Getting To The Bottom

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about what the Republicans have accomplished in informing Americans about the misuse of government agencies in surveilling the Trump campaign and the Trump administration.

The article lists what we know as a result of the work of the House Intelligence Committee.

This is the list:

1) The important role that the incendiary allegations in the still-unverified Trump dossier played in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.

2) The fact that the dossier was commissioned and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.

3) The unusual circumstances surrounding the formal beginning of the FBI’s counter-intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.

4) The troubling deficiencies in the FBI’s application for a warrant to wiretap onetime Trump campaign figure Carter Page.

5) The anti-Trump bias of some of the top officials in the FBI investigation.

6) The degree to which the dossier’s allegations spread throughout the Obama administration during the final days of the 2016 campaign and the transition.

7) Obama officials’ unmasking of Trump-related figures in intelligence intercepts.

8) The fact that FBI agents did not believe Michael Flynn lied to them in the interview that later led to Flynn’s guilty plea on a charge of lying to the FBI.

9) The role of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS in the Trump-Russia probe.

There is more. The article notes that the FBI and Justice Department fiercely resisted the investigation. They withheld materials, dragged their feet, and flat-out refused to provide information to which congressional overseers were clearly entitled.

The article further reports:

None of this has been bipartisan. The work has been done by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. And if Democrats win control of the House, as a number of polls suggest they will do, it will stop immediately.

If Democrats win, Rep. Adam Schiff, who has opposed nearly everything Nunes has done, will become chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Rep. Jerrold Nadler will head the Judiciary Committee. And Rep. Elijah Cummings will take over the Oversight Committee.

This month Schiff wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post broadly outlining the new direction Democrats would take. In the Intelligence Committee, Schiff promised to investigate aspects of Trump-Russia that committee Republicans would not — a move that would target the president but also likely duplicate the work of other investigators. Schiff also mentioned what he said were “serious and credible allegations the Russians may possess financial leverage over the president, including perhaps the laundering of Russian money through his businesses.”

The Judiciary and Oversight Committees would also abandon their current paths and focus directly on the president.

There are legitimate concerns about the use of government agencies to spy on a political opponent. It is unfortunate that the Democrats do not seem to share this concern. If the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives, the political abuses of government agencies will continue. At that point we will lose the concept of ‘equal justice under the law.’ We will be on our way to becoming a nation where your politics matter more than your guilt or innocence.

Manipulated By The Department Of Justice And The Press

Little by little emails are being released that reveal how the government used its power to interfere in the 2016 election to make sure that Hillary Clinton won. I guess that is another example of the basic effectiveness of our government agencies. However, the actions taken by the government were illegal. Those actions have somehow escaped the investigative skills of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Yesterday Sara Carter posted an article about some recently discovered emails that provide further insight into what was going on during the Presidential campaign.

The article reports:

Newly released text messages and documents obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reveal that senior members of the FBI and Department of Justice led a coordinated effort to leak unverified information to the press regarding alleged collusion with Russia to damage President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a letter sent by the committee to the DOJ Monday.

The review of the documents suggests that the FBI and DOJ coordinated efforts to get information to the press that would potentially be “harmful to President Trump’s administration.” Those leaks pertained to information regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant used to spy on short-term campaign volunteer Carter Page.

The letter lists several examples:

  • April 10, 2017: (former FBI Special Agent) Peter Strzok contacts (former FBI Attorney) Lisa Page to discuss a “media leak strategy.” Specifically, the text says: “I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go.”
  • April 12, 2017: Peter Strzok congratulates Lisa Page on a job well done while referring to two derogatory articles about Carter Page. In the text, Strzok warns Page two articles are coming out, one which is “worse” than the other about Lisa’s “namesake”.” Strzok added: “Well done, Page.”

The letter notes the troubling nature of the text messages. Former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions after a scathing report from the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation charging McCabe with lying to investigators and leaking to the press. Last week, the DOJ announced that McCabe is currently under a grand jury investigation.

The article concludes:

In March this news outlet also revealed that Weissmann, a top prosecutor on the Mueller team, had met with reporters from the Associated Press in April 2017 just one day before their explosive story on Paul Manafort’s dealings with Ukraine officials.

According to sources familiar with the meeting, the reporters had promised to share documents and other information gleaned from their own investigation with the Justice Department.

AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton told this news outlet, “we refrain from discussing our sources.”

“Associated Press journalists meet with a range of people in the course of reporting stories, and we refrain from discussing relationships with sources. However, the suggestion that AP would voluntarily serve as the source of information for a government agency is categorically untrue,” added Easton.

At the time of the meeting, Weissmann was head of the Justice Department’s fraud division. He was the most senior member of the Justice Department to join the special counsel in May.

The AP meeting arranged by Weissmann came to light in a letter sent to Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, late last year, requesting specific FBI and DOJ documentation related to the controversial Fusion GPS dossier that alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

That meeting with the AP was attended by three different litigating offices. Two employees from the U.S. Justice Department and the other representative was from the U.S. Attorney’s office, according to the sources. FBI agents also attended the meeting, law enforcement sources confirmed.

According to sources, the FBI agents in attendance filed a complaint about Weissmann and the meeting with the DOJ fearing his arrangement of such a meeting would hurt the investigation.

Laws were broken, government agencies were involved in politics, and people need to be held accountable. It’s time for justice to replace the clown show that is Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Exactly How Did The Surveillance Of The Trump Campaign Begin?

Every now and then I post a story that I don’t understand, but I think is important. This is one of those stories. I think we may see its importance in the coming months, but right now it just looks like bureaucracy.

Breitbart is reporting the following today:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Monday referred ten current and former U.S. officials to the House Judiciary and Oversight & Government Reform Committees’ joint task force, as it investigates potential DOJ and FBI wrongdoing related to the Trump-Russia probe.

In question is exactly when the federal investigation into and surveillance of the Trump campaign began and whether or not it was justified when it began.

