William Barr Should Almost Certainly NOT Release The Entire Mueller Report

William Barr Should Almost Certainly NOT Release The Entire Mueller Report

William Barr Should Almost Certainly NOT Release The Entire Mueller Report

Yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his long-awaited report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will now review the report, submit an initial summary to Congress, and then further determine how much, if any, of the report should be seen by the public. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to make the report public, and there are similar calls from many in the press, the public and other areas to release the report in its entirety in the name of government transparency. Yet there are legitimate reasons not to do so, and those reasons should be supported by sensible and justice-seeking Democrats and Republicans.

The key conclusions of the Mueller report should absolutely be made public. The American people deserve to know as much as possible about, as Richard Nixon put it, “whether or not their President is a crook.” Americans have waited patiently for those conclusions for two years, paid millions of dollars for the investigation, and the key findings can help somewhat reunite the public around a shared reality.

But Robert Mueller’s investigation was limited to three main topics:

  • Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump;
  • Any federal crimes that arise directly from the investigation into that; and
  • Any federal crimes committed in the course of – with intent to interfere with – the Special Counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses

While this may appear to be a rather broad scope, it should be noted that Robert Mueller appears to have employed two practices during the course of his investigation.

First, he has farmed out a number of issues and pieces of evidence to other parts of the justice system such as the Southern District of New York. He may have done this for a combination of reasons:

  • Desire not to burn through more resources than absolutely necessary during his own investigation
  • Too small a staff to investigate all criminal activity that was uncovered during his investigation
  • Desire to ensure that information about possible criminal activity by the President (not directly related to Russia) be disseminated as far and wide throughout the justice system as possible to make it difficult for the President to extract it and stop investigation into the crimes prematurely
  • Desire to ensure that Mueller is not seen as overstepping his bounds by investigating matters outside of his jurisdiction

It also appears that Mueller’s team may have already filed a number of sealed indictments. These are indictments that cannot be acted on until after the person is arrested. Since they are still sealed, we can assume that those individuals have not yet been arrested. Mueller may have done this for a combination of reasons:

  • Consistent with stated Justice Department policy, a sitting President cannot be indicted. It is possible therefore that some of those indictments relate to the President and/or members of his family, and will not be opened until after the President leaves (or is removed from) office
  • Mueller anticipates that further evidence of the crimes in the sealed indictments will be produced in the course of the investigations that he has farmed out to organizations like the Southern District of New York

All of these likely actions by Mueller indicate that, while his own investigation may be largely over, there are investigations related to the President that are still active. If that is the case, publicly releasing all of the information in his report could jeopardize the integrity of those investigations. Such information could tip off criminals to currently undisclosed lines of investigation, enabling them to cover their tracks, destroy evidence, or learn of sources and methods currently being used to investigate them.

Additionally, given the nature of what Mueller was investigating, it is quite likely that some information in his report is classified for national security reasons. The public should not take that lightly. More than two years of intensive open discussion in our nation’s press has no doubt already provided Russia with valuable marketing information on what parts of their activities worked well, which ones didn’t, and how to better avoid detection in the future. We don’t need to give Russia and other hostile foreign powers – via public disclosure – what little information is still being held close to the vest by our national security community.

For these reasons, we should expect – and embrace – William Barr’s release of a redacted (lines blacked out) version of the Mueller report. While many people on the left argue for full transparency, and may have deep suspicions of anything less, a redacted report likely indicates that the U.S. criminal justice system is still proceeding exactly as it should. It also may indicate that criminal charges for activities like money laundering, witness tampering, RICO, bank fraud and insurance fraud may still be in the President’s future.

– rob rünt

Trump Will Provide Classified Intelligence to Kremlin

Trump Will Provide Classified Intelligence to Kremlin

Trump Will Provide Classified Intelligence to Kremlin

This is what today’s headlines should read, because it conveys what will actually happen when the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of National Intelligence are forced to comply with the President’s reckless order to declassify and publicly release numerous classified documents in the name of “transparency.” According to a September 17, 2018 press release from the White House, the documents to be declassified will include:

  • Pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page
  • All FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation
  • All FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications
  • All text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction [blacking out portions of text], of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

WhiteHousePressRelease-Declassification


 

The backgrounds of the people in question are:

