Posts Tagged ‘Justice Department’

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.

Image result for Lindsey Graham, photos

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:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/lindsey-graham-a-bureaucratic-coup-against-trump-being-uncovered

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The Rebellion at Justice

September 24, 2018

Don’t fire Rosentein, but do release the 2016 FBI-Justice documents.

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Rod Rosenstein
Rod Rosenstein PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/REX/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK
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Donald Trump keeps saying that the November election is a referendum on him, so a key part of the Democratic strategy is feeding the narrative of chaos in the White House: Trump-baiting so he’ll overreact. That’s probably the best way to look at the New York Times story on Friday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein contemplated wearing a wire at the White House and removing the President via the 25th Amendment.

Mr. Trump is so far avoiding the advice that he instantly fire Mr. Rosenstein, and rightly so. The alleged comments were made in spring 2017 and it isn’t clear how much is true. The story is based on an account by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about a meeting among Justice officials in May 2017. Mr. McCabe was part of the Jim Comey FBI tong that wants to elect a Democratic Congress and impeach Mr. Trump.

Mr. Rosenstein says he “never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false.” The idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove a President who isn’t physically incapacitated is so dumb that only pundits looking for attention would propose it.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately warned Mr. Trump not to fire Mr. Rosenstein, which in today’s Washington means that he wants Mr. Trump to fire him. Then he’ll have another media conflagration his candidates can ride to retake Congress.

Mr. Rosenstein was no doubt feeling beleaguered in May 2017, and a day after the alleged meeting he appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But Mr. Trump was partly responsible for that mess.

Mr. Rosenstein had written an excellent memo explaining why Mr. Comey deserved to be fired as FBI director. But Mr. Trump, taking the anti-Trump media bait, told NBC that the real reason he fired Mr. Comey was because he refused to say publicly that he wasn’t investigating Mr. Trump. Then the President tweeted falsely that there may be tapes of Mr. Comey’s White House meetings. Mr. Comey leaked his own memos, and a political uproar left Mr. Rosenstein feeling used.

That was 16 months ago. Mr. Mueller has since brought many indictments against former Trump associates but he hasn’t provided a sliver of evidence about the Russia-Trump collusion narrative that was supposed to justify the investigation. The immediate battle now is over the midterm election and whether Mr. Trump can stay in office as the impeachment assault begins from Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats. Mr. Trump can make personnel changes after the midterms if Republicans still hold the Senate and he can get someone confirmed.

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Meanwhile on Friday, President Trump walked back his earlier decision to declassify a host of documents related to the Justice Department and FBI investigations during the 2016 election campaign. This is an odd decision and looks like a mistake.

“I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release,” Mr. Trump tweeted Friday.

But releasing documents to the public isn’t a coverup. It’s an act of transparency. Mr. Trump needs to declassify the documents because the FBI and Justice have consistently stonewalled Congress. Releasing documents at this stage can’t hurt the Mueller probe. As for the allies, sometimes U.S. democratic accountability has to take precedence over the potential embarrassment of British intelligence.

Releasing the documents would let Americans see for themselves how the FBI and Justice Department justified their decision to start their counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign and seek a warrant to spy on Carter Page; and whether or how they vetted the notorious Steele dossier. The unredacted emails and texts of Jim Comey’s FBI team might also reveal political motivation.

Mr. Trump has agreed to let the Justice Department Inspector General review the documents “on an expedited basis,” but time is of the essence. If Democrats take the House, they will shut down any attempt to scrutinize the actions of the FBI and Justice in 2016.

We keep reading that Mr. Trump threatens the independence of the Justice Department, but he has less influence over his own political appointees at Justice than any President we can recall. Much of this is due to his own self-indulgence and falsehoods, but there is no evidence that any investigation has been stopped or interfered with due to White House pressure. Declassify and release the documents, Mr. President.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-rebellion-at-justice-1537740521

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.

