If it's what you say, I love it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Just Read It

Jonathan Chait has written the most important piece I've read on #TrumpRussia yet. The money line:

Who could believe that the world’s most powerful country was about to hand its presidency to a Russian dupe? That the United States government had, essentially, fallen?

Well, someone mainstream wrote it. But as we get ready for the Republicans to likely steal another Supreme Court seat for decades with Russian help, the question we need to ask is, "Now what?"

I haven't had time to watch any news tonight, but I'm hoping this was covered heavily, and I hope we start hearing suggested answers to that question.

Now what?

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Families Belong Together March!

I couldn't be there myself, but here are some of the sights from around the United States:

These are the days I'm a little more optimistic.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Viewing Hate from the Receiving End (Updated)

I originally posted this a week after the election in November 2016. I'm reposting now because of the Red Hen story.

Have you been the victim of a hate crime? Have you ever really experienced true hatred before? Hate is different from anger because it's irrational.  You can be angry that someone wronged you, but it would be irrational to hate whatever race or ethnicity that person belongs to because of that incident.  Or maybe you were never even wronged by an individual within the group you hate. You just "know" that they are the reason things aren't perfectly rosy around you. Experiencing hate firsthand is an indescribable feeling. You are left confused, angry, and saddened all at once. While I was a graduate student in upstate New York in 2006, a restaurant refused my partner and I service because we were an interracial couple.  Racism was one of those things that you only read about, but not really experience when you aren't black.  Yet, there it was in all of its glory just three hours west of New York City.

Lunch Counter Protesters in the 1960s

In 1991, an individual set my synagogue on fire. As a 10-year old, it was the first time I had experienced hate firsthand. Of course as a Jew, we learn about 3,200 year old Egyptian enslavement, as well as Babylonian, Persian, and Roman persecution. Most Jews probably remember learning about the 525 year old Spanish Inquisition and pogroms in Europe during the "Age of Enlightenment."  And all can probably cite how many Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany and her allies in the 1930s and 1940s.

But it's hard to really know hate until you are a target.  And while my synagogue burning down was the first time I experienced hate, I first became a target of hate in 1994 when I was in 8th grade.  I attended a typical small public suburban school much like students attend anywhere in the United States.  Mine happened to have just been named to the prestigious Federal Blue Ribbon list. Early that Spring semester I was handed a note in class (note to Millennials, this was the 20th Century's version of texting) with a crude sketch of Hitler and a box-form swastika.  A week later, my locker was vandalized with three more swastikas drawn at eye level.  My school launched a campaign to bring in a local holocaust survivor and added content to its European History curriculum.  The culprit turned himself in, apologized to me and the rest of the school and pled ignorance.  For the longest time, even as I accepted his apology, I didn't fully trust his story of ignorance. After all, I was only a few years removed from the incident at my synagogue.

I bring this up for two reasons. First, I, like most of you, did not know the first thing about different forms of the swastika (did you click that last link?). As it turns out though, with the emergence of the alt-right, we have had to deal with a lot more swastikas since President Obama was elected.  And their swastikas are different from the ones that were drawn at my school in the early 1990s.  The Nazi Swastika is drawn at a 45 degree angle. The swastikas at my school were of the garden variety found everywhere in the world up until World War II.  A real anti-Semite would probably know the difference and would have probably drawn the one that reflects hatred.  But the average American? Probably not.

Neo-Nazis Marching in Charlottesville, VA in 2017

My second point is that with the the tightening linkages between the alt-Right and the incoming Trump Administration via its chief strategist Steve Bannon, neo-Nazis have suddenly become empowered  and legitimized. So much so that they are enboldened to engage in the same type of behavior that the original Nazis engaged in when they took power.  Take a look at the swastika graffiti in North Carolina. That's no garden-variety swastika. Many believe it to have been an inside-job. But whether it was or wasn't, it is still part of the mainstreaming of hate that has been occurring at an accelerated pace over the last 18 months.

The hate I have seen this year is unparalleled by any I have seen in my lifetime. And Trump still hasn't even taken office yet.

Positive Brain Cell Degeneration...

All Politics is Now... International?

I've written a few times now about how interlinked all of the crap going on in the world is. The last week or so has been quite the case in point.

The Brexit "win" and Trump's "victory" go hand in hand. They were both engineered by Putin and his people, designed to destabilize the West and put people with fascist tendencies in charge everywhere. Last week, the amazing Carol Cadwalladr detailed new findings concerning the Brexiteers' and Trump's ties with Russia:

This was the campaign headed by Nigel Farage, whose close friend and ally, Steve Bannon, had been Trump’s campaign manager and who said, on Wednesday: “I have never received any Russian financial or political support...”
And it plunges Britain directly into the same nexus of relationships that is the focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Two years on, we are in the dark about so much. What was the exact nature of Farage’s Leave.EU campaign’s relationship to the Russian government? Why did it exist? And to what end?
Just last week, Farage robustly denied any improper relationship with the Russians on his radio show.
So far, all that we can say for sure is that, for the last two years, Banks and Wigmore have lied about it. And, it’s this, perhaps, that raises the most critical question of all: why?
A week and a half ago, a fellow journalist, Peter Jukes, showed me this material for the first time, and my jaw dropped. I’d left parliament where I’d heard Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, give evidence to the investigation into fake news to a parliamentary inquiry over many hours. And later that night, I found myself looking at a computer screen that shone on a light on a part of the investigation that I had never expected to uncover.
But wait, there's more! Nigel Farage and pals apparently used a combination of real and fake polling to manipulate the market for the British Pound by pretending Brexit was going to fail while they knew it was likely to succeed:

Farage, who had not detailed since that night what he learned or how he knew it, told Bloomberg that the only external exit poll results he received on June 23 were Survation’s—and that Lyons-Lowe gave them to him. “He got it right,” Farage said of Lyons-Lowe. “And whoever, whichever clientele, whichever City hedge funds paid him that day, did very well out of it.” Others with knowledge of the results also said that Lyons-Lowe’s hedge fund exit poll accurately called the vote for Leave.
Farage, however, repeatedly told Bloomberg that he learned the results from Lyons-Lowe’s poll only “minutes after” Sky put his market-moving statement on the air just past 10 p.m.—not before. “That would have been, that would have been—for he and I to have spoken ahead of that 10 o’clock—would have been wrong at every level. Wrong for me, wrong for him, just would have been wrong,” Farage said. After saying he heard the results from Lyons-Lowe, Farage then changed his story, saying they came not from Lyons-Lowe personally, but from someone affiliated with Survation's operation. (In a subsequent telephone interview, Farage again changed his story to say he had indeed spoken by phone with Lyons-Lowe. He said Lyons-Lowe intimated that the U.K. had voted for Leave, but he didn’t share specific data. Farage also said that, at the time, he didn't believe what Lyons-Lowe had told him, and that another contact, whom he declined to identify, mentioned other polling showing Remain would win.)
In response to questions, Lyons-Lowe released a statement: “Survation Ltd. has established itself as a leading opinion poll and research provider, including in respect of referendums and other elections where innovative methodologies are required. We work regularly for a wide variety of newspapers, private clients and political parties. Survation Ltd. does not comment on any confidential client work.”
Farage called his statement to Sky “a terrible mistake,” but he also asserted that he did not give the network’s reporter a true concession. “It was an acceptance that we might not win, but it was hardly, but it was not how—they [Sky] overegged it. They overegged it. But that’s journalism,” he said.
What Farage could not explain, however, is why he gave a further concession about 70 minutes after the Sky broadcast, which not only echoed the statement aired on Sky, but was more adamant. In it, he also specifically cited a financial-firm exit poll as his reason for conceding.
Farage made the second concession in an interview with the Press Association, a U.K. news cooperative. Its report says: “Mr. Farage told the Press Association: ‘I don't know, but I think Remain will edge it, yes. The massive increase in voter registration will be the reason for that.’ Asked if he was just experiencing election-night jitters, the UKIP leader replied: ‘It is a calm and rational feeling. If I am wrong, I would be thrilled. But it is what we have seen out and about, and what I know from some of my friends in the financial markets who have done some big polling.’” Bloomberg sent a series of headlines from that interview to its more than 300,000 financial clients around the world.
You can bet that the Mercers, who were the money behind Cambridge Analytica, made some money off of this:

And Cambridge Analytica isn't just working in the U.S. and Great Britain:

Mexico’s ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, paid Cambridge Analytica millions of dollars ahead of Sunday’s presidential election—to keep the data consulting firm out of it.
In 2017, the now-bankrupt company proposed to bolster the PRI’s candidate, José Antonio Meade, with the same tactics it deployed to promote Donald Trump during 2016 election in the US, according to a New York Times report. After considering the offer, the PRI decided it was sufficiently equipped to mess with the election itself. But it hired Cambridge Analytica anyway, to prevent it from helping the other candidates in the race, according to the newspaper. The PRI denied any involvement with the firm, according to the story.
The deal shows the PRI’s desperation in boosting its poor-performing candidate, a gray technocrat who had trouble connecting with voters. It’s also a sign of the growing importance of data mining as a voter-influencing tool—at least in politicians’ eyes. Cambridge Analytica has been active in more than 200 elections around the world, including the Brexit vote in the UK in 2016.

200 elections? Jesus Christ on a cracker.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, another one of Trump's authoritarian buddies has "won" his "election" and is set to take more power for himself:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for the past 15 years, will extend his rule and take on sweeping new powers after his victory in the country's landmark presidential and parliamentary elections.
Turkey's High Electoral Board on Monday declared Erdogan the winner of Sunday's dual votes, which usher in a new system in which the prime minister's post is eliminated and executive powers are transferred to the president, who rules with only limited checks and balances.
The Turkish leader is accused by critics of adopting increasingly authoritarian tactics but is loved by supporters for bringing prosperity and stability to the country that lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Erdogan may be facing rough times ahead, however, because analysts predict an economic downturn for Turkey amid rising inflation and the struggling lira currency.

Trump's pretty happy about it:


It's all tied together. J.J. Patrick explains:

And how and when did Putin put that plan into motion?

That's like, not ominous or anything... Not at all.

Americans are markedly provincial, but we have GOT to be paying attention to what's going on around the world -- it's all connected. Fortunately, I think Bob Mueller knows that and is trying to do more than just take out Trump. At least, I hope so.

Monday, June 18, 2018

This Morning's Twitshit Sounded Better in the Original German


Haven't done one of these in a while, but I woke up to find that Hitler got a Twitter account in the eleventh level of hell:

Heil Fontange Fuhrer!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

My Read of the Inspector General's Report on #BUTHEREMAILS

Last night, I read the entire Inspector General's report on the Hillary e-mail situation from 2016... I decided to live-tweet my reading, and below you'll find my Tweetstorm (note: every entry is a Tweet so it doesn't totally follow as prose:

I'm a few pages into the IG report and I just can't get over the thought that there's no reason there ever should've been an investigation into Hillary's e-mails in the first place. The FBI was just trying to satisfy the Republicans.

