FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant

October 11, 2016 – State official Kathleen Kavalec’s notes quote Christopher Steele saying,“the Russians have succeeded in placing an agent inside the DNC.”

From Kathleen Kavalec’s notes: “[Steele] undertook the investigation into the Russia/Trump connection at the behest of an institution he declined to identify that had been hacked. [Steele said his client] is keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8 [Election Day].” (Credit: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

“A recently released State Department memo revealed that dossier author Christopher Steele met with Kathleen Kavalec, then-deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, on Oct. 11, 2016, just 10 days prior to the FBI obtaining a FISA warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page on Oct. 21, 2016.

(…) As noted in a May 10, 2019, letter sent by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Inspector General Michael Horowitz, “Ms. Kavalec’s contacts with Steel may have been the most significant and memorialized communications with him by a U.S. government official prior to the issuance of the Carter Page FISA warrant.”

In his letter, Graham attributes the following statement to Steele, which has received significant media attention:

“Ms. Kavalec met with Steele ten days prior to the issuance of the initial Carter Page FISA warrant and was told by Steele that he was ‘keen to see this information [the dossier] come to light prior to November 8.’”

It would seem likely that the “institution” Steele is referring to is the Democratic National Committee, whose claims of its servers being hacked by Russia have been widely reported. If indeed it was the DNC that wished to have the information come out prior to the 2016 presidential election, this would seem a far larger issue than personal wishes on the part of Steele.

Notably, we know from an Oct. 24, 2017response letter sent by Perkins Coie that the law firm engaged Fusion GPS “to assist in its representation of the DNC and Hillary for America” in April 2016. Fusion, in turn, hired Steele.

Kavalec, in her typed notes, also refers to leaks stemming from the alleged hack of the DNC emails. She quotes Steele as saying, “According to their source, while there will continue to be leaks of DNC material, ‘all the best stuff’ has already been leaked and there will not be any bombshells coming.”

In other words, Steele and his source claim to have direct knowledge of precisely what WikiLeaks had in their possession.

Steele also told Kavalec of “a technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election.” In Kavalec’s notes, she disputes some of the details asserted by Steele—indicating these were both researched, and disproven.

Item 3 from Kavalec’s notes is short but also a potential bombshell. The only thing written is “the Russians have succeeded in placing an agent inside the DNC.” It doesn’t appear that the FBI has ever investigated this, nor is there any additional detail or clarity provided in Kavalec’s notes.

This item, combined with Kavalec’s dispute of earlier details, presents a problem for the FBI. Either Steele is a credible witness for the FBI, or he isn’t. If the FBI took his information seriously, there should have been parallel investigations of these other, equally serious claims. If this information was quickly proven false, why did the FBI use Steele as a primary source of evidence for the Page FISA?

The FBI told the FISA court that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings and the FBI assesses [Steele] to be reliable.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 5/14/2019)

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

Devin Nunes (Credit: Greg Nash)

“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)

July 2016 – Bruce Ohr’s efforts to secretly reshape the Trump probe, starts earlier, long before Trump wins the election

“Within the massive assembly of documents, emails, text messages, congressional testimony and portions of media reports a clear timeline emerged. Part of that timeline was based on the fact that certain events had to have taken place – at specific times – in order to reconcile the downstream activity.

The key point of the graphic, which ran counter to all MSM reporting, was a trail of circumstantial evidence showing Bruce Ohr had to have been in contact with Christopher Steele much earlier than anyone realized.  SEE BELOW:

A new report today from John Solomon backs up this timeline with the first-hand testimony of DOJ Official Bruce Ohr.

(…) For much of the past year, many in Congress have labored under the notion that Ohr, then the No. 4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official, began assisting the FBI’s probe into Russia election collusion only after Trump won the 2016 election.

Lawmakers’ belief was rooted in reports showing Ohr’s first documented interview with FBI agents occurred in November 2016, and in testimony from Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, who mentioned Ohr’s involvement in the probe as starting after Thanksgiving 2016.

But now, based on Ohr’s own account in a closed-door congressional interview and other contemporaneous documents, congressional investigators have learned that Ohr made his first contact with the FBI about Trump-Russia collusion evidence in late July and early August 2016. And his approach was prompted by information he got from his friend, the former British intelligence agent Steele.

Ohr’s account to Congress and his contemporaneous notes show he had multiple contacts with Steele in July 2016. One occurred just before Steele visited the FBI in Rome, another right after Steele made the contact.

A third contact occurred July 30, 2016, exactly one day before the FBI and its counterintelligence official, Peter Strzok, opened the Trump probe officially.

Steele met with Ohr and Ohr’s wife, Nellie, in a Washington hotel restaurant for breakfast. At the time, Nellie Ohr and Steele worked for the same employer, Simpson’s Fusion GPS opposition research firm, and on the same project to uncover Russia dirt on Trump, according to prior testimony to Congress.

