“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” - George W. Bush

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mueller is a "principal" officer and not an INFERIOR officer

He has no limit in scope with 17 assistant attorneys reporting to him. Mueller can go anywhere he pleases as a U.S. Attorney and prosecute anyone he pleases. 

The Hill:

The mess Rod Rosenstein made

Many liberals and critics are under the mistaken belief that President Trump is violating the rule of law and civil liberties by criticizing the Robert Mueller investigation and by ordering the Justice Department’s Inspector General to investigate whether or not the FBI spied on his 2016 presidential campaign. In fact, the president is behaving totally lawfully, and it is Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who are acting unconstitutionally and who are violating Trump’s civil liberties.

Presidents George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson all gave orders to federal prosecutors to bring prosecutions, and Jefferson ordered a prosecution stopped. President Trump is entirely within his rights to ask the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate whether the Obama administration got the FBI to spy on Trump’s campaign. 

I’ve explained in previous writings why Robert Mueller’s appointment is unconstitutional under Chief Justice Rehnquist’s majority opinion in Morrison v. Olson. The basic problem is that Mueller is more powerful and famous than are any of the 96 U.S. attorneys, but unlike them he was never nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

In this investigation, Mueller is not acting like an assistant U.S. attorney who is an inferior officer. He is instead acting like a U.S. attorney, who is a principal officer and who must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The unconstitutionality of Mueller’s appointment renders everything he has done since May 17, 2017, unconstitutional as well. This includes obtaining a log of calls by President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and his referral of Cohen to the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Both the logging and the referral are examples of what the Supreme Court calls the fruit of a poisonous tree.

When an official uses government power in an unconstitutional way, anything that results from it is subject to the exclusionary rule and is not admissible in court. Since the investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York was started due to an arguably unconstitutional call log that violates both the Appointments Clause and attorney-client privilege, the federal courts should hold that any prosecutions that result of Cohen or anyone else that grew out of the Mueller referral are unconstitutional and null and void.

Moreover, Mueller’s prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Virginia is unconstitutional even if some of his prosecutors have special status as members of the relevant U.S. Attorney’s office in that state. Their actions are under Mueller’s supervision. Because of Mueller’s unconstitutional appointment as special counsel, the raid of Manafort’s house is also the fruit of a poisonous tree.

Deputy Attorney General’s Rod Rosenstein’s refusing to make public his full order appointing Mueller and defining the scope of Mueller’s investigation calls to mind the secret trials of the Court of Star Chamber in England, which has been justifiably reviled since its abolition in 1641. 

I am not aware of any prior deputy attorney general of the United States who has made as big and as consequential a mistake as has Rosenstein in his appointment of Robert Mueller. Not only has he violated Trump’s civil liberties and the rule of law by unconstitutionally giving Robert Mueller the powers of a principal officer without Mueller’s having been nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, he has undermined in the American people’s eyes the integrity of the Justice Department itself.

Steven G. Calabresi is a co-author of “The Unitary Executive: Presidential Power from Washington to Bush” and the Clayton J. & Henry R. Barber Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

