House Judiciary Committee

July 25, 2019 – WSJ Editorial: What Mueller Was Trying to Hide

By Kimberly Strassel

A CSpan subtitle refers to the Mueller hearing on July 24, 2019, as an Obstruction of Justice Investigation by the House Judiciary Committee. (Credit: CSpan3)

(…) “The most notable aspect of the Mueller report was always what it omitted: the origins of this mess. Christopher Steele’s dossier was central to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe, the basis of many of the claims of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Yet the Mueller authors studiously wrote around the dossier, mentioning it only in perfunctory terms. The report ignored Mr. Steele’s paymaster, Fusion GPS, and its own ties to Russians. It also ignored Fusion’s paymaster, the Clinton campaign, and the ugly politics behind the dossier hit job.

Mr. Mueller’s testimony this week put to rest any doubt that this sheltering was deliberate. In his opening statement he declared that he would not “address questions about the opening of the FBI’s Russia investigation, which occurred months before my appointment, or matters related to the so-called Steele Dossier.” The purpose of those omissions was obvious, as those two areas go to the heart of why the nation has been forced to endure years of collusion fantasy.

Mr. Mueller claimed he couldn’t answer questions about the dossier because it “predated” his tenure and is the subject of a Justice Department investigation. These excuses are disingenuous. Nearly everything Mr. Mueller investigated predated his tenure, and there’s no reason the Justice Department probe bars Mr. Mueller from providing a straightforward, factual account of his team’s handling of the dossier.

If anything, Mr. Mueller had an obligation to answer those questions, since they go to the central failing of his own probe. As Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz asked Mr. Mueller, how could a special-counsel investigation into “Russia’s interference” have any credibility if it failed to look into whether the Steele dossier was itself disinformation from Moscow? Mr. Steele acknowledges that senior Russian officials were the source of his dossier’s claims of an “extensive conspiracy.” Given that no such conspiracy actually existed, Mr. Gaetz asked: “Did Russians really tell that to Christopher Steele, or did he just make it up and was he lying to the FBI?”

Mr. Mueller surreally responded: “As I said earlier, with regard to Steele, that is beyond my purview.”

So it went throughout the whole long day. Republicans asked basic questions about the report’s conclusions or analysis, and Mr. Mueller dodged and weaved and refused to avoid answering questions about the FBI’s legwork, the dossier’s role and Fusion’s involvement. Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot asked how the report could have neglected to mention Fusion’s ties to a Russian company and lawyer. Mr. Mueller: “Outside my purview.” California Rep. Devin Nunes asked several questions about one of the men at the epicenter of the “collusion” conspiracy—academic Joseph Mifsud, whom former FBI Director Jim Comey has tried to paint as a Russian agent. Mr. Mueller: “I am not going to speak to the series of happenings as you articulated them.”

Then again, how could he? The Mueller team, rather than question the FBI’s actions, went out of its way to build on them. That’s how we ended up with tortured plea agreements for process crimes from figures like former Trump aide George Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. They were peripheral figures in an overhyped drama, who nonetheless had to be scalped to legitimize the early actions of Mr. Comey & Co. Mr. Mueller inherited the taint, and his own efforts were further tarnished. That accounts for Mr. Mueller’s stonewalling.” (Read more: The Wall Street Journal, 7/25/2019)

July 24, 2019 – Chuck Todd calls Mueller hearing an optics disaster for Democrats

Chuck Todd says Mueller was a complete failure and Dems can’t combat Right’s propaganda machine. (Credit: NBC News)

“Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd on Wednesday called former special counsel Robert Mueller‘s testimony “a disaster” for Democrats from an optics perspective.

“On substance, the Democrats got what they wanted,” Todd noted during a panel discussion anchored by NBC’s Lester Holt.

“They got him to confirm that he didn’t make a charge because of the Justice Department memo. He confirmed that you can still indict [President Trump] on these charges after he leaves office. And he seemed to confirm the idea that under any other circumstance, he likely would have filed some charges.”

“But he provided such, what do you call it, uncomfortable clarity?” Todd continued. “As they [Democrats] were using him for clarity, he’d somehow fog it up in how he’d do certain things. So look, on optics, this was a disaster,” Todd concluded.

