see the marked bills, which he said were stored in a safe.

Papadopoulos said on "Sunday Morning Futures" he was "very happy" to see House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., grill Mueller about the summer 2017 payment during last week's hearings -- even though Mueller maintained, without explanation, that the matter was outside the scope of his investigation.

"I was very happy to see that Devin Nunes brought that up," Papadopoulos said. "A man named Charles Tawil gave me this money [in Israel] under very suspicious circumstances. A simple Google search about this individual will reveal he was a CIA or State Department asset in South Africa during the '90s and 2000s. I think around the time when Bob Mueller was the director of the FBI."
And things that just reawaken anger, Rick Moran at PJ Media, The Fix Was in from the Start for Hillary's 'Exoneration,' Immunity Agreements with Aides Suggest, but we knew that.
The American Center for Law and Justice finally got some satisfaction from its numerous FOIA requests to the Department of Justice. It took a specific court order from a federal judge to release long-secret documents that might raise a few eyebrows among those who are still interested in matters pertaining to Hillary Clinton's aides and the former secretary of state's missing emails.
The ACLJ has obtained the DOJ’s infamous immunity agreements with Hillary Clinton’s top aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson – documents previously unreleased to the public and which include the DOJ attempting to enter an agreement not to comply with the requirements of FOIA, and which confirm it agreed to “dispose” of evidence, including Mills’ and Samuelson’s “culling laptops” which contained all of the missing emails from Hilary Clinton’s private homebrew server.
The immunity agreements signed by Mills and Samuelson are, to say the least, overly generous to their legal interests:
As we have advised you, we consider Cheryl Mills to be a witness based on the information gathered to date in this investigation. We understand that Cheryl Mills is willing to voluntarily provide the Mills Laptop to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if the United States agrees not to use any information directly obtained from the Mills Laptop in any prosecution of Cheryl Mills for the mishandling of classified information and/or the removal or destruction of records as described below.
That might be fairly standard. But what's highly unusual is that the content of those laptops remains the private property of the aides. In other words, some of the content is immune from FOIA requests.
. . .
Additional information uncovered by ACLJ is even more shocking:
The DOJ agreed that the FBI would “dispose” of Mills’ and Samuelson’s laptops after the search. According to the agreement:
As soon as the investigation is completed, and to the extent consistent with all FBI policies and applicable laws, including the Federal Records Act, the FBI will dispose of the Device and any printed or electronic materials resulting from your search.
In other words, after agreeing to limit its search of Mills’ laptop to (1) only a certain method of searching; (2) only for certain email-related files; and, (3) only files created within a certain time-frame, the DOJ/FBI agreed to dispose of the laptop – meaning anything else embarrassing, negative or potentially implicating on the laptop – including official State Department records – would be destroyed and never be exposed. (Emphasis mine)
You may recall former FBI Director James Comey explaining to Congress that "no reasonable prosecutor" would have brought charges against Hillary Clinton. Under this immunity agreement, it's hardly surprising that Comey would have made such a self-serving statement.

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