Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)

January 17, 2020 – John Durham is investigating a ‘strong paper trail’ during the months before Mueller appointment

“A trail of documents has reportedly led Attorney General William Barr’s handpicked federal prosecutor to focus his inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation on the first several months of President Trump’s tenure.”

John Durham is zeroing in on the period spanning from January 2017, when Trump took office, to May of that year. A “strong” paper trail,   has led the investigation into possible misconduct by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials to that time frame.

Barr and Durham have traveled around the world for the investigation, and Durham’s team has already asked witnesses about possible anti-Trump bias among former FBI officials. The secretive DOJ inquiry includes scrutiny of former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok, and British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

Little else is known about the investigation other than that Durham is exploring whether a crime was committed by Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer who was found by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to have altered a document during the FBI’s efforts to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant renewal to continue wiretapping onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The period of time under scrutiny by Durham also covers a leak to reporters that federal prosecutors in D.C. are investigating. The Russian intelligence document under scrutiny, word of which made its way into press reports in the spring of 2017, factored into former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server, and Comey himself appears to be the focus of that inquiry. Comey was fired in May 2017, after which Mueller was appointed special counsel to lead the Russia investigation.

Barr says, “We have to be careful about the way we collect evidence. And we have to make sure that we have enough evidence to justify our actions. And we’re not going to cut corners in that respect,”  . “You know, there’s some people who think this thing is going to drop in a few weeks. That’s not the case. I see this, perhaps, reaching an important watershed perhaps in the late spring, early summer.” (Read more: The Washington Examiner, 1/17/2020)  (Archive)

January 17, 2020 – The Comey Coverup Unravels

Former FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill, Dec. 17, 2018. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

“In a curious report on Thursday evening, the New York Times carefully averts its eyes from everything that’s interesting. Even Adam Schiff has acknowledged that James Comey’s actions in 2016 may represent the most important and significant Russian influence on the election. (Hoist your shot glass. This will be the umpteenth time I’ve quoted Mr. Schiff on this matter in this column.)

Surely one of the most consequential pieces of intelligence ever received by U.S. agencies was, as we now learn, received in early 2016 from a Dutch counterpart. This is the dubious Russian intelligence that set off Mr. Comey’s multiple interventions in the last presidential race, culminating in an improper act that may have inadvertently elected Donald Trump. Even at the time Mr. Comey’s FBI colleagues considered the intelligence, which indicated questionable actions by the Justice Department to fix the Hillary email investigation, to be false, possibly a Russian plant.

The Times adds the unsurprising revelation that Mr. Comey himself is suspected in the illegal leak that, in early 2017, alerted the media to this untold aspect of his 2016 actions, before the matter disappeared again behind a veil of official secrecy. Yet bizarrely, the paper plays down its scoop, suggesting that any inquiry into a “years-old” leak now can only be a political hit job by an “ambitious” Justice Department attorney seeking to please President Trump.

First of all, I doubt this subject pleases Mr. Trump—it re-raises the question of whether his election was an accident caused by Mr. Comey. Second, the information is obviously important. The scandal hiding in plain sight is our intelligence establishment’s misuse of its authority to muck around in the 2016 election.

As a bonus, I’m going to suggest the FBI’s own pursuit of the collusion will-o’-the-wisp may have been occasioned by its hope of finding that the same fabricated Russian intelligence was in the hands of the Trump campaign, providing an ex post justification for Mr. Comey’s actions that he desperately would have wanted once fingers began pointing at him for Mrs. Clinton’s defeat. (I guess we can at least be glad he didn’t plant the information on Carter Page. )

Let’s call a spade a spade. The media is a big part of the coverup. When the Justice Department inspector general issued his damning report on Mr. Comey, not one media outlet in the Factiva database told its readers about the existence of its classified appendix except this column and Britain’s Daily Mail tabloid.” (Read more: The Wall Street Journal, 1/20/2020)  (Archive)

January 16, 2020 – Federal prosecutors are investigating an earlier incident of leaking by James Comey re Loretta Lynch assuring Clinton would not be prosecuted

(Credit: The Daily Mail)

The New York Times just published a bombshell report that’s faintly reminiscent of the scoops that the Liberal paper of record used to publish during the spring and summer of 2017 when the Mueller probe was in its infancy.

Except this time, instead of the leak focusing on alleged wrongdoing by President Trump and his inner circle, the NYT is focusing on former FBI Director James Comey, who has increasingly been taken to task by the mainstream press in recent months for his botched handling of both the Clinton investigation and the origins of the probe in Russian interference (remember that?).”

According to veteran NYT reporter Adam Goldman (a reporter who won a Pulitzer in 2018 for his work bolstering the Russian interference narrative), federal prosecutors have launched an investigation into an earlier incident of leaking by former FBI Director James Comey.

