Something Happened In A Classified Comey Briefing That Has Democrats Fuming
Dems said they were “disappointed” and “outraged.”
01/13/2017 02:47 pm ET | Updated 21 minutes ago
JOSHUA ROBERTS / REUTERS
FBI Director James Comey gave lawmakers a classified briefing Friday on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. President-elect Donald Trump accepted in a press conference this week that Moscow could have interfered, saying “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia.”
WASHINGTON ― Congressional Democrats raged against FBI Director James Comey on Friday after he and other intelligence agency chiefs provided legislators with a classified briefing on Russia’s involvement in last year’s presidential election.
Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) told The Hill that he lost confidence in Comey, citing the last 15 minutes of the briefing as a tipping point but providing no details on what the FBI head or other intelligence officials said.
“I’m disappointed, outraged — many of us are right now,” Walz told The Hill immediately following the briefing.
That anger had yet to subside by Friday afternoon.
“What I heard in the briefing made me not trust him, that’s all,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) told reporters.
Gallego added that he went into the meeting with an open mind, but left with a different outlook. “I have more displeasure now than ever,” he said.
One Democrat, speaking on condition of anonymity about the classified briefing, confirmed that Democrats became enraged in the final minutes.
“People are upset with him,” the lawmaker said. “There were very pointed questions asked of him.”
Comey upset both Democrats and Republicans by declining to comment on whether his agency is investigating reported ties between President-elect Donald Trump and the Russian government, sources inside the briefing told the Guardian. Democrats want Comey to look into the allegations, which the intelligence community has not proved but has flagged as important enough to share with Trump and President Barack Obama.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he still thinks Comey is a good man, but is now questioning whether he is fit to run the FBI.
“I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Cummings told reporters Friday. “Today, I must tell you, when I left the hearing I felt a great sense of disappointment.”
What I heard in the briefing made me not trust him, that’s all.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.)
All Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) would say about the meeting was that Comey “has no credibility.”
Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) wouldn’t get into the details about what was discussed in the classified meeting, but said many questions remain unanswered.
“It’s hard to comment on these meetings. So much of this whole thing has been handled badly,” he said. “I’m interested to see whether any information comes out about any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. I’m hoping at some point we get a final answer on that.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) called the briefing “one of the most substantial” meetings he has ever attended.
“[It] had the interest of everyone in that room,” Meeks told HuffPost. “It gave me a lot to think about.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, confronted Comey during the briefing, according to The Hill. One Democrat even yelled at Comey, shouting, “You let us down,” an attendee told The Hill. Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign amid the hacking scandal during the 2016 campaign.
In a statement released Friday night, Wasserman Schutlz wouldn’t comment on what members learned in the classified briefing, but said Comey needs to start answering outstanding questions.
“The FBI Director must clarify for the American people, the agency’s policies for investigating and alerting those who are hacked by foreign governments,” she said. “There are further questions that must be answered by Director Comey, who must provide more clarity on this and other questions that have arisen surrounding the FBI’s handling of Russian hacking during the 2016 election cycle.”
House Democrats held a caucus meeting about an hour after the classified briefing. In it, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she understood why her caucus is frustrated with Comey’s refusal to say whether his agency is looking into alleged Trump-Russia ties, a Pelosi spokesman said. Pelosi still respects Comey, but she’s concerned that he’s continued to evade questions on the issue, the spokesman added.
Now that the intelligence community has concluded Russia intervened in the election to boost Trump, Democrats and some Republicans have demanded new sanctions on Moscow and asked intelligence agencies to release more information about Russian activities to the public.
Legislators seeking to hold Russia accountable were also disappointed earlier this week, when Comey refused during a public hearing to comment on investigating connections between the president-elect and Russia. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) noted that Comey had publicly commented on investigations related to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. On Friday, the Guardian reported, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) suggested that the FBI had adopted a double standard.
