Comey’s Mishandling of Classified Information

Recently, there has been controversy over allegations that former FBI Director Comey leaked classified information, an issue that I mentioned on twitter  a month ago. The recent news-cycle began with a story in The Hill,  leading to a tweet by Trump, followed by a series of sneering “rebuttals” in the media (CNN, Slate, Politico, Vanity Fair).  Comey defenders (like Hillary Clinton’s) claim that classification was done “retroactively”:

In fact, the Hill’s John Solomon noted that it’s unclear whether the classified information in the memos was classified at the time the memos were written and Politico’s Austin Wright reports Monday afternoon that some of Comey’s memos were indeed classified only retroactively

Thus far undiscussed by either side is Comey’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, which dealt directly with both the classification of details of Comey’s January 6 meeting with Trump and Comey’s understanding of obligations in respect to classified information. (Comey’s questionable briefing and conduct in the January 6 meeting merit extremely close scrutiny, but that’s a story for another day.)  The net result is that it seems inescapable that Comey either misled the congressional committee or mishandled classified information.

The January 6 Meeting

There was much public anticipation for Trump’s January 6 intelligence briefing, presented to him by Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and NSA director Michael Rogers. An unclassified intel assessment was concurrently released on January 6, which, in respect to hacking allegations, added nothing to the earlier Dec 29 intel assessment on hacking. The presence of Comey, Brennan, Clapper and Rogers at the intel briefing was widely reported.  Towards the end of the briefing, Comey asked for the opportunity to meet with Trump one-on-one.

After Trump aides and the other three intel directors left the room, Comey briefed Trump on the Steele Dossier, the story of which remains mostly untold. The Steele Dossier, paid for by a still unidentified “Democratic donor”, had been produced by a DC opposition research firm (Fusion GPS) directly connected with the “Kremlin-connected” lawyer, Natalia Veselniskaya, who had met with Donald Trump Jr in June 2016. Although the Steele Dossier contained multiple fabrications, its lurid allegations were taken very seriously by both the CIA and FBI, which, together with other government agencies, had been investigating them for months. Although Comey later objected to Trump talking to him one-on-one without a DOJ minder present, it was Comey himself who initiated the practice.

According to Comey’s written evidence on June 5, the ostensible purpose of Comey’s briefing to Trump on unverified material was to “alert the incoming President to the existence of this material” because they “we knew the media was about to publicly report the material” and, “to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.”  Even though the FBI, CIA and other agencies had been investigating allegations in the Steele Dossier for months, Comey, “without [Trump] directly asking the question”), “offered [Trump] assurance” “that we were not investigating him personally” supposedly to avoid any “uncertain[ty]” on Trump’s part “about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct”.

Comey’s briefing to Trump on January 6 appears to have intentionally misled Trump about counter-intelligence investigations into the Steele dossier, in effect treating Trump like a perp, rather than a legitimately elected president.  It took a while for Trump to figure out that he was being played by Comey.

The outcome of Comey’s briefing about the Steele dossier was the exact opposite of Comey’s subsequent self-serving explanation. The information that Trump had been briefed on the Steele Dossier was immediately leaked to the press, which had long been aware of the questionable and unverifiable dossier but thus far resisted the temptation to publish it. (Some details from the Steele Dossier had been previously published, they provide an interesting tracer on previous leaks – a topic that I’ll discuss on another occasion.)

CNN broke the news that intel chiefs had “presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him” – using the leaked information about the contents of Comey’s briefing to Trump as a hook to notify the public about the existence of the dossier. CNN, having thrown the bait into the water, sanctimoniously refrained from publishing the Steele Dossier itself as unverified. Once CNN wedged the news, the dossier story went viral. Within an hour, Buzzfeed published the controversial Steele Dossier itself. Once it was in the sunlight, secondary parties named in the dossier (Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, one-time Trump campaigner Carter Page, Webzilla) were able to challenge fabrications in the Steele Dossier, which had seemingly gone undetected during months of investigation by the FBI, CIA and other agencies.  (The allegation of Putin’s “direct” involvement originated in the Steele Dossier. Although the intel agencies gild the accusation in secret “sources and methods”, it appears highly possible and even probable that there is no evidence for this allegation other than the Steele Dossier.)

Trump was (quite reasonably, in my opinion) livid that details of Comey’s briefing to him had been leaked. These concerns were a major issue in his next meeting with Comey – a narrative that I’ll discuss on another occasion.

Comey at the House Intelligence Committee, March 20

Skipping forward, Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee. One of the major points of interest in this meeting was the January 6 briefing. Rep. King, who, like Trump, was both frustrated and concerned with leaks from the intel community, focussed in on the CNN leak because it concerned a classified briefing and, unlike most other leaks, only a very small number of people were involved. King (reasonably) thought that these considerations would make it relatively easy to track down the leaker.  King’s exchange with Comey is fascinating to re-read, knowing, as we do now, that the briefing on the Steele Dossier had been done by Comey himself one-on-one with Trump.

King asked Comey about the leak to CNN as follows:

Do you — does that violate any law? I mean you were at a classified briefing with the president-elect of the United States and it had to be a very, very small universe of people who knew that you handed them that dossier and it was leaked out within hours. Are you making any effort to find out who leaked it and do you believe that constitute a criminal violation?

Comey responded that “any unauthorized disclosure of classified conversations or documents” was very serious and that such incidents “should be investigated aggressively and if possible, prosecuted”:

COMEY: I can’t say, Mr. King except I can answer in general.

KING: Yes.

COMEY: Any unauthorized disclosure of classified conversations or documents is potentially a violation of law and a serious, serious problem. I’ve spent most of my career trying to figure out unauthorized disclosures and where they came from. It’s very, very hard.

Often times, it doesn’t come from the people who actually know the secrets. It comes from one hop out, people who heard about it or were told about it. And that’s the reason so much information that reports to be accurate classified information is actually wrong in the media. Because the people who heard about it didn’t hear about it right. But, it is an enormous problem whenever you find information that is actually classified in the media. We don’t talk about it because we don’t wanna confirm it, but I do think it should be investigated aggressively and if possible, prosecuted so people take as a lesson, this is not OK. This behavior can be deterred and its deterred by locking some people up who have engaged in criminal activity.

King then attempted to draw out from Comey who was “in the room”. King presumed that Comey, Clapper, Brennan and Rogers were “in the room” and wondered if there were any others:

KING: Well, could you say it was — obviously, Admiral Rogers was in the room, you were in the room, General Clapper was in the room and Director Brennan was in the room. Were there any other people in the room that could’ve leaked that out?

I mean this isn’t a report that was circulated among 20 people. This is an unmasking of names where you may have 20 people in the NSA and a hundred people in the FBI, its not putting together a report or the intelligence agency. This is four people in a room with the president-elect of the United States. And I don’t know who else was in that room and that was leaked out, it seemed within minutes or hours, of you handing him that dossier and it was so confidential, if you read the media reports that you actually handed it to him separately.

So believe me, I’m not saying it was you. I’m just saying, it’s a small universe of people that would’ve known about that. And if it is a disclosure of classified information, if you’re going to start with investigating the leaks, to me that would be one place where you could really start to narrow it down.

Comey (the only person “in the room”) refused to answer on the grounds that he did not want to confirm any details of “a classified conversation with a president or president-elect”:

COMEY: And again, Mr. King, I can’t comment because I do not ever wanna confirm a classified conversation with a president or president-elect. I can tell you my general experience. It often turns out, there are more people who know about something you expected. At first, both because there may be more people involved in the thing than you realized, not — not this particular, but in general. And more people have been told about it or heard about it or staff have been briefed on it. And those echoes are in my experience, what most often ends up being shared with reporters.

King persisted:

KING: Well, could you tell us who else was in the room that day?

COMEY: I’m sorry?

KING: Could you tell us who else was in the room with you that day?

But Comey would not be drawn in:

COMEY: No, because I’m not going to confirm that there was such a conversation because then, I might accidentally confirm something that was in the newspaper.

King then tried to find out whether there had even been a conversation about the Steele Dossier:

KING: But could you tell us who was in the room, whether or not there was a conversation?

Comey refused to even confirm that there was a “conversation” in an unclassified setting (while allowing that he might be more forthcoming in a “classified setting”):

COMEY: No, I’m not confirming there was a conversation. In a classified setting, I might be able to share more with you, but I’m not going to confirm any conversations with either President Obama or President Trump or when President Trump was the President-elect.

King then tried to get Comey to say “who was in the room for the briefing”:

KING: Well, not the conversation or even the fact that you gave it to him, but can you — can you tell us who was in the room for that briefing that you gave?

COMEY: That you’re saying later ended up in the newspaper?

KING: Yes.

Comey again refused, citing the classified setting of the event

COMEY: So my talking about who was in the room would be a confirmation that was in the newspaper was classified information, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to help people who did something that — that is unauthorized.

King then tried to elicit a comment on whether the four directors had gone to Trump Tower, with Comey still being coy but using the event as an example of protecting classified information:

KING: Yeah, but we all know that the four of you went to Trump Tower for the briefing, I mean that’s not classified, is it?

COMEY: How do we all know that, though?

KING: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

COMEY: Yeah.

KING: You know, you can — you see the predicament we’re in, here.

COMEY: I get it. I get it. But we are duty-bound to protect classified information, both in the first when we get it, and then to make sure we don’t accidentally jeopardize classified information by what we say about something that appears in the media.

Comey’s Written Evidence, June 5

After refusing to answer questions from the House Intel Committee on the January 6 meeting on the grounds that such details were classified, Comey, supposedly drawing on a contemporary memo on the meeting (which does not appear to have been filed in the FBI document system), provided numerous details on the classified meeting in his written evidence on June 5:

 I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President-Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.

The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President- Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.

The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter- intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.

It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves “turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.

Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted. In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.

Had Rep King known these details on March 20 – in particular, that Comey was the only person present in the briefing to Trump on the Steele Dossier, it is evident that his questioning on the CNN leak would have gone in a very different direction. But Comey withheld that information from him.

Conclusion

Comeys defenders have argued that the content of the memoranda was classified “retroactively”, thus supposedly rebutting any fault on Comey’s part or, alternatively, that Comey wrote his memoranda so that no classified material was included.

However, neither applies to the January 6 meeting (and perhaps others). The January 6 meeting is easier because of Comey’s own evidence. In his evidence to the House Intel Committee, Comey unequivocally stated that any and all details about the January 6 meeting were “classified” and used this as an excuse to refuse to answer questions on the meeting, thereby concealing his unique role in the briefing from the committee.  Having taken this position before the Committee, Comey is on the horns of a dilemma: either the details were classified (as he told the Committee) or he lied to the Committee.  Neither explanation is to Comey’s credit.

 


172 Comments

  1. mrmethane
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 5:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In “Conclusion” did you mean COMEY’s defenders…?

  2. Follow the Money
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 5:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Seems like the best bet for the leak that Comey handed Trump the “dossier” is Comey himself.

    “_________defenders have argued that the content of the memoranda was classified “retroactively””

    Isn’t that more of a hopeful fantasy for them, that some authority deemed it, with a big stamp or something, “CLASSIFIED” later? The conversation was confidential by its nature. The more likely best answer is Comey decides on what is “classified” or not on his say so, like his say so saying Hillary Clinton could not be charged with a crime, and like his say so that he announcing this publicly was also appropriate.

  3. mpainter
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 6:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Everyone seems to have forgotten about McCabe, the #2 man at the FBI. He is a likely leaker, being a partisan Democrat. I wonder if the story will ever emerge. I think Trump was a fool to allow control of the investigation out of his hands. I do not trust Mueller, who might decide not to rake out the muck from his beloved FBI. Trump needs to have his man in this business, or it could get very nasty for him.

    Did Comey deliberately set up Trump? I think so. Comey has his own liabilities in all of this. I think Comey has played politics the whole way. By the way, the FBI is not “independent” of anyone. It answers to the executive, just as any government department.

    • Duker
      Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 7:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The FBI doesnt ‘answer to the executive’ at all. The head of the FBI answers to the head of the Department of Justice. The President can certainly hire and fire, via the DOJ, the head of the FBI, but thats as far as they can go. Its certainly not like he can talk about active investigations and whether they should stop or continue.

      • mpainter
        Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 8:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Yes, the whole of government is accountable to the President. The myth that it is not is just that, a myth. And the President can intervene in any justice Department matter, even to the point of ordering the FBI to investigate, or not.

