My friend and blogvesary asked me to give his points about Spygate a fairer shake. Sure it’s mostly conspiracy theory scrawled across Glenn Beck’s chalkboard with a pre-sniffed Sharpie, but there is some clear irregularities that can’t be ignored. My friend is reasonable, so over the years he always lays out these red-meat-laden theories and I research them. But this is also why I have such a healthy fear of following him, once again, down the rabid hole. Since they’re typically distractions, I tend to shut them down sooner than traitor. It’s like hearing how the moon landing was faked, then, years later, we go to the moon and there’s a pizza parlor where Hillary is running a child sex ring out of the basement. Yeah, it’s like that… Anything being espoused on Hannity each night seems automatically meritless to me, yet only a Sith deals in absolutes. As for Spygate, why couldn’t the FBI pick an issue, a lie, a white-collar crime, a quid pro quo, a collusive conclusive moment, to make their case? With so much wrongdoing to choose from, how do you not meet the level of a FISA warrant, indefinitely? You had Gotham’s Orange Cheetoh in your crossfire hurricane hairs and you missed. Pokey sent along some questions and some links for review. Two links touched on Obama spying, aka Halper and Misfud, so I worked them into my answers—covertly, of course, without proper FISA permissions. He sent over a Hill link, nice, but here’s a much a better one, here. Why do I have to do your job for you, Poke? His other two sources were The Federalist, uggg, and Wikipedia—which I use too but prefer the Star Wars version, Wookepedia.
“Surveil or surveil not, there is no spy.” —Yoda
Let’s start with some of his spy-links, after all for a Spygate, one needs spies.
Stefan Halper and Joseph Misfud are the two main spies supposedly planted in the Trump campaign. The Federalist article tries to paint Halper as a never Trumper for holding a meeting with Madaline Albright and other known never Trumpers. Fact: there’s no such thing as never Trumpers. There are savvy people and republicans, period. Of course, per Vox, even this Halper assessment is flawed:
“Halper is a longtime Republican who never worked for the Trump campaign. The FBI appeared to have asked Halper to make contact with Page and Papadopoulos after it had reason to believe each of these men was in contact with the Russian government.”
That same Federalist article also tries to tie Halper to leaks to the press and possible involvement with the funding of the Steele Dossier and it concludes, in the typical cliff hanger fashion, “One must wonder, then, if Halper was helping in those efforts.” Hmmm, deep thoughts about the deep state. The other name thrown around is Joseph Mifsud, who Papadapwhatsas outed as an FBI informant/double agent bent on bringing down the Trump administration. Per Horowitz:
“The FBI‘s Delta files contain no evidence that Mifsud has ever acted as an FBI CHS and none of the witnesses we interviewed or documents we reviewed had any information to support such an allegation.” —Politico
Here’s the main reason the spy portion of Spygate comes up short, Horowitz found that Crossfire Hurricane failed to obtain a surveillance authorization on Papadapwhatsas and, despite a debate, the FBI never seriously considered wiretapping Manafort or Flynn. So only Page was ever wiretapped? If they were really doing scattershot spying to bring down Trump that makes absolutely no sense. So they pick the one goofy guy, the furthest from Trump’s inner circle to spy on? The only one not involved in a bevy of criminal activity? Well played Spygaters, well played. Here’s my theory, if they weren’t so incompetent or fear-driven, the Feds could have made the case to wiretap all of them. Spygate light?
Onward to Pokey’s three questions:
1.) The FBI has refused to release critical information about the early stages of the investigation.
This one is 100% bunk. Everyone outside of Alex-Jonesville is in agreement that the onset of Crossfire Hurricane was justified. This has been reviewed by FBI Director Christopher Wray, Robert Mueller and IG Horowitz, who had full access to everything. You have to distinguish between the initial FISA and the ongoing ones, which are clearly more problematic. Horowitz debunked the theory that the Steele Dossier, Strzok or Page played any role whatsoever in the opening of Crossfire Hurricane. We know this because it was opened with Papadapwhatsas a month or so earlier. Per Vox’s coverage of Horowitz:
“Papadopoulos denied any knowledge of Russian outreach to the Trump team, which was a lie: Papadopoulos had drunkenly bragged to an Australian diplomat about Russia offering him ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton back in May, which led to the FBI beginning its counterintelligence investigation in the first place.”
Remember, Horowtiz was under great political pressure to find wrongdoing, but he was forced to conclude the start of this caper was legit and “properly predicated.”
“Page’s visit to Moscow was a matter of public record. The FBI knew about Papadopoulos’s bragging about Russia providing dirt on Clinton, thanks to the Australian government. Given those facts, experts say it would have been irresponsible not to launch a counterintelligence probe that targeted Papadopoulos and Page.” —Vox
Poke’s Hill article, 2018, did not know what we know now, mainly, that the Steele Dossier had nothing to do with the initial investigation; this article blames the FBI for not disclosing the Dossier’s Hillary-related origins to the judges. Again, this had nothing to do with the onset of the investigation. As for these more bumble beginnings:
FACT: Russia interfered in our election (per Mueller).
