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01 December 2019


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The real issue is the power of the unelected fourth branch of government, not contemplated by the Founders nor covered by any constitutional checks or balances.

Constitutional legal scholar Jonathan Turley has been raising this question, even during the Obama era. We can no longer ignore this rising threat - the power of the unelected fourth branch of government. That is the far larger question, and it is good it is well-articulated in the GOP response.

Big government = even more powerful unelected fourth branch of government
More tax confiscation = more funding for the unelected fourth branch of government

Two tasks ahead: limiting its growth; diminishing its power. We do need to talk about this larger issue; not just debate its symptoms.

Keith Harbaugh

Trey Gowdy rebuts Lisa Page's "I'm a victim" line:
8 minute Fox News video, 2019-12-02.

blue peacock

Some are forecasting that Barr-Durham will be another nothingburger.

Their rationale is that the political forces of status quo are far too powerful in the Acela corridor and none want their gravy train to end. The consequences of indictments of top officials in law enforcement & intelligence will require a deeper look into their operations and budgets and the cozy relationships with media, politicians and the mega campaign donors that have long determined how the system operates.

Does Barr have the strength of character to buck a whole system built over decades? Many doubt that including me.

Trump has an opportunity to bust it wide open if he declassifies it all which is completely in his sole authority. The question is why he hasn't considering he routinely rails against the Swamp on Twitter? Is he just another Swamp con?

Eric Newhill

I disagree. The IG is promoted to the public as independent/non-partisan. Barr is promoted as Trump's pit bull. If the IG sees nothing of consequence and Barr/Durham open a prosecution, then the prosecution can be dismissed by the media and its zombie viewers as a "witch hunt" - even if there is only little overlap between what the IG looked at and what Barr is looking at. It's all about perception, not reality. Who knows what reality really is?


Points 16/17: The Senators are being rather disingenuous here, they know full well that crooked Bill Browder was the person who reported FusionGPS for a breach of FARA. They also know that Fusion was hired by US law firm Baker-Hostetler, to do legal research about Browder, who passed highly dubious evidence to US Attorney Preet Bharara, to instigate the Prevezon Case. The fact that neither Fusion or Baker-Hostetler have been charged with violation on FARA further shows that Browder vexatiously used this allegation as a smear, because simply representing a Russian national being litigated against by the US government, cannot be twisted to mean they were working for the Russian government.

Browder was deposed after running away from a third subpoena, after the judge ordered him to appear. Browder’s deposition was a disaster, not just for Browder, but to the Senate and anyone else who promoted Browder’s pack of Magnitsky lies. That is why no mainstream media outlet will even acknowledge its existence.

It’s very obvious they Graham and Grassley would omit to mention Browder’s name, they also know full well that Browder was exposed as a fraud and that the Magnisky Acft is based on a giant fabrication. If they were honest, and didn’t cling cynically to the Magnitsky Act to unfairly punish innocent Russian investigators and prosecutors on Browder’s behalf, they would repeal the poisoned act, and stop protecting this wanted, twice convicted criminal tax evader from facing justice.


Reality is the door in the slammer closing behind you. When that happens, public perception tends not to mean much. Reality is not what one sees on the screen or reads in the newspaper. Reality is whether the Grand Jury decides one's fate should be determined in a court house by a jury. The responsible official for deciding how to proceed with respect to those realities is not the IG, who works for the AG, but Durham, who also is responsible to the AG. We should all hope for justice's sake that for Barr and Durham that it is all about the fair presentation of evidence and not about politics and not about perception.

Keith Harbaugh

Colonel: Doesn't your comment above (with its reference to "DMR" and the professoriat) pertain, not to this post, but to:
Academic Conformism is the road to "1984."?
If so, maybe a reposting (of the comment) would be helpful to your readers.

Eric Newhill

If the public perception is that Trump controlled mad dogs Barr and Durham are engaged in a Stalin/Hitler style purge of dear saintly civil servants - this in the face of noble and fair Horowitz finding nothing - then the public will turn on Trump even more than currently and there will be another impeachment hearing and Trump might not win in 2020 and the whole matter will be dropped by the next admin.

No one is going to prison - or face any other serious consequence - over any of this, Gand jury or not. IMO, there won't be a grand jury in the first place.

Dave Schuler

There is an interesting Twitter thread here:


relevant to some of the discussions that have gone on here.


