Alexander Downer

July 30, 2019 – Secret McCabe texts with MI-5 counterpart emerge, spotlighting UK’s early role In Russiagate

Jeremy Fleming (r) with Prince Charles at GCHQ in July 2019. (Credit: Robert Weideman/European Pressphoto Agency)

“Newly surfaced text messages between Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and his counterpart at MI-5, the UK’s domestic security service, have cast new light on Britain’s role in the FBI’s 2016 ‘Russiagate’ investigation, according to The Guardian.

Two of the most senior intelligence officials in the US and UK privately shared concerns about “our strange situation” as the FBI launched its 2016 investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia, The Guardian has learned.

Text messages between Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI at the time, and Jeremy Fleming, his then counterpart at MI5, now the head of GCHQ, also reveal their mutual surprise at the result of the EU referendum, which some US officials regarded as a “wake-up call”, according to a person familiar with the matter. –The Guardian

McCabe and Fleming’s texts were “infrequent and cryptic,” but “occurred with some regularity” after the June 2016 Brexit referendum.

In his text message about the August 2016 meeting, Fleming appeared to be making a reference to Peter Strzok, a senior FBI official who travelled to London that month to meet the Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. Downer had agreed to speak with the FBI about a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, who had told him that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in the race. –The Guardian

In 2017The Guardian reported that Britain’s spy agencies had played a key role in alerting their American counterparts of communications between members of the Trump campaign and “suspected Russian agents,” which was passed along to the US in what was characterized as a “routine exchange of information.” (Read more: Zero Hedge, 7/30/2019)

May 9, 2019 – Alexander Downer defends the FBI tipoff that sparked the Trump-Russia probe

Downer and Clinton jointly sign a Memorandum of Understanding on February 22, 2006, promising $25 million in grant money for a project to provide screening and drug treatment to AIDS patients in Asia. (Credit: public domain)

“Calling himself a “warrior for the Western alliance,” former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer defended sending in the tip that sparked the FBI’s investigation of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.

In his most extensive interview on the topic to date, Downer gave his version of a conversation he had with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos in London in May 2016 that would serve as the catalyst for the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.

Downer, who served as Australia’s top diplomat to the U.K. at the time, provided a memo he wrote following the meeting to the FBI more than two months later. According to Downer, Papadopoulos mentioned that Russia might have information on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that they could release before the 2016 election.

Downer disputed claims that the ex-diplomat was part of a conspiracy to entrap the campaign adviser.

“I don’t know why he told me this, but he did, and we reported it. And the rest is history,” Downer said in an interview on Sky News.

“There’s no defense for him saying it’s some sort of weird conspiracy. I mean, it’s what he told me.”

“I have no idea why he was blabbering this, but if you say that sort of thing to somebody who is part of the Five Eyes intelligence community, I mean I would regard myself as a warrior for the Western alliance,” said Downer, who is now out of government.

Five Eyes refers to an intelligence-sharing agreement between the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

While Downer was critical of Papadopoulos, he said that there was no indication from his May 2016 conversation that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to steal or release any Clinton information.

“There was no suggestion from Papadopoulos nor in the record of the meeting that we sent back to Canberra, there was no suggestion that there was collusion between Donald Trump or Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians,” Downer said.

“All we did is report what Papadopoulos said, and that was that he thought that the Russians may release information, might release information, that could be damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign at some stage before the election.”

(Read more: The Daily Caller, 5/09/2019)

May 4, 2019 – James Comey justifies FBI spy operations – More reason to release his “Spygate” Memos

Former FBI Director James Comey gave a radio interview to Los Angeles radio station KNX 1070-AM after the New York Times outlined FBI spies used in the 2016 election. When questioned about the FBI using intelligence assets to engage with Trump campaign official George Papadopoulos, Comey replied:

“Really? What would you have the FBI do? We discover in the middle of June of 2016 that the Russians were engaged in a massive effort to mess with this democracy to interfere in the election. We’re focused on that and at the end of July we learn that a Trump campaign adviser — two months earlier, before any of this was public — had talked to a Russian representative about the fact that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton and wanted to arrange to share it with the Trump campaign.”

