John Solomon’s Baby Assange

There are two telling details that John Solomon left out of this story, suggesting Jim Comey blew an opportunity to prevent the damage done by WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 leak (and, purportedly, to learn the “real” source of the DNC emails), based on a “trove” of documents but posting only fragments of 5. First, Solomon doesn’t include this text, showing Adam Waldman issuing an extortion threat stating Assange “is going to do something catastrophic for the dems, Obama, CIA and national security.”

Solomon is also silent about the recent indictment of anti-Obama former CIA hacker Joshua Schulte for stealing all these CIA files. Notably, Solomon doesn’t note that as this was going on, the FBI had obtained probable cause search warrants against Schulte. Having left out those key details (and surely, a bunch of other once included in his “trove” that don’t help the latest right wing narrative), Solomon produces the convenient narrative that Jim Comey personally hurt the government.

“He told me he had just talked with Comey and that, while the government was appreciative of my efforts, my instructions were to stand down, to end the discussions with Assange,” Waldman told me. Waldman offered contemporaneous documents to show he memorialized Warner’s exact words.

Waldman couldn’t believe a U.S. senator and the FBI chief were sending a different signal, so he went back to Laufman, who assured him the negotiations were still on. “What Laufman said to me after he heard I was told to ‘stand down’ by Warner and Comey was, ‘That’s bullshit. You are not standing down and neither am I,’” Waldman recalled.

Solomon pays no consideration to the ongoing investigation, no consideration to the fact that if Comey stood down, he did so in the face of threats to the Democrats (though it’s not clear why they’d be at fault), which as always is contrary to the hoaxes against Comey. More importantly, Solomon doesn’t answer the question posed, but not answered, here: whether Assange was seeking to meet at a cafe in London, or whether he wanted to come to the US and get a pardon once he got here.

The real punchline — the one we may see come back — is the claim that Jim Comey, on top of refusing an extortion attempt directed at the Democrats, also prevented — or maybe this isn’t about the FBI at all — from learning the real story behind the DNC hack.

Not included in the written proffer was an additional offer from Assange: He was willing to discuss technical evidence ruling out certain parties in the controversial leak of Democratic Party emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. The U.S. government believes those emails were hacked by Russia; Assange insists they did not come from Moscow.


Soon, the rare opportunity to engage Assange in a dialogue over redactions, a more responsible way to release information, and how the infamous DNC hacks occurred was lost — likely forever.

In honesty, this looks like an effort to set up the next campaign to suggest that Comey prevented the “truth” about the DNC hack from coming out because it would undermine the alleged Witch Hunt into Trump. It also looks like the first of three efforts to tee up the alternate explanation for the DNC hack in exchange for a Trump pardon, which resumed by August (and therefore which wasn’t a forever thing).

It also makes it clear that Vault 7 was entirely about extortion.


January 12: Bruce Ohr considers Waldman’s offer

February 3: Laufman reaches out to Waldman

February 4: Wikileaks first pitches Vault 7

February 15: Waldman reaches out to Warner

February 16: Waldman issues extortion threat against Democrats

February 17: Warner says he’s got important call (with Comey), relays stand down order

March 7: Wikileaks releases first Vault 7 documents

March 13, 2017: Google search warrant on Schulte

Mid-March: Waldman contacts Laufman, suggests Assange is interested

March 20, 2017: Search on Schulte (including of cell phone, from which passwords to his desktop obtained)

March 23: Second Vault 7 release

March 28: Safe passage offer not including details about hack

March 31: Third Vault 7 release

April 5: Laufman asks whether Assange wants safe passage into London or to the US

April 7: Wikileaks posts third dump, which Solomon suggests was the precipitating leak for Mike Pompeo’s declaration of Wikileaks as non-state intelligence service (these are weekly dumps by this point)

29 replies
  1. sponson says:

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but unless Burr suddenly comes out tomorrow and contradicts Warner’s version of events, and calls him a liar, Solomon’s theory goes nowhere, right?

