There’s Lots of Reason to Think Steve Bannon Lied; But He May Also Have Told the Truth, Once

The LAT has a big scoop on some criminal referrals the Senate Intelligence Committee made on July 19, 2019. The biggest news is that SSCI referred Steve Bannon for his unconvincing story about his Russian back channel — though it’s likely that Bannon cleaned up that testimony in January 2019.

Don Jr

The LAT describes that the Committee believed that the Trump spawn lied about when they learned about the Aras Agalarov meeting.

In the two page-letter, the committee raised concerns that testimony given to it by the president’s family and advisors contradicted what Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman, told the Special Counsel about when people within the Trump campaign knew about a June 9 meeting at Trump tower with a Russian lawyer.

This conflict in stories was previously known; it shows up in the Mueller Report.

It’s interesting primarily because the referral took place after Don Jr’s second SSCI interview, which was on June 12, 2019. It stands to reason that the failson’s willingness to sit for a second interview with SSCI — but not any interview with Mueller — strongly suggests that he had reason to know that Mueller had evidence that SSCI did not. If the only thing that SSCI believed Don Jr lied about was the June 9 meeting, then it suggests they did not know Mueller’s full focus.

Sam Clovis

LAT also says that SSCI believes Clovis lied about his relationship with Peter Smith, the old Republican rat-fucker who made considerable effort to find Hillary’s deleted emails.

The committee also asked the Justice Department to investigate Sam Clovis, a former co-chairman of the Trump campaign, for possibly lying about his interactions with Peter W. Smith, a Republican donor who led a secret effort to obtain former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

Clovis could not be reached.

That Clovis lied is not surprising — it’s obvious from the interview reports released thus far in the BuzzFeed FOIA that his story changed radically over the course of a few hours. Notably, however, SSCI only referred Clovis for lying about Peter Smith. It’s pretty clear that Clovis also lied, at least at first, about the campaign’s willingness to cozy up to Russia.

There are four redacted descriptions of people who lied to Mueller in the Report; one of those may explain why Clovis was not charged.

Note that Clovis’ lack of candor about other topics makes his denials that George Papadopoulos told him about the email warning equally dubious.

Erik Prince and Steve Bannon

Finally, the story says SSCI referred Erik Prince and Steve Bannon for their conflicting stories about their back channel to Kirill Dmitriev.

According to the letter, the committee believed Bannon may have lied about his interactions with Erik Prince, a private security contractor; Rick Gerson, a hedge fund manager; and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russian sovereign fund.

It is well-established that Prince lied (indeed, HPSCI also referred his testimony). His lawyer made similar denials to the LAT as he has made elsewhere.

Matthew L. Schwartz, a lawyer for Prince, defended his client’s cooperation with Capitol Hill and Mueller’s office.

“There is nothing new for the Department of Justice to consider, nor is there any reason to question the Special Counsel’s decision to credit Mr. Prince and rely on him in drafting its report,” he said.

Given that DOJ turned over an email from Schwartz to Aaron Zelinsky in response to a FOIA in the Stone case, it’s clear both that Prince was being investigated for issues beyond just his lies about the Russian back channel, but also that it’s likely that Billy Barr interfered with that investigation while he was “fixing” the Mike Flynn and Roger Stone ones, as well.

That’s interesting because SSCI referred Bannon as well.

Like everyone else, it’s not news that he shaded the truth at first. Bannon was scripted by the White House to deny discussing sanctions prior to Mike Flynn’s call to Sergei Kislyak. Bannon’s efforts to shade the trute were apparent from one of his early 302s. A Stone warrant affidavit describes Bannon denying his conversations with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks before he admitted at least one.

When BANNON spoke with investigators during a voluntary proffer on February 14, 201’8, he initially denied knowing whether the October 4, 2016 email to STONE was about WikiLeaks. Upon further questioning, BANNON acknowledged that he was asking STONE about WikiLeaks, because he had heard that STONE had a channel to ASSANGE, and BANNON had been hoping for releases of damaging information that morning.

And for Bannon’s fourth known Mueller interview, he got a proffer, suggesting his testimony changed in ways that might have implicated him in a crime.

What’s most interesting, given how everyone agrees his testimony and Prince’s materially differ, is that he testified to things before the grand jury he subsequently tried to back off. More interesting still, only the relevant parts of Bannon’s grand jury testify got shared with Stone. That means other parts — presumably, given the proffer agreement, the more legally damning parts — remain secret.

SSCI believes that Bannon may have lied to the committee.

