Bill Barr Deems 11 Months to Charge False Statements, “the Proper Pace”

Last night, in response to Sean Hannity pressuring Billy Barr to be (as Trump stated earlier), “the greatest of all time” with respect to the John Durham investigation, Barr violated DOJ guidelines to reveal there would be a development today (and further developments before the election) in the John Durham investigation.

Perhaps in an attempt to shut down Hannity’s time pressure, Barr said whatever that development was, “the proper pace, as dictated by the facts in this investigation.”

HANNITY: The president said today that he hopes that the Durham report and that you, as attorney general, won’t be politically correct.

I hope that too. Mr. Attorney General, I have spent three years unpeeling the layers of an onion, in terms of premeditated fraud on a FISA court. You have deleted subpoenaed e-mails. You have knowledge we know that they were warned in August of 2016 not to trust that dossier, which was the bulk of information for the FISA warrants.

The sub source in January 2017 confirms, none of that was true, and it was bar talk.

I guess, just as the wheels of justice turn slowly, I feel impatience over it. Can you give us any update?

BARR: Yes, Sean.

Well, first, as to the political correctness, if I was worried about being politically correct, I wouldn’t have joined this administration. As I made clear…

HANNITY: That’s actually a good line, too. OK.

BARR: Yes.

Well, as I made clear, I’m going to call them as I see them. And that’s why I came in. I thought I’m in a — I think I’m in a position to do that.

There are two different things going on, Sean. One, I have said that the American people need to know what actually happened. We need to get the story of what happened in 2016 and ’17 now out. That will be done.

The second aspect of this is, if people cross the line, if people involved in that activity violated the criminal law, they will be charged.

And John Durham is an independent man, highly experienced. And his investigation is pursuing apace. There was some delay because of COVID. But I’m satisfied with the progress.

And I have said there are going to be developments, significant developments, before the election. But we’re not doing this on the election schedule. We’re aware of the election. We’re not going to do anything inappropriate before the election.

But we’re not being dictated to by this schedule. What’s dictating the timing of this are developments in the case. And there will be developments. Tomorrow, there will be a development in the case.

You know, it’s not an earth-shattering development, but it is an indication that things are moving along at the proper pace, as dictated by the facts in this investigation.

That development happened to be the charge of a single False Statements charge against Kevin Clinesmith, the lawyer who altered an email — he said, “to clarify facts for a colleague” — in the Carter Page investigation.

There’s an aspect of the Criminal Information I’ll return to.

But for the moment, consider that Billy Barr has said this Criminal Information, for one count of False Statements, was “moving along at the proper pace.” Per the DOJ IG Report, Clinesmith’s actions were referred to DOJ and FBI in June 2018. That means it has taken DOJ at least 13 months to charge a fairly clearcut false statements case.

[Note: I’ve reread this. DOJ IG referred Clinesmith to FBI for his politicized texts in June 2018. It’s unclear when they referred his alteration of an email. He resigned from FBI on September 21, 2019, so it would have happened before then. I’ve changed the headline accordingly.]

George Papadopoulos was charged, in an investigation that Barr’s boss Donald Trump said was far too long, just over eight months after he lied to the FBI.

Mike Flynn was charged, in an investigation that Trump claims was far too long, just over ten months after he lied to the FBI.

Even in the Roger Stone case, the longest lasting of the investigations into Trump’s flunkies, Mueller charged obstruction just over eight months after Mueller’s team discovered how Stone was threatening Randy Credico and other witnesses.

In short, Billy Barr has now said that the pace Mueller worked at was better than what he thinks is proper.

Billy Barr probably didn’t realize it, but the only thing his politicized Durham investigation has to show thus far is that Trump is wrong when he assails Mueller for the length of his investigation.

45 replies
  1. JVO says:

    Obviously, Barr is attempting to deflect from the optics of taking 13 months in order to be 82 days before an election when he already knows and has been signaling for awhile, that he will be the greatest ever! I expect at least one more small fry drop like this and then Barr and Durham will drop their Obamagate indictments as their October surprise. I mean it’s just this blatantly dumb and obvious.

