As President Trump signals his intention to authorise publication of the GOP memorandum into alleged abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department, the atmosphere in Washington is turning hysterical.
As I predicted yesterday, the Justice Department and the FBI have been heavily lobbying President Trump to block publication of the GOP memorandum. The FBI has even gone so far as to publish a statement saying that the GOP memorandum omits information and therefore contains material inaccuracies.
An article in the New York Times sets out the moves taken by the Justice Department and by the FBI to stop release of the GOP memorandum
The “FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo. the day before the committee voted to release it,” the bureau said in a statement. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact on the memo’s accuracy.”….
……The Justice Department has warned repeatedly that the memo, prepared by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, is misleading and that its release would set a bad precedent for making government secrets public. FBI officials have said privately that the president is prioritizing politics over national security and is putting the bureau’s reputation at risk…..”
To which all I can say is that all this comes ill from an agency and a newspaper which ever since the start of the Russiagate scandal have been leaking and publishing a deluge of classified material in order to discredit the President and his officials.
The New York Times article incidentally confirms that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is named in the GOP memorandum, and was one of the Justice Department officials who submitted applications for surveillance warrants to the FISA court which were based on material drawn from the Trump Dossier, but who apparently did not disclose to the FISA court that the material was drawn from the Trump Dossier, which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The New York Times article also confirms that these FISA warrants were obtained in order to mount surveillance of Carter Page. Apparently Rosenstein was involved in an application to renew one of these warrants as recently as the spring of 2017 ie. after he was appointed Deputy Attorney General of the United States.
The New York Times article speaks of a last ditch attempt by Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to stop publication of the GOP memorandum on Monday
Mr. Wray made a last-ditch effort on Monday, going to the White House with the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to try to persuade the White House to stop the release of the memo. They spoke to John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, but were unsuccessful.
In the meantime hysteria amongst the Democrats and the media has been rising to panic levels, with preposterous claims that no less a person than Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has also been compromised by the Russians and is working on their behalf.
This bizarre exchange between MSNBC panelist John Heilemann and Democrat Senator Chris Murphy has to be seen to be believed
Heilemann: Is it possible that the Republican chairman of the House Intel Committee has been compromised by the Russians? Is it possible that we actually have a Russian agent running the House Intel Committee on the Republican side?
Murphy: I-I-I-I hope that’s not the case. I certainly have no information to suggest that it is.
Heilemann: Doesn’t his behavior speak of that, though? I mean, I’m not the first person who’s raised this. He’s behaving like someone who’s been compromised, and there are people in the intelligence community and others with great expertise in this area who look at him and say, ‘That guy’s been compromised.
When I discussed all this yesterday I also predicted that in an effort to keep Russiagate alive the media would start churning out a non stop succession of ‘non news’ stories and red herrings.
We got a classic example of that yesterday with a story in the Guardian of yet another ‘second Trump Dossier’ which supposedly corroborates the actual Trump Dossier.
The Guardian article announcing the existence of this ‘second Trump Dossier’ – which incidentally is the first article by the Guardian to acknowledge the existence of the GOP memorandum – is clearly sourced from the FBI, and makes the following claims about it
The Shearer memo [ie. the ‘second Trump Dossier’ – AM] was provided to the FBI in October 2016.
It was handed to them by Steele – who had been given it by an American contact –after the FBI requested the former MI6 agent provide any documents or evidence that could be useful in its investigation, according to multiple sources.
The Guardian was told Steele warned the FBI he could not vouch for the veracity of the Shearer memo, but that he was providing a copy because it corresponded with what he had separately heard from his own independent sources.
The first point to make about this ‘second Trump Dossier’ is that even this account shows that it does not corroborate the actual Trump Dossier. One unverified Trump Dossier obviously cannot corroborate another unverified Trump Dossier. Only independent verification of the claims of the two Dossiers can do that.
Note that Christopher Steele – the compiler of the actual Trump Dossier – apparently admitted as much to the FBI, telling them that “he could not vouch for the veracity” of the ‘second Trump Dossier’.
The second point to make about this ‘second Trump Dossier’ is that it has been in the possession of the FBI since October 2016. The FBI has admitted that it has been unable to verify the claims of the actual Trump Dossier, and it is clear from the Guardian article that it cannot verify the claims of the ‘second Trump Dossier’ either.
The third point to make about the ‘second Trump Dossier’ is that the point in the material of the two Dossiers where they supposedly coincide – the claim that Donald Trump was compromised by the Russians because of a sex orgy held in 2013 in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel – provides an excellent reason to doubt the truth of the ‘second Trump Dossier’, because multiple witnesses have now come forward to say this claim is untrue.
The ‘second Trump Dossier’ was apparently compiled by someone called Cory Shearer who not only has a contested reputation but who apparently has long standing links to the Clintons.
The fact that the ‘second Trump Dossier’ was provided to the FBI by none other than Christopher Steele – the compiler of the actual Trump Dossier, presumably in order to lend some credibility to the actual Trump Dossier – must inevitably give rise to questions about the nature of the contacts between Steele and Shearer, and conceivably about the extent and nature of the contacts between Steele and the Clinton campaign.
It also makes one wonder whether Steele and Shearer were drawing information from the same sources in Moscow.
Overall, rather than lend support to the actual Trump Dossier, the appearance of a ‘second Trump Dossier’ provides further reason to wonder what was really going on behind the scenes during the Presidential election of 2016.
Frankly it is increasingly starting to look as if some sort of operation was underway during the election to produce ‘evidence’ that Donald Trump had some sort of connection to Russia, and the fact that Steele was in possession of Shearer’s Dossier suggests that that operation may have been concerted.
If so then that would be a very serious matter indeed, which might call into question some parts of the testimony Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS gave to Congress.
It would be fascinating if panic within the FBI caused by the looming publication of the GOP memorandum caused this fact to come out into the open.
Already – even before it is published – the GOP memorandum has inflicted its first casualty in the person of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose resignation was confirmed on Monday. Apparently his name also appears in the GOP memorandum, and FBI Director Christopher Wray, after reading it on Sunday, demanded and got his resignation immediately.
The panic and hysteria in Washington as publication of the GOP memorandum looms suggests more casualties may follow.
In imperial Rome when a plot against the emperor failed the plotters were expected to fall on their swords. It will be interesting to see whether the same holds true in Washington.