The Inspector General Report on Carter Page Fails to Meet the Standard It Applies to the FBI

I want to start this post by reiterating that I agree with the conclusion of the DOJ IG Report on Carter Page that there were significant errors with the Carter Page FISA applications, especially the reauthorizations. I think the Report provides a lot of valuable detail about the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, though not necessarily the details about the FISA process or keeping the country safe that policy makers need (which I’ll return to). I think its recommendations are worthwhile but insufficient to fix the problems identified by the review.

So I find the IG Report an important review of the FISA process.

But it is also the case that the IG Report commits precisely the kinds of errors it finds inexcusable in the FBI.

As I lay out here, the major problems with the Carter Page FISA applications all amount to FBI not providing (first) DOJ’s Office of Intelligence and then the FISA Court critical information (regarding Page’s 2009-2013 ties to the CIA, information that undermine claims that Christopher Steele and the dossier were reliable, and other information — some that contradicted the dossier — that the IG Report deems exculpatory). The IG Report also found 17 items over the course of four applications that did not meet the Woods procedure requirement of being backed by documentation in the file (this table lays out that information, along with all the derogatory information in Page’s applications). Some of these Woods procedure problems reflect bureaucratic sloppiness in the procedure that’s supposed to guarantee reliability on FISA issues; some are more significant errors.

Given those errors (again, errors I significantly agree are shown in the Report), then, DOJ IG ought to make damn sure they don’t commit the same kinds of errors they deem serious enough to refer the entire FBI chain of command for discipline up to and including firing). But they did.

Errors identified on publication

Let’s start with the corrections made to the report, first on December 11 and then on December 20. On December 11, there were three changes, one of which reflected prior declassification of the dates of the FISA orders targeting Page and additional declassification regarding Sergei Millian, The other two changes are corrections of inaccurate claims made in the first release of the report.

The first involves an utterly central part of DOJ IG’s inquiry: at what point in time the FBI got informants to interview Carter Page, Sam Clovis, and George Papadopoulos. When the report was initially released, it falsely claimed that Page and Papadopoulos had been targeted with informants before FBI had formally opened its investigation on July 31, 2016.

On pages iv, xvi, 400, and 407, we changed the phrase “before and after” to “both during and after the time.” In all instances, the phrase appears in connection to the time period during which we found that the Crossfire Hurricane team used Confidential Human Sources (CHSs) to interact and consensually record conversations with Page and Papadopoulos. The corrected information appearing in this updated report reflects the accurate information concerning these time periods that previously appeared, and still appears, on pages 305 and 313 (e.g., the statement on page 305 that “the Crossfire Hurricane team tasked CHSs to interact with Page and Papadopoulos both during the time Page and Papadopoulos were advisors to the Trump campaign, and after Page and Papadopoulos were no longer affiliated with the Trump campaign”).

Based in part on the fact that Stefan Halper met Carter Page before he was formally tasked as an informant to collect information from him, and in part on George Papadopoulos’ paranoid rants, the frothy right had been accusing the FBI of using informants before the investigation was opened. And when then Report was initially released, it stated that that had, in fact occurred, even though the narrative in the Report made it clear that that did not happen (though it did show that the FBI had used informants before either Page or Papadopoulos had been kicked off the campaign). So the initial report falsely claimed the Report confirmed a frothy right conspiracy, but within days DOJ IG corrected that false claim. In other words, before subjected to the scrutiny of public review, the Report made a false claim about a core topic of its investigation.

Another of the corrections made on December 11 involves information about what an interview of Christopher Steele’s Sub-Source said when the FBI interviewed him or her to assess the credibility of Steele’s reporting. The report originally stated that the Sub-Source affirmatively stated he or she had no discussion with Steele about WikiLeaks, but the revised Report instead stated that the Sub-Source did not recall having such a discussion.

On pages xi, 242, 368, and 370, we changed the phrase “had no discussion” to “did not recall any discussion or mention.” On page 242, we also changed the phrase “made no mention at all of” to “did not recall any discussion or mention of.” On page 370, we also changed the word “assertion” to “statement,” and the words “and Person 1 had no discussion at all regarding WikiLeaks directly contradicted” to “did not recall any discussion or mention of WikiLeaks during the telephone call was inconsistent with.” In all instances, this phrase appears in connection with statements that Steele’s Primary Sub-source made to the FBI during a January 2017 interview about information he provided to Steele that appeared in Steele’s election reports. The corrected information appearing in this updated report reflects the accurate characterization of the Primary Sub-source’s account to the FBI that previously appeared, and still appears, on page 191, stating that “[the Primary Sub-Source] did not recall any discussion or mention of Wiki[L]eaks.”

The distinction is important because Steele claimed — plausibly — that his Sub-Source was shading how much he gave Steele, given how controversial things had become by 2017; Steele also claims to have documentation of what his Sub-Source claimed when.

Whatever the truth on this point, as the correction acknowledges, the FBI’s 302 of the interview uses the “did not recall” language.

[The Primary Sub-source] recalls that this 10-15 minute conversation included a general discussion about Trump and the Kremlin, that there was “communication” between the parties, and that it was an ongoing relationship. (The Primary Sub-source] recalls that the individual believed to be [Source E in Report 95] said that there was “exchange of information” between Trump and the Kremlin, and that there was “nothing bad about it.” [Source E] said that some of this information exchange could be good for Russia, and some could be damaging to Trump, but deniable. The individual said that the Kremlin might be of help to get Trump elected, but [the Primary Sub-source] did not recall any discussion or mention of Wiki[L]eaks. [my emphasis]

In other words, the FBI had an official source for the Sub-Source’s comments, the 302, and the DOJ IG, in its first release, used language that deviated from what the official source said.

