More Scream Than Substance: Why the Senate Missed The Point Of Barr’s Testimony

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on Barr hearing and its aftermath. The Democrats continue to focus on Barr rather than the report. Congress now has 98 percent of the original report available to it. Only two percent was redacted from the sealed copy in conformity with federal law barring the release of grand jury material. Less than ten percent of the report is redacted in the public version and only a small percentage in the key obstruction section is redacted. However, the leadership prefers to fight over the remaining two percent and the Barr letter than to commence actual impeachment proceedings against Trump. I wrote back in 2017 that the Democratic leadership has long been opposed to any actual impeachment of Trump. There are obvious reason why the Democratic leaders are opposed to removing Trump. That position has held firm as leaders struggle to assure voters that they want to impeach without actually impeaching. The result is a mutual effort by Congress and White House to run out the clock. The result is political theater at its worst.

Here is the column:

High profile hearings in Congress often look like a casting call for B-Grade actors reading a low budget slasher film script. The key is that look of shock and disgust regardless of what the witness answers. The standout performer is Senator Cory Booker, who has mastered that “I Know What You Did Last Summer” look, even when asking the most mundane or mixed questions. He knows that, in this genre, the script is less important than the optics.

Indeed, the hearing with Attorney General William Barr this week seemed, at times, to involve two scripts for two different movies, with Barr reading from the 2000s “Drag Me To Hell” while Senate Democrats read from the 1970s “I Spit On Your Grave.” Senator Mazie Hirono did not even stop to listen for his responses before denouncing his failure to answer questions.

Some new information was shared, such as the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller slowed the release of his report by ignoring requests from Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to identify grand jury information in advance. There was also Barr stating he and Rosenstein asked Mueller to reach a conclusion on all crimes. Barr effectively shifted the burden over to Mueller on such questions. Claims by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Barr lied under oath are simply unfounded and unfair.

Yet, Barr stumbled to answer when Senator Kamala Harris asked, “Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested you open an investigation of anyone?” Barr got caught up with the meaning of “suggest” then categorically denied that anyone had asked he open any investigation but said, “I’m trying to grapple with the word ‘suggest.’ I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there.” Just like the seasoned former prosecutor she is, Harris pounced on his answer and suggested that someone might have “hinted” or “inferred.”

This is why both compound and vague questions are generally barred in actual cross examination. Barr looked evasive and uncomfortable, even though he explained that his concern was that conversations clearly did cover possible investigations but he was never asked to open one. The distinction makes for bad television but is a legally important point here.

President Trump has repeatedly crossed the traditional line of separation between the White House and the FBI, with his probing of officials like former FBI Director James Comey on the status or direction of the Russia investigation. While I have been critical of Comey, he was absolutely right in his objections to the inquiries from Trump. Past presidents generally avoided meeting alone with FBI directors, much less recklessly pressing them on investigations that touched on political or personal interests.

A demand from the White House for an investigation can raise serious questions of political influence over prosecutorial decisions. However, the line can be blurry. Presidents often call for investigations on issues of national importance. After a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, for example, President Obama held a press conference in which he was heralded for announcing that he had ordered the Justice Department and the FBI to both “independently investigate the death of Michael Brown.”

The Justice Department is part of the executive branch, and there is often discussion of the priorities and controversies involved in its investigations. For that very reason, Democrats were not aghast when former Attorney General Eric Holder publicly proclaimed he was a “wingman” for Obama. Likewise, Democrats applauded Obama when he ordered the Justice Department not to prosecute certain immigration cases. The line that cannot be crossed is the direction or influence of such an investigation.

Anyone can ask the Justice Department to look into allegations of criminal conduct. The Justice Department then makes an independent decision on whether to investigate. This includes members of Congress, who often call upon the Justice Department to investigate individuals despite their interests. Indeed, Harris has repeatedly done so, including calling for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate Barr. There is nothing improper in such a request, even if it has more political than legal merit.

Take the latest request from Senate Democrats for an investigation into Barr and Rosenstein reaching a conclusion on the obstruction evidence after Mueller had refused to do so. They wrote in a letter to the Justice Department inspector general, “It is unclear what statute, regulation, or policy led the attorney general to interject his own conclusion” that the conduct of the president did not amount to obstruction of justice here.

It is a bizarre question since the United States Code says, “All functions of other officers of the Department of Justice and all functions of agencies and employees of the Department of Justice are vested in the attorney general,” with a couple narrow exceptions dealing with administrative judges and prisons. The Justice Department makes the prosecutorial decisions, and the ultimate decision maker here is the attorney general.

What makes the request even more curious is the omission of the more obvious question. Why did Mueller not reach a decision? As I wrote on the day that Barr released his summary of the Mueller report to Congress, it is perfectly incomprehensible that Mueller did not reach a conclusion. After reading his report, his reasons for refusing are even more inscrutable.

