James Comey Finally Addresses the Credibility of the Trump Dossier

To me, one of the most amazing phenomena to come out of the whole Trump-election/Russia-collusion investigation is the willingness of significant numbers of people on the right who oppose Trump to virtually worship anyone who says anything bad about Trump. Who among us can–or even wants to–forget the leader of Lebanese Hezbollah calling President Trump an “idiot” being favorably cited by anti-Trump people as proof of something other than an Islamofascist terror chieftain didn’t like Trump? Since that time, McCabe, now under criminal investigation for lying to federal agents, has been made into a martyr–he’s no Democrat, we were told. There was a brief period when Sally Yates was a hero for flatly refusing to carry out her legal obligations. Stormy Daniels has become a feminist icon. But, perhaps, no one has collected a larger fan club than James Comey. Saint James, he’s called–or so I understand. Comey was the valiant truth teller. Comey is the stand-up guy who faced down the Anti-Christ. In fact, Comey became such a cult figure that when he said things that contradicted the anti-Trump narrative that people would parse his words to discover deeper, hidden layers of truth that were only apparent to the truly cognizant. It was sort of Comey worship blended with Gnosticism.

Let’s go back to January 2018. National Review’s Andy McCarthy wrote a piece As the Dossier Scandal Looms, the New York Times Struggles to Save Its Collusion Tale. FWIW, McCarthy is one of maybe four writers at NRO who I think should be required reading. In it, McCarthy shows how for a year the NYT has flogged Carter Page and the Trump dossier prepared by Christopher Steele as a subcontractor to FusionGPS, the opposition research firm the Clinton campaign hired via their use of a law firm, Perkins Coie, as a cutout to hide the expenditure from campaign finance disclosure. Then, suddenly, they abandoned the dossier story in favor of the new hotness of the George Papadopoulos. Why?

When it emerged in October that the dossier was a Democratic-party campaign product, Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) recounted that, for months, the Justice Department and FBI had stonewalled House demands that they fess up about whether dossier allegations were used in applying for the FISA-court warrant to surveil Page. But though the DOJ and the Bureau have struggled to lock the barn, the horse left long ago. Shortly before the Times ran its Page extravaganza last April, CNN confirmed that the dossier had indeed been used to obtain the FISA warrant — the network relying on unnamed “US officials briefed on the [Russia] investigation.”

I won’t hazard a guess on which of CNN’s anonymous sources are also the Times’ anonymous sources. But it is safe to say the intelligence community, still suffused with Obama holdovers, has been undone by its own illegal leaking. Back in April, they leaked because they figured it would wound President Trump: After all, if the dossier had been used to obtain a FISA warrant, that must mean that the dossier’s sensational allegations of a traitorous Trump-Russia conspiracy were true. That is, the leakers assumed, just as many of us familiar with the FISA process assumed, that the Justice Department would never put information in a FISA warrant application unless the FBI had first corroborated it.

Subsequently, however, former FBI director James Comey told a Senate committee that the dossier remained “salacious and unverified.” Obviously, if the FBI had not verified the dossier by the time Comey testified in June 2017, then the Bureau cannot possibly have verified the dossier when DOJ sought the FISA warrant nine months earlier, in September 2016.

The last paragraph is key. If the dossier was “unverified” then why was it even relevant to anything more significant than TMZ or BuzzFeed, to the extent they are different? Why would it have merited use in a FISA application? And the anti-Trump machine ground into action. You can find several dozen articles of the time all making this exact argument:

In this passage, Comey seems to apply the terms “salacious and unverified” to “this material,” which in turn refers to the earlier reference to “some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.”

At the very least, this passage doesn’t suggest it’s a slam dunk that the entire dossier is “salacious and unverified.” It refers to “some potentially sensitive aspects” of the dossier.

In short, never mind what he said, this is what he actually meant.

Fast forward to last weekend and the inaugural event of Comey’s media orgy:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you mentioned something about– since you brought up the Steele dossier again, you mentioned that the parts about– the prostitutes was– unverified. You don’t know whether they’re true or not. What about the rest of the Steele dossier? Has it checked out? Is it a credible document?