        • Duster
          Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

          The principle of separation of powers operates because the DoJ is in part very directly involved with the courts. Any interference by the president with the DoJ can be construed as a violation of separation. The DoJ’s primary responsibility is to the justice system (courts). The president hire the FBI director and propose or toss the Secretary, but he has neither responsibility nor the right to actively or passively interfere in an investigation that is looking into violation of any statute.

          Comey is an old Washington hand. He would have been immediately aware of the problematic position that president’s “insider” approach to governance placed him (Comey) in. To Comey the demand for loyalty would have also been an unequivocal demand that he back off the Flynn investigation. Since Comey already knew that he very likely decided the election in Trump’s favor by his (Comey’s) handling of the email fiasco, he would have been aware that his position was increasingly precarious.

          Unless Trumps leads a revolution to over throw the Constitution, he is gone in 8 years and if history is a guide, the likely orientation will have swung back to a socialist stance as aging people discover just how idiotic it was to throw out their health care among other things. These new “leaders” will in all likelihood be in a very vindictive mood and Comey among others would be a target for retribution over the Trump election. His options are to be a “good soldier” and fall on his sword, or to ensure that his position is at least equivocal. Trump handed him the perfect cards to do this.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 6:24 PM | Permalink

          Horsegrunt, Duster.

        • Duker
          Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 12:01 AM | Permalink

          The President would running into dangerous ground for obstruction of justice if he tried to interfere in an individual case.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

          Try not to confuse constitutional power with what might be political expediency. Presidential pardons are unimpeachable. The president may issue any order to the DoJ, and stop or start any investigation. To say such an act is politically inexpedient does not mean it is unconstitutional.

        • TAG
          Posted Jul 15, 2017 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

          Try not to confuse constitutional power with what might be political expediency. Presidential pardons are unimpeachable. The president may issue any order to the DoJ, and stop or start any investigation. To say such an act is politically inexpedient does not mean it is unconstitutional.

          Nixon indirectly fired Archibald Cox, He had the constitutional power to do it. The Saturday Night Massacre doomed his presidency. The American public ruled on the validity of this act.

          That a president has the constitutional power to do something does not mean that he has the power to do something.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 16, 2017 at 3:22 AM | Permalink

          “That a president has the constitutional power to do something does not mean that he has the power to do something.”

          TAG is back.

        • Frank
          Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

          mpainter: We have a system of checks-and-balances. The president is not ABOVE federal law, but he is in charge of administering federal law. He can stop investigations, fire the head of the FBI or a special prosecutor, or pardon anyone except himself. However, his power to do these things is checked by Congress’s right to impeach him for placing himself above the law by means of these actions! And Congress doesn’t have to “convict” the president of a specific charge such as “obstruction of justice”. They can remove him from office for ANY action they feel has placed the president above the law*.

          And the power of Congress to impeach is checked by the voters. In November 2018, every House member and 1/3 of the Senate will stand for re-election and be forced to justify to voters why they voted to overturn the results of the 2016 election. Trump supporters are certain to take revenge against any Congressional Republican who votes against Trump in an impeachment proceeding. Many will lose their seats.

          *This is what Watergate was all about – whether the President’s executive authority placed him above or outside the law. The President asked the CIA to interfere with the FBI’s investigation, because he didn’t want rumors about that investigation interfering with his ability to govern the country (and in particular with his ability to negotiate an end to the Vietnam War). He refused to pardon any of the Watergate burglars in return for silence (quid pro quo), but agreed to raise money to cover their legal expenses and support their families while they were in jail. The President believed the massive breakdown in order on college campuses required him to discredit motivations of his opponents – like the criminal who leaked the Pentagon Papers and was being treated as a hero.

        • DonM
          Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 1:40 AM | Permalink

          A particular executive power is prosecutorial disgression. It has been reviewed by the SCOTUS and is OK. It is what President Obama used to implement certain aspects of DACA. No doubt a Trump lawyer would caste the Trump – Comey discussion pertaining to Flynn as a discussion about prosecutorial disgression. In terms of Trump asking for loyalty, the two agreed upon “Honest Loyalty” according to Comey. Trump denied both the Flynn and Loyalty discussions occurred at least as Comey relayed. Some say a request for Loyalty would subsume the FBI to a Presidential protection unit, and it violates the Presidents oath of office, and thus is impeachable. But a request for loyalty or as the purportedly agreed Honest Loyalty could well be loyalty to the Office of President. As such to not act deceitfully and not be part of fraudulent conspiracy working against the President.

      • MikeN
        Posted Jul 14, 2017 at 1:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Head of FBI reports to #2 at DOJ.

  4. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 8:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Some of this reporting seems easier to understand if one can assume that Comey was wired when meeting with Trump.
    I have not seem Comey being asked if he was wired. It is hard to believe that anyone could leave such a high pressure meeting, then record it, to the extent of including verbatim pieces.
    So it would be an interesting test of Comey’s intention to ask if he was wired.
    ……..
    Hope you are keeping well, Steve. Geoff

  5. Gerald Browning
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 8:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    IMHO I think you should keep politics (nonscientfic) out of your blog and keep to its original intent, i.e., climate audit.

    Jerry

    • AntonyIndia
      Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 11:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Steve seems to be interested in auditing Truth twisting by mainstream groups whether in science, sports or politics etc. He had a number of articles on (American football) Deflategate in 2015 here.

  6. mesocyclone
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 9:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Typo – I think you mean “Comey’s defenders” not “Trump’s defenders.” 2nd to last paragraph.
    Steve: fixed

  7. Eric Barnes
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 10:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the detailed write up Steve. Reading MSM articles about Trump/Comey/the Russians is like a giant “Where’s Waldo” without Waldo.

  8. Matt Skaggs
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 11:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This is like a caricature of the work previously published here, strongly slanted and full of ridiculous claims. I’m hoping this is a hack and will be disavowed soon.

    • Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

      For those who are upset about a political post, just ignore it. No one is forcing you to delve into these issues. The title sets out the content. For anyone claiming that the post is “strongly slanted and full of ridiculous claims.” Please elucidate or apologize.

  9. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 11:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Why trust James Clapper after he “forgot about the Patriot Act” while lying under oath before Congress on March 12, 2013?

  10. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 11, 2017 at 11:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The NSA comes out as pretty useless: apart from missing numerous terror plots in the West they let Hillary Clinton use a home server for US State matters and can’t find any clear evidence for Russian manipulation of US elections. A weak act, but totally ignored in Western MSN.

    • AntonyIndia
      Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 12:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

      FBI and others might be included there as they are supposed to be “all for one now” as Homeland Security.

  11. AndyL
    Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 1:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

    This post saddens me.

    I have enjoyed ClimateAudit for many years, particularly in the times before ClimateGate when the focus was on analysis of scientific papers.

    Now, out of all the things that Steve could have focussed his forensic analysis on, he is highlighting one tiny nit in the story, miles away from the bigger issues that could and should be looked into.

    It makes me wonder: Why this particular issue? Is this what Steve has been doing all along?

    • AntonyIndia
      Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 1:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Your post saddens me: suggesting that Steve was plotting to highlight an aspect in the witch hunt for unexpected elected US President Trump, ever since … 2005.
      This IS a big issue and there are vital peas hidden under it.

      • AndyL
        Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 2:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

        For sake of clarity, I was asking if Steve was just picking at nits all along.

        In the past, Steve was able to highlight what appeared to be important items and the sheer volume of things he dug up was impressive in its own right. The issue of who leaked what when, and whether someone was entirely open about it are second or even third order issues.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 2:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I am still waiting for evidence that Russian operatives hacked the DNC computer. I’ve seen none yet. The whole Russian affair comes across as swill for Trump haters. The last that’s been poured into the trough is the thinnest yet, and the most dubious.

  12. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 3:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    If Trump met Comey one-to-one on January 6th the President was the only person to know who leaked from there to CNN. No wonder he dismissed Comey on May 9th.

    • AndyL
      Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 3:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

      That’s a logical stretch too far
      Remember that it was only the fact of the briefing that was leaked, not the content.

      Many people would have known that Comey had briefed Trump about the dossier, even if they didn’t necessarily know the dossier contained. For instance the other people at the start of the meeting would have known the broad outline, plus others at the FBI plus anyone Trump told about it afterwards.

      • AntonyIndia
        Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 3:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Notice how in CNN’s January 10th “revelation”: Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him there is serious effort to paint the meeting as between Trump plus 4 intelligence chiefs.
        http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/donald-trump-intelligence-report-russia/index.html
        The whole Steele dossier was published a few hours later by Buzzfeed: convenient for CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/10/media/buzzfeed-trump-report/

      • mpainter
        Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 3:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Comey is a self-confessed leaker, and now it is clear that his leaks were criminal. See Steve’s post above. Please don’t play us for stupid. It is clear that Comey has maneuvered against Trump from the first.

        Comey announced the renewed investigation of Hillary last October 28 in self defense, as he had learned that Trump knew that the FBI was sitting on the new evidence. Comey wished to forestall Trump’s move, which would have been devastating for Comey. Trump learned of the emails from the NYCPD, which had been involved in the investigation of what’s his name. Giuliani was the conduit of Trump’s information. Trump would have blasted Comey and Hillary sky high by this revelation, but Comey was too quick for him. Then Comey cleared Hillary again, the Sunday night before the election. This will all come out in the Mueller investigation, if Mueller does his job. _IF_.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

          And by publicly “clearing” Hillary, on the eve of the election, Comey once again meddled in the election, as when he had previously usurped the role of the AG in declaring that there was no basis for a prosecution of Hillary. Comey has given his justification for that usurpation, which justification rings hollow. I think Comey will be regretful of his meddling.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

          And more, because Comey was not justified in his announcement of the renewed investigation of Hillary, as that explicitly violated FBI protocol, to never acknowledge such investigations until these are complete. Once again, Comey’s justification rang hollow: his letter to Congress when it was in recess for the election. But Comey would have been blown sky high by Trump’s revelation, and he was forced to act out of self preservation. Comey is trapped, if Mueller does his job.

        • Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 11:48 PM | Permalink

          I had previously thought that Comey, in trying to do the right thing, had seemed to have been walking a tightrope, verbally indicting Hillary, without indicting, but letting the public kinda know and let them decide. That all changed on May 2nd.

          May 2nd, Hillary says Comey cost her the election.

          May 2nd Nate Silver publishes an article statistically demonstrating she’s right

          May 3rd. Comey testifies that it “makes him nauseous” that he might have affected the outcome of the election.

          Narrative planned, executed, and delivered.

          This is why Trump fired him, or to be more accurate, this is the proof that put the idea that he really was a Democratic operative over the top.

          This just shows that his behavior that kept Hillary from being prosecuted wasn’t some ethical high ground walking through a political field of land mines. He intended to keep her safe from prosecution. The only reason he had to go public on 10/28 was that he had promised Congress he would come forward immediately if new evidence arrived and likely a revolt among the ranks that if he didn’t they would.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 1:18 AM | Permalink

          No, Charles, Comey gave a b.s. justification. Why should we believe him? See my comment above concerning 10/28.

        • Eric Barnes
          Posted Jul 14, 2017 at 7:58 AM | Permalink

          Thanks mpainter. That explanation of events makes a lot of sense given the strange sequence of events the week before the election.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 14, 2017 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

          Thursday evening,October 27, in a Fox News interview, Giuliani let slip that a “big surprise” was due soon and later hinted that “we have a thing or two up our sleeve”. These hints seemed to have alerted Comey who the next day announced the renewed investigation of Hillary. His justification for this improper announcement? That he had to explain it to Congress, whom he had sent a letter. But congress had been recessed for the election. So much for Comey, who also offered the justification that there might have been leaks if he failed to announce the renewed investigation. The Giuliani interview may be still viewed.

          So Comey very quickly reacted when he understood that Trump knew about his stalling. I would guess that he had his reaction planned as a contingency. He had known about the new evidence since the first week of October, but had yet to seek a court dispensation to examine the emails.

  13. Joe
    Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 2:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A broader point in the Comey quagmire –
    Without trying to condemn or defend Comey – He was placed in the impossible position – a major political party nominee for president with serious criminal violations (Yes intent was obvious), with instructions from DOJ (implied instructions at minimum) along with likely instructions from the top to not investigate thoroughly, and to not recomend indicting.

