March - 2016

March 2016 – Former Feinstein staffer, Daniel Jones, and his possible early involvement with Fusion GPS during 2016 elections

“In a March 8, 2018, op-ed for The Daily Caller titled “The Ever-Changing ‘Russia Narrative’ Is False Public Manipulation,” Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska noted how “the disintegration of evidence-based journalism permits a surprisingly small number of individuals to destroy bilateral or multilateral relations.”

Daniel Jones appears in an interview with the Guardian on September 9, 2016. (Credit: The Guardian)

Deripaska then described an unusual meeting that took place on March 16, 2017, between his lawyer and a former intelligence staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) named Dan Jones:

“Daniel Jones—himself a team member of Fusion GPS, self-described former FBI agent and, as we now know from the media, an ex-Feinstein staffer—met with my lawyer, Adam Waldman, and described Fusion as a ‘shadow media organization helping the government,’ funded by a ‘group of Silicon Valley billionaires and George Soros.’”

At the time, Deripaska’s op-ed was largely ignored, or at least not viewed with great sincerity. Political commentary from Russian oligarchs isn’t in the greatest demand, domestically.

But just one week later, the House final report on Russia was made public. On page 112 of the report, there is a reference to “post-election anti-Trump research by Steele and/or Fusion GPS” along with a footnote. Contained in the footnote on page 113, is the following:

“In late March 2017, Jones met with FBI regarding PQG [Penn Quarter Group], which he described as ‘exposing foreign influence in Western elections.’ [redacted—likely Jones] told FBI that PQG was being funded by 7 to 10 wealthy donors located primarily in New York and California, who provided approximately $50 million. [redacted—likely Jones] further stated that PQG had secured the services of Steele, his associate [redacted—likely Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson], and Fusion GPS to continue exposing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.”

This footnote, and its potential significance, was first highlighted in an April 27 article by The Federalist.

Jones, who had previously worked as a senior intelligence staffer for Feinstein, founded PQG in the spring of 2016.

In his interview with the FBI, Jones made mention of “7 to 10 wealthy donors located primarily in New York and California, who provided approximately $50 million” in funding to PQG. But unlike Deripaska, Jones makes no known reference to financial involvement from George Soros.

However, a recent article in the Washington Post revealed that at least some of the money received by Jones’ PQG did come from Soros through an intermediary. Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros, disclosed to Washington Post reporter David Ignatius that Soros had made a grant to the Democracy Integrity Project which, in turn, used Fusion GPS as a contractor.

Jones isn’t referred to by name in the article—he is described only as “an associate of Fusion.” Nor is the underlying identity of Democracy Integrity Project disclosed in the Washington Post article.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 10/01/2018)

March 29, 2016 – Manafort joins the Trump campaign

Paul Manafort (Credit: ABC News)

“The Trump campaign announced it had brought on Manafort, a veteran political strategist, to help the real estate mogul prevent delegates from bolting and choosing another nominee at the Republican National Convention in July. Although Trump led the Republican field in both votes and delegates, he was still unpopular among many Republicans, and it was unclear if he would end up with the necessary delegates to prevent a floor fight at the convention. Manafort was picked in part because he was instrumental in Gerald Ford’s successful floor fight at the 1976 convention.

“Paul is a great asset and an important addition as we consolidate the tremendous support we have received in the primaries,” Trump said in a statement on March 29, 2016.

Manafort quickly got to work, ensuring the Trump campaign had a presence during the selection process and showing up to the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting in April.”

(…) “Manafort was later promoted from convention manager to campaign chairman and chief strategist. Manafort told ABC News that the Republican establishment was gathering behind Trump and acknowledging his likely nomination. “There’s a growing number of people supporting us,” he said. “They all recognize now that we definitely can win.”

One month later, Manafort’s influence within the campaign appeared even more cemented after Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, with whom Manafort had a well-documented power struggle.” (Fortune, 3/22/2017)

March 19, 2016 – The phishing email that hacks the account of John Podesta

“This appears to be the phishing email that hacked Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account. Further, The Clinton campaign’s own computer help desk thought it was real email sent by Google, even though the email address had a suspicious “googlemail.com” extension.”

podesta-phishing.png

The email, with the subject line “*Someone has your password,*” greeted Podesta, “Hi John” and then said, “Someone just used your password to try to sign into your Google Account john.podesta@gmail.com.” Then it offered a time stamp and an IP address in “Location: Ukraine.”

“Google stopped this sign-in attempt. You should change your password immediately.” And it then offered a link to change his password.

