Why a Clinton Foundation/Crossfire Hurricane Comparison Might Backfire

Billy Barr has suggested a couple of times that if Trump wins, he’ll shut down the Durham inquiry.

A story from NYT may provide some insight as to why (and also might explain why Nora Dannehy resigned). John Durham is comparing the decisions made on the Clinton Foundation investigation with those made on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

Mr. Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut assigned by Mr. Barr to review the Russia inquiry, has sought documents and interviews about how federal law enforcement officials handled an investigation around the same time into allegations of political corruption at the Clinton Foundation, according to people familiar with the matter.

As NYT explains it, the basis of comparison is that when FBI agents tried to use the Clinton Cash book to get a subpoena, they were shot down, whereas the FBI did use oppo research — the Steele dossier — to get the Carter Page FISA.

The allegations against Mrs. Clinton were advanced in the book “Clinton Cash,” by Peter Schweizer, a senior editor at large at Breitbart News, the right-wing outlet once controlled by Mr. Trump’s former top aide Stephen K. Bannon. The book contained multiple errors, and the foundation has dismissed its allegations.

But the book caught the attention of F.B.I. agents, who viewed some of its contents as additional justification to obtain a subpoena for foundation records.

Top Justice Department officials denied a request in 2016 from senior F.B.I. managers in Washington to secure a subpoena, determining that the bureau lacked a sufficient basis for it and that the book had a political agenda, former officials said. Some prosecutors at the time felt the book had been discredited.

The decision frustrated some agents who believed they had enough evidence beyond the book, including a discussion that touched on the foundation and was captured on a wiretap in an unrelated investigation. Other F.B.I. officials at the time believed the conversation’s relevance to the foundation case was tenuous at best.

The disagreement erupted anew later in the summer of 2016, when a top Justice Department official suspected that F.B.I. agents in New York were trying to persuade federal prosecutors in Brooklyn to authorize a subpoena after the department’s officials in Washington had declined such a request. By the time the F.B.I. officials revisited the issue, the Justice Department officials were also concerned that serving subpoenas would violate the practice of avoiding such investigative activity so close to an election.

One obvious conclusion from this might be that, had the FBI vetted the Steele dossier the way they did the Clinton Cash book, they would have discovered problems and not obtained the application. (Never mind that the FBI was targeting a guy who might have been and later on did victimize Trump by claiming he represented him on Ukrainian matters, rather than Trump himself.)

It’s a fair point, if you ignore that Christopher Steele was an established informant.

But the comparison could also backfire in spectacular fashion.

After all, after multiple Inspector General reviews, Michael Horowitz never found proof that any political bias from Peter Strzok or others influenced an investigative decision. He did, however, show that the FBI agent running an informant on the Clinton Foundation was biased.

We reviewed the text and instant messages sent and received by the Handling Agent, the co-case Handling Agent, and the SSA for this CHS, which reflect their support for Trump in the 2016 elections. On November 9, the day after the election, the SSA contacted another FBI employee via an instant messaging program to discuss some recent CHS reporting regarding the Clinton Foundation and offered that “if you hear talk of a special prosecutor .. .I will volunteer to work [on] the Clinton Foundation.” The SSA’s November 9, 2016 instant messages also stated that he “was so elated with the election” and compared the election coverage to “watching a Superbowl comeback.” The SSA explained this comment to the OIG by saying that he “fully expected Hillary Clinton to walk away with the election. But as the returns [came] in … it was just energizing to me to see …. [because] I didn’t want a criminal to be in the White House.”

On November 9, 2016, the Handling Agent and co-case Handling Agent for this CHS also discussed the results of the election in an instant message exchange that reads:

Handling Agent: “Trump!”

Co-Case Handling Agent: “Hahaha. Shit just got real.”

Handling Agent: “Yes it did.”

Co-Case Handling Agent: “I saw a lot of scared MFers on … [my way to work] this morning. Start looking for new jobs fellas. Haha.”

Handling Agent: “LOL”

Co-Case Handling Agent: “Come January I’m going to just get a big bowl of popcorn and sit back and watch.”

Handling Agent: “That’s hilarious!” [my emphasis]

And, as Peter Strzok has said repeatedly, had he really wanted to sabotage Trump’s election, he would have leaked details of the investigation, particularly after, in August 2016, he was shot down in his effort to investigate more aggressively by doing things like issue a subpoena.

In precisely the same situation, the Clinton Foundation Agents did leak details of the investigation, and in fact did have an effect on the election.

