Sidney Powell’s Great Time Machine of Electoral Gaslighting

On January 4, 2017 at 9:43 AM, FBI lawyer Lisa Page emailed her boss, FBI General Counsel James Baker a citation for the Logan Act, referencing some prior discussion in the subject line: “Code section at question.”

Shortly thereafter, Peter Strzok emailed Page the text of the law, as well as a link to a Congressional Research Service report on the Logan Act. In it, he noted that the legislative history of the Logan Act did not deal with incoming officials (which might suggest that, contrary to all reporting, he was skeptical about its application). Page thanked Strzok, and then she sent the text of the law, but not the other discussion, to someone else.

Later that afternoon, Strzok started messaging FBI agents involved in the Flynn prosecution, asking them to hold open the Flynn investigation, noting that, “7th floor involved.”

The next day, representatives from the Intelligence Community briefed Obama on the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian hacking. After the briefing, several people stayed behind to discuss the Flynn conversations with Sergey Kislyak. National Security Advisor Susan Rice described the meeting this way in a February 2018 letter sent to SJC.

… an important national security discussion between President Obama and the FBI Director and the Deputy Attorney General. President Obama and his national security team were justifiably concerned about potential risks to the Nation’s security from sharing highly classified information about Russia with certain members of the Trump transition team, particularly Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

In light of concerning communications between members of the Trump team and Russian officials, before and after the election, President Obama, on behalf of his national security team, appropriately sought the FBI and the Department of Justice’s guidance on this subject.

Rice’s memo to the file, written before FBI had interviewed Mike Flynn about his calls with Sergey Kislyak, described that President Obama, Jim Comey, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Joe Biden, and herself attended the meeting. She recorded that Obama first instructed FBI (as he apparently already had) to do things normally.

President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book”. The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.

Rice describes how Obama then asked whether there was any reason not to share information with Trump’s incoming team.

From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.

Jim Comey responded with an ambivalent answer, stating that the FBI had not yet found Flynn to be sharing classified information, but observing that the sheer number of contacts between Kislyak and Flynn was abnormal. Comey stated that “potentially,” NSC should not share classified information with Flynn.

Director Comey affirmed that he is proceeding “by the book” as it relates to law enforcement. From a national security perspective, Comey said he does have some concerns that incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. Comey said that it could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive information. President Obama asked if Comey was saying that the NSC should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn. Comey replied, “potentially.” He added he that he has not indication thus far that Flynn has passed classified information to Kislyak, but he noted that “the level of communication is unusual.”

On June 23, Mike Flynn prosecutor Jocelyn Ballantine sent Sidney Powell a “page of notes [] taken by former Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.” She described that the page was undated, but that “we believe that the notes were taken in early January 2017, possibly between January 3 and January 5.”

The notes record a meeting that — like the meeting Rice described — was attended by Obama, Jim Comey, Sally Yates, Joe Biden, and Susan Rice.

At the meeting, Obama told Comey to, “Make sure you [look at?] things — have the right people on it,” an instruction telling the FBI to conduct the investigation normally. Then, Obama asked, “Is there anything I shouldn’t be telling transition team?” Comey responded, though his response is unclear: “Flynn > Kislyak calls but appear legit.” Certainly, however, Comey’s response involves some kind of comment on Flynn’s calls with Kislyak. Parts of the discussion before and after this exchange are redacted, with no redaction marks explaining the basis for doing so (though a Bates stamp makes it clear that Mueller’s team had this document, so it is in no way “new” to DOJ).

When Sidney Powell released the notes, she asserted that the notes were, “believed to be of January 4,” which is not what DOJ told her (they said the notes could be January 3, 4, or 5).

Strzok’s notes believed to be of January 4, 2017, reveal that former President Obama, James Comey, Sally Yates, Joe Biden, and apparently Susan Rice discussed the transcripts of Flynn’s calls and how to proceed against him.

Powell presents this meeting as new news, even though we’ve known about the meeting since Chuck Grassley made a stink about it to help her client in early 2018 (ten months before her client reallocuted his guilty plea). She did so, in part, to call attention to the comment from Joe Biden apparently raising the Logan Act, then repeated, falsely, that the investigation that had been since August 2016, was then in early January, and would be during his January 24, 2017 interview significantly focused on 18 USC 951, was only investigating the Logan Act.

According to Strzok’s notes, it appears that Vice President Biden personally raised the idea of the Logan Act. That became an admitted pretext to investigate General Flynn

According to Powell’s narrative, then, Biden mentioned the Logan Act on January 4, which led the FBI to start investigating it the next morning. According to Powell’s narrative, then, Biden is responsible for what she falsely claims was the pretext under which her client was interviewed.

