Benjamin Wittes wrote an article on Lawfare with some important insights.
Barr repeatedly described the special counsel’s office as having found no evidence of Trump Campaign “collusion” with Russia. Mueller’s report introduction throws two wrenches into this account. First, Mueller makes clear that when the report concludes that “the investigation did not establish particular facts” this “does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.”
This is the most important. Mr. Barr had, up until his press conference, not specifically lied. In his press conference, he lied repeatedly. Barr said:
In other words, there was no evidence of Trump campaign “collusion” with the Russian government’s hacking. ….
Put another way, the Special Counsel found no “collusion” by any Americans in the IRA’s illegal activity.
But thanks to the Special Counsel’s thorough investigation, we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign – or the knowing assistance of any other Americans for that matter.
After finding no underlying collusion with Russia
Yet, as [Trump] said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.All of these statements by Barr in his press conference were false. The Mueller report said that something not being established did not mean there was no evidence for it.
As Wittes notes, Mr. Mueller’s report explicitly contradicts these wrong statements by Barr:
when substantial, credible evidence enabled the Office to reach a conclusion with confidence, the report states that the investigation established that certain actions or events occurred. A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/18/us/politics/mueller-report-document.html#g-page-27
The Counterintelligence Case Is Still With the FBI
Wittes makes other important observations about what is not in the report. He notes Mueller is only making a report on the criminal cases he prosecuted; those that are ongoing, and those referred to other federal offices. Thus, Wittes says, we now know Mueller only took over half of Comey’s investigation, leaving counterintelligence to the FBI.
At the bottom of page 13, Mueller then answers the question of what happened to the counterintelligence components of the investigation. They stayed in the FBI.
Mueller does not appear to have taken on any counterintelligence investigative function. And the report is purely an account through the lens of the criminal law. This partly, though only partly, explains why is no classified information in the report, which contains no “portion markings” anywhere.
I am unsure what Wittes means here, as there are, throughout, color-coded markings indictating that IC sensitive intelligence methods were redacted. “Investigative technique” appears in yellow.
I would also note that when William Barr testified about who would be making redactions, he said that ‘the intelligence community’ would make redactions.
We’ve asked the intelligence community to identify any information that could reveal intelligence sources and methods.http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4793478/barr-ic-made-redactions
We can thus be sure that classified information is in the report, as far as classified methods are concerned, such as the SS7 exploit that this blog reported exclusively was used to hack both Sergei Kislyak’s phone and Paul Manafort’s phone at the Trump Tower meeting.
Mueller Sent Criminal Cases to Other Courts – But Also The FBI
Wittes also discusses the referrals, as follows:
Mueller has hewed closely to this original mandate. Unlike prior special counsel’s offices, as matters came to him that pushed the edges of his jurisdiction, he referred them to other Justice Department components. He also referred matters at the end of his investigation that were ongoing. A list of all of the referrals appears in Appendix D of the report, which lists ten transfers of cases begun by the special counsel’s office and an additional 14 “referrals,” which Mueller describes as covering “evidence of potential criminal activity that was outside the scope of the Special Counsel’s jurisdiction.” These referrals are, with the exception of the Michael Cohen campaign finance matters and the Greg Craig Foreign Agents Registration Act matter, all redacted.
This good summary by Wittes points out that ten transfers of cases by Mueller, some of which are unknown, and another 14 matters of which 12 are unknown, are all criminal.
Does Mueller List All Ongoing Trump-Russia Cases?
However, the language differs slightly when it comes to the ongoing matters that were in Mueller’s jurisdiction and the criminality he found outside of it. In the paragraphs about ongoing matters, ie those that were part of the main Russia probe, Mueller writes:
Certain matters assigned to the Office by the Acting Attorney General have not fully concluded as of the date of this report. After consultation with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office has transferred responsibility for those matters to other components of the Department of Justice and the FBI. Those transfers include:https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/18/us/politics/mueller-report-document.html#g-page-27
When it comes to the transfers, however, Mueller writes:
During the course of the investigation, the Office periodically identified evidence of potential criminal activity that was outside the scope of the Special Counsel’s jurisdiction established by the Acting Attorney General. After consultation with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office referred that evidence to appropriate law enforcement authorities, principally other components of the Department of Justice and the FBI. Those referrals, listed alphabetically by subject, are summarized below.https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/18/us/politics/mueller-report-document.html#g-page-27
Eagle-eyed readers will note that the ‘referrals’ part appears to be a complete list. ‘Those referrals are summarized below.’ Yet the referrals for ongoing matters on Mueller’s main investigation, it would seem, are not fully listed. ‘Those transfers include’. If thing A ‘includes’ thing B, thing A is greater than thing B. The alternatives are that Mueller was sloppy with his language, or that he intends to convey, subtly, that even the redacted list he gives us of ongoing matters is not a complete list. For counterintelligence reasons, some, in fact a lot, of what Mueller was pursuing, appears not to be listed in this section of the report.
Wikileaks Was Still Being Investigated Last Month
From Wittes sharp observations, we know that those matters will have returned to the FBI. Does this sound fanciful? Remember the point made by lawyer NYC Southpaw on Twitter – as late as last month, Mueller was running tests related to Wikileaks on Peter Smith’s computer.
That is an interesting datum for Mueller to have put in his footnotes. As of March, 2019, Mueller’s office was still investigating Wikileaks. Since he has listed the ‘ongoing matters’ alphabetically, Wikileaks fits no. 11:
10. United States v. Roger StoneU.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia (Awaiting trial)
This would indicate that number 11’s subject comes after Stone. It’s not yet the subject of an indictment. The FBI is investigating it. And what do we know from the footnote spotted by Mr. Southpaw? That last month, Mueller was still investigating Smith and Wikileaks.
The Wikileaks Referral – Mueller’s Trap For Barr?
The evidence, then, indicates that Mueller took active steps to protect his investigation from William Barr. He had already investigated one Attorney General and would have had no qualms in investigating another. Mueller’s language is extremely careful, underlining that ‘not established’ doesn’t mean ‘can’t establish’. He also appears to have been cautious, acting only on those matters he could absolutely prove in court.
The vast majority of the redacted “harm to ongoing matter” lines concern Wikileaks and Alfa Bank – exactly what this blog has been arguing would condemn Team Treason to a collusion charge. It seems clear from Mr. Barr’s own defensiveness that those black lines indicate without a shadow of a doubt that Mueller has proved Team Trump colluded with Wikileaks and collaborated in the distribution. To make this collusion and conspiracy, all the DoJ has to prove is that Wikileaks itself conspired with Russia in the hack. And Appendix D, (A) (11) suggests that Mueller has referred this final piece of the puzzle onwards.
As noted in our last story, Mr. Barr, aside from his plain lying, has hung Trump and Team Treason’s fate entirely on the outcome of this piece of unfinished business from Mueller. In Barr’s zeal to defend Trump and Russia, he may well have condemned them both. More on this in our next story.
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- Wikileaks Hands “Keys” to Putin’s Russian Hacker – Readers, Leakers Tracked
- Epshteyn Named in FBI FISA Application; Did Trump, Nunes Obstruct Justice?
- Alfa Bank, Trump Tower and a Social Media Impeachment
- Putin’s Hacker, Wikileaks Host Pyotr Chayanov, Hacked America’s Vote System And the DNC