Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Lindsey Graham: A ‘bureaucratic coup’ against Trump being uncovered

September 24, 2018

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., alleged Sunday that there is a “bureaucratic coup” being uncovered following reporting last week that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed trying to oust President Trump.

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The New York Times reported Friday that Rosenstein considered rallying Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution and offered to wear a wire to record his conversations with the president.

Rosenstein has denied he considered such actions and follow-up reports have indicated that he was being sarcastic when bringing up the secret recording.

Graham told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump should not fire the top Justice Department official unless he believes Rosenstein is lying.

“He said he did not do the things alleged, but there is a bureaucratic coup against President Trump being discovered here,” Graham said. “Before the election, the people in question tried to taint the election, tip it to [Hillary] Clinton’s favor. After the election, they’re trying to undermine the president.”

Graham cited former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, former FBI agent Peter Stzrok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page’s actions as evidence of government officials trying to undermine Trump.

“They tried to destroy this president,” he said. “If Rosenstein is involved, he should be fired. If he is not involved, leave him alone … There’s a bureaucratic coup going on at the department of justice and the FBI and somebody needs to look at it.”

Includes video:


Goodlatte threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t give McCabe memos

September 24, 2018

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee threatened to hit the Justice Department with another subpoena if he doesn’t receive memos authored by ousted former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

“If they’re not produced by tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday of this week, we are going to issue a subpoena to the Justice Department that expands upon the subpoena we issued earlier this year,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

McCabe’s memos are among many documents related to the Russia probe Goodlatte has been seeking in his effort to show alleged misconduct at the Justice Department and FBI.

The subpoena threats follow a New York Times report Friday that deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 had suggested secretly recording President Trump and recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to oust him from office.

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Rod Rosenstein

The Times said memos written by McCabe and other FBI officials documented Rosenstein’s efforts.

Goodlatte is convinced the Justice Department is withholding documents that support his theory – shared by Trump and his allies – that the FBI “bent over backwards” not to prosecute Hillary Clinton in her email probe, but then launched a Trump Russian collusion investigation “without meaningful evidence” because of political bias against the president.

The McCabe memos could shed new light on Rosenstein’s thinking before he appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Russia probe, Goodlatte said.

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Robert Mueller

“A lot of light can be shed on that if the documents we have been requesting for quite some time are made public,” said Goodlatte, who has been calling for second special counsel to investigate the handling of the Clinton email probe.

Additionally, Trump is seeking to declassify Russia probe documents related to the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page, as well as FBI interviews with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, and text messages sent by former FBI director James Comey, McCabe and lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

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Peter Strzok

Trump had initially ordered an immediate public release, but walked back the demands on Friday, citing the need for a review of the documents.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, said he doubts their release will have much impact on the perception of the Trump or the Russia probe.

“I’ve seen all of it,” Gowdy (R-S.C.) told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And with the exception of one document, I don’t think anybody’s mind is going to be changed when they read this stuff.”


Steele dossier hasn’t provided Robert Mueller with long sought evidence of a crime or collusion

September 23, 2018

No evidence has emerged supporting Steele’s claims in the long investigation seeking a crime….

— The Steele dossier’s allegation that the Kremlin is blackmailing President Donald Trump with a so-called “pee tape” has cast a cloud over the Trump presidency.
— The Democrat-funded dossier claims Trump used prostitutes during a visit to Moscow in 2013.
— But a music publicist who has been interviewed at length in the Mueller investigation says he was with Trump for most of his time in Moscow and that the dossier’s allegations are “unlikely.” 

A British music publicist who was with President Donald Trump during a trip to Moscow in 2013 says it is “unlikely” the real estate mogul used prostitutes during his brief visit to the Russian capital, as the infamous Steele dossier alleges.

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In an interview with The Washington Post, Rob Goldstone said he was with Trump for 31 out of the 36 hours the future president was in Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.

The Ritz Carlton in Moscow is the alleged site of the most salacious allegation made in the Steele dossier, which was funded by Democrats and written by former British spy Christopher Steele.

