Presidents deserve the advisers they choose absent significant cause. In the case of Joe Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, one question to ask is how honest she was about her role in snooping on Michael Flynn.
In late 2016 Mr. Flynn was the incoming national security adviser for Donald Trump. Mr. Flynn’s conversation with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. was recorded by U.S. spooks, and his name leaked after being “unmasked” by several figures in the Obama Administration. Who did the leaking—a felony—has never been solved. But the leak fed the media fires over Mr. Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russians, and Mr. Flynn was unjustly prosecuted.
At the time Ms. Power was U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. She was a political appointee and not an intelligence professional. Yet Congress looked into it and found that over her last year in office Ms. Power had unmasked nearly 300 people, without any concrete explanation of why she needed this information.
During an Oct. 13, 2017, appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) asked her directly about the unmasking and leaking of Gen. Flynn’s name. “I did want to get you on the record,” he told her. Ms. Power categorically denied she leaked his name—or any classified information.
She was fuzzier about unmasking. “I have no recollection of making a request related to General Flynn,” she replied. Then again, maybe she had reason to be fuzzy.
Three years later, in May 2020, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson released a declassified list of Obama Administration officials who had “unmasked” Mr. Flynn. The list showed that between Nov. 30, 2016, and Jan. 17, 2017, 39 separate officials made unmasking demands for that information. Ms. Power made seven requests.
Ms. Power did this in her last days in office. Before the Senate confirms her for a job that Mr. Biden says will include a seat on the National Security Council, she owes the American people a full explanation of what she did during the last presidential transition.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday released interview transcripts from an inquiry into the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, claiming the documents show incompetence and corruption at the heart of the investigation.
Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, released hundreds of pages of transcripts from the committee’s inquiry into the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane probe, saying in a statement that he believes the effort “was one of the most incompetent and corrupt investigations in the history of the FBI and DOJ.”
The transcripts come from 11 closed-door hearings that the Graham-led committee carried out between March and October of 2020, including interviews with Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI officials.
One of the transcripts relates to an interview with an unnamed FBI agent who once headed one of the FBI’s field office’s investigations into Russian organized crime and later became British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s primary contact and handler. The transcript shows the agent believed that Steele’s infamous dossier, which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was “political.”
“I mean, it was obvious,” the FBI agent said when asked whether he believed the dossier was political in nature.
“It was completely obvious to all of us, whoever was involved in these conversations, what the purpose was of the information was—to be used by one political party or another,” the agent said.
He was asked whether concerns were raised about whether the dossier may have been tainted by Russian disinformation.
“That’s always a concern, particularly dealing in that universe,” he said, adding that he had no knowledge of how the Crossfire Hurricane team was corroborating the information in the dossier.
According to earlier reporting by The Epoch Times, the FBI relied heavily on news articles and open sources in its efforts to corroborate claims in the Steele dossier.
The agent insisted that “in no way, shape, or form” were any of his decisions relating to Steele or the connections he made between Steele and the Crossfire Hurricane team political, adding that he had not seen any evidence that political bias impacted the Trump-Russia probe.
While he said he couldn’t “speak to the purpose of the investigation,” he said he had seen no evidence suggesting that the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was part of a campaign to damage President Donald Trump politically or that the FBI “waged a coup against President Trump.”
In a report released in December 2019 (pdf), Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the FBI had sufficient cause to justify opening the probe and he did not find evidence of political bias in the agency’s decision to launch the investigation.
“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced” the decision to open the Crossfire Hurricane probe, the report says. “We found that Crossfire Hurricane was opened for an authorized investigative purpose and with sufficient factual predication,” it added.
At the same time, Horowitz found “at least 17 significant errors and omissions” in the FBI’s case for surveilling former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Although Horowitz said in the report that his team didn’t find evidence of intentional misconduct on the part of case agents who applied for the surveillance warrants, “we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or problems we identified.”
While Horowitz found that Steele’s questionable dossier played a “central and essential role in the decision to seek a FISA application for Carter Page,” he also said his investigative team found the dossier “played no role” in launching the Crossfire Hurricane probe.
