Available facts indicate that the Progressives’ Russia Collusion narrative is fake — and time is running out to investigate the true Clinton/FBI collusion.
With questions swirling around the Trump-Russian collusion narrative, we seem to be living in a John le Carré novel. It is one full of spies where the truth is hidden deep beneath disinformation and, ironically enough, behind security protocols. And just like a le Carré novel, it seems that there are many people in this mix determined that the truth should never see the light of day.
Is Trump a Russian intelligence asset with a taste for Russian prostitutes and golden showers who stole the 2016 election with help from Russia? Perhaps. But given the dearth of evidence supporting that contention after twenty months of investigation, another, better question arises: Is the Trump Russia collusion narrative the single most dirty — and criminal — trick in the history of American politics? It would be intellectually dishonest in the extreme to say that only one of those questions deserves investigation.
Was the Russian collusion narrative started, then spoon fed to the FBI and the media, as a way to make Hillary seem less corrupt in comparison to Trump during the 2016 election campaign? Was the narrative then pushed as hard as possible after the election as a way to delegitimize the Trump presidency; to serve as a vehicle to overturn the 2016 election results, and to protect people in government who had acted unethically, and perhaps criminally, as regards all things Hillary — i.e., those responsible for the criminal travesty that was the FBI/DOJ investigation and exoneration of Hillary for her email scandal, those who allowed the Uranium One deal to be approved without notifying Congress of related Russian corruption, and those DOJ officials who defied the recommendations of FBI field agents to open an investigation of the Clinton Foundation?
Let me note here, before you start measuring me for a tin-foil hat, I am not alleging some grand conspiracy involving the FBI, CIA, ODNI, and others. If this was a political dirty trick, then the truth is likely being held in a death-grip of secrecy among a handful of conspirators, they most likely being no more than one or two people in the leadership of the DNC and Clinton Campaigns, perhaps CIA Director John Brennan and/or Glen Simpson of Fusion GPS, and/or Christopher Steele. As to everyone else who then picked up this narrative and ran with it, sometimes unlawfully, that was not a conspiracy. Far more likely it simply grew out of the partisan culture created throughout the government agencies by the Obama administration. That culture, as Ms. BWR has fairly described it, is one of bias, entitlement, arrogance, and corruption, at least to the extent that ideological ends have at times justified patently unlawful means. I believe Ms. BWR’s description also covers about 90% of the mainstream media as well.
Just to review, there are precious few factual allegations regarding the Trump Russia collusion narrative beyond the bald allegation that Trump was a Russian asset, a narrative Fusion’s Glen Simpson claims was known all over Moscow and was just there for the picking in June 2016. People were “talking about it freely.” (Sen. p87-88). Amazing that Simpson and Steele were able to uncover that in a week whereas the CIA and NSA were blissfully ignorant during the eight years that Trump is alleged to have acted as a Russian agent, eh?
The people Steele names as active in the Russia Trump collusion are Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen. Steele mentions Michael Flynn, but only in passing as someone the Kremlin was cultivating. Steele alludes to two others, someone in the Trump campaign who “admitt[ed that the] Kremlin [was] behind [the] recent appearance of DNC emails on Wikileaks,” later claimed to be George Papadopoulos, and someone “close” to Trump who knew of his intelligence relationship with Russia, later asserted to be Sergei Millian.
As to specific acts alleged by Steele, there are only four that directly relate to Trump (at least by my count, ten by count of the Washington Times). The first specific act alleged is that Trump engaged Russian hookers to do a golden shower in his Moscow hotel room in 2013. The second is that Carter Page traveled to Russia in order to meet Igor Sechin, President of Rosneft, and a Russian political official, Diveykin. The third is that George Papadopoulos admitted to knowing that Russia was behind the DNC Wikileaks affair. And the fourth is that Michael Cohen met in Prague with Russian officials in the last week of August or first week of September.
All four of those allegations (and the Washington Times’s ten) are either unproven or affirmatively disproven using publicly available information. Millian, who was never “close” to Trump, has denied both that he ever claimed that Trump was a Russian asset and that he had any knowledge of the 2013 Moscow incident. Trump’s former bodyguard has testified before Congress that he was present the entire time with Trump during the 2013 Moscow trip and that the incident never occurred. Carter Page has denied ever meeting Sechin or Diveykin. Papadopoulos is a bit of an unknown. He claimed to have been told by a professor with ties to Russia that Russia had thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, but Papadopoulos said nothing that we know of to indicate that those were the DNC Wikileaks emails, rather than Clinton’s emails while Secretary of State, nor that he ever passed the information to anyone else in the Trump campaign. Lastly, Michael Cohen has denied being anywhere near Prague during the time period specified and apparently can prove his whereabouts. Cohen and Page have both filed defamation lawsuits, Cohen against Fusion GPS and Buzzfeed, Page against Yahoo News and Huffpo.