History will show the Obama Administration as the most corrupt in US History

Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all

The “deep state” is in a deep state of desperation. With little time left before the Justice Department inspector general’s report becomes public, and with special counsel Robert Mueller having failed to bring down Donald Trump after a year of trying, they know a reckoning is coming.
At this point, there is little doubt that the highest echelons of the FBI and the Justice Department broke their own rules to end the Hillary Clinton“matter,” but we can expect the inspector general to document what was done or, more pointedly, not done. It is hard to see how a year-long investigation of this won’t come down hard on former FBI Director James Comey and perhaps even former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who definitely wasn’t playing mahjong in a secret “no aides allowed” meeting with former President Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac.
With this report on the way and congressional investigators beginning to zero in on the lack of hard, verified evidence for starting the Trump probe, current and former intelligence and Justice Department officials are dumping everything they can think of to save their reputations.
But it is backfiring. They started by telling the story of Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat, as having remembered a bar conversation with George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. But how did the FBI know they should talk to him? That’s left out of their narrative. Downer’s signature appears on a $25 million contribution to the Clinton Foundation. You don’t need much imagination to figure that he was close with Clinton Foundation operatives who relayed information to the State Department, which then called the FBI to complete the loop. This wasn’t intelligence. It was likely opposition research from the start.
In no way would a fourth-hand report from a Maltese professor justify wholesale targeting of four or five members of the Trump campaign. It took Christopher Steele, with his funding concealed through false campaign filings, to be incredibly successful at creating a vast echo chamber around his unverified, fanciful dossier, bouncing it back and forth between the press and the FBI so it appeared that there were multiple sources all coming to the same conclusion.
Time and time again, investigators came up empty. Even several sting operations with an FBI spy we just learned about failed to produce a Delorean-like video with cash on the table. But rather than close the probe, the deep state just expanded it. All they had were a few isolated contacts with Russians and absolutely nothing related to Trump himself, yet they pressed forward. Egged on by Steele, they simply believed Trump and his team must be dirty. They just needed to dig deep enough.
Perhaps the murkiest event in the timeline is Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of a special counsel after he personally recommended Comey’s firing in blistering terms. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions shoved out of the way, Rosenstein and Mueller then ignored their own conflicts and took charge anyway. Rosenstein is a fact witness, and Mueller is a friend of Comey, disqualifying them both.
Flush with 16 prosecutors, including a former lawyer for the Clinton Foundation, and an undisclosed budget, the Mueller investigation has been a scorched-earth effort to investigate the entirety of the Trump campaign, Trump business dealings, the entire administration and now, if it was not Russia, maybe it’s some other country.
The president’s earlier legal team was naive in believing that, when Mueller found nothing, he would just end it. Instead, the less investigators found, the more determined and expansive they became. This president and his team now are on a better road to put appropriate limits on all this.
This process must now be stopped, preferably long before a vote in the Senate. Rather than a fair, limited and impartial investigation, the Mueller investigation became a partisan, open-ended inquisition that, by its precedent, is a threat to all those who ever want to participate in a national campaign or an administration again.
Its prosecutions have all been principally to pressure witnesses with unrelated charges and threats to family, or just for a public relations effect, like the indictment of Russian internet trolls. Unfortunately, just like the Doomsday Machine in “Dr. Strangelove” that was supposed to save the world but instead destroys it, the Mueller investigation comes with no “off” switch: You can’t fire Mueller. He needs to be defeated, like Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Clinton.
Finding the “off” switch will not be easy. Step one here is for the Justice Department inspector general report to knock Comey out of the witness box. Next, the full origins of the investigation and its lack of any real intelligence needs to come out in the open. The attorney general, himself the target of a secret investigation, needs to take back his Justice Department. Sessions needs to act quickly, along with U.S. Attorney John Huber, appointed to conduct an internal review of the FBI, on the Comey and McCabe matters following the inspector general report, and then announce an expanded probe into other abuses of power.
The president’s lawyers need to extend their new aggressiveness from words to action, filing complaints with Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility on the failure of Mueller and Rosenstein to recuse themselves, and going into court to question the tactics of the special counsel, from selective prosecutions on unrelated matters, illegally seizing Government Services Administration emails, covering up the phone texts of FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and operating without a scope approved by the attorney general. (The regulations call for the attorney general to recuse himself from the investigation but appear to still leave him responsible for the scope.)
The final stopper may be the president himself, offering two hours of testimony, perhaps even televised live from the White House. The last time America became obsessed with Russian influence in America was the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. Those ended only when Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) attacked an associate of the U.S. Army counsel, Joseph Welch, and Welch famously responded: “Sir, have you no decency?” In this case, virtually every associate and family member of the president has been subject to smears conveniently leaked to the press.
Stopping Mueller isn’t about one president or one party. It’s about all presidents and all parties. It’s about cleaning out and reforming the deep state so that our intelligence operations are never used against opposing campaigns without the firmest of evidence. It’s about letting people work for campaigns and administrations without needing legal defense funds. It’s about relying on our elections to decide our differences.
Mark Penn served as pollster and adviser to President Clinton from 1995 to 2000, including during his impeachment. He is chairman of the Harris Polland author of “Microtrends Squared.” Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Penn.

