Sunday, June 02, 2019

Blumenthal… Wakey, Wakey…


Someone should nudge awake Connecticut U.S. Senators Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. The FISA warrant used to secure the services of special prosecutor Robert Mueller was defective from the get-go, we learn in a series of stunning opinion pieces in The Hill written by John Solomon. It appears there is an after-story to the Mueller investigation after all, and the second act will almost certainly disappoint the two Trump-slayers.

One of the stories’ ledes probably should garner Solomon a Pulitzer for commentary eye-candy: “The FBI’s sworn story to a federal court about its asset, Christopher Steele, is fraying faster than a $5 souvenir T-shirt bought at a tourist trap.” And the second graph might be a close runner-up: “Newly unearthed memos show a high-ranking government official who met with Steele in October 2016 determined some of the Donald Trump dirt that Steele was simultaneously digging up for the FBI and for Hillary Clinton’s campaign was inaccurate, and likely leaked to the media.”

Dates are important. Trump did not become president-elect until November 8, 2016, much to the dismay of the Friends of Hillary Clinton, Blumenthal among them.  Had Clinton defeated Trump, the “dossier” on the president might never have seen the light of day. Certainly, the dossier would not have clanged through the first two years of the Trump presidency like a warning fire bell.  

“The concerns [over the dossier] were flagged in a typed memo and in handwritten notes taken by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec on Oct. 11, 2016,” more than two months before Trump was sworn in as President, Solomon writes.

It is not improbable that worry lines appeared on the usual placid brow of Blumenthal when Trump laid his hand on the Bible and swore as President to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

A band of brothers in the Obama administration knew very early on that the misnamed Steele “dossier” – an opposition research document full of campaign dirt, the more salacious parts entirely fictional – was seriously defective as a court document intended to convince a FISA court judge.

“It is important to note,” Solomon writes, “that the FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s ‘reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings’ and the FBI has determined him to be ‘reliable’ and was ‘unaware of any derogatory information pertaining’ to their informant, who simultaneously worked for Fusion GPS, the firm paid by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign to find Russian dirt on Trump. Her [Kavalec’s] observations were recorded exactly 10 days before the FBI used Steele and his infamous dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s contacts with Russia in search of a now debunked collusion theory.”

The collusion theory was debunked, finally, by special prosecutor Robert Muller, but Muller’s mandate did not permit him to investigate the origins of what some are calling an attempted presidential coup.

If Blumenthal were operating on the Republican side of the barricades, does anyone doubt he would be overjoyed at the news that Attorney General William Barr has chosen a Connecticut prosecutor, John Durham, to investigate how a FISA court was misled by Steele and possible co-conspirators, some of them Russian from whom Steele received his mud-balls, and others – dare it be said? – clustered around Clinton’s shattered presidential attempt? Murphy, were he a Republican, would be barking at Blumenthal’s side. According to both the New York Times and the Associated Press, Durham’s probe will focus on whether the Justice Department lawfully collected intelligence on Trump campaign associates.

It’s going to be nearly impossible for Connecticut’s two US Senators to soil the reputation of Durham before he turns up some inconvenient truths about the Trump collusion prequel. Durham comes to the post highly recommended by, among others, Blumenthal. It was Blumenthal and Murphy who recommended Durham to Trump as Connecticut’s US Attorney. Blumenthal's recommendation swelled with unstinted praise: “I know John Durham well, having known and worked with him over many years. He is a no-nonsense, fierce, fair career prosecutor. He knows what it means to try some of the toughest cases against career criminals. He knows what it means to try to stop the opioid crisis in this country. He knows what organized crime does to the fabric of our society. He is exactly the kind of person we should have in this position.”

And – cherry on the cake -- Durham bagged crooked FBI agents in Boston, as well as the notorious former Governor of Connecticut John Rowland.

As Aaron once said to the Pharaoh of Egypt about Moses, “What’s not to like?”

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