July - 2016

July 31, 2016 – The official beginning of the FBI’s Trump/Russia investigation codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane”

Former Australian Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Downer (Credit: public domain)

“The FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia was originally known as “Crossfire Hurricane” before it was widely known to the public and even the bureau itself, officials told The New York Times.

The case, named after a Rolling Stones lyric, was used by only the small group of agents sent to interview the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom, who had evidence of possible collusion between Russia and a Trump adviser.

Five agents embarked to London in the summer of 2016 for a rare interview with the diplomat after deliberations between American and Australian officials, where they gathered information that would provide the basis for the Russia probe that is still ongoing.

The Times previously reported that a young foreign policy aide on the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, revealed he knew of hacked Democratic Party emails to Australian Ambassador Alexander Downer over late-night drinks in London.

Downer reportedly notified U.S. intelligence officials of his run-in with Papadopoulos after the emails, which contained damaging information about 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton just as the aide had said, began to leak to the public.

From there, the tight group of FBI agents went forward in interviewing Trump associates, which was kept secret for fear of leaks that could sway the campaign.

The official look into the Trump campaign reportedly began just days after the bureau closed its investigation into Clinton for her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State.” (Read more: The Hill, 5/16/2018)

 

July 31, 2016 – Opinion: The Clinton Foundation, State and Kremlin Connections

The Skolkovo Innovation Center opens in 2010 and is often referred to as Russia’s “Silicon Valley.” (Credit: Valeny Meinkov/Sputnik)

By Peter Schweizer

“Hillary Clinton touts her tenure as secretary of state as a time of hardheaded realism and “commercial diplomacy” that advanced American national and commercial interests. But her handling of a major technology transfer initiative at the heart of Washington’s effort to “reset” relations with Russia raises serious questions about her record. Far from enhancing American national interests, Mrs. Clinton’s efforts in this area may have substantially undermined U.S. national security.

Consider Skolkovo, an “innovation city” of 30,000 people on the outskirts of Moscow, billed as Russia’s version of Silicon Valley—and a core piece of Mrs. Clinton’s quarterbacking of the Russian reset.

Following his 2009 visit to Moscow, President Obama announced the creation of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state directed the American side, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov represented the Russians. The stated goal at the time: “identifying areas of cooperation and pursuing joint projects and actions that strengthen strategic stability, international security, economic well-being, and the development of ties between the Russian and American people.”

The Kremlin committed $5 billion over three years to fund Skolkovo. Mrs. Clinton’s State Department worked aggressively to attract U.S. investment partners and helped the Russian State Investment Fund, Rusnano, identify American tech companies worthy of Russian investment. Rusnano, which a scientific adviser to President Vladimir Putin called “Putin’s child,” was created in 2007 and relies entirely on Russian state funding.

What could possibly go wrong?

Soon, dozens of U.S. tech firms, including top Clinton Foundation donors like Google, Intel and Cisco , made major financial contributions to Skolkovo, with Cisco committing a cool $1 billion. In May 2010, the State Department facilitated a Moscow visit by 22 of the biggest names in U.S. venture capital—and weeks later the first memorandums of understanding were signed by Skolkovo and American companies.

By 2012 the vice president of the Skolkovo Foundation, Conor Lenihan —who had previously partnered with the Clinton Foundation—recorded that Skolkovo had assembled 28 Russian, American and European “Key Partners.” Of the 28 “partners,” 17, or 60%, have made financial commitments to the Clinton Foundation, totaling tens of millions of dollars, or sponsored speeches by Bill Clinton.

Russians tied to Skolkovo also flowed funds to the Clinton Foundation. Andrey Vavilov, the chairman of SuperOx, which is part of Skolkovo’s nuclear-research cluster, donated between $10,000 and $25,000 (donations are reported in ranges, not exact amounts) to the Clinton’s family charity. Skolkovo Foundation chief and billionaire Putin confidant Viktor Vekselberg also gave to the Clinton Foundation through his company, Renova Group.

Amid all the sloshing of Russia rubles and American dollars, however, the state-of-the-art technological research coming out of Skolkovo raised alarms among U.S. military experts and federal law-enforcement officials. Research conducted in 2012 on Skolkovo by the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Program at Fort Leavenworth declared that the purpose of Skolkovo was to serve as a “vehicle for world-wide technology transfer to Russia in the areas of information technology, biomedicine, energy, satellite and space technology, and nuclear technology.” (Read more: Wall Street Journal, 7/31/2016)

July, 2016 – 2017: New emails and memos confirm Bruce Ohr communicated extensively with Christopher Steele

Glenn Simpson (l) Christopher Steele (c) and Bruce Ohr (Credit: Washington Examiner)

“Hundreds of pages of previously unreported emails and memos provide the clearest evidence yet that a research firm, hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to find dirt on and defeat Donald Trump, worked early and often with the FBI, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official and the intelligence community during the 2016 presidential election and the early days of Trump’s presidency.”