"....we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead... was free from bias." One was a thing, the other was not a thing. He picked the thing over the not thing. That's not bias.
This was my first major blog post on my current blog. It analyzed the initial FBI report on Clinton and it was pretty clear to me (and the FBI in the end) that she didn't do much, if anything, wrong.

William J. Clinton

/2Nunes: FBI Agents Leaked Clinton Info to Me

Analyzing the FBI Report The New York Times Needs to Grapple With Its Coverage of Hillary's Emails the FBI Report Comey floated Hillary Clinton special counsel after 'highly classified' tip about Loretta Lynch: IG report Evidence of the Critical Failure of the IG Report Evidence of the Critical Failure of the IG Report
More from the IG report: "Comey’s description of his choice as being between
“two doors,” one labeled “speak” and one labeled“conceal,” was a false dichotomy. The two doors were actually labeled “follow policy/practice” and “depart
from policy/practice.” Well said.
I'm done with the Strzok/Page stuff. I may not say anything about it as I read the report. The ENTIRE NY FBI OFFICE was biased against HRC and actually took actions accordingly. Strzok, if anything, erred in the other direction to compensate for the appearance of bias. That's it.
OK, one more mention of them: "...we learned... that Comey, Strzok, and Page used their personal email accounts to conduct FBI business." And know what? Their e-mails weren't on a server that was protected by the SECRET SERVICE because it was in a former POTUS's home office.
I hate the use of the term "homebrew" server. That implies the use of hacks and improvisation by people who have no permission to do what they're doing. The FBI report from 2016 indicated that professional techies were running a mail server from an office equipped to handle it.
Still in the intro: "We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters. " Looking forward to getting to this section in about 400 pages.
"At the time his wife sought to run for state senate, McCabe was the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office (WFO) and sought ethics
advice from FBI ethics officials and attorneys." /1
"We found that FBI ethics officials and attorneys did not fully appreciate the potential significant implications to McCabe and the FBI from campaign donations to Dr. McCabe’s campaign." /2
That's silly. Just like the e-mails, this only was an issue because Republicans screamed about it at the top of their lungs. There was nothing wrong with Dr. McCabe getting money from the Virginia Dem Party, no matter who was in charge of it. /3
She was a Virginia Democrat and got help from Terry McCauliffe, who was a Clinton ally, but was also doing his job as leader of the party in the state. Yes, he was a Clinton friend, but so what? The Clintons are friends with many Dem leaders. /4
But, in any case, "On this issue, we believe McCabe did what he was supposed to do by notifying those responsible in the FBI for ethics issues and seeking their guidance." This was ginned up, it's settled, and I'm not discussing it again. /5 /END SUBTHREAD, BACK TO THREAD
"... on November 1, 2016, in response to multiple FOIA requests, the FBI Records Management Division (RMD) posted records to the FBI Records Vault, a page on the FBI’s public website, concerning the “William J. Clinton Foundation.” /1
"We also found no evidence that improper political considerations influenced the FBI’s use of the Twitter account to publicize the release." Maybe there was nothing to it, but it was an incredibly odd coincidence /3 /END SUBTHREAD BACK TO THREAD
Done with the intro. Now 500 pages to go... we'll see how much I do.
I'm only going to tweet about super interesting things or things I didn't know before.
"Following the [tarmac] meeting [with Bill Clinton], Lynch publicly denied having any conversation about the Midyear investigation or any other substantive matter pending before the Department." /1
This meeting was also much ado about nothing, but Trump screamed about it till he was hoarse, so it became something. Lynch felt very responsible for any appearance of impropriety. The Republicans do things wrong all the time and get away with it. /2
It's not "whataboutism." It's that the Dems have to try extra hard to look absolutely squeaky clean lest the GOP and the press come down hard on them, while the GOP loots the country. #IOKIYAR /3 /END SUBTHREAD BACK TO THREAD
".. the [FBI] Director, [FBI] deputy director (DD), associate deputy director (ADD), [Assistant Director] for [FBI] OPA, and [FBI] OPA personnel designated by the [OPA Assistant Director] are authorized to speak to the media.” /1
This is the policy mentioned earlier, but no specifics yes as to what it refers to. /2/ END SUBTHREAD
Little more on the media policy: "While permissible, press conferences
“should be held only for the most significant and newsworthy actions, or if a
particularly important deterrent or law enforcement purpose would be served." Must refer to Comey's presser in July, but we'll see
"The provision of information from the Department and the FBI to Congress is
governed by Department policy guidance, the USAM, and FBI rules." Could this be about Chaffetz and Nunes getting info in advance?"
"The FBI’s status as the primary investigative agency of the federal
government makes its sharing of information with Congress of special concern." Yup, probably.
An aside: @nycsouthpaw is going through this too and he can do this ten times as well as I can.
"On August 17, 2009, then Attorney General Holder issued an updated memo
(“August 2009 Memo”) entitled Communications with Congress. The August 2009
Memo clarified that all inquiries from congressional officials should be directed to DOJ OLA." /1
“'[C]omponents should not communicate with members, committees, or
congressional staff without advance coordination with OLA.'" So, if this does turn out to refer to leaks from the FBI to Chaffetz and Nunes, that agent/those agents violated policy. /2 /END SUBTHREAD
"According to FBI documents, former Secretary Clinton and her husband, former
President Bill Clinton, had a private email server in their house... for use by former President Clinton’s staff." As I said earlier, Hillary used a server secure enough for a former POTUS.
The next couple pages basically recap what I said here.
"On March 3, 2015, the House Benghazi Committee sent preservation orders
requiring former Secretary Clinton to preserve emails on her servers." Yup. This was about Benghazi, GOP bete noire. Everyone knew and no one cared about HRC's server until the GOP needed SOMETHING on her.
Scroll scroll... more stuff I covered in 2016...
"Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General (PADAG) Matt Axelrod... [said], "Asked whether he considered the Midyear investigation to be criminal as of the date of this initial briefing, Axelrod replied, “Not in my view.” /1
"it was some time...before I, at least I understood that it had morphed into a criminal investigation.” Same here. They were originally basically looking in general into whether classified information got out, and how to deal with that in the future. /2
I was also confused when it morphed into a criminal investigation, and it took me a while to realize that it had. I still have no idea why (though the rest of the report might shine a light on that), other than GOP bleating at the FBI. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"The prosecutors and career Department staff assigned to the Midyear
investigation told us that they considered it a criminal investigation from early on. " So there was disagreement on this.
"Several FBI witnesses described the SSA as an experienced and aggressive agent,
and the SSA told us that he selected the 'four strongest agents' from his WFO
squad to be on the Midyear team." Um, they could've been used to investigate a foreign country attacking our election...
Oh, as for why this became such a priority, I'm sure the NYT's constant screeching about the e-mails was a factor as well. GOP and media opinion mattered more than whether there was anything to the case.
Sally Yates: "We recognized that the profile and import of this matter was such that we needed to make sure that things were done correctly." I reassert that the import of this matter should've been pretty low.
One of the things the FBI was looking for in HRC's e-mails: "Statements by former Secretary Clinton or others indicating whether Clinton used private servers for the purpose of evading laws." /1
The GOP thought she had something to hide because of Benghazi. But she hid nothing. Everyone for years saw her e-mails coming from and no one cared. The GOP was on a fishing expedition and the DOJ and FBI played along. /2
It calls back the '90s when the special counsels were investigating Whitewater and were told by GOP donors not to stop until they found *something*. Seven years of digging got them Lewinsky. Three years of digging on Benghazi got... e-mails. /3 END SUBTHREAD
"Comey told the OIG that during this meeting AG Lynch agreed they needed
to confirm the existence of the investigation, but she said not to use the word
'investigation,' and instead to call it a 'matter.'" Lynch was right. Why add fuel to a fire set by GOP arsonists?
Lots more on "matter" vs. "investigation." Try "nothingburger." I don't understand why after like two dozen dead-end, made-up investigations against the Clintons, the DOJ and FBI couldn't see a pattern of the GOP using them to score political points based on jack shit.
The report looked at this: "Obama also stated that the issue had been 'ginned up' because of the presidential race." He was right, and it was obvious. But he took shit for it. And then he also took shit when he didn't sound the alarm about #TrumpRussia. Damned if you do...
I covered most of what's in the next section about the technical details of the server in the post I keep referencing. I knew this was buillshit two years ago.
"One FBI analyst told us that he was 'frustrated' by the claim by Clinton’s attorneys that they could not find her 13 devices. However, he stated that he 'guess[ed]' the agency did not have probable cause to assert that the missing devices were in" /1
"Clinton’s home such that a search warrant could be issued... We questioned whether the use of a subpoena or search warrant might have encouraged Clinton, her lawyers, Combetta, or others to search harder for the missing devices." /2
I would've liked to have seen them try to get a search warrant. I'm not sure a court wouldn't have seen through the GOP's ploy and not granted that warrant. /3 /SUBTHREAD
"Strzok told us that..., he was “aggravated by the limitations” that the prosecutors were placing on the FBI’s ability to obtain evidence..." So Strzok wanted to search harder, but even the prosecutors seemed to realize that this was ridiculous. Or am I misunderstanding this?
"Despite this debate, the agents, analysts, prosecutors, and supervisors... told us that, aside from devices that had been destroyed or that could not be located, they ultimately obtained and reviewed all of the devices necessary to complete the investigation."
"None of the witnesses we interviewed could point to specific examples of
anyone involved in the investigation allowing political or other improper
considerations to impact the decisions on how best to obtain evidence." Know what this is NOT referring to? #TrumpRussia.
"Prosecutor 2 and one FBI analyst told us that these results provided no basis to conclude that Mills or Abedin had deleted emails to or from Clinton for an improper purpose." They're finding nothing at every turn...
"Strzok stated that [Deputy Director] Giuliano told the team, “[T]his is not going to become some octopus.... The focus of the investigation [is] the appearance of classified information on [Clinton’s] personal emails and that server during the time she was Secretary of State."/1
"Strzok further stated that the FBI’s “purpose and mission” was not to pursue “spilled [classified] information to the ends of the earth” and that the task of cleaning up classified spills by State Department employees was referred back to the State Department." /2
"He told us that the FBI’s focus was whether there was a 'violation of federal law.'" Which comes back again to whether Clinton had anything to hide. No one really thought she did, except for the rubes that eat all the shit the GOP feeds them. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"Strzok stated that Abedin’s attorneys told the Midyear team that
they erred on the side of overproducing Abedin’s emails to the State Department
and that... there was no reason to believe Abedin’s attorneys’ sort process was flawed." /1
"Prosecutor 2 told us, consistent with notes this prosecutor took at a meeting on October 27, 2016, that the only reason the FBI later obtained the Weiner laptop was because 'it had ended up in our laps.'” Hmmm... why could THAT have ended up in their laps?
