Chuck Grassley Must Think the FD-1023 Informant Is Worth Killing Off

In their panic to do something to stave off the Hunter Biden guilty plea next week — and perhaps to bail Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler (who are represented by lawyers tied to Chuck Grassley) out of wild and in some cases inconsistent claims they made in their House Oversight debut — Grassley and James Comer have released the FD-1023 form on which they’ve hung their latest conspiracy theories about an attempt to bribe Joe Biden.

They’ve released it with almost no redactions, so it will be very easy for anyone who came in contact with the FBI informant whose interview it recorded — an international businessman — to reverse engineer who he is.

Virtually anyone bound by the principles of physics, by time and space, who has looked at the FD-1023 closely has recognized that the allegation in the report does not match known reality.

Lev Parnas swears it didn’t happen. In this Twitter thread, Thomas Fine calls the report, the Science Fiction Double Feature Bribery Scheme. ABC provided multiple ways the allegations conflict with reality and even notes that Chuck Grassley waged war on the exploitation of such unvetted intelligence with Christopher Steele. Phil Bump last month described how James Comer was spinning his wheels (and the press) but couldn’t find any substance to it; he even noted Ron Johnson’s admission that he couldn’t substantiate a key claim in it.

The most interesting thing, to me, is that FBI agents working with then-Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady, the partisan Republican whom Barr put in charge of ingesting Rudy’s Russian disinformation, didn’t ask, or record, on what date in 2019, a meeting in London addressing an entirely different topic took place at which Oleksandr Ostapenko placed a call to Mykola Zlochevsky so Zlochevsky could provide to the informant very specific numbers of recordings he had involving Hunter Biden and his father.

Brady’s team didn’t get (or record) this date even after a follow-up conversation three days after the original meeting with the informant, even though it would have been the freshest memory for the informant and fairly easy to pinpoint given travel records. They identified with some specificity at which coffee house the meeting with Ostapenko happened (possibly this place), but not the date.

That’s not how the FBI works.

But given the informant’s reference to “recent news reports about the investigations into the Bidens and Burisma,” it is likely the meeting happened during the impeachment investigation, possibly even after Rudy Giuliani met with soon-to-be-sanctioned Russian agent Andrii Derkach in December 2019.

If the meeting came after mid-February, “Hunter Biden’s” “laptop” was already being packaged up for a later political hit job. If the meeting came after October 9, 2019, which is when Parnas’ visibility onto these matters ended because he was arrested but Rudy was not, then it might reflect what happened to the plan to meet Burisma’s CFO and Dmitry Firtash in Vienna to obtain a copy of “Hunter Biden’s” “laptop” after his arrest. It could be possible, after all, that Zlochevsky had said one thing to Parnas earlier in 2019 and another thing after Victoria Toensing had met with Bill Barr.

There’s something else that debunks the story: that Chuck Grassley apparently cares so little about substantiating it he’s willing to risk the life of the informant.

Both ABC and this weaker CNN report describe that the FBI warned releasing this could get the informant killed. The Messenger provides more detail on the various warnings the FBI gave Congress about protecting this information (contrary to its claim, this is not an exclusive; WaPo’s Jacqueline Alemany and Politico’s Jordain Carney both posted one of these letters on Twitter, but don’t appear to have written it up).

FBI officials cautioned lawmakers on several occasions about the dangers that releasing the document could pose to confidential informants and others, according to materials obtained by The Messenger.

“We have repeatedly explained to you, in correspondence and in briefings, how critical it is to keep this information confidential,” the FBI said in a June 9 letter, obtained by The Messenger, to the Democratic ranking member and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who has been scrutinizing the Biden family.

“We are concerned that Members disregarded the Committee’s agreement that information from the document should not be further disclosed,” the FBI said in the letter, which came one day after lawmakers on the Oversight Committee were permitted to view the document in a secured room.

Other documents obtained by The Messenger show that the FBI’s warnings not to release the confidential information extended back to May — before Comer and others were allowed to view the FBI form.

The FBI told lawmakers that protecting the secrecy of the FBI form is “critical” to the “physical safety” of the source and others, according to a May 30 letter sent to Comer.


