Durham Target Kevin Clinesmith Wasn't Working for Who You Think When He Forged That Email to Spy on Carter Page

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(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


One important fact getting overlooked in all the discussion of whether FBI Attorney Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea represents the sacrifice of a minor criminal so the ringleaders can escape justice or the beginning of the end for those who were running the show is exactly whose show Clinesmith was a part of when the crime he’s admitted committing occurred.


You see, Clinesmith wasn’t working for James Comey on June 19, 2017, the date he altered that CIA email inconveniently identifying Trump’s onetime foreign policy advisor Carter Page as a trusted source.

By that point in time, Clinesmith was part of Robert Mueller’s Independent Counsel investigation.

And it was Mueller’s crew who made use of the renewed FISA warrant to spy on Page that Clinesmith’s willingness to commit forgery had enabled.

On the recommendation of acting Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, Trump had fired Comey on May 9, 2017.

As a consequence, Comey’s second-in-command,  Andrew McCabe automatically took over as acting FBI Director till June 7, when Trump appointed Christopher Wray. (Wray was interim director until his Senate confirmation on July 20.)

McCabe was in charge for less than a month. But within just 8 days he’d started a second investigation of Trump in addition to the still ongoing Crossfire Hurricane probe of his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Despite Trump’s having fired Comey at Rosenstein’s urging and the president’s authority to terminate the director of the FBI for any reason he pleases, McCabe wasted no time in using his boss’s dismissal as a pretext to investigate Trump for obstructing Crossfire Hurricane.

Given the enormity of his new responsibilities after suddenly becoming the head of the FBI and how quickly McCabe rushed to add a second investigation of the President of the United States to them, you’d almost think he must have been planning it before Comey was even fired.

Interestingly, McCabe had also helped tip over the very first domino that ultimately led to Robert Mueller’s appointment as independent counsel.

Though it hasn’t received nearly enough attention, he played a substantial role in ginning up the phony controversy over whether Jeff Sessions lied to Congress about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing.

Sessions takes a lot of heat for enabling the Mueller probe by recusing himself. But though there’s no question he made a disastrous error, most people aren’t aware of the stuff going on in the background that almost seems like it could have been designed to make Sessions step aside and put Rosenstein in control.

A few months before starting that second investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice by taking Rosenstein’s advice, Andrew “Itchy Finger” McCabe had triggered another criminal investigation of Sessions for lying about his contacts with Kislyak at the request of Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken.


The fuss quickly died down and Mueller closed the investigation in January 2018. But the ginned-up controversy did force Sessions to recuse himself; which put Rosenstein in a position to urge Trump to fire Comey; which then put McCabe in the position to start a second investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice for taking Rosenstein’s advice.

Within 48 hours, Rosenstein then appointed Mueller Independent Counsel to take over both Crossfire Hurricane and McCabe’s second obstruction of justice investigation, which, being only a day or two old, never got baptized with a cool-sounding name.

Funny how things work out sometimes. If you didn’t know better, you might think making Mueller Independent Counsel was the result of some kind of plan.

Rosenstein later justified increasing the scope and power of both investigations by appointing Mueller to take them over as Independent Counsel by telling Congress he’d been “concerned that the public would not have confidence in the investigation and that the acting FBI director [McCabe] was not the right person to lead it.”

The event that would be at the center of Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference, however, was Russia’s alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network which supposedly netted the DNC emails WikiLeaks started publishing on July 22, 2016.

If the Russians really did hack the DNC, it was an unprecedented act of foreign espionage. But, on the other hand, if the skepticism Trump has occasionally expressed is on target, then the Russians never stole any DNC files at all.

The whole story would turn out to be a ruse to discredit WikiLeaks’ damaging revelations about Hillary Clinton and stop Trump from using them against her. So, instead of foreign espionage tantamount to an act of war, we’d be talking about one of the biggest domestic political crimes in American history.

The DNC’s tech firm CrowdStrike were the only ones allowed to examine any of their supposedly infected hardware, as everyone knows since Trump mentioned CrowdStrike in his now-famous phone call to Ukrainian president Zelensky.

Both the FBI and Mueller’s probe consented to the very strange arrangement of accepting forensic evidence from a private contractor hired by the alleged victim of the crime they were investigating in lieu of collecting their own.


And the concern Rosenstein professed about whether the public would have confidence in McCabe might have applied even more so to Mueller had it been widely known that CrowdStrike president, Shawn Henry, prior to joining the firm, was promoted to FBI head of cyber operations by none other than Robert Mueller himself when he ran the bureau.

