October - 2016
October 27, 2016 – Strzok’s ‘fingerprints’ are on Comey’s notification to Congress about the Weiner laptop
“We have added two new pieces to the giant jigsaw puzzle showing the effort to undermine President Trump. They show more of the workings of the disgraced former FBI Director James Comey and fired FBI official Peter Strzok.
We have released 424 pages of FBI records, including an email revealing that Strzok created the initial draft of the October 2016 letter Comey sent to Congress notifying lawmakers of the discovery of Hillary Clinton emails on the laptop of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Another email suggests that the FBI had not yet completed its review of Clinton’s emails by the time Comey sent a second letter to Congress on November 6, 2016, reconfirming his belief that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be charged with a crime.”
(…) “The documents reveal that on October 27, 2016, Peter Strzok emailed other senior FBI officials a draft notice letter from Comey to Congress about the Weiner laptop discovery and the reopening of the Clinton investigation. The emails indicated that Strzok and another official Jon (Last Name Unknown) authored the notification to Congress. The notification, according the DOJ IG, came a full month after the emails were discovered by the FBI on the Weiner laptop.
According to the documents, at 11:04 p.m. on Saturday, November 5, 2016, FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki sent Comey an email containing a redacted draft document which he referred to as a “New Proposal” saying: “Folks, Per our 1000pm conversation, below is a revised straw man for discussion. Again, we could use this if the review when completed supports our conclusions. My comments again in ALL CAPS and bold italics.”
Rybicki’s “New Proposal … straw man” apparently refers to a draft of Comey’s letter to Congress concerning the FBI’s review of the 650,000 Clinton emails found on Weiner’s laptop. At the time of the Rybicki email, Comey was preparing his letter informing Congress of the FBI’s findings, and according to page 390 of the June 2018 report from the DOJ Office of the Inspector General, the deliberations regarding the letter began on the afternoon of November 3 and concluded “very early on November 6.”
Despite Rybicki’s email suggesting late on November 5 that the review of the new emails had not been completed, Comey’s November 6 letter to Congress stated, “[W]e reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”
Comey’s “conclusions” in July were that no charges should be filed against Clinton, despite her repeatedly having sent classified information over her unsecured, non-State-Department server. Comey later admitted that he had drafted his July exoneration more than a month earlier.
RealClearInvestigations’ reporter Paul Sperry recently reported that “only 3,077 of the 694,000 emails [found on the Weiner laptop] were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information. Three FBI officials completed that work in a single 12-hour spurt the day before Comey again cleared Clinton of criminal charges.”
These new documents provide more details of the corrupt and dishonest FBI investigation of the incredible revelations that Clinton’s classified and other emails were present on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. When will the Sessions DOJ and Wray FBI finally begin an honest investigation of Hillary Clinton’s national security crimes?” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 9/07/2018)
October 24, 2016 – Clinton Foundation Corruption | Charles Ortel and Stefan Molyneux
“Hillary Clinton likes to claim that the Clinton Foundation has given away ninety percent of money received to charity and is highly rated by charity research companies – but both claims are misleading at best or disturbingly false at worst. Charles Ortel joins Stefan Molyneux to discuss the arguments and evidence which show the fraud and illegality of the Clinton Foundation operations including the pillaging of Haiti and the new revelations brought about through Wikileaks. Charles Ortel is an investor and writer who graduated from Horace Mann School, Yale College and Harvard Business School. Mr. Ortel has been one of the leading voices in exposing the corruptions of the Clinton Foundation.”
October 21, 2016 – Andrew McCarthy writes about the “critical first FISA application, the basis for the warrant granted against Carter Page”
By: Andrew C. McCarthy
“In a word, the Grassley-Graham memo is shocking. Yet, the press barely notices.
(…) “The Grassley-Graham memo corroborates the claims in the Nunes memo: The Obama Justice Department and FBI used anonymously sourced, Clinton-campaign generated innuendo to convince the FISA court to issue surveillance warrants against Carter Page, and in doing so, they concealed the Clinton campaign’s role. Though the Trump campaign had cut ties with Page shortly before the first warrant was issued in October 2016, the warrant application was based on wild allegations of a corrupt conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Moreover, the warrant meant the FBI could seize not only Page’s forward-going communications but any past emails and texts he may have stored — i.e., his Trump campaign communications.”
(…) “Last Friday, the Nunes memo asserted that the FBI and Justice Department had significantly relied on the unverified Steele dossier to obtain FISA warrants on Page. In the week that followed, House Intelligence Committee Democrats and their media echo chamber bleated about how things had been taken out of context, with some suggesting that there was plenty of other evidence to establish probable cause that Page was acting as a Russian agent. (See my column last Sunday responding to claims by Representative Jerrold Nadler, here.) It was even implied that Nunes & Co. had deceptively reported committee testimony by the FBI’s then deputy director Andrew McCabe that the Steele dossier was essential to this probable-cause showing.
We’re not hearing much of that now. No wonder. Here’s the Grassley-Graham memo on the critical first FISA application, the basis for the warrant granted on October 21, 2016:
The bulk of the application consists of allegations against Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Mr. Steele and are also outlined in the Steele dossier. The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page, although it does cite to a news article that appears to be sourced to Mr. Steele’s dossier.
We’ll come to the news article — the stupefying circular attempt to corroborate Steele with Steele. For the moment, suffice it to say that the senators have confirmed the Nunes memo’s account, except with much more information than House Republicans were able to include. Information such as this:
When asked at the March 2017 briefing [of Judiciary Committee leaders] why the FBI relied on the dossier in the FISA applications absent meaningful corroboration — and in light of the highly political motives surrounding its creation — then-Director [James] Comey stated that the FBI included the dossier allegations about Carter Page in the FISA applications because Mr. Steele himself was considered reliable due to his past work with the Bureau. (Emphasis added.)
On this score, Grassley and Graham quote directly from the warrant applications: “Based on [Steele’s] previous reporting history with the FBI whereby [Steele] provided reliable information to the FBI, the FBI believes [Steele’s] reporting to be credible.” (Emphasis added.)
I cannot stress enough how irregular this is. It is why there is abundant reason to demand that the judge explain his or her rationale for granting the warrant.
As I outlined at greater length last week (here, in section C), in applying for a warrant, the government must establish the reliability of the informants who witnessed the alleged facts claimed to support a probable-cause finding. Steele was not one of those witnesses. He is not the source of the facts. He is the purveyor of the sources — anonymous Russians, much of whose alleged information is based on hearsay, sometimes multiple steps removed from direct knowledge. Steele has not been in Russia since his cover as a British spy was blown nearly 20 years ago. He has sources, who have sources, who have sources . . . and so on. None of his information is better than third-hand; most of it is more attenuated than that.
For purposes of justifying a warrant, it does not matter that, in a totally unrelated investigation (involving corruption at FIFA, the international soccer organization), the FBI judged that the hearsay information provided by Steele, then a British agent, checked out. In his anti-Trump research, Steele could not verify his sources. Furthermore, he was now a former foreign intelligence officer who was then working for private clients — which is the advocacy business, not the search-for-truth business.” (Read more: National Review, 2/10/2018)
October 20, 2016: The Uncovering – Mike Rogers’ Investigation, Section 702 FISA Abuse & the FBI
(…) “On January 7, 2016, the NSA Inspector General, George Ellard, released a report on NSA Controls & FISA compliance. Starting on page ii:
Agency controls for monitoring query compliance have not been completely developed.
The Agency has no process to reliably identify queries performed using selectors associated with 704 and 705(b) targets.
The rest of the highlights are fully redacted. But more information lay within the report (pages 6-7):
We identified another [redacted] queries that were performed outside the targeting authorization periods in E.O. 12333 data, which is prohibited by the E.O. 12333 minimization procedures. We also identified queries performed using USP selectors in FAA §702 upstream data, which is prohibited by the FAA §702 minimization procedures.
Downstream collection involves the government acquiring data from the companies providing service to the user – like Google or Facebook.
However, some Section 702 collection is obtained via “upstream” collection.
In simple parlance, upstream collection means the NSA accesses the high capacity fiber optic cables that carry Internet traffic and copies all the data flowing through those cables.
The agency is then supposed to filter out any “wholly domestic” communications that are between Americans located in the U.S.
Data collected “incidentally” on U.S. Citizens is generally not destroyed. It is minimized. As we will see later, this became a problem.
Intelligence Agencies can then search the data using “To”, “From” or “About” queries on a target of Section 702 collection.
“About” queries are particularly worrisome.
They occur when the target is neither the sender nor the recipient of the collected communication – but the target’s selector, such as an email address, is being passed between two other communicants.
For more information see, FISA Surveillance – Title I & III and Section 702.”
(…) “About” queries were abruptly halted by NSA Director Mike Rogers on October 20, 2016. This was formally announced by the NSA on April 28, 2017.
