Did John Durham Seize Journalists’ Call Records?
The WaPo has revealed that DOJ obtained toll records on three journalists, covering a 3.5 month period in 2017, in 2020.
The Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Washington Post journalists’ phone records and tried to obtain their email records over reporting they did in the early months of the Trump administration on Russia’s role in the 2016 election, according to government letters and officials.
In three separate letters dated May 3 and addressed to Post reporters Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, and former Post reporter Adam Entous, the Justice Department wrote they were “hereby notified that pursuant to legal process the United States Department of Justice received toll records associated with the following telephone numbers for the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017.” The letters listed work, home or cellphone numbers covering that three-and-a-half-month period.
The letters do not say when Justice Department leadership approved the decision to seek the reporters’ records, but a department spokesman said it happened in 2020, during the Trump administration. William P. Barr, who served as Trump’s attorney general for nearly all of that year, before departing Dec. 23, declined to comment.
The WaPo cites two stories it think might be culprits:
- Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault
- Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show
But it misses a key story on which Ellen Nakashima — whose mobile phone and home numbers were seized — was the first byline.
There’s also one on which Nakashima was not the first byline that might be relevant.
Notably, the request goes through the time when Peter Strzok was on the Mueller team.
In August 2020, NYT reported that John Durham was investigating media leaks. As reported, that was focused on the original leak to David Ignatius that led Mike Flynn to respond. But it reported that it wasn’t clear whether the investigation included other leaks, such as the two stories based on leak intercepts from the period under subpoena.
This report looks like what you’d expect if Durham’s investigation was broader than that, covering the period through when Strzok was removed from Mueller’s team.
Update: Billy Barr told the AP that he had made Durham Special Counsel on December 1, just over 6 months before WaPo got notice that DOJ had seized their records. He did so, it’s now clear, so that whatever providers they were trying to obtain records for would know that he had the authority of Attorney General.
Update: What Durham is clearly pursuing is charging someone under 18 USC 798 for leaking signals intercepts that seeded three stories:
- The David Ignatius story revealing Mike Flynn’s calls with Sergei Kislyak had been discovered
- The WaPo story revealing that Jared Kushner’s effort to set up a back channel with Russia had been discovered
- The WaPo story revealing that Jeff Sessions had lied when he said he hadn’t spoken to any Russians in his confirmation hearing
Update: To be quite clear: I have no reason to believe Durham has any evidence about Strzok. What I have is a bunch of evidence that 1) Durham doesn’t understand what he’s looking at and 2) he was hired to take out a couple of FBI people, starting with Strzok.
When Durham finishes his investigation in 2035, I’m sure we’ll learn what led to these record seizures.
He won’t finish, he’ll keep pulling bullshit until he’s “fired”
Or until he dies. He’s 71, which isn’t exactly old, but isn’t exactly young either.
Ken Starr kept closing investigations; he just came up with new stuff to dig into.
Durham will close this investigation, but he’ll somehow be pursuing Biden’s great grandchild in a decade for selling Girl Scout cookies in the Rose Garden.
Now known by its new official name, Melania’s Green Swamp.
I’m 70 now. Trust me, that’s OLD in every way. Or maybe it’s just the arthritis? Creaky old man feels old.
What were we talking about, again?
If he’s investigating under Espionage Act he has a 10 year statute, so he could keep it up until 2027.
Bob Dole probably knew another way for Durham to keep it up until 2027.
[email protected]:45pm…I agree Durham won’t affirmatively conclude an investigation. The formers bench needs warmth and Durham’s ample is perfectly suited in fact embroidered even. i can almost hear the wooden pining.
Given that judges Walton and Jackson (and to a lesser extent Mueller himself) have called Barr out indirectly as a someone involved in perjury, obstruction of justice/congress, and corruption of public office — furthering the ongoing “engineering” conspiracy to aid, comfort, and adhere to Russia, and agents of Russia, specifically the GOP and Trump orbits — isn’t it a reasonable inference that the two special counsels appointed by the same are fruits from a corrupt and obstructive poisonous tree, along with anything they produce or have manufactured, especially if Trump and Barr go down?
Is Barr the next Trump attorney to get rubber gloved, and if so, is it fair to say that they can’t be that far from reaching the top? What happens to their hand-picked special counsels if and/or when they take down Barr and/or Trump, especially if the special counsels themselves are found to have violated laws themselves?
