In the past several days; and in anticipation of an inspector general report/release tasked to look into the FISA processes of the prior administration; I have been assembling a file, a series of reminder questions, that peer into the heart of the 2015/2016 FISA surveillance. Today, is another reminder… [*ahem* Sidney Powell, please note]
Knowing what we know now, consider this long forgotten letter from Susan Rice’s lawyer Kathryn Ruemmler. Ms. Ruemmler is currently the global co-chairman of the Latham & Watkins white collar criminal defense practice; she formerly served as White House Counsel to President Obama. Ask yourself: how do these paragraphs reconcile?
[Feb 23, 2018] The memorandum to file drafted by Ambassador Rice memorialized an important national security discussion between President Obama and the FBI Director and the Deputy Attorney General. President Obama and his national security team were justifiably concerned about potential risks to the Nation’s security from sharing highly classified information about Russia with certain members of the Trump transition team, particularly Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
[…] While serving as National Security Advisor, Ambassador Rice was not briefed on the existence of any FBI investigation into allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia, and she later learned of the fact of this investigation from Director Comey’s subsequent public testimony.
Ambassador Rice was not informed of any FISA applications sought by the FBI in its investigation, and she only learned of them from press reports after leaving office. (link)
How could Ms. Rice be aware of a “national security compromise”, “particularly surrounding Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn” after a “briefing by the FBI”, if she was not briefed on the existence of an FBI investigation”?
See the problem?
Perhaps now it is worth remembering a certain paragraph within the Susan Rice letter that mysteriously dropped from the radar. When Senator Lindsey Graham first revealed the existence of the Susan Rice “memorandum to draft”, it was at the height of the Mueller investigation.
Likely as a consequence of that ongoing investigation, there was paragraph omitted from the public release of the Susan Rice memo. I am pretty darned sure that paragraph would answer the question I asked moments ago…. and that’s why, 700+ days later, that memo has never been unredacted and/or released.
So here’s the background and citations for everyone to refresh.
On February 8th, 2018, Senator Lindsey Graham first revealed an inauguration day 2017 email from Susan Rice to herself. That’s 700+ days ago, and yet we still don’t know what is behind the removed and classified paragraph.
Why is this being kept hidden?
At 12:15pm on January 20th, 2017, Obama’s outgoing National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote a memo-to-self. Many people have called this her “CYA” (cover your ass) memo, from the position that Susan Rice was protecting herself from consequences if the scheme against President Trump was discovered. Here’s the email:
On January 5, following a briefing by IC leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election, President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office. Vice President Biden and I were also present.
President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book“.
The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would, by the book.
From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.
[Redacted Classified Section of Unknown length]
The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.
Susan Rice ~ (pdf link)
This has the hallmarks of an Obama administration justification memo, written by an outgoing National Security Advisor Susan Rice to document why there have been multiple false and misleading statements given to incoming President Trump and his officials.
This is not a “CYA” memo per se’, this appears to be a justification memo for use AFTER the Trump-Russia collusion/conspiracy narrative collapsed; and if the impeachment effort failed.
The “By The Book” aspect refers to President Obama and Susan Rice being told by CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, that President Trump was the subject of an active counterintelligence investigation…. Yet, Rice denies ever knowing about Trump being under investigation? This contradiction cannot be reconciled.
So with the Mueller investigation concluded, why didn’t Senator Lindsey Graham release the full email content, including the classified and redacted aspects which remain hidden?
Susan Rice responded to Senator Graham’s letter through her attorney Kathryn Ruemmler. Again, Ms. Ruemmler is the global co-chairman of the Latham & Watkins white collar criminal defense practice; she formerly served as White House Counsel to Obama.
Ruemmler’s letter stated there was nothing unusual about Rice’s email memorializing a White House meeting two weeks after the meeting occurred, January 5, 2017. Additionally, Ms. Rice’s lawyer said her client was completely unaware of the FBI investigation into President Trump at the time she made the draft on January 20th.
In part, Ms. Ruemmler’s letter on behalf of Rice states:
The memorandum to file drafted by Ambassador Rice memorialized an important national security discussion between President Obama and the FBI Director and the Deputy Attorney General. President Obama and his national security team were justifiably concerned about potential risks to the Nation’s security from sharing highly classified information about Russia with certain members of the Trump transition team, particularly Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
In light of concerning communications between members of the Trump team and Russian officials, before and after the election, President Obama, on behalf of his national security team, appropriately sought the FBI and the Department of Justice’s guidance on this subject. In the conversation Ambassador Rice documented, there was no discussion of Christopher Steele or the Steele dossier, contrary to the suggestion in your letter.