FACT: Russia reached out to numerous Trumpsters to collude (per Mueller).
FACT: Some Trumpsters ended up in the Crossfire Hurricane hairs for talking to Russian agents and then promptly lying to investigators.
This does not explain the extensions in the FISA, which we’ll get to.
2.) No investigator of Trump was ever genuinely suspicious that Trump had “colluded” with Russia.
Why wouldn’t they be suspicious? Sounds absurd. Where are those links and quotes? One theory, those left in the FBI now report to Trump loyalists/fascists, so some may be backpedaling to hang onto their pensions. Whereas I couldn’t find anything to support Pokey’s statement, I did find a lot that contradicts it. Per the Horowitz Report:
“The evidence also showed that FBI officials responsible for and involved in the case opening decisions were unanimous in their belief that, together with the July 2016 release by WikiLeaks of hacked DNC [Democratic National Committee] emails, the Papadopoulos statement described in the FFG [Friendly Foreign Government] information reflected the Russian government’s potential next step to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections.”
“FBI officials were similarly unanimous in their belief that the FFG information represented a threat to national security that warranted further investigation by the FBI. Witnesses told us that they did not recall observing during these discussions any instances or indications of improper motivations or political bias on the part of the participants, including Strzok” (Horowitz Report 349-350).”
As for your ongoing insistence collusion never happened, that’s the dubious conclusion here. The best summary of the Mueller Report comes from this Atlantic article: We still don’t know what happened between Trump and Russia, in which they point out the combination of things that stymied Mueller, et al:
- Mueller’s narrow approach and limited scope.
- The DOJ’s protecting sitting president’s from criminality (that clearly hamstrung the investigation from the getgo).
- How collusion is not a legal thing, so Mueller had to prove criminal conspiracy (a very high Bar).
- This proved unreachable due to all the blatant obstruction of justice.
- The promise of pardons for those loyalists.
Trump himself made the best case for collusion by his actions and deeds; he needed no help from the Feds. Our intelligence community investigated his peeps because they knew three things: Russia was interfering with our election; they were reaching out to numerous minions and they seemed to be welcoming all the help from Moscow.
This does leave open the possibility someone higher up insisted the investigation stay open despite a lack of evidence. And where this ends is anyone’s guess. This is the heart of Hannity’s deep state plot and we will learn more under Durham, but my prediction stands: this will not jump in any meaningful way from the FBI to the DNC.
3.) Leaders of the FBI worked with (colluded with) members of the media by illegally leaking to promote a public narrative of Trump-Russia collusion.
On the contrary, it’s been noted how carefully this was handled. According to the NYTs, it stands in “stark contrast” to Comey’s Hillary investigation blunders.
“Not only did agents in that case [Crossfire Hurricane] fall back to their typical policy of silence, but interviews with a dozen current and former government officials and a review of documents show that the F.B.I. was even more circumspect in that case than has been previously known.”
The FBI investigators are described as hesitant and unwilling to even interview “key Trump associates.” Hmmm. In addition, they report only 5 DOJ officials knew of the details of the operation, when typically over a dozen would be briefed. The same article quotes a twenty-year veteran of the DOJ, Mary McCord,
“I never saw anything that resembled a witch hunt or suggested that the bureau’s approach to the investigation was politically driven.”
This matches the conclusion of every other republican inquisitor who looked into this matter. Of course, Durham might have agreed to exaggerate in a way the others weren’t willing to. And that’s my fear.
Andrew McCabe’s leaks are widely understood as a response to a WSJ article on the reopening of the Clinton email probe and how the FBI wanted to appear tough on Clinton, as some sort of damage control. These leaks did hurt Hillary Clinton, not The Donald, and if McCabe indeed lied about them, Hillary should really be miffed. I have always said McCabe had the highest legal jeopardy, but not for the reasons republicans think. Where are these other leaks to hurt Trump?
The perpetuation of the Trump/Russia collusion narrative stems from Trump and his minions’ highly suspicious actions, which range from stunning to disturbing. This president didn’t need any help from the Feds to look guilty in this area. He made his dubious intentions public and, luckily for him, incompetently.
I’m adding this one because this is the only question that requires some splainin’:
4.) Why was the Page FISA warrant extended multiple times on the flimsiest of evidence?
Why did they extend the Carter Page Fisa? Why couldn’t they find more evidence of Trumpian wrongdoing? Most people swilling beer and eating nachos during Rachel Maddow could make a better case. I.Am.That.Person.