It seems Durham was twice picked by alleged Epstein clients’ to lead investigations, some against organized crime, specifically by Trump and Clinton allegedly implicated in organized crimes with Epstein, and in the context that pedophile fantasy author Donald Barr, William Barr’s father, is the one who groomed Jeff Epstein at Dalton, and where Epstein died under the authority of Trump and Barr.
A retrospective review of Durham’s organized crime investigations? Giuliani was also involved in organized crime investigations. A review of his former investigations? Could it be they were each picked back then to Acosta or Mueller organized crime investigations? Is that what makes them special, and a counsel to whom?
There’s a herd of elephants in this room, and yet no boom, but plenty of boons, goons, and buffoons. Hopefully Garland can get to the bottom and the top of all of this, but surely not an easy task given all of the obstruction and obstructors, many still in key government and other positions.
I was one of the first people ever to take a look at Durham and question how and what he was blithely being used for. But your quote strikes as maybe very much a conspiratorial bridge too far.
Speaking of Epstein, it was interesting to see the NY Daily News article about the federal judge blasting the conditions at the facility where he was held, although in a totally separate case.
The conspiracy freaks won’t care, of course, but it reinforces the fact that his death wasn’t some kind of silencing.
Maybe it is never really known, but the presumption that pre-trial detention deaths don’t happen is wrong.
I can’t figure out the Epstein case.
I remember reading back then that he videotaped all of the people that were his fellow travelers.
Did those tapes exist? If so, what happened to them?
It’s either a mystery, or a conspiracy theory.
Names and labels on cds. Nothing since.
Conspiracy or not, it saved a lot of high-up people a lot of embarrassment or much worse when Epstein suicided himself a 2nd time, kneeling & leaning off the edge of his bed. Considering all of Trump’s actual conspiracies, there’s no reason to close the books on this one, just file as “No firm evidence. Yet.”
is Phil Weiss, of mondoweiss, a bridge too far?
Granted ten or so bricks doesn’t lay much of a foundation to build a bridge. However, 20,000+ bricks (WaPo clocking Trump’s lies + all of his alleged crimes, known and unknown + all of the 2016 and 2020 folks affiliated with Epstein) builds a pretty long bridge, with a pretty solid foundation. I know you are not a big fan of long responses, so I’ll do my best to condense.
If it smells like a fish (it does), talks like a fish (it does, blowing hot air out its hole), flip flops and squirms like a fish out of its water (it sure does), and looks like a fish (it does, where at least two people [over 1000 people per various Black Book lists] with a motive met minds, and who don’t have to know one another, but do, and who don’t have to know of the crimes of one another, but do, and who don’t have financial relationships, but do)… it is reasonable and perhaps even probable it is a fish.
Was Durham twice picked by alleged Epstein clients’ to lead investigations? Yes.
Did at least one of those investigations involve at least one alleged Epstein client or affiliate? Yes, Trump, and his family. Also (short list) allegedly Peter Thiel, George, Nader, and Mark Zuckerberg, the latter of the three working with Cambridge Analytica (furthering RU “engineering”), a spin off of SCL, directed by the UK/EU royals, about 15 of which are alleged clients of Epstein, and related, where the Proud Boys also come from their authority, Canada, and where Russia also gave more power to the royals allegedly “engineering” Brexit.
Did William Barr’s father both write at least one pedo fantasy (per Wiki, “Space Relations, a science fiction novel about a planet ruled by oligarchs who engage in child sex slavery” — not unlike Epstein’s island and flights), and hire Epstein at Dalton, with zero degree or teaching credentials? Yes.
Did each Trump and Barr have a motive here to cause or allow Epstein to die or be killed? Yes.
Did Epstein die under the authority of Trump and Barr? Yes.
Did an independent autopsy by Epstein’s brother, outside of the spin of Trump and Barr, reveal injuries consistent with him being murdered by strangulation? Yes.
Per Rolling Stone, “Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner and a Fox News contributor, went on Fox & Friends Wednesday morning to discuss why he thinks Epstein likely did not die by suicide. Specifically, Baden noted that Epstein had two fractures on the left and right sides of his larynx, as well as one fracture on the left hyoid bone above the Adam’s apple, which he said “are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation”.
Did roughly ten “disgraceful” checks and balances have to fail “perfectly” under the authority of Trump and Barr for Epstein to die? Yes.
What’s the statistical probability of all of that randomly happening exactly as they needed under their authority given their motives? Slim.
Did at least two guards paid by the US government under Trump and Barr try to lie to cover up the facts, for which they were later indicted? Yes.
