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First domino, or a scapegoat?


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May 19, 2020
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Farm lands and horse's asses
WASHINGTON — A former F.B.I. lawyer intends to plead guilty after he was charged with falsifying a document as part of a deal with prosecutors conducting their own criminal inquiry of the Russia investigation, according his lawyer and court documents made public on Friday.

The lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, 38, who was assigned to the Russia investigation, plans to admit that he altered an email from the C.I.A. that investigators relied on to seek renewed court permission in 2017 for a secret wiretap on the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who had at times provided information to the spy agency. Mr. Clinesmith’s lawyer said he made a mistake while trying to clarify facts for a colleague.

Mr. Clinesmith had written texts expressing opposition to President Trump, who is sure to tout the plea agreement as evidence that the Russia investigation was illegitimate and politically motivated. Mr. Trump has long been blunt about seeing the continuing investigation by the prosecutor examining the earlier inquiry, John H. Durham, as political payback whose fruits he would like to see revealed in the weeks before the election.

Attorney General William P. Barr has portrayed Mr. Durham’s work as rectifying what he sees as injustices by officials who sought in 2016 to understand links between the Trump campaign and Russia’s covert operation to interfere in the election.

Prosecutors did not reveal any evidence in charging documents that show Mr. Clinesmith’s actions were part of any broader conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump. And the Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, has found that law enforcement officials had sufficient reason to open the Russia investigation, known inside the F.B.I. as Crossfire Hurricane, and found no evidence that they acted with political bias.

As part of their efforts to dissuade prosecutors from charging Mr. Clinesmith, his lawyers argued that his motives were benign, and other evidence indicated that he had not tried to hide the C.I.A. email from his colleagues,

“Kevin deeply regrets having altered the email,” Mr. Clinesmith’s lawyer, Justin Shur, said in a statement. “It was never his intent to mislead the court or his colleagues as he believed the information he relayed was accurate. But Kevin understands what he did was wrong and accepts responsibility. ”

Mr. Clinesmith, who resigned over the matter last year, was expected to be charged in federal court in Washington with a single felony count of making a false statement. A spokesman for Mr. Durham declined to comment.

Mr. Barr had previewed the agreement on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Thursday night, announcing that a development would occur in the investigation on Friday. “It’s not an earth-shattering development, but it is an indication that things are moving along at the proper pace, as dictated by the facts in this investigation,” he said.

It is highly unusual for law enforcement officials to publicly discuss ongoing investigations, but Mr. Barr has long made clear his distaste for the Russia investigation and his view that Mr. Durham would remedy any issues with it.

Though the sprawling Russia investigation that was eventually run by a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, uncovered the Kremlin’s complex operation to subvert the election and the Trump campaign’s expectation that it would benefit from foreign involvement, Republicans have seized on a narrow aspect of the inquiry — the investigation into Mr. Page — in a long-running quest to undermine it.

An energy executive with contacts in Russia, Mr. Page was brought on to advise the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016 as the candidate was solidifying his unexpected lead in the Republican primary race and scrambled to cobble together a foreign policy team.

Investigators eventually suspected that Russian spies had marked Mr. Page for recruitment. They first obtained permission from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in October 2016 to wiretap Mr. Page, who had left the campaign by then, and the court agreed to extend the order three times in subsequent months.

After Republicans raised concerns about the information that investigators relied on to seek the court’s approval to eavesdrop on Mr. Page, Mr. Horowitz began an exhaustive review of the process.

In a report made public last year, Mr. Horowitz revealed that the applications were riddled with serious errors and omissions. Among other things, he had learned of a troubling series of events in which Mr. Page’s association with the C.I.A. was not accurately conveyed to the Justice Department and ultimately kept from the judges who approved the surveillance warrants.

Mr. Page had for years provided information to the C.I.A. about his contacts with Russian officials. In C.I.A. jargon, he was known as an operational contact — someone who agrees to be debriefed by agency personnel but cannot be assigned to collect information.

That relationship might have given law enforcement officials reason to be less suspicious of him. And the F.B.I. was told about it: A C.I.A. lawyer provided a list of documents in the August 2016 email at the heart of the case against Mr. Clinesmith that explained Mr. Page’s relationship with the agency.

