Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
October 3, 2019 – Former CIA director John Brennan to be interviewed by U.S. attorney John Durham
“Former CIA Director John Brennan said he is “concerned” about the Justice Department’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation.
The “investigation into the investigators” has been underway since the spring, and reports this week showed Attorney General William Barr has taken a more expansive role in it than previously known, pressing foreign leaders to cooperate with the DOJ.
During an interview Wednesday, Brennan said he is “supposedly” going to be interviewed by John Durham, the U.S. attorney tasked with leading the review. Brennan said by all accounts Durham is a man of “integrity” but added Barr has proven himself to be the “president’s attorney.”
“Given that Barr is now accompanying Durham on these things, it really makes me think that the hand of politics and of Trump are now being used to massage what this ongoing review quasi-investigation is. So I am concerned,” Brennan said on MSNBC.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 10/03/2019)
October 2, 2019 – Justice Department to question former CIA director John Brennan in ‘Spygate’ Inquiry
“The special prosecutor investigating the spy operation against the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump will question former CIA Director John Brennan, according to Brennan’s remarks aired on Oct. 2.
“I am supposedly going to be interviewed by Mr. Durham as part of this non-investigation,” Brennan said on MSNBC, referring to U.S. Attorney John Durham.
Attorney General William Barr assigned Durham, a career prosecutor, to investigate whether Obama administration officials who surveilled Trump’s campaign did so legitimately.
Brennan made the comments as news surfaced that Barr and Durham expanded their investigation overseas to Italy, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Roughly a week prior to Brennan’s comments, Barr and Durham spoke to senior Italian intelligence officials.
“I don’t understand the predication of this worldwide effort to try to uncover dirt, either real or imagined, that would discredit that investigation in 2016 into Russian interference,” Brennan said.
The Department of Justice didn’t respond to a request for additional information.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 10/03/2019)
October 2, 2019 – Senator Mark Warner says AG Barr is endangering relationships with key U.S. allies
“Attorney General William Barr is harming America’s relationships with its closest allies by pressuring them to produce intelligence about the Russia investigation in an effort to help President Trump politically, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee charged Thursday in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who has presided with his Republican counterpart over a two-year, bipartisan investigation into 2016 election interference efforts, said Barr’s outreach to foreign governments, confirmed by the Department of Justice, threatens to undermine decades of U.S. intelligence sharing.
“U.S. intelligence leaders have expressed their concerns to me privately on this,” said Warner, who is committee vice-chairman. “This idea that Australia’s intelligence product might be being used to go after a political opponent in domestic American politics… That’s just not what the intelligence community is about.”
The senator said he is particularly worried about the foreign requests and their impact on an intelligence-sharing pact known as the Five Eyes, which includes the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Those countries cooperate extremely closely, sharing communications intercepts and other intelligence.
“Throughout the last 75 years, every administration has valued the sanctity of the five eyes relationship,” Warner said. “It appears this administration doesn’t value that relationship because if you did, you wouldn’t ask your allies for their intelligence for political purposes.”
Warner added: “Can you imagine if the CIA was asked to provide damaging evidence on a political opponent in Australia? There would be outrage in our political establishment.” (Read more: NBC News, 10/02/2019) (Mark Warner Tagged)
August 12 – October 11, 2019: A look at IC IG Michael Atkinson’s activities surrounding the hearsay whistleblower
“Last week the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, testified behind closed doors to congress. Atkinson testified about his role in bringing the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint forward. The details of that testimony are now starting to surface and thankfully congress is taking a closer look at the sketchy background of Michael Atkinson.
There are numerous aspects to the whistle-blower (likely CIA operative Michael Barry), and the complaint, that just don’t add up. One of the areas of focus is the backdating of changes made to the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint form. As Sean Davis notes:
[…] Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, told HPSCI lawmakers during a committee oversight hearing on Friday that the whistleblower forms and rules changes were made in, even though the new forms and guidance, which were not uploaded to the ICIG’s website until September 24, state that they were changed in August.
Despite having a full week to come up with explanations for his office’s decisions to secretly change its forms to eliminate the requirement for first-hand evidence and to backdate those changes to August, Atkinson refused to provide any explanation to lawmakers baffled by his behavior. (read more)
The CIA ‘whistle-blower’ had no first-hand knowledge; everything was based on hearsay. The CIA operative never informed the ICIG about prior contact and coordination with the House Intelligence Committee (Adam Schiff). The CIA operative never disclosed congressional contact on the complaint form, and the complaint forms were changed specifically to accommodate this CIA operative.
