Old Prosecutors Speaking Frankly

About once a year the Society of Old Prosecutors meets in a private libation spot the name of which I am honor bound not to disclose. We met to discuss the week’s events and, as long as I don’t name the participants, I was given permission to share some of the talk. (Given the mad-dog operations of the Special Counsel some feared that to publicly state their views they’d be subject to midnight FBI raids with their nightgown-garbed wives rousted from bed and felt up by armed agents, or all their assets seized and their private correspondence unrelated to anything handed over to Democratic spinners like Lanny Davis to be megaphoned on CNN.)

Lawyer 1: The President is denying his former lawyer Cohen’s claim that he approved the meeting in Trump Tower. Funny that meeting, isn’t it? I mean, why did Loretta Lynch allow Natasha Veselnitskaya to have a special visa to enter the country and why did Natasha choose as her translator Anatoli Samochornov, who for over a decade was a U.S. State Department Translator?’ I’ve handled far weaker entrapment cases.

Lawyer 2: Funnier yet, the meeting was ostensibly to discuss Russian orphan adoption issues. But even if it had been to hear the dirt Russia had on Hillary, when and why and how would it be unusual or illegal for a campaign to want to hear dirt on a competitor? I mean, get real -- Hillary paid for the Dossier which was confected by an anti-Trump former UK spy whose sources were all Russian. Not since I read Alice in Wonderland as a kid, have I seen such an upside down universe.

Lawyer 3:  Now speaking of the Dossier, how much longer will the FISC continue in operation after having rubberstamped over and again widespread spying on a political campaign based on the most idiotic of warrants? I cannot imagine a regular court granting these and FISC was, we were told by most (but not the late Robert Bork) that it would provide greater protections for citizens against unwarranted privacy intrusions.

Lawyer 1: DOJ and the FBI did some audacious tap dancing in those applications, didn’t they? Didn’t tell the Court they were relying on an unverified piece of campaign dirt gathering; didn’t tell the court it didn’t even know who the sources were that the author of the Dossier relied on. Used newspaper articles to justify the warrant! And then didn’t note that the articles were themselves part of Christopher Steele’s propaganda effort for Hillary. I’d have been disbarred had I ever tried such stunts.

Lawyer 2: And that’s not all -- they twisted Carter Page’s history. For three years he acted as an informant and witness for the FBI and they reframed his history to make it seem he was “an agent of a foreign power who knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activity that may have involved criminal violations." 

We took a short break while we nibbled on some fine cheese with crackers and mango chutney. After the drinks were refreshed and the waiter left, the conversation continued.

Lawyer 4: It’s not only the lies in the warrant applications and the brutish search techniques that fully explain how Stalinist this whole business is. Look at the latest indictments. He indicts some Russian companies thinking they’d never appear and there’d be no trial, One enters an appearance, denied the charges, notes how idiotic the indictment was, as among other things, it names a nonexistent corporation, and demands discovery. He indicts 12 Russian officials knowing he has no jurisdiction over them, they won’t appear and the case will never go to trial and as an extra bit of partisan play tosses into the indictment claim that “an unidentified candidate for U.S. Congress requested and received” dirt from a hack, allegedly by these Russians, from Guccifer to whom they’d given the hacked material.

Lawyer 3: Trey Gowdy has demanded that Sessions hand over all the documentation respecting the identity of this person. I doubt he exists except in the imagination of the prosecution, or his name surely would have been leaked by now. And it’s indisputable that the government has never examined the “hacked” servers and technical experts insist that the speed of downloaded material makes certain it was not removed by a hack, but was an inside job by someone using a thumb drive. 

Lawyer1: Don’t forget the spying charge and arrest against Maria Butina.

And we all roared.

We’re in D.C., and know what you might have missed, the Washington Post article about this gal -- who was most certainly no undercover spy -- republished in the Chicago Tribune but pretty much ignored elsewhere. 

He pulled out his copy of the article about the alleged undercover spy and read excerpts aloud to roars of laughter.

“‘Butina’s cellphone case was emblazoned with a famous photograph of Russia President Vladimir Putin riding shirtless on a horse. She would buy friends shots of vodka at Russia House, the Dupont Circle restaurant popular with the Russian diplomatic set, sometimes challenging male friends to down horseradish-infused shots, She bragged to classmates that she had worked for the Russian government.’”

“’In November 2016, just three months after arriving, she hosted a “stars and Tsars”-themes costume party at Café Deluxe… Butina went as Empress Alexandra, the wife of the last emperor of Russia…’”

Lawyer2: That’s a new definition of “Covert agent” isn’t it? Obviously the crack prosecution thought that because she was working with some gun advocates to help her campaign for a Second Amendment type shift in Russian gun laws, they could wrap the NRA into the Russian collusion ball of wax. I guess the tipoff she was an undercover spy was her attendance at the National Prayer Breakfast.