(…) “Ohr’s own notes, emails and text messages show he communicated extensively with Steele and with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. Those documents have been turned over in recent weeks to investigative bodies in Congress and the DOJ, but not reviewed outside the investigative ranks until now.

They show Ohr had contact with Steele in the days just before the FBI opened its Trump-Russia probe in summer 2016, and then engaged Steele as a “confidential human source” assisting in that probe.

They also confirm that Ohr later became a critical conduit of continuing information from Steele after the FBI ended the Brit’s role as an informant.

“B, doubtless a sad and crazy day for you re- SY,” Steele texted Ohr on Jan. 31, 2017, referencing President Trump’s firing of Sally Yates for insubordination.

Steele’s FBI relationship had been terminated about three months earlier. The bureau concluded on Nov. 1, 2016, that he leaked information to the news media and was “not suitable for use” as a confidential source, memos show.

The FBI specifically instructed Steele that he could no longer “operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI,” those memos show.

Yet, Steele asked Ohr in the Jan. 31 text exchange if he could continue to help feed information to the FBI: “Just want to check you are OK, still in the situ and able to help locally as discussed, along with your Bureau colleagues.”

“I’m still here and able to help as discussed,” Ohr texted back. “I’ll let you know if that changes.”

Steele replied, “If you end up out though, I really need another (bureau?) contact point/number who is briefed. We can’t allow our guy to be forced to go back home. It would be disastrous.” Investigators are trying to determine who Steele was referring to.”

(Read more including docs: The Hill, 8/07/2018)

July 2016 – Bruce Ohr’s efforts to secretly reshape the Trump probe, starts earlier, long before Trump wins the election

“Within the massive assembly of documents, emails, text messages, congressional testimony and portions of media reports a clear timeline emerged. Part of that timeline was based on the fact that certain events had to have taken place – at specific times – in order to reconcile the downstream activity.

The key point of the graphic, which ran counter to all MSM reporting, was a trail of circumstantial evidence showing Bruce Ohr had to have been in contact with Christopher Steele much earlier than anyone realized.  SEE BELOW:

A new report today from John Solomon backs up this timeline with the first-hand testimony of DOJ Official Bruce Ohr.

(…) For much of the past year, many in Congress have labored under the notion that Ohr, then the No. 4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official, began assisting the FBI’s probe into Russia election collusion only after Trump won the 2016 election.

Lawmakers’ belief was rooted in reports showing Ohr’s first documented interview with FBI agents occurred in November 2016, and in testimony from Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, who mentioned Ohr’s involvement in the probe as starting after Thanksgiving 2016.

But now, based on Ohr’s own account in a closed-door congressional interview and other contemporaneous documents, congressional investigators have learned that Ohr made his first contact with the FBI about Trump-Russia collusion evidence in late July and early August 2016. And his approach was prompted by information he got from his friend, the former British intelligence agent Steele.

Ohr’s account to Congress and his contemporaneous notes show he had multiple contacts with Steele in July 2016. One occurred just before Steele visited the FBI in Rome, another right after Steele made the contact.

A third contact occurred July 30, 2016, exactly one day before the FBI and its counterintelligence official, Peter Strzok, opened the Trump probe officially.

Steele met with Ohr and Ohr’s wife, Nellie, in a Washington hotel restaurant for breakfast. At the time, Nellie Ohr and Steele worked for the same employer, Simpson’s Fusion GPS opposition research firm, and on the same project to uncover Russia dirt on Trump, according to prior testimony to Congress.

(…) “According to my sources, Ohr called then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe the same day as his Steele breakfast and met with McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page on Aug. 3 to discuss the concerns about Russia-Trump collusion that Steele had relayed.

Ohr disclosed to lawmakers that he made another contact with the FBI on Aug. 15, 2016, talking directly to Strzok.