The events leading to this decision are described in this post.
Which brings us to a table from the Inspector General’s Report.
Table 3 (page 7) shows four types of violations. The most frequent violation – 5.2% of the total – came from Section 702 upstream “About” queries.
The Inspector General’s Report is heavily redacted – but even a casual reading indicates there were significant compliance and control issues within the NSA regarding the use of Section 702 data.
It’s unclear if NSA Director Rogers discovered the 702 violations and reported them in early 2015, or if it was the Inspector General who found them. Either way, Rogers became aware of Section 702 violations sometime in 2015.
Following NSA Inspector General Ellard’s report, Rogers implemented a tightening of internal rules at the NSA.
However, the NSA Inspector General’s report and Roger’s tightening of internal rules did not halt the Query Compliance Problems.
Outside Agencies – specifically the DOJ’s National Security Division and the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division – were still routinely violating Section 702 procedures.
In 2015, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz (not to be confused with NSA IG Ellard) specifically requested oversight of the National Security Division. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates responded with a 58 page Memorandum, that effectively told the Inspector General to go pound sand.
As noted earlier, John Carlin was the Head of the DOJ’s National Security Division and was responsible for filing the Government’s proposed 2016 Section 702 certifications.
This filing would be subject to intense criticism from the FISA Court following disclosures made by NSA Director Rogers. Significant changes to the handling of raw FISA data would result.
Bill Priestap remains the Head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division – appointed by FBI Director Comey in December 2015. See: FBI Counterintelligence Head Bill Priestap – A Cooperating Witness.”
(…) “On October 20 2016, Rogers was briefed by the NSA compliance officer on findings from the 702 NSA compliance audit. The audit had uncovered numerous “About” Query violations (Senate testimony).
On October 21, 2016, Rogers shut down all “About Query” activity. He reported his findings to the DOJ (Senate testimony & inferences from Court Ruling).
On October 21 2016, the DOJ & FBI seek and receive a Title I FISA probable cause order authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISA Court. At this point, the FISA Court is unaware of the Section 702 violations.
On October 24, 2016, Rogers verbally informed the FISA Court of his findings (Page 4 of Court Ruling). (Read more: themarketswork, 4/05/2018)
(Timeline editor’s note: Jeff Carlson at themarketswork.com, has done a remarkable job of reading the fine print and highlighting key details from Senate testimony, the NSA Inspector General’s report, and the FISC report that followed NSA Director Mike Rogers disclosure of 702 violations. This is a snippet of Carlson’s very informative piece and he has been kind enough to allow me to post far more than what Fair Use would normally allow. Please don’t miss the rest of his easy to understand, in-depth report.)
October 20, 2016 – NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers requests a full NSA compliance audit of FISA-702 use
Admiral Mike Rogers became NSA director in April 2014.
Sometime in early 2016 Admiral Rogers became aware of “ongoing” and “intentional” violations of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Section 702(17) surveillance. Specifically item #17 which includes the unauthorized upstream data collection of U.S. individuals within NSA surveillance through the use of “About Query”.
Section 702 – Item #17 “About Queries” are specifically the collection of electronic messaging, emails and upstream phone call surveillance data of U.S. persons.
The public doesn’t discover this issue, and Director Rogers action, until May 2017 when we learn that Rogers told the FISA court he became aware of unlawful surveillance and collection of U.S. persons.
Put into context, with the full back-story, it appears that 2016 surveillance was the political surveillance now in the headlines; the stuff Chairman Nunes is currently questioning. The dates here are important as they tell a story.
As a result of Rogers suspecting FISA 702(17) surveillance activity was being used for reasons he deemed unlawful, in mid 2016 Rogers ordered the NSA compliance officer to run a full audit on 702 NSA compliance.
Again, 702 is basically spying on Americans; the actual “spying” part is 702. Item 17 is “About Queries“, which allows user queries or searches of content (messaging, email and phone conversations) based on any subject matter put into the search field.
The NSA compliance officer identified several strange 702 “About Queries” were being conducted. These were violations of the fourth amendment (search and seizure), ie searches, privacy violations, and surveillance without a warrant. Admiral Rogers was briefed by the compliance officer on October 20th, 2016.
Admiral Mike Rogers ordered the “About Query” activity to stop, reported the activity to the DOJ, and then went to the FISA court.
On October 26th, 2016, full FISA court assembled, NSA Director Rogers personally informed the court of the 702(17) violations. Additionally, and as an outcome of the NSA systems inability to guarantee integrity, Rogers also stopped “About Query” permanently.