The Justice Department’s inspector general is planning to review the steps taken by the FBI and DOJ during the investigation into Clinton’s private email server use while secretary of state. The Clinton campaign and many of its supporters believe Comey had a major impact on the race by suggesting just before Election Day that new evidence could link Clinton to criminal activity, despite previously concluding an investigation into her with no charge.
Pressure from members of Congress helped prompt the DOJ review. Cummings said Friday that the investigation gives him hope.
“Of all the organizations that we have, the FBI is one that we must have the ultimate trust in,” he said. “This investigation by the IG, I don’t know what it will reveal, but I think we need to go through that process because if we’re not careful, we will reach a crisis of illegitimacy with regard to the very fabric of our country, and when I say the fabric I’m talking about organizations like the CIA, FBI and others.”
Republicans remain supportive of the FBI, The Hill reported. And the party ― which controls both the House and the Senate ― has successfully quashed Democratic efforts to bring more attention to the issue by, for instance, establishing a select committee to investigate it.
Friday’s briefing to House members came after a Thursday briefing to senators that did not immediately inspire similar reactions.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dem ... 81d0eab299
Gee, I’m Starting to Think the Obama DOJ Just Might Be Politicized
by Andrew C. McCarthy January 14, 2017
They took extraordinary measures in a shaky case involving Trump but refused to help FBI investigations involving Hillary and the DNC.
In the heat of the fall campaign, the commentariat got its knickers twisted over Donald Trump’s vow that, if elected, he’d have his Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, his political rival. How remarkable, then, that the media is so indifferent to the revelation that, at the very same time, the Obama Justice Department was actively conducting an investigation of Trump.
As I recounted in Wednesday’s column, the FBI reportedly had suspicions that Trump, or at least members of his “team,” might be violating financial and banking laws. Upon poking around, the Bureau determined there was no “nefarious purpose” in the connection of a server in Trump Tower to at least one bank.
Yet the case was not dropped upon the finding of no criminality. Instead, apparently because the bank or banks involved were Russian, the matter was pursued as a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Indeed, the investigation may well be ongoing.
Reporting indicates that surveillance warrants were sought from the FISA court in June and October 2016. The first one is said to have “named” Trump himself (we don’t know if that means the government was targeting Trump for surveillance, or if his name was merely mentioned in the FISA application). That application was apparently so lacking that the FISA court refused to authorize it, even though that court is generally quite accommodating of government requests to conduct secret searches and eavesdropping. The court is reported to have granted a narrower application in October — one that appears not to have named Trump. The court’s proceedings are secret, so this reporting cannot be confirmed.
I want to draw attention to a fact I did not dwell on in Wednesday’s column: The FBI is not authorized to seek a national-security surveillance warrant from the FISA court — just as it is not authorized to seek such a warrant from a U.S. district court in an ordinary criminal case. Only the Justice Department is permitted to do that. The FBI could not have sought FISA warrants against Trump without the Obama Justice Department’s approval and assistance.
Interesting contrast, isn’t it?
Throughout the criminal investigations of Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information, the Obama Justice Department would not use the grand jury or help the FBI obtain search or surveillance warrants. As a result, the FBI had no power to compel the production of evidence. Suspects had to be cajoled into cooperating. The only thing the Justice Department was willing to do was grant highly unusual immunity deals, ensuring that suspects could not be prosecuted if they disclosed incriminating evidence.
And then there was the Clinton Foundation corruption investigation. Recall that the Bureau’s investigators, in seeking to build their case, sought access to the e-mails the FBI had managed to acquire in the Clinton e-mails caper. But access was denied by the Obama Justice Department (specifically, by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York — the office Loretta Lynch led before being elevated to attorney general).
And now we learn that, despite what the intelligence community assures us were grave concerns about Russia’s role in hacking operations against the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, the FBI never obtained access to the physical servers and devices believed to have been hacked.
According to FBI director James Comey’s congressional testimony this week, the FBI made repeated requests for access (presumably to the DNC and the Clinton campaign), but was rebuffed.