Good thing we know that none of this could have possibly been planned.

Moreover, we learned something in May that might have struck another blow to the public’s confidence in putting Shawn Henry’s mentor in charge of the investigation. Thanks to acting Director of National Security, Richard Grenell, Adam Schiff was finally forced to release testimony Henry gave to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 he’d been withholding.

One can understand why.

CrowdStrike’s president admitted that the claim we’ve been assured of for four years now that his firm had discovered absolute proof that the Russians had stolen files from the DNC was – not to put too fine a point on it – a baldfaced lie.

There was never even any evidence, let alone proof.

Henry testified that CrowdStrike only found evidence that files were “staged for exfiltration” but explicitly admitted that “[t]here’s not evidence that they were actually exfiltrated” at least five separate times.

In fact, his testimony seems to provide conclusive evidence they weren’t.

Henry says that CrowdStrike first detected Russian malware on the DNC system in early May 2016 and waited till June 10 to remove it. We know from CrowdStrike’s founder Dmitri Alperovitch that CrowdStrike was monitoring the Russian’s presence using their premiere cybersecurity software Falcon that entire time.

In any event, it’s bizarre enough that Henry and Alperovitch allowed the Russians to remain on the DNC network for such a long period of time given that, when asked, Henry testified that the system had been vulnerable to their malware the entire 6 weeks.

So CrowdStrike must have at least been monitoring what the Russians were doing from the beginning of May when they first detected their malware through June 10, when they finally removed it. Otherwise, it’s not even clear what the DNC could have even been paying them for.

Mueller’s report, however, says the DNC emails WikiLeaks published were stolen by the Russians between May 25 and June 1. And, independent analysis has confirmed Mueller’s assessment to be within a couple of days of when the files were first copied by whoever the culprit was in whatever way he managed to acquire them. Indeed, more than half of the emails were dated after CrowdStrike installed Falcon and, hence, didn’t even exist for anyone to exfiltrate before they were on the case.


So how could the Russians have stolen over 44,000 emails with almost 18,000 attached files while CrowdStrike was monitoring their presence on the DNC network?

How could anyone have stolen that much data over the internet from some remote location without Falcon having any record of the files exiting the DNC’s system?

Makes you wonder if maybe Julian Assange might have been telling the truth when he said the DNC emails hadn’t come from the Russians or any other state-affiliated actors.

And, likewise, when his friend former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray insisted he’d been the middleman between Assange and the source, who was a disgruntled DNC insider.

Or why Mueller made no attempt to question either Murray or Assange, given that one claimed to have direct knowledge about the source of the DNC emails while the other is the only person in the world we know with 100% certainty did.

Seems like sort of a big omission for someone investigating a crime to not even bother trying to contact the only known witnesses.

Even if Mueller thought Assange would just lie, he’d have even more reason to try to arrange an interview given how aggressive he was about inventing lies that General Flynn never even told and prosecuting Roger Stone for what were, at worst, completely trivial lies of no consequence in order to crush both men.

Speaking of which, public confidence in Rosenstein’s decision to have Mueller investigate the alleged Russian hack of the DNC might have eroded even further if it also became widely known that General Flynn had been adamantly insisting to Trump that the whole thing was a hoax.

As had Paul Manafort.

Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of Manafort’s who also suffered Mueller’s tender mercies, had been broadcasting his certainty that CrowdStrike and the DNC had faked the Russian hack as well.

And Trump’s friend, Roger Stone, had made denying that the Russians had hacked the DNC part of his brand until Mueller started his relentless unjustified campaign to crush him. The trial judge even wound up barring Stone, his family, his associates, and even anyone volunteering on his behalf from publicly discussing any aspect of his case.

Funny how Shawn Henry’s old boss at the FBI, Rober Mueller, wound up doing everything in his power to destroy the three most prominent champions of the idea that the Russian DNC hack we now know Henry’s firm CrowdStrike never had any evidence even occurred – and, indeed, must have known beyond a shadow of doubt hadn‘t – was a hoax.


The three gentlemen Mueller’s gang showed such particular enthusiasm for grinding to a pulp were also those best positioned to keep prodding Trump to make sure the hoax was exposed.

Mueller’s singular determination to unjustly persecute Flynn, Manafort, and Stone appears to have cut Trump off from the only associates he had who were immune to the Beltway establishment’s strange ubiquitous faith in CrowdStrike’s probity.