Jeff Sessions is either incompetent or a Deep State Plant


Friday, May 18, 2018

Kenyatta's Legacy

Crossfire Hurricane: Category Five Political Espionage

Deep in the New York Times’s account of “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI’s codename for spying on the Trump campaign, is a hilariously bland paragraph about John Brennan and James Comey teaming up to dig dirt on Trumpworld. If you blinked in the course of reading the lengthy article, you might have missed it:
The F.B.I.’s thinking crystallized by mid-August, after the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, shared intelligence with Mr. Comey showing that the Russian government was behind an attack on the 2016 presidential election. Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation. The Crossfire Hurricane team was part of that group but largely operated independently, three officials said.
Contained in that oh-so-nonchalant line — “Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation” — is one of Obamagate’s biggest ticking time bombs. When it blows, John Brennan, whose demented partisanship led him to run an anti-Trump spying operation straight out of CIA headquarters, will feel much of the blast.
The gathering winds for Crossfire Hurricane, after all, came largely from that blowhard. Panicking at the sight of Donald Trump’s Super Tuesday wins in March 2016, Brennan had by the following month formed the beginnings of a spying operation against him, and managed to enmesh a bunch of other agencies in it, thinking that would keep the outside of the CIA’s cup clean. How do we know this? Because a “senior” member of the intelligence community — back when such a figure thought talking out of school about such matters would serve the cause of delegitimizing Trump — leaked the existence of the operation to the BBCin January 2017:
Last April [2016], the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was – allegedly – a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.
It was passed to the US by an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States. The CIA cannot act domestically against American citizens so a joint counter-intelligence taskforce was created.
The taskforce included six agencies or departments of government. Dealing with the domestic, US, side of the inquiry, were the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice. For the foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation, there were another three agencies: the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic spying.
David Corn and Michael Isikoff, authors of Russian Roulette, gingerly refer to this anti-Trump spying operation as the “working group at Langley,” an undertaking so outré that even Brennan called it an “exceptionally sensitive issue.”
Since they are engaged in propaganda and stenography rather than investigative journalism, Corn/Isikoff and the Times are content to leave this part of the story fuzzy. As the most crucial period in this debacle — the period that would bring out its unfounded, partisan origins the most clearly — they don’t want to look too closely at it. Better to dispatch it all quickly with the Times’s line, “Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation.”
But make no mistake about it: that the FBI and the CIA, on little more than the say-so of a virulent Trump hater like Brennan, were meeting to spy on the campaign of Hillary’s opponent makes Watergate look like a tenth-rate burglary. Nixon, at his most Machiavellian, wouldn’t have thought to form a “working group at Langley” against McGovern. But Obama, via Brennan, did the equivalent for Hillary.
For all intents and purposes, Crossfire Hurricane did not begin in July 2016 but at the moment Trump emerged as Hillary’s rival. Brennan, shortly thereafter, was bringing CIA agents, FBI agents, NSA agents, and an assortment of Obama’s political aides together in one room at CIA headquarters to bat around ideas on how to smoke out the campaign of Hillary’s opponent. Out of these meetings came the plot to infiltrate the Trump campaign.
Notice the timing of all the grooming and entrapment of George Papadopoulos, a twentysomething Trump campaign volunteer in London whom the Australian ambassador, Alexander Downer, suddenly wanted to meet in May 2016 for an evening of sozzled political chitchat. That timing corresponds perfectly with the brainstorming meetings of Brennan’s Langley group.
British intelligence, through various planted stories, has bragged about its role in helping Brennan spy on the Trump campaign. It must have served as the bridge between Brennan and Downer. Famous for greasing the wheels of the Clinton Foundation, Downer was looking for ways to ingratiate himself with what he presumed was the next administration. So he was happy to serve as a cog in Brennan’s dirty machine.
One can only laugh at the sheer brazenness of the propaganda in the Times’s opener about Downer:
Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.
Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.
First of all, Downer had no “evidence.” All he had was the memory of speculative remarks (the kind anybody following the news could have made) that he had pumped out of a minor campaign volunteer during a meeting he set up, according to the Daily Caller.
The threadbare character of this episode (not to mention the possibility that Papadopoulos might have simply been regurgitating speculation fed to him by a mole) is almost too stupid for words. But then Brennan’s Langley group needed something, anything, to get the dolts over at the FBI to open up a formal probe. Presumably, it was Brennan and other Obama political appointees who participated in the “tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra.” Or did Obama himself get on the phone with the Australian PM to discuss how to break through a diplomatic impasse touching on a matter as grave as the Downer-Papadopoulos pub crawl?
What a farce. But it is an entirely plausible one given the partisan progenitor at the heart of it, John Brennan, whose idea of a normal day at the CIA was to turn its offices into the Clinton War Room.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

