Over 72 Hours, Trump and Chuck Grassley Provide Emmet Sullivan Proof that Peter Strzok’s Notes Were Altered for Political Reasons

Over the past 72 hours, the following events have proven not just that Peter Strzok’s notes were altered, but that that was done for political purpose.

It started on Monday, when Strzok lawyer Aitan Goelman sent Judge Emmet Sullivan a letter confirming that the handwritten dates on two sets of his notes were, “not written by Mr. Strzok.”

That the notes memorializing what Jim Comey briefed others about a January 5, 2017 meeting were altered is not in doubt. Sidney Powell and DOJ have already provided the original notes (which I’ve annotated to show that the notes did not originally have a date) and the altered ones (which I’ve annotated to note where a date has been added).

The second set of notes were provided to Flynn’s lawyers on September 23 and submitted to the docket on September 24. It’s not clear whether they were altered before or after they got sent from DOJ. I hope Judge Sullivan gets to the bottom of that question.

Then, in Tuesday’s hearing, Sidney Powell admitted not just that she has spoken with the President about this case (insanely asking him not to pardon her client), but also that she speaks — apparently regularly — with President Trump’s campaign lawyer, Jenna Ellis, betraying that Flynn’s efforts to blow up his prosecution are a matter of interest to Trump’s campaign.

Then, hours later, on Tuesday night, the President made this prepared attack on Joe Biden during the first debate.

President Donald J. Trump: (01:02:22)
We’ve caught them all. We’ve got it all on tape. We’ve caught them all. And by the way, you gave the idea for the Logan Act against General Flynn. You better take a look at that, because we caught you in a sense, and President Obama was sitting in the office.

As I noted when Jeffrey Jensen handed over the first set of notes pretending to be uncertain about what date they were from, by altering the date about a meeting that has been publicly dated as January 5, 2017 for over two years, it presented a false chronology whereby Joe Biden suggested the FBI investigate Flynn for the Logan Act (which is what DOJ is falsely claiming was the only basis for investigating Flynn, even though every single witness and every single contemporaneous record has said Flynn was interviewed under an 18 USC 951 predication to see if he would tell the truth about his calls with Sergey Kislyak), and then Jim Comey returned to the FBI and ordered his minions to do just that.  That is, it would create the (false) possibility that the meeting at the White House happened, and then a discussion between Strzok and Page discussing the Logan Act started. The reality is that Strzok and Page were talking about it the day before the meeting.

From that false appearance, Powell asserted in a representation to Emmet Sullivan that the meeting was believed to have happened on January 4 and Biden apparently had been the one to suggest Logan Act, thereby suggesting (falsely) that Biden was the one who raised the Logan Act.

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. Mr. Obama himself directed that “the right people” investigate General Flynn. This caused former FBI Director Comey to acknowledge the obvious: General Flynn’s phone calls with Ambassador Kislyak “appear legit.” 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.

That transparently false accusation that Sidney Powell (who has been speaking with Trump’s campaign lawyer) made on June 24 then showed up as a prepared attack in President Trump’s very first campaign debate on September 29. The altered notes appeared in the docket on September 24, and then five days later the President of the United States made a false claim that depends on the alteration.

Sidney Powell is using her purported defense of Mike Flynn as a campaign prop.

Yesterday, Chuck Grassley — who has been chasing all matter of conspiracy in the service of President Trump and is staffed by diehard Republicans — gave up the game. At the Jim Comey hearing, this exchange occurred.

Grassley: Did you ever speak with President Obama or Vice President Biden about any aspect of the Flynn case. If so, what did you discuss?

Comey: I remember the Flynn investigation coming up once. I think it was January the Fifth, when President Obama held me back to urge me to do the case in the normal way, and to let him know if there was any reason that he should not be sharing sensitive information about Russia with the Trump transition. I assured him that I would keep him informed and that I would conduct the investigation in that way.

Grassley [reading a prepared question]: During the January 5, 2017 meeting between you, President Obama, Vice President Biden, Sally Yates, and Susan Rice, did you mention that Flynn’s calls with the Russian Ambassador appear, quote unquote, “appear legit”?

Comey: I don’t remember using that word. If I used it I would have meant “authentic” and “not fabricated.” I wouldn’t have meant appropriate. But I don’t remember using that word.

It’s clear, from the way Grassley is reading a prepared question and the way he provides details about that January 5 meeting that he already knew of the meeting, and that that’s why he asked Comey the initial question in the first place.

Critically, an 87-year old Senator reading from notes his staffers — whose portfolios include many other tasks in addition to writing imagined gotcha questions based off Peter Strzok’s notes — stated as unquestionable fact that the meeting occurred on January 5. Unlike Jeffrey Jensen, they have no doubt about the date.

