Yesterday I wrote about Devin Nunes and his list of referred names. For the third time, I wrote the following words:
Note that names cut off at a certain political level. Below Sally Yates at DOJ. Below Comey at FBI. Below Kerry at State.
I’ve been following Nunes pretty closely since his revelations of spying on President Trump in March 2017.
Nunes had been focused on FISA Abuse – which seemed natural given his findings.
In late May 2017, Nunes issued three subpoenas:
Three demands for documents explicitly naming three top officials of the Obama administration: Susan Rice, who served as President Obama’s White House national security adviser; former CIA Director John Brennan; and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.
The three subpoenas…were served on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency, and all three explicitly referenced “unmasking”.
At the time, I highlighted one specific detail which troubled me:
Where NSA had previously complied with the House panel’s investigators, sources said that cooperation had ground to a complete halt, and that the other agencies – FBI and CIA – had never substantively cooperated with document requests at all.
I noted the following:
I’m unsurprised by the lack of cooperation from the FBI and the CIA. I am surprised at the NSA’s recent lack of cooperation. I suspect there may be some meaningful reasons.
We have found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.
The committee has learned that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama administration.
That unnamed individual was almost certainly former UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
The Committee also understands that Obama-era officials sought the identities of Trump transition officials within intelligence reports…The Committee is left with the impression that these officials may have used this information for improper purposes, including the possibility of leaking.
More pointedly, some of the requests for unminimized U.S. person information were followed by anonymous leaks of those names to the media.
We have identified a significant issue that will require changes to federal law. Specifically, we have found that the Intelligence Community’s U.S. person unmasking policies are inadequate to prevent abuse, such as political spying.
He then stated the intent behind his letter:
I will introduce a bill to require individual, fact-based justifications for each request for U.S. person information sourced from disseminated intelligence reports.
The new law must, however, require conformity at the top levels of government. Cabinet members and other senior political leaders cannot be permitted to continue to seek access to U.S. person information within disseminated intelligence reports without documenting a specific, fact-based requirement for the information.
Nunes concluded by asking DNI Coats for his office’s technical assistance in drawing up the required legislation.
The changes Nunes referenced were addressed in the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017.
Equally interesting was the thrust of the letter. Nunes was not pursuing specific individuals – he was seeking assistance in drawing up necessary legislative changes.
I think it was around this time that something changed.
On December 28, 2017, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes sent a letter to Deputy AG Rosenstein with a deadline response of January 3, 2018.
Several weeks ago, DOJ informed the Committee that the basic investigatory documents demanded by the subpoenas…did not exist.
DOJ subsequently located and produced numerous FD-302s [Interview Summaries] pertaining to the Steele dossier thereby rendering the initial response disingenuous at best.
Not only did documents exist that were directly responsive to the Committees subpoenas, but they involved senior DOJ and FBI officials who were swiftly reassigned when their roles in matters under the Committee’s investigation were brought to light.
At this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves.
On January 3, 2018 FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy AG Rosenstein requested an emergency and unscheduled meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Several hours after the meeting, Nunes issued the following statement:
After speaking to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein this evening, I believe the House Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that will provide the committee with access to all the documents and witnesses we have requested.
Nunes was also promised access to certain individuals for interview:
You have agreed that all such witnesses – namely, former DOJ Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr; FBI Supervisory Special Agent Peter Strzok; former FBI General Counsel James Baker; FBI Attorney Lisa Page; FBI Attorney Sally Moyer; FBI Assistant Director Greg Brower; FBI Assistant Director Bill Priestap; and FBI Special Agent James Rybicki – will be made available for interviews to be conducted in January.
But then something strange happened. The interviews kept getting deferred – with Nunes quietly agreeing to the delays. Or at least not protesting.
And then. Nothing. The interviews requested by Nunes have still not taken place.
This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle.
The Memo was effective, but it hovered at a certain level, focusing primarily on the FBI and their use of the Steele Dossier. It also exposed the DNC and Clinton Campaign’s hiring of Fusion GPS. But the Nunes Memo went no higher on the political food chain.
Interestingly, the FISA Court Ruling was declassified by DNI Coats on May 11, 2017 – less than two months after Coats was confirmed by the Senate on March 15, 2017.
I’ve often wondered if Coats later regretted that particular declassification. It’s an enormous wealth of information.