You Dam Right

Mueller's unforced prosecutorial error is a victory for 63,000,000 Americans who voted for Donald Trump

Robert Mueller’s Gaping Self-Inflicted Wound

On February 16, 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller obtained a federal indictment of 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian companies for conspiring to wage “information warfare” by “impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the United States by dishonest means in order to enable Defendants to interfere with U.S. political processes, including the 2016 presidential election.”
According to the indictment, in 2014 the defendants, posing as U.S. persons, contacted American political and social activists on social media sites. Using information derived from these contacts, they structured disinformation operations to be used in the upcoming presidential election.

Once the presidential campaign started, they used stolen Social Security numbers and birth dates of real U.S. persons to set up bank and PayPal accounts. Through these, the defendants funded their “operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Quoting from the defendants’ communications, the indictment avers that they set up social media accounts to spread content that focused on “politics in the USA” and to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except [Bernie] Sanders and Trump — we support them).” The indictment outlines a number of online media postings and other efforts that attacked Clinton and encouraged support for Sanders, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and Trump.

Also while posing as U.S. persons, the indictment says they contacted Trump campaign operatives to provide support. The indictment makes clear that the Trump organizers were unaware of the Russians’ true identities and motives.
Not until page 23 of the 37-page indictment does the defendants’ true purpose come into focus. As stated there, after the election, they organized and promoted rallies “in support of president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. persons to organize and coordinate rallies protesting the results of the 2016 presidential election.”

For example, on November 12, 2016, the defendants and their unnamed co-conspirators organized a rally in New York designed to “show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump” while on the same date they organized a rally in New York called “Trump is NOT my President.” Three days later, they organized a North Carolina rally entitled “Charlotte Against Trump.”

In addition to undercutting the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, these anti-Trump measures make apparent that, rather than achieve any particular electoral outcome, the defendants intended to sow dissension, bitterness, and distrust among the American electorate. They were trying to do in America what Russia has done in other countries by mounting disinformation campaigns to undermine trust and confidence in democratic institutions.

In announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein emphasized that it neither alleges that any American knowingly acted in concert with the defendants nor that the defendants’ efforts changed the outcome of the election. While all of that is undoubtedly true, it must be recognized that the defendants had to have known that their efforts described in the indictment would not have any material effect on the election results. Like everyone else, they could read the polls. Hillary was going to win, and Trump was guaranteed to lose. That solid and inescapable political consensus limited what they could hope to accomplish.

So causing one candidate to win and another to lose was not their goal. Instead their mission was to weaken and erode Americans’ confidence in our democratic institutions and to poison and sabotage the acceptance of the election outcome by millions of Americans who supported the losing candidate. In short, they wanted to cause turmoil, dissension, and disorder and to cripple our government. Given the post-election chaos, division and bitterness, they certainly seem to have achieved their purpose.

The indictment was heralded by the media as a major achievement by Team Mueller. But a few observers questioned whether Mueller truly expected any of the defendants to appear in a U.S. court to answer the charges. Others asked if the indictment was merely an empty public relations move by Mueller attempting to show that his investigation was producing solid results.

The answers to these questions have started to emerge. Against all expectations, in April, lawyers for one of the Russian corporate defendants, Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, entered their appearances in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They followed up by serving extensive discovery requests on Team Mueller seeking full disclosure of the government’s case and investigation including sensitive national security and intelligence information.

This type of discovery is called “graymail” (as distinguished from blackmail) in which the government is faced with having to disclose closely guarded state secrets in order to proceed with the prosecution. The alternative is to drop the charges.

Given that the maximum penalty against Concord is an uncollectable $500,000 fine or equally uncollectable compensation to anyone damaged by the alleged conspiracy, the choice is all the more bitter for Team Mueller. Should they litigate the discovery requests? If they lose and are faced with having to disclose sensitive intelligence information about the case and their investigation, should they withdraw the indictment against Concord? And, if they drop the charges, are they prepared for the resulting public mockery and howls of derision?

On Friday May 5, 2018, Team Mueller immediately began backtracking by filing a motion asking U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to postpone Concord’s arraignment set for May 9, 2018.

They claimed that it was unclear whether Concord had formally accepted the court summons related to the case. In their motion, they included Concord’s discovery requests.

“Until the Court has an opportunity to determine if Concord was properly served, it would be inadvisable to conduct an initial appearance and arraignment at which important rights will be communicated and a plea entertained,” wrote the prosecutors. “That is especially true in the context of this case, which involves a foreign corporate defendant, controlled by another, individual foreign defendant, that has already demanded production of sensitive intelligence gathering, national security, and foreign affairs information.” [Emphasis added]

Team Mueller proposed that the arraignment be postponed while the parties briefed the issue of whether the court summons has been properly served on Concord.

The next morning, Concord’s lawyers replied, “Defendant voluntarily appeared through counsel as provided for in [the federal rules], and further intends to enter a plea of not guilty. Defendant has not sought a limited appearance nor has it moved to quash the summons. As such, the briefing sought by the Special Counsel’s motion is pettifoggery.” [Emphasis added]

Defense counsel argued that Team Mueller was trying “to usurp the scheduling authority of the Court” by waiting until Friday afternoon to try to delay a proceeding scheduled for the following Wednesday. They also stated that the special counsel’s office has not replied to Concord’s discovery requests and, ratcheting up the pressure on the Muellerites, stated that their client intends to assert its speedy trial rights.

Judge Friedrich, a Trump appointee, denied Team Mueller’s request and ruled that the arraignment would proceed as scheduled on May 9.

So what happened at the arraignment? Did things get better for Team Mueller? Hardly.

At the arraignment, Concord’s lead counsel, Eric Dubelier, was asked whether he represents Concord Catering, another one of the charged Russian companies. He replied that he did not and added, “I think we’re dealing with the government having indicted the proverbial ham sandwich. That company didn’t exist as a legal entity during the time period alleged by the government.” [Emphasis added]

Then, hinting at more of the graymail yet to come, he remarked darkly that, “We now know that the special counsel apparently has access to [Concord’s] confidential filings at the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which in and of itself is a disturbing fact.”

Dubelier stated, “Your Honor, we waive formal reading of the indictment. We enter a plea of not guilty. We exercise our right to a speedy trial.” [Emphasis added]

So, what does all of this mean? Metaphorically speaking, it would appear that the yapping dog chasing the car has sunk its teeth into the spinning tire. There is no way for Rover to escape injury. Even if Mueller and his pit bulls win the discovery battle and the case at trial, what’s the prize? A $500,000 fine or compensation to victims? How will they collect?

This is a no lose situation for Concord and a self-inflicted wound for Mueller. And, as the saying goes, self-inflicted wounds are always the most painful.

