On Thursday, June 14, 2018, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report on the FBI’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Over the next three days, Trump tweeted (and retweeted Fox News) about the report 17 times. On camera, he was even bolder: “It totally exonerates me.”
By Sunday morning, even Rudy Giuliani admitted that the report does no such thing. In fact, it doesn’t even consider the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. But that hasn’t stopped Trump and his allies from weaponizing it. The bigger the Trump lie, the louder and more persistent his voice — along with those of his Greek chorus.
This week’s update to the Trump-Russia Timeline includes a close look at one small slice of the IG report that hints at a bigger story yet to come. At least, that bigger story should be coming. Rudy may be central to its plot.
The October “Surpise”
On Oct. 31, 2016, Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with FBI Director James Comey to discuss his infamous Oct. 28 letter updating Congress on the Clinton email investigation. According to Lynch, they talked about leaks from the New York office of the FBI. Why?
Go to the Trump-Russia Timeline and click on Rudy Giuliani’s name. Among the resulting entries are these:
Sept. 26, 2016: FBI agents seize former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) laptop and find emails from his then-estranged wife, Huma Abedin, to Hillary Clinton.
Oct. 25: Giuliani tells Fox & Friends that “surprises” are coming, and Clinton won’t like them.
Oct. 26: Rudy tells Fox host Martha MacCallum that the surprises are imminent — in the next day or two — and they are “big.”
Oct. 28: Shortly after Comey releases his letter to Congress, Giuliani says that he’s heard from active and former FBI agents that there was a “revolution” going on inside the FBI over Comey’s failure to prosecute Clinton.
Lynch, Comey, and the FBI’s NY Office
When the IG interviewed Lynch during its investigation, here is what she said about her Oct. 31 meeting with Comey:
“Now, I knew that the laptop had been handled in a case out of New York. And so I said, you know, we have to talk about the New York office…and the concern that both you and I have expressed about leaks in the past…. And I said, you know, I’ve talked, you and I have talked about that before…. [McCabe] and I have talked about them before….”
“[Comey] said to me that it had become clear to him… that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton. And he said it is, it is deep…[H]e said it was surprising to him or stunning to him.”
“[H]e was saying it did exist, and it was hard to manage because these were agents that were very, very senior, or had even had timed out and were staying on, and therefore did not really feel under pressure from headquarters or anything to that effect…”
“And he made a comment about, you know, you understand that. A lot of people don’t understand that. You, you get that issue. I said, I get that issue. I said I’m, I’m just troubled that this issue, meaning the, the New York agent issue and leaks, I am just troubled that this issue has put us where we are today with respect to this laptop.”
And Then There’s Nunes
Fast-forward almost two years to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). On June 14, 2018, Nunes revealed that, shortly after the release of the IG report, “good FBI agents” told him in late September 2016 about the Clinton emails on Weiner’s laptop. But the FBI’s New York office first seized that laptop on Sept. 26, and Nunes didn’t share the information from the “good agents” with any Democrats on his House Intelligence Committee — ever.
Back to the Timeline:
Nov. 4, 2016, Giuliani tells Fox News that he expected Comey’s reopening of the Clinton investigation “three or four weeks ago.” The same day, senior congressional Democrats ask the Justice Department IG Horowitz to investigate leaks that seemed to account for Giuliani’s clairvoyance.
Whatever the “active agents” told Giuliani about the coming “surprise” was an illegal leak of highly confidential information relating to an federal ongoing investigation. The same is true for whatever the “good agents” told Nunes.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 18, 2018, FBI Director Christopher Wray refused to confirm or deny the existence of an ongoing investigation into pre-election leaks from the FBI’s NY office. Inspector General Horowitz said only that his work on that issue remains “ongoing.”
Some observers, including Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, are skeptical about the IG’s investigation into pre-election leaks from the FBI’s NY office. Skepticism may be warranted, but there’s one more possibility that could be even more devastating to Trump than a fulsome probe of those leaks: Special counsel Robert Mueller may have taken that matter under his wing, in which case the IG won’t release his findings. In other words, Rudy Giuliani could well be a subject of the Trump-Russia investigation.
Someday, the whole truth about the “October surprise” that put Trump in the White House will be become known. When that happens, Trump will tweet as he has never tweeted before.
Here’s a complete list of this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline updates:
AUGUST 2014: Bolton’s Super PAC Hires Cambridge Analytica
DECEMBER 2015: Russians Close to Putin Meet With NRA Reps In Moscow
LATE MAY 2016: Stone Meets With Russian Claiming to Have ‘Political Dirt’ On Clinton
SEPT. 26, 2018: FBI Seizes Weiner’s Laptop
LATE SEPTEMBER 2016: Nunes Learns About Weiner’s Laptop From “Good FBI Agents”
OCT. 31, 2016: Comey and Lynch Discuss the FBI’s New York Office: “Deep Visceral Hatred” of Clinton and Leaks Related to Weiner’s Laptop
NOV. 12, 2016: Farage Meets With Trump
MARCH 22, 2018: Trump Names Bolton NSA
JUNE 1, 2018: Artemenko Appears Before Grand Jury
JUNE 14, 2018: NY Attorney General Sues Trump Foundation
JUNE 14, 2018: Trump Resumes Tweets About Russia Investigation; Tweets About Trump Foundation Suit
UNE 14, 2018: DOJ’s Inspector General Issues Report
JUNE 14, 2018: Giuliani Calls For Investigating Comey, Suspending Mueller, Imprisoning Strzok
JUNE 15-16-17, 2018: Trump Tweets, Retweets, and Talks About DOJ’s Inspector General Report
JUNE 15, 2018: Manafort Goes to Jail; Trump Tries To Distance Himself; Giuliani Talks Pardons
JUNE 15, 2018: Former Cambridge Analytica Employees Working for RNC
JUNE 17, 2018: Giuliani: ‘IG Report Doesn’t Exonerate Trump’