Opinions/Editorials

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)

August 1, 2019 – Opinion: Here Are 5 Big Holes in Mueller’s Work

Robert Mueller testifies to congress on July 24, 2019. (Credit: Saul Loeb/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

“Robert Mueller’s two-year, $25.2 million investigation was supposed to provide the definitive account of Donald Trump, Russia and the 2016 election. Yet even after he issued a 448-page report and testified for five hours before Congress, critical aspects remain unexplained, calling into question the basis for the probe and the decisions of those who conducted it.

Time and again in his report and his testimony, Mueller refused to address a wide range of fundamental issues, claiming they were beyond his purview. Some of the issues Mueller and his team did not clarify include whether the FBI had a sound predicate for opening a counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign; whether the FBI knowingly relied on false material; and the links between U.S. government agencies and key figures who fueled the most explosive claims of an illicit Trump-Russia relationship. Mueller claimed that he was prevented from answering critical questions due to ongoing Justice Department reviews, one by Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham and the other by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. In the meantime, here are some of the biggest mysteries that Mueller’s team left hanging in the air.

Who Is Joseph Mifsud, and Was He the Actual Predicate for the Russia Investigation?

Mueller’s pointed refusal to answer questions about Mifsud underscored that his team did not provide a plausible explanation for the incident that supposedly sparked the Russia investigation in July 2016. Mifsud is the mysterious Maltese professor who reportedly informed Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Their conversation took place in , before the alleged hacking of Democratic Party emails was publicly known. (cont.)

What Was the Role of the Steele Dossier?

Christopher Steele: described as “Source #1” and “credible.”
(Credit: Victoria Jones/The Associated Press)

Mueller also refused to address another key driver of the Trump-Russia probe – the series of unverified and salacious opposition research memos against Trump secretly financed by the Clinton campaign and the DNC and  compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. Some Republicans believe the dossier was the real trigger of the FBI probe and that Mifsud was later used as an excuse by the FBI to cover that up once the dossier’s partisan origins were revealed. As he did with Mifsud, Mueller, who was FBI Director between 2001 and 2013, stonewalled the many Republican efforts to press him on this topic. (more)

Why Did the Mueller Team Invent the Polling Data Theory About Konstantin Kilimnik, and Omit His U.S. Ties?

Konstantin Kilimnik
(Credit: The Associated Press)

Mueller also refused to answer critical questions about his report’s portrayal of Konstantin Kilimnik. The longtime business associate of Trump’s one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort, became central to the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory as a result of the Mueller team’s own innuendo. In January 2019, Mueller accused Manafort of lying about sharing Trump campaign polling data with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign. According to Mueller, the FBI had assessed that Kilimnik has an unspecified “relationship with Russian intelligence.” In court, Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann repeated that ambiguous claim and tacked on a piece of tantalizing flourish: “This goes to the larger view of what we think is going on, and what we think is the motive here. This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.” Weissmann’s comments fueled widespread speculation – and even confident assertions – that Kilimnik had passed on the polling data to the Russian government, which then put it to use for its supposed social media interference campaign targeting malleable swing-state voters. (cont.)

Why Did the Mueller Team Falsely Suggest That Trump Tower Moscow Was a Viable Project – and What Was the Role of FBI Informant Felix Sater?

Along with the discredited polling-data theory, House Democrats repeatedly played up the Mueller team’s indictment of Michael Cohen for lying to Congress about the failed effort to build a Trump Tower Moscow. In court filings, the Mueller team insinuated that the project was a viable and lucrative one. Because Cohen had lied to Congress and Trump had denied having business dealings in Russia, Rep. Joaquin Castro asked Mueller if he had assessed whether “President Trump could be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.” (cont.)

Was Specious Info Leaked to Justify the Absence of Trump-Kremlin Links?

In the absence of evidence tying the Trump campaign to the Kremlin – and a preponderance of leads involving key figures actually tied to the West – U.S. intelligence officials helped cast a pall of suspicion through misleading, and sometimes false, media leaks. In January 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey briefed President-elect Trump on the Steele Dossier’s most explosive allegation: that the Russians had a tape of him with prostitutes in a Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel room. Comey’s briefing to Trump was leaked to the press, leading to the dossier’s publication by BuzzFeed and cementing the story atop the news cycle for the more than two years since.” (cont.)

(Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 8/01/2019) 

July 25, 2019 – WSJ Editorial: What Mueller Was Trying to Hide

By Kimberly Strassel

A CSpan subtitle refers to the Mueller hearing on July 24, 2019, as an Obstruction of Justice Investigation by the House Judiciary Committee. (Credit: CSpan3)

(…) “The most notable aspect of the Mueller report was always what it omitted: the origins of this mess. Christopher Steele’s dossier was central to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe, the basis of many of the claims of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Yet the Mueller authors studiously wrote around the dossier, mentioning it only in perfunctory terms. The report ignored Mr. Steele’s paymaster, Fusion GPS, and its own ties to Russians. It also ignored Fusion’s paymaster, the Clinton campaign, and the ugly politics behind the dossier hit job.

Mr. Mueller’s testimony this week put to rest any doubt that this sheltering was deliberate. In his opening statement he declared that he would not “address questions about the opening of the FBI’s Russia investigation, which occurred months before my appointment, or matters related to the so-called Steele Dossier.” The purpose of those omissions was obvious, as those two areas go to the heart of why the nation has been forced to endure years of collusion fantasy.

Mr. Mueller claimed he couldn’t answer questions about the dossier because it “predated” his tenure and is the subject of a Justice Department investigation. These excuses are disingenuous. Nearly everything Mr. Mueller investigated predated his tenure, and there’s no reason the Justice Department probe bars Mr. Mueller from providing a straightforward, factual account of his team’s handling of the dossier.

If anything, Mr. Mueller had an obligation to answer those questions, since they go to the central failing of his own probe. As Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz asked Mr. Mueller, how could a special-counsel investigation into “Russia’s interference” have any credibility if it failed to look into whether the Steele dossier was itself disinformation from Moscow? Mr. Steele acknowledges that senior Russian officials were the source of his dossier’s claims of an “extensive conspiracy.” Given that no such conspiracy actually existed, Mr. Gaetz asked: “Did Russians really tell that to Christopher Steele, or did he just make it up and was he lying to the FBI?”

Mr. Mueller surreally responded: “As I said earlier, with regard to Steele, that is beyond my purview.”

So it went throughout the whole long day. Republicans asked basic questions about the report’s conclusions or analysis, and Mr. Mueller dodged and weaved and refused to avoid answering questions about the FBI’s legwork, the dossier’s role and Fusion’s involvement. Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot asked how the report could have neglected to mention Fusion’s ties to a Russian company and lawyer. Mr. Mueller: “Outside my purview.” California Rep. Devin Nunes asked several questions about one of the men at the epicenter of the “collusion” conspiracy—academic Joseph Mifsud, whom former FBI Director Jim Comey has tried to paint as a Russian agent. Mr. Mueller: “I am not going to speak to the series of happenings as you articulated them.”

Then again, how could he? The Mueller team, rather than question the FBI’s actions, went out of its way to build on them. That’s how we ended up with tortured plea agreements for process crimes from figures like former Trump aide George Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. They were peripheral figures in an overhyped drama, who nonetheless had to be scalped to legitimize the early actions of Mr. Comey & Co. Mr. Mueller inherited the taint, and his own efforts were further tarnished. That accounts for Mr. Mueller’s stonewalling.” (Read more: The Wall Street Journal, 7/25/2019)

May 31, 2019 – Sidney Powell discusses DOJ in the Lawfare era: “guilty until proven innocent”

Not enough people understand the role of the Lawfare group in the corruption and political weaponization of the DOJ, FBI and larger intelligence community.

Benjamin Wittes (Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

What Media Matters is to corrupt left-wing media, the Lawfare group is to the corrupt DOJ and FBI.

All of the headline names around the seditious conspiracy against Donald Trump assemble within the network of the Lawfare group.

Three days after the October 21st, 2016, FISA warrant was obtained, Benjamin Wittes outlined the insurance policy approach.

FBI Director James Comey, FBI Legal Counsel James Baker, Comey memo recepient Daniel Richman, Deputy AG Sally Yates, Comey friend Benjamin Wittes, FBI lead agent Peter Strzok, FBI counsel Lisa Page, Mueller lead Andrew Weissmann and the Mueller team of lawyers, all of them -and more- are connected to the Lawfare group; and this network provides the sounding board for all of the weaponized approaches, including the various new legal theories as outlined within the Weissmann-Mueller Report.