More importantly, this unforced prosecutorial error is a victory for 63,000,000 Americans who voted for Donald Trump and strongly oppose having the outcome of the election undone by Mueller’s politically motivated and rigged investigation. It will be a pleasure to see Team Mueller dragged kicking and squealing into an American courtroom where for it the process will be the punishment.

George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor who practices law in Philadelphia. He blogs at knowledgeisgood.net and may be reached at kignet1@gmail.com.

Monday, May 14, 2018

FBI and DOJ: "Lying Through Their Teeth"


Trust but Verify

Suzanne Massie, a writer in Russia, met with President Ronald Reagan many times between 1984 and 1987.[1] She taught him the Russian proverb "Доверяй, но проверяй" {Doveryai, no proveryai} (trust, but verify), advising him that "The Russians like to talk in proverbs. It would be nice of you to know a few. You are an actor – you can learn them very quickly."[2] The proverb was adopted as a signature phrase by Reagan, who subsequently used it frequently when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. Using proverbs that the Russians could relate to may have helped relations between the two leaders.[3]
After Reagan used the phrase to emphasize "the extensive verification procedures that would enable both sides to monitor compliance with the treaty",[4] at the signing of the INF Treaty, on 8 December 1987,[notes 1] his counterpart General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev responded, "You repeat that at every meeting," to which Reagan answered, "I like it."[5][6] While Reagan quoted Russian proverbs, Mr. Gorbachev quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, who had been popular in the USSR when Gorbachev was in college, saying that "The reward of a thing well done is to have done it."[4][3]
Following the 2013 Ghouta attacksSecretary of State John Kerry told a news conference in Geneva on September 14, 2013 that the United States and Russia had agreed on a framework to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons. He said "President Reagan's old adage about 'trust but verify' ... is in need of an update. And we have committed here to a standard that says 'verify and verify'."[7][8]



