Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Rosenstein stands by Mueller probe as Republicans fume over 'insider bias'

By Brooke Singman | Fox News


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stood by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe Wednesday, despite a newly unearthed trove of damning text messages and other details that Republicans said show an “insider bias” on the investigative team.

Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and has overseen the Russia probe since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, testified before the House Judiciary Committee -- and faced a grilling from GOP lawmakers. 

They zeroed in on anti-Trump text messages exchanged between two FBI agents who once worked on the Mueller team.
“This is unbelievable,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, voicing concern that the "public trust" in the probe is gone.
Republicans for weeks have raised concerns that some investigators may be biased, citing everything from their political donations to past work representing top Democratic figures and allied groups including the Clinton Foundation. 


But when committee Ranking Member Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., pressed Rosenstein over whether he had seen “good cause” to remove Mueller from his post, Rosenstein pushed back.
“No,” Rosenstein said.
Nadler asked whether Rosenstein would fire Mueller if he were ordered to do so.
“I would follow regulation. If there were good cause, I would act. If there was no good cause, I would not,” Rosenstein replied, doubling down that he has seen “no good cause” to do so.
He suggested the probe -- of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates -- is being conducted appropriately at this stage.
But just hours prior to Rosenstein’s testimony, the Justice Department released hundreds of texts messages between two FBI officials—Peter Strzok and Lisa Page—who worked on Mueller’s team and were romantically involved. Many were anti-Trump and pro-Clinton.
In one exchange from August 2016, Page forwarded a Donald Trump-related article to Strzok, writing: “And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”


He responded: “Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.’”
In March 2016, Page texted Strzok, "God, Trump is a loathsome human."
"Yet he many[sic] win," Strzok responded. "Good for Hillary."
Later the same day, Strzok texted Page, "Omg [Trump's] an idiot."
"He's awful," Page answered.
The messages were given to the House Judiciary Committee. The officials no longer work on the Mueller probe.
Rep. Jordan said of Strzok, "This guy thought he was super agent James Bond at the FBI."
“We are now beginning to understand the magnitude of this insider bias on Mueller’s team,” Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in his opening statement on Wednesday. He cited the “extreme bias” shown in the text messages between Strzok and Page; Mueller investigator Andrew Weissmann’s “awe” of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates for defying President Trump; and Mueller investigator Jeannie Rhee’s representation of the Clinton Foundation. He also cited the case of another DOJ official demoted amid scrutiny of his contacts with the firm behind the anti-Trump dossier.
“Aren’t DOJ attorneys advised to avoid even the ‘appearance of impropriety’?” Goodlatte asked, calling the “potential bias” of certain career Justice Department officials and lawyers on Mueller’s team “deeply troubling.” “DOJ investigations must not be tainted by individuals imposing their own political prejudices.”
Rosenstein told lawmakers that he has “discussed this with Robert Mueller.”
“It’s our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions,” Rosenstein said. “I believe Director Mueller understands that, and recognizes people have political views but that they don’t let it [affect their work.]”
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, pushed back, calling the appearance “sad.”
“Rather than wearing stripes like a referee, the Mueller team overwhelmingly ought to be attired with Democratic donkeys or Hillary t-shirts, not shirts that say ‘Make America Great Again,’ because I think the American people deserve more than the very biased team they have under Mueller,” Chabot said. “It’s really sad.”
But Rosenstein defended Mueller’s investigation, stressing he has “oversight authority” over Mueller.
“I know what he’s doing,” Rosenstein said of Mueller’s investigative actions. “He consults with me about their investigation, within and without the scope.”


When pressed over whether Mueller has attempted to “expand” the original scope of his investigation, Rosenstein said that he had given his “permission” to Mueller to investigate what he requests if necessary, noting that the special counsel team “does have authority” to investigate “obstruction.”
“If I thought he was doing something inappropriate, I would take action,” Rosenstein said.
In terms of any potential “impropriety” in Mueller’s office, cited by multiple committee Republicans, Rosenstein said he was not aware.
“I am not aware of any impropriety. Special Counsel is subject to oversight by the Department of Justice and I’m not aware of any violations of those rules,” Rosenstein said. “Appearance is, to some extent, in the eye of the beholder. We apply the department’s rules and regulations, and career ethics attorneys provide us counsel on that.”
Rosenstein underscored that he, Mueller and FBI Director Chris Wray are "accountable" and will ensure "no bias" in the special counsel's findings. 
Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews 

Do Black Students Need White Peers?

