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Hellzapoppin: FBI, DOJ, and Clinton Share the Hot Seat

Posted on January 7, 2018

The new year began with a bang as the long stalled congressional investigations of the top FBI and Department of Justice officials and Fusion GPS begin to see daylight and the Clinton Foundation slush fund investigation resumed, this time with greater probity than the former top officials at the FBI and DOJ permitted.

Congressman Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, and Judiciary chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (along with Judiciary member Lindsey Graham) fired the first salvos of the year.

Devin Nunes

Chairman Nunes demanded and got from the long stonewalling FBI and DOJ the FD-302s and FD-1023s relating to the unverified, unverifiable, and totally discredited Steele dossier.  These forms document interrogations and interviews by agents.  Nunes now has the record of what Steele was asked by the FBI and what he answered.  I assume that this is the predicate for establishing that the FISA warrant permitting the spying on the Trump campaign (and subsequent unmasking) by the Obama administration was not based on legally adequate grounds to get a warrant.  Possibly, as well, they will show that certain individuals deliberately misled the FISA court (FISC).

Additionally, Nunes demanded and has received assurances that his committee will get access to eight key witnesses.  The witness list includes FBI agent Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page (who previously worked on the Russian probe), and FBI general counsel James Baker (who has been reassigned).  Also on the list are FBI head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap (Strzok’s boss during the relevant events and the man who Comey said decided not to inform the Committee of 8, who by law should have been alerted to the dossier-inspired investigation) and Bruce Ohr, a DOJ official now reassigned after concealing meetings with figures involved in the dossier.

The agreement could subject the DOJ and FBI to a level of scrutiny to which they are not accustomed.

“The FBI in particular is not used to having its inner discussions kind of brought to light, and I think that’s of huge concern for probably people at the FBI,” former Justice Department official Robert Driscoll said.

Since no FISA warrant could have been issued without then-attorney general Loretta Lynch’s signature of approval on the application, it might appear that the committee is working its way up the ladder.  If Lynch was not misled about the factual basis for the warrant and signed it anyway, she will be on the ever larger hot seat.  In that case, it will be interesting to see how she avoids questions as to her conversations with then-president Obama indicating that she had okayed spying on the opposition during the election.

Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham

These senators sent a letter of criminal referral to the Department of Justice’s Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, indicating that Christopher Steele may have violated 18 USC Sec. 1001 “for statements the Committee believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier.”  Conservative Treehouse has a long explanation of the background for this referral, with documents supporting its view that the FBI reports of the meetings with Steele do not “align with the known evidence.”  It adds:

What Grassley and Graham are now doing is forcing the DOJ to reconcile the conflicts between the FBI presentations to the judiciary committee – about the origin of, and their use of, the Steele Dossier – against known evidence.

Someone is lying.

Graham and Grassley know [that] the motive to lie about the Steele Dossier does not necessarily belong to Christopher Steele.  The motive is within the corrupt FBI.

Byron York has a somewhat different take:

When Steele was discussing working for the FBI, did he fully inform the FBI of what his work for the Clinton campaign involved, in particular his briefing the press on the findings he would be reporting to the FBI?  To use Grassley’s and Graham’s words, were the “statements the committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier” accurate?

One way to find that out is to compare what Steele told the London court with what Steele told the FBI.  Some of the London court testimony is public.  As for what Steele told the FBI, the Senate Judiciary Committee has examined a lot of dossier-related material from the FBI under an agreement that allows the committee to view materials the bureau has originally produced to the House Intelligence Committee.

It appears that Grassley and Graham are pursuing inconsistencies between what Steele told the FBI and what Steele told the London court.  If they conflict, which is true?  If what Steele told the FBI was untrue, that’s a problem.

As to York’s reference to Steele’s testimony to a London court, here’s what that is about:

Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the infamous anti-Donald Trump dossier, acknowledges that a sensational charge his sources made about a tech company CEO and Democratic Party hacking is unverified.

In a court filing, Mr. Steele also says his accusations against the president and his aides about a supposed Russian hacking conspiracy were never supposed to be made public, much less posted in full on a website for the world to see on Jan. 10.

He defends himself by saying he was betrayed by his client and that he followed proper internal channels by giving the dossier to Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican[.]

In his London case pleadings, Steele says his employer, Fusion GPS, betrayed him, that he “did not provide the confidential December memorandum to media organizations or journalists.  Nor did they authorize anyone to do so.”  Even more significantly, he acknowledges that he put “unverified, ‘raw intelligence'” into the memorandum.

Grassley, York notes, says, “Maybe there’s some innocent explanation for the inconsistencies we have seen, but it seems unlikely.”

Fusion GPS’s troubles do not seem to end there.

Despite an effort to block congressional investigations from obtaining by subpoena its bank records and abandoning a claimed appeal, “[a] congressional lawyer said Friday that TD Bank ‘produced all remaining responsive documents'” to the House Intelligence Committee under the terms of a confidential settlement, CNN reported.

The handover of the 70 documents comes after a federal judge on Thursday dismissed the firm’s protests to the documents being turned over to Congress.

Fusion GPS has argued that records turned over to Congress are likely to leak, “potentially exposing their clients’ identities, violating the firm’s First Amendment rights[,] and damaging their business.”

These records apparently reveal what reporters and organizations Fusion GPS paid in the period relevant to the congressional investigation of the dossier.

Hillary Clinton

Apart from an honest investigation into her mishandling of classified materials, a more formal review of the Clinton Foundation (slush fund, pay-to-play scheme) is apparently underway and has been under the radar for some months now.  Financial analyst Charles Ortel details the tap dance the Foundation has been performing with the help of complaisant officials who have to date given it and its principals a free pass.  Here are some highlights in his detailed report on the Foundation’s peculations and inadequate investigations to date:

How did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, while U.S. attorney in Maryland, miss the fact that the Clinton Foundation was promoting use of potentially adulterated HIV and AIDS drugs from October 2003 forward, even as he took until May 2013 to help win a $500[-]million set of penalties against the Indian manufacturer of the generic drugs?

How did Rosenstein miss obvious errors in the Clinton Foundation tax filings for 2010 (originally submitted in 2011 with amended versions submitted in 2015) concerning a $37.1[-]million donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund at a P.O. Box address in Baltimore, Maryland, that was never declared, as required, in key states like New York?

Why did Rosenstein (and many other officials, including New York [a]ttorney [g]eneral Eric Schneiderman)[] fail to require Laureate Education and the Clinton Foundation to explain how they organized the “Clinton Global Initiative University” and why the Clinton Foundation tax filings for 2010 through 2016 don’t explain what Bill Clinton did for the $17.6 million he was paid as part-time chancellor while he held key roles at the Clinton Foundation? …

Former presidents in either the Democratic or Republican [P]art[y] are not above the law.  Now it’s up to President Donald Trump to make this fact abundantly clear.

In the background to all this, Congress still has not abandoned our need for laughs.  On the Democrat side of the aisle is the threat to shut down the government if the president refuses to extend Obama’s unconstitutional run around our immigration laws.  What strategic genius advised them that it would be a good idea to have Grandma worrying about her Social Security checks and soldiers going unpaid to benefit 700,000 illegal aliens, aliens certain to be a drag on our economy and a negative value to our society?

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) tells us that nearly half of illegal aliens who are eligible for DACA have only a “basic” proficiency of the English language and 24 percent are considered “below basic” or “functionally illiterate.”  This blows away the claims of the [l]eft that D[REAM]ers are productive members of our society, when it appears most don’t want to assimilate at all. …

Other studies reveal even more problems caused by Obama’s DACA program.  The Congressional Budget Office reported that 1 in 5 DACA-eligible illegal aliens would be on food stamps in under a decade.  Harvard’s Roberto Gonzales told CIS that 73 percent of DACA recipients are living in low-income housing and reap welfare benefits plus more from taxpayers.  Breitbart reportedthat only 4 percent of DACA illegals complete college, “[m]aking the DACA population far less likely than the native American population to finish college with a degree.”

For illegal aliens, the American Dream is a free ride – or at least, it has been.  President Trump has called an end to DACA and will pull the plug in late MAGA, er, March.

Over 92% of foreign nationals in our prisoners are illegal aliens.

Missing from the DACA extension proponents’ calculus are these facts:

Illegal aliens account for 13.6 percent of all offenders sentenced for crimes committed in the United States, even though they … represent [only] 3.5 percent of the population.

Illegals account for 12 percent of murder sentences, 20 percent of kidnapping sentences, and 16 percent of drug-trafficking sentences.

There are 2.1 million illegal and legal immigrants convicted of crimes, but 1.2 million criminal aliens remain at large in the United States and have not been deported.  Remember, the prime demographic for violent crime is young males, broadly covered by the “dream” amnesty.

As of 2013, it was estimated that there were 630,700 illegal aliens residing in Arizona (including American-born anchor babies), a population larger than the total population of any single colony at the time of our Founding.  Over 10 percent of the state’s public school population is composed of illegal alien children.  The Arizona Department of Corrections estimates that illegal aliens compose 17 percent of its prison population and 22 percent of all felony defendants in Maricopa County.  When coupled with the fiscal strain of health care and incarceration, the total cost of illegal immigration is $2.4 billion a year.

Overall, 87 percent of illegal immigrant families are on welfare.

And on the Republican side of the aisle, we have Colorado senator Cory Gardner, the Washington Post’s new darling maverick, who is threatening to block all Justice Department nominees unless Attorney General Sessions backs off allowing U.S. attorneys to sue states for violating federal law on marijuana sales.  Perhaps some Colorado middle school student will send him a Constitution showing that if Congress really wants states to make marijuana sales legal, all it has to do is quit grandstanding on the issue and change the law, instead of demanding that the administration ignore what Congress itself passed.

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