Times and administrations change. There was a time not too long ago when the Barack Obama haters desperately wanted to see his grades and falsely claimed that he spent over a million dollars in legal fees to keep Harvard Law School from releasing them. Actually, federal law protects all students’ privacy concerning their grades and other information, but why should a simple truth get in the way of a good myth. Yet not a peep from the right about Trump’s threats against New York Military Academy and the University of Pennsylvania if either disclosed his grades or SAT scores, something we learned from the Michael Cohen (Trump’s former lawyer) testimony---Cohen being the conduit of Trump’s threats.
The book is still out on the full results of the Robert Mueller investigation. Attorney General William Barr summarized Mueller’s report stating that in effect neither Trump nor his campaign conspired with the Russians to alter the outcome of the 2016 election. Barr also concluded that there was no attempt to obstruct justice.
But some of Mueller’s evidence gathering has been turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in New York and the District of Columbia. Also, one of Mueller’s prosecutors has been named a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the DC office, which suggests he will continue to handle unknown matters he worked on in the investigation. The American people deserve to know as much as can be revealed consistent with legal limitations pertaining to grand jury secrecy, ongoing investigations, protecting sources and methods, and national security considerations.
Our elected representatives should see the full report, barring a judge’s decision ruling otherwise. There is a skiff (also known as a SCIF---Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) available to those with clearances, and in the interest of knowing if the Mueller investigation was legitimately conducted or not, there should be no holding back, especially considering the number of attacks on Mueller and the investigation by Trump and loyalist Republicans.
As the debate concerning the Mueller report continues, Barr for some reason told a Senate subcommittee that he believed “spying” occurred on the Trump campaign by the FBI. Only later in his testimony did Barr slightly clarify his remark that he wasn’t making a judgment concerning whether the spying was appropriate.
Right wing talk radio and Trump loyalists were ecstatic. Barr’s comment confirmed in their minds that the FBI had illegitimately obtained a FISA warrant based on the false allegations in the Steele Dossier that allowed the Bureau to electronically intercept Trump and/or members of his campaign. In their minds it confirmed Trump’s allegation that Obama himself had authorized spying on him and his campaign to include electronic surveillance of Trump Tower.
The FISA warrant allowed the FBI to monitor the conversations of a former Trump campaign worker, Carter Page, after Page left the campaign. The FBI had developed substantial information that Page was dealing, knowingly or unknowingly, with Russian intelligence agents.
The FBI also had other information from a reliable source that another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had said he knew about Russian hacking into Hillary Clinton’s computers in order to help Trump get elected, which formed the basis of the Russia investigation.
What we don’t know, because we haven’t seen it, is what actually is in the FISA application that caused a judge to issue the warrant. There is no evidence that the FBI misled the FISA court concerning information in the Steele Dossier, unless you consider the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity reliable sources to the contrary. Barring national security concerns, the American people should know if the FISA application process was corrupted in this instance.
The right wing conspiracy believers continue to propagate the canard that FBI Agent Peter Strzok tried to throw the election for Hillary. No argument that he said some really dumb things in text messages to FBI lawyer Lisa Page about preventing Trump from being elected. But there was never a leak about the FBI’s Russia investigation during the campaign, and the Inspector General’s office confirmed in their report that there was no evidence that Strzok had leaked any information about it . It also seems odd that Strzok may have been the author of the draft memo to then FBI Director James Comey recommending reopening the investigation into Hillary’s emails days before the election. I’m sure Hillary Clinton appreciates all of Strzok’s efforts on her behalf.
A lot of honest and honorable people have worked and continue to work at the Justice Department. The attacks on these dedicated professionals is unwarranted and undermines the faith in our system of government. I worked with Sally Yates for years on many investigations. She approved the FISA application on Carter Page before it went to a judge. If you know her you know it is unimaginable that would have deviated from a lifetime of strict adherence to the law. She and other career professionals deserve better for their dedicated service to this country.
Let’s hope the Republicans support full disclosure, within the aforementioned limitations, of the Mueller Report and FISA application---but also let our elected representatives on congressional committees with a need to know, have full access barring a judge’s order providing any restrictions. The American people deserve the truth---good, bad, and ugly.