Benchmarks to Look For in the Horowitz Report on FISA by Larry C Johnson

Larry Johnson-5x7

There are some very clear markers that Senators Grahama and Grassley laid down for Inspector General Horowitz in his investigation of the FISA process to spy on Carter Page. Since Graham will chair the hearing where IG Horowitz will present his report, I think it is pretty safe to assume that Graham will demand that Horowitz answer the issues he and Grassley raised in their letter of February 28, 2018.

Here is what IG Horowitz committed in writing to do in a letter dated March 28, 2018:

I write in response to your letter to me dated February 28, 2018, requesting that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) review several matters, including issues surrounding the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) application and renewal of authority to conduct surveillance of a certain U.S. person under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). . . .

. . . the OIG is initiating a review that will examine the Department's and FBI's compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the FISC relating to this U.S. person. As part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the Department and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source. Additionally, the OIG will review the Department's and FBI's relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISA applications. If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.

To fully appreciate the import of Horowitz's promises to Graham, we should revisit the two Graham/Grassley missives that elicited this response. Here are the key issues raised by Graham and Grassley in their February 2nd memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

  1. Either Mr. Steele lied to the FBI or the British court, or that the classified documents reviewed by the Committee contain materially false statements.
  2. There is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility.
  3. Public reports, court filings, and information obtained by the Committee during witness interviews in the course of its ongoing investigation indicate that Mr. Steele provided dossier information the end of to numerous media organizations prior to October 2016. . . . In Steele's sworn court filings in litigation in London, he admitted that he "gave off the record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda [i.e., the dossier] in late summer/autumn 2016."
  4. In his interview with the Committee, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS confirmed this account by Mr. Steele and his company as filed in the British court. 
  5. Mr. Steele admitted that he received and included in it unsolicited-and unverified-allegations.21 That filing implies that he similarly received unsolicited intelligence on these matters prior to the election as well, stating that Mr. Steele "continued to receive unsolicited intelligence on the matters covered by the pre-election memoranda after the US Presidential election."
  6. It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele's work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.
  7. Accordingly, we are referring Christopher Steele to the Department of Justice for investigation of potential violation(s) of 18 U.S.8. § 1001.

In short, if you're looking for the first person to be indicted for the whole feckless coup attempt is likely to be Christopher Steele.

Senators Graham and Grassley followed up on February 28, 2018 with the following letter to Inspector General Horowitz. They detail documents that were unclassified during the proceedings and request that additional classified documents be brought into the sunlight. Then they get down to business and ask for answers to the following questions:

