Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Russiagate on a Fine Wednesday Morning

Cooling off today. John Cleer at Red State wants to know Who Told Clinesmith to Do It?. I'm betting on Andy Weissman myself, probably through a layer or two of deniability.
I find it unlikely that Clinesmith committed this forgery of his own accord, and unusual that a junior employee would be tasked by the FBI and Special Counsel with a pivotal role in such a high-level criminal operation: overseeing the applications for search warrants targeting a sitting president, his cabinet and even his family, for made up reasons. Shipwreck contends his assignment, while surprising, “is not atypical in the Bureau where oftentimes the view is that agents/analysts/OGC attorneys are “fungible”. By training and procedures, all are equal to each other.”

This may be a common view at the FBI, but would they apply it while attempting a coup? Mueller hired “one of the most impressive groups ever assembled for a special counsel investigation” and the FBI sent him a young man with one year at the Bureau. I can’t imagine why they’d do this but to use Clinesmith as the “fall guy,” in which he’d be closely watched–if the forgery wasn’t his idea, he probably wouldn’t get away with it.

Weisman is arguing that a forgery can’t be a falsification unless the content of the forged statement is also false; and he has to know this isn’t true. He tweeted last week, rhetorically, that
Clinesmith is charged with adding the words “not a source” to an email about Carter Page, but no where does the charge say that is false, i.e. that Page was a source for the CIA. Without that, how is the addition “materially” false?
It’s “materially” false because he said the liaison wrote it when she didn’t, and in doing caused the FISA application to go forward: A “Materially false statement means any false statement, regardless of its admissibility under the rules of evidence, which could have affected the course or outcome of an official proceeding”. Clinesmith admitted in his plea to doing this on purpose but claims he had no *intention* to mislead, and thought Page was truly not a source but instead some kind of sub-source. This is a funny thing to say, as he plead guilty making a false statement *intentionally*, and there are lawyers who think it constitutes an invalid guilty plea. Clinesmith claims to have thought Page wasn’t technically a source, which is immaterial since its being a forgery is what made the statement false and he admits this was done intentionally. The judge made him clarify (“In other words, you agree you intentionally altered the email to include information that was not originally in the email?”) before pleading, but for many that isn’t good enough.
You can read the Clinesmith plea agreement here.  Chuck Ross at Da Caller, Carter Page Provides Glimpse Of His CIA Links In New Book. Sundance at CTH, Trying to Cut The Gordian Knot – Carter Page Outlines Five FBI Interviews in March of 2017…

Jerry Dunleavy at WaEx, Lindsey Graham to subpoena FBI official he says misled Senate Intelligence Committee on Steele dossier
A top Senate Republican said he plans to subpoena Bill Priestap, a key leader in the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, after pushback from the former bureau official’s lawyer.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Maria Bartiromo on Fox News's Sunday Morning Futures that he is escalating his effort to interview the FBI's former head of counterintelligence. The senator said he believes Priestap gave misleading information to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2018 about the reliability of British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited dossier.

Graham said he expected to interview Priestap last week, but “his lawyer contacted us and put conditions on the interview that are unacceptable.” So, the senator said, “I’m going to subpoena him,” in part, because it was Priestap “who gave the Senate Intel a briefing about the reliability of the subsource in 2018 that basically whitewashed the actual evidence."
From 'shipwreckedcrew' at Red State,  “The Comey Rule” Movie — A Fictional Account of Crossfire Hurricane Based on Comey’s Book “A Higher Loyalty”
I’ve only watched it once, and the IMMEDIATE vibe I got from it was Oliver Stone’s “JFK”. That was Oliver Stone’s personal view of events leading up to the assassination of JFK, largely not in accord with the historical record. But that is a debate for a different day.

