Trump Wants Voters — and Russia — to Know What the Russia Investigation Looked Like on August 1, 2017, not September 14, 2018

Between setting the first status hearing in Paul Manafort’s case as November 16, and setting the Mike Flynn sentencing for no earlier than November 28 (with the reports submitted on November 14), Mueller’s office seems to be suggesting they’ll wait until after election day to roll out the case they just added Trump’s Campaign Manager’s testimony to.

Not long after the release of the Flynn status hearing, Trump ordered the release of yet more stuff on the Steele dossier (the stuff in the first paragraph), plus unredacted texts on what the investigation looked like before August 1, 2017.

At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

Depending on how much the various parties put into these texts (I doubt Comey was much of a texter, for example), this will show unbelievable detail on how FBI runs counterintelligence investigations.

But it will also show voters what the investigation looked like before some key evidence came in, such as the communications surrounding the June 9 meeting and whatever the FBI seized from Paul Manafort’s home. Andrew McCabe was the last person in a key role on this investigation, and Christopher Wray took over that role on August 1.

It’s a desperate gambit, I think, throwing the last of the Steele dossier details out there, plus a picture of what the investigation looked like before the FBI learned that the President’s son entered into a conspiracy with Russians exchanging Hillary emails for sanction relief.

Which I take as yet more confirmation that that conspiracy — and whatever Manafort just gave the government — would (will, eventually) utterly damn the President.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

64 replies
  1. Someguy says:

    You’re missing your usual “I gave info to the FBI” disclaimer here. Now I’m going to spend hours obsessing on what that could mean… ;-)

  2. Kevin Finnerty says:

    This is a transparently desperate tactic, but I think the more the walls close in around Trump, the more we’re going to see him try to take direct control of DOJ.

  3. jf-fl says:

    the house conspiracy theory society reminds me of a bunch of kids think they’ve solved a skip skip cipher, only problem yet to solve is agreeing on what the cipher is.

    still they’re sure that in any text they can blank out words to find secret pleasing messages. they can demonstrate it any time they like, clearly.

    it’s humorous in the way the crazy guy on public transport is amusing for a short trip, but very sad to see our leaders promoting same quality of thinking every week if not daily.

  4. Pete says:

    Well…it does give one (hint hint) the opportunity to draw the arc from then to now and show both the significance and insignificance of what was suspected/known then and what is known factually today. You clearly have done that in great detail but this seems like a possible opportunity with new info.

    I mean – what is it – 4 convicted and/or plead out and numerous more indicted but untouchable can’t be wrong.

  5. Yohei72 says:

    “But, but, but… in the early stages of the investigation, there was no clear evidence we did anything wrong! So the whole investigation is illegitimate! Q.E.fuckin’D.”

    Jesus Christ. It’s a high bar, but this might be the stupidest argument yet to try to discredit the investigation. Which, as Marcy says, is probably a good sign, on the whole. If this is all they’ve got, they’re in a very tough spot.

    To the extent there’s any coherent strategy here (possibly an overly generous assumption), I doubt the goal is really to sway anyone to their side. The point is to throw red meat to the cult and keep them hollering, and thus keep the Republican Congress afraid to fall out of lockstep.

  6. What About Flynn says:

    What do we make of the fact that Flynn will be sentenced before he’d have a chance to testify at any trial? Do you think it means Flynn-related charges (e.g., those from the Cambridge Analytica, Peter Smith, and post-election investigations) are less imminent?

    • Wm. Boyce says:

      According to the NY Times report today, they think it means Flynn possibly isn’t even needed to testify in the case they’ve built. They got their info and now he goes for his (much shortened) sentence.

  7. DJ says:

    I’m not an attorney. But, is such action by Trump considered obstruction?

    Also, is it possible the release of such information will help Putin? Will this let Putin know how much the FBI might have or how the FBI goes about getting info?

    • Tracy says:

      That’s what I’m wondering – it looks like a gift to Putin, in danger of showing sources and methods.

