If SSCI Was Referring All This Perjury to Mueller about GRU Funding Trump, Why Did Richard Burr Claim It Had Found No “Collusion”?

In the wake of the Michael Cohen plea, Richard Burr made some comments about his committee’s relationship with the Special Counsel. He referred to multiple referrals to Mueller, even using the phrase “a lot.”

“It’s a loud message to everybody that’s interviewed by our committee. … If you lie to us, we’re going to go after you,” Mr. Burr said during a candid question-and-answer session at the annual Texas National Security Forum.


[T]he committee has on more than one occasion recommended prosecutions based on their interviews.

“We continually go back and look at the testimony we’ve been given, and we weigh it against any new information that might be out there that either a reporter has been able to [get] in a comment from an individual,” he said. “We have shared, when permission has been given by those we interview, interview notes with the Department of Justice and specifically with the special prosecutor.”

“We have made referrals to the special prosecutor for prosecution,” he continued. “In a lot of cases, those might be tied to lying to us.”

While it’s not clear how much SSCI confirmed about Cohen’s lies (Cohen testified on October 25, 2017, and Felix Sater testified on April 4, 2018), given Sater’s public comments up to and including BuzzFeed’s big story, At a minimum (per Sater’s description of his testimony to BuzzFeed, SSCI knew that Cohen had lied about how many times he spoke to Trump about the deal.

The Moscow Project was discussed multiple times within the Company and did not end in January 2016. Instead, as late as approximately June 2016 , COHEN and Individual 2 discussed efforts to obtain Russian governmental approval for the Moscow Project. COHEN discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with Individual 1 on more than the three occasions COHEN claimed to the Committee, and he briefed family members of Individual 1 within the Company about the project .

And SSCI almost certainly learned that Cohen was working on a trip to Russia up to the time when news broke that the Russians had hacked the DNC.

COHEN agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and took steps in contemplation of Individual l ‘ s possible travel to Russia. COHEN and Individual 2 discussed on multiple occasions traveling to Russia to pursue the Moscow Project. COHEN asked Individual 1 about the possibility of Individual 1 traveling to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project, and asked a senior campaign official about potential business travel to Russia.

On or about May 4 , 2016 , Individual 2 wrote to COHEN, “I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after iii. the convention. Obviously the pre – meeting trip (you only) can happen anytime you want but the 2 big guys where [sic] the question. I said I would confirm and revert.” COHEN responded, “My trip before Cleveland. [Individual l] once he becomes the nominee after the convention. ”

On or about May 5, 2016, Individual 2 followed up with COHEN and wrote, “[Russian Official l] would like to invite you as his guest to the St. Petersburg Forum which is Russia’s Davos it’s June 16- 19. He wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to either [the President of Russia] or [the Prime Minister of Russia], as they are not sure if 1 or both will be there. He said anything you want to discuss including dates and subjects are on the table to discuss. ”

On or about May 6, 2016, Individual 2 asked COHEN to confirm those dates would work for him to travel. COHEN wrote back, “Works for me.”

From on or about June 9 to June 14, 2016, Individual 2 sent numerous messages to COHEN about the travel, including forms for COHEN to complete. However, on or about June 14, 2016, COHEN met Individual 2 in the lobby of the Company’s headquarters to inform Individual 2 he would not be traveling at that timeT.

SSCI would have known this in April (perhaps not coincidentally, five days before the raid on Cohen by SDNY; remember that Paul Manafort was raided the night after testifying to SSCI).

In addition to Cohen, we also know SSCI referred Sam Patten to Mueller (though SSCI seems to have referred Patten for something other than the lies laid out in his criminal information). Patten lied about funneling oligarch money into Trump’s inauguration.

PATTEN misled the SSCI in that he intentionally did not provide SSCI certain documents that could lead to revelation of him causing and concealing the foreign purchase of the PIC tickets, described about, and gave false and misleading testimony to avoid disclosing that he had caused and concealed foreign money to be paid to the PIC. In addition, PATTEN provided misleading testimony about his representation of foreign principals in the United States, so as to conceal his violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Finally, after the interview, PATTEN deleted documents pertinent to his relationships with the above-described foreign principals.

So in other words, by April, SSCI knew, as part of their investigation into whether Trump conspired with the GRU officers who hacked and leaked Hillary’s email, that Trump was in bed with GRU money on both the front end of the election — in attempting to set up this Trump Tower deal — and the back end — in accepting laundered money from GRU-connected individuals.

And yet two times during election season, first in August and then again in September, Richard Burr claimed that his committee had found “no hard evidence of collusion.” In response to both, I suggested that it looked like the committee wasn’t pursuing what evidence it had learned of. Now Burr is openly talking about referring “a lot” of people to Mueller’s office — and the two we know he referred, together, may not be a smoking gun but certainly would set off my itchy smoke alarm.