By Jason L. Riley
 


A news report worries about the racial makeup of charter schools, despite their better performance.

The Associated Press published a hit piece earlier this month that blamed charter schools for perpetrating racial segregation. No shock there. The mainstream press has long been sympathetic to left-wing critiques of school choice, and racial imbalance in the classroom is regularly trotted out by union leaders like Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers as a reason to ban charter schools, however high-performing.
More interesting (and somewhat encouraging) was the backlash to the AP “analysis” from others on the political left. Shavar Jeffries of Democrats for Education Reform, an outfit that advocates school choice, faulted the reporters’ methodology, among other issues.
The AP makes “apples-to-oranges comparisons that contrast the demographics of individual charter schools to those of entire cities,” he said. “This ignores the blatantly obvious fact that charter schools are concentrated in neighborhoods with high proportions of students of color to provide them an alternative to the low-performing traditional public schools they previously had no choice but to attend.”
But Mr. Jeffries seemed even more taken aback by the premise of the AP story. To wit: the supposed importance of the role white students play in the education of black students. “There’s no doubt there are benefits for students who attend racially diverse schools,” he said, but “we take issue with the assumption that black and brown children can’t learn unless they attend school alongside white children.”
Mr. Jeffries’s criticism was almost mild in comparison to that of Amy Wilkins of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, who took personal umbrage at the implication that school-choice proponents like herself have made common cause with the racial segregationists of yesteryear.
Ms. Wilkins hails from what could accurately be described as civil-rights royalty. She is the daughter of Roger Wilkins, the black political activist, journalist and academic, who served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. And she is the niece of Roy Wilkins, who led the NAACP in the 1950s and ’60s, two of the most consequential decades in the effort to abolish Jim Crow oppression.
Ms. Wilkins has spent her adult life as an outspoken advocate for black children, and after the AP story appeared she wrote a response in the education-news website The 74 that pulled no punches.

The problem, wrote Ms. Wilkins, “isn’t one article, however off-base it may be. The problem is the mindset of revanchists who peddle stories like these—professional anti-reformers who go nuts when approaches other than those they sanction and control deliver results for the students . . . they insist cannot learn at high levels.”
Black parents simply want better schools, and the strong demand for education choice among low-income families stems from the persistent failure of traditional public-school systems to provide a decent education for their children.
“There is no comparison—none—between the enforced segregation of the pre-Brown v. Board era and the choices black families make when they enroll their children in better schools,” wrote Ms. Wilkins. “It’s ludicrous to suggest the two are in any way similar.
In fact, it’s far closer to the spirit of Jim Crow to tell a black student that she has to go to her dismal neighborhood school because the better charter school up the street is not white enough to satisfy the defenders of the status quo.”
It isn’t obvious from the media coverage of school choice, but education reform is less a left-right issue than it is an internal debate among Democrats, who are torn between carrying water for organized labor and prioritizing the interest of low-income minorities.
The primary obstacle to advancing school choice for liberals like Mr. Jeffries and Ms. Wilkins is not conservative Republicans. Rather, it’s liberal Democrats, who tend to control the levers of power in urban centers populated by the black poor.
Even the AP report acknowledged that “on average, children in hyper-segregated charters do at least marginally better on tests than those in comparably segregated traditional schools.”
Charter schools are also less violent and produce higher rates of graduation and college completion.
As the Shavar Jefferieses and Amy Wilkinses and others on the school reform left understand, parental choice scares defenders of the status quo not because it’s ineffective or somehow harmful but because it works.
“To the people trying to fabricate a segregation story to deny black students educational opportunity, I have a simple message: Don’t you dare,” wrote Ms. Wilkins.
“Don’t you dare try to take away choices black families have fought for. Don’t you dare tell black families that you know better than they do what kind of school their children should attend. Don’t you dare call yourself social justice warriors while undermining the work of black school leaders and educators who are building something better for their communities.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

HuffPo Laments That One Year in, ‘Trump Is Winning’

By Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

 
 
In the midst of much hand-wringing and anguished sighs, the Huffington Post has announced to its readers that after his first year in office “Trump Is Winning.”

