Last night news broke that U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras “has been recused” from the case overseeing the prosecution of General Mike Flynn. Details are vague. According to Reuters, both the judge and the Flynn legal team have yet to comment.
Additionally, there is no concrete answer as to whether the recusal was done by the judge himself or was forced upon him. While the reasoning is the key, the difference between the two options adds another layer of consequence within the rest of this outline. Reuters News Service puts it this way:
(Reuters) – The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge presiding over the criminal case for President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has been recused from handling the case, a court spokeswoman said on Thursday.
According to a court filing, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras, who presided over a Dec. 1 hearing where Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with Russia, will no longer handle the case.
Court spokeswoman Lisa Klem did not say why Contreras was recused, and added that the case was randomly reassigned. Reuters could not immediately learn the reason for the recusal, or reach Contreras. An attorney for Flynn declined to comment. (Link)
Obviously, the customary reason for recusal is when there is a conflict of interest between the case as assigned and the judge overseeing it. However, as you can clearly see, in this case it’s rather odd that if a conflict existed the judge would have even begun to oversee the case at the prior hearing. Why wait until six days after the first hearing?
As to the reasoning for the recusal, and stressed against the backdrop of the new information surrounding the investigative practices of the DOJ and FBI, this recusal is potentially both a game-changer and a massive dose of sunlight.
U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras is one of a very few FISA Court Judges.
Judge Contreras was in the position of approving FISA warrants at the time when FBI Deputy Head of Counterintelligence, FBI Agent Peter Strzok was assembling the underlying information for the FISA warrant used against candidate Trump.
There is a very real possibility that Judge Contreras signed off on the FISA warrant in October 2016 that initiated the counterintelligence wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign. That wiretapping and surveillance ultimately led to the questioning of Michael Flynn; the consequence of which brings Flynn to Contreras courtroom.
However, before getting to those ramifications it is important to step back for a moment and review the former March 20th, 2017, congressional testimony of FBI Director James Comey.
We have drawn attention to this testimony frequently, because it is one of the few times when congress has pinned Comey down and made him commit to specifics. In fact, for an otherwise innocuous congressional hearing, this specific segment has been viewed over 400,000 times. When we understand the importance of the content – we accept that perhaps even James Comey’s own lawyers have watched it repeatedly.
The first three minutes of this video are what is important. As you watch this testimony remember to overlay what you know now against the James Comey statements from nine months ago.
I would particularly draw your attention to the timeline as Comey describes (counterintelligence investigation beginning in July 2016); and also to pay attention to the person Comey assigns responsibility for keeping congress out of the loop on oversight. Comey points to the DOJ’s National Security Division Head who is in charge of the counterintelligence operations, Bill Priestap. However, Comey doesn’t use Priestap’s name:
…”it’s usually the decision of the head of our counterintelligence division”.
Everything happens in the first THREE MINUTES:
It’s obvious James Comey was not anticipating that line of questioning. His discomfort and obfuscation pours out within his words and body language. However, from that testimony we gain insight which we can add to the latest information.
We know the DNC and Clinton Campaign commissioned opposition research in April of 2016 through Fusion GPS, who sub-contracted Christopher Steele. Between April and July of 2016 the retired MI6 agent put together opposition research on Donald Trump centered around a claimed network of dubious and sketchy Russian contacts.
Notice the FBI counterintelligence operation began in July 2016. That directly and specifically lines up with the recent discoveries surrounding Deputy Head of Counterintelligence, FBI Agent Peter Strzok and the new information about Agent Strzok having direct contact with Christopher Steele, the author for the “Russian Dossier”.
Additionally, the July 2016 time-frame lines up with candidate Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination, and also the first application for a wiretapping and surveillance warrant to the FISA court which was unusually denied by a FISA judge.
Very few FISA requests are ever denied. Actually, only like 1 out of 100 are denied. So for a FISA request to be denied, there had to be a really compelling reason to require more than the traditional amount of FBI/DOJ due diligence within the request.
If you consider that monitoring associates within a presidential campaign would certainly be one of those types of requests which would lend a judge GREAT pause, well, perhaps the denial gains perspective. Certainly any FISA judge would easily understand the potential ramifications of the U.S. government conducting surveillance on a presidential campaign.
However, in October 2016 the second FISA request was granted.
What else happened in October of 2016?
According to media reports in October of 2016 the full and completed Russian Dossier was being heavily shopped by Fusion GPS with payments toward journalists. Additionally, in October 2016, according to yesterday’s headlines: DOJ Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohr was outed and demoted because he too had conversations with Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS etc.
So in the month where a FISA Judge granted the warrant for wiretapping and surveillance, the FBI (via Agent Strzok), and DOJ (via Deputy AG Bruce Ohr), were both in contact with Russian Dossier author Christopher Steele.
October 2016 is EXACTLY when The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out months ago: “No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.” (link)
Are you seeing how the dots connect?
June/July 2016 a FISA request is denied. This is simultaneous to FBI agent Strzok initial contact with Christopher Steele and the preliminary draft of the dossier.
October 2016 a FISA request approved. This is simultaneous to agent Strzok and Assoc. Deputy AG Bruce G Ohr in contact with Christopher Steele and the full dossier.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud; and that warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of General Flynn was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras – who would now be judge in Flynn’s case.
Is this the recusal reason?
Additionally, was that “Dossier” part of the collective intelligence gathering that led to the ridiculous (January 2017) “Russian Malicious Cyber Activity – Joint Analysis Report“? The report that attempted to give justification for the December 29th Russian sanctions, and made famous by the media falsely claiming 17 agencies agreed on the content.
