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Pastor Chris / Flickr

We have now entered the Week-of-Comey as the former FBI Director has begun a string of press interviews about his soon to be released book “Higher Loyalty.”  Obviously everyone is already talking about this and debating whether Comey is or isn’t credible.  The White House is furiously arguing that Comey is compromised, political, lying and or self serving — but frankly in my own opinion they have that backwards on all accounts.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe Comey has made some mistake — several big ones — but if anything they have all come from the same place; a deep burning desire to do the RIGHT THING literally to a fault.

But I think many of the media have completely buried the lede here.

Clearly his decision to have make a big public statement about the FBI’s decision not to recommend any charges against Hillary Clinton is the most obvious and controversial of his actions, but we have to realize that it caused shockwaves inside the FBI and there was definitely a backlash. What followed after was the counter response to that backlash.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s decision following her infamous Tarmac Talk with Bill Clinton led to her stating she would follow the FBI’s recommendations, which led to Comey going out and publicly trashing Clinton which was just the first example of him going over and out of his way to not make the FBI appear to be partisan in favor of Clinton.  He did that IMO largely because a fairly significant portion of the FBI was actually deeply partisan in favor of Trump. 

His later sending a letter to Congress over the discovery of copies of Huma Abedine’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop was a similar case, he was again trying to do the “right thing” by showing the nation that the FBI was not soft-pedaling the case against Clinton because he was expecting her to win and he felt it would be harmful to the nation if this information came out later, which actually he was certain about because he expected partisans in the New York FBI Field Office to leak it if he didn’t do it himself.

Comey said that he feared “a pretty reasonable likelihood” that Clinton emails being discovered on Weiner’s computer would get to the press through the New York office.

“The team that had done the investigation was in the counterintelligence division at headquarters, of the emails,” Comey said. “And there were no leaks at all, very tight. But the criminal folks in New York were now involved in a major way—and I don’t want to single anybody out ’cause I don’t know where it was coming from, but there’d been enough up there that I thought there was a pretty reasonable likelihood that it would leak.”

It all comes down to an understanding of the nature of the office, Comey said: “Counterintelligence is different. They’re so used to operating in a classified environment. They’re much tighter. But once you start involving people whose tradition is criminal, and in New York which has a different culture, there is a reasonable likelihood it was going to get out anyway.”

That’s a fairly polite way of saying they were a bunch of Hillary-Hating Leakers, but the point is still made.

Much more over the flip.

The fact is that Comey isn’t wrong about his leak worries because it did leak via Rudy Giuliani who has direct links to the New York FBI Office since he used to be the mayor and also U.S. Attorney for the district.

Shortly before the election, Comey announced that he was reopening the probe into Clinton’s private server after more emails were found on the computer of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who was married to a top Clinton aide.

A few days later, Giuliani went on Fox News and bragged that he knew in advance about the new emails.

“Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it,” said Giuliani, a prominent Trump surrogate and former New York City mayor. He added that he had expected the news to come out weeks before.

That’s leak #1. And there’s actually a bit more to this which has already been revealed via the Strzok and Page text messages. On October 7th Lisa Page and FBI Agent Peter Stzrok had the following exchange about the NY FBI Office.

Page: Yeah and I made the mistake of reading some stupid NYPost article about how some agents are ready to revolt against D [Director Comey] because on MYE [Clinton Email Investigation]. Now I’m really angry.

Strzok: There are a bunch of ignorant people out there blinded by their politics.

Page: Sometimes reminds me how how deeply politics, like religion, can blind objectivity.

Strzok:  You can’t read that sh*t and frankly let them the b [Bureau] is better off without them.

Page: I can’t help it, it’s click bait.  I emailed it to you.

Now, in all the things we’ve heard about Page and Strzok being “partisan Democrats who hated Trump” — in point of fact only Page is a Middle-of-the-Road Democrat who favored Clinton only because she felt she had too, while Strzok was actually a Mild Republican who favored John Kasich — never has anybody mentioned that they both agreed that some people tend to be “blinded by their politics”.  These two may have personal political opinions where they not only trashed Trump, they also trashed Bernie Sanders, Chelsey Clinton, Ted Cruz and Eric Holder — which is their right as citizens — but there isn’t any evidence that they let their political opinions impact how they did their jobs.  There were in fact highly critical of those people who did.  And also note that Agent Strzok himself wrote the first draft of the letter to Congress about the Abedine/Weiner emails — so how exactly is he an “anti-Trump” partisan?

Also that NY Post article (which is leak #2) is here:

Veteran FBI agents say FBI Director James Comey has permanently damaged the bureau’s reputation for uncompromising investigations with his “cowardly” whitewash of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information using an unauthorized private email server.

