The Senate weighs in

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today released an interim report of their ongoing investigation into how the Department of Justice and FBI handled the discovery that Hillary Clinton used an unauthorized personal email server, through which a considerable number of classified emails flowed.  Per the interim report, the committee’s investigation is looking into the following questions:

Whether, and the extent to which, any personal animus and/or political bias influenced the FBI’s investigation;

Whether, and the extent to which, the Obama Department of Justice or White House influenced the FBI’s investigation; and

Whether, and the extent to which, any personal animus and/or political bias influenced the FBI’s actions with respect to President Trump.

Unlike the brief House Committee memorandum released a few days ago, this 25-page report uses extensive footnotes to document the material from which their conclusions are drawn.  As it points out, the release of thousands of text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page raise many questions.  The entire report is available here.  While noting the Senate Committee continues to investigate the matter, this interim report concludes (emphasis added):

The information available to the Committee at this time raises serious questions about how the FBI applied the rule of law in its investigation of classified information on Secretary Clinton’s private email server. We know that:

• The FBI did not use a grand jury to compel testimony and obtain the vast majority of evidence, choosing instead to offer immunity deals and allow fact witnesses to join key interviews.

• There were substantial edits to Director Comey’s public statement that served to downplay the severity of Secretary Clinton’s actions, and that the first draft of the memo was distributed for editing two months before key witnesses were interviewed.

• Director Comey stated that he had not consulted with the Justice Department or White House, when text messages suggest otherwise. We have text messages in which two key investigators discuss an “insurance policy” against the “risk” of a Trump presidency,and “OUR task.”

• Messages discuss “unfinished business,” “an investigation leading to impeachment,” and “my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.”

• Senior FBI officials—likely including Deputy Director McCabe—knew about newly discovered emails on a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner for almost a month before Director Comey notified Congress.

• Over the period of at least four months, the FBI did not recover five months’ worth of text messages requested by DOJ OIG and two Senate committees; however, when pressed, (The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General) was able to recover missing texts in less than one week.

It’s a mark of how divided our nation is that what is known so far hasn’t raised a bipartisan cry for major reform of the DOJ and FBI, including greater accountability for the secretive FISA Court process.  When our criminal justice agencies act as they have in this instance, it’s a clear and present danger to the liberties of every citizen, regardless of party affiliation.
The question now is whether accountability will make a comeback as a result of these current investigations.  Stay tuned.

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Do they even listen to themselves?

Showtime’s “Homeland” series takes a few swipes at the Trump administration in an interview with ITK, as reported by The Hill.  In the process, they show either an inability to connect the dots, or a belief the rubes in the heartland can’t:

Each year, the team behind “Homeland” takes a weeklong research field trip to Washington to prep for the espionage thriller’s upcoming season. But this time around, when Showtime’s crew touched down in D.C. two months after President Trump’s inauguration, the mood was different…

In preparation for production, the “Homeland” team started asking what recourse intelligence officers and National Security Agency workers had if “they see an administration going off the rails.”

Gansa says he found “there was a strange sort of new alliance that was taking place between the intelligence community and the fourth estate, which we found interesting.”

After admitting they wouldn’t be pursuing a storyline about a ‘paranoid president’ had Her Hillariness been installed in 2016, they then backtrack on what they’ve just said:

Asked what Trump might take away from this season, Gansa replies, “I doubt he’d learn one thing. I think he might be amused just to watch an administration convinced that there was something called the ‘deep state’ aligned against her. Clearly that’s a fear that the Trump administration feels every day.”

Well gosh, when the stars of a hit TV series are deliberately pushing the message the President is paranoid, while noting in the real world there’s “a strange sort of new alliance… between the intelligence community and the fourth estate (the media),” I can’t imagine why the Trump administration might be concerned about a Deep State working against him.

Can you?

Laying out the timeline

UPDATE: (Feb 8, 2018) – It seems Forbes took down the timeline after a couple of days.  No explanation I’m aware of as to why.  Nevertheless, the Internet is forever, and a copy of it remains available here.

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ORIGINAL POST:  One of the challenges for the American public right now is keeping up with the drip, drip, drip of scandalous information coming out of Washington.  The pieces of the puzzles are being slowly dribbled out, and thus it’s difficult for the average citizen to piece together a picture of just how bad the malfeasance of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is.

So Forbes has done the nation a great service by assembling the known pieces at this point.  The Epoch Times produced a visual summary in January, but Forbes’ product brings the chronology up to date and provides disturbing clarity.  Keep in mind while reading it there is considerable information that remains redacted or unreleased, and the parties involved will clearly go to great lengths to keep it that way.  The magazine rightly concludes (emphasis added):

It is right to say that this episode is the worst abuse of political power in American history related to elections. Watergate is nothing by comparison. That involved people not employed by the government.  Later it involved a cover-up in which Nixon participated.

Watergate did not involve the DOJ and the FBI – two institutions which must be non-partisans for this Republic of ours.

This case does involve the FBI and DOJ.  It also is foolish not to assume that Loretta Lynch and President Obama were ignorant of the goings on – if not involved in them.

Finally, the dishonest investigation of Hillary who committed actual crimes should not be acceptable. Nor should FBI or DOJ officials be allowed to alter events and Court proceedings for political purposes.

If we let this go, and people are not brought to justice, we will have forever damaged our Republic and the World’s view of us as a nation of laws.

Not to mention that in the eyes of those of us paying close attention, the credibility of our government has taken a body blow from which it may never recover.  Only seeing the key figures in this melodrama in handcuffs and behind bars will suffice to start the process of restoration.  Nothing short of that will matter.