What Comey is describing there is “Russian representative” Joseph Mifsud talking to George Papadopoulos. Mifsud allegedly told Trump aide George Papadopoulos in April 2016 that Russia had “thousands” of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

On May 6th, 2016, some unknown intelligence apparatus ran an operation using Australian aide to Ambassador Downer, Erika Thompson, to interview Papadopoulos; and on May 10th, Ambassador Downer interviewed Papadopoulos and recorded their contact.

Later, in July 2016, the May 6th meeting with Thompson was used by FBI Agent Peter Strzok to write an Electronic Communication memo, transferred from CIA Director John Brennan to FBI Director James Comey, opening Crossfire Hurricane on July 31st.

It is worth remembering from a recent court filing by the FBI we are now aware that James Comey documented each intelligence decision in a series of multiple CYA memos that remain hidden. An additional court filing originally scheduled for April 15th, to determine the outcome of those memos, has been delayed until May 7th (next week).

The trail to understand the scale of the Comey memos surfaced as part of the FOIA case (Backstory Here) where DC Court Judge James E. Boasberg -an Obama appointee and also a FISA judge- asked the FBI to file an opinion about the release of Comey memos to the public. There were two issues: (1) can the memos be released? and (2) can prior sealed FBI filings, arguing to keep the memos hidden, be released?

In a very revealing filing April 8th, 2019, (full pdf below) the lead FBI investigator for the Mueller special counsel, David W. Archey, informed the court that with the ending of the special counsel some of the memo material can be released, such as their existence; however, Archey also stated much of the memo content and sealed background material from the FBI must continue to remain sealed and redacted.

Within the filing we discover the lead FBI agent was David W. Archey (background here). Archey was selected by Robert Mueller when the special counsel took over the counterintelligence investigation from Special Agent Peter Strzok. According to ABC: “Agent David Archey is described by colleagues as a utility man of sorts within the FBI”. However, until now his exact role was not known.

Following the conclusion of the Mueller probe, David Archey was moved. Effective March 8, 2019, Archey became head of the Richmond, VA, FBI field office. (link) Due to the corrupt nature of the special counsel, this is somewhat concerning. I digress…

The first three pages of the filing consist of David Archey explaining to the court that some of the material can be released, but other material must be withheld. He then goes on to reference two prior sealed attachments outlined as “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit B”.

“Exhibit A” is a filing from the FBI on January 31st, 2018, essentially supporting an earlier “in camera ex parte declaration” requesting continuance of a prior court order to keep the background material sealed from public view. In essence, the FBI didn’t want the public to know what was/is contained within the Comey memos (including the scale thereof).

“Exhibit B” is where the action is.

This is the original declaration outlining to the court on October 13th, 2017, why the Comey memos must be sealed. It is inside this exhibit where we discover there are many more memos than previously understood, and the content of those memos is far more exhaustive because James Comey documented the FBI investigation.

In essence Comey created these memos to cover his ass. (pg 13):

FBI Agent Archey then goes on to explain what is inside the memos: It is in this section where we discover that Comey made notes of multiple meetings and conversations with investigators.

Along with writing notes of the meetings and conversations, apparently Comey also made notes of the sources and methods associated with the investigation. Why would Comey generate classified information in these notes (sources and methods) unless he was just covering his ass because he knew the investigation itself was a risk?

The content of the memos seems rather exhaustive; it appears Comey is keeping a diary for use in the event this operation went sideways. (page #14, exhibit B)

All of those investigative elements would likely be contained in official FBI files and notes by the investigative agents. There is no need for a contemporaneous personal account of meeting content unless Comey was constructing memos for his own protection. These memos appear to be motivated by the same mindset that caused Susan Rice to generate her email to self on inauguration day.

