Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Serving of Russiagate

A rather meaty set before the Thanksgiving feast. First up, continued noise about the New York Times continuing effort to downplay and dismiss the upcoming report on the DOJ IG Horowitz' report into the origins of the Russia probe. Per AllahPundit, at Hot Air, NYT: Draft IG Report On Russiagate Finds That FBI Didn’t Spy On Trump’s Campaign
The F.B.I. was cognizant of being seen as interfering with a presidential campaign, and former law enforcement officials are adamant that they did not investigate the Trump campaign organization itself or target it for infiltration. But agents had to investigate the four advisers’ ties with Russia, and the people they did scrutinize all played roles in the Trump campaign…
Mr. Horowitz found no evidence that Mr. Halper tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign itself, the people familiar with the draft report said, such as by seeking inside campaign information or a role in the organization. The F.B.I. also never directed him to do so, former officials said. Instead, Mr. Halper focused on eliciting information from Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos about their ties to Russia.
Mr. Barr has suggested that the F.B.I. assigned other informants as well to figure out whether any Trump associates were working with the Russians. The F.B.I. gave Mr. Horowitz’s team extraordinary access to its informant database, and his investigators examined other F.B.I. informants with possible ties to the Trump campaign.
In each case, they found that the F.B.I. had not deployed those people to gather information on the Trump campaign itself, the people said.
If I’m understanding that correctly, the informants merely attempted to find out what Papadopoulos and Page were doing with the Russians individually, with no probing or prodding about whether they were part of a coordinated campaign effort to seek election assistance from Russia.

Which is hard to believe. The FBI suspected that multiple advisors to a particular candidate had been approached by the Kremlin — quite a coinkydink — but it steadfastly refused to pursue the possibility that the campaign itself, i.e. Trump and his top personnel, was directing them?
Matt Vespa at Town Hall calls The Latest NYT Spin of DOJ IG Report on Alleged Obama-Era FISA Abuses Is Downright Pathetic
Right, the liberal New York Times has declared there was no bias and no spying concerning the upcoming inspector general report into alleged FISA abuses under the Obama administration. If you think this is true, then words have lost all meaning. We’re debating distinctions without differences here—and even the Times’ own reporting on this saga seems to suggest that, yes, the FBI tried to spy on the Trump campaign. You can’t polish a turd and the liberal media has been so appallingly bad covering this White House, you simply should just their pages to wipe your backside. It has more utility in that regard. We don’t believe you, folks. I sure as hell don’t, even though I admit that this paper has, at times, written some great stuff. Hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut, but this spin is trash. The FBI didn’t spy. They just sent informants to covertly glean information from those who were with the Trump campaign and relaying said information back to the FBI. Sounds like a distinction without a difference, huh?
Sundance at CTH is holding out hope as he deconstructs the Time's language in More IG Report Leaks – New York Times Reports FBI “Spies” Placed In/Around Trump Campaign Were Not Spying “On” Trump Campaign…
One note before content review: The highly structured obfuscation within how these leaks are being released, in combination with the lawyers representing the principals, explains why there was such a lengthy delay after the principal review phase.

Each principal can provide feedback for inclusion in the report; however, all feedback added to the report generates an IG rebuttal. Keep this in mind because these leaks are the “feedback” and the leakers have no idea what the IG “rebuttal” will be. The more the principals’ obfuscate and justify conduct to the IG in their feedback, the stronger the rebuttal to that feedback will be in the final report.

The New York Times latest narrative effort is intentionally obtuse with the word “spy”:
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s inspector general found no evidence that the F.B.I. attempted to place undercover agents or informants inside Donald J. Trump’s campaign in 2016 as agents investigated whether his associates conspired with Russia’s election interference operation, people familiar with a draft of the inspector general’s report said.
[…] The finding also contradicts some of the most inflammatory accusations hurled by Mr. Trump and his supporters, who alleged not only that F.B.I. officials spied on the Trump campaign but also at one point that former President Barack Obama had ordered Mr. Trump’s phones tapped.
[…] [FBI] agents had an informant, an academic named Stefan A. Halper, meet with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos while they were affiliated with the campaign.
[…] The F.B.I. did have an undercover agent who posed as Mr. Halper’s assistant during a London meeting with Mr. Papadopoulos in August 2016.
But that’s not spying? OK gotcha.
[…] Mr. Horowitz will also undercut another claim by Trump allies — that the Russian intermediary who promised dirt to Mr. Papadopoulos, a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud, was an F.B.I. informant.
This obfuscation is really silly. No-one has ever claimed Mifsud was an FBI informant. The concern has always been Mifsud was a western intelligence asset, perhaps CIA.
[…] The report is also expected to debunk another theory of Trump allies: that the F.B.I. relied on information to open the investigation from a British former spy, Christopher Steele, himself a onetime bureau informant who compiled a dossier of damaging, unverified information on Mr. Trump.
Another paragraph of nonsense. No-one has alleged the Steele Dossier was used to open the FBI investigation in July 2016. The technical origination of the FBI investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane came from the joint FBI/CIA operation into Papadopoulos on July 31st, 2016. The questions have always been about what predicate the pre-July ’16 originating investigations into Papadopoulos, Page, Flynn and Manafort were based on.