If your overriding goal is preservation of the FISA Court…that document does not help your cause…
Fox Reported the following:
Chairman Devin Nunes posed a string of dossier-related questions to current and former intelligence, law enforcement and State Department officials. He specifically wants to know when they learned the document was funded by Democratic sources, and how it was used to obtain one or more surveillance warrants at the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Nunes told Fox News earlier this month that his committee would pursue “Phase 2” of the investigation.
He suggested this would include scrutinizing the State Department and other agencies.
I take some issue with the notion that Nunes suddenly shifted his focus towards the State Department. As far as I can tell, Nunes shifted his focus towards whomever had involvement in disseminating the Steele Dossier.
It appears to me that Nunes suddenly narrowed the scope of his previous investigation.
Here are the ten questions from Nunes. Decide for yourself:
- When and how did you first become aware of any of the information contained in the Steele dossier?
- In what form(s) was the information in the Steele dossier presented to you? By whom? (Please describe each instance)
- Who did you share this information with? When? In what form? (Please describe each instance)
- What official actions did you take as a result of receiving the information contained in the Steele dossier?
- Did you convene any meetings with the intelligence community and/or law enforcement communities as a result of the information contained in the Steele dossier?
- When did you first learn or come to believe that the Steele dossier was funded by a Democrat-aligned entity?
- When did you first learn or come to believe that the Steele dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and/or Hillary for America (Clinton campaign)?
- When did you first become aware that the Steele dossier was used to obtain a FISA order on Carter Page?
- Was President Obama briefed on any information contained in the dossier prior to January 5, 2017?
- Did you discuss the information contained in the Steele dossier with any reporters or other representatives of the media? If so, who and when?”
On February 25, 2018, Nunes gave an interview at CPAC. He made some notable comments:
NUNES: What was the point of our memo? The point of our memo was for one purpose only and that was to show that FISA abuse had occurred.
To have a secret court that gets abused like this is totally unacceptable.
We are not going to have a FISA court in this country any longer if the FBI and DOJ are going to continue to obfuscate like that.
SCHLAPP: After 9/11 some of these extra steps were taken to give the federal government greater powers and leeway to fight terrorism, to fight our enemies. We were told..there would be so many safeguards.
NUNES: Let’s make one thing clear, our ability to track down terrorists and bring them to justice is critically important – and so is this court.
There is going to have to be an investigation done by somebody over the DOJ and FBI who can look at it all.
In that investigation they are going to have to determine whether or not there was abuse, whether or not the law needs to be changed, and also holding people accountable that did this abuse.
A bit later in the interview:
SCHLAPP: Is it fair to ask what did Obama know? When was he briefed? Were they briefing him after the fact? Were they told to do things because they got direction from the White House?
NUNES: We need to know all of the officials, at the time, when they knew about this.
We have to make sure people are held accountable, so that everyone knows that it’s never going to be ok to take dirt from a foreign actor, that was essentially made up out of whole cloth, and then use it against the other campaign.
No matter whose campaign that is. We just can’t allow that to happen again.
At the time, I took these comments to indicate Nunes was going after everyone. With hindsight, I think this was mistaken.
Nunes was highlighting the importance of the FISA Court above all else. It seems his goal was threefold:
- Preserve the FISA Court & Section 702 Surveillance
- Hold some people accountable
- Ensure this does not happen in the foreseeable future
On March 7, 2018, Nunes did an interview with Mark Levin. I’m going to quote directly from my article:
NUNES: One of the problems I’ve had through all of this situation is the FISA Court is used to track Bad Guys. Terrorists – looking to steal secrets from the United States – working with other bad regimes around the world. But in this case, to open a Counterintelligence Investigation into a campaign, into politics, is not what the FISA Court should be used for.
It has to be at the highest levels of the government to approve a Counterintelligence Investigation on an American citizen. FBI Director, Deputy FBI Director, Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and the Head of the National Security Division.
LEVIN: Do we know if the Presidential Daily Briefing included this information?
NUNES: In the Presidential Daily Briefing there would have been nothing. There was no intelligence out there at all…None of that existed…But the fact of the investigation, that’s another question that we still don’t have the answers to.
LEVIN: Is it because the Executive Branch won’t let you look at the Presidential Daily Intelligence Briefings.
Here it gets interesting. Nunes sidesteps completely.