Within a month of Ohr passing along Steele’s dirt, the FBI scheduled a follow-up meeting with the British intelligence operative — and the path was laid for the Steele dossier to support a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Just as important, Ohr told Congress he understood Steele’s information to be raw and uncorroborated hearsay, the sort of information that isn’t admissible in court. And he told FBI agents that Steele appeared to be motivated by a “desperate” desire to keep Trump from becoming president.” (Read more:The Hill, 9/6/2018)

This account by congressional sources to Solomon about the testimony of Bruce Ohr matches our prior research.  It was the initial chapters of the Steele Dossier, a work product of both Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele, that were given to Bruce Ohr, who then subsequently relayed that information to the FBI (McCabe, Page and Strzok) without disclosing the conflict within the source material coming from his wife.

Here’s how it comes together:  Nellie Ohr started working for Glenn Simpson (Fusion GPS) in/around October or November of 2015.  Nellie Ohr had “contractor access” to the FISA database (NSA and FBI) as a result of her prior and ongoing clearance relationship with the CIA and open source research group.

Nellie, Bruce and Glenn Simpson worked together previously in 2010.

(Page #30 – pdf link)

It was Nellie’s original 2015 political opposition research that Glenn Simpson was pitching and selling as political opposition research to any interested purchaser.

Several months later, when it became clear that Donald Trump was the likely GOP candidate who would win the primary (March/April 2016), Hillary Clinton signed-on to purchase the opposition research from Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS.

Keep in mind, simultaneous to this moment in March and April 2016, NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers intervened to stop contractor access to the FISA-702(16)(17) database.  From the time Nellie Ohr began working for Fusion GPS in November 2015, through April 2016 there were thousands of unlawful database queries and extractions; 85% of them were unlawful.

(FISA Court Document Link)

Now, Nellie and Glenn Simpson had a problem. They needed to have a way to launder unlawfully extracted FISA search results.  Nellie Ohr was familiar with Christopher Steele from her husband Bruce’s prior working relationship with Steele in the FIFA corruption case.

So Fusion GPS (Glenn Simpson and Nellie Ohr) reached out to Christopher Steele.  As a former intelligence officer, and conveniently not in the U.S. (plausible deniability improves), Steele could then receive the Nellie research, wash it with his own research from ongoing relationships with Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska,… here comes the hookers and pee tapes…. and begin packaging it as the “dossier”.

When you understand what was going on, some of the irreconcilable issues surrounding the dossier make sense. [Example Here]  This is the Big Effen Deal.

The unlawful FISA extracted intelligence/research was laundered through the use of the dossier.  The information was then cycled back to Bruce Ohr, thereby using Christopher Steele to remove Nellie’s fingerprints from the origination.  That’s why Bruce Ohr never initially told the FBI -the end user of the dossier- about his wife working for Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson.

Bruce Ohr meets with Christopher Steele, receives the laundered intelligence product within the dossier, informs Andrew McCabe and Lisa Page and then passes the intelligence information along to FBI Agent Peter Strzok.

Does this explain now why Glenn Simpson, Chris Steele, Nellie Ohr and Bruce Ohr were having breakfast together on July 30th, 2016?

Through this process, what few recognize is that much of the material inside the Steele Dossier is actually research intelligence material unlawfully extracted from the FBI and NSA database; most likely in majority an assembly by Nellie Ohr.

This explains why Paul Wood said: “I have spoken to one intelligence source who says Mueller is examining ‘electronic records’ that would place Cohen in Prague.”  Likely Mueller has Nellie’s database research mistake on Michael Cohen, and he got it from Christopher Steele.

Remember the New York Times article, right before the testimony by Bruce Ohr, where the intelligence community was trying to say that Nellie Ohr had nothing to do with the Dossier?   (screen grab below)

(New York Times, 8/27/2018)

Remember that ridiculous attempt to distance Nellie Ohr from the dossier?

Now do you see why the intelligence community needed to try, via their buddies in the New York Times, to cloud the importance of Nellie Ohr?

Kim Strassel – (…) Congressional sources tell me that Mr. Ohr revealed Tuesday that he verbally warned the FBI that its source had a credibility problem … Mr. Ohr said, moreover, that he delivered this information before the FBI’s first application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a warrant against Trump aide Carter Page, in October 2016. (Wall Street Journal, 8/30/2018)

Of course Bruce Ohr delivered it before October 21st, 2016.  He gained the foundational  material from Chris Steele in June and July 2016, passed it along to Peter Strzok, and his wife was key in providing Steele the source information.

This is also why Bruce Ohr never put his wife’s income source on his annual compliance forms.  Nellie Ohr’s income was an outcome of her database access.

(Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 9/07/2018)

July 30, 2016 – FBI probe of Trump-Russia ties begin

“Christopher Steele, a former British MI-6 intelligence officer who specialized in Russian operations, had been hired as an investigator by an opposition research firm. According to one of the sources, it was Steele who first alerted FBI agents on July 5 to evidence he had compiled that advisers to the Trump campaign and Kremlin officials were in contact about the 2016 election.”

James Comey (Credit: Jim Watson/Agence France Presse/Getty Images

(…) “The early contact between Steele and the bureau now appears to have set in motion a chain of events that led to Monday’s extraordinary testimony by Comey that the bureau has been actively investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin since “late July” — or more than three months before Election Day.

“I’ve been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Comey told members of the House Intelligence Committee in a prepared opening statement. “That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

(…) “It is not a cloud that is likely to be lifted any time soon. Comey said there was no timetable on the probe, that he couldn’t predict how long it would take, and wouldn’t commit to giving any “updates” to the Congress about the status of the probe. When asked directly by Rep. Teri Sewell, D-Ala., “Was Donald Trump under investigation during the campaign?” Comey responded: “I’m not going to answer that.” He added quickly that the members shouldn’t draw any “inferences” from his answer.” (Read more: Yahoo News, 3/20/2017)

July 28 – August 5, 2016: The Strzok-Page Texts and the Origins of the Trump-Russia Investigation

By Andrew C. McCarthy

“Peter Strzok and Lisa Page’s texts shine a highly redacted light on how the Trump-Russia investigation began.

It was July 31, 2016. Just days earlier, the Obama administration had quietly opened an FBI counterintelligence investigation of Russian cyber-espionage — hacking attacks — to disrupt the 2016 election. And not random, general disruption; the operating theory was that the Russians were targeting the Democratic party, for the purpose of helping Donald Trump win the presidency.

FBI special agent Peter Strzok was downright giddy that day.

The Bureau had finally put to bed “Mid Year Exam.” MYE was code for the dreaded investigation of Hillary Clinton’s improper use of a private email system to conduct State Department business, which resulted in the retention and transmission of thousands of classified emails, as well as the destruction of tens of thousands of government business records. Strzok and other FBI vets dreaded the case because it was a go-through-the-motions exercise: Everyone working on it knew that no one was going to be charged with a crime; that Mrs. Clinton was going to be the next president of the United States; and that the FBI’s goal was not to be tarnished in the process of “investigating” her — to demonstrate, without calling attention to the suffocating constraints imposed by the Obama Justice Department, that the Bureau had done a thorough job, and that there was a legal rationale for letting Clinton off the hook that might pass the laugh test.

That mission was accomplished, Strzok and his colleagues believed, with Director James Comey’s press conference on July 5, outlining the evidence and recommending against charges that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring. Now, having run the just-for-show interview of Hillary Clinton on July 2 — long after Comey’s press statement that there would be no charges was in the can — Strzok was on the verge of a big promotion: to deputy assistant director of counterintelligence.

Even better: Now, he was working a real case — the Trump-Russia case. He was about to fly to London to meet with intelligence contacts and conduct secret interviews.

Not so secret, though, that he could contain himself.

As was his wont several times a day, Strzok texted his paramour, Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer in the lofty position of counsel to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — which made Page one of the relative handful of Bureau officials who were in on the new probe. Late Sunday night, as he readied for his morning flight, Strzok wrote to Page, comparing the investigations of Clinton and Trump.

“And damn this feels momentous. Because this matters. The other one did, too, but that was to ensure that we didn’t F something up. This matters because this MATTERS.

This MATTERS.”

(Read more: National Review, 5/14/2018) 

July 27, 2016 – Trump: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,”

Donald Trump addresses a news conference in Miami, FL on July 27, 2016. (Credit: CNBC)

“Former CIA Director Leon Panetta blasted Donald Trump Wednesday night from the stage of the Democratic National Convention, calling his recent comment that Russia should “find” Hillary Clinton’s emails “irresponsible” and “inconceivable.”

