Judge James E. Boasberg
August 12, 2019 – U.S. District Judge Boasberg rejects the DOJ/FBI motion to block the release of the Archey Declarations
A U.S. District Judge has rejected the DOJ and FBI motion to block the release of the Archey Declarations (descriptions of Comey memos). [Background Here]
In a strongly worded ruling (full pdf below) released moments ago, Federal Judge James Boasberg blasted the DOJ and FBI for attempting to change their filings, claim national security “sources and methods”, and block his prior court ruling – which instructed the DOJ to release the “Archey Declarations”. The judge is obviously angry:
July 29, 2019 – Former acting AG Matt Whitaker says U.S. Attorney Huber is reviewing “anything related to Comey’s memos and the like”
“Former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker appeared on Fox News to discuss the replacement of Dan Coats with John Ratcliffe as head of the ODNI, and the current status of AG Bill Barr’s ongoing reviews into prior DOJ and FBI (mis)conduct.
(…) Then comes the BOMBSHELL…. (@01:26 below) while seemingly not realizing what he just said, Whitaker outlines U.S. Attorney John Huber as reviewing “anything related to Comey’s memos and the like.” Boom… There it is.
THAT finally explains why the DOJ is fighting the release of the David Archey declarations in the FOIA lawsuit by CNN. [Listen carefully at 01:26 of the interview]
Until that obscure comment, likely a slip that not many would catch, there has been no valid explanation by the DOJ about any investigation of the Comey memos, which would also encompass the “Archey Declarations”.
If U.S. Attorney John Huber is indeed looking at those Comey memos, that would explain why the DOJ is fighting the release of the Archey Declarations in the DC Circuit Court with Judge James E Boasberg. Now it makes sense. That little obscure comment by Whitaker is a big effen’ deal.
(…) BACKSTORY – In the background of what was The Mueller Investigation, there was a FOIA case where the FBI was fighting to stop the release of the Comey memos.
Within that courtroom fight Mueller’s lead FBI agent David Archey wrote a series of declarations to the court describing the content of the memos and arguing why they should be kept classified.
The FOIA fight shifted.
The plaintiff, CNN, argued for public release of the content of the FBI agent’s descriptions, now known as the “Archey Declarations”.
After a lengthy back-and-forth legal contest, on June 7th Judge James E Boasberg agreed to allow the FBI to keep the Comey memo content hidden, but instructed the DOJ/FBI to release the content of the Archey Declarations.
On July 5th, the U.S. Department of Justice -under Attorney General Bill Barr- while waiting until the last minute (28 days since court order), filed a motion [full pdf below] to block the release of the Archey Declarations, despite the June 7th judicial order.
On July 19th, CNN filed a motion against the FBI and DOJ to force the release of the Archey Declarations (full pdf below), and enforce the order.
On July 25th, the DOJ filed a response requesting more time to reply. The DOJ is currently asking for more time, a delay until August 2nd, to file a response to a supportive motion from CNN that would force the DOJ to release the “Archey Declarations” (detailed explanations of what’s inside the Comey Memos).
The DOJ wants these declarations hidden. Now we know why.
The DOJ is requesting more time, August 2nd, 2019, to respond to the CNN motion.
CNN wants the June 7th ruling enforced and the Archey Declarations, which describe the content of the Comey memos, released.
David Archey was the FBI lead agent on Robert Mueller’s team. Archey replaced Peter Strzok when Strzok was removed. Yes, Archey’s declarations might possibly describe material evidence the DOJ are using in ongoing matters. However, THIS IS IMPORTANT– the DOJ and FBI have never made that assertion in their court arguments.
Despite the original media FOIA lawsuit coming from CNN -vs- DOJ, there is no-one in the MSM covering this story. Here is the July 5th DOJ filing:
Here’s the background on the June 7th, 2019, ruling as we shared at the time:
Judge Boasberg was deciding what could be publicly released, meaning current redactions removed, based on two connected events: (#1) The content of the Comey Memos; and (#2) the declarations of lead FBI agent for Robert Mueller’s special counsel, David Archey, in describing those memos. CNN had filed a lawsuit to gain full access.
