New York Times Narrative Engineers Start Positioning DOJ/FBI “Small Group” Coup-Plotters as Victims of CIA and Intelligence Community Manipulation…

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from The Conservative Treehouse:

The background context has already been outlined –SEE HERE– so we won’t repeat.  Instead, we look at today’s defensive narrative engineering from the New York Times with a similar perspective, but a different set of reminders.

Content and distribution tells us this information is from the DOJ and FBI faction of the “Small Group“.  Not accidentally, and VERY importantly, this is the same faction under the microscope of Inspector General Michael Horowitz and his pending IG report.  Additionally, and again very importantly, the principles within the IG report have already had an opportunity to review the part of the upcoming report that highlights their conduct.

So this New York Times reporting, from conversations with the DOJ and FBI small group participants, is coming out in advance of the IG report and with their review in mind.

Here’s the article, emphasis mine:

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation have asked witnesses pointed questions about any anti-Trump bias among former F.B.I. officials who are frequent targets of President Trump and about the earliest steps they took in the Russia inquiry, according to former officials and other people familiar with the review.

[Note “prosecutors” is plural; more than one.  “prosecutors” also implies a shift from investigative review, to a likelihood of criminal conduct.  The media presentation of John Durham has gone from a single U.S. Attorney with a mandate from his boss, to a group of people, ‘prosecutors’, working with the U.S. Attorney.]

The prosecutors, led by John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, have interviewed about two dozen former and current F.B.I. officials, the people said. Two former senior F.B.I. agents are assisting with the review, the people said.

[Two dozen former and current FBI officials questioned, but none of the individual within the small group have been questioned yet.  In addition to the prosecutors, Durham also has two FBI agents assisting.  Later in the article we discover a strong likelihood that one of those FBI agents is the leak source for the New York Times.]

The number of interviews shows that Mr. Durham’s review is further along than previously known. It has served as a political flash point since Attorney General William P. Barr revealed in the spring that he planned to scrutinize the beginnings of the Russia investigation, which Mr. Trump and his allies have attacked without evidence as a plot by law enforcement and intelligence officials to prevent him from winning the 2016 election.

[…] Mr. Durham has yet to interview all the F.B.I. officials who played key roles in opening the Russian investigation in the summer of 2016, the people familiar with the review said. He has not spoken with Peter Strzok, a former top counterintelligence official who opened the inquiry; the former director James B. Comey or his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe; or James A. Baker, then the bureau’s general counsel.

[So Mr. Durham has not questioned the “small group” participants. Ultimately this appears to be the reason for the nervousness now originating a defensive posture.]

Those omissions suggest Mr. Durham may be waiting until he has gathered all the facts before he asks to question the main decision makers in the Russia inquiry.

[Or it could be that those “main decision makers” are targets of the investigation.]

The president granted Mr. Barr sweeping powers for the review, though he did not open it as a criminal investigation. That means he gave Mr. Durham the power only to read materials the government had already gathered and to request voluntary interviews from witnesses, not to subpoena witnesses or documents. It is not clear whether the status of the review has changed.

[Why would Mr. Barr need to “subpoena” pre-existing documents he has been granted full presidential authority to review?  Methinks the New York Times engineer is conflating the power of a special counsel (prior investigation) with the power of a U.S. Attorney General who was granted full access to any/all classified information by an executive order from the President of the United States.]

Mr. Durham’s investigators appeared focused at one point on Mr. Strzok, said one former official who was interviewed. Mr. Strzok opened the Russia inquiry in late July 2016 after receiving information from the Australian government that the Russians had offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton to a Trump campaign adviser. Mr. Durham’s team has asked about the events surrounding the Australian tip, some of the people familiar with the review said.

Mr. Durham’s team, including Nora R. Dannehy, a veteran prosecutor, has questioned witnesses about why Mr. Strzok both drafted and signed the paperwork opening the investigation, suggesting that was unusual for one person to take both steps. Mr. Strzok began the inquiry after consulting with F.B.I. leadership, former officials familiar with the episode said.

