The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark

I’ve worked in politics a long time. Over that time, I’ve developed a pretty high tolerance for many features of politics that drive everyone else crazy. But one of its features that still drives me crazy is “transactional loyalty.” This is the tendency to support anyone, despite anything, because they’re on your team. It’s the kind of thinking that makes Trump powerful or David Brock influential.

And it’s about to make James Comey a lion of the resistance.  With former FBI Director Robert Mueller leading the investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, patriotic Americans suddenly find all of their hopes in the hands of two colleagues who have both been FBI directors.

Here at RAGEPATH, we don’t want to question the moral integrity or rectitude of either man. But, we do feel it is important to remember that the men who ran the FBI happen to have led the closest thing America has to a secret police force.  There is an inherent moral contradiction in the secret policeman, best illustrated by Les Miserables’ police inspector Javert, whose single-minded righteous crusade to capture a single (reformed) felon leaves him blind to a revolution going on around him and indifferent to the deceits and crimes he commits in his zeal to enforce the law.

The FBI makes secret deals with bad people. One of those men was Felix Sater, a long-time employee of Donald Trump whose criminal past was concealed by the FBI.

Although few projects were built, Sater worked on hotel and condominium deals with the Trump Organization through 2010 in New York, Florida, Arizona, London, Moscow and elsewhere even as he secretly helped the FBI infiltrate and take down organized crime figures, according to court records.

Trump has denied they were close, but Sater had access to Trump’s inner circle as recently as this year.  […]

In 1998, Sater pleaded guilty to a federal charge of racketeering for his role in a Mafia-linked $40-million stock fraud scheme. He quickly cut a deal, agreeing to become a secret FBI informant in hopes of getting a lenient sentence.

Court records were sealed to protect Sater’s identity, so his role in the fraud case stayed secret for a decade while he was at Bayrock. After a court hearing in 2009, he was fined $25,000 but was not sent to prison or ordered to pay restitution.

At his sentencing hearing, several FBI officials vouched for Sater’s help. He got his biggest endorsement in January 2015 when Loretta Lynch was asked at her Senate confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general why court records had been sealed in the fraud case.

Sater had secretly worked with federal prosecutors and the FBI for more than 10 years, “providing information crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of La Cosa Nostra” — the Mafia — according to Lynch, who had served as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District in New York.

(Los Angeles Times, March 2, 2017)

And that’s before we get to thinking about all the stolen Russian money that flowed through New York  under the FBI’s watch.  There are too many details to walk you through them all right now. But I ask you – do you find it credible that American prosecutors saw Latvian banks accepting warehouses of frozen chicken (sight unseen!) as collateral on multi-million dollar loans and never wondered if something more was amiss?

But according to the indictment, the Kouznetsovs did not stop at selling the chicken legs once. They obtained a loan from the Paritate Bank in Latvia by giving the bank false warehouse receipts showing that more than six million pounds of chicken were being held for the bank as collateral in a warehouse in Pensacola, Fla.

On the basis of the warehouse receipt, the Paritate Bank wired $3.5 million to the Kouznetsovs account at the Bank of New York in New York City. But the chicken had already been sold to another purchaser and was on a ship on its way to Estonia.

It was not clear yesterday whether investors had made any independent effort to verify whether the chicken actually existed. As John W. Moscow, deputy chief of the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation division, said of the loan from Paritate, ”There are a lot of suckers at that bank.”

(New York Times, July 18, 2000)

The United States is an open society. There is nothing open about espionage. Both the FBI and the CIA engage in espionage. These agencies have concealed the crimes of at least one person associated with Trump (Felix Sater) because they felt it was in the public interest.  Those agencies – even top Obama Justice officials – have not and will not provide the public with the evidence that supports their claims they acted in the public interest.

The investigations into Trump are being led by directors of an agency that may be directly implicated in Trump’s past behavior.

The intelligence services may have noble reasons to reveal less than they know about Trump and his associates. There may be American allies abroad whose lives would be endangered by a full reckoning of the intelligence community’s dealings with Trump’s Russian associates.

The intelligence services may have craven reasons to conceal what they know. There may be individual agents or an institution as a whole that have committed or abetted crimes of history-shaping proportions in their zealous pursuit of “geopolitical petty crooks.”

Whether the motives were pure or corrupt, we can’t know because it is a matter of public policy to keep American citizens in the dark.

When it comes to Trump’s connections to Russia, asking the FBI to lead the investigation is just like hiring a fox to investigate why your chickens have disappeared.

We at RAGEPATH don’t believe the FBI directors’ findings or claims will be untrue, but we don’t think you should believe their findings will be the whole truth or untainted by self interest. Comey may tell a good story this week. Don’t mistake it for the full story.