Too bad Democrats never bothered to figure out why Trump really won in 2016. Could have saved us three years of their self-inflicted grief.

English Outsider

A recent article by John Solomon, a former reporter at The Associated Press and The Washington Post, makes an assertion that is difficult to reconcile with what occurred after the Presidential Inauguration.

It is asserted that "Congressional sources" reported that  "as early as 2015 " the British Government" was warning that Steele was unreliable -

"Congressional sources have reported to me that during a recent unclassified meeting they were told the British government flagged concerns about Steele and his reliance on “sub-sources” of intelligence as early as 2015."

If this is correct it leads to two questions -

1.  There were these constraints on Steele when it came to his post retirement work.

-  Presumably ex-Intelligence operatives remain under supervision when they retire, either to prevent them releasing secrets or to prevent them making unauthorised use of sources they had access to during their period of service.  

In addition, in Steele's case his continuing connection with MI6 after retirement was important to him.  Sir Richard Dearlove later referred to Steele as being a "go to" source of advice for MI6 later.  It  is clear there was continuing contact between Steele and MI6 after Steele's retirement.  Steele would not have wished to jeapordise that connection.

For these reasons Steele was amenable to MI6 control after his retirement and would not have said or published anything MI6 didn't want him to.

Yet MI6 continued to allow him to feed unreliable information to actors on the American political/intelligence scene, content merely to tell the Americans he was unreliable and taking no steps to rein Steele in.  

It's difficult to believe that ex-Intelligence officers are usually allowed to run loose like this abroad. That Steele was so allowed implies consent on the part of MI6.

2.  The public disclosure of Steele's activities did not occur until after the inauguration.  It resulted in a scandal that damaged the new American administration.  One would have expected HMG to immediately repeat their earlier warning that Steele was unreliable, to do so publicly, and thus to ensure that damage and embarrassment to the new administration was limited.

It did not do so.  There was no public debunking of the Steele material from HMG.   The UK media insisted that the Steele material was valid.  In the only public semi-official reference I saw, a TV interview with Sir Richard Dearlove,  Dearlove, instead of debunking  Steele, stated that the Steele material was largely accurate.

We therefore have an ex-UK intelligence officer allowed to feed unreliable material to the Americans and no attempt on the part of HMG to limit the damage when that unreliable material was made public. In fact Steele was backed up by HMG even though, if Mr Solomon's report is correct, HMG knew Steele was unreliable.

In short. if that report is correct, HMG allowed Steele to feed dud information to the Americans.  Then backed up that dud information even though that damaged the new US Administration.

Doesn't add up.


The passage quoted  is three items down under the heading "Derogatory information about informant Christopher Steele".  Link via ZH.


David Habakkuk


What you write is very much to the point.

Unfortunately, I have been very tied up, and have not been able to comment adequately on recent developments.

It looks as though the current strategy of the conspirators, on both sides of the Atlantic, is to make Steele the ‘patsy’, thereby making it possible for the full scale of the conspiracy to remain disguised.

It also makes it possible to replace one ‘Russophobic’ narrative by another. Instead of Steele as the heroic unmasker of a sinister Russian plot to undermine Western democracy, we have him as the gullible dupe of just another plot.

Among other things, this was the sense of Fiona Hill’s testimony, in which she showed herself a worthy pupil of the late unlamented Richard Pipes – the man who got everything wrong, and was lamentably devoid of common honesty – and a disgrace to a fine university (St. Andrew’s.)

My ‘SWAG’, particularly following Solomon’s report and others like it, is that Horowitz is hewing quite close to the line she was marking out. It seems a shame that a journalist who has done a lot of very useful work on ‘Russiagate’ looks to be falling ‘hook, line and sinker’ for a classic ‘limited hangout.’

But a lot of people who one might have thought had better judgement seem to be doing this – Chuck Ross and Representative Jim Jordan being obvious examples.

It seems clear, contrast, that Lee Smith has got the main point: that the dossier was a ‘camel produced by a committee’ in Fusion GPS, and that Steele’s essential role was 1. in disguising the sources, insofar as they were any, and the material was not either direct invention or invention by ‘sources’ who specialised in it, and 2. providing an appearance of intelligence legitimacy to the resulting farrago, so it could be used both to legitimise FISA applications, and a ‘whispering campaign’ in the MSM.

