This time of year is usually pretty slow for news. Fourth Of July week heads into the “back half” of summer, which typically means there’s not going to be much happening for a while. Not so in 2019.
Whether it’s a historic face-to-face between Trump and Kim Jong-Un, surging job numbers, Iran once again acting like Iran, huge protests in Hong Kong, an Independence Day celebration that defied critics and turned out to be spectacular, earthquakes in California, the presidential campaign (at a time when polls mean nothing), or partisan fights over immigration and citizenship, there’s always something happening that justifies the 24/7 news cycle. (Of course, “we watch the news...so you don’t have to!”)
Aside from all this, the IG and DOJ investigations continue, with some huge developments that ensure the next several months won’t be the typical “down” news time at all. We may have fireworks long after the Fourth.
First, Hillary. (Let’s get her out of the way.) We’ve just learned that a former State Department official, John Hackett, who served as Director for Information Products and Services –- that means he was in charge of handling FOIA requests –- has testified under oath in response to a Judicial Watch subpoena that he warned other officials that Hillary had “curated” 30,000 “personal” emails without following the National Archives standards.
This witness also believes that there was interference with the FOIA requests regarding emails about Benghazi. And material that should have been labeled “classified” was deliberately not labeled as such, to make what she had done not look so potentially criminal.
And, oh yes, the lawyer who did the deleting of those records, Heather Samuelson, was given immunity by the Justice Department. (Note: I may have to start using quotes on that, as in “Justice” Department.)
Hackett also testified that officials were stunned when they saw pictures of Hillary using a BlackBerry, as they hadn’t been aware she even possessed this device.
“There was cover-up on top of cover-up,” Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch told Tucker Carlson. “There’s more than enough information here for the Attorney General of the United States to not only look at Hillary Clinton, but, frankly, how the State Department was run to protect her during the campaign.”
Judicial Watch: Former State Official Testifies He Warned State Department Officials about Clinton Email Issues; Concerned about Interference on Classified Clinton Benghazi Email Documents - Judicial Watch
Now, on to the bogus “Trump/Russia” investigation, where news is breaking as well. We’re learning more about the intriguing connections of dossier-creator Christopher Steele and Russian oligarch (that means “very rich guy”) Oleg Deripaska.
As John Solomon of THE HILL explains, Deripaska was a disaffected business client of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is now in prison on financial charges unrelated to Trump. He also was, in turn, a client of Christopher Steele after hiring Steele to do legal research for him.
Deripaska, who once controlled Russia’s largest aluminum empire, was also sanctioned by the Trump administration to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his role in interfering with the 2016 election. So this is just getting crazy.
Now that the Mueller report has been submitted, Deripaska has broken his silence in an interview with Solomon. And he passed along what he claims to have told the FBI in September of 2016 --- evidence that should have been included in any report but was apparently ignored, as it didn’t fit with the “narrative.”
Deripaska had been closely aligned with Putin but was also trusted by the FBI after being helpful to them as far back as 2009. He said to Solomon that he told FBI agents he strongly doubted the FBI’s theory that the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow through Manafort to hijack the 2016 election. Was this anywhere in the Mueller report? In case you haven’t read it, I will tell you: NO, just as with other exculpatory evidence, it’s not there.
“I told them straightforward,” he said to Solomon, “I just don’t believe that he [Manafort] would represent any Russian interest. And knowing what he’s doing on Ukraine for the last, what, seven or eight years.”
Worse, this assessment, clearly exculpatory, was never supplied by the Mueller team to Paul Manafort’s attorneys. This is called a “Brady violation” and is grounds for an appeal, as Manafort’s team is well aware. This seems par for the course for a team led by the notorious exculpatory-evidence-burier Andrew Weissmann.
Solomon has much more detail at the link; the web of Deripaska’s connections is complicated indeed. According to Solomon, Deripaska said that at the time he hired Steele to do legal research, he didn’t know that Steele, ironically, was working on a special FBI program to recruit Russian oligarchs (like him?) to provide intelligence on Putin and Russian organized crime. He also said he was later shocked to learn that Steele had been working for the Clinton campaign through Fusion GPS and the FBI and had spread allegations of “Trump/Russia” collusion –- allegations that Russia “insider” Deripaska says were (his word) “balderdash.”
Speaking of Fusion GPS, I’ll leave you with a story from the archives that shows just how dirty a sleaze-peddler like Fusion GPS could be in the interest of an equally sleazy client like Hillary Clinton. They peddled all sorts of stories to see what might “stick,” even trying to link Trump to billionaire sex offender Julian Epstein, when it was actually BILL CLINTON whom he counted among his good buddies. It was BILL who made multiple visits to Epstein’s Caribbean island on a private plane dubbed “the Lolita Express.”
If you have a little time and are interested in just what kind of “service” this company provides, it’s there at the link. This is politics at its dirtiest. Worse, thanks to former DOJ official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who worked for them, Fusion GPS actually had major inroads at the Department of Justice.
Thanks to Attorney General Bill Barr’s investigation, we’re sure to hear a lot more about Fusion GPS in the coming months. Trust me, you’ll want to take a shower afterwards.