NUNES: Right now we have out a questionnaire that we’re waiting for the answers on…We’re asking those very questions: When did you know the Dossier was funded by the Democratic Party. Did you brief President Obama.
Note that Nunes didn’t answer the actual question. He jumps to his 10 Questions. Nunes doesn’t answer for a reason.
At the time I thought the reason was simple. Nunes didn’t want to reveal investigations already underway. But I went back and watched the video segments. Each and every time Obama was mentioned, Nunes sidestepped by bringing up a lower-level name.
Every. Single. Time.
It isn’t my intention to denigrate Nunes. I have great respect for his efforts in the face of extreme political pressure.
But I think he may represent a journey – a man coming to grips with certain ugly political realities. A recognition that the Swamp is indeed deep – and treacherous.
I recently wrote about Nunes and his List – Devin Nunes, His Growing List of Names & Victoria Nuland.
As I was writing, I was struck at how Nunes was going about his investigation – who he was pursuing and how high. It suddenly seemed obvious. Nunes understood – and has for some time – exactly how far he can take this.
It seems increasingly clear that preservation of the FISA Court is paramount. It also seems the Intelligence Community & Other Players have cloaked themselves within the FISA Court as a manner of protection (Sundance touches on that here and here).
Consider all the election aspects and events the FISA Court and FISA Abuse touches.
I understand the importance of the FISA Court. I also understand how easy it is to abuse.
But more importantly, I understand and appreciate the importance of Symbols.
I recently wrote an article that got a bit of attention – A Strange & Unsettling Day.
I kept seeing the same responses. People calling for some semblance of justice – coupled with resigned expectations that, as usual, nothing will be done.
For me personally, this isn’t about a simple desire for political revenge.
What resonates is the importance of showing everyday Americans they matter. That America has one system of Justice. That we are not a nation of Political Castes.
That an unjust system can be fixed – or at least addressed.
I feel that we have come to a crossroads of sorts.
We are being “pushed” to give up Rule of Law in exchange for a Tool of Law. There are times I might accept this trade.
This doesn’t feel like one of those times.
President Trump sure noticed what’s going on:
Wow! The NSA has deleted 685 million phone calls and text messages. Privacy violations? They blame technical irregularities. Such a disgrace. The Witch Hunt continues!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
As have many others.
The Conservative Treehouse posted a piece today:
Over 640,000 people have read the IG report from our SCRIBD link alone. Tens of millions more have likely read parts or the majority from other links to the report. In essence, unlike all prior aspects of the government hiding material, a much larger percentage of the American population is currently awake and holding direct knowledge of what has taken place.
Why is this important? There are lots of reasons, but two are paramount:
#1) You are not alone. Despite, and much to the anxiety of, the U.S. media – information is getting out. People are awake. Tens of millions of American voters are holding a purposeful ‘cold anger‘. We are in the majority; continue sharing your knowledge with your friends, family and co-workers.
Deliberate intent and prudence ensures we avoid failure. The course, is thoughtful vigilance; it’s a strategy devoid of emotion. The media can call us anything they want, it really doesn’t matter…. we’re far beyond that
#2) The institutions of government rely on control to retain corrupt enterprise. Each person who engages themselves in understanding the truth of what is behind events removes control capability from the institution. It then becomes important for the office of the president to see that people have this understanding. Let your elected officials know that you know what is going on.
When I first began to grasp what was transpiring I was quietly stunned. But then I began to grow angry. And determined.
We always knew this would be a tough fight – a long and uphill battle.
The entrenched Swamp Denizens in Washington have nothing to lose. Actually, that’s not true. They have everything to lose.
Let’s help them lose it all.
Here’s the full list of individuals referred to Gowdy & Goodlatte’s joint task force – the Committees on Oversight & Government Reform and the Judiciary – for open-setting interviews. As Nunes noted, this list is expected to grow.
Names have been added to A Listing of Participants.
- Trisha Anderson – DOJ lawyer – Adviser in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, was previously an attorney at Attorney General Eric Holder’s former firm, Covington & Burling.
- James Baker – Former FBI General Counsel – demoted and reassigned on December 20, 2017. Working member of “Insurance Policy” group. Senior-most legal counsel at FBI.
- Gregory Brower – Former FBI Congressional Liaison. Assistant Director for the Office of Congressional Affairs. Resigned suddenly on March 30, 2018.