JAMES COMEY: The answer is, I don’t know. When I left the F.B.I when I was fired in early May of last year, an effort was underway by the F.B.I. to try to verify as much as pos– rule in or rule out what– and that work was still ongoing. So I don’t know what the answer is. It came from a credible source.

Well, Steele was using third parties to interview Russians in intelligence positions to get oppo on a US presidential candidate and he was fired by the FBI for lying to the agency about leaking the dossier but, then again,

Comey seems to have a pretty expansive definition of credible.

(I should have added Steele to this story)

So, to recap. Andy McCarthy was right. Comey was not just referring to the “salacious” portions of the dossier. Comey says that when he was fired, in May 2017, the dossier was still unverified…even though it has apparently been laundered and dry cleaned sufficiently to be used as backup for a FISA warrant and appointment of a special counsel.

The next nail in this nasty little cult’s coffin is when the substance of George Papadopoulos’s activities is finally made public. Then we are going to see the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for what it was and is. A political hit job.

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Department of Justice Agrees That Congress Outranks It and Gives Up the Comey Memos

FBI Director James Comey pauses while making a statement at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Comey said the FBI will not recommend criminal charges in its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

To no one’s surprise, Rod Rosenstein has directed that the Department of Justice turn over to three committee chairmen copies of the Comey memos, in complete and in redacted form. This comes only after he was threatened with a subpoena for the documents and “impeach” and “contempt of Congress” were starting to be said by members of Congress on talk shows.

The Department of Justice has delivered to Congress copies of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos documenting his interactions with President Donald Trump, a move intended to avert a legal standoff between House Republicans and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The memos are believed to be central to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or his allies attempted to obstruct the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign contacts with Russia. Top Republicans on three House committees demanded copies of the memos last week, and on Wednesday House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte drafted a subpoena to obtain them.

As I posted last week, this is the third stupid, no way to win fight Rosenstein has allowed himself to be sucked into. It is one thing to go to bat for your troops but when your troops are arrogant and stupid and have no sense of proportion and no respect for you, you gotta stop. Each time he fights an loses one of these he looks weaker to friend and foe alike.

And the Obama Justice Department trolls are beside themselves with tiny, clenched butt-cheeks of fury.

Except, what it could mean is they are actually not part of an ongoing investigation.

We know at least four of these memos contain secret information. We are pretty sure all of them were leaked via a lawyer friend…whose home and office have not been raided by the FBI…to the New York Times. The question is what will be done about that.

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Report: Rosenstein Has Assured Trump He Is Not a Target of an Investigation

Last Thursday, you may recall, Rod Rosenstein was at a meeting at the White House. Speculation was rampant that Trump was going to fire him and thereby ensure the very end of the Republic itself. Now Bloomberg is reporting, via anonymous sources who are always totally reliable, on what happened.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or the probe into his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein, who brought up the investigations himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller, the people said.

After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probes. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.

First the caveats.

The anonymous sources are more likely than not Trump’s people. They have a vested interest in this particular storyline. Bloomberg, on the other hand, has not played with anonymous and ludicrously inaccurate sources the way CNN and the New York Times have. So I’d credit them with having done some due diligence. But when you deal with sources, on or off the record, keep in mind that they have an agenda of some type. The White House also has an interest in tamping down the “he’s going to fire Rosenstein” stories.

Even if Trump is not a target, he has the ability to make himself one everytime he talks. Though, if at this stage in the investigation, given all the “obstruction of justice” bullsh** flung about, if Trump is not a target then he’s not going to be one absent some heroic effort by Trump, himself.

But let’s consider the past couple of weeks.

