As President Trump does his victory lap now that Mueller’s report has cleared him, it looks like he’s just warming up to go to war.
In an interview with Fox News’ Hannity Wednesday night, he all but announced that he’s taking the gloves off.
President Trump promised to release the full and unredacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and related documents used by the FBI to probe his campaign.
He says he wants to “get to the bottom” of just how the whole Russia collusion narrative began.
Why did he wait so long? Trump said his lawyers had previously advised him NOT to declassify the documents out of fear that it would be positioned as “obstruction of justice”.
“I do, I have plans to declassify and release. I have plans to absolutely release,” Trump said. “I have some very talented people working for me, lawyers, they really didn’t want me to do it early on.”
That was just his warm up on the show.
President Trump on the FBI
President Trump took FBI officials to task, accusing them of committing “treason”. In particular, he attacked former FBI Director James Comey as a “terrible guy”. He called former CIA Director John Brennan an individual who might be mentally ill. Then he referred to Democrat House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as a criminal.
Redacted versions of the FISA documents had been previously released and support the president’s argument about a setup. They revealed that the FBI relied on documents produced by Christopher Steele to surveil Trump aide Carter Page.
Steele was an anti-Trump British former spy who worked for a firm funded by… drum roll… the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
At least one senior Department of Justice official had raised concerns that Steele was unreliable, according to text messages obtained by Fox News last week.
It was that leaked dossier and related FBI surveillance that lead to the media frenzy over “Russia collusion”. Those war drums died over the weekend, when it was revealed that Robert Mueller’s probe found no evidence of collusion. This, despite several offers by Russians to help the Trump campaign.
Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul tweeted late Wednesday that anti-Trump ex-CIA Director John Brennan had internally pushed the dossier. He cited a high-level source.
BREAKING: A high-level source tells me it was Brennan who insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier be included in the Intelligence Report… Brennan should be asked to testify under oath in Congress ASAP.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 27, 2019
President Trump on Brennan
“I think Brennan’s a sick person, really I do,” Trump said. “I think there’s something wrong with him.”
In recent weeks, Brennan had claimed Trump committed treason. He’s been one of the loudest voices screaming “Russia collusion” for more than two years. Just weeks ago, he said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was most likely planning to indict members of the Trump administration’s family. He referred to it in a scene similar to that in “Ides of March” and the assassination of Julius Caesar.
He’s since said he had “bad information”.
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC HOST ‘LAST WORD’: Are you one who’s willing to, at this stage of the game, venture a guess about where Robert Mueller is and isn’t in this process and how close he is to filing a report? And beyond that, what would you would expect from such a report?
JOHN BRENNAN, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: I think Robert Mueller wants to be able to conclude his work and turn over the investigative threads to the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of Virginia, and other jurisdictions as appropriate as we’re coming up to two years. So I think he does want to conclude that.
I wouldn’t be surprised if for example this week on Friday, not knowing anything about it, but Friday is the day the grand jury indictments come down and also this Friday is better than next Friday because next Friday is the 15th of March, which is the Ides of March. And I don’t think Robert Mueller will want to have that dramatic flair of the Ides of March when he is going to be delivering what I think are going to be are his indictments, the final indictments as well the report he gives to the Attorney General.
O’DONNELL: What makes you believe that he has more indictments?
BRENNAN: Because he hasn’t addressed the issues related to criminal conspiracy as well as individuals —
O’DONNELL: A criminal conspiracy involving the Russians?
BRENNAN: Yes. I think it was very —
O’DONNELL: That’s an area you know something about. That was developing while you were still on the job.
BRENNAN: Well, it was in terms of looking at what was going on with the Russians and whether or not U.S. persons were actively collaborating, colluding, cooperating and involved in a conspiracy with them or not but also if there is going to be any member of the Trump family —
O’DONNELL: Did you see enough at that stage to believe that there would now, that that would result in indictments once investigated?
BRENNAN: I thought at the time there was going to be individuals who were going to have issues with the Department of Justice. Yes. And I think we’ve already seen a number of individuals who have been indicted, either have plead guilty or have been convicted now.
So again, I don’t have any inside knowledge. I’m not talking with anybody in the special counsel’s office.
O’DONNELL: Yes, you do. You have the inside knowledge of what began it all.
BRENNAN: Not about the status of the investigation now but I do think also if anybody from the Trump family, extended family is going to be indicted, it would be the final act of Mueller’s investigation because Bob Muller and his team knows if he were to do something, indicting a Trump family member or if he were to go forward with indictment on criminal conspiracy involving U.S. persons, that would be that would basically be the deathknell of the special counsel’s office because I don’t believe Donald Trump would allow Bob Mueller to continue in the aftermath of those types of actions.
“When I said there could be somebody spying on my campaign, it went wild out there,” Trump told Hannity. “They couldn’t believe I could say such a thing. As it turned out, that was small potatoes compared to what went on. … Millions and millions [spent] on the phony dossier, and then they used the dossier to start things. It was a fraud, paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.”