(…) The latest investigation involves material that Dutch intelligence operatives siphoned off Russian computers and provided to the United States government. The information included a Russian analysis of what appeared to be an email exchange during the 2016 presidential campaign between Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida who was also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the time, and Leonard Benardo, an official with the Open Society Foundations, a democracy-promoting organization whose founder, George Soros, has long been a target of the far right.

In the email, Ms. Wasserman Schultz suggested that then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch would make sure that Mrs. Clinton would not be prosecuted in the email case. Both Ms. Wasserman Schultz and Mr. Benardo have denied being in contact, suggesting the document was meant to be Russian disinformation.

That document was one of the key factors that drove Mr. Comey to hold a news conference in July 2016 announcing that investigators would recommend no charges against Mrs. Clinton. Typically, senior Justice Department officials would decide how to proceed in such a high-profile case, but Mr. Comey was concerned that if Ms. Lynch played a central role in deciding whether to charge Mrs. Clinton, Russia could leak the email.

(…) It’s believed that the investigation began in recent months, but it’s unclear whether a grand jury has been impaneled, or how many witness [sic] have been interviewed.” (Read more: Zero Hedge, 1/16/2020)  (Archive)

January 10, 2020 – FBI finds new Clinton classified emails – discloses that Clinton used text messages for government business

“Judicial Watch today released 37 pages of new Clinton emails recently found by the FBI that show former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her unsecure, non-government email to transmit classified information. The new emails also show Clinton used text messages for government business. The documents, produced to Judicial Watch after a review by the State Department, include 13 new Clinton emails.

The State Department did not provide information about where the emails were found; why they were not previously produced; or if additional records are anticipated. Last month, a Justice Department attorney could not tell a federal court judge how and where the FBI discovered the new cache of Clinton emails. The State Department previously claimed it had produced all releasable Clinton emails, including emails recovered by the FBI that Hillary Clinton tried to destroy or withhold. The State Department initially claimed all responsive emails had been produced in 2018, but then found more emails which were produced, for the first time, early last year.

Then in November 2019, the State Department first disclosed to the court that the FBI had found this latest batch of emails.

(…) “Magically, after years, the FBI finds more Clinton emails that show Clinton used text messages for government work, not to mention the continuing flow of classified information transmitted over her unsecure email system,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These documents further underscore the need for a fresh, unbiased and thorough criminal investigation into Clinton’s blatant malfeasance – and the related DOJ, FBI, and State Department cover-up.”

Clinton repeatedly stated that the 55,000 pages of documents she turned over to the State Department in December 2014 included all of her work-related emails. In response to a court order in another Judicial Watch case, she declared under penalty of perjury that she had “directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or are potentially federal records be provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.”

The production of documents in this case was to have been concluded with the FBI’s recovery of approximately 5,000 of the 33,000 government emails Clinton took and tried to destroy, however, the case remains ongoing. (Emails highlighted at Judicial Watch, 1/10/2020)  (Archive)

January 10, 2020 – A whistleblower comes forward and tells Sharyl Attkisson that Rod Rosenstein and former FBI now Crowdstrike’s Shawn Henry spied on her and planted spyware on her computer systems

Rod Rosenstein (l) Sharyl Attkisson (c) and Shawn Henry (Credit: public domain)

“A very interesting development in the ongoing effort of former CBS investigative journalist, Sharyl Attkisson, to resolve the issue of who spied on her, planted spyware and infiltrated her computer systems for illegal surveillance.  [Attkisson website here]

According to a recent court filing [Source Here] a person who was engaged in the “wrongful activity” has come forward to provide Ms. Attkisson with details about the operation.  As a result of those whistle-blower revelations Attkisson is able to name specific individuals who were running the operation:

Former DOJ Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is named as the person who was in charge of the operation; and the former head of the FBI DC field office, Shawn Henry is also outlined.

Mr. Henry is the head of Crowdstrike, a contractor for the government and a politically connected data security and forensic company.  Those who have followed the aspects related to the FBI use of the NSA database to illegally monitor U.S. persons; and those who followed the DNC cover story of Russia “hacking”; will be familiar with Crowdstrike.

According to the updated lawsuit (full pdf below) Rod Rosenstein, as the U.S. Attorney for Maryland, was in charge of the Obama 2011 and 2012 operation to monitor journalists specific to Ms. Attkissons reporting on Fast-n-Furious and Benghazi.

What I find additionally interesting is the overall timeline in the bigger picture.

In the April 2017 release from FISC Judge Rosemary Collyer outlining the abuses of the FISA-702 process by FBI “contractors”, where the NSA database was being used for unlawful surveillance of U.S. persons, Collyer specifically noted the findings of her review of the period from November ’16 to May ’17 (85% non compliant rate) was likely to have been happening since 2012. [Go Deep]

The “IRS Scandal” where the DOJ was creating a list of U.S. persons for political targeting, and requested CD ROM’s of tax filings, was the lead-up to the 2012 exploitation of the NSA database. [The Secret Research Project] So there’s a larger picture of government surveillance under the Obama administration that becomes more clear.