"Midyear team members... placed limits on their investigation based on practical considerations, including what they observed to be systemic problems with handling classified information at the State Department." The latter was where the investigation started and should've ended.
"Several witnesses told us that they did not seek to review all of Abedin’s
emails because her role was administrative in nature. " Huh. I was led to believe that Huma Abedin was the root of all SCARY MOOSLIM EVIL!!!
"We were told that the decision to conduct voluntary interviews rather than
subpoenaing witnesses before the grand jury was not controversial or unusual. FBI agents and prosecutors told us that their usual practice is to interview witnesses voluntarily..." /1
"and only resort to grand jury if witnesses are uncooperative or not credible. They further told us that the Midyear witnesses were mostly cooperative and credible and that using the grand jury would have been complicated given the
sensitive, classified information involved." /2
Once again, know what investigation this does not refer to? #TrumpRussia. And you know who's had to drag lots of witnesses in front a grand jury? Robert Mueller. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"Numerous Department and FBI witnesses told us that they did not oppose the immunity agreements. Some witnesses stated that there was nothing unusual or troubling about the nature or quantity of immunity agreements..." /1
"... used in the Midyear investigation, especially since so many witnesses were represented by counsel. " During the campaign, Trump repeatedly screamed from the podium that only the guilty need immunity. That's incorrect. People with good lawyers ask for it. /2 /END SUBTHREAD
More technical stuff that was covered in the blog post I keep referencing... scroll scroll...
The next section exonerates one of Clinton's techies (but not Trump!)...
"As noted previously, John Bentel worked at the State Department for 39
years, the last four of which he served as Director of the Executive Secretariat
Information Resource Management (S/ES-IRM), before he retired in 2012." /1
"Prosecutors 1 and 2 stated that Bentel’s attorney sought use immunity because he thought that Bentel was portrayed poorly in the State IG report. They further stated that the team granted Bentel immunity because he was a necessary witness, who did not... " /2
", to their knowledge, face any criminal 'exposure.' Prosecutor 2 described the Bentel interview as a “check-the box type interview.” /3
"One of the agents explained that the purpose of asking Bentel about
his knowledge of the server was to assess whether Clinton’s use of the server was
sanctioned by the State Department." /4
"However, Bentel maintained that he was unaware that Clinton used personal email to conduct official business until it was reported in the news and denied that anyone had raised concerns about it to him." /5
"Both agents who interviewed Bentel told us that he was uncooperative and
the interview was unproductive; however, they attributed these problems to
nervousness and fear of being found culpable." /6
" Agent 3 told us that he did not believe that immunity for Bentel was necessary and that it did not help theinvestigation because Bentel was not forthcoming during his interview." /7
"However, he did not believe that Bentel had any criminal exposure and therefore the immunity agreement did not harm the investigation." So essentially, we have the one guy who *might* have been in position to tell HRC she shouldn't use her own server. /8
But he'd already been with the Department for 40 years and probably wasn't knowledgeable enough to properly discuss technology arrangements, and was ultimately afraid that if he said the wrong thing, he'd get in trouble (maybe losing his pension?). /9 /END SUBTHREAD
"FBI witnesses told us that once Wilkinson refused to voluntarily provide her
clients for interviews and the culling laptops, they believed it was appropriate and in the interest of efficiency to subpoena Mills and Samuelson before the grand jury and seek a search warrant" /1
".. to seize the culling laptops from Wilkinson’s office. The FBI witnesses stated that even if a judge ultimately were to quash a subpoena or decide that there was no probable cause to issue a search warrant, it was the FBI’s obligation to at least try to obtain..." /2
"what they believed to be critical potential sources of evidence." Once again, doubt about whether a judge would issue a search warrant or subpoena in this case. And know who doesn't have any worries about that? Robert Mueller. Ooh, contrasting is kinda fun. /3 END SUBTHREAD
The desire by Stzrok and other agents to get warrants and ultimately deciding that it might be futile because the case was paper thin is a running throughline in the report. I'm 112 pages into the body of the report; we'll see if that continues.
Page and Stzrok, for all their supposed anti-Trump bias, were the ones that seemed to want to go after Clinton the most.
"Witnesses told us that the strife between the prosecutors and the FBI team
culminated in a contentious meeting chaired by McCabe a few days later..." /1
"Prosecutor 2 told us that during this meeting the prosecutors explained
that they were trying to be 'careful' in their handling of complicated issues, and
that *McCabe responded that they should 'be careful faster.'" /2
McCabe has been asserted by the GOP to be a Clinton ally. Um, doesn't sound like it here. He was aggressive. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"Contemporaneous emails and text message exchanges we reviewed show that
Strzok and Page challenged the prosecutors’ laptop privilege concerns and were two of the most outspoken proponents of using compulsory process to obtain the culling laptops."
I really didn't want to continue to talk about Page and Strzok because the GOP has done the "lover" stuff to death, but they really seemed to have it in for Hillary. There's more on page 118 (I'm only on page 118?)
When they finally got a subpoena (after months of this shit), it was still super iffy: "In a letter to Toscas dated June 3, 2016, O’Brien authorized the issuance of the proposed subpoenas." /1
"He further wrote that the team “had satisfied therequirement, pursuant to USAM 9-13.420(C), to consult the Criminal Division before applying for a warrant to search the laptop computers.” /2
""Toscas told us, and contemporaneous emails show, that he proposed applying to the court for an 'anticipatory search warrant.'" /3
"An anticipatory search warrant is one that is approved by the court for use once a triggering event occurs, in this case the FBI securing the laptops by subpoena." /4
"Toscas stated that he was in favor of the anticipatory search warrant because he thought it might help persuade a judge toside with the government when litigating a possible later motion to quash the subpoena." /5
" However, he said that Boente and the prosecutors in EDVA did not
agree because anticipatory search warrants were not typically used in that fashion in their jurisdiction." /6
So they tried to use the subpoena to get a warrant in a roundabout way but Dana Boenta squashed it. And know what? That subpoena wasn't even necessary, because as Comey put it, "I was actually surprised they agree[d] to
give us the laptops." /7
Trump team, this is what cooperation looks like. No overnight raids, no kicking in doors, no pre-trial jail time. /8 /END SUBTHREAD
"Witnesses told us, and contemporaneous text and instant message
exchanges among FBI employees show, that negotiating the consent agreements
was a difficult process and, at least at the outset..." /1
"Strzok and others at the FBI believed that the prosecutors were giving Wilkinson too much control. However, when we interviewed Strzok, he told us that he no longer could remember what his specific concerns were at the time..." /2
"and, in the end, 'we got what we needed to credibly come to the resolution that we did in the investigation.'" So despite only getting one unused subpoena and no warrants, even the most aggressive agents conceded they got what they needed. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"Other FBI employees... would have preferred to be able to search for emails sent or received just before or after Clinton’s tenure, in the hope of identifying Clinton’s intent..." SPOILER: They later found there was no bad intent.
Comey: " There was a sense that there was a general lack of aggressiveness
and willingness to take steps that would roil the waters. In my
judgment honestly, was that that wasn’t politically motivated that’s
just the normal cowardice..." /1
"...this is the normal fear and conservatism and the higher profile the matter, the more afraid sometimes the prosecutors are." So Comey wanted to be more aggressive against Clinton too. See the pattern here? /2 /END SUBTHREAD
"May 11, 2016 notes state: Director Comey...
- Extraordinary sense of urgency...
- As get closer to election would be more difficult to close
- Risk of perception that won’t be credible, be seen as partisan..." As I always say, James Comey takes the actions that cover his ass.
"Strzok and Page were two of the strongest advocates of
obtaining the culling testimony and laptops by compulsory process. On May 4,
2016, a few weeks before Mills and Samuelson were voluntarily interviewed
regarding the culling process and a little over a month..." /1
"... before the FBI obtained the culling laptops, Strzok and Page exchanged the following text messages. The sender of each message is identified after the timestamp." /2
"8:40 p.m., Page: “And holy shit Cruz just dropped out of the race.
It’s going to be a Clinton Trump race. Unbelievable.”
8:41 p.m., Strzok: “What?!?!??”
8:41 p.m., Page: “You heard that right my friend.” /3
"8:41 p.m., Strzok: “I saw trump won, figured it would be a bit.”
8:41 p.m., Strzok: “Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE…”
8:42 p.m., Page: “It sure does. We need to talk about follow up call
tomorrow. We still never have.” /4
"The same day, at 8:48 p.m., Strzok sent a similar text message to the Lead
Analyst. However, the Lead Analyst responded, “Did he? We need to finish it welland promptly, but it’s more important that we do it well." /5
" A wise man once said that.” The Lead Analyst told us that the 'wise man' referenced in his text message was Comey. Both Strzok and Page told us that the May 4, 2016 text message exchange was not an example of them allowing their political viewpoints to impact their work..." /6
"... on the Midyear investigation. Rather, they told us that Comey had expressed a
desire complete the investigation as far in advance of the elections as possible to
avoid impacting the political process... "/7
"...and the fact that the presidential race was down to two candidates was a milestone that enhanced that sense of urgency." So Strzok and Page were also in the business of covering Comey's ass. /8
Aside from feeling "a little bit nauseous" and getting fired by a budding dictator his ass covering helped get elected, his ass seems to have been amply covered. /9 /END SUBTHREAD
"Witnesses told us that in the Midyear case in particular it made sense to start
at the bottom, because lower level people generally originated the emails
containing classified information on unclassified systems and sent them to Clinton’s..." /1
"... closer aides who, in turn, forwarded them to Clinton. Prosecutor 1 explained:
[T]he natural thing to do was work your way up the chain. And I say
chain, but I also mean email chain.... And just get to the, get to the
end. " /2
And when they finally got to the top, they found nothing. Know who else is taking his time, mostly going from bottom to top (other than maybe Manafort)? Robert Mueller. And will he find nothing when he gets there? I love this game. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"Comey told us that one of the strategies behind interviewing Clinton last was that the interviewing agents would know enough information from other witnesses that they could test Clinton’s credibility by asking her questions to
which they already knew the answers."
Regarding how they were planning to handle the interview: "10:52 p.m., Page: “One more thing: she might be our next president. The last thing you need us going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi?” /1
"10:56 p.m., Strzok: “Agreed.”" "Page sent a similar text message to an advisor to McCabe a few minutes after her text message to Strzok, and later to McCabe himself. With McCabe’s advisor, she had the following exchange. /2
"10:56 p.m., Page: “Hey, if you have one opportunity to discuss further with andy, please convey the following: She might be our next president. The last thing we need is us going in there loaded for bear, when it is not operationally necessary." /3