Hell, if Durham were allowed to continue down this path of comparison, we might finally figure out which New York Field Office were leaking rampantly during the election, leading to promises of indictments on Fox News.

37 replies
  1. BobCon says:

    From that NY Times article:

    “The allegations against Mrs. Clinton were advanced in the book “Clinton Cash,” by Peter Schweizer, a senior editor at large at Breitbart News, the right-wing outlet once controlled by Mr. Trump’s former top aide Stephen K. Bannon. The book contained multiple errors, and the foundation has dismissed its allegations.”

    It’s pretty shoddy that the Times never acknowledged that they were pushing the story hard in 2015 too, and their reporting was also paper thin.

    “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal” / “Candidate Clinton and the Foundation” / “Donations to the Clinton Foundation, and a Russian Uranium Takeover” / “Spike in Donor Numbers for Clinton Foundation” / “New Book, ‘Clinton Cash,’ Questions Foreign Donations to Foundation” / “Canadian Partnership Shielded Identities of Donors to Clinton Foundation” / “Separate Philanthropy From Political Clout” / “Hillary Clinton Resigns From Board of Clinton Foundation” / “An Award for Bill Clinton Came With $500,000 for His Foundation” / “George Stephanopoulos Acknowledges Giving Money to Clinton Foundation”

    They ran all of this in the span of a few months and yet were completely scooped by the Washington Post in the Trump Foundation’s actual law breaking. The Times threw a whole team of reporters at the story who had no strong credentials in putting together a 360 degree view of a major subject, and were worked from the established viewpoint of a conservative author and his well groomed sources.

    The Post put a single experienced reporter, David Fahrenthold, in charge and he pursued it from a perspective of finding out where the evidence led.

    Ironically, the Times did follow the the Fahrenthold model in its 2018 pursuit of Trump’s tax fraud. They used painstaking research to dig into extensive records and came up with their own conclusions, instead of echoing materials spoon fed to them.

    Senior Editor Matt Purdy at the Times made a deal with Peter Schweizer to amplify his “Clinton Cash” book, and it is clear his reporters followed their marching orders. That kind of top down deal making driving the news is a big reason why the Times can’t handle its obligations or serve its readers over and over again.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Devoting enormous resources to create and push a series of stories, a) to help a third party increase his book sales, and b) to help one candidate and drown another – without public acknowledgement of the bias – is tabloid journalism and a massive fraud on the country and the NYT’s readers.

      • BobCon says:

        The odds are high that the Times used sources from “Clinton Cash” — possibly the same ones referenced in this post — and now it’s bashing Schweitzer as if he was a lone wolf.

        It’s possible Purdy was the senior person responsible at the Times, but the fact that multiple groups were involved — editorial page, political desk — says to me that this was a pitch someone at the very top took and accepted uncritically, and then had it dropped all over the paper for follow through.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    Well, this also speaks volumes about how little there was found in the initial investigation (or it would have been all over OANN and Faux), and how desperate the WH is to pull out all of their boogeymen to rile up the base. They’d have more traction with Uranium One or Benghazi, but I’m sure the GOP will get there. On top of RoJo’s 87-page screed aptly described as possibly drafted by Putin it is another reminder about how little the GOP has in real answers for us. No medical plan, no protection from Russian interference in our election, no concern whatsoever about the lost jobs (still something like 12 million still gone since January) the over 201,000 dead, the rampant white supremacist threats to democracy, etc. make it clear that in spite of the courtier press screaming that the Ds aren’t doing anything, it’s the GOP that put us where we are now.

    OT: the decision by the Louisville KY grand jury to not put in any charges at all about the (at least) manslaughter of Breonna Taylor reeks of qualified immunity. AG Cameron in his RNC speech made one mention of Taylor (at 1:37, then demanding that the Blacks get over it and just go with the GOP values), instead ranting about how Lincoln, Grant and Frederick Douglass’ statues (where did that happen?) were being torn down by anarchists. The rest of the speech was pure projection and some lies including about what Biden allegedly said. I had noted before that the inability to redress grievances is like an overheating pressure cooker, where it will relieve that pressure. The only decision is whether it will be under your terms or its terms. Youtube has the video. However, I’d like to ask the GOP Black caucus whether deep down they really think they are safe at a traffic stop in Ferguson or Louisville or near Myrtle Beach or perhaps in Manatee County or out in the Panhandle in OK from a bored trigger-happy officer.