This is precisely the kind of error the Report pointed to as Woods procedure violations, such as the FBI’s description of Steele’s reporting as “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” when in fact the official document said something different. The Report complains about a similar variance of phrasing in the renewals specifically as they pertain to whether Steele was “high-ranking” or “moderately senior.”

One might excuse the discrepancy because — after all — DOJ IG fixed this language almost as soon as it became public. Except that language pertaining to Steele’s Sub-Source was declassified the night before the Report release, without Steele having had an opportunity to read it. Thus, it is language that appeared in public in violation of DOJ IG’s rules on document reviews, so might have been avoided if it had followed its normal process.

Finally, one of the corrections made on December 20 — fixing of an error of fact regarding the laws that criminalize acting as an agent of a foreign government or principal without registration, but claiming falsely the correction just amounted to adding a reference to the statute in question — would also be the same kind of error that, in the FISA context, would amount to a Woods procedure violation, as it asserts the statute said something it didn’t. Furthermore, a later discussion of the Senate Report on FISA (still) miscites a page discussing FARA, something else that would count as a Woods violation, particularly given that the passage of the Senate Report cited actually undermined the point DOJ IG was trying to make, explaining why Carter Page’s direct ties to known Russian intelligence officers got well past (according to the intent of Congress) the concerns about him being targeted for his First Amendment activities.

Information excluded from the Bruce Ohr discussion

As this post lays out, the IG Report left out at least two key details in its discussion of Bruce Ohr’s communications with Christopher Steele. First, it made no explicit mention of the at least five communications Ohr had with Steele in 2016 prior to their July 30, 2016 brunch meeting. Those contacts were significantly about — but probably not limited to — Oleg Deripaska. Including those contacts would make it clear that the Deripaska reference during their July 30 meeting was a continuation of past discussions, not a new reference tied to the dossier (indeed, nothing that could relate to the Deripaska feud with Paul Manafort showed up in the dossier until October 19, and even then it would have simply been a reference to his Russian ties). Moreover, it would show that all of the contacts between them were a continuation of past information sharing tied to Ohr’s job.

In addition, the IG Report’s discussion of the July 30 meeting omits a Steele mention about Russian doping. That reference, like the multiple references to topics other than Trump in 2017 that the IG Report does acknowledge, make it clear that Ohr and Steele’s communications always included information about their mutual concerns about transnational organized crime.

In other words, DOJ IG twice left out or glossed over details that would have made it clear the Ohr – Steele communications consisted of more than just dirt on Trump, the equivalent of leaving out exculpatory information in the Carter Page application. And the IG Report’s entire presentation of their Deripaska discussions overstate the degree to which those discussions amounted to to information from the dossier (though there are a lot of other problems with the Deripaska-related communications between the two men).

Possible information excluded from the George Papadopoulos transcript

This post shows that, rather than being exculpatory (as the frothy right has long claimed), the substance of Papadopoulos’ conversations with Stefan Halper and another informant were actually fairly damning. The IG Report does not complain that the Carter Page applications leave out the damning details of these interactions (including that both he and Page spoke similarly about an October surprise).

It does, however, complain that the Carter Page applications leave out Papadopoulos’ denials that the campaign was trying to optimize the WikiLeaks releases, even though those denials were internally inconsistent and Papadopoulos explained to the second informant he had made a categorical denial to Halper because he worried Halper might tell the CIA if had made anything but such a categorical denial.

So the IG Report’s case that these denials should have been included in the Carter Page applications is not all that convincing (though it does therefore endorse one of the frothy right complaints that led to this investigation). DOJ lawyer Stu Evans, who generally always supported more disclosure, treated Papadopoulos’ denials like Joseph Mifsud’s later claims not to have had advance knowledge of the email release, as cover stories, which is precisely what the FBI team believed them to be in real time.

As part of its investigation, the FBI interviewed Mifsud in February 2017, after Renewal Application No. 1 was filed but before Renewal Application No. 2. According to the FD-302 documenting the interview, Mifsud admitted to having met with Papadopoulos but denied having told him about any suggestion or offer from Russia.403 Additionally, according to the FD-302, Mifsud told the FBI that “he had no advance knowledge Russia was in possession of emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and, therefore, did not make any offers or proffer any information to Papadopoulos.”


Evans told us that he could not say definitively whether QI would have included this information in subsequent renewal applications without discussing the issue with the team (the FBI and QI), but Evans also said that Mifsud’s denial as described by the QIG sounded like something “potentially factually similarly situated” to the denials made by Papadopoulos that QI determined should have been included. 405

In other words, Evans would have treated both of these denials (correctly, as subsequent investigation would prove) as lies, and dealt with them however such lies are treated in FISA applications. Probably, they would be used to suggest that the individuals in question were trying to keep any interactions secret, therefore supporting rather than undermining a claim that clandestine intelligence cooperation was happening.

But there’s a detail that Papadopoulos has claimed he also included in his comments to Halper that doesn’t show up in the ellipsis-filled excerpts of Papadopoulos’ conversations with Halper. Along with admitting that he likened optimizing the WikiLeaks releases to “treason,” Papadopoulos claimed he pushed back by saying, “I really have nothing to do with Russia.” If Papadopoulos did, in fact, say anything like that, it would have amounted to proof he was lying, especially since the FBI was tracking his ongoing interactions with Sergei Millian at the time, whom they would soon open a counterintelligence investigation into. The IG’s office could not tell me whether such language appeared in the full transcript. But if such language was excluded, then it would amount to an exclusion of a material detail of the sort that the IG Report complains about FBI excluding in Page’s applications.