How Obama loyalists conspired to undermine the Trump transition

 - The Washington Times - Sunday, May 13, 2018
Republican-driven investigative reports on Russia have provided an unanticipated view into secret anti-Trump maneuvers by Obama loyalists during the span of the presidential transition.
Congress set out in early 2017 to investigate Moscow election interference and any coordination with the Donald Trump campaign.
As the collusion avenues led to dead ends, Republican investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee traveled on a new lane. They discovered a number of behind-the-scenes moves that they said transformed a traditionally acrimony-free transition into a partisan transfer of presidential power.
Among the findings: Obama appointees relied on Democratic opposition research to push Trump collusion claims into the public domain. They also leaked sensitive material to news media, some of it grossly misleading.
In addition, House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, is seeking access to Justice Department documents to determine whether the FBI inserted a spy into the Trump campaign.
Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary to President George W. Bush, said Obama aides “made life extremely difficult for the incoming team.”
“In retrospect, we now know this is one of the worst transitions in American history,” Mr. Fleischer told The Washington Times. “On the surface, they played nicely and said nice things. But below the surface, it is clear several people in the Obama administration were doing everything they could to leave time bombs behind that would detonate all around Donald Trump and his administration.”
He pointed to an Obama operative who “unmasked” the name of retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in a U.S.-intercepted call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The Obama person then leaked the call to The Washington Post, causing immediate upheaval inside the new White House.
Mr. Fleischer also talked of a stream of Obama press leaks about supposed Trump-Russia collusion, a charge that remains unproven, at least publicly.
“The Obama administration did many things in their power to harm the Trump administration as they got their feet on the ground,” Mr. Fleischer said. “All these things revolve around a tight circle that have access to the highest levels of intelligence, and they all have a common theme: Trump colluded, when there’s no evidence of it. But they were so spooked by what they saw, I think, it’s highly likely the Obama people rushed to conclusions and made life extremely difficult for the incoming team.”
At the White House, partisanship generally recedes during a transition.
Not at the Obama White House. Press secretary Josh Earnest continued airing the Hillary Clinton campaign themes by bashing Mr. Trump during daily briefings.
“It was the president-elect who, over the course of the campaign, indicated that he thought that [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin was a strong leader,” Mr. Earnest told reporters on Dec. 12, 2016. “It was the president-elect who indicated the potential that he would withdraw from some of our critically important NATO commitments. It was the president-elect who refused to disclose his financial connections to Russia. It was the president-elect who hired a campaign chairman with extensive, lucrative, personal financial ties to Russia. It was the president-elect who had a national security adviser on the campaign that had been a paid contributor to RT, the Russian propaganda outlet.”
Nick Shapiro, who was an adviser to CIA Director John O. Brennan, said that, contrary to conservative charges, the White House and the CIA kept a close hold on information about Trump-Russia suspicions and Moscow computer hacking.
“Senior Obama administration and career intelligence and law enforcement officials were all very worried about the Russian interference in the election, as they should have been, but they have in fact been heavily criticized for not being vocal enough with the public about it,” Mr. Shapiro told The Washington Times. “Many former senior Obama officials have been out defending why they didn’t do more publicly, and that was because of what Trump himself said during the campaign, that he wouldn’t accept the results of the election if he lost. They took extraordinary steps to avoid letting the very legitimate concerns about the Russian interference be characterized as partisan.”
Republicans cite the following examples of Obama supporters undermining Mr. Trump:
Opposition research dossier
The Obama Justice Department and the FBI hierarchy embraced the list of collusion charges leveled by former British spy Christopher Steele. He was paid by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign to investigate Mr. Trump and his campaign.
The FBI deployed the Steele dossier to obtain at least one wiretap on a Trump volunteer and made its charges a blueprint for questioning and targeting Trump associates. James B. Comey, who was FBI director when the bureau bought into the dossier, said he tried to “replicate” its charges.
Now on a book tour, he has offered no criticism of Mr. Steele’s work.
The FBI and Steele
The FBI hierarchy made a commitment to hire Mr. Steele and then a paid Democratic Party operative to continue investigating the president-elect and possibly the presidency. Mr. Steele told a Justice Department contact that he was “desperate” to sink the Trump campaign. The bureau fired him after he lied about talking to news media.
The contact, senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, continued to receive anti-Trump data from his wife’s employer, Fusion GPS, the investigative firm that hired Mr. Steele.
Mr. Steele continues to investigate Mr. Trump via the Penn Quarter Group, run by Daniel Jones, a former senior staffer to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat. Mr. Jones acquired $40 million from a small group of donors and has told the FBI that he is paying Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele.
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page
Perhaps no other narrative is emblematic of a “deep state” than the text messages of FBI lovers — Special Agent Peter Strzok and counselor Lisa Page.
Mr. Strzok led the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. Ms. Page served as a senior counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired in March for lying under oath about a leaked news story.