      This narcissistic fool is so dangerous for the national security of our country! Grrr…!!!

      • Snab says:

        Yup. And the American people are lying down and taking it. Everyone has forgotten they have the right to freedom of assembly and that the one thing these crooked scumbags fear most is a mob (demonstration) of the ordinary people.

    • CitizenCrone says:

      That’s what I wonder, too.  If there is something contained in the docs/texts that compromise the ongoing investigation or reveal sources, doesn’t the FBI still have the option of arguing to redact those things?

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Shitting on sources and methods to own the libs.

    I’m sure it will keep Byron, Chuck, Kimberley and co. busy for a while — essentially another pre-election drip-feed that cuts out the GRU and Wikileaks middlemen — and will fill space if Flynn’s sentencing signals a pre-election pause. And I have no idea how it’ll turn out.

  9. punaise says:

    In related news, Miss Butina has actually been getting lots of outdoor time while in detention: a real hale Mariia.

    • SteveB says:


      NEW from DOJ spox on declassification: “The Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the President’s order.”

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I have a diabolical fantasy of someone(s) deep inside a bureaucracy, planning to review and release those documents, marking them up and changing words and having no end of fun f*cking with Trump, the Russians, and anyone else who reads those docs.   It would make one hell of a parlor game.

        Meanwhile, if Trump throws red meat to the Russians that helps them understand US intel patterns, and the GOP Senate does nada (again!), how does the GOP escape charges for accessories to treason?

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          ‘Asked for the actual presidential directive or directives referenced in her statement, Sanders told BuzzFeed News, “There isn’t anything else, just the statement.”‘

          There’s a diversion here on JL Austin and illocutionary acts and how a mature bureaucracy can interpret “do it now!” to mean “initiate the 27-step process of doing.” The problem with that is that it might push King Idiot towards things that don’t have a multi-step process of doing like pardons or launching nukes.

        • Margo Schulter says:

          Taking “treason” literally, I would say that the Treason Clause of the Constitution limits that crime — the only one defined in the Constitution itself — to wartime situations in which one either levies war against the United States, or gives aid and comfort to an enemy. The USA and Russia are not at war.

          However, recklessly disclosing intelligence methods to a foreign power, whether considered an adversary or ally or whatever at a given time (e.g. the Jonathan Pollard case involving espionage for Israel), would certainly seem an impeachable offense, a “high crime or misdemeanor,” and it could also follow under various federal criminal statutes.

          Please understand that, coming from a socialist family and growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the use of “treason” to justify the execution of the Rosenbergs still very much makes me ready to assert the narrow constitutional definition of that crime. I might add that the Rosenbergs, as it turns out, were indeed guilty of some form of espionage for the Soviet Union, and thus were correctly convicted, although I oppose the death penalty for any crime and like many other commentators find it very much disproportionate in their case.

  10. davey1107 says:

    Will Mueller go light until after Election Day?? It’s such a tantalizing question. On the one hand, he seems inclined to avoid the overtly political, and he seems conscientious of preserving his power to investigate. On the other, he’s a tough investigator, and even if he lays off those in elected office for a few weeks I could see him bringing charges to non-pols.

    What I really want is a Stone indictment. That would be a good show of how Mueller is approaching the election day issue, lol.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      “Know” as in “has read the document and also understands the FISA process” or know as in “has been told something about something by Devin Nunes”?

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Or maybe one of the many kooks working in the White House.

        I wish the NY Times would actually do something with the access they have so carefully cultivated for once. Maybe instead of just adding to the heap of stories granting anonymity to Giuliani so he can blabber about interviews and anonymity, the NY Times coukd pull back the curtain and make clear who are the crackpots working wih Nunes, not just in an enabler’s role, but as a true believer.

        • JohnR says:

          But then they’d lose their hard-won access!  No, access is always to be hoarded like a dragon’s gold.  To use it for anything concrete is to lose it, and without access, you’re no better than the proles.