The Lawfare continuum is very simple.  The corrupt 2015 Clinton exoneration; which became the corrupt 2016 DOJ/FBI Trump investigation; which became the corrupt 2017 DOJ/FBI Mueller probe; is currently the 2019 “impeachment” plan.  Weissmann and Mueller delivering their report evolved the plan from corrupt legal theory into corrupt political targeting.  Every phase within the continuum holds the same goal.

The current “impeachment strategy” is planned-out within the Lawfare group.

After the 2018 mid-terms, and in preparation for the “impeachment” strategy, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler hired Lawfare Group members to become committee staff. Chairman Schiff hired former SDNY U.S. Attorney Daniel Goldman (link), and Chairman Nadler hired  Obama Administration lawyer Norm Eisen and criminal defense attorney Barry Berke (link), all are within the Lawfare network.

Remember, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller didn’t come into this process as an ‘outsider’, and Mueller didn’t select his team. The corrupt Lawfare team inside government (FBI Counsel James Baker, DOJ Deputy Andrew Weissmann, FBI Deputy McCabe etc.) already knew Mueller.  The team had established personal and professional connections to Mueller, and they brought him in to lead the team.

When you realize that Robert Mueller didn’t select the team; rather the preexisting team selected their figurehead, Robert Mueller; then results make sense.  Robert Mueller can never be allowed to testify to congress because if questioned he actually has very little understanding of what took place.

A disconcerting aspect to the Lawfare dynamic is how current U.S. Attorney General William Barr has knowledge of this.  Barr knows and understands how the Lawfare network operates. Barr is from this professional neighborhood. Like Mueller, Barr also knows these people.

“As a matter of law. In other words, we didn’t agree with the legal analysis- a lot of the legal analysis in the report. It did not reflect the views of the department. It was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers.

AG BILL BARR

Under Eric Holder, Sally Yates, Loretta Lynch, Tom Perez, Robert Mueller, James Comey and Andrew McCabe, the focus of the DOJ and FBI became prismatic toward politics and tribalism.  All of the hired senior lawyers and officials had to be aligned with the political intents of the offices.

(CIA Director John Brennan brought the same political goals to an intelligence apparatus that held a preexisting disposition of alignment, see Mike Morell: “I ran the CIA now I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton.”)

Their agencies were used against their ideological enemies in large operations like Fast-n-Furious, IRS targeting, Gibson Guitar etc.  And also smaller operations: Henry Louis Gates, George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, Ferguson, Baltimore etc.  All of these activist Lawfare examples were pushed and promoted by an allied media.

Many of the ‘weaponized’ approaches use radical legal theory (ex. disparate impact), and that ties into the purposes and methods of the Lawfare Group.  The intent of Lawfare is described in the name: to use Law as a tool in Warfare.  The ideology that binds the group is the ideological outlook and purpose: using the legal system to target political opposition.

The Lawfare group ensures you have the right to remain guilty until they verify your politics and determine your alignment with the tribe.  If accepted, your disposition shifts to innocent and you receive a pass to avoid any legal jeopardy…

When special counsel Robert Mueller formally closed the Russia investigation on May 29th, he opened the door to wide-ranging speculation as to the intent behind his statement. In the eyes of Former Texas Prosecutor Sidney Powell, Mueller’s words stood the rule of law and the presumption of innocence on their heads. (Conservative Treehouse, 6/01/2019)

May 3, 2019 – Opinion: How US and Foreign Intel Agencies Interfered in a US Election

By Larry C. Johnson
Sic Semper Tyrannis 

The preponderance of evidence makes this very simple–there was a broad, coordinated effort by the Obama Administration, with the help of foreign governments, to target Donald Trump and paint him as a stooge of Russia.

The Mueller Report provides irrefutable evidence that the so-called Russian collusion case against Donald Trump was a deliberate fabrication by intelligence and law enforcement organizations in the United States and the United Kingdom and organizations aligned with the Clinton Campaign.

The New York Times reported that a man with a long history of working with the CIA, and a female FBI informant, traveled to London in September of 2016 and tried unsuccessfully to entrap George Papadopolous. The biggest curiosity is that U.S. intelligence or law enforcement officials fully briefed British intelligence on what they were up to. Quite understandable given what we now know about British spying on the Trump Campaign.

