Lindsey Graham Provides Yet More Proof that Peter Strzok Didn’t Have It In for Trump

Lindsey Graham just released two more documents that don’t show what [his personally implicated staffer Barbara Ledeen] claims they show.

The more important is the Electronic Communication memorializing FBI’s 3-day interview with Christopher Steele’s primary subsource for the dossier. It’ll take me much of tomorrow to write it up, but suffice it to say that, as an utterly committed Steele skeptic, the EC is actually far more supportive of the dossier than I thought it’d be or than the DOJ IG Report claimed it was. Though it also provides tons of details of how it might have gone haywire, if it did.

More briefly, Lindsey also released an annotation Peter Strzok did (probably as part of his job hunting down leaks) of the February 14, 2017 NYT story alleging Trump’s flunkies had close ties with Russian intelligence.

The annotation shows that Strozk found multiple problems with the NYT story. Strozk’s corrections explain that,

  • None of Trump’s flunkies were known to have ties directly with Russian intelligence but:
    • While Carter Page had extensive ties with SVR, that wasn’t during his time on the campaign
    • At least one of Paul Manafort’s contacts had contact with Russian intelligence
    • Sergey Kislyak had contact with three people — Mike Flynn, Jeff Sessions, and one other person (probably JD Gordon)
  • The FBI didn’t have intercepts on people; while it had given names — that explicitly include Manafort’s Ukrainian colleagues — to CIA and NSA, but did not ask for close scrutiny of them
  • The counterintelligence case in which Manafort was a subject was not opened until 2016, although FBI may have had an earlier kleptocracy investigation earlier
  • In February 2017, the FBI did not have an investigation into Roger Stone
  • While Christopher Steele might have credibility, he didn’t have much insight into the reliability of his subsources

Strzok also inadvertently revealed (by debunking claims in the story) that by February 2017, the FBI had sent out call log and credit report NSLs on Manafort, Page, and Flynn, but hadn’t gotten many of those back, and had not gotten detailed banking records. The investigation was barely begun in February 2017.

To be fair, these details were largely known, though the specificity about the NSLs is not only welcome, but unprecedented and unnecessary.

Ultimately, though, this is yet another piece of evidence — like Strzok’s observations that Flynn didn’t betray he was lying and his judgment that the Russian investigation would amount to little — that Strzok didn’t have it in for Trump or his flunkies, but instead assessed the case in real time.

Nevertheless, Strzok remains the big villain in this story.

Update: I inadvertently left off the Steele judgment above.

Update: Strzok’s Steele judgment actually shows up in the DOJ IG Report on Carter Page.

Following the January interview with the Primary Sub-source, on February 15, 2017, Strzok forwarded by email to Priestap and others a news article referencing the Steele election reporting; Strzok commented that “recent interviews and investigation, however, reveal [Steele] may not be in a position to judge the reliability of his sub-source network.”

The IG did not, however, note that this is one of several moments where Strzok clearly expressed skepticism, no matter his views about Trump, nor did it describe the other critiques he made.

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19 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    Strzok and Page provide the lurid clickbait with their affair and personal text messages, but as has been noted many times here they still did their work appropriately, and all the president’s men were appropriately on the hot seat.

    However, I’m sure the MSM will run with the spin, since that’s more scandalous.

  2. subtropolis says:

    I clicked over here after just reading about this at Politico. Your headline is precisely the takeaway that I had. Yet again, Strozk is shown as playing this straight — perhaps, exceptionally so, given his antagonism towards you-know-who.

    Not that they would ever admit it. Graham is dead set on making this look like evidence of malfeasance that will play well on FOX. (Just don’t read the actual text!)

    I had to roll my eyes, earlier this week, when Graham announced that he plans to subpoena Mueller, and many on the Left were surprised that he was supposedly going rogue on the Dumpster-in-Chief. Not a chance. Look at his remarks about it. He was quite clear about making Mueller “answer for” the allegedly corrupt etc etc. He appears to believe that he’ll be convening a circus to make the Benghazi “investigation(s)” look sober in comparison.

    • anaphoristand says:

      Given the timing of the request in the immediate wake of the Mueller op-ed, I didn’t read it as Lindsey’s going rogue so much as subtly, desperately, setting the stage for his tormentor’s demise. The way a long servile hostage might vocally sell their captor on the risk-free merits of a brief trip out to a store they alone know to be frequented by law enforcement. Lindsey’ll still be dutifully deferential AT that store, but at least subconsciously he’ll be praying for fireworks.

  3. viget says:

    Seems like the bigger part of this Durham investigation is to find out what the FBI knew, and when they knew it. This would be helpful to signal to co-conspirators, who ya know might be currently talking with the Feebs, which topics they might want avoid, or perhaps at least “misremember.” Helps to avoid 18 USC 1001 charges, ya know.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Not only Durham’s investigations, but all of AG Barr’s “reviews” have this purpose to find out who knows what and to spike adverse information from reaching the press.

      That’s also what makes the CDC decision more chilling, we’re going to see DeSantis-level finagling of numbers here.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    OT, but it seems the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) fires are finally out. LGM has a good breakdown a couple of days back about the situation and what it could mean. To put this in the proper perspective, the USS Forrestal burned for 14 hours, and we are now looking at 4 days. The details need to be investigated, but this will take out the careers of a whole bunch of officers, maybe extending to Commander of Third Fleet. The commander of the San Diego naval base and everyone on LHD-6 will face the music for the lack of preparation for fires in an overhaul setting which happens all the time. The ships on the same pier that weren’t moved will have to explain themselves, and NSSD is supposed to have an evacuation plan which apparently did not happen.