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https://thehill.com/homenews/media/407912-new-york-times-defends-bombshell-rosenstein-report
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Tesla Criminal Probe Into Musk Tweet Seen Opening Pandora’s Box

September 19, 2018

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All it took to draw the U.S. Justice Department into investigating Tesla Inc.was a single tweet by Chairman Elon Musk. But now that prosecutors have a toehold, they can dig in to look for other signs of misconduct at the electric-car maker.

The investigation is in its very early stages and where it leads is anyone’s guess. Many securities fraud probes over the years have started with a bang like the one that knocked as much as 6.6 percent off Tesla’s shares with Bloomberg’s report of the probe on Tuesday.

Some of those are flash news reports that trickle off without charges. At the other extreme are companies like Theranos Inc., which pumped up its valuation with what the government said were false promises, leading to charges against founder Elizabeth Holmes and another senior executive.

“Criminal investigations are never good if you’re a public company because they open up a Pandora’s box and prosecutors will follow threads wherever they lead,” said Paul Pelletier, a former Justice Department prosecutor.

The New York Times on Tuesday reported that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and private equity firm Silver Lake both received subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission seeking materials about the companies’ interactions with Tesla, citing people briefed on the subpoenas. Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake declined to comment.

Tesla Cooperating

Tesla said it’s cooperating with the Justice Department, noting that it received queries but no subpoena.

The initial scrutiny surrounds Musk’s tweet on Aug. 7 that he had money lined up to take the company private. Shares jumped. Later, he and his board said there was no formal proposal for the funding and they abandoned the plan.

The Securities and Exchange Commission quickly opened a civil investigation into the tweet and issued a subpoena for information, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. That was followed by the Justice Department probe. Neither the SEC nor federal prosecutors have accused Musk of any wrongdoing.

To prove criminal securities fraud, prosecutors would have to show not only that Musk’s statements were false, but that they were made willfully. That would require establishing that Musk purposely planned to inappropriately drive the shares higher or prevent them from going lower.

Can Elon Musk Tweet That? The SEC Is Digging In: QuickTake

One area investigators would look for such evidence is in emails or other internal documents, according to former federal prosecutors.

Musk has often vented his frustrations with short sellers on social media. In May, Musk tweeted that he was expecting the “short burn of the century” and suggested that investors who were betting against the company start “tiptoeing quietly to the exit …”

The “funding secured” tweet did in fact trip up bearish sellers when the company’s shares rallied more than 10 percent. Government investigators will be trying to determine whether there was any connection to that statement and his desire to hurt short sellers.

Once federal prosecutors begin looking into Musk’s comments, they may also examine other things, including why the company’s new chief accountant picked up and left after just a month on the job — though he saidat the time he had “no disagreements with Tesla’s leadership or its financial reporting.” Under securities fraud laws, prosecutors could go back five years and more if they find evidence of a conspiracy.

Very often what starts out as an investigation of one subject takes a completely different turn, said Michael Koenig, who prosecuted former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio for insider trading.

‘Wait a Minute’

“When we were investigating Qwest, we initially thought there were accounting fraud and revenue recognition type issues,” said Koenig, now a partner at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder. “As we started digging into it, however, we realized, ‘Wait a minute. Joe Nacchio is selling large amounts of his stock at the same time he’s telling the general public that the company is doing great, when he knew it was not.’”

Nacchio served four years and five months in prison after his 2007 conviction in the case.

A more recent example, according to Koenig, is the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which was reopened by the FBI after agents came across possible undiscovered evidence while investigating former New York congressman Anthony Weiner for sexting with a minor.

The lack of a subpoena from the Justice Department doesn’t mean its investigation is limited, according to Pelletier. Prosecutors can piggyback on the SEC’s subpoena to get a hold of whatever information Tesla discloses, obviating the need to issue a grand jury subpoena of its own, he said.

“That’s the normal course of action when the SEC has already issued a subpoena,” Pelletier said.

Elon Musk Shoots for Mars, Strains His Balance Sheet: QuickTake

The SEC already was investigating whether Musk’s vehicle production forecasts misled investors before the regulator started scrutinizing whether he had secured funding for a Tesla buyout, Bloomberg News reported on Aug. 9.