In the next section FBI Agent David Archey explains the scale of the memos. There are obviously far more than previously discussed or disclosed publicly. Additionally, look carefully at the way the second part is worded.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 5/04/2019)

September 11, 2018 – Papadopolous questions Australian diplomat Alexander Downer who sparked collusion probe

Alison Spann of the Hill discusses Alexander Downer’s close ties to the Clintons on the Laura Ingraham show. (Credit: Fox News)

“George Papadopoulos suggested on Monday that former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer was sent by an “organization or entity” to meet with him in London during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“The notion that Downer randomly reached out to me just to have a gin and tonic is laughable. Some organization or entity sent him to meet me,” Papadopoulos wrote on Twitter.

“For the sake of our republic and the integrity of this investigation, I think it’s time Downer is as exposed as Christoper Steele,” he continued, referring to the former British spy who wrote the dossier accusing the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia.”

(…) “Downer has given only one interview about his interaction with Papadopoulos.

He told The Australian in April that the Trump aide said Russians may have derogatory information about Clinton. He said that Papadopoulos did not mention emails and did not use the word “dirt” to describe the information. He also claimed to have passed the information along to others in the Australian government. The information was eventually shared with the FBI, which opened its counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion on July 31, 2016.

Downer’s claims about his interactions with Papadopoulos also ended up in the hands of State Department officials, sources have told The Daily Caller News Foundation.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 9/11/2018)

March 5, 2018 – A source behind the Trump Russia investigation, former Australian prime minister Alexander Downer, donated $25 million to Clinton Foundation

Former Australian Prime Minister Alexander Downer (Credit: public domain)

“The Australian diplomat whose tip in 2016 prompted the Russia-Trump investigation previously arranged one of the largest foreign donations to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable efforts, documents show.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s role in securing $25 million in aid from his country to help the Clinton Foundation fight AIDS is chronicled in decade-old government memos archived on the Australian foreign ministry’s website.

Downer and former President Clinton jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 2006 that spread out the grant money over four years for a project to provide screening and drug treatment to AIDS patients in Asia.

The money was initially allocated to the Clinton Foundation but later was routed through an affiliate of the charity known as the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), officials said. Australia was one of four foreign governments to donate more than $25 million to CHAI, records show.”

(…) “Downer, now Australia’s ambassador to London, provided the account of a conversation with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a London bar in 2016 that became the official reason the FBI opened the Russia counterintelligence probe.

But lawmakers say the FBI didn’t tell Congress about Downer’s prior connection to the Clinton Foundation. Republicans say they are concerned the new information means nearly all of the early evidence the FBI used to justify its election-year probe of Trump came from sources supportive of the Clintons, including the controversial Steele dossier.” (Read more: The Hill, 3/05/2018)

January 16, 2018 – The FBI seeks details from an Australian detective on multiple allegations of the Clintons mishandling millions of dollars in Foundation donations

“An Australian investigative journalist who is a retired police detective said Tuesday he has been asked to provide the FBI with details about multiple allegations of mishandling millions of dollars contributed to the Clinton Foundation by the Aussie government.

“I have been asked to provide the FBI with further and better particulars about allegations regarding improper donations to the CF funded by Australian taxpayers,” Michael Smith told LifeZette.

At the center of Smith’s complaints are former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and multiple Australian government officials, including senior diplomat Alexander Downer, that government’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom.

 

(Credit: Michael Smith)

(…) The materials Smith is giving the FBI focus on a 2006 memorandum of understanding between the Australian government and the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton HIV/AIDs Initiative (CHAI). Smith claims the foundation received a “$25M financial advantage dishonestly obtained by deception” as a result of actions by Bill Clinton and Downer, who was then Australia’s minister of foreign affairs.

Also included in the Smith materials are evidence he believes shows “corrupt October 2006 backdating of false tender advertisements purporting to advertise the availability of a $15 million contract to provide HIV/AIDS services in Papua New Guinea on behalf of the Australian government after an agreement was already in place to pay the Clinton Foundation and/or associates.”