“This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write and admit,” begins Earl Ofari Hutchinson in his essay, “Trump is winning.”
Hutchinson, an author and co-host of the Al Sharpton Show, observes that according to numerous indicators the Trump presidency is a success, beginning with his delivery of a long list of campaign promises.
Among Mr. Trump’s many victories, Hutchinson enumerates Mick Mulvaney’s appointment to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Neil Gorsuch’s contribution to the Supreme Court, Scott Pruitt’s work at the EPA, Trump’s support of fossil fuels to make America energy independent, the RNC backing of judge Roy Moore in Alabama, the fizzling out of Russiagate, the passage of the tax reform bill, and the record-level stock market.
Yet all of these wins are small potatoes compared to Trump’s three top victories, Hutchinson claims.
First, the President has successfully taken charge of the Republican Party. “He is the point man for GOP policy and issues and, in a perverse way, the spur to get action on them,” Hutchinson notes.
Second, Mr. Trump has managed to energize his base and keep their loyalty. The “overwhelming majority” of Republican voters continues to back him, Hutchinson admits.
“This is the voter loyalty that buys a lot of support from the GOP establishment even as they flail him or shake their head in disgust at his antics,” he writes.
Third, Trump has successfully harnessed the mainstream media for his own purposes. “He remains a ratings cash cow for the networks and makes stunning copy for the print media,” Hutchinson complains.
“He knew that from day one of his presidential bid and he knows it even more now. He will continue to suck the media air out of everything that the Democrats do and try to do.”
While praising the war on Trump waged by the New York Times and “other liberal print publications,” Hutchinson recognizes that for much of the Trump base these papers have lost all credibility. “So the withering criticism of Trump in these publications is tantamount to a wolf howling in the wind,” he says.
After a string of jabs about Trump’s “phony war” with the NFL, his “bumbling, inept, and dangerous handling of the North Korea nuclear threat,” and his “clueless saber rattle” over the Iran nuclear pact, Hutchinson finds himself forced to confess that Trump has managed to come out on top.
For Trump so far, “this has been a win-win, and a sad one to admit,” he writes.
Of course, from Hutchinson’s perspective, all of these triumphs are bad for America. The Trump base of benighted deplorables and hobbits don’t realize that what seem to be victories are really long-term defeats and ultimately won’t benefit them at all, he whines.
One thing seems certain.
The annoying habit leftist elites have of condescendingly telling other people what is best for them isn’t gaining them any friends.
It didn’t work in 2016 and it doesn’t work now.
And then they wonder why Trump is winning.

One Mueller-Investigation Coincidence Too Many

By Victor Davis Hanson

 
Stacking the deck with anti-Trump staffers is proving to be a really bad idea.
 
Special prosecutors, investigators, and counsels are usually a bad idea. They are admissions that constitutionally mandated institutions don’t work — and can be rescued only by supposed superhuman moralists, who are without the innate biases inherent in human nature.