But unlike all the others listed here, there’s reason to believe Bannon may also have told the truth to the grand jury, once, possibly relating to his actions involving Erik Prince.

That all may be moot if Barr managed to squelch any Prince investigation while he was negating the Stone and Flynn prosecutions. But he can’t entirely eliminate grand jury testimony.

23 replies
  1. rattlemullet says:

    Will the DOJ ever recover from Barr’s corruption and the cornered rat reign of terror within the federal judiciary, partisan judges, loss of ethical prosecutors, internal intimidation of remaining prosecutor and investigators?

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      Never. Unless you hoist a grenade into his wretched office where his evil deeds breeds.
      In fact, they are plotting now, they are three months ahead of us.
      That’s why I have absolutely no faith in our government.
      Fucking sad, but true.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Yeah. Elect a bunch of people who think government is the problem and they will inevitably prove it to you…

  2. x174 says:

    mt–thanks for bringing this LAT’s article on the SSCI’s referral to our attention. That “the men may have been seeking to arrange a clandestine back-channel between the incoming Trump administration and Moscow” struck me as rather ominous in light of subsequent developments, such as senators Graham and Johnson’s sadly absurd russian disinformation “investigations” and Trump’s slavish telegraphing of putin’s every wish from removing american troops from germany to looking the other way when it comes to paying bounties on american soldiers and allies in afghanistan. also there was the curious timing of trump’s phone call with putin hours before he and billy barr decided to do a little head knocking at lafayette square).
    also this article fits in nicely with the entire fiasco of the investigation of the investigation: they are only interested in referrals and investigations that could help trump’s re-election (which johnson actually stated yesterday).
    from my reading of the mueller report, the person who really seemed to be in the most intense communication with trump was hicks. it just makes you wonder why mueller’s referrals were so spotty and selective…

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The LAT’s description of Erik Prince seems too carefully understated. If Erik Prince is just a “private security contractor,” Frank Lloyd Wright was just another architect in the phone book.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      I posted this a while back on a similar comment of Marcy’s. It’s an article on MBZ (Mohammed bin Zayed, the much less fanatical relative of MBS), and it discusses his rise in the Middle East as the ruler of the UAE. Erik Prince is a contractor for MBZ and was in the Seychelles at his behest in 2016, according to the article. Keep in mind UAE was the nation that just raised headlines with the agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Yes, I read it when you shared it previously. Long, but well worth the read. So, that was the first thing I thought of when I heard about Jared’s UAE and Israel deal. It also reminded me of the Qatar issues. All the power plays are interesting. Definitely something to watch.

  4. Vicks says:

    I know many consider Mueller’s report a work of legal art that will stand the test of time but IMHO I feel he failed the American people by providing a summary that was so easily misinterpreted by political spin.
    What if Mueller instead used simple words in his summary to explain how the “code of silence” works and how it interferes with a criminal investigation?
    What if he pulled together examples scattered throughout his report to give a clear picture of what a SUCCESSFUL campaign to obstruct justice looks like?
    I understand he couldn’t indict a sitting president for obstruction of justice but what the hell was he waiting for with these people?
    When referring to Flynn’s case I have asked what the difference is between perjury and obstruction of justice, meaning isn’t someone lying to protect themselves or others automatically obstructing justice?

    • ducktree says:

      Just as Patrick Fitzgerald summarized following the Scooter Libby trial, “. . . throwing sand in the umpire’s eyes. . .”

      • vicks says:

        Yes but lying was the one crime Mueller had them on.
        Storing transcripts of damaging phone conversations on double secret servers, or using redaction like a magic wand that makes all of Trump’s troubles go away came later.

  5. Tom says:

    I think Mueller and his team did a pretty good job considering the time constraints under which they were operating (i.e., the need to provide results in a timely manner) and the lack of cooperation they received from Trump and his team. I can’t remember the exact wording, but I know that at one point in his report Mueller plainly stated that, if he could say that the President was in the clear and free of wrongdoing he would say so, but he couldn’t. Even the Bible can be twisted to suit anyone’s purpose and I’m not sure there was anyway Mueller could have defended his report against Barr’s deliberate and willful lying about its conclusions: “No collusion, no obstruction” despite ample evidence to the contrary.

    Also, pretty good observation from President Obama yesterday that Trump is more interested in suppressing the vote than suppressing the virus.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      I think it is important to remember that in the past bringing down mafia families required wiretaps, snitches, and even the Donnie Brasco-type infiltration of the mob – and even then it took sometimes years. None of those tools was available to Mueller with Trump. As long as no one broke Trump’s “wall of silence”, there was no way to get to the truth. Considering those limitations, Mueller and his team did a remarkable job in getting as much as they did.