"'You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi? This is as much about reputational protection as anything.'" LOL! They were afraid of what would happen if HILLARY won. /4 /END SUBTHREAD
"Both agents and prosecutors told us that by the time of Clinton’s interview
they did not believe criminal charges were likely because they had conducted all other investigative steps and, absent a confession from Clinton..." /1
", they had concluded that there was insufficient evidence of intent. Comey told us that by early May 2016 (when he circulated a first draft of a public statement recommending that the Midyear investigation be closed without prosecution)..." /2
", the team had not 'found anything that seemed to the team or to me as a case that DOJ would prosecute' and he had a 'reasonable confidence read at this point that barring something else, this looks like it’s on a path' toward declination." /3
"However, he stated that if Clinton had 'lied to us in a way that we thought we could prove, that would have changed everything.'” Know who didn't end up lying to the FBI? Hint: Not Mike Flynn or Paul Manafort. /4 /END SUBTHREAD
June 28, 2016: "Agent 1 messaged, “...very aggravating making this flow
with 20+ voices for disparate information anyway. *We have nothing – shouldn’t
[sic] even be interviewing.*" No shit.
"We asked Agent 1 if he thought that the Clinton interview was unnecessary." /1
"Agent 1 told us he thought the interview was necessary and stated: " I think we needed to get statements from the Secretary about what she knew this information to be, she was the Secretary of State, so if you thought this was classified..." /2
"why did you not, if you had an impression it was classified, why did you not stop it, or why did you not say to the people that were underneath you that you should handle this better?" /3
"What did you know about where it was? How do you understand a server to, to work, and do you know that a copy resides there? Those types of things, to include a couple that we found. I don't, I don't want to make it sound like there was no reason to interview her." /4
"That, including, including a couple of emails we found where there were portion markings, what we thought to be portion markings inside of the email. And she had made statements before that...there were no emails that were marked classified." /5
So, essentially, by the time they got to the interview, they were off of the criminal investigation and back on to a procedural inquiry about building safeguards and rules for State communication procedure. *FACEPALM* /6 /END SUBTHREAD
"Agent 1 stated, '... my impression going into the election... is that all of the polls were favoring Hillary Clinton.” This is, I think, the first time that comes up in the body of the report. Keep in mind this is the period between the interview and Comey's presser.
The IG report then covers the interview essentially the same way the original July 2016 FBI report did.
For reasons I think I'm just not understanding, the FBI agents appear to not have wanted Hillary's lawyers in the interview. That's kind of weird, given that they pretty much knew what they were going to hear (per the 6/28/16 memo).
The IG report then analyzes some of the instant messages among the FBI agents and, they sound like they thought the HRC investigation was superfluous, at least as of mid-to-late-2015: /1
"September 2, 2015, to Agent 5: “Have a really bad feeling about
this...this case...situation.... No control and horrible decisions and
chaos on the most meaningless thing I’ve ever done with people acting
like fucking 9/11.” /2
"September 25, 2015, to an FBI employee: “...I dont care about it. I
think its continued waste of resources and time and focus....”
October 26, 2015, to Agent 5: “Its just so obvious how pointless this
exercise is. And everyone is so into it....” /3 /SUBTHREAD
"Agent 1 added that he felt the scrutiny and attention that Midyear received was not 'commensurate' with the nature of the violation the team was investigating." No shit.
The agents did an awful lot of venting... They just seemed pissed off in general.
"In particular, we were concerned about text messages exchanged by Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations.... " /1
"...most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia
investigation. Nonetheless, the implication in certain Russia-related text messages that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact presidential candidate Trump’s electoral prospects. "/2
"—for example, the August 8, 2016 text exchange in which Page asked Strzok “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” and Strzok replied “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it” /3
Breaking the quote up here because, shit, the messages were written while the Russia investigation was well underway. Given that, couldn't they, shouldn't they, actually be read as if they think they have a duty to stop him... /4
PRECISELY because they were involved in the Russia investigation and by that point had many reasons to believe he was a Manchurian candidate (not to mention with a dictatorial streak). /5
Would it really have been that inappropriate for them to want to keep him from getting elected based on that knowledge? I mean, who else could? The FBI was who Christopher Steele turned to when he thought he'd found conclusive evidence of collusion. /6
But by that point, the FBI ignored him. /7
Continuing the IG's statement: "[the texts] —caused us to question
the earlier Midyear investigative decisions in which he was involved, and whether
he took specific actions in the Midyear investigation based on his political views." But did he? /8
Nope. Just as we found earlier in the report: "As we describe in this chapter, we found that Strzok was not the sole decisionmaker for any of the specific investigative decisions examined in this chapter. We further found evidence that in some instances Strzok and Page... /9
"... *advocated for more aggressive investigative measures than did others on the
Midyear team*, such as the use of grand jury subpoenas and search warrants to
obtain evidence." /10 /END SUBTHREAD
The rest of Chapter 5 is the IG giving its opinions on everything that preceded it in the chapter -- essentially everything leading up to and through the HRC interview, and they, for the most part, felt the FBI handled it OK.
Page 163, Chapter 6... pause to get a snack.
OK, back to it. I hope this is helpful; there's a lot to go.
"Our review found that the Midyear team concluded beginning in early 2016
that evidence supporting a prosecution of former Secretary Clinton or her senior
aides was likely lacking... "
"In this chapter, we discuss the factors that led the Midyear team to conclude
that the investigation likely would result in a declination. "
"We then describe the discussions among Comey, Rybicki, Yates, and Axelrod beginning in April 2016 about how to announce the closing of the Midyear investigation, including Comey’s mention of a special counsel and Lynch’s knowledge of these discussions. "
"We also describe the origins of Comey’s decision to hold a press conference without coordinating with or informing the Department in advance, the various drafts of his public statement, and the Department’s reactions to the statement after he delivered it on July 5, 2016. "
"In addition, we describe the tarmac meeting between Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on June 27, 2016, and its impact on the Midyear investigation."
"Finally, we describe Comey’s congressional testimony about the reasons for his public statement."
OK, so...
"From early in the investigation, the investigative team said they knew that
proving intent would be a challenge..." /1
"This prosecutor explained that Secretary Clinton and her staff did not display any of the counterintelligence indicators that prosecutors typically see in mishandling cases.... " /2
"... *such as unreported foreign contacts or 'weird' meetings with foreigners*. Is that some shade thrown at Trump and pals? Sounds like it, huh?
The report here basically reiterates that Clinton was not only telling the truth, but that it was pretty obvious the whole time that she was, repeating some of Chapter 5.
"Notes obtained by the OIG from a meeting between Toscas and then EAD
John Giacalone on December 4, 2015, confirm that the lack of intent was the
subject of ongoing discussions." So, seven months before the interview, they knew there was nothing there. So why did they proceed?
"Other notes... on 1/29/16, to discuss the lack of evidence supporting prosecution. The notes state: "Don’t see prosecutable case at this point..." Other notes: *Want to insulate DOJ from criticism about how we did this work.*" CYA rears its ugly head again.
"Baker... thought that the conduct of... Clinton and her senior aides was 'appalling with respect to how they handled theclassified information...[and] arrogant in terms of their knowledge and understanding of these matters.” Did they keep going because Hillary was mean to them?
"Yates said that Department leadership began talking internally in the Spring
of 2016 about how to convey a declination decision because they knew that it
would be controversial..." I'm glad I haven't taken on Sally Yates as a hero, because she was part of this ass covering too.
"Comey said that, as he came to this realization, he became concerned that
the Department would be unable to announce the closing of the investigation in a way that the public would find credible and objective." Just tell the fucking truth! Or lie like you did with #TrumpRussia.
"Comey said that beginning in March or April 2016... he had a meeting with Rybicki, Yates, and Axelrod to discuss how the FBI and Department could credibly close the investigation." In 4 months, that press conference was the best he could come up with. Infuriating.
"Comey told the OIG that during the April meeting with Yates and Axelrod, he
told Yates that the closer they got to the political conventions, the more likely he
would be to insist that a special counsel be appointed..." /1
"because there was no way the Department could credibly finish the investigation once former Secretary Clinton was the Democratic Party nominee." Or you could like, end the investigation that you already decided was bullshit. /2 /END SUBTHREAD
So far, none of the characters doing the investigation, including Yates and Lynch, who a lot of us tend to like, come off very well. But if you go back through this god-knows-how-long thread, know who does? Obama and Hillary.
"As part of this discussion, Comey said he recounted his experience when he
was the DAG appointing then U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as the special counsel to investigate the leak of the name of a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame." Really? Comparing HEREMAILS to Plamegate?
"Comey told the OIG that the FBI had obtained highly classified information in 3/16 that included allegations of partisan bias or attempts to impede the Midyear investigation by Lynch." My 1st bombshell. Who gave the FBI the info (which they determined was false) and what was it?
Has anybody else noticed this? Has there been any discussion?
"Yates characterized Comey’s suggestion as a 'weird thing' that he raised 'out of the blue,' and said that she did not understand why the convention was a
bright line for him. " Neither do I.
"Yates also said that she was taken aback by Comey’s comments, because the
investigation had been going on for some time and he had never mentioned the
need for a special counsel." Did the pressure on Comey from the NY office start sooner than we think?
"However, she said that Comey 'kept FBI’s information very tight,' and that she 'sometimes...felt like [she] had to pry information out of him.'" Isn't that inappropriate given that he reported to her department?
"Lynch said that Yates told her that she met with Comey, and that Comey indicated that he was not sure there was a 'there there' with respect to the Midyear investigation." Anyone else starting to get really pissed off?
"Lynch told the OIG that she understood from Yates that Comey wanted to
complete the investigation before the political conventions." /1
"However, she said she did not recall being told that Comey had mentioned the possibility of requesting a special counsel if the investigation continued beyond that point." So either her memory is bad, or he was selectively sharing information with Yates and Lynch separately.
"[Lynch] said that, *other than letters from Members of Congress requesting a special counsel to handle the investigation*, no one ever mentioned that a special counsel might be necessary or might be requested if the investigation took too long." Was Comey listening to the GOP?
The next ten pages or so are the ridiculous back and forth over three months of how to close a case that should've been closed months before. It includes Page/Strzok messages, where they're on board with a Special Counsel and suggest Pat Fitzgerald (speaking of Plamegate).
Page and Strzok also continue to lobby for a generally more intensive investigation of HEREMAILS.
I was defending Page and Strzok from Trump, but fuck, he can have them.
Sure seems they were truly Comey's people: "Strzok told Laufman that Comey
wanted the investigation to be completed as soon as feasible."
Other notes obtained by the OIG indicate that prosecutors expected an
announcement by Comey by [7/8/16]. On [6/30/16], Laufman was
told by another NSD supervisor, “Expect that FBI wants to announce by next
Friday.... Wed or Thurs: briefing for DOJ leadership.”
By May, Comey was considering going rogue on the DOJ and making his own announcement: "On May 2, 2016, Comey sent an email to McCabe, Baker, and Rybicki including the text of the draft “straw person.” He stated at the beginning of the email:" /1
"I’ve been trying to imagine what it would look like if I decided to do an FBI only press event to close out our work and hand the matter to DOJ" /2 /END SUBTHREAD
At that point, he's drafting a long statement that calls Hillary "grossly negligent" a couple of times. Obviously he ended up with "extremely careless," But there's no evidence to this point that she was.
"The May 17 email also commented on language in the initial draft that it was
'reasonably likely that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s private
email account.'" Except the following pages provide no such evidence...
"According to Page, she raised concerns about the use of 'grossly negligent' in the draft statement at one of the meetings with Comey (likely the May 31 meeting) before making edits to the statement. Page told us: /1
"'I believe that I raised with [Comey] the concern...with the use of gross
negligence in particular because I was concerned that it would be confusing if we used a...term that has a legal definition...if we say she’s grossly negligent, that despite the fact that we..." /2
"... we and the Department had a good reason to not charge her with gross
negligence, given the fact that they thought it was unconstitutionally vague, and it had never been done, and, you know..." /3
"... sort of all of the concomitant defenses that would also follow from, from her conduct, that it would just be overly confusing." Is anyone else starting to feel like they had to say *something* negative about HRC in order to somehow /4
justify the year-plus that they spent on the nothingburger? In that light, things start to make a bit more sense. CYA again. #CYAComey /5 /END SUBTHREAD
Over the next few drafts they walk their language back more and more...
"Comey said that it was his understanding based on the statute’s legislative history that Congress intended for there to be some level of willfulness present even to prove a 'gross negligence' violation." Isn't the fact that he was still thinking of using the phrase prejudicial?
Comey: "I’m trying to find a way to credibly describe what we think she did and
our sense was, frankly mere negligence didn’t get it because it was not just ordinary sloppiness, it was sloppiness across a multiyear period and so there was..." /1
"I had in my head some sense that to be credible, we have to capture that and what words do we use to capture it—and that’s where we found the formulation extremely careless." But both the FBI report and the IG report indicate that Hillary was right /2
-- the communications technology at State was an antiquated mess, and also, as stated earlier, the guy in charge of it was on the verge of retiring and didn't have the knowledge or inclination to do anything about it. /3
"After reviewing a draft of the report, Anderson told the OIG that she raised
concerns about the use of the phrase “extremely careless” to describe former
Secretary Clinton’s conduct, as being unnecessary to the statement..." So there were internal concerns, too.
From Comey's final statement: "This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest." /1
"Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say..." That wasn't his decision to make.
"Comey told the OIG that he included criticism of former Secretary Clinton’s uncharged conduct because 'unusual transparency…was necessary for an
unprecedented situation...'" Yeah, so he said negative things just to look "fair."
There is no reason Comey couldn't have just said: "We investigated it; we've thought for months that there was no 'there there' but we investigated it out of a sense of responsibility." But truth is hard!
"Comey cited as precedent for his statement the press conference he gave in
June 2004, when he was the Deputy Attorney General, summarizing the evidence
against José Padilla, a U.S. citizen who had been designated as an enemy
combatant due to his support for al Qaeda" /1
NO NO NO NO NO! This is NOT Plamegate. This is NOT Jose Padilla. Those were real cases. Don't compare them to this bullshit, Comey. Motherfucker. /2 /END SUBTHREAD
"So it wasn’t just that we weren’t prosecuting her, but you didn’t want to leave the impression with...the rest of the community that she’s getting away with something or...that this is okay to do this. And so I think there was that, that balance. /1
"And that’s why I don’t think I thought so hard about the, the fact that we were talking about uncharged conduct of her. I was thinking more in terms of well we
need to kind of balance this so that people..." /2
" understand that we’re not giving her a clean bill of health, you know, and that people can do this kind of activity." Well, that's where you could've reached back to the original intent of the investigation and rather than stating... /3
...that Hillary did something wrong just to say so, talk about how you're going to prevent this sort of thing in the future -- modernizing technology, bringing in procedures and safeguards. That's how grownups solve these sorts of problems. /4 /END SUBTHREAD
"Baker told the OIG that “there were multiple audiences” for the criticism of
former Secretary Clinton in Comey’s statement. He recounted hearing that FBI
employees not involved in the Midyear investigation hated former Secretary Clinton" /1
"and had made comments such as, '[Y]ou guys are finally going to get that bitch,"
"In comments to the draft report, Baker further explained that because Comey did call Yates and Lynch on July 5: 'They could have demanded to know what he was going to say, and/or could have told him not to do it without a full discussion with them.' /1
"They did not. One is the AG, the other the DAG. They had an opportunity to say 'no' or 'stop' to the FBI Director. For whatever reasons, they did not. That is on them." Not sure what I think of this... /2 /END SUBTHREAD
They all continue to hem and haw over how to end this case. Apparently they never thought once of standing up to the Republicans.
"Comey acknowledged that he made a conscious decision not to tell Department
leadership about his plans to independently announce a declination because he was concerned that they would instruct him not to do it..." Um, I believe that's called "insubordination."
Now onto the Bill Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting. I don't want to go into it too much because I have quite a bit in the past.
"The Senior Counselor said that they immediately were aware that the meeting was ill-advised and that the 'optics were not great.'" They're at once both intensely concerned with optics, and, as we've seen, are not very good at them.
The answer from Lynch to the press and the GOP should be, "Fuck you. A former President wanted to talk to me, and while yes, I'm involved with a case involving his wife, we've known for months that the case is bullshit. So once again, fuck you."
In other news, I'd make a terrific diplomat or press secretary. "Donald, I hear you have an imminent opening...."
"Melanie Newman, the Director of OPA, said that the OPA Supervisor called
her from the van and 'sounded the alarm,' telling her that he just saw former
President Clinton board Lynch’s plane." This smacks of Shirley Sherrod and ACORN... We can sure be wussy sometimes.
"Newman characterized Lynch as 'devastated' about the tarmac meeting." I don't think Jeff Sessions is "devastated" that he MET WITH FUCKING RUSSIANS!
"Yates told the OIG that the group... quickly dismissed the idea of recusal because they knew that the Department was going to announce what they expected to be a declination 'in a matter of days.'" They wouldn't have needed to worry about this if they hadn't fucked the rest up.
Yeah, there's quite a bit more in the report on the tarmac thing, but fuck it.
"Comey stated that Lynch asked him, 'can you tell me what your
recommendation is going to be?” ... “I can’t and I hope
someday you’ll understand why, but I can’t answer any of your questions... I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to say.'” Jesus, Lynch comes across as weak.
Lynch: "But, so, as [Comey] went further into the analysis of not only what they
found but what they recommended, I just thought this was, this was
done to protect the image of the FBI.." #ComeyCYA. Again.
"Lynch told the OIG that she did not think that the FBI’s recommendation
should have been made public 'because we don’t make those things public.'" So why didn't she tell him that?
"Yates told the OIG that she had concerns about the substance of Comey’s
statement as she watched the press conference. She stated: " And while I can’t point to specific facts in Jim [Comey]’s description, you know, narrative description there that I would say were..." /1
"... inaccurate, I also remember at the time thinking the facts as those are
being laid out with much more censure than the facts as I understood
them to be and how I had been briefed on this matter." /2
" Sort of by way of example, I don’t recall Jim going through and explaining that therewere no classification markings on the vast, vast, vast majority. We
got three email chains with a, you know, the small C [indicating that
the information was Confidential]." /3
" Not the Top Secret or anything on there. That it was all to people within the State Department.... That were really, to me gave the most accurate picture of what the facts actually were there." /4
"And so I was stunned A, at the level of detail that he went into. B, that he then made judgments and said things like extremely careless and should have known that this material was. And every, anyone should know you shouldn’t have it
on a private server." /5
"That he gave the impression that, you know, the private server could have been hacked. We don’t really know for sure.... That, you know, I thought wasn’t really a balanced description of what the facts were here." Yates thought this was a nothingburger too. /6 /END SUBTHREAD
"Axelrod contrasted Comey’s statement with the briefing by the prosecutors the
following day, which he characterized as a “much more complete picture.” He
stated, “[W]hen [the prosecutors] were done talking the reaction was like oh, this is clearly a declination." /1
"When Comey was done talking, as I think you saw from the public reaction, was much more of a mixed bag.” What a bloody mess.
"Toscas said that Comey’s decision to do the statement seemed 'beyond strange'
and 'incredibly dangerous' considering the ongoing campaign and the proximity to the election." Once again, they had months to come to a consensus solution and none of them were on the same page.
The next few paragraphs of the report show that the DOJ's prosecutors were seriously pissed off and blindsided by Comey's statement.
Comey's to Congress on 7/7: "Now, the next Director who is criminally investigating one of the two candidates for President may find him or herself bound by my precedent. Okay. So if that happens in the next 100 years they’ll have to deal with what I did." THERE. ARE. NO. WORDS.
"Importantly, at the September 28 hearing, Comey was asked, 'Would you
reopen the Clinton investigation if you discovered new information that was both
relevant and substantial?' Comey answered, 'It is hard for me to answer in the
abstract.'" /1
"'We would certainly look at any new and substantial information.... What
we can say is...if people have new and substantial information, we would like to see it so we can make an evaluation.” /2
The correct answer is "NO." You couldn't give us that, and it might lead to the end of the motherfucking world. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
I am starting to hate Comey more and more.
IG: " We concluded that Comey’s unilateral announcement was
inconsistent with Department policy, usurped the authority of Attorney General, and did not accurately describe the legal position of the Department prosecutors."
"We also found that Lynch’s failure to recognize the appearance problem created by former President Clinton’s visit and to take action to cut the visit short was an error in judgment." Meh.