(…) A third complaint concerns what Smith describes as “the $10 million financial advantage dishonestly obtained by deception between April 1, 2008, and Sept. 25, 2008, at Washington, D.C., New York, New York, and Canberra Australia involving an MOU between the Australian government, the “Clinton Climate Initiative,” and the purported “Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute Inc.” (Read more: Lifezette, 1/16/2018)  (Archive)

October 21, 2016 – Carter Page’s flawed FISA makes its way through the system

“[James] Baker told investigators that he felt it would be very difficult for the FBI or the DOJ to intentionally try to trick the FISC into issuing a FISA without sufficient evidence.

James Comey, John Kerry, Andrew McCabe, John Brennan, James Clapper, Susan Rice, and Ash Carter, sign and execute certification of the Carter Page Title 1 FISA application on October 21, 2016.

“Such a thing wouldn’t make its way through the system because somebody would ferret that out it in the process. And I seriously doubt that it would make its way to the FISA court. Because the FBI doesn’t want to — would not want to do that with respect to the director who is going to sign these things, nor to the Attorney General. And the Department of Justice would be very protective of the Attorney General and try to ferret out anything like that. And I think it would be kept away from the FISA court in the first instance,” Baker said.

The Page application was largely reliant on the Steele dossier, a series of memos that was unverified at its time of submission to the FISC and remains unverified to this day. Circular reporting, provided by Steele himself, was used as corroboration of the dossier. Additionally, Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, whose conversation with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer was used to open the FBI’s July 31, 2016, counterintelligence investigation, is referenced in the FISA, yet there “is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos,” according to a House Intelligence Committee memo.

James Baker (r) appears before the House Oversight Committee on October 3, 2018. (Credit: Fox News)

Baker himself was unaware of some material facts. When he was told that high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr—who had passed information from Steele and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to the FBI—had informed the FBI that there was the potential for bias, Baker seemed surprised, telling investigators, “I don’t recall ever hearing that before just right now.”

Notably, Baker testified that he was aware of Ohr’s interactions with Steele and the FBI, but told investigators “they weren’t something I focused on.” When pressed, he stated:

“I was aware that Bruce Ohr had some type of relationship with the source, and that somehow through that mechanism, the details of which I did not know, information was flowing to the FBI. From the source through Bruce to the FBI.”

Meanwhile, Moyer testified that without the Steele dossier, the Page FISA would have had a “50/50” chance of achieving the probable cause standard before the FISA court. Notably, to this day, the Steele dossier is considered to have been largely discredited.

Baker appeared to understand the sensitivity of the Page FISA, telling investigators at one point that he envisioned an interview like the one he was currently involved in:

“I anticipated being sitting here in rooms like this down the road, I seriously did, and I knew that it was — I knew that it was sensitive.  I knew that it would be controversial … It was connected to a candidate — this person had connections to a candidate for the office of President of the United States. That alone was enough to make me worried about it and made me focus on it.”

Despite this admission, when asked if he had reviewed any of the three Page FISA renewals, Baker responded that he had not done so, telling investigators, “The machinery was moving and the renewals they had expiration dates and so on.” (Read more: Epoch Times, 2/11/2019)

August 3, 2016 – Strzok/Page texts debate whether to share details with DOJ on key London meeting

“Text messages between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page debating how much information to share with the Justice Department about a London meeting — days after the bureau opened its initial Russia investigation — are drawing fresh scrutiny as alleged surveillance abuse and the probe’s origins are investigated by three separate probes, Fox News has learned.

On Aug. 3, 2016, Strzok wrote, “I think we need to consider the lines of what we disclose to DOJ. For example, the last stipulation notes we will not disclose [the] identifies outside the FBI. I think you might argue the unauthorized disclosure might (reasonably) be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to US national security…”

A clipping of a Strzok /Page text with words written in. “DCM” stands for Deputy Chief of Mission.

In an earlier discussion on Aug. 2, 2016, Strzok reported he had a “good meeting.” Page warned, “Make sure you can lawfully protect what you sign. Just thinking about congress, foia [Freedom of Information Act], etc. I’m sure it’s fine. I just don’t know how protection of intel-type stuff works in that context.”

