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Thursday, January 12, 2017

James Comey: What did he know and when did he know it?

In a classic case of "what goes around comes around", the FBI Director James Comey learns what it feels like to be under investigation. He had no business investigating bogus emails off of Secretary Hillary Clinton's benign server, especially while Russians were hacking the US presidential election.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey: What did he know about the salacious Trump intelligence (unverified) obtained from Britian's M16 (CIA equivalent) 

Considering how government processes can work at glacially slow speeds, the rather rapid response by the Justice Department to investigate James Comey's interference in the Presidential election is remarkable. In fact, Comey's bogus investigation, in what I call the "Where is Waldo" Clinton emails, coincided with Russian hacking of internal campaign communications, not to mention smearing Donald Trump with clandestinely obtained salacious intelligence, to create an alarming question. "What did James Comey know and when did he know it?"

The Washington Post reports
Heraldry of the Seal  Each symbol and color in the FBI seal has special significance. The dominant blue field of the seal and the scales on the shield represent justice. The endless circle of 13 stars denotes unity of purpose as exemplified by the original 13 states. The laurel leaf has, since early civilization, symbolized academic honors, distinction, and fame. There are exactly 46 leaves in the two branches, since there were 46 states in the Union when the FBI was founded in 1908. The significance of the red and white parallel stripes lies in their colors. Red traditionally stands for courage, valor, strength, while white conveys cleanliness, light, truth, and peace. As in the American flag, the red bars exceed the white by one. The motto, “ Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity,” succinctly describes the motivating force behind the men and women of the FBI (see below). The peaked bevelled edge which circumscribes the seal symbolizes the severe challenges confronting the FBI and the ruggedness of the organization. The gold color in the seal conveys its overall value.  It has come to the attention of the FBI that “Fair Use Warnings” accompanied by an image of the FBI seal (or similar insignia) have been posted on various websites, giving the appearance that the FBI has created or authorized these notices to advise the public about  the fair use doctrine in U.S. copyright law. The FBI recognizes that the fair use of copyrighted materials, as codified in Title 17, United States Code, section 107, does not constitute infringement. These warnings, however, are not authorized or endorsed by the FBI.  Unauthorized use of the FBI seal (or colorable imitations) may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Sections 701, 709, or other applicable law. More information about copyright law and fair use is available from Library of Congress, U.S. Copyright Office, at www.copyright.gov.  Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity—The FBI Motto  The origins of the FBI’s motto may be traced to a brief comment by Inspector W. H. Drane Lester, the editor of the employee magazine, The Investigator, in September 1935:  “F B I”  At last we have a name that lends itself to dignified abbreviation the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which quite naturally becomes “F B I.” In the past our nicknames, which the public are so prone to give us, have been many and varied. “Justice Agents”, “D. J. Men”, “Government Men” are but a few of them, with the Bureau itself incorrectly referred to as “Crime Bureau”, “Identification Bureau” and “Crime Prevention Bureau.” The latest appellation, and perhaps the one which has become most widespread, is “G-Men’, an abbreviation itself for “Government Men.”  But “F B I” is the best and one from which we might well choose our motto, for those initials also represent the three things for which the Bureau and its representatives always stand: “Fidelity - Bravery - Integrity.”

Justice Department inspector general to investigate pre-election actions by department and FBI
The Justice Department inspector general will review broad allegations of misconduct involving FBI Director James B. Comey and how he handled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email practices, the inspector general announced Thursday.

The investigation will be wide ranging — encompassing Comey’s various letters and public statements on the matter and whether FBI or other Justice Department employees leaked nonpublic information, according to Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

The inspector general’s announcement drew praise from those on both sides of the political aisle, for different reasons, and once again put Comey on the hot-seat. Democrats and Clinton herself have blamed Comey for the Democratic candidate’s loss, arguing that the renewed inquiry and the FBI director’s public missives on the eve of the election blunted her momentum. Comey also has been criticized for months by former Justice officials for violating the department’s policy of avoiding any action that could affect a candidate close to an election. President-elect Donald Trump has notably declined to commit to keeping the FBI Director.