(Things to note: ♦Note the sequencing; ♦note that Rogers a career military person, followed the chain of command; ♦note the dates as they align with the Trump FISA application from the FBI and DOJ-NSD, (ie. early October 2016); ♦and note amid this sequence/time-line the head of DOJ-National Security Divsion, John P Carlin resigns.]
IMPORTANT – WATCH the first two and a half minutes of this video:
At the same time Christopher Steele was assembling his dossier information (May-October 2016), the NSA compliance officer was conducting an internal FISA-702 review as initiated by NSA Director Mike Rogers.
The NSA compliance officer briefed Admiral Mike Rogers on October 20th 2016.
On October 26th 2016, Admiral Rogers informed the FISA Court of numerous unauthorized FISA-702(17) “About Query” violations.
Subsequent to that FISC notification Mike Rogers stopped all FISA-702(17) “About Queries” permanently. They are no longer permitted.
Pg 83. “FBI gave raw Section 702–acquired information to a private entity that was not a federal agency and whose personnel were not sufficiently supervised by a federal agency for compliance minimization procedures.”
Please pay close attention to this section, pg 84, (Note the date April 18th):
Notice how it was FBI “private contractors” that were conducting the unauthorized FISA-702 Queries via access to information on FBI storage systems.
We have been tipped off that one of the FBI contractors in question was, unbelievably, Fusion-GPS.
It is almost certain this early 2016 series of FISA-702 compliance violations was the origin of NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers concern.
Mike Rogers discovery becomes the impetus for him to request the 2016 full NSA compliance audit of FISA-702 use. It appears Fusion-GPS was the FBI contracted user identified in the final FISA court opinion/ruling on page 83.
Note the dates from the FISC opinion (above) – As soon as the FBI discovered Mike Rogers was looking at the searches, the FBI discontinued allowing their sub-contractor access to the raw FISA information. Effective April 18th, 2016.” (Read much more: Conservative Treehouse, 1/11/2018)
(Republished with special permission.)
October 18, 2016 – The Clinton Foundation left a toxic legacy in Colombia, critics say[…] “Colombia should be the Clinton Foundation’s best case study. Ground zero for the drug wars of the 1980s and 90s, racked by uneven development and low-intensity conflict for half a century, Colombia has received significant foundation money and attention. Bill and Hillary Clinton have visited the country often and enjoy close relationships with members of Colombia’s ruling party.
Colombia has also been home to the vast oil and natural gas holdings of one of the Clinton Foundation’s largest individual donors, Canadian financier Frank Giustra. In short, conditions were right for Colombia to be the shining example of what the Clinton Foundation’s philanthropy can accomplish in the world, and what makes Hillary so proud of its efforts.
The American Media Institute, a nonprofit news service based in Alexandria, Virginia, partnered with Fusion to send us to Colombia to investigate the Clinton Foundation’s impact. We interviewed more than 50 people in Colombia and found ground realities that contrasted, often starkly, with the nonprofit’s claims about its good work.
Many of the Colombian “success stories” touted on the foundation’s website were critical about the foundation’s effect on their lives. Many labor leaders and progressive activists say foundation programs caused environmental harm, displaced indigenous people, and helped concentrate a larger share of Colombia’s energy and mining resources in the hands of Giustra, who was involved in a now-bankrupt oil company that worked closely with the Clinton Foundation and which used the Colombian military and a surveillance program to smash a strike by its workers.
They paint a picture that belies the progressive principles on which the Clintons have based their political dynasty and philanthropy, embodied in the Clinton Foundation’s promotional copy: “Everyone deserves a chance to succeed.” (Read more: The American Media Institute/Fusion, 10/18/2016)
October 15, 2016 – John Carlin, Justice Department top national security official, resigns
“The Justice Department’s top national security official is leaving his position next month, the department announced Tuesday.
John Carlin, who has led the department’s national security division since 2014, will be leaving government on October 15.
The department did not reveal what Carlin, 43, plans to do next, but it said he would take some time off and spend time with his family.
“John Carlin has been a trusted and tireless leader of the Justice Department’s National Security Division,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “He is wholly devoted to the department’s most important mission — protecting our country against acts of terrorism and other national security threats — and he has set a high standard by relentlessly pursuing those who seek to harm our people and threaten our assets.”