(Note: the descriptions of the Comey memos by FBI agent David Archey are known as the “Archey Declarations” – Read Here.)
For those who may not be aware, there are so many memos (dozens) when assembled they seem to make up an actual diary of moment-by-moment events, during the FBI investigation of Donald Trump, as documented by FBI Director James Comey.
♦ In the issue of the redactions within the Comey Memos, the judge doesn’t remove them. Some are ordered to be removed, some are approved to stay in place. The Comey memo aspect, and the redaction decision, is basically a splitting of the baby 50/50. It will be interesting, but meh, maybe not too much detail. – CNN ARTICLE
The issues argued by the FBI lawyers to keep the Comey memos hidden surround sources and methods. The judge generally agreed to the potential for compromise, but also outlined several sections of redactions within the Comey memos where that argument doesn’t hold up. (The judge has read the fully unredacted memo content.)
♦ However, on the issue of the Archey Declarations there’s an opportunity for some very interesting information to surface. Here’s an example of currently existing redactions within the Archey Declarations:
July 10, 2019 – FBI’s Chris Wray is going to court to fight against the release of State Dept. official Kathleen Kavalec’s memos
“The FBI is going to court to fight the public release of a small number of documents the State Department sent to agents from Christopher Steele, the British intelligence operative and Hillary Clinton-paid political muckraker, during the 2016 election.
Normally, such Freedom of Information Act cases don’t merit public attention. This one does.
To hear the FBI tell it, the release of former Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec’s documents is tantamount to giving up the keys to President Trump’s nuclear briefcase, aiding the enemy or assisting terrorists.
“We know that terrorist organizations and other hostile or foreign intelligence groups have the capacity and ability to gather information from myriad sources, analyze it and deduce means and methods from disparate details to defeat the U.S. government’s collection efforts,” an FBI assistant section chief swore in an affidavit supporting the request to keep the documents secret.
The FBI can’t afford to “jeopardize the fragile relationships that exist between the United States and certain foreign governments,” the FBI official declared in another dramatic argument against the conservative group Citizens United’s request to release the memos.
And if that wasn’t enough, the bureau actually claimed that “FBI special agents have privacy interests from unnecessary, unofficial questioning as to the conduct of investigations and other FBI business.”
In other words, agents don’t want to have to answer to the public, which pays their salary, when questions arise about the investigative work, as has happened in the Russia case.
The FBI’s July 10 court filing speaks volumes about Director Christopher Wray’s efforts to thwart the public understanding of what really happened in the FBI’s now-debunked Russia collusion probe.
Steele’s contacts at State can’t possibly be equated to the nation’s most sensitive secrets. The same research he provided to State and the FBI in fall 2016 was being provided to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, and to the media. (Read more: The Hill, 7/30/2019)
March 28, 2019 – A Federal judge rules the DOJ must hand over Comey memos
“A federal judge ordered the FBI Thursday to turn over former Director James Comey’s memos, including the notes that he took during his infamous one-on-one meetings with President Trump.
Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of CNN, USA Today, Judicial Watch, and other outlets, telling the DOJ that it must hand over the Comey memos to the court for review and possible public release.
The memos include the notes that Comey said he leaked to the media to spark the appointment of a special counsel.
Media and watchdog groups have fought to obtain documents relating to Comey’s notes through the Freedom of Information Act since May 2017, when the existence of the Comey memos was first made public. The memos recount conversations between Comey and Trump that are hotly disputed, and the outlets argue that the public has a right to their contents.
But the DOJ has opposed their release. A significant amount of information from the Comey memos has already been made public, but other information has been redacted or otherwise concealed from public view. CNN is also fighting for access to the Justice Department’s sealed arguments explaining to the court why the DOJ is opposing the release of the memos.
(…) The Comey memos must now be turned over to the court by April 1. (Read more: Washington Examiner, 3/28/2019)
October 18, 2018 – DNI Declassifies FISA Judge James Boasberg 2018 Ruling – FBI conducts “tens of thousands” of unauthorized NSA database queries
“There is a lot to unpack in a decision today by the Director of National Intelligence to declassify (with redactions) a 2018 FISA court ruling about ongoing unauthorized database search queries by FBI agents/”contractors” in the period covering 2017/2018.