I have a suspicion we are going to suffer through the same kind of experience with “The Comey Rule” — which will provide a version of events that have already been lapped by actual facts undermining Comey’s descriptions in his book. There will be scenes that attempt to cast Comey as the upstanding paragon of ethical commitment, but we now know that some topics covered in his book involve versions of events that are incomplete and/or inaccurate.
Speaking of collusion with the Russians, from Eric Felten at RCI, Top Kerry Aide, Key Conduit for Steele Dossier, Once Worked for Russian Oligarch, as Did Its Author
Jonathan Winer, a former top aide to Secretary of State John Kerry who was a key conduit for disseminating the discredited Steele dossier in the U.S. government, worked as a lobbyist for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in years preceding the Russiagate affair. This revelation raises new questions about Russian efforts to influence American foreign policy -- far afield from any Kremlin efforts to favor Donald Trump.

Winer’s connection to Deripaska came to light through last week’s release of the fifth and final volume of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The Senate report also found that at different times ex-British spy Christopher Steele had worked for the powerful oligarch with ties to President Vladimir Putin, and sent scores of reports from his intelligence firm on to Winer, who admitted to the panel destroying many of them before leaving the State Department. Further, the Senate developed evidence that Glenn Simpson – whose company Fusion GPS contracted with Steele for the dossier – also did work for Deripaska. Simpson denied that, telling senators, “I don’t think I’ve knowingly had any contact with his organization.”

In his initial interview with the Senate committee, Winer claimed never to have met the oligarch. In a second interview Winer revised this answer. He conceded that, beginning in 2003, Deripaska had hired the law firm Alston & Bird, where Winer was a partner. He worked on the Deripaska account but, asserting attorney-client privilege, refused to say what exactly he had done on Deripaska’s behalf. RealClearInvestigations sent questions to Alston & Bird’s spokesman but received no reply.
On the ongoing persecution of Gen. Michael Flynn, Sundance has Flynn Oral Argument Transcript Released – Decision Imminent Due to Justice Griffith Retiring…
Regardless of what decision is reached, the announcement should be anticipated prior to Judge Griffith being replaced by recently confirmed Trump nominee Judge Justin Walker. That means we could see a decision announced this Friday, or by next Friday at the latest.

The judges could remove Judge Sullivan and reassign the case. In that event it’s likely the next judge would simply accept the motion to dismiss. However, the DC circuit could also deliver a ruling that allows Sullivan to retain the final disposition with strong guidance on any subsequent activity.

Given the extra-judicial path of this case essentially anything is possible. That said, the DC appeals court likely doesn’t want this decision being reviewed any further (SCOTUS). It would make sense for the DC panel to seek a face-saving exit for Sullivan that doesn’t put Flynn’s defense in a position to appeal to Supreme Court Justice Roberts for intervention.
Joseph Weber at JTN,  In New York, subpoena delayed on Trump financials, state attorney general wants Eric Trump deposed. Clint Fargeau at Red State, Steve Bannon’s Arrest Shows Why Democrats Have Salivated over Trump’s Tax Returns
The Resistance bureaucrats could use the tax return to pry open all the accounting for the president’s extensive business networks. Any ambiguous accounting decisions–or heaven forbid, serious mistakes–would be cast in the blackest light and used as a pretext for “Impeachment 2.0: We Got You This Time, A**hole.”

Even if the gray accounting turned out to be wholly defensible, it wouldn’t matter. All the public would hear is that THE PRESIDENT IS AN INDICTED MONEY CRIMINAL! Most Americans could not hope to understand the tax and accounting arguments that would arise, so their first impression would be hard to dispel.

An army of Twitter wits (“twits”) and the Hollywood actor brigade (who are experts in everything, but especially tax law) taunted the president when he refused to release his tax returns in 2016: “If you have nothing to hide, just release your returns. What are you afraid of, huh? Huh?”

A minor infraction or ambiguous accounting practice getting blown up into a weapon to cripple his presidency–that’s what Trump was afraid of–I guarantee it. And boy howdy, he was right to be. It’s too early to tell, but I *suspect* that is just what has happened to Bannon.

We’ll see.
As if to demonstrate the seriousness of their efforts,  New York AG Laughs About Suing President Trump (Matt Palumbo at Bongino).

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