President Trump On A Second Special Counsel
Earlier Wednesday, Trump made it very clear that he is excited about the idea of appointing a second special counsel. This one would be tapped to review the origins of the Russian investigation.
He also seemingly took a shot at former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He said Wednesday evening “this all would not have happened” if Attorney General William Barr had been around from the beginning.
“If you wrote this as a novel, nobody would buy it; it would be a failure, because it would be too unbelievable,” Trump said. “We’re getting to the bottom of it. This can never, ever happen to a president again. That was a disgrace and an embarrassment to our country. … Hopefully they won’t get away with it.
“We’ll have to see how it all started, but I’m going to leave that to other people, including the attorney general and others, to make that determination,” Trump continued. “Fifty years, 100 years from now — if someone tries the same thing, they have to know the penalty will be very very great if and when they get caught.”
President Trump on Schiff
In the interview, Trump also went after Adam Schiff, who is STILL pushing for investigations into Trump and potential Russia links.
“Schiff is a bad guy, he knew he was lying — he’s not a dummy. For a year and a half he would just leak and call up CNN and others. You know, I watch him, so sanctimonious … He knew it was a lie, and he’d get in the back room with his friends in the Democrat Party, and they would laugh like hell. In one way, you could say it’s a crime what he did — he was making statements he knew were false. He’s a disgrace to our country.”
Schiff has said he believes there’s “significant evidence of collusion” linking the Russian government with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and said Democrats will probably subpoena Mueller if the full report isn’t released.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., also doubled down this weekend:
“So we know a lot of things and maybe it’s not indictable, but we know there was collusion. The question is the degree.”
On Saturday, a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee conceded that the release of Mueller’s conclusions will most likely lead to a huge celebration of Trump’s supporters, who have stood by the President for more than two years despite unceasing and unproven allegations that his campaign worked with Russia.
“It’s the end of the beginning but it’s not the beginning of the end,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons said. But he said it’s time to dive into other probes of Trump’s financial dealings.
“Once we get the principal conclusions of the report,” he added later, “I think it’s entirely possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core supporters.”
He said it’s now up to Congress.
“The job of Congress is much broader than the job of the special counsel,” Nadler said. “The special counsel is looking and can only look for crimes. We have to protect the rule of law, we have to look for abuses of power, we have to look for obstructions of justice, we have to look for corruption in the exercise of power which may not be crimes.”
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., said good luck in uncovering things that Mueller couldn’t.
“As we’ve seen in the first two months of this Congress, [Democrats] really don’t have a policy agenda,” Collins said. “They have an agenda against the President. They have an agenda to try and win 2020. And so, what we’re seeing is, they think that they can go into the Judiciary Committee or any other committee and have a limited budget, limited subpoena power, limited staff and go up against an investigation that lasted 22 months, had unlimited power, unlimited subpoena power, had plenty of investigators — and they think they can find something more than what they did, then I think they’re sadly mistaken.”
President Trump On Comey
President Trump took some time with Hannity to go after Comey whom he’d fired in 2017.
He referred to him as a “terrible guy” and insisted he didn’t fire him to obstruct justice. Just the opposite. He said he knew that the firing would increase scrutiny on him, but said he had no choice.
Referring to texts between former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa page, Trump said:
“It was treason, it was really treason.”
Those texts discussed an “insurance policy” in the event that Trump was elected.
“You had dirty cops, you had people who are bad FBI folks … At the top, they were not clean, to put it mildly.” He said later, “We can never allow these treasonous acts to happen to another president.”
Who Should Really Be Investigated? Clinton? Sanders? Democrats?
In the meantime, many conservatives are arguing that it’s Democrats who now need to come under increased scrutiny for their contacts with foreign nationals.
As noted above, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were the ones who hired the firm Fusion GPS, which employed Britsh ex-spy Christopher Steele to produce the anti-Trump dossier that the FBI used to justify surveillance on a top Trump aide.
Then there’s Bernie Sanders, who might himself be under investigation for “collusion” with foreign nationals – despite saying President Trump has been.
Last week, Bernie Sanders was hit with a complaint that claims his presidential campaign violated federal election laws by employing non-Americans in advisory positions.
The complaint was filed by the Coolidge Reagan Foundation with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
It noted that three members of the Sanders campaign are foreign nationals, and that’s a clear violation of federal election laws that prohibit foreign interference.
Among those staffers named in the complaint was Maria Belén Sisa, Sanders’ deputy national press secretary who joined the campaign last month.
Sisa says she’s an illegal immigrant whose residency is protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is an Obama-era program for assisting illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
You may recall hearing about Sisa in the news recently. This, after she invoked an anti-Semitic “dual allegiance” trope of Jewish Americans while defending Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and questioning whether American Jews, including Sanders, were loyal to the United States.
According to the complaint, Sisa didn’t just receive a salary from Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, she also donated to it and is now serving in “an advisory position” in the 2020 campaign. According to the complaint, these are all “direct and serious violations” of federal election laws.
“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations,” the complaint reads.
“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations.”