To believe that, however, you’d have to believe there were two meetings, both with the same attendees, in both of which Obama first directed the FBI Director to conduct the Flynn investigation normally, and then asked whether he should be cautious about sharing sensitive information with the Trump team. In both meetings, you’d have to believe, Comey provided an ambivalent answer. You’d have to further believe that such an exchange was so concerning to Susan Rice that she would document it on her last day in office, but document only the second instance of such an exchange, not the first one.

Now, perhaps there’s some reason Jeffrey Jensen and Jocelyn Ballantine profess uncertainty about when Strzok took these notes. Or perhaps DOJ, which has politicized this process so much already, would like to claim uncertainty so as to suggest that Joe Biden raised the Logan Act before the FBI did, while they’re also falsely claiming that Flynn was interviewed only for the Logan Act.

But the simplest explanation for these notes is that the guy who played a key role in investigating the Russian side of the operation seconded Comey for the ICA briefing (he had done at least one earlier briefing at the White House, in September 2016), and then, when everyone stayed behind to address Flynn — an investigation Strzok was in the management chain on — he remained as Comey’s second and took notes of the same exchange that Susan Rice memorialized 15 days later. [See below: Strzok was not at the meeting in question, which would suggest these notes came even longer after the Logan Act had been raised at FBI.]

Which would likewise mean that DOJ, on the eve of a hearing on how DOJ is politicizing everything, fed Sidney Powell with a document she could misrepresent (as she has virtually everything that DOJ has fed her), and have numerous Republicans HJC members similarly misrepresent, all to turn this into a campaign issue.

Ah, well. Now that DOJ has declassified comments (almost certainly covered by Executive Privilege) in which Biden said he had seen nothing like what Flynn had done in the 10 years he was on the Senate Intelligence Committee (Biden was on the Committee during Reagan’s crimes), reporters can ask him how unprecedented it is for the incoming National Security Advisor to be wooed by a hostile power’s Ambassador during the transition.

Update: Glenn Kessler says Strzok’s lawyer says Stzrok wasn’t at this meeting, which makes the conspiracy around it even crazier.

46 replies
  1. SteveL says:

    Bad typo Marcy-

    “Comey stated that “potentially,” NSC should not share classified information with Obama.”

    Should be “…with Flynn”

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Even had Biden raised the Logan Act as an observation, why would that be strange? He has a law degree, spent decades in the Senate and eight in the White House as VP. It would not mean the DoJ or FBI interpreted it as an order or instruction to “get” a political rival on a supposedly trumped up charge, especially in the short time left to run in Obama’s administration. The assumption that it might would be anachronistic, in that it would attribute behavior to Obama’s DoJ that only Trump’s has demonstrated.

  3. Desider says:

    A bit off-topic – did Covington ever get called in to say whether Flynn/Powell were blowing smoke up Sullivan’s ass re: their legal advice to Flynn, etc?

  4. Gonefishing says:

    Not a lawyer, but throwing this out there Could Comey’s “legit” comments simply mean that the 2 speakers were actually Kislyak & Flynn? Flynn was calling from the Domenican Republic, not his govt-issued phone,so perhaps he was just confirming their identities.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      One might ask why Flynn was not on his G.I. phone, while ostensibly talking to foreigners about government business.

      • Gonefishing says:

        Flynn claimed he “didn’t have access to” his GI Blackberry. I don’t think he ever specified what kind of phone he used. Presumably he used his personal phone, but, for all we know, he could have used a burner phone in the hopes it wouldn’t be picked up. To discuss sanctions on a non-classified line seems to me to be a security violation. For Flynn not to know this, especially in the light of Hillary’s emails, is bizarre to me. I’ve often wondered why this hasn’t been brought up.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          His next less than credible explanation will be that his GI phone’s battery ran out. For a guy who ran the DIA, his excuses are shambolic.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Having caught John Bolton selling books on Nicolle Wallace, I would let him go. I found him shrill, self-serving, and selling old cheese as breaking news. What he did say might have been explosive at the time of Trump’s impeachment, certainly coming from an insider. But he passed on performing a public service because he had better things to do, which is how Dick Cheney dismissed his five draft deferments.

