It seems to me that news about the ongoing virus crisis is so overwhelming that some other news items are being almost completely obscured.
One of these presents yet another sordid chapter in the ongoing story slowly emerging about the conduct of some of the highest ranking folks in our government who were involved in the exercise of their positions to bring about their political objectives. Yep, this latest episode adds to what could be a great novel of intrigue, treachery, deceit, and outright crimes — except that most people would probably think the plot and cast of characters are so far out as to be unbelievable.
Some folks may recall that as part of the infamous $30 million Mueller investigation into Russian collusion with a presidential candidate, later president, in the 2016 election was the indictment, prosecution, and subsequent guilty plea of lying to the FBI by a former national security advisor. Rumors have persisted for years that he had been “set up” by the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in an effort to force him to “turn” on and provide damning evidence — even if false — against the president — which he refused to do. He has not yet been sentenced and the DOJ prosecutors have recently reversed their recommendation of a light sentence in favor of a much heavier one.
Anyway, recently revealed internal FBI memos indicate that he was almost certainly truly “set up.” You see, this entire case revolves around an “interview” he had with two FBI agents. This meeting, which he assumed was a “friendly chat” with two members of the FBI, was actually a successful attempt to bypass White House protocols that required such interviews to be requested through the White House Counsel’s office and required a White House lawyer to be present. The individual had no idea in advance that he was the target of an investigation, wasn’t advised of such during the “interview,” and wasn’t advised he could have legal representation during the meeting.
The FBI, on the other hand carefully planned the meeting. One recently released handwritten FBI note about the “interview” reads, “What is our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” The decision was to trap him into a lie about a telephone conversation he had with a Russian official — a conversation the FBI had already recorded, but of which fact the target was ignorant. Thus, the purpose of the meeting was not to gain information about the content of the call, which the FBI already knew, but to trap the target into an error of omission or commission about his participation and thus open himself to a charge of lying to the FBI. Interestingly enough, the lead agent conducting the interview was of the opinion the target had not lied, but was actually telling the truth and reported his finding on his “302 report” which is the official form used by the FBI to document such “interviews”.
Recently revealed documents, however, disclose a senior FBI official and his DOJ lawyer repeatedly “edited” and altered this 302 report until it showed an entirely different picture. Furthermore, this altered document was reportedly primary evidence against the target in his indictment and trial. OK, but he pled guilty to the charge of lying, right? Well, there are now indications he did so because the FBI threatened to “go after” his son unless he did so and he is now requesting his “guilty” plea be withdrawn. Good luck with that.
So what’s gonna happen as a result of all this and the promised future revelations about misconduct by senior officials? Probably about the same as has happened with all the past disclosures associated with the wrongdoings by folks “inside the beltway” in our nation’s capital. Nothing. Absolutely nothing except for some hand wringing and a few “tut tut, mustn’t do that” comments.
Yep, the political elite can violate the law concerning safekeeping of classified material, lie on FISA warrant requests, knowingly present as true a phony “dossier” compiled for a political party by a former British spy using false Russian material, and now altering an official FBI report for political purposes. There are more instances, but the pattern and story line are clear. These folks walk away with fat book contracts and speaking engagement fees and are touted as “heroes” among certain circles — while if we ordinary folks had done these things we would be facing prosecution and criminal penalties. But that’s the way our capital works.
At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.