Posts Tagged ‘Clinton campaign’

‘Trust but Verify’ Applies to the FBI

April 15, 2018

America’s premiere law enforcement agency suffers the consequences of self inflicted wrongdoing and failures….

We refute tyranny when we hold law enforcement accountable.

‘Trust but Verify’ Applies to the FBI

Federal law enforcement did not cover itself in glory—again—in the just-concluded trial of Noor Salman, wife of the Pulse nightclub mass murderer in Orlando, Fla.

A judge scolded prosecutors during the trial for withholding exculpatory evidence. At her original bail hearing, the FBI had relied on a confession, extracted from Ms. Salman in an 11-hour interrogation, that she had helped Omar Mateen scope out the gay nightclub in advance of the shooting. As was subsequently revealed, the FBI was already in possession of cellphone location data that contradicted her claim. Other evidence also cast doubt on the confession, which the FBI failed to record or sustain with circumstantial proof. Ms. Salman was acquitted.

Happily, the malpractice here was less consequential than in the thrown-out corruption conviction of the late Sen. Ted Stevens. It was less brazen than the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s manufacture of fake statistical evidence of racial bias in auto lending or the questionable federal and state asset seizures that keep coming to light.

The Noor outcome may not be flattering to the FBI, but it should be flattering to America. Holding law enforcement accountable is the best refutation of the authoritarian temptation, with its mocking of our insistence on due process, elections and respect for individual rights.

At the same time, not every culpable police action is motivated by careerism or dishonesty of purpose. Murders are down in New York City. Policing is a reason. Yet two of the city’s most productive detectives were recently charged with manufacturing evidence to support an otherwise legitimate seizure of an illegal gun. Now under way is a spreading crackdown on police “testilying” in court.

So skepticism, leavened with a certain understanding, is required in the clash between individual rights and the police. This is about to become especially true in the mother of all cases, the FBI’s role in the 2016 election.

We’ve already learned a few unsettling things. Trump associates Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos were treated in unforgiving fashion for lies that may not have been lies, whereas the FBI practically conspired with Hillary Clinton and her aides to make sure their truth-shading was overlooked. The FBI’s use of evidence to win a Carter Page surveillance order appears to have been every bit as disingenuous as that used by prosecutors in the Noor Salman bail hearing.

Political bias or simply toadying to the party in power may turn out to have been a factor, but we are likely to hear a great deal about what top law-enforcement officials believed, rather than knew, about Donald Trump.

The autobiography of FBI chief James Comey is due next week. The chances are nil that it will deal honestly and completely with the 2016 race, especially the role of U.S. intelligence agencies in influencing some of the FBI’s actions. But as leaks already reveal, the book is accurately redolent of the contempt and distrust top officials felt for Candidate Trump, leading to actions that are hard to defend in hindsight.

Coming next will be a Justice Department inspector general’s report on Mr. Comey’s anomalous exculpation of Mr. Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2016 race. If, as we suspect, Robert Mueller is framing his own investigation partly to justify the pre-election actions of the FBI, then we will doubly need the recently launched investigation by U.S. Attorney John Huber, which doesn’t start from the assumption that the one thing that doesn’t need investigating is the investigators.

Then there’s the Stormy Daniels matter, in which a seamy but not illegal payment might, in theory, be illegal under campaign-finance rules.

At least efforts at suppressing Mr. Trump’s sexual history are a gentlemanly improvement on those of the Bill Clinton campaign 24 years earlier. If Trump lawyer Michael Cohen made an “in-kind” donation by paying off Ms. Daniels, didn’t Ms. Daniels make an in-kind donation when she agreed not to speak? Weren’t those Clinton women who didn’t come forward because they didn’t want to be savaged by the Clinton machine making in-kind contributions to the Clinton campaign?

The questions are absurd because the law is absurd. What should be a personal and political embarrassment for Mr. Trump has become another superfluous legal jeopardy for the man 46% of American voters wanted for their president. When we metastasize laws for criminalizing politics, we become more like Vladimir Putin’s Russia, not less so. Witness the liberal group Common Cause, which can’t get enough campaign regulation, rushing out Stormy-related federal complaints against the Trump campaign on Thursday.

But another lesson also applies in such a world. All presidents face opponents who seek to make sure they deliver as little as possible even when delivering would be good for the country. Mr. Trump came to the presidency with too much baggage that his opposition could use against him. That’s something Mr. Trump’s voters and party should have thought about before nominating him.

Appeared in the April 14, 2018, print edition.


House Intelligence Committee: former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper misled Congress on possible collusion — U.S. Intel “did not employ proper analytic tradecraft” on Russian election meddling

March 23, 2018

James Clapper

James Clapper / Getty Images


A House Intelligence Committee investigation of Russian election meddling has concluded that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper misled Congress about disclosing information to CNN.

The committee’s final report on the investigation was approved on Thursday and now awaits an intelligence agency review.

Despite 472 days of investigation and thousands of witnesses, the committee stated in its list of final conclusions and recommendations that it found no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump, his campaign aides, and Russia.

“The committee found no evidence that meetings between Trump associates—including Jeff Sessions—and official representatives of the Russian government—including Ambassador Kislyak—reflected collusion, coordination, or conspiracy with the Russian government,” the list states.