A June 20, 2016, memo from the dossier alleges Kremlin operatives have blackmailed Trump with video footage of him engaged with prostitutes in a hotel room at the Ritz. According to one of Steele’s sources, the video shows the prostitutes performing a “golden showers” act in front of Trump. (RELATED: Fusion GPS Doubted The Credibility Of Major Dossier Source)

Trump has vehemently denied the allegation and no evidence has emerged supporting Steele’s claims, but it is frequently touted by Trump critics as evidence the Republican is under Kremlin control.

Trump landed in Moscow in his private plane at around 3 p.m. on a Friday and left at around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, according to WaPo. Goldstone said he was in Trump’s vicinity for all but five hours when Trump was seemingly asleep in his hotel room. (RELATED: ‘Fifty-Fifty’: Christopher Steele Is Unsure About The ‘Golden Showers’ Tape)

Goldstone, who is releasing a book Tuesday, has been questioned at length by prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller regarding his interactions with Trump and members of his campaign. Goldstone is who contacted Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016 to offer a meeting with a group of Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. (RELATED: Rob Goldstone Speaks Out On Trump Jr.-Russia Emails: It Was ‘Puffed Up’)

Goldstone worked for Emin Agalarov, a pop musician whose father is billionaire real estate mogul Aras Agalarov. The Agalarov family partnered with Trump to host the beauty pageant.

Goldstone contacted Trump Jr. at the behest of Emin Agalarov on June 3, 2016. In an email, Goldstone said a “Russian government attorney” wanted to meet to provide information about potentially illegal campaign contributions from Russians to Hillary Clinton.

“If it is what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. responded.

The meeting was held at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. But most participants, including Goldstone, say the meeting was a dud. The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, reportedly used the opportunity not to talk about Clinton, but to focus on the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that sanctions Russian human rights abusers.

Veselnitskaya was working closely at the time with Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, to overturn the Magnitsky Act. As part of the project, she was also working with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele to write the dossier.

Goldstone said Mueller’s team was less interested in the Trump Tower meeting than they were about the relationship between the Agalarovs and Trumps.

The dossier’s claims about Trump’s visit to Moscow have been called into question, even by Steele himself.

Steele, a former MI6 official, put the odds that the “golden showers” tape exists at “50-50,” according to “Russian Roulette,” a book from two journalists who met with Steele prior to the 2016 election.

Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, also called the credibility of the dossier’s source into question. According to “Russian Roulette,” Simpson considered the alleged source, a Belarus-born businessman named Sergei Millian, to be “a big talker.”

The ‘deep state’ leaves Trump with no good options

September 23, 2018

President Trump is not generally given to understatement, but he soft-pedaled problems at the Department of Justice. There is, he said Friday, a “lingering stench” there.

A “stench” doesn’t describe the situation. A snake pit is more like it.

The report by The New York Times that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein plotted to remove Trump, either by wearing a wire or invoking the 25th Amendment, cements forever the fact that there was and still is a deep state centered in the nation’s top law-enforcement agency. This was a plot by power-mad individuals who aimed to overturn the 2016 election and thwart the will of voters.

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

Rosenstein, two weeks into his new job, reportedly suggested the ideas in a meeting with others at the FBI. He called the Times story “inaccurate” but denied specific allegations with lawyerly wiggle room, meaning Rosenstein is no Brett Kavanaugh when it comes to total assertions of innocence.

Later, the Justice Department conceded Rosenstein made the comments, but insisted he was joking.

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Rod Rosenstein

Joking, schmoking. I believe he was deadly serious based on the sequence of events before and ­after the meeting.

It took place on May 16, 2017 — exactly a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, according to the Times and other media reports.

Rosenstein had favored the firing and wrote a compelling memo laying out why it was justified. When the White House cited his memo to fend off critics, Rosenstein reportedly felt he was being set up as a fall guy. Democrats attacked him as a Trump stooge and he told friends he feared for his reputation.

He supposedly called the meeting to explain himself to Comey’s crew, including Andrew McCabe, who had been named acting FBI director. Instead, it became a gripe session about Trump and chaos at the White House.

Rosenstein’s offer to record the president is said to have included a suggestion that applicants for the FBI job also record him. Considering the gravity of the meeting, none of that sounds like joke material.

Indeed, the Times describes Rosenstein’s state of mind as anything but jovial, saying he “appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional.” He was also “angry at Mr. Trump.”