Some of Musk’s predictions have been way off. Musk said during a May 2016 earnings call that, during the second half of 2017, he expected Tesla would produce 100,000 to 200,000 Model 3 sedans — the lower-priced car that’s pivotal to the company generating profit. Tesla ended up building fewer than 3,000 Model 3s in last year’s second half.

The Justice Department’s interest in Tesla isn’t good for investors, who saw the company’s share price drop just after the investigation was revealed. But the probe doesn’t mean that Palo Alto, California-based Tesla will go the way of Theranos.

Unlike Theranos, Tesla manufactures popular automobiles. While the SEC and the Justice Department might find that the company and some of its executives exaggerated Tesla’s financial performance, government officials would probably be hesitant to inflict a critical blow on a company that employs more than 35,000 people globally.

Morgan Stanley Sees $2.5 Billion Equity Raise for Tesla

The nature and depth of any exaggerations by Tesla will ultimately determine how the company is treated.

If Musk’s conduct at Tesla is deemed to be a case where the CEO’s unregulated passion led him to hyperbolic claims, the resulting penalties are likely to be serious, but measured. But if evidence emerges that a win-at-all-costs mentality from the top led some executives to cook the books, the penalties could be severe.

— With assistance by Dana Hull

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-19/tesla-criminal-probe-into-musk-tweet-seen-opening-pandora-s-box?srnd=premium

Peter Strzok-Lisa Page texts discuss others ‘leaking like mad’ ahead of Russia investigation: Report

September 13, 2018

A newly released series of text messages from former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — the pair involved in an extramarital affair and shared texts critical of President Trump — show that others may have been “leaking like mad” ahead of the federal Russia probe, a new report says.

“Oh, remind me to tell you tomorrow about the times doing a story about the rnc hacks,” Page said to Strzok in a December 2016 conversation, according to Fox News.

“And more than they already did? I told you Quinn told me they pulling out all the stops on some story…,” Strzok said in response, likely referring to Richard Quinn who worked as the chief of the Media and Investigative Publicity Section in the Office of Public Affairs.

“Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad,” Strzok said in a subsequent text. “Scorned and worried, and political, they’re kicking into overdrive.”

[Trump: FBI, DOJ doing ‘nothing’ in response to Strzok text on ‘media leak strategy’]

Although Strzok didn’t specify whom he was referring to when he said “sisters,” retired FBI special agent and former FBI national spokesperson John Iannarelli suggested it was a reference to another intelligence agency or a federal law enforcement agency, according to Fox News.

On that same day the conversation occurred, multiple news outlets reported that U.S. intelligence officials believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had a direct role and authorized Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The report comes after Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., expressed “grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at the FBI and DOJ related to ongoing investigations” in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week, reacting to other texts between Strzok and Page were given to Congress.

Meadows is particularly concerned with a text sent on Apr. 10, 2017.

“I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about the media leak strategy with DOJ before you go,” Strzok wrote.

Thar text came a day before the Washington Post reported that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page had been surveilled by the FBI after the agency received a warrant from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a move that has elicited backlash because it partly relied on details included in the unverified and so-called “Trump dossier” that contains damaging information about Trump.

But Strzok’s lawyer Aitan Goelman said the “media leak strategy” was a reference to a DOJ-wide initiative to identify and prevent staff members from disclosing information to the media.

Strzok was a leading official in the FBI’s investigation on Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and was also part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation examining Russian interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Strzok was removed from the Mueller team last year and was fired from the FBI in August following his appearance before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees in July, where he said he did not speak to journalists during his time on the Russia probe.

Page resigned from her post in 2018.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/peter-strzok-lisa-page-texts-discuss-others-leaking-like-mad-ahead-of-russia-investigation-report

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Trump Declassifying Page, Ohr Records Will Have Broader Effects

September 12, 2018

Blanket declassification of information related to the Page FISA warrant and Ohr’s counterintelligence work will have significant consequences beyond the Russia investigation.

