Earlier today Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press briefing to announce the opioid task force (video below). During the Q&A segment of the presser, Fox News Catherine Herridge asked AG Sessions if the FISA court abuses outlined by Chairman Devin Nunes, Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Chairman Chuck Grassley would be investigated by the DOJ.
Attorney General Sessions affirms the FISA court abuse by the DOJ and FBI will indeed be investigated and prosecuted and directed attention to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. [watch at 37:57 of video – prompted]
However, this statement by Jeff Sessions IS NOT NEWS. This is exactly what those who have followed closely will note has been the direction since mid-year 2017. As AG Sessions affirms, IG Horowitz is NOT limited in scope. Horowitz is investigating *all* avenues of politicization within the DOJ and FBI and abuse therein; this includes FISA abuse.
Secondly, AG Sessions has previously stated his intention to get the DOJ back to the historic position of *not* discussing ongoing investigations. As such the response from General Sessions today is entirely in line with the two principles: 1) the IG is already investigating the FISA abuse as part of the original politicization investigation; and 2) that the DOJ supports that investigative path.
Inspector General Horowitz is already investigating the FISA abuse.
January 4th, 2018, an agreement was finally made between House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and DOJ Asst. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for complete disclosure of all unredacted documents AND a list of witnesses who Nunes wanted the HPSCI to question.
Included in those names was: FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages during an affair and previously worked on the special counsel’s Russia probe; FBI general counsel James Baker, who was reassigned; FBI head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap, whom ex-FBI boss James Comey testified made the decision not to brief Congress about the Russia case during last year’s election; and Bruce Ohr, a DOJ official reassigned after concealing meetings with figures involved in the dossier.
The January 4th agreement between Devin Nunes and Rod Rosenstein was made after a great deal of back-and-forth. Chairman Nunes then documented the agreement in a letter.
On January 8th, Bruce Ohr was demoted for the second time. [AND DOJ officials scheduled Bruce Ohr to be available to Devin Nunes on January 17th]
On January 9th, the DOJ provided the unredacted DOJ/FBI documents requested to Chairman Nunes; the documents the DOJ produced surrounded the Clinton-Steele Dossier and the FISA Title-1 application. The documents were assigned to a SCIF in the basement of the House. Those documents become the basis for Chairman Nunes to outline his memo; essentially a declassification request to the White House written by Trey Gowdy.
As a result of the agreement between Rod Rosenstein and Devin Nunes, one member from each side of the HPSCI aisle (one Democrat and one Republican) was permitted to review the original FISA application documents which included the Clinton-Steele dossier use therein.
Trey Gowdy and Adam Schiff were the two Intel committee members who reviewed. (Remember, this is January 9th, 2018) [Only Gowdy, Schiff, Ratcliffe and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte reviewed the original FISA documents]
A week later, January 16th, 2018, Chairman Nunes postponed the witness interview with DOJ official Bruce Ohr scheduled for the next day, January 17th.
Instead, on January 18th, 2018, the HPSCI voted to allow all members of the House to review the Nunes-Gowdy Memo created after the DOJ provided the documents (January 9th). [January 18th THROUGH February 2nd was #ReleaseTheMemo]
Now remember, throughout this time none of those prior agreed-upon FIVE witnesses (Strzok, Page, Priestap, Baker, Ohr) have been interviewed. Everyone’s attention shifted from witness testimony to the Memo; and as Democrat Eric Swalwell stated, no witness was interviewed. Period. [<- key point].
So to summarize so far: during January all the DOJ documents arrived, the HPSCI (Nunes) memo was written, released, declassified and released to the public on February 2nd, 2018 – but no witnesses testified. [Nunes Memo – Link]
So the question becomes:
How does the exact testimony (including quotes) of Bruce Ohr, and Bill Priestap become part of the Nunes Memo if neither Bruce Ohr or Bill Priestap was ever interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee?
Who is doing the interrogations of Bill Priestap and Bruce Ohr?
It’s not the HPSCI. It’s not the House Judiciary Committee and it’s not the Senate (Chuck Grassley). [Remember Grassley is relying on responsive FD-302’s provided by the FBI.]
See where this is going?