Following the release of Horowitz’s report, then-Attorney General William Barr disputed his findings that the investigation was properly predicated, as did U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been appointed as a special counsel to pursue a separate investigation into whether Crossfire Hurricane was launched correctly and lawfully.
Graham criticized the leadership of the FBI under former Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, arguing it was “either grossly incompetent” or said “they knowingly allowed tremendous misdeeds.”
“There was a blind eye turned toward any explanation other than the Trump campaign was colluding with foreign powers,” Graham said. “At every turn the FBI and DOJ ran stop signs that were in abundance regarding exculpatory information.”
Graham contended the Crossfire Hurricane “investigation was pushed when it should have been stopped and the only logical explanation is that the investigators wanted an outcome because of their bias.”
Comey and McCabe have repeatedly rejected the allegations that the Crossfire Hurricane probe was improperly predicated, although McCabe acknowledged “unacceptable” failures in surveillance warrant applications and Comey admitted to “real sloppiness” in the conduct of the probe.
The South Carolina senator said he would continue to push for reforms of counterintelligence investigations and warrant applications, and said he hopes for bipartisan backing on these matters. He also urged FBI Director Christopher Wray to “continue the reforms he has started.”
“It is hard to believe that something like Crossfire Hurricane could have happened in America,” Graham said. “The bottom line is that going forward we must have more checks and balances when it comes to political investigations. We must have more meaningful sign-offs on warrant applications, and we need to restore the trust to the American people in this system.”
The Crossfire Hurricane probe, which morphed into former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the results of the 2016 election.
My thanks to all “never Trumpers” and those righteous ideologues for helping move America to a more reasonable, rational and balanced political landscape. mrossol
By The Editorial Board. WSJ. Jan. 14, 2021 6:34 pm ET
After impeaching Donald Trump again, what do Democrats want to do with their new dominance of Washington? It’s revealing that Speaker Nancy’s Pelosi’s first legislative priority is cementing Democratic political power.
Last week House Democrats reintroduced as H.R.1 a voting and campaign-finance bill that would grease the Democratic voting machine nationwide and restrict political opposition. They also introduced a bill to provide statehood for the District of Columbia that would guarantee Democrats two new Senate seats.
H.R.1 imposes California-style election rules nationwide. The bill requires every state to register voters based on names in state and federal databases—such as anyone receiving food stamps or who interacts with a state DMV. It mandates same-day and online voter registration, expands mail and early voting, and limits states’ ability to remove voters from rolls. Overall the bill is designed to auto-enroll likely Democratic voters, enhance Democratic turnout, with no concern for ballot integrity.
The bill also strips state legislatures of their role in drawing congressional districts, replacing them with commissions that are ostensibly independent. In practice commissions have turned out mostly to favor Democrats, as in New Jersey and California. If states want such commissions, so be it. But this is an attempt to impose one Pelosi standard from coast to coast.
H.R.1’s campaign-finance provisions would also limit the political speech of conservatives and Republicans. The bill requires some nonprofits to disclose publicly the names of donors who give more than $10,000, even if those groups aren’t taking part in candidate elections. The left’s pressure groups and media will then stigmatize donors. The bill also raises disclosure requirements for political ads on radio and TV, requiring the head of an organization to approve messages and list the group’s top donors by name.
It also imposes new disclosure and reporting requirements on online platforms that run paid political advertising, some of which go beyond or are at variance with standards placed on radio or TV ads. And the bill restructures the Federal Election Commission from a split of three Democratic and three Republican commissioners to two each plus an “independent.” That deciding vote will almost always vote left given the Beltway’s political and media balance of power.
As for D.C. statehood, the U.S. hasn’t admitted new states since 1959, and the admission of Hawaii and Alaska that year was designed to balance what was at the time one new Republican-leaning state with one Democratic state. The D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood movements are naked attempts to enlarge the Democrats’ Senate majority. It isn’t even clear D.C. can be admitted without a constitutional amendment, given that the Founders created a federally controlled district in the seat of U.S. government to maintain federal sovereignty.