The FBI had no legal power to compel the production of evidence from the DNC or Podesta; for that, they needed the Obama Justice Department.
Bear in mind: The joint assessment released by the FBI, CIA, and NSA last week describes the penetration of the Democratic victims’ communications as “cyber-espionage” — an extremely serious offense with obvious national-security implications. Now we learn, however, that in forming that explosive conclusion, our intelligence agencies were content to rely on an examination by an unidentified “private company.”
When pressed by the Senate Intelligence Committee about why the FBI was denied access to the DNC’s servers and Podesta’s device, Comey reportedly said he did not know.
That sounds like a dodge coming from someone as generally well-informed as the director. Understand, though, that the question was more politically fraught than readers not versed in criminal procedure may appreciate. In essence, he was being asked to explain why the Obama Justice Department did not help the FBI.
It comes back to the same issue that plagued the Clinton investigation: The FBI had no legal power to compel the production of evidence from the DNC or Podesta; for that, they needed the Obama Justice Department.
Only the Justice Department has the power to open a grand-jury investigation. That would have enabled the FBI, by using grand-jury subpoenas, to demand access to the devices in order to do its own examination. Or, if exigent circumstances dictated seizing evidence rather than asking for its production, the FBI would have needed the Justice Department’s assistance to compose a search-warrant application and present it to a U.S. district judge for approval.
Just as in the Clinton e-mails investigation, the Justice Department was either AWOL or functioning as counsel for the Democrats — not for the United States.
If the Justice Department refuses to assist the FBI, the FBI is in no position to force witnesses in possession of vital evidence to surrender it. Agents are reduced to pleading with those witnesses for voluntary cooperation. If they refuse — and if the Democrat-led Justice Department declines to force the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic presidential campaign to produce evidence — then the FBI has no choice but to accept what the FBI would never tolerate in a normal case: analysis by a private, Democrat-retained company rather than the FBI’s legendary forensics lab.
On the other hand, if the Justice Department decides a case against Republicans is worth pursuing aggressively, even the absence of evidence of a crime is no obstacle — they just go the FISA court, and they keep going until they get the answer they like.
So, in a nutshell: A vague and apparently unsubstantiated suspicion of criminality connected to the Republican presidential candidate, based on potential involvement of Russia, prompts the Obama Justice Department to continue investigating under FISA and to approach the court twice — the latter time, very shortly before Election Day — for surveillance warrants.
In stark contrast, concrete and substantiated suspicions of wrongdoing by the Democratic presidential candidate prompt a refusal by the Obama Justice Department to assist the FBI investigation (except to immunize the wrongdoers). Moreover, despite what the intelligence community maintains is confirmed evidence of Russian cyberespionage, the Obama Justice Department — far from seeking court warrants — refuses to compel production of Democratic communication devices.
You’d almost think the Obama Justice Department makes enforcement decisions based on partisan politics.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/4 ... -political
Andrew McCarthy's Defense of McCarthyism
ADAM SERWERAUG. 9, 2012 5:27 PM
Andrew C. McCarthy speaks at the National Press Club on Wednesday. Adam Serwer
Leading Republicans, including House Majority Leader John Boehner and Sen. John McCain, have rejected Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) and several of her colleagues' claims that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
So with their support crumbling, the Shariah-panic caucus brought out one of their big guns to defend Bachmann's crusade. Andrew C. McCarthy, a National Review columnist and former federal terrorism prosecutor, headlined a Center for Security Policy event in Washington on Wednesday in which he accused the Obama administration of Islamist sympathies. "There is something terribly wrong if members of Congress were not asking questions about Islamist influence in our government," McCarthy told the largely sympathetic audience at the National Press Club. "Islamophobia is a term that was manufactured by the Muslim Brotherhood precisely for the purpose of browbeating people into silence about the activities and threat posed by Islamic supremacism."