    Did he have any good choices
    The honorable step would have been to resign – with full explanation of reason

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 3:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It was not Comey’s place to recommend for or against indictment, publicly. If his opinion had been sought, he should have provided it in writing to the AG. If his opinion had not been sought, he should have maintained a closed mouth. Trump was right, Comey is a showboater. Comey is to blame for his predicament. No one forced him to intervene in the election and he did so thrice. And now he is hung by his own congressional testimony. I question his judgment.

      Can you imagine Comey’s thoughts when the election returns came in? No one was better aware of his culpability than Comey himself. There is no question that he used the Steele dossier to intentionally discredit Trump. I think he must have known it was invention and contrived for partisan political purposes. Comey, the swamp creature.

      • Joe
        Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 3:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I concur with most of your comments – his post election behaviour definitely warrants termination (regardless of which side of the political spectrum you sit on).

        Pre – election – I am not going to defend or condemn his behaviour – Who ever was the director of the FBI at that time was getting Screwed – An individual with a known history of bribery,( uranium one deal for example), known history of security violations, etc, the nominee of a major political party, A DOJ and WH who was thrawting the investigation, etc. Going public was the wrong thing to do – but anything he did was going to be the wrong thing.
        FWIW – even if Hillary was indicted, she was never going to be convicted. Virtually impossible to seat a jury that would not have included a high percent of hillary voters (eastern district of virginia)

      • Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 3:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

        One thing that I note in all of this is that the AG, herself, was compromised. Comey should have resigned, if integrity was a prime motive. Comey gave us a tell by noting that no reasonable prosecutor would have asked for prosecution. That raised, to me, the question, “Why not?” and one answer is politics.

        Now about this and the Climate Audit thing, well, that field is rife with politics. These posts fit, in my opinion.

    • Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 3:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Or Comey could have done the right thing and convened a Grand Jury and pursued an indictment, forcing the “top” to either fire him or succumb to the rule of law. Instead he tried to muddle through. It’s interesting and significant that he took carriage of the case upon himself. As the head of his agency I’m guessing that never really happens. Nor should it. Clearly he did not trust his officers to use the appropriate political discretion. A matter that should have been handled on legal principles ended up being dealt with politically and the legalities were perverted to accommodate the politics. By that I refer to his invention of intent as a necessary factor in a crime that specifically denies that intent is required. Also there seemed to be ample evidence of intent which he blindly ignored. He was blinded by the politics of it all. He behaved, and continues to behave like a driver in a full fishtail slide down a gravel road, madly overcorrecting each time the car swings from one side of the road to the other. The car and driver will inevitably end up in the ditch and that’s where Comey is headed now. Or you could use the metaphor of a tangled web, but that’s been done to death.

      • Joe
        Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 4:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Tom – you probably have the better solution – convene a grand jury (likley contrary to implied or implicit instructions from DOJ or the WH). Though, hard to see how that would of worked given the active obstruction from DOJ on the imunity deals with witnesses.

        I have a slight disagreement with you on intent – first I believe the element of intent should be required in most criminal statutes (res mens ? apologies for incorrect legal term, That is my constitutional law concern, but a topic for another thread.
        Second – in this case, in my opinion, criminal intent was obvious, simply creating an unsecure server / email system showing intent – hard to make a credible argument that she had the brain power to be president , but lacked the brain power to know that violating security was not okay.

      • mpainter
        Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 4:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

        In Washington,I imagine that much is accomplished by a sort of soft blackmail, or graymail, if you please. You avoid injury to those who know things that you wish that they did not. Or who can otherwise cause you pain and discomfort. Or, maybe money laundering. The possibility of a lucrative investment at at steal. And so on. Comey’s behavior in the Clinton case was surpassing strange, as if he never considered that he could be called to account for something very much like a malfeasance, or misprision of felony. I do hope the whole story comes out, the meeting in the plane on the tarmac, the email with the goods on Lynch, the whole scene. Everything depends on Mueller.

      • MikeN
        Posted Jul 14, 2017 at 1:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I don’t think the FBI can convene a grand jury on its own.

        • MikeN
          Posted Jul 14, 2017 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

          This was the reason for the special deals with Cheryl Mills for handing over materials. If they had gotten them with a subpoena, they would have needed to impanel a grand jury, destroying the talking point that Hillary is not under investigation.

        • Drake
          Posted Jul 17, 2017 at 10:54 PM | Permalink

          The AG convenes the Grand Jury. A little into the weeds. NY FBI agents took the Hillary stuff to the AG for the Eastern District (where Lynch came from) to get to a Grand Jury. They were turned down. They then wanted to go to another, less obstructive, AG/District (Southern district in Manhattan I think) but were shut down by Andrew McCabe for “prosecutor shopping: Do a search of his wife Jill and Terry McAuliffe (old Clinton crony) and $600,000.00+ in campaign contributions. Having McCabe anywhere in the FBI at this time is unbelievable to me, unless Trump is going Godfather on us: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” After all of this, when the Weiner stuff showed, if nothing came out there would be a revolt in the NY FBI office. I believe the NY police had Weiner’s laptop first, I have seen on line that they have a copy of the HD, so an earlier comment regarding Giuliani is probably right, someone would have told him.

    • Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 11:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

      see my comment above.

  14. Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 6:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    One thing that jumps out to me is Comey’s references to “classified conversations”. This is a perfect illustration of the idiocy of the media and Democrats (but I repeat myself) argument about whether something was “marked” classified at the time, or whether it was so marked later.

    How exactly do you “mark” a conversation as being classified? Obviously you don’t. It is the information that is or is not classified, and the person in the government to whom secret information entrusted is also given the responsibility to know what information is classified and so not disclose it.

    • Duker
      Posted Jul 12, 2017 at 11:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The US has a funny system of having common knowledge things being classified.
      With Clinton she was sent an email regarding a documentary on Al Jazerra about secret Palestinian- Israeli negotiations in Qatar some years back. Even though it came from public sources it was later ‘marked classified’ as it was the minutes of the meetings.

      US drone strikes on countries like Pakistan is ‘classified’ even though public sources cover these things regularly. The reason, it would show the US is breaching the INF Treaty which bans ‘powered weapon systems’ that are medium range. Drones werent around at the time of the treaty, but the wording covers them.

      The US is such an open society compared to even UK, a lot of secrets get out but the government system still goes under the rules if that situation hadnt happened. In a nutshell that is why some things can ‘later become classified’

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 3:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

        That’s quite standard. Nothing strange about it at all. I’ve seen math equations classified top secret special access required. and no I wont tell what they are

    • Frank
      Posted Jul 20, 2017 at 1:57 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Jim T points out: One thing that jumps out to me is Comey’s references to “classified conversations”.

      It is possible that President Obama wanted President-Elect Trump properly briefed about the investigation into Russian interference in our election – before taking office on 1/20/17.
      To avoid the impression that Obama would trying to embarrass the President-elect, Obama could have ordered that the existence of the meeting be classified and never discussed publicly – unless Trump chooses to talk about it himself. Despite Obama’s intentions, news about the meeting immediately leaked by someone in his administration.

    • franktoo
      Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 7:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Jim T points out: One thing that jumps out to me is Comey’s references to “classified conversations”.

      It is possible that President Obama wanted President-Elect Trump properly briefed about the investigation into Russian interference in our election – before taking office on 1/20/17. To avoid the impression that Obama would trying to embarrass the President-elect, Obama could have ordered that the existence of the meeting be classified and never discussed publicly – unless Trump chose to talk about it himself. Despite Obama’s intentions, news about the meeting immediately leaked by someone in his administration.

  15. sbyrnes321
    Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 6:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry if I missed something, but I think there’s a more charitable interpretation here: (A) Comey is staying 1000 miles away from anything that might have the slightest chance of being classified while talking on live television, but (B) In a written statement (where he can double-check his words and consult classification guidelines and get a second opinion from lawyers), he finds that it’s OK for him to give way more details. If that’s what happened, it sounds pretty reasonable to me. Given that he did indeed offer to discuss more details in a classified setting, and that he indeed gave more details in writing, I don’t see him being weaselly here, but merely frightened about being in a situation where if he misspeaks one word (or mis-remembers any details about what is or isn’t classified) he’s committing a serious crime.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 8:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Have you seen the news? Comey handed over all seven of his “personal” memos to the Mueller investigation. Guess what, none of these could be considered personal as Comey had composed them as FBI documents. And four of these contained classified material. Some of these were released to the press by leaker Comey. Do you have a charitable explanation for that? The law is quite uncharitable. Comey has run out of leaks.

      • Ivan Jankovic
        Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 4:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

        “And four of these contained classified material. Some of these were released to the press by leaker Comey”

        Nope, only one was leaked to the media, and that oen was NOT classified (th eone covering loyalty oath dinner with Trump)

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

          “Unauthorized disclosure, misuse, or negligent handling of information contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI or which I may acquire as an employee of the FBI could impair national security, place human life in jeopardy, result in the denial of due process, prevent the FBI from effectively discharging its responsibilities, or violate federal law,” states the agreement all FBI agents sign

          The FBI claims all the memos were FBI documents. In that case, Comey illegally took them with him when he left. Sit tight, the DoJ Inspector General will make a full report. Then you can argue with him.

        • Ivan Jankovic
          Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

          your Orange Mesiah will be in jail by then for treason.

          the memo that was leaked to the media was NOT classified. No escape. nobody ever even claimed it was.

        • Jeffrey Taylor
          Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 9:33 PM | Permalink

          Treason?
          Who are we at war with that Trump has provided aid and comfort to?

  16. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 11:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Regarding this Steele “dossier”: In March 2009, Steele with his fellow MI6-retiree Chris Burrows co-founded the private intelligence agency Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd.
    Half of the 35 pages were written 14 Sept. 2016 or later.
    End of August 2016 Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, sent a letter to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., expressing concern that Russia was trying to influence the presidential election and requesting that the F.B.I. open an investigation.https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/29/us/politics/document-Reid-Letter-to-Comey.html
    This was the bundle: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html
    And this is the first public criticism of it on Jan. 11 2017: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html

  17. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 13, 2017 at 8:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Here is a BBC time line on the Steele “report” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38612066
    and here the first public criticism: http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-russia-intelligence-dossier-hacking-541626
    Note that half of its 35 pages were written after Sept. 14 2016, so after Senate minority leader Harry Reid, sent a letter to the F.B.I. director James B. Comey Jr., expressing concern that Russia was trying to influence the presidential election and requesting that the F.B.I. open an investigation.https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/29/us/politics/document-Reid-Letter-to-Comey.html

  18. Posted Jul 14, 2017 at 2:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on I Didn't Ask To Be a Blog.

  19. Posted Jul 14, 2017 at 9:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Comey is a corrupt Democrat operator. He usurped Attorney General Lynch’s authority to announce that Clinton would not be charged as a favor to Clinton (and Lynch). He believed if Lynch made the announcement it would not be credible, and he knew the announcement had to be made far enough before the election for Clinton to try to spin it in her favor and for the low information electorate to forget about it. High information voters saw that Comey’s conclusion did not comport to the facts or Comey’s own reasoning. Comey’s lengthy delay in disclosing the new e-mails on Weiner’s device, and his miraculously rapid supposed clearance of those e-mails after his announcement, further demonstrate Comey’s corruption (and stupidity — how did he think he could get away with it?).

  20. GaryW
    Posted Jul 15, 2017 at 9:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m really surprised that no one seems to be presenting the idea that Comey’s actions just prior to the election were DESIGNED to damage Clinton’s elect-ability. Secret Service and FBI folks who worked with and protected her during the campaign learned first hand that she was not mentally fit for the position of President of the U.S.A. He surely knew that his revelation of the continued investigation just prior to the election would be falling on his sword should she be elected.

    • pottereaton
      Posted Jul 22, 2017 at 1:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

      @ pteronarcyid: I don’t think Comey is a “corrupt Democrat operator.” He doesn’t need a party affiliation to be representing the best interests of the Washington elite. He’s registered as a Republican. He is a guardian of the establishment. His press conference absolving Clinton of crimes she clearly committed was an attempt to make himself a hero to the permanent elite and its permanent bureaucracy. The Barbarian Trump was at the gate. A proper indictment of Clinton would have very likely have meant a Trump victory in November given that Clinton had secured the nomination and the only logical choice to replace her would have been Sanders, who was not even a Democrat and would surely have lost to Trump. The fear of a Trump presidency at the time was palpable. The Obama Administration took what they believed were the necessary steps to prevent that.