Returning, what’s the minimum number of data points, evidence documents, or bricks, required to prove a crime has been committed (by one or more people)?
Sometimes a single fact, article of evidence, or testimony is all that is required to convict, correct? Here are there are thousands and tens of thousands of overlapping relationships and facts at play.
Quoting John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Do prosecutors have enough evidence to prosecute? Probably. Mueller alone allegedly collected over a billion pages of their-their evidence.
Will they prosecute? It looks like they will based on the house of cards collapsing every which way (Russian intelligence, Russian mob, Ukraine, Maxwell, Nader, Cohen, Flynn, Manafort, Giuliani, Toensing, Barr, Prince, et cetera) since at least 2016, accelerating now that those implicated in more than one way are no longer in charge of their own investigations.
Are there the way things should be different than the way things actually are? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends who sits on this throne of lords and flies, who has the conch, who blows the conch, and how hard and in what manner the conch is blown.
Welp, you got to “blow your conch”, whatever in the world that is.
The conch is a Lord of the Flies book and movie reference, where WWII airship-wrecked children with no adults developed a primitive democracy, and where the child holding the conch (a large beautiful shell readily turned into a loud horn) was the child allowed to speak or make the rules for their democracy, later destroyed by a violent faction of children who established a primitive dictatorship under a childish leader. Sound familiar?
As to the instant situation, no, not so much.
Thanks for the book report. However you need to focus on the topic of this post — seizure of journalists’ records — and *not* Epstein on which you have already expended 748 words in a previous comment, thereby forcing community members on mobile devices with small screens to scroll-scroll-scroll to get to relevant comments.
“It’s from Lord of the Flies,” would have sufficed, as would having used a less arcane reference to start with. Snark is unbecoming without humor.
Brazil (1985 film)
might be a more direct and clear metaphor to today’s world of skull drudgery and decay.
That movie had a Python in it. So I knew it was a comedy all they way through till the ? last few minutes. Expectations are very powerful, but not always all-powerful.
Had at least three Python regulars, a
dark satirical comedy. Theater of the absurd.
my favorite part of following emptywheel:
details within details.
“Key detail is the END DATE is roughly the time Pete Strzok was removed from the Mueller team. This is probably Durham.”
All of the events in these headlines except Comey happened before or during the transition, no? They could have been “authorized” by an original declassification authority while Obama was still in office. I wonder why Strozack would fall in Durham’s sights.
Bored or what?
🎶Don’t let it be forgot
that once there was a spot,
for one thief mining foment
that was known as Scam-a-lot.🎶
SL – you have outdone your very self, again. Is there any lower limit?
I’m hoping Punaise can chime in also.
Yer killing me.
The bit “Durham doesn’t understand what he’s looking at” has me also wondering if Durham is struggling to compartmentalize the evidence to create a clean narrative.
This thread by Jason Leopold
makes me wonder whether he keeps bumping into improper behavior by Sarah Isgur Flores (or others) and it is throwing off his ability to follow his directive. He either has to stay willfully ignorant of important lines of inquiry, or else construct odd rationalizations for where he is going.
That Leopold thread contains a bit worth a second look:
Were Dilanian’s records snagged by DOJ, too? If not, why not? Or was the subject of DOJ’s interest not Sessions’ meeting with Kislyak?
WaPo may have screwed up or tipped their hand by having Devlin Barrett write the story about DOJ grabbing Nakashima/Miller/Entous’ records — Barrett had bylines with Nakashima during the window when records were grabbed, I’m pretty sure (I need to check whether he had bylines with Miller and Entous). Why weren’t Barrett’s records grabbed? Or did Team WaPo already know Barrett wasn’t a target/subject of interest to DOJ?
I am not qualified to sift through this, but one thing that screams out at me is why in the hell is Dilanian giving that much detail about how many sources he has and that the info was classified? What’s the point of tipping his hand in a way that could potentially help ID sources? At a minimum he’s being naive, at worst he’s intentionally feeding her info that undercuts his promises and his ability to get more information for his audience. He’s never impressed me, and this doesn’t help.
Six of one, half dozen of another when it comes to revealing he has two sources. He’s putting pressure on her by saying he’s got more than one and she can’t rely on “source said, she said” to create plausible deniability. He didn’t say he’s got more than two which could have been possible. The problem is that he referred to “classified means” which is begging for investigation by DOJ.