The article at Breitbart reports:

Papadopoulos was reportedly told by a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails. Downer requested a meeting with Papadopoulos weeks afterward. Papadopoulos reportedly told Downer in May 2016 that he was told Russia had dirt on Clinton, but did not specify “emails.”

The conversation was reportedly passed on from Downer to Amb. Joe Hockey, who was Australia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom serving in London at that time. Hockey reportedly passed on the conversation to the U.S. Embassy in London after the emails were released on July 22, 2016, who relayed it to the FBI.

Normally, intelligence passed on from a member of the “Five Eyes” alliance — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. — to another member comes through an official channel for intelligence sharing.

However, Nunes, upon reviewing the document that formally launched the FBI’s investigation, said there was no intelligence shared through that official channel, meaning that the intelligence was shared through unofficial means.

U.S. officials who were serving at the U.S. Embassy in London listed in Nunes letter include: Elizabeth Dibble, Lewis Lukens, and Thomas Williams.

Dibble served as the deputy chief of mission at the embassy from 2013 through July 2016. Previously, she served as the principal deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, from 2011 to 2013.

Lukens is the current deputy chief of mission at the embassy, who has served there since August 2016. Williams serves as the minister counselor for political affairs at the embassy, where he has served since at least December 2015. (The italics above are mine).

The article also mentions:

Nunes’s letter also lists Colin Kahl, former national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, another former Biden aide, and former journalist Shailagh Murray – who is married to a Fusion GPS executive Neil King, Jr. – as well as former top Clinton State Department aide and campaign official Jake Sullivan.

This is getting to the bottom of the swamp.

 

How In The World Do We Fix This?

I am one disappointed granny right now. At one point in my working career I held a security clearance. I am married to someone who at various points in his career held a security clearance. The rules were explained to us. We were expected to follow them. Excuses for not following the rules were not acceptable. So why isn’t Hillary Clinton at least charged with one of the crimes she is guilty of? Could anyone else destroy subpoenaed evidence and still be walking around? Did anyone in the Obama administration have any respect for classified documents and government archives?

Here is one excerpt from the Inspector General’s (IG) Report (from page xii):

As we also describe in Chapter Twelve, we learned during the course of our review that Comey, Strzok, and Page used their personal email accounts to conduct FBI business.

We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account to conduct unclassified FBI business. We found that, given the absence of exigent circumstances and the frequency with which the use of personal email occurred, Comey’s use of a personal email account for unclassified FBI business to be inconsistent with Department policy.

We found that Strzok used his personal email accounts for official government business on several occasions, including forwarding an email from his FBI account to his personal email account about the proposed search warrant the Midyear team was seeking on the Weiner laptop. This email included a draft of the search warrant affidavit, which contained information from the Weiner investigation that appears to have been under seal at the time in the Southern District of New York and information obtained pursuant to a grand jury subpoena issued in the Eastern District of Virginia in the Midyear investigation. We refer to the FBI the issue of whether Strzok’s use of personal email accounts violated FBI and Department policies.

The law requires the use of government email accounts in order for records to be archived. It seems as if a number of people in the Obama administration chose not to comply with that law.

The IG Report also sheds some light on the leaking from the FBI:

We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters. Attached to this report as Attachments E and F are two link charts that reflect the volume of communications that we identified between FBI employees and media representatives in April/May and October 2016. We have profound concerns about the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel that we have uncovered during our review.

In addition, we identified instances where FBI employees improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events. We will separately report on those investigations as they are concluded, consistent with the Inspector General Act, other applicable federal statutes, and OIG policy.

The harm caused by leaks, fear of potential leaks, and a culture of unauthorized media contacts is illustrated in Chapters Ten and Eleven of our report, where we detail the fact that these issues influenced FBI officials who were advising Comey on consequential investigative decisions in October 2016. The FBI updated its media policy in November 2017, restating its strict guidelines concerning media contacts, and identifying who is required to obtain authority before engaging members of the media, and when and where to report media contact. We do not believe the problem is with the FBI’s policy, which we found to be clear and unambiguous. Rather, we concluded that these leaks highlight the need to change what appears to be a cultural attitude among many in the organization.

It is obvious from the text messages in the IG Report that the political culture of the FBI was very biased toward Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump. Does anyone believe that anything was leaked to the press that would have hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and helped the Trump campaign?

The disclosures in the IG Report are a disgrace, and yet the report does not really go far enough.

On Page xi, the IG Report states:

We were deeply troubled by text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations. Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, which was not a part of this review. Nonetheless, when one senior FBI official, Strzok, who was helping to lead the Russia investigation at the time, conveys in a text message to another senior FBI official, Page, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it” in response to her question “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”, it is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.

So what are you going to do about it? In an interview last night Devin Nunes pointed out that the IG Report was the first time he had seen the above text message. Why was this message not included with documents requested by the House Committee?

As I said, I am one discouraged granny. I want to believe that all Americans receive equal justice under the law, but looking at the IG Report and the people who are not currently facing jail time, I really wonder.

Based On What?

Yesterday Mollie Hemingway posted an article at The Federalist about some recent statements by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).

The article reports:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) recently suggested the FBI did nothing wrong when it used at least one government informant to secretly collect information on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Public reports indicate, however, that Gowdy never even reviewed the relevant documents on the matter subpoenaed by Congress. In fact, a spokeswoman for Gowdy told The Federalist that the congressman doesn’t even know what documents and records were subpoenaed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

So why did he make the statement he made? If he didn’t know what documents were subpoenaed and hadn’t seen them, what was he talking about?

The article continues:

According to government sources who leaked information to The New York Times and Washington Post, the subpoena dealt with an individual who was secretly gathering information on the Trump campaign on behalf of the federal government. Media outlets had reported government officials’ claims they couldn’t comply with the subpoena because revealing any details about the individual would cause loss of life and grave threats to national security. The same media outlets then used leaks from government officials to report the individual’s personally identifying information — up to and including his name.