It soon became clear just how angry. The next day, May 17, Rosenstein shocked Washington by appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel and directing him to take over the existing Russia collusion investigation and virtually anything else Mueller wanted to probe.

Furious at the president and being attacked on all sides, Rosenstein suddenly had the power to strike back. And he did.

He was able to act unilaterally because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had recused himself from anything having to do with the 2016 campaign.

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Jeff Sessions

Here we are, 16 months later, and Mueller has not revealed a shred of evidence against Trump or any other American involving actual collusion. Yet the unrelated charges filed against Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and others are a gift to Democrats and have led to endless damaging headlines about Trump, many of which turn out to be false or meaningless.

And it all began because Rod Rosenstein was an emotional wreck and in a job too big for him. History might never have turned on a smaller hinge.

This being Washington, there are other elements to the story. McCabe is likely a prime source, with reports saying he and others wrote memos about the May 16 meeting.

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Robert Mueller

McCabe, of course, faces possible indictment for allegedly lying to Justice Department investigators about a media leak, and probably blames Rosenstein for his firing. The story could be his revenge at his former boss and the whole department.

And don’t rule out a Comey role. As chief snake, he did more to damage FBI credibility than any man or woman in America, yet has made no secret of his desire for revenge for being exposed and fired.

Oddly, the timing of the plot story could also involve a link to Trump’s decision to reverse his order for officials to declassify documents from the Russia probe. Rosenstein is fighting a bitter battle with some GOP members of Congress who want the documents, and reportedly appealed to Trump to slow the release.

The documents presumably would make Rosenstein look bad since he signed the last application for a surveillance warrant against Trump associate Carter Page. It would be a head-scratcher if Trump acted to protect him.

At any rate, the idea that Rosenstein serves at the pleasure of the president now takes on an extra dimension. Trump recently called their relationship “fantastic,” though his Friday reference to a “lingering stench” almost certainly refers to the deputy attorney general.

Whether the plot revelation will be the end of Rosenstein is a guessing game. The advantages of keeping him, at least for now, involve calculations about what impact a firing would have on the midterms and the Mueller probe.

In addition, somebody would have to replace Rosenstein, and that’s not a battle Trump needs now, especially with Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination ­unresolved.

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Trump Friday not to fire Rosenstein. In the political hall of mirrors, that could mean Schumer actually wants Trump to fire him so Dems would have fresh campaign fodder.

Thus, the president has no great option, only two bad ones. Keep the man who wanted to entrap and remove you, or fire him and bring on more trouble than you can handle.

Welcome to the snake pit.

‘Decent’ reminder for dems

Reader Jeffrey Bash knows how to invoke history. Citing the smear tactics Democrats are using against Brett Kavanaugh, he wants a modern-day Joseph Welch to say to Sens. Dianne Feinstein or Chuck Schumer what Welch said to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1954 as McCarthy accused a young lawyer of Communist ties. Welch’s rebuke would fit like a glove: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

Politi-blowing the reference

Block that metaphor!

Politico, describing an exchange of charges between Gov. Cuomo and GOP challenger Marc Molinaro, noted that Molinaro has the high ground, then weirdly added: “But as the Germans positioned over Omaha Beach discovered on a famous day in June, 1944, you can only hold the bluffs so long in the face of prolonged assault.”

On top of everything else, I’m confused about whether Cuomo or Molinaro is the Nazi.

Deb gets a demerit

From The Post: “Parents and even teachers at a Brooklyn performing arts school were shocked to learn Friday that the school can no longer audition prospective students under the district’s new diversity plan.”

If Mayor de Blasio really believes merit doesn’t matter, he should demand his beloved Boston Red Sox use his racial quota system for picking players. That would be fun to watch.

New York Times defends bombshell Rosenstein report

September 22, 2018

The New York Times on Saturday defended its bombshell report on Friday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed secretly recording conversations with President Trump last year and proposed the possibility of administration officials invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.

The Times’s deputy managing editor Matt Purdy wrote in a statement Saturday that the newspaper stands by the reporting of its journalists, Mike Schmidt and Adam Goldman, who broke the story.

Citing unnamed sources, the Times reported on Friday that Rosenstein made the remarks just weeks into his job last year following the sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey.