  • Carter Page:
    • American citizen who regularly does business in Russia
    • Lost a large amount of money if Russian investments
    • Came to the attention of the FBI in 2013 when the FBI believed that he was being actively recruited by Russian operatives
    • Became Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Adviser in March 2016
    • Gave pro-Russia speech in Moscow in July 2016
    • Went to Moscow again in December 2016
  • Bruce Ohr
    • High-ranking Department of Justice official with expertise in Russian organized crime
    • Long-time friend of highly regarded Russia expert/former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele; Steele had been contracted to begin investigating Trump’s activities in Russia in mid 2016 by research firm Fusion GPS (the company paid indirectly by the Clinton Campaign to do opposition research into Trump); Steele’s interviews with his trusted sources in Russia resulted in the “Steele dossier”
    • Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele apparently had conversations after and possibly during the campaign about the information that Steele was uncovering
    • Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS on the different aspects of the same Trump project that Steele was hired to work on (see article of this coincidence)
  • James Comey
    • FBI Director during the 2016 Campaign and for the early months of the Trump Administration
    • Fired by President Trump in May 2017, triggering special counsel investigation into Trump for obstruction of justice
  • Andrew McCabe
    • Deputy Director of the FBI during the 2016 Campaign
    • Temporary acting Director of the FBI after James Comey was fired
    • Was found by the DOJ Inspector General’s office to have made unauthorized releases to the media and to have “lacked candor” when asked about it
  • Peter Strzok
    • Former FBI Chief of Counterespionage
    • Led FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server
    • Worked for first two months of Mueller investigation into Russian interference in 2016 election
    • Removed from Mueller investigation after Mueller learned of anti-Trump text messages between Strzok and an extramarital mistress, Lisa Page, sent between August 2015 and December 2016
    • Discussed a “media strategy” in texts with Page
  • Lisa Page
    • Former FBI lawyer
    • Briefly served on Mueller investigative team
    • Had affair with FBI officer Peter Strzok

 

There may be validity to initiating a deeper investigation into the actions of some of these individuals and determining whether their personal political biases crept into their professional activities. However, declassifying and releasing these documents to the public is not the appropriate way to do that. The information should instead be evaluated by a special counsel and/or by the courts. Releasing the information publicly will contribute to the legitimacy of an obstruction of justice case against the President and will jeopardize our national security.

When we hear that a government document is being released to the public, we typically envision the public as the average American citizen. In American culture, such transparency with the public is generally considered a good thing. Yet when the government assigns a “classified” label to certain information, there is a reason for that. That reason for classifying the information is usually important and should be bypassed only with thorough consideration of the unintended consequences.

The President’s public release of classified information about an active investigation into himself can provide otherwise unobtainable insights that enable witnesses and accomplices to shape their stories to match the known facts while concealing vital, still undiscovered information. This would be tantamount to obstruction of justice, similar to providing inside police information to a criminal about that criminal’s own case.

Far more alarmingly, however, are the national security implications of the President’s decision. Successful intelligence and law enforcement operations depend on the security of “sources and methods.” This is shorthand for maintaining confidentiality of how information was obtained (disclosure of which would tip off guilty parties and foreign adversaries about, for example, what modes of communication to avoid) and who the information was obtained from (disclosure of which could at best result in those informants and spies no longer being useful sources of information, or could at worst result in those individuals and their families being killed).

In Russia, the mafia and the Kremlin have a symbiotic relationship. What benefit can Russia gain from knowing about the communications between Russian organized crime expert Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele, who relied on numerous individuals inside Russia to compile his dossier? Which of Steele’s sources might be revealed in the declassified documents? How valuable would the Kremlin find information about how Russia’s election interference activities were first uncovered and how the investigation proceeded from there?

Even if names are redacted, the descriptions of dates and locations can enable a foreign adversary to determine how their activities became compromised, and who compromised them. By rendering certain intelligence sources and methods less useful or even useless, the President is jeopardizing our national security, making it that much harder for our intelligence community to determine what hostile adversaries are up to. He also may be intentionally or unintentionally tipping off Putin on how to cover tracks of Russian election interference activities being investigated by Mueller.

Trump’s decision to publicize valuable, unredacted, classified information is not only a disclosure to the average American: it is a prized treasure trove of information for the Kremlin.

– rob rünt