That’s not at all surprising. After all, Chuck Grassley first started pursuing this question around August 2017, when he obtained Susan Rice’s notes to the file recording the meeting (from unknown sources, but I find it interesting that Barbara Ledeen obtained it as if receiving it directly in discovery even as Robert Mueller got it).

But the question Grassley read came straight from Strzok’s notes, the ones that got altered. And even he knows — with access to far less evidence than Jeffrey Jensen — that the meeting happened on January 5.

Again, it’s not clear who altered the notes — DOJ or Flynn’s lawyers. But in a sense, it doesn’t matter. The first fraud on the court came when Jeffrey Jensen claimed there was any doubt about what date the meeting occurred. Yesterday, Chuck Grassley just made it clear that no credible person could believe that.

52 replies
  1. Hika says:

    Hercules was able to use the river Alpheus to clean away 30 years of accumulated dung from 3,000 oxen in the Augean stables. This current day Republican party seems no lesser a task.

  2. PeterS says:

    The Senate hearing should have focused on the FISA failures in general – not just on Carter Page’s FISA warrants – and definitely not on the Steele dossier.

    Another fake line of attack from the Republicans concerned the 29 September letter from Ratcliffe describing “Russian intelligence analysis” about the Clinton campaign. Comey, who I thought handled himself with dignity throughout the hearing, said he didn’t recall being advised of that analysis. Thus he didn’t really rebut the Republicans’ suggestion that the FBI should have investigated the Clinton campaign like they did the Trump campaign.

    Crossfire Hurricane was I think predicated on information from an ally about their conversation with a Trump campaign person. The Republicans therefore seem to be equating first hand information from an ally with possibly “exaggerated” or “fabricated” information from an adversary.

  3. klynn says:

    I went into watching the debate expecting Trump to work in the Biden accusation after following your live coverage of the Flynn hearing. I figured if he did, it gave away the this was an organized propaganda campaign hit.

    Would like to know more about Jensen. I found this piece but you have to subscribe to get the full article:

    Tried to find out more biographical about Barbara Ledeen. This is a bit harder to accomplish.

    Thank you for this great post!
    Amazing that the Sullivan court date for the hearing, the debate and the Comey hearing all lined up like magic and would provide layers of events with media coverage which was – I assume – hoped to impact headlines and leads on the evening news. It would be interesting to look at the scheduling timeline of those events.

    Your keen eyes and analytical skills have someone(s) pretty pissed right now., Good thing both lawyer Aitan Goelman and Judge Emmet Sullivan are on the alteration of the docs. Good thing Comey didn’t take the bate.

    B. Ledeen and S Powell’s twitter feeds are interesting as well. They amplify each other’s work.

    There is a focused group of people involved in this propaganda campaign/Biden set-up.

    There is a timeline beginning June 1st 2020 (pu-DT call re G7) that I’m curious about. Which leads into the whole Flynn firing lawyers (June 6th, Powell letter sent to Barr (June 6) Powell named as Flynn lawyer (June 12) then the Biden -Logan and Strzok’s notes make headlines June 26th -Wapo gives Trump quite the propaganda headline here:

    BTW, June 26th was the day of the first Dem Presidential debate.

      • klynn says:

        Ugh! Yes! And the first date should be the DT – Pu secret call in May.

        I got my two timelines confused! Sorry! I was cutting and pasting from both the June 2019 timeline & the June 2020 timelines I’ve made! Sorry. Mucked that up. Need coffee! I’ll try to correct it after a cuppa!

  4. bg says:

    When I heard him say that in the “debate” I knew what he was talking about only from reading Emptywheel. I have to say I am fairly amazed he has the capacity to recall and pull up any of this sort of info in the jumble of what is in/on his “mind.” Of course, I am sure most of those who heard him say it don’t really know what it is about. What it says to me is that he is very involved/up to date in the Flynn case, a tell for sure. Thanks, Marcy.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      Yeah, me too, same sensation when I heard him say that, like “Whaaaaa?” And it became clear there was co-ordination. That’s why Powell is likely talking to Jena Ellis, to make sure the co-ordination is snug.

      The thing about everything being on tape is a bit weird though, and gave me even greater pause. I would guess it’s a typical Trumpian threat.,

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Yep. That was a clear tell. But we already know he can’t help saying the quiet parts out loud. I’d have to call the “debate” an assault. It was an emotional and psychological attack. It definitely proved that DT is certifiable.

      The next thing I hope for is that Brad Parscale will do the right thing and flip.

    • Peterr says:

      He may be very involved/up to date on the Flynn case, or he might simply be up to date on the repeated rantings from Fox and other right wing media outlets who’ve been screaming about a conspiracy to get Trump like this for quite a while.