  2. zonefreezone says:

    I do not understand your observation that:

    EW:      if Comey stood down, he did so in the face of threats to the Democrats (though it’s not clear why they’d be at fault), which as always is contrary to the hoaxes against Comey.

    Leaving out the parenthetical (which only adds to my confusion), I don’t understand what the  “threats to the Democrats” are in this set-up. Also unclear on what “the hoaxes against Comey” are. Are you referencing the overall Republican narrative on Comey? If not, what are the hoaxes?



  3. Sanjeevs says:

    Just reported

    Sir Alan Duncan, the foreign office minister, says the UK government is increasingly concerned about the health of Julian Assange, who has been in the Ecuadorian embassy evading arrest for almost six years. If Assange were to leave, he would be treated humanely, Duncan says.

  4. Trip says:

    JFC, He acts like Assange was being heroic when he was simply attempting to extort a better deal for himself. Any time Wikileaks or Assange wanted more ‘cooperation’, what would have stopped them from releasing the un-redacted version down the road?

    In light of the fact that Assange was caught trying to assist Jr, and probably Hannity, why would someone write such a garbage piece about ‘the one that got away’? He’s trying to pretend that Assange is some neutral aggregate, when he most certainly is NOT.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One tell that Solomon is writing fan fiction is his set up: His grab ’em opener is, “One of the more devastating leaks in American intelligence history.” His second paragraph identifies his cast of “characters”, many of which are “household names.”

    Disarmingly, Solomon then defines Assange’s self-imposed residency in the Ecuadorean embassy as a function of US efforts, not the Swedish prosecutor’s efforts to serve a warrant and to extradict him to Sweden to face charges of rape. That might be news to the Brits, who spent millions the political theater of round the clock surveillance of the embassy, on the off, off chance that he might go out for a midnight stroll.

    Lastly, Solomon blames Comey, by way of his interfering with the talks with Assange, for doing major damage to US cyber warfare capabilities. But Solomon’s biggest tell is when he refers to his own story as “this yarn”. On that, most people could agree.

    No wonder Solomon’s colleagues at the Hill pleaded with management to slap him on the opinion pages and remove him from the ranks of reporters. His current status is “executive vice president for video,” which says his patrons are keen to have him, regardless of his credibility.

  6. pseudonymous in nc says:

    As Josh Marshall noted, Solomon is who you call when you need to launder a really shitty story and nobody else will bite. The questions then become “who’s doing the laundering?” and “to what end?”

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    More MSM pieces like Michelle Goldberg’s, please, though I’m surprised, as restrained as it was, this was not by the editorial board itself.

    Civility, in the way it is misapplied by CNN and other pearl clutchers, neuters public debate and misdirects from key issues.  As Goldberg points out, this debate is not about a crisis in civility, it is about a crisis of democracy.  For a more thorough take down of the faux civility debate, see Echidne here.

    • Trip says:

      Yeah, good piece.

      I was flipping through last night and saw Anderson Cooper with a “Civility Crisis” chyron. Why wasn’t this ‘civility crisis’ a crisis during the Trump campaign? Or after? Or when Huckster-be talked down to reporters and blew off their questions? When the GOP wouldn’t have town meetings on healthcare? I could go on and on, but if the supposed ‘representative government’ isn’t listening, maybe your voice isn’t loud enough, or you weren’t finding their hiding spaces? CNN has a lot of nerve tsk-tsking anyone when their behavior will assist in killing democracy. They are number one with inviting Trump propagandists on to spout bullshit and they play theater of debate. What a joke.

      The way this civility nonsense is being treated is like the people in this administration are playing ‘roles’, acting in a feature film, and when they have off, they should be left alone. Except that their acts are reality. And they are effecting a very large portion of the population, NOT LISTENING, not caring (do u?), even if Anderson still enjoys his wealthy white privilege and access. Same with the other rich empty talking heads on CNN arguing to be nice to the Nazis. With a nod and a wink the Trump people are actually okay by CNN. No skin off their backs and money to be made.

