FBI Director Chris Wray announced Tuesday that his chief of staff, James Rybicki, is leaving the bureau.
Rybicki, who served in the same position under former FBI Director James Comey, had come under scrutiny from Republicans in recent months about his role in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Federal law enforcement sources told Fox News that Rybicki was not fired. His departure, they said, has “been in the works for awhile.”
“Jim Rybicki notified me last month that he will be leaving the FBI to accept an opportunity in the corporate sector,” Wray said in a statement. “While this is an exciting move for the whole Rybicki family, Jim will be dearly missed by the FBI family – and by me personally.”
Wray added: “His many years of dedication to the bureau and DOJ, his level-headed judgement and earnest professionalism, and his steady good cheer have been an asset to us all and have contributed greatly to the safety and security of our nation.”
The FBI director said he tapped attorney Zachary Harmon to replace Rybicki.
FBI Director Chris Wray says chief of staff Jim Rybicki is leaving for job in the private sector. He will be replaced by Zachary Harmon. Wray and Harmon worked together at law firm King & Spalding.
Yep, when you don’t want the guy’s departure to be a big story you totally announce it on Monday.
There have been several reports that Jeff Sessions wanted Christopher Wray to “clean house” at the FBI. Deputy director Andrew McCabe is waiting to retire in March. The general counsel, James Baker, has been removed from his position. Now the chief of staff is out the door. I can’t imagine Peter Strzok’s boss, Bill Priestap, survives because he either knew or should have know of his number two’s partisanship.
Maybe some of the scum on the swamp is being stirred at least.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., calls all GOP Congressmen agents of Russia before rolling in his own feces at this bizarre press conference. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
One of the hot topics on Twitter last week was #ReleaseTheMemo. “The memo” is shorthand for a highly classified document that summarizes both the misuse of FISA and the apparent hard-on the FBI had for Trump. Last week the House Intelligence Committee voted to let members see the memo.
I'm told number of House members who have read secret Intel Committee 'FISA abuse' memo is now around 200. Leaders planning public release, timeframe 1-2 weeks.
Let me stop here for a second and say something that can’t be said too often. The memo is highly classified because it is derived from highly classified documents. It is kept in the SCIF in the House of Representatives. Members can read it but they can’t get copies or make notes. Whatever it contains is much more than copies of the Strzok-Page texts.
Pressure is building on the House leadership to release a redacted version of the memo and that will probably come to pass in a couple of weeks. The Democrats are fighting it tooth and nail. One would think that if the memo were the unmitigated mound of malarkey they say it is, they would welcome the release because it would neutralize Devin Nunes. But they say it is fake and they say you are too stupid to not be swayed by it.
Leading the effort is Adam Schiff. Schiff is a hard-core and unprincipled progressive from California. Not all that long ago he was a figure of fun among conservatives, now he enjoys the status of ‘truth-teller’ among a lot of those same people. This is how Schiff reacted to the Twitter hashtag:
This is ridiculous. The memo was not developed by Russia. The decision to let House members read the memo was not made by Russia. If people did learn about the memo from Russian bots then Russia deserves more credit for promoting governmental transparency than Schiff does.
Devin Nunes and his companions have made some fairly serious allegations. They feel confident enough about those allegations to put them in writing and keep them under lock and key. What is in the memo is damaging enough that Schiff hasn’t leaked it yet. If the allegations are that serious then the American people have a right to know.
What Schiff is doing is simply foreshadowing a strategy that will be in full bloom by November 2018. Using this fatuous nonsense of widespread Russian interference in the 2016 election (the Russians spent a tiny fraction of a percent of all online ad money spent), the Democrats and those credulous souls who are clinging, bitterly, to the collusion narrative are going to paint every conservative media outlet and lobbying group as being in the pocket of the Russians. They’re trying this with the NRA. They are doing it with coverage of the memo. There will be a lot more as we get into the general election.
Schiff’s actions are much more damaging to the US political environment than anything Russia has done because he’s saying if you don’t toe his line you are a Russian stooge.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.prepares to lick an armadillo’s anus to get the taste of defeat out of his mouth. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The government shutdown ended today and to call this phase anything other than an abject and total humiliation of Chuck Schumer (I exaggerate because you have to have a sense of shame in order to be humiliated) is an understatement. Schumer had tried to make a DACA agreement part of the the funding battle, an in this effort he was assisted by Republicans like Lindsey Graham. In the end, he was placed in the position of choosing between a protracted fight on DACA or the CHIP program. This was a fight he could not win and would never had undertaken if he’d had a modicum of respect for Mitch McConnell. Keep that thought in mind going forward.