There had been word that Mueller and the White House were close to an agreement on testimony by Trump in some form. Then the FBI raids the home, hotel residence, and office of Trump’s personnel attorney, Michael Cohen. Now that is off the table:

Shortly before news became public on Monday of an F.B.I. raid on the hotel room and office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Mr. Trump’s legal team met in Washington to draft a proposal that would allow him to be interviewed by the special counsel in the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The proposal included details on where and under what circumstances such an interview would occur, as well as the potential length, according to the person briefed on the events. The lawyers planned to raise objections on certain issues, but they were preparing to respond to a longstanding request by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

As they were going over the proposal, the president’s team learned that the F.B.I. had carried out search warrants at the Rockefeller Center office and Park Avenue hotel room of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing files, opening a safe and taking electronics.

The prosecutors obtained the warrants after receiving a referral from Mr. Mueller, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer. The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation into possible links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia’s election interference, but most likely resulted from information that he had uncovered and then gave to prosecutors in New York.

Mueller had to know about the raid…his supervisor, Rod Rosenstein, basically had to approve it…and the fact that it was okayed, knowing how Trump would react, indicates that Mueller’s team was no longer really interested in talking to Trump. They would only have abandoned this effort if a) he was a target and would have to be so notified or b) that getting an interview was going to take more time and energy than it was worth.

If this report is true, this is probably a sign that the Mueller investigation is winding down on the issues of collusion and obstruction of justice. We can probably anticipate other activities based on things Mueller has discovered due to his open-ended charter to just look wherever he wants. Some of those will be aimed at Trump’s inner circle to annoy and embarrass him. But we may be coming to the end of the tragi-comic farce.

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South Korean President: North Korea Is Prepared to Give Up Nukes

A man watches a television screen showing President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea on Thursday, demanding that Kim Jong Un’s government “get their act together” or face extraordinary trouble. He said his previous “fire and fury” warning to Pyongyang might have been too mild. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

 

This has been a week of what could be seismic movement in trying to avoid war with North Korea. On Tuesday, a South Korean official said that North Korea had agreed to denuclearizaiton, without preconditions, and that North and South Korea had plans to negotiate a peace treaty. On Wednesday, the White House confirmed that CIA director and Secretary of State-nominee Mike Pompeo had secretly visited North Korea and met with Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend. Sort of amazing what doesn’t leak out when the NSC isn’t involved, no?

Today the stakes were raised.

First, President Trump said that the US would maintain “maximum pressure” on North Korea and he was fully prepared to walk away from talks if he didn’t think they were productive:

Later in the day, South Korea President Moon Jae-in had more information:

North Korea has expressed its commitment to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula and is not seeking conditions, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday, as the United States vowed to maintain “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.

Moon said big-picture agreements about denuclearization, establishing a peace regime and normalization of relations between the two Koreas and the United States should not be difficult to reach through summits between the North and South, and between the North and the United States.

“I don’t think denuclearization has different meanings for South and North Korea,” Moon said during a lunch with chief executives of Korean media companies. “The North is expressing a will for a complete denuclearization.”

“They have not attached any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea,” he continued. “All they are talking about is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security.”

This is pretty significant. Unlike an anonymous bureaucrat earlier in the week, this is the South Korean president placing his personal prestige on the line. If North Korea acts to embarrass him, they have just lost the only braking mechanism in an inexorable march to war.

If Moon is correct, and North Korea is basically asking for an end to sanctions and an end to military exercises directed at North Korea in exchange for verifiable dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear program…key phrase “I don’t think denuclearization has different meanings for South and North Korea”…then this is a huge win. Not only for Trump but for the region, which will have averted war, and for the North Korea people.

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BREAKING. Mike Pompeo Is One Step Closer To Being Secretary of State


With John McCain not voting and Rand Paul, being, well Rand Paul, and voting against him, Mike Pompeo needed one Democrat vote to get the tie he needs to become Secretary of State. His hopes rested on flipping one of the four very vulnerable Red State Democrat senators (Donnelly, McCaskill, Manchin, Heitkamp). That just happened.

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 19, 2018

Now that the dam has broken, I suspect that Pompeo will pick up at least Manchin and possibly McCaskill.

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