    • ButteredToast says:

      I expect Barr will issue a summary of “principal findings and conclusions” in October, without major indictments but plenty of language hinting at “unprecedented abuses” and claiming without contrary evidence that Durham found IC assessments of Russia favoring Trump were “questionable” or some such thing. There may be tenuous connections drawn between errors or corners cut that are actually unrelated.

  2. ButteredToast says:

    So I take it the “frothy right’s” crowing that a Clinesmith guilty plea would mean he has evidence incriminating others is baseless speculation?

    • vvv says:

      “Court documents filed in the Clinesmith case do not allege a broader political or anti-Trump conspiracy within the FBI or Justice Department, and a person familiar with the matter said Clinesmith does not intend to describe any such efforts when he enters his plea. This person, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing case.”

        • x174 says:

          the most likely explanation for why clinesmith pled to one count of making a false statement was that the doj initially charged him with a slew of trumped up charges.

        • Marinela says:

          And there this talk about FBI fully cooperating with the Durham investigation.

          Either Wray is trying to quiesce Trump getting impatient with his FBI or Barr diverting a lot of resources in FBI for this investigation of investigators.

          What a waste of time and resources, but hey, is not their money. So easy to spend other people money.

        • ButteredToast says:

          Simple inability to pay attorney’s fees if it went to trial? Or just crappy advice from his lawyer? I guess Clinesmith could still have information to offer, despite it not “alleg[ing] a broader political or anti-Trump conspiracy” (as reported in the article cited above by vvv). In any case, for the RW conspiracist crowd, news of a plea deal does serve to be more exciting than there simply being a charge brought against Clinesmith. If Durham and Barr are desperate for evidence to back up the conspiracy claims, maybe they’d be more likely to offer generous terms to Clinesmith. (Please shoot this down if it seems like a CT itself.)

  3. Oldguy says:

    You have a small typo in that you say that the Clinesmith referral was in June, 2018 when I think you meant June 2019.

    Thanks so much for all your good work. I am getting used to seeing your new posts at a different time if day since you moved!

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks. Actually I got what referred incorrect. But I’ve fixed the post, I think.
      Thanks for flagging that.

    • harpie says:

      I noticed this as well, but I’m consistently very confused about…seemingly, everything! [SO MANY investigations and SO MANY investigations of investigations!]

      This is the report Marcy links to in that sentence:
      Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
      Oversight and Review Division 20-012 December 2019 (Revised)

      from footnote 400:

      Prior to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, the OGC Attorney [Clinesmith] had been assigned to provide legal support to the FBI’s “Midyear Exam” investigation, which concerned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. In the OIG’s June 2018 report, Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, we referred to the OGC Attorney as FBI Attorney 2. In that report, we described improper political instant messages that the OGC Attorney sent to other FBI employees using FBI information technology systems.[…]

      We note that the OGC Attorney’s alteration of the Liaison’s email in connection with the Crossfire Hurricane investigation described in this report occurred in June 2017, one year prior to our June 2018 referral to the FBI of his actions in connection with the Midyear Exam investigation. [emphasis added]

      Added: HA! Marcy answered above, while I was working on this!

      • Marinela says:

        I don’t understand what happened with respect to the email he altered.
        Any good info I read about this?
        I am not on Twitter.

        • Marinela says:

          Reading about this, Kevin Clinesmith said Page was not a CIA source, while knowing Page was an “operational contact”.
          This distinction seems important but who knows?

          Also he forwarded the unaltered email to another lawyer that was analyzing the FISA application.

          Who was his direct boss?

  4. Marinela says:

    Is Barr allowed to lie to the American public?

    Trump lies all the time, but he can do it as a politician, unless he is under oath then he cannot lie.
    With respect to Barr, when he badly characterized the Mueller report, I assume it was fine as he was not under oath.

    Maybe democrats missed opportunity to get Barr to testify in Congress under oath about the characterization of the Mueller report.

    At Trump press conferences, when Trump lies to the American public, a reporter should perhaps ask him if he is willing to stand by that lie under oath.

    Same with Barr and this double talk.

    • P J Evans says:

      He’s lied under oath. It’s a crime, but it requires someone to charge him.
      Trmp has lied under oath before. He says whatever seems to be true to him at the moment.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s hard to believe this is legally enforceable. The HHS data services provider, TeleTracking, which HHS chose in order to circumvent reporting to another government agency, the CDC, says it signed an NDA and cannot disclose information to Congress. The House should take that to court, along the HHS, which is presumably the party holding TeleTracking to its supposed contract.

