If we are to remain a nation of laws, then the people who manifestly engineered a coup against duly elected President Trump need to be called to account.
Can you believe that it is 2019 and Trump has, to this moment at least, survived a coup attempt? I did not expect him to survive the onslaught. He has to be the cleanest President we’ve ever had in office. He just survived a three year investigatory equivalent of a general warrant to search anywhere for any crime — something the Bill of Rights made unlawful on December 15, 1791.
Unlike a criminal investigation, which benefits from Constitutional limits and protections, things were different for Trump. Beginning on July 31, 2016, when the FBI launched an investigation explicitly aimed at Trump — and right through and including the Mueller investigation, likewise explicitly aimed at Trump, — every aspect of Trump’s life, his businesses, and finances his finances was pried open under the rubric of a “counter-intelligence investigation.” That he is clean as a whistle is obvious, for we know that, had the FBI or the Mueller team found anything that could be cast as a crime, whether related to Russia or not, they would have used it to destroy Trump. After all, Mueller’s team, while pursuing their Russia counter-intelligence investigation, used evidence about fraud regarding taxi medallions, something far removed from Mueller’s mandate, to prosecute Michael Cohen.
Anti-Trump actors in the government leaked top-secret information from NSA wiretaps to the press. Mueller’s team metaphorically raped people around Trump — including Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen — to get them to give some evidence that Trump committed crimes. The Mueller investigative team actively solicited testimony adverse to Trump, unethically and seemingly without regard to whether true or false. Trump’s personal attorney was subject to a SWAT-style raid, as was Roger Stone when his arrest played out for all on CNN. At least one person, Carter Page, was subject to four separate FISA warrants — and under the two hop rule, we can safely assume that means Trump and his inner circle were spied upon as part and parcel of that warrant as well. They were spied upon under four FISA Warrants for an entire year, beginning in October 2016 and concluding in September 2017. Indeed, it is hard not to conclude that they were the real target, with Carter Page merely a convenient patsy. Strikingly, despite this total warfare, when it came to Trump, Mueller and Co. produced . . . nothing.
There is no predicate in American law or history for any of this, whether the FBI’s counter-intelligence investigation aimed at Trump, the FISA warrants, or the way in which the DOJ unlawfully authorized Mueller to conduct a criminal investigation under the guise and rules of a counter-intelligence investigation. That is, this did not start with a crime that called for an investigation. This started with an elected president whom Washington insiders both feared and disdained and they used the investigation in the hopes that they could find a crime. The only predicate to this approach can be found in the Soviet Union’s Levrentiy Beria, who famously said, “Show me the man, I’ll find the crime.” It was an abuse aimed at finding anything in Trump’s activities that could force him from office or, during the duration of the investigation, get him to make a mistake, then force him from office on a process crime.
It’s this unconstitutional, Soviet-style, bass-ackwards bullshit that allows Mueller to claim before Congress that there’s meaning to the fact that he has not not proven Trump innocent of obstruction. As others have pointed out, Mueller also failed to exonerate Trump of assassinating Lincoln). And thus do we now have half of the progressive Congresscritters calling for Trump’s impeachment on the grounds that Trump obstructed an investigation . . . that Mueller says was never “curtailed, stopped or hindered” . . . for a crime or crimes . . . that neither Trump nor anyone in his administration committed.
Folks, this is a top-down, engineered coup to overturn the 2016 election. It is not enough that the coup be defeated. We need the disinfectant of sunshine — to make public every single aspect of this attempted coup. And then we need heads on pikes, metaphorically, and people in prison, for real. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum. Let justice be done though the heavens fall.
To that end, these are the questions I believe need to be answered:
I. How did the Russian counter-intelligence operation aimed at the Trump Campaign originate?
A. When was the Trump campaign targeted, by which law enforcement or intelligence agencies, and to what end in 2016 and 2017?
1) We now know that, well before Mueller opened the Russia investigation targeting Trump on July 31, 2016, people who were key players in the Russian collusion hoax sought out and interacted with Trump campaign staffers Carter Page, Stephen Miller, and George Papadopoulos. These key players included Joseph Mifsud, Stefan Halper and Alexander Downer, along with several women, at least one of whom, Azra Turk, the NYT subsequently identified as a U.S. intelligence agent. Were any of these individuals acting on behalf of an American intelligence or law enforcement agencies and, if so, what were their orders? Were Mifsud or any of these individuals directed to make contact with George Papadopolous or Carter Page in a sting operation?
2) Do transcripts or reports of any sort exist of the interactions between Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, on the one hand, and Joseph Mifsud, Stefan Halper, or Alexander Downer, on the other? Papadopoulos believes that both Halper and Downer tried to get him to make admissions about Russia collusion and were recording or transmitting the discussions.
3) Why, if Mueller claims Mifsud lied to his investigators on three occasions, was Mifsud the only person who was not then subject to prosecution for the process crime of lying to the FBI, (in comparison to Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Alex van der Zwaan, and Paul Manafort)?
