Email/Dossier Investigations

September 18, 2019 – Judicial Watch files a FOIA lawsuit for the records of FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for records about FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta, who was the Legal Attaché in Rome who helped circulate the Steele dossier (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-02722)).

The suit was filed after the Justice Department and FBI failed to respond to an August 10, 2018, FOIA requests seeking:

  • All records of communications, including emails (using [his or her] own name or aliases), text messages, instant chats and encrypted messages, sent to and from former FBI Legal Attaché in Rome, Special Agent Michael Gaeta, mentioning the terms “Trump”, “Clinton”, “Republican”, “Democrat”, and/or “conservatives.”
  • All SF50s and SF52s of SA Michael Gaeta.
  • All expense reports and travel vouchers submitted for SA Michael Gaeta.

On August 28, 2018, Bruce Ohr testified before a joint task force of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees that Christopher Steele, author of the Clinton funded dossier, gave two reports from the dossier to Gaeta.

In the July 30 meeting, Chris Steele also mentioned something about the doping — you know, one of the doping scandals. And he also mentioned, I believe — and, again, this is based on my review of my notes — that he had provided Mr. Gaeta with two reports…”

The only thing I recall him mentioning is that he had provided two of his reports to Special Agent Gaeta.

Gaeta reportedly was authorized by then Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to meet with Steele at his office in London to receive reports from the dossier

The purpose of the London visit was clear. Steele was personally handing the first memo in his dossier to Gaeta for ultimate transmission back to the FBI and the State Department.

For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele’s reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting. On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the offices of Steele’s firm, Orbis.

“The FBI is covering up its role in the Russiagate hoax,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch has had to fight the FBI ‘tooth and nail’ for every scrap of information about the illicit targeting of President Trump.” (Read more: September 18, 2019)

September 17, 2019 – Trump directs ODNI, DoJ and FBI to immediately declassify materials

The White House Press Secretary released the following statement on September 17, 2019:

At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

(whitehouse.gov/briefing, 9/17/2019)

September 14, 2019 – Senator Graham says U.S. officials received as many as six warnings about Christopher Steele’s reliability as a source

The London offices of Orbis Business Intelligence. (Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Friday that U.S. officials received as many as six warnings that dossier author Christopher Steele was an unreliable source of information regarding President Donald Trump.

Graham discussed the assessment of Steele during a radio interview with host Sean Hannity, but he stopped short of describing all of the information regarding the former British spy because much of it is classified.

“There’s four events that I’m aware of, five actually, where the system was informed that Christopher Steele was an unreliable informant when it came to Trump,” Graham told Hannity.

“Some of them I can’t tell you yet until we get this stuff declassified. But I think it’s going to be five; it may be six,” the South Carolina Republican added later.” (Daily Caller, 9/14/2019)

September 14, 2019 – Opinion: Scott Ritter probes Russian informant, Oleg Smolenkov’s role as a CIA asset and the use of his data by Brennan

Reports that the CIA conducted an emergency exfiltration of a long-time human intelligence source who was highly placed within the Russian Presidential Administration sent shock waves throughout Washington, D.C. The source was said to be responsible for the reporting used by the former director of the CIA, John Brennan, in making the case that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered Russian intelligence services to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election for the purpose of tipping the scales in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump. According to CNN’s Jim Sciutto, the decision to exfiltrate the source was driven in part by concerns within the CIA over President Trump’s cavalier approach toward handling classified information, including his willingness to share highly classified intelligence with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a controversial visit to the White House in May 2017.

On closer scrutiny, however, this aspect of the story falls apart, as does just about everything CNN, The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets have reported. There was a Russian spy whose information was used to push a narrative of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; this much appears to be true. Everything else that has been reported is either a mischaracterization of fact or an outright fabrication designed to hide one of the greatest intelligence failures in U.S. history — the use by a CIA director of intelligence data specifically manipulated to interfere in the election of an American president.

The consequences of this interference has deleteriously impacted U.S. democratic institutions in ways the American people remain ignorant of — in large part because of the complicity of the U.S. media when it comes to reporting this story.

Oleg Smolenkov (Credit: public domain)

This article attempts to set the record straight by connecting the dots presented by available information and creating a narrative shaped by a combination of derivative analysis and informed speculation. At best, this article brings the reader closer to the truth about Oleg Smolenkov’s role as a CIA asset; at worst, it raises issues and questions that will help in determining the truth.