  1. Who in the Department of Justice or the FBI knew that Christopher Steele's work ultimately was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton Campaign? When did each individual learn that information?
  2. Why didn't the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant for Carter Page, or any of its subsequent renewals, more specifically disclose the source of funding for Steele's claims?
  3. What connections are there between Mr. Steele and the Russian government or Russian intelligence community? Has Mr. Steele ever been paid directly or indirectly by the Russian government, Russian intelligence community, or other Russian sources?
  4. Was any consideration given to providing more information about the funding source than actually appears in the warrant and in its renewals? If not, why not?
  5. What were Mr. Steele's motivations in distributing the dossier and the information in the dossier after President Trump won the election? Were these efforts coordinated in any way ·with employees of the FBI or DOJ?
  6. Pursuant to the procedures in Rule 9(a) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's Rules of Procedure, did the FBI or Justice Department provide the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) with a proposed FISA application targeting Mr. Page while he was still affiliated with the Trump campaign? Did the FISC notify the DOJ that the warrant application was insufficient as written and required additional information? If so, why? Was the draft warrant returned with any specific feedback? If so, what was the feedback? Was the dossier information included in any draft warrant applications that might have been provided to the court? If not, when was the dossier information first presented to the court, either in draft or final form?
  7. Were Page's departure from his role on the campaign's National Security Working Group and the timing of the application connected in any way?
  8. Did the FISA order allow the FBI to obtain emails Page sent prior to the order, during the time he was affiliated with the Trump campaign? If so, were any Obama political appointees able to read internal Trump campaign emails before the election? During the transition period? If so, who, when, and for what purpose?
  9. What department standards, rules, regulations, or policies, if any, govern the use of privately or politically funded intelligence gathering as a predicate for a FISA application? Are those standards, rules, regulations, or policies adequate to ensure the ultimate political and financial motivations behind the work are adequately shared and disclosed? Were those standards, rules, regulations, or policies followed in connection with the use of the Steele dossier information in the FISA application for Carter Page or in any other context where the dossier information was relied upon?
  10. Do the so-called "Woods Procedures" adequately address how to evaluate potential credibility concerns when using privately or politically funded intelligence in FISA warrant applications??
  11. Do the Woods Procedures adequately ensure that unverified and uncorroborated information is not used to obtain FISA warrants targeting American citizens?
  12.  Did the FBI properly follow the Woods Procedures in obtaining the Page FISA warrant or any of its renewals, including those procedures designed to prevent reliance on unverified or uncorroborated information?
  13. How many people at the FBI and the Department of Justice reviewed and approved the Page FISA warrant and renewal applications? Did anyone ever raise any concerns with its accuracy or sufficiency?
  14. Did anyone express any concerns about the propriety of presenting unverified, uncorroborated claims from the Steele dossier as the basis for a FISA warrant on an American citizen?
  15. Which specific dossier claims presented in the FISA application, if any, had the FBI independently verified at the time they were first presented to the court? Which claims, if any, had been verified by the time each of the renewal applications was filed?
  16. Who leaked classified information about the Page FISA warrant to the Washington Post while the warrant was active? Why?
  17. Chairman Grassley wrote to former Director Comey nearly a year ago requesting him to resolve apparent material discrepancies between information he provided in a closed briefing and information contained in classified documents. Specifically, what Mr. Comey disclosed in a private briefing to the Chairman and Ranking Member Feinstein about the timeline of the FBI's interactions with Mr. Steele appeared inconsistent with information contained in FISA applications the Chairman and Ranking Member later reviewed. No explanation for the inconsistencies has ever been provided. It is unclear whether this was a deliberate attempt to mislead the Oversight Committee about whether the FBI's communications with Mr. Steele about the Trump allegations began before or after the FBI opened the investigation.
    What is the reason for the difference between what Mr. Comey told the Chairman and Ranking Member in March 2017, and what appears in the FISA application? Did Director Comey intentionally mislead the Committee? Why did the FBI never respond to Chairman Grassley's questions about the inconsistencies? Did the Chairman's letter first alert the FBI to the inconsistences? Did the FBI seek to correct them in anyway? Did any one block or delay a response to the Chairman on this issue? If so who, and why? Has Mr. Comey provided any other information to congressional committees, Members, or staff, in public testimony or in private briefings, that is inconsistent with the classified documents produced by the FBI in response to congressional inquiries related to the 2016 election?
  18. Was Peter Strzok aware of Steele's claims when he opened the so-called Trump/Russia counterintelligence investigation? Did Mr. Steele's claims play any role in the decision to open this investigation, despite the stated basis of foreign intelligence regarding George Papadopoulos? Was there any discussion at the FBI about whether to cite to Steele's information in opening the investigation?
  19. To what extent did Mr. Steele's information form any part of the basis for the FBI to expand its investigation from Mr. Papadopoulos to Mr. Page, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and Mr. Manafort?
  20. Have Mr. Steele's sources or sub-sources who are described in the dossier, or in any "intelligence reports" compiled by Mr. Steele or his company related to the 2016 election, received any payments directly or indirectly from Mr. Steele, Orbis International, any of Mr. Steele's other sources, or any Russian source?
