Collusion

On Sunday The Hill posted an article about Russian collusion. Just for the record, a number of legal experts have stated that collusion is not a crime, so I am not sure what all the fuss is about, but there has been quite a fuss.

The article states:

With Republicans on both House and Senate investigative committees having found no evidence of Donald Trump being guilty of Democrat-inspired allegations of Russian collusion, it is worth revisiting one anecdote that escaped significant attention during the hysteria but continues to have U.S. security implications.

As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton worked with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-President Dmitri Medvedev, to create U.S. technology partnerships with Moscow’s version of Silicon Valley, a sprawling high-tech campus known as Skolkovo.

Clinton’s handprint was everywhere on the 2009-2010 project, the tip of a diplomatic spear to reboot U.S.-Russian relations after years of hostility prompted by Vladimir Putin’s military action against the former Soviet republic and now U.S. ally Georgia.

A donor to the Clinton Foundation, Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, led the Russian side of the effort, and several American donors to the Clinton charity got involved. Clinton’s State Department facilitated U.S. companies working with the Russian project, and she personally invited Medvedev to visit Silicon Valley.

The collaboration occurred at the exact same time Bill Clinton made his now infamous trip to Russia to pick up a jaw-dropping $500,000 check for a single speech.

The former president’s trip secretly raised eyebrows inside his wife’s State Department, internal emails show.

That’s because he asked permission to meet Vekselberg, the head of Skolkovo, and Arkady Dvorkovich, a senior official of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear giant seeking State’s permission to buy Uranium One, a Canadian company with massive U.S. uranium reserves.

Years later, intelligence documents show, both the Skolkovo and Uranium One projects raised serious security concerns.

It may have raised concerns, but it is sad that the Department of Justice was so compromised at that point that they chose to do nothing about it. Does anyone really believe that Russia would have paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech without getting something in return?

The article also notes the involvement of Russia in the dirty dossier scandal:

The intersections between the Clintons, the Democrats and Russia carried into 2016, when a major political opposition research project designed to portray GOP rival Donald Trump as compromised by Moscow was launched by Clinton’s presidential campaign and brought to the FBI.

Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS research firm was secretly hired by the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party through their law firm, Perkins Coie.

Simpson then hired retired British intelligence operative Christopher Steele — whom the FBI learned was “desperate” to defeat Trump — to write an unverified dossier suggesting that Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the election.

Simpson, Steele and Perkins Coie all walked Trump-Russia related allegations into the FBI the summer before the election, prompting agents who openly disliked Trump to launch a counterintelligence probe of the GOP nominee shortly before Election Day.

Simpson and Steele also went to the news media to air the allegations in what senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr would later write was a “Hail Mary” effort to influence the election.

The article concludes:

Collusion can be criminal if it involves conspiracy to break federal laws, or it can involve perfectly legal, unwitting actions that still jeopardize America’s security against a “frenemy” like Russia.

There is clear evidence now that shows Hillary Clinton’s family and charity profited from Moscow and simultaneously facilitated official government actions benefiting Russia that have raised security concerns.

And there’s irrefutable evidence that her opposition research effort on Trump — one that inspired an FBI probe — was carried out by people who got information from Russia and were consorting with Russians.

It would seem those questions deserve at least some of the scrutiny afforded the Trump-Russia collusion inquiry that is now two-plus years old.

Someone needs to take the blinders off of Robert Mueller and turn him in the right direction. His investigation is the equivalent of the man looking for his keys under the street light because the light is better (despite the fact that he dropped his keys across the street).

Exactly What Does ‘Expanding Voter Rights’ Mean?

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about a group called “Priorities USA” which seeks to expand voter rights. Kamala Harris’ top campaign lawyer is one of their board members. The group is planning a massive $30 million effort to “expand voter rights” leading up to the 2020 elections.

The article reports:

Priorities USA Action, a Washington, D.C.-based group that threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton throughout the 2016 presidential cycle, announced that it will put tens of millions of dollars behind an effort to “fight Republican-backed laws that restrict ballot access,” the Associated Press reports.

Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, told the AP that most of the money will go towards litigation and that the group will begin its efforts by focusing on Texas and Georgia. “We will look at where is the biggest harm being done and where our work can have the most impact,” Cecil said.

Marc Elias, a partner at the D.C. office of the Perkins Coie law firm who acted as Clinton’s top campaign lawyer, and who is now the top lawyer for the presidential campaign of Kamala Harris, quietly joined the board of Priorities USA’s nonprofit arm in early 2017 to help the group lead its voter-related efforts. Elias was brought in as the group began to shift its focus to fighting state-level voter identification laws.

It is interesting to note that one of the main people behind this effort is George Soros.

The article reports:

“We hope to see these unfair laws, which often disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our society, repealed,” Soros told the New York Times in 2015.

Soros had identified expanding the electorate by 10 million voters at a top priority, according to hacked documents released the next year. Soros was also the first funder of a large voter mobilization effort for the 2016 elections led by a coalition of progressive organizations.

Soros was one of the top donors to Priorities USA Action throughout the presidential cycle, giving $10.5 million to the group. Soros added $5 million to Priorities during the 2018 election cycle.

Priorities USA and Elias did not respond to inquiries on Elias’s potential upcoming involvement with the multi-million-dollar campaign by press time.

Why are they fighting voter ID laws? An article I posted back in 2011 might provide a clue.

In 2011 I reported on some of the findings of True the Vote in Houston, Texas:

“Vacant lots had several voters registered on them. An eight-bed halfway house had more than 40 voters registered at its address,” Engelbrecht said. “We then decided to look at who was registering the voters.”

“Their work paid off. Two weeks ago the Harris County voter registrar took their work and the findings of his own investigation and handed them over to both the Texas secretary of state’s office and the Harris County district attorney.

“Most of the findings focused on a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Sean Caddle, who formerly worked for the Service Employees International Union. Among the findings were that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. The other registrations included one of a woman who registered six times in the same day; registrations of non-citizens; so many applications from one Houston Voters collector in one day that it was deemed to be beyond human capability; and 1,597 registrations that named the same person multiple times, often with different signatures.”

This illustrates why we need voter ID (and why the Democrats are fighting it). Every fraudulent vote cancels out the vote of a legal voter. Eliminating voter fraud is the best way to expand voter rights.

 

Anatomy Of A Smear

Yesterday John Solomon posted an article at The Hill that details the role the Clinton campaign played in creating a situation where a Special Counsel needed to be appointed. It is a sobering tale of how a group of people can manipulate the government for nefarious purposes.

The article reports:

When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s what Hillary Clinton’s machine did in 2016, eventually getting the FBI to bite on an uncorroborated narrative that Donald Trump and Russia were trying to hijack the presidential election.

Between July and October 2016, Clinton-connected lawyers, emissaries and apologists made more than a half-dozen overtures to U.S. officials, each tapping a political connection to get suspect evidence into FBI counterintelligence agents’ hands, according to internal documents and testimonies I reviewed and interviews I conducted.

In each situation, the overture was uninvited. And as the election drew closer, the point of contact moved higher up the FBI chain.

It was, as one of my own FBI sources called it, a “classic case of information saturation” designed to inject political opposition research into a counterintelligence machinery that should have suspected a political dirty trick was underway.

Ex-FBI general counsel James Baker, one of the more senior bureau executives to be targeted, gave a memorable answer when congressional investigators asked how attorney Michael Sussmann from the Perkins Coie law firm, which represented the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party, came to personally deliver him dirt on Trump.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It is further proof that the government wittingly or unwittingly put its thumb on the scale during the 2016 election cycle. Thank God their efforts did not work. However, every person who willingly used the power of their government position to undermine President Trump needs to be immediately fired. Most of them have been, but I suspect there are still people in our government who are working against the President and against the American people.

The article describes an escalation of the efforts to get the FBI to respond to the political opposition research of the Clinton campaign:

But the bureau apparently did not initially embrace Steele’s research, and no immediate action was taken, according to congressional investigators who have been briefed.

That’s when the escalation began.

During a trip to Washington later that month, Steele reached out to two political contacts with the credentials to influence the FBI.

Then-senior State Department official Jonathan Winer, who worked for then-Secretary John Kerry, wrote that Steele first approached him in the summer with his Trump research and then met again with him in September. Winer consulted his boss, Assistant Secretary for Eurasia Affairs Victoria Nuland, who said she first learned of Steele’s allegations in late July and urged Winer to send it to the FBI.

(If you need further intrigue, Winer worked from 2008 to 2013 for the lobbying and public relations firm APCO Worldwide, the same firm that was a contractor for both the Clinton Global Initiative and Russia’s main nuclear fuel company that won big decisions from the Obama administration.)

When the State Department office that oversees Russian affairs sends something to the FBI, agents take note.

But Steele was hardly done. He reached out to his longtime Justice Department contact, Bruce Ohr, then a deputy to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Steele had breakfast July 30, 2016, with Ohr and his wife, Nellie, to discuss the Russia-Trump dirt.

(To thicken the plot, you should know that Nellie Ohr was a Russia expert working at the time for the same Fusion GPS firm that hired Steele and was hired by the Clinton campaign through Sussmann’s Perkins Coie.)

Bruce Ohr immediately took Steele’s dirt on July 31, 2016, to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

When the deputy attorney general’s office contacts the FBI, things happen. And, soon, Ohr was connected to the agents running the new Russia probe.

Around the same time, Australia’s ambassador to London, Alexander Downer, reached out to U.S. officials. Like so many characters in this narrative, Downer had his own connection to the Clintons: He secured a $25 million donation from Australia’s government to the Clinton Foundation in the early 2000s.

Downer claims WikiLeaks’s release of hacked Clinton emails that month caused him to remember a conversation in May, in a London tavern, with a Trump adviser named George Papadopoulos. So he reported it to the FBI.

The Clintons had been involved in government long enough to know how to set the wheels in motion to undermine Candidate Trump and later President Trump. It is a shame they didn’t direct their focus to something more constructive.

When Did The FBI Become Political?

This article is based on two articles–one at The Conservative Treehouse and one at The Hill.

The Conservative Treehouse article reports:

The DOJ-NSD and FBI are holding a press conference today at 9:30am.  The topic is unknown, but the timing coincides with a document production subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee for McCabe Memos, the “Woods File” supporting the Carter Page FISA application, and Gang-of-Eight documents on the Russia investigation.

In related news, former FBI chief legal counsel, James Baker, delivered testimony to the Joint House Committee yesterday in the ongoing investigation of corrupt FISA processes and “spy-gate”.   Fox News and The Hill both have reports.

The Hill reports:

Congressional investigators have confirmed that a top FBI official met with Democratic Party lawyers to talk about allegations of Donald Trump-Russia collusion weeks before the 2016 election, and before the bureau secured a search warrant targeting Trump’s campaign.

Former FBI general counsel James Baker met during the 2016 season with at least one attorney from Perkins Coie, the Democratic National Committee’s private law firm.

That’s the firm used by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign to secretly pay research firm Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence operative, to compile a dossier of uncorroborated raw intelligence alleging Trump and Moscow were colluding to hijack the presidential election.

The dossier, though mostly unverified, was then used by the FBI as the main evidence seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting the Trump campaign in the final days of the campaign.

The revelation was confirmed both in contemporaneous evidence and testimony secured by a joint investigation by Republicans on the House Judiciary and Government Oversight committees, my source tells me.

It means the FBI had good reason to suspect the dossier was connected to the DNC’s main law firm and was the product of a Democratic opposition-research effort to defeat Trump — yet failed to disclose that information to the FISA court in October 2016, when the bureau applied for a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“This is a bombshell that unequivocally shows the real collusion was between the FBI and Donald Trump’s opposition — the DNC, Hillary and a Trump-hating British intel officer — to hijack the election, rather than some conspiracy between Putin and Trump,” a knowledgeable source told me.

Here you have the smoking gun in the Russian investigation. Unfortunately it is a smoking gun that Robert Mueller has chosen to ignore. That alone should give all of us pause. What in the world is Mueller investigating? (Or what in the world is Mueller avoiding investigating?)

The Hill further reports:

The growing body of evidence that the FBI used mostly politically-motivated, unverified intelligence from an opponent to justify spying on the GOP nominee’s campaign — just weeks before Election Day — has prompted a growing number of Republicans to ask President Trump to declassify the rest of the FBI’s main documents in the Russia collusion case.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), veteran investigator Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and many others have urged the president to act on declassification even as FBI and Justice Department have tried to persuade the president to keep documents secret.

Ryan has said he believes the declassification will uncover potential FBI abuses of the FISA process. Jordan said he believes there is strong evidence the bureau misled the FISA court. Nunes has said the FBI intentionally hid exculpatory evidence from the judges.

And Meadows told The Hill’s new morning television show, Rising, on Wednesday that there is evidence the FBI had sources secretly record members of the Trump campaign.

“There’s a strong suggestion that confidential human sources actually taped members within the Trump campaign,” Meadows told Hill.TV hosts Krystal Ball and Ned Ryun.

I can assure you that if those responsible for the illegal spying on the opposition campaign are not brought to justice, this will happen again in the future. In the Watergate Scandal, people went to jail. In the Russiagate Scandal, people should also go to jail. Oddly enough, it seems as if the people the Special Prosecutor is investigating are not the ones who should go to jail.

Somehow It Always Comes Back To The Same Players

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about some things that have been learned about the testimony of Bruce Ohr. It is a very complex article, and I strongly suggest that you follow the link and read the entire article. I will try to grab the high points, but there is a lot there.

My first observation concerning the things Donald Trump is accused of is that generally speaking they are just not sexy enough to be interesting to the American public. Paying off a girlfriend just isn’t anything new. In 2017, CNN posted an article stating that Congress had a fund that had paid out $17 million as a result of sexual harassment claims against Congressmen (and Congresswomen). Does anyone honestly believe that some of that wasn’t hush money? That makes Donald Trump look like a piker. But back to the testimony of Bruce Ohr.

The article at The Conservative Treehouse notes some connections between Bruce Ohr and some of the players on Robert Mueller’s team:

…Nellie Ohr was working for Fusion GPS in 2015.  Previous to that statement by Issa the timeline for Nellie Ohr working with Fusion GPS began in April of 2016 (simultaneous to Fusion beginning the contract work for the Clinton Campaign and sub-contracting of Chris Steele).

…Ohr testified that Fusion approached his wife for a job and that she began working for the research firm in late 2015. California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa said Ohr testified that his wife was paid $44,000 by Fusion GPS. As TheDCNF has reported, Ohr did not disclose his wife’s Fusion income on his annual ethics disclosure form.

Perkins Coie, the law firm for the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, paid Fusion GPS more than $1 million for the Trump-Russia project. Fusion paid Steele nearly $170,000 for his work. (read more)

The article then gets a bit technical:

We have long suspected that Fusion-GPS was one of the contractors with access to the FBI/NSA database.  The contractors were conducting political opposition research by exploiting the FISA 702(16)(17) process which would be available for counterintelligence purposes; hence the DOJ-National Security Division.

…From November 1, 2015, to May 1st, 2016, thousands of search queries were conducted with a “non-compliance rate of 85%”. That means the “contractors” were massively abusing their access to the database; and a full 85% of their activity was demonstrably unlawful.

It is highly likely, almost certain, all of this unlawful query activity was political opposition research being conducted by political operatives, agents and DOJ/FBI affiliates within the apparatus. Fusion GPS seems like an obvious organization who would be participating in that activity. Adding to this likelihood we now have Nellie Ohr working within this exact timeline.