(…) Every Russian diplomat assigned to the United States is screened to ascertain his or her susceptibility for recruitment. The FBI does this from a counterintelligence perspective, looking for Russian spies. The CIA does the same, but with the objective of recruiting a Russian source who can remain in the employ of the Russian government, and thereby provide the CIA with intelligence information commensurate to their standing and access. Turning a senior Russian diplomat is difficult; recruiting a junior Russian diplomat like Oleg Smolenkov less so. Someone like Smolenkov would be viewed not so much by the limited access he provided at the time of recruitment, but rather his potential for promotion and the increased opportunity for more essential access provided by such.

The responsibility within the CIA for recruiting Russian diplomats living in the United States falls to the National Resources Division, or NR, part of the Directorate of Operations, or DO — the clandestine arm of the CIA. In a perfect world, the CIA domestic station in Washington, D.C., would coordinate with the local FBI field office and develop a joint approach for recruiting a Russian diplomat such as Smolenkov. The reality is, however, that the CIA and the FBI have different goals and objectives when it comes to the Russians they recruit. As such, Smolenkov’s recruitment was most likely a CIA-only affair, run by NR but closely monitored by the Russian Operations Group of the Agency’s Central Eurasia Division, who would have responsibility for managing Smolenkov upon his return to Moscow.

The precise motive for Smolenkov to take up the CIA’s offer of recruitment remains unknown. He graduated from one of the premier universities in Russia, the Maurice Thorez Moscow State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages, and he married his English language instructor. Normally a graduate from an elite university such as Maurice Thorez has his or her pick of jobs in the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Defense or the security services. Smolenkov was hired by the Foreign Ministry as a junior linguist, assigned to the Second European Department, which focuses on Great Britain, Scandinavia and the Baltics, before getting assigned to the embassy in Washington.”  (Read more: Consortium News, 9/14/2019)

September 12, 2019 – Grassley and Johnson ask State OIG why he failed to issue report on his investigation into the meeting between Steele and State Dept officials, before the Carter Page FISA application

“U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to U.S. Department of State Inspector General Steve Linick today seeking an explanation as to why his office did not issue a report on its investigation into the October 2016 meeting between Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence employee Tatyana Duran, then-Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec, and then-Special Envoy Jonathan Winer. The senators also seek to understand why the state department OIG did not interview all parties present at that October 2016 meeting.

“We write seeking to understand why the OIG did not issue a report on its investigation and did not interview employees who most likely have relevant information regarding the subject matter of the inquiry,” the senators wrote.

The senators asked the state department OIG about its failure to interview Mr. Winer in light of him introducing Mr. Steele to high-ranking state department officials with direct access to their counterparts at the FBI days before the FBI sought a FISA order to surveil a Trump campaign official.

The senators also learned the state department OIG discovered at least one department official, Mr. Winer, utilized non-official email accounts to conduct official department business, and they have requested an explanation as to why the OIG did not interview Mr. Winer about his use of personal email when he directed others to upload those emails to classified systems within the department.  In addition, the senators learned that the state department OIG determined a department employee may have engaged in anti-Trump political conduct, in violation of the Hatch Act, and the OIG referred that individual to the Office of Special Counsel for Investigation. That Hatch Act investigation is ongoing.

The Office of Special Counsel is the permanent, independent investigative agency for personnel matters in the federal government and is not related to Robert Mueller’s temporary prosecutorial office within the justice department.

The full text of the letter can be viewed here.

Sens. Johnson and Grassley’s May 9, 2019, letters to the state department and the FBI can be viewed here.

(GrassleySenate.gov, 9/12/2019)

September 12, 2019 – US attorney recommends proceeding with charges against McCabe; DOJ rejects last-ditch appeal

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Lancaster Dems)

“U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu has recommended moving forward with charges against Andrew McCabe, Fox News has learned, as the Justice Department rejects a last-ditch appeal from the former top FBI official.

McCabe — the former deputy and acting director of the FBI — appealed the decision of the U.S. attorney for Washington all the way up to Jeffrey Rosen, the deputy attorney general, but he rejected that request, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The potential charges relate to DOJ inspector general findings against him regarding misleading statements concerning a Hillary Clinton-related investigation.