When McConnell dictated terms of surrender last night, Schumer was worse off in terms of the deal plus his party had taken such a beating in the polls that even reliable cheerleaders like CNN were saying they needed to call it quits. In return for a continuing resolution that lasts until February 8 and a six year extension of CHIP (some Democrats in the media are saying this is win for Democrats because Republicans can’t hold CHIP hostage if there is another shutdown, but this is stupid. The GOP is damned glad to get this issue off the table and to be able to do it looking like the defender of the program), Schumer gets a promise that DACA will be debated. In particular, McConnell said that the debate would be conducted without prejudice in favor of any bill.
Pretty weak outcome for the Democrats — they couldn't get a summit meeting with Trump/GOP leaders or promise to attach DACA fix to a must-pass bill — but they were worried about the lack of a clear endgame and McConnell wasn't budging on concessions.
Democrats have managed to accede to Republican demands, demoralize their energized base, give a disengaged president a win, and look like they held a meaningless three day government shutdown — all at once.
I doubted it was possible, but Dems have actually lost a shutdown fight. Schumer has agreed to end the filibuster in exchange for practically nothing. Make no mistake: Schumer & Dems caved. What a political fiasco.
Note that what Schumer got was not an agreement on a particular bill or an agreement that a bill would pass the Senate. He got an agreement to debate DACA. He had that last Friday.
Unlike previous GOP shutdowns that left the GOP caucus fired up and the GOP base ready to go to war (if you think 2013 was a loss, I suggest you look at what happened in 2014), this shutdown has divided the Democrats and half of the Democrat base didn’t want to fight this fight in the first place.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., listens to a question while speaking with the media after he and other Senate Republicans had a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Moments ago, Mitch McConnell. This is it:
The CR goes until February 8 instead of four weeks.
If, by February 8, a deal has not been reached on DACA then McConnell will move DACA to the front burner.
In that case any senator can propose a bill that will be voted on.
It is not linked to the new CR that will be required on February 8.
There is no 1 a.m. vote it will now be held noon tomorrow.
This gives Schumer a face-saving way to climb down. It doesn’t guarantee the House will go along with the bill or that the White House will.
If the Democrats take this, it is a surrender in all but name.
Earlier today Lindsey Graham was whinging about the malevolent influence he thinks White House adviser Steven Miller has on immigration negotiations:
Senator Lindsey Graham made remarks to reporters today singling out White House advisor Stephen Miller for criticism regarding the ongoing immigration negotiations.
Per Politico, Graham told reporters earlier this afternoon, “As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years.”
He also told reporters, in video that aired on CNN, is that Miller’s “view of immigration has never been in the mainstream of the Senate.”
“We’re never gonna get there as long as we embrace concepts,” Graham continued, “that cannot possibly get 60 votes. One of the concepts that I just completely reject is that we have too much legal immigration.”
Miller is a bit too hard core on immigration than I am but I’m much more in sync with Miller than I am with Graham who not only is a weak-sister on immigration but too anxious by half to ingratiate himself with any Democrat. Blaming a White House staffer for the shutdown is so dishonest that there aren’t words to describe it. DACA was only an issue that had to be addressed right now for a small number of liberal Democrats. What is before them right now is a clean continuing resolution.
Further, there are a lot of people in the House and Senate who totally reject the grotesque document Graham has signed onto as part of the “gang of six.” It can only pass the Senate if McConnell relies on Democrat votes and it doesn’t pass the House in any form. If it does pass Congress, Trump will veto it because John Kelly and Steven Miller oppose it.
What makes this so inexplicable and odious is that the GOP has the Democrats on the ropes on funding the government and Graham has reacted to a potential victory by blaming the White House and a White House adviser who Trump likes for not reaching an immigration agreement that wasn’t even on the table.
Now the White House has fired back:
WH spox Hogan Gidley on Graham remarks about Stephen Miller: As long as Senator Graham chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully instead of our own American citizens, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years.
Note how Graham is referred to in exactly the same terms as he used for Miller.
I don’t know what kind of a scheme Graham and his fellow travelers have cooked up but I’m sure that Graham’s statements about Miller have effectively destroyed any chance of it being acceptable to the president.
