FBI Denounces Release Of GOP Memo Citing “Grave Concerns About Material Omissions Of Fact”

(image via Flickr – Dave Newman)

On Monday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release a four-page memo which they say shows serious anti-Trump bias in the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference and/or collusion with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

The memo pulls information used to obtain the original FISA warrant which allowed U.S. intelligence units to surveil foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, Carter Page, who was apparently communicating with Russian officials.

House Democrats contend the memo “cherry-picks” only parts of the warrant to paint a certain picture. The Dems wrote their own memo to be released with the GOP version, but the Republicans on the committee blocked that from happening.

For clarity, it’s useful to know that the average FISA warrant application contains between 50-60 pages. So four pages would clearly not represent full transparency.

The Justice Department has already raised flags about the danger of releasing the memo.

And now the FBI, under command of Director Christopher Wray (hand-picked by Donald Trump), says the bureau has “grave concerns” about releasing the memo.

From The New York Times:

The “F.B.I. was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” the bureau said in a statement. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Though Mr. Wray’s name was not attached to the statement, the high-profile comment by the F.B.I. thrust him into a confrontation with President Trump, who abruptly fired his predecessor, James B. Comey. Mr. Trump wants to see the memo released, telling people close to him that he believes it makes the case that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials acted inappropriately when they sought the highly classified warrant in October 2016 on the campaign adviser, Carter Page.

The president’s stance puts him at odds with much of his national security establishment. The Justice Department has warned repeatedly that the memo, prepared by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, is misleading and that its release would set a bad precedent for making government secrets public. F.B.I. officials have said privately that the president is prioritizing politics over national security and is putting the bureau’s reputation at risk.

Republicans say it was not made clear to the judge who signed off on the warrant that part of the info in the application, the now-infamous “Steele dossier,” was financed in part by the Democrats during the election.

Donald Trump has claimed the dossier has been proven to be wholly false, but in reality some parts of the dossier have been proven.

Congressional Republicans have been trying to discredit not only the dossier but agents within the FBI. They point to private text messages between two agents last year that seemed to indicate sympathy for Hillary Clinton.

Interestingly, CNN is reporting today that one of those agents, Peter Strzok, who was removed from the investigation, actually drafted former FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress that reopened the investigation into her email use.

Strzok, who co-wrote what appears to be the first draft that formed the basis of the letter Comey sent to Congress, also supported reopening the Clinton investigation once the emails were discovered on disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop, according to a source familiar with Strzok’s thinking. The day after Strzok sent his draft to his colleagues, Comey released the letter to Congress, reigniting the email controversy in the final days of the campaign.

Now, if Strzok wanted the investigation reopened, how does that make him “sympathetic” to Hillary Clinton?

Lock Him Up! Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner Used Private Email Server

Now let me see, I seem to remember when Hillary Clinton used a private email account as Secretary of State, the folks in Trump land chanted “Lock her up!”

Via Politico:

Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business.

Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, according to four people familiar with the correspondence. POLITICO has seen and verified about two dozen emails.

“Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business,” said Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner in a statement Sunday. “Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account. These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.”

Politico also reports that private email accounts were also used for official business by former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former White House adviser Steve Bannon, spokesman Josh Raffel and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.

FBI Director: We Searched New Emails, Nothing There, Nevermind

Ten days ago, FBI Director James Comey shocked the nation when he broke standard operating protocol and shared information about newly discovered emails that “might” be pertinent to the Clinton email investigation.

Today, Comey pulled an “Emily Litella” by issuing a new letter which basically says, “Nevermind.” Nothing new was found, therefore the decision made in July to not charge Clinton is unchanged.

From CNN:

“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July,” Comey wrote in the new letter to congressional committee chairmen.

Comey dropped a bombshell on the presidential race last month when he sent a letter to Congress saying the FBI had discovered emails in a separate investigation that could be connected to the now-closed probe of whether Clinton mishandled classified information. The move infuriated Democrats and emboldened Republican nominee Donald Trump.

It’s impossible to know before results are tallied what impact Comey’s actions — first raising a vaguely worded red flag 11 days out, and then lowering it two days from the election — will have on the contest. But the news could help Clinton put to rest a controversy that has dogged her in the 2016 race’s closing days, helping Trump narrow a polling gap nationally and in key battleground states.

Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, blasted Comey’s handling of the review.

“Today’s letter makes Director Comey’s actions nine days ago even more troubling,” Feinstein said in a statement. “There’s no doubt that it created a false impression about the nature of the agency’s inquiry.”
She added: “The Justice Department needs to take a look at its procedures to prevent similar actions that could influence future elections.”

You’ll recall that Donald Trump addressed the news ten days ago saying it was “worse than Watergate” when he knew NOTHING about what was on the laptop computer where the emails were found.

Trump’s followers keep asking how “650,000” emails could have been reviewed by Comey. But as it has been repeatedly reported – 650K was the total number of emails found on the laptop. The vast majority were personal/private to Anthony Weiner and estranged wife Huma Abedin. Only a few thousand seemed pertinent to Clinton.

Plus, there is a vast legion of investigators at the FBI. A few thousand emails searched by hundreds of FBI agents could easily be vetted.

The rest of the Twitterverse was equally appalled:

New Poll Shows Latest FBI Announcement Having No Effect On White House Race

More polling info indicates the recent letter from FBI Director James Comey to Congress about possible new emails “pertinent” to Hillary Clinton aren’t affecting the presidential race.

From NBC News:

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll showed Clinton with a 6-point lead over Trump in the days prior to the Comey news.

When looking at the data for Saturday and Sunday only, her lead remained the same — 47 percent to Trump’s 41 percent. The poll was conducted online from October 24 through October 30. Questions about Comey’s announcement were included on October 29 and October 30.

Results for the entire week of the tracking poll show that in a four-way match-up, Clinton enjoys 47 percent support among likely voters, while Trump holds onto 41 percent support. Gary Johnson drops a single point to 6 percent support, and Jill Stein has 3 percent support. In a two-way race, Clinton enjoys a 7-point lead over Trump, with 51 percent support compared to Trump’s 44 percent.

Bolding is mine.

Poll: Comey’s Email Announcement Shows Little Impact On White House Race

The latest Politico/Morning Consult poll show Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Republican Donald Trump 46% to 43% in a two-way race, and 42% to 39% in a four-way race, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson at 7% and the Green Party’s Jill Stein at 5%.

The poll was conducted after FBI Director James Comey announced the discovery of new emails that might pertain to the former secretary of state’s private server using an online panel of 1,772 likely voters on Saturday and Sunday, beginning one day after Comey’s announcement.

Sen. Harry Reid Accuses FBI Director Of Violating Hatch Act

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

Wow – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid goes full Hatch Act on FBI Director James Comey over his vague, innuendo-filled announcement Friday that “new” Clinton – related emails may have been found on a laptop shared by Huma Abedin and her estranged husband.

Via NBC News:

On Sunday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid scolded Comey as well, saying in a letter that he “demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be clear intent to aid one political party over another.”

Reid added that his office determined that Comey may have violated the Hatch Act, which bars government officials from using their authority to influence elections.

Check out the letter from Sen. Reid to Comey below (click to enlarge):

FBI: Newly Discovered Emails Were Not Sent To Or From Clinton

FBI Director James Comey

FBI investigators, looking into former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s “sexting” scandal, realized that his now-estranged wife Huma Abedin had shared use of a laptop computer. And it turns out, Abedin occasionally used the laptop to email.

Director James Comey took the very unusual tact of writing a letter to members of Congress to let them know of the discovery, and insinuated that some of the emails may (or may not) be of any significance to the Hillary Clinton email case. 

From the L.A. Times:

The emails were not to or from Clinton, and contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.

Because Comey had told Congress that the FBI had finished investigating Clinton’s server, he felt he needed to let lawmakers know that agents were looking into the case again in light of the recent discovery, the official said.

Speaking briefly to reporters after an event in Des Moines on Friday, Clinton called on Comey to release more information. She said neither she nor her campaign staff was contacted by the FBI and noted twice that the bureau communicated only with Republican congressional investigators, though Democratic lawmakers also said they were informed by the agency.

“The American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately,” she said.

The decision to send a letter updating Congress while an investigation is ongoing breaks decades of longstanding Federal practice to not comment on ongoing investigations, or discuss details of concluded investigations.