Panetta’s comments were largely disrupted by the crowd chanting “No more war,” but he continued his remarks.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump urged Russian agents to “find” Clinton’s emails and release them, an unprecedented move by a candidate for president encouraging such a foreign breach.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the GOP presidential nominee said at a news conference in Miami on Wednesday. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Trump was referring to the ongoing controversy surrounding the private server Clinton used while secretary of state.” (Read more: NPR, 7/27/2016)

The following day, the New York Times reports Trump was encouraging Russia and “essentially urging a foreign adversary to conduct cyberespionage against a former secretary of state.” (Read more: New York Times, 7/28/2016)

July 26, 2016 – Christopher Steele files another dossier memo claiming the Kremlin was behind the DNC hacking

Christopher Steel (Credit: public domain)

“On July 26, 2016, after WikiLeaks disseminated the D.N.C. e-mails, Steele filed yet another memo, this time claiming that the Kremlin was “behind” the hacking, which was part of a Russian cyber war against Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Many of the details seemed far-fetched: Steele’s sources claimed that the digital attack involved agents “within the Democratic Party structure itself,” as well as Russian émigrés in the U.S. and “associated offensive cyber operators.”

Neither of these claims has been substantiated, and it’s hard to imagine that they will be. But one of the dossier’s other seemingly outlandish assertions—that the hack involved “state-sponsored cyber operatives working in Russia”—has been buttressed. According to Special Counsel Mueller’s recent indictment of thirteen Russian nationals, Kremlin-backed operatives, hiding behind fake and stolen identities, posed as Americans on Facebook and Twitter, spreading lies and fanning ethnic and religious hatred with the aim of damaging Clinton and helping Trump. The Kremlin apparently spent about a million dollars a month to fund Internet trolls working round-the-clock shifts in a run-down office building in St. Petersburg. Their tactics were similar to those outlined in Steele’s Charlemagne investigation, including spreading falsehoods designed to turn voters toward extremism. The Russian operation also involved political activism inside the U.S., including the organizing of bogus pro-Trump rallies.” (Read more: The New Yorker, 3/12/2018)

July 26, 2016 – DNC sought to hide details of Clinton funding deal

(Credit: Getty Images)

“Leaked emails show the Democratic National Committee scrambled this spring to conceal the details of a joint fundraising arrangement with Hillary Clinton that funneled money through state Democratic parties.

But during the three-month period when the DNC was working to spin the situation, state parties kept less than one half of one percent of the $82 million raised through the arrangement — validating concerns raised by campaign finance watchdogs, state party allies and Bernie Sanders supporters.

 The arrangement, called the Hillary Victory Fund, allowed the Clinton campaign to seek contributions of hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend extravagant fundraisers including a dinner at George Clooney’s house and a concert at Radio City Music Hall featuring Katy Perry and Elton John. That’s resulted in criticism for Clinton, who has made opposition to big money in politics a key plank in her campaign platform.

Clinton’s allies have responded publicly by arguing that the fund is raising big money to boost down-ballot Democratic candidates by helping the 40 state parties that are now participating in the fund.

But privately, officials at the DNC and on Clinton’s campaign worked to parry questions raised by reporters, as well as Sanders’ since-aborted campaign, about the distribution of the money, according to a cache of hacked emails made public late last week by WikiLeaks.”  (Read more: Politico, July 26, 2016)

July 25, 2016 – Peter Strzok/Lisa Page texts reveal a friendship with FISA court judge Rudolph Contreras

For those following the increasingly curious case against General Mike Flynn, events take another unusual turn today.  Congressional investigators have shared a set of unredacted text messages between FBI Agent Peter Strzok and his cohort DOJ Attorney Lisa Page which reveal a personal friendship between Agent Strzok and Flynn’s initial presiding judge Rudolph Contreras.

On November 30th, 2017, Mike Flynn signed a guilty plea; ostensibly admitting lying to investigators.  The plea was accepted by Judge Rudolph Contreras; who is also a FISA court judge.  Six days later, December 7th, 2017, Judge Contreras “was recused” from the case without explanation.

The case was reassigned to DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan.  The Contreras recusal always seemed sketchy. The key question was: if the conflict existed on December 7th, wouldn’t that same conflict have existed on November 30th, 2017?

Apparently DOJ lawyer Lisa Page was unaware that “Rudy” was a FISA court judge until July 25th, 2016, when she posited a question to her small group co-conspirator FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Today questions about the conflict seem to have been answered. Text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page reveal the FBI agent and Judge Contreras were close personal friends.

Contreras was appointed to the FISA Court court in May 2016. The FISA court approved a Title-1 Surveillance Warrant against Trump campaign aide Carter Page on October 26th, 2016, essentially placing the entire Trump campaign under FBI surveillance. That surveillance was then used against incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The FBI agent questioning Michael Flynn in January 2017 was Peter Strzok. The judge presiding over the sketchy Flynn plea, an outcome of that interview, was Strzok’s friend Judge Rudolph “Rudy” Contreras. Therein lies the conflict.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 3/16/2018)