Members of Congress were also provided with a warning that the information contained in the document “should be treated confidentially,” before they viewed the form on June 8, saying the agency “expressly does not consent” to the release of the material.

The FBI also raised concerns that lawmakers were taking notes in the meeting, which was prohibited, according to the letter.

Grassley and Comer released this FD-1023 — in almost unredacted form — after FBI warned, multiple times, of the danger of doing so.

This, to my mind, is the biggest tell of this stunt.

If you want to fuel a controversy, you release the FD-1023, even at the risk of getting the informant killed or, at the very least, burning his value as an informant permanently. If you want to pursue the allegation, you do everything you can to protect the FD-1023 and the informant.

Especially given David Weiss’ notice to Lindsey Graham that there is an ongoing investigation into matters pertaining to the FD-1023.

Your questions about allegations contained in an FBI FD-1023 Form relate to an ongoing investigation. As such, I cannot comment on them at this time.

Unless, of course, the GOP is so desperate to kill that investigation that they’d be willing to get the informant behind it killed as well.

Update: Federalist Faceplant Margot, who occasionally gets fed disinformation from Bill Barr, says a source has told her the FBI verified that the human source traveled where he had claimed he had traveled at the times he said he had.

Following the late June 2020 interview with the CHS, the Pittsburgh FBI office obtained travel records for the CHS, and those records confirmed the CHS had traveled to the locales detailed in the FD-1023 during the relevant time period. The trips included a late 2015 or early 2016 visit to Kiev, Ukraine; a trip a couple of months later to Vienna, Austria; and travel to London in 2019.

She’s really one of the few people stupid enough to report this as news. After all, the FBI corroborated that Igor Danchenko traveled to Moscow when he said he had, too. All that meant was that he was in Moscow being fed disinformation when he said he was.

The same is especially likely here because, if the FBI had actual dates for the 2019 trip to London — as Faceplant Margot says they did — then it raises still more questions why they didn’t include the date.

Unless the date would have given up the game by making it clear it happened after Rudy’s made further deals for disinformation.

109 replies
  1. drhester says:

    ” Unless, of course, the GOP is so desperate to kill that investigation that they’d be willing to get the informant behind it killed as well.”

    Of course are willing to get someone killed. They don’t care. They are willing to do anything. They cannot win the old way. They will do anything: lie, invent, gerrymander. It does not matter to them.

    (Apologies in advance, can someone tell me how to format properly so the quotes are indented? Thanks)

  2. rattlemullet says:

    Will there be any repercussions for this act of desperation for violating the rules of protocol for sharing confidential information after being repeatedly warned not to do so? It also appears that some were taking notes in violation of protocol. I specifically recall a story of MTG doing so. Why would the FBI continuing to work with these people after such flagrant and perhaps unlawful violations? Grassley is well beyond his time for coherent thinking as he approaches his 90th. The GOP has never got beyond the fact that Nixon was impeached and that hangover carries through to the present. They beat the impeachment drum every time there is a democratic president is in office. It literally drive them insane.

    [Moderator’s note: PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO NAME/EMAIL/URL FIELDS. You entered your email address as your username. It cleared moderation which means you may get spam. I have fixed your username but this is NOT a habit I want to get into. /~Rayne]

      • rattlemullet says:

        My mistake, he resigned, by the fear of being impeached and convicted by a strong bipartisan group of congressional and senate peoples.

        [Moderator’s note: SECOND REQUEST – PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO NAME/EMAIL/URL FIELDS. This is the second comment you’ve published inside 2.5 hours which has had typos in Name/Email fields. You published this as “ratlemullet” under a email address with an incorrect “.co” domain. Your next comment like this won’t clear. /~Rayne]

  3. klynn says:

    Thank you! So many headlines this AM are about Weiss’ father being a crooked gov worker and not focusing on Grassley.

    “Unless, of course, the GOP is so desperate to kill that investigation that they’d be willing to get the informant behind it killed as well.”

    This quote is a Master Class in writing a closing paragraph to “fire-up” your audience!