This isn't the first time McCarthy has used the credibility he's earned as a former prosecutor to lend legitimacy to nutty accusations. In September of 2009, McCarthy alleged that "terrorist sympathizers" had "assumed positions throughout the Obama administration." By "terrorist sympathizers," McCarthy meant Obama administration lawyers who had represented Gitmo detainees or challenged Bush-era war on terror policies the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. Many of these lawyers went on to defend policies like targeted killing and indefinite detention, but to McCarthy, they were all foot soldiers in a "Grand Jihad,"—the title of a book in which he argues that the Muslim Brotherhood and the American left have teamed up to destroy America. "What do health care reform and 'the Grand Jihad' have in common?" National Review's Kathryn Jean-Lopez asked McCarthy in a 2010 interview. "They both enjoy support of Islam and the left," McCarthy replied. "In this context, by 'Islam,' I mean the Islamist movement." Great Islamists in history: Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, and Ted Kennedy.
McCarthy seemed eager to disassociate himself from his questionable allies and theories at Wednesday's event. When Faith in Public Life blogger Nick Sementelli asked McCarthy whether he agreed with his benefactor, Center for Security Policy head Frank Gaffney, that Obama "might still be a Muslim" and was not born in the United States, McCarthy demurred, calling birtherism "nutty" instead of repeating the strident defenses of birthers that appear in his National Review writings. Sadly, Sementelli didn't ask about whether McCarthy still thinks former Weather Underground member William Ayers wrote Obama's autobiography. (Here's a link to a C-Span video of the event.)
Among the most awkward moments of the press event, however, was when I brought up McCarthy's suggestion that Obama would base his decisions about whether to attack Al Qaeda in part on whether the Muslim Brotherhood might still have "use" for Osama bin Laden and his terrorist group. In 2010, McCarthy told Lopez that "the Brotherhood and the Saudis will sing no sad songs if the US kills bin Laden or crushes Al Qaeda," and that "Obama knows the Islamists he wants to engage have decided Al Qaeda is expendable. He won't lose any ground with them by smashing Al Qaeda." I confronted McCarthy about this statement on Wednesday, and seeking to make his accusations against Abedin credible, he all but denied he said it. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank was there, too, and in a column Thursday he summarized the relatively thin gruel McCarthy served up. Here's Milbank describing McCarthy's response to my question:
The prosecutor’s case was crumbling. Moments later, he likened Egypt's new government to Hitler's Germany. He had difficulty when Mother Jones reporter Adam Serwer challenged him to explain how Obama was advancing sharia at the same time he was supporting same-sex marriage. Serwer also asked McCarthy about his 2010 suggestion that Obama was free to kill Osama bin Laden because "the Islamists [Obama] wants to engage have decided al-Qaeda is expendable" and counter to their peaceful takeover of American institutions.
Replied McCarthy: "I'm a whack job, I guess."
If he says so.