  21. Was anyone in the Justice Department, including senior leadership, aware that Mr. Ohr continued to pass information from Steele and Fusion GPS to the FBI even after Steele was suspended, and terminated, as a source? Who? Were those people aware that Mr. Ohr's ·wife worked for Fusion? If so, how and when did they become aware?
  22. Was anyone in the senior leadership ofthe FBI aware that Mr. Ohr continued to pass information from Steele and Fusion GPS to the FBI after Steele was terminatedasasource? Who? Were those people aware that Mr. Ohr's wife worked for Fusion? If so, how and when did they become aware?
  23. Did Mr. Ohr ever seek ethics advice from DOJ about his participation in this investigation in light of his wife's employment with Fusion? In light of his becoming a fact witness in a case over which his office (ODAG) likely had supervisory authority? From whom did he seek advice? If so, was he properly advised and to what extent did he follow it?
  24. Was it proper for Mr. Ohr to continue to pass information from Steele and Fusion to the FBI after it had suspended, and later terminated, Steele as a source? Why was that fact not disclosed to the FISC? Should it have been? Why was Mr. Ohr's wife's work on behalf of Fusion not disclosed to the FISC?
  25. Why did the FBI and the Justice Department fail to disclose Steele's personal bias to the FISC? Specifically, Mr. Ohr informed the FBI that Steele himself was "desperate" to prevent Trump from being elected president. Why was this information withheld from the FISC? Should it have been disclosed in the renewal applications to correct any previous assessments or characterizations about Steele's motivations, as distinct from his client's (Fusion) and funders' (DNC/Clinton campaign)?
  26. Who at the Department of Justice or the FBl was aware that Fusion was the subject of a Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) complaint alleging that it failed to register as a foreign agent for its work on behalf the Katsyv family to undermine Magnitsky Act sanctions against Russia?11
  27. Was anyone involved in the decision to use Steele's dossier information in the FISA application aware that Steele's client, Fusion GPS, was accused of being an unregistered foreign agent for Russian interests at the time? Should that information have been shared with those working in the FISA application and disclosed to the FISC at the time? If so, then why wasn't it?
  28. Did the FBI provide a defensive briefing to alert then-candidate Trump or any Trump campaign officials to the FBI's counterintelligence concerns about Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, or Paul Manafort? If not, to what extent was such a briefing considered and rejected as a potential way to thwart Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 election? If it was rejected as an option, why was it rejected and did that decision comply with any standards, rules, or regulations that govern the use of defensive briefings as a counterintelligence tool? Are the existing standards and guidelines for providing defensive briefings adequate to ensure that senior government officials or major party candidates are adequately warned if individuals surrounding them may be targets of foreign intelligence operations? If not, how should those standard and guidelines be improved?
  29. In congressional testimony, Mr. Corney claimed that the FBI briefed then President-Elect Trump about the Steele dossier because the FBI had received word that the media was about to report on the dossier.12 However, subsequent media reporting made clear that the media generally had found the dossier's unverified allegations unreportable, and CNN only broke the story on the dossier because Mr. Corney briefed the President-Elect about it. Thus, there is a question as to whether the FBI included the dossier in the briefing, and possibly leaked that it had done so, in order to provide the media a pretext to report on the dossier.
    This question arises against the backdrop of an apparent broader pattern of FBI leaks about high-profile investigative matters. Text messages recently produced to the Committee by the Department for example show high-level FBI officials apparently communicating with reporters. Those messages also show that the FBI at least considered using the briefing for the purpose of carrying out a counterintelligence assessment of the attendees.
    Did anyone from the FBI or the Department of Justice leak to the media the fact that officials briefed the President-Elect about the contents of the dossier? Did anyone from the FBI or the Department of Justice inform Mr. Steele or anyone associated with Fusion GPS that they briefed the President-Elect about the contents of the dossier? Did the FBI use the briefing to develop a counterintelligence assessment of its attendees?
  30. Who leaked to the press the presumably classified contents of the publicly reported call between the Russian ambassador and Michael Flynn? Has anyone been held accountable, and if not, why not?  
  31. On January 24, 2017, before Lt. Gen. Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor, he was interviewed by FBI agents about phone calls he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. On December 1, 2017, Lt. Gen. Flynn pled guilty to lying to them. Recent news reports, however, state that former FBI
    Director Corney previously told congressional investigators that those agents neither believed that Lt. Gen. Flynn had lied, nor that "any inaccuracies in his answers were intentional."
    Was the interview conducted by the FBI agents on January 24, 2017 part of a criminal investigation or a counterintelligence investigation? Did the FBI agents who interviewed Lt. Gen. Flynn believe that he lied to them or intentionally misled them? Did the FBI agents document their interview with Lt. Gen. Flynn in one or more FD-302s? What were the FBI agents' conclusions about Lt. Gen.
    Flynn's truthfulness, as reflected in the FD-302s? Were the FD-302s ever edited? Ifso, by whom? At who's direction? How many drafts were there? Are there material differences between the final draft and the initial draft(s) or the agent's testimony about the interview?
    What information did the FBI present to the DOJ regarding this interview, or any other investigative steps involving Lt. Gen. Flynn, and when? What, if anything, did the DOJ do with this information?