What makes it into a 302 or not

One of the Woods procedure errors the IG Report rightly describes is that the FBI 302 that purportedly included a discussion of Carter Page being picked up in a limo in Moscow in July 2016 does not actually include the reference.

A June 2017 interview by the FBI of an individual closely tied to the President of the New Economic School in Moscow who stated that Carter Page was selected to give a commencement speech in July 2016 because he was candidate Trump’s “Russia-guy.” This individual also told the FBI that while in Russia in July 2016, Carter Page was picked up in a chauffeured car and it was rumored he met with Igor Sechin. However, the FD-302 documenting this interview, which was included in the Woods File for Renewal Application No. 3, does not contain any reference to a chauffeured car picking up Carter Page. We were unable to locate any document or information in the Woods File that supported this assertion.

371 We asked both agents that interviewed this individual, Case Agent 6 and Case Agent 7, if this individual stated during the interview that Page was picked up in a chauffeured car. Case Agent 6 told us he did recall the individual making this statement; Case Agent 7 did not recall and stated he may have made the statement during a telephone interview that occurred later.

Confusingly, in the appendix where it lists this, it attributes the comment to US person 1, which is presumably how DOJ referred to the source in the application. This is not a reference to Sergei Millian, though he is referred to as Person 1 in the IG Report.

Rather, this was a reference to Yuval Weber, the son of the Schlomo Weber, the rector of the New Economic School in Moscow who invited Page to Moscow in 2016. Per the Mueller Report, Yuval Weber was interviewed on June 1, 2017 (his father was interviewed on July 28, 2017).

This is absolutely a fair complaint.

But the IG Report does not, similarly, complain about or fully incorporate something else that didn’t make an FBI 302. As it describes, the notes from at least one of the attendees at the November 21, 2016 meeting where Bruce Ohr provided context about the Steele dossier included background to Ohr’s description that Steele was “desperate” Trump not be elected.

Steele was “desperate” that Trump not be elected, but was providing reports for ideological reasons, specifically that “Russia [was] bad;”

That is, Ohr’s observation was not about a political view on the part of Steele, but was instead a comment about his concerns about Russia.

This accords with what Steele told the IG’s investigators.

When we interviewed Steele, he told us that he did not state that he was “desperate” that Trump not be elected and thought Ohr might have been paraphrasing his sentiments. Steele told us that based on what he learned during his research he was concerned that Trump was a national security risk and he had no particular animus against Trump otherwise.

Mind you, Steele’s concerns about Trump’s election should have been included in the Carter Page applications in any case. But the context of why Steele was so concerned doesn’t appear in the balance of the IG Report’s discussion of this reference, which thereby treats what the investigation showed was a concern about national security as, instead, political bias.

The FBI is always wrong and DOJ is always right

The IG Report shows remarkable consistency for treating similar behavior from people at FBI as damning while brushing off similar behavior from DOJ lawyers or managers. As I noted in this post, for example, it suggests Jim Comey should have demanded to learn more details about Bruce Ohr’s interactions with Christopher Steele in a November 2016 briefing where Ohr was mentioned, but doesn’t ask why no one in DOJ’s chain of command who got briefed in February 2017 on Ohr’s role didn’t demand more information. Effectively Comey gets held accountable for something mentioned in a briefing, but DOJ lawyers are not. The IG Report admits this explicitly, saying that because FBI would have access to more information, they should be held accountable for more.

Thus, while we believe the opportunities for learning investigative details were greater for FBI leadership than for Department leadership, we were unable to conclusively determine whether FBI leadership was provided with sufficient information, or sufficiently probed the investigative team, to enable them to effectively assess the evidence as the case progressed.

The IG Report applies the same standard to more junior people as well. For example, an Office of Intelligence lawyer excuses himself from including Carter Page’s (truthful) denials in the FISA application because the FBI agent did not flag statements for him, including in a 163-page transcript.

We found that information about the August 2016 meeting was first shared with the 01 Attorney on or about June 20, 2017, when Case Agent 6 sent the 01 Attorney a 163-page document containing the statements made by Page during the meeting. As described in Chapter Seven, Case Agent 6, to bolster probable cause, had added to the draft of FISA Renewal Application No. 3 statements that Page made during this meeting about an “October Surprise” involving an “email dump” of “33 thousand” emails. The OI Attorney told us that he used the 163-page document to accurately quote in the final renewal application Page’s statements concerning the “October Surprise,” but that he did not read the other aspects of the document and that the case agent did not flag for him the statements Page made about Manafort. The OI Attorney told us that these statements, which were available to the FBI before the first application, should have been flagged by the FBI for inclusion in all of the FISA applications because they were relevant to the court’s assessment of the allegations concerning Manafort’s use of Page as an intermediary with Russia. Case Agent 6 told us that he did not know that Page made the statement about Manafort because the August 2016 meeting took place before he was assigned to the investigation. He said that the reason he knew about the “October Surprise” statements in the document was that he had heard about them from Case Agent 1 and did a word search to find the specific discussion of that topic.

Regarding the similar statement Page made during one of his March 2017 interviews with the FBI, the 01 Attorney told us that Case Agent 6 also did not flag this statement for him, but added that he (OI Attorney) should have noticed the statement himself in the interview summary Case Agent 6 forwarded to him on March 24, 2017, since it was only five pages, and the 01 Attorney had read the entire document.


