One important fact getting overlooked in all the discussion of whether FBI Attorney Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea represents the sacrifice of a minor criminal so the ringleaders can escape justice or the beginning of the end for those who were running the show is exactly whose show Clinesmith was a part of when the crime he’s admitted committing occurred.
You see, Clinesmith wasn’t working for James Comey when he altered that CIA email that inconveniently identified Trump’s onetime foreign policy advisor Carter Page as a trusted source. He was working for Robert Mueller’s Independent Counsel investigation.
And it was Mueller’s crew, who made use of the illegitimately obtained renewal of the FISA warrant to spy on Page that Clinesmith’s piece of forgery enabled.
On the recommendation of acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017. As a consequence, Comey’s second-in-command, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe automatically took over as acting FBI Director until Trump appointed Christopher Wray on June 7. (Wray was interim Director until his Senate confirmation on July 20.)
McCabe was in charge for less than a month. But within just 8 days he’d started a second investigation of Trump in addition to the still ongoing Crossfire Hurricane probe of his campaign’s ties to Russia.
Despite Trump’s having fired Comey at Rosenstein’s urging and the president’s authority to terminate the director of the FBI for any reason he pleases, McCabe wasted no time in using his boss’s dismissal as a pretext to investigate Trump for obstructing Crossfire Hurricane.
McCabe had also helped tip over the first domino that ultimately led to Robert Mueller’s appointment as independent counsel. He’d played a substantial role in helping create the unjustified controversy over whether Jeff Sessions had lied to Congress during his confirmation hearing about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
A few months before starting that second investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice by taking Rosenstein’s advice, McCabe authorized a criminal investigation of Sessions for lying about his contacts with Kislyak at the request of Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken.
The accusations against Sessions died out and Mueller closed the investigation in January 2018. But the ginned-up controversy did force Sessions to recuse himself and put Rosenstein in a position to urge Trump to fire Comey, which put McCabe in the position to start a second investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice.
Within a matter of days, Rosenstein appointed Mueller Independent Council to take over both Crossfire Hurricane and the McCabe’s obstruction of justice investigation, which hadn’t even been old enough to get baptized with a clever name.
Rosenstein later justified increasing the scope and power of both investigations by appointing Mueller to take them over under the power of the Independent Counsel’s office by claiming he was “concerned that the public would not have confidence in the investigation and that the acting FBI director [McCabe] was not the right person to lead it.”
One of the central events that Mueller wound up investigating, however, was the alleged Russian hack of the DNC servers. The DNC’s tech firm CrowdStrike were the only one’s allowed to examine the server, as everyone knows since Trump mentioned them in his famous phone call to Ukrainian president Zelensky. Both the FBI and Mueller’s probe consented to the very strange arrangement of accepting evidence from a private contractor hired by the alleged victim of the crime they were investigation in lieu of collecting their own. And Rosenstein’s alleged worry about whether the public would have confidence in McCabe might have applied even more to Mueller had it ever become widely known that CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry had been promoted to FBI head of cyber operations by Mueller when the latter ran the FBI, prior to leaving government service to head CrowdStrike.
Moreover, we learned something in May that might have struck another blow to public confidence in Sean Henry’s mentor Robert Mueller. Thanks to acting Director of National Security Richard Grenell, Adam Schiff was forced to release testimony Henry gave to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 in which CrowdStrike’s president admitted that the claim of which we’d been assured for four years now that his firm had discovered proof that the Russians had hacked the DNC wasn’t true. CrowdStrike found no proof that the DNC was hacked by Russians or anyone else.
One of the strangest things about congressional Republicans reaction to the many abuses of power perpetrated against the Donald Trump, his assoicates, his campaign, and his presidency is the the difference between the way they seem to view Crossfire Hurricane and Mueller’s probe.
Everyone in the GOP establishment seems to accept that the FBI investigation was completely corrupt and that Comey and all his underlings committed serious crimes and ought to be punished.
Yet Mueller’s probe, which was merely the new more powerful identity Crossfire Hurricane took on after it faked its own death, isn’t treated with the same skepticism. These very different attitudes are even more puzzling given that three people who were part of Crossfire Hurricane wound up having to resign from Mueller’s probe when text messages indicating that they had incredible antipathy towards Donald Trump emerged.
The first two were, as everyone knows, Peter Stzrok and his FBI lovebird Lisa Page. Fewer are aware that Kevin Clinesmith was the third.
Given that the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page that was renewed as a result of Clinesmith’s admitted crimes was used by Robert Mueller and not his protege James Comey, hopefully congressional Republicans will start taking the same dim view of Mueller’s probity that they already have of Comey’s.
And, hopefully John Durham is already taking a hard look at Mueller’s corruption. I’ve just started a series of columns on some of the blatant lies Mueller’s report contains concrning that alleged Russian Hack of the DNC and believe me there’s plenty to find.