This letter to Horowitz provides the framework for an investigation, a criminal investigation. And the Inspector General agreed to take on all the questions except for two areas:

We do not intend for the review to address leak allegations or questions regarding possible defensive briefings by the FBI.

Additionally, given the prosecution of Lt. Gen. Flynn is a pending criminal matter and it appears to be unrelated to the FISA issues, we do not intend for the review to address questions related to the prosecution.

These two issues will fall under the purview of Prosecutor John Durham. Horowitz's refusal to take them on does not mean they are  dead.

The big takeaway from the Graham/Grassley letter is Jim Comey's jeopardy. He lied. The bureaucratic euphemism is "gave conflicting accounts." Look again at Question 17:

It is unclear whether this was a deliberate attempt to mislead the Oversight Committee about whether the FBI's communications with Mr. Steele about the Trump allegations began before or after the FBI opened the investigation.

What is the reason for the difference between what Mr. Corney told the Chairman and Ranking Member in March 2017, and what appears in the FISA application? Did Director Corney intentionally mislead the Committee?

Why did the FBI never respond to Chairman Grassley's questions about the inconsistencies? Did the Chairman's letter first alert the FBI to the inconsistences? Did the FBI seek to correct them in anyway? Did any one block or delay a response to the Chairman on this issue? If so who, and why? Has Mr. Corney provided any other information to congressional committees, Members, or staff, in public testimony or in private briefings, that is inconsistent with the classified documents produced by the FBI in response to congressional inquiries related to the 2016 election?

Michael Horowitz knows that he must answer these questions and that Senator Graham will not let this issue go.

The other major focus of Horowitz will drill down on the actions and interactions of the FBI with Bruce Ohr, who was continuing to pass on "intelligence" from Christopher Steele.

The facts presented by Senators Graham and Grassley are damning. I do not see how Michael Horowitz can white wash them. And I do not believe that Senator Graham will allow obfuscation to rule the upcoming hearing.

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39 Responses to Benchmarks to Look For in the Horowitz Report on FISA by Larry C Johnson

  1. bjd says:

    Comey, the flag-waving patriot, author of books, stories and narratives.

  2. blue peacock says:

    Larry
    What are the penalties, if any, if Horowitz either does not answer or obfuscates in his answers to the questions raised by Graham & Grassley?

  3. Factotum says:

    Teasing out Question #17:
    Chairman Grassley wrote to former Director Comey nearly a year ago requesting him to resolve apparent material discrepancies between information he provided in a closed briefing and information contained in classified documents.
    Specifically, what Mr. Comey disclosed in a private briefing to the Chairman and Ranking Member Feinstein about the timeline of the FBI’s interactions with Mr. Steele appeared inconsistent with information contained in FISA applications the Chairman and Ranking Member later reviewed.
    No explanation for the inconsistencies has ever been provided.
    It is unclear whether this was a deliberate attempt to mislead the Oversight Committee about whether the FBI’s communications with Mr. Steele about the Trump allegations began before or after the FBI opened the investigation.
    What is the reason for the difference between what Mr. Comey told the Chairman and Ranking Member in March 2017, and what appears in the FISA application?
    Did Director Comey intentionally mislead the Committee?
    Why did the FBI never respond to Chairman Grassley’s questions about the inconsistencies?
    Did the Chairman’s letter first alert the FBI to the inconsistences?
    Did the FBI seek to correct them in anyway?
    Did any one block or delay a response to the Chairman on this issue?
    If so who, and why?
    Has Mr. Comey provided any other information to congressional committees, Members, or staff, in public testimony or in private briefings, that is inconsistent with the classified documents produced by the FBI in response to congressional inquiries related to the 2016 election?

  4. Factotum says:

    My own favorite: #8
    If so, were any Obama political appointees able to read internal Trump campaign emails before the election? During the transition period? If so, who, when, and for what purpose?

  5. Diego says:

    I don’t see how anyone can rely on Sen. Graham for anything.
    He is all over the map on this & other issues.
    In the end I think Graham will cave to the MIC & Deep State.

  6. Flavius says:

    Worst case – contempt citation. But it will never come to that because Barr is the AG and the Senate Republicans would not want to undercut him, prudently in my opinion. This act. anyway, is just another piece in the ongoing political theater. If it leads to any practical effect, it will be to generate hearings into the Agency abuses that gave rise to the debacle. Held in a saner less partisan world, such hearings could be expected to lead to reform. In the world that we live in, the tar babies would absorb any blows with nary a wince.
    The impetus for real reform will have to come from a successful Durham investigation with high profile prosecutions. He will have to produce prosecutions from which even feckless Washington can’t avert its eyes.

  7. Rick Merlotti says:

    Yeah, don’t trust Graham as far as I can throw him. It’s gonna depend on which way the wind is blowing at the moment. Who offers more MIC goodies.

  8. akaPatience says:

    The infamous former FBI attorney Lisa Page, once the mistress of Peter Strzok, is flaunting herself and claiming victimhood by Trump in a fawning Daily Beast interview just released. Now, a recent rumor (seemingly backed up by her texts with Strzok) is that she “edited” (or altered?) a 302 of the FBI’s interview of Gen. Flynn, which according to what Larry is telling us, will NOT be addressed by IG Horowitz’s soon-to-be-released report because Flynn’s case is still in litigation.
    Is this why she has the cheek to go public right now, claiming victimhood? Is there a book deal or crowdfunding in the works for the poor martyred woman?
    Since her employment with the FBI is already terminated, I wonder what penalty she could suffer if the rumor is true that she altered a 302?

  9. Alexandria says:

    Larry,
    Joe and Mika were on the MSNBC megaphone this morning down-playing the “leaked” version of the Horowitz Report as a nothing burger that refutes Trump conspiracy theories about a deep state coup, involving FBI and Intelligence agencies, to take Trump out and disproving Trump’s claim that Obama “tapped” (their characterization)Trump’s phone.
    What is happening? Is Horowitz folding or does the MSM have it all wrong?