The sentiment echoed remarks earlier by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who called the hearing “a disaster for the Democrats” and “for the reputation of Robert Mueller” during a discussion on the network that was retweeted by Trump.” (Read more: The Hill, 7/24/2019)

June 25, 2019 – Congress issues a subpoena to Robert Mueller and he agrees to testify

Robert Mueller (Credit:Kevin Dietsch/UPI)

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify before Congress on July 17 on his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee announced Tuesday night.

In a joint statement, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said that Mueller had agreed to testify in an open session.

“Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack,” they said.

The committees issued subpoenas Tuesday to compel Mueller’s testimony, according to the joint statement. The decision to compel Mueller to testify is a landmark move that will put an end to a months-long saga on Capitol Hill where lawmakers have for weeks fought to get access to information about whether President Trump obstructed justice. (Read more: The Daily Beast, 6/25/2019)

June 24, 2019 – DOJ confirms Flynn defense team never received a transcript of Flynn/Kislyak phone call

“When General Michael Flynn entered into the seemingly coerced plea agreement with the special counsel team and prosecutor Brandon Van Grack (November 30, 2017), he gave up the right to defense discovery in his case.  In hindsight this will likely be viewed a mistake.

Lt. General Michael Flynn and his new attorney, Sidney Powell. (Credit: Megan Meneiro/Courthouse News)

(h/t Techno Fog) During a court appearance today by new attorney Ms. Sidney Powell, the topic of needing a classified security clearance -to review documents- was raised.  The DOJ responded to the assertion by saying no classified information was provided to the prior Flynn defense team, therefore Ms. Powell doesn’t need not carry that concern.

However, by admitting the DOJ provided no classified information to the defense, the prosecution is simultaneously admitting they never provided Flynn with a copy of the phone call transcript (December 29, 2016) between President-elect Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.  The content of that phone call lies at the heart of the FBI interview that took place on January 24th, 2017.

Judge Emmet Sullivan originally asked for the Flynn/Kislyak transcript; however, the prosecution said it was irrelevant to their case.  The judge accepted the non-production.

It is suspected Flynn may have been under a FISA surveillance warrant which seems confirmed by the Weissmann/Mueller report. The FBI intercepted, recorded, and later transcribed the December 29, 2016, conversation.

This is why the issue of how the FBI agents write the 302 summary of the Flynn January 24, 2017, interview becomes such an important facet.

On June 6, 2019, the DOJ released the FBI agent report (FD-302) written after their interview of Michael Flynn on Jan 24th, 2017. (Full pdf below) From prior testimony we know that FBI Agent Peter Strzok did the questioning and FBI Agent Joe Pientka took notes.

Lt. General Michael Flynn (Credit: public domain)

For some reason, within the DOJ release of the report they are continuing to redact the name Joe Pientka. [Could be due to ongoing employment]

It’s worth noting according to Mark Meadows the Office of Inspector General Michael Horowitz has interviewed Joe Pientka extensively; prior attempts by congress to gain testimony from Pientka were blocked by the FBI and Rod Rosenstein.

FBI Agent Joseph Pientka was never interviewed by the joint House judiciary and oversight committees (Goodlatte and Gowdy). The reason, as explained by Meadows, was simple; Pientka was on Weissmann and Mueller’s special counsel team. Congress was not allowed to interfere in the Mueller probe. In hindsight this looks like Weissmann, Mueller & Rosenstein strategically using the investigation as a shield from sunlight.

The interview took place on January 24, 2017. The report was written Jan 24th, 2017. The wording was then deliberated by the small group, approved by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and entered into the record on February 15th, 2017. (Read much more: Conservative Treehouse, 6/24/2019)

June 10, 2019 – DOJ outlines to Congress its investigation of the investigators

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd (Credit: Wikipedia)

“The Justice Department’s investigation of the investigators involved in the Trump-Russia probe will look at actions both by the U.S. government and by foreigners.

That’s what the agency said Monday, telling Congress its review is “broad in scope and multifaceted” in a letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.

The DOJ said the wide-ranging inquiry led by Attorney General William Barr, along with his right-hand man U.S. Attorney John Durham, would seek to “illuminate open questions regarding the activities of U.S. and foreign intelligence services as well as non-governmental organizations and individuals.”

The letter made it clear that DOJ’s review is not limited just to their specific agency, but would also scrutinize the intelligence community as a whole. The letter stated that the DOJ review team had already asked certain intelligence community agencies to preserve records, make witnesses available, and start putting together documents that the DOJ would need to carry out its inquiry.