On Sunday, October 6th, Ranking Member Devin Nunes also discussed his concerns with the testimony of Michael Atkinson. Nunes noted the testimony “was a joke.”
Nunes told Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Sunday host Matt Boyle, “[The ICIG is] either totally incompetent or part of the deep state, and he’s got a lot of questions he needs to answer because he knowingly changed the form and the requirements in order to make sure that this whistleblower complaint got out publicly.”
“So he’s either incompetent or in on it, and he’s going to have more to answer for, I can promise you because we are not going to let him go; he is going to tell the truth about what happened,” Nunes added. (read more)
ICIG Atkinson never reviewed the call transcript and facilitated the complaint processing despite numerous flaws. Additionally, Atkinson ignored legal guidance from both the director of national intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel that highlighted Atkinson’s poor decision-making.
President Trump announced Joseph Macguire as the Acting ODNI on August 8th, 2019. (link) The CIA operative “whistle-blower” letter to Adam Schiff and Richard Burr was on August 12th (link). Immediately following this letter, the ICIG rules and requirements for Urgent Concern “whistle-blowers” was modified, allowing hearsay complaints. On August 28th Adam Schiff begins tweeting about the construct of the complaint.
Given the nature of Atkinson’s background, it appears his prior work in 2016, during his tenure as the lead legal counsel for the DOJ-NSD, likely played a role in his decision.
Here’s Nunes Sunday Interview (audio):
The center of the 2016 Lawfare Alliance election influence was/is the Department of Justice National Security Division, DOJ-NSD. It was the DOJ-NSD running the Main Justice side of the 2016 operations to support Operation Crossfire Hurricane and FBI agent Peter Strzok. It was also the DOJ-NSD where the sketchy legal theories around FARA violations (Sec. 901) originated.
Michael K Atkinson was previously the Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ-NSD) in 2016. That makes Atkinson senior legal counsel to John Carlin and Mary McCord who were the former heads of the DOJ-NSD in 2016 when the stop Trump operation was underway.
Michael Atkinson was the lawyer for the same DOJ-NSD players who: (1) lied to the FISA court (Judge Rosemary Collyer) about the 80% non compliant NSA database abuse using FBI contractors; (2) filed the FISA application against Carter Page; and (3) used FARA violations as tools for political surveillance and political targeting.
Yes, that means Michael Atkinson was Senior Counsel for the DOJ-NSD, at the very epicenter of the political weaponization and FISA abuse.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/07/2019)
(Republished with permission)
- Adam Schiff
- Admiral Joseph Maguire
- Carter Page
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Crossfire Hurricane
- Department of Justice National Security Division
- Devin Nunes
- Donald Trump
- FARA violations
- first-hand evidence
- FISA application
- FISA court
- FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant
- hearsay whistleblower
- House Intelligence Committee
- IC OIG
- illegal surveillance
- John Carlin
- Judge Rosemary Collyer
- Lawfare Alliance
- Mary McCord
- Michael Atkinson
- Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
- Peter Strzok
- political surveillance
- political targeting
- Richard Burr
- Trump-Zelensky transcript
- urgent concern
- Volodymyr Zelensky
- whistleblower forms
- whistleblower rules
July 28, 2019 – George Papadopoulos will head to Greece to retrieve $10K payment, federal investigators want to see the marked bills
“Former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos told Fox News‘ Maria Bartiromo in an exclusive interview that he is heading back to Greece to retrieve $10,000 that he suspects was dropped in his lap as part of an entrapment scheme by the CIA or FBI — and federal investigators want to see the marked bills, which he said are now stored in a safe.[Timeline editor’s note: Oddly, the official video released by Bartiromo does not play the interview with Papadopoulos and instead offers the Nunes interview twice. With a little sleuthing, I managed to find a copy posted on an obscure YouTube page, and it appears to have been captured from a television. All other copies lead to the Bartiromo video that has been edited. So essentially, given the censorship we are currently experiencing, there’s no guarantee this video will remain on YouTube. For the sake of posterity, I have captured a screenshot of the interview that is now saved on my hard drive. lol]
Papadopoulos said on Sunday Morning Futures he was “very happy” to see Devin Nunes, R-Calif., grill Special Counsel Robert Mueller about the summer 2017 payment during last week’s hearings — even though Mueller maintained, without explanation, that the matter was outside the scope of his investigation.
“I was very happy to see that Devin Nunes brought that up,” Papadopoulos said. “A man named Charles Tawil gave me this money [in Israel] under very suspicious circumstances. A simple Google search about this individual will reveal he was a CIA or State Department asset in South Africa during the ‘90s and 2000s. I think around the time when Bob Mueller was the director of the FBI.
So, I have my theory of what that was all about,” Papadopoulos added. “The money, I gave it to my attorney in Greece because I felt it was given to me under very suspicious circumstances. And upon coming back to the United States I had about seven or eight FBI agents rummaging through my luggage looking for money.”
According to Papadopoulos, “the whole setup” by the “FBI likely, or even the special counsel’s office,” was intended to “bring a FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] violation against me.” The FARA statute played a key role in the prosecutions of former Trump aides, including Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.” (Read more: Fox News, 7/28/2019)
June 25, 2019 – Judicial Watch Sues CIA for Inspector General’s report on Mena, Arkansas, airport drug, arms smuggling allegations
Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA seeking the CIA Inspector General’s November 1996 report related to a drug-running, arms smuggling and intelligence operation involving Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport in Arkansas.
The airfield in Mena was alleged to have been used in the 1980s by the CIA during the Reagan administration to smuggle arms to rebels in Nicaragua. A central figure in the operation was Barry Seal, a pilot and drug smuggler for Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel who became an undercover agent and informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
In November 1996, then-CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz absolved the CIA of involvement in the operation.
Hitz at the time said that “no evidence has been found to indicate that the CIA or anyone acting on its behalf participated in, or otherwise had knowledge of, any illegal or improper activities in Mena, Arkansas or the area north of Mena known as Nella, Arkansas.”
Judicial Watch chief investigative reporter Micah Morrison has written extensively on the activities surrounding the Mena airport. In an October 18, 1994, editorial feature for The Wall Street Journal titled “The Mena Coverup” Morrison wrote: “What do Bill Clinton and Oliver North have in common, along with the Arkansas State Police and the Central Intelligence Agency? All probably wish they had never heard of Mena.”
Morrison noted that Seal, who by 1984 was a DEA informant, “flew at least one sting operation to Nicaragua for the CIA.” Seal was murdered in 1986 by Colombian hitmen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“The CIA has for over 20 years stonewalled the release of information now sought by Judicial Watch on the Mena Airport controversy,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 6/25/2019)
June 10, 2019 – DOJ outlines to Congress its investigation of the investigators
“The Justice Department’s investigation of the investigators involved in the Trump-Russia probe will look at actions both by the U.S. government and by foreigners.
That’s what the agency said Monday, telling Congress its review is “broad in scope and multifaceted” in a letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.
The DOJ said the wide-ranging inquiry led by Attorney General William Barr, along with his right-hand man U.S. Attorney John Durham, would seek to “illuminate open questions regarding the activities of U.S. and foreign intelligence services as well as non-governmental organizations and individuals.”
The letter made it clear that DOJ’s review is not limited just to their specific agency, but would also scrutinize the intelligence community as a whole. The letter stated that the DOJ review team had already asked certain intelligence community agencies to preserve records, make witnesses available, and start putting together documents that the DOJ would need to carry out its inquiry.
And the DOJ made it clear that they weren’t just looking to see if policies were violated — they’ll be looking at whether any laws were broken, too.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 6/10/2019)
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)
- Alexander Downer
- Archey Declarations
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Clinton emails
- Comey memos
- Crossfire Hurricane
- David Archey
- electronic communication memo (EC)
- Erika Thompson
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- George Papadopoulos
- James Comey
- John Brennan
- Joseph Mifsud
- Peter Strzok
- Russia collusion
- Trump campaign
May 2, 2019 – Big puzzle pieces connecting the CIA, FBI, and 2016 political surveillance is merging
“The admissions within the New York Times story today -outlining how President Obama’s intelligence apparatus ran simultaneous intelligence operations against the Trump campaign- are starting to merge the FBI and CIA operations. CTH anticipated this.
With new information about the “U.K. operation” using Stefan Halper (CIA asset and FBI informant); and the details of the contacts by U.S. intelligence operative Azra Turk; we can overlay the timeline and see a clear picture.
On August 15th, 2016, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok discussed the “insurance policy“:
Two weeks later, September 2nd, 2016, CIA operative Stefan Halper reaches out to George Papadopoulos and introduces him to CIA/FBI asset Azra Turk.
This alignment between the CIA and FBI is not a surprise to anyone who has followed the story behind the 2015/2016 political surveillance issues. However, there’s a specific connection here many are missing.
Remember, everything AFTER March 9th, 2016, is a cover-story. Everything after March 9th, 2016, are operations from both the CIA and FBI to hide the political surveillance that was going on before March 9th, 2016. The surveillance was happening through exploitation of the NSA database through unauthorized FISA search queries; and involved both the CIA and FBI.