4) Did Comey place a spy in the Trump campaign, transition team, or the White House and, if so, under what justification? Comey repeatedly testified under oath that he was not investigating Trump personally for conspiring with Russia. Comey did not have probable cause. Yet Comey refused to state that fact publicly and there is evidence that he placed an agent, Anthony Ferrante, a cyber crime specialist, inside the White House.
B. Did Russian intelligence hack the DNC Server in April-May, 2016?
It seems insane to have to ask that question about this pivotal issue three years into the nightmare to which this nation has been subject, and yet . . . Mueller made a very deliberate decision not to examine the origins of the Trump-Russia hoax, part and parcel of which is the alleged hack of the DNC server. The only thing that we know for sure is that in June, 2016, the DNC announced that it had been hacked by Russia and that this hack was obviously intended to benefit Trump. We know that Julian Assange somehow received thousands of DNC and John Podesta e-mails, which he then released to the public. We know that Crowstrike, a cyber investigation agency that the DNC employed, analyzed the claimed hack and gave a redacted draft of that analysis to the FBI. The FBI never saw the server. Beyond that, as Aaron Mate explains in Crowdstrikeout, we do not have even remotely trustworthy evidence that a hack occurred, nor does the Mueller Report, its bald assertions to the contrary, actually tie the hack to the Russian government.
C. Was an ambiguous comment by third tier staffer George Papadopoulos actually the basis for opening up a counter-intelligence investigation aimed at Donald Trump and the Trump campaign and, if so, was it a reasonable basis?
Mueller claims in his report that the reason that the FBI, back in July 2016, opened up a counter-intelligence investigation of the Trump Campaign for conspiring with Russia was because of a statement George Papadopoulos purported made to the Australian diplomat and Clinton friend, Alexander Downer, who then relayed it to the FBI through unofficial channels. This is troubling.
Taking everything in the prosecution of Papadopoulos and the Mueller Report as true — and see Papadopoulos’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee at p. 21) — nothing Papadopoulos ever said indicated that, before the DNC publicly announced in June 2016 that it had been hacked, he had any knowledge about that hack. What Papadopoulos did believe in April, 2016 was something that half of America — including FBI Director James Comey — also believed: namely, that Russia possessed some or all of the thousands of emails Hillary generated on her private server while serving as Secretary of State. Given this publicly held knowledge, how could Papadopoulos’s statement — that Mifsud had told him that Russia had “dirt” in the form of “emails of Clinton,” and that they “have thousands of emails” — standing alone, possibly justify a counter-intelligence investigation into Trump and his campaign that used all of the tools and police power of the U.S. government? Who signed off on opening this investigation and was Papadopoulos’s statement about commonly held public knowledge the only basis? Was Papadopoulos’s statement used in any other Court documents to provide probable cause for law enforcement actions as regards Russia, Trump, and his campaign? Why did Mueller ignore this glaring inconsistency in his report?
II. Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele and the Steele Dossier: Their roles in the Russian collusion hoax.
The genesis of the Russian hoax was the Steele Dossier, which the DNC funded as opposition research on Hillary’s behalf. Steele gave it to the FBI and to every major news outlet before the November, 2016, election. And yet Mueller, in both his report and testimony, all but completely ignored the Dossier and refused to answer questions about it. Moreover, Mueller even claimed he did not know that Fusion GPS funded the Dossier. It appears that Mueller was tasked by Rosenstein to investigate the Steele Dossier. There is no rational reason for Mueller and his team to ignore these things in the final report. The only possible explanation I can see is that, had Mueller acknowledged that the investigation’s genesis was false, unlawful and unconstitutional, his team would have had to halt its fishing expedition (or, if truly honest brokers, redirect the probe from Trump to the Obama administration) without accomplishing the main goal, which was driving Trump from office.
Before We Go Further, A Short Summary of Dossier Facts
The Dossier is a series of “intelligence reports” compiled between June and December, 2016, making a series of wild and unfounded accusations against Donald Trump and the Trump campaign. Specifically, it alleges that:
— Trump was an agent of Russia and had been working for the Russian government for eight years before 2016. Russians paid Trump by providing him with hookers.
— Trump was being blackmailed by a tape held by the Russian government showing him watching hookers urinate on a bed in 2013.
— Trump actively supported the hacking of Democratic Party computers to steal and release stolen emails.
— Trump campaign volunteer, Carter Page, and campaign manager, Paul Manafort, conspired with the Russian government and coordinated with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign.
— Carter Page traveled to Moscow in early July 2016 to deliver a public speech at a university. The dossier says he met with two top Kremlin operatives and discussed bribes worth billions of rubles for working to lift economic sanctions.
— Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016 to orchestrate payments with agents of Vladimir Putin to manage the growing scandal of Trump-Russia collusion.
It is notable that the dossier contains some glaring errors: Here are just a few:
— A claim that Russian intelligence network was being paid for in part through a Russian consulate in Miami. There is no Russian consulate in Miami.