  6. Savage Librarian says:

    It’s hard to say who is the more colorful character, Donald or Erik Prince:

    “I’m Tired of America Wasting Our Blood and Treasure”: The Strange Ascent of Betsy DeVos and Erik Prince | Vanity Fair, Sam Tanenhaus – SEPTEMBER 6, 2018
    “Prince’s most conspicuous moment in the Trump orbit, however, came soon after the election. In January 2017, Prince traveled to the Seychelles and met with a Russian confidant of Putin’s. One area that investigators have likely explored is the substance of Prince’s appearance before Congress last year.”

    “I could testify to at least three or four lies in that House testimony,” the former Prince business associate confided to me recently. He pointed to Prince’s business relationship with a Russian arms dealer and said that, contrary to Prince’s statements, he met with senior executives of the Moscow-based investment firm Renaissance Capital on 10 occasions.”
    “Guessing at the identity of Vanity Fair’s source, Prince characterized him as a disgruntled executive “who was fired for under-performance.” The source says he resigned after he discovered that Prince had approved plans to illegally weaponize aircraft and “actively train former Chinese Red Army personnel that are now being deployed into Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar, and the Uighur region in China”—actions he perceived as supporting foreign interests above America’s. (Other Prince associates reportedly resigned for similar reasons.) “

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        No surprise that one more mercenary – albeit, unusually, a billionaire – would tout mining in the Congo. They’ve been the enablers of economic rape since time immemorial. Nor is it new to claim they are doing it for some good cause – imperialism, christianizing souls, the environment. Prince is not trying to alleviate the world’s trouble, he’s trying to profit from it.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      Bless you, Savage! Yeah, Prince just sets off my hinky radar, as does his sister Betsy. The fact that he was a CIA “asset” doesn’t make me any more comfortable with him. There is something about Navy Seals (I’m halfway through Bill McRaven’s “Sea Stories”) that I just don’t get. And when they go off the deep end (think Steve Bannon and Eric Greitens, e.g.), they’re even more disturbing. Not too long ago, when I was freaked out by a close personal relative serving in special forces in Afghanistan, he jokingly told me not to worry, saying that “SF goes in and does all the planning and preparation and then the Seals are sent in to do the dirty work.”

          • Tom says:

            With a tincture of walrus in the family tree as well.

            “The sun was shining on the sea,
            Shining with all his might …”

          • AndTheSlithyToves says:

            lolol, Rayne! My bad on the SEAL component of Bannon’s Navy service:
            Bannon was an officer in the United States Navy for seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s; he served on the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific Fleet, and afterwards stateside as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.[43] Bannon’s job at the Pentagon was, among other things, handling messages between senior officers and writing reports about the state of the Navy fleet worldwide.[44] While at the Pentagon, Bannon attended Georgetown University at night and obtained his master’s degree in national security studies.[36]

            In 1980, Bannon was deployed to the Persian Gulf to assist with Operation Eagle Claw during the Iran hostage crisis. The mission’s failure marked a turning point in his political world-view from largely apolitical to strongly Reaganite, which was further reinforced by the September 11 attacks.[45][46] Bannon has stated, “I wasn’t political until I got into the service and saw how badly Jimmy Carter fucked things up. I became a huge Reagan admirer. Still am. But what turned me against the whole establishment was coming back from running companies in Asia in 2008 and seeing that Bush had fucked up as badly as Carter. The whole country was a disaster.”[47] At the time of his separation from the Navy, Bannon held the rank of lieutenant (O-3).[1][a]

            While Bannon is a typical malcontent, Greitens is a real threat IMHO–he was a Rhodes Scholar and is reminiscent of Prince physically. Much smarter, and hence more dangerous, than Prince, he also has a kinky predilection for rough sex, which helped oust him from the Missouri governor’s office. Mike Pence greased the skids for him to get back into the Naval Reserves last year to suck off the public teat despite his bad actions.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Nothing in the public record suggests Bannon was a SEAL. He served on destroyers, worked as an aide to the CNO, and left the service as a naval lieutenant (O-3).

        Whether someone was a SEAL is not usually hard to find out. One website will confirm it for about $20. It does that partly to expose counterfeits. It estimates there are about ten times the number of claimed SEALs as real ones, and that ignores the guys in bars bragging about whatever.

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