But an F.B.I. case agent who learned about Mr. Page’s ties to the C.I.A. played them down while preparing the first wiretap application, according to the inspector general’s report. At the time, Mr. Clinesmith was not involved in determining whether Mr. Page was a C.I.A. source, people familiar with the case said.

But later in 2017, a supervisory F.B.I. agent handling the third and final renewal application asked Mr. Clinesmith for a definitive answer on whether Mr. Page had been an agency source, according to Mr. Horowitz’s report.

Mr. Clinesmith incorrectly said that Mr. Page was “never a source” and sent the C.I.A.’s information to the supervisor. He altered the original email to say that Mr. Page had not been a source — a material change to a document used in a federal investigation.

The agent relied on the altered email to submit the application seeking further court permission to wiretap Mr. Page, the inspector general wrote. By changing the email and then forwarding it, Mr. Clinesmith misrepresented the original content of the document, which prosecutors said was a crime.

Mr. Clinesmith did not change the document in an attempt to cover up the F.B.I.’s mistake. His lawyers argued that he had made the change in good faith because he did not think that Mr. Page had been an actual source for the C.I.A.

Mr. Clinesmith’s lawyers also argued that their client did not try to hide the C.I.A. email from other law enforcement officials as they sought the final renewal of the Page wiretap. Mr. Clinesmith had provided the unchanged C.I.A. email to Crossfire Hurricane agentsand the Justice Department lawyer drafting the original wiretap application.

Mr. Clinesmith had also urged investigators to send any information about an informant’s meeting in October 2016 with Mr. Page, including any exculpatory statements, to the Justice Department lawyer drafting the wiretap application. Mr. Clinesmith said this was “probably the most important” information to provide to the lawyer drafting the wiretap application.

Mr. Clinesmith was among the F.B.I. officials whom Mr. Mueller removed from the Russia investigation after Mr. Horowitz found messages they had exchanged expressing political animus against Mr. Trump. Shortly after Mr. Trump’s election victory, Mr. Clinesmith texted another official: “I honestly feel like there is going to be a lot more gun issues, too, the crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost.”

In another text, he wrote, “viva le resistance.”

Mr. Clinesmith told the inspector general that he was expressing his personal views but did not let them affect his work.

Mr. Clinesmith also argued against the prospect of wiretapping another former Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, who served two weeks in jail on a charge of lying to the F.B.I., according to the Horowitz report. The inspector general said the bureau never sought to surveil him.

The prosecution of Mr. Clinesmith is just one aspect of Mr. Durham’s expansive investigation. He has also been examining the intelligence community’s most explosive conclusion about Russian interference in the 2016 election: that President Vladimir V. Putin intervened to benefit Mr. Trump.

Mr. Durham has also been scrutinizing the use of a notorious dossier in the wiretap applications that was compiled by a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele.

Mr. Durham, who has previously investigated F.B.I. and C.I.A. abuses, has not tipped his hand at what he has found, though Mr. Barr has said some of the findings are “troubling.” Mr. Durham has said in a rare statement that he disagreed with some of Mr. Horowitz’s conclusions about how and why the F.B.I. opened the inquiry in the summer of 2016.

was CNN there? 20+ armed officers, swat and a pre dawn raid? I thought that's how we handled all process crimes. C'mon folks these people are dangerous!
It is sickning to know nothing will come of this. The MSM will just blow it off to talk about Trump putting his socks on inside out or something
Oh now this is interesting!


Durham Target Kevin Clinesmith Wasn’t Working for Who You Think When He Forged That Email to Spy on Carter Page

Posted at 9:00 pm on August 14, 2020 by Michael Thau

One important fact getting overlooked in all the discussion of whether FBI Attorney Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea represents the sacrifice of a minor criminal so the ringleaders can escape justice or the beginning of the end for those who were running the show is exactly whose show Clinesmith was a part of when the crime he’s admitted committing occurred.

You see, Clinesmith wasn’t working for James Comey on June 19, 2017, the date he altered that CIA email inconveniently identifying Trump’s onetime foreign policy advisor Carter Page as a trusted source.