This is the point that has not been emphasized enough. However, FISA Judge Rosemary Collyer outlined the connection, albeit with mandatory redactions. The connective evidence is in a footnote on page #87 of Collyer’s report that few are paying attention to:
Read that carefully and you’ll see an agreement between the CIA and FBI to allow contractors. Note:
“[CIA] access to FBI systems was the subject of an interagency memorandum of understanding enter into [in ????])”
CTH believes that redacted date is 2012 as a result of another section of the report and the emphasis that Collyer is placing on the time-frame throughout her full report. Notice also:
“Despite the existence of an inter-agency memorandum of understanding (presumably prepared or reviewed by FBI lawyers) no notice of this practice was given to the FISC until 2016.”
So there was a secret agreement between the CIA and the FBI that was kept hidden from the FISA court until 2016 when Director Mike Rogers exposed and reported it.
The agreement centered around “access to FBI systems“; and, THIS IS IMPORTANT, we know the overarching issue was “deliberate decision-making” that led to “contractor access to the NSA database”, and the fact those contractors were searching “U.S. persons”.
Can you see the process now?
Can you see the potentially layered illegality of the process now?
CIA operatives (contractors) were using FBI portal access (per the secret agreement) to exploit the NSA database and extract search results. Remember, the CIA is not supposed to be conducting surveillance, aka “spying”, inside the U.S. on American citizens.
In essence the secret agreement, unknown to the court, was the CIA hiding their extraction of U.S. person information by using FBI database access. [Through the DOJ-NSD (National Security Division)] Now does it make sense why the DOJ would not allow Inspector General oversight?
In 2015 the Office of Inspector General requested oversight and it was Deputy AG Sally Yates who responded with a lengthy 58-page legal explanation saying, essentially, ‘nope – not allowed.’ (PDF HERE) All of the DOJ is subject to oversight, except the NSD.
The secret MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the CIA and FBI was the reason why the DOJ-NSD could never allow inspector general oversight.
In the Obama-era political surveillance programs the lines between the CIA and FBI were blurred. They were working together through contractors. This is why you are noticing blurred lines between the CIA and FBI in the construct of the cover-up.
This is the parallel tracks we previously described, copied below for reference:
Everything after March 9th, 2016, is a function of two intelligence units, the CIA and FBI, operating together to coverup prior political surveillance and spy operations.
Prior to March 9th, 2016, the surveillance and spy operation was using the NSA database to track and monitor their political opposition. However, once the NSA compliance officer began initiating an internal review of who was accessing the system, the CIA and FBI moved to create ex post facto justification for their endeavors. [Full Backstory]
The evidence for this is found in the documents attached to both operations; and bolsters the original statements by Congressman Devin Nunes as highlighted below.” (Read much more: Conservative Treehouse, 5/02/2019)
- Azra Turk
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- FISA search violations
- George Papadopoulos
- Insurance Policy
- Judge Rosemary Collyer
- Lisa Page
- May 2019
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
- NSA database queries
- Peter Strzok
- private contractors
- Sally Yates
- Stefan Halper
- Trump campaign
- U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)
April 18, 2019 – Mueller’s own report undercuts its core Russia-meddling claims
“While the 448-page Mueller report found no conspiracy between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, it offered voluminous details to support the sweeping conclusion that the Kremlin worked to secure Trump’s victory. The report claims that the interference operation occurred “principally” on two fronts: Russian military intelligence officers hacked and leaked embarrassing Democratic Party documents, and a government-linked troll farm orchestrated a sophisticated and far-reaching social media campaign that denigrated Hillary Clinton and promoted Trump.
But a close examination of the report shows that none of those headline assertions are supported by the report’s evidence or other publicly available sources. They are further undercut by investigative shortcomings and the conflicts of interest of key players involved:
- The report uses qualified and vague language to describe key events, indicating that Mueller and his investigators do not actually know for certain whether Russian intelligence officers stole Democratic Party emails, or how those emails were transferred to WikiLeaks.
- The report’s timeline of events appears to defy logic. According to its narrative, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced the publication of Democratic Party emails not only before he received the documents but before he even communicated with the source that provided them.
- There is strong reason to doubt Mueller’s suggestion that an alleged Russian cutout called Guccifer 2.0 supplied the stolen emails to Assange.
- Mueller’s decision not to interview Assange – a central figure who claims Russia was not behind the hack – suggests an unwillingness to explore avenues of evidence on fundamental questions.
- U.S. intelligence officials cannot make definitive conclusions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer servers because they did not analyze those servers themselves. Instead, they relied on the forensics of CrowdStrike, a private contractor for the DNC that was not a neutral party, much as “Russian dossier” compiler Christopher Steele, also a DNC contractor, was not a neutral party. This puts two Democrat-hired contractors squarely behind underlying allegations in the affair – a key circumstance that Mueller ignores.