FBI should have conducted this investigation in two phases. Phase I is whether there was any validity to the charge of Trump-Russia collusion? If not, then there should be a Phase II — whether the Trump-Russia collusion story was a political dirty trick? To date, the collusion narrative has resulted in enough criminal activity (filing of false reports, FISA warrants, unmasking) and likely perjury (Christopher Steele to the FBI, Glenn Simpson to the House) to more than justify appointment of a special Counsel to conduct Phase II as a criminal investigation.
Investigating for a dirty trick would mean a full criminal investigation into Fusion GPS and its relationship with the DNC and Christopher Steele. It would mean fully investigating Christopher Steele’s primary sources and the entire hearsay chain for each bit of information in his dossier. We know for certain that all of his information was based on multiple levels of hearsay. And it would mean fully reviewing the top secret classified information CIA Director Brennan claims to have relied upon — independent from the Steele Dossier — that Trump and Russia were colluding in July 2016.
Although there is no publicly known evidence supporting an alleged Trump-Russia collusion, we seem to be stuck in Phase I. The reasons are several. One, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are not set up, in practical and specific terms, with the investigatory and subpoena powers to adequately investigate the second question. Two, the FBI is no longer is conducting the counterintelligence investigation. Rod Rosenstein unlawfully removed that investigation a year ago from FBI hands and put it into the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There is no indication whatsoever that Mueller is doing anything other than looking into the validity of the charge of Trump-Russia collusion and, in its absence, the seemingly ludicrous charge that President Trump “obstructed justice” by firing Comey. Three, Democrats and the media are bound and determined never to move beyond the charge of Trump-Russia collusion. And four, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears to be wholly, utterly, and unforgivably AWOL.
That is obviously not to say that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are not doing what they can. They are investigating a bevy of potentially criminal acts involved in the Trump-Russia narrative, but that is simply chipping away at the margins. The FBI may well have acted unlawfully in spying on Carter Page, and perhaps Paul Manafort and others as well. Many people in the Obama administration may have acted unlawfully in unmasking FISA intercepts and then leaking that information to the press. Notoriously corrupt Clinton fixers Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer may have been feeding information to Christopher Steele through the State Dept, but that seems to have occurred after Fusion GPS had already hired Steele and he had written his June 20 memo claiming Trump was a Russian asset subject to blackmail for his perversions. Glenn Simpson may have committed perjury before the House Intelligence Committee as regards his relationship to Bruce Ohr. Those are all actions that need to be fully investigated, but while those facts may be relevant to answering the ultimate question of whether the narrative was a “dirty trick,” a particular answer to any one of these matters would not likely be dispositive.
Whether we will ever get to the truth of the matter is questionable and the clock is ticking. Much of the information no doubt lies protected in CIA, FBI, and NSA files, as well as in FISA Courts. Virtually all of that information is likely classified as top secret. Moreover, we already know that the FBI has spent months stonewalling, refusing to honor House subpoenas until threatened with contempt and, in the case of the Senate, redacting information that was not classified for reasons of security, but classified the FBI was hiding unlawful acts by people it wanted to protect (or, as Julie Kelly dryly observed, black lines matter). The only people in Congress who technically can access the information in its top-secret form are the “gang of eight” — the Senate majority and minority leaders, the Speaker of the House and House Minority leader, and the majority and minority leaders of the intelligence committees in the House and Senate. Trump has plenary power to order the documents declassified and made public but has, as of yet, shown no intent to do so. That is itself very curious, but I am not sure what to read into it.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees, both under Republican control, may change hands in less than a year, at which time progressive Congresscritters, such as Adam Schiff. Schiff and other prog politicians, will close the investigations claiming, without a hint of irony, that investigations into government corruption must be stopped because they are detrimental to public trust in government. The MSM is already dutifully parroting that meme. I sincerely hope that there is a special place in Hell set aside for all of them.
The FBI Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, is conducting an internal investigation of irregularities in the Clinton email investigation — though that should be a special counsel investigation in and of itself. Regardless, the IG’s investigation has already revealed the bias of lead investigator Peter Strzok and likely was the cause of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s dismissal. His report is expected in the very near future.
And that leaves only the Mueller “counterintelligence” investigation, an investigation that is unlawful ab initio. There is no authority in the regulations for Mueller to be tasked with investigating anything other than specific crimes, and on the date he was named, the only specific crime in question was Trump’s firing of FBI Director Comey. Given that obstruction is a derivative charge that, like lying to the FBI, can be proven without proving any underlying crime — i.e., proving interference with a lawful investigation of a crime is enough — there was no legitimate reason for Rosenstein to take the entire counterintelligence investigation out of the FBI’s hands and transfer it to Mueller. The only thing that Mueller had to do was determine if President Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice when he fired Comey. And as to that issue, there were no relevant facts then in dispute.