"We further concluded that her efforts to respond to the meeting by explaining what her role would be in the investigation going forward created public confusion and did not adequately address the situation." No kidding.
"We found that it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal
his intentions from his superiors" Hey! I said "insubordinate" too!
OK, stick with this one: " Comey cited four things that he said caused him to be concerned that Lynch could not credibly participate in announcing
a declination: her alleged instruction to call the Midyear investigation a “matter” ina meeting held on September 28, 2015..." /1
"... which Comey said “made [his] spider sense tingle” and caused him to 'worry...that she’s carrying water for the [Clinton] campaign'; concerns that highly classified information referencing Lynch would be publicly released and would impact her credibility;" /2
"... the tarmac meeting between Lynch and former President Bill Clinton; and the fact that Lynch was appointed by a President that was the same political party as former Secretary Clinton." /3
The punchline: "We found none of these reasons persuasive...." They didn't find "Spidey Sense" persuasive??? /4 /END SUBTHREAD
The IG then addresses each of those reasons individually and basically tear him a new asshole. He comes across as a self-centered liar...
The rest of the chapter, pages 245-251, are worth reading in their entirety.
Chapter 7...
I'm getting kind of loopy!
"The Declination Recommendation." Sounds like the name of an episode of Big Bang Theory.
"As described above, prosecutors and NSD supervisors began to realize that
the investigation could lead to a declination in early 2016."
The IG goes through all the reasons the prosecutors did not charge Hillary or her team with anything... this is telling: "“[T]he problem was the State Department was so screwed up in the way they treated classified information..." /1
"...that if you wanted to prosecute Hillary Clinton, you would have had to prosecute 150 State Department people.” Once again, Lynch and Comey, fix the State Department rather than going after Hillary. There was no reason for it. /2 /END SUBTHREAD
"Finally, the prosecutors evaluated whether Mills and Samuelson intentionally
deleted emails during the culling process used to separate former Secretary
Clinton’s “personal” and “work-related” emails for production to the State
Department." /1
"They concluded that there was no evidence that emails intentionally
were deleted by former Secretary Clinton’s lawyers to conceal the presence of
classified information on former Secretary Clinton’s server... " /2
"... particularly because some of the emails produced as 'work-related' later were determined to contain highly classified, compartmented information." /3
So wait, you're telling me you didn't find the e-mails Hillary sent while she was personally gunning down our diplomats in BENGHAZI!!1!!!!, cackling all the way? You turned my world upside down, Inspector General. By the way can I call you IGgy? No? OK. /4 /END SUBTHREAD
"Prosecutor 4 stated, 'My view was and still remains that the private email server was set up to avoid FOIA.'" With not a shred of evidence to back that up.
"Yates said that she recalled thinking that “you’d kind of wonder if it’s the same case” when she heard the facts as laid out by the prosecutors at the briefing and compared them to Comey’s statement." That's new information.
"Witnesses said that at the end of the discussion, Lynch went around the
room and asked for people’s opinions to see if anyone objected to declining
prosecution." More than six months late.
"We found that the prosecutors’ decision was based on their assessment of
the facts, the law, and past Department practice in cases involving these statutes.
We did not identify evidence of bias or improper considerations." Try telling Republicans that.
"We found no evidence that the conclusions by Department prosecutors were
affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we concluded that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law, and past
Department practice." /1
" In reaching this conclusion, we recognize that much of the questioning of the Department’s prosecutorial decision in this case has focused on whether the Department too narrowly interpreted the 'gross negligence' provision..." /2
"...of Section 793(f)(1) and should have pursued a prosecution because the FBI found Clinton to be 'extremely careless.' That, however, is a legal and policy judgment involving core prosecutorial discretion for the Department to make." *Shrug*
Brushing teeth, then on to Chapter 8.
OK, back to business...
"During October 2016, we found that FBI leadership devoted significant time
and attention responding to both internal and external interest in, and criticism of, the Midyear investigation." /1
"This included remarks by Comey about the Midyear investigation at the FBI’s SAC Conference, the development of Midyear talking points for all FBI SACs, a Midyear briefing for the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI..." /2
"... and continued monitoring of media discussion of the Midyear investigation." I don't know how to put in any other way other than that after July, the Clinton investigation became an obsession within the FBI. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"these events occurred immediately after FBI Headquarters and the FBI Midyear team were made aware of the potential significance of the Weiner laptop by the FBI’s New York Field Office (NYO) on September 28 and 29." This is when apparently someone leaked the info to Devin Nunes.
" at the same time that FBI leadership was taking the steps... to defend its handling of the Midyear investigation as thorough and complete, it was taking no action in response to the notification by NYO regarding the Weiner laptop." But the New York Office was...
Totally new to me: "On October 12, Comey spoke to the SAC Conference about a variety of topics. This speech included lengthy remarks about the Midyear investigation. In part, he stated:" /1
"I do want to hit Hillary Clinton’s emails which I never tire of talking
about, as you know." Then SHUT UP. /2
"Because I want to make sure that you are equipped especially to answer questions and comments *from our formers* who are out trapped in a Fox News bubble and are hearing all kinds of nonsense." /3
Those "formers" are former agents that were probably leaking info to the Trump team. /4 /END SUBTHREAD
"I have gotten emails from some employees about this, who said if I did what Hillary Clinton did I’d be in huge trouble. My response is you bet your ass you’d be in huge trouble." /1
"If you used a personal email, Gmail or if you [had] the capabilities to set up your own email domain, if you used an unclassified personal email system to do our business in the course of doing our business even though you were communicating with people with clearances... /2
"... and doing work you discussed classified matters in that, in those communications, TS/SCI, special access programs, you would be in huge trouble in the FBI...." Hey BUUUUUUDY... /3 /END SUBTHREAD…
Comey tries to thread the needle: "...Of that I am highly confident. I’m also highly confident, in fact, certain you would not be criminally prosecuted for that conduct...." /1
"...What I’m getting from the left is savage attacks for violating policy and law by talking publicly about somebody who wasn’t indicted, by revealing facts that you should’ve been prescribed from revealing by decades of tradition." #BothSidesDont /2
"All of that’s nonsense just as this is nonsense. It is a uniquely difficult time. I expect after the election, which is coming up I’m told, we will have probably more conversations about this...." Spoiler: Nobody ever talked about it again. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"On October 17, Page sent an email to Baker and Anderson entitled '“MYE TPs
(LCP).' Strzok, the Lead Analyst, FBI Attorney 1, and FBI Attorney 2 were cc’d
on the email." Page and Strzok were Keystone Kops.
"The talking points, which included a section on frequently asked questions,
were nine pages and largely tracked Comey’s July 5 statement and his July 7
testimony before Congress." /1
"At the top of the first page of the talking points was a note to FBI executives, the first sentence of which stated, 'The purpose of these talking points is to provide FBI executive management with a factual basis by which..." /2
"to inform discussions with employees or interested parties in the community.'" If you'll recall, this was a huge success.
Now onto the former agents. "On October 7, the President of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI (the “Society”) sent an email to Bowdich entitled “Controversy over the Director/Clinton Email Situation.” /1
"Bowdich told us he recalled the Society wanting a sit-down with Comey, which Bowdich considered a bad idea, and we did not find evidence that the meeting with Comey occurred prior to the election." Gotta love it -- "The Society." /2 /END SUBTHREAD
An important aside... for some more context on what was going on in that world around this time, read this by…
More from the Keystone Kops: "However, on October 21, Strzok briefed a group of retired FBI personnel on the Midyear investigation during a conference call. This call was organized by Kortan, and Page also dialed into the call, although she did not speak."
"Comey told us that he is not sure he knew about Strzok’s call beforehand,
but 'it rings true to me.' We asked him if it was normal to have the agent who
oversaw an investigation directly brief the retired agents on that case." /1
"Comey stated, 'No...there’s nothing normal at all about this, but it seemed a reasonable thing to do given the stakes which was the credibility of the organization.'" Dude, you kinda blew that months before. /2 /END SUBTHREAD
"On October 14, Rybicki and Kortan assigned an FBI Office of Public Affairs
(OPA) Public Affairs Advisor a 'research project.' The Public Affairs Advisor’s initial email to Kortan and Rybicki on October 14 stated," /1
"'Per Mike [Kortan]’s suggestion, I’ll compile a list of stories from the past 24 hours that I’ve found that revolve around the recent email story from Fox.' Rybicki responded that evening," /2
" “Thanks.... This is very helpful. I think the idea is that you would also track all
email investigation stories each day and then we can figure out which ones are so
inaccurate that we need to respond in some way.” Consistent with this assignment,'" /3
"'from October 14 and continuing through the end of October, we identified a series of almost daily emails from the Public Affairs Advisor to Kortan and Rybicki
highlighting critical media coverage of the Clinton email server investigation.'" /4
This is the behavior of people who are trying to get a genie back into a bottle. /5 /END SUBTHREAD
"The Public Affairs Advisor said he was not sure why he was given this
assignment in mid-October, but recalled more coverage of the Midyear investigation 'popped up' at this time." Sure did. Let's see what's next...
"... we asked Comey why the FBI was essentially inserting itself into the back and forth dialogue of two political campaigns. Comey replied: 'It’s not our role, but it’s our role to be believed by the American people.'" /1
Actually, no, dude, it's your role to protect us from shit, like, say, a Muscovite Candidate THAT YOU'RE INVESTIGATING! Anyway... "'And you’ve heard me say this before, when we rise and say, I found this under the car seat or I heard this statement...'" /2
"'or I seized this document in the bureau drawer...we have to be believed. And so my worry was, actually I had a great sense of relief after the July 5th thing, like that’s over and now what I need to worry about is making sure that I did what I did in July...'" /3
"'as we talked about a million times because I thought it was best calculated to preserve the institutions, now I need to do my absolute best to make sure that the poison that...' " /4
"'follows doesn’t continue to undercut the credibility of the institution in
American life. '" Am I just tired, or was he rambling? /5 /END SUBTHREAD
That chapter left me underwhelmed. On to Chapter 9.
"In this chapter, we discuss the discovery of Clinton emails on the Weiner
laptop and the eventual reactivation of the Midyear investigation." Not sure I'm going to like this one... something's missing. Josh Marshall explains:
"A federal search warrant was obtained on September 26, 2016, for Weiner’s iPhone, iPad, and laptop computer. The FBI obtained these devices the same day." Again, they sat on this for a bit.
"The case agent told us that he asked another agent to take a quick look at
his computer to “make sure, am I, am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?” The other agent told the OIG that he “vividly” recalled what he described as the 'oh-shit moment'" /1
"...when the case agent said that Hillary Clinton’s emails were on the laptop.