The report also said former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI regarding conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak “even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents did not detect any deception during Flynn’s interview.”

The finding suggests the FBI improperly charged Flynn.

The Obama administration also failed to notify the Trump campaign that members of the campaign were assessed to be counterintelligence concerns, the report said.

The committee said opposition to Trump from the U.S. national security establishment prompted the campaign to hire unqualified aides such as George Papadopoulous and Carter Page.

Trump advisers had contacts with the pro-Russian Wikileaks, but none were involved in the theft or publication of Clinton campaign emails, the report said.

On the former DNI, the report says that Clapper, now a contributor to CNN as a national security analyst “provided inconsistent testimony to the committee about his contacts with the media, including CNN.”

A CNN spokeswoman did not return an email seeking comment. Clapper could not be reached for comment.

The report also states that leaks of classified information about Russian intentions to sow discord in the U.S. presidential election began prior to Election Day. The disclosures of U.S. secrets alleging Russia was working to help elect Trump “increased dramatically” after the Nov. 8, 2016 election.

The panel suggested that the leaks “correlate to specific language” in a U.S. intelligence community assessment of Russian election meddling.

The finding suggests that leaks of classified information were politically motivated to undermine Trump after he won the election.

The findings also say the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign funded the anti-Trump dossier produced by former British intelligence officers Christopher Steele.

Steele “claims to have obtained his dossier information second- and third-hand from purported high-placed Russian sources, such as government officials with links to the Kremlin and intelligence services,” the report says.

“Christopher Steele’s information from Russian sources was provided directly to Fusion GPS and Perkins Cole and indirectly to the Clinton campaign,” the report said.

The report suggests that the research group Fusion GPS was used by Russia for disinformation. “Prior to conducting opposition research targeting candidate Trump’s business dealings, Fusion GPS conducted research benefitting Russian interests,” the report said.

The Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS early in the 2016 election campaign but had no role in the Steele dossier.

The report also concluded that Russia intelligence used social media to sow political discord and undermine the election.

The FBI was criticized by the committee for not providing victims information about Russian hacking operations.

Also, U.S. intelligence community judgments regarding Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s strategic intentions “did not employ proper analytic tradecraft,” the report said.

The report said Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted former Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort on charges unrelated to collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Democrats for Eavesdrop Abuse

February 26, 2018

Their intel memo confirms the FBI used Clinton research to spy on Carter Page.

A Democratic memo written under the direction of ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff.
A Democratic memo written under the direction of ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff. PHOTO: DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released the long-awaited Democratic response to allegations the FBI abused its surveillance powers during the 2016 election. Committee Chairman Devin Nunes owes ranking Democrat Adam Schiff a thank you for assisting his case.

The 10-page Democratic memo begins by declaring that “The FBI and DOJ officials did not ‘abuse’ the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.” Yet the facts it lays out show the opposite.

In particular the memo confirms that the FBI used an opposition-research document paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee as part of its application to surveil Carter Page, who was associated with the Donald Trump campaign.

Democrats dispute the degree to which the FBI relied on the dossier created by opposition-researcher Christopher Steele in applying for its FISA court order, but that’s beside the point. If the FBI had as much “compelling evidence” and “probable cause” as the memo asserts, it would not have needed to cite the Steele document. And the Democrats do not dispute that the Steele dossier was the FBI’s only source in its initial FISA application for its allegation that Mr. Page met with suspect Russians in Moscow in July 2016.

The Democratic memo makes no attempt to rebut the widely reported news that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told Congress that the FBI would not have sought a surveillance warrant without the dossier. Democratic Rep. Jim Himes claimed on “Fox News Sunday” that Mr. McCabe never said that, but then why not put that in the memo?

The Democratic memo also confirms that the FBI withheld from the court the partisan provenance of the dossier. Democrats even provide, for the first time in public, the precise language the FBI used in its initial application in a long, obfuscating footnote.

Democrats say the FBI told the FISA court that a “law firm” [Clinton/DNC firm Perkins Coie] hired “an identified U.S. person” [oppo-research firm Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson ] to “conduct research regarding Candidate #1s ties to Russia.” The “identified U.S. person” then hired “Source #1” [Mr. Steele] to do the research. The footnote ends: “The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.”

Speculates? Likely? Could? The dossier was paid for by actors whose overriding purpose was to defeat Mr. Trump. Nowhere do Democrats say the FBI used the words “political” or “partisan” or “campaign,” much less Clinton or Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic memo claims the FBI acted “appropriately” in not “revealing” the name of an “entity” in a FISA application, but this is laughable. The FBI sometimes masks identities to preserve sources and methods, but the Steele dossier was a pastiche of gossip and rumor based on Mr. Steele’s contacts. Disclosing his partisan funders would have betrayed no important intelligence sources but would have given the court reason to ask the FBI for more credible information before granting an eavesdrop order.

Messrs. Steele and Simpson briefed their media friends in September and October about their dossier, despite FBI prohibitions. The FBI nonetheless falsely told the court that Mr. Steele wasn’t the source of a Yahoo News article that it used as additional evidence in its application. While the Democratic memo repeatedly refers to Mr. Steele’s reporting as “reliable” and “credible,” it confirms that the FBI fired Mr. Steele after it found he hadn’t told the truth about his media spinning.