BACKGROUND: In April 2017 the DNI released a FISA report written by Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer that showed massive abuse, via unauthorized searches of the NSA database, in the period of November 2015 through May 2016. Judge Collyer’s report specifically identified search query increases tied to the 2016 presidential primary. Two years of research identified this process as the DOJ/FBI and IC using the NSA database to query information related to political candidates, specifically Donald Trump.
Now we fast-forward to Judge Boasberg in a similar review (full pdf below), looking at the time period of 2017 through March 2018.
The timing here is an important aspect.
It cannot be overemphasized as you read the Boasberg opinion, or any reporting on the Boasberg opinion, that officials within DOJ and FBI are/were on a continuum. Meaning the “small group” activity didn’t stop after the election but rather continued with the Mueller and Weissmann impeachment agenda.
Remember, the 2016 ‘insurance policy’ was to hand Mueller the 2016 FBI investigation so they could turn it into the 2017 special counsel investigation. Mueller, Weissmann and the group then used the ‘Steele Dossier’ as the cornerstone for the special counsel review. The goal of the Mueller investigation was to construct impeachment via obstruction. The same players transferred from “crossfire hurricane” into the Mueller ‘obstruction‘ plan.
Within Judge Boasberg’s review of the 2017 activity, he outlines an identical set of FISA violations from within the FBI units and “contractors” as initially outlined by Judge Collyer a year earlier. Judge Boasberg wrote his opinion in October 2018 and that opinion was declassified today (October 8th, 2019). Boasberg is reviewing 2017 through March 2018. [Main link to all legal proceedings here]
(Via Wall Street Journal) The intelligence community disclosed Tuesday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year found that the FBI’s pursuit of data about Americans ensnared in a warrantless internet-surveillance program intended to target foreign suspects may have violated the law authorizing the program, as well as the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.
The court concluded that the FBI had been improperly searching a database of raw intelligence for information on Americans—raising concerns about oversight of the program, which as a spy program operates in near-total secrecy.
(…) The court ruling identifies tens of thousands of improper searches of raw intelligence databases by the bureau in 2017 and 2018 that it deemed improper in part because they involved data related to tens of thousands of emails or telephone numbers—in one case, suggesting that the FBI was using the intelligence information to vet its personnel and cooperating sources. Federal law requires that the database only be searched by the FBI as part of seeking evidence of a crime or for foreign intelligence information.
In other cases, the court ruling reveals improper use of the database by individuals. In one case, an FBI contractor ran a query of an intelligence database—searching information on himself, other FBI personnel and his relatives, the court revealed. (more)
As with the Collyer report, I am going line-by-painstaking-line through the Boasberg report (yeah, swamped); and what is clear is that in 2017 the FBI ‘bad actors’ and ‘contractors’ were continuing to try and subvert the safeguards put into place by former NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. The 2017 non-compliance rate is similar to the 2016 review.
Judge Boasberg touches on the April 2017 Judge Collyer report. Here is the carefully worded DNI explanation of the connective tissue (emphasis mine):
(…) The FISC also concluded that the FBI’s querying and minimization procedures, as implemented, were inconsistent with Section 702 and the Fourth Amendment, in light of certain identified compliance incidents involving queries of Section 702 information.
These incidents involved instances in which personnel either misapplied or misunderstood the query standard, such that the queries were not reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information or evidence of a crime. Some of these instances involved queries concerning large numbers of individuals.
While stating that the Government had taken “constructive steps” to address the identified issues, the FISC held that these steps did not fully address the statutory and Fourth Amendment concerns raised by the compliance incidents.
(…) Additionally, the FISC considered the scope of certain new restrictions regarding “abouts” communications that were enacted in the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017. “Abouts” collection is the acquisition of communications that contain a reference to, but are not to or from, a Section 702 target. As the NSA explained in April 2017 (see NSA’s April 28, 2017 Statement), the NSA stopped acquiring any upstream internet communications that are solely “about” a foreign intelligence target and, instead, limited its Section 702 collection to only those communications that are directly “to” or “from” a foreign intelligence target.
