October - 2018

October 19, 2018 – FBI acknowledges using multiple informants in investigation of Trump campaign aide, Carter Page

Carter Page (Credit: Wall Street Journal)

“The U.S. government revealed in court filings Friday that the FBI used multiple confidential informants, including some who were paid for their information, as part of its investigation into former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“The FBI has protected information that would identify the identities of other confidential sources who provided information or intelligence to the FBI” as well as “information provided by those sources,” wrote David M. Hardy, the head of the FBI’s Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS), in court papers submitted Friday.

Hardy and Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys submitted the filings in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for the FBI’s four applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Page. The DOJ released heavily redacted copies of the four FISA warrant applications on June 20, but USA Today reporter Brad Heath has sued for full copies of the documents.

Hardy’s declaration acknowledged that the confidential sources used by the FBI were in addition to Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

“This includes nonpublic information about and provided by Christopher Steele, as well as information about and provided by other confidential sources, all of whom were provided express assurances of confidentiality,” Hardy wrote, referring to information disclosed in the four FISA applications.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 10/20/2018)

October 18, 2018 – Judge orders Mueller to prove Russian company meddled in election

Judge Dabney Friedrich Stephen (Credit: Stephen J. Boitano/The Associated Press)

“A Washington federal judge on Thursday ordered special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to clarify election meddling claims lodged against a Russian company operated by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Bloomberg.

Concord Management and Consulting, LLC. – one of three businesses indicted by Mueller in February along with 13 individuals for election meddling, surprised the special counsel in April when they actually showed up in court to fight the charges. Mueller’s team tried to delay Concord from entering the case, arguing that the Russian company not been properly served, however Judge Dabney Friedrich denied the request – effectively telling prosecutors ‘well, they’re here.’

Concord was accused in the indictment of supporting the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian ‘troll farm’ accused of trying to influence the 2016 US election.

On Thursday, Judge Freidrich asked Mueller’s prosecutors if she should assume they aren’t accusing Concord of violating US laws applicable to election expenditures and failure to register as a foreign agent.

Concord has asked Dabney to throw out the charges – claiming that Mueller’s office fabricated a crime, and that there is no law against interfering in elections.

According to the judge’s request for clarification, the Justice Department has argued that it doesn’t have to show that Concord had a legal duty to report its expenditures to the Federal Election Commission. Rather, the allegation is that the company knowingly engaged in deceptive acts that precluded the FEC, or the Justice Department, from ascertaining whether they had broken the law. –Bloomberg

On Monday, Friedrich raised questions over whether the special counsel’s office could prove a key element of their case – saying that it was “hard to see” how allegations of Russian influence were intended to interfere with US government operations vs. simply “confusing voters,” reports law.com.

During a 90-minute hearing, Friedrich questioned prosecutor Jonathan Kravis about how the government would be able to show the Russian defendants were aware of the Justice Department and FEC’s functions and then deliberately sought to skirt them.

“You still have to show knowledge of the agencies and what they do. How do you do that?” Friedrich asked.

Kravis, a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, argued that the government needed only to show that Concord Management and the other defendants were generally aware that the U.S. government “regulates and monitors” foreign participation in American politics. That awareness, Kravis said, could be inferred from the Russians’ alleged creation of fake social media accounts that appeared to be run by U.S. citizens and “computer infrastructure” intended to mask the Russian origin of the influence operation.

“That is deception that is directed at a higher level,” Kravis said. Kravis appeared in court with Michael Dreeben, a top Justice Department appellate lawyer on detail to the special counsel’s office. –law.com

(Read more: Zero Hedge, 10/20/2018)

 

October 17, 2018 – Treasury official arrested, charged with leaking confidential info on ex-Trump advisers

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards (Credit: public domain)

“A senior official working for the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has been charged with leaking confidential financial reports on former Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort, Richard Gates and others to a media outlet.

Prosecutors say that Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser to FinCEN, photographed what are called suspicious activity reports, or SARs, and other sensitive government files and sent them to an unnamed reporter, in violation of U.S. law.

Banks file SARs confidentially in order to tip off law enforcement to potentially illegal financial transactions. The unauthorized document disclosures, which began last October, are said to have provided the basis for 12 news articles published by an unnamed news organization.

Edwards is being charged in the Southern District of New York with one count of unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports, both of which carry a maximum five years in prison.

The charges are the latest indication of the Trump administration’s efforts to root out alleged leakers within the government, something that prosecutors emphasized in announcing the charges on Wednesday.” (Read more: The Hill, 10/17/18)

October 15, 2018 – Carter Page files a defamation lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee and Perkins Coie, which commissioned the infamous Clinton/DNC/Steele dossier

Marc Elias (Credit: Getty Images)

Onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against the Democratic National Committee and a law firm that represented them.

The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal Oklahoma court against the DNC, Perkins Coie, and Perkins Coie partners Marc Elias and Michael Sussmann, is about obtaining “justice,” Page said.