The Democratic memo devotes considerable space to smearing the hapless Mr. Page, as if he’s some kind of master spy and the Rosetta Stone of the Trump-Russia story. Yet no one has offered proof that he colluded with the Russians, and he hasn’t been indicted.

Democrats also make much of the fact the FBI started looking into the Trump campaign in July 2016 but didn’t receive “Steele’s reporting” until “mid-September.” So what? The issue here is the fairness and honesty of the FISA application in late October (not the investigation), and what matters is that the FBI didn’t move on the FISA application until after it received the dossier.


The only definitive evidence of political “collusion” so far is that the Clinton campaign paid Mr. Steele to troll his Russian sources for dirt on Donald Trump. The FBI then used this dirt as a reason to spy on Mr. Page and anyone he was communicating with. Imagine how the press would be playing this story if the roles were reversed?


Trump, Top Democrat Make Dispute Over Memo Personal

Adam Schiff says White House delayed release until the weekend to minimize news coverage; president calls him ‘phony’

WASHINGTON—A feud flared over the weekend between President Donald Trump and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee over the release of a Democratic memo defending federal investigators’ handling of surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California accused the White House of delaying the memo’s release until the weekend to minimize news coverage, while the president said Mr. Schiff leaks information from the committee and is a “bad guy.”

How Not to Fix the FBI

February 13, 2018

A second special prosecutor would undermine the good work of Congress.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears at the National Sheriffs Association Winter Conference in Washington, Feb. 12.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears at the National Sheriffs Association Winter Conference in Washington, Feb. 12. PHOTO: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS

Rep. Devin Nunes has rendered the public an extraordinary service. Almost single-handedly, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has pried loose from an obstructionist Justice Department documents revealing how the Federal Bureau of Investigation used Clinton campaign research to justify a warrant to spy on Carter Page, a onetime Trump campaign associate. So why are Republicans now threatening to undermine all this good work by calling for a special counsel?

In the past few days, the calls for a special counsel to look into the FBI and Justice Department have grown louder. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham want one. So do Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and others. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is thinking about it. Meanwhile, President Trump’s deputy press secretary has told reporters that the president’s lawyers want one too.

It’s a tempting proposition. Republicans are plagued by a special counsel whose mere existence calls into question the legitimacy of the last election. Why shouldn’t they inflict the same menace on Mr. Trump’s opponents? The answer is that a special counsel is not only unnecessary but counterproductive.

Right now, two big questions hang over our public life: how the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential elections, and whether the Justice Department and FBI let Hillary Clinton off the hook in the investigation into her private email server even as they politicized counterintelligence operations to undermine team Trump.

Republicans who think a special counsel is the right way to pursue answers ought to take a hard look at the Robert Mueller investigation. Mr. Mueller has indicted a few folks since being named special counsel last May. But he’s produced scant evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and no one knows what he’s really found because it’s all secret.

What makes anyone think a new special counsel would be any different? Once appointed, the curtain would drop. Congress would be asked to stand down, on the grounds that it must not do anything that might interfere with a criminal investigation.

This prosecutorial approach turns the Constitution on its head. In our system of self-government, the American people, acting through their elected representatives, are given oversight of what their politicians and government have been up to. For the most part, accountability is meant to come via the ballot box—not a grand jury.

A better way forward would be for Mr. Sessions to appoint a U.S. attorney to investigate abuses of power within the Justice Department and FBI. Rather than destroying these organizations, the goal of the investigation would be to restore their credibility by identifying any abuses of power and removing the responsible individuals. Although the threat of a grand jury would likely be necessary to concentrate the minds of certain officials who might not be inclined to cooperate, the goal would be to hold individuals accountable, not to tar whole institutions.

Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, says that such an investigation would require the unequivocal support of three principal players: President Trump, Attorney General Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Each would have to show a commitment that has so far been lacking.

Image result for Christopher Wray, photos

Christopher Wray

Mr. Trump would need to overcome his administration’s reluctance to use its declassification powers to make public crucial material. Mr. Sessions would have to provide the designated U.S. attorney not only with support but clear parameters and a time frame to ensure the effort did not drag on and on. Mr. Wray, for his part, would have to show cooperation that doesn’t require the threat of a congressional contempt citation.

The man or woman appointed to lead the investigation, Mr. McCarthy says, “has to be someone who is looking to hold people accountable while preserving Justice and the FBI as the essential institutions they are, and who is looking to have this wrapped up in short order, not an empire builder à la Mueller.”

Mr. McCarthy believes that although there are other possible investigators, it would be best to use FBI agents. Of course, these agents would have to lack any connection to the subjects of their investigation, and they would need a guarantee that their careers would not suffer. But using FBI agents to root out the bad apples, says Mr. McCarthy, could elicit more cooperation from a bureau that might otherwise see itself as under siege from people who wanted the institution destroyed.


If handled properly, such an investigation could bring many benefits. The public would get a full accounting of the dossier saga. Those responsible for any abuses would be removed. And the American people would see that our system of government is capable of identifying abuse and correcting it—without resorting to the constitutional aberration known as the special counsel.

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Hillary Clinton Needs to Move On

February 12, 2018

Why is one of the most qualified leaders in the world continuing to let Trump define her, when she could be changing the subject?


February 11, 2018

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It’s tough to lose an election for student council, let alone for president. So it made sense that, after November 2016, Hillary Clinton would have spent some time wallowing in the past, howling at the universe with a side of Chardonnay. That’s the frame of mind she described in What Happened, her post-campaign memoir that came out in September, which was more of an angry play-by-play of how she was wronged than a clear-headed self-assessment of the race. Now, five months after the book came out, 15 months after the election, Clinton’s been spotted promoting family friend Lanny Davis’ new book, The Unmaking of the President 2016: How FBI Director James Comey Cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency.

We just passed Groundhog Day on the calendar, but it feels like we’re still living it; we can’t break free from the gnashing and rehashing of the 2016 election. It’s not just the Mueller probe and legitimate questions about Russian influence. It’s the emotional notes of triumph and defeat. President Donald Trump hasn’t dropped the subject, which is as perplexing as anything else Trump has done. But Clinton hasn’t dropped it, either. And at this point, she should.

I feel little nervous saying that, knowing what backlash will come: Clinton won the popular vote, she made history, she’s double-ultra-accomplished, and suggesting that she sing a different tune is really just trying to silence her. Her fans are highly sensitive about critiques, and their fury reached a crescendo in December, when Vanity Fair posted a snarky video suggesting New Year’s resolutions for Clinton—including “put away your James Comey voodoo doll” and take up knitting—and then, after a Twitter frenzy, sort of apologized.

Knitting was a little much—I’m not suggesting Clinton retreat from public life to a domestic one, unless that’s what she wants. But let’s put the video in context: The media are often unkind to losing candidates of every gender. In March 2013, four months after he lost to Barack Obama, the Atlantic ran a snarky piece about the “Bizarre Post-Election Life” of Mitt Romney, caught in such shocking acts as pumping his own gas, ordering McDonald’s and going to Costco. Around that time, Romney did his first major post-election interview on “Fox News Sunday”; a Washington Post story about it began, “One hundred seventeen days later, Mitt Romney still isn’t over it.” Ever since his gut-piercing loss in 2000, writers have pop-psychologized over Al Gore’s weight gain and post-election facial hair. “It is the beard of the hermit,” one Guardian columnist wrote, “a former warrior sorely done by and meditating in his manly cave until the people realise their folly.”

What Gore and Romney have managed to do, though, is move on—or at least make it look like they have—and reinvent. Romney has made his way back to the arena, after finding a new state in which to run for office and distinguishing himself as a rare Republican politician who criticized Trump flat out (with a brief interlude when he tried to position himself to be Trump’s secretary of state). Gore turned the 2000 race into a throwaway punch line and embarked on a second act as an investor, climate-change Cassandra and Nobel laureate. This is what many of Clinton’s critics want for her: Not to be silent, but to say something different. She’s missing an opportunity to define herself beyond being the candidate who—fairly, unfairly, or both—lost a seemingly winnable election to Trump.

Self-definition, reinvention, self-improvement; those ideas sound like the stuff of Oprah, the potentially-though-probably-not-but-hell-who-knows 2020 presidential candidate. In fact, the internet is clogged with advice about what to do after a painful defeat. A 2016 piece of aggregated wisdom in Business News Daily, “How Successful Leaders Recover from Failure,” wraps it up in bullet points: “Apologize quickly and own up,” “Analyze what went wrong,” and “Move on.” The job search website Ladders recently posted a list of “10 things smart people never say,” from “It’s not my fault” to “It’s not fair” to “He’s lazy/incompetent/a jerk.”

How is it that Clinton, who is successful and smart, hasn’t followed the most basic, Goop-like advice? For one thing, self-reflection isn’t easy or natural, which is why there are so many of these lists in the first place. Plus, it’s harder to let go when a mob of people—from inner-circle loyalists like Lanny Davis to the internet hordes—are egging you on while rending their garments over Trump.

But the irony is that Clinton has done it right before, handling past adversity in ways that were productive and inspired. In one of the feminist triumphs of modern politics, she refused to lock herself into the “wronged wife” story line, launched an ambitious bid for U.S. Senate from New York, and began a soaring political career. In 2008, after a tight loss to Obama in the Democratic primary, she graciously accepted his offer to be secretary of state, where she oversaw Washington’s “reset” with Moscow, managed sanctions in Iran and crises in Pakistan, and launched the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.

Perhaps Clinton was able to bounce back so quickly because she knew the presidency was still within reach. Now that goal is off the table, and she has yet to fully embrace a cause or future that can separate her from her loss. Finding the right path, among many possible options, is surely a challenge. But if she does commit herself to reinvention, Clinton will find that she is better-positioned than ever to make a difference. She’ll be free from the daily trench warfare of Washington. Her every move will still attract attention. And her experiences as senator and secretary of state have prepared her for roll-up-your-sleeves work on policy issues, from the child-welfare matters that started her career to the status of women worldwide. Clinton has taken baby steps in that direction: Last week, at a Georgetown University event, she spoke about how climate change will disproportionately affect women.

She could dive into the private sector, creating a market solution for any number of problems. She could follow Gore’s path and take on a single cause as a public advocate. Naysayers be damned, she could run for office again. She’s the same age as Romney—and younger than Joe Biden.

The point is to drop any public grumbling about the past, or calling out of Trump in outraged tweets, or stirring up partisan fury by mocking Trump in public. (Though at least her cameo at the Grammys, reading a passage from “Fire and Fury,” redeemed itself with a self-deprecating joke: “The Grammy’s in the bag?”) There are plenty of people willing and able to analyze the 2016 race and point out the absurdities of Trump. Clinton doesn’t need to be a voice in that mix. She has the chance to go down in history as much more than the almost-first-woman-president. It starts with changing the subject.

Top Intel Committee Democrat Adam Schiff says Trump’s hypocrisy on the memos ‘reaches out and grabs you by the throat’ — But Polls show Republicans winning

February 12, 2018

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  • Kellyanne Conway said President Donald Trump refused to release the Democratic memo responding to Rep. Devin Nunes controversial Russia investigation memo because it contained improper information about confidential “sources and methods” that need to be redacted.
  • Trump had previously authorized the Nunes memo, against the warnings of intelligence agencies, reportedly without even reading it.
  • Ranking Democrat on the committee Rep. Adam Schiff criticized Trump’s apparent double standard, saying “the hypocrisy of this just kind of reaches out and grabs you by the throat.”
  • Trump had previously attacked Schiff on Twitter, saying he need to be “stopped.”

Counselor Kellyanne Conway defended President Donald Trump’s refusal on Friday to release a Democratic rebuttal to the controversial memo on the Russia investigation, authored by House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, despite Trump’s decision to release Nunes’ memo last week.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week”, Conway told host George Stephanopoulos that the Democratic memo includes classified information that needs to be redacted.

“The Democratic memo is much longer,” she said. “It’s much more involved. And those who are in a position to know national security and lawyers have said that it contains sources and methods that could be very compromising. So they want to make sure that that is cured before it is released to the public.”

The week before, Trump authorized the release of the the Nunes memo that details alleged misconduct on the part of the FBI and Justice Department in the Russia investigation. The FBI had released a rare public statement urging against its release, cautioning that it could reveal intelligence methods.

The first memo claims that the FBI and DOJ misled a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court in order to obtain and renew a so-called FISA warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and that they used the largely uncorroborated Trump-Russia dossier as the primary source of evidence in their application.

The Democratic rebuttal memo pushes back against the Nunes memo’s claims, in particular criticizing its assertion that the dossier was the sole basis for the Page FISA application, two sources on the House Intelligence Committee told Business Insider.

Trump declined to declassify the Democratic memo, and sent it back to the committe for revisions.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, had some harsh words on the White House’s measured response to the Democratic memo. Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, he accused Trump of putting “his own personal interest above the national security interest of the country.”

“The hypocrisy of this just kind of reaches out and grabs you by the throat,” Schiff said. “Here the Republicans write a memo the FBI quite accurately describes as misleading and omitting material facts, the Department of Justice says it would be ‘extraordinary reckless’ to release this. And what does the president do? He says ‘I’m going to release it, before I even read it, 100% I’m going to release it.'”

Despite Trump’s initial refusal to release Schiff and the Democrats’ memo, Conway said he was open to doing so once the appropriate redactions were made.

“This is serious business,” she said, “and if it takes a little bit of extra time to get the transparency and accountability out there, we should all respect that. The president is inclined to declassify as he did the other memo.”

She told Stephanopoulos that Schiff is complying with the redaction process.

Trump throws his weight behind Nunes, against Schiff

Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump. AP

Trump attacked Schiff on Twitter Monday.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” Trump tweeted. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

Trump has stated that the Nunes memo “totally vindicates” him in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s potential collusion in the Kremlin’s efforts.

But Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican on the House Intelligence Committee who helped author the Nunes memo, pushed back against this claim.

“I’m sure the president is frustrated,” Gowdy said after Trump released the first memo. “So I’m sure that that instructs some of what he said. I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe for this reason.”

The Nunes memo fell short of expectations

devin nunesRep. Devin Nunes . Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The memo itself, which Nunes had promised would be a bombshell, proved largely underwhelming after its release.

Blasting the memo in a tweet the day the memo was released, former FBI director James Comey wrote, “That’s it?”

Critics of the Nunes memo have pointed out that it does not even come close to answering the key question it was supposed to address — whether the warrant application was obtained illegally — because it does not include any other supporting information that investigators presented to the court.

In addition, the memo seemed to undercut the idea that Nunes insisted it casts doubt on the validity of the Russia investigation as a whole.

The application to surveil Page was filed in October 2016. But the memo notes the FBI opened its  investigation into links between Trump and Russia in July 2016, on account of “Papadopoulos information.”

This is a reference of former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who reportedly told an Australian ambassador that Russia had “dirt” on 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a night out in London in May 2016.

In addition to his first memo, Nunes is looking to possible release as many as five more memos. These memos reportedly allege misconduct at the State Department.

Intelligence experts warned against the precedent that releasing memos could set.

“Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen,” Comey said. “For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”



Peeling back the layers of Hillary Clinton’s deceit

February 11, 2018

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

February 10, 2018

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For law enforcement, Congress and even journalists, exposing misdeeds is like peeling an onion. Each layer you remove gets you closer to the truth.

So it is with the scandalous behavior of the FBI during its probe into whether President Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia in 2016. One layer at a time, we’re learning how flawed and dirty that probe was.