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. 

57 replies
  1. Willis Warren says:

    He’s playing both sides, obviously.  McConnell seems to be playing the “milk the clock” playbook on this.  I’d say that’s over in January, and so is Trump.

    • Avattoir says:

      “no hard evidence of collusion” the Burr equivalent of Mattis’ “no smoking gun uncovered” in the murder of Kashoggi by strangulation, dismemberment & dissolution in acid: misleading, sure, but viewed in sepia it’s in some way just barely semantically arguable at a diplomatic or partisan remove sufficient to deflect a hard historical judgment of having lied.

    • Mulder says:

      I recall the posts in August and Sept. where Marcy laid out the mealy-mouthed utterings of Burr. In looking back I found this one that I didn’t recall. https://www.emptywheel.net/2017/10/05/richard-burr-accuses-the-obama-administration-of-running-out-the-clock-on-election-interference/

      I’ve been railing against McConnell for his own chicken-shit stance on the Russian interference. (What did Mitch know and when did he know it?)

      But Burr was worse! The only one of the gang of 8 who didn’t sign on to any letter about election interference. Russian or otherwise. He needs some time in the barrel.

      Great work, Marcy.

  2. posaune says:

    Question, somewhat OT (sorry):

    Read some tweet somewhere recently that Butina’s GRU handler, Torshin, “retired.”  Have any other GRU types “retired” recently?   What about the 12 GRU guys that Mueller indicted before Helsinki?   Thanks.

    • rip says:

      We all know that “retirement” in an authoritarian state does not involve a dacha or collecting any coins. I hope Trump understands that when his utility curve hits zero (probably already has), the new funds will drop to zero, and his bank-rolled retirement funds in Cyprus/etc. will evaporate.


      • Raven Eye says:

        Which is why Trump is so desperately sucking up to the Saudis.  Though generally deficient when it comes to strategic planning, Trump may be worried that no real bank is likely to offer loans that are not seriously collateralized.  He will likely need to rely on private funding (not held in regulated institutions) or sovereign wealth that is fully controlled by a sympathetic ruler in order to support the Trump Organization, Trump’s lifestyle, and his eventual retirement.

  3. orionATL says:

    holy mackerel!


    emptywheel indicts president donald trump on charges of accepting bribes from russian military intelligence


    grand rapids, michigan. december 2, 2018.

    “… in other words, by April, SSCI knew, as part of their investigation into whether Trump conspired with the GRU officers who hacked and leaked Hillary’s email, that Trump was in bed with GRU money on both the front end of the election — in attempting to set up this Trump Tower deal — and the back end — in accepting laundered money from GRU-connected individuals…”

  4. Kevin says:

    Not directly related to Burr’s comments, but:
    The fact that Cohen’s plea referred to Peskov’s assistant as Assistant-1 makes me think the content of that conversation will ultimately be important to the Trump Tower Moscow part of the story, beyond just the fact that they talked.

  5. BobCon says:

    Burr’s “no hard evidence” dodge reminds me of Pompeo’s statement of “no direct evidence” connecting MBS to Khashoggi’s murder. They both apparently mean that without Whitaker’s time machine allowing us to go back to witness the crimes, we can never truly be sure.

  6. roberts robot double says:

    “We continually go back and look at the testimony we’ve been given, and we weigh it against any new information that might be out there that either a reporter has been able to [get] in a comment from an individual,” he said. “We have shared, when permission has been given by those we interview, interview notes with the Department of Justice and specifically with the special prosecutor.”

    I’m curious about that “when permission has been given by those we interview” part.

    It sounds like “Hey, we found some discrepencies with your testimony. Is it ok if we refer you to Bob Mueller over at Justice?”

  7. David Karson says:

    As always, great blog! OT:  I am not a lawyer so wondering what people on this blog think about this:  On the Lawfare Blog yesterday, they go through Michael Cohen’s Sentencing Memorandum.   The blog states that Michael Cohen says explicitly that Cohen’s reimbursements for the Stormy Daniels payment, which were arranged so they would appear to be payments for invoiced legal fees, were coordinated with the “approval of Client-1”.  But if my memory serves, back in August there was a New York Times article that indicated that some of this money came from the Trump Organization and some from Trump directly. By falsely classifying these payments as legal expenses, hasn’t Donald Trump put himself and the Trump Organization in some kind of legal jeopardy?  TIA!

