So much happens so fast in a world with a 15-minute news cycle that it’s difficult for a journalist to stop and breathe, let alone ponder the meaning of the latest breathless reporting.
As an example, it seems like it was months ago when the D.C. Court of Appeals ordered Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, but it was actually less than two weeks ago. June 24 to be exact, but to Flynn it probably seems like forever. No word from Sullivan about whether he intends to follow the order of the senior court, or continue to stall in an effort to punish Lt. Gen. Flynn for his political crime of supporting President Trump. But based on his record so far, Sullivan can probably be counted on to drag his feet while thumbing his nose at justice.
Whether it is the Flynn case, or the persecution of one-time Trump adviser Roger Stone for a procedural crime of lying before a malevolent Congress, the implicit reason behind all the over-the-top harassment almost seems to be to goad Trump into pardoning his much-maligned associates in order to create another fake news cycle as we head into the 2020 election. Nobody asks, “Did you see what that corrupt judge did? Or what the Democrat-worshiping DOJ did?” It’s always “Did you hear what that crazy bastard Trump did?”)
It doesn’t seem to matter to the mainstream media that evidence has mounted into the stratosphere that Trump has been right all along about his campaign being illegally surveilled by the Obama administration. It doesn’t matter that Trump survived a two-plus year investigation by a special counsel and was cleared of any kind of collusion with the Russians. The Democrats and their agents in the Deep State know that whatever they do to harass Trump will be treated as noble and patriotic by the corrupt media, and that whenever evidence surfaces of their criminal behavior it will be promptly buried again.
Which brings us to the infamous handwritten notes by disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok about a White House meeting that surfaced in a recent filing in the Flynn case. Strzok had already earned a prominent place in the “Wish I Hadn’t Done That” Hall of Fame for his serial confession via text message of not just marital infidelity but also constitutional perfidy. But the half-page of notes released by Flynn’s defense team rises to the level of a history-altering “Oops!” Indeed, it could well be the Rosetta stone that allows us to penetrate the secrets of the anti-Trump conspiracy that stretched from the FBI to the CIA, the Justice Department and the White House.
What we know about the provenance of the notes comes from Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell, who said they were written by Strzok about a meeting that took place on Jan. 4, 2017. The only problem is that the cast of characters in the memo duplicates those who were in attendance at the White House on Jan. 5, 2017, to discuss how the Obama administration should proceed in its dealings with Flynn, who was accused of playing footsie with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to assuming his official role as national security adviser. Attorney General William Barr has gone on the record (on the “Verdict With Ted Cruz” podcast) that the notes actually describe the Jan. 5 meeting.
If so, the notes strongly contradict Susan Rice’s CYA “memo to self” where the Obama national security adviser recounts the Jan. 5 meeting and stresses three times that President Obama and his team were handling the Flynn investigation “by the book.” Methinks the lady doth protest too much, especially now that we have Strzok’s contemporaneous notes to contradict her memo, which suspiciously was written in the final minutes of the Obama administration as Donald Trump was being sworn in at the Capitol.
From what we can tell, Strzok (unlike Rice) was not writing his memo to protect anyone. He seems to have merely jotted down some notes about what various participants in the meeting said, including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Rice, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Strzok’s boss — FBI Director James Comey. Chances are, at this point Strzok had no idea his dirty laundry was going to be aired or that his role as a master of the universe was going to be toppled.
But to see the importance of these notes, we need to transcribe them from the cryptic handwritten notes. Words and phrases that are outright guesses are reproduced in brackets. Speakers are noted at the beginning of each line. “NSA” stands for Rice. “D” stands for Comey. “DAG” stands for Yates. “VP” stands for Biden. “P” stands for Obama. “Cuts” is said to refer to summaries of phone calls monitored under a FISA warrant to collect foreign intelligence.
NSA – D – DAG: Flynn cuts. Other [countries].
D – DAG: Lean forward on [illegible, but possibly “ambass” as in ambassador. Others have speculated on “useless” or “unless,” which don’t fit the context, or “unclass” as in “unclassified” or even a name beginning with m. We just don’t know.]
VP: “Logan Act”
P: These are unusual times
VP: I’ve been on the Intel Committee for 10 years and I never
P: Make sure you look at thing[s] + have the right people on it
P: Is there anything I shouldn’t be telling transition team?
D: Flynn —> Kislyak calls but appear legit.
[Apple][??] – Happy New Year – Yeah right
The reasons why these nine lines are so important have been adequately explored by other writers on most of the relevant topics. Most significantly from a political point of view is confirmation that Biden lied when he said he had nothing to do with the criminal prosecution of Flynn. The Logan Act is a more than 200-year-old statute that forbids ordinary Americans from negotiating with foreign governments that have a dispute with the United States. No one has ever been convicted under the law, and Flynn was not an ordinary American, but rather the incoming national security adviser; nonetheless it was a central plank in the plan to give Flynn enough rope to hang himself. The fact that quotes appear only around the words Logan Act suggest that this was a direct quote from Biden.
In addition, the order by Obama presumably to Comey to “have the right people on it” suggests that there was a political element to the investigation and that the president wanted loyalists to handle it. What other explanation is there? Who exactly are the “wrong people” in the FBI? (That’s a rhetorical question. Obviously the wrong people were Strzok, Comey and their buddies at the FBI and CIA who were wiretapping honest Americans and framing a president.)
Finally, and most importantly for Flynn and his attorneys, we have a contemporaneous account of the FBI director assuring the president that Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak were “legit.” In that case, why did Strzok reveal in an instant message on Jan. 4, 2017, the day before this historic meeting, that the FBI agent in charge should NOT close the case against Flynn even though it should have already been closed because no evidence had accrued against him? If Comey thought the general’s conversations with Kislyak were “legit,” then why did Strzok tell another FBI contact that the “7th floor [was] involved” in the decision to keep the Flynn case alive. The seventh floor being where the offices of Comey and the rest of the top FBI brass are located. Strzok was ecstatic to find out that the case had “serendipitously” not been closed, and told his girlfriend Lisa Page, “Our utter incompetence actually helps us.”
There seems to be no consensus among analysts about the context of Strzok’s notes. According to Rice’s independent recollection of the Jan. 5 meeting, only the principals named above were present. CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had already been booted out of the meeting after giving a briefing on alleged Russian election interference. It seems unlikely that Strzok would have been present in any capacity.
Andrew McCarthy at National Review speculates that “Strzok’s notes were taken when someone later briefed him about the White House meeting that Strzok did not attend.” The New York Post concludes that the Strzok memo is “plainly Strzok’s notes of FBI chief Jim Comey’s account.” Certainly if Strzok were briefed by someone in attendance, it was most likely Comey. But Ivan Pentchoukov of The Epoch Times floats a much more interesting idea about how Strzok came to be in possession of the facts he recorded in the memo.
“The on-the-fly nature of the notes suggest that he was either physically present or listened in on a conference call,” Pentchoukov speculates.
Well, the Washington Post reports that “Strzok’s lawyer told The Fact Checker that Strzok did not attend the meeting,” and then suggests that probably means “the notes may recount what someone else – perhaps Comey – told him about the meeting.” Yes, maybe so, but there is good reason not to skate over the possibility that, as Pentchoukov puts it, Strzok “listened in” on the conversation.
This is indeed heady stuff, as it is beyond reason to think that Strzok was an invited participant. The last thing anyone at that meeting would want is an independent account of what was said as they planned how to entrap one of the incoming president’s closest aides. Yet that does not eliminate the chance that Strzok benefited from some kind of surveillance technique to eavesdrop on the conversation, either with the knowledge of one person in the room or possibly with none. Of course it is scary to think that the FBI was wiretapping the White House, but they did it to Trump Tower, so who knows?
It is the nature of the notes themselves that lends credence to this speculation. If they were written after the fact to memorialize a conversation Strzok had with Comey or someone else, there is no way to account for the brevity and choppiness of the account. Rather than just put “Logan Act” next to VP, an after-the-fact recitation would have been more likely to specify, “The Vice President brought up the Logan Act as one statute that could be used to prosecute Flynn’s dangerous dealings with the Russian ambassador.” And most suspiciously, there is no explanation for why Strzok would have cut off the end of Biden’s other contribution to the conversation. “I’ve been on the Intel Committee for 10 years and I never,” the transcript goes. “Never what?” the reader wants to know.
Of course we can add the words ourselves: “Never heard of anyone being prosecuted for talking to a foreign leader, especially not if they had a legitimate interest in establishing relations with their counterpart prior to a new president taking office.” If Strzok were making leisurely notes while talking to his boss, or especially if he had gone back to his own office and thought it worthwhile to record what he had been told, would it make any sense for him to stop in mid-sentence?
No, it wouldn’t. It only makes sense if, as Pentchoukov describes it, the notes were written “on the fly.” Certainly not with a tape recorder running, where one could establish an exact transcript, but hurriedly, sloppily, furtively. That would also explain why the handwriting is not exactly consistent with other known samples of Strzok’s script. Presumably, the FBI has validated the handwriting as Strzok’s, but does the FBI have any reason to lie about that? Hmm.
Ultimately, if Strzok is indeed the author, we need him to testify under oath exactly what is in the notes, and how they came to be written. Hopefully the FBI, the attorney general or someone else will declassify the extensive redactions above and below the nine lines that were released. One has to imagine that in those passages, Strzok revealed his source for the material quoted, as well as confirming the date of the meeting, and possibly the reason for the meeting. He has quite a tale to tell — one that could change history.
If there were even one Republican senator in charge of a committee who had the curiosity of a 3-year-old, it is likely we could actually get to the bottom of the shenanigans that nearly toppled a president and finally pin the “tale” on the donkey — the Democratic donkey that is.
But Republican senators in an election year have better things to do than protect and defend the Constitution. There are fundraisers to attend, after all.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.