The special counsel is mandated to “provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.” While the report references the Justice Department policy not to indict a sitting president, nothing suggests that a special counsel cannot reach a conclusion on the evidence of criminal conduct by a president. If there was any doubt on Justice Department policy, it should have been clarified when Barr and Rosenstein, who oversee Mueller, pressed him to reach a conclusion. Barr still cannot explain the rationale for a special counsel not reaching a conclusion.

He is not alone. Democrats have also called for an investigation of what they view as a “lack of impartiality” under the attorney general. Harris expressed surprise that Barr did not personally review the underlying evidence, consisting of millions of documents and records, collected by Mueller before reaching his conclusion on obstruction. What she ignored is that such an independent review would have negated the work by Mueller. As Barr correctly stated, “We accepted the statements in the report as factual record. We did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurate.” Democrats presumably would want him to do that instead of substitute his own facts for those of the special counsel.

Harris was not wrong in pressing Barr on any White House pressure to open investigations. However, there is nothing improper with the White House raising priorities and controversies with the attorney general. What raises serious ethical concerns is when those cases directly impact a president or his campaign. An attorney general should push back on anything he or she views as efforts to influence prosecutorial decisions.

Of course, every good slasher film has a sequel, and there are several in the works in this case with the calls for Mueller, Rosenstein, and former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify. Congress has every right to call on these officials, and the suggestion from Trump that he will block McGahn would be entirely unjustified. But if Congress truly wants answers and not just optics, it might try keeping the jump scares to a minimum.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

147 thoughts on “More Scream Than Substance: Why the Senate Missed The Point Of Barr’s Testimony”

  1. The President is the head of the Executive Branch of government where the DOJ and the FBI resides. And yet to read Turley and others the President has virtually no ability to have any say in what goes on in these Departments, which in some ways explains some of the abuses these Departments have engaged in and/or allowed to go on in other areas.

    Why Turley writes about the fact that all Prosecutorial decisions rest in the AG might very well be correct, Turley fails to point out that the continued employment of the AG rest totally with the President.

    Just like any other major company or Organization. The head of that company or organization has the ability to shape the philosophy and goals of those those that they lead. But Turley seems to suggest that this President does not have that authority or if he tries to exercise any influence over then he is some how violating something.

  2. All this based on a two page precis but refused to read the whole document? My My My the work ethic of the left is so transparent it’s like they have none.

  3. At least we know where JT stands. He stands with Barr. Time will tell whether he will regret that decision. I wish I was a student in his class at George Washington so that I could demand he explain some of his decisions. For instance, has JT ever commented on Barr’s bad faith parroting of Trump’s use of the pejorative “spying”? Moreover, I don’t believe that JT has directly opined about Mueller’s letter rebuking Barr for his mischaracterization of his report nor Barr’s claim that Mueller blamed the media in their phone call notwithstanding the fact that the letter does not mention the press! It would seem that JT is purposely avoiding these apparent controversies which inescapably raise questions of Barr’s integrity. Perhaps, JT is waiting to hear from Mueller before he passes judgment, but his silence to date is telling.

    1. Don’t forget: Rosenstein’s last day on the job at The Justice Dep’t is this coming Saturday, May 11th–just in time for the Sunday morning political talk shows. He might not be especially eager to speak in public. Or he might really keen on it.

      Barr claimed that Rosenstein agreed with Barr’s exoneration of Trump on the obstruction of justice case. But the usual anonymous sources claimed that Rosenstein didn’t completely and totally agree with Barr’s exoneration of Trump on each and every last count of the ten instances of Trump’s obstructive conduct described in The Mueller Report. So we could find out more from Rosenstein, himself, as soon as this coming Sunday morning. Or not.

      Contributed by The L4D Eeksie Peeksie Pins And Needles Project

    2. “At least we know where JT stands. He stands with Barr. ”

      That is a good position. Anything else would be foolish. Barr released the Mueller Report and most of the redactions have been removed so that Democratic leaders can read the report absent most of the redactions. Funny, Democrats want the entire report released even those that are not supposed to be released by law, but they haven’t bothered to read the mostly unredacted Report available for their eyes.

    3. Barr was right and eloquent in his own defense of the term spying. It’s a fine word and may be bad or may be good depending on the context.

    4. “Spying” has been confirmed. Unless you prefer the NYT’s term, “cloaked investigator.” I understand why people who work for the government would cover for themselves. But what do you get out of lying for them?

      1. L4D answers–By exonerating Trump of obstruction of justice before transmitting Mueller’s report on the obstruction investigation to Congress where the constitutional authority resides to investigate allegations of presidential misconduct and to check that misconduct through impeachment if needs be.