  10. turcopolier says:

    Alexandria
    I think he is folding.

  11. turcopolier says:

    All
    I received this comment for DMR, presumab;y a member of the professoriat.
    “Mr Robinson’s remarks are spot on. In my experience most academics worth their salt are absorbed in their research area however microscopic the focus, and delight above all in lively exchange of ideas with colleagues and students when afforded the opportunity to do so in the classroom, at conferences, in published research. Conformism, some of it timid, and competition, often cut-throat, there certainly are. Who would deny this? But as in any profession or walk of life they are par for the course. Forty years as a university teacher encourage me to say that these deformations professionelles are far from definitive, still less all-encompassing. Most unusually for you, Col. Lang, and pace your vaunted experience on boards of award-granting bodies/degree committees, your judgements in this instance smack of personal animus and bespeak an unwarrantedly generalized contempt. I say this with respect and no wish to annoy.” It is a characteristic of the academy that its members wish to be thought independent thinkers. They are united in that thought. Professor, i will seek to conform to your “professional” mores. My most personal animus is reserved for social “scientists.”

  12. walrus says:

    I herded Academic cats like these for Six years as CEO of a University Commercialization company. I agree with Col. Lang and disagree with DMR.
    The “delight in exchange of ideas” is real, but it is brutally tempered by orthodoxy into just another expression of groupthink.
    To put that another way, their idea of “radical” still lies within the bounds of accepted theory.
    The whole shooting match rotates about research funding. Nobody is going to stuff your mouth with dollars for questioning climate research fundamentals or the even larger scam, the “big bang theory”.

  13. walrus says:

    I think the fix is in. Both sides I think are exhausted and will call it a draw. Russiagate goes nowhere and neither does impeachment. That leaves a largely discomforted public to contemplate the 2020 election.
    The question then becomes, will a re elected Trump try again to drain the swamp? I think not. I think whoever is elected is going to have their hands full trying to manage the economy.

  14. turcopolier says:

    walrus
    Do you vote by absentee ballot?

  15. Jack says:

    Sir
    The WaPo is leaking that your expectation of the Horowitz report is correct. Apparently Barr disagrees with the findings. It seems the only way the public will know the truth is if Trump declassifies. However he has been reluctant to do that so far.
    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/barr-disputes-key-horowitz-finding-based-durham-cia-evidence

  16. Given the track record of the Washington Post, I would advise caution in believing this report. I watched Senator Graham on Hannity. He is pretty adamant that a fraud was perpertrated on the FISA Court. The bottom line is clear–Barr knows that crimes were committed and will ensure that those responsible are held to account.

  17. Factotum says:

    AG Barr allegedly is disputing Horowitz leaked conclusion the carter Page FISA applications were justified.

  18. Fred says:

    Walrus,
    “Trump try again to drain the swamp?”
    If he doesn’t then bigger knives than those currently in use will be out for for all those who supported the elected government.
    “I think whoever is elected is going to have their hands full trying to manage the economy.”
    You mean if the left gets elected in 2020 “free stuff” and the California lifestyle for all!

  19. turcopolier says:

    larry johnson
    They did not need much of a fraud. They had Rosemary Collyer.

  20. Jack says:

    Larry,
    It will be remarkable if Barr indicts Brennan, Clapper and Comey. That will be a 9.0 political earthquake!

  21. Eric Newhill says:

    Larry,
    I think you’re going to be very disappointed. The Horowitz report will be as a big a dud for you as the Mueller investigation was for the anti-Trumpers and the Hillary Clinton email investigation was for people concerned about it.
    The Swamp isn’t going to allow any of the stuff you write about to become the center of serious public attention. Much better to dismiss it as largely conspiracy theory. So the report will describe some minor issues, but nothing rising to any kind of serious level of crime, let alone a coup d’etat. Then pundits will spend the next couple of months looking for secret meanings in the report or deriding those who do. Sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself what you getting all geared up over.

  22. Flavius says:

    The Horowitz report is inconsequential except as political fodder to be exploited for gain by one side or the other. The locus of consequence has moved to the criminal investigation that is being handled by Durham under the direction of Barr. Decisions of real consequence are no longer within the purview of the IG. The determination of whether justice has prevailed is contingent solely on whether Durham’s efforts have been thorough, accurate, and fair.

  23. Factotum says:

    Worse than Watergat? – When Halderman, Ehrlichman, Dean, Mitchel, Colson, etc were all marched off to the Graybar Hotel. We survived that 9.0 earthquake.

  24. Factotum says:

    Will the Barr-Durham “criminal” investigation drag out so long as to be rendered moot after the 2020 election?