- John Carlin – Former Assistant Attorney General – Head of DOJ’s National Security Division – announced resignation on September 27, 2016 after filing the Government’s proposed 2016 Section 702 certifications on September 26, 2016. The filing does not disclose known FISA Abuses.
- Kevin Clinesmith – FBI lawyer. Outed as “FBI Attorney 2” on Mueller Team. Removed by IG/Mueller.
- Tashina Gauhar – DOJ official. Deputy Assistant Attorney General. National Security Division. FISA lawyer. Appears in Strzok Texts as “Tash”.
- David Laufman – DOJ National Security Division, Former Deputy Asst. Attorney General in charge of counterintelligence – resigned on February 7, 2018. Laufman “played a leading role in the Clinton email server and Russian hacking investigations.”
- Andrew McCabe – Former Deputy FBI Director – on December 23, 2017 announced retirement effective March 22, 2018. Forced to resign active position on January 29, 2018. Fired on March 16, 2018. Involved in all aspects. Subject of IG Report
- Mary McCord – Former Acting Assistant Attorney General – Acting Head of DOJ’s National Security Division (replacing John Carlin) – announced resignation on April 17, 2017 – Left on May 11, 2017. Complicit in Flynn Surveillance and surveillance of Trump Campaign.
- Jonathan Moffa – FBI official. Copied on Comey’s Draft Statement exonerating Clinton of Email Scandal. Mentioned in Strzok/Page texts. Surprisingly hard to find any information on Moffa.
- Sally Moyer – FBI lawyer. Outed as “FBI Attorney 1” on Mueller Team.
- Bruce Ohr – Former Associate Deputy Attorney General – demoted twice. Stripped of Associate Deputy Attorney General title on December 6, 2017. Removed as head of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force January 8, 2018. Unofficial liaison between Fusion GPS and FBI/DOJ. Wife worked at Fusion. Long-standing ties to both Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson/Fusion GPS.
- Lisa Page – Former FBI/DOJ Lawyer – forced off Mueller’s team – demoted August 16, 2017. IG Horowitz discovered texts July 27, 2017. Working member of “Insurance Policy” group. Page resigned/fired May 4, 2018.
- Joseph Pientka – FBI Agent – Counterintelligence Division. Pientka potentially identified by Grassley as second FBI Agent (Strzok the other) present at Flynn Interview.
- E.W. “Bill” Priestap – Assistant Director – Head of FBI Counterintelligence – Holds same position. Strzok’s boss – reported directly to McCabe. More here, here and here.
- Peter Strzok – Deputy Assistant Director of FBI’s Counterintelligence – forced off Mueller’s team – demoted August 16, 2017 to FBI’s Human Resources. IG Horowitz discovered texts July 27, 2017. Strzok involved in all facets of Clinton exoneration. Working member of “Insurance Policy” group.
- George Toscas – Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division. Toscas contacted by NY Prosecutors (possibly Preet Bharara) about Weiner investigation re: HRC/Huma emails on Weiner computer. Toscas contacts FBI, forcing McCabe to tell Comey of emails.
Newly Added Names:
- Elizabeth Dribble – Chargé d’affaires & former Deputy Chief of the Mission in London – received tip on Papadopoulos via Downer (h/t @JohnWHuber).
- Jonathan Finer – Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning for former Secretary John Kerry.
- Colin Kahl – National Security Advisor to former VP Biden and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East.
- Kathleen Kavalec – Deputy Assistant Secretary – Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Served under Nuland.
- Lewis Lukens – Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in London – also likely involved in Downer interactions.
- Shailagh Murray – Assistant to Obama and Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications.
- Victoria Nuland – former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at State Department. Gave permission for FBI Agent Michael Gaeta to meet with Christopher Steele in London. Received abbreviated copy of Steele Dossier directly from Steele in mid-July 2016 (see here).
- Jake Sullivan – Senior Policy Advisor to Clinton Campaign – expertise in foreign policy. Along with Jennifer Palmieri, Sullivan took the lead in briefing the press on the Trump-Russia collusion story.
- Thomas Williams – Deputy Chief of Mission – State Department.
- Jonathan Winer – Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Law Enforcement and former Special Envoy for Libya. Received copy of Shadow Dossier from Blumenthal. Also received copy of Steele Dossier in September 2016. Has known Steele for some years.