“Former U.S. Attorney for DC, Jessie Liu, is scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing this upcoming Thursday at 10:00am. There’s also an unreported background story connected to the DOJ, Rod Rosenstein and Ms. Liu so controversial, it’s as big as Spygate.
In the event any Senator on the approval committee would be brave enough to question the participant here’s the story:
EVENT ONE – On February 9th, 2018, the media reported on text messages from 2017 between Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Mark Warner and Chris Steele’s lawyer, a lobbyist named Adam Waldman. In 2017 and 2018 Mr. Waldman represented the interests of dossier author Chris Steele and Russian Billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
There was some initial media discussion of the text messages, and some eyebrows raised over why the Vice-Chairman of the SSCI would make statements saying “he would rather not have a paper trail” around the Steele communication, but generally speaking the DC media dropped the story quickly. It just didn’t fit the anti-Trump narrative in early 2018.
Unfortunately, because of the lack of media curiosity, some rather elementary questions were never asked (let alone answered). Questions including: •Why were the 2017 text messages between Mark Warner and Adam Waldman captured? •Who captured them?.. and, perhaps more importantly: •why were they released?
The February 2018 story soon disappeared, and no-one ever paid enough attention to go back and see the answers to the questions….
EVENT TWO – Four months after the Mark Warner texts were made public, on June 8th, 2018, another headline story surfaced. An indictment for Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Security Director James Wolfe was unsealed on June 7th, 2018.
Mr. Wolfe was indicted for leaking information from within the SSCI to four journalists; and lying to FBI investigators.
Within the indictment we discover the FBI were conducting an ongoing leak investigation throughout 2017. Within that investigation a top-secret document was transferred to the custody of SSCI Security Director James Wolfe on March 17, 2017. The details inside that document were leaked to the media.
The indictment describes FBI investigators informing Mr. Wolfe in October of 2017 about their investigation of national security leaks. In December of 2017, Mr. Wolfe was confronted with evidence of his leaking to journalists including a woman now working for the New York Times named Ali Watkins, with whom he was having a sexual relationship – implied as a possible quid-pro-quo.
Wolfe left the SSCI quietly in mid-December and resigned shortly thereafter. No-one, outside of the principal characters involved, knows about the investigation until six months later, June 2018, when the indictment is made public. [Keep this in mind]
The June 2018 media coverage of the Wolfe indictment primarily focused on the affair with Ms. Watkins and Wolfe’s lying to investigators. Headlines quickly disappeared as the case moved into the formality of legal proceedings between the DOJ and Wolfe’s defense.
No-one drew a connection between the February ’18 publicity of SSCI Vice-Chairman Warner’s text messages and the June ’18 release of the FBI investigation of Wolfe from inside the SSCI the prior year (2017).
EVENT THREE – Slightly less than two months after the release of the Wolfe indictment, another headline story. On July 21st, 2018, the DOJ/FBI declassified and publicly released the FISA application(s) used against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The release was connected to a FOIA case filed by the New York Times the year prior [NOTE THIS]. There has never been a good explanation of why the application was declassified and released. Despite the pre-existing NYT FOIA case, it never made sense why the DOJ/FBI did not attempt to deny the FOIA request. The request was a FOIA for FISA information, the highest security classification possible. It would have been very easy to deny the FOIA simply because the NYT was seeking classified documents. A no brainer for shielding any release. FISA is classified as “Top-Secret”.
So, given the nature of the FISA application itself; and considering the DOJ had denied a similar request from congress; why did the DOJ/FBI suddenly decide it was okay to release the FISA application to the public?[Short Answer (ah-ha moment): The DOJ/FBI knew the New York Times already had it.]
The media discussion of the FISA application release was very heavy. The story consumed a great deal of air time, print coverage and debate from the release on July 21st, 2018, all the way through to the Inspector General Horowitz report of December 2019, and that coverage continues through today. However, just like the Warner Texts; and just like the Wolfe indictment; no-one bothered to go back and connect the three component stories.
♦ Within the Wolfe indictment you’ll notice the “Top Secret” document picked-up by SSCI Director James Wolfe took place on March 17th, 2017:
♦ Within the Mark Warner text messages you’ll note the SSCI Vice-Chairman went into the SSCI Secured Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) on March 17th, 2017, shortly after 4:00pm:
♦ Within the declassified and released FISA application you’ll notice the copy date from the FISA clerk for the FISA application was March 17th, 2017:
The information within the three events (Warner Text release, Wolfe Indictment release, and Carter Page FISA release) shows the connection of the events. James Wolfe took custody of the Carter Page FISA, delivered it to the SCIF, it was reviewed by SSCI Vice-Chair Mark Warner, and then leaked by James Wolfe.