Along with Gowdy, HPSCI Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) received a classified briefing on the subpoenaed information. Seven other members of Congress did as well. However, multiple press reports indicate the classified briefings reportedly did not satisfy the subpoena.

The story about the spy in the Trump campaign gets stranger by the day. If the FBI was not investigating the campaign, but was investigating attempts to infiltrate the campaign, why didn’t they tell Donald Trump what they were doing? What did they do with any information they gathered? It is particularly odd that they were the ones infiltrating the campaign. Were they also watching Hillary Clinton’s campaign for attempts to infiltrate the campaign?

The article concludes:

During the CBS News interview, co-host Gayle King asked Gowdy if he had received any blowback from GOP lawmakers for his comments about the FBI’s behavior regarding the informant. Gowdy responded oddly, invoking Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), neither of whom were invited to last week’s DOJ briefing.

“The folks who have seen the information I think have the same perspective I have,” Gowdy said, referring to Rubio and Cotton. “Those who have not seen the information, I don’t know what informs their perspective.”

Just as with Gowdy, there is no evidence either Rubio or Cotton has seen all the records HPSCI subpoenaed or even the subpoena HPSCI issued.

We don’t yet know the full story, but this looks like a giant cover-up of seriously illegal political activity by law enforcement agencies that are supposed to be politically neutral.

A Democrat Senator Who Is Obviously Aware Of The Polls

The Daily Caller posted an article today about some recent statements by Virginia Senator Mark Warner. Senator Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The article reports:

The top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence acknowledged in a recent interview that contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russians could be “a set of coincidences” rather than collusion.

“I’m reserving my final judgement until we’ve seen all the witnesses we need to see, and we’ve gotten all the facts. So I’m going to hold off,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said in an interview with The New Yorker’s David Remnick when asked whether he believes that Trump associates conspired with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 presidential election.

…“I’m anxious for this to come to a conclusion,” Warner said of the investigation, adding that he is “hopeful” that the committee will be able to release sections of its final report every 30 to 45 days.

The committee plans to release four separate reports about various aspects of its investigation. The first, which dealt with election security, was released earlier this week.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has already released a report on its own Russia investigation. The report said that investigators found no evidence of collusion.

On Thursday, May 10, CNN posted the following:

Note that Democrat approval of the Mueller investigation has also dropped (as well as Republican approval). Independent approval has increased, but is still below 50 percent. I hate to be cynical here, but I believe that Senator Warner is simply responding to what his internal polls are telling him–Americans are beginning to realize that Mueller’s investigation was a sham from the beginning. I suspect you will hear more Democrats become reluctant to accuse President Trump of anything as his popularity ratings soar. It is going to be an interesting summer–for many reasons.

 

We Were Very Close To Losing Our Republic

When the entire apparatus of government is used for political purposes, the freedom of Americans is in danger. Evidently there was a lot of that going on during the Obama Administration. It became particularly rampant during the 2016 campaign–electronic surveillance, the FBI’s ‘insurance policy’ in case Donald Trump got elected, etc. However, it was evident long before 2016.

In December 2017, I posted an article about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which funneled penalties they levied on corporations into Democrat aligned community organizer groups. We all know about the IRS’s targeting of conservative political groups to stifle free speech during the 2012 election. In 2008 most Americans watched a video of the New Black Panthers standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia with billy clubs looking very menacing. Despite the video evidence, they were never convicted of voter intimidation. There has been a problem with our federal justice system for a while.

Scott Johnson posted an article today at Power Line which cites the latest example of misuse of the government for political purposes. The article is based on a Wall Street Journal article (which is behind the subscriber wall).

Kimberley Strassel writes in The Wall Street Journal:

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting.

Congress has legal oversight over the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice was created by Congress in 1870. Originally, there was simply an Attorney General who gave legal advice to Congress and the President. Eventually that was limited to Congress because of the workload. The Department of Justice is a creation of government.

Either Congress has not been properly exercising its oversight authority over the Justice Department or Congress is as corrupt as the Justice Department. It is one of the other. All of the information regarding the relationship between the Justice Department’s spying and otherwise interfering with the Trump campaign needs to be made public–immediately. The American voters are entitled to see where the corruption was (and is).

News From The Coming Week

Clarice Feldman posted an article at The American Thinker today highlighting things that will be in the news in the coming week. That’s not as much of a challenge as it sounds as many of these stories were breaking late Friday and early Saturday.

The first story deals with the recent budget fiasco.

The article reports:

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, unhampered because of the filibuster rule, which allows them to block any budget not supported by a Senate supermajority of 60, and aware of the desperate need of our military for funding, publicly rejoiced that they were able to force through Congress a ridiculously extravagant budget.  Fiscal conservatives were furious, but the president had little choice but to sign the bill into law.  “He who laughs last laughs best” is the saying, and in this case, there may be no joy in Demville.  James Freeman at the Wall Street Journal explains:

The political left is getting nervous because a virtuous and lawful reduction in federal spending is suddenly looking much more likely.  This column is told that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) is now on board.

Specifically, Mr. Ryan likes the idea of paring back the huge spending hikes in the recently enacted budget bill.  While the budget required 60 votes in the Senate and therefore Democratic support, a “rescission” bill to repeal the spending increases needs only a simple majority in each house.

If the Republicans plan to remain in the majority, they have no choice but to cut this budget. Otherwise the conservative wing of the party will happily vote them out of office for reneging on every promise they made while running for office.

The second story to watch for will be the beginning of criminally prosecuting illegal aliens as they cross the border. Crossing the border is no longer going to be taken lightly.

The third story is the end of the standoff between Congress and the FBI and DOJ.

The article reports:

Sundance at Conservative Treehouse broke the welcome news early Saturday morning.

