Christopher Steele

March 19, 2019 – Zainab Ahmad is leaving Mueller’s special counsel team

Zanaib Ahmad (Credit: Pari Dukovic/The New Yorker)

“A Justice Department official who worked on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s case is leaving the special counsel’s office, a spokesman for Robert Mueller said Monday.

“Zainab Ahmad has concluded her detail with the Special Counsel’s Office but will continue to represent the office on specific pending matters that were assigned to her during her detail,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement, first reported by Yahoo! News.

(…) Ahmad and Weissmann recently came under scrutiny over their interactions during the 2016 campaign with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.

It recently emerged that Ohr testified to Congress on Aug. 28, 2018, that he briefed Ahmed, Weissmann and FBI officials in September 2016 about his interactions with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the anti-Trump dossier.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 3/19/2019)

March 19, 2019 – Trump pulls ambassador nomination of State Department official who communicated with Steele and Ohr

Kathleen Ann Kavalec (Credit: public domain)

“A State Department official who was awaiting confirmation to be U.S. Ambassador to Albania communicated with the former British spy Christopher Steele and supplied information to a senior DOJ official after and before the 2016 presidential election.

Former State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Ann Kavalec’s nomination was withdrawn recently by President Trump, according to a Senior White House official who spoke to SaraACarter.com.

Kavalec was awaiting to be confirmed as Ambassador to Albania, but information surfaced that she had personally met and was in communication with Steele before and after the 2016 presidential election. Kavalec, a long time State Department employee, worked under Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. She was also a supporter of former President Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, giving a small donation of $250 in 2012 to the Obama Victory Fund and another $250 to Clinton in 2016.

(…) Kavalec, as well as her colleague Jonathan Winer, a former assistant to former Secretary of State John Kerry, supplied information they had collected from Steele to Bruce Ohr, said sources familiar with the congressional investigations. Ohr is a senior Department of Justice official who was used as a backchannel for the FBI after Steele was removed from the bureau for shopping his dossier to the media in 2016. His wife, Nellie Ohr, was working in 2016 as a contractor for Fusion GPS, who was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC to compile the anti-trump dossier.

(…) Emails obtained by this news site reveal Kavalec and Ohr had been in contact with Steele prior to and after the 2016 presidential election. The two had also communicated through email and meetings about Steele’s research on the anti-Trump dossier, according to the documents.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 3/19/2019)

March 8, 2019 – House Republican, Doug Collins, releases Bruce Ohr’s unredacted transcript

Doug Collins (Credit: public domain)

“Georgia Rep. Doug Collins unilaterally released a 268-page transcript Friday of a deposition that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr gave to Congress in August.

Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, took the unusual step by reading a statement on the House floor and providing a link to the Ohr transcript in the public record. The representative said his patience with the Justice Department “has grown thin.”

Ohr served in 2016 and 2017 as a back channel between the FBI and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the anti-Trump dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele.

Bruce Ohr was interviewed on Aug. 28, 2018 by a task force of members from the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees.

Collins said Friday that he plans to release additional transcripts from interviews conducted by the task force. Lawmakers have also interviewed Nellie Ohr and FBI and Justice Department officials such as former FBI general counsel James Baker and former FBI attorney Lisa Page.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 3/08/2019)

February 28, 2019 – Judge orders release of Christopher Steele deposition

The Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation invites David Kramer to present his book “Back to Containment: Dealing with Putin’s Regime.” (Credit: YouTube screenshot)

“A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered the release of depositions given by former British spy Christopher Steele and a longtime associate of late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain in a lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed regarding Steele’s anti-Trump dossier.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro overruled requests by Steele and David Kramer, the former McCain associate, to keep depositions they gave in the BuzzFeed lawsuit under seal. Ungaro dismissed a lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed on Dec. 19, 2018, by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman accused in the dossier of using his companies to hack into DNC computers.

The depositions by Steele and Kramer, a former Department of State official, are likely to shed light on how the dossier was compiled and disseminated to U.S. government officials and the press. Ungaro ordered the documents’ release for March 14.

Kramer, a former State Department official, provided the dossier to a BuzzFeed reporter Dec. 28, 2016, several weeks after meeting with Steele in London.

Steele was hired in June 2016 by opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. He produced 17 separate memos dated between June 20, 2016, and Dec. 13, 2016, alleging a vast conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Kremlin to influence the election.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 2/28/2019)

February 24, 2019 – Christopher Steele’s first defamation trial is slated in a London court this Fall

“Anti-Trump dossier creator Christopher Steele will face a London defamation trial later this year, one of two court cases in which he was forced to produce his first and only on-the-record statements on how he investigated and spread Democratic Party opposition research.