President Donald Trump plans to declassify documents as early as this week about the FBI’s surveillance of campaign advisor Carter Page pursuant to the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as well as “the investigative activities of senior Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr,” according to a report in Axios. Trump supporters believe this will vindicate the President’s claims that the Russia investigation was broken from the start, while his detractors believe the release will constitute an unprecedented compromise of a national security investigation for political purposes. I will not take a position on this debate, because my focus is on what comes next.

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After the dust has settled and the Russia investigation is either crippled or compromised (depending on your perspective), what other ramifications will this decision have? In my opinion, that is what should be driving the President’s decision-making — not how this will affect this particular investigation, but how it will affect others. And it will quite dramatically affect others.

To understand how this will play out in the long run, we have to first understand two basic concepts of transparency that are, essentially, two sides of the same coin. On the one side, you have the concept of “prior disclosure,” which means that the government cannot withhold information that it has previously released. On the other side, you have a phenomenon that doesn’t really have a catchy name, but boils down to the idea that certain information is kept secret (whether through classification or other means) not because of what it would reveal about a particular document but because of what it would reveal about other matters. For ease of discussion, I’ll call this concept “big picture withholding.”

What Is “Big Picture Withholding?”

This idea is best explained by example. First example: imagine that there is a footnote in the Page FISA application which states, “A search of the Signal Fortress database yielded no results about Carter Page.” This simple sentence conveys three pieces of information. The first piece of information is obvious: there are no records about Carter Page in the Signal Fortress database. Depending on the context of this footnote, that is likely to be of low importance because it reveals no real information about the Page investigation, and yet it is classified. Why would it be classified if it reveals nothing new about the investigation? The answer is, because of the other two pieces of information.

The second piece of information is much more basic, and therefore more easily overlooked: The Signal Fortress database exists. The mere existence of this (hypothetical) database has never been publicly revealed before. The third piece of information is even more revealing: this database is something the government uses in national security investigations. So now, thanks to this one footnote, we now know that a database exists called Signal Fortress and we know at least one of its purposes.

This is but one example. Let’s consider that the footnote stated instead that “No information about Russia was found in Carter Page’s Twitter Direct Messages.” Now we know that the government somehow has a way to read the Twitter Direct Messages of people, apparently without a warrant. That would be huge.

This is the type of painstaking analysis Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officers perform (or at least, are supposed to perform) when reviewing records for release, especially law enforcement and intelligence records. For every sentence, they have to identify each discrete piece of information being relayed by that sentence, and then independently decide what effect would be of release each element.

This kind of effect is the reason most often relied upon to withhold information in law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In essence, they treat the public as hostile intelligence analysts, for the simple reason that hostile intelligence analysts can see anything anyone else in the public can see. In fact, there’s a whole field of intelligence analysis called Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) that is basically just that.

So What If a Database or Program Is Revealed? It’s Still Secret, Isn’t It?

OK, the fact that Signal Fortress is a thing that was used in the Carter Page investigation is now out there. What’s the big deal? We still don’t know anything about it.

Well, not exactly. This is where prior disclosure comes in. The primary relevance of the revelation that Signal Fortress exists isn’t just that it exists. It also carries with it a huge legal consequence: other records can no longer be withheld if the only reason for withholding is the fact that Signal Fortress is secret. Or, going with our second hypothetical, records about how FBI can access Twitter Direct Messages, or records about other cases where they did it, are now less protected, because of prior disclosure.

To be fair, just because one piece of information about something has been officially disclosed does not mean that everything about that subject has to be released. In our first example, just because the name “Signal Fortress” has been disclosed would not mean that FBI would have to release all records about how the database works and who it contains information about. This is generally called the “matching” requirement in prior disclosure cases, which generally boils down to the idea that the prior disclosure of a piece of information only prohibits the government from making withholdings that match that piece of information and nothing more. This limitation is best exemplified in the case Fitzgibbon v. CIA, in which the existence of a Congressional report revealing the presence of a CIA station in Iran in 1975 did not constitute a waiver of the government’s ability to withhold information about the station in any other years.