“It goes beyond any damages or any financial aspects,” Page told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Monday night. “There have been so many lies as you are alluding to, and you look at the damage it did to our democratic systems and institutions of government back in 2016. I’m just trying to get some justice in terms of getting some disclosure.”

Michael Sussmann (Credit: Perkins Coie)

Elias represented Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and hired Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Trump. Fusion GPS is the same firm that commissioned former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele who authored the so-called “Trump dossier” that contained scandalous and unverified claims about President Trump’s ties to Russia and was used by the FBI to help obtain the authority to spy on Page.

According to the dossier, Page was the Trump campaign’s intermediary to Russia and proposed disclosing stolen DNC emails via WikiLeaks, among other claims. Page has vehemently denied the allegations about him in the dossier.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 10/15/2018)

October 13, 2018 – Ron Johnson demands records of FBI’s meeting with DNC attorney during campaign

Ron Johnson (l) and Christopher Wray (Credit: Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

“Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is calling on FBI Director Christopher Wray to hand over documents related to a former FBI lawyer’s meeting during the 2016 campaign with an attorney that represented the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign.

The meeting was revealed during a congressional deposition that former FBI general counsel James Baker gave on Oct. 3. Baker told lawmakers that in September 2016 he met with Michael Sussmann, a partner at Perkins Coie.

As the lead law firm for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, Perkins Coie hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which in turn hired Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

Sources familiar with Baker’s testimony say he testified that Sussmann provided him with documents related to Russian hacking of Democrats. He also testified that the meeting was unusual.

Republican lawmakers have questioned why Baker was meeting with a top Democratic lawyer at a crucial point in the campaign. Baker was interviewed as part of an investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe, as well as the Steele dossier.

Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee, is also asking Wray for FBI notes of interviews, known as 302s, conducted with Bruce Ohr, a Department of Justice official who met numerous times before and after the election with Steele. Ohr’s wife also worked for Fusion GPS while the firm was investigating President Donald Trump.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 10/13/2018)

October 12, 2018 – Federal judge Royce Lamberth is ‘shocked’ Clinton aide Cheryl Mills was granted immunity by the Justice Department

Judge Royce C. Lamberth (Credit: Charles Dharapak/The Associated Press)

“Judicial Watch announced today that in his opening remarks at a Friday, October 12 hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth strongly criticized the U.S. Department of State, stating, “The information that I was provided was clearly false regarding the adequacy of the [Clinton email] search and… what we now know turned out to be the Secretary’s email system.”

Turning his attention to the Department of Justice, Judge Lamberth said that he was “dumbfounded” by the agency’s Inspector General report revealing that Cheryl Mills had been given immunity and was allowed to accompany former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to her FBI interview:

I had myself found that Cheryl Mills had committed perjury and lied under oath in a published opinion I had issued in a Judicial Watch case where I found her unworthy of belief, and I was quite shocked to find out she had been given immunity in — by the Justice Department in the Hillary Clinton email case. So I did not know that until I read the IG report and learned that and that she had accompanied the Secretary to her interview.

(In an April 28, 2008 ruling relating to Mills’ conduct as a White House official in responding to concerns about lost White House email records, Judge Lamberth called Mills’ participation in the matter “loathsome.” He further stated Mills was responsible for “the most critical error made in this entire fiasco … Mills’ actions were totally inadequate to address the problem.”)

Lamberth also complained that the Justice Department attorney representing the State Department was using “doublespeak,” and playing “word games.”

The hearing had been ordered by Judge Lamberth regarding a request from Judicial Watch for testimony under oath from Clinton, Mills and several other State Department officials regarding the State Department’s processing of Judicial Watch’s FOIA request and Clinton’s emails. The State Department still opposes all of Judicial Watch’s requests for additional discovery into the Clinton email scandal.

Judge Lamberth said he was relieved that he did not allow the case to be shut down prematurely, as the State Department had requested.

The case started with a motion for summary judgment [seeking to close the case] here and which I denied and allowed limited discovery because it was clear to me that at the time that I ruled initially, that false statements were made to me by career State Department officials and it became more clear through discovery that the information that I was provided was clearly false regarding the adequacy of the search and this – what we now know turned out to be the Secretary’s email system.

I don’t know the details of what kind of IG inquiry there was into why these career officials at the State Department would have filed false affidavits with me. I don’t know the details of why the Justice Department lawyers did not know false affidavits were being filed with me, but I was very relieved that I did not accept them and that I allowed limited discovery into what had happened.

Judge Lamberth also said the State Department was using “doublespeak” and word games. (Read more: Judicial Watch, 10/12/2018)

October 3, 2018 – Top FBI lawyer Baker offers ‘explosive’ testimony on ‘abnormal’ handling of Russia probe into Trump campaign: lawmakers

James Baker (Credit: Fox News)

“Former top FBI lawyer James Baker gave “explosive” closed-door testimony on Wednesday detailing for congressional investigators how the Russia probe was handled in an “abnormal fashion” reflecting “political bias,” according to two Republican lawmakers present for the deposition.