Political spying 1.0 was actually the weaponization of the IRS. This is where the term “Secret Research Project” originated as a description from the Obama team. It involved the U.S. Department of Justice under Eric Holder and the FBI under Robert Mueller. It never made sense why Eric Holder requested over 1 million tax records via CD ROM, until overlaying the timeline of the FISA abuse:

The IRS sent the FBI “21 disks constituting a 1.1 million page database of information from 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” The transaction occurred in October 2010 (link)

Why disks? Why send a stack of DISKS to the DOJ and FBI when there’s a pre-existing financial crimes unit within the IRS. All of the evidence within this sketchy operation came directly to the surface in early spring 2012.

This is the same time-frame when DNI James Clapper falsely denied to congress about the U.S. government -through the NSA- collecting metadata on all U.S. electronic communication.  This is the same time-frame where CIA Director John Brennan was monitoring the computer networks of congressional intelligence oversight staff.

When you overlay the new information from the Attkisson lawsuit, what emerges is the picture of an intentional effort by the Obama administration to weaponize the ability to collect electronic information on domestic political opposition.  It’s one long continuum.” (Read more: The Conservative Treehouse, 1/10/2020)  (Archive)

January 10, 2020 – Another top FBI official is caught leaking sensitive information to the media and will not be prosecuted

“The name of a former top FBI official who leaked sensitive information over the course of hundreds of communications with at least six reporters can be revealed by the Washington Examiner.

Bryan Paarmann gives a guest lecture to cadets at the Combating Terrorism Center on October 6, 2017. (Credit: public domain)

His identity is contained in a 21-page report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The report reveals that investigators for the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz determined that Bryan Paarmann, 53, the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s international operations division from 2016 to 2017, “improperly disclosed court-sealed and law enforcement sensitive information to the media” in violation of FBI rules.

The incident is one Horowitz included as part of what his June 2018 report called the FBI’s “culture of unauthorized media contacts.” A one-page summary of the investigation was released last May.

But Paarmann defended his actions.

“I gave 35 years of faithful and devoted service to this nation and never did I give classified or investigatively sensitive information to the press,” Paarmann told the Washington Examiner. “I never endangered a prosecution and only did what I believed my superiors had tasked me with.”

Although most identifying details about the reporters in question and the cases Paarmann was leaking details of were redacted, the Washington Examiner was able to identify one of the reporters in question, Los Angeles Times reporter Del Wilber, and two of his stories that the DOJ’s watchdog alleged contained details leaked by Paarmann.

(…) Horowitz’s team reviewed Paarmann’s communications from 2012 through 2017, which showed “extensive contacts” with members of the media, especially in 2016 and early 2017, laying out interactions with at least six reporters. These contacts included hundreds of texts, calls, and emails; over a dozen rounds of golf, including one where the reporter paid for both and another where Paarmann did; private drinks and dinners, including instances where investigators couldn’t determine who paid; a media member’s housewarming party where Paarmann brought wine as a gift; and a $225-ticket dinner, which was free of charge thanks to a member of the media, in violation of FBI rules.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 1/10/2020)  (Archive)

January 10, 2020 – FBI director Christopher Wray tells the FISA court in a letter that he “deeply regrets” the many errors in FISA warrants

Christopher Wray (Credit: Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

“FBI Director Christopher Wray told the federal surveillance court in a letter Friday that he “deeply regrets” the bureau’s many errors in the process to obtain surveillance warrants on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“The FBI has the utmost respect for this Court, and deeply regrets the errors and omissions identified by the OIG,” Wray wrote in a letter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

A judge on the FISC ordered the FBI on Dec. 17 to respond by Friday with a roadmap on how the bureau plans to address the problems identified in a Justice Department inspector general’s (IG) report regarding applications for warrants to wiretap Page.

(…) FBI personnel will be instructed on the errors and omissions that were made in the Carter Page FISA applications and associated processes,” Wray said.

The training will include a test “to confirm that personnel understand the expectations and the materials,” as well as certification for FBI employees who have completed the training, he added.

Wray set April 30 as a deadline to complete the training.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 1/10/2020)  (Archive)

December 26, 2019 – Judicial Watch sues the CIA and DOJ for the communications of Eric Ciaramella

Eric Ciaramella’s name appears in William Taylor’s transcript and is mistakenly released by the House Intelligence Committee.

“Judicial Watch announced today that it filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against both the DOJ and CIA for communications of CIA employee Eric Ciaramella, who reportedly worked on Ukraine issues while on detail to both the Obama and Trump White Houses.

The lawsuit against the DOJ was filed after it failed to respond to November 2019 FOIA requests seeking communications between Ciaramella and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI Attorney Lisa Page, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and/or the Special Counsel’s Office (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-03809)).

Judicial Watch filed suit against the CIA after it failed to respond to  FOIA requests seeking all of Ciaramella’s emails from June 1, 2016, to November 12, 2019 (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency (No. 1:19-cv-03807)).

Ciaramella’s name appears in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 presidential election, in reference to two emails Ciaramella sent to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly and other officials, describing a meeting between President Trump, Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak:

In the morning on May 10, 2017, President Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office.468 

###

468… (5/9/17 White House Document, “Working Visit with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia”) … (5/10/17 Email, Ciaramella to Kelly et al.). The meeting had been planned on May 2, 2017, during a telephone call between the President and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the meeting date was confirmed on May 5, 2017, the same day the President dictated ideas for the Comey termination letter to Stephen Miller…. (5/10/17 Email, Ciaramella to Kelly et al.).

Information about this phone call was subsequently leaked to The New York Times.

Ciaramella is widely reported as the person who filed the whistleblower complaint that triggered the impeachment proceedings. His name reportedly was “raised privately in impeachment depositions, according to officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings, as well as in at least one open hearing held by a House committee not involved in the impeachment inquiry.”

“There is significant public interest, thanks to the Obama Spygate scandal and the related abusive impeachment of President Trump, in what Eric Ciaramella was up to,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “CIA operative Ciaramella is documented to be involved in the Russia collusion investigation and was a key CIA operative on Ukraine in the both the Obama and Trump White Houses. Our lawsuits are designed to break through the unprecedented cover-up of his activities.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 12/26/2019)  (Archive)

December 20, 2019 – FISA Court Owes Some Answers

Kimberly Strassel

“Federal Bureau of Investigation for “misconduct” in the Carter Page surveillance warrant. Some would call this accountability. Others will more rightly call it the FISC’s “shocked to find gambling” moment.

Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer issued her four-page rebuke of the FBI Tuesday, after a Justice Department inspector general report publicly exposing the FBI’s abuses. The judge blasted the FBI for misleading the court by providing “unsupported or contradicted” information and by withholding exculpatory details about Mr. Page. The FISC noted the seriousness of the conduct and gave the FBI until Jan. 10 to explain how it will do better.

The order depicts a court stunned to discover that the FBI failed in its “duty of candor,” and angry it was duped. That’s disingenuous. To buy it, you’d have to believe that not one of the court’s 11 members—all federal judges—caught a whiff of this controversy until now. More importantly, you’d have to ignore that the court was directly informed of the FBI’s abuses nearly two years ago.

On Feb. 7, 2018, Devin Nunes, then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Judge Collyer informing her of its findings in his probe of the FBI’s Page application. He wrote that “the Committee found that the FBI and DOJ failed to disclose the specific political actors paying for uncorroborated information” that went to the court, “misled the FISC regarding dissemination of this information,” and “failed to correct these errors in the subsequent renewals.” Mr. Nunes asked the court whether any transcripts of FISC hearings about this application existed, and if so, to provide them to the committee.

Judge Collyer responded a week later, with a dismissive letter that addressed only the last request. The judge observed that any such transcripts would be classified, that the court doesn’t maintain a “systematic record” of proceedings and that, given “separation of power considerations,” Mr. Nunes would be better off asking the Justice Department. The letter makes no reference to the Intelligence Committee findings. (Read more: The Wall Street Journal, 12/20/2019)  (Archive)

December 20, 2019 – The FISA court does not call for a review of all FBI FISA deceptions

Submitted to Zero Hedge by Twitter journalist Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog)

“This week, Presiding Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Judge Rosemary Collyer, released two stern Orders taking the FBI to task for its repeated failures, omissions, and misrepresentations in its application and subsequent renewals to surveil Carter Page.

And while one FBI employee has received a criminal referral for doctoring evidence in the scheme to defraud the court, key players with oversight responsibilities – under penalty of perjury – have been given a pass.

(…) While it’s laudable that Judge Collyer has ordered the government to double-check their submissions in the prior FISA applications that involved Clinesmith, what about the previous FISA applications verified by the FBI agents who lied – under penalty of perjury, we might add – in the Carter Page applications and renewals?

In other words, whether an FBI lawyer changes an e-mail about a target’s history of cooperation with the CIA or an FBI agent lies about the underlying intelligence, the goal is the same: secure the warrant through deception. Both these acts are criminal. Why is only one deserving of review?

Related: A Techno_Fog thread on Joe Pientka, and the FBI’s efforts to keep him out of the spotlight (click a tweet to read the rest):

(Read more: Zero Hedge, 12/22/2019)  (Archive)