However, even with the matching requirement in place, there is a significant amount of power in even the most banal of revelations, simply because many things are classified or otherwise withheld by law enforcement and intelligence agencies simply because they reveal such a fact as the existence of a program.

Consider the second example concerning Twitter Direct Messages. Such an ability might be classified not just because it would reveal the existence of such an ability, but because of the effect that might have; people who were seeking to avoid FBI scrutiny would no longer send Twitter Direct Messages. This effect is the reason that the false claim keeps reappearing that Osama bin Laden stopped using satellite phones after a report that the CIA could intercept his calls; the specific example is bogus, but the underlying idea is sound.

This analysis is further complicated by the fact that the matching requirement is not even a universal standard. Different courts treat it differently. For example, while a strict interpretation of Fitzgibbon is the standard in the D.C. Circuit, the Second Circuit stated in 2014 that the Fitzgibbon matching requirement “would make little sense” because “[a] FOIA requester would have little need for undisclosed information if it had to match precisely information previously disclosed.” The Second Circuit supported this holding with a meticulous analysis demonstrating the “questionable provenance” of the matching requirement in D.C. Circuit case law.

So the FBI could rest assured that a FOIA requester who chose to bring a case in Washington, D.C., would be unlikely to prevail in litigation over future requests based on the revelation that it could read Twitter Direct Messages. But the bureau would be in a significantly weaker position if the requester sued in New York.

So What’s the Point?

There are people who will say that the idea that FBI may be forced to release a significant amount of information about anything is an undeniably good thing, and there are people who think that every release poses an existential risk to the Republic. I have opinions on the matter, but they’re not represented here.

The purpose of this piece is to explain. Decisionmakers will make decisions, and the most that lawyers can generally hope for is that they make those decisions after considering all the facts. For people who think that there is far too much secrecy in the FISA process, this article might encourage them to support the President’s decision to release this information. For people who strongly believe that the strength of the FISA process lies in its secrecy, this article may provide ammunition to make their arguments against the President’s intended action. All I can do is make sure everyone has the best information about the consequences of such an action.

Whatever one’s view of the merits related to these particular files, blanket declassification of information related to the Page FISA warrant and Ohr’s counterintelligence work will have significant consequences beyond the Russia investigation.

https://www.justsecurity.org/60684/trump-declassifying-page-ohr-records-broader-effects/

Image: Carter Page arrives at the United States District Court Southern District of New York, April 16, 2018. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

 

Trump Tweets Criticism of FBI, DOJ on ‘Media Leak Strategy’ of Peter Strzok, Lisa Page

September 11, 2018

President Trump lamented on Tuesday that “nothing is being done” to investigate former FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page after a report said they had planned a “media leak strategy” to embarrass the president.

“New Strzok-Page texts reveal ‘Media Leak Strategy.’ @FoxNews So terrible, and NOTHING is being done at DOJ or FBI – but the world is watching, and they get it completely,” the president wrote on his Twitter account.

A report late Monday on Fox News said GOP Rep. Mark Meadows sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to alert him to the actions of Strzok and Page that were revealed in newly released text messages.

“Review of these new documents raises grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at the FBI and DOJ related to ongoing investigations,” Meadows wrote in the letter.

He said the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee discovered a April 10, 2017, text from Strzok to Page that said: “I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go.”

Then, two days later, Strzok reaches out to Page to congratulate her for planting two stories that were critical of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“Well done, Page,” Strzok wrote.

Meadows’ letter notes that the Washington Post wrote a story on April 11, 2017, about the FBI receiving a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page and that it had convinced a judge there was “probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia.”

The message “should lead a reasonable person to question whether there was a sincere desire to investigate wrongdoing or to place derogatory information in the media to justify a continued probe,” Meadows wrote in the letter.