It was the Carter Page FISA application that James Wolfe leaked to Ali Watkins as outlined within the unsealed June 2018 indictment.
Sidebar, a fourth albeit buried public release on December 14, 2018, confirmed everything. The FBI filed a sentencing recommendation proving it was the Carter Page FISA that was leaked:
I only share the sidebar (out of chronological sequence) to emphasize there is no doubt it was the FISA application that James Wolfe leaked. (Don’t get hung up here).
This explains (slightly, but there’s a much bigger story) why the DOJ/FBI released the FISA application in July 2018, as the result of a New York Times FOIA request.
The investigators within the DOJ/FBI knew the New York Times already had the FISA application from the James Wolfe leak to journalist Ali Watkins.
It’s going to get complex and I’m likely to lose all except the most dedicated readers who can understand what comes next…..
Keep in mind when the FISA court released the application copy to Wolfe on March 17th, 2017, there was only the original application from October 21st, 2016, and one renewal from January that existed. [The release was March 17th, 2017 – the April and June 2017 renewals had not taken place.]
Additionally, within the July 2018 public release (of the March 17th 2017 copy), the FBI investigators redacted all dates relating to the copy they released to Wolfe. AND, in all subsequent releases of any information from the FBI -through the declassification process- (including the initial version of the IG report on FISA) those dates were always redacted.
There has purposefully never been a clean copy release of the original FISA application and the three renewals. Therefore there has never been a clean copy release without date redactions – which includes the FISC copy dated March 17th.
When the DOJ/FBI released its July 2018 FOIA compliant set of FISA application(s) they didn’t just print a new copy, instead they re-released the Wolfe version and then added the last two renewals.
RECAP Chronology: February 2018 release of Warner Texts. June 2018 unsealed Wolfe Indictment. July 2018 release FISA application. All three of these releases are connected to one much larger story.
Knowing that James Wolfe was caught by the FBI and DOJ leaking the FISA application, why wasn’t the SSCI Security Director ever charged with leaking classified information?
Here’s where the poop hits the fan.
Here’s the cover-up.
Here’s where another event comes in.
Keep in mind SSCI Vice-Chairman Senator Mark Warner was the impetus for the FISA Court releasing the March 17th copy; also keep in mind the purpose of the text messages between Senator Warner and Chris Steele’s lawyer Adam Waldman.
During his initial summer and fall negotiations with the DOJ, James Wolfe threatened to subpoena the SSCI in his defense. The implication was that Wolfe was directed to leak the FISA by members of the committee; and/or Wolfe was operating independently but under the assumption of alignment with SSCI members who were not averse to Wolfe’s leak.
The investigation of Wolfe (October through December 2017) explains how and why the Warner text messages surfaced in Feb 2018. It’s highly likely Warner’s communication with Waldman was intercepted by FBI investigators who then questioned the Vice-Chairman about those texts. Or it’s possible/probable the FBI investigators asked Warner if he was aware of Wolfe’s leaks.
That investigative scenario prompted Senator Warner to attempt to get out in front of the story about his secret and covert communication efforts to contact and meet with Christopher Steele. Thus in February 2018 the Warner texts hit the media. The texts go from February 2017 though May 2017 [SEE HERE] and encompass the exact period when Wolfe leaked the FISA application – March 2017 (with April discussion).
As the Wolfe defense team discussions with the DOJ played out throughout the fall of 2018, there was little movement. Then came another event, the November 2018 mid-term election where Democrats took control over the House.
Meanwhile, in the lame-duck congressional period Senators on the SSCI asked the DOJ to go easy on Wolfe:
Immediately after the 2018 mid-terms DC Attorney Jessie Liu dropped most of the charges against Wolfe, and he was allowed -under a plea agreement- to plead guilty to only one count of lying to investigators.
December 11th, DOJ sentencing memo [HERE], and then a very pissed-off FBI follow-up within the DOJ response to the Defense sentencing memo [HERE] dated December 14th.
In essence, after the November election, SSCI Director Wolfe was allowed to avoid prosecution for leaking top-secret classified documents; and the bigger issue was covered-up.
DAG Rod Rosenstein was in charge; the Mueller investigation was ongoing; and DC U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu signed-off on the plea deal.