Judicial Watch obtains (redacted) Carter Page FISA Warrant
It's 400 pages of redacted information. The thing that leaps out at me is that this document alleges Carter Page (the target) is "an agent of a foreign power". We've seen how slippery that definition can be, with Manafort being accused of basically failing to file paperwork to register as such an agent. However, it can also indicate someone who is actually an espionage agent rather than simply a lobbyist.
On page 4, the application describes Page as having been "the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian Government [long redacted passage] undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election in violation of US criminal law."
So let's stop a moment here.
The last time Russians tried to recruit Page, they called him an idiot... and he testified against them in court, resulting in convictions. That was Page's prior experience as an FBI informant. But now the Russians are going to try to recruit him again? When they got burned last time? That reads more like an excuse than anything else. Maybe they are conflating earlier efforts to recruit Page with the current situation. We can't tell because they redacted the details.
More comments as I read through the release below the fold.
What does this possibly have to do with Russian collusion? Nothing, of course. It's Mueller trying to put pressure on anyone he can find in her files connected to Trump, so they will be encouraged to flip on Trump.
Special counsels are supposed to have very specific, very narrow fields of jurisdiction where they can investigate. This is because they are otherwise unrestrained and easily turned into partisan weapons (as in fact Mueller was intended to be from the beginning). The more Mueller chases these things far, far away from his appropriate area of authority, the more obviously partisan and corrupt his entire operation becomes.
Attorney-Client privilege no longer a thing, I guess?
So Trump talks to his lawyer, Cohen, who records it for unknown reasons. Prosecutors with ties to Mueller then raid Cohen's office to get the recording in a clear violation of attorney-client privilege. The recording then somehow ends up in the hands of the New York Times, which prints a story on it because it embarrasses the President even if no payment ended up happening and nothing illegal was done.
This bullshit is going to continue until the Trump admin finds some way to push back against the people doing it.
This lends credence to the narrative that Mueller is covering things up. By granting immunity to witnesses, Mueller ensures that they cannot be prosecuted for the things they testify about. Since one of the witnesses is expected to be Tony Podesta, and John Podesta has well known links to the Clintons. So by granting immunity, Mueller can protect Tony from other prosecutors wanting to charge him with anything he testifies about. This would thus protect John Podesta, and Hillary Clinton.
The FBI/DOJ investigation of Clinton's emails used a similar trick. Just grant lots of immunity and don't use any of the information you get.
But ok, for a moment, I'll play along. You can confiscate all individual firearms used to kill or injure someone. All of mine will be safe, and if I have to shoot someone in defense of my life, the police are likely to seize it for evidence and I'll have to buy a new one (or choose a new one from the safe) anyway.
I imagine this article in the Houston Chronicle isn't going over well in Texas.
If you remember from the IG report, one major decision that the IG determined might not have been free from bias was the decision to prioritize the Trump-Russia investigation over the Clinton email investigation in the days before the election. Now, the IG report itself is effectively a whitewash; it lays out extensive evidence of bias, but in the conclusion, says that bias can't be proven to have affected any actual decisions because no one wrote down that they were making their decision based on their bias. If that's the standard for determining a decision is biased, no decision would ever be found to be biased. But even by that standard, the IG identifies that resource prioritization decision to be potentially biased.
In Strzok's testimony, he says he made that priority decision because Comey told him to. For Strzok, that's a get out of jail free card if true, at least on this specific decision. If his superior told him to prioritize the Trump-Russia investigation over the Clinton investigation, his superior gets the blame for it, biased or not.
In my opinion, Comey is just as biased as Strzok, and in the same direction, but there is less hard evidence in the form of text messages to prove it.
But it's interesting that people have started to flip on their superiors so the investigation can walk up the chain, isn't it?
I spent a fair bit of time over the weekend listening to, and occasionally watching, Strzok's public testimony before Congress last week. He demonstrated arrogance, inappropriate affect (smirking like he was getting away with something during answers, a classic tell for bad liars), unbelievable claims that contradicted themselves (such as saying he doesn't remember writing a text, and then carefully explaining what he meant when he wrote it), and generally hiding behind FBI lawyers telling him not to answer questions as often as possible while smirking at Congressmen and saying he was "just as frustrated as you are" (a line he repeated so often it was likely rehearsed and focus-grouped).
The Democrats interrupted as often as possible to talk over the witness, make pointless points of order, prevent any substantive answers from being heard, and when they had the microphone, toss softballs or make speeches about entirely unrelated topics. It was an embarrassing and childish attempt to disrupt the proceedings.
Strzok's answers will read, on a transcript, as mostly reasonable and polite. He does occasionally make angry, self-righteous speeches that demonstrate his arrogance, but his refusals to answer at all are usually blamed on the advice from his lawyers. On audio and video, however, they look bad. Really bad. And on close examination, they are even worse: Strzok apologizes for bias repeatedly, but clearly (based on his impassioned speeches) doesn't actually think he did anything wrong. He demonstrates, over 10 grating hours of excuses, smirking, arrogance, and anger at Congress for daring to question his clearly non-existent professionalism, that he is blind to his own flaws.
The new indictment is a transparently obvious replacement for the previous indictment of "Russian hackers" that was doomed when lawyers for one of the indicted corporations turned up in court to demand a trial. Oops. That trial is going nowhere, so Mueller has filed this indictment -- of people and not corporations this time -- to try to take attention off the Congressional hearings and keep his own investigation alive in the news reports.
And there's one other purpose. So long as Mueller keeps his investigation open, Strzok and others can keep telling Congress that the FBI has advised them not to answer questions about an ongoing investigation.
The Mueller investigation has been intended all along as both shield and sword. Sword to threaten Trump with impeachment and obstruction of justice, and to provide those seeking to depose him access to government power and money in their effort to do so. And shield, to allow FBI and DOJ to cite the ongoing investigation to Congress to avoid disclosure of their wrongdoing, while arranging plea deals, destruction of evidence, and immunity-for-testimony deals to anyone who knows too much.
According to Strzok's testimony, Hillary's server was hacked in such a manner that all emails sent and received were automatically forwarded to a foreign server. Meaning, someone (and apparantly not the Russians) got every single email save 4, presumably in real time.
This is no longer a hypothetical huge breach of security.
If it was merely hypothetical, I could live with letting Hillary retire in return for not prosecuting her beyond a slap on the wrist with a condition she stay out of politics. But now? Oh no.
Weaker than I would like. But find me a judge who IS good on that issue and doesn't have other disqualifiers? The intelligence agencies have the ability to get dirt on anyone who threatens them, and the judges with jurisdiction over those agencies have their members heavily vetted by those agencies to obtain the necessary clearances.
So one thing that leaped out at me. Strzok testified that he (and his attorneys) reached an agreement with the IG that Strzok would personally access his non-work devices and email accounts and provide the IG with any information from them. (This is a little before the two hour mark in the video below). He also testified that he provided the IG with no such materials, ie, his personal email accounts and devices did not have any information relevant to the IG's investigation.
Despite several of his messages with Page referring to "going to imessage" or otherwise switching communications means in the middle of work-related discussions.
I don't buy this for a minute.
To the extent the IG bought it, it damages the IG's own credibility.