Opening an FBI investigation into a presidential campaign is supposed to be a huge deal. If government officials are going to allege that members of a campaign --- maybe even the candidate --- are in cahoots with Russia (!), they'd better have the goods.
But a newly declassified memo (another one!) makes it clear that the Papadopoulos “evidence” used to justify “Crossfire Hurricane” was really just flimsy hearsay. They had to be looking for any pretext they could put together. Since they had no evidence of criminality, they turned to Downer’s “suggestion” that Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos might be talking with Russia on the release of Hillary’s emails. As John Solomon writes, “[Alexander] Downer had heard the information about the Russians during a bar conversation in May 2016 from Papadopoulos, who had heard it two months earlier from a European professor who had heard it from Russians allegedly.”
The investigation, he says, was opened based on a “third-hand ‘suggestion’ of wrongdoing and the thinnest of suspicions that illegal foreign lobbying had occurred.” It’s clear from the memo that the criminal basis for opening “Hurricane” was suspected violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, but the memo does not mention a single incidence of violating FARA.
Peter Strzok expressed reservations about the evidence he had, yet he pressed forward. Sometimes, as they say, you’ve “gotta go with what you got.” Strzok both drafted the memo and approved the investigation himself, keeping the memo away from interagency oversight.
Kevin Brock, former head of counterintelligence for the FBI, told Solomon, “There is nothing in the [electronic communication] that meets the traditional thresholds for opening up a [Foreign Agents Registration Act] or [counterintellgence] investigation. It appears hastily constructed.”
When asked if he would’ve approved this, Brock said, “Not in a million years. I wouldn’t have approved it as a squad supervisor, either. This would have set off alarm bells in any FBI field for not meeting our standards for a predicate.”
All this is consistent with what Robert Ray said on WITCH HUNT, a FOX NEWS special on Sunday night hosted by Gregg Jarrett. He believes the Durham investigation likely will lead to indictments of Bureau officials.
"It is a criminal investigation with grand-jury authority, and I don’t think the attorney general expects this is going to be just be left to the side of history without actual prosecutions being brought to hold those responsible accountable,” he said. “Even if no felony prosecution is ever brought as a result of this, this is a political scandal of the highest order and the American people should be paying attention.”
I would respectfully suggest to Mr. Ray that if no felony prosecution is ever brought, too many American people will NOT pay attention and it WILL be left to the side of history, thanks to media spin and leftist historians. Laws have been broken, and there must be accountability if we’re ever going to fix this.
Speaking specifically on the Flynn prosecution, Ray said he trusted Durham to get to the bottom of the mishandling of his case. Ray showed his mastery for understatement when he said, “I imagine there are people in the know who may well have knowingly withheld information from the court and from defense counsel in connection with the Michael Flynn prosecution.” Mr. Ray, we KNOW they did that. “Knowingly” is tough to prove, but we know they knew. They know we know they knew.
"If it turns out that that can be proved,” he continued, “then there are going to be referrals and potential false statements and/or perjury prosecutions to hold those, particularly those in positions of authority, accountable.”
Speaking of Flynn, a new article dropped over the weekend that shines the harsh light of truth on what was done to him. Eli Lake’s comprehensive piece in COMMENTARY magazine fleshes out the story so thoroughly that I’d say “THE RAILROADING OF MICHAEL FLYNN, How It Happened And Why It Matters” is an absolute must-read.
Still, there’s something Lake says upfront that I disagree with: that “they suspected he [Flynn] was a Russian agent.” Based on the attempts to set him up starting in 2014, I don’t think they EVER really believed it. I think it was a story they created. Anyway…
Lake writes, “According to both Rice’s memoir and a memo memorializing the meeting (dated January 20, 2017), the President stressed that everything the FBI did in this sensitive matter should be “by the book.” In fact, nothing was done by the book –- not by Obama’s deputies and not by Obama.”
We see from this article how furiously Strzok and Comey worked to keep the investigation alive through the only means they had: the ridiculously antiquated Logan Act. Rosenstein’s recently declassified scope memo authorized Mueller to investigate whether Flynn had “committed a crime or crimes by engaging in conversations with Russian officials during the period of the Trump transition.” The only crimes that could possibly have been found would’ve been either outright espionage (for which the FBI had found no evidence) or a Logan Act violation.
Lake points out what we’ve been said all along, that Flynn was not a private citizen conducting foreign policy, as is prohibited by the Logan Act, but rather acting in his official capacity as the incoming national security adviser. “The idea that Flynn was behaving illegally, let alone unethically or immorally or unconventionally, in discussing U.S. foreign policy with the Russians during the transition is beyond absurd,” he writes.
Joe Pientka had written a memo to close the original Flynn investigation but had slipped up and not actually filed it. Strzok, obviously delighted, was able to keep the case open. The only reason Pientka's memo has emerged now is that U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen completed the review Barr had ordered and declassified documents in the case. We get to read about Stefan Halper being paid as a “confidential human source” (SPY) and the concocted story of Flynn’s affair (not) with Russian-born Svetlana Lokhova, described by Lake as a “smear.” Pientka’s memo says the investigation yielded so little that senior management had recommended closing the case before even interviewing Flynn.
The whole shameful process of determining how they would set Flynn up in his White House interview is discussed in detail. Lake also explains why Flynn was NOT LYING when he said sanctions weren’t discussed. As Flynn told the DAILY CALLER, “It wasn’t about sanctions. It was about the 35 guys [Russian diplomats] who were thrown out.”
The memo said Fynn’s “false statements and omissions impeded...the FBI’s ongoing investigation.” Lake shows that “Given what we know now, those words are more of a lie than anything Flynn said to the FBI agents who interviewed him.”
This was not only injustice against Flynn but also an assault on the peaceful transition of presidential power. Shameful, and dangerous.
Postscript: Lake bookends his commentary with the story about Flynn joining in the “Lock her up! Lock her up!” chant at a Trump rally, attempting to show irony. This falls flat to me. The cases are not equivalent; we know beyond any doubt that Hillary actually did the things she was NOT prosecuted for.