The Mueller investigation of Trump “collusion” with Russia prior to the 2016 Presidential election focused on eight cases:

    • Proposed Trump Tower Project in Moscow
    • George Papadopolous
    • Carter Page
    • Dimitri Simes
    • Veselnetskya Meeting at Trump Tower (June 16, 2016)
  • Events at Republican Convention
  • Post-Convention Contacts with Russian Ambassador Kislyak
  • Paul Manafort

One simple fact emerges–of the eight cases or incidents of alleged Trump Campaign interaction with the Russians investigated by the Mueller team, the proposals to interact with the Russian Government or with Putin originated with FBI informants, MI-6 assets or people paid by Fusion GPS, and not Trump or his people.

There is not a single instance where Donald Trump or any member of his campaign team initiated contact with the Russians for the purpose of gaining derogatory information on Hillary or obtaining support to boost the Trump campaign. Not one.

Simply put, Trump and his campaign were the target of an elaborate, wide ranging covert action designed to entrap him and members of his team as an agent of Russia.

Let’s look in detail at each of the cases.”  (Read more: Sic Semper Tyrannis, 5/03/2019)

April 19, 2019 – Opinion: Mueller/Rosenstein and the entire apparatus were trying to provoke Trump in all manners to enhance the obstruction case

The *methods* the team used were always focused on trying to goad Trump into firing, or interfering, thereby creating more obstruction fuel.

Everything Mueller and Rosenstein were doing in late 2017 and throughout 2018 was intended to drag-out the Russia conspiracy narrative as long as possible, even though there was no actual Trump-Russia investigation taking place and Robert Mueller *DID* interview President Trump about the obstruction case. Rod Rosenstein was there for the deposition…. Only President Trump didn’t know his remarks were being recorded and transcribed.

Robert Mueller Did Interview President Trump Regarding Obstruction Case

What, you think that over-the-top broadcast (leaked to CNN) raid on Roger Stone with heavily armed SWAT teams was a mistake? Oh hell no… Team Mueller/Rosenstein were trying to get Trump to lash out. It was strategic and purposefully agressive, just like the Manafort raid.

Every action was taken by the Mueller special counsel in order to get Trump to respond to the heavy-handed tactics. It was always “obstruction” bait. Intentional provocation…. It was purposefully over-the-top. They were goading the President.

People still don’t appreciate just how sinister and Machiavellian this was. It was the obstruction case they hoped would build the impeachment outcome.

This was always the objective….. all the way back to May of 2017.

The obstruction case was based on the updated Scope Memo written by Rosenstein on August 2nd, 2017. Everything they were doing was to create that obstruction case. That’s why we are not allowed to see the scope memo.

The scope memo outlines the same targets that originally existed within Crossfire Hurricane and the Steele Dossier: Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen. This was how they hoped to get to Trump.

Mueller targeted these individuals on other issues, any issues, because he needed to shut them down, hide the fraudulent origin of the original operation…. and thereby protect his obstruction investigation… For Mueller’s purposes:

  1. The Obstruction investigation, building toward the impeachment narrative, was always the original goal of Mueller and Rosenstein. Therefore…
  2. The Obstruction investigation needed the precursor of the Trump-Russia investigation to remain standing; However…
  3. The structure of the Trump-Russia investigation, the underlying evidence to support the effort, is predicated on the “Steele Dossier”. Therefore…
  4. Mueller needed to protect the Steele Dossier from scrutiny and deconstruction.

Remember, because there was no Trump-Russia collusion/conspiracy, it was always the “obstruction” investigation that could lead to the desired result by Mueller’s team of taking down President Trump through impeachment.

The “obstruction case” was the entirety of the case they were trying to make from August 2017 through to March 2019.

New scope memo. New FBI Team Leader. New approach. New goals. Mueller’s goals. What he was enlisted to produce. etc.

The Mueller targets would generate pressure points against President Trump. If they could not deliver direct evidence against Trump (on any criminal angle) they could be used to bait Trump into taking actions that would assist the obstruction case.

Obstruction was always the impeachment long-game, and their political plan needed the 2018 mid-term election and the House of Representatives in Pelosi’s hands to work.

 

This is why DAG Rod Rosenstein pressured Trump in September of 2018 not to declassify the underlying SpyGate/FISA documents.

Rosenstein knew sunlight would have undermined the Russia narrative, and worse…. it might have upended the goal of winning the House (a key part of their long-term plan); so Rosenstein informed Trump declassification would be impeding the Mueller investigation.

