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10 May 2020

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David Habakkuk

Larry,

I was about to post this as a reply to ‘Jack’ on an earlier thread, but it seems more sensible to post it here.

Jack,

I have long been afraid of ‘limited hangouts.’

If you feed journalists whose investigation are threatening to expose serious malfeasance enough ‘red meat’, which appears to help them, indeed genuinely does so, up to a point, they may very well not notice that they are being subtly diverted from lines of investigation they should be pursuing.

Conspirators can the own up to ‘venial’ sins, such as playing fast and loose with the FISA application process, or credulously accepting duff information from Christopher Steele, while, as it were, very much less ‘venial’, or some might say, ‘mortal’, ones – like involvement in a treasonous conspiracy to subvert the Constitution – are not exposed.

My suspicion has long been that the Horowitz Report may be just such a ‘limited hangout.’

An analysis, which, one the one hand, suggests that Stephen Somma is a key figure in a systematic subversion of the FISA process, while also accepting apparently without question ‘evidence’ from him and his FBI colleagues about interviews in which Christopher Steele’s supposed ‘Primary Sub-Source’ rubbished him, is preposterous.

And indeed, one cannot consistently suggest that Bruce Ohr is a pivotal figure in the conspiracy, and that one can assume that his handwritten notes of conversations, and 302s with him recorded by Joseph Pientka, are accurate. This is what many journalists did, long before Horowitz reported, and I regret to say I myself initially fell into what I now think was a trap.

As to both Barr and Trump, I have been agnostic. I can see arguments for a ‘softly softly catchee monkee’ approach, but also reasons to suspect that the Attorney General may be unenthusiastic about the implications of having too many skeletons falling out of cupboards, as it were.

That said, there can be moments when it becomes clear that the accumulated weight of skeletons pressing upon the door is so great that there is no realistic prospect of keeping many of them from tumbling out.

At that point, people’s calculations may change. For purely opportunistic reasons, as well as others, it may make more sense to join those who are attempting to prise the door open, rather than risk going down in history as one of those who engaged in last ditch attempts to keep it shut.

We may have just seen such a moment.

As usual however, the British end of all this is very poor covered.

Someone gave Chuck Ross of the ‘Daily Caller’ of the transcript of the cross-examination of Steele by Hugh Tomlinson QC, on behalf of the owners of the Alfa Group consortium, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan, on 17-18 March.

(I have downloaded it, and am studying it, but unfortunately do not seem able to find the link again.)

While Ross, John Solomon and others have commented on it, there is no visible sign whatsoever that any of them has made any effort to get hold of the four – yes, four, F-O-U-R – clearly mutually contradictory witness statements referred to in the transcript.

Despite what Mr Justice Mark Warby said at the hearing, none of these appear to have been made available on the CE-File service, where material from the case appears totally absent.

What can be traced – and again, I cannot see any journalist who has tried to do this – are two judgements which Mr Justice Warby delivered, on 27 February and 17 March, which put the cross-examination of Steele by Tomlinson in a wholly new light.

(See https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2020/523.html&query=(Aven) ; https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2020/666.html&query=(Aven) .)

They also seem to me crucial to interpreting the newly released transcript of the House Intelligence Committee interview with Michael Sussmann, and also that with the anonymous FBI Special Agent.

(Although I have yet to read this interview, on a casual glance it looks like Michael Gaeta, who is reported to have come to London to meet Steele on 5 July 2016. Correction if this is wrong appreciated.)

The story one gets, if one puts the transcript of the cross-examination in the context of the judgements, is quite remarkable.

It appears that the ineptitude of the lawyers employed by Orbis, who like those representing the Alfa owners, come from a chambers called Matrix, rivals that of Covington & Burling in their defence of Flynn (like the American company, the British has an interesting history and affiliations.)

As Warby explains in his 27 February judgement, on defamation cases a defendant has the option of responding with a ‘non-admission’, or a denial of the case made by the claimant.

The crucial difference is that with the former, the onus to proof the offending statements false shifted to the other side, with the latter, the defence has to set out and defend their own version of events.

What the Matrix lawyers working for Orbis produced, as Warby brings out, was an incoherent mixture of the two.

As a result, the Matrix lawyers working for the Alfa owners called for large parts of Steele’s original witness statement, only provided to them on 17 February, to be struck out.