Carlin’s exit leaves the Obama administration without one of its most vocal advocates for publicly identifying and blaming foreign government hackers for cyber attacks on American institutions. His departure comes as the administration weighs whether and how to respond to a Democratic National Committee cyberbreach that U.S. officials believe was committed by the Russians. (Read more: CBS News, September 26, 2016)
October 14, 2016 – Hours after FBI found classified Clinton emails on Weiner laptop, Peter Strzok’s wife is promoted to Director of SEC Enforcement
“Hours after the FBI found classified Hillary Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, the wife of the FBI agent running the high-profile probe was promoted to a powerful position in the Securities and Exchange Commission, FBI sources said.
This case keeps getting worse for the FBI and embattled agent Peter Strzok, the lead investigator on the Clinton probe. His wife Melissa Hodgman was promoted to deputy director of SEC’s Enforcement Division literally hours after Strzok and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe were debriefed about the Clinton emails found on Weiner’s computer.
The FBI’s original warrant for Weiner’s laptop was issued in late September 2016 and a subsequent warrant was issued on Oct. 30, 2016 so that the FBI could use Huma Abedin’s & Hillary’s classified emails as evidence in the re-opened Clinton probe.
Hodgman was promoted Oct. 14, 2016, literally hours after investigators started to examine the laptop’s contents for Clinton emails and assorted files, federal sources confirm.
Federal sources said the FBI field office in New York, who handled the original Weiner warrant for then-US Attorney Preet Bharara, reported to Strzok and McCabe that they had found evidence pertaining to the Hillary Clinton email case on Oct. 12, 2016, federal sources said.
About 36 hours later, Hodgman was promoted in the SEC.
The Wall Street Journal’s reporting on the laptop case confirms the early October timeline divulged to True Pundit by FBI sources.
“The latest development began in early October when New York-based FBI officials notified Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s second-in-command, that while investigating Mr. Weiner for possibly sending sexually charged messages to a teenage minor, they had recovered a laptop. Many of the 650,000 emails on the computer, they said, were from the accounts of Ms. Abedin, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Two weeks after Hodgman’s appointment, the FBI secured a subsequent search warrant to use Hillary and Huma emails from the 650,000 warehoused on the computer as evidence.”
(…) “Perhaps Hodgman’s promotion was merely happenstance?
“There are no coincidences here,” one FBI source told True Pundit. “Not with this crew. They wanted his wife in that SEC slot for a reason.”
Enter the Clinton Foundation.” (Read more: The True Pundit, 12/14/2017)
October 2016 – Christopher Steele meets with four American officials in Rome, who raise the prospect of paying Steele to continue gathering intelligence after Election Day
“In the fall of 2016, a little more than a month before Donald Trump was elected president, Christopher Steele had the undivided attention of the FBI.
For months, the British former spy had been working to alert the Americans to what he believed were disturbing ties Trump had to Russia. He had grown so worried about what he had learned from his Russia network about the Kremlin’s plans that he told colleagues it was like “sitting on a nuclear weapon.”
He was now being summoned to Rome, where he spent hours in a discreet location telling four American officials — some of whom had flown in from the United States — about his findings.
The Russians had damaging information about Trump’s personal behavior and finances that could be used to pressure the GOP nominee. What’s more, the Kremlin was now carrying out an operation with the Trump campaign’s help to tilt the U.S. election — a plot Steele had been told was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
The FBI investigators treated Steele as a peer, a Russia expert so well-trusted that he had assisted the Justice Department on past cases and provided briefing material for British prime ministers and at least one U.S. president. During intense questioning that day in Rome, they alluded to some of their own findings of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign and raised the prospect of paying Steele to continue gathering intelligence after Election Day, according to people familiar with the discussion.” (Read more: Washington Post, 2/06/2018)
October 2016 – Comey Directs Strzok To Focus On Trump-Russia Over Hillary Investigation – ‘Our Top Priority’
“FBI Assistant Director Peter Strzok testified Thursday that former FBI Director James Comey directed him to focus his time and resources on the Russian election interference investigation over Hillary Clinton’s use of classified information.
In a fiery joint Judiciary and Oversight Committee hearing, Strzok was asked by Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler why he thought it was important to “prioritize” the Russia investigation in October 2016 over the recent reopening of the Clinton case due to the discovery of emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.
“The first reason I did it is because the director told me to,” Strzok said, referring to Comey, “The director said it was our top priority.
Strzok continued, “When you look at an allocation of resources based on the threat to national security, the Russia influence investigations were of much greater impact than a mishandling of classified information investigation.”
Nadler clarified, “The first reason was the director told you to?”
“Yes, sir,” Strzok said.”