Until today the only people allowed to review the full Title-1 FISA application were Trey Gowdy, Adam Schiff, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Rep John Ratcliffe.

In an interesting development, the Department of Justice has responded to HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes notifying him the DOJ will allow all members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees full access to review the unredacted FBI/DOJ FISA application used to gain a Title-1 surveillance warrant against U.S. citizen Carter Page.

According to CNN: ‘Separately, Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said the department on Monday will supplement its document production to the House Judiciary Committee by producing another 1,000 pages of materials in response to a subpoena issued by committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.’

This will probably lead to the declassification of the FISA applications. That will probably tell us all we need to know about the Russian collusion investigation and its roots.

The final news article for the coming week will be information about the investigation of the Clinton Foundation.

The article reports:

The story of the Clintons’ misuse of charity solicitation, reporting, and accounting laws begins in 1997 and continues on past Clinton’s term as president where people familiar to us in the present DOJ-FBI investigations failed to prosecute the Clintons for obvious charity fraud and violation of federal and state law on charitable solicitations.  The most recent investigation of the Clinton foundation took place under Rod Rosenstein, then U.S. attorney for Baltimore.  He utterly flubbed the task, as Ortel (Charles Ortel, a retired investment banker) notes.

…At the moment, some state attorneys general are investigating Clinton foundation fraud and illegality.  So are some foreign governments whose laws were violated by the foundation.  While in the U.S. opportunities to prosecute longstanding frauds may be barred by the passage of time and the statute of limitations, this latest Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund transaction seems not to be.  If I were to speculate, I’d suggest that it is not unlikely (now that the Clintons are fairly politically neutered) that whistleblowers inside the foundation, the donors’ offices, and the government – particularly the IRS – may come forward, at long last, to expose the frauds which Rosenstein, Mueller, and Comey seem to have lacked the integrity and guts to do.

This week may be the week that some of the swamp gets drained.t

Oversight Is Difficult When Needed Information Is Being Withheld

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about the ongoing efforts of Devin Nunes, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the U.S. House of Representatives, to obtain information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The article notes that Kimberley Strassel has entitled her weekly column at The Wall Street Journal “What is the FBI hiding?” It is beginning to look as if they are definitely hiding something.

The article at Power Line notes:

Strassel notes that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has just sent another letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to demand yet again that they comply with an August 2017 subpoena and hand over, among other things, the electronic communication—“EC” in investigative jargon—that officially kicked off the counterintelligence investigation. In his letter, Rep. Nunes states that the FBI has provided only a “heavily redacted” version of the EC. Beyond that, the FBI would prefer not to give it up.

Rep. Nunes is not amused. He writes: “On March 23, 2018, the FBI’s Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs informed the Committee that the FBI would refuse to further unredact the EC based on its supposed sensitivity. The document in question is not highly classified, and law enforcement sources have apparently not been shy about leaking to the press information that the Department and Bureau refuse to share with Congress.”

The article at Power Line includes a copy of the letter sent by Representative Nunes. It is unfair to ask Congress to exercise Congressional oversight without giving them the requested information. Hopefully the FBI will cooperate in the near future.

Sara Carter has also been following this story. More details are available on her website.

You Know You’re Over The Target When You Start Taking Flak

During World War II, allied bombers knew they were over the target when they started taking flax. That also applies to politics.

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted an article that illustrates that concept.

The article reports:

Fearless warrior Chairman Nunes is marching forward with his House Intel Committee exposing corrupt DOJ and FBI officials involved in FISA abuse to take down President Trump.

GOD House Intel Committee members just launched Phase Two of their dossier probe; Comey, Brennan and Clapper are in the hot seat.

Chairman Nunes fired off an inquiry to many current and former intelligence, law enforcement and State Department officials Tuesday, Fox News’ Catherine Herridge reported.

Nunes even threatened to issue subpoenas if he doesn’t receive a timely response on a voluntary basis.

The left hit the panic button. Petitions with over 600,000 signatures to have Rep Nunes removed from the House Intel Committee was delivered to Speaker Ryan’s Wisconsin office Tuesday.

We are about to see if Speaker Ryan truly intends to clean up the swamp.

The political left and their allies in the media have had a stranglehold on Washington for a long time. Representative Nunes is a serious threat to that stranglehold. He is doing an honest investigation into things that should never have happened, but were accepted as status quo. If the investigation by the House Intel Committee continues unchecked, it is quite likely that the political climate of Washington could be permanently altered. If people involved in deep state activities begin to realize that there may be negative consequences to them as a result of their actions, we may actually move closer to the representative republic our Founding Fathers established. If the deep state surveillance activities go unpunished, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for our country.

Do You Believe That Any Of These Questions Will Be Answered?

The Conservative Treehouse posted an article today about questions Representative Devin Nunes has submitted to a number of Obama Administration officials about the Clinton-Steele dossier.

The article lists the questions:

Get out the popcorn and stay tuned.

Waiting For The Spin

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted an article comparing statements made by top officials in the State Department in 2017 to what we know now about the Steele Dossier. We know that the people involved in the spygate scandal felt that if Hillary Clinton were elected, it would all go away. What is interesting is that they were still lying in 2017.

The article reports:

Now that Chairman Devin Nunes, Chuck Grassley and the key players themselves, have discovered and admitted the U.S. State Department was heavily involved in passing along Clinton opposition research to Chris Steele to create the “Clinton-Steele Dossier”, it’s interesting to look at how the former State Department spokesperson -in place during all the events- responded last year when the Clinton-Steele Dossier was thought to be part of the underlying evidence for the DOJ/FBI FISA application.

Former State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, a person in direct and continuous contact with all the principle agents during the 2016 information flow, was confronted in July 2017 and adamantly denied the dossier was part of the FISA application.

The video clip of that denial is included in the article at The Gateway Pundit.

