Thursday, April 23, 2020

Russiagate, A Crime in Progress

Well, let's see what we have. The report from the Senate intel committee essentially giving the intel agencies the green light for their war against the bad orange man continues to draw attention. Margot Cleveland at Da Fed, Even The Manipulated Senate Intel Report Can’t Hide FBI Spies And Lies. It's pretty hard to polish a turd, but it can be done.
Significantly, in tracing this history of the decision to include the Steele dossier in the intel report, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence noted that “the FBI didn’t want to stand behind” Steele’s reporting.

But the FBI did stand behind Steele reporting to federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court judges four times: once months earlier, and then mere weeks after the FBI opted to only summarize the dossier in the annex to the ICA report because the agents didn’t “want to stand behind” the reporting. As Inspect General Michael Horowitz found, and as the recent additional declassifications of the FISA applications prove, the Steele dossier was indispensable to the FISA surveillance applications. Yet “the FBI didn’t want to stand behind” it!

Nonetheless, and without a hint of self-reflection, Comey has pointed to yesterday’s Senate report as exoneration. Those who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election “were professionals,” Comey tweeted.

That “the FBI didn’t want to stand behind” the Steele dossier raises the question of why then did the FBI insist on including the details in the report, albeit in the annex? Here, it is helpful to remember that the intelligence community briefed then-president Obama on the report on January 5, 2017 and President-elect Trump on the next day—the same day an unclassified version of the ICA was publicly released.

Less than a week later, on January 12, 2017, “Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper, and Carl Bernstein of CNN reported . . . that President-elect Trump was briefed on classified information indicating that the Russians have compromising personal or financial information that the Russians could use against President-elect Trump.” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper later admitted “that he confirmed the existence of the dossier to the media.” (CNN later hired Clapper as a national security advisor.)
From News Thud, John Brennan Buried Intel Showing Putin Wanted Hillary Clinton to Win 2016 Election: Fox News Report
Fred Fleitz is the president of the Center for Security Policy. He served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. Writing in Fox News he ripped John Brennan and the CIA for what they did to Trump.

“Contrary to common practice for controversial intelligence community assessments, Brennan’s team allowed no dissenting views or even an annex with reviews by outside experts,” he wrote. “These were extraordinary violations of intelligence community rules to ensure that analysis is accurate and trusted. The Senate committee reports ignored these foundational violations.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report falsely claims that “all analytical lines are supported with all-source intelligence” and that analysts who wrote the intelligence community assessment consistently said they “were under no politically motivated pressure to reach specific conclusions.”

House Intelligence Committee staff members found the opposite. They told me there was conflicting intelligence evidence on Russian motivations for meddling in the 2016 election.

More gravely, they said that CIA Director Brennan suppressed facts or analysis that showed why it was not in Russia’s interests to support Trump and why Putin stood to benefit from Hillary Clinton’s election. They also told me that Brennan suppressed that intelligence over the objections of CIA analysts.
Nick Arama at Red State, Ex-FBI Officials Confirm in New Report: They Included Dossier in Russian Interference Report Because of Obama Order
According to new bipartisan report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee, former top FBI officials confirmed that they included the Steele dossier in the Intelligence Community Assessment about Russian interference because of an order from then-President Barack Obama, despite the fact that it was unverified and not vetted.

From Washington Examiner:
The Senate report revealed the Intelligence Community Assessment began at the behest of Obama himself in early December 2016 during a meeting of the National Security Council, with the president instructing then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to prepare a comprehensive report on Russian interference. The report stated Obama “directed that the report include everything the IC knew about Russian interference in the 2016 elections.”
Clapper told the committee, “I don’t think we would have mounted the effort we did, probably, to be honest, in the absence of presidential direction, because that kind of cleared the way on sharing all the accesses.”
The Senate report noted Obama asked for the intelligence assessment to cover a wide range of Russia-related topics and be completed by the end of his second term in late January 2017. The report notes, “There was no document memorializing this presidential direction.”
The report appeared to suggest that it was FBI Director James Comey and the FBI who included it because they thought Obama wanted it in the assessment.
Chuck Ross at Da Caller, Consortium Linked To Steele Dossier Firms Paid $485K To Tech Company That Contributed To Senate Intel Report, but no conflict, amIrite?