“Just because you don’t like the facts, don’t comfort yourself by dismissing the story as fake or credulous reporting,” Purdy wrote. “The DOJ claim that Rosenstein was sarcastic when he suggested he wear a wire on Trump is not supported by our reporting or others.”

“It is the responsibility of the media to report the facts, however comforting or discomforting,” Purdy continued.

Matt Purdy Tweet:

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Purdy’s statement came less than a day after the Justice Department circulated a statement from an official who claimed to have been in the room with Rosenstein when he made the alleged remarks. The official, however, said described the remarks as sarcastic in nature.

The Times and other news outlets have fought back frequently against harsh criticism from the president and his administration, who have characterized what they perceive as negative reporting as “fake news.”

Rosenstein on Friday fiercely denied the Times’s reporting in two separate statements, refusing to address the specifics but stating that he saw no reason to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The amendment proscribes a process by which a majority of Cabinet members can vote to remove a president deemed unfit to serve.

“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” He said in a statement issued by the Justice Department. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda.

“But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment,” the deputy attorney general added.


FBI, DOJ expected to make redactions despite Trump’s order to declassify Russia documents: Report

September 19, 2018

The FBI and Department of Justice are expected to redact some information in the materials President Trump has ordered declassified regarding the Russia investigation, according to a report Wednesday.

The president directed the Justice Department, FBI, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Monday to provide “immediate declassification” of materials relating to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications on Carter Page, FBI reports of interviews with DOJ official Bruce Ohr, as well as all text messages, without redactions, about the investigation from former FBI Director James Comey, his former deputy Andrew McCabe, Ohr, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

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Three people familiar with review of the materials told Bloomberg the agencies are expected to propose redactions on particularly sensitive materials, including classified sources and methods, before submitting them to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which will then turn over the materials to the White House.

Trump and his Republican allies have contended the Russia investigation has been tainted by anti-Trump bias before special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed. Democrats counter that, saying Trump and his allies only want to discredit the probe.

Despite any proposed redactions, the president has the authority to veto the agencies’ recommendations and declassify the material on his own.

[Opinion: How declassifying documents might backfire on Trump]


FBI, DOJ To Defy Trump Order; Redactions Planned As Top ‘Deep State’ Dems Demand Insubordination

September 19, 2018

Despite President Trump’s Monday order for the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials related to the Russia investigation, “without redaction,” the agencies involved are planning to do so anyway, according to Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the matter.

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The Justice Department, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are going through a methodical review and can’t offer a timeline for finishing, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive matter. –Bloomberg

Trump ordered the DOJ to release the text messages of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also ordered released are specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The DOJ and the FBI are expected to submit proposed redactions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – which will prepare a package for Trump to sign off on.

“When the president issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests,” a Justice Department spokesman said in a statement. “The department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the president’s order.”

The agencies are likely to cite national security concerns over revealing classified “sources and methods” pertaining to the Russia investigation – which will put them in direct conflict with Trump’s order. Trump, as president, has the power to override the agencies and declassify material on his own.

Trump’s order to release the documents comes after months of requests from GOP lawmakers, while the DOJ has repeatedly denied their requests for more transparency.

The FBI’s spy…

According to Bloomberg, the DOJ is interpreting Trump’s request to include information about the use of confidential informant (spy) Stephan Halper during the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation. After taking in over $400,000 from the Obama Pentagon under the auspices of a research contract, Halper befriended and spied on members of the Trump campaign, including aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.


Top Congressional Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff and Mark Warner penned a joint letter to ODNI Director Dan Coates, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding that the agencies defy President Trump.

Byron York


Showdown? In letter, Pelosi/Schumer/Schiff/Warner order intel agencies to ignore presidential order on declassification until consulting with Congress. 

In the letter, the lawmakers “express profound alarm” at the decision to “intervene in an ongoing law enforcement investigation that may implicate the President himself or those around him.”

“Any decision by your offices to share this material with the President or his lawyers will violate longstanding Department of Justice polices, as well as assurances you have provided to us.”

The letter then demands that the agencies brief the Gang of Eight before releasing the materials “to anyone at the White House.”

In short, prepare for fireworks…

CNN’s Chris Cillizza: Trump ordered the FBI to ignore allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted a woman

September 19, 2018

CNN’s Chris Cillizza claimed Tuesday that President Trump ordered the FBI to ignore allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted a woman in the early 1980s.