FEC rules are very clear that foreign nationals, who aren’t lawfully admitted permanent residents, cannot directly or indirectly participate in political campaigns. They also aren’t allowed to make political contibutions.
Two other foreign nationals on the Sanders’ 2016 campaign are also named in the complaint. They are immigration activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, who worked as the campaign’s national Latino outreach strategist and press secretary for Latino outreach.
The complaint goes on to state:
“Due to the high profile of Cesar Vargas, Erika Andiola, and Maria Belén Sisa as leading activists in the undocumented community, there is reason to believe that respondents are ‘foreign nationals’ within the meaning of 52 U.S.C. § 301219b)(2), and in violation of 11 C.F.R. § 110.20 (i) and A.O. 2004-26, directly or indirectly participated in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2016.”
“There is reason to believe, having previously employed Ms. Sisa, that Bernie 2020 is currently, and knowingly, permitting a ‘foreign national’ … to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2020.”
The complaint asks the FEC to investigate both the 2016 and the current presidential campaigns and take action to curb the violations.
“The Commission should determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations,” the complaint read. “Further, the Commission should enjoin respondents from any future violations and impose any necessary and appropriate remedies to ensure respondents’ future compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act.”
Last February, Sanders was mum on revelations that Russian actors tried to boost his presidential primary campaign to sink Hillary Clinton in 2016. Instead of addressing the accusations, he put out a statement blaming President Trump:
“It has been clear to everyone (except Donald Trump) that Russia was deeply involved in the 2016 elections and intends to be involved in the 2018 elections. It is the American people who should be deciding the political future of our country, not Mr. Putin and the Russian oligarchs,” Sanders said. “It is absolutely imperative that the Mueller investigation be allowed to go forward without obstruction from the Trump administration or Congress.”
His statement came shortly after Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three Russian entities for helping the Kremlin interfere in the last presidential election starting as early as 2014.
That indictment revealed at the efforts included “operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”
Russian “specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them.),’” the indictment continued.
The indictment said the message was sent around February 10, 2016, the day after both Sanders and Trump won their respective parties’ all-important New Hampshire primary contest.
Clinton and her spokesman didn’t comment on the indictments.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez did.
“This indictment gives us a chilling look at just how sophisticated, well-funded and wide-ranging this attack on democracy really was. It should send chills up the spine of every American.”
Documents Were Leaked By Sen. John McCain That Started Investigation
And earlier this month, new court documents were unveiled showing the role that McCain and an associate played in unleashing that previously mentioned unverified dossier during the election.
The document was shared with the FBI and a host of media outlets, and it alleged that the Russians had compromising information on now-President Trump
The document was leaked to BuzzFeed, which published shortly after it was received. McCain acknowledged giving it to the FBI but denied giving it to BuzzFeed.
Former senior counterintelligence FBI agent Bill Priestap confirmed that the FBI received a copy of the first 33 pages of the dossier in December 2016 from McCain. That information was just released in a newly unsealed declaration from September.
In another unsealed document, it was shown that David Kramer, who was a former State Department official and McCain associate, said in a December 13, 2017 deposition that the dossier was given to him by author and Christopher Steele. He said he then provided it to more than a dozen journalists at outlets that include BuzzFeed, The Washington Post and CNN. The details were first unveiled in The Daily Caller.
That report was also shared with State Department official Victoria Nuland, Obama National Security Council official Celeste Wallander and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois.
All of these filings were unsealed as part of what’s an ongoing libel case by a Russian businessman against BuzzFeed.
Kramer said in his deposition that McCain gave a copy of the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey on December 9 , 2017. Interestingly he admitted to investigators that it was the belief from Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson that “having Senator McCain provide it to the FBI would give it a little more oomph than it had had up until that point.”
“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” he said.
In his deposition, he described how BuzzFeed News reporter Ken Bensinger got the dossier before the outlet became the first to publish it in its entirety.
Kramer said that in December of 2017, he showed Bensinger the dossier at the McCain Institute but didn’t allow him to take pictures of it. But then he left him alone to read the memos. Surprise, surprise… during that time, Bensinger took pictures of the dossier.
Kramer claims he panicked when he saw that BuzzFeed News had published the document in its entirety online on Jan. 10. He claims he immediately tried to have it taken down.
“I called Mr. Bensinger, and my first words out of my mouth were ‘you are gonna get people killed,’” he said.
That document is the very one that the FBI relied on in its warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in seeking to surveil Trump aide Carter Page.
This, despite the fact some of the dossier’s claims have been called into question, including a claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to pay off Russian hackers and other more salacious claims about Trump himself.
Just to summarize:
- DNC and Clinton campaign hire company to create fake dossier on now-President Trump.
- Dossier given to McCain and team to make it seem legit.
- McCain and team give it to the FBI and leak it to the media.
- FBI uses fake, DNC and Clinton-contracted document to get warrant applications to surveil Trump campaign.
- Dossier proven to be bogus.
- Mueller report shows no collusion.
- Democrats vow to fight on because… Trump.