    I’m going to be thinking about the who, what, when, where, why and to what extent of this other investigation that Grassley wants to squash, all day long!

  4. RitaRita says:

    How much of what Chuck Grassley says and does is his own thoughts and beliefs versus his staff’s?

    • Rugger_9 says:

      I don’t think that distinction matters, Grassley signed for it. Let’s also remember as EW noted in an earlier post on this topic that not only our present informant but all other informants (past, present, potential future) will know they’ll be burned if compromised GOP types need to score cheap political points and will clam up to save themselves. Given that the most likely informants are ones who rat out pals of Defendant-1 it’s not really a coinkydink that Vlad and MBS benefit from this as well.

      I would also suspect that the date is a key point that would debunk the whole damn thing. While it seems unclear where the possible dates would be, perhaps it would be useful to reverse engineer the possible windows to where it could be tied to Hunter Biden in a Venn diagram with Joe Biden’s ability to help Hunter out. The outcome is probably a null set.

      The fact that the reporting agent is already described as a RW type is more proof for me that these partisan bozos needed to be purged long ago.

  5. Upisdown says:

    I saw a headline yesterday that James Comer is opposed to having a special counsel appointed over the Hunter Biden investigation. I have to wonder what Comer is afraid they might discover.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      Since there seems to have been no political interference in the investigations being conducted (during the Biden administration, anyway), I’m not sure what would be the reason for appointing a special counsel.

      But if one was appointed, I can tell you in two guesses what would result. You’d either have a relatively expeditious dive into the facts, revealing that the only trustworthy allegations involve the petty shenanigans of an emotionally unstable drug user that are hardly worth the time of a local prosecutor (let alone DoJ), or you’d have someone who spent years and tens of millions of dollars on red herrings, all the while dropping hints of momentous revelations to come that would be broadcast on Fox and in Congressional committees staffed by paranoid wingnuts, with no actual findings at the end.

    • AgainBrain says:

      Oh, that’s obvious: Comer’s terrified the instigators did such a sloppy political hit-job, and left so much evidence of the crimes they committed obtaining the info to do so (incl. direct, illegal interference by Trump, through Barr, launching DOJ / FBI investigations), that any REAL, independent investigation by DOJ/FBI, let alone an “independent special counsel”, would wind up with the whole lot of them in Federal prison (for said crimes or conspiracy to commit same).

      • AgainBrain says:

        Whether that’s the actuality versus an unfounded fear is left as an exercise for the reader. IMO, at least, it seemed rather obvious, given how the hearings actually played out, that’s certainly at least _a_ “core fear” of Comer’s, if not _the_ core fear.

  6. zscoreUSA says:

    I think you are right that the goal is to kill off the investigation related to the 1023 .

    “Unless, of course, the GOP is so desperate to kill that investigation that they’d be willing to get the informant behind it killed as well.”

    Bill Barr declared on 2/6/20 that he has to vet and authorize any investigation into a presidential candidate. He then sat on this CHS allegation of bribery to Biden, and did not appoint a special council.

    It looks like Bill Barr believes there was a plot, likely by Firtash/Russia/Trump to cause an investigation into Biden, that is based on false information. And any continuing investigation is probably into that plot with foreign actors to cause an investigation into Biden/get Hunter’s laptop.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s absurd. Batshit insane absurd.

      Bill Barr bent over backward to protect Rudy criminally for going to get this material and personally protected the ingestion of it. He didn’t want a special counsel. He was personally orchestrating 4 US Attorneys at once to preserve the investigations into Biden.

      • zscoreUSA says:

        Barr was orchestrating 4 US attorneys to preserve investigations into Joe Biden?

        That’s news to me.

          • zscoreUSA says:

            Do you have any recommendations to read about Barr orchestrating 4 US attorneys to investigate Joe Biden? Who are the 4 US Attorneys Barr was orchestrating to preserve investigations into Joe Biden?

            * All public reporting I have seen about David Weiss are that he has been investigating Hunter Biden, but not Joe Biden.

            * Mr X’s testimony described investigations into Hunter. An existing investigation in DE at the time Barr was sworn in, that merged with the IRS case. But nothing about investigating Joe Biden.