An anonymous Justice Department official told The New Yorker:

“You don’t do this,” one former senior Justice Department official exclaimed. “It’s aberrational. It violates decades of practice.” The reason, according to the former official, who asked not to be identified because of ongoing cases involving the department, “is because it impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”

FBI Announces Emails That “Appear To Be Pertinent” To Clinton Email Case

Anthony Weiner and estranged wife Huma Abedin

FBI Director James Comey sent a brief letter to select members of Congress to inform them that, in the process of investigating former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s “sexting” scandal, emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton have been discovered.
Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Clinton. Apparently, the laptop used by Weiner to send inappropriate texts to a teenage girl was also used occasionally at home by Abedin.

According to one federal official the emails in question number in the thousands.

From the New York Times:

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to “determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.

Mr. Trump seized on the F.B.I. action on Friday at a rally in New Hampshire. To cheers of “lock her up” from his supporters, Mr. Trump said: “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”

After deriding the F.B.I. for weeks as inept and corrupt, Mr. Trump went on to praise the law enforcement agency.

“I have great respect for the fact that the F.B.I. and the D.O.J. are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made,” Mr. Trump said, referring also to the Department of Justice. “This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand. It is everybody’s hope that it is about to be corrected.”

While this all sounds delightfully scandalous for Trump and company, the truth is we don’t know what is contained in these emails. There’s no apparent crime here in that Clinton wasn’t “hiding” these emails.

In that all of Clinton’s aides’ email have already been examined, this “new” batch of communications could all be duplicates of what’s already been examined.

Trump is already announcing “corruption” and “criminal schemes” when in fact, Clinton nor her campaign were not in possession of these emails.

As Pete Williams of NBC News reported just now, the e-mails Comey announced today were NOT originally withheld by Clinton or campaign. Williams says that one FBI source told him, “I don’t sense alarm bells going on within the FBI and the Justice Dept.”

Williams, who is not a pundit but a respected straight-up journalist, has more information than any other reporter. According to Williams, the recently discovered emails are not from Hillary Clinton.

What is odd is that Comey shares so little info about the emails. And by doing so, he creates more questions and angst than answers.

Clearly, he was trying to be transparent by announcing the discovery of the emails. Had he waited until after the election, it would have appeared politically motivated.

But by offering so little info (three short paragraphs) it opens the door to a lot of speculation based on no facts.

What should happen quickly, for all Americans, is that he come forward and clarify what it is the FBI believes they have discovered.

You can read FBI Director Comey’s full letter here.

See NBC News Pete Williams report below:

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton addressed the newly discovered emails immediately, calling on the FBI to release all info regarding the emails as soon as possible.

Email Shows Colin Powell Did Advise Hillary Clinton On Using Private Email

Click image to enlarge

Discovered in the recent batch of emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server is an communication from former Secretary of State Colin Powell to Clinton informing her how he used his own private email account during his time at the State Department.

Clinton has said in the past that Powell advised her early on in her time as Secretary of State about email use, although Powell says he didn’t remember any such communications.

Up to now, this has been a question of who’s telling the truth? Did Powell advise Clinton on email use or not?

Well, now we know.

From the New York Daily News:

Emails released by House Democrat Elijah Cummings Wednesday evening showed Powell, Secretary of State under the George W. Bush administration, answering a question from Clinton about smartphone use.

“Be very careful,” Powell told Clinton in a January 2009 exchange, saying that using a BlackBerry for State Department work could make the messages “part of the official record and subject to the law.”

He also admitted to going around State Department servers in diplomatic discussions.

Clinton had asked her predecessor about restrictions on BlackBerry use in the department, though Powell replied that didn’t have the device and used a computer hooked up to private phone line to communicate with friends.

“I even used it to do business with some foreign leader and some of the senior foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the Department on their personal email accounts,” he wrote.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, who released the exchange as a member of the House Oversight Committee, said that the exchange shows “Secretary Powell advised Secretary Clinton with a detailed blueprint on how to skirt security rules and bypass requirements to preserve federal records.”

From the email dated January 23, 2009 (see above):

“What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line (sounds ancient.) So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without going through the State Department servers. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the Department on their personal email accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels.”