Strzok worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into any links between Trump campaign officials and Russia but was removed after text messages between him and Page showed they were critical of the president.

He was fired by the FBI in August.

Page, a former FBI lawyer who had an affair with Strzok, also was removed from Mueller’s team. She has since resigned.

https://nypost.com/2018/09/11/trump-responds-to-strzok-page-texts-on-media-leak-strategy/

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Peter Strzok, Lisa Page conspired to leak anti-Trump stories to mainstream media

September 11, 2018

FBI agent Peter Strzok conspired with his in-house lover to leak anti-Trump stories to the media in spring 2017 when he headed the Russia probe into the Trump campaign, a congressman said on Monday.

Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein saying a House task force had just received a new shipment of Justice Department documents.

By  – The Washington Times – Monday, September 10, 2018

“Our review of these new documents raises grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at FBI and DOJ,” Mr. Meadows said. “Review of these new documents suggest a coordinated effort on the part of the FBI and DOJ to release information in the public domain potentially harmful to President Donald Trump’s administration.”

Mr. Meadows provided an example.

On April 10, 2017, Mr. Strzok text-messaged Lisa Page, his lover and then-FBI counsel, to discuss a “media leak strategy.”

“I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go,” Mr. Strzok said.

Two days later, Mr. Strzok congratulated Ms. Page on two derogatory stories that appeared about Carter Page, a former Trump volunteer whom the FBI was wiretapping.

The Washington Post broke a story about the wiretap on April 11, Mr. Meadows said, which suggested Trumpconnections to Russia.

Mr. Strzok became famous for previously released text messages that showed a strong bias against Mr. Trump. At one point he told Ms. Page he had a plan to “stop” Mr. Trump.

In congressional testimony, Mr. Strzok denied that his bias affected how he conducted the Trump probe, saying that if he wanted to he could have leaked stories to the news media.

The Justice Department fired Mr. Strzok after a scathing inspector general report.

The Meadows letter to the Justice Department was first reported by journalist Sara Carter.

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Photo by: Manuel Balce Ceneta
FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, testifies before a House Judiciary Committee joint hearing on “oversight of FBI and Department of Justice actions surrounding the 2016 election” on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 12. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Mr. Meadows told Mr. Rosenstein that the new discoveries should prompt the Justice Department to turn over messages from three other FBI and Justice officials who may have communicated with Mr. Strzok, Ms. Page and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Mr. Meadows also wants communications with Andrew Weissmann, a top deputy to Russia probe special counsel Robert Mueller.

The House task force investigating the FBI’s 2016-17 Trump probe is comprised of two of the chamber’s regular committees — Oversight and Government Reform, and Judiciary.

Testifying July 12 before the House task force, Mr. Strzok presented himself as a straight arrow who didn’t let his biases interfere with his 20-plus-year FBI career. He also handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which exonerated her, before quickly pivoting in July 2016 to the Russia-Trump probe.

“Let me be clear unequivocally and under oath, not once in my 26 years of defending our nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took. This is true for the Clinton email investigation, for the investigation into Russian interference and for every other investigation I have worked on. It is not who I am and it is not something I would ever do, period.”

He added, “There is, however, one extraordinarily important piece of evidence supporting my integrity, the integrity of the FBI and our lack of bias. In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign.

“This information had the potential to derail and quite possibly defeat Mr. Trump, but the thought of expressing that or exposing that information never crossed my mind. That’s what FBI agents do every single day and that’s why I’m so proud of the bureau.”

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/sep/10/peter-strzok-lisa-page-conspired-leak-anti-trump-s/

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The secret documents Republicans want Trump to declassify this week

September 11, 2018

There is growing buzz among Hill Republicans that President Trump will act this week to declassify some key documents in the Trump-Russia investigation. Some in the GOP had hoped the documents would be released weeks ago – they’ve been asking with increasing urgency – but an internal White House debate apparently held that up.