The record from Lawrence Walsh to Ken Starr to Patrick Fitzgerald suggests otherwise. Originally narrow mandates inevitably expand — on the cynical theory that everyone has something embarrassing to hide. Promised “short” timelines and limited budgets are quickly forgotten. Prosecutors search for ever new crimes to justify the expense and public expectations of the special-counsel appointment.
Soon the investigators need to be investigated for their own conflicts of interest, as if we need special-special or really, really special prosecutors. Special investigations often quickly turn Soviet, in the sense of “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has led what seems to be an exemplary life of public service. No doubt he believes that as a disinterested investigator he can get to the bottom of the once contentious charge of “Russian collusion” in the 2016 election. But can he?
A Mandate Gone Wild
Something has gone terribly wrong with the Mueller investigation.
The investigation is venturing well beyond the original mandate of rooting out evidence of Russian collusion. Indeed, the word “collusion” is now rarely invoked at all. It has given way to its successor, “obstruction.” The latter likely will soon beget yet another catchphrase to justify the next iteration of the investigations.
There seems far less special investigatory concern with the far more likely Russian collusion in the matters of the origins and dissemination of the Fusion GPS/Steele dossier, and its possible role in the Obama-administration gambit of improper or illegal surveilling, unmasking, and leaking of the names of American citizens.
Leaks from the Mueller investigation so far abound. They have seemed calibrated to create a public consensus that particular individuals are currently under investigation, likely to be indicted — or indeed likely guilty.
These public worries are not groundless. They are deeply rooted in the nature and liberal composition of the Mueller investigative team — whose left-leaning appointments just months ago had understandably made the liberal media giddy with anticipation from the outset. Wired, for instance, published this headline on June 14: “Robert Mueller Chooses His Investigatory Dream Team.” Vox, on August 22, wrote: “Meet the all-star legal team who may take down Trump.” The Daily Beast, two day later, chimed in: “Inside Robert Mueller’s Army.”
Whose ‘Army,’ Whose ‘Dream Team,’ and Whose ‘All-Stars’?
Special Counsel Mueller was himself appointed in rather strange circumstances. Former FBI director James Comey (now reduced to ankle-biting the president on Twitter with Wikipedia-like quotes) stated under oath that he had deliberately leaked his own confidential notes about conversations with President Trump, hoping to prompt appointment of a special investigator to investigate a president — whom he said, also under oath, that he was not investigating.
Comey’s ploy worked all too well. Department of Justice officials, now in the Trump Justice Department but who once served in Barack Obama’s administration, selected Comey’s close friend and long associate Robert Mueller as investigator. From that germination, an innate conflict of interest was born — given that Mueller’s appointment assumed that Comey himself would not come under his own investigation, a supposition that may be increasingly untenable.
Okay — but one such conflict of interest swallow does not make a discredited spring.
But then there was the weird position of Comey subordinate and deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe. He ran the Washington, D.C., office that was involved in the Clinton email investigations. For some strange reason, McCabe did not recuse himself from the email investigation until one week before the presidential election, even though just months earlier his wife, Jill McCabe, had announced her Democratic campaign for a state senate seat in Virginia — and had received a huge donation of more than $675,000 from the political organizations of Governor Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton supporter and intimate. Like it or not, the behavior of the FBI during the Clinton email investigations also extends to the Russian-collusion probe, especially as it pertains to the Clinton-funded Fusion GPS/Steele dossier.
Okay — Washington is an incestuous place, and such conflicts of interest may be unavoidable. Perhaps McCabe himself was not really so directly involved in the FBI investigations of Clinton, and perhaps he had not even talked about the current Mueller investigations.
But then it was announced that at least six of Mueller’s staff of 15 lawyers, who previously had donated (in some cases quite generously) to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, were now investigating her arch foe Donald Trump.
Okay — no doubt, such apparent conflicts of interests are not what they seem (given the overwhelming preponderance of liberal lawyers in general and in particular in Washington). After all, no one should be disqualified from government service for his or her political beliefs.
But then we came to the inexplicable case of Peter Strzok, an FBI investigator assigned to the Mueller investigation of Russian collusion. Strzok and Lisa Page, a consulting FBI lawyer (part of Mueller’s once-ballyhooed “dream team”), were for some reason relieved from the investigation of Trump in late summer 2017. Mueller’s office refused to explain the departure of either, other than to let the media assume that the departures were both unrelated and due to normal revolving or transient appointments.
Okay — even dream-teamers and all-stars occasionally move on, and the less said, the better.
But then we learn that the two, while part of Mueller’s investigation of Trump, were having an extramarital affair, and exchanging some 10,000 texts, of which at least some were adamantly anti-Trump and pro-Clinton. One wonders, Why did that information, now confirmed, come out through leaks rather than through official Mueller communiqu├ęs? In other words, if there is nothing now deemed improper about the two Trump investigators’ amorous political expressions or in the anti-Trump nature of their exchanges, why was there apparently such a reluctance in August and September to avoid full disclosure concerning their abrupt departures?
Okay — perhaps indiscreet electronic communications and affairs in the workplace are no big deal in Washington.
But then Strzok apparently was also responsible for changing the wording of the official FBI report on the Clinton email affair. He crossed out the original finding of “grossly negligent,” which is legalese that under the statute constitutes a crime, and replaced it with “extremely careless,” which does not warrant prosecution.