Back to the timeline we go, and remember NSA head Admiral Mike Rogers was the one Intelligence Community official without *confidence* in the “Joint Analysis Report”.
On Tuesday November 8th, 2016 the election was held. Results announced Wednesday November 9th, 2016.
On Thursday November 17th, 2016, NSA Director Mike Rogers traveled to New York and met with President-Elect Donald Trump.
The next day, Friday November 18th, President Trump moved the transition team from Trump Tower to his golf course in New Jersey.
AND… On Friday November 18th The Washington Post reported on a recommendation from “October” that Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position:
[…] In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower. (link)
Apparently, Mike Rogers never told his boss, James Clapper (or anyone else) he was going to see the president-elect. The recommendation to fire Mike Rogers (in October) was made by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and ODNI James Clapper “according to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter.” October?
Is it entirely possible that NSA Director Mike Rogers, having seen the full scope of the intelligence, might have expressed reservations about the October FISA application content, and as a consequence positioned himself as a threat to the group plans?
So here we are in December of 2017. The Office of the Inspector General is currently working from the inside to investigate the politicization of the FBI and DOJ; and the IG is beginning to identify specific people: FBI Agent Strzok and DOJ Deputy AG Bruce G Ohr.
Meanwhile the oversight committees (Judiciary, Intelligence) are working from the outside of the corrupt organizations to spotlight the consequences from those identified people and highlight specific actionable behavior.
It’s all right there in front of everyone:
FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s former boss was Bill Priestap, FBI Asst. Director in charge of Counterintelligence. [The same Bill Priestap James Comey stated was the person who decided not to tell congressional oversight of the investigation] Bill Priestap’s boss was FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Directly above McCabe in the chain-of-command was FBI Director James Comey.
Inside the DOJ: Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohr’s former boss was Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Sally Yates boss was Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
There’s the identified usurpers, and the political plan they utilized, with a common sense outline clear as day. Along with obvious official assistance from all of the personal staff under each official.
Back to the Flynn Case: (note the players)
•Friday January 20th – Inauguration
•TuesdayJanuary 24th – Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was interviewed at the WH by the FBI (one of the interviewers was FBI Agent Peter Strzok).
•WednesdayJanuary 25th – The Department of Justice received a detailed readout from the FBI agents who had interviewed Flynn. Sally Yates said she felt “it was important to get this information to the White House as quickly as possible.”
•ThursdayJanuary 26th – (morning) Yates called White House Counsel Don McGahn first thing that morning to tell him she had “a very sensitive matter” that had to be discussed face to face. McGahn agreed to meet with Yates later that afternoon.
•Thursday January 26th – (afternoon) Sally Yates traveled to the White House along with a senior member of the DOJ’s National Security Division, Bill Priestap, who was overseeing the matter. This was Yates’ first meeting with McGahn in his office, which also acts as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).
Yates said she began their meeting by laying out the media accounts and media statements made by Vice President Mike Pence and other high-ranking White House officials about General Flynn’s activity “that we knew not to be the truth.”
According to Sally Yates testimony, she and Bill Priestap reportedly presented all the information to McGahn so the White House could take action that they deemed appropriate. When asked by McGahn if Flynn should be fired, Yates answered, “that really wasn’t our call.”
Yates also said her decision to notify the White House counsel had been discussed “at great length.” According to her testimony: “Certainly leading up to our notification on the 26th, it was a topic of a whole lot of discussion in DOJ and with other members of the intel community.”
•Friday January 27th – (morning) White House Counsel Don McGahn called Yates in the morning and asked if she could come back to his office.
•Friday January 27th – (late afternoon) According to her testimony, Sally Yates returned to the White House late that afternoon. One of McGahn’s topics discussed was whether Flynn could be prosecuted for his conduct.
Specifically, according to Yates, one of the questions McGahn asked Yates was, “Why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another?” She explained that it “was a whole lot more than that,” and reviewed the same issues outlined the prior day.
McGahn expressed his concern that taking action might interfere with the FBI investigation of Flynn, and Yates said it wouldn’t. “It wouldn’t really be fair of us to tell you this and then expect you to sit on your hands,” Yates had told McGahn.
McGahn asked if he could look at the underlying evidence of Flynn’s conduct, and she said they would work with the FBI over the weekend and “get back with him on Monday morning.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged Flynn (full pdf below) with falsely telling FBI agents that he did not ask the ambassador “to refrain from escalating the situation” in response to the sanctions.
According to the plea, while being questioned by FBI agents on January 24, 2017, Flynn also lied when he claimed he could not recall a subsequent conversation with Kislyak, in which the ambassador told Flynn that the Putin regime had “chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of [Flynn’s] request.”
Furthermore, a week before the sanctions were imposed, Flynn had also spoken to Kislyak, asking the ambassador to delay or defeat a vote on a pending United Nations resolution. The criminal information charges that Flynn lied to the FBI by denying both that he’d made this request and that he’d spoken afterward with Kislyak about Russia’s response to it.
There was nothing wrong with the incoming national-security adviser’s having meetings with foreign counterparts or discussing such matters as the sanctions in those meetings. However, lying to the FBI is the process crime that has led to Flynn’s admissions herein:
- The Clinton Campaign was the predicate for the Steele Dossier.
- The Steele Dossier was the predicate for the FISA Warrants (Agent Strzok).
- The FISA Warrants were the predicate for wiretapping and surveillance.
- The wiretapping/surveillance was the predicate for the Trump team unmasking.
- The unmasking/surveillance was the predicate for Robert Mueller’s SC charges against National security Adviser Michael Flynn.