Case Agent 6 told us that he did not know that Page made the statement about Manafort because the August 2016 meeting took place before he was assigned to the investigation. He said that the reason he knew about the “October Surprise” statements in the document was that he had heard about them from Case Agent 1 and did a word search to find the specific discussion on that topic. Case Agent 6 further told us that he added the “October Surprise” statements in consultation with the 01 Attorney after the 01 Attorney asked him if there was other information in the case file that would help support probable cause.

In reality, both the FBI Agent and the OI lawyer should be held to the standard of reading the materials in question.

A more remarkable example comes in a passage where the IG Report claims NSD had “no indication” of seven problems it found in the first Carter Page application, but then describes that the FBI Agent had included details on one of them in an email to the OI lawyer in support of the application.

3. Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1, a key Steele sub-source (who, as previously noted, was attributed with providing the information in Report 95 and some of the information in Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in the application), namely that (1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a “boaster” and an “egoist” and “may engage in some embellishment” and (2) the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation on Person 1 a few days before the FISA application was filed;


We found no indication that NSD officials were aware of these issues at the time they prepared or reviewed the first FISA application. Regarding the third listed item above, the OI Attorney who drafted the application had received an email from Case Agent 1 before the first application was filed containing the information about Steele’s “boaster” and “embellishment” characterization of Person 1, whom the FBI believed to be Source E in Report 95 and the source of other allegations in the application derived from Reports 80 and 102. This information was part of a lengthy email that included descriptions of various individuals in Steele’s source network and other information Steele provided to the Crossfire Hurricane team in early October 2016. The OI Attorney told us that he did not recall the Crossfire Hurricane team flagging this issue for him or that he independently made the connection between this sub-source and Steele’s characterization of Person 1 as an embellisher. We believe Case Agent 1 should have specifically discussed with the OI Attorney the FBI’s assessment that this subsource was Person 1, that Steele had provided derogatory information regarding Person 1, and that [redacted], so that OI could have assessed how these facts might impact the FISA application.

Later, the IG Report explicitly admits that it is doing this, holding the FBI responsible because the DOJ lawyers didn’t read what the FBI provided them.

While we found isolated instances where a case agent forwarded documentation to the OI Attorney that included, among other things, information omitted from the FISA applications, we noted that, in those instances, the Crossfire Hurricane team did not alert the OI Attorney to the information.

It then claims that FBI did not give OI a chance to consider information it shared with OI.

We do not speculate as to whether or how this additional information might have influenced the decisions of senior leaders who supported the applications, if they had known all of the relevant information. Nevertheless, we believe it was the obligation of the agents who were aware of the information to ensure that OI and the decision makers had the opportunity to consider it, both to decide whether to proceed with the applications and, if so, how to present this information to the court.

From a policy perspective, the IG Report provides a more useful observation about the FBI-OI relationship that explains and should be fixed to address the problem of OI not integrating information FBI provided them: that the lawyers in OI aren’t involved in an investigative role like prosecutors who would file a criminal warrant application.

As described in Chapter Five, NSD officials told us that the nature of FISA practice requires that 01 rely on the FBI agents who are familiar with the investigation to provide accurate and complete information. Unlike federal prosecutors, OI attorneys are usually not involved in an investigation, or even aware of a case’s existence, unless and until OI receives a request to initiate a FISA application. Once OI receives a FISA request, OI attorneys generally interact with field offices remotely and do not have broad access to FBI case files or sensitive source files. NSD officials cautioned that even if OI received broader access to FBI case and source files, they still believe that the case agents and source handling agents are better positioned to identify all relevant information in the files. In addition, NSD officials told us that OI attorneys often do not have enough time to go through the files themselves, as it is not unusual for OI to receive requests for emergency authorizations with only a few hours to evaluate the request.

Rather than incorporating this important observation into its findings, thereby identifying a process failure with FISA that likely applies to all FISA applications, the IG Report instead just blames the FBI. This is equivalent to downplaying honest explanations for Carter Page’s enthusiasm for sharing non-public information with Russian intelligence officers — that CIA said it was okay (which would not explain all of his interactions with Russian spies in any case).

Again, I’m not knocking the report as a whole. In much the same way that there was a lot of evidence against Carter Page even given the problems with his FISA applications, the IG Report is important and valuable in spite of these problems.

But the problems probably provide a far better answer to the question posed by the IG Report as a whole: what explains the errors or missing information in the Carter Page FISA applications. In a really worthwhile podcast on the report, Stewart Baker suggests the disproportionate blame on FBI may arise from the scope of DOJ IG’s authority; it is not permitted to criticize the work of prosecutors. Assessed along with DOJ IG’s past reports on Trump targets, these errors may raise questions of bias, whether that bias stems from a failure to reframe investigative missions the IG receives to eliminate the assumptions who assign them (as almost certainly happened in the IG Report’s treatment of Bruce Ohr), or a more general willingness to serve as Trump’s hatchetman (I’ll return to this in a post on Andrew McCabe’s lawsuit).

But the explanation could be and — for many of these errors — likely is more simple. As Julian Sanchez argued convincingly, the better explanation is probably confirmation bias. Once DOJ IG came to believe FBI fucked up (possibly as early as the report on the Hillary investigation), everything it found seemed to confirm that conclusion. That’s natural and not something I am immune to either (and I’m sure I’ll have my share of embarrassing errors in this post!). But particularly with FISA — which disproportionately is used with people with Chinese or Islamic ties — that kind of confirmation bias can end up being discriminatory.