Marcy will likely have more to say about the entire shebang related to journalists’ records; I’m just going to sit back and watch for that Chinese rocket debris.
That’s what I’m doing; I did not like _at all_ one of the images of overlapping trajectory plots. Someone said this should be over shortly after 11p but ? if that was good info.
So should I do the dishes now if that’s my last earthly duty, or wait, then not do the dishes later because the debris has safely landed so no big rush?
At a minimum the largest portion of the rocket should be in the atmosphere below the Karman line, which means much of it is already burning up. I have to do the dishes because I’m out of the flight path, whether burned up craft or debris. If you’re not in the path in the next hour, do the dishes. LOL
ADDER: Do the dishes. It’ll give you an excuse to explain why you didn’t watch that sketchy techbro on SNL tonight. ~eye roll~
ADDER-2: China says the craft reentered over the Maldives about an hour ago. I’m going to have a cider and hit the hay.
Eureka and Rayne – Get a dishwasher machine. They are wonderful.
Narrator: she has a dishwasher machine and yet the dishes she did not do. Yet. On it now, sigh…
Adding to the below: To whom/whose & what purposes is this guest host considered an international supastah?
#hardwatersuxfacts while I wait for the end of this program on Asian American communities to conclude on ABC (not in the tv guide, ? title).
hard well water (iron) > hard city water (calcium) for getting that machine to work. You have to have the “right kind” of dirty and add vinegar to get it to work, by which point you may have done them by hand. #DishesTEDtalk
I have a dishwasher machine, dear grizzly bear, my second Bosch in fact. Doing the dishes isn’t merely tossing them in the machine; there’s a calculus to loading them for maximum efficiency, some degree of rinsing no matter what dishwasher detergent companies or dishwasher machine makers say, and then the delicate glassware, specialized pans, other sundry items which can’t go into the machine.
I’m going to have to have a word with Mrs. bmaz about your training. LOL
When my dishwasher broke down a few years ago, I threw it out. I hardly ever used it anyway as I find it faster, easier, and quieter to do dishes by hand. In place of the dishwasher, I put in a large drawer for my spices with a two-shelf unit underneath for cookbooks. The electrical and water supply leads are tucked away safely in case anyone wants to reinstall another machine in the future.
Good for you. I use mine 2x a week, run only when full, and I’d prefer to be certain household dishes are disinfected in the age of pandemic.
Well Ms. Double Bosch, that “used” to be our theory! But now that we have a newish quiet modern low water use dishwashing machine, we just put it all in there (except the Henkel knives), in less densely packed fashion and run it at least every other day.
Lorne Michaels will be super disappointed when he can’t even go eff himself anymore as the leopards eat his face.
I can think of no non-nefarious reason why this would be the first SNL show ever they’d livestream internationally.
Bottoms up and sweet dreams!
I demoed a whole bunch of songs in the 90’s, five songs in a three hour session with six or seven hired musicians. Time was money. The musicians were and are incredibly talented but they wanted direction. The worst sessions for them was working for a songwriter who, rather than offering production ideas, instead used the hated phrase “I’ll know it when I hear it.”
That seems to be Durham’s approach. He’ll know it when he sees it, maybe, if he ever does see it.
This is rather extraordinary. I worked in this area many years ago and the idea of going after reporters and/or their sources was pretty much impossible. Wonder who the judge was who approved this? Unless the law has changed significantly, this should have been a non-starter. Red flags everywhere. I hope Biden and Garland are following this story. Huge implications for the 1st Amendment. and our democracy. The last thing this country needs right now.
It has always been more malleable than folks would like to think. To my knowledge, it is still 9-13.400 and guidance from DOJ: https://www.justice.gov/jm/jm-9-13000-obtaining-evidence#9-13.400
why wait for a judge to “approve” anything. You act as you wish and then if caught apologize or take your lumps. Some used to say, its easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask permission. worked like a “hot dam”.
Wait a minute.
Call records are charging data created by the phone company, specifically, in the (presumably Mobile) Switching Center where the call originated. The phone company is required by the Public Utilities Commission to keep those records for enough time for the customer to contest the bill. This applies even if the customer has an unlimited call subscription, because the originating exchange (the MSC) doesn’t know the subscription terms, it just creates the call record and an off-line computer calculates the bill. The phone company has no use for this data after the required holding time, like maybe 6 months. So …. WHO or WHAT is collecting and storing call records that the DOJ can get three years later???????
Call records are referred to as META data by the NSA and are stored forever.