What was the evidence of Russia’s interference in the election, known to the FBI, before July 2016? And what was the evidence that connected the Trump campaign to that predicate claim?
[…] The inspector general will fault the F.B.I. for failing to tell the judges who approved the wiretap applications about potential problems with the dossier, the people familiar with the draft report said. F.B.I. agents have interviewed some of Mr. Steele’s sources and found that their information differed somewhat from his dossier.
Mr. Horowitz plans to say that the wiretap application, which referenced Mr. Papadopoulos, should have also included a statement he made to the undercover agent in London that could be seen as exculpatory or self-serving, the people familiar with the draft report said. (read full article)
A ‘wired’ FBI “undercover agent” recorded an exculpatory statement from Papadopoulos, but no – they weren’t spying? OK gotcha…. Oh, and the FBI just avoided the transcript of the ‘wired’ statement because it just didn’t fit their purposes. But not political? Uh-huh.

If this is the type of feedback the principals gave the IG to justify their endeavors, the rebuttal evidence will be even more interesting.
But Paul Sperry at RCI warns against trusting Horowitz to do a thorough and complete investigation in 'Straight Shooter' Justice Dept. Watchdog Has Held His Fire on Powerful People
While acknowledging that Horowitz is widely respected, these critics say his work has long been hampered by biases, conflicts and a tendency to play favorites, as in past probes of former FBI Director James Comey, whom Horowitz worked under in New York.

Their main complaint is that he pulls his punches.
Among other things, it turns out that he and his wife were Obama donors. Oh well, there's always the Durham prosecutions, Emmett Tyrell at AmSpec, Washington Awaits John Durham "Unlike Inspector General Michael Horowitz, he’s a prosecutor."
“Now what you’re going to see, I predict, will be perhaps the biggest scandal in the history of our country,” said the president of the coming revelations from John Durham. Let us hope he is right. Spygate dwarfs Watergate in seriousness. After all, the Obama administration was caught not in a third-rate burglary but in a high-level scheme to weaponize both domestic and foreign intelligence instruments against a political opponent. For over two years I have been predicting the Justice Department would find evidence of FBI and CIA agents working together to spy on Trump operatives. The Durham investigation will bear this out. The media, of course, will try to pit Horowitz against Durham. Do not fall for it.
Sara Carter "Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree" - FISA Alterations Could Pose Significant Trouble For FBI
Key Points
  • FBI officials concerned that FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith’s tampered and altered documents to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Warrant will put into question all the evidence gathered to obtain the warrant.
  • Horowitz referred Clinesmith to DOJ Prosecutor John Durham appointed by Attorney General William Barr for further investigation.
  • Other FBI officials will be wrapped up into Clinesmith’s warrant tampering. Who approved the warrants?
  • Criminal Defense Attorney David Schoen says FBI failed to make immediate correction of any materially false statement or any material omission. “Clearly no such correcting submission was made here.”
  • FBI Lawyer Kevin Clinesmith led the interview on George Papadopolous in February, 2017.
  • Clinesmith was anti-Trump and removed from the Russia investigation.
EPoch Times, Court Filing: Obama Holdover Heading Office Under Investigation for ‘Illegally Leaked’ Classified Document. James Baker, former director of the Office of Net Assessment at the Department of Defense, is thought to have leaked the Flynn transcripts to his buddy, David Ignatius at WaPoo. That's a felony. Oh, he also retaliated against a whistleblower. Larry Elder, Where Was the Love for Whistleblowers During the Obama Administration?

As requested by both the defense and the offense, Judge once again delays Trump ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn’s sentencing until further notice (the Peacock). Margot Cleveland at Da Fed explores Why Federal Prosecutors Now Want To Delay Michael Flynn’s Sentencing
Powell thought the government had no other option, though, telling The Federalist, “This is the government’s only option—short of dismissing the case on its own or producing all the evidence we requested.” Flynn’s attorney also looks forward to the extra time they need to process the IG report and the facts it likely will contain to assist the defense, assuming Judge Sullivan grants the motion.

“We expect it to include evidence of additional Brady violations,” Powell said. “We shall see.”
John Solomon keeps plugging along, Steele distributed other dossier reports, including one to an oligarch’s lawyer. Steele was a UK government bureaucrat/spy past his expiration date, who kept churning out nonsense to sell.

And Molly Hemmingway is on the Nunes matter, Media’s Latest Anti-Nunes Smear Is Michael-Cohen-In-Prague All Over Again
Incidentally, if there is one thing we have learned from the media in the last couple of months, “get dirt” is their code for Republicans doing investigations. “Investigate” is their code for Democrats trying to get dirt on political opponents. It appears the same term could be used regardless of the political views of those doing the investigations.

In any case, the Resistance theory goes that because of this unverified story, they should get dirt on Nunes should be investigated and removed from his role in impeachment proceedings. It is just coincidence, surely, that Nunes has so effectively neutered the Democrats’ impeachment push by pointing out the flaws with Rep. Adam Schiff’s leadership of the proceedings. It is also coincidence that Nunes is chiefly responsible for blowing up the previous impeachment push through his oversight of the agencies that pushed the Russia collusion theory against President Trump.

It should be noted that the story about Nunes is not just objectively stupid but also extremely likely to be false. For one thing, Nunes denied the claims. “These demonstrably false and scandalous stories published by The Daily Beast and CNN are the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth,” he said.

Shokin has also denied it repeatedly, even claiming through an associate to not even know who Nunes is. The denials are hidden in news stories, such as this one, which puts in a throwaway line deep in the piece. Ukrainian American Lev Parnas, the only source used by CNN and other Resistance Media outlets to make their claims, is extremely compromised.
. . .
Media figures should stop being so utterly deranged and stupid about Nunes. They should follow basic journalistic standards, stop repeating false claims, and stop regurgitating dubious information from compromised sources.
Breitbart, OMB Official: Ukraine Aid Held Up Because Other Countries Weren’t Giving. WaEx, Report: Trump knew about whistleblower complaint before releasing aid to Ukraine. This is being touted as evidence for a guilty mind.
A Tuesday report from the New York Times calls into question whether Trump released the aid to Ukraine because he was worried about the complaint or because his administration was reasonably assured by that point that Ukraine’s government would not waste the U.S. aid.
John Sexton Hot Air, All of a sudden, Three Women Accuse Gordon Sondland Of Inappropriate Behavior. Breitbart, Three Women Accuse Gordon Sondland of Sexual Misconduct. I question the timing, as does Ann Althouse, in "These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes. They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them."
Why are these stories coming out now rather than earlier, when Sondland first appeared on the scene and seemed to be offering important anti-Trump testimony? If this is not a "concocted" or at least "coordinated" attack done for "political purposes," then why were these complaints withheld until after it appeared that Sondland helped Trump?

Trying to tear Sondland down this way — at this time — has the effect of bolstering the pro-Trump aspects of his testimony. It makes one think that Sondland's testimony was very damaging to the case for impeachment (that's why there's scrambling to discredit him and to warn others away from helping Trump). Moreover, it might — for some observers — reinforce the belief that the impeachment drive has been unfair — procedurally irregular and aggressive, a witch hunt.

I have no opinion on whether what the women are saying is true. I'm just talking about the timing and the politicalization of accusations of sexual misconduct.
At Da Wire, Mark Levin Goes Off Over Key Witness Not Called To Testify In Impeachment Hearings It's gonna have to wait for the Senate trial, if there is one.

The Stamford Advocate, Giuliani was in talks to be paid by Ukraine's top prosecutor as they together sought damaging information on Democrats. Maybe. So what? Defense lawyers are going to try to gather data to help their client. Getting paid to do so is a bonus.

Hunter does Dallas. Hunter Biden, the gift that keeps giving Hunter Biden’s Alleged Baby Mama Worked At DC Strip Club Under Stage Name ‘Dallas’: Report

Josh Hammer, NYPo, Why Trump’s Ukraine demands weren’t remotely illegal
The “no quid pro quo” clash amounts to a semantic debate over a phone call transcript. And it is largely unpersuasive, on its own terms, and especially to the president’s haters.

Instead, there is a more intellectually compelling and politically potent line of argument that Trump and his defenders ought to adopt — free speech.
. . .
To treat such cajoling as a high crime — and impeachable if the US president does it — would render governing impossible.

How can the duly elected president of the United States be removed from office for engaging in constitutionally protected speech aimed at getting a foreign leader to investigate corruption and past election meddling?
At PJ Media, Victor Davis Hanson asks Are Thought Crimes Impeachable? Only for Republicans.

Sundance, HJC Chairman Nadler Attempts to Reframe “Impeachment Inquiry” With “Groundwork Hearing” – Before Receiving Impeachment Inquiry Report – Violating Their Own Resolution Process…. Rules? We don't need no stinking rules. If we don't find the ones we have convenient, we make up new ones. Allah Pundit weeps at Report: Trump’s Lawyers Might Decline Nadler’s Invite To Examine Witnesses At Impeachment Hearing. "Bonchie" at Red State, Democrat Senators Find Something New to Go After Trump Over. What, the long tie? Nope, it's the military pardons. "Long story short, Trump can pardon whoever he wants for whatever reason he wants. Period." At Breitbart, Rep. Cohen: We Can Impeach Trump Again. It's probably better for the country than whatever legislation you might try to pass instead.

WaEx, Support for impeachment drops after second week of hearings, but Politico thinks Dems see one last chance to boost public support for impeachment "with a slate of hearings in the House Judiciary Committee beginning next week."

W. Joseph Campbell at Media Myth Alert notices how Impeachment hearings prompt media references to heroic-journalist myth of Watergate. They're always quick to toot their own horn.

Finally Amanda Marcotte at Salon whines Final, final Republican defense strategy for Trump: Don the tinfoil, join the conspiracy "How can we expect Republicans to judge Donald Trump fairly? At this point, nearly all of them are in on the crime." Bwahahahahahaha!

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