A couple of days ago, CNN, rather astonishingly, ran the results of one of their polls that showed that people weren’t all that happy with the Democrats reason for the shutdown. This was the bottom line:
A majority of Americans, 56%, said approving a budget to avoid a government shutdown was more important for Congress to do than passing a bill to maintain the DACA program. Only one in three Americans, 34%, said they prioritized a DACA fix over avoiding a shutdown.
Overall, 8 in 10 Americans said it is extremely or very important for the President and Congress to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program this year, through which lower income children are able to get health insurance even if their parents aren’t covered.
That ranks as a higher priority for Americans than DACA overall (a smaller majority of 63% consider dealing with DACA as big a priority), and opens the door to GOP messaging suggesting Democrats are scuttling one popular program with more pressing funding concerns in favor of their pet issue.
Not quite half of Democrats — 49% — said they think that finding a solution for the roughly 690,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children is a higher priority than keeping the government open. A significant minority, 42%, said they think it’s more important to avoid the first government shutdown since 2013.
That’s not a very wide margin, and it held up only among liberal Democrats (57% picked DACA, 35% a budget agreement). Among Democrats who say they are ideologically moderate or conservative, 51% said approving a budget agreement is more important, while 40% choose DACA.
But a majority of independents, 57%, said they prioritized avoiding a government shutdown over finding a DACA solution. Only 34% said a DACA solution is more important.
Meanwhile, a broad 76% of independents said CHIP is extremely or very important, decidedly more than the 61% who said it’s extremely or very important to find a solution to DACA. (An even lower 56% said it’s extremely or very important to pass long-term spending bills to avoid government shutdowns.)
To recap, only the most liberal Democrats are in favor of a government shutdown over DACA. That’s it. It is a loser with moderate Democrats and with independents. The approval of CHIP has very deep support from just about everyone. The fact that CNN is screaming at them to make a deal is a sign of how bad things are.
If, to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, McConnell and Ryan don’t go wobbly on us, we can win this shutdown battle.
I posted yesterday on President Donald Trump showing his Twitter trollmaster qualifications by beclowning the silly Women’s March in Washington, DC:
Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!
Attorney General Loretta Lynch listens at left as FBI Director James Comey blithely lies through his teeth to the American people. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
I posted a bit earlier on the FBI using the “dog ate my homework” excuse for five critical months of text messages from Peter Strzok, the number two guy in the FBI’s counterintelligence operation, and his colleague and bedmate, Lisa Page.
But a recently released letter from Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, there are other questions that need answered.
Strzok and Page are under pressure to clear Clinton after Cruz drops out of the race.
To fully appreciate what follows, this is the key timeline.
August 2015: FBI gets control of Hillary’s server and personal devices. Mostly.
November 2015. FBI investigation expands from storage of email to examining if Clinton jeopardized national security.
May 2016. James Comey begins circulating a draft of conclusions.
May 3, 2016. Ted Cruz drops out of GOP primary.
June 2016. Loretta Lynch meets with Bill Clinton.
July 1, 2016. Loretta Lynch says she will abide by any FBI recommendation.
The loss of records from this period is concerning because it is apparent from other records that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page communicated frequently about the investigation. In February 2016, Ms. Page texted Mr. Strzok that then-candidate Trump “simply can not [Sic] be president.” On May 4, 2016–after then-Director Comey began drafting his July 5 statement
clearing Secretary Clinton–Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok communicated about “pressure” building to finish the investigation following candidate Trump’s likely nomination:
Ms. Page: And holy shit Cruz just dropped out of the race. It’s going to be a Clinton Trump race. Unbelievable.
Mr. Strzok: What?!?!??
Ms. Page: You heard it right my friend.
Mr. Strzok: I saw trump [sic] won, fgured it would be a bit
Mr. Strzok: Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE.
Ms. Page: It sure does. We need to talk about follow up call tomorrow. We still never have.
The reference to the MYE by Mr. Strzok refers to the “midyear exam,” the case name for the Clinton investigation.
This is sort of a strange statement if one doesn’t assume there was a “stop Trump” movement of some type, formal or informal, within the FBI. The implication of the statement is that they would have taken their good old time finishing the investigation if Ted Cruz had stayed in the race, that is a decision that would have hurt Clinton. That they felt pressure to wind up the Clinton investigation deserves some serious exploration.
James Comey concealed the extent of Hillary’s Stupidity from the public.