  8. 'Stargirl says:

    But at the end of the day or end of 2020, as long as Repubs rule the Senate and Supreme Court, and with Whitaker as AG, 45 stays in our White House, unless millions take to the streets and stay in the streets, all of which hasn’t happened yet.

    • timbo says:

      First there has to be investigations.  Trump is less popular than Nixon.  At the beginning of 1973, Nixon’s polled popularity was 67%.  At  the end of 1973, after all the revelations and exposed criminal behavior, it stood at 27%.  In 2020, there will be another election.  A President with 27% popularity in a two party state is unlikely to be reelected.  And anyone sticking with that President politically will also be hard put in their own reelection campaign.  The Republicans in the Senate had an easy time of it as many more Democrats were up for reelection in the Senate than Republicans.  In 2020, that will be reversed and the GOP risks a complete and utter route, particularly if Trump’s corruption and venality are exposed and they stick with him.  It’s hardball time, not “let’s do nothing because nothing will happen” time.

  9. Wayoutwest says:

    Reheating old stale nothingburgers such as Putin’s Penthouse and GRU inauguration funding fables, even with their new savory sauces, doesn’t seem to offer any nutrition for the starving snowflake mob.  Master witch-hunter Mueller is beginning to look more like Elmer Fudd as his cleverly set perjury traps aren’t producing any fresh hides to tack to his trophy wall.

    The Cohen/Mueller cleverly timed dog and pony show a few days ago seems to tell more than is obvious about that rat’s squealing for mercy because of a seemingly very stupid unnecessary lie.  That bit of stagecraft and his other acts before and after the election, including his cooperation without a forced cooperation agreement with the inquisition, leads me to think he may have been flipped long before he was charged with any crime. Other informants have been exposed as stooges working for the Clintonite cabal at the FBI trying to entrap Trump associates before the election and Cohen could be the mole that was undermining the Trump organization while claiming he would take a bullet for the Boss.


  10. Greenhouse says:

    Why, why I ask ova, and ova, why must me feed the trolls? Be gone scoundrel, knave! And take your brain with you!!

  11. Lori Sirianni says:

    Burr: “We have shared, when permission has been given by those we interview, interview notes with the Department of Justice and specifically with the special prosecutor.”

    “[W]hen permission has been given . . .”? Is he being truthful that permission must be given by interviewees for the SSCI to share interview notes/transcripts with the DOJ and SC Mueller? How can that be for real?

    Imagine such an exchange:
    Burr: Uh, you appear to have perjured yourself to our Committee. Mind if we send a transcript of your interview over to Robert Mueller so he can prosecute you?
    Lying Interviewee: Nah, I’d rather you didn’t.
    Burr: Oh well, it was worth asking. OK we won’t bother, thanks anyway. We’ll just pretend it didn’t happen.

    Who in Trump world would agree to a request like that, if it would put them in legal jeopardy? Seems logical to me the SSCI must have the legal power to refer anything they discover to prosecutors, with or without a subject’s consent. Was Burr saying that just to create cover for not making certain criminal referrals?

  12. clairence says:

    “We have shared, when permission has been given by those we interview, interview notes with the Department of Justice and specifically with the special prosecutor.”

    Is that standard procedure — that they ask witnesses if their incriminating testimony can be shared with prosecutors?

  13. pseudonymous in nc says:

    “‘Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down? / That’s not my department!’ says Wernher von Braun.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That might have been his line when he was working at NASA and had his US passport and a limitless budget from Congress.

      During the Second World War, SS Sturmbannfuehrer Wernher von Braun cared a lot about where his V-1s and V-2s landed.

  14. greengiant says:

    Leopold’s and Cormier’s articles on Sater can be salted with their relationship with their informant. Never bringing up Sater’s father’s connection to the “Russian” mob. Never talking about how Sater’s 1998 federal witness program gave up the La Cosa Nostra rather than the “Russian” mob.

    Did Sater’s stock fraud victims and Bayrock development investors ever see dime one?

    Their article brings up Sater’s 1998 relationship with Andrew Weissmann and Loretta Lynch. Orin Hatch’s questioning of Lynch in early 2015 regarding Sater is in the context of his constituent’s earlier complaints where Hatch came back and told them to just walk away.

  15. Rugger9 says:

    OT but only a little:

    Does “res judicata” apply to Congressional investigations? Otherwise, I see no value in trying to run a slapdash set of hearings now on Comey and Lynch unless the GOP can claim later that “we already looked at it and there is no need to investigate again”. Then again how many times did they look at Benghazi without acknowledging their privatization and starving HRC’s State department policies would lead to understaffed security in our consulates? Or, Whitewater or Foster? Comey can get his transcript all he likes but Lordy, he’d better go in with a tape recorder.