A source close to McCabe’s legal team said they received an email from the Department of Justice which said, “The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter. Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office.” (Read more: Fox News, 9/12/2019)

September 12, 2019 – State Dept official Jonathan Winer used a personal email account to hide his communications with Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson

Senators Ron Johnson and Charles Grassley have a few questions that are put in a letter dated September 12, 2019, to State Department OIG Steve Linick who reviewed a meeting between State Dept officials and Christopher Steele. The review or lack thereof appears to have left them with more questions than answers. Here is a clipping of the relevant part of their letter:

(Grassley/Johnson/Linick Letter, 9/12/2019)

September 11, 2019 – Court unseals Flynn Brady motion; Judge Sullivan threatens govt with contempt; A list of 40 items is requested by Flynn defense

“Since June 6, 2019, immediately upon accepting Mr. Flynn’s defense, new counsel for Mr. Flynn has requested the following information in unredacted form pursuant to Brady and its progeny. Thoroughly stymied in our efforts to obtain this information from the government, despite its obligations to produce it, we necessarily enlist the aid of this Court in enforcing its standing Order.

The 40 Items

1. A letter delivered by the British Embassy to the incoming National Security team after Donald Trump’s election, and to outgoing National Security Advisor Susan Rice (the letter apparently disavows former British Secret Service Agent Christopher Steele, calls his credibility into question and declares him untrustworthy).

2. The original draft of Mr. Flynn’s 302 and 1A-file, and any FBI document that identifies everyone who had possession of it (parts of which may have been leaked to the press, but the full original has never been produced). This would include information given to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on January 24 and 25,2017.

3. All documents, notes, information, FBI 302s, or testimony regarding Nellie Ohr’s research on Mr. Flynn and any information about transmitting it to the DOJ, CIA, or FBI.

4. All payments, notes, memos, correspondence, and instructions by and between the FBI, CIA, or DOD with Stefan Halper—going back as far as 2014—regarding Michael Flynn, Svetlana Lokhova, Mr. Richard Dearlove (of MI6), and Professor Christopher Andrew (connected with MI5) and Halper’s compensation through the Office of Net Assessment as evidenced by the whistleblower complaint of Adam Lovinger, addressed in our brief. This includes David Shedd (former Deputy Director of DIA) and Mike Vickers, who were CIA officers; James H. Baker; former DIA Director LTG Stewart; former DIA Deputy Director Doug Wise; and the DIA Director of Operations (DOD). This should also include any communications or correspondence of any type arising from the investigation or alleged concerns about Mr. Flynn that contained a copy to (as a “cc” or “bcc”) or was addressed directly to the DNI James Clapper and his senior staff; to CIA Director Brennan and his senior staff; or to FBI Director Comey, his Deputy Andrew McCabe, and senior staff.

5. The Flynn 302 dated January 19, 2017, mentioned in the Mueller Report.

6. All and unredacted Page-Strzok text messages. Mr. Van Grack’s October 4, 2018, letter asserts: “To the extent the text messages appear to be incomplete or contain gaps, we do not possess additional messages that appear to fill such gaps.” The government should be compelled to identify to whom “we” refers, where the originals are, and whether any of the gaps have been filled or accounted for.

7. All documents, reports, correspondence, and memoranda, including any National Security letter or FISA application, concerning any earlier investigation of Mr. Flynn, and the basis for it. (The existence of these earlier investigations was disclosed in the Mueller Report; see Vol. II at pp. 24, 26.)

8. All transcripts, recordings, notes, correspondence, and 302s of any interactions with human sources or “OCONUS lures” tasked against Mr. Flynn since he left DIA in 2014.

9. The unredacted Page-Strzok text messages as well as text messages, emails and other electronic communications to, from, or between Andrew McCabe, James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, John Carlin, Aaron Rouse, Carl Ghattas, Andrew Weissmann, Tashina Gauhar, Michael Steinbach, and Zainab Ahmad, regarding Mr. Flynn or the FISA applications or any surveillance (legal or illegal) that would have reached Mr. Flynn’s communications.

10. All evidence concerning notification by the Inspector General of the DOJ to the Special Counsel of the Strzok-Page text messages, including the actual text of any messages given to the Special Counsel, and the dates on which they were given. Although the Inspector General notified Special Counsel of the tens of thousands of text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page no later than July 2017—the prosecutors did not produce a single text message to the defense until March 13, 2018.