    The Taylor case makes it clear (again) that since the courts and the police will not hold bad cops accountable for their crimes, these institutions forfeit their claims that the “rule of law” precludes other options like defunding. AG Barr’s comments that only a “few deaths” don’t justify such anger forces the obvious question about what the threshold is for when action would be justified. For Barr’s white supremacist allies, that answer is clearly one given how the OR suspect (who had a legit claim of self defense worthy of examination by trial) was summarily executed. For everyone else the answer is when it’s politically expedient to unleash AG Barr’s version of the SA.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    Keep in mind that the locations above are nowhere close to exhaustive or particularly special, since we have issues like that here in CA and even in Silicon Valley. It’s that if any of the caucus members were in their rental cars or personal vehicles, we’d get “Karen” sightings or worse. The fact that the no-knock warrant was withdrawn but still executed anyway means under AG Barr that anyone is open to swatting under state sanction.

    We can expect more desperation from DJT since he was talking about six marked Trump ballots in an unspecified state (where) in a trash can on Faux. We have McConnell’s campaign getting hit by the FEC for potentially illegal contributions, but when Mitch stops laughing he’ll remember that it doesn’t have a quorum for action and laugh some more. I’m sure DJT’s mood was not helped when he paid his respects to Justice Ginsburg and was greeted by boos and “vote him out” chants recalling shades of how Ceaucescu was taken down in Romania, for those who know their history. It will get more ridiculous by the day, and the debate (if it happens, I’d call it 50-50 now) will be interesting to see how frothy DJT gets to Biden’s focused but calm demeanor. We even have Gaetz (of all people) going after Loeffler for bribing DJT to get an opponent to drop out for a mere 50 million, maybe he wanted some of that cash.

    We also had DJT demand Biden drop out after RoJo’s non-factual screed that thankfully was only 87 pages. I never knew the GOP cared so much about saving paper and the environment to keep it under 100 pages, but perhaps they really ran out of information to toss in.

    By the way, accountability also has to be applied to the courtier press and Facebook for soft-pedaling the danger from the GOP to the USA.


  4. Rugger9 says:

    Any news on the LMPD officers shot last night? Who is suspected, when? I only ask since when we had the Floyd protests in CA we had a Boogaloo from Santa Cruz (a sergeant in the USAF) come up and kill two federal officers in the East Bay (at least an hour’s drive when the traffic is favorable) in order to incite a race war. The latest news has that stench as well, and since AG Barr referred to the federal officers deaths as being connected to the riots as being part of the justification for a crackdown it is a question that needs to be asked.

    I see Hogan Gidley is trying to preemptively work the refs complaining about Chris Wallace being unfair for Tuesday. This is on top of the Facebook “real people” ads being done by GOP operatives.

    • rosalind says:

      an African-American man was arrested at the scene. witnesses and some video allege he started firing his gun at officers. 2 officers are stable, one released.

      i too was concerned about another Boogaloo. will now have to wait and see if he’s the actual shooter.

    • Tom says:

      There’s a story in today’s “The Hill” in which Trump complains that Chris Wallace is an “unfair” choice to moderate next week’s debate as he’s “controlled by the radical left”; i.e., he’s not a toad-eating, fart-catching Trump fan.

      Instead of an election, maybe there should be a trial by combat to determine the next President. I’d like to see Trump and Biden walloping each other with pool noodles, or having a one-on-one game of bubble soccer. Either way, I think Biden would come out on top.

      • Stephen Calhoun says:

        A race across the debate stage would mean we’d be able to observe Trump trying to run. Just the thought of Trump taking a step or two to get into into a run is funny to me. (Trump would not agree to such a race.)

        • bmaz says:

          “You want me to take a drug test? Fine, race me in a 40 yard dash. You can do that since you are the healthiest President ever, right?”

          • Hika says:

            Trump’s unsteadiness on foot, especially when walking downhill, is very much connected to the fact that he wears big lifts – higher heels than Melania. Recent photo of him at scene of destroyed property. But his water bottle clutching and podium slouching is indicative of deeper issues.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Melania routinely wears 4-6″ heels. Trump’s are half that. His posture, unsteadiness, gate, dragging one leg, etc., aren’t really explicable by his use of lifts. (I suspect he doesn’t wear them when golfing.)

              Given the importance and security of tenure of the job, a president should be subject to more and more frequent disclosure about his medical condition.

  5. Tom S. says:

    Durham did an adequate enough job hiding his partisanship and lack of critical thinking skills to impress Eric Holder enough to assign Durham to shield CIA, either wittingly or, as it happened to turn out. Remember Obama’s commitment to declassify the Abu Ghraib, prisoner abuse pics?