Further connections to the Mueller investigation are cited in the article:

Sources familiar with Ohr’s testimony before the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Ohr informed Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page about his interactions with Steele and Simpson. He also informed Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Weissmann about his dossier-related work.

Weissmann is now serving as right-hand man to Robert Mueller at the special counsel’s office.

Ohr testified that he informed his Justice Department peers, but not his superiors, about his contacts with Steele and Simpson. One of the superiors kept out of the loop was former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Ohr said he was demoted as assistant deputy attorney general in December because he failed to tell Yates and other top officials about his dossier interactions. (more)

The article concludes:

This information pipeline from Fusion to Bruce Ohr to Andrew Weissmann, in combination with the meeting between Weissmann and AP reporters, is essentially another round of same-method of manufacturing evidence; it is a collaborative effort.

In the first example where the Fusion-GPS information circle was exploited, the FBI gained a FISA Title-1 search warrant against Carter Page. In the second example of an almost identical information flow, the result was Special Counsel Robert Mueller gaining Title-III search warrants against Paul Manafort.

I think we are investigating the wrong people for collusion and corruption.

 

Looking For Your Keys Under The Light

There is an old joke about a man who was walking around under a street light and another man asked what he was doing. He explained that he was looking for his car keys which he had dropped across the street next to his car. The other man then asked why he wasn’t looking for the keys where he had dropped them. The first man then answered, “Because the light is better here.” That pretty much describes the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit for investigators on one side that the investigation chooses to ignore. There is no evidence on the other side, so the investigators are chasing rabbit trails.

Yesterday Kimberley Strassel posted an article at The Wall Street Journal about the Mueller investigation.

The article notes some basic inequities:

And they are now witnessing unequal treatment in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Yes, the former FBI director deserves credit for smoking out the Russian trolls who interfered in 2016. And one can argue he is obliged to pursue any evidence of criminal acts, even those unrelated to Russia. But what cannot be justified is the one-sided nature of his probe.

Consider Mr. Cohen, the former Trump lawyer who this week pleaded guilty to eight felony charges. Six related to his personal business dealings; the other two involved campaign-finance violations arising from payments to women claiming affairs with Donald Trump. The criminal prosecution of campaign-finance offenses is exceptionally rare (most charges are civil), but let’s take Mr. Khuzami’s word for it when he says Mr. Cohen’s crimes are “particularly significant” because he’s a lawyer who should know better, and also because the payments were for the purpose of “influencing an election” and undermining its “integrity.”

If there is only “one set of rules,” where is Mr. Mueller’s referral of a case against Hillary for America? Federal law requires campaigns to disclose the recipient and purpose of any payments. The Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to compile a dossier against Mr. Trump, a document that became the basis of the Russia narrative Mr. Mueller now investigates. But the campaign funneled the money to law firm Perkins Coie, which in turn paid Fusion. The campaign falsely described the money as payment for “legal services.” The Democratic National Committee did the same. A Perkins Coie spokesperson has claimed that neither the Clinton campaign nor the DNC was aware that Fusion GPS had been hired to conduct the research, and maybe so. But a lot of lawyers here seemed to have been ignoring a clear statute, presumably with the intent of influencing an election.

The article concludes:

Of the seven U.S. citizens Mr. Mueller has charged, five have been accused of (among other things) making false statements to federal officials. But there have been no charges against the partisans who made repeated abjectly false claims to the FBI and Justice Department about actions of their political opponents. There have been no charges against those who leaked classified information, including the unprecedented release of an unmasked conversation between former national security adviser Mike Flynn and a Russian ambassador. Nothing.

Some of these charges might not stand up in court, but that’s beside the point. Plenty of lawyers would poke holes in the campaign-finance charges against Cohen, or the “lying” charges against Mr. Flynn. Special counsels wield immense power; the mere threat of a charge provokes plea deals. It’s the focus that matters.

