Sunday, March 18, 2018

Russiagate: McCabe Firing Reverberates

A lot of reactions to the McCabe firing. We'll give the first to President Donald Trump:

Not too bad; a little too triumphant, it should be more in sorrow than in hate, but at least it doesn't cast aspersions on the "working class" of the FBI.

Don Surber: McCabe fired
Under McCabe's former boss, Jim Comey, the FBI aided and abetted Missus Clinton's criminal neglect of national security by making state secrets available to any hacker who could get into her unsecured private server.

The swamp is real, the media's attempts to cover-up these crimes is pathetic.
Roger L. Simon:  The Reckoning of the FBI Has Begun
From the FBI and across the intelligence agencies an astonishing number of people are going to find themselves accused, one can safely predict at this point, of some atrocious behavior in a free republic. And it will not just be the small change of Peter Strzok (the dimwitted director of counter-intelligence) and his gal pal Lisa Page. It will include—on one level or another—James Comey, Loretta Lynch, John Brennan, James Clapper, Susan Rice and, almost inevitably, Barack Obama, not to mention others known and unknown.

All these people's reputations will be damaged forever for the pathetic purpose of getting Hillary Clinton elected president and later for their determination to manipulate the FBI and intelligence agencies to wound as severely as possible Trump's presidency. That they didn't stop to think that they might be wounding America at the same time is extraordinarily selfish and nauseating.

Further, that a Russia collusion investigation was employed by these people for their nefarious purposes is darkly ironic because their technique itself reeks of Stalin's NKVD.
After Firing, McCabe Claims He’s A Victim Of Administration’s ‘War On The FBI’
So was this just a big misunderstanding? One former supervisory special agent with the FBI who describes himself as a “fan” of McCabe, says it’s difficult for him to believe the Office of Professional Responsibility, which recommended McCabe firing, is acting politically.
Returning to McCabe’s impending situation, although the timing of the FBI’s recommendation that he be terminated is certainly puzzling, I do not believe an honest observer can say with certainty that it is political.
The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, known as OPR, and Inspection Division are staffed with skilled professionals who could not care less about politics. Their job is to go where the facts lead them, maintain consistency in standards of conduct and hold accountable those who fail to live up to those standards. While we will not know the full facts of this case until the Inspector General’s report is released, and McCabe should be presumed innocent until we are presented with conclusive evidence to the contrary, I suspect OPR weighed the following question: Is it right for the FBI to insist that field agents remain pure and unimpeachable while holding its deputy director, the FBI’s highest-ranking special agent, to a lower standard?
He concludes that while this move may benefit AG Sessions and the White House, that doesn’t automatically prove it’s some kind of partisan setup. Maybe doing the right thing in this case also happens to be the thing the White House wants done. We won’t really know how reasonable this firing was until we see the IG report that prompted it. That report is supposed to be out any day now. But in the meantime, people are already jumping to conclusions about what McCabe’s firing really means.
But wait, like Comey, McCabe has memos, weapon grade memos: Andrew McCabe Issues Ominous Statement After News Of His FiringMcCabe Has Personal Memos About Interactions With Trump. So, will he, like Comey, illegally leak said memos, because I'm sure, like Comey he wrote these as part of the his FBI position, and they belong to the FBI. That could prove amusing. James Comey warns Trump: The American people will 'soon' be able to judge 'who is honorable and who is not'. Well, we already know about you.

Andrew McCabe was just offered a job by a congressman so he can get his full retirement. And it just might work. (H/T to Ann Althouse)
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) announced Saturday afternoon that he has offered McCabe a job to work on election security in his office, “so that he can reach the needed length of service” to retire.

“My offer of employment to Mr. McCabe is a legitimate offer to work on election security,” Pocan said in a statement. “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of American democracy and both Republicans and Democrats should be concerned about election integrity.”

A spokeswoman for McCabe, Melissa Schwartz, didn't immediately rule out a job with one of the most liberal members of Congress, which might only need to last for a day or so for him to get his full retirement benefits: “We are considering all options.”
I call that "Conspiracy to Defraud the United States", one of Robert Mueller's favorite crimes.

DERP STATE: Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power tells Trump it’s a bad idea to p*ss off John Brennan.