An objection, quite fairly, was that if Orbis were producing their own version, rather than simply refusing to admit the repudiation of their claims by the Alfa owners, it was preposterous to do so shortly before the scheduled hearing, as these would clearly need adequate time to assemble the further evidence needed to the version that had been provided.

As a result of the utter incompetence of those presenting the Orbis case, the trial would have to be adjourned, if it was to be conducted fairly.

At that point, these lawyers applied for leave to amend the defence. As part of this process, Steele filed a new witness statement, on 9 March, and then, two further ones, on 15 and 16 March – the day the hearing opened.

It appears to have been only after the 9 March statement that he completedly changed his account of the commissioning of the research into the Alfa oligarchs.

Originally, it had been suggested that this happened on 11 September. According to the new version, it was a meeting at Perkins Coie on 29 July that Michael Sussmann informed him of the ‘evidence’ supposed to establish a covert communication channel between the Trump campaign and Alfa. He now says Glenn Simpson commissioned his research soon after.

At the same time, Steele appears now to be saying, on the authority of what is presented as a handwritten note from the time, that at the 5 July 2016 meeting with Gaeta:

'we explained that Glenn Simpson, GPSFusion was our commissioner but the ultimate client were the leadership of the Clinton campaign and that we understood the candidate herself was aware of the reporting at least, if not us ...'

Equally important, the note appears to establish that there were two memoranda in the material he gave to Gaeta, numbered 87 and 88, which were not in the dossier as published. Questioned by Tomlinson, Steele suggests this was because they dealt with matters other than ‘Russiagate.’

I think it is extremely likely that this statement is false, and indeed, I am not even certain that Steele wants us to believe it.

At the moment I am still trying to put different parts of the picture together.

A plausible interpretation, however, is that from early on, key figures in the conspiracy, on both sides of the Atlantic, were well aware that it was fragile.

Accordingly, in addition to the first line of defence – ‘doubling down’, in particular with the framing of Flynn – contingency plans were early one made for a ‘fallback’ strategy, which involved making Steele the ‘patsy.’ And, I think it is possible that he is responding by, in a disguised way, ‘pushing back.’

Of course, I may be wrong. However, it really would seem to me desirable that people tried to get hold, asap, of the contradictory accounts of events given by Steele, and other materials from the cases brought against him in London.

If as I suspect memoranda 87 and 88 were related to ‘Russiagate’, and were deliberately ommitted from the dossier as published, they would be of particular interest.

j

When will we see Schiff and his cohorts prosecuted for their malfeasance of Congressional office? At the least Schiff needs to be kicked to the curb from the House Intelligence Committee for cause -- operating without a brain one.

turcopolier

David Habakkuk et al

I would ask you all to consider the possibility that the Steele Dossier was not a product of Russian government IO. Rather, that it was ginned up altogether by Steele, a professional meddler and Trump hater. Fusion GPS approached the law firm representing the DNC and the Clinton campaign with an offer to generate OPO research on Trump. The Democrats proceeded to fund that research and Steele who had been a paid informant for the FBI for several years was hired to do the job. Steele had been a significant figure in MI-6 with regard to Russia and it is entirely possible that he contacted some of his old sources, but there is no good reason IMO to think that their rumors were other than inspirational for Steele's literary efforts. To what extent the British government's own IO network played a role in encouraging Steele is not yet known.

Patrick Armstrong

Dare I wonder if there is a certain cunning timing to all these revelations? Having to do with causing damage and embarrassment to the Dems just in time for maximum annihilation in November?

I know it's a long and complicated investigation and Durham had to start cold but I made a small bet with myself 6 months ago that we would start seeing revelations in late spring 2020 building to the big stuff around Aug-Sep.

Eric Newhill

I don't understand why Steele wrote fiction that was so over the top (e.g. the peeing prostitutes). Seems unprofessional. Such sensationalism calls the dossier into question. He had to know that there wasn't going be corroboration from any women that Trump was into that kind of weirdness.

David Habakkuk

Patrick,

I need to think about that.

However, from the British end.

Our current ‘élites’, like those in the United States, are generally rather silly.

The discontents which led to ‘Brexit’ and Trump’s victory were clearly visible, four decades ago, if one cared to look.

The fact that the Russian ‘deplorables’ were coming to feel that their country’s ‘liberals’ had, ‘sold them a pup’, was also clearly visible to people who anyone interested in knowing, by the time of Putin’s - rather fortuitous – accent to power.