(…) “According to my sources, Ohr called then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe the same day as his Steele breakfast and met with McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page on Aug. 3 to discuss the concerns about Russia-Trump collusion that Steele had relayed.

Ohr disclosed to lawmakers that he made another contact with the FBI on Aug. 15, 2016, talking directly to Strzok.

Within a month of Ohr passing along Steele’s dirt, the FBI scheduled a follow-up meeting with the British intelligence operative — and the path was laid for the Steele dossier to support a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Just as important, Ohr told Congress he understood Steele’s information to be raw and uncorroborated hearsay, the sort of information that isn’t admissible in court. And he told FBI agents that Steele appeared to be motivated by a “desperate” desire to keep Trump from becoming president.” (Read more:The Hill, 9/6/2018)

This account by congressional sources to Solomon about the testimony of Bruce Ohr matches our prior research.  It was the initial chapters of the Steele Dossier, a work product of both Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele, that were given to Bruce Ohr, who then subsequently relayed that information to the FBI (McCabe, Page and Strzok) without disclosing the conflict within the source material coming from his wife.

Here’s how it comes together:  Nellie Ohr started working for Glenn Simpson (Fusion GPS) in/around October or November of 2015.  Nellie Ohr had “contractor access” to the FISA database (NSA and FBI) as a result of her prior and ongoing clearance relationship with the CIA and open source research group.

Nellie, Bruce and Glenn Simpson worked together previously in 2010.

(Page #30 – pdf link)

It was Nellie’s original 2015 political opposition research that Glenn Simpson was pitching and selling as political opposition research to any interested purchaser.

Several months later, when it became clear that Donald Trump was the likely GOP candidate who would win the primary (March/April 2016), Hillary Clinton signed-on to purchase the opposition research from Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS.

Keep in mind, simultaneous to this moment in March and April 2016, NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers intervened to stop contractor access to the FISA-702(16)(17) database.  From the time Nellie Ohr began working for Fusion GPS in November 2015, through April 2016 there were thousands of unlawful database queries and extractions; 85% of them were unlawful.

(FISA Court Document Link)

Now, Nellie and Glenn Simpson had a problem. They needed to have a way to launder unlawfully extracted FISA search results.  Nellie Ohr was familiar with Christopher Steele from her husband Bruce’s prior working relationship with Steele in the FIFA corruption case.

So Fusion GPS (Glenn Simpson and Nellie Ohr) reached out to Christopher Steele.  As a former intelligence officer, and conveniently not in the U.S. (plausible deniability improves), Steele could then receive the Nellie research, wash it with his own research from ongoing relationships with Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska,… here comes the hookers and pee tapes…. and begin packaging it as the “dossier”.

When you understand what was going on, some of the irreconcilable issues surrounding the dossier make sense. [Example Here]  This is the Big Effen Deal.

The unlawful FISA extracted intelligence/research was laundered through the use of the dossier.  The information was then cycled back to Bruce Ohr, thereby using Christopher Steele to remove Nellie’s fingerprints from the origination.  That’s why Bruce Ohr never initially told the FBI -the end user of the dossier- about his wife working for Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson.

Bruce Ohr meets with Christopher Steele, receives the laundered intelligence product within the dossier, informs Andrew McCabe and Lisa Page and then passes the intelligence information along to FBI Agent Peter Strzok.

Does this explain now why Glenn Simpson, Chris Steele, Nellie Ohr and Bruce Ohr were having breakfast together on July 30th, 2016?

Through this process, what few recognize is that much of the material inside the Steele Dossier is actually research intelligence material unlawfully extracted from the FBI and NSA database; most likely in majority an assembly by Nellie Ohr.

This explains why Paul Wood said: “I have spoken to one intelligence source who says Mueller is examining ‘electronic records’ that would place Cohen in Prague.”  Likely Mueller has Nellie’s database research mistake on Michael Cohen, and he got it from Christopher Steele.

Remember the New York Times article, right before the testimony by Bruce Ohr, where the intelligence community was trying to say that Nellie Ohr had nothing to do with the Dossier?   (screen grab below)

(New York Times, 8/27/2018)

Remember that ridiculous attempt to distance Nellie Ohr from the dossier?

Now do you see why the intelligence community needed to try, via their buddies in the New York Times, to cloud the importance of Nellie Ohr?

Kim Strassel – (…) Congressional sources tell me that Mr. Ohr revealed Tuesday that he verbally warned the FBI that its source had a credibility problem … Mr. Ohr said, moreover, that he delivered this information before the FBI’s first application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a warrant against Trump aide Carter Page, in October 2016. (Wall Street Journal, 8/30/2018)

Of course Bruce Ohr delivered it before October 21st, 2016.  He gained the foundational  material from Chris Steele in June and July 2016, passed it along to Peter Strzok, and his wife was key in providing Steele the source information.

