If there’s a general theme today, it might be that the 48-hour rule or even 72-hour rule is sometimes good to follow on breaking news stories.
We like to apply this when a story doesn’t smell quite right, if it’s from a dicey source, if it’s just too on-the-nose, if it seems really out of character for someone, or if we just don’t know enough yet.
Let’s start with the statement made on Monday that then-Attorney General Bill Barr and his “hand-picked prosecutor” ended an FBI investigation of a confidential allegation concerning then-Vice President Joe Biden and a $5 million bribe.
Many in the media, looking to shift blame to a Trump appointee, ran with the story, but this newsletter did not.
First of all, the statement came from Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a source about as reliable as solar panels when smoke from raging Canadian wildfires is blotting out the sun. Perhaps only California Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell rival Raskin in their ability to say absolutely anything their party trots them out to say, no matter how outrageous it might be. So, there was that.
Also, even though Barr has been, shall we say, unpredictable at times in his pronouncements, the idea that he would squelch a look-see on such an important matter seems incredibly out of character for him.
And now, sure enough, the extremely reliable legal analyst Margot Cleveland at The Federalist is out with an exclusive piece entitled “Bill Barr Confirms Rep. Jamie Raskin Lied About Biden Family Corruption Investigation.”
Barr personally told The Federalist that “it’s not true. It wasn’t closed down,” adding, “On the contrary, it was sent to Delaware for further investigation.”
Raskin, ranking member of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, made his statement to the media just after a closed-door meeting with the FBI and Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky, having been invited by the FBI to sit in. During the meeting, Comer and Raskin were briefed on the subpoenaed “FD-1023.”
Raskin claimed that Barr had appointed U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania Scott Brady to head a group of prosecutors who would look into “all the allegations related to Ukraine.”
“After Rudy Giuliani surfaced these allegations,” Raskin said to the media (note the attempt to discredit the allegations merely by introducing a link to Giuliani), Brady’s team looked into the 1023 and “in August determined that there [were] no grounds to escalate from an initial assessment to a preliminary investigation.”
Raskin’s conclusion: “If there is a complaint, it is with Attorney General William Barr, the Trump Justice Department, and the team the Trump administration appointed to look into it.” Raskin later said the same thing in a news release.
Barr says flat-out that this is not true. Raskin also falsely suggested that the allegations were related to information unearthed by Giuliani. Again, not so, according to Cleveland’s sources. The allegations were “not derived” from any information supplied by Giuliani. In fact, it’s pre-Giuliani, going back to 2017.
After an assessment done by FBI intelligence analyst Brian Auten, we also know it was FBI headquarters that placed the information in a restricted-access subfile, preventing the office in Delaware from investigating it.
FBI Director Christopher Wray is implicated too, even if he wasn’t aware at the time of these goings-on, because, as Cleveland says, “framing the intel from the ‘highly credible’ longtime FBI [confidential human source] as coming from Giuliani reeks of a cover-up. And suggesting that Barr and Brady closed down an investigation into the FD-1023 when it was sent instead to Delaware for further investigation IS a cover-up.”
Wray has finally agreed to allow members of the Oversight Committee to see the unclassified document, just in time to avoid being held in contempt of Congress.
Jesse Watters invited Comer and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley on his show for an update on Wednesday. Grassley said the FBI is “absolutely” playing games and covering for Biden.
We would add that the ultimate person being protected here is Barack Obama, as he was responsible for policy, not Biden. Any bribe for policy decisions had to come with the understanding that Obama would go along.
And if the FBI were only trying to protect Biden, it might have given up by now, as according to a new Rasmussen poll, 60 percent of likely voters think it’s likely that the FBI has helped cover up wrongdoing by Biden and his family.
As for the next story that needed a little waiting period, Florida Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a member of the Oversight Committee, created a stir after Monday’s committee meeting when she tweeted that the FBI was worried its CHS on the Biden bribe story would be killed if that person’s identify were to be revealed.
The FBI did imply as much in a statement to the Daily Caller, saying that “releasing confidential source information could potentially jeopardize investigations and put lives at risk.” However, this was also a convenient excuse for the FBI not to turn over the document to the committee.
That excuse was bogus; they should just redact the identifying information and hand the darn thing over. They also need to do whatever it takes to protect this CHS. But absolutely turn over that 1023, because if the information is so explosive that a source could be killed over it, it certainly is important enough to require congressional oversight.
Watters asked Comer and Grassley about this very issue on his show last night. Grassley let loose: “Let’s put it this way — compared to the way they’re treating Congress as a second-class citizen, they gave The New York Times on May 18 a classified document. We have an unclassified document. And they gave them the name of a human source. Did they worry about that person being assassinated? I think it’s all blue smoke.”
We also haven’t been closely following the “will they or won’t they indict Trump” chronicle that infects most of the media (on both sides). But yesterday, Just the News had an update that could be hugely significant.
According to John Solomon, just as special counsel Jack Smith informs Trump he’s a “criminal target” in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case and is “likely to be indicted imminently,” Trump’s defense has submitted evidence, still secret, alleging a prosecutor tried to sway witness testimony by discussing a federal judgeship.
Trump’s attorneys asked for a delay in charging their client so they could “investigate allegations of witness tampering.” The “Justice” Department denied their request. (Surprise.)
So this is yet another developing story.
In the meantime, the threat of Trump’s arrest over the “classified” documents might recall this observation by Mike Davis: “[In case you missed it] from January 2021: Trump declassified these Crossfire Hurricane records. He may have legally declared a copy as ‘personal,’ under the Presidential Records Act. These records could be very damaging to Biden, Obama and Hillary. Hence, the unprecedented and unlawful raid?”
Intuition says this is a very good question. What did Trump have that they perhaps wanted back?
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