Trump Lawyer: It’s Time For Bob Mueller To Get Shut Down Like Andrew McCabe Was! I still have some faint hope for fairness from Mueller. Trump: 'Mueller probe should never have been started'

He has a point. Andrew McCarthy has, as usual, an interesting perspective on the Mueller investigation: Mueller’s Investigation Flouts Justice Department Standards Is that what makes him a "Special" Counselor?
. . . Rosenstein, instead, put the cart before the horse: Mueller was invited to conduct a fishing expedition, a boundless quest to hunt for undiscovered crimes, rather than an investigation and prosecution of known crimes.

That deviation, it turns out, is not the half of it. With Rosenstein’s passive approval, Mueller is shredding Justice Department charging policy by alleging earth-shattering crimes, then cutting a sweetheart deal that shields the defendant from liability for those crimes and from the penalties prescribed by Congress. The special counsel, moreover, has become a legislature unto himself, promulgating the new, grandiose crime of “conspiracy against the United States” by distorting the concept of “fraud.”

Why does the special counsel need to invent an offense to get a guilty plea? Why doesn’t he demand a plea to one of the several truly egregious statutory crimes he claims have been committed? . . .
And for all the furor, we may never find out exactly what he was up to:  A Mueller report may never see the light of day Sorry about the long quote, but it's behind WaPo's paywall.
As the media and the public avidly follow the slow reveal of the Mueller investigation, there is a widespread assumption that Mueller will pull it all together into a Starr-like summary. But there are substantial legal barriers to a “Mueller Report,” at least one that would see the light of day.

First, special counsel Mueller is not independent counsel Starr. They were appointed under different authorities, with radically different rules for reporting and disclosure. Starr was required by the independent counsel statute governing his appointment not only to conduct a criminal investigation but also to submit a report to Congress if he found any evidence of impeachable offenses.

However, that statute expired in 1999. Mueller was appointed under the far narrower Justice Department regulation for special counsels that replaced the independent counsel statute. Far from requiring a report to Congress of impeachable offenses, these regulations tightly circumscribe Mueller’s ability to do so.

Section 600.8(c) of the regulations provides that the special counsel shall provide the attorney general with a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.” If the special counsel finds that “other governmental action outside the criminal justice system might be appropriate,” (presumably, such as impeachment) he is empowered only to “consult with the Attorney General with respect to the appropriate component to take any necessary action.”

How much of the special counsel’s “confidential” report on prosecution or declination decisions, or consultations an impeachment recommendation, might come to light? The regulations provide that the attorney general may release the special counsel’s report if he finds it would “be in the public interest.” But nothing requires him to do so. Moreover, any release must “comply with applicable legal restrictions,” which pose substantial barriers.

The only disclosure the attorney general is required to make, to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate judiciary committees, is if he concludes that “a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.”

As for Mueller, the regulations forbid him from publicly discussing his findings except as “governed by the generally applicable Departmental guidelines concerning public comment with respect to any criminal investigation” — which generally forbid public comment on closed investigations. (Remember, it was James B. Comey’s unorthodox news conference in the Hillary Clinton email matter that initially formed the basis for his termination as FBI director).

So while Starr was required by statute to forward any findings of impeachable offenses to Congress, Mueller is forbidden to speak publicly and may only forward a “confidential report” to the attorney general (or, in this case, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein). While Rosenstein may feel obliged to make a limited disclosure to Congress of any disagreement with Mueller, there is no formal mechanism to transmit Mueller’s conclusions regarding impeachable offenses, much less the underlying evidence, to the Congress.

Moreover, even if Rosenstein wanted to pass Mueller’s report to Congress or to the public, it is not clear that he could. Much of Mueller’s evidence would have been gathered via the grand jury — and Rule 6(e) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure forbids the public release of grand-jury material, with no applicable exceptions. A report that excluded the underlying grand-jury material would include only a sliver of allegations.

There is court precedent to suggest that grand-jury materials may properly be released to a congressional committee in support of impeachment proceedings. Leon Jaworski, the special prosecutor for the Watergate scandal, was able to forward his grand jury’s report and evidence to the House Judiciary Committee. But in that case, the committee majority wanted the evidence, had subpoenaed it, and President Richard Nixon expressed no objection. There is little to suggest that the current committee majorities would diligently and swiftly pursue the release of information harmful to the sitting president, who could hardly be expected to express no objection.