Some of the things that were shared were explosive in nature,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told Fox News. “This witness confirmed that things were done in an abnormal fashion. That’s extremely troubling.”

Meadows claimed the “abnormal” handling of the probe into alleged coordination between Russian officials and the Trump presidential campaign was “a reflection of inherent bias that seems to be evident in certain circles.” The FBI agent who opened the Russia case, Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page and others sent politically charged texts, and have since left the bureau.

Baker, who had a closely working relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, left the bureau earlier this year.

The lawmakers would not provide many specifics about the private transcribed interview, citing a confidentiality agreement with Baker and his attorneys. However, they indicated in broad terms that Baker was cooperative and forthcoming about the genesis of the Russia case in 2016, and about the surveillance warrant application for Trump campaign aide Carter Page in October 2016.” (Read more: Fox News, 10/03/2018)

October 2, 2018 – Two more prosecutors leaving Mueller team

Kyle Freeny (l) and Brandon van Grack (Credit: LinkedIn/MSNBC)

“Two Justice Department prosecutors assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller‘s ongoing investigation are leaving the office to return to previous postings.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, confirmed in an email to The Hill that Kyle Freeny and Brandon Van Grack are leaving the probe.

The two prosecutors had worked on the criminal cases involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to CNN.

Van Grack recently left the probe to return to the agency’s national security division while Freeny will remain on until mid-October before returning to the agency’s criminal division.

Carr said that Van Grack will continue to contribute to the special counsel investigation “on specific pending matters that were assigned to him during his detail.” (Read more: The Hill, 10/02/2018)

October 2, 2018 – Judicial Watch is representing former ONA analyst and whistleblower, Adam Lovinger, and sues Pentagon for records on ‘Spygate’ figure Stefan Halper

Stefan Halper (l) and Adam Lovinger (Credit public domain)

(…) “Judicial Watch is representing Adam Lovinger, a former ONA analyst who claims he was fired because he raised questions about contracts awarded to Halper and to a friend of Chelsea Clinton’s. The conservative watchdog group is seeking ONA records related to Lovinger’s security clearance, which was revoked months after the 12-year ONA veteran began raising questions about the contracts.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton questioned whether the Pentagon was aware that Halper was spying on the Trump campaign.

“Americans want to know if the Defense Department was working with the corrupt FBI, DOJ and other Obama agencies to spy on Donald Trump in an attempt to destroy his reputation,” Fitton said in a statement. “Our new lawsuit against the Defense Department will help determine to what extent it was helping to finance any Spygate targeting of President Trump.”

It is unclear if ONA funds were used to finance Halper’s efforts to meet Trump campaign officials. But as The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported in March, Halper used academic papers to approach at least one Trump campaign adviser.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 10/02/2018)

October 1, 2018 – The FBI has 37 pages of memos about Russia, Clintons and Uranium One and can’t release them because they must be kept secret from public

As a result of Campbell’s work, TLI co-president Mark Lambert was charged in an 11-count indictment in connection with the bribery scheme, while Vadim Mikerin, who resides in Maryland, was prosecuted in 2015 and received a four-year sentence. (Credit: public domain)

“Eight years after its informant uncovered criminal wrongdoing inside Russia’s nuclear industry, the FBI has identified 37 pages of documents that might reveal what agents told the Obama administration, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others about the controversial Uranium One deal.

There’s just one problem: The FBI claims it must keep the memos secret from the public.

Their excuses for the veil of nondisclosure range from protecting national security and law enforcement techniques to guarding the privacy of individual Americans and the ability of agencies to communicate with each other.”

(…) “The FBI’s declaration and list of withheld documents – entitled simply “Uranium One Transaction” – were posted recently inside its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) online vault.

The bureau actually released a handful of documents, but it wasn’t a big stretch of either freedom or information. It actually just released already-public letters from members of Congress demanding answers in the Uranium One case.

I was the reporter who first disclosed last fall that a globetrotting American businessman, William Douglas Campbell, managed to burrow his way inside Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear giant, Rosatom, in 2009 posing as a consultant while working as an FBI informant.

Campbell gathered extensive evidence for his FBI counterintelligence handlers by early 2010 that Rosatom’s main executive in the United States, Vadim Mikerin, orchestrated a racketeering plot involving kickbacks, bribes and extortion that corrupted the main uranium trucking company in the United States. That is a serious national security compromise by any measure.

The evidence was compiled as Secretary Clinton courted Russia for better relations, as her husband Bill Clinton collected a $500,000 speech payday in Moscow, and as the Obama administration approved the sale of a U.S. mining company, Uranium One, to Rosatom.

The sale – made famous years later by author Peter Schweizer and an epic New York Times expose in 2015 – turned over a large swath of America’s untapped uranium deposits to Russia.” (Read more: The Hill, 10/01/2018)