And the DOJ made it clear that they weren’t just looking to see if policies were violated — they’ll be looking at whether any laws were broken, too.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 6/10/2019)

(…) “Following the planned release of a classified memo by Republican staffers regarding FISA warrants during the 2016 election, also dubbed the Nunes memo, Boyd wrote a letter writing that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the memo. In his letter, Boyd also asked “why the Committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the intelligence community” and went on to mention that the Justice Department was “currently unaware of any wrongdoing relating to the FISA process,” but that such allegations would be taken seriously, writing “we agree that any abuse of that system cannot be tolerated.”  President Donald Trump was reportedly furious following Boyd’s letter.  According to Bloomberg, President Donald Trump viewed Boyd’s letter as “another example of the department undermining him and blocking GOP efforts to expose the political motives behind special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe” and “intensified Trump’s concern that his own department is undercutting him”  (Wikipedia)

May 31, 2019 – Sidney Powell discusses DOJ in the Lawfare era: “guilty until proven innocent”

Not enough people understand the role of the Lawfare group in the corruption and political weaponization of the DOJ, FBI and larger intelligence community.

Benjamin Wittes (Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

What Media Matters is to corrupt left-wing media, the Lawfare group is to the corrupt DOJ and FBI.

All of the headline names around the seditious conspiracy against Donald Trump assemble within the network of the Lawfare group.

Three days after the October 21st, 2016, FISA warrant was obtained, Benjamin Wittes outlined the insurance policy approach.

FBI Director James Comey, FBI Legal Counsel James Baker, Comey memo recepient Daniel Richman, Deputy AG Sally Yates, Comey friend Benjamin Wittes, FBI lead agent Peter Strzok, FBI counsel Lisa Page, Mueller lead Andrew Weissmann and the Mueller team of lawyers, all of them -and more- are connected to the Lawfare group; and this network provides the sounding board for all of the weaponized approaches, including the various new legal theories as outlined within the Weissmann-Mueller Report.

The Lawfare continuum is very simple.  The corrupt 2015 Clinton exoneration; which became the corrupt 2016 DOJ/FBI Trump investigation; which became the corrupt 2017 DOJ/FBI Mueller probe; is currently the 2019 “impeachment” plan.  Weissmann and Mueller delivering their report evolved the plan from corrupt legal theory into corrupt political targeting.  Every phase within the continuum holds the same goal.

The current “impeachment strategy” is planned-out within the Lawfare group.

After the 2018 mid-terms, and in preparation for the “impeachment” strategy, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler hired Lawfare Group members to become committee staff. Chairman Schiff hired former SDNY U.S. Attorney Daniel Goldman (link), and Chairman Nadler hired  Obama Administration lawyer Norm Eisen and criminal defense attorney Barry Berke (link), all are within the Lawfare network.

Remember, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller didn’t come into this process as an ‘outsider’, and Mueller didn’t select his team. The corrupt Lawfare team inside government (FBI Counsel James Baker, DOJ Deputy Andrew Weissmann, FBI Deputy McCabe etc.) already knew Mueller.  The team had established personal and professional connections to Mueller, and they brought him in to lead the team.

When you realize that Robert Mueller didn’t select the team; rather the preexisting team selected their figurehead, Robert Mueller; then results make sense.  Robert Mueller can never be allowed to testify to congress because if questioned he actually has very little understanding of what took place.

A disconcerting aspect to the Lawfare dynamic is how current U.S. Attorney General William Barr has knowledge of this.  Barr knows and understands how the Lawfare network operates. Barr is from this professional neighborhood. Like Mueller, Barr also knows these people.

“As a matter of law. In other words, we didn’t agree with the legal analysis- a lot of the legal analysis in the report. It did not reflect the views of the department. It was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers.

AG BILL BARR

Under Eric Holder, Sally Yates, Loretta Lynch, Tom Perez, Robert Mueller, James Comey and Andrew McCabe, the focus of the DOJ and FBI became prismatic toward politics and tribalism.  All of the hired senior lawyers and officials had to be aligned with the political intents of the offices.

(CIA Director John Brennan brought the same political goals to an intelligence apparatus that held a preexisting disposition of alignment, see Mike Morell: “I ran the CIA now I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton.”)

