obstruction of justice

May 23, 2019 – Trump’s declassification orders gives Barr sweeping authority to declassify and unredact several of Clinton’s still secret communications

A 2017 cartoon symbolic to the popularly held belief that the FBI was ‘With Her’ throughout the 2016 election. (Credit: Branco/Comically Incorrect.com)

(…) “White House lawyers wrote the May 23 order in a way that delegates sweeping authority to Barr to declassify or un-redact documents covering both 2016 presidential investigations. This is key, because the same former Justice Department and FBI officials who led the Russia “collusion” investigation also headed the Clinton inquiry.

Under the order, these and other agencies will finally have to cough up key classified documents — including summaries of suspect and witness interviews, confidential source reports, transcripts of covert recordings and other investigative records — that they’ve withheld from congressional Republicans investigating whether the former administration misused its spying powers to monitor Trump and his aides. In addition, they’ll have to loosen their grip on secret papers related to the probe of Clinton’s illicit server.

One of these undisclosed papers remains so secret that Justice’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz was barred from discussing it in his 500-plus-page report on the FBI’s investigation of Clinton. “The information was classified at such a high level by the intelligence community that it limited even the members [of Congress] who can see it, as well as the staffs,” he said.

The documents are said to implicate the Clinton campaign and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a secret deal to fix the Clinton email investigation.

In his memoir, former FBI Director James Comey says he worried Lynch might be viewed as “politically compromised” if the secret information leaked, especially after the public found out she privately met with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac just days before the FBI interviewed his wife in July 2016.

In recent closed-door House testimony, Lynch said she received a “defensive briefing” from the FBI on the potentially incriminating material in late summer 2016, but claimed it told her it couldn’t verify the information and didn’t think it “worthy of investigation.”

The FBI has been sitting on the documents — which I’m told are classified Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, meaning they can only be viewed in a secure room known as a SCIF — since March 2016.

The CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence also have copies and are keeping them under tight seal. (ODNI is the intelligence hub through which all requests and approvals for declassification normally flow.) Horowitz said they told him they need to protect “sources and methods” — an excuse the agencies too often hide behind when they don’t want to release embarrassing or potentially incriminating information.

But Trump’s order gives Barr unilateral authority to declassify any information classified under Obama’s Executive Order 13526, including “intelligence sources or methods.”

Count on Barr also freeing up a highly classified May 2016 memo drafted by Clinton investigators for higher-ups at Justice’s National Security Division. At the time, agents sought access to a still-secret intelligence report that a foreign government (reportedly China) penetrated Clinton’s unsecured private server and exfiltrated classified emails. They needed to explore the issue to complete their investigation, since cyber-espionage was relevant to their probe.

But this was the same month Comey began drafting his statement exonerating Clinton, so the memo was never sent. And the breach was never fully investigated. “The FBI left a potential mountain of evidence unreviewed,” former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said.

In August 2015, the Intelligence Community’s IG first alerted then-FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok to an “anomaly” related to the foreign intrusion on Clinton’s emails going through her server. Strzok’s notes from their meeting have suddenly turned up “missing,” or at least that’s what the FBI is telling the watchdog group Judicial Watch after it FOIA’d them.” (Read more: IssuesInsights, 8/09/2019)

July 13, 2018 – Lisa Page admits Obama DOJ ordered stand-down on Clinton email prosecution

“Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page admitted under questioning from Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe last summer that “the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information,” the congressman alleged in a social media post late Tuesday, citing a newly unearthed transcript of Page’s closed-door testimony.

(Credit: Twitter)

Page and since-fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who were romantically involved, exchanged numerous anti-Trump text messages in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, and Republicans have long accused the bureau of political bias. But Page’s testimony was perhaps the most salient evidence yet that the Justice Department improperly interfered with the FBI’s supposedly independent conclusions on Clinton’s criminal culpability, Ratcliffe alleged.

“So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory,” Ratcliffe began as he questioned Page under oath, according to a transcript excerpt he posted on Twitter. “But when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —”

Page interrupted: “That is correct,” as Ratcliffe finished his sentence, ” — bring a case based on that.” (Read more: Fox News, 3/13/2019)

May 1, 2018 – House GOP chair calls for investigation into FBI’s Clinton Foundation probe

Bob Goodlatte (Credit: Bill O’Leary/ Washington Post/Getty Images)

“Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday raising issues related to some of the claims laid out by a scathing inspector general report on Andrew McCabe, the fired FBI deputy director.

“I have serious concerns that the Department, during the Obama Administration, attempted to obstruct justice by attempting to inappropriately terminate an FBI investigation on the Clinton Foundation,” Goodlatte wrote. “Under the facts laid out by the DOJ Inspector General (IG), it is shocking to hear that the Obama Department of Justice may have allowed politics to dictate what cases should or should not be pursued.”

The IG report, released last month, concluded that McCabe made leaks to the media that were designed to combat the perception that he had a conflict of interest in overseeing dual FBI investigations related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including one related to the Clinton Foundation and another related to her use of a private email server.

McCabe’s disclosure recounted his version of a conversation with a DOJ official about the investigation, in which McCabe says he pushed back on concerns about FBI agents taking “overt steps” during the presidential campaign.

The Wall Street Journal reported that “a senior Justice Department official called Mr. McCabe to voice his displeasure at finding that New York FBI agents were still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe during the election season. … The Justice Department official was ‘very pissed off,’ according to one person close to McCabe, and pressed him to explain why the FBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant.”

