Curiouser and Curiouser: Rick Gates Attorneys Withdraw from Case Initiated by Robert Mueller…

It was announced this afternoon the lawyers representing, Rick Gates, the business partner of Paul Manafort, have withdrawn from the case.  The judicial notification is HERE, and details of withdrawal were filed under seal.

Amid the news cycle of the HPSCI memo release, and considering there could be ripple effects therein, lots of media speculations follows:

WASHINGTON DC – Three attorneys representing Rick Gates told a federal court Thursday they are immediately withdrawing as counsel for the former Donald Trump campaign aide, who is fighting special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of him on money laundering and other charges.

Lawyers Shanlon Wu, Walter Mack and Annemarie McAvoy said in a two-page motion that they would explain the reasons for their abrupt move in documents filed under seal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. (read more)

There is possibility the three lawyers could be withdrawing after discovery of the length of time the DOJ was investigating Manafort and Gates; and that might just dovetail into the FISA702 abuse story and the 2016 counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump. I’ll try to explain.

If you go back to the original indictment (pdf below); you will note the charging document states: “In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.”

The indictment is purely focused on alleged financial crimes involving Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and does not include any charges related to the broader question that formed the basis of Mueller’s investigation – whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia.  In fact the indictment describes criminal allegations that predated the Trump campaign and President Trump’s name is not mentioned at all in the 31-page document.  This has nothing to do with candidate Trump or President Trump.

However, one of the key issues is the dates, and that might explain something else entirely.  Notice the indictment recognizes action from 2006 through 2016.

One of the key questions we have been unable to solve over the past eighteen months is what initiated the 2016 FISA surveillance of candidate Trump.  Others have asked the question: what was the predicate crime that initiated the FISA ‘warrant’? etc.

Last night, in a generally overlooked media interview, former DNI James Clapper stated the “Clinton-Steele Dossier” was used by the DOJ-FBI in gaining an “extension” of an original FISA-702 warrant.

Consider the word ‘extension’ would also likely mean ‘expansion’, and that might explain why there was never an originating FISA application directed specifically toward Donald Trump.

What if, there was an existing FISA-702 surveillance ‘warrant’ granted to the FBI, at some considerably earlier time-frame, based on the targeting of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and their engagements with foreign actors, Russia, Ukraine, and foreign money laundering.

What if, the hiring of Manafort by candidate Trump, simply to manage the delegation process in advance of the convention, opened a back-door to expanding an existing FISA warrant of Paul Manafort.  The extended and expanded FISA surveillance now includes the Trump campaign and all associated officials.

In this scenario, there would never be an initiating FISA-702 surveillance request because the originating FISA authority was attached to Paul Manafort and pre-dated the Trump/Manafort relationship.

See where this is going?

In this scenario, all subsequent FISA filings would need to show a reason to continue the expanded FISA-702 surveillance authority to include candidate Trump and/or any other campaign officials.   That’s where the ‘Clinton/Steele’ dossier comes into play.

Look at the BIG PICTURE.

When you consider the FISA Court already admonished the FBI for allowing contractors unlawful use, access and removal of raw NSA and FBI intelligence database information….  and you consider that Fusion GPS (Bean LLC) was likely one of the contractors…. and when you overlay Glenn Simpson and his wife had already spent a great deal of time investigating Russian entities, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump…

Well, a pattern of convenient association and timing appears.

After months of prior opposition research, including what appears to be their access to FISA-702(17) “Search Queries“as a sub-contractor for the FBI, the wife of Glenn Simpson (Fusion GPS), Mary B. Jacoby, with years of Russia-angled reporting –including Donald Trump– visits the White House.

This is April 19th 2016, the day after the FBI, stopped allowing Fusion-GPS access the NSA FISA-702 database.  Immediately following this White House visit the Clinton campaign hire Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump, surrounding Russia.  Fusion GPS then hires Nellie Ohr.

[The Tablet] … Simpson and Jacoby had ID’d Manafort as a world-class sleazeball and they were right. A slick Georgetown Law grad running in GOP circles since the Reagan campaign, Manafort used his talents and connections to get paid by some very bad people.

I would only add here that, in my personal experience, journalists are not in the habit of forgetting major stories they’ve written, especially stories with a character like Manafort at the center.

So when the Trump campaign named Paul Manafort as its campaign convention manager on March 28, 2016, you can bet that Simpson and Jacoby’s eyes lit up.

And as it happened, at the exact same time that Trump hired Manafort, Fusion GPS was in negotiations with Perkins Coie, the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, to see if there was interest in the firm continuing the opposition research on the Trump campaign they had started for the Washington Free Beacon. (more)

D. Manny picked up on this connective tissue last night:

-Court found illegal surveillance was conducted on American citizens over a five year period.

-Judge chastised NSA’s inspector general and Office of Compliance for Operations for an “institutional ‘lack of candor’” for failing to inform the court.

-The judge called the breach “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

-Redacted part of ruling is the extent of the illegal surveillance and number of analysts who made the searches and the number of queries.

-NSA blamed it on human error and system design issues.

-The court document also criticized the FBI’s distribution of intelligence data, saying it had “disclosed raw surveillance data to sectors of its bureaucracy” … “largely staffed by private contractors.”  Contractors had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the FBI’s requests.


The FBI was already conducting FISA Court authorized surveillance on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, likely going back long before Manafort became engaged with the Trump campaign.   “Long before.”

And specifically because the DOJ and FBI Manafort/Gates investigation involved potential money laundering and financial schemes related to “organized crime” and Russian figures, who from the DOJ-NSD would have been intimately familiar?….

[…] Bruce G. Ohr held two titles at DOJ: associate deputy attorney general, a post that placed him four doors down from his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a program described by the department as “the centerpiece of the attorney general’s drug strategy.” (link)

Perhaps, through sealed discovery, Rick Gates’ attorneys discovered their client was under FISA surveillance going back multiple years:

(pdf link)

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