I piped in my two cents: “Luckily for us, we have defense counsels, civil lawsuits, and congressmen like Nunes to chip away at the DOJ/FBI wall of obfuscation and cover-up. This week, Judge Ungaro ordered GPS Fusion to disclose details of its Dossier work -- how did they create it, conduct the investigation for it, and disseminate the dossier.  That case comes about in a lawsuit against left-wing BuzzFeed that falsely reported that Aleksey Gubarev’s viruses and malware infiltrated the DNC networks. The source of the claim was the 17th memo in the Dossier, which made those claims and stated he had been working with Russian intelligence, claims Gubarev vehemently denies.

And then there are the indefatigable guys at Judicial Watch.

The FBI ordered Comey to preserve his records. This week they sought a court order requiring these records be preserved.

Judicial Watch argues that there is reason to be concerned that the responsive records could be lost or destroyed.” Judicial Watch points out that in June 2018, the DOJ’s Inspector General stated, “We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account (a Gmail account) to conduct FBI business.”

The filing comes in an April 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DOJ failed to respond to Judicial Watch’s May 2017 request and DCNF’s February 2018 request (Judicial Watch and The Daily Caller News Foundation v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00967)). The lawsuit is seeking:

  • All records written or ordered written by Comey summarizing his conversations with any of the following individuals: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer, Representative Nancy Pelosi, and Senator John McCain.
  • All records that identify and describe all meetings between former FBI Director James Comey and President Barack Obama.

“It is incredible that it took Judicial Watch’s prodding of the FBI for it to ask Mr. Comey to return federal records – over a year after he was fired,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Mr. Comey continues to be protected by the FBI and DOJ. It is outrageous that the agencies oppose a simple preservation order to make sure no Comey records are lost or destroyed.”

It asked the FISC for transcripts of all the hearings before it on the DOJ warrants against Carter Page. If successful, this will further document the corrupt, dishonest way the warrants were obtained. Judicial watch details the reasons for the request:

Last week, in response to a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit, the Department of Justice released 412 pages of heavily redacted documents relating to FISA warrants targeting Page. The warrants provide evidence that the FISA court was never told that the key information justifying the requests came from a minimally-corroborated “dossier” that was created by Fusion GPS, a paid agent of the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.

Judicial Watch initially sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the DOJ and then filed suit seeking the FISA transcripts (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-01050)). In a June 2018 letter, the Justice Department told Judicial Watch it had no Page FISA court hearing transcripts.[snip]

In February, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a memo criticizing the FISA targeting of Carter Page. The memo details how the “minimally corroborated” Clinton-DNC dossier was an essential part of the FBI and DOJ’s applications for surveillance warrants to spy on Page.

On February 7, 2018, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes wrote a letter to Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, the presiding judge at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requesting transcripts of “any relevant FISC hearings associated with the initial FISA application or subsequent renewals related to electronic surveillance of Carter Page.” On February 15, Judge Collyer replied that the FBI and DOJ “possess most, if not all, of the responsive materials the Court might possess, and we have previously made clear to the Department, both formally and informally, that we do not object to any decision by the Executive Branch to release any such FISA materials to Congress.”

The Committee also asked the court to confirm the existence of transcripts of hearings regarding applications for or renewal of FISA warrants related to Page. Judicial Watch points out that Presiding Judge Rosemary M. Collyer did so, stating:

[Y]ou may note that the Department of Justice possesses (or can easily obtain) the same responsive information the Court might possess, and because of separation of powers considerations, is better positioned than the Court to respond quickly. (We have previously made clear to the Department, both formally and informally, that we do not object to any decision by the Executive Branch to convey to Congress any such information.)

In its motion, Judicial Watch points out “to date, no transcripts of hearings regarding applications for or renewal of FISA warrants related to Page have been released to the public.” And, it argues that potential concerns about classified information are likely unwarranted, since the president has declassified the congressional memo, and the FBI has released the FISA warrant applications, application renewals, and court orders related to Page: “Therefore, most -- if not all -- of the information contained in the transcripts likely has been declassified.”

Lawyer 1: No doubt the FBI and DOJ have been working furiously to cover up malfeasance on the part of their former (and perhaps some present) officials and of the flaws in these agencie's procedures. We have to await the next report from the Inspector General to learn more about the misuse of FISA and the skullduggery involved in getting the warrant.

Lawyer 2: “Still nothing from Sessions’ designated U.S. Attorney Huber.”

Lawyer 3: “I think the president will eventually simply declassify the still redacted warrant applications. I think the last three indictments -- of the Russia corporations, the intelligence officials, and the alleged spy -- will not survive much longer.”

I added, "these three seem to be a futile attempt to persuade the public that there’s a reason to continue this farce. There isn’t, of course. It’s been a means of harassing the new administration for the crime of beating Hillary and her Deep State enablers."

At this point the club lights started to flicker and we had to leave, but it’s likely it won’t be our last meeting.

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