Brian Fallon, a former Clinton campaign spokesman, praised the investigation Thursday.
“This is highly encouraging and to be expected given Director Comey’s drastic deviation from Justice Department protocol,” Fallon said. “A probe of this sort, however long it takes to conduct, is utterly necessary in order to take the first step to restore the FBI’s reputation as a non-partisan institution.”

Lawmakers and others had called previously for the inspector general to probe the FBI’s pre-election actions when it came to the Clinton probe, alleging that Comey bucked long-standing policies with his communications about the case and that information seemed to have leaked inappropriately — perhaps to former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Trump supporter.

[The attorney general could have ordered FBI Director James Comey not to send his bombshell letter on Clinton emails. Here’s why she didn’t.]

Horowitz said in a news release that he will explore the circumstances surrounding the actions of Comey and others, though he will not re-litigate whether anyone should have faced charges.

“The review will not substitute the OIG’s judgment for the judgments made by the FBI or the Department regarding the substantive merits of investigative or prosecutive decisions,” the news release said, using an acronym for the Office of the Inspector General.

In a statement, Comey said: “I am grateful to the Department of Justice’s IG for taking on this review. He is professional and independent and the FBI will cooperate fully with him and his office. I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency regarding this matter.”

The FBI’s probe into whether Clinton mishandled classified information by using a private email server when she was secretary of state has long been controversial and politically charged.

Perhaps most notably, Comey on Oct. 28 — after previously announcing publicly that he was recommending no charges in the case — sent a letter to congressional leaders telling them that agents had resumed the Clinton probe after finding potentially relevant information in an unrelated case — the investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

The day before, senior Justice Department leaders had warned Comey not to send the letter, because it violated two long-standing department policies — discussing an ongoing investigation and taking any overt action on an investigation so close to an election. At the time, it was less than two weeks before the election, and early voting had already begun.

Conversely, Comey has notably declined to talk about any possible investigations of President-elect Donald Trump or his campaign, as recently as this week rebuffing requests from legislators to confirm agents were looking into any such matters. That has drawn charges of hypocrisy from Democrats, though it is in line with normal practices.


“I don’t—especially in a public forum, we never confirm or deny a pending investigation,” Comey said this week.

The Inspector General did not say he would investigate Comey’s comments on Trump or any matters related to Russian interference in the election.

Comey sent a second letter to Congress on the Clinton case, just days before the election, declaring that the investigation was complete and he was not changing the decision he had made in July to recommend no charges. (Unfortunately) But the damage — in the minds of Clinton supporters, at least — had been done.


Horowitz wrote that he will explore “allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed” in connection with both letters. When he is finished, his office will likely issue a lengthy report detailing what it has found, as it has done in other high-profile matters, though it is also possible he could recommend criminal charges for anyone found to have broken the law. The probe could take a significant amount of time.

Deputy Inspector General Robert P. Storch declined to comment for this story.

Horowitz wrote that his inquiry would extend back to at least July — when Comey announced he was recommending the Clinton case be closed without charges. He wrote that he would explore “allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information” — potentially a reference to Giuliani, who seemed to claim at one point he had insider FBI knowledge. Horowitz also wrote that he would explore whether FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should have been recused from the case. McCabe’s wife, ran for a Virginia senate seat and took money from the PAC of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a fierce Clinton ally.

Efforts to reach McCabe were not immediately successful. Giuliani has previously said he would cooperate with an inspector general investigation, though he said he had talked to only former FBI officials and was not the recipient of any leaks. He did not return a message Thursday.

Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who called for the inspector general to inquire about Giuliani, said in a joint statement: “Our citizens must be able to trust that the FBI, our chief federal law enforcement agency, is non-partisan and does not insert itself into the electoral process. We are pleased that the Inspector General is following up on our request to investigate and review these allegations and look forward to receiving a full review of these matters.”