Their agencies were used against their ideological enemies in large operations like Fast-n-Furious, IRS targeting, Gibson Guitar etc.  And also smaller operations: Henry Louis Gates, George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, Ferguson, Baltimore etc.  All of these activist Lawfare examples were pushed and promoted by an allied media.

Many of the ‘weaponized’ approaches use radical legal theory (ex. disparate impact), and that ties into the purposes and methods of the Lawfare Group.  The intent of Lawfare is described in the name: to use Law as a tool in Warfare.  The ideology that binds the group is the ideological outlook and purpose: using the legal system to target political opposition.

The Lawfare group ensures you have the right to remain guilty until they verify your politics and determine your alignment with the tribe.  If accepted, your disposition shifts to innocent and you receive a pass to avoid any legal jeopardy…

When special counsel Robert Mueller formally closed the Russia investigation on May 29th, he opened the door to wide-ranging speculation as to the intent behind his statement. In the eyes of Former Texas Prosecutor Sidney Powell, Mueller’s words stood the rule of law and the presumption of innocence on their heads. (Conservative Treehouse, 6/01/2019)

May 1, 2019 – Rep. Mark Meadows files a criminal referral on Nellie Ohr for possible false testimony

Nellie Ohr (Credit: public domain)

On October 19, 2018, Nellie Ohr appeared before the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as part of our joint investigation into decisions made and not made by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surrounding the 2016 presidential election. Documents and information reviewed by our committees raise concerns Ms. Ohr knowingly provided false testimony in violation of 18 U.S.C.§1001.

During her transcribed interview, Ms. Ohr testified she “would not have any knowledge of what [was] going on in an ongoing investigation” at DOJ and would not “have any knowledge of the Department of Justice’s investigations on Russia.”

Ms. Ohr also denied she shared her research on Russian organized crime and Donald Trump with individuals outside of Fusion GPS (her employer); her husband, DOJ attorney Bruce Ohr, and Christopher Steele.

However, documents reviewed by our committees raise concerns Ms. Ohr not only had knowledge of an ongoing DOJ investigation, but that she shared information and research on Russian organized crime to assist DOJ, in direct contradiction with her testimony. For example, in March 2016, DOJ official Lisa Holtyn sent Bruce Ohr an email asking if Nellie would be able to speak with Ivana Nizich and Joe Wheatley to discuss her research as part of an ongoing investigation as she was told “Nellie might be a great resource.”

When Mr. Ohr checked if Nellie would feel comfortable speaking with DOJ, Nellie emailed “Sure!”

A separate email chain indicates Ms. Ohr shared her research on Russian organized crime in contradiction to her testimony. Specifically, on a separate email chain between Nellie Ohr, Mr. Ohr, Ms. Holtyn, and DOJ officials Joe Wheatley and Ivana Nizich, Ms. Ohr provides the Department of Justice with analysis of Shakro, a Russian mafia boss, and the separatists in the Donbass war.

Taking these communications into account, in addition to other information we have reviewed, Ms. Ohr misled the committees when she testified she would not have any knowledge of what was going on in an ongoing DOJ investigation, and that she had not shared her research outside of Fusion GPS, her husband, and Christopher Steele.Truthful witness testimony is crucial to the integrity of investigations conducted by the House of Representatives. Ms. Ohr violated her oath to tell the truth by making demonstrably false statements during her testimony before the Committee. Accordingly, I am referring Nellie Ohr to the Department of Justice for investigation of potential violation(s) of 18 U.S.C.§1001 et seq. (John Solomon/Scribd, 5/1/2019)

April 16, 2019 – Senators Grassley, Graham and Johnson ask AG Barr for a classified appendix to Horowitz’s previous report re various actions by the FBI and DOJ during the Clinton email investigation

From left to right, Senators Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

“Three Senate committee chairmen are calling on the Justice Department to provide previously-sought information related to the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email server investigation. DOJ initially refused to furnish the information, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation. Following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson are renewing the request.

“Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries,” the senators wrote in an unclassified cover letter to Attorney General William Barr.