    In the late 90’s Toensing and her fox talking head spouse DeGenova made 300 statements about the Lewinsky matter in one month, stinging Lewinsky’s mom with a later discredited quote and claiming an SS inside contact feeding the two DC gadflies on the real Monica Lewinsky. Dallas newspaper picked up that dirt and retracted it the same day they published it.

    Toensing turned up in Ukraine, and as John Solomon’s “lawyer”. Toensing presented this “circus ring”.

    Here’s Why Republicans Stopped Talking About a Uranium One http://www.motherjones.com › politics › 2018/03 › heres-wh…
    Mar 8, 2018 – … R-Iowa, isn’t talking about that Uranium One whistleblower anymore. … Campbell’s new claims came after he hired Victoria Toensing, …

    If this latest “Barr Durham” pivot has credence, either Durham is setting up for a future run for Trump party political office, or he really is a kool-ade drinking, Trump-Barr, accolyte.

    • bmaz says:

      That is not quite right. Durham the cover up artist was originally appointed by the Bush/Cheney regime. Holder and Obama wanted more torture swiped under the rug and tasked Durham with that too. And he delivered.

      • Tom S. says:

        …and Durham was the original screen writer for the film, “The Departed”, so to speak. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0407887/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

        The pattern definitely seems to be minimization, as far as the numbers of prosecutions resulting from Durham’s inquiries.

        Russell Bufalino’s “heir apparent”, skated as a result of Holder’s 1981 witness tampering inquiry.

        The rise and fall of a mob power
        “….Holder wanted to terminate RABFAM because he needed the testimony of a RABFAM informant to pursue a jury-tampering case involving Bufalino lieutenant James David Osticco that had been developed independently of RABFAM….”

        Osticco’s “employer”, Medico Indus., continued with classified US Navy weapons production contracts. I’m guessing Holder or his assitants missed this 1969 reporting on Osticco’s bosses.
        Mafia-Tied Manfacturing Firm Seen to Hold Defense Contracts

        A minor player was taken down and the government did not retry DeNaples… allowing him to plea, after Osticco’s jury fix.:

        U.S. Attorney Durham tells mob tales during rare lecture
        Published March 10. 2018 4:44PM | Updated March 11. 2018 8:38PM
        By Karen Florin Day staff writer
        “…A week after being sworn in, Durham, perhaps realizing that his new role calls for higher visibility, delivered a lecture at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, a formerly all-female school that is going all co-ed this year and ratcheting up its criminal justice program….
        For about an hour this past Monday, he regaled an audience with an insider’s view of the widely publicized investigations that brought down mobsters James “Whitey” Bulger, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi and their corrupted FBI handler, Special Agent John Connolly Jr. It was a case that extended into Connecticut, where gambling venues for the sport jai alai were infiltrated by Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Can we count the opportunity cost to the law, the DoJ, to the Democratic Party’s nomenklatura from Obama and Holder’s retention of BushCheney USAs and other lawyers?

        How many potential Democratic federal judges, agency lawyers and senior officials, elected officials, and senior DoJ positions will have to be filled from a smaller or less experienced talent pool because of that?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. But then you knew I would say yes because you have been here all these years. And I’m not even sure that ground can be made up at this point.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I don’t think we can count the cost, but it was high. I suppose it’s a plea to a former vice president not to follow the approach of his former boss, when it comes to staffing important USG positions. It was a form of appeasement, at the expense of his party and the country.

            Repeating that approach now would be worse, given that today’s GOP is about as committed to representative government as the party that started the Reichstag fire.

            • bmaz says:

              Yes. I think the current Biden is better than the old Biden. And might be a decent President. How much that is true, I don’t know. But it would, by definition be a hell of a lot better than Trump. That part I do know.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Well, yea, I do remember following the daily reporting about the Scooter Libby trial, and debating Fukushima with Bob Schacht and others.

          • Rugger9 says:

            If one goes by the official CV, I would agree, but let’s recall that almost all of the judges and new attorneys were appointed for their politics and not talent. The gap will be closed pretty quick on legal skills but getting them out of office will be harder.

  6. Rugger9 says:

    And the bribery continues with the Canadian drug access to FL (why only there? It’s a puzzlement) on top of today’s 200 dollar card for seniors. Where did Congress authorize that?

    That’s of course assuming they are even sent and not to the wealthy.

  7. Savage Librarian says:

    Yep, Durham may regret drawing attention to “Clinton Cash.” That brings back connections to Alexandra Preate and Rebekah Mercer (both were on the witness list for Roger Stone’s trial, but were never called.) And Preate operated Bannon’s shadow press office in the WH.

    The film version of the book was produced by Bannon and Mercer through their production company, Glittering Steel LLC. So, I guess we could have Glittering Steel vs Steele Dossier. While they’re at it, maybe someone could ask Bannon how much glittering steel was purchased through that public fundraising campaign for the Wall.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Presidential historian Michael Beschloss on RMS, about Donald Trump’s effort, weeks before the election, to trash the vote and win “re-election” without it:

    “You want to go into history to look for something like this, go into Italian history and look at Mussolini. This is the way dictators come to power.

    He’s telling you what he intends to do, and we’ve got to make very sure that in the next five and a half weeks, and after that, we do not get in a situation where, just as Senator Sanders was saying tonight, Donald Trump announces that he’s won and puts us in a situation where our democracy is being stolen minute by minute.

    This is not a drill. Franklin Roosevelt said in 1940…never before …has American civilization been in this kind of danger. We’re approaching that point tonight.”

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is trying to buy older folks’ votes with taxpayers’ money not appropriated by Congress. Almost seven billion dollars of it. How will his campaign pay it back, if it’s already short of money?

    About seven billion dollars is the apparent cost for Trump’s $200 prescription drug card he says he will send out to Americans on Medicare. That would pay the entire cost for about three normal presidential elections. But $200 a head is not much as bribes go, which means Trump is again focused solely on election theater, paid for, as usual, by someone, anyone but Trump.

    BTW, Trump seems to have no authority to spend that money. But that doesn’t seem to bother Steve Mnuchin, from whom Trump is apparently getting it. I thought Steve was still working full time on releasing those Trump tax returns to Congress. Maybe not.

    • bmaz says:

      $200 to only people on Medicare? Does he have any clue what medications cost?? Especially for those over 65? It is almost comical, in addition to, of course, being absurd appropriation wise.

        • Chetnolian says:

          Really? I keep being shocked at how fundamental the difference to ordinary citizens, even quite prosperous ones, the US healthcare system is from the UK’s. And by the way, yes it is socialist. And a good thing as well. Democrats should learn not to be browbeaten into not saying loudly, “socialism can be good for you”.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yes, the problems are legion, including that out-of-pocket costs are astronomical compared to Europe and the UK. Trump’s $200 giveaway would pay for one or two prescriptions.

          There is little ability to choose between competing drugs and no practical ability to comparison shop. Drugs companies, like airlines, keep their prices high and comparable to each other. Sole source drugs and those still patented are the highest of all. Even after insurance, the prices are high, causing many to do without – or choose between paying for drugs, housing, or food. If you need more than a few refills, insurers force you into buying from their preferred vendor, often through the mail. (See, DeJoy, Louis.)

          Moreover, to lower their own but not the patient’s costs, insurers mandate that a patient use a cascade of drugs, starting with the cheapest, until one works. Efficacy and medical judgment be damned. For chronic ailments – and since insurance is contracted for annually – the process starts over every January.

          There is virtually no enforcement of price gouging or competition laws. It is a devil take the hindmost, Wild West free-for-all that injures, maims, and kills, in service to the world’s most virulent form of capitalism. Joe Biden needs to smell those roses and think hard about reforming it.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        It’d take at least a set of Ginsus to get me to roll over for him.

        But throw in a Pocket Fisherman and I might be willing to talk…

    • hollywood says:

      It’s not at all clear that Trump has any authority to issue the $200 cards. How? Or does he care? Does he think the election will be over by the time folks get bogus cards? Meanwhile his minions keep trying to cancel the ACA notwithstanding his claims that his new health plan (what, is it 4 pages?) will protect people with preexisting conditions. It’s all part of his big con.

  10. Marinela says:

    IG Michael Horowitz found that the FBI agent biased towards Trump acted on his bias. Is that agent being fired?
    Did the IG recommend he is fired?
    Seems like a lot of political corruption inside the FBI.
    When Trump complains about FBI being corrupt, he knows exactly what he is talking about, projection.
    How are these agents still allowed in their jobs?
    Because I didn’t hear of anybody loosing their job because they illegally leaked to hurt Clinton.

    There is double standard here. The outrage machine against Peter S. is highly selective, not a peep about FBI agents actively helping Trump.
    More so, the cases don’t compare on the gravity, but the outcome in a Trump administration, we loose qualified FBI agents, like Peter S, and instead we are left with Trump yes man still holding to their FBI jobs.
    The winner in this situation is Russia, Peter S has impressive counterintelligence experience.

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