            * the only thing I have seen about investigating Joe Biden, has been Brady in Pittsburgh taking Giuliani’s stuff, then according to Raskin in August 2020 refers to Delaware. Where it doesn’t seem to have led to investigating Joe Biden. Please correct me if I am wrong, I only see investigations by Delaware US Attorney into Hunter but not Joe.

            Raskin: “The FBI informed the Committee, in no uncertain terms, that this assessment was closed in August 2020 after it failed to identify sufficient evidence to justify further investigation,” the statement continued. “By referring to the assessment as an ‘intake process,’ former Attorney General Barr is attempting to walk back the conclusions of this probe. By doing so, he is asking the American people to believe that the FBI has lied to Congress. To be sure, he would have the public believe that Donald Trump’s Department of Justice found the allegations, which it received twice, once from Rudy Giuliani and once from the confidential human source’s account of his conversations with an oligarch in Ukraine, to be credible but did nothing about them in the last year of the Administration. Mr. Barr’s naked attempts to confuse the issue as part of the Republicans’ partisan agenda is fooling no one.”

            * Trump put pressure on Barr to appoint a special counsel, but he did not do so:

            Why would Barr pass on Rudy’s stuff to Delaware where it would die and not appoint a special counsel? Bribing the vice president is a serious allegation

            • bmaz says:

              I am not your personal Wikipedia. You have already annoyed pretty much everybody here, even before this run on question. Do your “own research”. You can start with Durham, Weiss, Jensen and Brady. There are others you can discover, if you try. Please spare us 335 word comments like this, that’s not going to work.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Try searching posts on this site. This is basic stuff for any commentator here. To enjoy doing that, you need to be able to read between the lines a little. Investigating the relative non-entity Hunter Biden, for example, IS investigating Joe Biden. Jeez.

              • zscoreUSA says:

                I enjoy reading articles on this site. I have read many articles on this site over the years, though only posted comments recently.

                The only investigations I see on Joe Biden are the Brady review which was handed off to Delaware, and per Raskin were closed in August 2020. The continued and current investigation of Hunter counts as investigating Joe? ok I will note that

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  Why do you think the obscure Hunter Biden is of any interest at all other than because his dad is president?

                  These guys are not investigating him in order to objectively improve law enforcement. They know, for example, that the plea deal for Hunter is already harsher than the average settlement of problems like his. They want to crucify him, at least virtually, in order to taint his dad and reduce the odds he will be re-elected.

                  • Rayne says:

                    All that — and how else do they attack Joe Biden, who goes to church every week, gives street people money out of his pocket, raised a son who served in the military and died of cancer, does just about everything Christian conservatives’ faith expects except for the cruelty to others.

                    They go after the one adult child who suffered a brain injury in the accident which killed his mother, which likely made him vulnerable most of his life. If Beau Biden’s death was enough to cause Biden not to run in 2016, maybe driving this vulnerable adult child into the ground might do it, too, and there’s nobody prepared to step into Biden’s shoes right at this moment.

                • emptywheel says:

                  Look, perhaps you’re engaged in good faith. But are you really unaware that Ziegler was trying to get JOE’S location data? Shapley was demanding that he ask about JOE? They’re making a stink that they didn’t get a report about JOE?

                  Those two were, at the least, protected, and their job was to push to predicate an investigation on Joe.

                  Now go do some basic homework. You have both Brady and Jensen wrong.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Bill Barr was among the most corrupt US Attorneys General in history. His first stint as AG was under Poppy Bush, for whom he obstructed the Iran-Contra investigation. He led the OLC for a year, catapulted into the Deputy AG slot for a year, then became AG. That’s the pattern of a made man in hard right political circles. His work for Donald Trump was an encore.

      • emptywheel says:

        Who would you put him among, besides Mitchell?

        At this point I’d give part spot 1 and 3.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          My candidates are all Nixon era and later. Mitchell ranks highly. Bork and Meese come to mind, as do Ashcroft and Gonzales. Sessions and the BDTS are minor players. But, yeah, for corruption and effectiveness, I’d say Barr is a standout No. 1. Coincidentally, they all worked for Republican presidents.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Didn’t mean to. His standout achievements include the notorious series of Palmer Raids during the manufactured Red Scare of 1919-1920. Ostensibly meant to combat the post-1917 international Communist threat, like the successor Red Scare under McCarthy in the 1950s, they were pretexts to stamp out progressives and labor organizers.