      It would be difficult to prove, but I think it likely Lynch and Obama were BEHIND the spectacle of Comey coming out and making the statement that no prosecutor would have brought charges against Clinton and he was not going to recommend any. I think they understood that after Lynch got caught meeting Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Arizona the week before that Obama’s DoJ had no credibility. They NEEDED Comey to come to the rescue. Good soldier for the establishment that he was, he bent the rules and tried to make it look perfectly natural that an FBI Director was playing Attorney General. It was a transparently political act not to indict Clinton. Any lesser creature in the political food chain would have been indicted for crimes against national security.

  21. Oldman
    Posted Jul 15, 2017 at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Comey was certain that Hillary would be elected president. That’s why he said no reasonable prosecutor would try her. If he said otherwise, and Hillary was president, he certainly (as all democrats wanted, prior to election) would be fired. Comey did what he did just to protect himself.

  22. TAG
    Posted Jul 15, 2017 at 9:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The Climategate emails were leaked.

    The Pentagon Papers were leaked

    The Panama Papers were leaked.

    The Liechtenstein tax affair documents were leaked.

    Podesta’s emails were leaked

    Trump loves Wikileaks

    Wikileaks aim is full transparency

    Therefore — Trump loves full transparency

    Trump loves leakers

  23. Ralph Reiter
    Posted Jul 15, 2017 at 11:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As usual Steve’s post puts the focus on “where is the pea” in clinical objective way.

    But at the end of the day, What did the Big Showboat say to the little showboat?
    “You’re fired”.

  24. TAG
    Posted Jul 16, 2017 at 4:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Lost in this “leak” issue is the substance of the dispute between Trump and Comey. Comey testified a) that he thought Trump was attempting to establish a relationship between them and b) that Trump asked for a pledge of loyalty. if these assertions are true then Trump was attempting to politicize the administration of justice which is a very serious thing. It would be unconstitutional in that it violates Article 2 Clause 5 of the US constitution that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” and the presidential oath of office

    • TAG
      Posted Jul 16, 2017 at 5:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

      For issue of the politicization of the administration of justice, this is the exchange in the Watergate Smoking Gun tape

      Haldeman: That the way to handle this now is for us to have Walters [CIA Director] call Pat Gray [FBI Director] and just say, “Stay the hell out of this…this is ah, business here we don’t want you to go any further on it.” [Watergate burglary investigation] That’s not an unusual development,…

      Nixon: Um huh.

      Haldeman: …and, uh, that would take care of it.

      [/blockquote>

      A single interjection for Nixon was all that it took. When he heard it, a Republican congressman on the impeachment committee rose from his desk and turned the Nixon photograph hanging in his office to the wall.

      Nixon had the constitutional power to order Walters to do it. That he did it violated the constitution and lead to his impeachment. This shows that all of Alan Dershowitz’s assertion of the constitutional powers of a president to fire an FBI director are entirely specious.

      • Posted Jul 16, 2017 at 9:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

        TAG, here is why Dershowitz is right and you are not. If the burglary was of the RNC rather than the DNC, for arguments sake because the President’s intelligence adviser had believed there was a mole, there would have been nothing wrong with a Republican president shutting down the investigation to protect outing of intelligence assets. The key is that the burglary’s purpose was to illegally spy on the opposing presidential campaign. All actions to cover up the crime are thus part of that conspiracy.

        By the way, if the purpose of the unmasking or Trump campaign officials was to spy on the Trump campaign under the guise of foreign intelligence gathering then it was highly illegal. It’d be simply the modern version of breaking in to bug the phones. Any covering up of that investigation by moving the records to the outgoing president’s library and keeping under seal would be an additional crime under the same conspiracy.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 16, 2017 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

          But the seal may be broken by Trump, according to the law. Yet Trump has not done so, unless he did without fanfare. My guess is that it is a matter of timing, and with all ducks in a row, the opposition will be subjected to a prolonged bombardment of colossal rockets. Everything in due order. My sense of this is that Watergate will be put in the shade.

        • TAG
          Posted Jul 16, 2017 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

          Ron Graf – We are saying the same thing. A president has the power to fire an FBI director but he does not have teh power to do something illegal. The Supreme Court has ruled that they do not have teh power to enjoin a president from exercising a constitutional power but they ahve the ability to respond after the fact.

          Dershowitz is at it again with the Russian emails controversy. He states that this is just like a newspaper publishing leaked information. He is correct but he is incorrect. A newspaper may publish leaked information but if they solicit the leak or participate in the leak, they can be found guilty of solicitation or conspiracy. So Dershowitz gets it wrong that there is no possibility of a crime being committed.

        • TAG
          Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

          In regard to the inability of a president to do something illegal even if he has the constitutional or legislative authority to do it. This is a quote from Wikipedia

          In Mississippi v. Johnson, 71 U.S. 475 (1867), the Supreme Court ruled that the judiciary may not restrain the President in the execution of laws. In that case the Supreme Court refused to entertain a request for an injunction preventing President Andrew Johnson from executing the Reconstruction Acts, which were claimed to be unconstitutional. The Court found that “[t]he Congress is the legislative department of the government; the President is the executive department. Neither can be restrained in its action by the judicial department; though the acts of both, when performed, are, in proper cases, subject to its cognizance.”[32] Thus, the courts cannot bar the passage of a law by Congress, though it may strike down such a law as unconstitutional. A similar construction applies to the executive branch.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

          TAG, illegal; unconstitutional

          These are two distinct terms with distinct meanings. Study the meanings and try to see how you have conflated them.

          If the president acts with constitutional authority it is constitutional by definition; if by legislative authority, it is legal by definition although the SC may subsequently declare such authority as unconstitutional. Hence an act may be legal although unconstitutional, but a constitutional act is illegal only through impeachment. An unconstitutional act is not necessarily illegal.

          Reflect on this and I’ll try to help if you need it.

  25. mpainter
    Posted Jul 16, 2017 at 6:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The big mystery is why Comey let himself be saddled with the onus of letting Hillary off the hook. Very strange, because he first presents, at length, the case against her, specifying how she had broken the law and then he recommends against prosecution. It’s as if he wanted the world to know that she was guilty but he knew that a politicized DoJ under O’bumma was not going to indict her. He made a big mistake, and he has compounded that mistake with further mistakes.

    Misprision of felony is concealment of a crime by an official. Comey did not conceal Hillary’s crime, but detailed it publicly. Will that save him? I think Comey imagines that he can wriggle out of his predicament.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 2:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I had forgot, but now I am reminded: The DoJ inspector General Michael Horowitz started an investigation into the whole DoJ FBI mess back in January, I believe. So all the facts should come out. Could be months, though.

      Comey is an enigma. He was a U.S. attorney under Bush 2001-003, then was moved to the DoJ as #2 man there. He left that position in 2005 to become General Counsel and Senior Vice President at Lockheed Martin, the big, somewhat rancid defense contractor. This is moving very far, very quickly. Bush influence, no doubt. The Bush crowd must have liked Comey a great deal. He was there five years. His last year,2010, he earned $6 MM, reportedly. Comey, the swamp creature, a favored protege of Bush & Co. So how did he wind up as a politicized FBI Director under Democrat O’bumma?

      There is something going on here. One thing that I have seen no comment on is the strange case of Robert Gates, long-time stalwart of the Bush crowd and protege of the senior George Bush.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 2:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Continued..

      And Gates was SecDefense under George Jr and then under O’bumma.
      Did you catch that? From Republican Bush to Democrat O’bumma, an unprecedented holdover. This bespeaks a deal. I have no doubt that Bush gave a boost to O’bumma in the 2008 election. What did Bush get? He got continued control of Halliburton KBR, a Houston based defense contractor (construction) even smellier than Lockheed. KBR goes back to the early days, LBJ & FDR, waaay back.

      I have long believed that there was some sort of connection between Bush and O’bumma, some community of interest. I am not surprised that BushCrowd Comey, registered Republican, was tapped by O’bumma as FBI Director.

      • Ivan Jankovic
        Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 4:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

        strange that the same Bob Gates, together with COndoleeza Rice is a big time Rosneft and Gazprom lawyer and that he lobbied successfully Trump to appoint Rex Tillerson, laureate of Medal of Friendship from Putin and Igor Sechin’s best buddy, to the position of Secretary of State?

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 3:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I know the BushCrowd very well, having studied them for years. They are quite capable of double dealings in politics, such as supporting O’bumma against Republican candidates, on the sly. This support is achieved mostly through their gigantic Houston based money laundering operation, run by an attorney. This is the same attorney who opened the Moscow office for a certain Houston law firm, in 1996. Through this Moscow office corporate $ is fed into investment instruments held by an administered estate under the control of this attorney. Absolutely fail safe. I have abbreviated all of this, of course. The whole tale will be told, soon, with Trump in the WH. There is a triad in this country: BushCrowd-ClintonCrowd-Bumma, but Bumma is really an orbiting satellite of the other two. This triad is using every fiber of their influence to topple Trump. I think Trump will win.

  26. Ivan Jankovic
    Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 4:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “Although the Steele Dossier contained multiple fabrications,”

    What is the evidence for this? Can you give one example from Steele Dossier and explain how do you now that it is a “fabrication”?

    ‘“Kremlin-connected” lawyer, Natalia Veselniskaya,’

    Rob Goldstone in his email to Don Jr describes her as “Russian government attorney” and the data she had for Trump campaign as “a part of Russia and Russian governments’ efforts to help Mr Trump”. She herself in a TV interview said that she was coordinating her attacks on Bill Browder with Russian state prosecutor, a guy who is, shall we say, extremely Kremlin-connected. I hope you can correct your false description above, that implies that even a vague connection of Veselniskaya to the Kremlin is doubtful.

    “Although Comey later objected to Trump talking to him one-on-one without a DOJ minder present, it was Comey himself who initiated the practice.”

    Keep going. You are already past Judge Jeanine and Sean Hannity.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 5:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Then Natalia Veselnitskaya was not an agent provocateur allowed into the U.S. by Loretta Lynch and sicced on Trump for the purpose of creating a “collusion” narrative as substantiation for the inventions in the Steele dossier, all under the direction of Fusion GPS, as some news reports suggest?
      Tsk, tsk, one just doesn’t know what to believe.

      • Ivan Jankovic
        Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 7:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Dear God, Steve McUntyre on twiter, after defending Asssad and claiming he did not use chemical weapons, now claims DNC hacking was a “false flag”. Ruskie are not to blame, but false flag but the firm that identified Russians as culprits. Good grief. Crowd Strike probably also hacked German Bundestag, Estonian stockmarket and Macron’s campaign in France, because the same group did all four…

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 3:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

      http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-russia-intelligence-dossier-hacking-541626

      13 things that don’t add up in the document.

      • AntonyIndia
        Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 6:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Typical moron. read this comment above https://climateaudit.org/2017/07/11/comeys-mishandling-of-classified-information/#comment-773203. use the links in this comment. click on the link. find the info. If you want to read the info that is.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 8:15 AM | Permalink

          But I don’t want to read it. No Dang contributions in R in gizmo. No Wang, either.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 8:17 AM | Permalink

          Moreover, 🙂

      • Ivan Jankovic
        Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 2:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

        No proof of “fabrication” whatsoever in the document. Just claims (that could be right or wrong) that some claims in the report do not “add up”.

        • Ivan Jankovic
          Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

          that’s not the usual standard on CA that I know – to claim things you cannot prove, whiel making obviously false or misleading statements. But hey, now we are in the lala land, where Assad did not gas his own people, Putin did not hack DNC to help Trump, I guess we can see some “serious questions” soon about whether Dick Cheney orchestrated 9-11…

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

          The truth will eventually come out. Steele is being sued in a London court concerning his dossier. In a filing with that court, Steele admits that he did not verify what he reported in the dossier. It will come to the point when Steele is forced to undergo a detailed interrogation concerning his role in that report and his sources. Steele was very foolish and Fusion gps, Bush co, Clinton Crowd, Comey, etc. will have to tell their tales because the same individual has filed another suit in Florida, this one against Buzzfeed, concerning that dossier. I forget his name, but the plaintiff in both of these suits was named as one of the “colluders”.

          So don’t go saying things that sound good to you now but will make you look foolish later.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 7:47 PM | Permalink

          And now, breaking news: Glenn Simpson, of Fusion GPS, will refuse the Senate subpoena and take the fifth, according to his attorney.

          Trump has them by the short hairs.

