For all the time Obama’s FBI (and later the special counsel) was investigating Russia-Trump “collusion” in the 2016 campaign, top-level officials were doing a high-wire act to keep information about what they were doing out of the hands of Congress and those with FOIA requests. As Andrew C. McCarthy points out, they didn’t brief the bipartisan leadership of either the House or Senate or their intelligence committees. They ignored requests for documents or slow-walked them like a colony of inebriated three-toed sloths. And documents they did finally turn over were redacted like crazy.
The usual justification for blacking out line after line, page after page, is that they do it “to protect sources and methods,” and, yes, these truly are an essential part of intelligence gathering. But in this case, considering the particular sources and methods we’re slowly finding out about, it’s easy to see why they wanted to keep a lid on them. Sources like Christopher Steele and Hillary-connected diplomats and methods like deceiving judges and utilizing “moles” inside a political opponent’s presidential campaign are things the FBI most assuredly wanted to protect.
Now that former FBI Director James Comey is doing book interviews, the question arises as to whether he’s being protected as well. It’s possible that Robert Mueller has given him immunity on the sly, and the more Comey talks and contradicts himself, the more likely that seems. The FBI passed out immunity like candy at Christmas to associates of Hillary during their ridiculous “Mid-Year Exam” (MYE) investigation of Hillary, before Comey announced there would be no indictment of her. In effect, they gave her immunity, too.
In McCarthy’s column in National Review, he shows that some of the answers we seek are right there for all to see, in the thousands of Peter Strzok-Lisa Page texts. (And thanks to the Inspector General Michael Horowitz for somehow getting hold of them, when the FBI said they were unretrievable.) All that texting provides a “day-to-day narrative” to go with the emerging timeline of events for both the Hillary and the Russia-Trump investigations. As two people who are “singularly well informed,” Strzok and Page reference not only what is going on but why –- which is no doubt why large portions of their texts were heavily redacted before they saw the light of day. The names of Justice Department, White House, intelligence and other government officials have been blacked out. But after reading through hundreds of texts (so we don’t have to!), McCarthy claims that they are still a “gold mine.”
Apparently, Strzok and Page were inspired to solidify the Trump-Russia connection while reading a Josh Marshall “Talking Points” post called “Trump & Putin. Yes, it’s really a Thing,” which outlined numerous business associations Trump had with Russian financiers. After reading it, they spend the next 50 minutes exchanging 13 lengthy texts that the Justice Department has entirely blacked out. “Sources and methods,” ya think?
The investigation comes together with amazing speed. They talk about various DOJ people who will be involved (most names redacted, but mentions of “Andy” [McCabe] and “Bill” [Priestap] remaining), and then, weirdly, Strzok immediately leaves for London. This is the trip that seems to have paved the way for getting George Papadopoulos into that London bar with information to share about the Russians hacking Hillary’s emails.
They’re being sneaky about Strzok’s London trip. Page, a lawyer who is McCabe’s legal assistant, reminds him to be careful of what he signs in England so he can “lawfully protect the information” (“protect,” as in “conceal”). She writes, “Just thinking about Congress, foia (Freedom Of Information Act), etc.” He texts her from London about the “guy we’re about to interview,” but everything after that reference is redacted.
Strzok gets back from London and they set up meetings about the exciting new case. Strzok texts Page: And hi. Went well, best we could have expected. Other than [REDACTED] quote: “the White House is running this.” My answer, “well, maybe for you they are.”
Okay, the White House? These are extremely significant conversations, and there is no national security reason for blacking them out so extensively. But at this point, we all know it isn’t about national security. We’re not fools; this is legal cover for the FBI, Justice Department and most likely the White House. We also know President Trump has the authority to declassify anything he wants. He might want to start by opening up this gold mine and giving those political operatives the shaft.