Along the road toward building the obstruction case, Mueller and Rosenstein needed to retain the illusion of a “Russian Interference Investigation.

The need to keep up the “Muh Russia” appearances is why Mueller and Rosenstein had to pause every six months and throw out a few phony, structurally silly, Russia indictments.

Robert Mueller, Andrew Weissmann and Rod Rosenstein knew the people they accused would never show up to defend themselves. The Russian interference indictments were for appearances only, and always came with a specific disclaimer:

This disclaimer is purposeful for two reasons. Number one: there was no Trump-Russia collusion/conspiracy; and number two: saying it satiated their target, President Trump.

While President Trump’s legal team were asking what was taking so long, the real program was for Mueller’s team to build the ‘obstruction’ case, which would be the launching point for the impeachment.

Andrew Weissmann & team were continually trying to bait/provoke President Trump into making statements, or taking action that could be added to the ‘obstruction’ file; while Mueller is telling Trump’s legal team they were only a subject-witness in the Russia investigation.

The entire Mueller team were working to goad President Trump into something Mueller could then color/construe as obstruction and then open House impeachment grounds; and they were having fun doing it.

The manner of the pre-dawn raid on Paul Manafort, and the way they treated him, along with the manner of the raid on Michael Cohen was all done purposefully hoping to draw a reaction from Trump, which they would add to the obstruction file.

Once Rosenstein and Mueller had the mid-term election goal secure (Dec ’18), then they set about enhancing the impeachment narrative with even stronger ‘obstruction‘ provocations.

The outrageous manner of arrest of Roger Stone is an example. The scale of it; heavily armed swat teams, tanks etc; and the fact that Weissmann enlisted CNN for the purpose of intentionally broadcasting the outrageous nature of the arrest, was by design.

After the 2018 election the type of provocations increased. From all appearances they had no intention of not continuing to ramp up the provocation.

All designed to make Trump lash out and give the appearance needed for obstruction.

The reason why Mueller’s team ended up stopping the scheme is because William Barr showed up and refused to participate. This would explain why a disgruntled Weissmann and Mueller team punted on the obstruction decision to AG William Barr.

It was their last desperate effort, amid a failure to construct a solid legal case, to politicize the possibility and innuendo, and force Barr to be the one to say: “no obstruction.”

(Read more: The Last Refuge/Conservative Treehouse, 4/19/2019)

(Editor’s note: republished with permission, photos courtesy of Conservative Treehouse)

March 27, 2019 – Opinion: Stephen Cohen – The Real Costs of Russiagate

Rachel Maddow (Credit: The Nation)

(…) “Contrary to a number of major media outlets, from Bloomberg to The Wall Street Journal, nor does Mueller’s exculpatory finding actually mean that “Russiagate . . . is dead” and indeed that “it expired in an instant.” Such conclusions reveal a lack of historical and political understanding. Nearly three years of Russiagate’s toxic allegations have entered the American political-media elite bloodstream and they almost certainly will reappear again and again in one form of another.

This is an exceedingly grave danger because the real costs of Russiagate are not the estimated $25 to $40 million spent on the Mueller investigation but the corrosive damage it has already done to the institutions of American democracy—damage done not by an alleged “Trump-Putin axis” but by Russsigate’s perpetrators themselves. Having examined this collateral damage in my recently published book War with Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate, I will only note them here.

— Clamorous allegations that the Kremlin “attacked our elections” and thereby put Trump in the White House, despite the lack of any evidence, cast doubt on the legitimacy of American elections everywhere—national, state, and local. If true, or even suspected, how can voters have confidence in the electoral foundations of American democracy? Persistent demands to “secure our elections from hostile powers”— a politically and financially profitable mania, it seems—can only further abet and perpetuate declining confidence in the entire electoral process. Still more, if some crude Russian social media outputs could so dupe voters, what does this tell us about what US elites, which originated these allegations, really think of those voters, of the American people?