This story begins with a tweet from CBS News’ Mark Knoller, who tweeted, “Pres Trump says he still hasn’t spoken to Judge Kavanaugh, but says he knows he has [the president’s] support. Pres is critical of Dems and [Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.] for handling of allegation against Kavanaugh. Says FBI doesn’t want to reopen its background investigation.”

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Cillizza smelled a scandal.

“No big deal,” he tweeted to his 600,000-plus followers. “Just the president telling the FBI to ignore an allegation of sexual assault.”

But that’s not what happened. Not even close. This shouldn’t be this difficult.

The president told reporters Tuesday, “I don’t really think the FBI should be involved because they don’t want to be involved. If they wanted to be I would certainly do that, but as you know they say this isn’t really their thing.”

Sen. Feinstein, who first learned of the Kavanaugh allegations in July, referred the matter last week to the FBI. The bureau then kicked the allegations over to the White House, saying it’s more a matter for the Supreme Court nominee’s background check file.

“Upon receipt of the information on the night of Sept. 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process,” an FBI spokesperson told the Washington Post.

The bureau’s decision makes sense, too, all things considered.

Christine Blasey Ford claims Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were both in high school. That was nearly 35 years ago.

“The assault occurred in a suburban Maryland area home at a gathering that included me and four others,” she said in her letter to Feinstein. “Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stair well from the living room. They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help.”

It added, “Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with REDACTED, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me.”

Ford doesn’t remember the time or the location of the alleged assault. She remembers (or believes) only that her alleged attacker was a young Brett Kavanaugh. The judge, for his part, has denied the allegations repeatedly, saying he never did anything of the sort.

Combine what the FBI did last week with what the president said Tuesday, and I’m not entirely sure what Cillizza is on about. Did he actually hear and/or read Trump’s comments? Maybe, maybe not.

Separately, the New York Times’ Nick Confessore announced Tuesday that his paper is “looking for false information being spread deliberately to confuse, mislead, or influence voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.”

Now I’m not saying they should start first by looking at news media, but they definitely should start first by looking at the news media.

Schumer’s FBI Ploy

September 19, 2018

The Democratic demand for a bureau probe is one more delaying tactic.



Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Washington, D.C., Sept. 5.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Washington, D.C., Sept. 5. PHOTO: CLIFF OWEN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Democrats have succeeded in delaying a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination until the Senate holds a public hearing with him and his accuser scheduled for Monday, but they’re still not happy. Now they don’t even want to hold that hearing until the FBI investigates the alleged sexual assault that happened when the two were in high school.

“The FBI conducted a background check on Judge Kavanaugh before these allegations were known,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday on the Senate floor. “It is now the FBI’s responsibility to investigate these claims, update the analysis to Judge Kavanaugh’s background, and report back to the Senate.”

Other Democrats have picked up the same chant since Senator Dianne Feinstein announced last week that she had forwarded to the FBI a letter that accuser Christine Ford had written to her. Both Senators know this isn’t the role that the FBI plays in nominations, and their demand shows that their real motive here is further delay.

The FBI doesn’t conduct criminal investigations into nominees, especially not into an alleged incident that would not have been a violation of a federal statute. State law would be at issue. That’s why the FBI responded to Ms. Feinstein’s statement last week by saying it had no plans to conduct a criminal probe and merely added Ms. Ford’s letter to Judge Kavanaugh’s background file.

The purpose of a background check is to interview people about the character and qualifications of a nominee. The FBI makes no judgments about the veracity of the people it interviews, and its role isn’t to issue a judgment about the nominee. The FBI simply compiles information that is then submitted to the White House.

If the nomination is for a judgeship confirmable by the Senate, then the White House will forward that information to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If there is an allegation of some kind, the Senate staff will typically follow up with the accuser and the nominee and present the information to Senators, who then make their own judgment as part of their advice and consent power.

The preposterous circumstance in this case is that Senator Feinstein withheld Ms. Ford’s accusations for six weeks from Republicans and the White House. Ms. Feinstein could have turned over Ms. Ford’s letter to the FBI immediately, yet now Democrats are demanding a further delay so the FBI can do what the Senators can do for themselves—which is to interview the nominee and his accuser.