However, it was regarded as self-evident by people on both sides of the political ‘fence’ here that it was sensible to take for granted that Hillary Clinton would easily ‘see off’ Trump, and that it was sensible to side with Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky against Putin.

(The embrace of ‘Brexit’ by Boris Johnson was, most probably, in the expectation that ‘Remain’ would win, but he would have ‘positioned’ himself successfully with a constituency he needed to win the leadership of his party.)

What we are seeing in Britain, it seems to me, are people ‘going around in circles’, as they work out how find the ‘least worst’ way out of the dead ends into which their stupid bets have led them.

Obviously, the failure to understand the strength of the forces which led to Trump’s victory is by far the most important element.

How such people can see the utter stupidity of siding with Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky, and also the ‘Banderistas’ in Ukraine, and Ibn al-Khattab and his little friends in Chechnya, remains a moot point.

Fred

Patrick,

Timing? You mean like the never ending series of 'crisis' concocted by Democratic operatives in government and media? The only thing not expected was Chinese biological/economic warfare after their conrona virus outbreak. I suspect these releases of declassified information would have hit in February rather than the Fauci fraud show that is destroying the ecomomy of the Republic.

Patrick Armstrong

David. I think, and am saying so loudly, that the West has lost its competence and that COVID-19 is a very visible demonstration of that (especially coming after that survey that said the USA and UK would be the best-equipped to handle a pandemic. A lot of people painted into a lot of corners and no good idea of how to get out except lay down more paint. Fortunately Russia and China are run by rational actors

Terence Gore

Eric

There has been some suggestion that there were multiple authors and Steele was the cover for using a verified source.

The titillating nature of the report got it widespread coverage and eyes viewing it.

"Bongino questioned Steele's actual participation with the dossier, arguing his name may have been used because he'd previously provided credible information for the FIFA soccer corruption probe.

"Why was his name slapped on it? The answer is very simple: because Steele had been a credible source for the FBI in the past. ... In other words, in front of a judge, they could present Steele as a legitimate front for false information."

https://www.foxnews.com/media/dan-bongino-newly-released-fbi-documents-on-steele-dossier-fisa-applications-are-devastating

Deap

Fred, I agree the timing of this denouement was entirely in the hands of the Democrats.

Here is my take: They first needed to create the CYA Mueller Report, riddled with specious "conclusions" in their efforts to sever connections between their own malfeasance during the Obama administration, now percipitated by the totally unexpected Trump election.. Mike Rogers was on to this. Michael Flynn was on to this. So that pushes the timing out a few years.

Next we have Ukraine, then the Pelosi slow walk to impeachment. Bow the deep stater Fauci-Birx corona slow walk. Anything to keep the Horowitz revelations off the front pages too. They knew that was coming. Next challenge, how to bury the Barr-Durham criminal investigation findings. Democrats now really have their back up against the wall.

So I will go so far to claim, yes, the Democrats would even use and/or gin up the "corona crisis" to shut everything down. My background is in health sciences - there was no justification to shut down the world over a "novel" bad flu., unless you are already in control of the media agenda and have a compelling reason to do it.

Democrats and Corona - in pari delitcti (Not to be confused with Pierre Delecto, who also had his own dirty hands in this.)

Democrats, and their front groups like AVAAZ with their 60 million global activist connections, had plenty of reasons to not waste this latest pending "crisis" when they could use it for political gain.

My God, Trump has been resilient. He may stumble and bumble, but he has never blinked.

LondonBob

Agree Patrick, clever to for it all come out in the run up to the election, and that was my expectation too.

turcopolier

David Habakkuk et al

I learn that Steele was already employed by Fusion GPS when they made their pitch to the law firm. He had been working on the previous IO project paid for by the Washington
examiner.

NotSure

Well Larry, you might have been right all along saying it was a leak. I myself came to believe it was Russian hacking, but if this true, it's explosive.

https://www.infowars.com/nsa-has-communications-between-seth-rich-and-wikileaks-attorney-claims/

Clevenger went on to say that several high-ranking FBI and NSA have seen the correspondence between Rich and WikiLeaks firsthand.

“In a recorded telephone conversation with my client, famed journalist Seymour “Sy” Hersh claimed that he spoke with a high-ranking FBI official who confirmed the existence of email communications between Mr. Rich and Wikileaks. My client separately spoke with another federal official who said he had seen the emails between Mr. Rich and Wikileaks,” he wrote.