In addition, Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page discussed the drafting of Director Comey’s July 5 statement exonerating Secretary Clinton. On June 30, 2016, FBI personnel circulated a draft of Director Comey’s statement that noted that Secretary Clinton had emailed with President Obama from the private server while abroad in the “territory of sophisticated adversaries.” The passage read:
We also assess that Secretary Clinton?s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including from the territory of sophisticated adversaries. That use included an email exchange with the President while Secretary Clinton was on the territory of such an adversary. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton?s personal email account.
The same afternoon, after FBI officials edited the draft to replace “the President” with “another senior government official,” Mr. Strzok sent a text message to Ms. Page notifying her of the
change. The exchange read:
Mr. Strzok: K. Rybicki just sent another version.
Ms. Page: Bill just popped his head in, hopefully to talk to him. [Note: I believe Bill is Bill Priestap, FBI director for counterintelligence and Strzok’s boss.]
Mr. Strzok: Hope so. Just left Bill. Talked about the speech, the [redacted] stuff relating to the case, and what I told you about earlier.
Mr. Strzok: He changed President to “another senior government official”
Director Comey’s statement as ultimately delivered on July 5 omitted a reference to either President Obama or “another senior government official.”
This would have had a significant impact on the Clinton campaign. The central theme of her spinmeisters was that none of the emails she sent was particularly important. It is kind of hard to argue this when the recipient is the president. The fact that Comey obscured this fact is nothing more than a lie by omission.
Loretta Lynch knew a week before Comey’s announcement and a day before Hillary Clinton was interviewed that Hillary Clinton would be cleared.
On July 1, 2016–the same day as Attorney General Lynch’s announcement, but before the FBI had interviewed Secretary Clinton and before Director Comey had announced his recommendation–Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok exchanged the following messages:
Mr. Strzok: Holy cow. . . .nyt breaking Apuzzo, [sic] will accept whatever rec D and career prosecutors make. No political appointee input.
Mr. Strzok: Timing not great, but whatever. Wonder if that’s why the no coordination language added.
Ms. Page: No way. This is a purposeful leak following the airplane snafu.
Mr. Strzok: Timing looks like hell. Will appear to be choreographed. All major news networks literally leading with “AG to accept FBI D’s recommendation.”
Ms. Page: Yeah, that is awful timing. Nothing we can do about it.
Mr. Strzok: What I meant was, did DOJ tell us yesterday they were doing this, so added that language.
Mr. Strzok: Yep. I told Bill the same thing. Delaying just makes it worse.
Ms. Page: And yes. I think we had some warning of it. I know they sent some statement to rybicki, be he called andy. [Note: rybicki is FBI chief of staff Jim Rybicki and andy is, of course, deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.]
Ms. Page: And yeah, it’s a real profile in couragw [sic], since she knows no charges will be brought.
The fact that Comey had made a decision to clear Clinton months in advance was known. The fact that DOJ knew and seemingly inserted “not coordinated” into the statement. Though the fact that DOJ knew of the results and provided input into Comey’s memo seems a helluva lot like coordination.
We cam argue motives and motivations on this until the cows come home but, to me, there are three salient points:
The FBI was energized to clear Hillary by Cruz dropping out of the race, while they seemed sort of nonchalant about Cruz staying in the race.
Comey concealed the significance of the likely compromise of Hillary Clinton’s email from the public.
DOJ and the FBI worked together on Comey’s statement clearing Clinton.
None of this looks good and all of it needs investigation.
Most everyone is familiar with the saga of FBI agent and lothario Peter Strzok, his paramour Lisa Page, their politically charged text messages, and the ominous promise of an “insurance policy” waiting in the wings just in case tired, sick, corrupt Hillary couldn’t win the election. The FBI turned over some 10,000 text messages between the two that were sent/received from their government issued phones. But that isn’t the end of the story. They turned over more documents on Friday and along with the documents, this:
“The Department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI’s technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page,” Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the Justice Department, wrote to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of HSGAC.
He said that texts are missing for the period between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.
Boyd attributed the failure to “misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”
“The result was that data that should have been automatically collected and retained for long-term storage and retrieval was not collected,” Boyd wrote.
If this sounds a lot like the IRS and Lois Lerner, it’s because it is a lot like the IRS an Lois Lerner.