        1. Diane, you really ought to understand Mueller’s job. He doesn’t exonerate. He answers with criminal charges or nothing. He was encouraged to do so but probably realized that he was trapped between a lie and what he should have done on day 1 when he should have called the investigation of Trump over and potentially gone on to investigate the FBI, Clinton, Clapper, Brennan and others. He punted in order to create a cloud so that the stupid would have something to hold onto.

          Have you been holding tightly onto that cloud? Pretty shaky, huh?

          Trump:
          No Collusion
          No Obstruction
          No Conspiracy

          Trump economy great.

          Democrats weaking our national security.

          1. Allan, you really need to understand Barr’s job. He doesn’t exonerate. He answers with criminal charges or nothing. And yet old Whitewash Barr did a back-flip to exonerate Trump before he transmitted Mueller’s report to Congress. Now go read the article linked below by Neal Katyal–the man who wrote the Special Counsel regulations for the Justice Dep’t. According to Mr. Katyal:

            The whole idea behind the notion that a sitting president cannot be indicted is that the responsibility lies in Congress.

            Contributed by The L4D Refuting Allan’s Counter-Refutation By Verbatim Quotation Project

            1. Diane, the Dems were clamoring for the report and it had to be vetted first so Barr provided a summary which had two basic points. 1) No conspiracy which is documented in the report and 2) No obstruction. Mueller the hit man of the Democrats was supposed to make a decision and didn’t leaving the ball in Barr’s hands. Barr and Rosenstein did the right thing saying no obstruction while including Mueller’s quote.

              The Democratic hit man Mueller was asked to review the summary but he declined which was the second time he ran away from his responsibility. It seems in yesteryear Mueller was a marine but today all one can see is his back.

              The Dems then complained that the report wasn’t out. Mueller could have helped speed up the process of vetting further but again he ran away from his responsibility. Amidst an unwilling Mueller and Democrats yelling and crazily screaming for the report Barr released the entire document to the public with redactions pretty swiftly.

              The crazy Democrats continued to scream for total release but both the law and security (something that Democrats don’t care about) prevented him from doing so. He made available a minimally redacted report for Democratic leaders to review but despite their continued craziness asking for the release of all the documents we didn’t see Democrats reading the copies available to them. Democrats like to yell and scream no matter what is done. They don’t, however, want to take part in approving the release of material that is illegal to release and that might reveal secrets to our enemies or reveal things about ongoing investigations. Democrats prefer to be dumb so that they can yell and scream and bring plastic chickens into the halls of Congress.

        2. nah, the special counsel makes certain conclusions and if he fails to make one that is at issue, then it’s th AG’s call. that’s how that works. But yes of course Congress can impeach no matter what the AG or POTUS says. Waiting on them to quit faking and try if they want. OK, don’t hold your breath guys it won’t happen.

          You surely must understand this is all theatre and posturing from the Democrats whom have disappointed your vain hopes that they enticed you with from day one.

      2. L4D answers further as excerpted from the Op-Ed linked below:

        This mishmash of legal arguments is absurd. No responsible scholar who thinks a sitting president cannot be indicted also thinks an attorney general can try to truncate a process of oversight — by Congress, for example — by “pre-clearing” the president in advance. The whole idea behind the notion that a sitting president cannot be indicted is that the responsibility lies in Congress.

        Why Barr Can’t Whitewash the Mueller Report – The New York Times

        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/opinion/barr-mueller-report.html

        2 days ago … By Neal K. Katyal. Mr. Katyal drafted the special counsel regulations under which Robert … May 1, 2019. 572 …. Opinion | The Editorial Board.

        1. The anti-Semitic biased NYTimes can’t make a decent case. If Mueller had the evidence he would have gone after Trump as hard as he could. He had nothing. Fools are trying to make a case that doesn’t exist. They have nothing else to talk about.

  4. I come here to vent on this blog b/c it is imperative to voice our opinons today and NOT allow the Democrat controlled media steer the narrative. I cannot tell you how much the Democrat controlled media is making me sick. Including all social media. Fascist Book, Twitter and all the rest. I am infuriated. If ANYONE thinks one of these freaks of a DEMOCRAT should be voted into power, ever again, at this point, then God help all of us. Not on God’s green earth should anyone in their right mind even consider voting for any one of these whackjob Democrats into power. Have you been watching these freaks? The Democrat party of today is a freak show of lying cheating liars who lie with the help of their MSM friends. They are offering ONLY lies, deception, and more lies and more deception. That’s it! All politics all the time. Plus. most of them are literally freaks. The Democrat party today? Is a freak show. Did you see the Red Carpet at the Met Gala in NYC? It was a parade of Freaks! A literal freak show. THIS is the Democrat party of today. Holy Shizzle they are nut cases! From Hillary who says the election was stolen from her! To nutcase Stacy Abrams who says Democrats should never concede defeat in an election they lost by over 50,000 votes!! To Kamala Harris saying Stacy Abrams won in Georgia and Andrew Gillum is governor of Florida! SAy what??? These people are f’n anti American freaks! Do not be a freak! Vote Trump/Pence 2020!

      1. “I think Pocahontas, she’s finished, she’s out. She’s gone. No, when it was found that I had more Indian blood in me than she did. And then it was determined that I had none.”

        This is one of the “lies” the WP is talking about. What does this prove? It was counted in double digits and was opinion and therefore couldn’t qualify as a lie. This is the type of garbage Anon relies on to make his points. What points? What type of fool would accept this in argument? Anon doesn’t bother to list a real lie like ‘if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor’.

        Such low level thinking. Pocahontas was and is finished. She is out and she will not win the Presidency. She had no more Indian blood than most people and it wasn’t even Indian blood from N. America. She used this lie to move ahead of other people of color. Trump actually stated the truth. It is the Washington Post that lied.

    1. Well, that’s the Democrat leadership. A lot of rank and file Democrats are fine folks and there are many lesser Democrat elected officials around the country who are people of good will. Don’t go overboard.

      The Republican party is full of grifters, too, unfortunately, but they have been whipped into shape by TRUMP

  5. The political gamesmanship can make you jaded. My father testified multiple times before Congress for the DOD. One time, a senator trying to make a name for himself called hearings, and Dad got the short straw. This was regarding an issue that the DOD brought to the attention of an oversight committee, and yet the senator acted as if he discovered wrongdoing that the Pentagon was trying to hide. My father asked him the hallway, why he was pretending that the Pentagon was hiding anything. The reason why he knew there was any issue is because the Pentagon told him. There wasn’t any gotcha moment or malfeasance. Why was he lying? The guy admitted that he was running for re-election and needed a platform. He wasted millions of dollars, and hundreds of man hours, tying up the DOD, all because he wanted to pretend he was some sort of savior.

    My Dad learned early that politics was about getting, and holding, power. It wasn’t about governance. The shenanigans that go on in the Beltway are continuous. None of it really is about justice. It’s just about getting elected or re-elected. It’s all a game to them, and there is a lot of power, money, and prestige at stake, plus they gain the power of the purse to distribute largess to donors.

    Those who do the job get jaded quickly the moment they come into contact with politicians.

    1. “My father asked him the hallway, why he was pretending that the Pentagon was hiding anything. The reason why he knew there was any issue is because the Pentagon told him. ”

      One sees social dynamics like this all the time in various other arenas. It’s a common tactic when someone delivers bad news, to insult the messenger and accuse them of hiding what they actually just un-concealed.

      But as Martin Heidegger elaborated, our existence entails both concealment and un-concealment, “altetheia” as the ancient Greeks used for something like our notion of “truth.”

  6. The Fright of James Comey
    By Victor Davis Hanson| May 5th, 2019

    In a recent op-ed, fired FBI Director James Comey was back again preaching to the nation about the dangers of Donald Trump and his capacity to corrupt any top-ranking federal official of lower character than Comey’s own.

    Comey seems to have become utterly unhinged by Donald Trump, especially when the president, in his thick Queens accent, scoffs in the vernacular—quite accurately, given the transgressions of the FBI hierarchy—about “crooked cops.” What an affront to Comey’s complexity, his subtlety, his sophistication, his feigned Hamlet-like self-doubt—at least as now expressed in his latest incarnation as Twitter’s Kahlil Gibran.

    One can say a number of things about the timing of Comey’s latest sermon and his characteristic projection of his own sins on to others.

    First, Comey’s unprofessionalism was home-grown and certainly did not need any help from President Trump. His schizophrenic behavior both as a prosecutor and investigator in the Hillary Clinton email matter was marked by exempting Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin from indictment, despite their lying to his own federal officials about their knowledge of a private Clinton email server. Comey wrote his summation of the Clinton email investigation before he had even interviewed the former secretary of state. He was hardly independent from a recused Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Clinton email investigation. As her rubbery courier he bent to her directives on all key decisions that led to de facto exoneration of likely next president Hillary Clinton.

    Second, Attorney General William Barr is soon to receive a number of criminal referrals from Congress, inspectors general, and perhaps other prosecutors. He won’t allow collusion hysteria to cause him to recuse himself in the manner in which Jeff Sessions sidelined himself and elevated Rod Rosenstein.

    In anticipation of that bleak reality, Comey seems to be prepping his own defense by a transparent preemptive attack on the very official who may soon calibrate Comey’s own legal exposure. Comey should at least offer a disclaimer that the federal prosecutor he is now attacking may soon be adjudicating his own future—if for no other reason than to prevent a naïf from assuming that Comey’s gambit of attacking Barr is deliberately designed to suggest later on that prosecutor Barr harbored a prejudicial dislike of likely defendant Comey.

    How ironic that Comey who used to lecture the nation on “obstruction” and the impropriety of Trump’s editorializing about the Mueller prosecutorial team, is now attacking—or perhaps “obstructing”—the Attorney General before he has even issued a single indictment.

    Three, Comey somehow remains seriously delusional about the abyss between his sermonizing and his own unethical and likely illegal behavior.

    Remember, James Comey assured the nation that the Steele dossier, contra the testimony of his subordinate Andrew McCabe (already facing criminal referrals) was not the chief evidence presented to a FISA court. That is likely untrue. And if it is not, Comey’s other evidence he presented is likely to be just as compromised.

    Comey also misled a FISA judge by not admitting 1) that his submitted dossier evidence was compiled by a contractor paid by Hillary Clinton; 2) that ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s work was unverified; 3) that Steele’s relationship with Comey’s FBI has already been severed due to Steele’s unprofessional behavior; and 4) that submitted news accounts of “collusion” were in circular fashion based on the dossier itself. Had Comey’s behavior ever become standard procedure in FISA applications, there could be no longer a FISA court.

    Comey also misled about his meetings with President Trump, as memorialized in his now infamous memos. He briefed the president on the Steele dossier—without telling Trump that it had been paid for by Hillary Clinton.

    Comey likely also lied in telling Trump he wanted to brief him on the dossier in worries that the press might otherwise report on it first. In fact, his meeting with Trump by design was the necessary imprimatur the press had been waiting for to leak information from the dossier, which shortly followed.

    Comey likely misled the president into thinking both that he was not under investigation by the FBI and that the FBI hierarchy did not leak confidential information to the press. In fact, neither assertion was true; both his deputy Andrew McCabe and Comey himself were chronic leakers. Comey swore under oath that he had never authorized anyone in the FBI to leak to the press, while his deputy McCabe swore in contrast that Comey was well aware that his subordinates were talking freely with the press in order to leak information selectively.

    When he was no longer a U.S. government employee, Comey illegally took personal possession of at least seven confidential memos of presidential conversations, written on FBI time and equipment and thus still government property. He leaked at least three memos that were likely classified, apparently to seed his narratives to the media and to prompt the appointment of a special prosecutor as payback for his own firing.

    That trick worked out well, since his friend Robert Mueller was soon appointed special counsel amid the general Russian “collusion” hysteria that Comey himself had long ago helped ignite. If any lower echelon employee had leaked in a similar manner to Comey, he would face an array of felony indictments.

    Comey, remember, on more than 240 occasions reportedly claimed under oath he could not remember or did not know the answers to questions from Congressional inquirers. If a private citizen tried that with the IRS, he world likely face perjury charges.

    Comey has never adequately explained his role in inserting FBI informants into a presidential campaign, and the degree to which his decision might have been taken in conjunction with other intelligence agencies or with the knowledge of the then-attorney general or President Obama. The New York Times of all publications is apparently investigating the use of FBI informants to sandbag the Trump campaign—during Comey’s directorship. To my knowledge, no previous FBI director—perhaps not even J. Edgar Hoover—had unilaterally placed FBI informants into a presidential campaign during the general election.

    One way of looking at John Brennan’s and James Clapper’s nonstop cable news announcements of Trump’s “treason,” the Comey-McCabe whirlwind book tours and television confessionals, the Adam Schiff furrowed-brow predictions of huge bombshells soon to go off, and the general progressive media hysteria over the last two years or so is to appreciate a transparent effort at preemptive defense.

    That is, Russian “collusion” and its bastard child “obstruction,” sought to divert attention from massive Obama Administration efforts at the CIA, FBI, Justice Department, and National Security Council to use the powers of government to first ensure that Trump was not elected and then, failing that, to distort and ruin his transition and presidency.

    The effort initially was so easily green-lighted, because none of these Washington fixtures had any idea of the nature of the “smelly” Walmart folks or the supposedly toothless sorts who live apart from the two coasts, and thus they bet on the wrong horse—convinced that Hillary Clinton was a sure landslide winner, and their own skullduggery would be rewarded as loyalty in extremis by someone who trumped them all in skullduggery.

    When Clinton crashed and burned, phase two of the now “resistance” was comprehensive stonewalling. The culpable adopted a preventative defense by accusing the very victim of their prior assault of being a disloyal, unpatriotic victimizer of American institutions—no doubt in their mind leading to Trump’s emasculation or impeachment and thus their own exoneration.

    For a while, they got away with all that and more as Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) was for a time sandbagged off the investigation of Russian collusion at the House Intelligence Committee, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, as his conflicted deputy Rod Rosenstein took over the investigation and may have trafficked in Andrew McCabe’s melodramatic but ultimately ridiculous coup efforts—and as the media, in insult to injury fashion, put on television many of the very principals who had acted so unethically and illegally to contextualize and analyze their own crimes.

    The only remaining mystery of this entire sordid mess is how the rotten onion will be peeled away. When indictments come down, will the likes of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson or James Baker or Bruce and Nellie Ohr be leveraged to inform on the likes of the Brennan, Clapper, Comey, and McCabe high stratum—that in turn will provide clarity about still higher officials to learn what Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Sally Yates knew and when they knew it?

    In the meantime, expect James Comey to continue his frenetic pace on TV, radio, and in op-eds attacking William Barr and Donald Trump in deathly fear that his illegal behavior may finally have a legal accounting.

    1. Natacha, Honey, you ought to concentrate on this.

      “Comey also misled a FISA judge by not admitting 1) that his submitted dossier evidence was compiled by a contractor paid by Hillary Clinton; 2) that ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s work was unverified; 3) that Steele’s relationship with Comey’s FBI has already been severed due to Steele’s unprofessional behavior; and 4) that submitted news accounts of “collusion” were in circular fashion based on the dossier itself. Had Comey’s behavior ever become standard procedure in FISA applications, there could be no longer a FISA court.”

      1. Anon, you should concentrate on what Natacha, Honey is reading but add this as well.

        “Second, Attorney General William Barr is soon to receive a number of criminal referrals from Congress, inspectors general, and perhaps other prosecutors. He won’t allow collusion hysteria to cause him to recuse himself in the manner in which Jeff Sessions sidelined himself and elevated Rod Rosenstein.”

        There is a lot more in the article but I know your attention span can’t handle it.

  7. The Fright of James Comey
    By Victor Davis Hanson| May 5th, 2019

    In a recent op-ed, fired FBI Director James Comey was back again preaching to the nation about the dangers of Donald Trump and his capacity to corrupt any top-ranking federal official of lower character than Comey’s own.

    Comey seems to have become utterly unhinged by Donald Trump, especially when the president, in his thick Queens accent, scoffs in the vernacular—quite accurately, given the transgressions of the FBI hierarchy—about “crooked cops.” What an affront to Comey’s complexity, his subtlety, his sophistication, his feigned Hamlet-like self-doubt—at least as now expressed in his latest incarnation as Twitter’s Kahlil Gibran.

    One can say a number of things about the timing of Comey’s latest sermon and his characteristic projection of his own sins on to others.

    First, Comey’s unprofessionalism was home-grown and certainly did not need any help from President Trump. His schizophrenic behavior both as a prosecutor and investigator in the Hillary Clinton email matter was marked by exempting Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin from indictment, despite their lying to his own federal officials about their knowledge of a private Clinton email server. Comey wrote his summation of the Clinton email investigation before he had even interviewed the former secretary of state. He was hardly independent from a recused Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Clinton email investigation. As her rubbery courier he bent to her directives on all key decisions that led to de facto exoneration of likely next president Hillary Clinton.

    Second, Attorney General William Barr is soon to receive a number of criminal referrals from Congress, inspectors general, and perhaps other prosecutors. He won’t allow collusion hysteria to cause him to recuse himself in the manner in which Jeff Sessions sidelined himself and elevated Rod Rosenstein.

    In anticipation of that bleak reality, Comey seems to be prepping his own defense by a transparent preemptive attack on the very official who may soon calibrate Comey’s own legal exposure. Comey should at least offer a disclaimer that the federal prosecutor he is now attacking may soon be adjudicating his own future—if for no other reason than to prevent a naïf from assuming that Comey’s gambit of attacking Barr is deliberately designed to suggest later on that prosecutor Barr harbored a prejudicial dislike of likely defendant Comey.

    How ironic that Comey who used to lecture the nation on “obstruction” and the impropriety of Trump’s editorializing about the Mueller prosecutorial team, is now attacking—or perhaps “obstructing”—the Attorney General before he has even issued a single indictment.

    Three, Comey somehow remains seriously delusional about the abyss between his sermonizing and his own unethical and likely illegal behavior.

    Remember, James Comey assured the nation that the Steele dossier, contra the testimony of his subordinate Andrew McCabe (already facing criminal referrals) was not the chief evidence presented to a FISA court. That is likely untrue. And if it is not, Comey’s other evidence he presented is likely to be just as compromised.

    Comey also misled a FISA judge by not admitting 1) that his submitted dossier evidence was compiled by a contractor paid by Hillary Clinton; 2) that ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s work was unverified; 3) that Steele’s relationship with Comey’s FBI has already been severed due to Steele’s unprofessional behavior; and 4) that submitted news accounts of “collusion” were in circular fashion based on the dossier itself. Had Comey’s behavior ever become standard procedure in FISA applications, there could be no longer a FISA court.

    Comey also misled about his meetings with President Trump, as memorialized in his now infamous memos. He briefed the president on the Steele dossier—without telling Trump that it had been paid for by Hillary Clinton.

    Comey likely also lied in telling Trump he wanted to brief him on the dossier in worries that the press might otherwise report on it first. In fact, his meeting with Trump by design was the necessary imprimatur the press had been waiting for to leak information from the dossier, which shortly followed.

    Comey likely misled the president into thinking both that he was not under investigation by the FBI and that the FBI hierarchy did not leak confidential information to the press. In fact, neither assertion was true; both his deputy Andrew McCabe and Comey himself were chronic leakers. Comey swore under oath that he had never authorized anyone in the FBI to leak to the press, while his deputy McCabe swore in contrast that Comey was well aware that his subordinates were talking freely with the press in order to leak information selectively.

    When he was no longer a U.S. government employee, Comey illegally took personal possession of at least seven confidential memos of presidential conversations, written on FBI time and equipment and thus still government property. He leaked at least three memos that were likely classified, apparently to seed his narratives to the media and to prompt the appointment of a special prosecutor as payback for his own firing.

    That trick worked out well, since his friend Robert Mueller was soon appointed special counsel amid the general Russian “collusion” hysteria that Comey himself had long ago helped ignite. If any lower echelon employee had leaked in a similar manner to Comey, he would face an array of felony indictments.

    Comey, remember, on more than 240 occasions reportedly claimed under oath he could not remember or did not know the answers to questions from Congressional inquirers. If a private citizen tried that with the IRS, he world likely face perjury charges.

    Comey has never adequately explained his role in inserting FBI informants into a presidential campaign, and the degree to which his decision might have been taken in conjunction with other intelligence agencies or with the knowledge of the then-attorney general or President Obama. The New York Times of all publications is apparently investigating the use of FBI informants to sandbag the Trump campaign—during Comey’s directorship. To my knowledge, no previous FBI director—perhaps not even J. Edgar Hoover—had unilaterally placed FBI informants into a presidential campaign during the general election.

    One way of looking at John Brennan’s and James Clapper’s nonstop cable news announcements of Trump’s “treason,” the Comey-McCabe whirlwind book tours and television confessionals, the Adam Schiff furrowed-brow predictions of huge bombshells soon to go off, and the general progressive media hysteria over the last two years or so is to appreciate a transparent effort at preemptive defense.

    That is, Russian “collusion” and its bastard child “obstruction,” sought to divert attention from massive Obama Administration efforts at the CIA, FBI, Justice Department, and National Security Council to use the powers of government to first ensure that Trump was not elected and then, failing that, to distort and ruin his transition and presidency.

    The effort initially was so easily green-lighted, because none of these Washington fixtures had any idea of the nature of the “smelly” Walmart folks or the supposedly toothless sorts who live apart from the two coasts, and thus they bet on the wrong horse—convinced that Hillary Clinton was a sure landslide winner, and their own skullduggery would be rewarded as loyalty in extremis by someone who trumped them all in skullduggery.

    When Clinton crashed and burned, phase two of the now “resistance” was comprehensive stonewalling. The culpable adopted a preventative defense by accusing the very victim of their prior assault of being a disloyal, unpatriotic victimizer of American institutions—no doubt in their mind leading to Trump’s emasculation or impeachment and thus their own exoneration.

    For a while, they got away with all that and more as Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) was for a time sandbagged off the investigation of Russian collusion at the House Intelligence Committee, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, as his conflicted deputy Rod Rosenstein took over the investigation and may have trafficked in Andrew McCabe’s melodramatic but ultimately ridiculous coup efforts—and as the media, in insult to injury fashion, put on television many of the very principals who had acted so unethically and illegally to contextualize and analyze their own crimes.

    The only remaining mystery of this entire sordid mess is how the rotten onion will be peeled away. When indictments come down, will the likes of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson or James Baker or Bruce and Nellie Ohr be leveraged to inform on the likes of the Brennan, Clapper, Comey, and McCabe high stratum—that in turn will provide clarity about still higher officials to learn what Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Sally Yates knew and when they knew it?

    In the meantime, expect James Comey to continue his frenetic pace on TV, radio, and in op-eds attacking William Barr and Donald Trump in deathly fear that his illegal behavior may finally have a legal accounting.

  8. The Mule Err itShay hit the fan and left three spots on the wall. Now they blame Barr for the one who flung foo.

    1. I could write a book about this.
      Maybe called “Yellow River” under the nom de plume, “I. P., Standing” ?

  9. It pays to read the Mueller Report…..

    ——-

    Mueller’s Own Mysteries
    Little-noted aspects of the first volume of the Mueller report.

    § Mueller begins, on Page 1, with this assertion: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” Maybe so, but Mueller, who is not averse to editorializing and contextualizing elsewhere in the report, gives readers no historical background or context for this large generalization. In particular, was the interference—or “meddling,” as media accounts characterize it—more or less “sweeping and systematic” than was Washington’s military intervention in the Russian civil war in 1918 or its very intrusive campaign to reelect Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1996—or, on the other side of the ledger, the role of the Soviet-backed American Communist Party in US politics in the 20th century? That is, what warranted a special investigation of this episode in a century of mutual American-Russian interference in the other’s politics? Put somewhat differently: Readers might wonder if, had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, there even would have been a Russiagate and Mueller investigation.

    § It has occasionally been suggested that Russiagate was originated by high-level US officials who disliked candidate Trump’s pledge to “cooperate with Russia.” This suspicion remains unproven, but throughout, Mueller repeatedly attributes to Trump campaign members and Russians who interacted in 2016, potentially in sinister or even criminal ways, a desire for “improved U.S.-Russian relations,” for “bringing the end of the new Cold War,” for a “new beginning with Russia.” Even Russian President Vladimir Putin is reported to have wanted “reconciliation between the United States and Russia.” (See, for example, pp. 5, 98, 105, 124, 157.) The result is, of course, to discredit America’s once-mainstream advocacy of détente. Mueller even brands American pro-détente views—as Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan held in the 20th century—as “pro-Russia foreign policy positions” (p. 102). Does this mean that Americans who hold pro-détente views today, as I and quite a few others do, are to be investigated for their “contacts” with Russians in pursuit of better relations? Mueller seems to say nothing to offset this implication, which has already adversely affected a few Americans mentioned and not mentioned in his report.

    § As reflected in the text and footnotes, Mueller relies heavily on reports by US intelligence agencies, but without treating the recorded misdeeds of those agencies, particularly the CIA under John Brennan, in promoting the Russiagate saga. He also relies heavily on contemporary media accounts of Russiagate as it unfolded, but without taking into account their journalistic malpractices, as abundantly documented by Matt Taibbi, who equates the malpractice with news reports leading up to the US invasion of Iraq.

    § Nor does Mueller consider alternative scenarios and explanations, as any good historical or judicial investigation must do. For example, he accepts uncritically the Clinton/Democratic National Committee allegation that Russian agents hacked and disseminated their emails in 2016. Again, maybe so, but why did he not do his own forensic examination or even mention the alternative finding by VIPS that they were stolen and leaked by an insider? Why did he not question Julian Assange, who claimed to know how and through whom the emails reached WikiLeaks? And how to explain Mueller’s minimal interest in the shadowy professor Joseph Mifsud, who helped entrap George Papadopoulos in London? Mueller reports that Mifsud “had connections to Russia” (p. 5), although a simple Google search suggests that Mifsud was indeed an “agent” but not a Russian one, as widely alleged in media accounts.

    § Though he may do so in the second volume of the report, Mueller oddly does not focus in the first volume on the Steele dossier, where it surely belongs as a foundational Russiagate document and whose anti-Trump “information” is now widely acknowledged to have been “salacious and unverified.” At one point, however, Mueller delivers a telling report: “Trump would not pay for opposition research” (p. 61). Can this be anything other than a damning, if oblique, judgment on the Clinton campaign, which is known to have paid for the Steele dossier?

    § Toward the end of the first volume (pp. 144, 146), Mueller produces a truly stunning revelation, though he seems unaware of it. After the 2016 US presidential election, the Kremlin “appeared not to have preexisting contacts…with senior officials around the President-Elect.” Even more, “Putin spoke of the difficulty faced by the Russian government in getting in touch with the incoming Trump Administration…. Putin indicated that he did not know with whom formally to speak and generally did not know the people around the President-Elect.”

    So much for all the shameful Russiagate allegations of Trump-Putin collusion, conspiracy, even treason. Surely it means the United States needs another, different investigation, one into the actual origins and meaning of this fraudulent, corrosive, exceedingly dangerous, and still unending American political scandal.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/muellers-own-mysteries/

    1. Even anti Trump collaborator Peter Sztroke said CIA was leaking and putting out disinformation and even he couldn’t stomach it, apparently

      There is a Deep State and it NEEDS RUSSIA AS AN ADVERSARY

      Russia is a smaller threat to the US than ever but they make it into a big bogeyman

      Trump’s been sucked into this by rhetorically backing their failed coup in Venezuela. Sad! He probably feels cornered and afraid of them. He should they are a very dangerous agency

  10. TRUMP IS DEEF STATE

    ^^^ Check the spelling on DEEF–with an “F” not a “P”

    Contributed by The L4D–Peter-Hill-Was-Always-Right–Project

    1. The Maestro says, No. I spelled it wrong. Here’s the critical passage from Cosmic Debris:

      I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
      So I’d look like I was Deep
      I said some Mumbo Jumbos then
      An’ told him he was goin’ to sleep

      Contributed by The L4D–Or Is That A Sears Poncho–Project

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