When you look at the timeline of the events leading up to the FISA warrant request on Carter Page, you see an embarrassed FBI that let down not only the United States but the presumed next president of the United States, Ms. Clinton. When Wikileaks posted the Podesta emails on the 7th of October, the FBI was embarrassed and the Clinton campaign was horrified. One of the major goals of the FBI in 2016 was to prevent Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The DNC hack earlier in the year was a grim reminder of what the Russians were capable of. Despite this warning, the FBI failed on the biggest stage, the Presidential election. A foreigner with ties to Russia claimed responsibility for the Podesta hack but this hack would not have been so important if it wasn’t for the idiots emailing embarrassing stuff to Mr. Podesta. Thanks, Comrade Donna! You are much better at embarrassing America than the Russians. Now the American people had another reason to not trust Ms. Clinton with the presidency.
Another major goal for the FBI was to discreetly monitor the Trump campaign for Russian collusion. As far as I can tell, the FBI spent several months and an untold amount of money trying to entrap Mr. Papadopoulos. Was it more embarrassing that the investigation did not find any Russian collusion or that Mr. Papadolous figured out that the FBI was trying to entrap him? This investigation was so ineffective it reminded me of Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame. Worst of all, Mr. Papadopoulos wrote a book that paints the investigation in unflattering terms. Obviously, the FBI did not learn anything since they moved on to Mr. Page.
Probably the most embarrassing problem for the FBI and the Clinton campaign was that the Clinton Email Server Scandal was going to rear its ugly head again. Around the 29th of September, the New York Police Department notified the FBI that they found several hundred thousand emails from the Clinton email server on Mr. Weiner’s laptop. The FBI sat on the information until early in October when the NYPD notified the FBI that they were going to arrest Mr. Weiner and release the information about the emails to the press. This forced FBI Director Comey to re-open the email server case just two weeks before the election. The Clinton campaign felt the FBI stabbed them in the back.
Considering the preceding events, it should not be surprising that the Department of Justice would ask for a FISA warrant on the 21st of October even though they knew that some of the information was incorrect. The Woods Procedures were created to prevent FISA abuses like this. The investigation of Mr. Papadolous yielded nothing but embarrassment. On the 26th of October, Admiral Rogers was due to appear before the FISA Court to explain why numerous unauthorized searches were committed from November 2015 through April 2016. Were these unauthorized searches used to spy on political opponents? If these searches were part of actual counter-intelligence work I do not think Admiral Rogers would be apologizing to the FISA judges in October. There was no time for the FBI and DOJ to get the facts right for this warrant. This warrant was about damage control before the presumed next President assumed office. Kathleen Kavalec ‘s notes show that the deadline for getting adverse information released about Mr. Trump was political. This also explains why someone at the DOJ/FBI leaked information about the wire-tap on Trump Tower to Louise Mensch. They owed the Clinton campaign some good news and they were not afraid to put their finger on the scale to help out the Clinton campaign.
I am amazed at the efforts the FBI put into entrapping Mr. Papadopoulos. Considering he had little if any Russian contacts and was a low-level foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, most normal people would think he was an unlikely person the Russians would choose to collude with. Obviously, the “Russian Collusion” investigators are not normal. When you look at the Papadopoulos timeline, the “Russian Collusion” investigators had Professor Mifsud meeting with Mr. Papadopoulos just three days after the Trump Team announcement. It is almost as if the “Russian Collusion” investigators were reading the Trump Team emails. When you look at the timeline in its entirety, it reminds you that the “Russian Collusion” investigators were looking for collusion in all of the wrong places. Sacre bleu, they failed to find any Russian collusion! This behavior is both sad and comical, kind of like Inspector Clouseau.
