Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Russiagate Was Based on Russian Disinformation

On Friday, the Department of Justice released newly declassified information from an inspector general report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse, revealing for the first time that the FBI had received information indicating the Christopher Steele dossier contained Russian disinformation. The newly unredacted portions of the IG’s report also confirmed there was no “network of sources” backing up Steele’s reporting.

While both revelations provide further fodder for attacking the Carter Page surveillance proceedings, the significance is much greater: These facts establish the FBI used Russia’s meddling with the 2016 election as a pretext to investigate Donald Trump and the special counsel’s office was complicit in this ploy.
Or as Dave Harsanyi at NR puts it, It’s Official: Every Aspect of Crossfire Hurricane Was Shady
At the height of the Russia-collusion hysteria, anyone who theorized that Crossfire Hurricane had been sparked by the Steele dossier — a document paid for by the political party running against target of the investigation — would be rigorously fact-checked.

Mainstream reporters covering the story would authoritatively inform their audience that it was evidence gleaned from a conversation with then-20-something former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos that had triggered the investigation. They knew, of course, that if the FBI had relied principally on the dossier, the investigation would look transparently and problematically partisan. The Papadopoulos conversations, on the other hand, sounded pretty damning, even though journalists didn’t know exactly what they entailed.

Well, DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz recently told the Senate that those FISA warrants used to spy on the Trump campaign were “entirely” predicated on information from that dossier. And we now know that virtually every one of those applications to spy on American citizens was rife with errors, misleading information, and “fraudulent” evidence. You know, just some endemic, comprehensive, and highly targeted “sloppiness.”
A new player, meaning in history,  Oh My! The Papadopoulos Transcript!
Here's the big picture as I see it. Recall that Crossfire Hurricane--the entire Russia Hoax investigation--was purportedly predicated on an earlier conversation between Papadopoulos and Aussie "diplomat" Alexander Downer. The Papadopoulos - Downer conversation took place in May, 2016, and the FBI's use of it to initiate Crossfire Hurricane is highly suspect.

This October conversation of Papadopoulos with the FBI CHS directly undercuts any rationale for opening Crossfire Hurricane as a Full Investigation. Further, by mid-January the FBI knew for sure--if they ever really had any doubts--that the Russia Hoax was nothing but a hoax. And yet this hoax investigation then served as the basis for the Mueller Witchhunt--despite the FBI being fully aware of what Papadopoulos had said to their CHS. Not only that, but Team Mueller proceeded to make repeated attempts to frame Papadopoulos and eventually hounded him into a joke guilty plea and joke 14 day sentence--jokes that would have been thigh slappingly hilarious but for the effect on Papadopoulos' life.
 and Bill Barr: "Without Any Basis"
Here are what I think are the important points we can take from what Barr said.

First of all, it seems apparent that the Durham investigation has completed most of its evidence gathering--whether documentary or through interviews. That doesn't mean the investigation is finished. There is also the question of putting together a prosecutive case, and that will probably involve complicated negotiations with the lawyers for the persons being investigated. That, in turn, could lead to further substantive investigation. But the bottom line is that at this point Barr appears confident that he knows what happened and, most likely, who was behind it. As Barr says, this is a "sprawling" case.

Second, Barr several times refers to things that "they" did. Not things that "were done." So, multiple human perpetrators. That points toward the strong likelihood that a conspiracy case is being pursued that will encompass an attempt to "sabotage the presidency." As Barr says, this is a "sprawling" case. And this case is very much focused on developing a criminal prosecution of the conspirators.

Third, Barr says that, while Durham's "primary focus" is not on preparing a report, a report will "probably" result from Durham's investigation. That's important. IMO, the American people deserve a report that lays out the narrative of how a group of highly placed federal government operatives conspired to "sabotage the presidency." Such a report would be unusual coming from a prosecutor, but this is an unusual case that goes to the heart of our constitutional order. The American people deserve to have a report that they can read and readily understand, rather than having to glean the narrative from complicated testimony, court proceedings, and documents written in bureacratic language and, possibly, released without full context. The release of the Papadopoulos interview is a down payment, as are no doubt the firings of corrupt Deep State operatives such as Dan Coats, Michael Atkinson, and others.

Fourth, there is a twofold key in what Barr tells. He tells us that Crossfire Hurricane--"this investigation of [Trump's] campaign"--was inititated "without any basis." That means that Crossfire Hurricane was initiated without proper predication and was an unlawful investigation. I think we will see confirmed what we've always known, that Crossfire Hurricane was initiated for the purpose of developing a narrative that could derail and sabotage a presidential election. But, that baseless investigation nevertheless served as the predication for what Barr says he has found "even more concerning": "... what happened after the campaign--a whole pattern of events while [Trump] was president ... to sabotage the presidency."
Also, Easter Special: Joe diGenova On Atkinson, FISA, And The Durham Investigation. No quotes. I value diGenova's opinions, though.
Joe's answer here is very important--it goes to an aspect of this report from Horowitz that really amazed me. You'll see reference something like 42 FISA applications that were reviewed. There problems with essentially all of them--and big problems--but that isn't the fact that suggests the real problem. Here's what stunned me. The accuracy reviews that Horowitz was reviewing were all on FISA's of US persons--USPERs. The 42 that were reviewed were picked out of a pool of 700 FISA applications on USPERs from, I believe, 2014 up to pretty much the present.