11. All evidence of press contacts between the Special Counsel Office, including Andrew Weissmann, Ms. Ahmad, and Mr. Van Grack from the departure of Peter Strzok from special Counsel team until December 8, 2017, regarding Mr. Flynn.

12. Unredacted copies of all memos created by or other communications from James Comey that mention or deal with any investigation, surveillance, FISA applications, interviews, or use of a confidential human source or “OCONUS lures” against Mr.Flynn.

13. An unredacted copy of all of James Comey’s testimony before any Congressional committees

14. The James Comey 302 for November 15, 2017, and all Comey 302s that bear on or mention Mr. Flynn.

15. Notes and documents of any kind dealing with any briefings that Mr. Flynn provided to DIA after he left the government.

16. Any information, including recordings or 302s, about Joseph Mifsud’s presence and involvement in engaging or reporting on Mr. Flynn and Mifsud’s presence at the Russia Today dinner in Moscow on December 17, 2015.

17. All notes, memoranda, 302s, and other information about the McCabe-Strzok meeting or meetings with Vice President-Elect or Vice President Pence (these meetings were referenced in the Mueller Report at Vol II, p. 34).

18. All Mary McCord 302s or interviews, including when she knew that Mr. Flynn did not have “a clandestine relationship with Russia.”

19. Any Sally Yates 302s or other notes that concern Mr. Flynn, including treatment of her meetings with FBI Agents on January 24 and 25, 2017, her meetings with anyone in the White House, and the draft 302 of the Flynn interview on January 24 she reviewed or was read into.

20. An internal DOJ document dated January 30, 2017, in which the FBI exonerated Mr.Flynn of being “an agent of Russia.”

21. All information provided by Kathleen Kavalec at the Department of State to the FBI regarding Christopher Steele prior to the first FISA application.

22. Any and all evidence that during a senior-attended FBI meeting or video conference, Andrew McCabe said “First we fuck Flynn, then we fuck Trump,” or words to that effect.

23. The two-page Electronic Communication (EC) that allegedly began the “Russia Collusion” investigation.

24. All information that underlies the several FISA applications, including any information showing that any of the assertions in the applications were false, unverified, or unverifiable.

25. All documents, notes, information, FBI 302s, or testimony regarding any debriefing that Bruce Ohr gave to anyone in the FBI or Department of Justice regarding Christopher Steele.

26. Testimony, interviews, 302s, notes of interviews of all persons who signed FISA applications regarding Mr. Flynn or anyone that would have reached Mr. Flynn’s communications, without regard to whether those applications were approved or rejected.

27. All FISA applications since 2015 related to the Russia matter, whether approved or rejected, which involve Mr. Flynn or reached his communications with anyone.

28. Information identifying reporters paid by Fusion GPS and/or the Penn Quarter group to push “Russia Collusion,” communications regarding any stories about Mr. Flynn, and any testimony or statements about how the reporters were used by the government regarding Mr. Flynn.

29. FBI 302s of KT McFarland, notes of interviews of her or her own notes, and text messages with Mr. Flynn from approximately December 27, 2016, until Flynn’s resignation.

30. Any information regarding the SCO’s and DOJ’s destruction of the cell phones of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page (after being advised of the thousands of text messages that evidenced that has been classified or otherwise not available to the public from the published Inspector General Report.

31. Any information regarding eradication of cell phone data, texts, emails, or other information belonging to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that created the “gap” identified by the IG.

32. Information about any parts of any polygraph examinations failed by Peter Strzok after Mr. Flynn was first the subject of any FBI investigation—authorized or unauthorized.

33. Brady or Giglio material newly discovered by the government (and by the Inspector General in his separate investigations) in the last two years.

34. A full unredacted and copies of the recordings of Mr. Flynn’s calls with Ambassador Kislyak or anyone else that were reviewed or used in any way by the FBI or SCO in its evaluation of charges against Mr. Flynn.

35. All FBI 302s, notes, memoranda of James Clapper regarding Mr. Flynn, and the cell phone and home phone records of Mr. Clapper and David Ignatius between December 5, 2016, and February 24, 2017. Although not previously requested, the government should be compelled to produce:

36. Unredacted scope memos written for the Special Counsel and any requests by Special Counsel that mention Mr. Flynn or his son.