Okay — perhaps we can shrug and suggest that Strzok surely did not have the final say in such verbal gymnastics. Or perhaps his anti-Trump, pro-Clinton sentiments were not germane to his mere copy editing or his reliance on a thesaurus.
But then we learned that Andrew Weissmann, who is another veteran prosecutor assigned to Mueller’s legal team, praised Sally Yates, an Obama-administration holdover at the Trump Department of Justice, for breaking her oath of office and refusing to carry out President Trump’s immigration order (Yates was summarily fired). “I am so proud,” he emailed Yates, on the day she publicly defied the president. “And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.”
Okay — it certainly does not look good that a disinterested government attorney investigating the president was so indiscreet as to write his admiration to a fellow Obama holdover who was fighting with Trump. But to give the anti-Trump attorneys the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Weissmann was merely reacting to Yates’s panache rather than to her shared political views?
But then again, we learned that another attorney on the Mueller staff, Jeannie Rhee, was at one time the personal attorney of Ben Rhodes, the Obama deputy national-security adviser who is often mentioned as instrumental in making last-minute Obama-administrative-state appointments to thwart the incoming Trump administration. Rhee also provided legal counsel to the Clinton Foundation and was a generous donor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Rhee seemingly could not be a disinterested investigator of Trump, given that she has had financial interests with those, past and present, who are fiercely opposed to the current likely target of her investigations.
Okay — but perhaps in Washington’s upside-down world, lawyers are mere hired guns who have no real political loyalties and they investigate, without bias, those whose politics they detest. Why should they feel a need to be shy about their political agendas?
But then again, most recently, it was disclosed that a senior Justice Department official, Bruce G. Ohr, connected with various ongoing investigations under the aegis of the Justice Department, was partially reassigned for his contact with the opposition-research firm responsible for the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump “dossier” — which in theory could be one catalyst for the original FBI investigation of “collusion” and thus additionally might be the reason cited to request FISA orders to surveil Trump associates during the 2016 campaign. 
And note that it was also never disclosed that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, whose expertise was Russian politics and history, actually worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign, when the opposition research firm’s discredited anti-Trump dossier alleging Russian collusion was leaked shortly before Election Day 2016.
Okay — perhaps Ohr, as part of his job, was merely learning about aspects of the dossier from one of its owners, for future reference.
But then again, we learned of the strange career odyssey of yet another person on Mueller’s legal team, Aaron Zebley (supposedly known in the past as Mueller’s “right-hand hand”). He once served as Mueller’s chief of staff while employed at the FBI and was also assigned to both the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division and the National Security Division at the Department of Justice. In addition, Zebley served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the National Security and Terrorism Unit in Virginia. Yet Zebley, as late as 2015, represented one Justin Cooper.
The latter was the IT staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s likely illegal and unsecure server at her home, and who purportedly smashed Clinton’s various BlackBerries with a hammer in fear they would be subpoenaed. Zebley had come into contact once earlier with congressional investigators, when he was legal counsel for Cooper — and yet Zebley now is on Mueller’s team investigating Donald Trump.
What’s Next?
By now there are simply too many coincidental conflicts of interest and too much improper investigatory behavior to continue to give the Mueller investigation the benefit of doubt. Each is a light straw; together, they now have broken the back of the probe’s reputation.
In inexplicable fashion, Mueller seems to have made almost no effort to select attorneys from outside Washington, from diverse private law firms across the country, who were without personal involvement with the Clinton machine, and who were politically astute or disinterested enough to keep their politics to themselves.
Indeed, the special-counsel investigation has developed an eerie resemblance to the spate of sexual-harassment cases, in which the accused sluff off initial charges as irrelevant, unproven, or politically motivated, only to be confronted with more fresh allegations that insidiously point to a pattern of repeated behavior.
What then is going on here?
No one knows. We should assume that there will be almost daily new disclosures of the Mueller investigation’s conflicts of interest that were heretofore deliberately suppressed.
Yet Donald Trump at this point would be unhinged if he were to fire Special Counsel Mueller — given that the investigators seem intent on digging their own graves through conflicts of interest, partisan politicking, leaking, improper amorous liaisons, indiscreet communications, and stonewalling the release of congressionally requested information.
Indeed, the only remaining trajectory by which Mueller and his investigators can escape with their reputations intact is to dismiss those staff attorneys who have exhibited clear anti-Trump political sympathies, reboot the investigation, and then focus on what now seems the most likely criminal conduct: Russian and Clinton-campaign collusion in the creation of the anti-Trump Fusion GPS dossier and later possible U.S. government participation in the dissemination of it.
If such a fraudulent document was used to gain court approval to surveil Trump associates, and under such cover to unmask and leak names of private U.S. citizens — at first to warp a U.S. election, and then later to thwart the work of an incoming elected administration — then Mueller will be tasked with getting to the bottom of one of the greatest political scandals in recent U.S. history.
Indeed, his legacy may not be that he welcomed in known pro-Clinton, anti-Trump attorneys to investigate the Trump 2016 campaign where there was little likelihood of criminality, but that he ignored the most egregious case of government wrongdoing in the last half-century.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, released in October from Basic Books.