Fox News has learned some of the words and names that were redacted in the string of Strzok-Page messages; they are included below.

The New York Times was first to report lengthy details about the 2016 meeting in question, when the FBI “dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.” The report said this assignment included questioning Australian Ambassador Alexander Downer. Downer’s information about then-Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos helped lay the foundation for the FBI’s counterintelligence probe – which later grew into former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

House Republicans, continuing to probe the texts, have considered August 2016 a pivotal month. They have been looking closely at these exchanges, and how long before the August meeting Downer reported the Papadopoulos information.” (Read more: Fox News, 7/03/2019)

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)

 

May 10, 2016 – George Papadopoulos, Alexander Downer & the Opening of the FBI Investigation

By: Jeff Carlson (themarketswork.com)

“The New York Times provided us an introduction to FBI reasoning in launching the Trump-Russia Inquiry – drunken comments from George Papadopoulos:

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Alexander Downer (Credit: The Australian)

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?

The Papadopoulos/Downer meeting has been portrayed as a chance encounter in a bar. That does not appear to be the case. Papadopoulos was introduced to Downer through a chain of two intermediaries. Papadopoulos knew an Israeli embassy official in London named Christian Cantor who introduced Papadopoulos to Erika Thompson. Thompson was a counselor to Downer and served in Australia’s London embassy.

On May 4, 2016, Papadopoulos gave an interview to the London Times in which he stated then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron should apologize to Trump for negative comments. The interview was not well-received. According to the Daily Caller, Thompson reached out to Papadopoulos two days after the story appeared and said Downer wanted to meet with Papadopoulos. The meeting between Papadopoulos and Downer took place on May 10, 2016. Downer reportedly told Papadopoulos to “leave David Cameron alone.”

We know Papadopoulos mentioned “thousands of emails” in his FBI Interview regarding his April 26, 2016 meeting with Mifsud. That comment is noted in the July 28, 2017 Affidavit and the October 5, 2017 Statement of the Offense. However, there is nothing regarding comments made to Alexander Downer in either document.

What does Alexander Downer have to say about the May 10, 2016 meeting. From a news.com.au article:

“We had a drink and he (Papadopoulos) talked about what Trump’s foreign policy would be like if Trump won the election.”

He (Trump) hadn’t got the nomination at that stage. During that conversation he (Papadopoulos) mentioned the Russians might use material that they have on Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the election, which may be damaging.

On April 28, 2018, Downer gave an interview to The Australian. The story, which I’ve read, is behind a paywall – but the Daily Caller provides some details:

“We didn’t know anything about Trump and Russia and we had no particular focus on that,’’ Downer says of the Papadopoulos meeting. “For us we were more interested in what Trump would do in Asia” Downer told The Australian. “He [Papadopoulos] didn’t say dirt; he said material that could be damaging to her. No, he said it would be damaging. He didn’t say what it was.”

“By the way, nothing [Papadopoulos] said in that conversation indicated Trump himself had been conspiring with the Russians to collect information on Hillary Clinton. It was just that this guy, [Papadopoulos], clearly knew that the Russians did have material on Hillary Clinton — but whether Trump knew or not? He didn’t say Trump knew or that Trump was in any way involved in this. He said it was about Russians and Hillary Clinton; it wasn’t about Trump.”

Interestingly, the Schiff Memo appears to back this account up. From page two:

“Papadopoulos’ disclosure occurred against the backdrop of Russia’s aggressive covert campaign to influence our elections, which the FBI was already monitoring. We would later learn in Papadopoulos’ plea that the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton emails.”

Despite initial reporting to the contrary, it appears neither “political dirt” nor Clinton emails were ever mentioned at the Papadopoulos/Downer meeting. Notably, Papadopoulos didn’t mention anything to indicate Trump knew of the Clinton information, or had any role in its collection or potential distribution.

There’s been some confusion over how Papadopoulos’ comments made their way to the FBI. Downer stated in his interview that he reported the conversation back to Australia almost immediately…” (Read much more: themarketswork.com, 8/15/2018)