        • AntonyIndia
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 12:15 AM | Permalink

          Fusion GPS might refuse to talk to a US senate committee, but they did talk to the WaPo: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/07/11/inside-the-link-between-the-russian-lawyer-who-met-donald-trump-jr-and-the-trump-dossier
          Present FBI MO (see CrowdStryke) would be: OK, that private firm denied, so that settles it.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

          I doubt that Simmons has committed any crime. There has been no suggestions of such. I imagine that Simmons wants very badly not to reveal his sources of funding.
          I think that is going to be the big fight in this matter, that is, the revelation of specifics on Fusion GPS funding in connection with the Steele dossier.

        • AntonyIndia
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 11:46 PM | Permalink

          Pleading the Fifth seems to be quite popular amongst the Clinton crowd support:
          Private Clinton server company Platte River Networks (Paul Combetta’s) did that on September 16th 2016 while technician Bryan Pagliano did the same September ~22nd 2016 http://www.denverpost.com/2017/04/27/platte-river-network-ceo-justice-department/
          http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/22/bryan-pagliano-no-show-house-investigators-vote-ho/

  27. Ivan Jankovic
    Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 7:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “Then Natalia Veselnitskaya was not an agent provocateur allowed into the U.S. by Loretta Lynch and sicced on Trump for the purpose of creating a “collusion” narrative as substantiation for the inventions in the Steele dossier, all under the direction of Fusion GPS, as some news reports suggest?
    Tsk, tsk, one just doesn’t know what to believe.”

    Yes, one could be confused indeed, if one is conditioned to believe the fellow-fruitcakes such as Hannity and Judge Jeanine, instead of his own eyes and direct evidence of collusion provided by conspirators themselves, in writing.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 7:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Fine, you stick to CNN, stay away from CA.

    • Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 8:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Ivan, I suppose the promise of recovering HRC deleted emails from a connected Russian government contact would’ve made a perfect honey trap for the Trump campaign political neophytes, like Don Jr. But I also suppose that if I was an opponent of Trump, like Loretta Lynch, and had a nefarious streak, or Obama WH actively surveilling Trump via the NSA, I might have allowed Natalia Veselnitskaya to walk right in, given her whatever entry waivers she needed without a visa and just kept a real close eye on her, (better than was kept on the guns walked in Operation Fast and Furious). If we find there was such surveillance then Trump Jr. was an innocent kid in the woods compared to his Obama & company.

      But I’m sure you feel Lynch and Obama never offered or allowed a smidgen of coruption. And I readily admit we may never know.

      • Jeffrey Taylor
        Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 9:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

        If you ever talked to someone who was exposed to this world you would come to the conclusion that any scenario is plausible. After that, investigation results could be either true or false.
        This back and forth becomes pointless until we get to court (if those details can even be exposed in court).

  28. DonM
    Posted Jul 18, 2017 at 10:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “The Steele Dossier, paid for by a still unidentified “Democratic donor”, had been produced by a DC opposition research firm (Fusion GPS) directly connected with the “Kremlin-connected” lawyer, Natalia Veselniskaya…. Although the Steele Dossier contained multiple fabrications, its lurid allegations were taken very seriously by both the CIA and FBI, which… had been investigating them for months.”.

    Two comments; I wonder whether Steele was engaged because he was considered a credible source by the FBI as a result of work done for them on the FIFA case which had a heavy Russian connection. That Steele would funnel the reports as they came in to the FBI may have been intentional.

    There is the string where you have Democrat donor engaging Fusion GPS, who engage Orbis (Steele) who reaches out to Russian contacts. I read an analysis of the Dossier which said it was most likely written by a Russian National familiar with proper KGB (now FSB) reporting style. Last name in all caps, grammatical markers etc. The content, seems to suggest it was Russian Intelligence feeding Steele’s channels into Russia’s most secret circles and Intelligence services.

    A couple of points are revealing. The last report pertaining to Michael Cohen proves it was not simply inaccurate since Michael Cohen was proved to be in the US when the Dossier had him in Prague. It proves it was an after the fact combing of travel documents that did identify a Michael Cohen (remarkably with the same birth date) in Prague. But it was a different Michael Cohen without question. The Dossier also identifies a hacker, who infact is a person with the skills to do it. It says coersion was used, but the individual was in a Russian prison as a child predator. What type of organization would have access to that level of detail.

    The errors on Cohen prove it was a calculated effort to deceive. The cited source on Cohen was responsible for numerous other reports as well.

    Above it says it was produced by Fusion GPS, obtained may be more accurate. It seems most plausible that it was produced by a Russian Intelligence source as disinformation to discredit the Trump candidacy, and sow wedges in the us political environment.

    It was the basis for the FBI Russia Collusion investigation, and was used for Fisa warrants on Carter Page. There can be no argument that it has been detrimental to Trump,’s Presidency.

    That the US IC thought that the Russian’s where trying to tilt the election to Trump is scary at how incredibly gullible they were. The creation of the Dossier suggests monumentally otherwise. Russian motives were to weaken whomever won the US election.

  29. Frank
    Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 3:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve: The CNN article you linked refers to a two-page synopsis of allegations about President Trump that were likely to become public. It says:

    “One reason the nation’s intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN.”

    I respectfully submit that Mr. Comey almost certainly did not compose this synopsis by himself. The intelligence chiefs likely decided upon a final document by email, and probably discussed some aspects of it with subordinates to ensure accuracy and propriety. Given the nature of these discussions, the classified email system would certainly have been used, presumably making the final document classified.

    I don’t know what makes a meeting with the president-elect a classified meeting. Perhaps Obama decided the existence of a special briefing for the President-elect should be kept secret.

    On January 6, Comey and the other three Intelligence Chiefs worked for the Obama administration. Both the President and President-elect were briefed on this subject. Do we know if the 2-page synopsis was given only to the President-elect? Was Obama’s meeting before or after Trump’s? Others in the Obama administration knew about the planned briefings and could have asked any of the four about their tricky meeting with the President-elect, before or after. Unlikely Comey, the other three would be leaving their jobs in a few weeks and may have wanted to create dissention between Trump and the bureaucracy. CIA Director Brennan worked in the Obama White House for four years. From my perspective, it makes more sense to guess that the information traveled from Brennan to Susan Rice or someone else in the NSC, who arranged for the leak. In fact, this passage from CNN suggests (to me, at least) that CNN knew about the synopsis before the meeting.

    “CNN has confirmed that the synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump but cannot confirm if it was discussed in his meeting with the intelligence chiefs.”

    Under these circumstances, IMO, Mr. Comey’s lack of candor on 3/20 about the 1/6 meeting doesn’t suggest Comey must have been the source of the leak.

    You are correct in pointing out that there is an inconsistency between Comey’s March 20th testimony and his June 5th testimony. On March 20th (as a director of the FBI), Comey refuses to answer ANY questions about the Jan 6 meeting with the president, saying that any answer he gives will confirm press reports that such a meeting occurred and thereby lend credibility to other information in those reports. If he were to have said: “I was the only one in the room …”, then he admits that a classified meeting with the president actually took place. At the same hearing, when asked about leaks about General Flynn, he refuses to answer because he doesn’t want to confirm press reports about the existence of an FBI investigation into Flynn’s activities that could have been the source of such a leak. If he says that Flynn leak is under investigation, he admits there was something to leak about Flynn. In this hearing and others, Mr. Comey and others are constantly dancing around questions about investigating leaks, because they don’t want to confirm the existence of a classified subject that could be the source of leaks. The dialog is very strange.

    However, on June 5 (as a private citizen), Mr. Comey is willing to discuss everything about the Jan 6 meeting. Something has changed. Was the the existence of a meeting declassified? Was Mr. Comey, the private citizen, bound by different rules than Mr. Comey, the director of the FBI? Or did Mr. Comey make the decision on his own (as he did with the HRC email announcement)? I don’t know if anyone asked Comey why the meeting was a classified subject when he avoided it on 3/20 and not classified? on 6/5.

  30. JTK551
    Posted Jul 20, 2017 at 9:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Can’t quite figure out the bizarre entry into US domestic partisan politics, while ignoring serious aspects of same. But it is Steve’s blog, and his call.

    Should I expect a blog on the Clinton Death List next?

    • JTK551
      Posted Jul 20, 2017 at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

      followed by a series of sneering “rebuttals” in the media (CNN, Slate, Politico, Vanity Fair).

      Are the “rebuttals” sneering merely because they dispute Trump’s claim? Looked at the 1st two, and didn’t see the sneering.

      But doesn’t it trouble folks that the President is making unsubstantiated accusations based on a very unreliable source?

    • TAG
      Posted Jul 20, 2017 at 3:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The NY Times interview was of a piece with Trump’s interaction with Comey. He has no inkling of the need that the administration of justice be necessarily independent of the political aspects of the presidency. He thinks of his justice officials as he thinks of executives within a private firm. They all report to and act in the interests of the CEO. That is the reason that he demanded loyalty from Comey and fired him when he did not get it. That is why he complained about Sessions and the others.

      Trump states incorrectly that the FBI formerly reported to the president before a change that happened as a result of Nixon’s behaviour. The FBI always has reported to the Department of Justice. The change under Nixon was a requirement that all communication from the political aspect pf the White House be limited to a very small set of officials. So, Trump, as in many other things, has it completely backwards. The FBI has been independent of the political presidency from the beginning

      • mpainter
        Posted Jul 20, 2017 at 3:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Trump’s fixing to fire Mueller, so save your sqawks you’re going to need them.

        • TAG
          Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 5:04 AM | Permalink

          Nixon attempted to fire Archibald Cox

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 5:50 AM | Permalink

          Not attempted, but in fact fired.
          TAG: you can’t do that.
          Trump: watch

        • TAG
          Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

          In regard to the firing of special prosecutors: People of a certain age will remember leon Jaworski. Leon Jaworski walked up the steps of the Supreme Court building to cries of “Give ’em hell Leon!”. He obtained the order releasing the tapes despite Nixon’s claim of executive privilege. Nixon’s firing of Archibald Cox mortally wounded his presidency.

          Nixon was a brilliant man. He could have been a great president if only he could have restrained his instincts. Nixon and Trump are alike in some ways and very much different in others. One commonality for each is hubris and Greek tragedies concern protagonists with hubris.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

          Well, TAG, a lot of wishful thinkers are trying to draw parallels between Nixon and Trump, but they always omit the overriding consideration: under Nixon, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress; under Trump, the Republicans control both houses of Congress. Do the wishful thinkers imagine that Republicans are ready to let the Democrats convert their witch hunt into an impeachment proceeding? Dream on.

        • TAG
          Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

          parallels between Nixon and Trump

          Nixon would not have confused Napoleon with Napoleon III. It was Napoleon III who commissioned the redesign of Paris.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

          TAG, one can buy a Trump Voodoo doll on the internet, complete with pins. I think that’s what you need as a channel for your impulses.

      • Follow the Money
        Posted Jul 20, 2017 at 4:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Can’t quite figure out the bizarre entry into US domestic partisan politics, while ignoring serious aspects of same. But it is Steve’s blog, and his call.

        Did you watch Comey’s corn pone, aw shucks, ‘I’m a naif,’ routine in front of Congress? His statements and demeanor all begged for closer examination, whatever one thinks of Trump or Clinton.

  31. franktoo
    Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 8:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve wrote: “Had Rep King known these details on March 20 – in particular, that Comey was the only person present in the briefing to Trump on the Steele Dossier, it is evident that his questioning on the CNN leak would have gone in a very different direction.

    IMO, the fact that Comey was the only one who briefed the President-Elect suggests that Comey was not the source of the leak. CNN reported (at the link you cited above):

    “CNN has confirmed that the synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump but cannot confirm if it was discussed in his meeting with the intelligence chiefs.”

    This “synopsis” summarized the rumors circulating about Trump including the Steele dossier. If Mr. Comey had been the source, CNN would have known whether the synopsis was or was not discussed. This sentence suggests (to me) that CNN learned about the meeting before or as it was happening, but had no information from anyone who attended it.

    Mr. Comey almost certainly did not compose this synopsis by himself. The four intelligence chiefs likely decided upon a final document by email, and probably discussed some aspects of it with subordinates to ensure accuracy and propriety. Others in the Obama administration knew about the planned briefings and could have asked any of the four about their tricky meeting with the President-elect, before or after. CIA Director Brennan, for example, worked in the Obama White House for four years and therefore wa close to many partisans outside the professional intelligence community. Unlike Comey, almost everyone else who learned about the meeting would be leaving their jobs in a few weeks. They may have had partisan incentives to leak and would not be around to deal with the consequences.