The article continues:

Looking beyond the transparent lying and subsequent collapse of credibility, the key takeaway here is how State Department officials knew what was going on in 2016, recognized the risk presented by that action in 2017, and were willing to walk the plank because they were certain none of it would ever come to light.

The article concludes:

Officials at the top of the FBI and Department of Justice; officials in the intelligence apparatus of the ODNI, CIA and NSA; and officials at the top of the U.S. Department of State – to include Secretary John Kerry; were all working in common political cause.

Beyond the political talking points, when you simply point out the provable facts the Director of the FBI, Attorney General of the United States and the Secretary of State, were all deeply within the information loop there’s no way possible to extract President Obama from the network. This is how the collapsing house of cards eventually brings down the office of the presidency.

What would be the fall-back, or alternative, narrative?

The talking points are still a few weeks away, but there’s only one possible angle: The President was unaware of the action of his Attorney General, FBI Director, Director of National Intelligence, CIA Director and Secretary of State?

Absurd.

Many of the people involved in the surveillance of the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team are still employed by the government. A few have resigned, but many are still employed. It is time for them to be fired and convicted of violating Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.

The American Thinker Asks A Very Good Question

On January 29th, The American Thinker posted an article with the following title:

Why aren’t the Democrats horrified by the corruption at the FBI and DOJ?

That is a really good question. When the government bureaucracies can be politicized in one direction, there is nothing to say that they can’t be politicized in another direction. What has happened in our upper levels of government is a threat to all of us.

The article reports:

The public has seen only a fraction of the material that, according to those who have seen it, proves higher-ups at the DOJ and FBI colluded to clear Hillary Clinton of any responsibility for her many crimes.   These operatives knew she had ignored all the rules regarding classified material by having her own private server.  They likely all knew the Clinton Foundation was nothing but a pay-to-play outfit to enrich the Clintons (only 6% of its funds went to charity).  And this bunch still thought she was qualified to be President,  this woman with a forty-year history of lying, cheating and scheming!  

Are there no essential values among these persons privileged to wield power over the rest of us?  In collusion with the Clinton campaign,  the DNC, the FBI and DOJ worked together to produce and then use fabricated opposition research to obtain FISA warrants to spy on possibly hundreds of people connected to the Trump family and campaign.  They did this to bring him down by any means necessary.  As many people have observed, this is the stuff of the former Soviet Union and third-world dictatorships.

The article concludes:

What is so distressing is that no elected Democrat,  not one, has expressed shock or concern that these agencies have been so corrupted.  Given what we know so far, every member of Congress and every member of the press should  be equally horrified.  This level of criminality should offend everyone, every citizen and every elected official.  But to the left, it’s just another dust-up created by those rascally Republicans.   Use our law enforcement agencies to destroy a campaign and/or to bring about the impeachment of a President?   “So what” seems to be the attitude on the left.  The Constitution be damned.  

Among these culprits, who include Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, James Clapper, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Andrew McCabe, James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, Lisa Page, and Peter Strzok,  there is no honor, no respect for the law, the truth or the American people.   

Shouldn’t the Democrats be as angry about this as Republicans?  Has their hatred for Trump so impaired their judgment that they have sacrificed their integrity,  their respect for ethics and the law?   How else to explain their full engagement in the cover-up, fueled by their wholesale denial of the facts? 

Once DOJ IG Michael Horowitz’s report is released,  and if the FISA memo is made public, much more will be clear to everyone.  One has to wonder how the Democrats will recover their lost dignity.  Their many months-long defense of the indefensible will have done significant damage to their brand unless Democrat voters are as unscrupulous, as unconcerned about honor and ethics as their elected representatives have proven to be.

Isn’t the lack of integrity in the upper levels of government under the Obama Administration something all Americans should be concerned about?

More To Come

In case you are not yet convinced that there were government connections to the campaign of Hillary Clinton, more evidence has surfaced.

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that there was a second Christopher Steele dossier.

The article reports:

A newly released document from the Senate Judiciary Committee says Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the Trump dossier, wrote an additional memo on the subject of Donald Trump and Russia that was not among those published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.

The newly released document is an unclassified and heavily redacted version of the criminal referral targeting Steele filed on Jan. 4 by Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. It appears to confirm some level of coordination between the extended Clinton circle and the Obama administration in the effort to seek damaging information about then-candidate Trump.

According to the referral, Steele wrote the additional memo based on anti-Trump information that originated with a foreign source. In a convoluted scheme outlined in the referral, the foreign source gave the information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton, who then gave the information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then gave the information to Steele. Steele wrote a report based on the information, but the redacted version of the referral does not say what Steele did with the report after that.

The article includes the heavily redacted memo to Rod Rosenstein referring Christopher Steele for potential violation of federal law. As more of this use of the government for political purposes comes to light, one can only hope that there will be a series of jail sentences for those involved.

Title I Surveillance Authority

The Conservative Treehouse posted an article yesterday explaining the difference between a regular FISA warrant and Title I Surveillance Authority. Title I Surveillance Authority was the process used against Carter Page. The article explains why that is important.

This is how FISA Title I works:

The article explains:

This is not some innocuous request for metadata exploration – the FBI said American citizen Carter Page was a “foreign agent of a hostile foreign government”; the FBI was calling Carter Page a spy.

…To present a methaphor, under Title I FISA authority, Carter Page was essentially ‘patient zero’ in an Ebola pandemic.  Labeling him as a foreign agent allowed the FBI to look at every single person he came in contact with; and every single aspect of their lives and their activities in growing and concentric circles; without limits to current time or historic review.

The “Title I” designation as a foreign agent applied retroactively to any action taken by Mr. Page, and auto-generates an exponential list of other people he came in contact with.  Each of those people, groups or organizations could now have their communication reviewed, unmasked and analyzed by the DOJ/FBI with the same surveillance authority granted upon the target, Mr. Page.