      Anyway, there’s really no other news to cover. /s

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yup, very civil, very classy of the President of the United States to devote so much executive time to publishing his negative personal appraisal of a member of the House of Representatives, a mature and accomplished woman of color, whom the information, intelligence and judgment challenged Mr. Trump has repeatedly called a “very low IQ” person and “an extraordinarily low IQ person.”

        The civility debaters of the MSM should consider exactly who is setting the standard of behavior they bemoan.  Or would that be as uncivil as pointing out that the emperor wears no clothes?

  8. Bay State Librul says:

    “Chivalry is dead” is a phrase that has become popular in the late 20th & early 21st centuries. The definition of chivalry originated around 1250-1300 A.D. and is a middle-English term. It was defined as: “The sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.”

    We have a black knight who weaponizes the arms, The Con has to be impeached otherwise two more years of chaos.


  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Chivalry has always been mythologized, as was courtly love, itself a lament bemoaning the usual business of arranging and rearranging noble marriages and the estates, wealth and status they sought (with mixed success) to perpetuate.

    The principal arena for chivalry’s practice were the formal competitions, where courtiers displayed their apparent martial prowess in hopes of currying monarchical or other noble favor.  Like sumptuary laws, chivalry also sought to avoid competition from the lower orders.

    On the battlefield, chivalry gave way to the bloody business of surviving and winning, just as courtly love gave way to the business of managing property, sex and women included, and preserving the power of the church to sanction marriage and paternity or undo it.

    Civility has not been much in evidence in American politics, neither in Jefferson’s time or Mark Twain’s, Mencken’s or Roosevelt’s.  Newspaper and other public commentary Jefferson contended with would make Trump blush.

    Civility without reciprocity is a way to dampen debate and keep it within the bounds allowed by the powers that be.  The ante-bellum South paraded its chivalrous civility when it went to war to preserve its ability to treat its slaves in whatever uncivil way it chose.

    Progress is a messy business, rearranging power relations is always a contact sport.  Benjamin Franklin’s apocryphal quote about the American Republic describes it well: we have a Republic only as long as we can keep it.

  10. Trip says:

    Too much Trump and not enough Mueller movement lately. Come on, let’s get this show on the road, more indictments, more leaks about the orange one and associated villains. Let’s wrangle up those witches and see if they float.

  11. harpie says:

    Huzzah! for Maxine, the UnCivil:

    […] [7:20] Well, I expect Don the Conman to say anything. He’s a liar, he’s deplorable, he cannot be trusted. The American people should be accustomed to that now and know who we have for president: someone who does not deserve to be President of the United States of America. […]

    [ps: didn’t know if it should be UnCivil or InCivil…]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      With regard to Trump, both apply.  He is both incivil, lacking in courtesy, rude, and worse, and uncivil, lacking in civilized behavior, barbarous.  The description by Lean’s Lawrence might be most accurate as applied to the Don: greedy, barbarous, and cruel.

  12. Trip says:

    Update: Schumer is still a dick.

    ABC News‏Verified account @ABC

    Sen. Chuck Schumer: “No one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right, that’s not American.”
    Because you’re still part of the other team, right Chuckie?
    “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      For Chuck, as for other top establishment Democrats, it’s all about his hold on power.  If hoi polloi are allowed to think and act for themselves, his high-paying, high-powered pay-to-play gig as a public employee comes tumbling down.

      Civility is a cudgel he can wield to keep progressives in line.  He dare not use it to call out the president’s uncivil putting of babies in cages.  But he’s happy to use it to whip a faltering progressive congresscritter of his own party back into line.

  13. Frank Probst says:

    Off topic:  Looks like Judge Ellis isn’t going to throw out the charges against Manafort.  Not really a surprise, but glad to see it happen.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Adam Gopnik at the New Yorker joins the whispering chorus deriding the establishment’s false notion of what civility demands in the age of Trump.  (H/T to digby, who adds her articulate two cents to the debate.)