A top layer involves the texts between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and her married lover, Peter Strzok, the lead agent on the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. They casually mention an “insurance policy” in the event Trump won the election and a plan for Strzok to go easy on Clinton because she probably would be their next boss.

Those exchanges, seen in the light of subsequent events, lead to a reasonable conclusion that the fix was in among then-Director James Comey’s team to hurt Trump and help Clinton.

Another layer involves the declassified House memo, which indicates the FBI and Justice Department depended heavily on the unverified Russian dossier about Trump to get a warrant to spy on Carter Page, an American citizen and briefly a Trump adviser.

The House memo also reveals that Comey and others withheld from the secret surveillance court key partisan facts that would have cast doubt on the dossier. Officials never revealed to the judges that the document was paid for by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee or that Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, said he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”

A third layer of the onion involves the revelations in the letter GOP Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham wrote to the Justice Department. They urge a criminal investigation into whether Steele lied to the FBI about how much and when he fed the dossier to the anti-Trump media.

The letter is compelling in showing that Steele said one thing under oath to a British court and something different to the FBI. The contradictions matter because the agency relied on Steele’s credibility in both the FISA applications and its actual investigation. Strangely, even after it fired him for breaking its rule forbidding media contact, the FBI continued to praise his credibility in court.

If that were all the senators’ letter accomplished, it would be enough. But it does much more.

It also reveals that two former journalists linked to Clinton, separately identified as the odious Sidney Blumenthal   and a man named Cody Shearer, created and gave a State Department official additional unverified allegations against Trump.

The official passed those documents to Steele, who passed them to the FBI, which reportedly saw them as further evidence that Trump worked with Russians. But as Grassley, head of the Judiciary Committee, and Graham write, “It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”

The State Department official involved in the episode, Jonathan Winer, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post Friday in which he confessed to the senators’ chronology while offering a benign description of his motives. Winer also admitted he shared all the unverified allegations from the Clinton hitmen with other State Department officials.There are many more layers of the onion to peel, but here’s where we are now: It increasingly appears that the Clinton machine was the secret, original source of virtually all the allegations about Trump and Russia that led to the FBI investigation.

In addition, the campaign and its associates, including Steele, were behind the explosion of anonymously sourced media reports during the fall of 2016 about that investigation.

Thus, the Democratic nominee paid for and created allegations against her Republican opponent, gave them to law enforcement, then tipped friendly media to the investigation. And it is almost certain FBI agents supporting Clinton were among the anonymous sources.

In fact, the Clinton connections are so fundamental that there probably would not have been an FBI investigation without her involvement.

That makes hers a brazen work of political genius — and perhaps the dirtiest dirty trick ever played in presidential history. Following her manipulation of the party operation to thwart Bernie Sanders in the primary, Clinton is revealed as relentlessly ruthless in her quest to be president.

The only thing that went wrong is that she lost the election. And based on what we know now, her claims about Trump were false.

Of the charges against four men brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, none involves helping Russia interfere with the election.

And neither the FBI nor Mueller has vouched for the truthfulness of the Blumenthal and Shearer claims or the Steele dossier. ­Instead, the dossier faces defamation lawsuits in the US and England from several people named in it.

In fairness, one person besides Steele has been cited as justification for the FBI probe. George Papadopoulos, a bit but ambitious player in the Trump orbit, met with a professor in Europe early in 2016 who told him the Kremlin had Clinton’s private e-mails.

In May 2016, Papadopoulos told the story to an Australian diplomat and two months later, in July, the Australian government alerted the FBI.

However, a full timeline convincingly points to Steele as the initial spark. He was hired by a Clinton contractor in June of 2016, and filed his first allegations against Trump on June 20. Two weeks later, on July 5, he met with an FBI agent in London, The Washington Post reported, and filed three more allegations that month, including one about Carter Page.

At any rate, it is certain that Steele and other Clinton operators provided all the allegations about Trump himself that the FBI started with and that Mueller inherited.

For Clinton, creating a cloud over Trump’s presidency and helping to put the nation through continuing turmoil is a victory of sorts. America is fortunate it’s her only victory.



White House Favors Releasing Democratic Memo

February 9, 2018

Document rebuts Republican allegations of abuse by FBI in its effort to monitor former Trump campaign adviser

Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has requested that any redactions made to the Democratic memo be ‘fully explained’ by either the FBI or the Justice Department.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has requested that any redactions made to the Democratic memo be ‘fully explained’ by either the FBI or the Justice Department. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The White House is inclined to approve the release of a classified Democratic memo that rebuts Republican allegations of abuse by the FBI in its application to monitor a former Trump campaign aide, according to a person familiar with the matter.

John Kelly, White House chief of staff, said earlier this week that he told the lawyers reviewing the document to “get back to me” by the end of Thursday with their recommendation on whether President Donald Trump should release the memo. Mr. Kelly suggested then that redactions could be necessary, saying the document was “not as clean” as a Republican memo released the week before.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said Thursday that the review process was “ongoing.”

An administration official said a declassification decision by the president was expected on Friday.