That, again, provides perhaps the most important lesson this report offers about FISA. DOJ IG was able to fix several of its errors because making the report public subjected its work to scrutiny that identified the errors; I’ve been able to point to others simply by an extended deep dive or consulting other public records on these matters, like a Judicial Watch FOIA or the Mueller Report. The problem with FISA applications, however, is they never get exposed to such scrutiny, so that errors that might be addressed in criminal affidavits aren’t for FISA applications. In that Baker podcast, David Kris argued that one way to fix these problems is to let any defendants against whom FISA is used in a prosecution access their application (something that could be done under the CIPA process).

Committing the same kinds of errors it criticizes doesn’t make this IG Report useless or wrong about its key findings on the problems with the Carter Page application (though it does make the recommendations that the FBI and Bruce Ohr be disciplined far weaker). But it does make a meta point about the value of transparency for counteracting confirmation bias.


Overview and ancillary posts

DOJ IG Report on Carter Page and Related Issues: Mega Summary Post

The DOJ IG Report on Carter Page: Policy Considerations

Timeline of Key Events in DOJ IG Carter Page Report

Crossfire Hurricane Glossary (by bmaz)

Facts appearing in the Carter Page FISA applications

Nunes Memo v Schiff Memo: Neither Were Entirely Right

Rosemary Collyer Responds to the DOJ IG Report in Fairly Blasé Fashion

Report shortcomings

The Inspector General Report on Carter Page Fails to Meet the Standard It Applies to the FBI

“Fact Witness:” How Rod Rosenstein Got DOJ IG To Land a Plane on Bruce Ohr

Eleven Days after Releasing Their Report, DOJ IG Clarified What Crimes FBI Investigated

Factual revelations in the report

Deza: Oleg Deripaska’s Double Game

The Damning Revelations about George Papadopoulos in a DOJ IG Report Claiming Exculpatory Evidence

A Biased FBI Agent Was Running an Informant on an Oppo-Research Predicated Investigation–into Hillary–in 2016

The Carter Page IG Report Debunks a Key [Impeachment-Related] Conspiracy about Paul Manafort

The Flynn Predication

Sam Clovis Responded to a Question about Russia Interfering in the Election by Raising Voter ID

49 replies
  1. Steve_L says:

    Thanks Marcy-
    Good stuff as usual. I note, however, that you use “conclusion” twice in the first sentence (in error). Please consider correcting to remove a blemish from this otherwise strong piece.

    • emptywheel says:

      LOL. I knew there’d be errors in this. Would have liked to make it through the first sentence, but of course not.

  2. Badger Robert says:

    OT: does Mr. Strzok have a case? I always thought McCabe had the case I would have like to have, if I was an expert in federal employment law.

    • Theodora30 says:

      Mr. Strzok definitely has a case. The first IG report made it clear that there were agents in the NY FBI actively interfering in the election to help Trump by leaking information to the media (and to Giuliani who then went to the media) that would damage Clinton’s campaign. It also said that Comey told Loretta Lynch that he was shocked at the “visceral hatred” that agents in the NY office had for Hillary. That makes it crystal clear that they were openly saying negative things about her which is directly comparable to what Page and Strzok got fired for. But unlike Page and Strzok who did nothing to interfere in the election these agents did just that. That is a not only a violation of FBI?DOJ rules it is also a crime. Strzok makes explicit reference to that double standard in his filing.
      As for McCabe, he can rot in hell as far as I am concerned. He was getting pressure from the NY agents who were complaining to the media that he was biased because his wife had taken money for her campaign from a PAC associated with Clinton friend Terry McAuliffe. To protect himself McCabe authorized a leak to the WSJ that the FBI was investigating the Clinton Foundation. That investigation was being conducted by those NY agents who based it on the accusations from Breitbart’s Peter Schweitzer’s book Clinton Cash. DOJ objected to that investigation but they went ahead then made sure it got leaked to the media by McCabe. According the first IG report McCabe got fired for lying about that leak, saying Comey had approved it, something Comey denied. Not that I trust Comey on this but what McCabe did really damaged the Clinton campaign. Then Comey drove in the final nail in her coffin with his public statement late in the election. The IG report descibes how he did that because he knew that the NY office would leak it anyway.
      The report also says that top DOJ and FBI officials did nothing to stop those rogue agents because they were “senior” and had “timed out” (earned their pensions?) That is not only bizarre, it is really frightening.

  3. Savage Librarian says:

    Having been the target of confirmation bias myself, I have empathy for Ohr and others who suffer the consequences of misguided assertions and negative actions. Scapegoats learn quickly, if they didn’t already know, that tarnished pride can produce recklessness and worse. It is almost considered a cardinal sin to even be suspected of having embarrassed a superior.

    The local and federal government entities I worked for spent substantial amounts of money on training of all kinds for staff. Among many things, this included teaching supervisors about the halo and horn effects in evaluating people. But, regardless of the quantity and level of training, it never ever got rid of the pecking order with respect to the upper echelons.

    Still, in a democracy, each and every one of us has a responsibility for our part. After we take a deep breath and count to ten, we need to make our best effort to realign the observations and data to a reasoned judgment rather than an impulsive response. These days that is even more challenging due to the sheer speed of information flow, the judgmental nature of social media and the antagonism of the power structure. Everyone is fatigued by it.

    Speaking of information overflow, I came across an interesting bit today. Because I don’t know if it has been shared before, I include it here.