As for the same-sex marriage thing, McCarthy responded, "To say that Obama has Islamist sympathies, is not the same as saying he's an Islamist, or that he wants to impose Shariah…There are many historical instances of leftists and Islamists working together." Let's assume this sounds sensible instead of dumb (Apparently Obama is an "Islamist sympathizer," but that doesn't mean he actually sympathizes with the Islamist cause. It's just that they share similar goals, like universal health care coverage). This is the cover of one of McCarthy's latest books:
http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08 ... ccarthyism
ALL POSTS ABOUT ANDREW MCCARTHY
SEPTEMBER 9, 2016 11:46 AM
Andy McCarthy Wants Congress To Preemptively Impeach Clinton
JUNE 20, 2016 12:24 PM
Andrew McCarthy: Orlando Transcripts Redacted Because ‘The Government Is Becoming Sharia-Adherent’
MARCH 22, 2016 1:39 PM
Cruz’s Call To ‘Patrol And Secure Muslim Neighborhoods’ Echoes Demands Of Extremist Advisers
DECEMBER 9, 2015 5:56 PM
Andrew McCarthy Defends Trump, Says Islam Not A Religion
SEPTEMBER 22, 2015 4:40 PM
Center For Security Policy Takes Boeing Money, Blasts Boeing For Iran Ties
NOVEMBER 3, 2014 2:18 PM
Rick Perry, Ron Johnson And Jeff Sessions To Join Anti-Muslim Activists At Florida Beach Resort Confab
JANUARY 23, 2013 2:24 PM
Gaffney & McCarthy: Obama ‘Contemptuous’ of, ‘Taking Out a Contract On’ Constitution
JANUARY 16, 2013 4:50 PM
Gaffney: ‘People For the Islamist Way’ Advancing ‘Red-Green Axis’
AUGUST 8, 2012 2:25 PM
Andy McCarthy Describes Frank Gaffney’s Claims as ‘Nutty,’ Then Denies Doing So
AUGUST 3, 2012 12:05 PM
Bachmann’s Witch Hunt wins Support from McCarthy-Admiring, Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorist
by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY March 26, 2016 4:00 AM @ANDREWCMCCARTHY Surveillance in Muslim communities is indispensable for defeating terrorism.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/4 ... rveillance
National Review interviews Andrew C. McCarthy
Posted on June 17, 2010 by Bob Pitt
Although the task of monitoring Islamophobia can sometimes be a depressing experience, because of the sheer volume of anti-Muslim bigotry, it does afford the occasional moment of light relief. I couldn’t help laughing aloud at the NRO interview with Andrew C. MCarthy. The first question is: “What do health-care reform and ‘the Grand Jihad’ have in common?” To which McCarthy replies: “They both enjoy the support of Islam and the Left.”
http://www.islamophobiawatch.co.uk/nati ... -mccarthy/
fruhmenschen » Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:22 am wrote:see partial list of Presidents elected
by FBI Directors
http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopi ... 20&t=44694
Why Republicans Lose the Narrative Battle:
by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY January 15, 2017 4:00 AM @ANDREWCMCCARTHY Unlock Free Digital Access To delegitimize Trump’s victory, the Left is setting the parameters of the controversy and the terms by which it will be discussed. It is so frustrating to observe news coverage of Thursday’s announcement that the Justice Department’s inspector general will review the conduct of FBI and Justice Department officials tangential to — but, as I’ve explained, not at the core of — the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal. As usual, the Left understands exactly what they are choreographing, beginning with Friday’s screaming New York Times page-one headline that “Comey” is the subject of a new Justice Department probe. As always, the Left is setting the parameters of the controversy and the terms by which it will be discussed. And as night follows day, Republicans are at sea, not knowing quite what is being investigated. Precisely because of the way Democrats have teed things up, Republicans have been hoodwinked into thinking that they must figure out where to come down on FBI director James Comey’s rollercoaster announcements during the campaign stretch run. In other words: The Democrats are more than halfway home. Republicans figure nothing important has really happened yet. The Left knows it has already set the table. By the time the GOP grasps what’s happening, the public’s understanding of the controversy will be set in stone. Let me try, again, to help. Please understand: The charade now underway has nothing to do with determining whether Justice Department protocols were violated by the statements of FBI and Justice Department officials who revealed non-public investigative information — in Comey’s case, to the public at large. That’s the pretext for convening something that can be called a “Justice Department investigation” (which sounds like we’re looking to identify a culprit) by the inspector general (which sounds like the investigation must be non-partisan, even though the IG is an Obama appointee who works with, although often not under the supervision of, Obama’s chosen attorney general). To the contrary, what is going on here is a battle, which Democrats are hell-bent on winning, between two competing narratives. I use the term “narratives” advisedly. What is going on is not about a search for truth, or getting to the bottom of a complex set of facts and regulations. The real agenda here