The talking heads who represent the parochial interests of the intelligence community, the Democrats, much of the media and similar proportion of the NeverTrumpers are currently on the verge of an aneurysm over the thought that Attorney General Bill Barr has been charged with getting to the bottom of how the Russia hoax started. According to these people lives are in danger (they aren’t, but if we lived in a just society, they would be), sources and methods are at risk (I’m sure you will still be able to hire Perkins Coie to subcontract to some random foreigner any time you wish) and precious national secrets will be exposed…like the pee tapes.
Let’s cut to the chase here and speak to exactly what we know from congressional testimony and the Mueller report.
1. There were no contacts between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. The closest contact you have is the infamous Trump Tower meeting and to make that nefarious you have to explain why at least two subcontractors to Fusion GPS were involved and how a Russian who was barred from entering the US managed to obtain special permission to enter the US for the meeting. And then you have to explain why one of the Russians met with Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson before and after the Trump Tower meeting.
2. Carter Page was the subject of a abuse of the FISA process. Even if one assumes his initial surveillance warrant was legit, it is obvious that the extension of that warrant was fraudulent.
3. The only people endangered here are Stefan Halper, Alexander Downer, and Joseph Mifsud, and it is their value as agents provocateur that is at risk, not their lives or jobs or finances.
But if you want to understand why no one in Washington believes that just asking the FBI for information will work, even with the power of federal law, check this out:
Let me take you on a short journey of how the FBI/DOJ play games with FOIA, jerk the chain of federal judges, obstruct legitimate media enquiries and conceal information from the public about the Mueller/Russia investigation to protect @Comey
Background: When @Comey leaked potions of his memos to the NYT via Daniel Richman (cc: @almostjingo) in May 2017, a number of media organizations immediately filed FOIA requests to access the memos themselves. These included @CNN, @JudicialWatch, @FreedomWatchUSA and @DailyCaller
DOJ/FBI refused the FOIA requests point blank, saying none of the memos could be released, nor could the number of memos, or length of them. The media orgs then filed a lawsuit in D.C. Federal Court to try and gain access.
D.C (and FISA) Judge Boasberg ends up denying access to ANY of the memos. He would not allow a paragraph, a sentence, a word, or even a single comma to be released. This was largely based on *secret arguments* the FBI/DOJ made to him. See previous thread:
Now that we've finally seen the @Comey memos, its time to ask if the federal government was violating at least the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) AND getting backed up in its stonewalling *by a FISC Judge*
— Undercover Huber (@JohnWHuber) April 30, 2018
Judge Boasberg was given three main things by the DOJ/FBI:
1. All the Comey memos – unredacted
2. Declarations from David Archey, the supervisory FBI agent on Mueller’s team
3. An “on the record proffer” from Michael Dreeben, one of Mueller’s superstar lawyers
Those were all sealed “ex parte” declarations, meaning the media organizations who were plaintiffs in the case weren’t allowed to even see them, to argue against them. Sorry, guess you’ll just have to trust the DOJ/FBI on this one.
FBI/DOJ then turns over some of the Comey memos (WITH redactions) to Congressional Gang of 8 leadership in Apr 2018. Congress immediately releases them publicly. Media organizations go back to Court and say, hey, why can’t we have the memos now if most of their content is public?
Boasberg denies the request again – and again, based on MORE secret declarations from Mueller’s team. Their argument: While most of the memos are now public, the redacted parts aren’t, and they still need to be protected. We’d tell you why, but that’s a sealed secret, sorry.
The media orgs change tack, realizing they aren’t going to get the memos unredacted – so they sue for access to the secret declarations themselves – the ones from Archey and the “on-the-record proffer” from Dreeben. FBI/DOJ say no again, Judge agrees, again.
It’s fair to say the media orgs involved were getting non too impressed at this point
IMPORTANT: The FBI/DOJ then say in a sworn filing that they can’t release Dreeben’s “proffer” as it is “highly sensitive” & would “adversely effect the investigation” as it has not been “officially disclosed by the government” then or since. This comes from the FBI FOIA chief
Anyway, bringing this up to the present: the Mueller investigation is now over. So Judge Boasberg says to the FBI/DOJ – hey, can’t you guys release some more of this secret information now?
UPDATE: Judge Boasberg orders DOJ/FBI to file a notice indicating whether the end of the Mueller investigation means more Archey redactions can be removed and material from the sealed Dreeben proffer released. DOJ/FBI have to respond by next Monday 8 April pic.twitter.com/urV9QtpJHd
— Undercover Huber (@JohnWHuber) April 4, 2019
GET READY FOR THIS: What is FBI/DOJ’s response now the Mueller probe is over?
We still can’t release the Dreeben “on-the-record” proffer because **it doesn’t exist!** and there is **no record**. Just like in the FISA court, apparently nobody bothered to make a transcript
I mean COME ON @TheJusticeDept. Is this a joke? You’ve been filing in federal court that this “proffer” is oh so secret and sensitive that not only can’t you release it because it would affect the investigation, but you can’t even publicly say why you can’t release it
And now the investigation is concluded, over, finished, you still can’t release it because **it doesn’t exist**? Maybe you should have pointed that out months ago before multiple media orgs spent thousands of bucks litigating trying to get access to it?
Or even better: don’t give secret “proffers” to federal judges without any court reporters present, or at the very least prepare a transcript yourself in advance outlining what you’re going to say, so at least that could be released to the public, enabling proper oversight
And Judge Boasberg: take a long hard look at yourself. The DOJ/FBI have been yanking your chain and your court. Is this hands off approach why there aren’t transcripts of FISA proceedings as well?
How many people have you approved to be wiretapped, not only on the basis of a secret justification, but a secret justification that there is no record of and will never be a record of? That sounds like a case for FISA reform AT MINIMUM
Also Boasberg: if you are going to allow the government to *secretly deny* access to critical information to media organizations and journalists in your court, with that information being used to investigate a duly elected President, next time make sure you at least get a receipt
How is anyone in the public, the media, Congress or even the DOJ IG supposed to hold the DOJ/FBI accountable for what they said in federal court to justify denying access to @Comey memos if there is no record of it?
Sources: all source documents are taken from D.C. Case 1:17-cv-01167-JEB
It would be nice if the FBI and the CIA could be relied upon to obey the law, work within policies, tell the truth to courts and investigators, and even to clean their own house. It they were able to do that, I’d be the first to say that Barr’s investigation is superfluous. But the FBI and the intelligence community actually seem to believe that the law is only for the people they investigate. They can’t be trusted. And they shouldn’t be trusted. Particularly when they seem to have been at Ground Zero of a scheme to influence a presidential election and then to bring down a sitting president.