    Apparently Millian was in Las Vegas as a presenter for a Horasis program. I was under the impression that nobody knew where Millian was. Here is a little excerpt from the program:

    Horasis-The Global Visions Community

    Horasis China Meeting 28-29th October 2019, Las Vegas, USA

    China Federation of Industrial Economics
    Las Vegas Sands Corp.
    US Chamber of Commerce

    29 October 2019

    Reviewing China’s Targets for Growth

    Sergey Millian, Chairman, Millian Group, USA (several other presenters were listed too)

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Interestingly, I found the info about Horasis and Millian’s presentation on a website for an organization called, “Religious Freedom and Business Foundation.” The president is Brian J. Grim. This may or may not be relevant. But, remember Papadopoulos’ mention of having been invited to a “faith talk” and Morgulis’ Spiritual Diplomacy? Both men had links to Millian. This may just be another trip down the rabbit hole. But I thought it might be worth sharing.

    • Theodora30 says:

      The IG has no excuse for allowing confirmation bias. He and his staff are professionals who are trained to be objective and our democracy depends on them to make sure they are. If they do this in a report that they know will be closely scrutinized I can imagine just how sloppy they are when they know few people will pay attention. But then maybe they are well aware that they media will let them get by with it just like they have this time.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is apparently allowing new asbestos imports into the US, by redefining EPA rules concerning its use. Trump fell in love with asbestos in the 1980s, at the start of national (and global) efforts to remove it from its ubiquitous presence in commercial and residential buildings, appliances, auto parts, the works. Removing it from his properties would have been costly. His affection is always transactional.

    It so happens that a major exporter of asbestos is Vlad the Impaler. But everyone else, Canada, say, who exports will demand access.

    In case any manufacturer is thinking of using it, asbestos is an abundant cause of cancer, especially lung cancer and mesothelioma. It annually kills more Americans than car accidents. Large companies have fallen over their liability for its use. Billions have been spent on medical care, billions more on payouts.

    In light of that, using it now would be an intentional act that ought to subject a business to bet-the-company punitive damages. Intentional conduct is often not covered by business insurance: every dollar in damages would go straight to the bottom line. Following Trump anywhere is following the Pied Piper.


  5. viget says:


    Saw on Natasha Bertrand’s feed that Parnas’s lawyer is seeking permission from the SDNY court to share Lev’s iPhone data and “other documents” that the DOJ turned over as part of discovery with HPSCI?!?

    Why is he doing this? Is there an immunity deal about to be struck here?

    I am very skeptical. The last time someone mixed up with Ukraine and Trump testified before Congress, he only told part of the truth that couldn’t be independently verified. He didn’t really cooperate as much as he could have.

    I feel as if the same is happening here again.

    • drouse says:

      The article that I read about it also stated that the DOJ had no objections to sharing it. That might mean that there is nothing there anymore incriminating than what is already out in the public knowledge. One point though, it can be surprising what the administration considers more incriminating.

    • Rugger9 says:

      It depends on what is on the phone. Lots of speculation about possibilities, but the lack of rhetorical Twitter frenzy from the Palace on this topic makes me think not much is there (although the attention on the Baghdad embassy riot might be covering for this too). While Parnas himself may not be much of a witness, more objective electronic communications might fill in the gaps, TPM has been covering this.


      Digby had a note up on Ghislaine Maxwell and her significant dirt on various powerful types, channeling a Sun article. Does she not understand what happens to those who hold such leverage? Unless they live (or they have an auto-release mechanism) it gets buried like the DC madam and all of those Deutsche Bank types.


    • bmaz says:

      Ha! Parnas is “seeking permission”??

      Parnas and his somewhat Trump like twitterphillic lawyer Joe Bondy are assclowns. They don’t need permission. They can share the information tonight before the clock strikes twelve. It is his information. Put it up on the Internet. Hell, send it to me and I’ll post it right here within five minutes.

      This is PR bullshit from those guys.

  6. orionATL says:

    how science-based public policy is made.

    u.s. agency for toxic substances and disease registry:


    the democratic party needs to hang the trump administration’s utter disregard for the health of the nation’s citizens around our our president’s neck in 2020:

    asbestos is a notorious lung “toxicant” that appeared in dozens of products sold in they u.s. and is extremely difficult to control once spread thru these products. take a look at some of the historical uses of asbestos, including Kent micronite cigarette filters. wowee! double whamee!


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I suspect the number of products that once used asbestos easily numbers in the hundreds – pipes and plumbing, HVAC distribution systems, commercial and residential hot water storage units, automotive and truck brake linings, refrigerators, toasters, wall coverings and coatings. It was considered a miracle product that insulated anything against heat loss or damage.

      As with many cancers, asbestos-related ones can take decades to appear. Treatment is limited. The fibers are small and sharp, like tiny snowflakes. They burrow into tissue, their sharpness continually inflaming it.

      One of its crueler aspects is that it often affected spouses, who laundered workmen’s clothes. But its presence in the home and at work was ubiquitous.

    • Rugger9 says:

      It has been getting purged systematically from systems, but as noted it’s everywhere, including on the popcorn ceilings of the ’70s. We got rid of our ceilings last year and it was a week-long adventure in containment zones and a five-figure job. Even the labs in school still had the asbestos screens for the ring stands and Bunsen burners.

      With that said, the best thing to do with asbestos is to encapsulate it to prevent deterioration and exposure and creation of dust. Many piping systems can support this action.

      If it can’t be encapsulated (as in permanently) then remove it.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’ve heard that in a lot of cases, it was safe until people tried taking it out. Then the fibers went everywhere.
        (I remember watching my father working on plumbing using a square of asbestos to shield the wallboard and framing – the plumbing couldn’t be taken out for whatever he was doing. Sometimes he was having to thaw frozen water pipes.)

