"We now know"
At the recent Senate hearing on the Mueller report AG Barr laid out the Constitutional powers of the President and made the case that he was free to take aggressive action, including shutting down the Mueller investigation, if, which we now know to be the case, he was falsely accused. This is the key phrase on which everything, and yes I mean everything needs to be understood. We now know.
Some may say we have known all along and to some extent that's true. But we didn't really know. We are smart. We can read. We can add 2+2. The point here though is that we now know beyond any doubt that if 13 angry Democrats couldn't find collusion it never existed. And that is the crucial piece. It never existed. And Trump always knew he never colluded. At best it could have been one of his campaign staff without his knowledge. So he should never have been a target of any investigation and none of his authorities, duly granted him as the winner of the 2016 election, should have been in any way limited.
Barr explains that based on what we now know there could not have been corrupt intent if Trump had decided not just to fire Mueller but more broadly to shut down the entire Special Counsel. That is a significant statement. We need to extend the implications and what it means that Rosenstein assisted Barr in making this determination. If in a scenario where Trump is being wrongly accused he could fire Mueller then who else could Trump fire under the same conditions?
Was this always Rosenstein's legal opinion? Was it in a moment where Rosenstein was explaining to McCabe that without evidence implicating Trump in the underlying crime then an obstruction investigation for firing Comey lacked foundation that he sarcastically told McCabe "What do you want me to do Andy, wear a wire?!?" Yet McCabe not only opened the obstruction investigation, he did it in a way it could not be easily shut down. Without basis, he attempted to deal a mortal blow to the Trump Presidency.
Wait Seth, how do you know that at the time McCabe was opening the obstruction investigation he knew there was no there there?!? Well I know because Strzok said so. Ten days after Comey was fired.
That passage was transmitted on May 19, 2017. “There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted. The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign. https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/397902-opinion-one-fbi-text-message-in-russia-probe-should-alarm-every-american
What else do we now know as a result of the Mueller report? We know that Rosenstein was fully aware that one of the main motivators for Trump to fire Comey at that time was Comey's recent visit to the Senate where he continued to refuse to acknowledge publicly what he had told Trump multiple times, that Trump was not under investigation. In other words, based on Barr's explanation Rosenstein knew, as the firing was happening, that there was no corrupt intent by Trump. In fact, Trump had made every attempt for Rosenstein to include the Russia investigation and how it was affecting the administration into his memo. There could have been no confusion on Rosenstein's part.
As some of you may be aware, I have long explained that the reason Mueller was necessary was to extract the investigations from team McCabe. Special Counsels are not designed to protect investigations from a President. They are designed to deal with conflicts and bias internal to DOJ/FBI. The idea that Mueller was appointed because Trump fired Comey, although popular and trumpeted by people like Chris Wallace of Fox News, wasn't accurate but it was allowed to persist because it was useful.
How was it useful? Well it accomplished two main objectives. It baited the Democrats into believing Mueller was a protected investigator that would prove their beliefs about Trump so they let him do his work without interference. We now know from this Barr comment that this was a false belief. It also gave the impression to the coup plotters that their work would be defended. That they were safe. They weren't.
Now I want to turn our focus to how this Barr clarification shines light on the prerogatives of the President from day one of his administration. Let's assume for a moment that on the day he was elected Trump was completely unaware of Crossfire Hurricane. At a minimum, he seems to be comfortable from November 8, 2016 until November 17, 2016 to run his transition out of Trump Tower. Then Admiral Rogers visits him on on November 17th and that same day Trump moves the transition to Bedminster. I have long speculated that at a minimum Rogers tipped Trump off that he was being targeted.
"In the situation of the President, who has Constitutional authority to supervise proceedings, if in fact a proceeding is not well founded. If it was a groundless proceeding. If it was based on false allegations. The President does not have to sit there Constitutionally and allow it to run its course."
Let's focus on the first part about supervising proceedings and consider it in context of a President who has just been tipped off that bureaucrats in the DOJ/CIA/FBI are targeting him with false allegations and intend to end his Presidency if possible. In that environment is a President required to wait for his AG to be confirmed? Can he afford to wait months for the leadership to be turned over? Remember, "the President does not have to sit there".