              His other signature achievement was to elevate, as his right hand man, the obscure J. Edgar Hoover, to head the precursor of the FBI, a post he held for life. There’s a longer list. He’s the only Democrat on my list.

          • posaune says:

            Earl @ 1:02 I agree. Barr’s experience was wide and deep. He acquired so much knowledge of the system. By the time of the Trump years, he had much credability in thwarting democracy. Makes me shudder.

        • sohelpmedog says:

          Michael “torture is in the eye (and mouth and nose) of the beholder” Mukasey. Also for his stance on Presidential authority and a shield law. Thanks, Senators Schumer and Feinstein.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Earl, You are (as usual) spot on about the sewage from which Barr emerged when Trump picked him. Rather than merely an encore, it seems his AG-ship with Trump represented the apotheosis of his career and philosophy.

        Except that, like Icarus, he got too close to the sun: the Unitary Executive he nurtured turned out to be an all-consuming force of Evil. With a capital E. As in: the kind even Bill Barr finally recognized.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          I don’t think that Barr ‘finally recognized’ Trump’s evil. I think Barr’s gigantic ego led him to think he could control Trump. He finally recognized that he, Barr, was actually not omnipotent. That was the predicate for the Billy Barr reputation rehabilitation tour earlier this year.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            Fair points, Molly Pitcher. I think Barr’s Rep Rehab Tour might still be an attempt to contain (if not control) Trump.

            My reference to Evil was motivated by Barr’s notorious Opus Dei religiosity, which virtually demands that moral quandaries be seen in black or white terms. He fell off the MAGA wagon much faster than it publicly appeared, what with his cover-your-ass-with-asskissing resignation letter. Barr seems like he was just waiting for the J6C to call.

  7. Robot-seventeen says:

    Seems like a good way to burn sources for the FBI on other, unrelated investigations. Go ahead and come forward in confidence and this and other committees will out you for retribution.

  8. Jared Shoemaker Jr says:

    Interesting the sudden love affair with raw unverified info. Think Chris Steele might have something to say?

  9. Upisdown says:

    I wonder if this source is also connected to the Firtash case, and they are trying to expose or discredit him/her?

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Presidents and senators don’t have men killed, Michael.”
    “Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?”

  11. Peterr says:

    William Burns is probably tearing his hair out.

    He was chosen to head up the CIA for many reasons, but a big one was his reputation internationally as a diplomat. He was known and trusted by our allies, and after 4 years of Trump, that was seen to be an absolutely critical thing for a new CIA director to have. In a post almost a year ago, after noting how Trump burned an Israeli agent inside ISIS by showing off to the Russians in the Oval Office right after he fired James Comey, I wrote this:

    From the very beginning [after that Oval Office meeting], intelligence officers worried about how Trump handled classified information. Our intelligence officers worried, and so did the intelligence officers of our allies, as they asked themselves some version of the question “Will Trump say something or do something that will get us killed?” In a completely different way, so did the intelligence officers of our adversaries. If Trump were to rashly reveal something he learned about the capabilities of our adversaries, it could have disastrous consequences for those countries and their leaders, as the reaction to the revelation could easily spiral out of control in unforeseeable ways.

    And the damage was done.

    A lot of the work of intelligence services is, if not cooperative, then transactional. “I have some information you would like,” says an ally to us, “and we’ll pass it along to you in exchange for something we need.” That favor might be us passing information back to them on another subject, or supporting some foreign policy objective. That favor might be immediate, or something later. Among the Five Eyes nations (US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada) and the major NATO allies, that relationship was formalized into regular practice.

    But now, with Trump’s first foray into intelligence matters, all these countries worried about passing things along that under previous administration they never would have hesitated to share. With good reason.