Feeling the heat from congressional critics, Comey last week argued that the case was investigated by career FBI agents, “So if I blew it, they blew it, too.”

But agents say Comey tied investigators’ hands by agreeing to unheard-of ground rules and other demands by the lawyers for Clinton and her aides that limited their investigation.

“In my 25 years with the bureau, I never had any ground rules in my interviews,” said retired agent Dennis V. Hughes, the first chief of the FBI’s computer investigations unit.

Instead of going to prosecutors and insisting on using grand jury leverage to compel testimony and seize evidence, Comey allowed immunity for several key witnesses, including potential targets.

So Comey was definitely feeling the heat from some internal agents, particular in NY which some have called “TrumpLand” during the election. while Page and Strzok both felt that this report was largely partisan and not factual.

Current and former FBI officials, none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over director James Comey’s July decision not to recommend an indictment over Clinton’s maintenance of a private email server on which classified information transited.

“The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent.

This atmosphere raises major questions about how Comey and the bureau he is slated to run for the next seven years can work with Clinton should she win the White House.

The currently serving FBI agent said Clinton is “the antichrist personified to a large swath of FBI personnel,” and that “the reason why they’re leaking is they’re pro-Trump.”

The agent called the bureau “Trumplandia”, with some colleagues openly discussing voting for a GOP nominee who has garnered unprecedented condemnation from the party’s national security wing and who has pledged to jail Clinton if elected.

On October 30th Strzok and Page responded to a report in Washington Post saying that Comey’s letter defied DOJ Policy.  This is Leak #3.

Page: This is all Matt. Justice Officials warned FBI  Comey decision to update congress was not consistent with DOJ policy — The Washington Post.

Strzok: Yeah I saw that, makes me feel better about throwing him under the bus in the forthcoming CF article.

Page: Yep the tone is all anti-Bu (Bureau) Just a tiny bit from us.  And serves him right, he’s gonna be pissed.

That report stated:

Senior Justice Department officials warned the FBI that Director James B. Comey’s decision to notify Congress about renewing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server was not consistent with long-standing practices of the department, according to officials familiar with the discussions.

FBI officials who work closely with Comey on Thursday contacted attorneys at the Justice Department. Their message: Comey intended to inform lawmakers of newly discovered emails potentially connected to the Clinton email investigation.

Justice officials reminded the FBI of the department’s position “that we don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election,” said one Justice Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the high-level conversations.

“Director Comey understood our position. He heard it from Justice leadership,” the official said. “It was conveyed to the FBI, and Comey made an independent decision to alert the Hill. He is operating independently of the Justice Department. And he knows it.”

As we now know, Comey didn’t follow that advice.

Part of that particular exchange was mentioned in the recently released IG report on Andrew McCabe — who was Lisa Page’s boss — arguing that the “forthcoming CF Article” was really the WSJ story where McCabe had ordered the release of details of a phone call between himself and the DOJ where they were arguing over the continuation of the Clinton Foundation Investigation which the DOJ opposed,  (Leak #4— this time by Page and McCabe)

According to a person familiar with the probes, on Aug. 12, a senior Justice Department official called Mr. McCabe to voice his displeasure at finding that New York FBI agents were still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe during the election season. Mr. McCabe said agents still had the authority to pursue the issue as long as they didn’t use overt methods requiring Justice Department approvals.

The Justice Department official was “very pissed off,” according to one person close to Mr. McCabe, and pressed him to explain why the FBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant. Others said the Justice Department was simply trying to make sure FBI agents were following longstanding policy not to make overt investigative moves that could be seen as trying to influence an election. Those rules discourage investigators from making any such moves before a primary or general election, and, at a minimum, checking with anticorruption prosecutors before doing so.

“Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?” Mr. McCabe asked, according to people familiar with the conversation. After a pause, the official replied, “Of course not,” these people said.

The IG report states that McCabe knowingly authorized this release and then falsely told IG investigators [supposedly as he passed them in the hallway and they asked a couple quick questions] that he “Didn’t do it or knew who did.”   He also had said basically the same thing to James Comey who didn’t remember McCabe telling him that he said he did it either.  McCabe later reached out to the IG and corrected the record by admitting that he was responsible arguing that he had simply been confused previously, but in the end they simply didn’t buy it, particularly in the wake of  Page’s “serves him [the DOJ Official] right” which smacked more of a petty personal vendetta.  On the other hand McCabe claims he has emails that prove that Comey was indeed informed and approved of his release despite both of their failing memories on the issue.

Strangely, none of the other leakers have been found yet to my knowledge.  Curious.

Despite normal DOJ protocols Comey knowingly let Congress know about the Weiner/Abedin emails, and also despite DOJ objection McCabe let the press know that there was also an investigation of the Clinton Foundation then either forgot or possibly lied about it.