This is also why Bruce Ohr never put his wife’s income source on his annual compliance forms.  Nellie Ohr’s income was an outcome of her database access.

(Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 9/07/2018)

July 25, 2016 – Peter Strzok/Lisa Page texts reveal a friendship with FISA court judge Rudolph Contreras

For those following the increasingly curious case against General Mike Flynn, events take another unusual turn today.  Congressional investigators have shared a set of unredacted text messages between FBI Agent Peter Strzok and his cohort DOJ Attorney Lisa Page which reveal a personal friendship between Agent Strzok and Flynn’s initial presiding judge Rudolph Contreras.

On November 30th, 2017, Mike Flynn signed a guilty plea; ostensibly admitting lying to investigators.  The plea was accepted by Judge Rudolph Contreras; who is also a FISA court judge.  Six days later, December 7th, 2017, Judge Contreras “was recused” from the case without explanation.

The case was reassigned to DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan.  The Contreras recusal always seemed sketchy. The key question was: if the conflict existed on December 7th, wouldn’t that same conflict have existed on November 30th, 2017?

Apparently DOJ lawyer Lisa Page was unaware that “Rudy” was a FISA court judge until July 25th, 2016, when she posited a question to her small group co-conspirator FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Today questions about the conflict seem to have been answered. Text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page reveal the FBI agent and Judge Contreras were close personal friends.

Contreras was appointed to the FISA Court court in May 2016. The FISA court approved a Title-1 Surveillance Warrant against Trump campaign aide Carter Page on October 26th, 2016, essentially placing the entire Trump campaign under FBI surveillance. That surveillance was then used against incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The FBI agent questioning Michael Flynn in January 2017 was Peter Strzok. The judge presiding over the sketchy Flynn plea, an outcome of that interview, was Strzok’s friend Judge Rudolph “Rudy” Contreras. Therein lies the conflict.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 3/16/2018)

July – August, 2016: Robert Ohr warns senior FBI and DOJ officials Steele dossier is connected to Clinton, might be biased

Bruce Ohr (l) and Christopher Steele (Credit: public domain)

“The then-No. 4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.

Ohr’s briefings, in July and August 2016, included the deputy director of the FBI, a top lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and a Justice official who later would become the top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller.

At the time, Ohr was the associate attorney general. Yet his warnings about political bias were pointedly omitted weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that the FBI obtained from a federal court, granting it permission to spy on whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election.

Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day.” (Read more: The Hill, 1/16/2019)

June 2016 – The FBI applies for and is denied the first FISA warrant that names Trump, the second is ‘re-drawn more narrowly’ and it’s granted

(Credit: Heat Street)

“Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.

Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.

The FBI agents who talked to the New York Times, and rubbished the ground-breaking stories of Slate ( Franklin Foer) and Mother Jones (David Corn) may not have known about the FISA warrant, sources say, because the counter-intelligence and criminal sides of the FBI often work independently of each other employing the principle of ‘compartmentalization’.

The FISA warrant was granted in connection with the investigation of suspected activity between the server and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank. However, it is thought in the intelligence community that the warrant covers any ‘US person’ connected to this investigation, and thus covers Donald Trump and at least three further men who have either formed part of his campaign or acted as his media surrogates. The warrant was sought, they say, because actionable intelligence on the matter provided by friendly foreign agencies could not properly be examined without a warrant by US intelligence as it involves ‘US Persons’ who come under the remit of the FBI and not the CIA. Should a counter-intelligence investigation lead to criminal prosecutions, sources say, the Justice Department is concerned that the chain of evidence have a basis in a clear  warrant.

In June, when the first FISA warrant was denied, the FBI was reportedly alarmed at Carter Page’s trip to Moscow and meetings with Russian officials, one week before the DNC was hacked. Counter intelligence agencies later reported to both Presidential candidates that Russia had carried out this hack; Donald Trump said publicly in the third debate that ‘our country has no idea’ if Russia did the hacking. The discovery of the Trump Tower private Russian server, however, communicating with Alfa Bank, changed matters, sources report. (Read more: Heat Street, 11/07/2016)

(Timeline editor’s note: We do not consider Louise Mensch to be a credible source, however, we do find it interesting she was the first “journalist” to report on the FISA warrant, the day before the 2016 election.)

March 14, 2016 – George Papadopoulos is introduced to Joseph Mifsud and becomes the flashpoint of Spygate and Russiagate

“The recently released transcript of George Papadopoulos’s congressional testimony reveals a significant fact: Papadopoulos’s introduction to Joseph Mifsud—the source of the “Russia has Hillary’s emails” tip that purportedly prompted the FBI to launch an investigation into the Trump campaign—was arranged mere days after Papadopoulos announced he was joining the Trump campaign.