One of the unanswered questions is who told Mr. Halper to go after Mr. Page, Mr. Papadapolous, and Mr. Flynn? If in 2019 there is not enough evidence to indict anyone for Russian collusion, what evidence actually triggered this “matter”. According to an article by Sara Carter, Mr. Halper “received roughly $1 million in tax-payer funded money to write Defense Department foreign policy reports “. If Mr. Halper was actually being paid for intelligence gathering evidence of Russian collusion in the 2016 election, one would suppose that Mr. Halper would have the evidence that led him to suspect Mr. Page, Mr. Papadapolous, and Mr. Flynn of Russian collusion. After all, he was being asked to spy on American citizens for the American government. The Magna Carta and the United States Bill of Rights is part of our common history. Instead, Mr. Halper and Mr. Mifsud started out with various attempts to entrap Mr. Page, Mr. Papadapolous, and Mr. Flynn. It was as if evidence gathering did not matter. These men were guilty until proven innocent. That was a strange tactic if this “matter” was actually a counter-intelligence investigation sanctioned by the CIA or the FBI. The United States frowns on the CIA or the FBI spying on American citizens without due cause. It is the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution. Hey Mr. Clapper, does contracting the spying of an American citizen to a foreigner somehow make this legal?
“McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence” according to Wikipedia. Listen to part of this interview with Erin Burnett of CNN.
Nadler: “If we’re going to do anything, you have to have proof.”
Erin Burnett: “So, that’s what this is about, you don’t yet have proof?”
Ms. Burnett is expressing the frustration that after two years of Democrats talking about impeaching President Trump the Democratic party still does not have the evidence needed to make the case for impeachment. The American people are expecting impeachment hearings and the Democrats are not ready! Instead, they are getting promised more investigations. The Mueller investigation is almost over. The last thing the American people wants is more investigations!
The Democratic party could lose badly in 2020 if the impeachment hearings are botched. So it looks like we will be getting impeachment-like investigations. Unfortunately, these investigations could be a gift to the Republican party, too. If Congressman Nadler’s investigations become a political circus like they did under Senator McCarthy, the Democrats will have no one to blame except themselves if independent voters abandon them in 2020. It is a lose-lose situation. You lose if you conduct impeachment hearings you are not prepared for and you lose if you conduct investigations that look more like partisan attacks than congressional oversight. It is easy to see these investigations becoming a prime-time circus and President Trump getting the sympathy vote.
I hate to criticize other people’s plans without offering a better alternative. Democrats in Congress should be talking about reforming the Affordable Care Act to have affordable health care before they have burned all bridges to a compromise. That issue is more likely to get them re-elected in 2020 than impeachment investigations. Unfortunately, history has shown that the Democrats cannot multi-task when they are talking about impeaching President Trump.
Governor Northam is a huge Michael Jackson fan. In a recent news conference, someone asked whether he could demonstrate his moonwalk and Governor Northam flipped his head around looking for an appropriate place to demonstrate his dance moves. Fortunately, wiser minds prevailed and his wife talked him out of it.
In the fall of 1982, Michael Jackson’s career went from superstar to supernova with the release of Thriller. By 1983 I bet Northam’s interest in everything Michael Jackson had become unbearable to his friends. So they submitted a totally inappropriate photo to the yearbook and looked forward to the shock on Northam’s face. They probably never thought their attempt at humor would backfire on them 36 years later. Although this is pure speculation on my part, I would not be surprised if the person wearing Ku Klux Klan outfit is a black person. Irony is a dish best served cold.
I try not to listen to her but this tidbit caught my attention, “there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health”. When my son was in high school he was diagnosed before a wrestling match with a ringworm infection. It took us several days to get a doctor’s appointment so we treated it with Selsun Blue we picked up at the grocery store. By the time the doctor saw him, it was gone. Ringworm is a contagious skin infection but it is not a public health crisis.
If Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had spent just a few moments checking her facts, she would have noticed two things wrong with her statement. According to al.com, the two problems with her statement are:
The problem in Alabama is with hookworms, not ringworms.
Rural Alabama has a hookworm problem because it has a sewage problem. It has nothing to do with access to public health.