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In any event, there are new GOP hopes that this will be the week. If the White House does act, these are the documents, some or all, that might be released:

1) More of the Carter Page FISA wiretap application. The release of a heavily-redacted version of the secret court application, and subsequent renewals, to wiretap the onetime Trump foreign policy aide has already shown that the FBI relied on the unverified Trump dossier. Now, Republicans want the president to declassify the rest of the application, or, failing that, to release about 20 key pages of it.

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Photo: Carter Page

By Byron York
The Washington Examiner

What is in it? Remember that fired FBI Director James Comey, in an interview with Fox News in connection with his new book, said that, yes, the dossier was included in the Page surveillance request, but that, “My recollection was, it was part of a broader mosaic of facts that were laid before the FISA judge to obtain a FISA warrant.” The 20 or so unreleased pages of the Page FISA application are said to shed light on Comey’s “mosaic” comment – that is, they will purportedly reveal more of the FBI’s reason for wiretapping Page. So far, no one in the public knows what those reasons are.

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2) The Bruce Ohr 302s. It’s possible that the Carter Page documents will be all that are declassified. But if more is released, the Ohr documents might be among them. The 302s refer to the FBI reports of its interviews with top Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Remember that in the fall of 2016, with the presidential campaign going strong, the FBI decided to hire Christopher Steele to search for dirt on candidate Donald Trump. But the FBI had to terminate Steele as a source because he talked to the press. (Steele desperately wanted to help defeat Trump and tried hard to get his dossier allegations into the media.) But once the FBI terminated Steele, the bureau still used him as an informant. The method to do that was to have Steele talk to Ohr, and then Ohr talk to the FBI to pass on what Steele had told him. Those conversations between Ohr and the FBI were memorialized in so-called 302 reports. There are a dozen of them, and Republicans believe they will reveal a lot about what the FBI was doing in the Trump-Russia investigation at the end of the campaign, during the transition, and during the early months of the Trump presidency.

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Bruce Ohr

3) The Gang of 8 documents. This appears to be a grab-bag category referring to evidence the FBI presented to the so-called Gang of 8 – the chair and ranking member of House and Senate intelligence committees plus the majority and minority leader of House and Senate. The documents are said to shed light on what Republicans call “FISA abuse,” but it is not clear what they are.

It’s not certain the president with authorize the declassification of any of this. But if he does, the documents are said to represent a real step forward in the public’s knowledge of the actions of the intelligence community and law enforcement in the Trump-Russia investigation. Just exactly what those actions are might be known by later this week.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/the-secret-documents-republicans-want-trump-to-declassify-this-week

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John Kerry: Trump ‘clearly doesn’t understand America’

September 10, 2018

Former Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said President Trump’s recently lamenting the indictments of two Republican congressmen so close to the midterm elections demonstrates that Mr. Trump doesn’t understand America or how the country’s justice system is supposed to work.

Mr. Kerry said Mr. Trump chastised Attorney General Jeff Sessions for “following the law” after the Justice Department recently announced charges being brought against GOP Reps. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter, two early supporters of the president, and that the president put the charges in the context of how they could affect the midterm elections.

“You have a president who clearly doesn’t understand America, doesn’t understand the Constitution, doesn’t understand the role of the Justice Department, the separation of powers, and that’s dangerous,” Mr. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

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Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who claims that “backing out” of the Iran deal undermines America’s credibility around the world. (Associated Press/File)

Mr. Trump tweeted last week that Democrats must “love” Mr. Sessions now.

“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……” the president tweeted.

Mr. Kerry also criticized Mr. Trump’s dealings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying the president rushed to have their recent summit and there now isn’t a clear path forward on how to account for North Korea’s weapons stockpile — let alone talk of denuclearization.

“We’re working in a very, very different and frankly dangerous world for our country,” he said.

Mr. Kerry said the greatest “course correction” for the president’s behavior is the 2018 midterm elections.

“It is the one thing where average citizens have an opportunity to be able to exercise judgment and be involved in the political process as they ought to be,” he said.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/sep/9/john-kerry-donald-trump-clearly-doesnt-understand-/