37.All FBI 302s or any notes of interviews of David Ignatius or any other reporter regarding the publication of information concerning Mr. Flynn and/or the reporters contact with James Clapper, Andrew McCabe, John Brennan, Michael Kortan, or anyone in the FBI, DNI, DOD, DOJ, or CIA regarding Mr. Flynn.

38.FBI 302s and interview notes of Jim Woolsey, including notes by SCO members of conversations with Woolsey about Mr. Flynn, Flynn Intel Group, the Turkey project, and his separate meeting with officials of Turkey after the meeting that was the subject of the FIG FARA filing.

39.All communications between Mr. David Laufman, Ms. Heather Hunt and any other member of the National Security Division regarding the FARA registration for Mr.Flynn and FIG and notes, reports or recordings of their interaction with Covington & Burling with regards to the filing and its contents. See Def.’s Resp. to the Ct.’s Order of July 9 & Gov.’s Filing of July 10, Ex. D, July 11, 2019, No. 17-232-EGS

40. Unredacted notes of the (redacted) and Strzok from the interview of Mr. Flynn on January 24, 2017.

In response, Judge Sullivan issues the following order:

October 5, 2016 – Obama DOJ drops charges against alleged broker of Libyan weapons to protect Hillary Clinton

Clinton walks with  Obama to the Rose Garden Sept. 12, 2012, where he spoke about the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. (Credit: Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

“The Obama administration is moving to dismiss charges against an arms dealer it had accused of selling weapons that were destined for Libyan rebels.

Lawyers for the Justice Department on Monday filed a motion in federal court in Phoenix to drop the case against the arms dealer, an American named Marc Turi, whose lawyers also signed the motion.

The deal averts a trial that threatened to cast additional scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s private emails as Secretary of State and to expose reported Central Intelligence Agency attempts to arm rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.

Government lawyers were facing a Wednesday deadline to produce documents to Turi’s legal team, and the trial was officially set to begin on Election Day, although it likely would have been delayed by protracted disputes about classified information in the case.

A Turi associate asserted that the government dropped the case because the proceedings could have embarrassed Clinton and President Barack Obama by calling attention to the reported role of their administration in supplying weapons that fell into the hands of Islamic extremist militants.

“They don’t want this stuff to come out because it will look really bad for Obama and Clinton just before the election,” said the associate.

In the dismissal motion, prosecutors say “discovery rulings” from U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell contributed to the decision to drop the case. The joint motion asks the judge to accept a confidential agreement to resolve the case through a civil settlement between the State Department and the arms broker.

“Our position from the outset has been that this case never should have been brought and we’re glad it’s over,” said Jean-Jacques Cabou, a Perkins Coie partner serving as court-appointed defense counsel in the case. “Mr Turi didn’t break the law….We’re very glad the charges are being dismissed.”

Under the deal, Turi admits no guilt in the transactions he participated in, but he agreed to refrain from U.S.-regulated arms dealing for four years. A $200,000 civil penalty will be waived if Turi abides by the agreement.” (Read more: Politico, 10/05/2016)

September 10, 2019 – Attorney Sidney Powell argues General Flynn’s case should be dismissed over ‘egregious government misconduct’

General Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell (Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

“An attorney for Michael Flynn said in federal court Tuesday she may seek a dismissal of charges against the former national security adviser, citing “egregious conduct and suppression” of exculpatory information in the case.

Prosecutors handling the case had a surprise of their own, telling Judge Emmet Sullivan that they are now reserving the option of recommending jail time for Flynn, instead of just probation. Prosecutors with the special counsel’s team last year recommended that Flynn receive probation without jail time because of his substantial cooperation in several investigations.

But Flynn’s situation has changed dramatically since then. He no longer has to meet with the special counsel’s team since the Russia probe has ended. And in Junehe hired a new legal team that has aggressively challenged the government’s investigation of Flynn.

Flynn’s defense attorney, Sidney Powell, told Judge Emmet Sullivan that the legal team has no plans to pull out of a plea deal that Flynn struck with the special counsel on Dec. 1, 2017. Instead, Powell is questioning the basis of the government’s case against Flynn and may seek to have charges thrown out altogether. (Read more: The Daily Caller, 9/10/2019)