“THE QUESTION IS: ‘WHO’S IN LEGAL JEOPARDY?'”
by Sharon Rondeau
Durham, who has successfully prosecuted members of the intelligence community and politicians from both major political parties, was tasked by Barr to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative which clouded the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency and ended on March 22 after Special Counsel Robert Mueller reported that his team found insufficient evidence supporting the allegation.
The FBI said it launched its counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, but John Solomon of “The Hill” and a number of Republican congressmen have said it began much earlier. On April 17, Solomon said the probe originated in the Obama White House in January 2016, while House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, formerly the committee’s chairman, said it could have begun as early as “late 2015.”
Chaffetz had asked the rhetorical question as to why the Intelligence Community (IC) “did a lot of this overseas,” apparently referring to surveillance of members of the Trump campaign, on the basis that the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal searches and seizures against Americans in the U.S. does not apply to foreign intelligence services.
Hannity recounted to Jarrett and Chaffetz that former U.S. Attorney for the District of Washington, DC Joseph DiGenova said on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle” Tuesday night that Durham “has already convened a grand jury in Connecticut…”
DiGenova had told host Laura Ingraham that, “the ‘Barr bill’ is coming due, and Durham’s appointment means that the already-occurred meetings between the attorney general, the CIA director and the director of national intelligence have now focused on a laser that the core of this conspiracy began with John Brennan and ends with John Brennan in London and DC and the Democratic National Committee. This is very serious business, and for the first time I now believe that some of these guys are going to go to prison.”
DiGenova was referring to former CIA Director John Brennan, now an MSNBC commentator and outspoken critic of Trump’s statements, actions, policies and presence in the White House.
Also on Tuesday, DiGenova interviewed with the government-transparency organization Judicial Watch.
During his confirmation hearings in January, Barr pledged to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsay Graham that he would investigate the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign. In testimony to a congressional subcommittee early last month, Barr said he believes “spying did occur” on the campaign and that he wished to discover whether or not it was “adequately predicated.”
Further, Hannity reported on Wednesday night’s show, Judicial Watch obtained documents as a result of a FOIA lawsuit showing that Mueller’s top deputy, DOJ official Andrew Weissmann, was responsible for hiring the 18 other prosecutors eventually comprising Mueller’s team. Hannity and other commentators noted over the course of the investigation that virtually all of those working for Mueller had donated to Democrats in recent years and/or recently represented prominent Democrats such as the Clinton Foundation and former deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes.
From the outset, Trump claimed the special counsel investigation to be a “witch hunt,” professed his innocence and that of his campaign aides, and claimed that Mueller had an undisclosed conflict of interest involving a past business transaction. Nevertheless, the probe went forward as assembled, with Mueller delivering his report to the Justice Department on March 22 with the finding that “no American” had engaged in a “conspiracy” with the Russians to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
Former FBI and DOJ officials testified to congressional investigators last year that there was sufficient evidence to probe the Trump campaign but did not identify it or its source. It is now known that then-Australian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Downer indirectly informed the FBI in late July 2016 that then-Trump campaign foreign-policy advisor George Papadopoulos had told him that the Russians had Clinton’s emails.
Former FBI Director James Comey; his general counsel, James Baker; Brennan; and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have all said that the Trump campaign investigation was properly “predicated,” including in its the use of human informants, in order to assess the threat and level of “interference” on the part of the Russians.
Although provided a general “defensive briefing,” neither Trump nor any senior campaign officials were informed that the FBI suspected attempted Russian co-opting in an effort to see Trump elected.
Since just before Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, Horowitz has been investigating the conduct of FBI and Justice Department officials in regard to the 2016 election, including the FBI’s handling of the Clinton private server probe. Having issued a 568-page report last June on that issue and Comey’s role in it as well as alleged wrongdoing on the part of a number of high-ranking FBI employees, Horowitz is expected to produce two more reports in the near future.
On October 21, 2016, the FBI, under Comey’s signature, applied for and was eventually granted a surveillance warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to gather the communications of former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. FBI policy requires that evidence submitted to the special court be “verified,” as Hannity pointed out Wednesday night. In the case of Carter Page, the “evidence” consisted of an uncorroborated “dossier” compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, paid for by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Three additional surveillance warrants were obtained on Page, enabling the monitoring of his communications through September 2017.
Last year, Steele testified to a British court that he had not verified the dossier’s allegations and that he included “open-source” information he found in a public online forum previously hosted by CNN.
On Wednesday, Baker told Yahoo! News “Chief Investigative Correspondent” Michael Isikoff, formerly of NBC News, that he is willing to “cooperate” with Durham’s investigation of those who launched the probe against Trump while “emphasizing that he believes he and his FBI colleagues did nothing wrong.”
In September 2016, Isikoff received leaked information from the dossier naming Page which Isikoff published in an article the FBI then used to support the dossier’s claims in its application to the FISA court.
DiGenova appeared on “The Ingraham Angle” Tuesday alongside Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH4), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and former head of the Office of the Independent Counsel Robert Ray. At 4:30 in the broadcast, DiGenova said, “Horowitz has already concluded that the final three FISAs were completely illegal. He is now on the brink of finding that the first FISA was completely illegal. Durham has already used a grand jury in Connecticut. They’ve already gotten documents; he’s already talked to the intel people…Durham’s been working for a couple of months.”
After Hannity cited DiGenova’s comments, Jarrett responded, “I think Joe’s right; I think there’ll be almost a separate part of the IG report based on the lies and deceptions and concealing of evidence to the FISA judges. But you need a U.S. attorney, because the inspector general can only uncover evidence that he has access to and people who are still employed by the government. You need a U.S. attorney like Durham to be able to subpoena people to haul them in front of a grand jury, and I suspect there is a grand jury and they’re well on their way to potential criminal indictments.”
Further, Jarrett said, “The question is, ‘Who’s in legal jeopardy?’ Well, you and I have discussed this before; it is likely James Comey, Andrew McCabe, James Baker, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page; maybe John Brennan and James Clapper; certainly, Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson.”
Hannity then asked, “What about the attorney general fingered by Strzok and Page as running the exoneration of Hillary? What about Biden and Obama and meetings that supposedly took place in the Oval Office about these very topics?” to which Jarrett responded, “Well, that should have been covered in the first report that came out last May, so it’s unclear to me whether or not the IG will revisit it in his second report.”
Updated 12:47 p.m.