Horowitz wrote that he would delve more deeply into the FBI publishing, just days before the election, 129 pages of internal documents from a years-old probe into former president Bill Clinton’s pardon of a fugitive Democratic donor. And he said he would also probe whether Peter Kadzik, the Justice Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs “improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from participating in certain matters.” Kadzik used to be the lawyer for Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and Wikileaks released hacked emails showing communications between the two men about the State Department’s review of Clinton emails for Freedom of Information Act purposes.


In an interview, Kadzik, who said he was speaking in his personal capacity, called the inspector general’s investigation “disheartening.” He noted the information he gave Podesta about a hearing and a court document already was public, and it came before the FBI opened its criminal investigation.

Of whether he should have recused himself from any involvement in that criminal probe, Kadzik said: “It’s not as if I had any decision making authority or role in the criminal investigation. I wasn’t involved in the criminal investigation. There was nothing to recuse myself from.” His job, he said, was to transmit information to Congress, and even then, “It’s not like I’m making a decision on what to give or not to give with respect to that, particularly with respect to a criminal investigation like the Clinton investigation. ”

Kadzik declined to say whether he would cooperate with the Inspector General probe.

“My answer is, I wish the Inspector General would have talked to me first,” he said.

Virtually all of the matters being probed are well-publicized controversies, and in some cases, the FBI has defended its actions. In the case of McCabe, for example, the deputy director’s wife, physician Jill McCabe, was recruited to run for a Virginia state senate seat, and took more than $450,000 from a McAuliffe PAC. At the time news of the donations broke, Trump, then just a candidate for president, called the development “absolutely disgraceful” and claimed, “we’ve never had a thing like this in the history of our country.”

The FBI, though, asserted at the time that McCabe had checked in with ethics officials and followed agency protocols. And, when his wife was first recruited to run, he was not yet deputy director. He was elevated to that post in February 2016, after his wife was out of politics.

The FBI, too, has previously stood by its handling of the release of documents related to the Marc Rich pardon. The bureau dumped the documents onto a records website on Nov. 1 — just days before the election — and announced it had done so on Twitter. The bureau said it did so in response to records requests, and the tweet was sent because of updates to an automated system. The timing generated significant controversy, though, and someone complained to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

An FBI spokesman said at the time he had been in touch with the office’s director, and it was “unlikely” an investigation would be launched. Now, the inspector general will look into the matter.

Notably absent from the list of matters being considered is Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s controversial meeting in June with former president Bill Clinton aboard her plane on the tarmac of the Phoenix, Airport. The half-hour conversation, which Lynch has said she regrets, created the appearance that the attorney general was politically compromised. (This tarmac meeting is totally benign when given the barrage of conflict of interest issues and law suits faced by Donald Trump during his political campaign.)
Some officials say it left a leadership vacuum and likely prompted Comey to give his controversial July press conference, at which he announced he was recommending no charges for Clinton but criticized her and her aides as “extremely careless.”

The tarmac meeting could be encompassed in the investigation of possible leaks of information, and Horowitz wrote that his investigators would consider “other issues that may arise during the course of the review.” But Horowitz specifically referenced the dates of Comey’s letters and his press conference as parts of his investigation. He did not mention Bill Clinton or Lynch, who have both asserted that their conversation was not about the Clinton email case.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took note of the omission.

“It’s good to hear that the Inspector General agreed to my request to look at multiple concerns that I raised throughout the investigation,” Grassley said in a statement. “Conspicuously absent, though, is any specific reference to the Attorney General’s failure to recuse herself from the probe, particularly after her meeting with former President Clinton. It’s in the public interest to provide a full accounting of all the facts that led to the FBI and Justice Department’s decision-making regarding the investigation.”
Anne Gearan and Karen DeYoung contributed to this WP report.
In my opinon, Donald Trump has admitted to a list of abuses of the law so, therefore, "where there's smoke, there's fire".  I believe the "unsubstantiated" intelligence because M16 in Britian, where the salacious report was compiled, is an international espionage organization with extraordinary credibility.

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