The threat Flynn, in particular, posed might explain why on August 16, 2016, just a day before he was scheduled to sit in on then-candidate Trump’s first intelligence briefing and only 16 days after starting Crossfire Hurricane, Comey’s FBI opened a separate investigation into General Flynn dubbed “Crossfire Razor” under the flimsiest possible pretext.

And, of course, if General Flynn had stayed on as Trump’s National Security Advisor, his insistence that the Russian DNC hack was a hoax would have meant certain exposure if, as Shawn Henry’s testimony seems to prove, his instincts were right.

This might account for the extraordinarily desperate scheme to entrap and frame General Flynn that Comey and his subordinates embarked on just weeks before he was about to start his tenure, beautifully summarized by the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel:

The FBI was officially closing its Flynn case on Jan. 4, 2017. The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team spent 2016 checking “databases” for “derogatory” information on him, running down accusations that he had ties to Russians. They struck out, and the closing document admits Mr. Flynn “was no longer a viable candidate” for investigation. Then, suddenly, also on Jan. 4, FBI agent Peter Strzok sends a text saying: “Hey, if you haven’t closed [the Flynn case], don’t do so yet.” Mr. Strzok explained: “seventh floor involved”—a reference to FBI top brass.

Their plan was to use a conversation they’d recorded between Flynn and Russian ambassador Kislyak while conducting surveillance on the latter.

The snooping gained them nothing substantive. Mr. Flynn’s conversations were lawful and routine. So Justice Department and FBI officials instead manufactured the absurd theory that Mr. Flynn had violated the Logan Act of 1799, which bars citizens from engaging in unauthorized negotiations in disputes between the U.S. and foreign governments. No one has ever been convicted of violating the act. This week’s handwritten notes show that among the FBI’s hopes in interviewing Mr. Flynn was to “get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act.”


Those notes also mentioned getting Flynn fired.

The real goal was to trap him. Remember, the FBI didn’t need to ask Mr. Flynn what he’d said to the Russian ambassador; they had a recording. The only reason for an interview was to coax Mr. Flynn into saying something at odds with that transcript. They worked hard at it. Then-Director James Comey has previously bragged that the FBI went around the White House legal counsel to make sure Mr. Flynn had no lawyer present.

As a result of Comey, McCabe, and Stzrok’s last-ditch, hail-mary effort to entrap and frame Flynn, he was forced to resign his position as Trump’s National Security Advisor after just 24 days on the job. So, of course, he never got a chance to act on his insistence that the Russian hack of the DNC, which Comey had been instrumental in convincing the nation had occurred, was a hoax

One of the strangest things about congressional Republicans’ reaction to the many abuses of power perpetrated against Donald Trump, his associates, his campaign, and his presidency is the difference between the way they seem to view Crossfire Hurricane and Mueller’s probe.

Everyone in the GOP establishment seems to more or less accept that the FBI investigation was completely corrupt and that Comey and all his underlings committed serious crimes and ought to be punished.

Yet Mueller’s probe, which was merely the new, more powerful, identity Crossfire Hurricane took on after it faked its own death, isn’t treated with the same skepticism.

These very different attitudes are even more puzzling given that Mueller was forced to get rid of three members of his team who’d also been part of Crossfire Hurricane when text messages they’d sent indicating an incredible antipathy towards Donald Trump emerged.

The first two were, as everyone knows, FBI lovebirds, Peter Stzrok and Lisa Page. Fewer are aware that Kevin Clinesmith was the third.

Given that the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page that was renewed as a result of Clinesmith’s admitted felonious activity was used by Robert Mueller and not his protege James Comey, let’s hope congressional Republicans will start taking the same dim view of Mueller’s probity that they already have of Comey’s.

And that Attorney General Barr’s intimate friendship with Mueller won’t prevent him from seeing that the whole sickening mess is exposed and the culprits who’ve turned the Justice Department into an organized crime family duly punished.


And that John Durham, who at any rate doesn’t need Barr’s permission to make sure the lot of them spends as many years behind bars as possible, is already taking a hard look at Mueller’s corruption.

I’ve just started a series of columns on the blatant lies Mueller’s report contains about that alleged Russian hack of the DNC. And believe me, there’s plenty for him to find.


For a deep dive into the details of the many blatant lies contradicted by the public record that are central to Mueller’s narrative about the Russian DNC hack – as well as what Mueller’s gang was really trying to accomplish and why – check out the first part in my RedState series:

Julian Assange, Robert Mueller, and the Russian Spy Who Wasn’t (Part 1)


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