This is where Spygate begins and ends, but the Page FISA was clearly a trainwreck. There was little grounds for continued surveillance for nine months beyond the initial 90 day period. This where the Steele Dossier does a play a questionable role. Was it incompetence? Was it coordinated by some nefarious Dem leaning executive? Is it the norm? Does it reach higher-ups or even Obama’s desk? Lindsey Graham wants to know, so we’re all going to find out.
Mueller’s report didn’t vindicate Trump so that’s a wrap and, similarly, Horowitz’s report didn’t vindicate the FBI, so someone call Durham.
See the hypocrisy? Of course not.
I don’t know why my friend has to get so ahead of himself. He can wait for Durham’s results before commenting and avoid a lot of embarrassment. I know why it’s necessary; this is where republicans live, in these crawl spaces between factoids. This is where they hatch all their cockamamie theories, connect the imaginary dots, and act out their profound extortionistique dance. Let’s ignore the man committing crimes in broad daylight and dismantling our republic, so we can bring you some more unanswered questions. The usual.
On the other hand, how could those involved not know such FISA processes would be scrutinized to the highest degree? Nothing was being gleaned from Page, it was a dead-end with little implications for a greater collusion narrative. Why couldn’t they make the case? This is our intelligence community, after all.
Yet Pokey believes there’s only one answer, a secret cabal that ends with Obama. That is one explanation, far fetched and unproven though it may be. More likely, as the Cato Institute suggests, it was a result of confirmation bias, “which ought to sound familiar to anyone who’s studied the history of the intelligence community.” And such mistakes “aren’t peculiar to elections but endemic to intelligence.” You know, my theory, aka business as usual in Dysfunctslvania. Also, Horowitz conducted a broader look at FISA warrants and out of those 29 unrelated warrants reviewed, none of them passed muster either (0 for 30 for those familiar with numbers). My theory, post 9/11 we aired on the side of listening. I remember being against expanding surveillance, yet 100% of the GOP-types seemed down. They only get annoyed, years later, when it’s used to try to prevent obvious national security threats.
During The Hill’s interview with Elie Honing, a NY federal prosecutor, he pointed out the baselessness of Spygate:
“First, all the wiretaps were court-approved. Second, there’s no proof Obama had anything to do with those lawful wiretaps. And third, if we need to get technical (and we don’t because there’s nothing there) treason only applies during a declared war.”
Well, that last part might be true, because as Bugs Bunny used to say, I hope you know, this means war!
My predictions haven’t changed on Spygate:
“As for my ongoing Spygate counter narrative predictions: these will be investigated longer than Benghazi, but will only find procedural, not political wrongdoing. This has changed greatly from my original prediction, years ago, in which I used different gender neutral pronouns.”
Whereas political bias was never found, we need to remember how political prejudice is creeping into every corner of our society as we shift toward collapse. Most of these errors are cognitive bias based and are likely implicit, not explicit. The same implicitness that killed George Floyd, just as long as no procedural irregularities creep in when dealing with, well, creeps.
The only thing Pokey and I can agree on is this, declassify everything involved with Carter Pages’ surveillance is imperative. Who did what and why needs to be clearly explained and procedural anomalies should be punished. Widespread FISA reform seems long overdue. If other wrongdoing is found further up the chain of command, great, let’s hear it. Keep in mind, Pokey, when this hole is finally filled it represents the last corner your coveted scandal might be hiding. Good luck with that.
You have to remember Horowitz was under a lot of pressure to make shit up, and he failed. He failed so spectacularly that Barr needed to investigate, the investigation’s investigation. Meanwhile, Horowitz, that crazy lib, debunked 87% of what Hannity and Pokey have been on about for the last two years.
R.I.P: the bugging of Trump Tower, those spies planted in the Trump campaign, the Steele dossier initiated the probe, Page & Strzok initiated the probe, and more recently unmasking.
Yet Pokey forges ahead for the same reason the Feds did, confirmation bias. But, hey, the sooner we get this behind us, the sooner we can start wiretapping Jared. The son-in-law …the jewelry stores are all COVID-closed.
These days I always like to end these debates with my segment, here’s what’s really happening while my friend is yappin’ about something else:
On Tuesday Pokey asked me, “Why are you so concerned about Barr?”
Since that important inquiry:
1. Donald Ayer, a former DOJ who worked under three presidents, warned how Barr represents, “The biggest threat to the rule of law he has seen in his lifetime.”
2. Over 80% of the graduates of Barr’s own alma mater/law school just demanded his resignation.
3. And moments ago, the NYT released an article that Barr also interfered with the Michael Cohen case, which explains why our president, aka Individual 1, wasn’t tied to the indictment over hush funds paid to a certain porn star.
Oh, and he’s being subpoenaed by the House and there’s more talk of impeachment. But that FISA judge, hasn’t he been seen in or around a known liberal coffee shop, with clear connections to people who have connections to the Clinton Foundation?