But that’s not how He identifies

We’re constantly told in this insane era that we must refer to another person by their “chosen gender identity.”  But apparently this moral imperative doesn’t extend to the Almighty:

…the Diocese of Washington for the Episcopal Church passed three resolutions over the weekend at a gathering at Washington National Cathedral. Delegates to the 123rd Diocesan Convention moved within one hour to adopt proposals titled “On Becoming a Sanctuary Diocese: Offering Sacred Welcome to Immigrants,” “On Inclusion of Transgender People,” and “On the Gendered Language for God.”

The resolution about language for God emphasized replacing gendered references to God with gender neutral language and pronouns wherever possible…

The understanding of God and of language has evolved over time, drafters of the resolution maintained, and current gender roles inhibit such understanding.

Billy Graham once addressed this question, noting the modern tendency to want to blur this distinction is a dangerous one:

The answer to the question about why God is referred to in masculine terms in the Bible really has only one answer: This is the way God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. God is never described with sexual characteristics in the Scriptures, but He does consistently describe Himself in the masculine gender.

While God contains all the qualities of both male and female genders, He has chosen to present Himself with an emphasis on masculine qualities of fatherhood, protection, direction, strength, etc. Metaphors used to describe Him in the Bible include: King, Father, Judge, Husband, Master, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One famous Christian scholar, C. S. Lewis, has suggested that gender is far deeper than our human distinctions reveal. He suggests that God is so masculine that we all are feminine in relation to Him. If this is true, it might explain why the church is referred to as the bride of Christ, though it is composed of both men and women.

As for being ‘inclusive’ of transgenders (one of the other resolutions), it’s worth noting that all are invited to repentance at the foot of the Cross.  But repentance is based on acknowledging God’s authority over ours, and acting accordingly.  In His Word God clearly states:

(Jesus) answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

So in our National Cathedral, Satan is once again reprising his gambit from the garden of Eden: “Did God actually say…”  Then again, it’s worth noting the entire founding of the Episcopal Church was due to an English king splitting the Church in part because the Pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce.  In other words, defiance of Scripture was built into the denomination at the very beginning.

And we wonder why our nation’s in the state it’s in.

Saturday Sounds

The Oldest Musketeer found this and shared it with me. Considering yesterday’s release of the Congressional memo on the FBI, it’s a good reminder that few of us are likely able to predict where all of this is going. Just buckle up and stay tuned (and enjoy the mashup video).

The Nunes memo

President Trump agreed to the declassification of the House Intelligence Committee memo.  What follows is the text, with certain information and names highlighted in red:

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January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members
From: HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation Update
On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §,1805(d)(l)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard—particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.

a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

4) According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—“salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.     ((End of document))

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In short, it’s easy to see why the FBI and the Democrats did not want to see this released.  The highest officials of the Department acted with willful disregard for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by improperly omitting/concealing information that would have discredited their request for a secret warrant to spy on Carter Page, a volunteer with the Trump campaign.  This strikes at the heart of government accountability.  We depend on transparency to ensure our public servants are acting in the best interests of the nation.  The FISA courts were created to balance that need for transparency with the need for secrecy in prosecuting (literally) the “War on Terror.”  Those shadows appear to have provided an opportunity for officials to corrupt the process politically.  Whether this was the “insurance policy” referenced in the Strzok texts, or just a part of it, alone it is enough to demand outrage from a free citizenry.

Keep in mind, too, this memo only addresses one issue.  There are still numerous outstanding questions as to whether partisan considerations also played a role in the development of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized personal server, through which classified information passed and almost certainly was compromised.  

We are peeling back the curtain on how our government has been weaponized by the Left.  This is only the start.  It will be for naught, though, if the individual players are not held accountable before the law for their misuse of the public trust.  Average citizens go to jail for far less. 

Are we all equal before the law or not?

“You may say I’m a Dreamer…”

“…but I’m not the only one.”

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I tuned in for the State of the Union speech last night and I’m glad I did, for several reasons.  First, watching the Democrats win the “Worst Performance by a Minority Party at a State of the Union Address” award was priceless.  You could see it on their faces: they expected at this point in history to be watching Her Hillariness make permanent the hard left agenda inflicted by Obama.  Instead, they’re watching the country back away from the cliff, for however long the reprieve lasts.

More pleasantly, Trump struck the right tones in his address, maintaining discipline in his comments and rarely seeming to wander from the script as he often does.  Sure, he’ll never be as polished a speaker as Ronald Reagan, but that doesn’t matter: he communicates effectively in his own way.  Reagan may have started the trend of inviting “showcase” guests to the SOTU address, but Trump took it to a whole new level last night.  He put faces to the issues of border security, economic reform, courageous service and American patriotism.  I’ve become as cynical as most when it comes to such stage shows, but it was hard not to feel something when the president introduced Ji Seong-Ho, who escaped the brutality of North Korea and now fights that regime as a broadcaster and aid to fellow defectors.  To all the Lefties who’ve preened they’re some kind of underground “#resistance” to Trump’s allegedly “fascist” administration, the president was saying “THIS is what real resistance to real tyranny looks like:”

31goldbergSOTU-master768

The line that most struck me, however, was this:

My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream.  Because Americans are dreamers too.

In one swift moment, Trump yanked the term “Dreamers” away from the open borders advocates, reminding them there are people already in this country whose dreams are threatened by unchecked immigration, both legal and illegal.  It highlighted the many ways in which the Democratic party has put the interests of foreigners above those of the people they are elected to serve.  It was a masterful rhetorical stroke.

I came away from the speech optimistic.  Not necessarily because I think the administration will achieve everything they’ve set out to do.  Not because I think Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  But because this unlikely president is doing something that’s needed doing for a long time:

He’s teaching the Republicans how to fight.  In doing so, he’s giving the country its best — and perhaps final — shot for recovering from its leftward drift toward becoming California writ large.