    • skua says:

      ” … I see no value in trying to run a slapdash set of hearings now on Comey and Lynch … ”

      It does not reflect well on my character but I can see value for Trump/Republicans in slapdash hearings:

      They may provide material that allows “alternative narratives”,  narratives favorable to Trump and/or the GOP, whether rational or only base-strengthening, to be constructed and promoted.

      Witnesses called may make statements that can be deliberately mis-interpretted so as to reduce their credibility in later testimony.

      They increase the sheer volume of para-Mueller media, making it more likely that many watchers will miss material thereby reducing anti-Trump watchers’ confidence in their appraisal of the over-all situation. The hearings may allow pro-Trump material to be published thereby giving pro-Trump watchers support.

      The hearings may function as a “reason” for Fox News et al, and Trump et al, to “push-back” against Comey, amplify the Deep State fantasy, and so further energize their base.

      Such hearings can later be used as evidence that Republicans were actively investigating the Russia Conspiracy.

      Such hearings can be used later to demonstrate that the GOP was not utterly subjugated to Trump, that they were not totally enthralled by the power he offered them, that they were not traitors to the nation in their failure to enforce, through their control of the Congress, standards of adequacy onto his administration.





  16. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    I would feel much more sanguine about recent events if Felix Sater didn’t have all this history: https://whowhatwhy.org/2017/03/27/fbi-cant-tell-trump-russia/

  17. sponson says:

    In addition to the key phrase about ‘with the permission’ of the witness, consider that Burr understands, now that the Democrats have taken the House, that Nunes has completely embargoed Mueller from getting any closed-door hearing transcripts at all, and that this will end in a spectacular way in January, with several referrals for lying to Congress coming out of the House as soon as Democrats take power. So Burr suddenly starts acting like he cares about lying to Congress, when he never did before, and it only really began when he saw that GOP did not retain the House and therefore continue can’t continue Nunes’ across-the-board stonewall.

  18. Desider says:

    As Abramson notes, a lot of focus on the Rozov Trump Moscow deal, and not a lot on the Agalarov Trump Moscow deal that seems to have lasted well into this administration and involved a lot of the key names (plus Emin Agalarov even spotlighted it with a video). Presumably not an oversight in Mueller’s investigation.

  19. Yvonne says:

    Can someone please answer the question that has been asked 3x? Is Burr actually asking lying witnesses for their PERMISSION to forward their perjured testimony to Mueller?

    • Drew says:

      I think @sponson may be heading toward the right track of Burr’s intent on the comment above–here’s a related hypothesis: If Burr emphasizes that sharing congressional testimony with Mueller requires permission from the witness (perhaps meaning voluntary rather than subpoenaed witnesses, I don’t know IANAL)-THEN it is the beginning of a case that the Republicans in the minority in the House Committees can try to build to resist referrals from their committees, newly headed by Democrats. I have no idea of the legal status of any of that, but legality has not characterized anything that Republicans in Congress have done over the past several years.

      It’s quite possible that Burr gave in to pressure from Warner to make some referrals, but insisted on a fig leaf like that in so doing. He wouldn’t want Mark Warner to build a really solid brief on all of that and then go all Cory Booker on him on the Senate floor.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think that’s a misreading of copyright.  In the writing of a letter – Hemingway to Gellhorn, for example – Hemingway has the ownership and use rights.  That ain’t so with Congressional or court testimony.  The witness has no rights, other than to be accurately quoted.  The testimony is the tribunal’s, subject to whatever rules govern its use.

    • bmaz says:

      Come on man, this question has been asked three times?? Congress takes the testimony, they control its release, it is their record.

      Not the witness.

      • timbo says:

        Re: in their record.

        Up to a point. This is SIC, and SSCI in particular, might take testimony that is only verbal and not recorded.  Does anyone know for sure if that is not the case?  And if they did know one way or the other, would they be authorized to say so?  I’d say it’s really a case of “You had to be there…”  Then we get into the issue of how many SSCI Senators does it take to make an affidavit…

        But to answer all the folks who are not clear on how SIC and SSCI work, these courtesies are about protecting intelligence methods and sources from being harmed.  And to let those who voluntarily provide information and testimony to the Committee and its staff that they won’t just willy-nilly expose you if you come to them with important information.  To do anything else is insane.

        Not that insanity does not happen… we’ve seen a lot of it over on the House side in the 2016 Congress.  Hopefully that’s at some sort of end, although I’m guessing that the GOP graspers on that side will continue the insanity there well into 2019…if allowed to.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      One way to give reasonable meaning to Burr’s statement, not that his words merit careful parsing, is that the forwarded incriminating testimony comes from individuals other than those incriminated.

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