- Further, the government allowed CrowdStrike and the Democratic Party’s legal counsel to submit redacted records, meaning CrowdStrike and not the government decided what could be revealed or not regarding evidence of hacking.
- Mueller’s report conspicuously does not allege that the Russian government carried out the social media campaign. Instead it blames, as Mueller said in his closing remarks, “a private Russian entity” known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).
- Mueller also falls far short of proving that the Russian social campaign was sophisticated, or even more than minimally related to the 2016 election. As with the collusion and Russian hacking allegations, Democratic officials had a central and overlooked hand in generating the alarm about Russian social media activity.
- John Brennan, then director of the CIA, played a seminal and overlooked role in all facets of what became Mueller’s investigation: the suspicions that triggered the initial collusion probe; the allegations of Russian interference; and the intelligence assessment that purported to validate the interference allegations that Brennan himself helped generate. Yet Brennan has since revealed himself to be, like CrowdStrike and Steele, hardly a neutral party — in fact a partisan with a deep animus toward Trump.
Uncertainty Over Who Stole the Emails
The Mueller report’s narrative of Russian hacking and leaking was initially laid out in a July 2018 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers and is detailed further in the report. According to Mueller, operatives at Russia’s main intelligence agency, the GRU, broke into Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails in March 2016. The hackers infiltrated Podesta’s account with a common tactic called spear-phishing, duping him with a phony security alert that led him to enter his password. The GRU then used stolen Democratic Party credentials to hack into the DNC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) servers beginning in April 2016. Beginning in June 2016, the report claims, the GRU created two online personas, “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0,” to begin releasing the stolen material. After making contact later that month, Guccifer 2.0 apparently transferred the DNC emails to the whistleblowing, anti-secrecy publisher WikiLeaks, which released the first batch on July 22 ahead of the Democratic National Convention.
The report presents this narrative with remarkable specificity: It describes in detail how GRU officers installed malware, leased U.S.-based computers, and used cryptocurrencies to carry out their hacking operation. The intelligence that caught the GRU hackers is portrayed as so invasive and precise that it even captured the keystrokes of individual Russian officers, including their use of search engines.
In fact, the report contains crucial gaps in the evidence that might support that authoritative account. Here is how it describes the core crime under investigation, the alleged GRU theft of DNC emails:
Between approximately May 25, 2016 and June 1, 2016, GRU officers accessed the DNC’s mail server from a GRU-controlled computer leased inside the United States. During these connections, Unit 26165 officers appear to have stolen thousands of emails and attachments, which were later released by WikiLeaks in July 2016. [Italics added for emphasis.]
The report’s use of that one word, “appear,” undercuts its suggestions that Mueller possesses convincing evidence that GRU officers stole “thousands of emails and attachments” from DNC servers. It is a departure from the language used in his July 2018 indictment, which contained no such qualifier:
“It’s certainly curious as to why this discrepancy exists between the language of Mueller’s indictment and the extra wiggle room inserted into his report a year later,” says former FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley. “It may be an example of this and other existing gaps that are inherent with the use of circumstantial information. With Mueller’s exercise of quite unprecedented (but politically expedient) extraterritorial jurisdiction to indict foreign intelligence operatives who were never expected to contest his conclusory assertions in court, he didn’t have to worry about precision. I would guess, however, that even though NSA may be able to track some hacking operations, it would be inherently difficult, if not impossible, to connect specific individuals to the computer transfer operations in question.”
The report also concedes that Mueller’s team did not determine another critical component of the crime it alleges: how the stolen Democratic material was transferred to WikiLeaks. The July 2018 indictment of GRU officers suggested – without stating outright – that WikiLeaks published the Democratic Party emails after receiving them from Guccifer 2.0 in a file named “wk dnc linkI .txt.gpg” on or around July 14, 2016. But now the report acknowledges that Mueller has not actually established how WikiLeaks acquired the stolen information: “The Office cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”
Another partially redacted passage also suggests that Mueller cannot trace exactly how WikiLeaks received the stolen emails. Given how the sentence is formulated, the redacted portion could reflect Mueller’s uncertainty:
Contrary to Mueller’s sweeping conclusions, the report itself is, at best, suggesting that the GRU, via its purported cutout Guccifer 2.0, may have transferred the stolen emails to WikiLeaks. ”
Aaron Mate’ addresses each of the bullet points above in much greater detail at: (RealClearInvestigations, 7/05/2019)