A lawyer involved in a lawsuit told The Washington Times that the London trial will start this fall, sometime between mid-October and mid-December.

Aleksej Gubarev (Credit: The Associated Press)

A half-dozen libel lawsuits have been filed against Mr. Steele and other dossier-related operatives. The one filed in London in 2017 by Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev would be the first to reach trial.

Mr. Steele is a key figure in promoting Trump-Russia conspiracy theories within the Obama administration and the news media. In his final of 17 dossier memos in December 2016, he accused Mr. Gubarev, a large supplier of computer servers, of hacking into Democratic Party computers under pressure from Russian intelligence. Mr. Gubarev, a resident of Cyprus, immediately denied the charge. There has been no evidence he did the intrusion.

Mr. Gubarev sued BuzzFeed in Florida for publishing the discredited 35-page dossier, which listed his name as a criminal hacker. A federal judge dismissed the case, but not because she ruled the charge was true. Rather, she ruled that BuzzFeed had a right to publish since the FBI was using Mr. Steele’s charges to investigate President Trump.

In Britain, libel laws don’t favor the press the way they do in the U.S.

Mr. Gubarev’s lawsuit has avoided the issue of dismissal because Mr. Steele’s defense isn’t that the dossier is true, said Val Gurvits, Mr. Gubarev’s U.S.-based attorney. Mr. Gubarev heads XBT Holdings, which includes the server provider Webzilla.

“They didn’t have a motion to dismiss,” Mr. Gurvits told The Times. “It doesn’t work that way in England. Because they did not allege truth as a defense, they did not have a right to file for summary judgment. That’s a huge issue, by the way, that most of the press conveniently ignored. Christopher Steele is not arguing that the allegations against Gubarev are true.”

Mr. Gurvits said the trial is slated to start between Oct. 21 and Dec. 18. (Read more: Washington Times, 2/24/2019)

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)

December 18, 2018 – Four major blows to the credibility of the Steele dossier…why the lies in the Steele dossier matter

(…) “The continued and proven failures of the Steele dossier matter. Not only was it used in obtaining the Page FISA warrant, but was also used in intelligence-community documents provided to Obama and his administration.

Former CIA Director John Brennan has claimed he never used the dossier in the Intelligence Community assessment. That claim was later disputed by his co-author, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said on CNN that “some of the substantive content, not all of it, but some of the substantive content of the dossier, we were able to corroborate in our Intelligence Community assessment from other sources in which we had very high confidence to it.”

Former NSA Director Mike Rogers was more specific:

“In a March 5, 2018, letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, Adm. Rogers informed the committee that a two-page summary of the dossier—described as ‘the Christopher Steele information’—was ‘added’ as an ‘appendix to the ICA [Intelligence Community Assessment] draft,’ and that consideration of that appendix was ‘part of the overall ICA review/approval process.’”

In August, Brennan did an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that was discussed in an Epoch Times article, “Did Brennan Admit to Using Reverse Targeting to Spy on the Trump Campaign?” During that interview, Brennan repeatedly stated his knowledge of Russian contacts with U.S. citizens. Maddow pursued his conclusions from those contacts:

Maddow: While you were in office as CIA director, before you left on inauguration day, did you conclude that U.S. persons were successfully leveraged in that effort?

Brennan: No.

The look of shocked surprise on Maddow’s face was notable at Brennan’s denial that the Russians had successfully engaged Americans to obtain their goals.

The Steele dossier, written by a British national and former MI6 agent, was used by both the FBI and the CIA and a summary of the document was provided directly to Obama. And yet, for all the weight attached to this document, most of its assertions have never been proven to be factual, many have been proven to be false and it remains unverified to this day.

Which is perhaps fitting for a document that had its origination as something to be used by Hillary Clinton to challenge the election in the then-unlikely event she lost.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 12/18/2018)

December 16, 2018 – Michael Isikoff, first to report allegations from the Steele dossier, says the salacious allegation are “likely false”

Michael Isikoff (Credit: public domain)

The investigative reporter who broke the first story based on allegations from Christopher Steele offered a surprising assessment of the former British spy’s infamous dossier, which alleges a vast conspiracy of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

“Would you agree that a lot of what’s in the Steele dossier has been somewhat vindicated?” Mediaite columnist John Ziegler asked Michael Isikoff, a co-author of the book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story on Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”

“No,” Isikoff responded in an interview released Saturday.