By that point in time, Clinesmith was part of Robert Mueller’s Independent Counsel investigation.

And it was Mueller’s crew who made use of the illegitimately obtained renewal of the FISA warrant to spy on Page that Clinesmith’s willingness to commit forgery enabled.

On the recommendation of acting Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, Trump had fired Comey on May 9, 2017. As a consequence, Comey’s second-in-command, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe automatically took over as acting director until Trump appointed Christopher Wray on June 7. (Wray was interim Director until his Senate confirmation on July 20.)

McCabe was in charge for less than a month. But within just 8 days he’d started a second investigation of Trump in addition to the still ongoing Crossfire Hurricane probe of his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Despite Trump’s having fired Comey at Rosenstein’s urging and the president’s authority to terminate the director of the FBI for any reason he pleases, McCabe wasted no time in using his boss’s dismissal as a pretext to investigate Trump for obstructing Crossfire Hurricane.

McCabe had also helped tip over the very first domino that ultimately led to Robert Mueller’s appointment as independent counsel.

Though it hasn’t received nearly enough attention, McCabe played a substantial role in ginning up the phony controversy over whether Jeff Sessions lied to Congress about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing.

Sessions takes a lot of heat for enabling the Mueller probe by recusing himself. But though there’s no question he made a huge unforced error, most people aren’t aware of the stuff going on in the background that almost seems like it could have been designed to make Sessions step aside and put Rosenstein in control.

A few months before starting that second investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice by taking Rosenstein’s advice, Andrew “Itchy Finger” McCabe had triggered another criminal investigation of Sessions for lying about his contacts with Kislyak at the request of Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken.

The fuss about Sessions’ contacts with Kislyak quickly died down and Mueller closed the investigation in January 2018. But the ginned-up controversy did force Sessions to recuse himself; which put Rosenstein in a position to urge Trump to fire Comey; which then put McCabe in the position to start a second investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice for taking Rosenstein’s advice.

Within a matter of days, Rosenstein appointed Mueller Independent Counsel to take over both Crossfire Hurricane and McCabe’s second obstruction of justice investigation, which, being only a day or two old, never got baptized with a cool-sounding name.

Funny how things work out sometimes. If you didn’t know better, you might think making Mueller Independent Counsel was the result of some kind of plan.

Rosenstein later justified increasing the scope and power of both investigations by appointing Mueller to take them over as Independent Counsel by claiming he was “concerned that the public would not have confidence in the investigation and that the acting FBI director [McCabe] was not the right person to lead it.”

The event that would be at the center of Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference, however, was Russia’s alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network which supposedly netted the DNC emails WikiLeaks started publishing on July 22, 2016.

If the Russians really did hack the DNC, it was an unprecedented act of foreign espionage. But, on the other hand, if the skepticism Trump has occasionally expressed is on target, then the Russians never stole any DNC files at all.

The whole story would turn out to be a ruse to discredit WikiLeaks’ damaging revelations about Hillary Clinton and stop Trump from using them against her. So, instead of foreign espionage tantamount to an act of war, we’d be talking about one of the biggest domestic political crimes in American history.

The DNC’s tech firm CrowdStrike were the only ones allowed to examine any of their supposedly infected hardware, as everyone knows since Trump mentioned CrowdStrike in his now-famous phone call to Ukrainian president Zelensky.

Both the FBI and Mueller’s probe consented to the very strange arrangement of accepting forensic evidence from a private contractor hired by the alleged victim of the crime they were investigating in lieu of collecting their own.

And the concern Rosenstein professed about whether the public would have confidence in McCabe might have applied even more to Mueller had it ever become widely known that CrowdStrike president, Shawn Henry, prior to joining the firm, was promoted to FBI head of cyber operations by none other than Robert Mueller when the latter ran the FBI.

Good thing we know that none of this could have possibly been planned.

Moreover, we learned something in May that might have struck another blow to the public’s confidence in Shawn Henry’s mentor. Thanks to acting Director of National Security, Richard Grenell, Adam Schiff was forced to release testimony Henry gave to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017.

CrowdStrike’s president admitted that the claim we’ve been assured of for four years now that his firm had discovered proof that the Russians had stolen files from the DNC was – not to put too fine a point on it – a baldfaced lie.

