Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson Produce a 285-Page Confession They’re Unfamiliar with the Public Record

Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson recently released a 285-page report relitigating a story made public in 2017 about how Mueller’s team obtained records from General Services Administration. The report adopts an entirely opposite stance as the SSCI Russia Report did. The latter discussed how unheard of it was for an Administration to claim an expansive Transition privilege. Chuck and Ron are outraged that a criminal investigation have access to such files, and similarly outraged that the subjects of an investigation did not get notice that their files had been obtained.

The report also makes clear that, at first, Mueller relied on SSCI’s request for its records request, and only later in the summer made their own. In other words, Chuck and Ron have a complaint, in part, with SSCI (though they don’t say that).

The report is most useful for revealing which Transition officials Mueller’s team was interested in. On August 23, Mueller’s team sent a records request for these nine officials closely interacting with Flynn while he was secretly undermining sanctions and other Obama policies in “collusion” with Russia.

The nine Trump for America officials identified by the FBI were Daniel Gelbinovich, Sarah Flaherty, Michael G. Flynn, Michael T. Flynn, Keith Kellogg, Jared Kushner, K.T. McFarland, Jason Miller, and Michael Pompeo.114

Then Mueller’s team asked for the records of four more people — which appears to be the people who were at Mar-a-Lago when Flynn was secretly undermining sanctions with Russia.

The four Trump for America officials identified by the FBI were Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Stephen Bannon, and Marshall Billingslea.125 In the cover email, the FBI explained:

We have an additional four individuals we are currently interested it [sic]. … If possible, can you at least have their emails downloaded by tomorrow when I pick up the other information? . . . [W]e want to have it available when they swear out a warrant before then.126

Note, there’s a reference to the DC US Attorney’s office, too, so it’s possible they also needed these records as part of their investigation into the suspected bribe from Egypt that kept Trump afloat in August 2016.

But the craziest thing is how the report confesses that they are unaware of any legal process for these files.

Although the FBI’s August 30, 2017 cover email referenced applying for a search warrant, the Committees are aware of only one court-ordered disclosure of records, specifically, information related to the transition records of Lt. Gen. Flynn, K.T. McFarland, Michael Flynn’s son, and Daniel Gelbinovich.128

128 Order, In re Application of the U.S. for an Order Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) Directed at Google Related to [the transition email accounts for those four individuals], 1:17-mc-2005 (D.D.C. Aug. 18, 2017) [GSA004400- 4404] (ordering the disclosure of customer/subscriber information but not content).

At one level, they’re being coy in that they claim to be interested in court-ordered disclosure. A document recently released via the Jeffrey Jensen review reveals that in February 2017, star witness and pro-Trump FBI Agent was obtaining some of this information using NSLs. Another document explains why, too: because one of the first things FBI had to do to understand why Flynn had lied to them was to determine if he was coordinating his story with those at Mar-a-Lago.

The lie that he didn’t even know Obama had imposed sanctions was not one of Flynn’s charged lies, but it was his most damning. He lied to hide that he had consulted with Mar-a-Lago before picking up a phone and secretly undermining sanctions in “collusion” with Russia.

Crazier still, Chuck and Ron didn’t go to the first place one should go to understand how legal process worked, the publicly released Mueller warrants. The warrant to access the devices and email of at least the original nine (plus one other person) is right there in the docket.

GSA transferred the requested records to the FBI, but FBI didn’t access them until it had a warrant.

In other words, this 285-page report is effectively a confession from Chuck and Ron that two Committee Chairs and a whole slew of staffers can’t figure out how to read the public record.

Maybe that’s a hazard of conducting investigations with no Democrats? It makes it harder to read accurately?

12 replies
  1. Teddy says:

    Just think how awful things could be if any of them had an ounce of competence. America is very, very lucky the fascist coup seems staffed entirely by the ignorant and stupid. Sure, they’re evil. But no matter the malicious intent, their utter inability to execute may have saved the Republic.

    • Paul Phillips says:

      I’ve said the same thing to myself a number of times this year. I think it may be the only thing that has saved us so far.

  2. klynn says:

    I still cannot fully conclude what the purpose of this report was intended to do. It appears to be a fumbled effort at redirection for political purposes to perhaps aid Flynn but it reads like a bad attempt to cover something else up while still attempting to discredit the Mueller investigation. “What” that something or someone else is – is hard for me to pin down.

  3. P J Evans says:

    I still would like to know why those senators, including Ron Johnson, were in Moscow for the 4th of July.

  4. bt says:

    They aren’t interested in what’s in the reports. They will say what they want about the reports, with full knowledge that none of their supporters will know or care that what they say is ‘not correct’.

    The whole point of propaganda is that it does not need to be honest. The Republicans concluded long ago that they can say almost anything they want, truthful or not, and their voters will swallow it. Mostly it seems that they simply say things as they wish they were, and their supporters feel the same way.

    Birth certificates anyone?

    • subtropolis says:

      Agreed. Although they have proven aplenty to be partisan dumbasses, I’d attribute this less to incompetence than to a propaganda effort.

  5. Marc in Denver says:

    And all this completely ignores the big splash page that greets everyone on the USG payroll that says that nothing you have no expectation of privacy for anything you do on a government device.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Since Michael Flynn was a former head of the DIA, it would not have been hard to prove that his claim of ignorance about his predecessor’s policies a lie.

    In an alternate universe, it would be unthinkable for a would be NSA not to know that the sitting president his boss was about to replace had imposed sanctions on a country that the USG has considered its major adversary since 1917. No one that ignorant and lazy should have come near the NSC, nor anyone that bad at lying about foreign policy.

  7. Rugger9 says:

    Speaking of confessions, it seems Aubrey O’Day (the alleged girlfriend before Kim Guilfoyle with whom DJTJr allegedly tried to have kids and blew his marriage to Vanessa) had a few things to say on Twitter. Totally salacious, but it points to the amount of ooze there is in DJT’s swamp and how impossible it is to hide it all.

    Also, Vlad may be trying to make a change in his team, undercutting DJT on Russian media on the claims from Thursday. Perhaps he realizes that DJT is around the curve (instead of COVID).

    • MattyG says:

      I’m not sure about that. Vlad may just be giving himself a little fig leaf space between his backhouse operations and public pronouncements. From a PR perspective a Kremlin disavowal helps DT at this point. My concern is their active measures.

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