    Gopnik’s metaphor for civility in politics hinges on our being accepting enough of each other that we can sit down at the same table and share a meal.  Political, personal, and religious differences have caused more than a few Thanksgiving dinners to run aground for failing to meet that standard, but not for want of trying.

    John Dominic Crossan explored the biblical pedigree of Gopnik’s metaphor.  He describes commensality as meeting a profound human need.  It is also fundamentally rebellious. It contravenes the custom and usage we invent to divide ourselves into tribes and to exclude others through ritual: food, manners, and who may sit with whom as we consume our daily bread.

    Gopnik’s modern take as it applies in the age of Trump:

    The great threat to American democracy isn’t “policy” but the pretense of normalcy. That’s the danger, for with the lies come the appeasement of tyranny, the admiration of tyranny, and, as now seems increasingly likely, the secret alliance with tyranny. That’s what makes the Trump Administration intolerable…public shaming and shunning of those who take part in it seems just. Never before in American politics has there been so plausible a reason for exclusion from the common meal as the act of working for Donald Trump.

    And what about civility? Well, fundamental to, and governing the practice of, civility is the principle of reciprocity: your place at my table implies my place at yours.

    Trump would have us all eat McDonald’s in bed alone.  For him, rules and reciprocity are for suckers.  Being great means breaking them without consequence. To do that, he has to make us think that’s normal and desirable. 

    This emperor has no clothes, no manners, and no aim but to break whatever he can grasp.  Nothing civil there.

  15. Anura says:

    Speaking of civility, I was in a restaurant the other day and the editor of the Washington Post was at the next table over. When the waiter handed him his soup, he sat there for about ten minutes just staring at it.

    Finally, he called the waiter over and said “Umm… ex… excuse me… Umm… My… My soup appears… Umm… Well, you see… And I don’t mean to make any accusations here, but umm… Well, there appears to be a large piece of… Uhh… Well, faeces… I mean, again, I don’t want to jump to conclusions but… Umm… I was wondering if I could, maybe, if it wouldn’t be too much of a bother, get another… Well, nevermind, I’ll just eat around it, I don’t want to burden you.”

    Absolutely 100% true story.

  16. SteveB says:

    @ EoH you are absolutely right, again.

    Trump and his enablers never argue in good faith, their purpose always is to disconcert and delight in doing so. They are not interested in rational debate, policy founded on evidence, process, transparency or anything else which belongs in the categories of civic virtue or ethical governance.

    However they are astute at 1 exploiting fault lines in their opponents and 2 claiming virtues which they brazenly disregard at will.

    Progressives and democrats necessarily assert the values of rational inquiry and the broadening of discourse and engagement, the extension of civility to all manner of classes of people excluded and exploited in the current state of the world. Proto-fascists see this as a weakness and seek to disrupt and divide, not least by exploiting rhetorical inflections. And the ethically minded, prone to critical self examination, are always likely to feel potentially vulnerable to the charges of acting beyond reason or counter-productively, or in ways which contradict the ethics they promote.

    To my mind, there is no contradiction between striving for civil justice which includes civility being actively promoted to the broad spectrum of humanity, and meeting and defeating proto-fascists with the proportionate hostility scorn and violence they bring on themselves.

    Trotsky was right : the only reasonable argument to a fascist is a paving stone.

  17. SteveB says:

    @ Rusharuse

    Thanks for the heads up on the grim satire of Adam Garrie piece on Assange. Surely even Julian would blush at this hagiography by RT stooge, and whatever the rights and wrongs of the accusation of sexual misconduct by Assange, the comparison to the Turing’s posthumous pardon is grotesquely misplaced (particularly in the light of the rampant homophobia of Putin’s Russia).

    False equivalence permeates every aspect of this piece, it is jawdroppinglyStupid,

    As I recall Garrie has a penchant for bowties: almost always a criminal misuse of silk in service of pretended erudition IMHO.

    • bmaz says:

      This is simply idiotic. Ray McGovern is batshit. Also, don’t post naked links. Thanks for everything.

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