    Something tells me this was always an essential part of this outsourcing, and why TeleTracking was allowed to impose a proprietary filter between the raw data and its summary and/or analysis. That also tells me that TT and HHS’s defense will likely include blaming each other for why neither can disclose info to Congress or the public. Whoever thought that up should never be allowed back in government.

    • Raven Eye says:

      And if the TeleTracking contract tanks and the data and information ends up having to go back to CDC, there’s good money to be made from the process of de-proprietarying (word?) the data — by the only company who can do that.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A competently drawn contract would anticipate such things and provide, for example, for ready access to and royalty-free use of the contractor’s s/w (and supporting documentation) needed to access the full data set and transition its management to other s/w. It’s not as if the government hasn’t enough juice to negotiate those things.

      What that probably means for this regime, though, is that this contract doesn’t provide for anything more than the contractor’s “reasonable efforts” at high, “standard” contract rates. Doing the wrong things and doing them badly, hiding everything it does and pilfering the Treasury are this regime’s defining characteristics.

  6. ducktree says:

    An excellent rendering . . . “I have the con!”

    Red October in-fucking-deed@!11!

    Thank you ThomasH.

  7. ducktree says:

    bmaz – for me: It immediately stank from the head down . . . he’s trying to bury himself in the corn field ~ as a sacrifice to the next crop of hucksters.

  8. DaveC says:

    Marcy’s point is solid. The charge is based on an email that was (reportedly) known to the prosecution in late 2019. Ridiculous delay to file the charge.

    Looking at the filing, the first thing that strikes me is that the alleged false statement occurred in a June 19, 2017 email message. In June 2017, the Trump campaign was either looking for Plum Book jobs or planning for 2020, Trump was the President, Sessions the AG, and the Mueller investigation was in progress. Trump histrionics notwithstanding, in terms of sequence, the alleged false statement can’t implicate the Obama administration or an investigation of the Trump campaign. The Obama administration ceased to exist after January 20, 2017.

    (Not an lawyer, but) I share Bmaz surprise with Clinesmith’s reported plea. Of course he may be unable to raise cash or credit for legal fees to contest prosecution. Plenty of US convicts who pled guilty to settle their case despite promising defenses. Seems catastrophic for an attorney to pead to a felony though.

    The other thing no one seems interested in is the ongoing illustration of the problematic nature of the FISA warrants and the secrecy associated with FISA “probably cause” allegations. Without transparency, FISA warrants will continue to be subject to abuse.

  9. civil says:

    In reading the document, the charge is that adding “not a source” was a materially false statement. But I don’t see anything in the preceding text saying that “not a source” was itself false. Is it false? If not, I don’t understand why adding it to the email to point out the distinction with “[digraph]” is material. I don’t see any explicit statement elsewhere in the document that it had a material impact on something. When I contrast that to the Flynn Statement of the Offense, the latter at least states explicitly that Flynn’s false statements had a material impact on the ongoing investigation. If nothing else, I’m surprised that there isn’t some standard when these documents are written that you need to make explicit what the material impact was.

  10. Eureka says:

    The most chilling excerpt fraction: “I thought I’m in a — […]” :

    Well, as I made clear, I’m going to call them as I see them. And that’s why I came in. I thought I’m in a — I think I’m in a position to do that.

    He is a roused-from-the-easy-chair LARPer in the same tradition as any of the Q-folks.


    • Marinela says:

      Barr is as repugnant as Trump is. I didn’t think that I could feel this much distaste from someone other than Trump.
      In some respects Barr is more dangerous I think because he knows how government, DOJ works.

      Cannot remember, recently I read about some connections between Barr’s father and Epstein.
      If there is connection, it may explain why Barr wanted the job and he is covering for Trump.

      If you kiss Trump’s ring, you can make changes in the background undisturbed.