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has interviewed these witnesses and extracted testimony. This explains why Devin Nunes changed his approach after discussion with AAG Rod Rosenstein and was no longer in a hurry to interview the FIVE? (Strzok, Page, Ohr, Baker and Priestap).
Let me remind everyone that each of the aforementioned names is still within the system. Unlike Mike Kortan, David Laufman, Sally Yates, James Rybicki or Andrew McCabe, none of the five (Strzok, Page, Ohr, Baker, Priestap) have been removed. Peter Strzok is in FBI HR; Lisa Page is doing something; Bruce Ohr and James Baker are holding down chairs somewhere; and Bill Priestap is still Asst. FBI Director in charge of counterintelligence.
It doesn’t go unnoticed the media are transparently not following up on Peter, Lisa, Bruce Jim or Bill. No satellite trucks in front of their houses etc.; no pounding on their doors for comment etc. Nothing.
Further, ask yourself why Inspector General Michael Horowitz (or someone thereabouts) began to advance upon the entire ‘Trump operation’ with releases of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page text messages? Why them? Surely, other collaborative communication was also captured, yet we only heard of Page and Strzok. Why?
The text message release was strategic. It was intended to substantiate the entire enterprise, put the ‘small group on notice’ and flush out the co-conspirators. The downstream exits of Kortan, Laufman, Rybicki, McCabe et al are evidence therein.
Additionally, the OIG (Horowitz) would want to keep the testimony of Page, Strzok, Ohr, Baker and Priestap away from the Democrat politicians, well known leakers, within the House Intelligence Committee (ie. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff) until he was certain their usefulness as witnesses was exhausted.
The reason for this is transparently simple. The OIG is a division inside the Department of Justice. During an internal investigation if the IG becomes aware of unlawful activity he/she is obligated to inform the AG (Sessions) or AAG (Rosenstein). He can’t ignore it and he cannot delay notification of it. Unlawful activity must be reported.
The IG does not have legal or prosecutorial authority – the IG must immediately refer unlawful activity to the proper authority; essentially to his boss. A DOJ prosecutor is then assigned to work with the IG and essentially creates a parallel investigation focused only on the law-breaking part. [That prosecutor could, likely would, then begin a Grand Jury proceeding; no-one outside the AG, AAG, and that prosecutor’s office would know.]
The prior testimony/statements to the IG by the fab-five would explain why AAG Rod Rosenstein was negotiating with Devin Nunes, and why Nunes came away from those negotiations with wind in his investigative sails.
The DOJ (Rod Rosenstein) needs to wall-off the politics (Devin Nunes) from the ongoing investigation (DOJ-OIG-Prosecutor) to preserve the integrity of his advancing and assembling case (including witness testimony). Understanding this, after a review of the FISA documents – Nunes dropped/postponed his demand for immediate testimony by the fab-five to the HPSCI. [A record is already established]
As a person familiar with such specific investigative measures recently shared:
“They are sat down, told to not do anything, say anything or discuss anything UNTIL they get an attorney. At which time, the attorney is handed a letter from the investigating unit. That letter says in essence, this is how screwed you are. If you want to be less screwed you will sign this letter of cooperation and assist us. When we don’t need you, you sit there. When we do we will call you and you will provide what we need. Any deviation from this agreement lands you in jail for the full term.”
Additionally regarding Bruce and Nellie Ohr:
“The Republican memo states they turned over all their work and testified to someone that Bruce Ohr met with Christopher Steele and Steele was saying he didn’t want Trump in office. They didn’t testify to a Congressional committee, so it had to be the IG.”
All of the news and information coming forward, including the withdrawal of the request for the Democrat memo, aligns with a very specific fact pattern. Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, James Baker, Bill Priestap, Bruce Ohr and likely Nellie Ohr, have cut some kind of deal with the IG for process leniency in exchange for cooperation.
The Five have provided the IG and the DOJ with sworn statements and testimony which is highlighted in investigative communication between the DOJ and Chairman Nunes; and we see snippets surfacing in the Nunes memo.
That perspective explains everything seen and not seen.
It is likely the final investigative summary from the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General (DOJ-OIG), Michael Horowitz, is going to be very encompassing: