December 2018

December 28, 2018 – Goodlatte and Gowdy recommend a second counsel to continue investigating the investigators of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Trump Russia collusion

Bob Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy recommended a second special counsel to continue their work in March 2018. (Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

“The outgoing Republican committee chairmen in charge of a year-long probe of how the FBI and Justice Department handled investigations into the Trump campaign’s alleged Russia ties and Hillary Clinton’s emails once again called for a second special counsel to look into such matters in a letter to top administration and congressional officials summing up their work.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., sent their letter to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. In it, they encouraged them to pick up where the House panels left off and “continue to identify and eliminate bias” at the federal law enforcement agencies “so the public can trust the institutions to make decisions solely on the facts and the law and totally devoid of political bias or consideration.”

“Our 2016 presidential candidates were not treated equally,” Goodlatte and Gowdy wrote in a statement accompanying the release of the letter. “The investigators in both investigations were biased against President Trump.”

The House GOP leaned heavily on details in an inspector general report released earlier this year to make their arguments about bias having infected the FBI and DOJ’s proceedings. The IG’s report found that while certain individuals, such as former top FBI counterintelligence officer Peter Strzok, displayed clear personal bias against Trump, there was no evidence that the conclusions of the investigations themselves were biased.” (Read more: Chicago Tribune, 12/28/2018)

December 27, 2018 – Critics of Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise of ISIS

Clinton and Kerry: Architects of chaos in Syria. (Credit: Department of State)

“In 2012, the CIA initiated a one billion dollar arm-and-equip operation to fund the so-called “moderate rebels” united under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). A classified Defense Intelligence Agency memo distributed across Obama administration channels in August of that year warned that jihadist forces emanating from Iraq aimed to exploit the security vacuum opened up by the US-backed proxy war to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” — an “Islamic State,” in the exact words of the memo.

Referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s Syrian affiliate by its name, Jabhat al-Nusra, before Western media ever had, the DIA emphasized the close ties the group had fostered with Syria’s “moderate rebels”: “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. AQI declared its opposition to Assad’s regime from the beginning because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

The memo was authored under the watch of then-Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was convicted this year of failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey — an extremely ironic development considering Turkey’s role in fueling the Syrian insurgency. Predictably, the document was ignored across the board by the Obama administration. Meanwhile, heavy weapons were flowing out of the U.S. Incirlik air base in Turkey and into the hands of anyone who could grab them across the Syrian border.

As early as February 2013, a United Nations independent inquiry report concluded, “The FSA has remained a brand name only.” The UN further issued a damning assessment of the role of the United States, UK and their Gulf allies in fueling extremism across Syria. “The intervention of external sponsors has contributed to the radicalization of the insurgency as it has favored Salafi armed groups such as the al-Nusra Front, and even encouraged mainstream insurgents to join them owing to their superior logistical and operational capabilities,” the report stated.

How ISIS overran large swaths of territory in northeastern Syria and established its de facto capital Raqqa is scarcely understood, let alone discussed by Western media. That is partly because the real story is so inconvenient to the established narrative of the Syrian conflict, which blames Assad for every atrocity that has ever occurred in his country, and for some horrors that may not have ever taken place. Echoing the Bush administration’s discredited attempts to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda, some neoconservative pundits hatched a conspiracy theory that accused Assad of covertly orchestrating the rise of ISIS in order to curry support from the West. But the documented evidence firmly established the success of ISIS as a byproduct of the semi-covert American program to arm Assad’s supposedly moderate opposition.” (Read more: Consortium News, 12/27/2018)

December 20, 2018 – Federal Court refuses to unseal documents justifying FBI raid on reported Clinton Foundation whistleblower

“A federal court refused to unseal government documents that permitted the FBI to raid the home of a reportedly recognized whistleblower who, according to his lawyer, delivered documents pertaining to the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One to a presidentially appointed watchdog.

The U.S. District Court of Maryland’s Chief Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner, a Clinton appointee, also sealed her justification for keeping the documents secret in a single-page Dec. 20 order.

On Nov. 15, federal Magistrate Judge Stephanie Gallagher authorized the raid on Dennis Cain’s Union Bridge, Maryland, home. She sealed the government documents justifying it.

The Daily Caller News Foundation asked Gallagher on Nov. 29 to unseal the documents, noting that Cain’s attorney has said his client, a former employee of an FBI contractor, is a recognized whistleblower. The documents should be released in light of “an urgent public interest” surrounding the case, TheDCNF wrote.

Attorneys and experts who defend government whistleblowers told TheDCNF the court should disclose whether prosecutors told Gallagher that Cain was a protected whistleblower under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.