    You are correct in pointing out that there is an inconsistency between Comey’s March 20th testimony and his June 5th testimony. On March 20th (as a director of the FBI), Comey refuses to answer ANY questions about the Jan 6 meeting with the president, saying that any answer he gives will confirm press reports that such a meeting occurred and thereby lend credibility to other information in those reports. If he were to have said: “I was the only one in the room …”, then he would have been admiting that a classified meeting with the president actually took place. When asked about leaks about General Flynn at the same hearing, he refuses to answer because he doesn’t want to confirm press reports about the existence of an FBI investigation into Flynn’s activities. If he says that the Flynn leak is under investigation, he would have been admitting that the FBI was investigating Flynn. In this hearing and others, Mr. Comey and others are constantly dancing around questions about investigating leaks, because they don’t want to confirm the existence of a classified subject that could be the source of leaks. The dialog is very strange.

    However, on June 5 (as a private citizen), Mr. Comey is willing to discuss everything about the Jan 6 meeting. Something has changed. Was the the existence of a meeting declassified? Was Mr. Comey, the private citizen, bound by different rules than Mr. Comey, the director of the FBI? Or did Mr. Comey decide to talk on his own authority (as he did with the HRC email announcement)?

  32. mpainter
    Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 9:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Mueller added to his staff two attorneys who contributed to the Clinton campaign, if news reports are correct. These two now have the opportunity to make good on their investment. Mueller knows this, of course. The plan is to investigate Trump’s business affairs and leak information to the Trump hating media, ever so ready to twist facts to Trump’s disadvantage. Such a campaign could hobble Trump’s presidency and turn supporters against him.

    Mueller sees his own opportunity in this, of course. If he injures Trump, he adds a notch to his pistol and reaps millions in royalties from the book he writes.

    It is Jeff Sessions who put Trump in this position. Whatever on earth was Sessions thinking of?

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Mueller’s violations of remit was a mistake. AG Sessions has asked the DoJ Inspector General to investigate and report the specifics. This is the preliminary step in Mueller’s dismissal. With the IG report in hand, Sessions will have all of the justification that he needs. But Trump has hinted at “conflicted” aspects of Mueller’s position, so this will be investigated also by the IG.

      But perhaps they will keep Mueller, who now is hostage to his situation, his political maneuvers now become a liability for him.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

      And what was Sessions thinking of? Who knows. Could be that Sessions is an old fox.

  33. Frank
    Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 1:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve wrote: “Had Rep King known these details on March 20 – in particular, that Comey was the only person present in the briefing to Trump on the Steele Dossier, it is evident that his questioning on the CNN leak would have gone in a very different direction. But Comey withheld that information from him.”

    If you are suggesting that Mr. Comey was the source of the leak about the 1/6 meeting, consider the following passage from the CNN article you linked above:

    “CNN has confirmed that the synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump but cannot confirm if it was discussed in his meeting with the intelligence chiefs.”

    If Comey were the source of the leak, CNN would have known whether or not the synopsis of rumors about Mr. Trump had been discussed with the President-elect. This passage suggests that CNN had knowledge of what was expected to happen at this meeting, but no information from inside the meeting. The synopsis was likely written by all four intelligence chiefs with assistance from subordinates to ensure accuracy and propriety. Others in the administration were aware that a special briefing had been arranged for the President-Elect and make inquiries about the subject. And almost everyone who knew about the synopsis, except Comey, would be leaving in two weeks and not need to deal with the repercussions of a leak.

    You are correct in pointing out that there is an inconsistency between Comey’s March 20th testimony and his June 5th testimony. On March 20th, Comey refuses to answer ANY questions about the Jan 6 meeting with the president, saying that any answer he gives will confirm press reports that such a meeting occurred and thereby lend credibility to other information in those reports. If he were to have said: “I was the only one in the room …”, then he would have been admitting that a classified meeting with the president had taken place.

    However, on June 5 (as a private citizen), Mr. Comey is willing to discuss the Jan 6 meeting. Something had changed. Was the the existence of a meeting declassified? Was Mr. Comey, the private citizen, bound by different rules than Mr. Comey, the director of the FBI? Or did Mr. Comey make the decision on his own (as he did with the HRC email announcement)?

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 21, 2017 at 2:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

      A good analysis Frank, but it seems obvious that King would have asked Comey if he had been the leaker had he known the circumstances of Comey’s private conference with Trump. I conclude that Steve correctly implies that King, or some other committee member, would have directly asked Comey this question. Comey effectively dodged this deadly bullet by hiding from the committee the true circumstances of his meeting with Trump, when he divulged the Steele dossier.

      The assumption that the leaker was Comey is consistent with all that we know about his behavior concerning Trump.

      That CNN did not have all of the facts straight does not mean that Comey was not the leaker, for surely Comey was not anxious to give information that would pointed to him as the leaker.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 22, 2017 at 2:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

      If Comey was the 1/6/ leaker, then he would surely be smart enough to leak something that could not immediately be pinned back to him uniquely. He could also have requested CNN to issue a more generalized statement. I do not agree that the CNN statement precludes Comey as the leaker.

      In any event, I wasn’t trying to make a case about the identity of the leaker – only the narrower point that Comey’s invocation of classified information changed the March 20 questioning. King was interested in pinning down leaks and as I said before: “Had Rep King known these details on March 20 – in particular, that Comey was the only person present in the briefing to Trump on the Steele Dossier, it is evident that his questioning on the CNN leak would have gone in a very different direction. But Comey withheld that information from him”.

      I have no idea where such questioning would have gone, only that it would have gone in a different direction.

      I haven’t written up all my notes on Comey, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he systematically misled and deceived Trump and deserved to be fired.

      • pottereaton
        Posted Jul 22, 2017 at 9:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Yes, Comey deserved to be fired for that and for other derelictions related to the Clinton investigation. Comey’s firing has led to the appointment of his very good friend Mueller who is now apparently exceeding his mandate and investigating tangential matters as it relates to Trump.

        It’s instructive to note that Nixon was brought down by a disgruntled number two at the FBI, Mark Felt, who was angered when Nixon passed him over for the position of Director when Hoover died:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Felt

        • TAG
          Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 4:00 AM | Permalink

          Nixon was brought down for Watergate and his actions that politicized the administration of justice

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

          It’s not going to work, TAG. The Inspector General Michael Horowitz of the DoJ will issue his report later this year on DoJ politicization under the last administration. And his newest target of investigation? None other than Robert Mueller, who flagrantly violated his remit by ordering a probe of Trump’s personal finances.

          That particular escapade came to a screeching halt when the Inspector General stepped in and demanded documents from Mueller. The IG is charged with determining the specifics and the scope of Mueller’s violations, you see.

          Things are going very well for Trump, after all.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

          Mueller seems to have violated his remit, but won’t it take more than an IG report to blunt his attack?

        • TAG
          Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

          Nixon on the Daniel Ellsberg leak of the Pentagon papers. Nixon was infuriated by leaks

          We’ve got a countergovernment here and we’ve got to fight it. I don’t give a damn how it’s done. Do whatever has to be done to stop those leaks.… I don’t want to be told why it can’t be done.”

          Nixon about how to discredit Ellsberg

          “Don’t worry about his trial . Just get everything out. Try him in the press… leak it out.”

          <nixon describing how effective his leaks can be in attacking someone. he refers to his involvement in the Alger Hiss spying case.

          “We won the Hiss case in the papers,” … “We did. I had to leak stuff all over the place. Because the Justice Department would not prosecute it.… It was won in the papers…. I leaked out the papers. I leaked everything.… I leaked out the testimony. I had Hiss convicted before he ever got to the grand jury.”<blockquote.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

          In other words, how bold is Mueller?
          Not so bold, I would guess. He has neither legal nor moral ground in such violations of his remit and surely Sessions has enjoined him to desist. Of course, Mueller could defy Sessions and court dismissal but then his dismissal would be amply justified. Remember, the Republicans control both houses of Congress.

      • Frank
        Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 3:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Steve: Your post left the impression that you were suggesting Comey was the leaker, but when I read it carefully, the sentence I quoted was the strongest conclusion I could find: “would have gone in a very different direction”. But what direction? Would it have mattered?

        You are correct when you said that CNN’s statement doesn’t preclude Comey as the leaker. However, it is most consistent with the idea the someone who knew about what was expected to happen at the 1/6 briefing – probably about ten people including Comey – leaked the story before or during the meeting. I’ll speculate that Mr. Obama ordered that the existence of the meeting be classified in an attempt to avoid any leaks. (I’ll also note that this particular story probably required attention from CNN management before it was aired “within hours” of the meeting. Breaking sensational stories like the Steele Dossier are the life-blood of 24-hour news, but it entails corporate risk.)

        What some may be forgetting that Comey and others have testified under oath in closed session about many of the things others speculate about after public sessions. For the past 3.5 years, Congressional Intelligence committees have dealt with Mr. Comey in public and closed sessions. I haven’t seen any obvious sign that they have lost faith in Mr. Comey’s integrity and impartiality, despite shocking developments. My perceptions are shaped by Robert Gates accounts of dealing with Intelligence Committees as a top official in the CIA during the Iran Contra scandal in his history of Cold War, “From the Shadows…” Under a special prosecutor, he Iran-Contra investigations and trials lasted for six years, until Bush I pardoned three remaining high officials from the Reagan administration and three others at the end of his presidency. Unfortunately, it will be a long time (if ever) before a definitive history of recent events is written. In the meantime, careful analyses like yours are needed.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

          Fair enough.

          A topic that interests me greatly and which I’ve been meaning to write about: the “fingerprints” of Steele Dossier memoranda can be seen in news stories as early as September 2016 and even late August 2016 then attributed to leaks from the intel community. I’m also convinced that the super-secret intel relied upon by CIA Director Brennan to set Obama administration hair on fire in early August 2016 (as described in June 23 WaPo story) was nothing more than Steele Dossier memoranda. I think that Trump would be tactically wise to declassify and publish everything, thus proving what a cock-up it was.

  34. Frank
    Posted Jul 22, 2017 at 4:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

    mpainter: “but it seems obvious that King would have asked Comey if he had been the leaker had he known the circumstances of Comey’s private conference with Trump”.

    Actually, Comey would have responded to a direct question from King about leaking by saying something like: I can’t answer that question because doing so would reveal classified information. (The meeting with Trump was classified, probably at the insistence of President Obama.) That would have resulted in Comey’s being asked the same question in a non-public session at some point. If he were the leaker and willing to lie about it, he wouldn’t need to duck the question. IMO his ducking didn’t provide us with an useful information.

    Whenever anyone from the Intelligence Community has been questioned about leaks, they usually say that the existence of ongoing leak investigations is never confirmed publicly, but that you can be sure we take leaks very seriously. There was nothing unusual or suspicious in Comey’s ducking this question. For example, the existence of an investigation into who leaked Flynn’s name is never confirmed at this hearing.

    mpainter also said: “The assumption that the leaker was Comey is consistent with all that we know about his behavior concerning Trump.”

    This statement is incorrect. Comey volunteered in his written statement – after he was fired – that he had leaked his memo to himself about his meeting with Trump about going easy on General Flynn. (I presume Comey was smart enough to write that memo in such a way that “leaking” it did not break any law.) He leaked it after Trump lied about taping that meeting (suggesting Trump could prove Comey’s version of the meeting was wrong). Comey had discussed that memo with a few trusted leaders at the FBI. So the one time we know that a leak must have come from high levels in the FBI, Comey admitted doing it himself.

    If you want a good candidate for leaking the existence of the synopsis to be presented to Trump, I’d like to nominate CIA Director John Brennan, a man who assisted Obama’s first campaign for President and then worked in the White House as Director of Anti-Terrorism for four years. Furthermore, Brennan was in an ideal position to exaggerate the importance of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian opportunists. (FWIW, he had the ability to plant disinformation with the CIA about the non-existent demonstration in Benghazi and the motivation to do so. He was in charge of preventing terrorist attacks and his future depended on Obama getting re-elected.)

    FWIW, if Comey were out to get Trump, he never would have announced the re-opening of the email investigation less than two week before the election. Nor would he have unambiguously answered Trey Gowdy’s questions about HRC’s false testimony in front of Congress about her email server.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 22, 2017 at 2:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

      No, the statement is correct. See my discussion above.

    • Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 1:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Frank: “FWIW, if Comey were out to get Trump, he never would have announced the re-opening of the email investigation less than two week before the election.”

      You are forgetting: a) Comey had very publicly committed to inform the Senate (the public) if any new Clinton email information arose. b) That the NY FBI field office was rumored to buzzing with threats of revolt if a lid was kept on the find of thousands of HRC emails on Weiner’s laptop. c) No matter what one’s political leanings the number one rule for a bureaucrat is CYA.

      There is also this: “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election,” Comey told the senators.

      • Frank
        Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 11:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Ron: You are over-simplifying the situation. Under normal circumstances, the FBI would never make any announcement about the investigation involving a candidate within a few weeks of an election. It would make the FBI nauseous to think that they had any impact either way on any election. By mid-October, Mr. Comey could have judged that was more important to avoid intervening than to keep his commitment to inform the Senate of the existence of new information. You may also recall that the FBI – at the time of the announcement – had no NEW information about anything HRC might have done wrong. They simply had learned that some of HRC’s email had been found on Weiner’s laptop. At that point, they needed a search warrant to read any email relevant to HRC. Only after reading would they know if they were in possession of any new EVIDENCE about wrong doing by HRC that would make the investigation worth re-opening. (And, as it turned out, the laptop contained no such evidence.) Mr. Comey chose (correctly IMO) to define “requesting a search warrant” rather than “finding new evidence of wrong doing” as “reopening the investigation”. However, he had a CHOICE, and was severely criticized by other prosecutors for the CHOICE he made.

        He could have told the agents in NY that the FBI would go public only when they had new evidence of wrong doing, not merely new information to examine. I don’t know whether or not that would have stopped the alleged “revolt”.

        If Mr. Comey wanted to play CYA, he could have discussed the situation with his boss, AG Lynch, and probably been ordered not to make a public announcement. Then he wouldn’t have had a CHOICE. However, as we have seen, Mr. Comey isn’t the type of person who takes the easy way out of difficult situations. He judged that his boss should have recused herself from the decision about whether to prosecute HRC due to: her close political affiliation with the Clintons, her meeting with Bill, and intelligence Comey had received. At that time, Comey was perceived as being an independent, nonpartisan official appointed to high positions by both Republican and Democratic Presidents and approved by the Senate 93-1. So, the non-partisan Comey made what he saw as the inevitable and correct decision not to prosecute and defended it and the FBI in front of Congress.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 1:20 AM | Permalink

          Mr Comey? How you sweet talk that reprobate.

        • Frank
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 4:27 AM | Permalink

          mpainter: Those lacking facts often need to resort to insults. However, I don’t want to hijack Steve’s post. Read Comey’s opening statement (p5-7) and his exchange with Congressman Gowdy (p11-13).

          https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/7-7-2016-Oversight-of-the-State-Department.pdf

          I agree with Mr. Gowdy! HRC intended to hide her email records from Congress and FOI. She committed perjury. However, she didn’t INTEND to mishandle classified information – she intended to hide things on her server, not expose them. And I agree with Mr. Comey; only a politically motivated prosecutor like Mr Gowdy would prosecute this case. He would get a hung jury at best (without cooperating HRC insiders).

          (FWIW, Clinton never used ANY email until she left the Senate in 2007 to run for President. And she never personally used her secure email at work on a PC, because she had never used a PC, only a Blackberry!)

          And Cheryl Mills apparently succeeded in destroying HRCs records without committing obstruction of justice or being indicted for mishandling of classified material (despite her hiring private attorneys without security clearances to separate work and personal email), thanks to favorable “cooperation” deals negotiated with the DoJ. I guess it helps when everyone expects you to be the next WH Chief of Staff. Sickening. They should have tried her(!) and gotten her to rat on HRC. However that would have taken six months to a year.

          As for excessive negligence, the entire State Department was guilty of excessive negligence in handling classified information. They didn’t have the equipment to properly handle classified information on the worldwide 24/7/365 schedule top officials follow these days. Secure email was only available in the State Department itself. Only President Obama had a secure Blackberry, but they refused to provide HRC with one. Mr. Comey has secure email at work and home. Most of the classified information on HRC’s server was sent TO HRC, not originated BY HRC. The senders broke the rules, not the addressees. And some of those correspondents emailed each other away from the office in the same way they did with HRC. The State Department made little effort to enforce the impractical rules and never tried to apply them to HRC.

          You can read about perjury on p7-8.

          Your problem is that Mr. Trump is a much easier target because he does know about or care about the law. Don’t blame me or Mr. Comey for his ignorance.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

          don’t worry about hijacking. your comment is thoughtful and FWIW I agree with several major points, bub not all.

          You say that “Cheryl Mills apparently succeeded in destroying HRCs records without committing obstruction of justice”. I disagree with that sentence as phrased though other points in your paragraph indicate that there are points of agreement – in particular that Cheryl Mills should have been charged. I’ve carefully parsed the chronology of the destruction of documents and there isnt a shred of doubt in my mind that Cheryl Mills went out of her way to destroy documents (that had been accidentally preserved) when she learned of their existence subsequent to the Benghazi Committee preservation order. A far clearer obstruction of justice than Martha Stewart who Comey charged (in that case, I thought that Martha Stewart was treated unfairly). Comey also charged Frank Quattrone very aggressively on obstruction of justice – I read this case while I was interested in the destruction of documents by Mann, Jones and others in Climategate.

          An incident undiscussed in understanding Hillary’s motives is the Sandy Berger case. Berger had been NSC adviser to Bill Clinton, but both he and his wife were separately friends with Hillary. (His wife acted as her real estate agent in Washington.) Berger removed (in his underwear) and destroyed (what appear to have been) a unique document, or at least uniquely annotated, pertaining to 9/11 while the 9/11 commission was going on. Berger was ultimately given a plea deal regarded at the time as a slap on the wrist – by the omnipresent Comey. Berger said that he acted alone. Two years later he was a key adviser to Hillary. I’m sure that Hillary concluded that it would be better to keep her records off site and to that extent her actions were definitely intentional.

          Hillary’s most serious issue in Whitewater was the disappearance of her billing records. As I recall, the Senate Committee wanted to charge her with obstruction of justice. Counsel to the committee, oddly, was none other than James Comey.

          Comey was later involved in deciding on the disposition of pay-for-pardon allegations concerning pardons issued in the last hours of the Clinton presidency, two of which were particularly controversial. Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, whose wife gave generously to the Clinton Foundation. Comey closed down the investigation. Hillary’s brother received (as I recall) a $400,000 payment for a pardon for a couple of drug dealers. Comey closed down the investigation (the payment was apparently returned.)

          I think that your interpretation on classified materials is fair – at least in terms of what is extant. The number of preserved classified records is small and would show an intent to keep classified materials on the State system. However, we don’t know whether they bleached classified records from the system.

          One of the most notable obstruction in Cheryl Mill’s bleaching was her destruction of metadata from the server(s) – metadata that would have given information on potential penetration. Was Hillary’s server hacked by APT28 or others? If it were proved that Hillary’s unsecured server had been hacked by the “Russians” and this were known, I think that this would have hurt Hillary politically and much of the “Russia, Russia” stuff would have blunted as being due to Hillary’s own fault. APT28 apparently got into the State Department; I thought that it would be ironic if the APT28 infestation originated in the Clinton server and then to the State Dept, but we’ll never know.

        • AntonyIndia
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

          The FBI didn’t question Hillary Clinton under oath, although they(sh)could have: her lies would have become chargeable offences than.
          Oversight of the State Department committee Chairman Haffetz started out about how the average Joe is treated compared to the Establishment James, but then made the same mistake with FBI director Comey: not questioned under oath although he (sh)could have.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

          Frank, you say : ” However, she didn’t INTEND to mishandle classified information – she intended to hide things on her server, not expose them.”

          My understanding is that the law does not require a demonstration of intent, but only prove an act of carelessness involving national secrets. Comey, imo, meant to dupe the public. Did he succeed?

        • Frank
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

          Thank you for your generous comments. I had forgotten your post about destruction of non-HRC email on the server. Cheryl Mills has so far escaped obstruction and may be protected by a generous “cooperation agreement”. Given enough time, an aggressive special prosecutor might overcome omerta, but that process is very slow and fallible humans don’t alway remember everything that might be found in their records. In desperation, they can be tempted to implicate others, rightly or wrongly.

          FWIW, my view of Comey is shaped by the fact that he didn’t need to be at the center or the Clinton email scandal (to help HRC if that were his motivation) or possibly other events that followed. Why did he do it? Dedication to the integrity of the FBI? Ego? Ulterior motives? Never-Trump? And by the fact that the Senators who oversee his work in closed session still treat him with complete respect, despite the shocking events that have transpired. I could be wrong and certainly understand the motivations of others who wish to scrutinize every detail, hopefully emulating your passion for facts.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 25, 2017 at 8:20 AM | Permalink

          thanks. In difficult fact situations, reasonable people can disagree.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

          Frank, did you not notice my comment above or do you ignore it?
          If you make an effort to inform yourself on the applicable law, you will realize that Comey meant to hoodwink the public.

        • Frank
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 9:28 PM | Permalink

          mpainter asked: Frank, did you not notice my comment above or do you ignore it? If you make an effort to inform yourself on the applicable law, you will realize that Comey meant to hoodwink the public.

          You can’t be simple-minded enough to believe that Comey and the FBI’s General Counsel were stupid enough to write memos on meetings with Trump in such a way that they couldn’t be legally released or discussed. (To the best of my knowledge, the Senate Intelligence Committee has received these memos, but hasn’t released them.)

          A google search for “comey broke the law” provides 39,000 hits. Which actions broke what law according to whom? 20,000 of which probably resulted from Trump tweeting about the memos. Trump’s lawyer probably prompted another 18,900 hits. I didn’t know which of the remaining 100 hints you might be referring to.

          To enable advisors to be totally candid with the President, the doctrine (not a law) of executive privilege prevents advisors from being forced to disclose their advice. It doesn’t protect presidents from voluntary statements by their advisors. The WH didn’t formally object to Comey’s recent appearance.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

          snip

          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 9:46 AM | Permalink
          Frank, you say : ” However, she didn’t INTEND to mishandle classified information – she intended to hide things on her server, not expose them.”

          My understanding is that the law does not require a demonstration of intent, but only prove an act of carelessness involving national secrets. Comey, imo, meant to dupe the public. Did he succeed?

          Steve: please stop ad homs.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 2:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Comey announced the renewed investigation of Hillary out of self-defense. See my comments above starting with July 12, 3:55 am

  35. Kuni
    Posted Jul 22, 2017 at 9:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/07/we-were-mistaken-fox-and-friends-issues-rare-correction-on-false-comey-memo-story-no-word-from-trump/
    ‘We were mistaken’: Fox and Friends issues rare correction on false Comey memo story — no word from Trump

    . . . “Yesterday on this program we aired and tweeted this story saying former FBI director James Comey leaked memos containing top secret information,” he said. “We were mistaken in that. According to the report, half of the memos contain information classified at the secret or confidential, not top-secret. Markings of the documents in which Mr. Comey leaked are, at this point, unclear. Just wanted to straighten that out.”

    The network did not apologize to Comey for alleging he did anything illegal or unethical nor did Doocy’s fellow Fox and Friends hosts comment the network’s flub.

    Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway ran with the information during her appearance on CNN Monday and asked why CNN wasn’t reporting the story. CNN ultimately discussed the inaccuracies in the story and the report fell apart by late Monday afternoon.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 1:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Kuni, Comey leaked classified information. That is illegal. You are one of the confused but don’t feel bad because there are many like you because of the fake news that gets poured out by such as your link.
      Their intention is to dupe and you were duped.

  36. Follow the Money
    Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 4:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    SM,

    Green Party candidate Jill Stein says that her name was stated by a Senate committee letter to Trump Junior. She expresses amazement.

    But her name is mentioned in the Dodgy Dossier.

    I read the July 19 letter to Junior. It asks for communications with many names. More, a lot of the names are in order nearly verbatim as they appear in the dossier. See No. 2 request in the letter.

    The names of businesses and people aligned with the dossier begin at the Ritz Carlton, Manafort, Page..etc. down to lesser known names as “Fridman…Aven…Khan” — appearing in that same order.

    So your ideas about the primacy of the Dossier have more merit, borne out by the wording of the Senate committee July 19 letter.

    For Stein there is a header “-Kremlin engaging with several high profile US players, including STEIN, PAGE, and (former DIA Director Michael Flynn), and funding their recent visits to Moscow.” In that same report the same is later elaborated a little.