Prosecutors can claim all they want that they are applying the law equally, but if they only apply it to half the suspects, justice is not served. Mr. Mueller seems blind to the national need for—the basic expectation of—a thorough look into all parties. That omission is fundamentally undermining any legitimacy in his findings. Lady Justice does not wear a blindfold over only one eye.

I guess it’s okay for the FBI to lie to the FISA Court but not okay for regular people to lie to the FBI. Seems like a double standard to me.

One Rule For Me And One Rule For Thee

Mark Penn, a former pollster and advisor to President Clinton, posted an op-ed piece at The Hill today. I suspect he is no longer being invited to the Clinton’s dinner parties. The article explains how the plea deal with Michael Cohen is an attempt to set up President Trump. I am amazed at how vicious some of our politicians are when it comes to President Trump. Robert Mueller is a prime example of that, and it is sad.

The op-ed notes:

Why was Michael Cohen investigated? Because the “Steele dossier” had him making secret trips to meet with Russians that never happened, so his business dealings got a thorough scrubbing and, in the process, he fell into the special counsel’s Manafort bin — the bin reserved for squeezing until the juice comes out. And now we are back to 1998 all over again, with presidents and presidential candidates covering up their alleged marital misdeeds and prosecutors trying to turn legal acts into illegal ones by inventing new crimes.

The plot to get President Trump out of office thickens, as Cohen obviously was his own mini-crime syndicate and decided that his betrayals of Trump meant he would be better served turning on his old boss to cut the best deal with prosecutors he could rather than holding out and getting the full Manafort treatment. That was clear the minute he hired attorney Lanny Davis, who doesn’t try cases and did past work for Hillary Clinton. Cohen had recorded his client, trying to entrap him, sold information about Trump (while acting as his lawyer) to corporations for millions of dollars, and didn’t pay taxes on millions.

This is the problem with this case:

The sweetener for the prosecutors, of course, was getting Cohen to plead guilty to campaign finance violations that were not campaign finance violations. Money paid to people who come out of the woodwork and shake down people under threat of revealing bad sexual stories are not legitimate campaign expenditures. They are personal expenditures. That is true for both candidates we like and candidates we don’t. Just imagine if candidates used campaign funds instead of their own money to pay folks like Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about affairs; they would get indicted for misuse of campaign funds for personal purposes and for tax evasion.

There appear to be two payments involved in this unusual plea — Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation for having “coordinated” the American Media Inc. payment to Karen McDougal for her story, not for actually making the payment. So he is pleading guilty over a corporate contribution he did not make.

No one connected in any way with President Trump is treated in the usual way:

The usual procedures here would be for the FEC to investigate complaints and sort through these murky laws to determine if these kinds of payments are personal in nature or more properly classified as campaign expenditures. And, on the Daniels payment that was made and reimbursed by Trump, it is again a question of whether that was made for personal reasons (especially since they have been trying since 2011 to obtain agreement). Just because it would be helpful to the campaign does not convert it to a campaign expenditure. Think of a candidate with bad teeth who had dental work done to look better for the campaign; his campaign still could not pay for it because it’s a personal expenditure.

Meanwhile, Robert Mueller is totally ignoring campaign irregularities from Hillary’s campaign:

Contrast what is going on here with the treatment of the millions of dollars paid to a Democratic law firm which, in turn, paid out money to political research firm Fusion GPS and British ex-spy Christopher Steele without listing them on any campaign expenditure form — despite crystal-clear laws and regulations that the ultimate beneficiaries of the funds must be listed. This rule was even tightened recently. There is no question that hiring spies to do opposition research in Russia is a campaign expenditure, and yet, no prosecutorial raids have been sprung on the law firm, Fusion GPS or Steele. Reason: It does not “get” Trump.

Any investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election that does not include money laundered through Perkins Coie to pay for the Russian dossier does not have credibility. I suspect that will be the point made in the coming months in an attempt to shut down this travesty. The foundation of appointing a Special Prosecutor was totally flawed and the investigation is even more flawed. It is time to let people associated with Donald Trump live in peace. To do otherwise is to criminalize political opinions.