The GOP Senate blocked H.R.1 in the last Congress, but Joe Biden has endorsed many of its principles and all that stands in its way now is the Senate legislative filibuster. The progressive goal is to use the narrow Democratic majority to consolidate a permanent one.
Yes. If the Democrats are so confident of their victory, they would/should welcome recounts or anything that will re-assure Americans that this was, indeed, a fair election. “They’re not behaving as if they are the confident winner.” mrossol
California Rep. Devin Nunes says presidential candidate Joe Biden should be “siding with President Trump” and welcoming recounts of the 2020 election votes in an effort to make sure that every vote was legal.
Speaking on The Epoch Times “American Thought Leaders” program with Jan Jekielek, Nunes also said there was a “false media narrative that’s been created to move us past the election” and that it is critical the results are certified to make sure that there was a free and fair election.
“The first I have is that in any contested election, and in this case, there’s multiple states that are within just a sliver of flipping one way or the other. So we never call local city council races that are this close, we never call members of Congress that are this close,” Congressman Nunes said.
“In fact, we’ve got five or six right now that are still too close to be called. Some are already in a recount.
“So that’s what I think, there’s a false media narrative, that’s been created to move us past the election, it started essentially election night. And I mean, they were ready to call Biden the winner election night, even though he was behind in, you know, six or seven states that he’s now pulled ahead in.
“So it’s critically important that we make sure that all of these elections are certified and that the American people have confidence in the integrity of our election systems. Without that, begins a type of collapse that people’s confidence that we’re already seeing across government, whether it’s with the Department of Justice, or the FBI, etc, etc. So I don’t think that any of this is done. It’s obviously, Biden’s ahead in all of these states. So he’s in the pole position, but we need to make sure that there was a free and fair election here.”
The Trump campaign has claimed that ballots arriving after Election Day were illegally counted and has launched a number of legal challenges into alleged widespread electoral fraud in key states.
Congressman Nunes noted that Biden should be “siding with President Trump” and welcoming voting recounts in an effort to make sure that every one was legal.
“Biden should welcome recounts, this guy is limping into office, not going to have control the Senate most likely, on the verge of losing the House,” Nunes said.
“And why would you not want to get out there? He should be siding with President Trump and saying, ‘look, I want to make sure that every vote was legal, and that all this was above board.’ If not, you’re going to have people that aren’t going to accept that he’s a legitimate president.”
He noted that Trump himself had for five years been the subject of a “Russia hoax” from “the left and the media” alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped to secure his presidency and said that it was “ironic” for those very same people to not want to ensure that Biden is the legitimate president.
“If I was in a close election, or any of my colleagues would do, none of us would want to come into office thinking that we didn’t really win. It’s why, if we have close elections, we support recounts, we ensure that Republicans and Democrats are monitoring the recounts, we ensure that everybody that voted is somebody that actually lived in the district and, and lived in the state, whatever it may be, and was actually a registered voter and didn’t vote any more than one time.”
Nunes also noted concerns over the number of dead people who had allegedly voted, adding, “I’m not saying there was enough dead people that voted that turned the election, but somebody’s got to answer that,” before encouraging anyone with first-hand knowledge of such votes to come forward.
Congressman Nunes also noted that Biden and his team are “putting on a facade that they’ve won” but are failing to act “like people who just won an election.”
“It’s very, very strange, if you just if you look at the Democrats that we’re working with, we’re here in Washington back here this week after the election. These are essentially people that aren’t acting very confident. And when you start to look at changing rules, like you mentioned in Wisconsin, that’s a red flag. Why would you need to change any rules? Why would you be moving quickly to call these elections?
“If you look at what happened in Michigan, in Wayne County, you had what appeared to be the doxxing of two Republicans that were on the Election Commission. Well, certainly not the thoughts and the actions of people that are confident in their victory.”