Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Russiagate Is Giving Me a Stiff Neck

Got a bad muscle pull in my neck and shoulder. I blame Russiagate.

Margot Cleveland at Da Fed thinks FBI Lawyer’s Guilty Plea Suggests Spygate Corruption Goes Way Higher
Last week’s guilty plea by Kevin Clinesmith represents the first concrete evidence of movement in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the Russia collusion hoax. The plea agreement, which was released on Wednesday, suggests another area ripe for inquiry: FBI Agent Stephen Somma’s earlier misrepresentation of former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page’s status to those preparing the initial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications to surveil Page.
. . .
As the plea agreement highlighted, “the first three FISA applications did not include [Page]’s history or status with the [other governmental agency.]” And they should have, as Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on FISA abuse concluded.

So, while Clinesmith bears responsibility for altering the email concerning Page’s status, thereby clearing the way for the fourth FISA warrant, someone or some-many are responsible for failing to inform the individuals drafting and approving the initial FISA application (and first two renewals) about the details of the August 17, 2016, memo. That fault lies with those “certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team” who received the August 17, 2016, memo.

But who were these “certain members”? The IG report identified one as “Case Agent 1,” and about six months ago, The New York Times outed Somma as Case Agent 1. (The IG report also revealed that Case Agent 1 was Stefan Halper’s handler—more on that connection later).

Following Somma’s naming of Case Agent 1, there has been scant mention in the media or in congressional oversight hearings about his role in Spygate. But the reference in Clinesmith’s plea agreement to other members of the Crossfire Hurricane team having received the memorandum detailing Page’s work with the other intelligence agency suggests Somma’s conduct may also be a focus of the Durham probe. While there have been no leaks from Durham’s team to forecast what will come next, revisiting the IG report, in light of Clinesmith’s plea, provides a hint. . . 
Whistling past the graveyard, Dan Chaitin and Jerry Dunleavy at WaEx write how James Comey says he 'can't imagine' being a 'target' of John Durham's investigation. AllahPundit at Hot Air (VIP) thinks“The Comey Rule” Looks Like A Camp Classic In The Making . Yes, it's really amusing when the entrenched bureaucracy attempts to oust a sitting president. From Breitbart, Comey: Trump, AG Barr Are the Greatest Threat to Rule of Law — ‘Truth Is Under Attack’. He's been in Washington so long, he wouldn't know the truth if it bit him in the ass, and it might. I would love to see him indicted for lying to the President about the investigation (the President being the highest official in the DOJ chain of command).

Robert Spencer at Front Page, recalls that Trump is Not the First President to Face Down a Deep State Cabal

Speaking of political prosecutions, Axios reports on how the  New York AG sues Trump Organization in probe of financial dealings. Ryan Saavedra at Da Wire questions the timing, New York’s Democrat Attorney General Takes New Action Against Trump Org As RNC Convention Kicks Off. I don't think there are any questions about the timing.
James, who was elected in 2018, made controversial remarks during an interview to NBC News after being elected, saying that she planned to “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.”

The New York Times reported that, according to legal experts, “Her strident attacks on the president could potentially threaten the legal standing of cases that her office brings against Mr. Trump, his family members or their business interests.” The Times added that James claims that Trump is an “illegitimate president,” which is false.

Daniel Goldman, who was one of the Democrats’ witnesses against Trump during the impeachment hearings, said that James’ targeting of Trump looked like “an individualized political vendetta.”

“If there were to be a motion to dismiss because of bias, the attorney general’s office would have to show a stronger factual basis for the legal issue,” Goldman said. “If there is a close call along the way, it could have an impact on the way a judge rules.”

James was widely accused of using her office to ruin political opponents when she filed a lawsuit last month in an attempt to destroy the National Rifle Association (NRA), America’s largest Second Amendment advocacy group.
Grant Baker at AmThink has The Story Behind Bannon's Arrest
The sealed indictment against Brian Kolfage, Stephen Bannon, et al. centers around the various attempts to keep the payments to Kolfage a secret for public relations reasons, listing the various pathways and obfuscation maneuvers allegedly used by Bannon and associates to hide the fact that Kolfage was paid by affiliate organizations. Although the maneuvers themselves were legal, two fraud charges were filed on the premise that the payments made to Kolfage by various legal, construction, and marketing vendors broke the promise that organizers would be unpaid. The indictment also mentions the reimbursements that Bannon and codefendants received for travel and miscellaneous expenses, though does not mention their amount.

Whether or not nonprofits can use vendors which employ the nonprofit’s organizers is a contextual question, likely answered in the bylaws of each 501(c)(4) nonprofit. Bannon and his associates are not charged with violating the bylaws of their nonprofit, any laws governing 501(c)(4) organizations, or with making false statements on tax forms or other financial paperwork. If the nonprofit’s bylaws were never violated, the basis of the charges become unclear. Charities almost always take a haircut for operating expenditures, the haircut in this case amounting to less than 2%, far less than the typical 40% incurred by American charities.

Fraud charges require the existence of at least one donor who contributed on the basis that there would be no administrative haircut and would not have contributed otherwise, but the indictment issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) fails to mention such a victim. In fact, no specific victims in the case are listed in the indictment, a mainstay of conventional fraud charges, raising questions of jurisdictional venue regarding the SDNY’s right to bring charges in the first place. There have been no allegations of donors complaining that Kolfage received pay, a fact publicly disclosed since January 2020 (even the indictment mentions this), and various offers to refund unhappy donors have been made since the project’s conception.

The issue of Kolfage’s salary aside, why the SDNY would allege that Bannon and his two wealthy associates ran a two-year scam to expense some hotel bills makes more sense than you think. The charges were filed by acting United States Attorney Audrey Strauss, a registered Democrat filling the shoes of her former boss Geoffrey Berman after he was fired from the position by President Trump. Berman was terminated after it came out that he had been using his position as a federal prosecutor to wage war against Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani in retaliation for Giuliani’s investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden’s Burisma scandal. Under the pretext of investigating a foreign lobbying disclosure violation, Berman had attempted to pressure Giuliani out of investigating how Joe Biden forced the Ukranian government to fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son. After initially refusing to vacate his post, Berman left the SDNY to his deputy Audrey Strauss.
Linked at 357 Magnum in Wednesday Link Roundup.

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