Liberal journalist Marcy Wheeler just tweeeted this:

[S]omeone should figure out via what means Sidney Powell knows exactly what John Durham is up to[.] And to be clear, I mean BOTH that she learned precisely what Billy Barr picked up on his vacation in Italy and who was getting a criminal referral.

To provide context, Sidney Powell is the lawyer of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI in the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. And John Durham is the US Attorney for the district of Connecticut, who was tasked by Attorney General Bill Barr with looking into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.

What Wheeler is saying is that Michael Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell seems to have knowledge about the details of John Durham’s ongoing investigation. First of all, “what Billy Barr picked up on his vacation in Italy” is a reference to Attorney General Barr reportedly obtaining from the Italian government two cell phones belonging to Joseph Mifsud, a Kremlin-linked Maltese Professor who was a key figure in the Trump-Russia investigation. (Barr did this to help Durham.) Sidney Powell filed a motion on October 15 to compel the US government to turn over the data from these cell phones. In the motion she specified the exact serial numbers of the phones, suggesting that she has some kind of inside knowledge of the Durham investigation.

But I’m interested in the part in bold. My question is, which criminal referral did Sidney Powell have advance knowledge of? As Barr discussed in this interview, Durham has been tasked by Barr with the handling of all criminal referrals coming from the DOJ Inspector General’s investigation into potential FISA abuse in the Trump-Russia investigation. So did the Inspector General make a criminal referral of someone to Durham, and did Sidney Powell evince knowledge of who that person is? If so, who is that person?

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    Some journalist guesses something, and based on that, we should guess some more? That's 100% Opinion-Based, so voted to close.
    – Sjoerd
    Oct 27, 2019 at 2:37
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    @Sjoerd It’s not guessing at all. Sidney Powell filed a motion containing the exact IMEI numbers of the cell phones Bill Barr obtained. I think the part in bold is about another piece of information found in Sidney Powell’s court filings. Oct 27, 2019 at 2:41
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    What have those IMEI numbers to do with the criminal referral? She has sealed depositions from many key players, and those could be the source of the IMEI numbers. Assuming she also knows who's getting a criminal referral is a wild guess by the reporter.
    – Sjoerd
    Oct 27, 2019 at 2:45
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    @Sjoerd Given that the first piece wasn’t a guess, I don’t think the second piece is a guess either. I think Marcy Wheeler is referring to Sidney Powell referencing a criminal referral in some court filing. Oct 27, 2019 at 2:47
  • Perhaps before asking your above question, your latter question needs an answer first, specifically: When did Horowitz make a criminal referral in this matter and who did he refer?
    – BobE
    Oct 27, 2019 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


Based on this emptywheel.net article from one day prior to the tweet, I believe Wheeler is referring to Powell's accusation that Col. James Baker or James Clapper is responsible for leaking a classified transcript of Flynn's call with the Russian ambassador (emphasis mine):

If Horowitz’s report is broader than that, however, it might include other referred conduct, such as the leak of either the existence of a transcript between Mike Flynn and Sergei Kislyak (which Sidney Powell has alternately claim came from someone at Office of Net Assessment or James Clapper, the latter of whom is an Original Classification Authority) or that Jim Comey briefed Trump on the Steele dossier (a reference in Powell’s latest suggests she thinks Josh Campbell is the source).

This is base on a note on page 15 of Powell's Oct 25th filing:

Flynn has requested the records of Col. James Baker because he was Halper’s “handler” in the Office of Net Assessment in the Pentagon, and ONA Director Baker regularly lunched with Washington Post Reporter David Ignatius. Baker is believed to be the person who illegally leaked the transcript of Mr. Flynn’s calls to Ignatius. The defense has requested the phone records of James Clapper to confirm his contacts with Washington Post reporter Ignatius—especially on January 10, 2017, when Clapper told Ignatius in words to the effect of “take the kill shot on Flynn.”

This appears to be a new claim, I couldn't find anything prior to this filing.

(Note that this is Col. James H. Baker with the Office of Net Assessment, and not James A. Baker, the former FBI General Counsel.)

No charges have yet been announced, so despite the reporting that the "administrative review" has become a criminal investigation, we don't yet know whether this accusation will play out. But, as suggested in the tweet, Wheeler has documented other places where Powell appears to have received "inside information" from or about Barr's investigation:

Without further clarification from Wheeler (that I couldn't find in her timeline or on her blog), that's my best guess.

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