Monday, December 11, 2017

President Trump's Message: New York Terror Attack

 
THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 11, 2017

Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Today’s Attack in New York City

Today’s attempted mass murder attack in New York City—the second terror attack in New York in the last two months—once again highlights the urgent need for Congress to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people.
 First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for President, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country.  Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.  My Executive action to restrict the entry of certain nationals from eight countries, which the Supreme Court recently allowed to take effect, is just one step forward in securing our immigration system.  Congress must end chain migration.  Congress must also act on my Administration’s other proposals to enhance domestic security, including increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, enhancing the arrest and detention authorities for immigration officers, and ending fraud and abuse in our immigration system.  The terrible harm that this flawed system inflicts on America’s security and economy has long been clear.  I am determined to improve our immigration system to put our country and our people first.
 Second, those convicted of engaging in acts of terror deserve the strongest penalty allowed by law, including the death penalty in appropriate cases.  America should always stand firm against terrorism and extremism, ensuring that our great institutions can address all evil acts of terror.

###

Another FBI Shock - Inside the Trump dossier handoff: McCain's 'go-between' speaks out

By Catherine Herridge,   Pamela K. Browne,   Cyd Upson   | Fox News
 

Sir Andrew Wood, right, says he acted as a “go-between” last year to inform Sen. John McCain, left, about the controversial “dossier” containing allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump.

Following the trail of the unverified Trump dossier

Former senior British diplomat, Sir Andrew Wood, says he was instructed by Christopher Steele to reach out to Sen. McCain about the dossier; Catherine Herridge goes in-depth for 'Special Report.'
The man who says he acted as a “go-between” last year to inform Sen. John McCain about the controversial “dossier” containing salacious allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump is speaking out, revealing how the ex-British spy who researched the document helped coordinate its release to the FBI, the media and Capitol Hill.
“My mission was essentially to be a go-between and a messenger, to tell the senator and assistants that such a dossier existed,” Sir Andrew Wood told Fox News in an exclusive interview with senior executive producer Pamela K. Browne.Fox News spoke to Wood at the 2017 Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada. As Britain’s ambassador to Moscow from 1995-2000, Wood witnessed the end of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the rise of Vladimir Putin.
Just after the U.S. presidential election in November 2016, Arizona GOP Sen. McCain spoke at the same security conference. Wood says he was instructed — by former British spy Christopher Steele — to reach out to the senior Republican, whom Wood called “a good man,” about the unverified document.
Wood insists that he’s never read the dossier that his good friend and longtime colleague prepared. It was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS and funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
In August 2016, “[Steele] came to me to tell me what was in it, and why it … was important,” Wood said. “He made it very clear … yes, it was raw intelligence, but it needed putting into proper context before you could judge it fully.”
August 2016 is a critical period, just after the FBI opened the Russia meddling probe, and after then-director James Comey recommended against prosecution for Clinton’s mishandling of classified information.
Wood said Steele had “already been in contact with the FBI” at the time.
“He said there was corroborating evidence in the United States, from which I assumed he was working with an American company,” Wood said.
British court records reviewed by Fox News as well as U.S. congressional testimony revealed that Steele was directed and paid at least $168,000 by Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson to push the research that fall to five American media outlets. According to British court documents, Steele met with The New York Times (twice), The Washington Post (twice), CNN, The New Yorker and Yahoo News (twice).
“Each of these interviews was conducted in person and with a member of Fusion also present,” according to the records associated with separate civil litigation against Steele and Fusion GPS.
Wood said he’d heard of Fusion GPS, as the group Steele was working with, but had “never heard of Mr. Simpson.”
Three weeks after Trump won the presidential election, at the Canadian security conference, the details were finalized for the dossier hand-off to McCain.
Along with the senator, Wood and McCain Institute for International Leadership staffer David J. Kramer attended the Canadian conference.
British court records state McCain ordered Kramer to get a personal briefing from Steele in Surrey, just outside of London, and then return to Washington, D.C., where Fusion GPS would provide McCain with hard copies.
In January, McCain officially gave the dossier to the FBI, which already had its own copy from Steele.
Of note, listed in the official program for the 2016 November Canadian conference as a participant was Rinat Akhmetshin — the same Russian lobbyist who was at Trump Tower five months earlier in June for a highly scrutinized meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and others.
It is not known whether Akhmetshin had any contact with McCain or Kramer.
Fusion GPS and Kramer did not respond to requests for comment from Fox News.
Asked for comment, McCain’s office referred back to a January statement that said he could not judge the dossier’s accuracy.
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.
Pamela K. Browne is Senior Executive Producer at the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been recognized with several awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the news magazine “Fox Files” and later, “War Stories.”
Cyd Upson is a Senior Producer at FOX News.

