March - 2018

March 30, 2018 – Top FBI congressional liaison, Greg Brower, leaves the agency

Gregg Brower (Credit: Cathleen Allison/The Associated Press)

“Greg Brower, an FBI assistant director and head of the Office of Congressional Affairs, stepped down last Friday after a year on the job. In the role, Brower was on the receiving end of a pack of congressional probes into the law enforcement agency’s conduct.

The decision, a “tough” one he made of his own accord, Brower said, follows other high-level departures from the bureau as FBI Director Christopher Wray assembles his own team of close advisers.

“It was tough but I had an offer I couldn’t refuse from a great law firm,” Brower said in an interview Thursday. “It was very gratifying to be a part of that team. I could not be more proud of how people work and how committed they are to the mission.”

Brower was appointed to the position by then-FBI director James Comey in March of 2017 after serving as the bureau’s deputy general counsel. He will join the lobbying and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as a shareholder in the litigation department.

The work in the legislative affairs office has heated up during Brower’s tenure, as the fallout from Comey’s firing by President Donald Trump has fanned a growing mistrust of the FBI among some lawmakers and spurred a round of congressional investigations.

Not long before Brower’s departure, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee slapped the Justice Department with a subpoena for documents related to a trio of recent controversial decisions made by the FBI, including the move in 2016 to not charge Hillary Clinton after the probe of her email server and the internal recommendation by an FBI office to fire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

In response, Wray said last week that the pace of document production for congressional inquiries at the bureau was “too slow” and doubled the number of FBI staff responsible for reviewing the records.” (Read more, CNN, 4/06/2018)

March 29, 2018 – Excerpts of Sessions letter to Congress reveals his assignment of prosecutor John W. Huber and his work with IG Horowitz

Jeff Sessions (Credit: public domain)

(…) “As you are aware, I have asked the Department’s Inspector General, Michael E. Horowitz, to review certain matters that you and some members of your committees have raised in recent and previous letters. In addition to his ongoing investigation, the Inspector General has now confirmed that he has opened a review into the Department’s compliance with certain legal requirements and Department and FBI policies and procedures with respect to certain applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”

(…) “To carry out these duties, Title 5 of the United States Code provides the Inspector General with broad discretion and significant investigative powers. The office currently employs approximately 470 staff, a significant number of whom are lawyers, auditors, and investigators who may exercise wide discretion on matters under their jurisdiction. If the Inspector General finds evidence of criminal wrongdoing, he may refer it to a United States Attorney who can then convene a grand jury or take other appropriate actions. To be clear, the Inspector General has the authority to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, collect evidence through subpoena, and develop cases for presentation to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General for prosecution or other action. The Inspector General also may, under appropriate circumstances, make information available to the public even if no criminal or disciplinary action is recommended. In contrast, this type of information would not normally be publicly available after the conclusion of a traditional criminal investigation.”

(…) “As noted in Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd’s November 13, 2017 letter to the House Committee on the Judiciary, I already have directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues previously raised by the Committee. In that letter, Mr. Boyd stated:

“These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”

Specifically, I asked United States Attorney John W. Huber to lead this effort. Mr. Huber is an experienced federal prosecutor who was twice confirmed unanimously by the Senate as United States Attorney for the District of Utah in 2015 and 2017. Mr. Huber previously served in leadership roles within the U.S.Attorney’s Office as the National Security Section Chief and the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney. He has personally prosecuted a number of high-profile cases and coordinated task forces focused against violent crime and terrorism. This work garnered commendations from the highest levels of the Department over the course of two administrations.” Letter, 3/29/2018)

March 28, 2018 – Document – DOJ OIG Announces Initiation of Review

Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) logo

DOJ OIG Announces Initiation of Review

Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today that, in response to requests from the Attorney General and Members of Congress, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will initiate a review that will examine the Justice Department’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) relating to a certain U.S. person.

As part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source. Additionally, the OIG will review the DOJ’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISC applications.

If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review. (Source: Press Release Document)

March 18, 2018 – Glenn Simpson thinks Sergei Millian is a “big talker” who overstated his links to Trumpworld

Sergei Millian (Credit: Twitter)

“The veracity of the Steele dossier is once again a topic of intense debate following the Justice Department’s release of secret warrants that the FBI used to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The four applications, which were obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), show that the bureau relied heavily on the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC, to obtain the warrants, which accused Page of being a secret Kremlin agent.

But not only do many of the allegations in the dossier remain unverified, there is reason to doubt the credibility of a major source for the 35-page document, including for claims that the Kremlin has blackmail material on President Donald Trump and about Page’s alleged involvement in a collusion conspiracy.

According to the recent book “Russian Roulette, Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, believed that Millian was a “big talker” who overstated his links to Trumpworld.

“Had Millian made something up or repeated rumors he had heard from others to impress Steele’s collector? Simpson had his doubts. He considered Millian a big talker,” write authors Michael Isikoff and David Corn, who are good friends with Simpson.

Millian is both Source D and Source E in the dossier, according to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. In the 35-page document, Source D alleged that the Russian government is blackmailing Donald Trump with video of a sexual tryst with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel room. Source E described an alleged “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 7/24/2018)

March 5, 2018 – The source behind the Trump Russia investigation , donated $25 million to Clinton Foundation

Former Australian Prime Minister Alexander Downer (Credit: public domain)

“The Australian diplomat whose tip in 2016 prompted the Russia-Trump investigation previously arranged one of the largest foreign donations to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable efforts, documents show.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s role in securing $25 million in aid from his country to help the Clinton Foundation fight AIDS is chronicled in decade-old government memos archived on the Australian foreign ministry’s website.

Downer and former President Clinton jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 2006 that spread out the grant money over four years for a project to provide screening and drug treatment to AIDS patients in Asia.

The money was initially allocated to the Clinton Foundation but later was routed through an affiliate of the charity known as the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), officials said. Australia was one of four foreign governments to donate more than $25 million to CHAI, records show.”

(…) “Downer, now Australia’s ambassador to London, provided the account of a conversation with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a London bar in 2016 that became the official reason the FBI opened the Russia counterintelligence probe.

But lawmakers say the FBI didn’t tell Congress about Downer’s prior connection to the Clinton Foundation. Republicans say they are concerned the new information means nearly all of the early evidence the FBI used to justify its election-year probe of Trump came from sources supportive of the Clintons, including the controversial Steele dossier.” (Read more: The Hill, 3/05/2018)