“The White House understands that withholding the document is not the right response,” the official said. White House officials are now discussing parts that need to be redacted because they reveal investigators’ sources and methods, he said.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee wrote the 10-page memo as a rebuttal to a Republican document released to the public last week. The GOP document alleges federal investigators concealed partisan motives behind Democrat-funded research included in a secret warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, a foreign-policy adviser for the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Separately, Republican lawmakers are broadening their examination of the former British spy who compiled the research, Christopher Steele, and the dossier he assembled on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. That review includes probing what role associates of Hillary Clinton played in providing him with information, according to people familiar with the matter.

One of the questions that Republicans are asking is whether information from a freelance researcher, Cody Shearer, may have been passed indirectly to Mr. Steele, these people said. They added that the information was passed from Mr. Shearer through Sidney Blumenthal, a close associate of the Clintons, and another official who worked for the Obama State Department, Jonathan Winer.

Mr. Shearer compiled his information in September and October 2016—after many of the memos that make up the Steele dossier were already written, according to a person familiar with the matter. The information circulated widely in political and journalistic circles in Washington and was shared by Messrs. Winer and Blumenthal as part of concerns about Mr. Trump’s alleged Russia connections, the person said, adding there was no contact with the Clinton campaign or Democrats regarding the passing along of the information.

In a criminal referral to the FBI released publicly this week, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) wrote: “It is troubling enough that the Clinton campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”

The referral redacted the names of Messrs. Shearer, Winer, and Blumenthal, but a person familiar with the matter said that the letter from the senators refers to them.

The White House has a five-day window following the House Intelligence Committee’s Monday vote to approve the Democratic memo’s release, which House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and other Republican lawmakers have called for.

The White House has said Mr. Trump’s decision on the release and whether elements should be redacted will hinge on the recommendation of senior law-enforcement officials, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray. Mr. Trump met with Mr. Rosenstein on Tuesday to discuss the memo.

Democrats say their document is needed to correct misstatements and omissions in the GOP memo. According to people familiar with the warrant, the application for surveillance says the research was linked to people or groups with a political motivation or political affiliations. The Democratic memo is also expected to address what information beyond that collected by Mr. Steele was used in the warrant to monitor Mr. Page.

On Monday, after the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the Democratic document, the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), requested that any redactions made to the Democratic memo be “fully explained” by either the FBI or the Justice Department.

Mr. Page, who hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing, had been on the radar of U.S. intelligence since 2013, when alleged Russian spies made an attempt to recruit him. He left Mr. Trump’s campaign in September 2016, a month before investigators sought a surveillance warrant on him.

The FBI publicly opposed the release of the GOP memo, citing “grave concerns” about its accuracy. Democrats have said the Republican document was an attempt to discredit a wide-ranging Justice Department probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The investigation is also looking into potential obstruction of justice by the president and his aides.

Mr. Trump has denied any obstruction or collusion and said the GOP memo “totally” vindicated him. In his first year in office, he has repeatedly attacked top officials at the FBI and Justice Department, including Mr. Rosenstein, whom he appointed.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at and Byron Tau at

Appeared in the February 9, 2018, print edition as ‘Trump Inclined to Clear Release of Memo.

The Memo and the Mueller Probe

February 5, 2018

If the investigation arose from partisan opposition research, what specific crime is he looking into?

Special counsel Robert Mueller leaves a Capitol Hill meeting, June 21, 2017.
Special counsel Robert Mueller leaves a Capitol Hill meeting, June 21, 2017. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The memo released Friday by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was the product of necessity, not choice. Even before its release, the debate over its provenance, motive and effect was obscuring the crucial point that it is the underlying facts the memo alleges that present the real issues.

The committee’s memo says that yet another memo, which goes by the cloak-and-dagger title “Steele dossier,” provided at least part of the basis for a wiretap of Carter Page, a U.S. citizen who had volunteered as a foreign policy-consultant to the Trump campaign. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted the wiretap application from the FBI and Justice Department two weeks before the 2016 election. In order to obtain the warrant, the government had to show probable cause that Mr. Page was acting as the agent of a foreign power and that in so doing he had committed a crime.

The Steele dossier is 35 pages of opposition research on Donald Trump, described by former FBI Director James Comey as “salacious and unverified.” It was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who had a luminous dislike for Mr. Trump and was also an informant for the FBI.

The House memo reports that the FBI and Justice Department did not advise the FISA court that the dossier was funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. It also reports that the government’s cited support for the accuracy of contentions in the wiretap application—statements in a news article—had originated in a leak from Mr. Steele himself. Mr. Steele was fired by the FBI for a later unauthorized disclosure to the press, a cardinal offense by an informant. But the FBI continued to receive information from him through a Justice Department employee whose wife worked for the opposition-research firm that employed Mr. Steele and was paid by the DNC and Clinton campaign through a law firm, which acted as a cutout to conceal the source of the payments.

All that and more was known by the FBI and the Justice Department, according to the House memo, but not disclosed to the FISA court. That is certainly scandalous, but how consequential it is would seem to depend at least in part on what role the Steele dossier played in the application for the warrant.

According to the House memo, the FBI’s then deputy director testified in December that there would have been no application for the warrant but for the dossier. The committee’s Democrats deny he said that. In any case, it appears the Steele dossier played some role in the FISA application. The dossier, thanks to a long-ago leak, is publicly available; if you’d enjoy a swan dive into a cesspool, go read it. The FISA application is not available. How come?