Moreover, Mueller has loaded his investigative team with enough blatantly partisan progressives to make suspect anything that Mueller may claim in the end as to findings of fact or law. All other things being equal, I expect that sometime around September, Mueller will issue a blistering report claiming that there is circumstantial evidence to support the Trump Russia narrative — all top secret — and that Trump obstructed justice in firing James Comey. I then expect that the resulting media outcry demanding that Congress shut down all investigations and concentrate solely on impeaching Trump will grow beyond deafening. We will be fast approaching a second civil war in this country.
At the center of this morass sits one of the few men in a position to do something about it — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a deeply honorable southern gentleman who seems completely passive and out of his depth. Sessions recused himself from the Russia counterintelligence investigation a year ago without necessity, turning the matters over to Rod Rosenstein to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
Rosenstein, we now know, signed a materially deficient warrant renewal application for the FISA Court on Carter Page. That exposes him to criminal liability. Holy smokes, if that is not a conflict of interest in all of this, I do not know what is. That’s not the appearance of impropriety, it is substantive impropriety. And if that is not enough, we know Rosenstein oversaw the Uranium One coverup as the DOJ lead attorney on the case. And yet Sessions has not, on either basis, demanded that Rosenstein recuse himself. (I also have an open question as to whether Rosenstein played any role in overseeing the Hillary email investigation or any role in the decision not to begin investigating the Clinton Foundation. I hope that we will find out those answers from the FBI IG investigation.)
But Rosenstein is not the only person with disqualifying conflicts of interest. Mueller has two problems as well. One, Mueller was director of the FBI during the Uranium One matter. Two, Mueller is best friends with James Comey, a man whose honesty is directly at issue in any claim that Trump fired Comey in order to obstruct justice. Mueller should have recused himself twice over or Rosenstein should have removed him from the investigation.
When Rosenstein appointed Mueller and placed the counter-intelligence investigation in his hands, that meant that only he, Rosenstein, and no other Trump appointees in the FBI or DOJ, could oversee Mueller’s investigation. Sessions has allowed Rosenstein and Mueller to run wild in the absence of any oversight — one consequence of which is that an innocent man, Michael Flynn, has been charged with lying to the FBI even though the two FBI agents who conducted the Flynn interview concluded that he had not done so.
Lastly, Sessions has not done anything during the last eleven months to cure Rosenstein’s per se unlawful charter of Mueller to conduct the counterintelligence investigation. After the Nunes memo was released, which in conjunction with the Senate memo, definitively establishes that the FBI and the FISA Court violated the law as respects the Carter Page FISA warrants, Session’s response was that “no department is perfect” and that he would “forward” the information to the DOJ for investigation. What the hell?!? He is the DOJ. That is outrageous. Did the progressive left cut off his testicles when they successfully slandered him years ago as a racist, costing him a nomination to the Federal bench? There seems no other possible explanation. It is hard to imagine anything that Hillary Clinton would have done differently than Jeff Sessions were she the Attorney General since January 21, 2017.
The only way we will get to the truth of what happened is if a special counsel is appointed to determine whether Christopher Steele lied to the FBI about not having briefed the press about the allegations in his dossier, whether Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson committed perjury in his testimony to the House claiming only a passing acquaintance with then DOJ attorney Bruce Ohr, and whether CIA Director Brennan committed perjury in his testimony to the House regarding the Steele Dossier, as well as any other criminal matters that come to counsel’s attention as a result of these investigations. That has to be just as apparent to Sessions as it is to any other objective observer. Trump needs to fire him. It is Sessions himself who is, in effect, colluding with partisan progressives in Congress and corrupt elements of the DOJ and FBI to obstruct justice at this point.
At any rate, a newly appointed special counsel acting within the above suggested parameters, would likely include an investigation of:
1. Whether Christopher Steele’s allegations were based on legitimate foreign intelligence? If not, then what were the sources of his intelligence and what were the names of each person in the chain who transmitted that information to Steele? Was Steele a willing patsy or an active conspirator?
2. What were Steele’s interactions with the DNC and what role, if any, did the DNC play in Steele’s decision to transmit his memos to the FBI and then to distribute them to the media?
3. Did Steele lie to the FBI in a meeting in October, 2016, when he may have claimed to the FBI that he had not shared his dossier with the media?
4. On whom did the FBI spy as a result of the Steele Dossier? We only know that the FBI spied upon Carter Page because it was convenient for the left to that leak that to the media at the height of the Trump collusion frenzy. Did the FBI also submit FISA warrants on Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn or anyone else associated with the Trump campaign? Was any of the information gleaned from these FISA warrants shared with any third party, including Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele or the DNC? Who signed each warrant and which FISA Judges approved or denied them?