    For three years, Burns has been rebuilding our reputation among our allies, and now Grassley is doing exactly the same thing Trump did that pissed off anyone who once trusted us with their secrets. Grassley is not just endangering the life of the CHS, but also making anyone who might be considering sharing delicate information with the US intelligence services rethink that decision.

    What secrets will our allies not share with us, because they don’t want to see a member of Congress put it out in a press release?

    What attacks will — not might, but will — take place, because someone lost trust in us to have their backs if they shared what they knew?

    Right now, a dozen intelligence chiefs are asking themselves a version of the same question: “Sure, Trump is gone, but even if Biden wins reelection, what’s to keep Senator Grassley or a representative like Jim Jordan or MGT or Lauren Boebert or James Comer from spilling our secrets if we pass them to the US?” They have to be struggling to answer that, especially since their political leaders will be asking it of them.

    Right now, Burns is trying to work out a decent answer to that question, before they put that question to him.

    This stunt by Grassley will have large ripples, with bad repercussions for us around the world.

    • Kate Freedman says:

      Thank you for this information, Peter. What do you think of Bill Burns’ ascension into Biden’s cabinet?

      • Peterr says:

        Short answer: one of Biden’s absolutely best picks for a senior post in his administration.

        Longer answer is at the post I linked to in my comment.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      Interesting that two government officials perhaps lacking in requisite intelligence, clarity, and patriotism (Trump and Grassley) should be engaged in outing assets. Would they be ripe targets by some foreign (or internal) influence given their lack of mental prowess?

      Don’t mean to leave out the vast majority of the current republican congress from this question.

    • GV-San-Ya says:

      The fact that our elected representatives are considered “security-cleared” simply by virtue of their winning elected office seems to have undermined our ability to keep secrets. The best solution to this problem is to elect better representatives, which is a work in progress.

      Are there other workable solutions?

      • timbozone says:

        Not even close to all elected Representatives in the Congress have instant, magic access to all the national secrets. In theory, the Congress as a whole, through a limited designated number of members, has access to all of the nation’s secrets…if the Congress asks… and if they are read into those secrets. There are laws about how this works, and agreements between Congress and the Executive branch to facilitate both secrecy and communication of national secret initiatives in attempt to accommodate both branches Constitutional duties.

        • Peterr says:

          Yes. There are various ways in which “need to know” factors in, even with Congress. Members of Congress don’t automatically get permission to look at anything they want, simply by asking for it.

          Historically, the intelligence committees have been the most bipartisan committees in both the House and Senate. The party leadership in both parties have been very careful about who gets appointed to these committees, in part to keep their firebreathers from being given access to highly classified material.

          The fear now is that McCarthy’s hold on his speakership is so tenuous that he might bend and allow broader access to intelligence material, to keep these folks on his side. See MGT, Boebert, Jordan, et alia.

          • Ewan Woodsend says:

            Yes, the damage is done, since now it seems reckless to assume that the next administration (or next Congress, 24 months lifespan) will keep the previous administration’s word.

            The loss of trust in ‘my word is my bond’ wrt to the US as an institution is Trump’s legacy. Forty years ago, the newly elected socialist and communist French government immediately contacted Reagan for the Farewell Dossier. Nowadays, who knows ?

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              The US, like perfidious Albion, already had a track record for not keeping its word. Ask the Kurds.

              But Trump trashed what was there and made as clear as any Latin American or Eastern European autocrat could, that no precedent or procedure, no professional staff or institutional safeguard, would disrupt his personal misrule. That applies domestically, too.

  12. OleHippieChick says:

    I wonder all the time about Grassley’s part in J6, and if he was interviewed. Grassley seemed to know that Pence would not be present at the electoral vote count and that Grassley would be doing the honors, as though that were normal.
    How does Grassley have credibility after his statement about Pence during the insurrection? He sounds like he knew. I think he’s very nasty business who wouldn’t care if he got someone killed.

    • GV-San-Ya says:

      THIS has been driving me nuts since that very day! (I believe Grassley made a statement on Jan. 5th about presiding over the vote count.) But it appears to be difficult to touch sitting senators.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      There was a backup plan to have Grassley preside in Pence’s place, should Pence not be able to do so. Given what we know (and surmise) about Pence’s distrust of the Secret Service who wanted him to get in their car, and his refusal to do so, the Grassley plan should have gotten some investigative attention–and it may have, from the OSC.

