Elizabeth Vaughan over at Red State, has an interesting post on the background of Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson. It was Atkinson who ruled that the whistleblower’s complaint was in accordance with existing law and could properly be forwarded to Congress for a hearing. I don’t know enough about the whistleblower statute law or the procedures/protocols customarily followed in such cases, to know whether Atkinson’s interpretation is reasonable or not. Senator Chuck Grassley has said that the whistleblower, despite the evidentiary defects of the complaint, should be heard; other Republicans, such as useful idiot, Mitt Romney, are sure to follow suit.
Regardless of the substance matter that forms the basis of the whistleblowers charge, which is heavy on second hand hearsay and speculation, there is the question of Atkinson’s clear conflicts of interest in ruling on any aspect of this case against Trump.
Vaughan offers some facts that would seem to place Atkinson at the heart of the Intelligence Community’s illegal role in fabricating evidence on the FISA application they knew was bogus as a basis to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. Julie Kelly of American Greatness observes that Atkinson, in July 2016, became “the senior counsel to John Carlin, the head of the National Security Division. Carlin was Robert Mueller’s chief of staff when he ran the FBI and was appointed NSD chief by President Obama in 2013.”
Vaughan notes that,
Carlin played a role in both the framing of Trump’s National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, as well as theFBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. In her testimony before Congress last summer, FBI lawyer Lisa Page told lawmakers that “Carlin was briefed regularly by former deputy FBI Director Andy McCabe on the Trump-Russia collusion probe.”
Vaughan further writes in support of the contention that Atkinson, by virtue of his position as senior counsel to Carlin, may have had knowledge of the improper procedures that were followed,
With full knowledge thatTrump campaign advisor Carter Page was not a “Russian spy,” that he had actually done undercover work for the FBI, Carlin prepared the FISA Court application for a warrant to spy on him. Shortly before the application was submitted, Carlin abruptly resigned under controversial circumstances in October 2016. (He is now a CNBC contributor – surprise!)
The takeaway from all this is that although there is no evidence at present to implicate Atkinson directly in the illicit FISA warrant scandal, he definitely rubbed shoulders with the major players in the FISA incident. At best here, Atkinson’s involvement creates the appearance of impropriety, additional grist for the mill that in Washington, “the fix is always in.” When it is over, the entire whistleblower episode will remind people of what Trump meant when he said that he wanted to “drain the swamp.”
Some progressive commentators/reporters have been quick to sing Atkinson’s praises. “The intelligence community’s chief watchdog, Michael Atkinson, is known to his peers and colleagues as a highly cautious ‘straight shooter’ who tends to keep his head down,” writes Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand. “Bombshell Report” Bertrand, has been so spectacularly erroneous and biased in her reporting on any Trump-related incident over the past two years, that she has no credibility whatsoever and whatever she writes should be discounted or entirely discarded