A Jackboot Mueller Jolt: Wife of demoted DOJ official worked for firm behind anti-Trump dossier!!

By James Rosen, Jake Gibson  | Fox News


Bruce G. Ohr was demoted at the DOJ for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump 'dossier.'  (AP)

A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page.
“The House Intelligence Committee,” Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News in a statement on Monday, “is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr.”
Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call “Main Justice.”
The Department of Justice has provided no public explanation for Ohr’s demotion. Officials inside the Department have told Fox News his wearing of two hats was “unusual,” but also confirm Ohr had withheld his contacts with the Fusion GPS men from colleagues at the DOJ.
Former FBI Director James Comey has described the dossier as a compendium of “salacious and unverified” allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump and his associates, including Page, a foreign policy adviser. The dossier was provided to the FBI in July 2016, shortly before then-candidate Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination. As Comey later testified, it was in that same month that the FBI began a counterintelligence probe of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The disclosure by Fox News that Bruce Ohr met with Simpson and Steele last year expanded the reach of the dossier’s creators from the FBI into the top echelons of the Justice Department. Initial investigation suggested that Steele, a longtime FBI informant whose contacts with Mr. Ohr are said to date back a decade, might have played the central role in putting Simpson together with the associate deputy attorney general. Now, the revelation that Mrs. Ohr worked for Simpson calls that account into question.
A review of open source materials shows Mrs. Ohr was described as a Russia expert at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, when she worked there, briefly, a decade ago. The Center’s website said her project focused on the experiences of Russian farmers during Stalin’s collectivization program and following the invasion of Russia by Nazi forces in 1941. She has also reviewed a number of books about twentieth century Russia, including Reconstructing the State: Personal Networks and Elite Identity in Soviet Russia (2000), by Gerald Easter, a political scientist at Boston College, and Bertrand M. Patenaude’s The Big Show in Bololand: The American Relief Expedition to Soviet Russia in the Famine of 1921 (2002).
Contacted by Fox News late Monday, DOJ officials declined to comment.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, declined to comment on the original disclosure about Mr. Ohr’s secret meetings, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Mrs. Ohr.
While Nunes has issued numerous subpoenas to DOJ and FBI relating to the dossier, and has threatened contempt-of-Congress citations against Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray for what congressional Republicans have termed “stonewalling” by the two agencies, Schiff has mostly objected to the demands for documents and witnesses, casting the entire dossier probe as innately political. “I think there's a hope that if they can impeach Christopher Steele, and they can impeach the FBI and DOJ, maybe they can impeach the whole Russia investigation,” Schiff told MSNBC in September. 

James Rosen joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 1999 and is the network’s chief Washington correspondent.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.