….And keep in mind, amid all of this exhaustive FBI surveillance and DOJ national security division digging into every aspect of his life, Mr. Carter Page has never been accused of any crime, wrongdoing, or subsequent criminal conduct.

It appears the entire reason to label Mr. Page as a Title One “foreign agent” was so the DOJ National Security Division and FBI Counterintelligence Division, could use Mr. Page’s short contact with the Trump campaign as an excuse to monitor everyone else within the campaign before, during and after the election.   (emphasis mine)

Think about this for a minute. An upstanding citizen was accused of being a foreign agent by using political evidence against him and that evidence was used to spy on him and the people around him (and the permission to spy was renewed more than once).

This is use of government agencies for political purposes. People need to go to jail for this crime. The tactics used to spy on Carter Page could theoretically be used on any American. If this abuse of power is not dealt with quickly and firmly, we can be sure that it will be repeated in the future.

Winners And Losers In The Release Of The Nunes Memo

So far no one has come forward saying that anything in the Nunes memo is untrue. The charges have been that it somehow endangers national security or that it is partisan. There is no evidence of either–in fact it may have done nothing more than expose the partisanship of governmental organizations that are supposed to be non-partisan.

The Washington Times posted an article yesterday indicating its choice for winners and losers in the release of the memo.

The article lists the winners as President Trump, Representative Devin Nunes (author of the memo), the Republicans, and the American people. The American government is not supposed to operate in secrecy except where necessary for national security. National security was not involved in the surveillance of President Trump–politics was.

The losers are listed as James Comey and Andrew McCabe are totally compromised by their actions. They have lost their jobs due to engaging in the political shenanigans of the Obama Administration. Christopher Steele, whose personal feelings about Donald Trump strongly interfered with his integrity is also listed as a loser with the release of the memo. Rod Rosenstein, who signed off on a questionable FISA warrant that began the entire illegal process, is also listed. Lastly, Robert Mueller, whose investigation now appears to be based on a fraudulent dossier and whose role as special prosecutor has become a witch hunt, is named in the article as a loser.

Generally speaking, the losers are the people involved in this scandal who were willing to use their positions in the government (and government agencies) for partisan purposes. It is time for all of the losers listed to find other avenues of employment. It is quite possible that laws were broken and some of them belong in jail, but I am not sure Congress is that committed to justice at this point. It will be interesting to see what the Inspector General recommends.

Why Not Just Put It On Hillary Clinton’s Secret Server And We Can Get It From The Russians?

Sorry about the sarcasm. I couldn’t resist. The Hill posted an article today about the fight in Congress to keep the American public from finding out what actually went on behind the scenes during the 2016 presidential campaign and President Trump‘s transition team.

The article reports:

A growing number of Republicans are demanding the release of a classified report that they say reveals political bias at the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) in the investigation into President Trump’s alleged ties to Moscow. 

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) spearheaded the effort this week to allow lawmakers to view a top-secret report compiled by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Scores of Republicans have since viewed the document in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) on Capitol Hill. They left expressing shock, saying the special counsel investigation into whether Trump’s officials had improper contacts with Russia is based on politically motivated actions at the highest level of law enforcement.

Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) called the memo “shocking.”

“I’m here to tell all of a America tonight that I’m shocked to read exactly what has taken place,” Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said in a speech on the House floor. 

“I thought it could never happen in a country that loves freedom and democracy like this country. It is time that we become transparent with all of this, and I’m calling on our leadership to make this available so all Americans can judge for themselves.” 

As voters, we need to see this. We need to know exactly what happened–not what the media or the political parties choose to tell us. Why is it classified in the first place? For political purposes?

This is how the process of declassification works:

Meadows and his allies asked GOP leaders in the House to declassify the report as part of a short-term spending bill the House passed late Thursday night. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he wanted to follow House rules on the matter and deferred to Nunes and the Intelligence Committee.

Nunes could call for a vote to release the report on his panel. If a majority on the committee agrees to declassify the report, the executive branch would just need to sign-off to make it public, said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), another Freedom Caucus member.

“It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Jordan said.

The article includes the following statement:

Lawmakers were tight-lipped about the contents of the memo, as they are barred from unilaterally releasing classified information.

But the lawmakers who have long been claiming that FBI agents and DOJ officials launched a partisan investigation into Trump said the report vindicated their claims.

This story is currently being overshadowed by threats of a government shutdown. I don’t think that is a coincidence.

This Is The Cast Of Characters And How They Relate To Each Other

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about comments by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. Representative Nunes believes that the government has abused its surveillance privileges. Please follow the link to read the entire article, but there is one part of the article that I find particularly interesting.

Included in the article is the following chart showing how some of the characters in the rapidly being discredited Mueller investigation are connected and some related comments:

Wow. Just wow. Thank God for the investigative reporters that are operating on the Internet.

 

Investigating The Investigators

Get out the popcorn, this is going to get very interesting. Byron York at The Washington Examiner posted an article yesterday about the firing of an FBI investigator.

The article reports:

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes has issued an angry demand to the FBI and Department of Justice to explain why they kept the committee in the dark over the reason Special Counsel Robert Mueller kicked a key supervising FBI agent off the Trump-Russia investigation.

Stories in both the Washington Post and New York Times on Saturday reported that Peter Strzok, who played a key role in the original FBI investigation into the Trump-Russia matter, and then a key role in Mueller’s investigation, and who earlier had played an equally critical role in the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation, was reassigned out of the Mueller office because of anti-Trump texts he exchanged with a top FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an extramarital affair. Strzok was transferred to the FBI’s human resources office — an obvious demotion — in July.

Note that this man was also involved in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Might that explain why no formal charges were brought after an obvious breach of the law occurred?

The FBI and the DOJ have consistently stonewalled Congress when Congress has sought to exercise its role oversight responsibility.

The article concludes:

As a result, Nunes said he has instructed committee staff to draw up a contempt of Congress citation for Rosenstein and for FBI Director Christopher Wray. The chairman promised to take action on the citation before the end of December unless the FBI and DOJ meet all the committee’s outstanding demands.