I have long contended he didn't. The move to Bedminster wasn't simply to avoid surveillance. It was to begin to strategize how the administration would fight back. How they would defuse the coup. But also how to hold the people plotting these actions ultimately accountable. This is important to understand because it reveals important insights to everything we observed that happened from November 17, 2016 forward.
The first event that follows is the Comey visit to give the IC briefing and reveal to Trump the existence of the dossier. I've always thought it was curious he took the meeting in Trump Tower. The reason this day is so interesting is that Comey left this meeting and immediately wrote his first memo. Now we can interpret this one of two ways. Comey wrote the memos to entrap Trump or... Comey wrote the memos with the idea they would ultimately be used as the public excuse to justify the Mueller appointment. Or both.
Let's look at how this played out in relation to the Mueller appointment that we now know cleared Trump of collusion and obstruction. First, Rosenstein appointed Mueller. Rosenstein knew exactly what motivated Trump to fire Comey. Both the public explanation and the private understanding that Rosenstein was aware of were completely justifiable uses of the President's Constitutional authority. Yet Comey writing memos and saying he thought we needed a Special Counsel became the assumed narrative. But Rosenstein agrees that a President is not required to stand by and allow a baseless proceeding. Then why was Mueller really necessary? Why did Comey really think Mueller was necessary? What else did Comey discuss with Trump when he asked to be alone with him in Trump Tower? Are there tapes?
The classic question "What did he know and when did he know it" is crucial in understanding Trump's actions and potentially Comey's. Was Trump aware of the "Insurance Policy" tweets on January 6, 2017? Was Trump successful in flipping Comey that day? Were the memos an op in coordination with Trump?
The obvious answer to the last question is that they were or they weren't. Either way, the memos ultimately helped team Trump in my opinion. They gave a public explanation for "why Mueller?" that masked the true benefit of Mueller. The Special Counsel allowed the investigations to be extracted from the FBI which allowed DOJ to target McCabe and his team without interfering with the Russia investigation.
Trump wanted the successful completion of that investigation. Why? Because he had to do what was right for the American people. He had to make sure they could know with certainty that he had not colluded with Russia. At the same time getting a #CleanBillOfHealth from a man like Mueller would clear the decks for prosecuting the lawlessness and corruption of those like McCabe who sought to depose him.
Lets get directly into that. Assuming Trump was alerted he was being targeted by the DOJ/CIA/FBI, he must have seen this in multiple ways. First he needed to survive it but he must have also realized the opportunity it presented to make good on two of his biggest campaign promises, to look into the investigation of Hillary in 2016 and drain the swamp. So he moves to Bedminster and according to the accepted understanding he just kept interviewing people for his administration. Just normal transition stuff.
What else do we observe? On November 17, 2016, the same day Rogers meets Trump in Trump Tower and the transition is moved to Bedminster, Trump names Flynn NSA over the reported warning of Barrack Obama. Coincidence? If nothing else Flynn was a perfect lure. The coup plotters would not have reacted in the same way to McMaster doing the same exact things Flynn did.
In December we see the first of what I argue are a series of sting traps. As I describe the next series of events just think of moves on a chess board. Obama puts sanctions on Russia. Russia doesn't respond. People are openly wondering why Putin made that choice. Then in early January leading up to the inauguration, the Washington Post reports that Flynn had a series of calls with Kislyak. Pence then goes on a Sunday morning show and says Flynn didn't discuss the sanctions with Kislyak when he clearly had. Since everyone now knew the calls were recorded, it made the claims hard to believe and easily controvertible by the recordings. This episode started a cascade of activity.
Now in context of Trump being alerted his administration was being targeted and combined with the likelihood any calls to the Russian Ambassador would be monitored, you are forced to conclude one of two things. That Pence was attempting to set up Flynn, which to me makes little sense in the grander context, or that team Trump was engineering a response from those plotting against them.