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The Wall Street Journal

Christopher Wray’s FBI Stonewall


The new director hides behind a phony excuse for refusing to answer Congress’s questions.

By The Editorial Board

Christopher Wray was supposed to bring a new candor and credibility to the FBI after the James Comey debacle, but the country is still waiting. The director’s testimony Thursday to the House Judiciary Committee suggests he has joined the Justice Department effort to stop the public from learning about the bureau’s role in the 2016 election.
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte invited Mr. Wray to answer the multiplying questions about the bureau’s 2016 political interference. This includes the role that the Steele dossier—opposition research financed by the Clinton campaign—played in the FBI’s decision to investigate the Trump presidential campaign. The committee also wants answers about reports that special counsel Robert Mueller demoted Peter Strzok, a lead FBI investigator in both the Trump and Hillary Clinton email investigations, after Mr. Strzok exchanged anti-Trump texts with his mistress, who also works at the FBI.
Mr. Wray spent five hours stonewalling. The director ducked every question about the FBI’s behavior by noting that the Justice Department Inspector General is investigating last year’s events.
Is Mr. Wray concerned that Mr. Strzok edited the FBI’s judgment of Mrs. Clinton’s handling of her emails to “extremely careless” from “grossly negligent” in a previous draft? The grossly negligent phrase might have put Mrs. Clinton in legal jeopardy, but Mr. Wray said he couldn’t answer because that is subject to the “outside, independent investigation.”
Is Mr. Wray taking steps to ensure his top ranks are free of political “taint”? He couldn’t say because of the “outside, independent” investigation.
Ohio Republican Jim Jordan noted that the only way for Congress to know if the FBI used the Steele dossier to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign is for the FBI to provide its application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. “Is there anything prohibiting you from showing this committee [that application]?” Mr. Jordan asked.
Mr. Wray’s answer was dismissive. “I do not believe that I can legally and appropriately share a FISA court submission with this committee,” said Mr. Wray. “When I sign FISA applications, which I have to do almost every day of the week, they are all covered with a ‘classified information’ cover.”
This is an excuse, not a serious reason. The IG is a watchdog created by Congress to investigate executive misbehavior. It was never intended to supplant congressional oversight, much less be an excuse for executive officials to protect their decisions from scrutiny.
As for hiding behind “classified information,” the House Intelligence Committee that is investigating Russian campaign meddling has appropriate clearances. Mr. Goodlatte reminded Mr. Wray that the Judiciary Committee also has primary jurisdiction over the FISA court.
The FISA application is central to the issue of Russian meddling and whether the FBI used disinformation to trigger a counterintelligence investigation of a U.S. presidential candidate. Congress and the U.S. need to know not only if Trump officials were colluding with Russians but also if Russia and the Clinton campaign used false information to dupe the FBI into intervening in a U.S. election. Yet the FBI and Justice have been stonewalling House Intelligence for months.
The lack of cooperation has become more troubling amid reports that senior career Justice officials have a partisan motivation. Judicial Watch last week released emails showing that Mr. Mueller’s top lieutenant, Andrew Weissmann, praised Obama holdover and acting Attorney General Sally Yates in January for defying Mr. Trump on his travel ban.
Justice also confirmed a Fox News report last week that one of its top lawyers, Bruce Ohr, was in contact with Christopher Steele (the dossier author) before the election, and after the election with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, the opposition-research firm that hired Mr. Steele. Mr. Ohr was demoted, which suggests his contacts were unauthorized.
By the way, the chief law enforcement officer of the United States is the President. This means he has the legal authority through his deputies at the White House and Justice to see the FISA application. AG Jeff Sessions is recused from the Russia probe, which complicates his access because we don’t know the extent of his recusal. But Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein supervises the FBI when Mr. Sessions does not.
Mr. Rosenstein can and should order the FBI to meet Congress’s document requests including the FISA application. If he refuses, then Mr. Trump through White House counsel Donald McGahn can order him to do so. Mr. Rosenstein could choose to resign rather than comply, but he will not have the law on his side.
The easy way to solve this standoff is for executive officials, including the FBI, to do their duty and cooperate with the duly elected Members of Congress. If they don’t, sterner measures like a finding of contempt of Congress will be needed.