Do you have scandal fatigue? I was thinking of setting “Spygate” aside for a while to focus on the next stage in the impeachment farce that’s almost upon us, but then Dan Bongino changed my mind. On Monday he made the point, as I have myself from time to time, that all the scandals --- including impeachment --- involve the same cast of characters. They are all part of the same big hoax, like one of those giant spreading underground fungi –- just different, interconnected ways of taking Trump down. So it’s impossible to look at impeachment without following those who tried to spy on his associates and hurt him during his campaign and transition period. They’re the same people.
I was going to concentrate on an article in POLITICO called “Meet the Legal Minds Behind Trump’s Impeachment,” which really shows how hard Trump’s enemies are trying to get rid of him. This is serious business, and that’s what I had wanted to focus on. But Bongino has pointed out something else from that article: that a particular member of this impeachment team happens to have been involved in the ‘deep state’ shenanigans as well. I guess the term is “overlap.” There's a LOT of overlap.
The person is Mary McCord. A paragraph in the POLITICO story reads: “‘I think people do see that this is a critical time in our history,’ said Mary McCord, a former DOJ official who helped oversee the FBI’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and is now listed as a top outside counsel for the House in key legal fights tied to impeachment. ‘We see the breakdown of the whole rule of law. We see the breakdown in adherence to the Constitution and also constitutional values...That’s why you’re seeing lawyers come out and being very willing to put in extraordinary amounts of time and effort to litigate these cases,’ she said.”
Indeed. Of course, my understanding is that they’re being handsomely paid, if not by taxpayers then by somebody with deeeeep pockets who wants Trump out every bit as much as they do. So we see that the same former DOJ official who was working with the FBI, apparently on “Crossfire Hurricane,” has been working with Adam Schiff’s House Intel Committee on the impeachment “inquiry.”
Yesterday I pointed out the problems with Intel Committee Inspector General (ICIG) Michael Atkinson, the official who changed the rules about second-hand information and then accepted the hearsay (and, as it turns out, fictional) “whistleblower” complaint form submitted by the semi-anonymous Eric Ciaramella and passed it along as legitimate instead of dispensing with it. Today, I find that Mary McCord worked with Atkinson in the National Security Division of the DOJ. Atkinson was the lawyer for the head of the National Security Division, John Carlin, who just happens to be Robert Mueller’s former chief of staff AND the official who supposedly reviewed the Woods procedures signifying that the FISA warrant application to spy on Carter Page contained verified information. We all know now that this was a joke, that the application was based entirely on an unverified work of fiction called the Steele “dossier.”
Of course, these connections aren’t touted specifically in the POLITICO story. “Journalists” don’t seem interested in connecting the dots when they reveal what’s going on behind the scenes to hurt President Trump.
Another intriguing person in our cast of characters is Joe Pientka, who, along with Peter Strzok, interviewed Michael Flynn after being told to go to the White House by Andrew McCabe, who was following instructions given by then-FBI Director James Comey. Recall that McCabe also advised Flynn that the interview was just a casual thing, no need for a lawyer. Pientka also was responsible for making sure the Woods file (verification) on Carter Page was complete and accurate; he signed off on it before it went to Carlin for review.
So, where is Joe Pientka these days? Out on a book tour or giving interviews, as James Comey and John Brennan like to do? Well, no; he’s out of sight. In 2018, the DOJ refused to give Sen. Chuck Grassley access to him for questioning. He also got transferred all the way out to San Francisco. A few days after his name was discovered on an online staff roster for the San Francisco office, his name disappeared from it. Bongino speculates that he is now investigating credit card fraud on the planet Neptune.
If Pientka could be found, he obviously could answer some key questions. In fact, if he is indeed “SS1,” or “Senior Special Agent 1” in the Horowitz report –- and it seems he must be –- then he’s one of two people who were informed by Kathleen Kavalec at the State Department that the Steele “dossier” contained glaring inaccuracies, such as the reference to a non-existent Russian consulate in Miami. He’s also one of the officials who left out something very important in their report on Page: that he had denied meeting two particular Russians, Sechin and Divyekin, whom the Steele “dossier” said he had met with.
One additional thing about Pientka that Bongino didn’t mention: he’s also the agent who was sent along on the August briefing of then-candidate Trump as part of “Crossfire Hurricane” because the FBI knew Michael Flynn would be there. Pientka was actually there to spy on Flynn –- I mean, to “assess” Flynn’s behavior. So, where is Pientka? I hope Barr and Durham have caught up with him; surely they have.
Bongino also discussed the story we had yesterday about David Kris being the official appointed to oversee “reform” of FISA procedures. Kris is one of the best examples anywhere of “the fox guarding the hen house.” This guy defended the surveillance of Carter Page and said that Republicans (notably Devin Nunes) had “falsely accused” the FBI of misleading the FISA court in its wiretap applications. He also took the FBI at their word when they said there was probable cause to believe Page was a Russian agent. I am not kidding. This is the guy they pick to “reform” FISA. Talk about the ‘deep state’ protecting its own.
In an important update, there has been an uproar over this. And there had better be, because we’re learning even more and Kris’s background is even worse than we thought.
Nunes has protested Kris’s appointment, saying that if he remains in this position, Republicans in Congress should consider getting rid of the FISA court entirely.
If you’d like to hear the Dan Bongino podcast from Monday, it’s great. He makes it clear that cleaning up the ‘deep state’ is going to take time and enormous dedication and also that it’s absolutely dependent on Trump winning re-election.