Finally, as if the procedural and political barriers to release of a Mueller report were not enough, don’t forget that much of what Mueller has gathered is highly classified — FISA warrants, NSA intercepts, evidence obtained from intelligence agencies. While Rosenstein might make disclosures to cleared members of Congress and their staffs, any public release would be surely be so heavily redacted as to be [redacted].
Wouldn't that be a bummer! A less technical, but more political take: We may never find out what Robert Mueller discovers

Ancient Humans Were Really Into Denisovans

Two waves of Denisovan ancestry in human history
Humans bred with this mysterious species more than once, new study shows
We rarely portray Neanderthals, our close relatives, as telegenic. Museum exhibits give them wild tangles of hair, and Hollywood reduces them to grunting unsophisticates. Their skulls suggest broad faces, tiny chins and jutting brows. But to mock Neanderthals is to mock ourselves: Homo sapiens had lots of sex with Homo neanderthalensis. Neanderthal genes supply between 1 percent and 4 percent of the genome in people from homelands on several continents, from Britain to Japan to Colombia.
Until proven otherwise, I assume Denisovan women were hot

DNA from another human-like primate, the Denisovans, lurks in modern genomes, too. A molar and a chip of pinkie bone found in a Siberian cave provide what little information we have about this species. DNA extracted from the fragments previously revealed cross-species breeding. Yet a new study in the journal Cell shows the ancient hanky-panky did not stop in Siberia: Humans who traveled across South Asia mated with a separate group of Denisovans, as well.

“This is a breakthrough paper,” said David Reich, who studies ancient DNA at Harvard University and was not involved with the study. “It's a definite third interbreeding event,” one that adds to the previously known Denisovan and Neanderthal mixtures.. . .
Interestingly, Instapundit seems to agree with me:  "APPARENTLY, WE’RE IRRESISTIBLY SEXY. OR MAYBE DENISOVANS WERE. Modern Humans Interbred With Denisovans Repeatedly. I'm going with the Denisovans.
“We’re looking for segments of DNA in an individual that look quite different from the rest of the variation in the population,” Browning said.

After the team fished out the DNA variations, the researchers matched the segments to Denisovan and Neanderthal sequences, known from samples in Siberia's Altai Mountains.

All groups studied, from British and Bengali people to Peruvians and Puerto Ricans, had a dense cluster that closely matched the Altai Neanderthals. Some populations also had a cluster that matched the Altai Denisovans, which was particularly pronounced in East Asians.

The surprise was a third cluster — not like the Neanderthal DNA and only partially resembling the Altai Denisovans. This, the authors concluded, was a second and separate pulse of Denisovan genes into the DNA blender.

“The geography is quite suggestive,” Browning said. The authors hypothesize that, as ancestral humans migrated eastward, they came across two different Denisovan populations. One pulse, to the north, shows up in people from China, Japan and Vietnam.

The other Denisovan pulse appears to the south. “Maybe it was down in the southeast corner of Asia,” Browning said. “It could possibly have been on an island en route to Papua New Guinea, but we clearly don’t know.”
Previous posts on the Denisovans:

Denisovan Princess Leaves Bracelet to Science

Saturday, March 17, 2018

News From Ireland

A “fit and well” man has been discovered living with a whopping 9 centimeter-sized air pocket where his brain should be.

The unidentified Northern Ireland man, 84, was referred to a hospital by his doctor after he suffered multiple bad falls and had been feeling light on his feet.

He went on to experience a feeling of weakness in his left arm and leg over three days, which is when shocked medics at Causeway Hospital in Ireland discovered the massive air pocket where his brain should be.

Miraculously, a report published in the British Medical Journal Case Reports revealed he was suffering no confusion, facial weakness, visual or speech disturbance and the man said that despite the stumbles he was feeling well.

Apparently the Irish don't need that part of their brain.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We just had our corn beef, cabbage and Irish soda bread, along with some potatoes. Good stuff!

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links.