While I'm not in a position to say how many such FISAs we should expect the FBI to obtain on USPERs over any given period of years, 700 FISAs on USPERs over that period seems to me to be an outrageously large number. Contrary to anything you've probably heard, a FISA on an USPER is not easy to get. When I heard that number my reaction was--Wow! Could they have had FISAs on so many USPERs in counterterrorism cases? I thought that had to be it because there is no possible way that they could be getting so many FISAs on USPERs in counterintelligence cases. From my experience that should be wildly impossible, even with some of the Patriot Act expansions. But I was still amazed--who could these large numbers of USPERs be who were believed to be engaged in foreign intelligence operations? Now, read what diGenova has to say about all that, keeping in mind that the really important number is -- 700:
If the Obama admin didn't take a FISA warrant out on you, you're nobody! Chuck Ross, at Da Caller, Foreign Government May Have Tried To Penetrate Firm Linked To Christopher Steele, DOJ Says and by foreign governments, they mean Russia. Also, Devin Nunes Expects More Criminal Referrals Stemming From Latest FISA Revelations. Good. Breitbart, Anticipation Over U.S. Attorney John Durham’s Investigation Builds
Time is of the essence, with an election looming in November. Barr is reportedly looking to have the investigation finished by the end of summer.

“The closer we get to election day, the more any charges he brought would be framed by the media as kind of a Trump campaign stunt,” former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy told WMAL on Saturday.

“So I really think it’s in his interest, especially after pouring two years of effort into this, to get with it by the late spring at the latest, because we all know if the president doesn’t win reelection, this investigation is going down the memory hole,” he said.

“We’re getting to the point where a decision has to be made, one way or the other,” he added.
The WaPoo editorial board whines, Barr sends a message: Don’t ever investigate the president again
IN AN interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, which aired Thursday, Attorney General William P. Barr insisted that the Russia investigation was “one of the greatest travesties in American history,” a declaration that revealed either troublingly limited knowledge of the past or distressingly unchecked bias.

Worse, the attorney general is matching words with actions. Last year, he ordered an investigation of the Russia investigation, run by U.S. Attorney John Durham. On Thursday, he assured Ms. Ingraham that Mr. Durham would not just produce yet another report on the Russia probe but also “bring to justice people who were engaged in abuses,” raising the prospect that those involved would be “prosecuted.”

Mr. Barr insisted that federal officials started the Russia investigation “without any basis” and that errors investigators subsequently committed were not “mistakes or sloppiness” but reflected “something far more troubling.” Their motive, according to Mr. Barr: “to sabotage the presidency.” Intended or no, the message to Justice Department officials now and in the future is: Think twice about ever again investigating a presidential candidate, even if there is good reason to do so, and even if that good reason is the interference of a hostile foreign actor in a U.S. election.

On that issue and others, Mr. Barr clashes with the facts and the record, as carefully laid out, among others, by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who delved into the Russia probe’s origins and conduct and released his own report last year. He found that the FBI had material that “reasonably indicated activity constituting either a federal crime or a threat to national security, or both, may have occurred or may be occurring,” and that there was enough to examine at least four Trump campaign officials. “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions,” Mr. Horowitz noted.
He just asked them, and they all said they had no "political bias or improper motivation". Funny how that works. Liz Vaughn at Red State, Solomon: Durham Has Subpoenaed, Questioned Witnesses Before a D.C. Grand Jury. It's useless, if he relies on justice in Washington D.C. and finally, Diana West at the Epoch Times reminds us that When Grand Juries Are Not So Grand
Once again, it was goosebumps for diehards when investigative reporter John Solomon told Fox News host Sean Hannity that U.S. Attorney John Durham was issuing subpoenas on behalf of a grand jury. Twitter pulses raced. Former CIA Director John Brennan was closer than ever to a rockpile in prison stripes, wasn’t he? Comey, Ohr, Kramer, Simpson, Clinton were sweating bullets, right?

I will be jubilant if I’m wrong, but I continue to doubt it. I don’t expect the anti-Trump conspirators to be indicted and tried for sedition or treason or any other serious crime by Attorney General William Barr’s Department of Justice. Nothing we have seen to date points to it.

What should also temper expectations, however, is a hard look at history. When it comes to the Swamp’s subversion of the Republic, issuing subpoenas to bring witnesses before a grand jury means nothing more than issuing subpoenas to bring witnesses before a grand jury. Indictments, trials, and convictions have always been exceedingly rare.

Consider the grand jury convened in the spring of 1947 to hear sensational charges of subversion inside the federal government by Elizabeth Bentley, a key American defector from Soviet intelligence. Ex-KGB courier Bentley would offer testimony against numerous federal government officials, bureaucrats, and others from those early days of the Swamp in connection with espionage rings run inside the U.S. government by Soviet intelligence.
. . .
Evans and Romerstein write:
“A recurring theme in the FBI reports is the notion, adopted by Justice at the outset, that the grand jury wouldn’t hand down indictments in the Bentley cases, but would, as in the Amerasia case [an earlier espionage-related grand jury travesty], ‘no bill’ the suspects, letting them walk free from legal sanctions.
“Thus an FBI memo from early 1947 says Justice wanted the Bureau to interview various Bentley people but with a proviso: ‘ … that subsequently consideration might be given to presenting the evidence to a grand jury with the idea of letting them no-bill the case. Further that in the event Congressman [J. Parnell] Thomas [R-N.J.] of the Un-American Committee should ever raise a question it would be possible to answer by saying that the grand jury had considered the evidence and it had not deemed it sufficient to justify criminal action.’
“These thoughts about grand jury inaction, expressed before the jury was even empaneled, would be repeated when filing a presentment was considered. The Bureau entry on this says that Attorney General Tom Clark was ‘opposed to returning any presentment. The AG indicated that in the event of subsequent news inquiry, that he, the Attorney General, can always say that the matter was referred to the Grand Jury, which took no action.’”
In other words, the fix was in from Justice. Will it be different this time around?
Sad, but that matches my expectations.

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