    • Follow the Money
      Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 5:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Take these names as they appear in order in the Senate Committee letter to Junior: Peskov, Putin, Ritz, Manafort, Page, Sechin, Ivanov, Diveykin, Millian, Medvedev, Flynn, Stein, Cohen, Kosachev, Yanukovich, Lewandowski, Kislyak, Ushakov, Vaino, Kalugin, Bondarev, Fridman, Aven, Khan, Govorun, Lavrov, Rosneft, Kiriyenko, Solodukhin.

      These names appear in the same exact order in the “Detail” of the Dossier (which has some black outs) with the following exceptions:

      There is no Millian.

      Stein comes just before, not just after Flynn.

      “Rosneft” is out of place.

      That’s it.

      For some odd reason Flynn’s name is not capitalized, as is every other name in the Dossier. he is called at least twice, “former DIA Director Michael Flynn.”

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 9:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      interesting that it’s influencing letters even now.

      But even more interesting is re-tracing breadcrumbs back to Sep 2016 and Aug 2016.

      • Follow the Money
        Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 10:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I look forward to your revelations.

        Milllian, that is Sergei Millian, is quite the character. He is reported to be a secret source for the Dossier, but I think he denies it. He might be framed. He is nonetheless a bizarre character who has expressed fantasies about his connections to Trump:

        Story about Millian.

  37. Follow the Money
    Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 5:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Just to be pesky, “Peskov” appears before “Putin” in the “Summary”, but after Putin in the “Detail.” Apologies!!

  38. jddohio
    Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 6:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    One very important way that Comey mishandled the Clinton email investigation was that he failed to record her testimony. See http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/286849-fbi-didnt-record-clinton-interview-no-sworn-oath

    It is an absolute joke to question a known liar such as Hillary Clinton for 3.5 hours and to fail to record it. Think of the pressure that an FBI agent would be under if his recollection varied from that of Clinton in an important way. Theoretically, because Clinton was not in custody the FBI rules regarding the recording of statements didn’t have to be followed. See this link for some of FBI rules: https://www.emptywheel.net/2014/05/21/fbi-will-now-videotape-in-custody-interrogations/ However, if the FBI was seriously questioning Clinton to really search for information (instead of using the 3.5 hours of “questioning” as a sham technique to give cover to a political decision not to prosecute Clinton), it would have recorded the session. This joke of a procedure and “investigation” strongly undermines Comey’s claim that he was apolitical while heading the FBI. I took part in many depostions as part of my workers compensation practice and although they were not nearly as big as the Clinton matter, all of them were recorder or transcribed.

    JD

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 9:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

      interesting to compare how Comey handled Hillary vs how he handled Martha Stewart who was charged with obstruction

      Comey didn’t take any evidence from Hillary until he’d taken multiple statements from various aides, so Hillary knew what had been said. Cheryl Mills, who obstructed justice by destroying evidence, not only was given a pass, but allowed to sit in on Hillary interview. He didn’t crosscheck to see if Hillary lied.

      Although obstruction was main charged against Martha Stewart (whose actual obstruction was trifling), he told Chafetz and Gowdy that he didn’t investigate obstruction by Hillary and her aides because he hadnt received a complaint.

      • Frank
        Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 10:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Comey told Chafetz that the FBI doesn’t investigate the possibility that a Congressional witness has committed perjury until the FBI receives a complaint from Congress. Then Gowdy read some of HRC’s statements to Congress and Comey said clearly explained how she answered the FBI differently. Chafetz allegedly filed a complaint the same day. I don’t know what has happened to it.

        https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/7-7-2016-Oversight-of-the-State-Department.pdf

        When Bush I pardoned Sec Def Weinberger at the end of his term, Special Prosecutor Walsh was about to try Weinberger for allegedly lying to Congress about Iran-Contra.

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

          Here Frank, I copy my comment which you have studiously ignored. Let’s see you respond.

          Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 9:46 AM | Permalink
          Frank, you say : ” However, she didn’t INTEND to mishandle classified information – she intended to hide things on her server, not expose them.”

          My understanding is that the law does not require a demonstration of intent, but only prove an act of carelessness involving national secrets. Comey, imo, meant to dupe the public. Did he succeed?

        • Frank
          Posted Jul 25, 2017 at 4:25 AM | Permalink

          You decide whether Comey tried to dupe Americans. He’s got eight or so knowledgeable and justifiably angry Republican Congressmen eager to shred his legal analysis.

          https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/7-7-2016-Oversight-of-the-State-Department.pdf

          Director Cpmey’s Opening Statement:

          “Maybe I could just say a few words at the beginning that would help frame how we think about this. There are two things that matter in a criminal investigation of a subject: What did the person do? And when they did that thing, what were they thinking?
          When you look at the hundred years plus of the Justice Department’s investigation and prosecution of the mishandling of classified information, those two questions are obviously present: What did the person do? Did they mishandle classified information? And when they did it, did they know they were doing something that was unlawful? That has been the characteristic of every charged criminal case involving the mishandling of classified information. I am happy to go through the cases in particular.
          In our system of law, there’s a thing called mens rea. It’s important to know what you did, but when you did it, this Latin phrase ‘‘mens rea’’ means, what were you thinking? And we don’t want to put people in jail unless we prove that they knew they were doing something they shouldn’t do. That is the characteristic of all the prosecutions involving mishandling of classified information.
          There is a statute that was passed in 1917 that, on its face, makes it a crime, a felony, for someone to engage in gross negligence. So that would appear to say: Well, maybe in that circumstance, you don’t need to prove they knew they were doing something that was unlawful; maybe it’s enough to prove that they were just really, really careless, beyond a reasonable doubt.
          At the time Congress passed that statute in 1917, there was a lot of concern in the House and the Senate about whether that was going to violate the American tradition of requiring that, before you’re going to lock somebody up, you prove they knew they were doing something wrong, and so there was a lot of concern about it. The statute was passed. As best I can tell, the Department of Justice has used it once in the 99 years since, reflecting that same concern. I know, from 30 years with the Department of Justice, they have grave concerns about whether it’s appropriate to prosecute somebody for gross negligence, which is why they’ve done it once that I know of in a case involving espionage.
          And so when I look at the facts we gathered here, as I said, I see evidence of great carelessness, but I do not see evidence that is sufficient to establish that Secretary Clinton or those with whom she was corresponding both talked about classified information on email and knew, when they did it, they were doing something that was against the law, right?
          So, given that assessment of the facts and my understanding of the law, my conclusion was and remains no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case. No reasonable prosecutor would bring the second case in a hundred years focused on gross negligence. And so I know that’s been a source of some confusion for folks. That’s just the way it is. I know the Department of Justice. I know no rea- sonable prosecutor would bring this case. I know a lot of my former friends are out there saying they would. I wonder where they were the last 40 years, because I’d like to see the cases they brought on gross negligence. Nobody would; nobody did.”

          You can read the rest on your own. Why Petraus was prosecuted, but not Clinton. Why they granted immunity to the technician who wiped Clinton’s server. The ridiculous “cooperation agreements” reached by the DoJ with Clinton’s close associates. The widespread mishandling of classified information by many high level officials in the State Department who live in a 24/7/365 world at war with terrorists and lack the secure communications to do their job. And best of all, you can hear Trey Gowdy – another former prosecutor – CONVINCINGLY lecture Comey on how to demonstrate HRC’s intent in a courtroom (but not her intent to mishandle classified information).

          And when you read the challenging questions from the other Republicans, remember that James Comey didn’t need to be the one facing that Inquisition. Making and defending the HRC decision was AG Lynch’s responsibility. Lynch had been appointed a US Attorney by Bill Clinton. Obama named her to be Attorney General after Eric Holder, and it took six months to get her narrowly confirmed. A few weeks earlier she had met Bill Clinton in private. Comey had intelligence suggesting she was compromised in a third way. Believing Lynch should have recused herself from the decision, Comey usurped her role, made what he believed was an inevitable and correct decision, announced it without consulting Lynch, and defended it publicly. Why?

          “I am proud to be here today representing the people of the FBI, who did this investigation, as they do all their work, in a competent, honest, and independent way. I believe this investigation was conducted consistent with the highest traditions of the FBI. Our folks did it in an apolitical and professional way, includ- ing our recommendation as to the appropriate resolution of this case.
          As I said in my statement on Tuesday, I expected there would be significant public debate about this recommendation, and I am a big fan of transparency, so I welcome the conversation we are going to have here today. And I do think a whole lot of folks have questions about, so why did we reach the conclusion we did, and what was our thinking? And I hope very much to get an opportunity to address that and to explain it. And I hope, at the end of day, people can disagree, can agree, but they will at least understand that the decision was made and the recommendation was made the way you would want it to be: by people who didn’t give a hoot about politics but who cared about, what are the facts, what is the law, and how have similar people, all people, been treated in the past?”

          You, of course, are not required to accept any of this BS as the truth and pity my naivety and that of the other Congressmen who still treat Comey with respect. However, in that case, you need to come up with another explanation for why Comey didn’t leave this thankless job to his boss, AG Lynch – who certainly was not going to prosecute HRC.

          (And the Russia investigation should have been the public responsibility of the new AG Jeff Sessions. But he compromised himself at his hearing and left Comey alone with the President to discuss Flynn.)

        • mpainter
          Posted Jul 25, 2017 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

          Right, Comey justifies himself by citing discussions and debate concerning the 1917 law as it was being considered. You can swallow that if you like, but Comey has ignored the statute and this statute does not require proof of intent, but only proof of carelessness. It really quite straightforward.

  39. jddohio
    Posted Jul 23, 2017 at 11:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    I agree with your the thrust of you comment that the timing of the questioning of various Clinton aides helped Clinton. If Comey was seriously investigating Clinton, he would have questioned her near the beginning of the process, before she and her aides could collaborate on their stories. The fact that she was questioned at the end of the process, and the investigation was closed several days after her testimony, is strong evidence that Comey was simply brokering a political compromise.

    Also, related to the Comey matter is Robert Mueller, who was appointed special counsel. He headed the Enron prosecution, which was responsible for the illegal prosecution and destruction of Arthur Anderson. (Overturned by Supreme Court in a 9-0 ruling — too late to have any significance for Andersen’s lost business)

    JD

  40. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 7:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I hadn’t noticed that several reasonable comments were in suspense. To avoid political commentary on climate topics over the years, I have some words that trigger review.

  41. JTK551
    Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 1:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Comey’s briefing to Trump on January 6 appears to have intentionally misled Trump about counter-intelligence investigations into the Steele dossier, in effect treating Trump like a perp, rather than a legitimately elected president. It took a while for Trump to figure out that he was being played by Comey.

    All Comey was saying is that Trump was not a target. Investigating the accuracy of the dossier is NOT investigating Trump as a Target.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Intelligence_Community_Oversight#Executive_oversight

    In 2008, President George W. Bush by Executive Order removed some oversight powers from the IOB, critics argue that the changes have weakened oversight capabilities. Previously, if the IOB learned of allegedly illegal or contrary to executive order intelligence activity, it notified both the president and the attorney general, now however, the IOB must refer matters to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. In addition, the IOB lost the authority to oversee each intelligence agency’s general counsel and inspector general.[4] The main issue with the PIAB is concerns, since they are appointed by the president, there may be politicization of their recommendations.

    I’ve seen nothing to me to indicate Comey did anything inappropriate.

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 2:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Well, open your eyes and look.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 25, 2017 at 8:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I haven’t written up my reasons for the above statement, but it is based as much on what Comey failed to disclose to Trump. It’s a long write-up and not something that I can respond to in a short comment.

  42. JTK551
    Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 5:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Mueller seems to have violated his remit

    It was awful broad, and since we don’t have any insight into the evidence that has been produced over the last year, not sure how one could come to that conclusion.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39961732

    According to Mr Rosenstein’s order, he will look into:

    The Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the election

    Any links or co-ordination between Russia and Trump campaign-linked individuals

    Any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation

    What “seems” to have violated that?

    • mpainter
      Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 8:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

      They are not permitted to go sniffing around in Trump’s personal finances like a truffle hound in the forest. They must go to court and specify which documents they wish to obtain, and justify their request as legitimate to their investigation. But FIRST they must show how Russia interferred with the election and so far I have seen no evidence which establishes that. And do you wishfully imagine that the CrowdStrike claims will hold up in court? Dream on.

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