      • vvv says:

        My theory is he gets more comprehensively briefed than he understands, and when he recognizes a word or a phrase or, less likely an argument or concept, he is triggered to repeat part of the briefing.

  5. BayStateLibrul says:

    If in fact, the DOJ altered the documents, what is the remedy/penalty.
    Can you call it a forgery, fraudulent copying, counterfeit, falsification.
    Forgery is a serious crime punishable as a felony in fifty states. Forgery involves the making, altering, use, or possession of a false writing in order to commit a fraud.
    Can Barr be impeached for this, if proven?

    • Peterr says:

      It’s worse than simple forgery, BSL. We’re talking about altering documents submitted into evidence under oath by the Department of Justice. Someone stood up in court and swore to Judge Sullivan that these documents are the notes taken by Peter Strzok. That is now known to be wrong, leaving only the questions of (1) who did it and (b) who knew about it before the documents were submitted, and (3) who should have known about it. The answers to those questions will be the people facing sanction.

      This is obstruction of justice territory, and Sullivan has a track record of taking that very very seriously.

  6. Eureka says:

    What is Trump talking about here:

    We’ve got it all on tape.

    before he transitions to the Logan Act blurb [where he uncharacteristically distinguishes a shade of ‘truth’ (LOL) in his accusation by saying “we caught you in a sense” (meaning that part is not on tape/is based on forging & propagandizing the date of the notes)].

    Otherwise, I am just shocked that Trump could keep the theory-of-mind layers right when speaking about a document. Self-relevant information usually does get cognitive advantage, however.

    • klynn says:

      The “on tape” comment during the debate caught me off guard. All I could think was, “Pompeo better not bring a deep fake Biden tape back from Italy after his visit this week.”

      One deep fake from Italy, taking us into a war and outing Plame, was one deep fake too many.

    • Tom says:

      Perhaps Trump used the phrase “on tape” the same way he once claimed that Obama “wiretapped” his phones at the Trump Tower. When no evidence was found to support his wiretapping allegation, Trump explained that he really meant some general form of “surveillance”.

      • vvv says:

        FWIW, in the music world we call recording things “taping” even though 95+% of stuff is now captured digitally.

        Like using “wiretap’ for surveillance recording, or “putting a record on” for playing a CD or streaming, or “dialing” a number on a cell phone …

        It’s age-related – my in their early 20’s kids don’t use those words/phrases.

    • subtropolis says:

      The “on tape” remark is referring to the bogus recordings from the Russians, probably. It’s nothing more than another example of how he tosses out unconnected things as chum to his base. This is how we ended up hearing about Hillary’s server being in Ukraine. It’s nonsense because he throws this shit out there and both his base and his protectors run with it without any critical examination. Because we can’t have any of that.

    • harpie says:

      I think he got his conspiracy theories mixed up and the supposed “tapes” are something Rudy conjured in Ukraine about Burisma.

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks all for the feedback; I didn’t know if this was a more- or newly-formed angle they were working (although Klynn’s comment reminds me of Bill Barr’s Excellent Adventures plumbing in Italy with the Mifsud deposition) (I can’t believe that that was _last_ last summer — 2019. This timeline is exhausting).

  7. S.Chepaitis says:

    I once cornered a groundhog on my farm. I learned never to underestimate the aggression and cleverness of a cornered animal. He’s cornered and he’ll do anything at this point.
    I just cannot accept that this will be swept under the rug as everything else has been since 2016. If I had attempted to tamper with evidence about a traffic ticket or jaywalking, I am sure I would be prosecuted for it. I have yet to see anything about this in any news outlet. Like someone said above, if I didn’t read this blog I would not have had a clue what he was talking about with the Logan Act comment. I am so glad that I do. I can only hope that it gets read by the right people to make some real noise, not just the “faux noise” we are used to.

    • Chris.EL says:

      Best quote ever: “I once cornered a groundhog on my farm.” …

      Reminds me of a scene in the movie “The Judge” wherein Dax Shepard says “I’m going to fuck like a badger for you!”

      Maybe that explains Trump’s fascination with badgers.

      If Trump had just pardoned Flynn they wouldn’t get all this propaganda mileage.

      What a corrupt gang of fockers!

  8. S.Chepaitis says:

    I’ve just read the whole post for a third time and there is something I am not understanding.

    Why would it even be a problem for Biden to have mentioned prosecution under the Logan act? It was a discussion among the president and appropriate officials about how to deal with a pressing issue. I am sure all sorts of ideas get discussed and usually shot down in such sessions. Maybe sometimes people even suggest drinking clorox, or shining a flashlight up……..

    • emptywheel says:

      It would not be. But what Trump wants to claim is that Biden ordered Comey to go drum up a prosecution. Notably, all this presumes they knew of the investigation in the first place, which is odd bc the 2016 investigation wasn’t public.