Yet somehow these guys and people on their staff are supposed to have been somehow “Pro-Clinton?”  How exactly does that work out?

More from Strzok and Page on this from November 3rd concerning FBI leaks that were decidedly Anti-Clinton.

Strzok: An article to share, FBI agents knew of Clinton emails weeks before director briefed.  Ok, now I’m getting angry.

….

Sorry Rybicki [Comey Chief of Staff James Rybicki] called. Time line article in the post is super specific and not good. Doesn’t make sense because I didn’t have specific information to give.

Page: What post article?

Strzok: Just went up. WaPo.

Page: Goddammed bills opaque comments. Can I send to team?

Strzok:  Yes.

That report (Leak #5) went like this:

The FBI has obtained a warrant to search the emails found on a computer used by former congressman Anthony Weiner that may contain evidence relevant to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, according to law enforcement officials.

One official said the total number of emails recovered in the investigation into Weiner (D-N.Y.) is close to 650,000, but that reflects many emails that are not related to the Clinton investigation. But officials familiar with the case said that the messages include a significant amount of correspondence associated with Clinton and her top aide, Huma Abedin, Weiner’s estranged wife.

FBI agents investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state knew early this month that messages recovered in a separate probe might be germane to their case, but they waited weeks before briefing the FBI director, according to people familiar with the case.

That’s an internal FBI leak — the fourth one in a series — about on an ongoing case involving the Clinton’s which certainly didn’t come from Page or Strzok since they were complaining about it.

What we see here is a leak war going on between people in the DOJ who are leaking about the Clinton Foundation Investigation, FBI personnel — likely from New York — who are leaking about the Clinton investigation and also the Weiner Investigation mostly to make Comey look “weak” on Clinton.  The FBI is not supposed to do politics, but clearly some of them were.

McCabe’s counter leak about the Clinton Foundation was clearly intended to send the opposite message, that the FBI wasn’t just letting Hillary off the Hook.  Far from it, however they also weren’t going to railroad her on bogus charges. Similarly Comey’s letter to Congress was intended to do the same thing, counter the narrative being generated by these leaks.

I don’t believe either intended to harm Hillary’s candidacy — they just DID — in their effort to protect the image of the FBI.  They were wrong, they both IMO deserve to be fired and hit with Hatch Act violations.  So do the other guys.

Then on election day November 8th, the Fit hit the Shan!

Page. Oh God (Redacted) — [My strong suspicion is that it says “LYNCH” as in then Attorney General Loretta Lynch because it’s clearly a woman that is higher in hierarchy than Page, who at the time was McCabe’s Legal Counsel. Also in fairness it could also be “YATES” who was Lynch’s deputy at the time].

Strzok : What is she saying?  She does realize that you’ve been in EVERY conversation that has been had about the case right?

Page: That we should have gone on the record saying that [then New York FBI Office Chief ]ames] Kallstrom and others may not be credible (which may be valid) but then saying we could pull his folks if we wanted to. Because she knows all about our policy of investigating members of the media.

Because she’s an expert who knows everything. I’m telling you it’s wildly infuriating.  She has some good points but then assumes wildly impossible understanding of things to make groundless assertions. Told her twice she was either calling me stupid or a liar.

Strzok: What crime are we investigating? That’s a terrible idea, go to war with the formers?  Jesus (redacted) that would make me blind with rage.

Page: “Leaking information about ongoing investigations. Which is incorrect information. By agents who don’t know about things talking to him.” See? That’s the thing, that we should have gone after agents talking harder and sooner, is not unreasonable.  But the following discussions falls into uninformed assertions.

Comey and McCabe can technically leak under the rules what they want to leak within their best judgement and DOJ Guidelines, but in this case they both stepped outside the lines and DOJ [Either Lynch, Yates or both] WAS LIVID!

From what I can tell Page was then eliminated from future meetings and this is why she later made the snarky “secret society” comment because she was now out of the loop thanks to IMO Lynch.  Strzok himself was later removed after the IG released the text messages [And it’s actually still a mystery how that happened…. leak leak…] The issue here is clearly that some FBI agents had been repeatedly leaking — just as Comey had predicted — and that they were apparently a big pack of Hillary Haters, particularly Kallstrom who on the one hand claims he’s “apolitical” but on the other hand calls the Clintons a “Crime Family.”

The man who now leads “lock-her-up” chants at Trump rallies spent decades of his life as a federal prosecutor and then mayor working closely with the FBI, and especially its New York office. One of Giuliani’s security firms employed a former head of the New York FBI office, and other alumni of it. It was agents of that office, probing Anthony Weiner’s alleged sexting of a minor, who pressed Comey to authorize the review of possible Hillary Clinton-related emails on a Weiner device that led to the explosive letter the director wrote Congress.