Saturday evening, Papadopoulos rocked Twitter with claims that “a woman in London, who was the FBI’s legal attaché in the U.K.” encouraged him “to meet Joseph Mifsud in Rome in March 2016.” These new revelations raise fresh concerns that, with the approval of the FBI, foreign governments were meddling in the 2016 election.

Mifsud has long been a focal point of those on the right attempting to disembowel the Russia collusion hoax. The basics have been known for some time.

From court documents filed in connection to Papadopoulos’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI and from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s (HPSCI) report on “Russian Active Measures,” we know that “on March 14, 2016, George met London-based college Professor Joseph Mifsud while traveling in Italy.” During that meeting, “Mifsud, then director of the London Academy of Diplomacy, claimed connections to the Russian Government.”

A week later, on March 21, 2016, Trump publicly identified Papadopoulos as one of his foreign policy advisors. Then on March 24, 2016, Mifsud traveled to London, “where he introduced George to a young woman named Olga,” telling the newly named Trump advisor that Olga was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece and suggesting they could arrange meetings with high-level Russian officials.

Then, continuing throughout the summer of 2016, Papadopoulos attempted “to arrange meetings between the Russian government and campaign officials,” working with Mifsud and Mifsud’s supposed Russian connections.

On April 26, 2016, Mifsud also shared a tip with Papadopoulos over a breakfast meeting in London: Mifsud told Papadopoulos “that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high-level Russian government officials,” and had learned that “the Russians had obtained ‘dirt’ on candidate Clinton,” namely thousands of Clinton’s emails.

Papadopoulos would later repeat this conversation to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer over drinks in a London bar in May. In late July, after WikiLeaks published a trove of stolen Democratic National Committee emails, agents at the FBI’s D.C. headquarters supposedly first learned of Papadopoulos’s statement to Downer, although it remains unclear how details of the conversation made it from Downer to the FBI.

Then, on July 31, 2016, purportedly on the basis of Papadopoulos’s advanced knowledge of Russia’s possession of the stolen emails, Peter Strzok initiated the Crossfire Hurricane federal investigation of the Trump campaign. The DOJ and FBI would later seek a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order to surveil another Trump foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, and the FISA application reiterated the FBI’s claim that it had launched a counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016, after learning of Papadopoulos’s conversation with Downer. (Read more: The Federalist, 4/01/2019)

November 2015 – Employment of Nellie Ohr by Fusion GPS Raises New Questions

Bruce and Nellie Ohr (Credit: public domain)

“One of the bombshell admissions from a closed-door testimony by DOJ official Bruce Ohr was that his wife, Nellie Ohr, was working for opposition research firm Fusion GPS already in late 2015.

Previously, it had been reported that Nellie Ohr was hired to find dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump in the spring of 2016.

“Ohr testified that Fusion approached his wife for a job and that she began working for the research firm in late 2015,” the Daily Caller reported.

In addition to the new time-frame for Nellie Ohr’s employment, Bruce Ohr also confirmed that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, and FBI Special Counsel Lisa Page all knew he was talking to former British MI6 spy, Christopher Steele, who compiled the now-infamous opposition research dossier on Trump, which was used as the core evidence of an application for a [Title 1] Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.

More importantly, Ohr also informed Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Weissmann about his dossier-related work and interactions with Steele. Ohr made these internal disclosures before Weissmann joined special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Mueller Team has known of Ohr’s involvement with the Steele Dossier from the start of their formal investigation.

These events are likely intertwined. To understand why, we need to revisit an April 26, 2017unsealed FISA Court Ruling, that was declassified by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

There is a staggering amount of information contained within the ruling, including these two disclosures:

“NSA estimates that approximately eighty-five percent of those queries, representing [Redacted] queries conducted by approximately [Redacted] targeted offices, were not compliant with the applicable minimization procedures.”

“The FBI had disclosed raw FISA information, including but not limited to Section 702-acquired information, to a [Redacted] … is largely staffed by private contractors … the [Redacted] contractors had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the FBI’s requests.”

The Court said these practices had been going on since at least November 2015 and noted that “there is no apparent reason to believe the November 2015-April 2016 period coincided with an unusually high error rate.”

The FISA Court also pointed out that the government could not say how, when, or where the non-compliant information was used. Once an individual had access to the information, it could no longer be traced or tracked.

What the FISA Court disclosed is alarming in its simplicity.

Illegal NSA Database searches were endemic. Private contractors, employed by the FBI, were given full access to the NSA Database. Once in their possession, the FISA Data could not be traced.

Which brings us back to the original question: What was Nellie Ohr doing in 2015? And who were the FBI’s private contractors? (Much more: themarketswork, 9/02/2018)