        • Cathy says:

          Yes. Best thing for in situ asbestos is to leave it be (with prominent warning that any work on it requires abatement.)

          Once experienced the complete encapsulation of a 288 ft. tall industrial distillation tower when its asbestos-containing insulation needed to be changed out because it was no longer insulating efficiently.

          [ was a really big condom; project engineers took a lot of ribbing because of it 😉 ]

        • P J Evans says:

          I saw pics of the removal of a 50-year-old “temporary” building at the church we went to when I was much younger. (It was one of those where you provided a plan and the foundation, they put together the steel framing-and-sheathing package, brought it in, and set it up.) They treated it as if it had asbestos, though I think the insulation was fiberglass. (I remember when it was built. They were pouring concrete starting about 4pm, in weather that was running 108-112F, and the concrete set almost as fast as it was poured.)

        • Cathy says:

          Hmmm. I recall a sampling / testing protocol for the insulation on the tower. I imagine there’s a break point on the “size” of the job at which the added abatement costs balance the cost of / time needed for materials analysis? Maybe if cost advantage isn’t really a factor it’s easier to take a “better safe than sorry” approach & plunge ahead with the abatement …

    • Pajaro says:

      Another great and informative website on asbestos is https://www.instagram.com/asbestorama/

      As contractor for federal agency I used to draft many statements of work for use in asbestos material assessment in buildings to be demolished, and removal and encapsulation SOW for demolition. The agency (remaining nameless) used to just bulldoze the buildings into a pile and burn it. Thus, sending asbestos particles into the air and soil (windy areas with airborne dust common). Most of the facilities were schools, still in use.

    • Geoguy says:

      Unfortunately, asbestos is still used in the US, mostly for industrial uses but it also still appears in consumer products. Our main sources were from Canada but their mines closed in 2011. Brazil filled the gap until 2017 when they pretty much banned production. Looks like Trump is helping Vlad diversify his economy. See Chemical & Engineering News, “Brazil asbestos ban impacts U.S. imports” and FactCheck.org, “Did the EPA Just Approve Use of Asbestos in the U.S.?”

      • Cathy says:

        Reassuring? – “Did the EPA Just Approve Use of Asbestos in the U.S.?” Posted 5 Sep 2018; Updated 19 Apr 2019 (https://www.factcheck.org/2018/09/did-the-epa-just-approve-use-of-asbestos-in-the-u-s/)

        [block quote]

        Update, April 19: The EPA announced on April 17 that it was close to finalizing its proposed asbestos rule. The final regulation remains mostly the same, but as the agency explains in an FAQ document, it decided to require companies to notify the EPA if they want to bring back any legal, non-current use of asbestos — not just products that fall in the previously specified 15 categories.

        “In response to public comments, EPA expanded the scope of the final rule to include an additional four categories of products and a ‘catch all’ category,” the document reads. “This ensures that ALL asbestos products that are no longer on the market are covered by this rule.”

        [end quote]

        • Cathy says:

          De nada.

          Also – feel like anyone comfortable with the Trump EPA’s charge of asbestos regs is the sort to be comfortable with the Republican Senate’s charge of Trump’s impeachment trial. :-)

  7. Mitch Neher says:

    I feel so guilty!

    Ms. Wheeler has been working oh-so-very way-far harder than anyone else I have ever . . . encountered, let lone read.

    There’s something about Ms. Wheeler’s “drive” that just makes me feel so . . . guilty . . . for . . . slacking off . . . or for being incapable of lending Ms. Wheeler a helping hand (as if–ha ha!).

    [I’m not advocating self-flagellation. (No! I am not. It just “sounds” that way.) That’s different!]

  8. Rugger9 says:

    OT but watch this closely: the events surrounding the Baghdad embassy riot / attack are immediately being blamed on Iran, conveniently leaving out the earlier attacks on Iraqi Shia bases under the theory of the bases being under de facto Iranian control. If any Palace needed a wag-the-dog war it’s this one, and the saber rattling (we’re sending over more Marines – but nowhere near enough to pacify Baghdad much less Iraq) from Cadet Bone Spurs including threats of severe punishment makes me wonder just how well timed this is from the impeachment inquiry. After all, the reports posted about Mulvaney and Bolton, as well as Kupperman’s rejection in trying to claim blanket immunity in no uncertain terms means that the Palace minions as actual fact witnesses will need to visit the Senate. For me I would tell the Bidens to go ahead and testify since the true timeline supports them and it would shine the bright spotlight on the fact that the Palace is too chicken to do the same.


    The “blame the mullahs” gambit has been going on for a long time now (remember the mines earlier this year?), partly in support of the KSA but also because Individual-1 needs to have distractions and nothing distracts like a war. I’m pretty sure that Vlad in his latest tete-a-tete made it clear that Iran would be an easy target which may have been echoed by Tayyip. It’s not that easy, and wars like this defy human ability to contain them, if for no other reason than the fact that the religious aspect will be injected into the propaganda early on.

    • P J Evans says:

      I figured the Iraqis are perfectly capable of getting into facilities in Iraq without outside help. Didn’t we spend years teaching them all about it?

      • Rugger9 says:

        Indeed, and this set of circumstances has an eerie parallel to the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 which nearly toppled Czar Nicholas II who was acting on the similar advice of Kaiser Wilhelm II (who saw himself trying to defend against the “Yellow Peril” of his own invention, and he was also the one who nicknamed his own troops as “Huns” in the Boxer Rebellion) for a splendid little war to distract from the late Romanov corruption and maladministration.