  25. Factotum says:

    The real issue is the power of the unelected fourth branch of government, not contemplated by the Founders nor covered by any constitutional checks or balances.
    Constitutional legal scholar Jonathan Turley has been raising this question, even during the Obama era. We can no longer ignore this rising threat – the power of the unelected fourth branch of government. That is the far larger question, and it is good it is well-articulated in the GOP response.
    Big government = even more powerful unelected fourth branch of government
    More tax confiscation = more funding for the unelected fourth branch of government
    Two tasks ahead: limiting its growth; diminishing its power. We do need to talk about this larger issue; not just debate its symptoms.

  26. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Trey Gowdy rebuts Lisa Page’s “I’m a victim” line:
    8 minute Fox News video, 2019-12-02.

  27. blue peacock says:

    Some are forecasting that Barr-Durham will be another nothingburger.
    Their rationale is that the political forces of status quo are far too powerful in the Acela corridor and none want their gravy train to end. The consequences of indictments of top officials in law enforcement & intelligence will require a deeper look into their operations and budgets and the cozy relationships with media, politicians and the mega campaign donors that have long determined how the system operates.
    Does Barr have the strength of character to buck a whole system built over decades? Many doubt that including me.
    Trump has an opportunity to bust it wide open if he declassifies it all which is completely in his sole authority. The question is why he hasn’t considering he routinely rails against the Swamp on Twitter? Is he just another Swamp con?

  28. Eric Newhill says:

    Flavius,
    I disagree. The IG is promoted to the public as independent/non-partisan. Barr is promoted as Trump’s pit bull. If the IG sees nothing of consequence and Barr/Durham open a prosecution, then the prosecution can be dismissed by the media and its zombie viewers as a “witch hunt” – even if there is only little overlap between what the IG looked at and what Barr is looking at. It’s all about perception, not reality. Who knows what reality really is?

  29. BrettHar123 says:

    Points 16/17: The Senators are being rather disingenuous here, they know full well that crooked Bill Browder was the person who reported FusionGPS for a breach of FARA. They also know that Fusion was hired by US law firm Baker-Hostetler, to do legal research about Browder, who passed highly dubious evidence to US Attorney Preet Bharara, to instigate the Prevezon Case. The fact that neither Fusion or Baker-Hostetler have been charged with violation on FARA further shows that Browder vexatiously used this allegation as a smear, because simply representing a Russian national being litigated against by the US government, cannot be twisted to mean they were working for the Russian government.
    Browder was deposed after running away from a third subpoena, after the judge ordered him to appear. Browder’s deposition was a disaster, not just for Browder, but to the Senate and anyone else who promoted Browder’s pack of Magnitsky lies. That is why no mainstream media outlet will even acknowledge its existence.
    It’s very obvious they Graham and Grassley would omit to mention Browder’s name, they also know full well that Browder was exposed as a fraud and that the Magnisky Acft is based on a giant fabrication. If they were honest, and didn’t cling cynically to the Magnitsky Act to unfairly punish innocent Russian investigators and prosecutors on Browder’s behalf, they would repeal the poisoned act, and stop protecting this wanted, twice convicted criminal tax evader from facing justice.

  30. Flavius says:

    Reality is the door in the slammer closing behind you. When that happens, public perception tends not to mean much. Reality is not what one sees on the screen or reads in the newspaper. Reality is whether the Grand Jury decides one’s fate should be determined in a court house by a jury. The responsible official for deciding how to proceed with respect to those realities is not the IG, who works for the AG, but Durham, who also is responsible to the AG. We should all hope for justice’s sake that for Barr and Durham that it is all about the fair presentation of evidence and not about politics and not about perception.

  31. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Colonel: Doesn’t your comment above (with its reference to “DMR” and the professoriat) pertain, not to this post, but to:
    Academic Conformism is the road to “1984.”?
    If so, maybe a reposting (of the comment) would be helpful to your readers.

  32. Eric Newhill says:

    Flavius,
    If the public perception is that Trump controlled mad dogs Barr and Durham are engaged in a Stalin/Hitler style purge of dear saintly civil servants – this in the face of noble and fair Horowitz finding nothing – then the public will turn on Trump even more than currently and there will be another impeachment hearing and Trump might not win in 2020 and the whole matter will be dropped by the next admin.
    No one is going to prison – or face any other serious consequence – over any of this, Gand jury or not. IMO, there won’t be a grand jury in the first place.

  33. Dave Schuler says:

    There is an interesting Twitter thread here:
    https://twitter.com/RoscoeBDavis1/status/1202028467790979074
    relevant to some of the discussions that have gone on here.

  34. Factotum says:

    Too bad Democrats never bothered to figure out why Trump really won in 2016. Could have saved us three years of their self-inflicted grief.