Cain enjoyed his whistleblower status as early as last summer when he handed over documents to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, according to Cain’s lawyer, Michael Socarras. Horowitz instructed a top aide to personally hand-deliver the documents to the House and Senate intelligence committees, the attorney said.

The documents reportedly show that federal officials failed to investigate potential criminal activity regarding the Clinton Foundation and Rosatom, the Russian company that purchased Uranium One. (Read more: The Daily Caller, 1/27/2019)

December 19, 2018 – Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee claims four Trump campaign officials are targets of FISA investigations

During a break in the testimony of Christine Blasey-Ford, Sheila Jackson Lee discretely passes along an envelope to Ford’s attorney, Michael Bromwich on September 28, 2018. (Credit: public domain)

“Multiple Trump campaign officials were the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigations, a Democratic lawmaker said in a closed-door hearing late last year.

If what Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, says is true, the scope of the FBI’s FISA efforts for its counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign and its ties to Russia span far wider than previously known. So far, it is only confirmed that the FBI obtained FISA warrants targeting onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

During a hearing on Dec. 19 with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the transcript of which was released on Monday, Jackson Lee mentioned three other individuals.

“I want to talk about the spring, summer, and autumn of 2016. Carter Page, at the time, was suspected of being a Russian asset; George Papadopoulos had told the Australian ambassador that Russians had Hillary [Clinton] emails; Paul Manafort had been named Trump campaign manager; Michael Flynn was Trump’s chief national security adviser and foreign policy adviser and, just yesterday, had a continuance in his sentencing,” Jackson Lee said. “One thing that all of these persons had in common was that each was the subject of a FISA Court investigation, which we now know, and all were directly connected to Trump. As attorney general, you had the authority to oversee FISA application process. Is that correct?”

Lynch replied “yes,” after which Justice Department lawyer Bradley Weinsheimer cut in to say Jackson Lee’s question “potentially gets into possibly classified information and also equities in an ongoing investigation.

(…) There has been talk in recent weeks about further steps taken to record members of Trump’s campaign, including Papadopoulos. Former Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said on Sunday that the FBI withheld “game changer” transcript material about Papadopoulos from the surveillance court when filing applications targeting Page.

In an interview Friday, former FBI general counsel James Baker, who claims to have taken a leading role in overseeing the Page FISA warrant applications, was asked point-blank if the bureau used an unverified dossier to surveil anyone else. Claiming to be unfamiliar with what the government has revealed, Baker opted not to confirm nor deny it.

“I don’t think I should comment on that. I don’t know what else the government has confirmed,” Baker said on MSNBC. “I don’t want to confirm or deny anything about other potential FISA applications.”  (Read more: Washington Examiner, 5/21/2019) 

December 19, 2018 – BuzzFeed wins lawsuit over Steele dossier

BuzzFeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith at a 2012 event with The Guardian. (Credit: Thos Robinson/Getty Images)

“A federal judge in Florida on Wednesday ruled in favor of BuzzFeed News in a defamation lawsuit over the outlet’s publication of the infamous and unverified Steele dossier.

The defamation lawsuit, filed Feb. 2, 2017, focused on allegations made in the final memo against Alexis Gubarev, a Russian tech executive with companies in Cyprus.

In a memo dated Dec. 13, 2016, Steele alleged Gubarev used his web hosting companies to hack into Democrats’ computer networks using viruses, bots and malware.

Gubarev vehemently denied the allegation, and after filing his lawsuit, BuzzFeed issued an apology and scrubbed his name from the version of the dossier published online.

Ben Smith, the editor of BuzzFeed, issued a statement claiming vindication in the case.

“As Judge Ungaro affirmed in her ruling, a key principle underlying the First Amendment is that the public has a right to know about actions taken by its government,” Smith said. “As we have said from the start, a document that had been circulating at the highest levels of government, under active investigation by the FBI, and briefed to two successive presidents, is clearly the subject of ‘official action.’” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 12/19/2018)

December 19, 2018 – Lynch testimony reveals bias and intent for failing to give Trump defensive briefing

Loretta Lynch (Credit: Moriah Ratner/The Hill)

“The defensive briefing, after all, is a procedure that is often given to presidential candidates, elected officials and even U.S. businesses that have either been unwittingly approached by foreign actors attempting to gain trust and befriend those in position of influence.

The briefing allows the government to protect the candidates, specifically if there is substantial information or knowledge to suggest that someone has targeted an unwitting American for information. If the FBI or intelligence agencies suspect foreign adversaries may be trying to penetrate a presidential campaign, as those FBI and DOJ sources suggested in testimony to lawmakers, it would then be required to warn those affected, a senior former intelligence official told SaraACarter.com.

Why? Because foreign adversaries like China and Russia for example, and even allies, will attempt to glean information – or favor – from unwitting persons with access to senior level officials. The access can assist those nation’s own national interest or provide access for intelligence collection.

In the case of Trump, the FBI gave only a general counterintelligence briefing but did not provide information to the campaign that the FBI believed there were specific counterintelligence threats. For example, the FBI’s concern over campaign advisors George Papadopolous, Carter Page and then concerns over former national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.“It is an essential task of the FBI and the intelligence community to give a defensive briefing to a presidential candidate when a foreign adversary is attempting to penetrate or make contact with someone in the campaign,” said a former senior intelligence official. “If the FBI and DOJ were so concerned about Carter Page and (George) Papadopolous why didn’t they brief Trump when he became a candidate? The fact that they didn’t is very revealing. If they gave defensive briefing to the Clinton campaign then I think we have the answer.

Bruce Ohr’s 268-page testimony, released last week by Georgia Rep. Doug Collins reveals the machinations of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and the players involved. Ohr’s testimony coupled with testimony provided by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which has not been released but reviewed by this reporter, along with former FBI General Counsel James Baker’s testimony reveals a startling fact: everyone appeared to say they were concerned the Russian’s were penetrating the Trump campaign but no one at the DOJ or FBI authorized a defensive briefing.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 3/14/2019)

December 19, 2018 – Democratic and neoconservative operatives meddle in US 2018 election by creating a fake army of Russian bots

“US cyber-security experts have blamed Russia for meddling in American elections since 2016. Now it has emerged that authors of a Senate report on ‘Russian’ meddling actually ran a “false flag” meddling operation themselves.

A week before Christmas, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Russia of depressing Democrat voter turnout by targeting African-Americans on social media. Its authors, New Knowledge, quickly became a household name.

Jonathon Morgan (l) and Ryan Fox (Credit: Medium/New Knowledge)

Described by the New York Times as a group of tech specialists who lean Democratic, New Knowledge has ties to both the US military and intelligence agencies. Its CEO and co-founder Jonathon Morgan previously worked for DARPA, the US military’s advanced research agency. His partner, Ryan Fox, is a 15-year veteran of the National Security Agency who also worked as a computer analyst for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Their unique skill sets have managed to attract the eye of investors, who pumped $11 million into the company in 2018 alone.

Morgan and Fox have struck gold in the “Russiagate” racket, which sprung into being after Hillary Clinton blamed Moscow for Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016. Morgan, for example, is one of the developers of the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, the online tool that purports to monitor and expose narratives being pushed by the Kremlin on Twitter. The dashboard is bankrolled by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy – a collection of Democrats and neoconservatives funded in part by NATO and USAID.

It is worth noting that the 600 “Russia-linked” Twitter accounts monitored by the dashboard are not disclosed to the public, making it impossible to verify its claims. This inconvenience has not stopped Hamilton 68 from becoming a go-to source for hysteria-hungry journalists, however…

New Knowledge’s victory lap was short-lived. On December 19, a New York Times story revealed that Morgan and his crew had created a fake army of Russian bots, as well as fake Facebook groups, in order to discredit Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama’s 2017 special election for the US Senate.

Judge Roy Moore (Credit: public domain)

Working on behalf of the Democrats, Morgan and his crew created an estimated 1,000 fake Twitter accounts with Russian names, and had them follow Moore. They also operated several Facebook pages where they posed as Alabama conservatives who wanted like-minded voters to support a write-in candidate instead.

In an internal memo, New Knowledge boasted that it had orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet.

It worked. The botnet claim made a splash on social media and was further amplified by Mother Jones, which based its story on expert opinion from Morgan’s other dubious creation, Hamilton 68.

Scott Shane (Credit: public domain)

Ultimately, Moore ended up losing the race by a miniscule 1.5 percentage points – making his opponent Doug Jones the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the US Senate in over 25 years.

Things got even weirder when it turned out that Scott Shane, the author of the Times piece, had known about the meddling for months, because he spoke at an event where the organizers boasted about it!

Shane was one of the speakers at a meeting in September, organized by American Engagement Technologies, a group run by Mikey Dickerson, President Barack Obama’s former tech czar. Dickerson explained how AET spent $100,000 on New Knowledge’s campaign to suppress Republican votes, “enrage” Democrats to boost turnout, and execute a “false flag” to hurt Moore. He dubbed it “Project Birmingham.”

Reid Hoffman (Credit: Wikipedia)

The money for the venture came from a $750,000 contribution to AET by Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn and a big Democrat donor. Once that emerged, Hoffman offered a public apology for his connection to the shady operation, but insisted that he didn’t know what his money was going towards.

“I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing,” Hoffman said in a statement.

“For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET — the organization I did support — more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject.”

As for Shane, he told BuzzFeed that he was “shocked” by the revelations, but had signed a nondisclosure agreement at the request of AET, so he could not talk about it further.” (Read more: Russia Today, 12/29/2018)

December 19, 2018 – Former AG Lynch ‘appears to have amnesia’ during testimony about Carter Page FISA

Former attorney general Loretta Lynch stonewalled Congress July 12, 2016, on the details of the Hillary Clinton email case, refusing to get into the specifics of her decision not to prosecute for mishandling classified material. (Credit: CSpan)

“Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Congressional lawmakers in closed door testimony that despite the DOJ having approved the FBI warrant and renewals to spy on Carter Page, she did not recall the applications, did not remember the details contained in the applications or the circumstances surrounding conversations about the warrant, according to testimony reviewed by SaraACarter.com.

Lynch “appeared to have amnesia” during her testimony that she delivered in December before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, said one congressional official, who had knowledge of the hearing. The official said Lynch’s closed-door testimony on Page, a former Trump campaign volunteer, left lawmakers with more questions than answers.

(…) Goodlatte Questions Lynch on Carter Page

…under questioning from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, she listed the standard detailed procedures of what is required from the Attorney General when the FBI files for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Warrant to spy on an American.

“By statute, the Attorney General is the final signatory on the FISA applications,” stated Lynch to the committee. “By regulation, the signatory authority has been delegated – shall I say shared—with the Deputy Attorney General and the head of the national security division as long as the people in those positions are presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed.”

Lynch on Page

“I don’t have any recollection of being briefed on the Page application either. And I don’t have a recollection of signing it, said Lynch.”

So she knows the rules and regulations but when asked in more detail about the process of approving the FBI’s application on Page she freezes.

Goodlatte, who was then the chairman of the committee, asked Lynch: “Is that what happened to the Carter Page case?”

“I wasn’t involved in the processing of the Page FISA and I can outline the process for you but I don’t have personal (knowledge) of it,” she said.

Confounded Goodlatte says “no, no, it is just not clear to me, the Attorney General has a role, you often rely upon others to supplement your work in fulfilling that role. Did you have a role in that or were you briefed?”

“I don’t have any recollection of being briefed on the Page application either. And I don’t have a recollection of signing it,” said Lynch in response.

Goodlatte then asks Lynch if she recalls signing any of the renewal applications to continue spying on Page.

“I don’t have a recollection of being involved in the FISA for Mr. Page at all,” she says.

Goodlatte then goes on to ask: “were you briefed about the relevance of Mr. Page’s FISA warrant with regard to this broader Russia investigation?”

Again, Lynch fails to have any memory of anything Page.

“I don’t have a recollection of a briefing of that type, no,” said Lynch.

Goodlatte then asks: “When did you first hear the name Carter Page?”

Lynch: “Again, it would have to have been like late spring of 2016 or so in this context. I don’t recall I knew of him from other sources or not.” (Read more: Sara Carter, 3/04/2019)

December 19, 2018 – Loretta Lynch and James Comey’s testimonies conflict on whether she told him to refer to the Hillary Clinton email investigation as a “matter” instead of an investigation

“While testifying last year at a closed-door House Oversight Committee hearing last June, Comey said Lynch had pressured him to minimize the significance of the Clinton email probe – an encounter which he says left him questioning her impartiality, and – along with Lynch’s clandestine tarmac meeting on a hot summer’s day in 2016 – contributed to his decision to hold a July 2016 press conference announcing the FBI’s conclusions.

“The attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me,” said Comey. “That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude, ‘I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.'”

Lynch, meanwhile, told congressional House Oversight and Judiciary committees on December 19: “I did not. I have never instructed a witness as to what to say specifically. Never have, never will.”

“I didn’t direct anyone to use specific phraseology.When the Director asked me how to best to handle that, I said: What I have been saying is we have received a referral and we are working on the matter, working on the issue, or we have all the resources we need to handle the matter, handle the issue. So that was the suggestion that I made to him,” Lynch added – telling lawmakers that she was “quite surprised” to hear how Comey would later describe the conversation “because that was not how it was conveyed to him, certainly not how it was intended.”

A transcript of Lynch’s interview was released Monday evening by House Judiciary ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) which reveals the conflicting testimonies. (Read more: Zero Hedge, 5/21/2019) (Lynch Transcript, 12/19/2018)