5. What was CIA Director John Brennan’s role, if any, in creating and transmitting the Steele Dossier allegations to the FBI, to Congress, and to President Obama? Did Brennan perjure himself in hearings before Congress (a) in claiming that he did not know about the Steele Dossier until December, 2016; and (b) in claiming that he determined, based solely on independent CIA-developed intelligence, that people in the Trump campaign were conspiring with the Kremlin in July 2016? Note that Brennan claims that he provided that intelligence to the FBI in July, yet the one place one would expect to see independent corroborating evidence, in the FISA Court applications for a warrant to spy on Carter Page, there is no mention of anything beyond the bare allegations of the Steele dossier, references to Michael Isikoff’s Sept 2016 article (based on a briefing by Steele), and Steele’s personal reputation for honesty. That is a huge red flag.
6. At any time before December 2016, did Brennan ever brief the President on the Steele Dossier’s contents? Lee Smith at Tablet Magazine believes that is the case. While this goes to Brennan’s perjury, it also goes to whether Brennan’s act of attaching the Steele Dossier to the President’s Daily Brief in January, 2017 was designed to insure that one of the forty odd people in the Administration who received that brief would leak it to a press outlet with sufficiently low journalistic ethics to publish it. Very sly of Brennan. But if Brennan had previously addressed the Dossier to the President, there would be no reason to attach the dossier in January to the Daily Brief. Brennan needs to pay for being too smart by half.
7. What role did Clinton political hatchet men Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer play in providing allegations that may have then been incorporated into the Steele Dossier? When these two men are involved, their history is so sordid as to justify investigating every last detail of their relevant acts. We know that Blumenthal tried to funnel Cody Shearer’s opposition research to Steele using a State Dept. employee, Jonathan Winer, as a conduit. We do not know Shearer’s sources nor the contents of his memo.
8. Was the claim — first made by Clinton’s Campaign Manager, Robby Mook in June 2016 and then later in January 2017 by the ODNI, James Clapper — that Russia meddled with the 2016 election and that it did so on behalf of Donald Trump, based upon the allegations in the Steele Dossier?
9. Who in the Obama administration made improper requests to unmask FISA intercepts and then leaked that information to the press? There were hundreds of such requests made after the 2016 election. Anyone who did so unlawfully — and anyone who passed that information to the press — acted in criminal violation of the FISA laws. And in the worst of these incidents, someone unmasked Michael Flynn as to Flynn’s conversation with the Russian Ambassador, then leaked that intercept to the media and used that information to politically assassinate Flynn. I have raised this issue several times, but Byron York today provides probably the definitive account of what is known to date about the Flynn affair.
10. Finally, someone with investigative authority needs to take charge of the DNC server that Russia supposedly hacked — assuming it hasn’t already had the Clinton bleach bit special. To this day, no one from the FBI has independently confirmed that Russians had gained access to the DNC server — as opposed to, say, Seth Rich physically downloading the DNC files and transmitting them to Wikileaks. The only source for the claim of “Russian hacking” has come from Crowdstrike, an organization the DNC hired ostensibly to examine the server. Given that the FBI and Democrats are turning our nation upside down over the Trump Russia collusion narrative, that is beyond outrageous. Perhaps an apt description would be to call it Clintonian.
Questions upon questions.
Trump’s greatest single failing to date has been his failure to reestablish the rule of law and equal justice before the law after eight years of a lawless administration by Obama. Now, either the American public will get the full and complete answers it deserves and the guilty held will be held liable, or the lawless “deep state” will end Trump. This is a zero-sum game and the clock is ticking.
[Bookworm here to add two things, one of which Wolf Howling didn’t know when he wrote the above and one of which is my passionately desired answer to the Sessions conundrum.
What Wolf Howling didn’t know, because it took a few days to go from the Conservative Treehouse to the rest of the blogosphere, is that it appears that an FBI songbird may be set to sing soon, which could expose the entire sordid story. Bill Priestap, the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, ought to have been a household name at this point — yet no one ever speaks of him. Indeed, the last word about him came during Comey’s March 2017 testimony, when he apparently took steps to tag Priestap as the fall guy. Since then, again, silence. Conservative Treehouse thinks Priestap did not want to be a fall guy and may have started his canary imitation, singing like a bird for those investigating the real collusion behind the fake Russian collusion allegations.
My one other point is about Sessions. Yes, he i s proving to be bitterly disappointing and passive. Unless (and this is my le Carré fantasy) he is running a behind-the-scenes sting within the FBI and the DOJ. I have this Hollywood-esque vision of the Inspector General’s report and Priestap’s testimony exploding on the scene in March, followed closely the Jeff Sessions emerging triumphantly from his hiding place with a huge stack of arrest warrants and a collection of handcuffs. Wishful thinking, I know, but it amuses me as I put myself to sleep at night.]