“This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delevan at the HFA help desk wrote to Podesta’s chief of staff, Sara Latham. “John needs to change his password immediately, and ensure that two-factor authentication is turned on his account.”

legitimate-email.png

Delevan included the Gmail link that would be used to change a user’s password, but whoever changed Podesta’s password instead clicked on the shortened URL that was in the original phishing email. This is the same technique used to hack Colin Powell’s emails and the Democratic National Committee emails, according to the website Motherboard.” (Read more: CBS News, 10/28/2016) (Wikileaks – Podesta Emails)

March, 2016 – Newt Gingrich paid Judicial Watch to hunt for Clinton server hack

Newt Gingrich (Credit: Nicholas Kamm/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

“In the summer of 2016, the FBI interview report noted, the interviewee reported that a senior staff member of the US Senate Judiciary Committee contacted him “out of concerns data from Clinton’s e-mail server might end up overseas. Specifically [name redacted] wanted to determine if there was an intrusion into Clinton’s server and, if so, whether exfiltrated data fell into the hands of a foreign power”—and whether that data could endanger the Senate staffer’s sons, who were in the military.

The interviewee told FBI investigators that he had told the Senate staffer that he would have to look for data that was “genuine, authentic and relevant” to determine that there had been a breach. But the staffer had no money to fund the research, so the project was brought to Newt Gingrich—who obtained funding for the investigation from Judicial Watch.

In March of 2016, Judicial Watch paid the contractor’s side company $32,000 for the first phase of the project—determining whether Clinton’s server had been directly attacked. “Judicial Watch awarded the contract to [name redacted] because they were confident he understood both the Deep Web and the Dark Web,” the interviewee told the FBI. The investigation also targeted data from Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mail account, but Clinton’s and Blumenthal’s actual e-mail services were off-limits for the search.

Some of Blumenthal’s files—but no e-mails—were found on a server in Romania, according to the FBI interview. The investigation also found an Excel file listing names of known or suspected jihadists in Libya—but part of that file was in Russian. “The file did not come from Blumenthal’s server, but contained a reference to an IP address range that included the IP address of Clinton’s server,” the FBI report recounts. “Upon viewing this file, [name redacted] became concerned he had found a classified document and stopped the project.”

(Read more: Ars Technica, 10/17/2016)

 

March 9 2016: NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers discovers FBI contractors doing FISA-702 “About Queries”

Admiral Mike Rogers (Credit: public domain)

“November 2015 through April 2016 FISA-702(17) “About Queries”, returns from searches, were identified by NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers, being conducted by the intelligence community (FBI), by “contractors” and “individuals” for reasons that: •were unauthorized; •were directly related to U.S. persons; •and had nothing to do with National Security; •and were conducted by people who did not request FISA Court Approval.

Director Mike Rogers discovered FBI contractors doing FISA-702 “About Searches” that resulted in returns providing information on Americans.  Those results were passed on to people outside government.

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.” (2017 FISA Court Opinion)

Someone inside the FBI was giving FISA-702 search results on U.S. individuals to a private entity that had nothing to do with government.   Those 702 (American Citizen) results were not “minimized” and exposed the private data of the American citizen(s).

In addition, NSA Director Mike Rogers, who is also in charge of Cyber Command, discovered people within the intelligence community were doing “searches” of the NSA and FBI database that were returning information that had nothing to do with “Foreign Individuals”.

Rogers requested a full FISA-702 Compliance Review.

As an outcome of that review, the DOJ/FBI compliance officer noted FISA violations. Again, the FISA Court (page 84):

We do not know how many FISA-702 violations took place prior to NSA Mike Rogers initiating the full FISA-702 review in April 2016. Nor do we know who the insider FBI individuals were; or what results were passed on; or what was done with the results.

However, given the nature of what was taking place at the time (March, April, May, 2016) it appears likely this was part of the DOJ/FBI/Fusion-GPS collision to gather information on the candidacy of Donald Trump.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 1/14/2018)

March 7 – October 31, 2016: Fusion GPS bank records show Russia-related payments to law firm representing Prevezon Holdings, sought to limit impact on Magnitsky sanctions

The records show that Fusion was also paid $523,651 by the law firm BakerHostetler between March 7, 2016 and Oct. 31, 2016.

Fusion worked for BakerHostetler to investigate Bill Browder, a London-based banker who helped push through the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law vehemently opposed by the Kremlin.

Denis Katsyv (Credit: public domain)

BakerHostetler represented Prevezon Holdings and its owner, a Russian businessman named Denis Katsyv.