Given the importance and sensitivity of the subject matter, and upon the advice of the White House Counsel’s Office, Ambassador Rice created a permanent record of the discussion. Ambassador Rice memorialized the discussion on January 20, because that was the first opportunity she had to do so, given the particularly intense responsibilities of the National Security Advisor during the remaining days of the Administration and transition.
Ambassador Rice memorialized the discussion in an email sent to herself during the morning of January 20, 2017. The time stamp reflected on the email is not accurate, as Ambassador Rice departed the White House shortly before noon on January 20.
While serving as National Security Advisor, Ambassador Rice was not briefed on the existence of any FBI investigation into allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia, and she later learned of the fact of this investigation from Director Comey’s subsequent public testimony.
Ambassador Rice was not informed of any FISA applications sought by the FBI in its investigation, and she only learned of them from press reports after leaving office.
Here’s the full letter:
Everything about this Susan Rice email, including the explanations from her lawyer Kathryn H. Ruemmler, is sketchy and suspicious. The sketchy extends to Senator Graham’s lack of action to declassify the redacted paragraph.
Nothing about this DC activity is passing the proverbial sniff test…
As we await the DOJ Inspector General report on FBI FISA authorized surveillance directed toward the Trump campaign and incoming Trump administration; which apparently is significant enough connected to the DOJ case against Flynn such that the prosecution has requested a delay in further proceedings until the IG report is released; I would remind everyone the biggest challenge for current U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is not necessarily investigating evidence we do not know, but rather navigating through the minefield of evidence a significant portion of the American public are well aware of.
Borrowing from a comment to emphasize the point therein:
We will know the FISA Report is a whitewash if Byrne and Butina are not addressed by disclosing whether Republican presidential candidates other than Trump were surveilled.
For Rogers to conduct his audit and for Collyer to conclude therefrom that 85% of the 11/1/15 through 4/18/16 searches were unauthorized, the database has to have some type of access/search history — whether who or what or when or all three — and for Collyer to conclude that the same person was searched multiple times suggests that its access/search history is qualitative, not just quantitative.
This should also be the case due to the need to regulate statutory two hop authority under Title 1. If you cannot audit access/search history through one or two hops, you cannot know whether the accessor/searcher stopped at two hops for enforcement purposes.
Under such circumstances, the database is subject to abuse beyond our wildest dreams, given it is left to the good faith of those accessing/searching to regulate themselves without any potential oversight.
If this is the case, then Horowitz should tell us (as should have Collyer before him). If it is not, then Horowitz should describe the access/search history of the FISA application for Carter Page, as well as the 3 renewals.
He should describe the extent of the electronic surveillance on Page — text, cell, email, internet, GPS, financial and travel — then identify all those surveilled on the first and second hops, including specifically those affiliated with the Trump campaign or family, including Candidate Trump, both primary and general, President-elect Trump, and President Trump.
The meeting between President-elect Trump and Admiral Rogers had to have communicated actual NSA database surveillance, whether authorized by the FISA court or not, for Trump to react by moving his transition team from Trump Tower and for cabinet members in the intelligence community to urge the ouster of Rogers to President Obama in response. We just don’t know how much Rogers told Trump.
As head of the NSA, Rogers was in a position to monitor database access and search history even outside the confines of the audit, so theoretically he could have monitored every access/search conducted under the Page FISA application and renewals, and provided continuous updates to President Trump through their expiration. But if the small group knew he had that capacity, knew he was watching them, then why seek the renewals in the first place?
To cut through the intrigue, Horowitz should disclose whether the audit revealed electronic FISA database surveillance on candidates other than Trump. If the access/search history for the subcontractors reveals surveillance of Cruz or Rubio, in the same timeframe as Byrne was running Butina through their campaigns, then that is clearly political espionage, using “Russian influence or collusion” as a pretext.
If all of these issues are observable by a poor lurker from what Sundance has been addressing for the last 3 years, Horowitz should be able to see them from his investigation. If he does not address them, we have a whitewash.