      It’s hard to tell how much Grassley was/is being used as a pawn. He doesn’t seem as fully staff-controlled as Dianne Feinstein, but he also doesn’t truly seem on top of things.

    • Peterr says:

      It is absolutely normal that the President Pro Tem presides over the senate if the VP is not present. I haven’t dug through the records, but the are multiple occasions when this happened for the opening of the electoral votes of the states — 1965 comes to mind, as VP Johnson became president when JFK was shot in November 1963 and there was no VP until the 1964 election was conducted. In 1967, the 25th amendment was ratified, which (among other things) set up the process for filling a vacancy in the office of VP.

      • Lisboeta says:

        It may be absolutely normal. The question remains, why did Grassley make that announcement? Pence was in good health; there was no reason to think he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his duty. Unless…

        • Rayne says:

          It would still be very difficult to chase that with the aim of prosecution since President Pro Tempore is part of the Senator’s job and his speech would have been protected under Speech or Debate under the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 6.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Of course, Peterr. I worded my comment poorly. What I found abnormal at the time was Grassley’s and others’ seeming avidity to replace Pence when no need seemed to exist.

  13. dadidoc1 says:

    Does the speech and debate clause protect Senator Charles Grassley and Senator James Comer from prosecution should the confidential informant be identified and harmed or killed?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yes, unless they independently participate outside of their congressional responsibilities in conduct that results in death or injury, an improbable event.

    • Rayne says:

      What prevented prosecution of members of Congress who’ve enacted laws which have harmed or killed people?

      If they participated in unlawful acts outside the purview of their role as elected member of Congress, they can be prosecuted. If they working as a member of Congress on Congressional work, they can’t be prosecuted.

      Which is why Lindsey Graham should be sweating about his role in a conspiracy to obstruct government proceedings and to attempt to deprive citizens of their civil rights, but Chuck Grassley and that ridiculous asshat James Comer are likely off the hook.

  14. David F. Snyder says:

    And Grassley has already filed to run in 2028; I guess he’s going to try to beat Strom’s record (oldest while serving: 100 years and 29 days old. (Chuck will be 90 this September).

    ”It doesn’t mean you should, just because you can.” If Chuck doesn’t know that yet, he’s a lost cause.

  15. N.E. Brigand says:

    This may have been explained before, but: why was this information collected on June 26, 2020 and June 29, 2020? (Also, if those are the two dates the CHS spoke with the FBI, why is the “Date of Contact” at the top of the first page given as June 30, 2020?) It appears that much of what’s reported in the piece had already been provided to the FBI by the CHS: see the note at the bottom of the second page. Which investigation was this 2020 interview part of?

    Speaking of which, it’s probably just carelessness, but the report seems to contradict itself regarding dates. The paragraph on the 2019 call refers to the CHS’s last previous contact with Mykola Zlochevsky as having been “the aforementioned 2016 telephone call.” The report on that call itself describes it as a “2016/2017 Telephone Call.” But the note at the bottom of the page says that a previous report from the CHS in March 2017 told the FBI that call with Zlochevsky happened in “the week of 2/27/2017.” (Or am I misreading?)

    Why was it only on the follow-up interview on June 29, 2020 that CHS gave the FBI the exact number of recordings of the Bidens that Zlochevsky claims to have? Why wouldn’t he have remembered that very specific detail three days earlier when talking to the FBI about his 2019 phone call with Zlochevsky? Did he take notes on that 2019 call that he didn’t have at hand when speaking with the FBI on June 26?

    Marcy already alluded to the subject of my next question: in the 2019 meeting in London between the CHS and Okeksandr Ostapenko, when they were not discussing Burisma or even the oil/gas industry, why would Ostapenko call Zlochevsky? Whom the CHS hasn’t spoken with for two to three years? To talk about lately announced or soon to announce U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden? That just screams set-up, doesn’t it? Did Ostapenko know the CHS was reporting to the FBI?

    Finally, wasn’t Zlochevsky a fugitive from Ukrainian justice at all points in this timeline? Wikipedia says he fled Ukraine “at the end of 2014” amidst a corruption investigation — thus the meeting the CHS had with him, in early 2016, happened in Vienna — and he didn’t return to Ukraine until February 2018, “after investigations into his Burisma Holdings had been completed in December 2017* with no charges filed against him.” Two months later, a recording emerged that appeared to implicate him in further wrongdoing, and in June 2018 a court ruled that investigators shouldn’t have closed the case against him six months earlier, but legal proceedings are “currently on hold” because he fled the country again (not sure when) and in 2019, he “is reported to live in Monaco” but with a passport from Cyprus.

    *If Joe Biden pushing for the Ukranian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to be fired was, as Republicans allege, meant to take pressure off Zlochevksy and Burisma, it sure took a long time to happen. Shokin was out in March 2016, some 21 months before the case against Zlochevsky was prematurely closed. And do Republicans think Zlochevsky should in fact be investigated? Or do they think he’s wrongfully accused? But if it’s the latter, isn’t their argument that Biden got Zlochevsky off the hook?

  16. Savage Librarian says:


    Hey, diddle, diddle,

    The cock and bull fiddle,
    The vows dumped over the moon,
    The demagogue staffed
    foreseeing court,
    And the witch ran away with a goon.

    • Henry the Horse says:

      Never forget what the “normal” GOP did to Valerie Plame…and why they did it.

      This is standard GOP operating procedure.

  17. Narpington says:

    I’m confused, I’d assumed that Lev Parnas was a Friend of Russia but that document is fascinating and has the ring of truth; if it’s a well-crafted fiction it has many verifiable waypoints. Perhaps he’s just an independent opportunist and he does provide some crowd-pleasers, including:

    “Giuliani assumed that because Zelenskyy was an actor and comedian, not a politician, he would naturally want to do anything he could to establish a good relationship with the U.S.”

    “However, Giuliani eventually told Lutsenko he hadn’t provided enough information, and that the only way he could meet Bill Barr was if he retained Giuliani for $200,000.”

    It’s appalling and hilarious that the Attorney General for “the most corrupt nation in Europe” complained about having to pay access fees of 200 grand to Giuliani, Toensing and DeGenova to have a meeting with his US equivalent, good ol’ Billy Barr. It also suggests strongly that the standard methods of interaction were being blocked by the Trump administration. Then there’s Giuliani’s bid for $1 million to represent Firtash and presumably make his extradition go away.

    Solomon is cited here as a source of “the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine”. He also recommends Firtash.

    On the other side, “Mueller’s … prosecutor … offered Firtash a deal to cancel his extradition if he would testify against Trump and Putin.” For what?

    “However, when Shokin applied for his visa, then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch denied him.”

    Obstructing Trump’s fixation on the Bidens as well as her behaviour towards Kholodnytsky (qv) meant she had to go.

    Then there’s Poroshenko’s reluctance to believe Trump because he’d stiffed him before.

    Sergei Shaffer has Giuliani and Trump’s “precise message in very strict words”. “Unless Zelenskyy announced an investigation into the Bidens, the U.S. would not deliver on certain …”

    The collusion between Trump/Giuliani and Fox News.

    Giuliani and Toensing having foreknowledge of Parnas’ and Fruman’s arrests.

    Giuliani being told in 2019 (by Pruss) that one of Hunter’s laptops had been compromised by the FSB earlier that year. Then somehow, FSB -> shenanigans -> Mac Isaac -> Giuliani.

    Shenanigans? What happened with that?
    “October 2019, I got a call telling me to go to Vienna with Giuliani, where the former Chief Financial Officer of Burisma, Alexander Gorbunenko, would meet Giuliani and give us Hunter Biden’s hard drive and answer any questions we had.”

    Again and again: “Every time Giuliani and Lutsenko had spoken about the Bidens, he would answer that nothing had been found to incriminate them.”

    Criminally, terribly, we can see the contribution Trump and his cur Giuliani made to Putin’s desire to (further) invade Ukraine.

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