I found it especially ironic that the first public health crisis that the representative from Brooklyn can think of is hookworms in Alabama. The opioid crisis is undoubtedly a better example of a public health crisis she should have used her position to discuss. Unlike the hookworm problem in Alabama, public health policies play an important part in treating opioid addiction. Her opinion on this public health crisis is important and relevant to her constituents.
Am I the only person who thinks it strange that Saudi Arabia purportedly assassinated Khashoggi in their consulate? Both North Korea and Russia assassinated citizens they did not like in foreign countries but they were not foolish enough to do it in their consulate. It is called plausible deniability. The assassinations by North Korea and Russian sent a clear message to potential enemies of the government that they will never be safe. What message does an assassination at a consulate say? If Mr. Khashoggi has done something that violated Saudi laws, why not have someone in the consulate arrest him and put him on a plane back to Saudi Arabia for a trial? In Saudi Arabia, they could legally interrogate and condemn him to death. Killing him in a consulate makes no sense.
When I read the article, Don’t blame the FBI — Hillary Clinton was never going to be charged, I was left with the feeling that the FBI suffers from a multiple personality disorder. For Mrs. Clinton’s investigation, the author argues that the FBI was apolitical, pragmatic, and risk-averse. Literally, at the same time, the FBI was doing their Dr. Jekyll imitation for Mrs. Clinton’s investigation, they went batshit crazy trying to sabotage the Trump administration. There had to be some sane people in the FBI who knew there were political consequences for the FISA abuses, the dossier, and the leaks. The Mr. Hyde version of the FBI did not care about ethics, legality, or the damage they did to the FBI’s reputation. Good luck, Mr. Sessions, fixing this problem!
@BrittHume called the transcript an interesting read. I hate to give legal advice to Mueller’s elite team of attorneys but pissing off the judge in charge of your case is a dumb plan. Evidently, Judge Ellis holds the provisions of the Special Counsel to a much higher standard than the standards used to get indictments in the “drug area”. Like Trey Gowdy, he probably hoped that the Mueller team would go out of their way to make this case about following the law and not giving “a whit about politics“. That is the essence of the Special Counsel regulations and why the Special Counsel is an improvement over the Independent Counsel. For a high profile, highly politicized case like this, it was incredibly important that the Mueller team follow the law precisely so that there would be no doubt in the public eye that justice was blind to the politics. Both Judge Ellis and the Mueller team acknowledge that this case was an attempt to coerce justice out of nothing. Where they differ is that the Mueller team is repeating the worst aspects of the Independent Counsel rules and hoping they can get away with it.
Some Interesting Points Judge Ellis Made
1. Why did the prosecutors present a redacted version of the August 2 memo to the Judge?
Judge Ellis made it plain that he handled cases containing classified information(CIPA) before. He found it disrespectful that the prosecutors determined that the redacted information was not relevant to this case and did not seek out his opinion. This would have been a minor point except that the Department of Justice has been accused of stonewalling Congressional inquiries. I do not know if this influenced his questions but I think he made it perfectly clear that stonewalling the judge in charge of your case is just plain stupid.
2. Does the Special Counsel have unfettered power?
This question came from the expanded scope of the investigation. Judge Ellis was concerned that although the original scope was written by lawyers it was “not intended to be judicially enforceable”. Judge Ellis questioned whether the Special Counsel has authority to make the scope of the investigation whatever he or she wants. He said:
What we don’t want in this country is we don’t want anyone with unfettered power. We don’t want federal judges with unfettered power. We don’t want elected officials with unfettered power. We don’t want anybody, including the president of the United States, nobody to have unfettered power. So it’s unlikely you’re going to persuade me that the special prosecutor has unlimited powers to do anything he or she wants.
