Last week’s publication of the Justice Department Inspector General’s report on former FBI director James Comey basically found that he was the leaking, sneaky weasel that he promised President Trump he wouldn’t be.
Comey claims that he’s been cleared and is demanding an apology. Some conservatives are disheartened that the IG’s findings didn’t result in a Justice Department decision to prosecute Comey.
Former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova, meanwhile, has said categorically that the IG’s report investigating the FBI’s actions in obtaining Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants during the “Russia collusion” investigation concludes that all four of the warrants obtained against one-time Trump adviser Carter Page were obtained “illegally.”
Not in violation of regulations or procedures: in violation of the law. That should result in prosecutions and probably jail time for the wrongdoers, but it won’t necessarily.
The IG investigations are a sideshow. The real investigation, being conducted by John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, will be the one that decides whom to indict and will obtain those indictments from one or more grand juries convened for that purpose.
The Comey IG report is interesting for any number of reasons, the first of which is that the Justice Department decided not to prosecute Comey for his intentionally leaking one of his “private” memos about conversations with President Trump to a friend. He did so, as we’ve known for two years, specifically to have that friend leak it to the New York Times for publication. Comey intended those leaks to have precisely the effect they did: to cause the appointment of a special counsel.
Robert Mueller’s subsequent investigation into the ephemeral “Russia collusion” investigation failed in what Comey — and the rest of the anti-Trumpers in the Justice Department and the CIA — intended it to do. It didn’t remove Trump from office in a “soft” coup.
The report demonstrated that Comey serially lied, violated FBI and Justice Department rules and policies, and leaked documents all in his effort to defeat Donald Trump’s candidacy and then stymie Trump’s presidency. It proved a hundredfold that Trump was entirely justified in firing Comey.
The reason Comey wasn’t prosecuted was that the FBI determined that the memo(s) he leaked weren’t classified.
And who made that judgment? Four people did, according to the IG report. Among the four were the disgraced duo: then-FBI agent Peter Strzok (fired) and his girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page (resigned). Both proved themselves to be stridently anti-Trump in thousands of text messages between them.
In light of the Strzok/Page involvement in that decision, why didn’t the IG make its separate judgment on whether or not the Comey memos should have been classified?
So what? Again, the IG’s investigation, as interesting as it is, is only a sideshow. The real investigation into Comey, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former special agent Strzok, and the rest of the FBI and CIA malefactors is the one being conducted by a real prosecutor, U.S. Attorney John Durham.
Let’s go back to Joe diGenova’s statement. If the four FISA Court warrants were obtained illegally, a considerable number of people may be criminally liable.
For more than a year, we have known that the FISA warrants were based on no real evidence of conspiracy or collusion by Trump or anyone in his campaign with any Russians or Russian entities for the purpose of influencing the election. The only information the FBI had and relied upon to get the surveillance warrants from the FISA court was the so-called “Steele dossier,” a compilation of opposition research cobbled together by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
In the last Congress, Rep. Devin Nunes (R.-Calif.) was chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Nunes’s memorandum of January 18, 2018 (declassified on February 2, 2018, by President Trump’s order), set out most of what we know about the FBI’s abuses of power in obtaining the FISA warrants.
We know that Peter Strzok was, at the relevant times, deputy to the assistant director of the FBI for counterintelligence. Every such search warrant has to be supported by a sworn affidavit setting out the allegations of criminal and/or foreign intelligence activity on which the warrant is based. Strzok and his staff would have prepared the applications for the FISA warrants and either themselves signed the affidavits or prepared them for a superior’s signature.
Strzok’s boss, now-former Assistant FBI Director for Counterintelligence, Bill Priestap, had to have approved the FISA warrant applications before they went to Comey and others.
According to the Nunes memo, the Steele dossier was not verified by the FBI before it was used as the basis for the FISA warrants (or at any point afterward, as we learned later).
If, as it appears, the FBI used the Steele dossier information in its affidavits — unverified information though it was — those affidavits are (at least) false statements, which are punishable under 18 U.S. Code Section 1001. They were also a fraud on the FISA court.
The Nunes memo says, “Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question in behalf of the FBI, and [then] Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then DAG Sally Yates, then Acting DAG Dana Boente and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DoJ.”
All of those people had the duty to ensure the FISA warrants were obtained within the law, not in violation of it. Those at the Strzok and Comey levels are clearly at the greatest risk of prosecution on those grounds. But there are many other people who participated in what was pretty clearly a conspiracy to deny Trump the presidency and, after he was elected, to remove him from office.
That conspiracy clearly extended beyond the FBI to the CIA, which ran a large part of the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation. As I wrote in June, the CIA’s part of the conspiracy was run by then–CIA Director John Brennan and his protégé, Gina Haspel, who was at the time the CIA’s station chief in London. Haspel is now Trump’s CIA director.
Haspel ran — or people under her supervision ran — undercover agents who were meeting with Trump campaign personnel.
That is why Haspel and other current and former CIA employees — especially Brennan — are sweating, trying to cover their tracks and certainly lying to John Durham’s investigators. That’s the investigation that the FBI and CIA malefactors fear, not the IG’s.
And their fear is entirely justified. An obscure law that Durham is certain to consider speaks directly to what the FBI and CIA conspirators did. It is part of the civil rights laws.
Under Title 18 U.S. Code Section 242, “Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State,Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States,” shall be fined and (or) imprisoned for up to one year.
The conspirators clearly didn’t deprive Donald Trump of the right to run for president, but they tried very hard to do so. Under the federal conspiracy law (Title 18 U.S. Code Section 371), it is a crime to conspire to commit any other federal crime. It is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail.
The evidence shows, and should be used in court to prove, that at least the leaders of the conspiracy — Strzok, Priestap, Comey, Brennan, and probably Haspel — should all be brought to justice for their abuse of power.
Make no mistake: their abuse of power is the worst in American history. Nothing any president has done even comes close. Durham and Attorney General Barr need to throw the book at them.