NSA’s 2018 Targeting Procedures contained the same limitation. Although the Government did not seek to resume “abouts” collection, the FISC, with assistance from amici, reviewed whether the “abouts” restrictions applied to any other types of Section 702 acquisitions currently being conducted. While the FISC held that the “abouts” restrictions apply across Section 702 acquisitions, it found that current Section 702 acquisitions did not implicate the “abouts” restrictions. (read more)
Here is the October 2018 Boasberg Opinion:
- Andrew Weissmann
- Department of Justice
- FBI contractors
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- FISA Abuse
- FISA Report
- FISA search violations
- illegal spying
- illegal surveillance
- Judge James E. Boasberg
- Judge Rosemary Collyer
- Mueller Special Counsel Investigation
- Mueller team
- NSA database
- Obama administration
- October 2018
- Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
- Trump administration
- U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)
- unauthorized searches
August 16, 2018 – Judicial Watch releases newly uncovered Clinton emails, 5 contain classified information
“Judicial Watch today released two batches, 184 pages and 45 pages, of newly uncovered emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the U.S. Department of State sent and received over her unsecure, non-“state.gov” email system. Five emails contain classified information.
(…) “The documents are part of the accelerated schedule of production ordered by U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg, which requires the State Department to complete processing by September 28, 2018, the remaining documents of the 72,000 pages recovered by the FBI in its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s illicit email server. These new classified and other emails appear to be among those that Clinton had attempted to delete or had otherwise failed to disclose.
- On June 7, 2011, Clinton received classified information on her non-secure email account from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which Blair also forwarded to Jake Sullivan, about Blair’s Middle East negotiations with Israel, the Palestinians and the French
- On January 26, 2010, Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan sent classified information via his unsecure Blackberry to Huma Abedin’s State Department email account that he’d earlier sent to Clinton’s and Abedin’s non-secure @clintonemail.com email accounts about U.K. negotiations with Northern Ireland.
- On October 28, 2010, Clinton exchanges information with her friend Marty Torrey – a congressional aide – who asks Clinton in an email if she would advise that Torrey meet with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Clinton responds through her non-secure email account approving the meeting and notes that she is emailing him from Hanoi, Vietnam.
- An email chain dated April 8, 2010, which contains a memo from Sid Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton related to the change of government in Kyrgyzstan, contains information classified “confidential” and is redacted as “foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” Blumenthal urges Clinton to “develop relations” with the new government in Kyrgyzstan.
All of this suggests to me the necessity for the State Department to assert itself and take the lead in developing relations with the new government.
- A January 26, 2010, email to Hillary Clinton from her deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan, is classified “confidential” and contains a “call sheet” that Clinton received prior to placing a call to Northern Ireland political leaders. It appears that the redacted portions contain the names of particular members of Sinn Fein who were invited to a particular meeting and the expectations of either themselves or other foreign ministers for the outcomes of that meeting.
- A June 13, 2009, email to Clinton from Sullivan with the subject line “Northern Ireland” is classified “confidential” and nearly completely redacted. The particular subject details are unclear.
- Abedin emails Clinton about “Invites for the week” in an undated email (but apparently written before November 1, 2011, the day Clinton’s mother died, because her mother is one of the invitees – probably written in early 2009, based on the period most of these emails seem to have been written), and notes that she (Clinton) has a “George Soros lunch from 1-3 in Southampton.”
- On October 20, 2010, lawyer Lanny Davis writes Clinton an email saying, “Thank you H for who you are and what you do,” followed in the exchange by another with “PS. I swear you look younger and better every time I see you, Good night dear Hillary. Lanny.” Mr. Davis is currently a lawyer for Michael Cohen.
- In an undated email, Blumenthal emails Clinton about State Department management issues suggests that Joseph C. Wilson “should be spoken with for his view of dept, personnel…is shrewd.” Wilson is a former ambassador to Gabon who went on to become an Africa consultant and deal-maker.
“These classified Hillary Clinton emails that she tried to hide or destroy show why it is urgent that the DOJ finally undertake an honest criminal investigation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These emails show how the prior sham investigation by the Comey-Strzok-McCabe-Lynch crowd was a joke. It is past time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to order a new investigation of the Hillary Clinton email scandal.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 8/16/2018)