      Unless this FBI Agent was leaking.

      • klynn says:

        Amazing that out of 20,000 pages of documents this 302 was found and altered to create Trump’s charge against Biden. Funny how that happened. Funny how Powell was yammering and fixated on 302’s back in Dec 2018. Not funny really. Pretty dark events honestly.

        And that 302 5 day space in the timeline from it being submitted as altered and Trump shouting Biden – Logan Act — is stunning beyond belief.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        If I did not regularly read this blog, Trump’s diatribe about Biden and the Logan Act would have just blurred into the rest of his gibberish that night. Beyond the readers of this blog, members of the DOJ/FBI, a percentage of the GOP in Congress and their minions, and some campaign people, who would have had any idea what he was talking about ?

        So my question is, who was his target audience for that comment ? Was he laying a foundation for future skullduggery ? Is that the beginning of the October Surprise? I don’t understand how that comment benefited him.

        • Peterr says:

          He’s repeating the bogus nonsense the rightwing media has been feeding his base for quite a while. That’s Trump’s target audience. He’s speaking their language, and “confirming” their understanding of what passes for reality.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Yes, but do they have any idea what the Logan Act is ? I cannot stomach watching Fox so I am not aware of how granular they get in throwing mud. It just seemed like an obscure comment to have made at that moment to an audience without reference.

        • harpie says:

          I think it does not matter what they understand about the Logan Act.

          Their Leader is telling them that Biden did something SINISTER with Obama and Rice and Comey and Yates against The REGIME.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          The best I can tell from a quick google search is that it looks like the DT campaign wants to undermine the legitimacy of the Logan Act. Turley and others have written articles about how it undermines the 1st Amendment and should be illegal. So, the strategy seems to be first to associate it with Biden and then to say it is an illegitimate law.

    • flounder says:

      Remember Corona Don is claiming that Obama/Biden were out to get him and personally ordered “spying” and investigations. The claim that Biden ordered Comey to go after Logan Act violations is in service of Corona D’s conspiracy theory. Since the FBI texts show agents discussing this on 1/4, Biden has to order the hit prior to this for it work.

  9. BayStateLibrul says:

    Driftglass is spot on….

    “And now the debate commission stands exposed as just one more sclerotic American political institution daintily trying to sidestep the obvious problem that there are no “addition structures” which will civilize a contest when one of the participants is a lying, bomb-throwing sociopath.”

    • Epicurus says:

      I don’t think the institution is sclerotic. It hasn’t figured out how to deal with the unruly. So for me the obvious answer is Covid related, i.e. the Zoom world in which we are living. Debators are in different rooms with no access to supporters/handlers, with the moderator and the debaters on muting split screens controlled by the moderator. So much time for answering to each person. Each can hear the other but can’t interrupt. Moderator controls time strictly. You all can probably figure it out better than I can.

  10. harpie says:

    Do we know if there’s any history between Barnett and Flynn [or Jr. Flynn]?

    FWIW…it’s seems to may that the handwriting on the two post-its might be different.

    added: What about history between Barnett and Rudy?

    • John Paul Jones says:

      You’re in luck. The image has enough pixel density that it can be blown up and read without too much trouble. The name of the polling company in footnote three might not be accurate because there are a lot of similar letters which blur together. Text reads:

      “1. Aida Torres & J.D. Forrest, “Why Do Women Have Abortions?” Family Planning Perspectives (Planned Parenthood), Vol. 20, No. 4 (July/August, 1988), p. 170, reported that 93% or women who have had abortions did so for “social reasons.”
      2. An April 2005 poll by The Polling Company found that 62% were opposed to abortions except to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape or incest.
      3. A November 2000 poll by Wirthlin Worldwide found that 73% favored the ban on partial-birth abortion.”

      You can right-click (on a Mac, control-click) and get the option to “Save Image”, which is what I did. Screen shots are rarely going to have enough detail to be easily worked with. Better to grab the original image if you can. Photoshop or Lightroom will allow you to increase the number of pixels, and away you go.

      • P J Evans says:

        That first one is so far back it shouldn’t be used as if it were current. And I’d question the others – they don’t match most polling data.

    • Don Utter says:

      An easy way to increase the size on the screen is

      ctl +

      hold control key down and hit + , the plus sign. Can do it for a couple of times. Then control – , the minus sigh, as many times as needed to bring size back to what you want it to be

  11. SaltinWound says:

    I wonder if Powell reversed the positions in reporting her conversation with Trump. What’s seems more likely to me is Trump’s lawyers told her he can’t pardon Flynn.

  12. subtropolis says:

    That Grassley said the meeting occurred on the 5th is uninteresting because Comey had just told him the date. (I think it was January the Fifth …)

Comments are closed.