What is included in this five month gap? Strzok being assigned to interview Mike Flynn. James Comey leaking memos to try to set up the need for a special counsel. Lots of leaks that seemed to come from the FBI. Comey’s firing. Andrew McCabe, in whose office Strzok and Page discussed politics, becoming acting FBI director. In short, anything that would bear on one of the key questions being looked at by at least two Congressional committees, that is, the use of the Trump dossier by the FBI, will not be covered. May 17? Did they say May 17?
Turkish Army officers block the outskirts of the village of Sugedigi, Turkey, on the border with Syria, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. Turkey’s ground troops entered the enclave of Afrin, in northern Syria on Sunday and were advancing with Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces in their bid to oust Syrian Kurdish forces from the region.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
If you ever have the idea that foreign relations is a nice, orderly, linear process where Ivy League grads with impeccable Democrat credentials come up with detailed position papers and carry out enlightened diplomacy that results in win-win deals for everyone, the past couple of days should disabuse you of that notion.
In the fight against ISIS (a fight I’ve been skeptical of for a while because any situation that results in Islamic extremists and Iranians and their stooges slaughtering each other gives me the urge to buy popcorn) a strange coalition has formed. You have Assad, who we are trying to overthrow, and his army and the Iranians with Russian support. You have Iraqi troops trained and advised by Americans mixed with Iranian militia. You have ethnic Kurds of a couple of different factions. You have the US sponsored Free Syrian Army which, in poor lighting, could easily be mistaken for al Qaeda. You have a NATO ally, Turkey. The central problem is that all of these coaltion partners have, at one time or another, cheerfully killed one another.
The most volatile mix, though, has been the relationship between the Turks and the various Kurdish factions. Back in 2014, when ISIS besieged the Kurdish town of Kobani, the Turks stood idly by and let ISIS maneuver in Turkish territory. The implication was clear. The Turks were perfectly happy to continue their policy of genocide against ethnic minorities even if it meant ceding territory to ISIS.
The main sticking point today is that the most effective indigenous troops in the fight are the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The YPG are the armed wing of the leftist Democratic Union Party or PYD. The PYD, in turn, is related to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It is either a splinter group or an offshoot, depending upon who you read (read the link and you’ll understand why anyone talking about “the Kurds” doesn’t really understand the situation). The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, The PYD is seen as being no different. There have been some Turkish attacks on YPG, but this seems serious:
Turkish jets have bombed the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in northern Syria, as the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, promised to expand Turkey’s military border operations against a Kurdish group that has been the US’s key Syria ally in the war on Islamic State.
The raids came on the heels of a week of threats by Turkey, promising to clear the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin and its surrounding countryside, also called Afrin. Turkey’s military is calling the campaign Operation Olive Branch.
Early on Sunday, four rockets fired from Syria hit the Turkish southern border town of Kilis, 40 km from Afrin, damaging houses, state-run Anadolu Agency said. There were no casualties, it said.
Turkey says the YPG, a group it considers a terrorist organisation, is an extension of an outlawed Kurdish rebel group that it is fighting inside its own borders, and it has found common cause with Syrian opposition groups who view the YPG as a counter-revolutionary force in Syria’s multi-sided civil war.
Associated Press journalists at the Turkish border saw jets bombing positions in the direction of Afrin, as a convoy of armed pick-up trucks and buses believed to be carrying Syrian opposition fighters travelled along the border. Video from Turkey this week showed the military moving tanks to the frontier.
Why the Turks would be upset by the YPG gaining predominance in this area is obvious. It creates a sanctuary for Kurd guerrillas who are trying to liberate the Kurdish areas now located in Turkey.
To add more confusion. The Turks, a NATO ally, apparently told the Russians of the attack in advance. Now Assad, a Russian ally, is howling about the attacks though his ally, Russia, appears to be fine with it.
This whole incident shows, in spades, what happens when you kick off a major regional war and global refugee crisis without having thought things through. It also shows what happens when you have a Cold War ally, Turkey, which no longer has the same geopolitical interests as the alliance as a whole and which is culturally hostile to the alliance. The Turks thumping the Kurds, and if I were betting I’d bet the Turks to turf the Kurds out of the enclave they’ve established, calls into question the utility of allying oneself with the United States. We’ve trained and equipped these people and now they are being drubbed by one of our allies and we do nothing.
Nope. Geopolitics is sort of like herding cats while trying to nail a plate of Jell-o to the wall. It is messy and unpredictable. It is made even moreso when foreign policy is established by lightweight know-nothings like Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power.