    This will become a big deal, I think. Links are from the LGM article, but from my career experience including running DC for CVN-70 as my GQ station, there was no good excuse for this, and the only positive note was (AFAIK) no one was killed.

    https://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-burning-of-uss-bonhomme-richard-lhd.html
    https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/07/13/the-bonhomme-richard-fire-deals-a-blow-to-the-navys-designs-in-the-indo-pacific/

    • Rugger9 says:

      For a little more perspective, this is what I would consider to be Soviet-level damage control competence, but we’ll wait for the inquiry to be sure. For those who weren’t Cold Warriors, the Soviets were rather infamous for poor DC technique (for example, they had a habit of painting more layers instead of chipping first, it made for great fires) including allegedly blowing up much of the Northern Fleet’s arsenal in one case. The Soviet idea of deployment would be to go to Socotra (for example), drop a hook and wait.

      So while they had a huge fleet, we knew we’d lick them in a fight.

    • P J Evans says:

      I found this story helpful:
      https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Explosion-threat-eases-at-burning-Navy-warship-in-15409059.php
      “There have been pockets of fire throughout the 840-foot (255-meter) amphibious assault ship that have flared since it began Sunday morning. The fire was reported first in its lower area where armored vehicles are parked and where heavy-duty cardboard boxes, rags and other maintenance supplies were being stored. It traveled upward to the well deck — a wide hangar type area — and took off from there, Navy officials have said.”

      Apparently, once it got to the well deck, it had lots of oxygen and space to spread.

      • Rugger9 says:

        It was in its refit, so nothing should be parked or stored with respect to vehicles. Poor or unsafe storage of rags, boxes, etc. are not excusable. Also, all of these ships will have the ability to seal the well deck and to hit the Halon system or use CO2, so I’m not so sure that the firefighting training is where it needs to be.

        That training issue points to something my brother (recently retired as a CDR, but still doing merchant marine gigs as a chief engineer) mentioned: the DOD has gone toward MBA methods of management which of course means “stretch goals”, cutting costs to the point of stupidity, and minimal training geared toward “checking off the box”. We also see that tied into the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions where a large contributing factor cited there was the lack of staff (another favorite MBA tactic) and training time to learn their systems.

        Again, we will wait until the Board of Inquiry finishes its work, but this sure stinks like a complete breakdown of preparedness to keep to an artificially accelerated politically driven schedule (in fairness, not necessarily by the WH in this case).

            • P J Evans says:

              So does the Roseville freight yard – and it’s even closer: freight with a hot box, and the only thing saving it from being a bigger disaster was that they had to split the train to fit it on the siding.
              http://www.militarymuseum.org/Roseville.html
              (They found a couple of dozen unexploded bombs in 1997 – 24 years later.)

          • Rugger9 says:

            Exactly, there is nowhere else to go when you’re at sea. The USS Arizona had a magazine blow up, to give everyone an idea why no one hangs around with the ammo ships until UNREP. That’s why the USN has been quite strict about compartmentalization and firefighting for decades. We’ll see what the Board of Inquiry does here, but a lot of balls got dropped on LHD-6.

        • P J Evans says:

          My opinion of MBA training is that it should be teaching people to know the field they’re working in, and put that knowledge first. “Business administration” only takes you so far, and then it fails.

  5. Rugger9 says:

    It will be interesting to see how Lindsey manages his Mueller hearings. I would suspect that if they were left open to the public, that Mueller and his staff would utter inconvenient truths, now that DJT has made it clear with LTC Vindman, Stone, Flynn and others that there is no rule of law at the WH and the cancer must be extirpated. So, between that realization and the fact they don’t work for DJT any more, it would seem to me that Lindsey needs to make these closed-door hearings if he thinks they will help DJT. Whether the hearings are open will be a key marker to see what the plan is…

  6. PeterS says:

    As someone who has been less of a Steele sceptic – because, well, that George Smiley chap was also a British spy and he seemed awfully clever – I am very much looking forward to your next post.

    • bmaz says:

      Steele, and his so called “dossier” is still one of the biggest red herrings in the history of the United States. It is literally irrelevant. The Horowitz IG report was garbage.

      If anybody thinks the Page warrants were not well within legal standards as they existed then, they are nuts and do not have a clue about actual functioning Franks standards as applied by courts everywhere, everyday.

      This is the dream white whale of Chuck Ross and the howlers.

      People want to fix the warrant process DOJ utilizes? Fine, please do it soon, some have been advocating that for a very long time, but the problem is FAR bigger that this stupid Page and Steele induced baloney. Spare me.

      • PeterS says:

        I’m not sure if that was a reply to me, but I certainly agree that the Steele dossier has repeatedly been ascribed an absurd level of importance over the last four years, by the left and right. And indeed it probably changed little in the grand scheme of things. But rightly or wrongly it has been part of the story, so I might quibble with “literally irrelevant”.

      • Rugger9 says:

        To bmaz’s point: Mueller didn’t use it.

        Only the RWNM is making an issue of it, and as noted elsewhere this was originally GOP oppo research before it was shopped to the Ds and apparently not used.

        That stands in contrast to Guccifer and the GOP, which is why McConnell and many others really want to blow smoke all over the place.

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