Such applications are at the highest level of classification. They often contain sensitive intelligence information that can betray confidential sources and methods; disclosure can severely damage national security. But notice that the FBI’s only objection to the House memo at the time of its release was that it was incomplete, not that it disclosed sources and methods. Thus it is possible to summarize parts of a classified document to disclose information relevant to a public issue without disclosing secrets.

It is also possible to redact a classified document to the same end. It should be possible to disclose the parts of the FISA application that are alleged to come from the Steele dossier to see if there is any there there. That was not done because the FBI and the Justice Department resisted, and the committee had to make do with a summary. That is why the memo was a product of necessity, not choice.

Those critical of its release say it is intended to damage special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. How does possible misconduct by senior FBI officials, which is certainly bad enough, intersect with the Mueller investigation? As follows: The Justice Department regulation that authorizes the appointment of special counsels requires a determination that a “criminal investigation” is warranted, and that there is a conflict or other good reason that prevents ordinary Justice Department staff from conducting it.

The regulation that governs the jurisdiction of the special counsel requires that he be “provided with a specific statement of the matter to be investigated.” The letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing Mr. Mueller says he is to “conduct the investigation confirmed by then-Director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, 2017,” which covers “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” and any matters that may arise “directly” from that investigation.

But the investigation then disclosed by Mr. Comey was not a criminal investigation; it was a national-security investigation. Possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election is certainly a worthy subject for a national-security investigation, but “links” or “coordination”—or “collusion,” a word that does not appear in the letter of appointment but has been used as a synonym for coordination—does not define or constitute a crime. The information, and misinformation, in the Steele dossier relates to that subject.

If partisan opposition research was used to fuel a national-security investigation that has morphed into a series of criminal investigations, and the special counsel has no tether that identifies a specific crime, or “a specific statement of the matter” he is to investigate, that is at least unsettling. By contrast, the Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater investigations, whatever you think of how they were conducted, identified specific crimes. The public knew what was being investigated.

Here, none of the charges Mr. Mueller has brought thus far involved “coordination” or “collusion” with the Russians. Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, the latter over the timing of conversations with Russians in which he was allegedly offered but never received “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton, including her emails. He also attempted to set up a meeting between the Russians and Mr. Trump, but the campaign blew off that effort. Notably, Mr. Papadopoulos did not plead guilty to participating in any plot that involved “coordination.” The Paul Manafort and Rick Gates indictments charge fraud on the government through receipt of and failure to disclose payments from a pro-Russian Ukraine politician.

What to do? I believe that at a minimum, the public should get access to a carefully redacted copy of the FISA application and renewals, so we can see whether officials behaved unlawfully by misleading a court; and Mr. Mueller’s mandate should be defined in a way that conforms with the legal standard of his office. Both would go a long way toward assuring that we do more than talk about a “government of laws.”

Mr. Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general (2007-09) and a U.S. district judge (1988-2006).

Dossier author Steele was fed info by Clinton-connected contact, Obama State Department

February 5, 2018
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A newly released document from the Senate Judiciary Committee says Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the Trump dossier, wrote an additional memo on the subject of Donald Trump and Russia that was not among those published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.The newly released document is an unclassified and heavily redacted version of the criminal referral targeting Steele filed on Jan. 4 by Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Chuck Grassley of South Carolina. It appears to confirm some level of coordination between the extended Clinton circle and the Obama administration in the effort to seek damaging information about then-candidate Trump.According to the referral, Steele wrote the additional memo based on anti-Trump information that originated with a foreign source. In a convoluted scheme outlined in the referral, the foreign source gave the information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton, who then gave the information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then gave the information to Steele. Steele wrote a report based on the information, but the redacted version of the referral does not say what Steele did with the report after that.Published accounts in the Guardian and the Washington Post have indicated that Clinton associate Cody Shearer was in contact with Steele about anti-Trump research, and Obama State Department official Jonathan Winer was a connection between Steele and the State Department during the 2016 campaign.

When Grassley and Graham filed the referral with the Justice Department on Jan. 4, the document was classified (although the two senators released an unclassified cover letter announcing the referral). What followed was a month of haggling with the Justice Department over what material in the referral could be made public. The result is the version of the referral released this morning. It has whole paragraphs and keywords blacked out, making it hard to discern its full meaning.

For example, a press release accompanying the referral said the referral “contains verbatim quotes from the [Carter Page surveillance] application that are not included in the [House Intelligence Committee] memo. Specifically, the referral quotes the application’s descriptions of Steele’s statements to the FBI about his contacts with the media.” Lest anyone get too excited, the press release went on to say that the quotes “remain redacted” in the version of the referral released Monday.

Also redacted is information related to the key allegation of the Grassley-Graham referral: that Steele was untruthful with the FBI and Justice Department over the issue of his many contacts with the press. If Steele was acting as a trusted source for the FBI on the highly confidential Trump-Russia investigation, it would have been improper for him to share his information with the press at the same time.

Some of the redacted passages also relate to the question of statements about Steele’s press contacts that the FBI made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in applying for the Page surveillance warrant that was the subject of the House Intelligence Committee memo released Friday.

It’s a lot to digest. But further details will have to wait until the rest of the referral is declassified. Senate sources say they hope that will be soon.

Redacted Senate document: