October 1-15, 2016: Email exchanges between Comey, FBI and DOJ officials, suggests they are aware of intel concerns about reliability of main evidence, before obtaining Title 1 FISA warrant
“Just before Thanksgiving, House Republicans amended the list of documents they’d like President Trump to declassify in the Russia investigation. With little fanfare or explanation, the lawmakers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), added a string of emails between the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to their wish list.
Sources tell me the targeted documents may provide the most damning evidence to date of potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), evidence that has been kept from the majority of members of Congress for more than two years.<
The email exchanges included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s national security division, and they occurred in early to mid-October, before the FBI successfully secured a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The email exchanges show the FBI was aware — before it secured the now-infamous warrant — that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier.
The exchanges also indicate FBI officials were aware that Steele, the former MI6 British intelligence operative then working as a confidential human source for the bureau, had contacts with news media reporters before the FISA warrant was secured.” (Read more: The Hill, 12/05/2018)
Late September, 2016 – A second dossier, compiled by Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal, was given to Christopher Steele
“A copy of the little-publicized second dossier in the Trump-Russia affair, acquired by RealClearInvestigations, raises new questions about the origins of the Trump investigation, particularly about the role of Clinton partisans and the extent to which the two dossiers may have been coordinated or complementary operations.
The second dossier — two reports compiled by Cody Shearer, an ex-journalist and longtime Clinton operative — echoes many of the lurid and still unsubstantiated claims made in the Steele dossier, and is receiving new scrutiny. On Sunday, Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a TV interview that his panel is shifting its investigative focus concerning the origins of the Russia investigation from the FBI to the State Department. This probe will include the Shearer dossier.
In late September 2016, Sidney Blumenthal, a close Clinton confidant and colleague of Shearer’s, passed Shearer’s dossier on to State Department official Jonathan M. Winer, a longtime aide to John Kerry on Capitol Hill and at Foggy Bottom.
According to Winer’s account in a Feb. 8, 2018 Washington Post op-ed, he shared the contents of the Shearer dossier with the author of the first dossier, ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who submitted part of it to the FBI to further substantiate his own investigation into the Trump campaign. Steele was a subcontractor working for the Washington, D.C.-based communications firm Fusion GPS, which was hired by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee to compile opposition research on her Republican opponent.” (Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 4/26/2018)
A Congressperson serves the FBI a subpoena for all the unredacted interviews from the FBI’s Clinton investigation.
FBI acting legislative affairs officer Jason Herring testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
He is asked by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the committee, to promise to hand over all of the FBI interview summaries, known as 302s, in unredacted form.
Herring says he can’t do that, and suggests that Chaffetz should file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, just like any private citizen can.
Committee member Representative Trey Gowdy (R) later complains, “Since when did Congress have to go through FOIA to obtain 302s?”
Chaffetz replies to Henning, “You don’t get to decide what I get to see. I get to see it all.” Then he brings out a subpoena. He sends it to the witness table where Henning is sitting, and says, “I’ve signed this subpoena. We want all the 302s… and you are hereby served.”
In fact, Chaffetz’s committee has some of the 302s already, but all “personally identifiable information” has been redacted from them. The committee wants to know more about the role of Paul Combetta in deleting and the wiping all of Clinton’s emails from her personal server, but since Combetta is a Platte River Networks (PRN) employee and not a government employee, much information about what he did has been redacted.
Representative Carolyn Maloney (D), a member of the committee, claims the obstacle to Chaffetz seeing the redactions actually is the House Intelligence Committee, not the FBI. Chaffetz has asked House Intelligence chair Representative Devin Nunes (R) for access to the unredacted versions, but no vote on that request has been taken or scheduled yet.
However, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also complains about how the FBI is not letting his committee see unredacted documents from the investigation. “The FBI is trying to have it both ways. At the same time it talks about unprecedented transparency, it’s placing unprecedented hurdles in the way of Congressional oversight of unclassified law enforcement matters. It turned over documents, but with strings attached. … The Senate should not allow its controls on classified material to be manipulated to hide embarrassing material from public scrutiny, even when that material is unclassified.” (Politico, 9/12/2016)
Two other Congressional committees formally asked the Justice Department on September 9, 2016 for the full FBI interviews of Combetta and other PRN employees. (US Congress, 9/9/2016)
- Carolyn Maloney
- Charles Grassley
- Congressional oversight
- Devin Nunes
- FBI's Clinton email investigation
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
- House Intelligence Committee
- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
- Jason Chaffetz
- Jason Herring
- Paul Combetta
- Platte River Networks (PRN)
- redaction code
- Trey Gowdy
August 9, 2016 – The most damaging text between Strzok and Page suggests they will stop Trump from becoming president
“It was the most damaging of all the damaging texts exchanged between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. On Aug. , 2016, in the second week of the Trump-Russia investigation on which both were working, Page texted Strzok to say, “He’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok responded, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”
(…) “The Justice Department gave Congress Page’s “not ever going to become president” text months ago, when it produced thousands of texts to Hill investigators. But lawmakers — and the public — did not learn of the explosive second part of the exchange — Strzok’s “We’ll stop it” answer — until last Thursday, when Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the Clinton email investigation was that given to Congress.
Why wasn’t that given to Congress?” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., asked on Fox News the day the Horowitz report was released. “Why did I find out about that today at noon?”
(…) “There had been a flaw in the FBI’s collection system, Horowitz said. Searching for the missing texts, Horowitz took possession of Strzok’s and Page’s phones and “undertook a series of steps to seek to exploit, to extract the missing text messages from the phones.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 6/20/2018)
July 10, 2016 – Carter Page attends Cambridge event due to an invite by former State Dept. official, Steven Schrage and he is now under congressional scrutiny
(…) A former State Department official who advised Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, Steven Schrage invited Page to Cambridge. While the invitation has previously been reported, Page told the Daily Caller News Foundation he and Schrage remained in contact until after the 2016 election. They met at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and in the Washington, D.C., area, Page said in an exclusive phone interview this week.
It is unclear if Schrage played a role in the Trump-Russia investigation or if he was aware that Halper was an FBI informant. Page said he saw nothing during his encounters with Schrage that made him suspect he was involved in the government’s investigation of him.
“I never saw anything suspicious,” Page said of Schrage, noting he is reluctant to “point fingers” at anyone because of his own experience facing what he says are false accusations of being a Russian agent.
California Rep. Devin Nunes is not so reserved.
Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, dropped Schrage’s name out of the clear blue during his opening statement at the July 24 hearing with former special counsel Robert Mueller. When Nunes asked Mueller whether the special counsel’s office interviewed Schrage, the former FBI director replied, “In those areas, I am going to stay away from.”
Nunes said in a Fox News interview Sunday that he wants to know why Schrage invited Page to Cambridge and whether his contacts with the former Trump adviser were linked to the FBI’s own interests in the Trump campaign.
“What we’re trying to figure out is when did the FBI really start to run the investigation, what types of processes did they use, what was the predicate. Because, look, it really appears like they were spying on the Trump campaign,” Nunes said.
“Maybe [Schrage] was just a guy working for minimum wage sweeping the floors around Cambridge. I highly doubt it,” the Republican added. “And the fact that he hasn’t come forward in two-and-a-half years is highly suspect.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 8/01/2019)
June 10, 2016 – The FBI/DOJ and Cheryl Mill’s attorney, Beth Wilkinson, together write and agree to rules that grossly limits the scope of the Clinton email investigation
A recent FOIA request by attorney Ty Clevenger resulted in the release of a letter (pdf pgs 12-16), dated October 5, 2016, written by Senator Grassley and co-signed by three members of congress. It is addressed to AG Loretta Lynch, and reveals how the DOJ/FBI and Cheryl Mill’s attorney, Beth Wilkinson, wrote and agreed to the rules that grossly limited the scope of the Clinton email investigation.
Here are some of the concerns listed by Senator Grassley and congress members Jason Chaffetz, Devin Nunes and Bob Goodlatte. They also have questions for AG Lynch at the end of the letter and they can be found at the source link provided above and below:
1. There were two letters addressed to the DOJ from attorney Beth Wilkinson on behalf of her client Cheryl Mills, that were made available for an in camera review by our committees.
2. The Wilkinson letters are both dated June 10, 2016 and incorporated by reference into the immunity agreements for Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson that was related to the FBI criminal investigation into Clinton’s email server.
3. The letters set out the precise manner in which the Department and the FBI would access and use federal records and other information stored on .PST and .OST email archives from Ms. Mills’ and Ms. Samuelson’s laptops.
4. Ms. Wilkinson and lawyers from the Justice Department drafted the letters jointly before they were sent them to DOJ.
5. They express concerns about “the process by which Congress was allowed to view the Wilkinson letters, that the letters inappropriately restrict the scope of the FBI’s investigation, and that the FBI inexplicably agreed to destroy the laptops knowing that the contents were the subject of Congressional subpoenas and preservation letters.”
6. The viewing restrictions imposed on congress as a condition of cooperating voluntarily, the DoJ limited access to the letters to only members of certain committees and one or two staff, prohibited members and staff from “taking notes or photos, or otherwise seeking to record the information contained in the memos,” and redacted the names of all DOJ and FBI personnel on the documents.
7. The Wilkinson letters only permitted the FBI to review email archives from Platte River Networks created after June 1, 2014, and before February 1, 2015, that included emails sent or received from Secretary Clinton’s four email addresses during her tenure as Secretary of State. Limitations would necessarily have excluded, for example, any emails from Cheryl Mills to Paul Combetta in late 2014 or early 2015 directing the destruction or concealment of federal records. Similarly, these limitations would have excluded any email sent or received by Secretary Clinton if it was not sent or received by one of the four email addresses listed, or the email address was altered. Notably, in December 2014, Mr. Combetta deleted all Clinton emails older than 60 days, which was in effect all of Secretary Clinton’s emails from January 2009 to October 2014. He admitted this “change in retention policy” during his second FBI interview in February 2016.
8. In March 2015, Mr. Combetta had two conference calls with David Kendall, attorney for Secretary Clinton, and Ms. Mills. Mr. Combetta admitted to the FBI in his third interview in May 2016 that after the second conference call on March 31, 2015, he used BleachBit to destroy any remaining copies of Clinton’s emails and PST files that he was able to locate. Per the agreement with Ms. Wilkinson, emails from around the time of the conference calls (and subsequent deletion of records) would not have been covered by the FBI’s review of Ms. Mills’ and Ms. Samuelson’s laptops. Importantly, before the FBI agreed to the Wilkinson letters in June 2016, it already knew of the conference calls between Secretary Clinton’s attorneys and Mr. Combetta, his use of BleachBit, and the resulting deletions, further casting doubt on why the FBI would enter into such a limited evidentiary scope of review with respect to the laptops.
The Wilkinson letters went on to provide that the FBI would destroy any records which it retrieved that were not turned over to the investigatory team, meaning the FBI might proceed to delete such an email, after determining it should not be sent to the investigatory team. Further, the Wilkinson letters memorialized the FBI’s agreement to destroy the laptops. This is simply astonishing given the likelihood that evidence on the laptops would be of interest to congressional investigators.
9. The Wilkinson letters raise serious questions about why DOJ would consent to such substantial limitations on the scope of its investigation, and how Director Comey’s statements on the scope of the investigation comport with the reality of what the FBI was permitted to investigate.
10. The Committees requested unredacted copies of Wilkinson letters; the two immunity agreements for Mr. Bryan Pagliano; the immunity agreement for Mr. Paul Combetta; the immunity agreement for Mr. John Bentel; the immunity agreement for Ms. Cheryl Mills; and the immunity agreement for Ms. Heather Samuelson.
- Beth Wilkinson
- Bob Goodlatte
- Bryan Pagliano
- Charles Grassley
- Cheryl Mills
- Clinton Email Investigation
- David Kendall
- Department of Justice
- Devin Nunes
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- FOIA request
- Heather Samuelson
- immunity agreement
- James Comey
- Jason Chaffetz
- John Bentel
- June 2016
- Loretta Lynch
- Paul Combetta
- Ty Clevenger
January 20, 2016 – January 20, 2017: Samantha Power sought to unmask Americans on almost daily basis, sources say
“Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was ‘unmasking’ at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 – and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.
Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.
The details emerged ahead of an expected appearance by Power next month on Capitol Hill. She is one of several Obama administration officials facing congressional scrutiny for their role in seeking the identities of Trump associates in intelligence reports – but the interest in her actions is particularly high.
In a July 27 letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said the committee had learned “that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration.”
The “official” is widely reported to be Power.
During a public congressional hearing earlier this year, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina pressed former CIA director John Brennan on unmasking, without mentioning Power by name.
Gowdy: Do you recall any U.S. ambassadors asking that names be unmasked?
Brennan: I don’t know. Maybe it’s ringing a vague bell but I’m not — I could not answer with any confidence.
Gowdy continued, asking: On either January 19 or up till noon on January 20, did you make any unmasking requests?
Brennan: I do not believe I did.
Gowdy: So you did not make any requests on the last day that you were employed?
Brennan: No, I was not in the agency on the last day I was employed.
Brennan later corrected the record, confirming he was at CIA headquarters on January 20. “I went there to collect some final personal materials as well as to pay my last respects to a memorial wall. But I was there for a brief period of time and just to take care of some final — final things that were important to me,” Brennan said.” (Read more: Fox News, 9/20/2017)