Russiagate: Dig Dong, McCabe is Out

Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Friday night accepted the recommendation that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who took the reins of the agency during the turbulent days after the abrupt firing of James Comey, be terminated — two days before he was to retire and become eligible for full pension benefits.
. . .
"After an extensive and fair investigation and according to Department of Justice procedure, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General provided its report on allegations of misconduct by Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility," Sessions said in a statement at about 10 p.m. ET Friday night. "The FBI’s OPR then reviewed the report and underlying documents and issued a disciplinary proposal recommending the dismissal of Mr. McCabe. Both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions."
Clearly making a pitch to become an MSNBC commentator McCabe wrapped himself in the FBI flag:
In statement released after the firing was announced, McCabe said: "This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work."
Also, from Stacy McCain: Jeff Sessions Fires Andrew McCabe
Fox News reporter Adam Housley reported on Twitter [Friday night] about the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, stating his sources were telling him that in the past few days McCabe threatened to “take people down with him” if he was fired. Housley also reported that the Inspector General-Office of Professional Responsibility report had uncovered “tons of stuff” on McCabe unrelated to the Trump investigation and that McCabe’s firing was a morale boost to FBI agents.
No doubt the liberal media will try to portray this as a political vendetta on the part of President Trump, but it appears McCabe was dishonest, and that the FBI had been corrupted during eight years of Eric Holder’s tenure as Attorney General. Clinton broke the law when she used a private email server to conduct official business while Secretary of State; she then obstructed justice by concealing facts from federal investigators. McCabe was apparently part of that cover-up.

In other news, heading off with Stacy McCain, if only for the title, more of the picture comes into focus on why Strzok and Page were demoted, and why FISA judge Contreras was recused: More Skeezy Activities by Obama DOJ Lovebirds Page and Strzok Revealed
Newly discovered text messages obtained by The Federalist reveal two key federal law enforcement officials conspired to meet with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judge who presided over the federal case against Michael Flynn. The judge, Rudolph Contreras, was recused from handling the case just days after accepting the guilty plea of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser who was charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
The text messages about Contreras between controversial Department of Justice lawyer Lisa Page and Peter Strzok… were deliberately hidden from Congress, multiple congressional investigators told The Federalist. . . .
The pair even schemed about how to set up a cocktail or dinner party just so Contreras, Strzok, and Page could speak without arousing suspicion that they were colluding. Strzok expressed concern that a one-on-one meeting between the two men might require Contreras’ recusal from matters in which Strzok was involved.
Ace points out that these texts were redacted from what were turned over to Congress, and hints that maybe “a high-level official at the FBI or DOJ was responsible for this deliberate withholding of information from Congress.” Could this be a reference to Andrew McCabe?
Ace: The Federalist: Judge Who Presided Over Michael Flynn's Guilty Plea, And Then Mysteriously Recused Himself, Was Friends With Peter Strzok; Strzok and Page Conspired to Arrange Dinner Parties Where They Could Talk to Judge Without Alerting Others to Their
We're gonna need a bigger special counsel.

And these emails were hidden and never disclosed to Congress. Hmmm. I wonder why.
. . .
I wonder if a high-level official at the FBI or DOJ was responsible for this deliberate withholding of information from Congress.
You mean say, like McCabe, or Comey? What about Rod Rosenstein? It must be handy to have a FISA judge in your pocket. New Text Msgs Reveal FBI Agent was Friends with Judge in Flynn Case.
“Why did Contreras recuse himself?” said Jordan. “Text messages show he had a relationship with Strzok… Why did the DOJ make it difficult for us to get the information? To me, those are the two fundamental questions. We don’t know that answers to either one of those ”

Jordan noted that the text messages provide some context but that some of the communications are not completely clear. He added what is “clear is that the back and forth exchange shows that Strzok and (Contreras) were friends. But we don’t know if the discussion regarding recusal has anything to do with Russia or if they were referring to another case. What we do know is that Contreras recused himself after the guilty plea but we still don’t know why?”
Molly Hemingway: REVEALED: Peter Strzok Had Personal Relationship With Recused Judge In Michael Flynn Case
Flynn’s guilty plea was accepted in federal court by Contreras on December 1, 2017. The New York Times reported the next day that Strzok, who left the FBI to work for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, had been removed from the case by Mueller due to inappropriate text messages between Strzok and another federal official, now believed to be DOJ attorney Lisa Page. On December 5, 2017, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray demanding text messages from Strzok as well as any notes he took regarding his interviews with Flynn. Contreras was recused from the Flynn case on December 7, 2017, and the case was reassigned to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, according to federal court documents.