Obviously Nunes is angry that he did not know about the real reasons for Strzok’s demotion. And he is equally angry with the FBI’s and DOJ’s treatment of the committee. Contempt of Congress is a big move for lawmakers to take, especially against an agency controlled by the same party as leaders of the House. But remember, House Speaker Paul Ryan has already said the FBI and DOJ “stonewalled” the House, and he demanded that it comply immediately. That was five weeks ago. Now, after this latest episode, it seems likely that leaders in Congress are becoming increasingly frustrated with what they see as the FBI and DOJ jerking lawmakers around. At some point, they will act.

It is becoming obvious that the Washington swamp includes many agencies that until recently have avoided politics. There is an awful lot that needs to be cleaned out.

Oops!

Regardless of your stand on whether or not the Uranium One sale is a problem, you probably agree that it’s a bad idea to ship uranium that can be upgraded for weapons use out of America. One of the talking points the left is using to say that the Uranium One deal is not a problem is to say that since the uranium is not allowed to leave America, it really doesn’t matter who owns it. Well, it seems as if that is not the case.

Yesterday The Hill reported that uranium that can be upgraded for weapons use did leave the country.

The article reports:

“No uranium produced at either facility may be exported,” the NRC declared in a November 2010 press release that announced that ARMZ, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned Rosatom, had been approved to take ownership of the Uranium One mining firm and its American assets.

A year later, the nuclear regulator repeated the assurance in a letter to Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican in whose state Uranium One operated mines.  

…Yet NRC memos reviewed by The Hill show that it did approve the shipment of yellowcake uranium — the raw material used to make nuclear fuel and weapons — from the Russian-owned mines in the United States to Canada in 2012 through a third party. Later, the Obama administration approved some of that uranium going all the way to Europe, government documents show.

The article further reports:

NRC officials told The Hill that Uranium One exports flowed from Wyoming to Canada and on to Europe between 2012 and 2014, and the approval involved a process with multiple agencies.

Rather than give Rosatom a direct export license — which would have raised red flags inside a Congress already suspicious of the deal — the NRC in 2012 authorized an amendment to an existing export license for a Paducah, Ky.-based trucking firm called RSB Logistics Services Inc. to simply add Uranium One to the list of clients whose uranium it could move to Canada.

The license, reviewed by The Hill, is dated March 16, 2012, and it increased the amount of uranium ore concentrate that RSB Logistics could ship to the Cameco Corp. plant in Ontario from 7,500,000 kilograms to 12,000,000 kilograms and added Uranium One to the “other parties to Export.”

The move escaped notice in Congress.

Please follow the link above to The Hill to read the entire article. It details how things were done to avoid attracting the attention of Congress and to avoid Congress exercising the oversight role it should have played in this series of transactions.

Was The Obama Administration Using The Government To Spy On Americans?

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that former United Nations Ambassador Susan Powers requested the unmasking of more than 260 Americans‘ identities during the waning days of the Obama Administration. These were conversations captured inadvertently while non-citizens were being wiretapped (theoretically). Susan Powers is scheduled to testify before Congress in October.

The article reports:

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., submitted a letter in July to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that said the committee was aware “that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration.”

It is suspected that the official referenced is Power.

Power also was one of three top Obama administration officials named in subpoenas received by several of the nation’s intelligence agencies in May.

Power is not the first U.N. ambassador to make unmasking requests, but Fox News reports the requests fall in the low double digits.

Power will meet with congressional intelligence committees as part of their Russia probes and is expected to appear before the House intelligence panel in a classified session next month.

It will be interesting to see exactly who winds up taking the fall for the abuses or power that occurred during the Obama Administration.

 

The Swamp Is A Danger To American National Security

On August 4th, Daniel Greenfield posted an article at Front Page Magazine about National Security Council head H.R. McMaster.  Daniel Greenfield has concluded that McMaster is part of the deep state and is working against the interests of both America and the Trump Administration. At this point I should mention that like it or not, Donald Trump is the President, and working against Donald Trump is working against the interests of America. It is not patriotic to oppose anything and everything the Trump Administration proposes–it is obstructionism. The Washington establishment’s worst nightmare is for the Trump Administration to succeed–that will be the end of their stranglehold on our government and their success as an elite class.

The article notes:

Derek Harvey was a man who saw things coming. He had warned of Al Qaeda when most chose to ignore it. He had seen the Sunni insurgency rising when most chose to deny it.

The former Army colonel had made his reputation by learning the lay of the land. In Iraq that meant sleeping on mud floors and digging into documents to figure out where the threat was coming from.

It was hard to imagine anyone better qualified to serve as President Trump’s top Middle East adviser at the National Security Council than a man who had been on the ground in Iraq and who had seen it all.

Just like in Iraq, Harvey began digging at the NSC. He came up with a list of Obama holdovers who were leaking to the press. McMaster, the new head of the NSC, refused to fire any of them.

McMaster had a different list of people he wanted to fire. It was easy to make the list. Harvey was on it.

All you had to do was name Islamic terrorism as the problem and oppose the Iran Deal. If you came in with Flynn, you would be out. If you were loyal to Trump, your days were numbered.

And if you warned about Obama holdovers undermining the new administration, you were a target.

One of McMaster’s first acts at the NSC was to ban any mention of “Obama holdovers.” Not only did the McMaster coup purge Harvey, who had assembled the holdover list, but his biggest target was Ezra Watnick-Cohen, who had exposed the eavesdropping on Trump officials by Obama personnel.

It seems as if the NSC under McMaster has turned political,  gotten totally out of control, and needs to be promptly reined in.

The article continues:

Ezra Watnick-Cohen had provided proof of the Obama surveillance to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. McMaster, however, was desperately working to fire him and replace him with Linda Weissgold. McMaster’s choice to replace Watnick-Cohen was the woman who helped draft the Benghazi talking points which blamed the Islamic terrorist attack on a video protest.

After protests by Bannon and Kushner, President Trump overruled McMaster. Watnick-Cohen stayed. For a while. Now Ezra Watnick-Cohen has been fired anyway.

According to the media, Watnick-Cohen was guilty of “anti-Muslim fervor” and “hardline views.” And there’s no room for anyone telling the truth about Islamic terrorism at McMaster’s NSC.

McMaster had even demanded that President Trump refrain from telling the truth about Islamic terrorism.

Another of his targets was Rich Higgins, who had written a memo warning of the role of the left in undermining counterterrorism. Higgins had served as a director for strategic planning at the NSC. He had warned in plain language about the threat of Islamic terrorism, of Sharia law, of the Hijrah colonization by Islamic migrants, of the Muslim Brotherhood, and of its alliance with the left as strategic threats.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. It is chilling to think that a group of people have become so entrenched in a government agency that they will risk the security of America to remain in power.

 

The Story vs. The Spin

Yesterday The Washington Post reported some interesting information about the allegations that President Obama used electronic surveillance on President Trump’s campaign and transition team. I seriously wonder if anything will come of this, but I believe we have a smoking gun.

The article reports:

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

I would like someone to explain to me how the Russian government could swing the election in Trump’s favor. The investigation into any Russian involvement in the Trump campaign is nothing more than a smoke screen for the illegal surveillance done by the Obama Administration.

The New York Post reported yesterday:

In what the paper (The Washington Post) described as a lengthy declaration, the government said Page “engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow.”

The application was submitted in July and the ensuing 90-day warrant has been renewed at least once, the paper reported.

The government agencies are trying to determine whether Page or any other members of the Trump campaign had improper contacts Russian agents as the Kremlin sought to influence the presidential election.

Page told the paper that he was just a target in a political hit campaign.

“This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance,” Page told The Washington Post Tuesday. “I have nothing to hide.”

This makes Watergate look like amateur hour. People went to jail because of the Watergate break-in. People should go to jail for the surveillance of the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team. What was done was unconstitutional and a violation of the civil rights of the people under surveillance. The leaking of this information with the names unmasked was also a violation of the law. If no one is held accountable, then the precedent is set that unwarranted surveillance of American citizens and releasing the information is acceptable.

 

The Real Bottom Line On RussiaGate

On Wednesday, The Hill posted an article about the scandal surrounding Russian influence during the 2016 presidential campaign and election.

The article reminds us of some recent events:

Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Adam Schiff have both castigated Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for his handling of the inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.  They should think twice.  The issue that has recently seized Nunes is of vital importance to anyone who cares about fundamental civil liberties.

The trail that Nunes is following will inevitably lead back to a particularly significant leak.  On Jan. 12, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported that “according to a senior U.S. government official, (General Mike) Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29.”

Remember–this case (or lack of it) is based on leaked information. The rights of a private American citizen were violated in the way the information about the Russian Ambassador’s phone call was distributed and leaked. What happened here is exactly what the Congressmen who opposed the Patriot Act feared would happen–the use of government apparatus to spy on political opponents. It’s here.

The article reports:

Regardless of how the government collected on Flynn, the leak was a felony and a violation of his civil rights.  But it was also a severe breach of the public trust. When I worked as an NSC staffer in the White House, 2005-2007, I read dozens of NSA surveillance reports every day. On the basis of my familiarity with this system, I strongly suspect that someone in the Obama White House blew a hole in the thin wall that prevents the government from using information collected from surveillance to destroy the lives of the citizens whose privacy it is pledged to protect.  

The leaking of Flynn’s name was part of what can only be described as a White House campaign to hype the Russian threat and, at the same time, to depict Trump as Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian candidate.  On Dec. 29, Obama announced sanctions against Russia as retribution for its hacking activities.  From that date until Trump’s inauguration, the White House aggressively pumped into the media two streams of information: one about Russian hacking; the other about Trump’s Russia connection. In the hands of sympathetic reporters, the two streams blended into one.  

In late December there were reports of Russians hacking into the electricity grid of a Vermont utility. The hype of Russian intervention continued. It turned out later that the story was totally misreported–an employee had mistakenly loaded some information into the utility’s computer system.

The article  concludes:

While the White House was hyping the Russia threat, elements of the press showed a sudden interest in the infamous Steele dossier, which claimed that Russian intelligence services had caught Trump in Moscow in highly compromising situations.  The dossier was opposition research paid for by Trump’s political opponents, and it had circulated for months among reporters covering the election.  Because it was based on anonymous sources and entirely unverifiable, however, no reputable news organization had dared to touch it.  

With a little help from the Obama White House, the dossier became fair game for reporters.  A government leak let it be known that the intelligence community had briefed Trump on the dossier.  If the president-elect was discussing it with his intelligence briefers, so the reasoning went, perhaps there was something to it after all.

By turning the dossier into hard news, that leak weaponized malicious gossip. The same is true of the Flynn-Kislyak leak.  Ignatius used the leak to deepen speculation about collusion between Putin and Trump: “What did Flynn say (to Kislyak),” Ignatius asked, “and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?” The mere fact that Flynn’s conversations were being monitored deepened his appearance of guilt.  If he was innocent, why was the government monitoring him?

It should not have been.  He had the right to talk to in private — even to a Russian ambassador.  Regardless of what one thinks about him or Trump or Putin, this leak should concern anyone who believes that we must erect a firewall between the national security state and our domestic politics.  The system that allowed it to happen must be reformed.  At stake is a core principle of our democracy: that elected representatives control the government, and not vice versa.

Laws were broken in releasing the transcripts of the conversations of General Flynn. It is time to get past the partisan divide and realize that this was a serious encroachment on the freedom of all Americans. Those responsible for spreading the information need to be dealt with severely.