        Barbara Tuchman has this in “The Zimmerman Telegram” (Peril) and the “Guns of August” (Huns).

        The problem for me is that the brave souls on the front lines will pay the price for covering Individual-1’s arse.

        • Rugger9 says:

          The term “Spendid Little War” was first used to describe the 1898 Spanish American War and I’m pretty sure that is the last time a war like this actually went as planned for its long-term effect (if one discounts the Moros in the PI. Since then, it hasn’t, starting in Manchuria in 1904.

        • bmaz says:

          The setting is a couple of decades after that first “Splendid Little War”, but have you ever seen The Sand Pebbles? I am not sure why, but your two comments here made me think of it, and it was a truly great, even if somewhat slow paced, movie.

        • rosalind says:

          related, RIP Jack Sheldon: “Sheldon performed the haunting ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’ on the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton drama The Sandpiper (1965), and the tune, written by Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster, won the Grammy Award for song of the year and the Academy Award for best original song.” from H’wood Reporter obit

        • rosalind says:

          fuck. need an edit button. tired brain turned “Sand Pebbles” into “Sandpiper”.

          anyhoo…RIP jack sheldon!! Schoolhouse Rock forever!

        • bmaz says:

          Hey now, The Sandpiper is a very awesome movie too! And Teddy’s friend Liz Taylor absolutely radiant.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As you note, I suspect the Philippine portion of the Spanish-American War did not go as planned. The need to resurrect and practice water torture and to invent a new weapon (the .45 semi-automatic), the genocide of people who thought they were being freed from colonial oppression, and congressional investigations suggest a few problems.

          The deaths in Cuba owing to tropical diseases and rotten canned food sold to the military, the inadequate medical corps, and similar disappointment by locals at not being freed from colonial oppression suggest it was a problem, too.

          Bmaz’s reference to the Sand Pebbles is a reminder of how seldom war goes as planned, even a cold one, and illustrates your point that it’s the people on both ends of the muzzle who pay the price.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Guardian’s political coverage of the US presidential election is fast approaching the quality of the NYT political desk. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/01/us-elections-2020-democratic-candidates

    It declares, for example, that the Dems are in “the final sprint,” when they are running a long steeplechase, with the first real hurdles ahead of them. Its characterization of the candidates is so cliched, Chris Cilliza could have come up with them while reading an outdated magazine at the local barber shop:

    Biden is too gaffe-prone; Sanders and Warren are too far left; Buttigieg too young. But which one is capable of beating Trump?

    Biden is tired and unimaginative, his notions of bipartisanship are dangerously outdated. Buttigieg’s problem is not his age, but his limited experience. More importantly, he is too centrist and too prone to follow orthodoxy rather than challenge it.

    The reflexive claim that Warren and Sanders are too left ignores the center of Main Street American concerns: jobs, healthcare, education, the environment. It’s not the center as defined by Trump’s base or by the owners of the NYT or WaPo. As for who can beat Trump, that’s a circular argument. It is voters who will beat Trump. They need someone who has a passion for change as well as restoration, and the guts to make their priorities the same as those of average Americans.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Humorously, the Guardian considers Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy one of the “biggest uncertainties” in the race. Mikey’s fate, regardless of his money, is as uncertain as Donald Trump’s lunch menu.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        LOL. What is it with the Mikes? Pence, Pompeo, Mulvaney (John Michael), Bloomberg?!!! Imagine if they were hooked on Mickey D’s too!!!

    • sproggit says:

      “Biden is tired and unimaginative, his notions of bipartisanship are dangerously outdated. Buttigieg’s problem is not his age, but his limited experience. More importantly, he is too centrist and too prone to follow orthodoxy rather than challenge it.

      The reflexive claim that Warren and Sanders are too left ignores the center of Main Street American concerns: jobs, healthcare, education, the environment. It’s not the center as defined by Trump’s base or by the owners of the NYT or WaPo. As for who can beat Trump, that’s a circular argument. It is voters who will beat Trump. They need someone who has a passion for change as well as restoration, and the guts to make their priorities the same as those of average Americans.”

      Whilst I might not completely agree, I think your comments here are close to the mark.

      But here’s the thing: whomever wins the Democratic nominee, the one thing that they will have going for them that Trump does not and will never have will be a powerful, capable and supportive partner in their pick for Vice President.

      Trump could never, ever, *ever* have an effective VP, not because he is incapable of picking one, but because his narcissistic tendencies and his outlandish ego would never tolerate his having to share the limelight with *anyone*.

      If there is anything that the Democratic Party should be capitalizing on in the run up to 2020 it is that even though they encompass a remarkably broad spectrum of views, they have one overwhelming superpower: the ability to work together.

      Look at the Republicans and what you see is a party united by two dominant themes: one is the fear of being attacked by the President; the other is their insatiable lust for power – at any cost.

      Trump can definitely be beaten. But first, he needs to be understood. Nancy Pelosi knows how to “push his buttons” and provoke him in to a Twitter tirade, but the successful Democratic nominee is going to need to understand how to scale that up a couple orders of magnitude, such that they can turn the President’s impulsiveness into his greatest weakness.

      If they think it’s all about policy they haven’t been paying attention for the last 3 years.

  10. Tyler says:

    Even though we broadly share the same outlook, I rarely comment unless I have a bone to pick.

    But in this case I would just like to say: Your work on the IG report is incredible and outstanding.

Comments are closed.