          • Rayne says:

            Nice to see you again. By the way you now have two different usernames here at emptywheel. Please stick with one of them so the community gets to know you. Thanks!

  11. maestro says:

    Off topic a bit, I feel as though we should be prepared for the possibility that Flynn’s cooperation turns out to have been just anti-climactic and uninteresting as Papadopoulos’s ended up being.

    • Rayne says:

      I think if Special Counsel’s Office is prudent it will look innocuous. There will be enough teeth to bite firmly, enough evidence to quell the right-wing, but too little hint at what else is still brewing. I don’t think we are even close to halfway to the end but that’s my two cents.

      • Anon says:

        I have to agree with you on both points. At this point I have heard that we are so close to being the “critical phase” of the investigation that I hear Thomas Friedman’s voice every time someone says it.

    • Sam M says:

      There was nothing in the Flynn matter to begin with. I think any delay might be with regard to FARA related issues.

        • Sam M says:

          The point being there was nothing untoward or criminal with Flynn contacting the Russian Ambassador amongst others to try to de-escalate tensions. Unless you are all-in on meh Russia of course. I would have thought the noted discussions about the UN resolution re Israeli settlements would have gathered more interest than the Ruskie stuff.

          Ref your link. See this link without all the Mueller added rubbish –

          Thanks for the welcome :)

  12. Yette says:

    After watching Active Measures (highly recommended), one must ask where our vaunted Intelligence Community has been on the entire Russian election interference.  I know folks will say they’ve done an incredible job, but we just can’t tell you the details, however I believe an unbiased assessment must follow the reign of Trump.  The so-called dots were not connected during 9/11, seems the same for this Manchurian candidate.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      It’s worth noting that he most likely source for reports on election interference will be Congress, not the intelligence community, for better and worse. Hopefully with Democrats winning enough seats to lead the way.

      For worse because politics is involved and the GOP will have a say, but for better because it gives voters a chance to get involved. If the Democrats can take charge, the first key place will be the appointment of Committe chairs. Fortunately, the guys in line at the key House committees – Schiff at Intelligence, Cummings at Oversight, and Nadler at Judiciary – are all solid and smart.

      There will be a lot of pressure to follow different leads, however, and it will be key for voters to let their reps know what our priorities are.The GOP will be pushing a storyline that this has gone on long enough, shouldn’t we focus on some random crime by a guy with a Spanish name, or a minor accounting error at a Planned Parenthood clinic, or an NFL player sitting during the National Anthem. We can’t let the focus shift.

  13. Wayoutwest says:

    It’s almost entertaining watching the snowflake resistance become overstimulated, for the umteenth time, by the wishful thinking that someone will fabricate evidence for the witch-hunt about Trump/Putin collusion. What will they do when, for the umteenth time, Manafort’s cooperation doesnt mean what they hoped it would. Manafort has flipped on the Podesta brothers and his other partners in crime but this has nothing to do with Trump or Russia. Manafort doesn’t deservee a pardon but after the 2020 election Trump could commute his sentence to time served without any real repercussions.

    • Berto says:

      Watching Conservatives waive away treason against the United States of America is the least surprising thing to happen in my lifetime.  I saw it coming the moment they called me a “traitor” for criticizing the Iraq War.  It’s ALWAYS projection from the Right-wing.

    • Rusharuse says:

      ‘Wayoutwest’ they got a name
      for rain and wind and fire
      the rain is Tess, the fire’s joe
      and they call ol Trump a liar
      a liar, fuckin liar, they call ol Trump a liar

      Thanks for the inspiration 🌝

  14. robert harding says:

    If you look back to Trump’s tweets on his umpteenth day in office, and take every umpteenth letter of his umpteenth tweet that day, it spells out p-o-d-e-s-t-a.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Keep working on that Lektor, the dummy one Cubby Broccoli had done up for From Russia, With Love.  It’s probably more fun than the Ouija Board.