Katsyv and Prevezon sought to limit the impact of the Magnitsky sanctions.

Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Fusion GPS founding partner, compiled the research for the anti-Browder project. He worked closely with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who also showed up at the infamous Trump Tower meeting held on June 9, 2016.

Simpson’s research ended up in the Trump Tower meeting in the form of a four-page memo carried by Veselnitskaya. She also shared Simpson’s work with Yuri Chaika, the prosecutor general of Russia.

Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week that he did not know that Veselnitskaya provided the Browder information to Chaika or to Donald Trump Jr., the Trump campaign’s point-man in the Trump Tower meeting.

Simpson testified that he did not know that Veselnitskaya had visited Trump Tower until it was reported in the press earlier this year.

(Read more: The Daily Caller, 11/21/2017)

March 4, 2016 – Strzok and Page texts are favorable toward Clinton, not so favorable toward Trump, at same time both are being investigated by FBI

“FBI agent Peter Strzok praised Hillary Clinton and said he would vote for her for president while also leading the investigation into her possible mishandling of classified information.

In March 2016, Strzok sent his mistress Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer, text messages saying that “Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0.”

And asked who he would vote for in the election, Strzok told Page: “I suppose Hillary.”

Strzok and Page also sent messages disparaging Trump, calling him an “idiot.”

(…) “Strzok and Page’s politically-charged texts continued as he transitioned from the Clinton investigation to the Russia probe.

On July 27, 2016, Page wrote of Clinton, “She just has to to win now.”

“I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about Trump,” she said.

According to various news reports, Strzok was picked to lead the Russia investigation at around the time that message was sent.

It was revealed earlier this month that Strzok is the FBI official who watered down the language in a statement prepared for Comey. Instead of using the legal term “grossly negligent” to describe Clinton’s email activities, Strzok inserted the phrase “extremely careless.”

Strzok also appears to have gone much easier on Clinton aides that he interviewed in the email probe than he did on Trump associates he met with during the Russia investigation.

Abedin and Mills, the two Clinton aides, appear to have given misleading statements in their interviews about what they knew about Clinton’s use of a private email server. But neither faced charges for the false statements.

In contrast, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was charged for lying to the FBI during an interview in January. Strzok was one of the agents who conducted the interview.” (Read more: Daily Caller, 12/12/2016) (Strzok/Page Text Documents)

March – September, 2016: The Russian trail leads To the Podesta Group

Tony Podesta (Credit: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg News)

“The media’s focus on Trump’s Russian connections ignores the much more extensive and lucrative business relationships of top Democrats with Kremlin-associated oligarchs and companies. Thanks to the Panama Papers, we know that the Podesta Group (founded by John Podesta’s brother, Tony) lobbied for Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank. “Sberbank is the Kremlin, they don’t do anything major without Putin’s go-ahead, and they don’t tell him ‘no’ either,” explained a retired senior U.S. intelligence official. According to a Reuters report, Tony Podesta was “among the high-profile lobbyists registered to represent organizations backing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.” Among these was the European Center, which paid Podesta $900,000 for his lobbying.

That’s not all: The busy Podesta Group also represented Uranium One, a uranium company acquired by the Russian government which received approval from Hillary Clinton’s State Department to mine for uranium in the U.S. and gave Russia twenty percent control of US uranium. The New York Times reported Uranium One’s chairman, Frank Guistra, made significant donations to the Clinton Foundation, and Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for one speech from a Russian investment bank that has “links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.”  Notably, Frank Giustra, the Clinton Foundation’s largest and most controversial donor, does not appear anywhere in Clinton’s “non-private” emails. It is possible that the emails of such key donors were automatically scrubbed to protect the Clinton Foundation.

Let’s not leave out fugitive Ukrainian oligarch, Dymtro Firtash. He is represented by Democratic heavyweight lawyer, Lanny Davis, who accused Trump of “inviting Putin to commit espionage” (Trump’s quip: If Putin has Hillary’s emails, release them) but denies all wrongdoing by Hillary.

Lobbying for Russia is a bi-partisan activity. Gazprombank GPB, a subsidiary of Russia’s third largest bank, Gazprombank, is represented by former Sen. John Breaux, (D., La.), and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R., Miss.), as main lobbyists on “banking laws and regulations, including applicable sanctions.” The Breaux-Lott client is currently in the Treasury Department list of Russian firms prohibited from debt financing with U.S. banks. (Read more: Forbes, 2/18/2017)