The chairmen’s request stems from a classified annex to a DOJ Inspector General report on the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business and mishandling of classified information. The unclassified portion of the report describes an FBI effort to review highly-classified material that was potentially relevant to its ongoing server investigation codenamed Midyear Exam. In May of 2016, around the same time then-FBI Director James Comey was drafting a statement exonerating Clinton, the FBI’s Midyear team wrote a memo seeking DOJ permission to review highly-classified information “necessary to complete the investigation,” according to the unclassified IG report. However, the memo was never sent to DOJ and the Midyear investigation was closed shortly thereafter. The classified annex includes additional detail about the information in question, its potential relevance to the Midyear investigation and the FBI’s justification for failing to review it.

In July of 2018, the Judiciary Committee requested a DOJ briefing to discuss questions raised by the classified annex, and followed up with a classified letter in October. However DOJ initially declined to provide the information, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation into matters related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now that the special counsel’s investigation has concluded, the chairmen are renewing their request for details on the FBI’s decision not to seek potentially-relevant information during the Midyear investigation.

Today the chairmen resubmitted the October 2018 classified letter to Attorney General Barr regarding the IG classified annex.  An unclassified cover letter accompanying the request follows:

April 16, 2019
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable William Barr
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Barr:
On October 17, 2018, the Judiciary Committee sent a classified letter to the Justice Department regarding the Inspector General’s classified appendix to its report titled, “A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election.”  As noted on page 154 of Chapter 5 of the Inspector General’s unclassified report, the classified appendix raises significant issues associated with the FBI’s failure to review certain highly classified information in support of its Midyear investigation.[1]  In particular, the Inspector General noted that it learned that the FBI acquired classified material that “may have included information potentially relevant to the Midyear investigation.”  The FBI even drafted a memorandum in May of 2016 stating that access to the information was “necessary to complete the investigation.”  However, that memorandum was never completed.  During the Inspector General’s investigation, when FBI witnesses were interviewed by the Inspector General, they took the position that the information would not materially impact the conclusion.  That explanation is inconsistent with the memorandum’s self-identified purpose and demands clarification.
Furthermore, on July 31, 2018, the Judiciary Committee requested a briefing on the steps the Department has taken, or plans to take, in light of the report’s findings.  In a subsequent phone call with Department personnel on September 17, 2018, the Department declined to brief the Judiciary Committee, asserting without any clear basis, that it would interfere with Special Counsel Mueller’s equities.  Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries.
Accordingly, we are reissuing the attached classified letter regarding the important questions raised by the appendix and reiterating our request for a classified briefing on the subject.  Please respond to these questions no later than April 26, 2019.  Should you have questions, please have your staff contact Zachary Somers of Chairman Graham’s staff at 202-224-5225, Joshua Flynn-Brown of Chairman Grassley’s staff at 202-224-4515, or Joseph Folio of Chairman Johnson’s staff at 202-224-4751.[2]
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Lindsey O. Graham
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
Charles E. Grassley
Chairman
Committee on Finance
Ron Johnson
Chairman
Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs
cc:
   The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
   The Honorable Gary C. Peters
   The Honorable Ron Wyden
-30-

[1] Unclassified Inspector General Report, p. 154.  “In addition, as we describe in the classified appendix to this report, the OIG learned near the end of our review that the FBI had considered obtaining permission from the Department to review certain classified materials that may have included information potentially relevant to the Midyear investigation.  Although the Midyear team drafted a memorandum to the Deputy Attorney General in late May 2016 stating that review of the highly classified materials was necessary to complete the investigation and requesting permission to access them, the FBI never sent this request to the Department.  FBI witnesses told us that they did not seek access to these classified materials for various reasons, including that they believed this information would not materially impact the conclusion.  The classified appendix describes in more detail the highly classified information, its potential relevance to the Midyear investigation, the FBI’s reasons for not seeking access to it, and our analysis.”
[2] Chairman Johnson joins these requests as a continuation of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s oversight of these issues.  See S. Rule XXV(k); S. Res. 445, 108th Cong. (2004); S. Res. 70, 116th Cong. § 12(e)(1)(A) ( 2019).

(Grassley/Senate, 4/16/2019)

March 24, 2019 – William Barr’s summary report and testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Trump and obstruction of justice

An excerpt from Bill Barr’s summary report, published on March 24, 2019, where he discusses Trump and obstruction of justice:

Excerpt from Barr Summary Report

On May 1, 2019, William Barr testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Cued to Barr’s testimony with Lindsey Graham regarding obstruction of justice: