When You Begin To Peel An Onion, It Smells

As Congress and some of the press begin to peel back the layers of scandal surrounding the government surveillance and investigation into the Trump campaign, it is truly starting to smell like corrupt government agencies. The more we know, the worse it smells.

The Daily Caller posted an article yesterday about some events that occurred before the appointment of a Special Prosecutor. There was definitely a strategy among those who wanted to undo the 2016 presidential election.

The article reports:

Justice Department documents released on Friday confirm that the DOJ attorney known as Robert Mueller’s “pit bull” arranged a meeting with journalists in April 2017 to discuss an investigation into Paul Manafort.

The documents show that Andrew Weissmann arranged a meeting with DOJ and FBI officials and four Associated Press reporters on April 11, 2017, just over a month before Mueller was appointed special counsel.

Manafort’s lawyers obtained the documents on June 29 and revealed them in a briefing filed in federal court in Virginia. The attorneys are pushing for a hearing into what they say are possible leaks of secret grand jury information, false information and potentially classified materials from the meeting.

“The meeting raises serious concerns about whether a violation of grand jury secrecy occurred,” a lawyer for Manafort, Kevin Downing, wrote in a motion requesting a hearing. “Based on the FBI’s own notes of the meeting, it is beyond question that a hearing is warranted.”

The article continues:

The existence of meeting between AP reporters and DOJ officials was first reported in January. The government confirmed it for the first time in a pre-trial hearing held on June 29.

In the hearing, FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Pfeiffer said that the FBI may have conducted a May 2017 raid of a storage locker that Manafort was renting based on a tip from AP reporters. He also said that the purpose of the meeting was for the DOJ and FBI to obtain information from The AP.

Manafort is set to go to trial on July 25 for a slew of money laundering and bank fraud charges related to his consulting work for a Ukrainian politician years before joining the Trump campaign.

Friday’s court filing includes two reports about the April 11, 2017 meeting: one written by Pfeiffer and another written by Supervisory Special Agent Karen Greenaway.

“The meeting was arranged by Andrew Weissmann,” Greenaway wrote in her report, for the first time establishing that Weissmann took part in the meeting.

Greenaway also said that Weissmann provided guidance to the reporters for their investigation. According to Greenaway, Weissmann suggested that the reporters ask the Cypriot Anti-Money Laundering Authority, a Cypriot government agency, if it had provided the Department of Treasury with all of the documents they were legally authorized to provide regarding Manafort.

The AP journalists, Chad Day, Ted Bridis, Jack Gillum and Eric Tucker, were conducting an extensive investigation of Manafort, including payments he received through various shell companies set up in Cyprus.

There are a few things to remember here. Paul Manafort may or may not have committed crimes, but the accusations have to do with events years before he joined the Trump campaign. This is totally out of the jurisdiction of the Special Prosecutor. Meanwhile, Paul Manafort is being held in solitary confinement in a Virginia prison cell for 23 hours a day because correctional officials “cannot otherwise guarantee his safety.” Does anyone actually believe this is in accordance with Mr. Manafort’s constitutional rights?

The article also reports:

DOJ officials provided other guidance to the reporters, according to Greenaway’s report. She noted that when the journalists asked DOJ officials to tell them if they were off base in their findings about Manafort, “government attendees confirmed that the AP reporters appeared to have a good understanding of Manafort’s business dealings in Ukraine.”

Downing said that the special counsel’s office has previously confirmed that at the time of the meeting with the AP reporters, “there was an ongoing grand jury investigation of Mr. Manafort in the Eastern District of Virginia.”

In addition to Weissmann, Pfeiffer and Greenaway, Justice Department officials George Mceachern, Ann Brickley and Ariel Shreve attended the meeting.

It is time for Congress to put a stop to this charade. The only solution to this corruption is to change all the documents related to this investigation that were previously classified to unclassified and let the American people see what has gone on. That is the only way the credibility of the FBI and DOJ will recover.

 

Slowly The Truth Comes Out

There are very few investigative reporters working in news media right now. I don’t claim to be one of them, but I truly appreciate the work they are doing, and when possible, try to share it. One internet site that I have recently become aware of is Circa. They have done a lot of investigating into illegal government surveillance of Americans.

Yesterday Circa posted an article about the sharing of spy data on American citizens by the FBI.

The article reports:

The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau’s public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks.

In his final congressional testimony before he was fired by President Trump this month, then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally told lawmakers his agency used sensitive espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was “lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked.”

Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of “disregard” for rules, inadequate training and “deficient” oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party.

I have a friend who once worked for the National Security Agency (NSA). I year or so ago, he assured me that the agency was not spying on Americans. Recently, he told me that he had been wrong. The group he worked with was dealing with foreign issues and played by the rules. Since that time he has learned that not everyone played by the rules. He was heartbroken when he realized that. I say that to remind everyone that we have good people working in our investigative and security agencies. The challenge for the Trump Administration will be to get the people who have abused their positions out. FBI Director Comey was a good place to start. Criminal charges are also in order where laws have been broken.

The article further reports:

For instance, a ruling declassified this month by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) chronicles nearly 10 pages listing hundreds of violations of the FBI’s privacy-protecting minimization rules that occurred on Comey’s watch.

The behavior the FBI admitted to a FISA judge just last month ranged from illegally sharing raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties to accessing intercepted attorney-client privileged communications without proper oversight the bureau promised was in place years ago.

The court also opined aloud that it fears the violations are more extensive than already disclosed. 

“The Court is nonetheless concerned about the FBI’s apparent disregard of minimization rules and whether the FBI is engaging in similar disclosures of raw Section 702 information that have not been reported,” the April 2017 ruling declared.

All of this is part of the ‘deep state’ that is being used to undermine the Trump Administration. All members of the deep state need to receive their pink slips as soon as possible.

The Timeline Shows The History

Sharyl Attkisson was an investigative journalist who resigned from CBS News in 2014. She was unbiased and reported events as she saw them. In July 2012, Ms. Attkisson’s reporting on the Fast and Furious scandal received an Emmy Award. Ms. Attkisson has reported that her personal computer and work computer were illegally accessed beginning in 2012. She has posted an article on her website about some of the indications that government surveillance of Americans during the Obama Administration was not unusual.

The article includes a timeline. Here are some highlights:

 April 2009:

Someone leaks the unmasked name of Congresswoman Jane Harmon to the press. According to news reports, the Bush administration NSA incidentally recorded and saved Harmon’s phone conversations with pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage. The story is first broken by Congressional Quarterly’s Jeff Stein.

December 17, 2009:

The Obama administration prosecutes FBI contractor Shamai Leibowitz for leaking documents to the media in April 2009. Leibowitz says he leaked because he felt FBI practices were “an abuse of power and a violation of the law” which he reported to his superiors at the FBI “who did nothing about them.”  (According to the ACLU: “Amazingly, the sentencing judge said, ‘I don’t know what was divulged other than some documents, and how it compromised things, I have no idea’.”)

2010:

The IRS secretly begins “targeting” conservative groups that are seeking nonprofit tax-exempt status, by singling out ones that have “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names.

Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning begins illegally leaks classified information to WikiLeaks revealing, among other matters, that the U.S. is extensively spying on the United Nations.

Obama Attorney General Eric Holder renews a Bush-era subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen in a leak investigation.

Obama administration pursues espionage charges against NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. (According to the ACLU: spy charges were later dropped and Drake pled guilty to a misdemeanor. The judge called the government’s conduct in the case “unconscionable.”)

May 28, 2010:

The government secretly applies for a warrant to obtain Google email information of Fox News reporter James Rosen in a leak investigation, without telling Rosen.

September 21, 2010:

Internal email entitled “Obama Leak Investigations” at “global intelligence” company Stratfor claims Obama’s then-Homeland Security adviser John Brennan is targeting journalists.

“Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources,” writes one Stratfor official to another.

The email continues: “Note — There is specific tasker from the [White House] to go after anyone printing materials negative to the Obama agenda (oh my.) Even the FBI is shocked. The Wonder Boys must be in meltdown mode…”

“The Wonder Boys” reportedly refers to the National Security Agency (NSA). Brennan later becomes President Obama’s CIA Director.

Early February 2011:

After receiving an anonymous tip, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson begins researching the Department of Justice “gunwalking” operation nicknamed “Fast and Furious” that secretly let thousands of weapons be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels. One of the “walked” guns had been used by illegal aliens who murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

February 22, 2011:

CBS’ Attkisson breaks news about “Fast and Furious” on The CBS Evening News.

After the story airs, the government issues an internal memo that seeks to “push positive stories” to contradict the news.

Given the negative coverage by CBS Evening News last week…ATF needs to proactively push positive stories this week, in an effort to preempt some negative reporting, or at minimum, lessen the coverage of such stories in the news cycle by replacing them with good stories about ATF.

March 4, 2011:

CBS News’ Attkisson exclusively interviews sitting ATF special agent John Dodson. He gives a firsthand account contradicting government denials re: Fast and Furious.

The article continues with the timeline continuing through April 11, 2017, citing actions by the Obama Administration and by the people who remained in government positions after the Obama Administration ended. I think we have a problem. The only possible solution is to find the guilty parties and hold them accountable to the law. One wonders if we are not in a situation similar to what happened when J. Edgar Hoover headed the FBI and collected enough damaging information on everyone in government so that no one ever challenged him when he overstepped the limits of his position. If we have a similar situation now, we may not be able to solve the problem of overactive government surveillance for political purposes, and voters are simply going to have to be smart about what they believe.