Republicans have invited Mr. Kavanaugh and Ms. Ford to appear on Monday, Mr. Kavanaugh says he’ll show up anywhere or anytime to deny the accusation. Yet by our deadline Tuesday Ms. Ford’s lawyer was still declining to say if her client would appear. Democratic staffers were also refusing to cooperate with Republicans on a schedule to conduct phone calls with Ms. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, and any relevant witnesses. Such follow-up phone calls are standard procedure after an FBI background check has been completed.

All of this underscores that the main Democratic goal is to delay a confirmation vote past the November election. That would spare Democrats running for re-election in Donald Trump states from having to take a difficult confirmation vote. If Democrats take the Senate majority, they’ll then insist on no vote until the new Senate convenes in January.

Republicans have already created more danger for themselves and Judge Kavanaugh by agreeing to a hearing that Democrats will turn into a #MeToo spectacle. They should tell Ms. Ford and Democrats that if she doesn’t want to show up on Monday, they will move to a confirmation vote post-haste.

Appeared in the September 19, 2018, print edition.

Devin Nunes: ‘Laughable’ to argue Trump’s declassification order endangers national security

September 18, 2018

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said it is “laughable” to claim President Trump’s order Monday to declassify documents related to the Russia investigation is a danger to national security.

The “mainstream media” is “buying the Kool-Aid,” Nunes, R-Calif., said in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham reacting to a warning given hours earlier by his Democratic counterpart on the intelligence panel.

In a statement, Rep. Adam Schiff called Trump’s order a “clear abuse of power” and said he was previously informed by the FBI and Justice Department that they would consider the release of these materials the stepping past a “red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods.”

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Rep. Adam Schiff

Nunes brushed off what he described as a political “play call,” which has been echoed by other Democrats, politicos, and legal experts. “It’s laughable that they are saying this will somehow endanger national security,” Nunes said. “This is really full transparency for the American people.”

Answering a push by his GOP allies in Congress, who have been clamoring to secure public evidence showing a tainted Russia investigation and bias in the top levels of the DOJ and FBI, the White House announced early Monday evening that Trump had ordered the declassification of certain key documents that Nunes and others have had their eyes on, and more.

Among them are about 20 pages of the June 2017 application to the FISA court seeking the authority to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who had suspicious ties to Russia. While it’s not the first application submitted — there were four in total — Nunes explained this one contains the main details of the other three. The FISA documents were released earlier in the summer, but in heavily redacted form.

The GOP majority in the House Intelligence Committee, with the release of a memo in February that was declassified by Trump, raised the alarm about the FBI possibly misleading the FISA court by hiding the political origins of dossier, written by ex-British spy Christopher Steele and funded in part by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Trump and Republicans have repeatedly questioned the credibility of the Russia investigation, specifically how much the dossier — which contains unverified claims about Trump’s ties to Russia — was used by top federal law enforcement officials to justify launching it in 2016. Trump’s order Monday also covers documents on FBI interviews with DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who not only fed the bureau information he got from Steele, but also has a wife who had done work for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the dossier.

Democrats have decried the GOP efforts, characterizing them as a means to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In his statement Monday, Schiff accused Trump of deciding to “intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.”

Meanwhile, there has been talk that Trump could be breaking the law with his order; not in regards to the Russia documents, but rather with the unexpected move of ordering the unredacted release of text messages of current and former officials, including ex-FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Ohr, and former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who became infamous for their anti-Trump text messages.

“There could very likely be Privacy Act implications,” former Justice Department attorney Scott Hodes told Politico.

While Nunes and others, like Trump ally Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., praised Trump for allowing transparency to win, there remain hurdles. In a statement Monday evening, the Justice Department suggested that the declassification effort, which will involve multiple agencies, will take some time.

“When the President issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House Counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests. The Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the President’s order,” a DOJ spokeperson said.

Even when the documents are declassified, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano warned that some of them may not see the light of day. “Just because something is no longer classified doesn’t mean it’s public,” he said on air.

Former government officials explained to the Wall Street Journal that members of Congress, including those in the House Intelligence Committee, could obtain them and then release some of the documents themselves. They would also be subject to freedom of information laws.