In 50,000 text messages during and after the election, Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page railed against candidate Trump andspoke of a mysterious “insurance policy” should Mr. Trump become president.
Special counsel Robert Mueller immediately fired Mr. Strzok when apprised by the Justice Department inspector general. Ms. Page has resigned.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected. But I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Mr. Strzok texted in August as his counterintelligence investigation got under way. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
The agent’s explanation for how he planned not to “risk” a Trump presidency has not been revealed publicly.
James Clapper
President Obama’s top intelligence officer leaked dossier material to CNN at about the same time Mr. Comey privately briefed the president-elect on Jan. 6, 2017, about the dossier’s prostitution charge. Mr. Comey withheld from Mr. Trump the fact that the charge came from Democratic opposition research. In his memos for the record, Mr. Comey wrote that it was Mr. Clapper who urged him to brief Mr. Trump on the salacious material.
CNN ran a story on Jan. 10, 2017, saying the Russians had compromising material on the president-elect. Mr. Clapper first denied but later admitted that he had leaked to CNN, according to the Republican majority report of the Houseintelligence committee.
Mr. Clapper is a fierce Trump foe, having cast him as an agent of Mr. Putin. CNN hired Mr. Clapper as an analyst in August 2017.
State Department
An Obama political appointee at the State Department brought Mr. Steele together with Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton operative who briefed him on supposed Trump dirt. Mr. Steele delivered the material to the FBI.
Washington media wrote a number of articles on Trump-Russia collusion and quoted unidentified Obama officials. The New York Times greeted Mr. Trump on Inauguration Day with a story claiming conspiracy. The next month, it again relied on Obama people to report that there was a huge number of intercepts and phone records between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence.
Mr. Comey later told Congress that the story was wrong.
Evelyn Farkas, the Pentagon’s top Russia analyst during the Obama era, said on MSNBC last year that she urged her former colleagues to secure as much intelligence material as they could to protect it from destruction by Trump aides. She left the Pentagon in 2015 and advised the Clinton campaign.
“That’s why you have the leaking, because people were worried,” said Ms. Farkas, who is now a scholar at the Atlantic Council.
Conservatives often point to Flynn’s fate as a prime example of the Obama “deep state” bushwhacking a Trumpperson.
The retired three-star Army intelligence officer held phone discussions with Mr. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, on an upcoming U.N. vote on Israel and Moscow’s response to Obama-imposed punitive sanctions for election meddling.
On Jan. 12, 2017, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported on the phone calls, quoting an unidentified Obama official. Other stories followed. The Obama administration was leaking top-secret intercepts.
When interviewed by two FBI agents in his first week as national security adviser, Flynn said those topics were not discussed. The agents told their superiors that they didn’t believe Flynn was deceptive.
Sally Q. Yates, a holdover deputy attorney general from the Obama administration, visited the White House and told officials that Flynn was at risk for Russian blackmail. She believed he violated the 1799 Logan Act, an obscure law preventing private citizens from working with foreigners against government policy.
Mr. Trump fired Ms. Yates when she failed to follow his Muslim immigration ban.
Suddenly, a law that few had heard of became weaponized in the liberal media against Flynn. Conservatives said it was an example of Obama people spinning the media in unison against the new administration.
The Republican report from the House intelligence committee disclosed that Flynn in December 2016 was the subject of the counterintelligence investigation. Mr. Comey had decided to close the investigation in December 2016 but he kept it open because of the Kislyak phone calls.
The House committee interviewed Mr. Comey, Ms. Yates and two other FBI officials. They gave “conflicting testimony” on why agents were dispatched to interview Flynn, the report said.
Flynn resigned that February because of discrepancies in his answers versus the call transcripts. He opted to plead guilty in December to giving false statements to the FBI.
The plea deal with Mr. Mueller did not mention any conspiracies. There has been much press speculation about why Flynn chose to admit guilt, some of it centering on his huge legal costs.
Since then, Flynn has made public statements in support of at least two Republican House candidates and praised Mr. Trump in one of them.
Sen. Harry Reid
As the campaign raged in August 2016, Mr. Brennan, the CIA director, briefed eight senior members of Congress on two issues: ongoing Russia election interference and his bombshell assertion that Trump people may be part of the conspiracy.
Harry Reid, Senate minority leader at the time, promptly wrote an Aug. 27 letter to Mr. Comey, the FBI director, laying out the collusion theory without quoting Mr. Brennan. The letter was leaked to The New York Times and migrated into other media, marking what appears to be the first official Democratic charge of a Trump-Moscow conspiracy.
“The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount,” wrote Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat.
Mr. Shapiro, the former CIA director’s adviser, told The Times that Mr. Brennan had urged Mr. Reid not to write the letter because the information was sensitive.
J.D. Gordon, a Trump campaign national security adviser, said he wants Congress to investigate Obama people’s conduct.
Congress should hold hearings to investigate Obama administration officials who worked behind the scenes to sabotage Trump and associates during the campaign, transition and administration,” Mr. Gordon said. “In some countries, their actions might be considered a coup attempt. And like they enjoy saying about us, ‘Let the investigation follow the facts, wherever they may lead.’”
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