[“why” did FBI leadership allow Strzok to create, draft and open the investigation?  LOL, that’s actually a big tell.  Apparently Comey and McCabe were smart enough to keep their signatures off a political investigation.  It’s called plausible deniability.  Same purpose for James Comey keeping copious notes (diary) in his home safe.

Mr. Durham has also questioned why Mr. Strzok opened the case on a weekend, again suggesting that the step might have been out of the ordinary. Former officials said that Mr. McCabe had directed Mr. Strzok to travel immediately to London to interview the two Australian diplomats who had learned about the Russians’ offer to help the Trump campaign and that he was trying to ensure he took the necessary administrative steps first.

[“Two” = Alexander Downer and Erika Thompson.   May 10, 2016, Papadopoulos meets Ambassador Downer at the Kensington Wine Rooms in London, England. MEDIA CLAIM: “Downer met with George Papadopoulos, where Papadopoulos — having been introduced through two intermediaries, Christian Cantor and Erika Thompson — mentioned that Russians had material on Hillary Clinton.”  Both Papadopoulos and Downer refute their May 10th meeting discussed Clinton emails.  Papadopoulos notes that Ambassador Downer is recording their conversation.  {Go Deep}]

It is not clear how many people Mr. Durham’s team has interviewed outside of the F.B.I. His investigators have questioned officials in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence but apparently have yet to interview C.I.A. personnel, people familiar with the review said.

[So the leakers “people familiar” to the NYT are limited to knowledge inside the DOJ and FBI operational entities; just as we suspected.

[…]  Many of the questions from Mr. Durham’s team overlapped with ones that the Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, has posed in his own look into aspects of the Russia inquiry, according to the people.

Mr. Horowitz’s report, which is most likely to be made public in the coming weeksis expected to criticize law enforcement officials’ actions in the Russia investigation. Mr. Horowitz’s findings could provide insights into why Mr. Barr thought that the Russia investigation needed to be examined.

[Well, there’s the motive for the current narrative engineering.  Horowitz’s report is coming out; small group participants will be criticized; and the justification for Barr and Durham to look at their behavior will be bolstered by IG Horowitz.]

In his review, Mr. Durham has asked witnesses about the role of Christopher Steele, a former intelligence official from Britain who was hired to research Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia by a firm that was in turn financed by Democrats. Law enforcement officials used some of the information Mr. Steele compiled into a now-infamous dossier to obtain a secret wiretap on a Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, whom they suspected was an agent of Russia.

[Interesting the NYT doesn’t write that Mr. Durham has interviewed Christopher Steele about his work on the dossier and his contact with the small group (he has).  One would think that would be an important notation in a paragraph about Mr. Steele, no?]

[…] Mr. Durham’s investigators asked why F.B.I. officials would use unsubstantiated or incorrect information in their application for a court order allowing the wiretap and seemed skeptical about why agents relied on Mr. Steele’s dossier.

The inspector general has also raised concerns that the F.B.I. inflated Mr. Steele’s value as an informant in order to obtain the wiretap on Mr. Page. Mr. Durham’s investigators have done the same, according to the people familiar with his review.

[Well, well, well, I answered by own question.  The NYT doesn’t want readers to know John Durham interviewed Steele, because the NYT is admitting the Steele information was “unsubstantiated”, “incorrect”, and the FBI “inflated” Mr. Steele to gain a political weapon.  Hmmm… methinks those exact words will be in the IG report; I digress.]

Mr. Horowitz has asked witnesses about an assessment of Mr. Steele that MI6, the British spy agency, provided to the F.B.I. after bureau officials received his dossier on Mr. Trump in September 2016. MI6 officials said Mr. Steele, a Russia expert, was honest and persistent but sometimes showed questionable judgment in pursuing targets that others viewed as a waste of time, two people familiar with the assessment said.

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