  35. A recent article by John Solomon, a former reporter at The Associated Press and The Washington Post, makes an assertion that is difficult to reconcile with what occurred after the Presidential Inauguration.
    It is asserted that “Congressional sources” reported that  “as early as 2015 ” the British Government” was warning that Steele was unreliable –
    “Congressional sources have reported to me that during a recent unclassified meeting they were told the British government flagged concerns about Steele and his reliance on “sub-sources” of intelligence as early as 2015.”
    If this is correct it leads to two questions –
    1.  There were these constraints on Steele when it came to his post retirement work.
    –  Presumably ex-Intelligence operatives remain under supervision when they retire, either to prevent them releasing secrets or to prevent them making unauthorised use of sources they had access to during their period of service.  
    In addition, in Steele’s case his continuing connection with MI6 after retirement was important to him.  Sir Richard Dearlove later referred to Steele as being a “go to” source of advice for MI6 later.  It  is clear there was continuing contact between Steele and MI6 after Steele’s retirement.  Steele would not have wished to jeapordise that connection.
    For these reasons Steele was amenable to MI6 control after his retirement and would not have said or published anything MI6 didn’t want him to.
    Yet MI6 continued to allow him to feed unreliable information to actors on the American political/intelligence scene, content merely to tell the Americans he was unreliable and taking no steps to rein Steele in.  
    It’s difficult to believe that ex-Intelligence officers are usually allowed to run loose like this abroad. That Steele was so allowed implies consent on the part of MI6.
    2.  The public disclosure of Steele’s activities did not occur until after the inauguration.  It resulted in a scandal that damaged the new American administration.  One would have expected HMG to immediately repeat their earlier warning that Steele was unreliable, to do so publicly, and thus to ensure that damage and embarrassment to the new administration was limited.
    It did not do so.  There was no public debunking of the Steele material from HMG.   The UK media insisted that the Steele material was valid.  In the only public semi-official reference I saw, a TV interview with Sir Richard Dearlove,  Dearlove, instead of debunking  Steele, stated that the Steele material was largely accurate.
    We therefore have an ex-UK intelligence officer allowed to feed unreliable material to the Americans and no attempt on the part of HMG to limit the damage when that unreliable material was made public. In fact Steele was backed up by HMG even though, if Mr Solomon’s report is correct, HMG knew Steele was unreliable.
    In short. if that report is correct, HMG allowed Steele to feed dud information to the Americans.  Then backed up that dud information even though that damaged the new US Administration.
    Doesn’t add up.
    .
    The passage quoted  is three items down under the heading “Derogatory information about informant Christopher Steele”.  Link via ZH.
    https://johnsolomonreports.com/the-10-most-important-revelations-to-expect-from-the-russia-probe-fisa-report/  

  36. EO,
    What you write is very much to the point.
    Unfortunately, I have been very tied up, and have not been able to comment adequately on recent developments.
    It looks as though the current strategy of the conspirators, on both sides of the Atlantic, is to make Steele the ‘patsy’, thereby making it possible for the full scale of the conspiracy to remain disguised.
    It also makes it possible to replace one ‘Russophobic’ narrative by another. Instead of Steele as the heroic unmasker of a sinister Russian plot to undermine Western democracy, we have him as the gullible dupe of just another plot.
    Among other things, this was the sense of Fiona Hill’s testimony, in which she showed herself a worthy pupil of the late unlamented Richard Pipes – the man who got everything wrong, and was lamentably devoid of common honesty – and a disgrace to a fine university (St. Andrew’s.)
    My ‘SWAG’, particularly following Solomon’s report and others like it, is that Horowitz is hewing quite close to the line she was marking out. It seems a shame that a journalist who has done a lot of very useful work on ‘Russiagate’ looks to be falling ‘hook, line and sinker’ for a classic ‘limited hangout.’
    But a lot of people who one might have thought had better judgement seem to be doing this – Chuck Ross and Representative Jim Jordan being obvious examples.
    It seems clear, contrast, that Lee Smith has got the main point: that the dossier was a ‘camel produced by a committee’ in Fusion GPS, and that Steele’s essential role was 1. in disguising the sources, insofar as they were any, and the material was not either direct invention or invention by ‘sources’ who specialised in it, and 2. providing an appearance of intelligence legitimacy to the resulting farrago, so it could be used both to legitimise FISA applications, and a ‘whispering campaign’ in the MSM.
    If Smith has ‘got it’, it seems likely that Devin Nunes, who is a pivotal figure in all this, also has.
    However he, as also Barr and Durham, have to reckon with the complex politics of all this, and of course the problems of all three get materially worse if the likes of Solomon Ross and Jordan are happy to be played for suckers.
    An area where caution is particularly necessary, incidentally, is in relation to the disavowal of Steele by Sir Mark Lyall Grant which Sidney Powell is hunting down.
    If you look at it in context, it is clear that it was largely the product of a failure of liaison between different people. It seems key conspirators on the U.S. side wanted the dossier published, while those on our side were not really ‘in the loop.’
    It was at this point that the strategy of making Steele the ‘patsy’ first became evident – with a kind of ‘bulldogs under the carpet’ struggle rapidly developing over whether to follow that route, or close ranks behind him.
    The Lyall Grant letter was the product of the first strategy, but it is clear that the mainstream – including for example Sir Alex Younger, clearly a worthy successor to Dearlove and Scarlett – came round to the alternative strategy.
    In my view, a key to the whole situation remains the actions in which Ty Clevenger and Steven S. Biss are involved, acting on behalf of Ed Butowsky, Devin Nunes, and also Svetlana Lokhova.
    Also relevant are the two cases against Steele and Orbis going through the courts here in London.
    Unfortunately, we do not have anything like ‘PACER’ or ‘Courtlistener’, so it is very difficult to be clear as to what is happening either with Gubarev’s case or that brought by the Alfa oligarchs.

  37. Mr Habakkuk – I don’t have your panoramic view of the affair, nor your encyclopaedic knowledge of the by now bewildering number of characters who’ve tumbled out on stage since that “Steele dossier” first became public. There is, however, a point that stood out for me. Here is what you have suggested before and restate above –
    “It looks as though the current strategy of the conspirators, on both sides of the Atlantic, is to make Steele the ‘patsy’, thereby making it possible for the full scale of the conspiracy to remain disguised.”
    Perhaps casting Steele as the lone fall guy is proving difficult.  The trouble is that wherever one finds Steele, as often as not Sir Richard Dearlove is there looking over his shoulder.
    For a man of the shadows Sir Richard gets a respectable amount of publicity.  He’s been around.  A senior posting to Washington. Then gets to be “C” no less. Slapped down in the Chilcot report for accepting the WMD dossier too readily, so a reliable man when it matters.
    A heart to heart with Steele in Autumn 2016.  And the odd Lokhova business that you have focused on in the past.  A little downmarket for Le Carre, perhaps, that Lokhova business, but all in a day’s work if one is reliable  –
    ““It has been reported that Sir Richard Dearlove, on the urgings of Prof. Halper, has apparently reported me to US authorities as a Russian spy. The accusation is demonstrably false,” Lokhova wrote to Cambridge’s vice chancellor, asking for an investigation of Halper and Dearlove’s “malign” and “covert” activities.”
    https://dailycaller.com/2019/04/16/richard-dearlove-steele-russia-halper-flynn/
    With a fair bit more on Sir Richard’s activities in that “Courtlistener”
    https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.vaed.442627/gov.uscourts.vaed.442627.1.0_5.pdf
    All public record.  And lots more.  I’m not entirely sure that in Sir Richard’s case Google is his friend:-
    ““Sir Richard Dearlove’s personal intervention, and its urgency, gave added weight to a (WMD in Iraq) report that had not been properly evaluated and would have coloured the perception of ministers and senior officials. The report should have been treated with caution,”
    “In a glowing profile of Steele in The New Yorker on March 12, 2018, Dearlove described Steele’s reputation as “superb.” He told The Washington Post that Steele was the “go-to person on Russia in the commercial sector.””
    “Dearlove has also offered glowing endorsements for Halper, a veteran of three Republican presidential administrations who has contracted with the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment…”He is a well-regarded academic who is also a patriot,” Dearlove told The Washington Post in a June 8, 2018 article, shortly after the revelation that Halper was a longtime FBI and CIA informant.”
    https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/interview-richard-dearlove-europe-intelligence-mi6
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/13/dirty-dossier-donald-trump-probably-credible-says-former-mi6/
    https://themarketswork.com/2018/05/20/sir-richard-dearlove-uk-intelligence-ties/
    And as much more as one has patience for.
    If that’s available at a mouse click then it’s not possible for the Washington heavyweights, with staffers coming out of their ears, not to know all that and much more.
    Therefore as you suggest the London end of the Steele affair is being overlooked for political reasons.  Since full disclosure of what happened at that London end would not only blow HMG out of the water but would also imperil the intelligence links between the two countries, such unraveling of the Steele affair as will occur will have to skirt round any account of Sir Richard’s contribution.
    Unless it gets to be really heavy in Washington.  Is that likely?  

  38. Okay, here it is: The Horowitz report, as released prior to 2019-12-09 1810 Zulu.
    https://oig.justice.gov/press/2019/2019-12-09.pdf

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