“Now, back to the NSA. Former NSA officials Bill Binney, Ed Loomis, and Kirk Wiebe are prepared to testify that the DNC emails published by Wikileaks could not have been obtained via hacking,” he continued.

“Markings on the published emails –including the speeds at which the email files were transmitted – exclude the possibility of hacking. Instead, someone must have downloaded the files onto a thumb drive or something similar. Furthermore, the NSA or its Five Eyes partners in London would have intercepted any communications between Mr. Rich and WikiLeaks.”

Is this true? Did Seth Rich, the murdered DNC staffer, actually corresponded with Wikileaks? Or this lawyer blowing hot air?

blue peacock

Mr. Habakkuk,

Would you have any updates based on your following the cases related to Seth Rich? It seems that attorney Ty Clevenger has been stymied as he attempts discovery.

https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/04/newly-released-fisa-documents-deep-state-spying-george-papadopoulos-curiously-seth-richs-name-redacted-transcripts/

Fred

Patrick,

".... the West has lost its competence and that COVID-19 is a very visible demonstration of that.."
That's a sweeping condemnation that does not appear to be supported by the facts, though I would love to see your rationale for concluding that.
"Fortunately Russia and China are run by rational actors"

Fortunate for whom?

blue peacock

"....the West has lost its competence and that COVID-19 is a very visible demonstration of that....Fortunately Russia and China are run by rational actors"

Patrick,

One would have to agree with your observation that competence of western governments have long been lost at the altar of politics and internal struggles for power and the short-term financial benefits of the powerful. It would appear that western governments are following the Soviets where their primary focus is PR & propaganda. Pravda on the Potomac and Pravda on the Hudson along with their fellow travelers in both print & television media are well integrated with the media relations efforts of the various government organs.

It seems however contrary to your belief that the CCP is rational they too demonstrated substantial incompetence and followed up their incompetence with a scale of repression that they've tried to obfuscate for years.

The country that showed remarkable competence was the CCPs bête noire, Taiwan. Their intelligence remarkably caught the phenomenon of too many people in Wuhan getting hospitalized with pneumonia. Their distrust of CCP caused them to act quickly and early by scaling back travel from China drastically and monitoring those that had been to China recently. The results are remarkable. Single digit deaths in a country with over a million annual visitors from China.

Jim

I am aware Washington Free Beacon admitted on Oct. 27, 2017, to employing Fusions GPS.

https://freebeacon.com/uncategorized/fusion-gps-washington-free-beacon/

This is what the WFB claimed at the time, according to Matthew Continetti, Editor in Chief & company Chairman Michael Goldfarb

[[[Since its launch in February of 2012, the Washington Free Beacon has retained third party firms to conduct research on many individuals and institutions of interest to us and our readers. In that capacity, during the 2016 election cycle we retained Fusion GPS to provide research on multiple candidates in the Republican presidential primary, just as we retained other firms to assist in our research into Hillary Clinton. All of the work that Fusion GPS provided to the Free Beacon was based on public sources, and none of the work product that the Free Beacon received appears in the Steele dossier. The Free Beacon had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele. Nor did we have any knowledge of the relationship between Fusion GPS and the Democratic National Committee, Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign.]]]

-30-

will.271828

it's good to be able to read the full DOJ motion to dismiss the Flynn case together with its exhibits
https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/6936-michael-flynn-motion-to-dismiss/fa06f5e13a0ec71843b6/optimized/full.pdf

Interestingly, Steele and Ivanka were buds at one time, go figure?
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/09/christopher-steele-ivanka-trump-personal-relationship

Eliot

Eric,

You write for your audience. Either Steele was so mad, that he believed such things, or he felt that the Clinton Campaign and the DNC would eat it up.

Perhaps his investigation didn’t produce any real information, he wasn’t allowed to clear Trump, that wasn’t an option, and so he came up with the lurid stories to distract his clients. Gray financial dealings would be easier to fact check, and harder to write.

I do think it’s telling that the Democrats, and so much of Washington, thought Moscow had purchased Trump. Because it shows how they operate. They pursue policy because someone is paying.

- Eliot

J

Colonel, Larry,

I am now very concerned for both Trump and Pence's personal safety. When one takes 10 steps back and looks at the situation, it seems as if there is concerted effort afoot to infect those who have access to both the President and Vice-President, and in turn infect both POTUS and VP. If both Pence and Trump are removed, under our laws then Pelosi becomes the President. And she has made many snide remarks about removing Trump from office. The 'only' time that Pelosi has 'protected speech' is on the floor of the House, the same is for Senators whose only time of protected speech is on the Senate floor. Anyway back to my concerns, the SS contingent protecting POTUS appears to have the virus raging in their ranks. Also POTUS's military contingent personnel. White House personnel there are reports of infections of those close to the President and Vice President.

Again, I am concerned that there appears a concerted effort afoot.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/07/us/politics/coronavirus-white-house-military-aide.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52595700

https://news.yahoo.com/secret-service-coronavirus-cases-white-house-concerns-221444492.html

Fred

J,

"If both Pence and Trump are removed" Self quarantine isn't going to remove either one from office; maybe the MSM can have fun with the 25th Amendment arguement- again. On a brighter note I don't think either is going to accept an invitation to dinner at Chappaquiddick. The press want's mask photos to share their "rejoice, we conquer!" glee and generate lots of dopamine hits on social media. That's all any of these stories are.

Jack

David,

I’m afraid that the “limited hangouts” are always the tool when skeletons find a way out of the closet.

The usual narrative of the institution is fine and upstanding. The hardworking “by the book” rank and file. The stress of the circumstances where everything had to be done to protect the integrity of the heart of democracy, an election. The evil Putin is known to interfere and sabotage. So considering the circumstances we deem it “careless” and not rising to the standard of prosecution. Kinda what Horowitz did? And how the Clinton breach of classified information was handled?

Was the withdrawal of the prosecution of Flynn by Barr designed to obscure even more incriminating documents that Ms. Powell was slowly getting to? Were those handwritten notes released as “red meat”? How about the transcripts of the closed door House intelligence committee hearings?

In most countries especially those where coup attempts are routine, if there was an attempted coup the plotters would be rounded up and dealt with promptly. Erdogan in Turkey is a good example. Of course the coup here was more subtle. However, Trump never used the powers of his office nor was he single minded in getting to the bottom of the coup and eradicating the threat to his presidency. There’s some informational value in that behavior.

Another aspect is that half this country in their hatred for Trump believes it is quite acceptable to attempt such a coup against him. They’re quite happy to go down the slippery slope towards allowing the “state security” apparatus the levers of real power with no accountability. The very antithesis of a constitutional republic and truly dangerous to the liberty of citizens.

Then of course are those with the real power. The political duopoly. The leadership of the governmental apparat. The nexus of financial power and the big corporate establishment. They have no interest in unraveling their opaque power structure. This is what I find baffling - why this attempted takedown of Trump when if one disregards his style, his rhetoric and manner of speech he’s one of them. Most of his policies to date have largely benefited the establishment. The current funneling of largesse to Wall St is epic. Something doesn’t smell right to me.


Is this the “red meat” you’re contemplating?

https://twitter.com/drmartyfox/status/1259564414191222785?s=21

Deap

J. why would only elderly Pelosi be immune from the "novel" virus in your succession scenario? Or perhaps we might learn leaking botox deactivates the virus.

Yeah, Right

Eric: "I don't understand why Steele wrote fiction that was so over the top (e.g. the peeing prostitutes)."

Dare I suggest it might be because ol' Sergei Skripal loved a spin tall tales, especially after a few beers with his drinking buddy Pablo Miller.

Deap

Jack, Trump's 150 plus federal judiciary appointments, including more strict constructionists on the US Supreme Court, will be his most lasting and most beneficial legacy for all of us. That alone earns him four more years.

Trump brought candor and grit to tjis task, which has shaken up the establishment. Perhaps we differ when we define the establishment. Do you t overlook the very entrenched deep state public sector employees and their unions? They in fact are the "establishment".

These unelected fourth branch of government employees, who see themselves as powers only unto themselves, were never contemplated by our nation's Founders. Hence their powers exists outside of our formal checks and balances.

These current deep state entrenched obstructionists remain Barry's most dangerous legacy. To say Trump was initially ill-prepared to meet their force and fury is an understatement. To Trump's lasting credit, he continues to prevail against them.

Give this new kid some credit; and most of all give him four more years. Trump is emerging as a seasoned warrior. While Biden is battle-scarred and fading, Trump is only now getting his second wind.

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