The other agent stated that, while he did not view the content, he believed that he did see the domain portion of the emails and remembered thinking at the time that... " /2
"... it was the same domain that had been associated with Clinton in news coverage. The other agent told the OIG that he and the case agent agreed that this information needed “to get reported up the chain” immediately." /3 /END SUBTHREAD
Things bounce around the FBI New York office for a day or two, and then the subject is communicated to the US Attorney's office of the Southern District of New York. Then Andy McCabe comes into the picture again.
"McCabe, who told us that his earliest recollection of learning about the
Weiner laptop was in a telephone call with Sweeney in late September or early
October, recalled Sweeney informing him that NYO had seized a laptop from
Anthony Weiner..." /1
"... and they thought there would be Clinton stuff in it. When asked what Sweeney specifically told him, McCabe stated, “I just remember him saying
we think, you know, like... " /2
"'we’ve got this laptop and we opened it up, and it looks like there’s stuff on there from Clinton, and, you know. Oh, my gosh, what do we do kind of thing.'” The answer should've been "nothing." But these guys left themselves wide open for something like this. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"McCabe stated that shortly after this call he contacted Priestap and said,
'[Y]ou need to get somebody up to New York right away to take a look at what they have because it might be Clinton emails.'" OMGHEREMAILS
"Strzok could not recall who first told him about the Weiner laptop, only recalling that someone told him that some “Clinton-type emails” had been discovered in New York. Strzok’s notes from September 28 stated..." /1
"'NY invest Weiner sexting 15 y’o. Weiner atty produces copy of everything Weiner has on iCloud to SDNY. Significant email from Huma [NFI – their email vs. her independent email]? Relevance to MYE, Clinton Foundation? MYE go review.'" God, why? /2 /END SUBTHREAD
"Page said she believed the September 28 text message from Strzok was the
first time she heard about the emails on the Weiner laptop and told us that she knew little information about it. Page explained that she was 'not really that involved” in most of the October stuff.'”
"Page stated her lack of involvement was due in part to the FBI’s Russia investigation. Page explained... many of the supervisors on the Midyear team were also assigned to the Russia investigation and they were “super-occupied” with the Russia investigation during October."
So wait, the SAME GODDAMN AGENTS that were on HEREMAILS were also doing Russia? That means they all weighed the Weiner development versus potential treason and said, "BUTHEREMAILS!" And then said that there was no Russia investigation. Fucking liars.
"When asked about Strzok’s text message that he was 'sending [a] team up tomorrow to review,' McCabe noted that the text message would be consistent with what McCabe told Priestap." So apparent Hillary loyalist Strzok went right after more HEREMAILS.
Comey reenters the picture now.
"Given the scrutiny of the Clinton email server investigation, we asked McCabe
why he believed Comey did not have a stronger reaction to this information and
whether this was considered a “big deal.” McCabe responded:" /1
"'Well, it was a big deal to me.'" I got nothing. /2 /END SUBTHREAD
"Comey explained: 'I was aware sometime in the first week or two of October that there was a laptop that a criminal squad had seized from Anthony Weiner in
New York and someone said to me that..." /1
"'...the reason that’s so vague in my head is I think—I never imagined that there might be something on a guy named Anthony Weiner’s computer that might connect to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, so I kind of just put it out of my mind.'" /2
He's gotta be lying, right? I mean, HEREMAILS were at the top of his mind like a week before. No way this didn't register with him. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"'And I think it was the beginning of October and then I think it disappears from my memory. And then I remember for certain when Andy emails me, I think it’s the 27th [of October] saying, the Midyear team needs to meet with you urgently or right away or something.” /1
I don't believe him. I'm almost sure he was being harangued all month by various current and former officers about this. He's hiding something. /2 /END SUBTHREAD
The IG pushes back: "We asked Comey to explain why this initial information about the Weiner laptop did not 'index' with him given that Abedin was closely connected to Clinton." /1
"Comey stated, “I don’t know that I knew that [Weiner] was married to Huma
Abedin at the time.” Comey told us that even if he had had known that Abedin was married to Weiner 'it wouldn’t have been [at the] top of [my] mind.'" BUTSTILLHEREMAILS /2
"Comey also stated that the manner in which he was informed of this information affected his reaction. Comey told us that he was “quite confident” that he was not told this information in a “sit down” briefing in his office." /3
"Instead, Comey thought it most likely that McCabe was “passing the office” and said, 'hey Boss, I just want you to know that the criminal squad in New York has got Anthony Weiner[‘s] laptop and I think it may have some connect to Midyear.” /4
Real talk: It couldn't have happened that way, right? /5 / END SUBTHREAD
"He said, 'The notion that I knew something important was on that laptop and did what—concealed or hid it or something?—is crazy.'" Nope, not in the least. It's more likely than not that that's the case.
"Comey stated that he would have expected to be briefed if NYO had discovered a large volume of Hillary Clinton’s emails. However, if NYO had only discovered a large volume of Abedin’s emails..." /1
"... he was not sure that information would be briefed to him since there would not necessarily be a connection to Midyear. He acknowledged, however, that it 'would be significant' if the laptop contained Abedin’s emails on a domain." /2
OK, maybe if I squint the right way... nope. Still not buying it. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
There's then a whole lot of confusion, or a whole lot of FBI people who were so sure about everything else involving HEREMAILS suddenly becoming quite forgetful about them for a few days.
You guys have to read most of Chapter 9 for yourselves. The IG gets into interviews it did with the players, and I don't feel like any of it is clear at all. There's also like a 2-3 week gap after October 3rd that nobody seems to have any real recollection of.
How can there suddenly be a gap in the timeline of a story that the FBI had been taking absurdly seriously?
If Comey, McCabe, etc weren't aware, but Devin Nunes was, then someone was working incredibly hard to hide things from the FBI's leadership. Which could be the case. Someone's going to need to fill in these gaps.
"Comey told us he did not recall this email [on Oct 3 informing him of some of the Weiner story]... Comey stated that he was “only dimly” aware of the Weiner child exploitation investigation at this point in time.'" Um, everyone knew about Weiner except for the head of the FBI?
"NYO Completes Processing of Weiner Laptop Around October 4" but still everyone's forgetful...
"After October 4, we found no evidence that anyone associated with the
Midyear investigation... took any action on the Weiner laptop issue until the week of October 24, and then did so only after SDNY raised concerns about the lack of action." Coverup. Come on.
"When we asked McCabe about this period from late September until late
October and the lack of activity on the Weiner laptop, he stated:
'During that period in between, you know, I expected that we were
making progress on it.'" /1
"I probably met with some combination of the Midyear team every day of that month. Near to every single day on a whole kind of range of Midyear-related issues. And I would have expected that if they were having problems with that issue and not making progress..." /2
"' on something that I had put on, on their radar as an important thing, that that would have come to my attention. And it didn’t. So I don’t, I can’t sit here and tell you with perfect clarity why it didn’t...'" /3
"'whether they thought they had it under control but they didn’t, or it was being ignored and not given the attention it, it needed, but it, it didn’t come to me during that time.'" /4
This is maddening. These 2-3 weeks are among the most mysterious but consequential periods in America, and no one remembers anything about it. /5 /END SUBTHREAD
"FBI Headquarters and Midyear personnel provided multiple explanations for
the apparent inactivity on the Weiner laptop during this period." Their stories aren't straight...
@PreetBharara to the rescue? "On October 21, the SDNY Chief Counsel began drafting a memorandum summarizing SDNY’s involvement with the issue of the Clinton emails on the Weiner laptop." /1
"Bharara told us that he instructed the Chief Counsel to write the memorandum in order to 'put down, precisely, and with a hundred percent accuracy, you know, what we did, what the timeline was, and why we did what we did.'" /2
"Bharara told us that he decided to take this step because 'things seemed unusual to” him and he anticipated that SDNY would be asked questions about this in the future.'" Unusual, eh? I'll say. /3
@PreetBharara, if somehow you read this, can you enlighten us on October 2016? /4 /END SUBTHREAD
"Until Prosecutor 1 called Strzok on 10/21 [about the] laptop issue, no one from the FBI had spoken with anyone from the Midyear prosecution team... The only contact that occurred prior to that regarding the laptop was the call... from McCabe to McCord on 10/3." 18 lost days.
"Prosecutor 1 stated that Toscas told him 'the basic facts' about the Weiner
laptop and told Prosecutor 1 to call Strzok. Prosecutor 1 stated that he did not
'recall getting much detail' from Toscas." More bad memory...
Apparently the Midyear team woke up from its long slumber on October 24th.
"The SAC told us that Sweeney called him at some point during the week of
October 24 while McCabe was giving him a ride home... McCabe told us that he had no recollection of this phone call." Goddammit. This chapter sucks.
"McCabe and McCord both told us that they discussed the Weiner laptop in a
phone call in late October, though neither could recall the specific date.... we believe October 25 is the date on which this conversation occurred." Why do I remember these days so vividly and they don't?
"Sweeney described the discussion: 'And then when the room clears, [McCabe] starts talking about the Weiner laptop.... [I]t goes into an explanation of who Weiner is, Huma Abedin’s husband. She’s the chief of staff.'" How was this news to them?
"According to Sweeney, the conversation then turned to the NYO Clinton Foundation investigation." Wait, why was the NYO investigating the Clinton Foundation at that time? (and not the Trump Foundation)
"Sweeney stated that he *did not remember* McCabe going into detail about
what had been discovered. For example, Sweeney said that he *did not recall*..." I can't even examine the substance of this at this point. @joshtpm, this is even worse than you said.
"The Midyear SSA stated that he reached out to NYOafter receiving this email. He recalled that 'New York was somewhat frustrated.'" I recall them being beyond "somewhat frustrated."…
This was always one of the pieces of the story that seemed too hot for most media to touch. Is it too hot for the IG too?
Getting concrete again finally: "Page told us that the team briefed McCabe about the information from the conference call on the evening of October 26. Page stated that McCabe indicated that “'we’re going to need to reopen. This, this is significant.'"
OK, but why was it so significant that within two days Comey had to write a letter to Congress that couldn't wait two more weeks after it had waited a month?
McCabe: "*The only thing I remember* is like we had at that point confirmed that, yes, there is no doubt what appears to be relevant email for us on this
laptop." There's that October memory fog again.
On the next couple of pages, language like "do not recall" and "do not remember" comes up several times. It's hard to take seriously.
"We asked Comey if knew what this email was about when he received it. He
For everyone that's still reading, I'm sorry that my commentary has gotten so off the rails. But this just doesn't add up. Not at all.
"Comey reiterated that 'the volume of emails' and the presence of the BlackBerry
emails were 'two highly significant facts' and that the presence of the BlackBerry
emails in particular 'weighed very heavily on me.'" He works in intelligence? He keeps focusing on the wrong things!
"Comey told us that the decision to authorize the Midyear team to seek a