Ultimately the "Flynn lied to Pence" controversy resulted in the holdovers in the DOJ and FBI, specifically Yates and McCabe, opening an investigation into Flynn. Flynn is interviewed by FBI and Yates contacts McGhan. He says he will follow up with her and when he does the first question he asks is why does the DOJ cares if one administration official lies to the other. Keep in mind Obama's DOJ never cared that Susan Rice went on the Sunday shows and lied about Benghazi.
Then McGhan asks for the underlying evidence which must have included the FISA collection of the call. Yates agrees. Later that same day Trump signs his "Muslim Ban" causing a chaotic weekend and then ended the day asking to eat dinner alone with Comey where Trump asks Comey if he wants to stay on and if Trump can trust him. By that Monday, Yates refuses to back the Muslim ban, is fired and immediately replaced by Boente. Ultimately the evidence was reviewed by the White House.
Keep in mind, even if this "Pence/Flynn lied" episode had never happened, the insurance policy would still have been in action. What I am pointing out is that team Trump designed a scenario where they could control the flow of events and use the coup plotters reactions to their advantage. The FISA intercepts were leaked, an extraordinary investigation targeting the White House where they entrapped the NSA had been undertaken and DOJ/FBI evidence was given to the White House.
That was the first of many of these types of operations in early 2017. Why and what are they a sign of? That there was an investigation being run out of the White House designed to protect the administration and target those that were working to bring the administration down. Although there were many corrupt and even criminal acts perpetrated in 2016 by DOJ/CIA/FBI officials, it was always going to be very difficult to prosecute them. It's one thing to run investigations against citizens to protect the government but it's a very different type of thing to use the powers of your office in an overt attempt to bring down a duly elected President.
It's important to realize that the things we are becoming aware of now have likely long been known. Why is this significant? Because it adds premeditation to the individual acts. These weren't natural responses to circumstances. These were acts engaged in the midst of a conspiracy. How do we know? We have these people discussing it in their own words in texts and emails and even in some TV interviews.
The key moment was always going to follow Comey getting fired. It was long assumed this would happen. We can see from Strzok texts that the moment it did happen certain contingencies were launched. Was Trump aware of evidence that these contingencies were long planned? If he was then this would present the perfect opportunity to run one of the most significant corruption stings in American history. One that would tie together all the players in the 2016 rigging. Remember, "The President does not have to sit there Constitutionally and allow it to run its course."
It was the perfect set up. Trump acts under his Constitutional authority and fires Comey. What people had not expected was that Rosenstein would write a memo that stated his desire to fire Comey. But the Trump letter announcing the firing was the perfect bait. How did the leadership at the FBI react?
The Washington Post first reported last year the launch of an obstruction investigation, but sources elaborated to CNN how top law enforcement officials were frantic after Comey was fired. They were reportedly concerned about Trump’s behavior and considered him a leader who might need to be reined in, sources told CNN. https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/420203-mccabe-rosenstein-opened-obstruction-probe-after-trump-fired-comey
Keep in mind, we now know from the Mueller report that Rosenstein was completely aware of why Trump fired Comey, wasn't opposed at all, did not feel tricked by Trump and would have no reason to think Trump needed to be reigned in. Those were all interpretations made up by the FBI leadership under McCabe's control. Did they consult Rosenstein? Remember it is also Rosenstein's legal opinion voiced by Barr that if the claims made against a President are false then Trump acting under his Constitutional authority would "not be a corrupt intent because he was being falsely accused".
Here is the heart of the sting. If there is any evidence before the May 9, 2017 that McCabe intended to use his authorities to "reign in" the President , then his recitation of the details that followed that date as his excuse for doing it are all contrived. It is the equivalent of a John saying it was the undercover officer that made the first move when the cops observed the John drive onto the street and ask around for where the prostitutes are.
The quote above is from an interview on January 12, 2019. Trump specifically refers to the time "after I fired [Comey]" and names who "did it", McCabe, Strzok and Page. He set them up and then monitored their activity during the "Nine Days in May" as Jeff Carlson describes them. It is these actions that are the most egregious of the entire Spygate scandal because they were aimed at deposing, under false pretense, the duly elected President of the United States. As "We Now Know" the President wasn't required to sit back and let that happen and, as you now know, he didn't.