3. Why is the Manafort case being prosecuted by the Special Counsel?
Manafort’s attorneys made the point that this case did not arise from the Mueller investigation. This case predates the Mueller investigation. Manafort’s attorneys argue that Mueller’s investigation of the alleged crime by Mr. Manafort in 2007 was illegal because it violated the “narrow jurisdiction on the special counsel”. This is an example of the unfettered power that the Special Counsel regulations were designed to prevent. If Mueller’s investigation was illegal then prosecuting this case becomes difficult if not impossible. Judge Ellis asks,
Let’s assume for a moment your argument that this delegation is in some way illegal. Why isn’t the right result simply to give to the Eastern District of Virginia’s U.S. Attorney’s Office — give it back to them and let them prosecute this indictment? Why isn’t that the right result?
MR. DOWNING: Well, the right result may be for the Department of Justice to finish the investigation they had started and make a determination as to whether or not to charge Mr. Manafort. But if, in fact, this order is defective, then Mr. Mueller did not have the authority of the U.S. Attorney to conduct a grand jury investigation, to get search warrants, or to return and sign an indictment.
Like many other IT guys and gals, I was never sold on the original explanation of the DNC hack. There were so many loose ends.
Why did the Russians hack the DNC servers? All of the embarrassing Clinton emails came from the Podesta emails that were acquired prior to the DNC Hack. It was the Podesta emails the Russians were using to taunt Trump and Clinton surrogates in London in May 2016. Yet most people think Ms. Wasserman Schultz was fired because of the DNC Hack. The DNC had plenty of reasons to fire Ms. Wasserman Schultz. The two biggest reasons were the way the DNC treated the Sanders campaign and the proportion of donations collected by the DNC given to the Clinton campaign. Obviously, the bad relations between the DNC and the Sanders campaign had nothing to do with the Russians. If the Russians hacked the servers, why disclose the hack via Wikileaks so quickly? It was so out of character! It is almost as if the Russians hacked the DNC servers as a favor to the DNC.
What was Crowdstrike doing during the DNC Hack? In a previous post, I remarked that Crowdstrike’s actions reminded me of a Lifelock commercial. I said, “If Crowdstrike knew the DNC was hacked in 2015 and information was transmitted back to Russia, why did they install a security monitor in May 2016? Why did they wait until June to actually fix the problem?”
If the DNC proceeds with the lawsuit there are two things I would like to find out.
1. Was Either Crowdstrike Or Fusion GPS One Of The Private Contractors Who Ran Unsupervised FISA-702 Queries In Early 2016?
The rumor is that Fusion GPS was the private contractor who ran unsupervised FISA-702 queries that resulted in the first FISA abuse of 2016. As I said in a previous post:
By April 18, 2016, the FBI they knew that their FISA-702 “Queries” irregularities had triggered a full Compliance Audit by the NSA. This would lead NSA to admit a non-compliance issue to the FISA court on October 26, 2016.
Most of the FISA-702 “Queries” irregularities occurred before April 2016. This was a really big FISA abuse that happened just days before the DNC Hack. I think the FBI and the private contractor took the risk because they did not think they would get caught. This would explain the arrogance that was displayed later in 2016 when the FISA court would be further abused with the Trump dossier. Considering the abuse the FISA court has taken, I wonder if they would be willing to disclose the name of the contractor if that contractor was found to be collecting information that could be used against political opponents.
Did the private contractor have a relationship with the Democratic party?
Was this unsupervised access to raw FISA data used to spy on political opponents?
Was this unsupervised access to raw FISA data used to spy on the Sanders campaign or the DNC?
Were they looking for previously unknown classified or top secret Clinton emails from her server that were not part of the emails she turned over?
2. What Was Crowdstrike Doing In May 2016?
This is a question that near and dear to old IT guys. In my world, if our systems are hacked on April 29th them my job is to have them fixed by April 30th. The idea that Crowdstrike did not fix the problem until June 10th is shocking. Obviously, this was a lousy plan. Why let your systems be hacked for over 30 days? What did they learn that was so important?