— Defamatory Russsiagate allegations that Trump was a “Kremlin puppet” and thus “illegitimate” were aimed at the president but hit the presidency itself, degrading the institution, bringing it under suspicion, casting doubt on its legitimacy. And if an “agent of a hostile foreign power” could occupy the White House once, a “Manchurian candidate,” why not again? Will Republicans be able to resist making such allegations against a future Democratic president? In any event, Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign manager, Robby Mook, has already told us that there will be a “next time.” (Read more: The Nation, 3/27/2019)

Tales of the New Cold War: 1 of 2: The Russiagate damage comes home to America. Stephen F. Cohen @NYU @Princeton EastWestAccord.com

Tales of the New Cold War: 2 of 2: The Russiagate damage comes home to America. Stephen F. Cohen @NYU @Princeton EastWestAccord.com

January 23, 2019 – Opinion: FBI Special Agent Joseph Pientka Is the DOJ’s Invisible Man

Christopher Steele and Bruce Ohr (Credit: public domain)

(…) “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FISC] was not alerted to the fact that much of the information in the surveillance warrant on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page was being provided by paid political propagandists employed by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

To continue receiving Trump-Russia collusion propaganda from opposition research firm Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele—who had been hired by Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC—the FBI established a back-channel through former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr at the Department of Justice. After every meeting with Steele, Ohr would sit down for an interview with FBI Special Agent Joseph Pientka, who would fill out official FD-302 interview forms to pass on the information within the FBI.

(…) It seems something spooked the SpyGate plotters into presenting an appearance of drawing back from Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS while still surreptitiously using that political propaganda shop as a source for their ongoing investigations.

This back-channel allowed the FBI to hide Fusion GPS’s—and the Clinton campaign’s–role in providing much of the “evidence” being used to drive these politically-motivated investigations of Trump and his associates.

So why Bruce Ohr? Because he was a top official inside the Department of Justice and close to the DOJ’s National Security Division [NSD].

The point was to launder Fusion GPS’s Trump-Russia allegations through Ohr to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and lead agent on the Trump case, Peter Strzok, so it could be claimed the information was coming from a legitimate intelligence source instead of from paid political propagandists working for Hillary Clinton.

This means it’s highly likely that when Bruce Ohr’s personal notes from his meetings with Fusion GPS are compared with the official FD-302 interview forms that Agent Pientka filled out following his interviews with Ohr, they are not going to match when it comes to what the stated source was for the Trump-Russia information.

For Pientka to write down on the 302 forms that this information on Trump-Russia he was being given by Ohr was still coming from the Fusion GPS boys after the FBI had supposedly severed all ties with them would have defeated the entire reason for going to the trouble of establishing a backchannel in the first place.

Investigative journalist John Solomon of The Hill has stated in his reports that he has been shown Ohr’s handwritten notes that he made during his talks with Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele. So in his own notes, Ohr made it clear who he was talking to and where he was getting these allegations from.

So now the $56,000 question: What do the FD-302 forms Pientka filled out actually say about where the Trump-Russia allegations came from? Do the interview forms admit the allegations were coming from a politically motivated propaganda shop, or do they claim the information came from politically neutral intelligence sources?

I’ve no doubt that at some time in the past year and a half, the DOJ Inspector General’s office sat Pientka down for extensive and detailed interviews about his dual roles in both the Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn affair (he and Strzok interviewed Flynn), and with the Fusion GPS back-channel to the FBI. What he told them must have been incredibly sensitive, since nobody has publicly seen or heard from Pientka all this time, even though House and Senate committees have requested that the DOJ produce him for testimony.  Whatever Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s investigators discovered in their interviews with Pientka, they are keeping a very tight lid on it.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/23/2019)

January 18, 2019 – Opinion: Buzzfeed, like Lawfare, has a role to play in Resistance operation

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

“While the media banter relentlessly about their latest resistance angle du jour; it is perhaps a more beneficial discussion to remind and outline the larger strategy at play. Honing the political skills.

The baseline here is that everything the institutional-left does, is sequential and planned. This is what they do.  This is all they do.  None of the characters within the institutions of professional leftism create anything; build anything; have a life purpose for anything, other than organizing their efforts to exploit control of others via politics.  This is all they know how to do.  When you develop your skills to see their patterns you can then see the predictability behind it.

Prior Example: Former FBI Director James Comey briefs president-elect Trump on the two-page salacious dossier aspect; Former DNI James Clapper, knowing the briefing, then discusses the dossier briefing with CNN… this opens the door for the media who are waiting. Once the narrative door is opened, Buzzfeed enters and transmits the story of the unfounded and uncorroborated Steele Dossier. The key point to understand is that everything from the briefing, to Clapper, to CNN, to Buzzfeed, was scripted and planned. This is the pattern. As we have mentioned the pattern becomes predictable.

