Watercooler: July 16, 2018 Open Thread; Peter Strzok: “Maybe We Should Just Roll Slow” and Mueller’s Curious Timing


Unbelievably Stupid Tweets of the Week:



Idiot of the Week: If we didn’t like FBI official Peter Strzok prior to his testimony last Thursday before an open session of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, we really don’t like him now. From his peculiar facial expressions and his refusal to answer most questions due to the “ongoing investigation,” to the Democrats’ constant interruptions whenever a tough question was asked, very little of substance was gained from the nearly ten hour hearing. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway sums up the highlights of the day here.

While commenting on the infamous “insurance policy,” Strzok made an unintentional remark that was little noticed by the press, but significant in it’s implications. Breitbart’s Aaron Klein reported Strzok saying that he and his FBI colleagues were making decisions about how to proceed with the investigation based on how well Trump was doing in the polls. Strzok explained that the better Trump’s chances of victory appeared, the more aggressively the case would be pursued.

Strzok: The insurance policy text that has come up before? That text represented a debate on information that we had received from an extraordinarily sensitive source and method and that typically when something is that sensitive, if you take action on it, you put it at risk. And so there is a tension there. Maybe we should just roll slow. Take a typical 3, 4-year counterintelligence investigation because the more aggressive you are, the more you put it at risk. And some people said that.


“Strzok went on to claim that Trump’s poll numbers played a role in internal FBI conversations about the speed of the investigation, with he himself arguing for an aggressive investigation when others were advocating for less aggressive tactics.”

Strzok: Some people said, hey, look. Every poll is saying candidate Trump is likely not to win. Every Republican was saying that. Some people said as a result of that, let’s not risk the source. Let’s go slow. But I indicated for them. What I am saying is: Look, we are the FBI. We need to do our job. We need to investigate.

While it isn’t likely, according to all the pollsters and everybody, that candidate Trump is elected, we need to make sure we are protecting America. We need to responsibly and aggressively investigate these actions, because you know what, if candidate Trump is elected, there might be people we need to be investigating that might be nominated for important security positions. Everybody in America would want to know that. Candidate Trump would want to know that.

Klein points out that “it is not the traditional role of the FBI to formulate investigations based on poll numbers.”

It appears that very little about this case followed traditional FBI operating procedure. FBI officials decided among themselves that a Trump victory would be dangerous for America and tried first to prevent it, and having failed at that, tried to delegitimize his presidency.


Another item Strzok was questioned by Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) about was the lack of FBI follow-up when the investigator, Frank Rucker, from the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General’s office, went to the FBI to brief Strzok and several other officials on new evidence that 30,000 emails, both to and from Hillary Clinton, had been intercepted by a foreign entity that was not Russia. Strzok said, “I know I met with Frank Rucker a couple of times, but I just don’t recall what he said.” Breathtaking. RedState’s Streiff posted about this here.


Manipulator of the Week: Lest anyone wonder why Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s/Russia collusion continues to drag on, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for hacking the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Contrary to Rob Reiner’s tweet, Rosenstein was careful to say that no Americans knowingly communicated with the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.

One has to wonder what motivated Robert Mueller to announce the indictments just days before the Trump-Putin summit. Was Mueller trying to influence foreign policy? Or were the indictments announced on Friday simply because that’s when they were ready? Either way, he has certainly set up an awkward situation.

Mueller could have briefed the President about the new evidence and left the timing of the indictments up to him, which he likely would have done for any other president. The timing wasn’t critical. Everyone knows these Russians will never be brought to justice anyway.


Predictably, Democratic lawmakers called on Trump to cancel the meeting. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said:

President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections. Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy.

In an interview with CBS News, Trump said, “I go in with low expectations …I’m not going with high expectations.”

It’s likely that Putin will look Trump in the eyes and, once again, deny that Russia interfered in the election. Is there a way forward from there?


Bluff of the Week: Three House Democrats, led by Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, have introduced a bill to abolish ICE, never intending for it to actually come to the floor. Most Americans are opposed to this issue, and even among Democrats, there is great division. Knowing this, Republicans announced they will bring it to a vote.

 “We know Speaker [Paul] Ryan is not serious about passing our ‘Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act,’ so members of Congress, advocacy groups, and impacted communities will not engage in this political stunt,” Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Adriano Espaillat of New York told The Hill and other news outlets. “If Speaker Ryan puts our bill on the floor, we plan to vote no and will instead use the opportunity to force an urgently needed and long-overdue conversation on the House floor.”



Rebuff of the Week: When asked by Politico if Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can count on his vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said, “I’ll be 71 years old in August, you’re going to whip me? Kiss my you know what.” 

In order to defeat Kavanaugh’s nomination, Schumer needs all 49 Democrats to vote no, as well as at least one Republican. The problem is that red state Senators Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), who all voted for Gorsuch last year, know that a vote against Kavanaugh will not be well received by many of their constituents.


Apprehension of the Week: 


Let us be free, for the rest doesn’t matter!

– Said in a pre-battle speech in 1817 by General José de San Martín to his troops just before the Battle of Chacabuco during the crossing of the Andes.


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