If Smith has ‘got it’, it seems likely that Devin Nunes, who is a pivotal figure in all this, also has.

However he, as also Barr and Durham, have to reckon with the complex politics of all this, and of course the problems of all three get materially worse if the likes of Solomon Ross and Jordan are happy to be played for suckers.

An area where caution is particularly necessary, incidentally, is in relation to the disavowal of Steele by Sir Mark Lyall Grant which Sidney Powell is hunting down.

If you look at it in context, it is clear that it was largely the product of a failure of liaison between different people. It seems key conspirators on the U.S. side wanted the dossier published, while those on our side were not really ‘in the loop.’

It was at this point that the strategy of making Steele the ‘patsy’ first became evident – with a kind of ‘bulldogs under the carpet’ struggle rapidly developing over whether to follow that route, or close ranks behind him.

The Lyall Grant letter was the product of the first strategy, but it is clear that the mainstream – including for example Sir Alex Younger, clearly a worthy successor to Dearlove and Scarlett – came round to the alternative strategy.

In my view, a key to the whole situation remains the actions in which Ty Clevenger and Steven S. Biss are involved, acting on behalf of Ed Butowsky, Devin Nunes, and also Svetlana Lokhova.

Also relevant are the two cases against Steele and Orbis going through the courts here in London.

Unfortunately, we do not have anything like ‘PACER’ or ‘Courtlistener’, so it is very difficult to be clear as to what is happening either with Gubarev’s case or that brought by the Alfa oligarchs.

English Outsider

Mr Habakkuk - I don't have your panoramic view of the affair, nor your encyclopaedic knowledge of the by now bewildering number of characters who've tumbled out on stage since that "Steele dossier" first became public. There is, however, a point that stood out for me. Here is what you have suggested before and restate above -

"It looks as though the current strategy of the conspirators, on both sides of the Atlantic, is to make Steele the ‘patsy’, thereby making it possible for the full scale of the conspiracy to remain disguised."

Perhaps casting Steele as the lone fall guy is proving difficult.  The trouble is that wherever one finds Steele, as often as not Sir Richard Dearlove is there looking over his shoulder.

For a man of the shadows Sir Richard gets a respectable amount of publicity.  He's been around.  A senior posting to Washington. Then gets to be "C" no less. Slapped down in the Chilcot report for accepting the WMD dossier too readily, so a reliable man when it matters.

A heart to heart with Steele in Autumn 2016.  And the odd Lokhova business that you have focused on in the past.  A little downmarket for Le Carre, perhaps, that Lokhova business, but all in a day's work if one is reliable  -

"“It has been reported that Sir Richard Dearlove, on the urgings of Prof. Halper, has apparently reported me to US authorities as a Russian spy. The accusation is demonstrably false,” Lokhova wrote to Cambridge’s vice chancellor, asking for an investigation of Halper and Dearlove’s “malign” and “covert” activities."


With a fair bit more on Sir Richard's activities in that "Courtlistener"


All public record.  And lots more.  I'm not entirely sure that in Sir Richard's case Google is his friend:-

"“Sir Richard Dearlove’s personal intervention, and its urgency, gave added weight to a (WMD in Iraq) report that had not been properly evaluated and would have coloured the perception of ministers and senior officials. The report should have been treated with caution,”

"In a glowing profile of Steele in The New Yorker on March 12, 2018, Dearlove described Steele’s reputation as “superb.” He told The Washington Post that Steele was the “go-to person on Russia in the commercial sector.”"

"Dearlove has also offered glowing endorsements for Halper, a veteran of three Republican presidential administrations who has contracted with the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment..."He is a well-regarded academic who is also a patriot,” Dearlove told The Washington Post in a June 8, 2018 article, shortly after the revelation that Halper was a longtime FBI and CIA informant."




And as much more as one has patience for.

If that's available at a mouse click then it's not possible for the Washington heavyweights, with staffers coming out of their ears, not to know all that and much more.

Therefore as you suggest the London end of the Steele affair is being overlooked for political reasons.  Since full disclosure of what happened at that London end would not only blow HMG out of the water but would also imperil the intelligence links between the two countries, such unraveling of the Steele affair as will occur will have to skirt round any account of Sir Richard's contribution.

Unless it gets to be really heavy in Washington.  Is that likely?  

Keith Harbaugh

Okay, here it is: The Horowitz report, as released prior to 2019-12-09 1810 Zulu.

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