is to engrave a story on the 2016 presidential election. That story will become the conventional wisdom about the legitimacy of the Trump presidency (or as the Left is determined to have you see it, the lack of legitimacy). Now that the election is lost, the Democrats see no downside in portraying the Clinton e-mails investigation as its dispositive event — even though they told us during the campaign (which they expected to win and are still shocked that they lost) that the significance of the e-mails had been overblown, and that Director Comey had shown great integrity in clearing Mrs. Clinton of criminal culpability. If the e-mail investigation is seen as the make-or-break episode in the campaign, then there are two possible narratives: (1) Director Comey cost Mrs. Clinton the election by making public statements about the investigation that were in violation of Justice Department guidelines, including — critically — a statement just eleven days before the election that appeared to nullify his earlier exculpatory statements, and that could only have misled voters into believing that the FBI had discovered damning evidence against Clinton; or (2) The Obama Justice Department conducted a sham investigation to ensure that Clinton, though patently guilty of serious national-security crimes, would not be charged — a scheme that included: refusing to open a grand-jury investigation; denying the FBI the ability to compel the production of critical evidence; granting immunity to any suspect who appeared guilty and might otherwise have been incentivized to cooperate against Clinton; imposing ludicrous restrictions on the FBI’s interviews of witnesses and examination of physical evidence; permitting subjects of the investigation who had received immunity agreements to appear as counsel for the main subject of the investigation, in violation of ethical rules and federal law; leaking information to the press that suggested Clinton and her confederates were cooperative and had no intent to harm the United States (which was not the legal standard for criminal liability); and a furtive meeting on an airport tarmac between the attorney general herself and President Bill Clinton, the spouse of the main subject of the investigation, only days before Mrs. Clinton submitted to a perfunctory FBI interview and was proclaimed innocent by Comey. If those are the two narratives that could most conceivably stick, how do Democrats make sure that Narrative No. 1 prevails? Easy: by framing the public debate in a manner that ensures Narrative No. 1 is the only one that is considered. The aim is obvious: If Comey’s statements were against protocol, then they will be portrayed as violations that caused Clinton to lose. The way they accomplish this is by sculpting the inspector-general investigation. Notice the IG’s press release, which I referenced in Thursday night’s column on this subject. There is not a scintilla of reference to anything related to Narrative No. 2. The principal thrust of the IG’s inquiry will be Comey, and the question whether his public statements were against DOJ guidelines. For appearances’ sake, there are a few other areas of inquiry. But make no mistake: The whole ballgame is Comey. The aim is obvious: If Comey’s statements were against protocol, then they will be portrayed as violations that caused Clinton to lose — the argument will be that Trump’s victory was as razor thin as it gets, Clinton decisively won the popular vote, so surely Comey’s impropriety is what swung the few thousand votes Clinton would have needed in key states to win in the Electoral College. Therefore, the narrative goes: Trump’s victory, and thus his presidency, is illegitimate. But wait, you’re thinking, this is surely wrong. First, Clinton was simply a terrible candidate — dishonest, corrupt, inept, Benghazi, Clinton Foundation, etc. She lost in 2008 because she was unpopular among Democrats. This time around, she got the nomination by rigging the contest against Bernie Sanders; then, in the general election, she proceeded to lose an overwhelming number of states, accounting for Trump’s seemingly comfortable Electoral College victory. Second, if the Justice Department had done a fair, impartial investigation, Clinton would have been indicted and would have been replaced on the Democratic ticket. So forget about the election — her candidacy itself was illegitimate. Right . . . so now do you see how this works? The Democrats erase your first argument by reducing the whole election down to the e-mails investigation, such that Mrs. Clinton’s many other flaws as a candidate do not matter. The Democrats erase your second argument by making sure the IG investigation focuses on James Comey, not on Hillary Clinton’s crimes and the Justice Department’s outrageous machinations to make sure she was not prosecuted for those crimes. There you have it. The public’s perception of Trump’s legitimacy may hinge on the public’s understanding of the Justice Department inspector-general’s probe. The Democrats fully grasp this and are lining things up so that they’ll win before Republicans even realize the game is on. ’Twas ever thus.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/4 ... mize-trump
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