      • Geoguy says:

        This is a connection between Donald Barr, Bill’s father and Jeffrey Epstein from Epstein’s Wikipedia page: “Epstein started working in September 1974 as a physics and mathematics teacher for teens at the Dalton School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.[29][31] Donald Barr, who served as the headmaster until June 1974,[32][33][34] was known to have made several unconventional recruitments at the time, although it is unclear whether he had a direct role in hiring Epstein.[31][35][36] Three months after Barr’s departure, Epstein began to teach at the exclusive private school despite his lack of credentials.[36] Epstein allegedly showed inappropriate behavior toward underage students at the time.[31][35].” Apparently Epstein, who never finished college, was released from the Dalton School for “poor performance” and went to Bear Stearns.

  11. Eureka says:

    And yet what’s Barr been doing with this **waves hands** for the last eleven months?

    Senate committee sought investigation of Bannon, raised concerns about Trump family testimony

    The Senate Intelligence Committee has sent a bipartisan letter to the Justice Department asking federal prosecutors to investigate Stephen K. Bannon, a former Trump confidante, for potentially lying to lawmakers during its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    The letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Times, was signed by the panel’s then-chairman, Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr, and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner.

    It also raised concerns about testimony provided by family members and confidants of President Trump that appeared to contradict information provided by a former deputy campaign chairman to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Those it identified as providing such conflicting testimony were the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

    The letter, which has not before been made public, was sent July 19, 2019, to Deborah Curtis, a top prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington. It is not clear what action the Justice Department has taken on the referral. Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.

    Prince and Clovis are also named.

    If someone with a twitter or other powers of attention could tell LAT to stop gaslighting people with the closing para:

    The committee’s referral to the U.S. attorney’s office came a month after Mueller testified on Capitol Hill about his investigation. The office has battled turnover since early this year.

    The letter, sent July 19, 2019, would have been nearly a week_ before_ Mueller’s testimony of July 24, 2019. And “battled turnover”?!? <– framing alert

  12. harpie says:

    From the charging document, this is how the original email is rendered:

    8. […] My recollection is that [Individual #1] was or is…[digraph] but the [documents] will explain the details. If you need a formal definition for the FISA, please let me know and we’ll work up some language and get it cleared for use.

    This is how they render it with the [alleged] addition:

    11. My recollection is that [Individual #1] was or is “[digraph]” and not a “source” but the [documents will explain the details. If you need a formal definition for the FISA, please let me know and we’ll work up some language and get it cleared for use
    (emphasis added).

    A difference: The ellipses [correct word?] after the words “was or is” in the first example is omitted in the second.

    • harpie says:

      10. On June 19, 2017, the SSA followed up with an instant message to the defendant and asked, “Do you have any update on the [OGA source] request?” During a series of instant messages between the defendant and the SSA, the defendant indicated that Individual #1 was a “subsource” and “was never a source.” The defendant further stated “[the OGA] confirmed explicitly he was never a source.” The SSA subsequently asked “Do we have that in writing?” The defendant responded he did and that he would forward the email that the OGA provided to the defendant.

      re: Those period’s after “was never a source”…are they in Clinesmith’s instant messages, or are do they only indicate the end of DOJ’s sentence?

      What if Clinesmith wrote something like “was never a source” for this information?

    • harpie says:

      11. […] (emphasis added). The defendant had altered the original June 15, 2017 email from the OGA Liaison by adding the words “and not a source” to the email, thus making it appear that the OGA Liaison had written in the email that Individual #1 was “not a source” for the OGA. Relying on the altered email, the SSA signed and submitted the application to the Court on June 29, 2017. The application for FISA #4 did not include Individual #1’s history or status with the OGA.

      According to Andrew Weissman’s tweet from yesterday that I linked to above, DOJ also got the “full version” of the email, so they did not have to “rely[ing] on the altered email”.

      • civil says:

        There’s also a difference between “not a ‘source'” and “not a source” (the first with “source” in quotation marks and the second not).

        Horowitz’s report said that the CIA “uses a specific two-letter designation, or digraph, to describe a U.S. person who has been approved … for operational contact.” So it seems to me that Clinesmith was indicating that “source” has a specific CIA meaning that’s distinct from whatever kind of “operational contact” the digraph referred to. But I don’t know anything about the CIA-specific meanings of these terms, and perhaps an “operational contact” is a kind of “source” as far as they’re concerned.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If he had that sort of information and were willing to use it, the DoJ would have been less likely to prosecute and he would have been less likely to plead rather than go to trial. As bmaz keeps asking, why would he plead guilty so quickly?

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