— A claim that Mikhail Kalugin, chief of the economic section at the Russian Embassy was a spy responsible for funding Russian hacking, and that he was whisked out of Washington when the hacking scandal broke in August. His return to Moscow was actually a normal rotation announced ten months previously.
— The claim that Michael Cohen’s wife was Russian and that his father-in-law was a wealthy Russian developer in Moscow. Neither fact is true.
— The claim that Michael Cohen had been to Prague in August 2016 collapsed when it became apparent that he had never ever been to Prague.
A. Was the dossier, in whole or part, a series of manufactured charges designed to shock the public into supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and did the FBI and others misuse it to attack the Trump administration?
1) What was Christopher Steele’s source (or chain of sources, where there are multiple levels of hearsay) for each allegation contained in the dossier? Which of the allegations were based on legitimate foreign intelligence and which were not? Given the specificity of the Steele allegations and his evidentiary claims in the dossier, the fact that not a single allegation has been proven in three years is stunning. It strongly suggests on its face that some or all of the allegations were manufactured out of whole cloth, with the expectation that the media would make them public before the 2016 election and that both the media and the newly elected Hillary Clinton administration would conveniently bury them thereafter. That would be the mother of all crimes against our democracy. Is it true?
2) What role did Clinton political hatchet men Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer play in providing allegations included in the Steele Dossier? When these two men are involved, their history is so sordid that lone justifies investigating every last detail of their relevant acts. We know that Blumenthal funneled Cody Shearer’s opposition research to Steele using a State Department employee, Jonathan Winer, as a conduit. I would not be surprised at all to find the more lurid, sex-based allegations against Trump originated with Blumenthal or Shearer. We do not know Shearer’s sources nor do we have a copy of his memo. Was it too provided to the FBI?
3) Steele lied to the FBI about briefing the media on the Steele Dossier in October, 2016. Senators Grassley and Graham made a recommendation to the FBI that Steele be investigated and, if appropriate, prosecuted for this. Mueller ignored the referral and did not address it in his report. Why?
4) It’s already been covered ad nauseum that the Steele Dossier, with its myriad of unverified allegations and obvious discrepancies, was the primary basis to obtain the FISA warrants against Carter Page. We are awaiting a report from Inspector General Horowitz on whether the FISA warrants targeting Carter Page, signed and attested by Director Comey and others, were criminally deceptive and insufficient.
5) 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 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? Did any of the players in this coup leak to third parties, including Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, the DNC, or the media, any of the information gleaned from these FISA warrants?
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 now contends that he provided that intelligence to the FBI in July, yet in 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 reference to information from the CIA. There are simply the bare allegations of the Steele dossier, references to Michael Isikoff’s Sept 2016 article (based on information Steele gave Isikoff), and Steele’s personal reputation for honesty.
6) Why was Trump Attorney Michael Cohen charged with a campaign finance violation while Mueller ignored the DNC’s, Clinton Campaign’s, and Perkins Coie law firm’s glaring violations of the same laws? The fact that the DNC and Clinton Campaign used Perkins Coie to employ Fusion GPS, thus hiding behind a wall of attorney-client privilege their machinations with Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, should make them subject to more stringent investigation on fraud grounds rather than getting Mueller’s free pass.
B. Why has Fusion GPS’s role in manufacturing a Trump-Russian conspiracy been ignored?
1) One of the pivotal events in the Trump-Russian conspiracy hoax was the fact that Trump family friend Ron Goldstone, arranged a meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. along with several other members of the Trump campaign team, with a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya. While Veselnitskaya claimed to have compromising material on Hillary Clinton, she didn’t. However, the mere fact of the meeting was played in the press as proof of a Trump-Russia conspiracy.
While Mueller, in his report, expends several pages analyzing the meeting, he ignores the elephant in the room, which is that Veselnitskaya had a business relationship with Fusion GPS and that she met with Fusion GPS’s founder, Glenn Simpson, both the day before and the day after the Trump Jr. meeting. The Mueller Report fails to explain either Simpson’s role in arranging this apparent sting or how and why Goldstone misrepresented the meeting to Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign workers.
2) There is clear evidence that Glen Simpson of Fusion GPS misled and affirmatively lied to Congress about his relationship with Nellie Ohr, wife of high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr. Why hasn’t Mueller or the DOJ pursued this?
III. FISA Misuse and leaks of classified information
The Trump administration has been plagued by leaks, including the leaks of Top Secret information from FISA intercepts. It has been abuse on a grand scale for which no one has been held accountable. The most egregious example was the unmasking and leak of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador that served as the springboard Sally Yates and team Mueller to politically assassinate him. What, if anything, has been done to identify those abusing the NSA intercepts and leaking / abusing that information?
That concludes my list of questions. Please feel free to add any that you think I have missed. I note that Aaron Mate has some different questions in his recent piece, Here are five big holes in Mueller’s work. And at the Federalist, Adam Mill questions the Mueller investigation itself, given the apparent degree of Robert Mueller’s disconnect from the investigation.