This predictability is how CTH was able to state in December 2018 that Michael Cohen would most likely be the centerpiece of the first ‘impeachment’ block; and from knowing how the script rolls, CTH was able to predict the exact timing (Thursday after Superbowl, 2/7/19); and the exact committee (Cummings, House Oversight); for the first hearing that will exploit Michael Cohen.

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

The current Buzzfeed claims being widely promoted today are all part of that pre-scheduled ‘impeachment’ process.  When we approach the term “impeachment” we are not discussing it as the technical and legal approach for removal of a President; but rather the political use of the process to damage President Donald Trump.

Professional political Democrats would not be using “impeachment” in the constitutional sense of the process; but rather weaponizing the process –as a tool itself– to: •target the executive office; •diminish the presidency (“isolate”/”marginalize”, Alinsky rules); •and position themselves for 2020.

Optics and innuendo are key elements, tools per se’, in the Alinsky narrative engineering process.  That’s why Pelosi, Schumer and the democrat machine are going bananas about getting a raw Mueller report and not a version from AG Barr {explained here}.

From Pelosi’s rules, we now know Elijah Cummings will deliver the schedule for impeachment hearings before his deadline on April 15th. We also know from the outline of the process they are following, the next likely witness to be subpoenaed, and to grab the media headlines will be Donald Trump Jr.

That’s where Adam Schiff (HPSCI) and Jerry Nadler (Judiciary) come in with the technical hearings to begin the ‘impeachment’ specifics.  However, they need a predicate to get from Michael Cohen to Donald Trump Jr.

So, knowing they need a baseline predicate…. How do you get from Michael Cohen to Donald Trump Jr?  A = You use the Trump Tower Moscow narrative….  See the map?

Elijah Cummings needs a reference point to take Cohen toward DT-Jr, that’s where Buzzfeed comes in.  Is there any factual basis for the claims within the Buzzfeed report?  No, but that’s not what they need… they need “innuendo” to investigate.

“President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.” (link)

The article is fraught with flawed assumptions and flat-out nonsense; even claiming emails and documents (unseen by the authors) to support the foundation of the article.  Note that no-one else in media is validating this claim. However, that doesn’t matter…. what matters is the ‘claim that needs to be investigated’.  Did President Trump direct Michael Cohen to lie to congress; no, that’s silly.

In the aftermath of the SSCI (Mark Warner) drum-beating a false story about Trump Tower Moscow as evidence of ‘possible’ influence over Trump….. Did Cohen participate in writing a brief set of talking points for the Trump organization to clear up this false and malicious political narrative?  Probably.  Most large organizations do that to share with top executives so everyone has the same set of facts to deal with.

Is that document the electronic evidence (emails) inferred, skewed, and manipulated within the Buzzfeed report?…  I’d wager B.I.N.G.O.

All of it is a nothing-burger, but that doesn’t technically matter for the needs of the ‘resistance’; what they need is a tenuously valid innuendo trail they can exploit with Michael Cohen on February 7th, that will allow Elijah Cummings to pass that specific aspect to Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler.

See how that works?

(Conservative Treehouse, 1/18/2019) (Republished with permission)

January 17, 2019 – Charles Ortel Opinion: The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

“The recent ruling by US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth may become a breakthrough in the 5-year long Clinton email scandal, Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel told Sputnik, asking how it happened that the Obama administration, the CIA and FBI had apparently overlooked “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”

“The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money-laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption”, says Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel, commenting on a US federal judge ordering former Obama officials to answer the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch’s (JW) questions on Hillary Clinton’s private email issue and the Benghazi scandal.

On 15 January, US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, fmr. secretary of state Clinton’s former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap must answer the watchdog’s written questions about the State Department’s response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

BREAKING: Citing government shutdown, DOJ/State seek to stall court-ordered discovery ordered to begin yesterday on Clinton Email, Benghazi Scandal: Top Obama-Clinton Officials, Susan Rice, and Ben Rhodes to Respond to @JudicialWatch Questions Under Oath https://t.co/kka1QCEWtG pic.twitter.com/WYHLLTFP0G

— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton)

​”In time, historians will likely document that the Clintons and Obamas entered office in January 2009 with a grand plan to transform America’s relations with key powers, especially in the Middle East,” Ortel said. “This plan involved toppling national leaders in many nations by fomenting local uprisings using clandestine resources, in actions that were not likely validly authorized by Congress, as is certainly required under US laws.” (Read more: Sputnik News, 1/17/2019)