Neither Contreras nor federal judiciary officials have publicly indicated the reason for Contreras’ removal from the case. Contreras’ office declined to comment on inquiries asking about his relationship with Strzok, or why he was not recused from the Flynn case until after he had accepted Flynn’s guilty plea.
Acquit Michael Flynn now:

Former FBI Supervisor: I Warned Comey In 2014 That Warrantless Surveillance Was “Ripe For Potential Abuses”
Think this will merit a chapter in James Comey’s upcoming memoirs? I’d bet … no. Almost four years ago, the man in charge of the FBI’s section on communications analysis raised alarms on the warrantless-surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden the year before. He went to Comey to warn the then-director that not only was the program ineffective, it created unnecessary burdens on investigators and created openings for “potential abuses” of authority. Now retired, Bassem Youssef tells The Hill’s John Solomon and Alison Spann that Comey ignored the warnings:
An official who supervised the FBI’s Section 215 warrantless phone surveillance program revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013 says he warned then-Director James Comey it was woefully ineffective in catching terrorists and needed to be modified.
Retired Special Agent Bassem Youssef, the chief of the FBI’s Communications Analysis Unit, said in an exclusive interview with The Hill that no action was taken by Comey in response to the concerns he raised. …
Youssef, a decorated counterterrorism agent and prior FBI whistleblower, told The Hill that he sought in the summer of 2014 to get the FBI to reform the program out of concern it gave the FBI easy access to Americans’ telephone data, leaving it open to potential abuse while generating spurious connections between innocent people and bad actors.
“I believe that the program, as it was, was ripe for potential abuses,” he said. “I think that every law-abiding citizen should feel comfortable and secure in their home in terms of their privacy and that was not the case.”
The FBI has insisted that the Section 215 surveillance program has resulted in the disruption of many terror plots against the US, although the number keeps changing. Youssef puts the number at a firm … one. Even that was indirect to the case, Youssef claims in the video . . .
If you got the ability to spy essentially freely on your own people, would you give it up? Nope, someone is going to have to take it away from them.

Finally Ace sings the praises of an article I linked yesterday: The Real Collusion Story: How Hillary, the DNC, Brennan, Clapper and Obama Conspired to Frame Trump for a Crime That Never Even Happened
This is a long piece. 14,000 words.

You should read it. Bookmark it if you don't have time to read it. It'll make for some good weekend reading.

By the way, this is from National Review. A lot of commenters keep saying that NR, as a whole, is part of the NeverTrump conspiracy-theory mass delusion. That's only partly true. Some there are obviously of that stripe, but others aren't.

This is the real story, the one that Washington Consensus doesn't know.

Or do they actually know it, but just won't tell it, as they long ago knew there was no Trump/Russia collusion?

Who's to say.

But read it. I promise, it's worth it.

Fanning the Rule 5 Flames with Dakota Fanning

This week's  Rule 5  was inspired by the new TNT show "The Alienist". Dakota Fanning stars as Sara Howard who serves as an assistant to Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt in a dystopian (and probably understated at that) 19th century New York City, who becomes involved with Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a pre-Freudian criminal psychologist seeking answers to gruesome murders of male child prostitutes.
Hannah Dakota Fanning (born February 23, 1994) is an American actress and model. She rose to prominence at the age of seven for her performance as Lucy Dawson in the drama film I Am Sam (2001), for which she received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination at age eight, making her the youngest nominee in SAG history. Fanning played major roles in the films Uptown Girls (2003), The Cat in the Hat (2003), Man on Fire (2004), War of the Worlds (2005), Dreamer (2005) and Charlotte's Web (2006). . .

Fanning made her modelling debut in 2009 when she featured on the cover of fashion magazines Elle, Vanity Fair, and Cosmopolitan, among others. She also appeared in the fashion week in New York in 2014 and at the opening ceremony of Fashion Week New York S/S 2015.

Fanning was born in Conyers, Georgia. . . Her mother, Heather Joy (née Arrington), played tennis professionally, and her father, Steven J. Fanning, played minor league baseball and now works as an electronics salesman in Los Angeles, California . . .  Dakota is the older sister of Elle Fanning, also an actress. 
Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links.