search warrant for the Weiner laptop 'was an easy decision' and that there was no controversy over this decision." How could there be no controversy about waiting ten days for something that isn't urgent?
Was Anthony Weiner going to molest the e-mails or something?
"Strzok stated that Comey agreed 'fairly quickly' with the team’s suggestion to seek a search warrant." The same guy who dithered for three months about a two minute press announcement three months before.
"Priestap.... told us that he thought the review of the Weiner laptop was necessary even though he 'would have been shocked' if they found anything on the laptop that changed the outcome of the Midyear investigation." Makes no sense at all.
None of this seems to make sense to the IG either: "In sum, we concluded that the explanations given for the failure of the FBI to take action on the Weiner laptop between September 29 and the end of October were unpersuasive."
So it's not just me.
"We found that what changed between September 29 and October 27 that
finally prompted the FBI to take action was not new information about what was on the Weiner laptop but rather the inquiries from the SDNY prosecutors and then from the Department." /1
"The only thing of significance that had changed was the calendar and the fact that people outside of the FBI were inquiring about the status of the Weiner laptop." /2 /END SUBTHREAD
That's the end of the chapter. The IG appears to have believed very little of what it was told about October 2016. Maybe the last two chapters will tell us more?
Oh. Four chapters. Fuck.
Chapter 10...
Comey has some absurd explanations for why his letter couldn't wait. One example: "[W]hen the Anthony Weiner thing landed on me on 10/27...
we may be finding the golden missing emails that would change this
case." As of almost a year before NO ONE thought any such thing existed.
"Comey told us that he felt he had an obligation to update Congress that the
FBI was seeking a search warrant for the Weiner laptop in the Midyear investigation because the email discovery was potentially very significant and that made Comey’s prior testimony no longer true." /1
"'I don’t think the obligation was rooted in my having promised to come
back to them if I learned new evidence. I have read some of that in
the open source; people saying the reason he did it is he had made a
promise to Congress that he would supplement the record." /2
"No. I mean maybe I did in some form, but that’s not how I thought about it. I... testified under oath for 10 hours and said there’s no there there; we’re done.... And now that is materially untrue..." THERE WAS STILL NO THERE THERE. /3 /END SUBTHREAD
"Comey told us that the Department could never have closed the Midyear
investigation with a 'no comment.'" Isn't that exactly what he was supposed to do?
"In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey stated, 'I’ve got
to tell Congress that we’re restarting this, not in some frivolous way, in a hugely
significant way.'" If HRC's entire e-mail server got you nothing, how is Anthony Weiner's laptop suddenly significant?
"'The Director felt like, hey, if we don’t notify them, after the July 5th notification, we could potentially be accused of concealing information. I remember him using that, that word.'" He concealed that there was no there there for SIX MONTHS earlier in the year.
... just ten days... just ten fucking days.
"Comey told us that he was concerned that if the FBI failed to disclose the
new information, it could be accused of attempting to help Clinton get elected." #CYAComey. Though after the last two chapters I'm starting to move away from the idea that he was just covering his ass.
Baker: "If she’s been elected president of the United States, then Donald Trump would say, oh my God, these people knew this beforehand and didn’t say anything. This is a rigged system." HE WAS SAYING THAT FOR TWO MONTHS ANYWAY!
I feel like at this point i should just put caps lock on and leave it on.
"Steinbach told us he did not recall if Comey 'said it in exactly these words, but, in the totality, that’s what he conveyed to us.' Steinbach added that Comey 'wanted
to be transparent.'" After reading this report, I have no sense that Comey is a person who values transparency.
"Comey told us that he was concerned about the perceived illegitimacy of a
Clinton presidency that would follow from a failure to make the October 28
disclosure." The Republicans had already said they were going to start impeachment hearings from day one.
"And I said, I cannot consider that at all. Down that path lies the death of the FBI because if I ever start thinking about whose political ox will be gored by this or that," Said the man who concealed a treason investigation.
Someone who wanted to protect the legitimacy of a Clinton presidency would not have investigated a nothingburger in the first place.
"We asked the FBI personnel involved in these discussions if a fear of leaks
impacted the decision to notify Congress. Comey told us that he “didn’t make this decision because [he] thought it would leak otherwise.” Except it's easily the best explanation given the facts.
"Others, however, had a different recollection. Rybicki told us that, while not
remembering the context, he recalled the issue of leaks being raised during these
discussions. Strzok stated that the fear of leaks played a role in the ultimate
"Baker told us that a concern about leaks played a role in the decision to send
the letter to Congress. "
Baker told us that “the discussion was somebody in New York will leak this.” BIngo.
"Despite the existence of this investigation into individuals associated with the
Trump campaign in the fall of 2016, none of the participants in the FBI’s internal
discussions about the October 28 notification to Congress recalled any mention of the Russia investigation."
In an October 5, 2016 email, Comey explained his position on the statement
to Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan and Director of National
Intelligence James Clapper. Comey stated, in part: /1
"I think the window has closed on the opportunity for an official
statement, with 4 weeks until a presidential election. I think the
marginal incremental disruption/inoculation impact of the statement
would be hugely outweighed..." /2
" by the damage to the [Intelligence Community’s] reputation for independence.
I could be wrong (and frequently am) but Americans already “know”
the Russians are monkeying around on behalf of one candidate." Most Americans STILL don't believe it.
"Department personnel were informed of Comey’s decision to notify Congress
around mid-day on 10/27. Various discussions between FBI and Department
personnel occurred over the next 24 hours... Notably, Comey never spoke
directly with either Lynch or Yates about the notification."
He knew his bosses at the DOJ wouldn't let him do it.
IG: "The entire CES team found the notification 'highly objectionable.' [David] Laufman told us his concerns, stating:
(A) We had a very low expectation that, that the substance of what
this [the laptop] might include would be anything novel" /1
"' or consequential that would occasion reassessing, let alone altering the
findings and analysis and recommendations we had already made.'" In other words, NO GOLDEN E-MAILS.
"Prosecutor 1 stated that the notification to Congress 'didn’t make any
sense.' Prosecutor 1 told us that given Abedin’s role and the evidence they had
previously reviewed there was little 'likelihood of finding anything of import in
So the decision to make the announcement was far from unanimous, and the pros are vastly outweighed by the cons. Most of the pros don't make a lot of sense.
"Prosecutor 2 told us that the Department was 'shocked' that the FBI was
even considering notifying Congress about this development. Prosecutor 2 said
that she did not necessarily view the Weiner laptop as a significant development in the Midyear investigation."
"Prosecutor 2 also told us that she believed the FBI would not listen to any of the
arguments they put forth. She stated, “[T]here’s a defeated feeling at this point
that like [Strzok] was given the task of like pretend to DOJ that you’re hearing
them out."
"We asked Comey why he delegated communication... instead of talking to Yates and Lynch directly. Comey stated: 'I think because of the way, the distance they’ve been taking on the whole thing I wanted to offer them the opportunity to honestly to step away from it.'" Huh?
Matt Axelrod at the DOJ told Comey not to do it.
"Axelrod stated that Rybicki told him that the FBI was also concerned that the
information would leak if no notification was made."
"Yates stated that one of the reasons that the FBI “gave for why they felt like [Comey] had to go to Congress is that they felt confident that the New York Field Office would leak it...” As I've said, Yates isn't a hero of mine, but I trust her word over Comey's. He's lying.
"Lynch told us that she did not recall the FBI asking for the Department’s feedback."
"Yates stated, “It all kept coming back to, and it was always framed as this is a personal ethical obligation that Jim Comey has. Not a Department strategic decision. Not a Department even policy decision. But a personal ethical obligation that he has.” He made up his own ethics
"Lynch told us that 'the staff’s view' was a direct call from either of them
'was not going to change anything based upon the discussions that [Axelrod] was having with Rybicki.'"
"Lynch told us that she 'went back and forth' on whether to order Comey to stand down, but she 'thought at that could lead to greater damage,' *meaning that Comey would disobey and send the letter anyway.*" Wow.
"We asked Comey why he asked for the Department’s feedback and then
ignored the feedback that he received. Comey told us, “I thought the better view
of it was that we had to. They were leaving it to me essentially and I took it." He sure did.
"Toscas said that the entire discussion about the contents of the letter was
'awkward' since the Department 'oppose[d] every aspect of this.'"
IG: "We concluded that, in considering his choices, Comey failed to give adequate consideration to long-established Department and FBI norms, policies, and expectations that he applied in other cases.... Comey made a serious error of judgment."
"Much like with his July 5 announcement, Comey engaged in ad hoc
decisionmaking based on his personal views even if it meant rejecting longstanding Department policy or practice."
"We found unpersuasive Comey’s explanation as to why transparency was more important than Department policy and practice with regard to the reactivated Midyear investigation"
"His task was not to conduct an ad hoc comparison of
case-specific outcomes and risks. Rather, the burden was on him to justify an
extraordinary departure from these established norms, policies, and precedent."
"But it is hardly unique for the FBI to receive new information that might cause it to reactivate a previously closed or dormant investigation. To our knowledge, the FBI has not generally identified this circumstance as nullifying the stay silent principle."
"We found that the FBI’s basis for believing, as of October 28, that the contents of the Weiner laptop would be significant to the Clinton email investigation was
"As of October 28, no one with any knowledge of the Midyear investigation had viewed a single email message, and the Midyear team was uncertain they would even be able to establish sufficient probable cause to obtain a search warrant."
I can't get over "golden e-mails."
"Even within the flawed analytical construct that Comey set up, he did not
assess risks evenhandedly."
"Ironically, in his effort to avoid the FBI or himself being seen as political, Comey based his decision, in part, on his assessment of the likely outcome of the political process." Ouch.
"Even accepting Comey’s assertion that leaks played no role in his decision, we found that, at a minimum, a fear of leaks influenced the thinking of those who were advising him."
Chapter 11!
"The factual basis for the 10/30 search warrant application... contained limited information about what the NYO case agent had seen on the Weiner laptop and the importance of that information to the Midyear investigation. " So BS warrant. We saw the FBI try that earlier.
Really nothing new or interesting to cover in Chapter 11. I'm expecting little from Chapter 12, which is mostly Page/Strzok messages.
I said I didn't want to address their messages, but I will say this: None of what they said was factually untrue.
I have no interest in the last two chapters, which are about whether McCabe and another agent should've recused themselves.
Thanks for reading! I hope this was educational for you. My biggest takeaway is that we need to know a LOT more about what motivated James Comey throughout the entire investigation. I hope someone's getting ready to cover that in a big way.
Have a great "night," everyone!