    Meanwhile, in a day or two, the US will have had 2.5 million cases of Covid-19, about 2.5 times the incidence in the rest of the world – combined. Not much for a fake president to brag about. Might be why Mr. Trump is pretending the federal response was fantastic, but is no longer necessary. Oddly, PPE and federal budgetary help for real people and states is about as abundant as hen’s teeth.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Better things to do was also the gist of Bolton’s failure to go to Vietnam. In JB’s case it was that he felt he would serve the US better if he “wasn’t killed in the jungle” although I have my doubts. I wonder if JB ever visits the memorial wall to see who took his place there.

    • P J Evans says:

      I wonder if he thinks that the larger the number of cases, the better, like viewers for TV shows.

  6. Vinnie Gambone says:

    2.5 the incidence of the disease?
    He was right. We ARE tired of winning.
    It’s only because we had a better strain.
    We had TRUMP VIRUS. Thrives in an environment of stupidity.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    EW mentions again on twtr that Turkey paid Mike Flynn US$500,000 to put his name on an op-ed he didn’t write and hadn’t read. Flynn claimed it was for Trump’s campaign, rather than for a foreign government client. (I’m not sure that helps Flynn; anyway, it was a lie to the feds.) But sometimes, it’s hard to tell which is worse: Flynn’s greed, cynicism, and credulity; the ease with which his foreign government clients could manipulate him; or what he thought he was really being paid for.

    • soothsayer says:

      “or what he thought he was really being paid for.”

      Yes yes, but is the suggestion that he was ignorant of what it was? or rather that he was likely being paid for something else besides the obvious?

      I mean, I don’t know anything here, but it is very odd to me a) that he kept mentioning his digital army (wtf does that even mean?) b) why such a large sum $500k, for an article unless there was more “work” being done c) wrapping up oddity a) + b), why were Russia and the Trump Campaign all pushing the same “immigrants are bad” and using the refugees being flooded into the EU as an example – all due to Turkey & Russia basically doing the push/pull with the bombing and opening of borders.

      I will be honest, I find it hard to believe that Turkey as a NATO partner would have agreed to do anything in tandem with Russia. But then again, you had Flynn doing wacky ish with both, it is all absurd, but I still find this hard to believe. Then, I ask myself, why was the Russian Ambassador to Turkey wacked soon after the election, did he know too much? I am quite confused and full of questions.

      • soothsayer says:

        Oh nm, I guess it was more likely he was aiding the Turks turn policy against Gulen and the Kurds, and the shooting was unrelated and maybe even Aleppo related. I have decided I know nothing (as Manuel from Fawlty Towers says) and will likely remain befuddled by all this.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Flynn was a highly and well-educated Lt. General in the US Army. His most senior post was as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. After he was prematurely fired (technically, resigned), he started a consulting business to sell what he’d learned from thirty years of working for Uncle Sam, mostly in staff intelligence jobs. He entertained and worked for foreign government clients.

        Flynn is a questionable character, and his ego, like Trump’s, seems easily manipulated, but he’s much more than a patsy. So, unlike a patsy, if he hadn’t known what he was being paid for, he could hardly have delivered it. Mike Flynn knew exactly what he as being paid for.

  8. Silly but True says:

    Re: Strzok’s Notes

    If Strzok wasn’t at the damn meeting, then FBI Crossfire Hurricane or Razor investigators should have interviewed those who were, and created
    302s for each interview. His secondhand scribble-scratch just creates more unnecessary questions.

    • Salt of the Earth says:

      Agreed. It seems like Strzok was taking notes from a conversation with Comey. I guess I understand why he took notes, but they almost seem like CYA. “No, it wasn’t my idea to use the Logan Act. That came from the VP. The FBI thought the conversation was legit, but the President wanted the right people investigating it.” That being said, he did brag to Lisa Page about how brilliant he was.
      The FBI realized they were in uncharted territory, and Priestap, Comey and Strzok all took notes to protect themselves. They knew the administration would be gone and would be protected.

      • bmaz says:

        This is a bogus comment. First off, all LE, but especially FBI, takes notes. If you think they do not, then you do not know your ass from a hole in the ground.

        Secondly, when you throw out:

        “The FBI realized they were in uncharted territory, and Priestap, Comey and Strzok all took notes to protect themselves. They knew the administration would be gone and would be protected.”

        You are talking out of that hole in the ground. What kind of American thinks this garbage?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Kayleigh’s faith is personal, you see, and the most important thing about her. The Temptation of Kayleigh McEnany: How an ardent defender of faith – and Donald Trump – came to think of the press as her enemy.

    “People will malign you. It comes with the job,” McEnany said. “But I know who I’m ultimately working for, and it’s the big guy upstairs.” Her cross necklace glittered just above her collar, and she pointed up.

    As performance art goes among Fox and Harvard Law alums, McEnany’s seems pretty middle-of-the-road. And since she was probably thinking of Murdoch or Trump – while pointing to the usual great white father in the sky – I question her ability to judge size or distance. But I’m more interested in why it is so hard for the press to believe in simple lucrative bad faith. It’s what makes Trump’s world go round. Those who can’t swim in that water drown.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I don’t doubt that the Barrs, McEnanys, Boltons, Pences of the current Trumpworld actually believe in something. What they and their predecessors believe more, however – ever since the bomb, Milton Friedman, and Henry Kissinger – is their right, in fact, their obligation to lie about what they want, so that they can get it.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Followed by the inevitable whitewashing of their guilt because they are “saved” by whatever justification they dream up.

        Unfortunately for them the One who does judge takes notes.

        • madwand says:

          And as Barr has stated to the effect that none of this matters if you win. Dems need to step up to the plate and swing the bat and that means if the pitch is close assume the ump will call it a strike.

  10. Vicks says:

    I’m sorry, I have already forgotten, what is the term used for gaslighting in a legal defense?
    My question is, did the prosecution fall into some sort of a trap that allowed this nonsense to move forward and all but kill their case?

    Sorry moderators my log in info may have been garbled

    • bmaz says:

      “Duplicity”, or straight up “lying”. No, prior to the Barr micromanagement, the prosecution did nothing whatsoever wrong.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      To echo bmaz, no, the prosecution of Flynn was restrained and straight up. What changed is that Flynn got the message. He tossed his competent and superbly well-connected counsel and hired a Trump-connected Faux Noise talking head. She seems to have conspired with Bill Barr to generate noise in order to hide Barr’s attempt to get Flynn off scot-free without Trump having to expose himself to a charge of obstruction for having pardoned him.

      The most likely reason a sane defendant would do that – Flynn was originally looking at no bloody prison time – is if both he and the president had serious crimes to hide and the president had an Attorney General willing to hide them.

      • Rugger9 says:

        It might be worth the thought experiment to figure out what Flynn would have lost if he had left well enough alone. It would not be anything from the Army (that needs a Dismissal) such as his pension, or his private business (indeed, it might provide some “street cred” and he wasn’t operating on USG contracts as far as I know) so it must be something that would have obligated him to cooperate and name names.

        However, we’ve seen almost every WH lackey that testified (AG Barr included) have remarkable and convenient memory lapses which were not punished in any detectable way, so what risk to himself, Junior or DJT was Flynn trying to avoid?

        Does double jeopardy apply here with the guilty plea and rug-pulling by Barr’s DOJ? Would that prevent even being asked about the Russian and Turkish (and maybe Seychelles) conversations?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, as to the one count in the original complaint, double jeopardy would apply because the contemplated dismissal is “with prejudice”.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The frothy right will be rending its garments about the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, who has said that “in the light of the Black Lives Matter protests,” we should rethink the “portrayal of Jesus as white.”

    After two millenia, someone in authority recognizes that the historical Jesus was a Mediterranean peasant village Jew, who might not have much resembled Max von Sydow or Jeffrey Hunter. In theory, God could be male, female or above gender, he could be African, Chinese or Polynesian – or all or none of the above – but it’s a start.

    • P J Evans says:

      They also should read about the Iconoclasts in the eastern Roman Empire. And the English Civil War.

    • John says:

      To those of us who Jesus matters, we care not what color he was, realizing all the while that his portrayal in art is probably not accurate.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Your color-blindness is not universally shared. The portrayal is commonly adjusted toward the dominant representation in culture. For centuries in the West, that has meant shearing Jesus from his own culture and ethnicity. For those who recognize that that is an adaptation, it’s neither here nor there. But for many, it is the literalness that counts. If that were not true, the Archbishop would not have needed to say what he did.

      • Rayne says:

        “Color blindness” is an affected blindness born of privilege. It means actively refusing to see the damage of racism.

  12. Silly but True says:

    This takes off table false statement charge associated with Jan. 24, 2017 interview with FBI.

    Flynn’s uncharged offenses of his plea agreement associated with any false statements contained in FARA filings to DoJ remain fair game. Although FARA is uphill prosecution at best, and pre-2016 history abysmal but for post-hoc civil agreements to retroactively file & pay fine.

  13. Lazlow K. Hud says:

    Just back to the topic, Barr guested on a recent Ted Cruz podcast and said Strzok’s note was from January 5.

  14. WRStevens says:

    The Strzok notes attribute a quote to “vp” claiming 10 years membership on the intel committee. Was Biden ever a member? If not, are the notes accurate?

Comments are closed.