No friend of Trump, Eli Lake at Yahoo! thinks that despite the Senate report, The FBI Still Needs to Explain That Flawed Trump Dossier. More than explain, they need to be held accountable.
The Senate report provides some more context. It says that the FBI’s assistant director for counterintelligence did not want the bureau to “stand behind” the dossier but that former President Barack Obama’s directive was to “include all information” about Russian interference in the 2016 election. So, despite reservations about the dossier’s accuracy, the bureau believed it had to include it.

This explanation makes no sense. The purpose of an intelligence assessment is not to include just any rumor spies might hear. It is to assess the ocean of information the national security state collects, and to provide analytical judgments about what happened.

There were good reasons to doubt the veracity of Steele’s work. Earlier this month, the Justice Department declassified a series of footnotes from the inspector general’s December report. They indicate that the FBI team investigating the Trump campaign knew in early 2017 that some of Steele’s reporting was likely deliberate Russian disinformation. The report itself also notes that even some of Steele’s sources wouldn’t stand by his reporting.

Add it all up, and it’s stunning that a team hand-picked by FBI senior leadership to investigate Trump and Russia would submit the Steele dossier to the secret surveillance court to obtain a warrant — and three subsequent renewals — or, for that matter, to the wider intelligence community as part an assessment of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) at opines WaPoo, The national security cost of Trump’s politicization of U.S. intelligence. I would call him clueless, but he clearly knows what's going on, and is trying to deflect from the Obama era politicization of US intelligence.

From sundance at CTH, John Solomon Stands By His Claim: John Durham Indictments Coming Soon…. I hope so.

Also from John Solomon's news site, Just the News, How Adam Schiff secretly thwarted efforts to bring transparency in Russia probe
In late September 2018 with a mid-year election approaching, the often bitterly divided House Intelligence Committee forged a rare bipartisan moment: Its Republican and Democratic members voted to make public the transcripts of 53 witnesses in the Russia collusion investigation.

But what was hailed as an act of transparency has not been fulfilled 19 months later, even though U.S intelligence has declassified and cleared the transcripts for release.

The answer why lies in the backroom dealings of Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat and its current chairman, according to interviews and memos obtained by Just the News.

Shortly after Schiff took over from Republican Rep. Devin Nunes as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in 2019, he sent a letter to the office of then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

The letter obtained by Just the News specifically ordered that the witness transcripts — some of which contained exculpatory evidence for President Trump’s team — not be shared with Trump or White House lawyers even if the declassification process required such sharing.

“Under no circumstances shall ODNI, or any other element of the Intelligence Community (IC), share any HPSCI transcripts with the White House, President Trump or any persons associated with the White House or the President,” Schiff wrote in a March 26, 2019 letter to then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

“Such transcripts remain the sole property of HPSCI, and were transmitted to ODNI for the limited purpose of enabling a classification review by IC elements and the Department of Justice,” Schiff added.

U.S. intelligence officials said Schiff’s request made it impossible for them to declassify 10 of the transcripts, mostly of current and former White House and National Security Council witnesses, because White House lawyers would have had to review them for what is known as “White House equities" and presidential privileges.

But 43 of the transcripts were declassified and cleared for public release and given to Schiff's team, but they have never been made public despite the committee’s vote to do so, officials said.
From Paul Mirengoff at Power Line, Ben Mankiewicz's Heroes
Let’s try a thought experiment. Although the claim that Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election campaign has no basis, it seems likely that Russia tried to interfere in the election via posts on social media. Suppose Congress undertook to investigate this matter. Suppose that, in conducting its investigation, a committee called as witnesses people who participated in social media and who had past ties with Russia.

Finally, suppose that some of those called as witnesses refused to appear or appeared but refused to answer questions.

Would liberals and the mainstream media regard these people as heroes? I don’t think so.

Yet, as Scott pointed out today, Ben Mankiewicz views as heroes those who refused to cooperate in the late 1940s with investigations into Soviet influence in the motion picture industry. He and Eddie Muller, his colleague at Turner Movie Classics, never miss an opportunity to lionize anyone involved with a film they’re introducing who refused to cooperate in such an investigation.

It’s true that the two investigations I’m considering — the actual one into Soviet communist influence in the film industry and a hypothetical one into Russian influenced engagement on social media — are different in some respects. However, the important differences mostly work against viewing the Hollywood resisters of the late 1940s as heroes. . . .
I think this card has been worn out by being played too often, CNS News, Nancy Pelosi: What Does Putin Have on President Trump?. Now ask what Beijing has on Joe Biden.

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