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Mueller’s Chronology

Did you ever notice that if you take a log recording the events regarding an illegal surveillance program, and redact the heck out of it, it looks like a chronology that a dirty fucking hippy blogger might write? Below you can read what’s left of Mueller’s log, with my notes. The big takeaways are:

  • Mueller refers to a "program," singular. Which backs up what everyone has been saying: Gonzales is a lying sack. There was one program that was the subject of a DOJ revolt, not the parsing tidbits of programs Gonzales would like to pretend there were.
  • All Cheney, no Bush. With the exception of the famous meeting where Mueller met Bush directly, Bush was uninvolved, at least from Mueller’s perspective. Cheney, on the other hand, attended all the group meetings (though Card was in charge of twisting Mueller’s and Comey’s arms). And the final meeting Mueller felt the need to record was one with Cheney. Is there any doubt, then, when Gonzales say "at the behest of the President," he really means, "Dick"?
  • Mueller almost seemed to be a go-between between those in DOJ preparing to resign and the White House, with Gonzales as the point of contact.

Monday 3/1/04, 1700: Meeting with Comey in his office.

This was actually before the meeting at which Comey and Ashcroft decided not to reauthorize the program, which he said occurred on March 4, the same day Ashcroft was hospitalized. That means two things–Comey was not acting AG when the meeting occurred, and that it happened before the final decision was made. Note that Mueller draws a line after this entry, suggesting some kind of separation between this meeting and subsequent meetings.

Tuesday 3/9/04, 1000: Meeting with Fedarcyk, Pistole, Caproni (and perhaps Wainstein and Gebhardt).

These were then all top FBI people, most with a focus on counter-terrorism–Wainstein is now the AAG in charge of Counter-Terrorism. Fedarcyk, who has since retired, was quoted after Mueller’s testimony as suggesting Mueller was "throwing Gonzales under a bus."

Mike Fedarcyk, a retired senior FBI official called Mueller’s shot at Gonzales a "jawdropper inside the bureau."

Mueller,who was not in the hospital room, spoke to Ashcroft right afterGonzales left and testified he took notes about the incident. Fedarcyksaid that appeared to be insurance against a White House counterattack.

"Usually you take notes to protect yourself. He used them to throw Gonzales under the bus. That’s huge," Fedarcyk said.

"This is not partisan politics. It’s a bold, strategic, calculated move."

Presumably, this meeting served to finalize the FBI position on what they needed from the program, just before Mueller went and represented the FBI’s position at a White House meeting on this.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.