Goodlatte and other Republicans have seized on the findings in the report, saying it shows that the Obama-era DOJ, led by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, may have been putting pressure on the bureau to end the Clinton probes.” (Read more: The Hill, 5/01/2018)

January 23, 2018 – Biden tells the Council on Foreign Relations he threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid from Ukraine if they didn’t fire a top prosecutor investigating his son’s firm

TRANSCRIPT:

HAASS: Before I call—I just want to put one other issue on the floor before I get another question or two, which is Ukraine. This administration, unlike the administration you worked in, decided to provide limited defense articles to Ukraine. Do you think that was a wise decision? And more broadly, do you see any scope for any sort of a deal on eastern Ukraine?

BIDEN: The answer is yes, I think it was a wise decision. But then again, I was pushing that for two years before we left, so. And the reason is I think the more you up the ante, the cost to Russia for their aggression—I mean, as you all know, and you know this better than anybody, you know, the one big lie going on about Ukraine back in—and the rest of Russia is that no Russian soldiers are engaged. They’re not dying. No body bags are coming home, et cetera. Because there’s overwhelming opposition on the part of the body politic in Russia for engagement in Ukraine in a military sense.

Do I think they’re—I think the Donbas has potential to be able to be solved, but it takes two things. One of those things is missing now. And that is I’m desperately concerned about the backsliding on the part of Kiev in terms of corruption. They made—I mean, I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.

So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Well, there’s still—so they made some genuine substantial changes institutionally and with people. But one of the three institutions, there’s now some backsliding.

HAASS: The courts.

BIDEN: They’re—and the—yes. And they had made that commitment that they wouldn’t do that.

(Council of Foreign Relations, 1/23/2018)

May 10-17, 2017: Former top FBI lawyer, James Baker, details 2 Trump Cabinet officials are ‘ready to support’ 25th Amendment effort to remove Trump from office

“Former top FBI lawyer James Baker, in closed-door testimony to Congress, detailed alleged discussions among senior officials at the Justice Department about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office, claiming he was told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said two Trump Cabinet officials were “ready to support” such an effort.

Andrew McCabe (l) and Donald Trump (Credit: Associated Press/Getty Images)

(…) Baker did not identify the two Cabinet officials. But in his testimony, the lawyer said McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page came to him to relay their conversations with Rosenstein, including discussions of the 25th Amendment.

“I was being told by some combination of Andy McCabe and Lisa Page, that, in a conversation with the Deputy Attorney General, he had stated that he — this was what was related to me — that he had at least two members of the president’s Cabinet who were ready to support, I guess you would call it, an action under the 25th Amendment,” Baker told the committees.

The 25th Amendment provides a mechanism for removing a sitting president from office. One way that could happen is if a majority of the president’s Cabinet says the president is incapable of discharging his duties.

Rosenstein, who still works at the Justice Department but who is expected to exit in the near future, has denied the claims since they first surfaced in the media last year.

Fox News requested further comment from the parties involved. Lawyers for Baker and McCabe declined comment, as did an FBI spokesperson.

Former AG Jeff Sessions stands between former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe at a press conference on October 10, 2018. (Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(…) In his testimony, Baker said of McCabe’s state of mind: “At this point in time, Andy was unbelievably focused and unbelievably confident and squared away. I don’t know how to describe it other than I was extremely proud to be around him at that point in time because I thought he was doing an excellent job at maintaining focus and dealing with a very uncertain and difficult situation. So I think he was in a good state of mind at this point in time.”

(…) During his testimony, Baker acknowledged he was not directly involved in the May 2017 discussions but testified over a two-day period in October that McCabe and Page came to him contemporaneously after meeting with Rosenstein for input in the days after Comey was fired by the president.

(…) As Fox News has previously reported, the eight days in May 2017 between Comey’s firing and appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller were seen as a major turning point in the Russia probe, which has also involved examining whether the president obstructed justice.

“I had the impression that the deputy attorney general had already discussed this with two members in the president’s Cabinet and that they were…onboard with this concept already,” Baker said.

During the closed-door hearing, the former FBI lawyer told lawmakers he could not say whether Rosenstein was taking the initiative to seek out Cabinet members:

(…) Baker also said he did not know the names of the two Cabinet officials.

“Lisa and Andy did not tell me, and my impression was they didn’t know themselves,” he said.

But when the New York Times broke the story in September, it reported that Rosenstein told McCabe he might be able to persuade then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Secretary of Homeland Security and later White House chief of staff John Kelly to invoke the 25th Amendment.” (Read more: Fox News, 2/17/2019)

November 6, 2016 – Peter Strzok sends an email to FBI and DoJ officials claiming no new classified Clinton emails are found on Weiner’s laptop

(…) “The lawsuit also forced the release of a November 6, 2016, email by then-FBI official Peter Strzok telling Bowdich, Priestap, Rybicki, Page, former FBI General Counsel James Baker and others: “[Redacted], Jon and I completed our review of all of the potential HRC work emails on the [Anthony Weiner] laptop. We found no previously unknown, potentially classified emails on the media.”

As Judicial Watch previously reported, there were at least 18 classified emails found on the Weiner laptop by the FBI. Paul Sperry’s RealClear Investigations report revealed that only 3,077 of the 340,000 emails “were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information.” (Judicial Watch, 2/11/2019)