There wasn’t even any evidence, let alone proof.

Henry testified that CrowdStrike only found evidence that files were “staged for exfiltration” but explicitly admitted that “[t]here’s not evidence that they were actually exfiltrated” at least five separate times.

In fact, there seems to be very good evidence they weren’t.

Henry says that CrowdStrike first detected Russian malware on the DNC system in early May 2016 and waited till June 10 to remove it. We know from CrowdStrike’s founder Dmitri Alperovitch that CrowdStrike was monitoring the Russian’s presence using their premiere software Falcon that entire time.

In any event, it’s bizarre enough that Henry and Alperovitch allowed the Russians to remain on the DNC network for such a long period of time given that, when asked, Henry testified that the system had been vulnerable to their malware the entire 6 weeks.

So CrowdStrike must have at least been monitoring what the Russians were doing from the beginning of May when they first detected their malware through June 10, when they finally removed it. Otherwise, it’s not even clear what the DNC could have even been paying them for.

Mueller’s report, however, says the DNC emails WikiLeaks published were stolen by the Russians between May 25 and June 1. And, independent analysis has confirmed that’s within a couple of days of when the files were first copied by whoever the culprit was. Indeed, more than half of the emails were dated after CrowdStrike installed Falcon and, hence, couldn’t have been hacked before they were on the job.

So how could the Russians have stolen over 44,000 emails with almost 18,000 attached files while CrowdStrike was monitoring their presence on the DNC system?

How could anyone have stolen that much data over the internet from some remote location without Falcon having any record of the files exiting the DNC’s system?

Makes you wonder if maybe Julian Assange might have been telling the truth when he said the DNC files were leaked by an insider and not hacked over the internet by the Russians or anyone else.

Or why Mueller made no attempt to question Assange given that he’s the only known person in the world with firsthand knowledge of where those DNC emails he published came from.

Seems like sort of a big omission for someone investigating a crime to not even bother trying to contact the only witness.

Even if Mueller thought Assange would just lie, that would give him even more reason to try to arrange an interview given how aggressive he was about inventing lies that General Flynn never even told in order to crush him.

Speaking of which, the public’s confidence in Mueller might have been even further eroded if it was widely known that General Flynn had been adamant that the Russian hack was a ruse.

As had Paul Manafort.

As had Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of Manafort’s who Mueller also indicted.

And Roger Stone, as well.

Funny how Shawn Henry’s old boss at the FBI, Rober Mueller, wound up doing everything in his power to destroy the three most prominent men pushing the idea that the Russian DNC hack we now know his firm, CrowdStrike, never had any evidence even occurred and, indeed, must have known beyond a shadow of doubt hadn‘t was a hoax as well as those most in a position to keep pushing Trump to make sure it was investigated.

One of the strangest things about congressional Republicans’ reaction to the many abuses of power perpetrated against Donald Trump, his associates, his campaign, and his presidency is the difference between the way they seem to view Crossfire Hurricane and Mueller’s probe.

Everyone in the GOP establishment seems to more or less accept that the FBI investigation was completely corrupt and that Comey and all his underlings committed serious crimes and ought to be punished.

Yet Mueller’s probe, which was merely the new, more powerful, identity Crossfire Hurricane took on after it faked its own death, isn’t treated with the same skepticism.

These very different attitudes are even more puzzling given that Mueller was forced to get rid of three members of his team who’d also been part of Crossfire Hurricane when text messages they’d sent indicating an incredible antipathy towards Donald Trump emerged.

The first two were, as everyone knows, FBI lovebirds, Peter Stzrok and Lisa Page. Fewer are aware that Kevin Clinesmith was the third.

Given that the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page that was renewed as a result of Clinesmith’s admitted criminal activity was used by Robert Mueller and not his protege James Comey, hopefully, congressional Republicans will start taking the same dim view of Mueller’s probity that they already have of Comey’s.

And, hopefully, John Durham is already taking a hard look at Mueller’s corruption.

I’ve just started a series of columns on the blatant lies Mueller’s report contains concerning that alleged Russian hack of the DNC. And believe me, there’s plenty for him to find.
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