Hours after Comey’s letter about the renewed probe was leaked on Friday, Giuliani went on a radio show and attributed the director’s surprise action to “the pressure of a group of FBI agents who don’t look at it politically.”

Back in August, during a contentious CNN interview about Comey’s July announcement clearing Hillary Clinton of criminal charges, Giuliani advertised his illicit FBI sources, who circumvented bureau guidelines to discuss a case with a public partisan. “The decision perplexes me. It perplexes Jim Kallstrom, who worked for him. It perplexes numerous FBI agents who talk to me all the time. And it embarrasses some FBI agents.”

Kallstrom is the former head of the New York FBI office, installed in that post in the ’90s by then-FBI director Louis Freeh, one of Giuliani’s longtime friends. Kallstrom has, like Giuliani, been on an anti-Comey romp for months, most often on Fox, where he’s called the Clintons as a “crime family.” He has been invoking unnamed FBI agents who contact him to complain about Comey’s exoneration of Clinton in one interview after another, positioning himself as an apolitical champion of FBI values.

Guilliani was a Trump surrogate who was in line to become his Attorney General f’r crying out loud, and Louis Freeh was a raging Republican partisan who plagued the Clintons for years and completely botched the bombing of the Atlanta Olympics.  [Also in full disclosure, Andrew McCabe started his career in the NY FBI Field Office while Guiliani was mayor]

Comey, McCabe, Page and Strzok knew some of these guys or people working with them were leaking and that some of those leaks were partisan bullshit not related to the facts of the case. Those guys were at the time pretending the “real partisan” people were anyone who dared to disagree with their Clinton Hating ways, but that’s simply not the case.

This is what was going on behind the scenes while Comey was deciding whether to send the letter to Congress or not, and frankly while I think he should have done it, IMO he should have made the letter CLASSIFIED which should have handled his concern of trying cover the FBI’s ass from charges that they had wrongly “let Clinton go” without seriously looking at her case and also abided by DOJ guidelines. In that case Kallstrom and Jason Chaffetz would be the ones hoist on their petards for leaking classified information, rather than what has subsequently happened.

Comey, who was then FBI director, notified Congress on Oct. 28, 2016, that investigators were examining new emails discovered as part of an ongoing probe of Clinton’s private emails — and one congressman leaked the news.

Then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) forced Comey to comment on the new investigation — which ultimately turned up no evidence of wrongdoing — and inaccurately framed the news by tweeting about a letter the FBI director sent to lawmakers.

“FBI Dir just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened,” Chaffetz tweeted.

It’s absolute fair to criticize Comey for this decision considering the consequence which even Kellyanne Conway finally admitted last night, although she since tried to walk it back, but it should be understood in full context.

“This guy swung an election,” Conway said to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “He thought the wrong person would win.”

She tried to walk the comment back in a later appearance on CNN, telling Chris Cuomo that Clinton was already set to lose the election and that Comey’s announcement had no bearing on her doomed campaign.

“I saw Jim Comey last night and I said: ‘this guy swung an election?’ I don’t think so,” she said. She continued to push back against Cuomo’s assertion that Comey’s announcement hurt Clinton’s chances.

In the end I think Comey made the wrong decision for the right reasons, although he was also being shoved from behind by Kallstrom — who would clearly have leaked the Weiner/Abedine emails to the New York Post — and then tripped on the other side by Chaffetz who went immediately to twitter with it.  He should have anticipated that, but he didn’t and now we’re all paying for his mistake.

However when it comes to what he otherwise has to say about Trump, he’s been pretty much dead on and did just about as well as could be expected under the worst conditions.

Simply quitting in protest after his first sketchy meeting with Trump, which is a Jack Kingston talking point, would have gone against what he told John Kelly “we need people with integrity to stay”. And  that makes sense because Trump has no integrity, nor does most of his staff, cabinet or his family.

This post is Update #46 for my Trump Russia Timeline Series — and here are this week’s detailed updates.



I don’t bring this up everyday but I’m not totally clueless and a layman about these things.  I held a Top Secret/SCI Clearance for over a dozen years and was periodically briefed and interviewed by the FBI on counter-intelligence in support of maintaining that clearance while I was an employee of Northrop-Grumman.

I get the imperative to protect classified data probably a little more than the average person since one co-worker I had at the time is now serving two life sentences for his attempts to sell classified information to Russia through the embassy in San Francisco.

I think Comey could have informed Congress and fulfilled his promise to Jason Chaffetz without violating DOJ protocols, he just didn’t.

Yes, the leaks would have kept coming but I doubt they would have been nearly as devastating to the Clinton campaign as Comey himself verifying the Weiner/Abedine email investigation restarting in violation of DOJ protocols.

I think he made the wrong choice, but I do understand the pressures he was under.

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