  15. Rapier says:

    Trump just said a permanent military base in Poland is now under consideration. Meaning done deal.  Which pretty much finalizes the new Iron Curtain, 28 years after the last one fell, as George Kennan predicted when NATO expansion was approved in 98, by overwhelming support of both parties in the Senate.

    So all Putin’s machinations with Trump have amounted to nothing.

    • Anon says:

      With other presidents I might accept that it is a done deal. But then I would also have expected that a declaration that the North Korean threat is over would mean that it was, you know, over.

      With President Trump, not so much.

    • Mark Buckshon says:

      On that point, Yom Kippur starts at 7:00 p.m. EDT so she didn’t really post it on the Day of Atonement. But there will definitely be radio silence for a day from anyone Jewish after the sun goes down tonight.

  16. Geoff says:

    @TheraP – I was also reading that WP article and was struck by this part :

    “He adds, “Much of the information will be too sensitive for the FBI or Justice Department to declassify. If forced to do exactly as the president wishes, this should be a resignation issue for someone in the Justice Department.”

    Perhaps this is a way to get people at DOJ to quit, rather than resorting to firing them, which DT may know he can’t do without major repercussions.

    • arbusto says:

      Would that anyone in the Administration were interested in acting in accordance with their oath of office instead of furtherance and adherence to conservative, Tea Party dogma.  Christopher Wray and Dan Coat could tell Il Doushbag he’ll get redacted documents or their resignations.

      Yeah right

  17. Rusharuse says:

    Things Trump does NOT want released: Tom Arnold/Ronan Farrow and the Apprentice tape . . 
    “Arnold has been talking about the tape for months and he has been called a liar. However, Arnold said that two people never called him a liar: Donald Trump and Mark Burnett. There’s a reason for that, according to Arnold. He explained that Burnett is on the MGM board and that he and other board members are worried about the scandal involving these tapes. According to Arnold, the FCC requires that any conversation between a producer and host be filmed, because “The Apprentice” was technically a game show. So, MGM has tons of footage of Trump saying any manner of obscenities.”

  18. orionATL says:

    let’s look at it this way

    1. putin hauls out the poisin and some hit men and punishes “collaborators”.

    2. trump declassifies parts of an on-going u.s. counterintelligence investigation thus revealing sources.

    looks like a one-two punch designed to make collecting/revealing relevant information particularly difficult/dangerous.

    i wonder by what means presidential messages might be going back and forth across the ocean.

  19. AitchD says:

    Should anyone rule out the likelihood that Trump wants to know how long ago in years the NSA were collecting and keeping his communications?

  20. Ollie says:

    There was a woman on cspan.WJ this am and she was excellent. She is Christine Emba w/WP. The segment is worthy of a watch.
    She took viewers calls and did well each time. Well her being young, she isn’t as polished as Marcy but she had her facts down (all correct by what I’ve learned) and stayed focused. She really did an excellent job keeping the Host, John, in his place. He’s one of the more ‘obvious’ Trump believers. Anyhow. Thought I share some (imho) empowering journalism.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s possible that Mark Judge is not afraid of testifying in public, the take the MSM seems happiest with.

    I’m just spitballing here, but it seems more likely that Mark Judge is afraid of testifying before Congress, because lying to Congress is a felony, whether or not he’s under oath and subject to penalties for perjury.

  22. Mo says:

    Can the intel agencies just refuse to follow trump’s order?

    So how much damage can trump’s order do to the Russia investigation?

    Disclosing secret info related to an on-going investigation is obstruction of justice, right?

  23. skua says:

    I do wonder if Trump’s cognitive functioning is so low that he actually bases his understanding of the “witch-hunt” on what he is being fed by Carlson,  Hannity and Piro.

    And apparently Putin too.

    WaPo: ‘The Apprentice’ book excerpt: At CIA’s ‘Russia House,’ growing alarm about 2016 election interference

    Seems Putin is putting garbage into Trump’s head.

  24. skua says:

    If Putin does have a true-believer Trump-puppet on strings then he is up with Osama Bin Laden as a master puppeteer of US Presidents.

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