Why the Russia hoax is a constitutional crisis
Mark Wauck, retired FBI agent and AT contributor, has written an important essay on the true dimensions of the Russia hoax, on his blog Meaning in History. Building on Andrew McCarthy’s close analysis of the redacted FISA warrants two days ago. I will take the liberty of quoting his argument, but urge those interested to read the whole thing:
McCarthy gets to the heart of the matter--the first of many important points he makes--right up front:
Page has never been charged with any crime, much less with espionage. That is a salient fact because to get a FISA warrant on an American citizen, the FBI is required to show that the citizen’s activities on behalf of a foreign power violate federal criminal law. The FBI and Justice Department went to the FISA court four times over nine months, from October 2016 through June 2017, claiming to have grounds that Page was involved in heinous clandestine activity. Why isn’t he in handcuffs?
I believe it is because they never had a case. All they appear to have had were the 2013 attempt by Russian spies to recruit Page as an asset, and the Steele dossier.
Now here's what I want to make clear. The original FISA order, when the target is a US Person (USPER) such as Carter Page, lasts for 90 days. A FISA order can be renewed, but the renewal is NOTgranted on an "if at first you don't succeed, try try again" basis. To get an extension on a FISA--and let me say here that I completely agree with McCarthy that the initial FISA was pure BS--the FBI has to either:
1) make a reasonable showing that it is making progress in its investigation as a result of its use of FISA, i.e., it is moving forward with additional evidence gained through FISA that tends to confirm the presentation of the case that was made in the initial application, or
2) in the absence of such progress, the FBI must make a reasonable showing that the extension is likely to produce progress.
No extension should be granted unless one or the other condition is met; if not, the FISA should be shut down. Yet in this case three extensions were granted--despite the fact, as McCarthy convincingly shows, that there is absolutely no reason to suppose that either condition was ever met. We'll know for sure if/when President Trump finally declassifies these documents, but any fair reader of the redacted versions will be forced to McCarthy's conclusion: The FBI never had a case.
Prescinding from the corruption involved in the initial application, the fact that there were three extensions requested and granted is astounding--it should truly shock any normally aware citizen. That the top levels of both the FBI and DoJ should approve the extension requests, having nothing to show for their previous supposed investigative efforts, and that four separate Federal judges should approve such threadbare--not to say facially deficient and therefore bad faith--applications in a case that is so consequential for our Constitutional order strains credulity. And yet that, barring truly shocking new revelations that contradict all that we've learn thus far, is exactly what happened.
In light of this I would go beyond [Scott] Johnson's characterization [in Powerline here]of this as "scandal"--the only suitable word, not to be lightly used, is "crisis." And it's a continuing crisis. The reaction of both Democrats as well as NeverTrump Republicans in the House and Senate has been bad enough, but the lackadaisical, dilatory, response of DoJ in the face of such scandal has simply been shameful.
Official portrait of Rod Rosenstein, Deputy AG whosppointed and supervises the Mueller investigation, signed the final FISA warrant application
Consider what we have learned to this point. All the evidence points to a conspiracy to prevent the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. Failing this, the continuing conspiracy sought to terminate his presidency, presumably through the impeachment process, or failing that, to hamstring it through innuendo and outright slander. It's a scandal, and it's a scandal built on an outright hoax--the Russia Hoax. This conspiracy that I've referred to was a conspiracy involved the core institutions of the Executive Branch of government: the Department of Justice--including the FBI--the "Intelligence Community" generally, including the CIA and DNI, and the Department of State. But if all this weren't appalling enough, this conspiracy against the integrity of our fundamental institutions and our courts--even our electoral processes--extended to enlisting the cooperation of the intelligence agencies of a foreign power--Great Britain (GCHQ and MI6), not Russia!--against our own government.