“You would not?” asked Ziegler.

“No,” Isikoff repeated.

Isikoff’s views about the dossier are significant because of his central role in advancing the narrative that the Russian government conspired with Trump associates.

Isikoff is the journalist who wrote the Sept. 23, 2016 article at Yahoo! News laying out Steele’s allegations that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page met secretly in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders. Isikoff’s co-author, David Corn, is the only other reporter to have written about Steele’s claims prior to the 2016 election.

Isikoff and Corn are two of a small handful of reporters who met during the campaign with Steele. The former British spy put the dossier together while working for Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that investigated Trump on behalf of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The FBI cited both the dossier and Isikoff’s article in four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to spy on Page. Republicans have accused the FBI of abusing the FISA process by relying heavily on the unverified Steele dossier and failing to reveal that the Clinton team and DNC funded the salacious report.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 12/17/2018)

December 3, 2018 – Grassley accuses Fusion GPS founder, Glenn Simpson, of giving ‘extremely misleading’ testimony

Glenn Simpson (l) and Chuck Grassley (Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press)

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is drawing parallels between the false testimony that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen gave to Congress in 2017 and the “extremely misleading” statements made by the founder of the firm that commissioned the infamous Steele dossier.

“I hope that the Justice Department is handling all these instances of false statements to Congress with the same level of seriousness they treated Mr. Cohen’s,” Grassley, an Iowa Republican, wrote Monday in a letter to Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Cohen pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 in the special counsel’s investigation to lying to Congress in 2017 about the extent of his attempts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen admitted he lied about how long he worked on the project, which was ultimately scuttled in June 2016.

Grassley accused Glenn Simpson, a co-founder of Fusion GPS, of possibly lying during his Aug. 22, 2017 testimony when he claimed that his firm was not working for a client to investigate President Donald Trump after the 2016 election.

“So you didn’t do any work on the Trump matter after the election date, that was the end of your work?” Simpson was asked in his deposition.

“I had no client after the election,” said Simpson.

“As we now know, that was extremely misleading, if not an outright lie,” Grassley asserted in his letter to Blumenthal.

Grassley noted that a former Senate staffer named Daniel Jones told the FBI in March 2017 that he hired Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, after the election to continue an investigation into Trump’s possible ties to Russia. (Read more: Daily Caller, 12/04/2018)

December 3, 2018 – Judicial Watch sues for records of FBI meetings with Clinton-DNC law firm, Perkins Coie in 2016

Michael Sussmann (l) and James Baker (Credit: Perkins Coie/public domain)

“Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking records of all meetings in 2016 between former FBI General Counsel James Baker and the Perkins Coie law firm. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reportedly paid Fusion GPS to create the “salacious and unverified” Clinton-DNC anti-Trump dossier.

The lawsuit cites a specific media report that FBI top lawyer Baker met with Perkins Coie lawyers to discuss allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russia. The meeting reportedly took place weeks before the 2016 election and before the FBI secured a controversial FISA spy warrant targeting then-candidate Trump’s campaign.

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the DOJ failed to respond to an October 9, 2018, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-02617)) seeking:

All records concerning any and all meetings between former FBI general counsel James Baker and one or more attorneys from Perkins Coie, the Democratic National Committee’s private law firm during 2016.

On October 4, 2018, Fox News reported that Baker told congressional investigators that Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann “initiated contact with him and provided documents and computer storage devices on Russian hacking.” The contact was made in late 2016 as federal investigators prepared a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

At the time, Perkins Coie had hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig into President Trump’s background. Fusion GPS paid British ex-spy Christopher Steele to compile the anti-Trump dossier, memos from which were shared with the FBI in the summer of 2016.

The DNC and Clinton campaign’s funding of the unverified dossier was revealed in a memo from House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes which was disclosed publicly on February 2, 2018.

According to an October 24, 2017, report, Perkins Coie lawyer Marc E. Elias retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC: “The Clinton campaign and DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.” Fusion GPS gave Steele’s dossier and other research documents to Elias.

“The real collusion scandal is the hand-in-hand effort by the Clinton campaign and the Obama DOJ/FBI to spy upon and destroy Donald J. Trump,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “The FBI, pulled by the troika of Comey/McCabe/Strzok, became an arm of the Clinton campaign. And our new lawsuit aims to get to the bottom of the massive scandal.” (Judicial Watch, 12/03/2018)