illegal spying

October 30, 2019 – Former CIA directors, John Brennan and John McLaughlin, brag about the deep state being engaged in a coup to remove President Trump; the crowd cheers

“During an interview with Margaret Brennan of CSPAN, former CIA head John McLaughlin along with his successor John Brennan both basically admitted that there is a secretive cabal of people within US intelligence who are trying to ‘take Trump out.’

“Thank God for the ‘Deep State,’” McLaughlin crowed as liberals in the crowd cheered.

“I mean I think everyone has seen this progression of diplomats and intelligence officers and White House people trooping up to Capitol Hill right now and saying these are people who are doing their duty or responding to a higher call,” he added.

“With all of the people who knew what was going on here, it took an intelligence officer to step forward and say something about it, which was the trigger that then unleashed everything else,” McLaughlin said, referring to the unnamed ‘whistleblower’, who it seems worked for Obama, Biden And Brennan.

“This is the institution within the U.S. government — that with all of its flaws, and it makes mistakes — is institutionally committed to objectivity and telling the truth,” McLaughlin claimed.

“It is one of the few institutions in Washington that is not in a chain of command that makes or implements policy. Its whole job is to speak the truth — it’s engraved in marble in the lobby.” he continued to blather.

Brennan also expressed praise for the deep state and admitted that the goal is to remove the President.

“Thank goodness for the women and men who are in the intelligence community and the law enforcement community who are standing up and carrying out their responsibilities for their fellow citizens.” he said.

There you have it. Two former CIA heads admitting that there is a plot to take out a duly-elected President.” (Read more: Summit News, 10/31/2019)

The entire event can be viewed here.

October 23, 2019 – Judicial Watch: The State Department uses a Soros-linked social media tracking tool to monitor journalists, Trump allies and it’s called Crowdtangle

“The State Department utilized a powerful Facebook-owned social media tracking tool linked to leftist billionaire George Soros to unlawfully monitor prominent U.S. conservative figures, journalists and persons with ties to President Donald Trump, according to an agency source. The State Department veteran identified Crowdtangle as the tool used to closely watch more than a dozen U.S. citizens, including the president’s son, personal attorney and popular television personalities such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, among others.

Last week Judicial Watch launched an investigation into the unlawful monitoring, which State Department sources say was conducted by the agency in Ukraine at the request of ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, an Obama appointee. Judicial Watch has obtained information indicating Yovanovitch may have violated laws and government regulations by ordering subordinates to target certain U.S. persons using State Department resources. Yovanovitch reportedly ordered monitoring keyed to the following search terms: Biden, Giuliani, Soros and Yovanovitch. Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the State Department last week and continues gathering facts from government sources. This week Judicial Watch filed another FOIA request for information related to the State Department’s use of Crowdtangle.

A private, invitation-only engine, Crowdtangle describes itself as a leading content discovery and social monitoring platform that can help identify influencers and track rivals. It was launched in 2011 to organize activism via social media and Facebook purchased it in 2016. Crowdtangle monitors more than 5 million social media accounts and uses dashboards to track keywords, data and specific topics across platforms. For years Facebook has made Crowdtangle available to the mainstream media and in January founder and CEO Brandon Silverman announced he will give access to select academics and researchers in order to help counter misinformation and abuse of social media platforms. “To date, Crowdtangle has been available primarily to help newsrooms and media publishers understand what is happening on the platform,” Silverman writes. “We’re eager to make it available to this important new set of partners and help continue to provide more transparency into how information is being spread on social media.”

A leftwing, Soros-funded organization called Social Science Research Center (SSRC) is charged with determining who is granted access to Crowdtangle. Earlier this year Facebook announced that SSRC will pick researchers who will gain access to its cherished “privacy-protected” data. The statement assures that “Facebook did not play any role in the selection of the individuals or their projects and will have no role in directing the findings or conclusions of the research.” That is left up to the SSRC, which claims that selected researchers will use privacy-protected Facebook data to “study the platform’s impact on democracy worldwide.” The nonprofit describes itself as an international organization guided by the belief that “justice, prosperity, and democracy all require a better understanding of complex social, cultural, economic, and political processes.” In 2016 Soros’s Open Society Foundations gave the SSRC nearly $500,000 for a Latin America human rights and public health initiative and a global “equality and antidiscrimination” program.

The 2018 Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy report confirms that the State Department uses Crowdtangle and considers it an important tool for social media managers to conduct official agency business worldwide. The State Department’s head of Public Diplomacy training also encourages the use of Crowdtangle to educate personnel about polling data consumption and “the difference between impression and reach.” The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) actually includes a link to Crowdtangle and reveals the agency uses it to track social media posts. Nevertheless, ordering subordinates to target certain U.S. persons, as sources say Yovanovitch did, using State Department resources would constitute a violation of laws and government regulations. “This is not an obscure rule, everyone in public diplomacy or public affairs knows they can’t make lists and monitor U.S. citizens unless there is a major national security reason,” a senior State Department official told Judicial Watch last week when the story broke.” (Judicial Watch, 10/23/2019)

October 11, 2019 – U.S. Ambassador Yovanovitch orders embassy staffers in Ukraine to monitor American citizens via social media and other means

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch arrives for a closed-door deposition on October 11, 2019. (Credit: Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

“Judicial Watch has obtained information indicating that Yovanovitch, an Obama appointee, ordered embassy staffers in Ukraine to target certain U.S. persons online using the following search terms: “Biden, Giuliani, Soros, and Yovanovitch.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) first raised the possibility that conservative journalists were being monitored last Wednesday on Fox News, telling host Sean Hannity that Yovanovitch had made a number of “strange” and “irregular” requests to monitor their communications.

He said that a number of Ukrainians and officials in the State Department had raised concerns about the ambassador which is why Trump ordered her removal.

According to Judicial Watch, she had created a list of individuals who were to be monitored via social media and other means, and Ukraine embassy staff submitted the request to the Washington D.C. headquarters office of the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.

After several days, Yovanovitch’s staff was informed that the request was illegal and the monitoring either ceased or was concealed via the State Department Global Engagement Center, which has looser restrictions on collecting information.

(…) The conservative figures allegedly unlawfully monitored by the State Department in Ukraine at the request of Yovanovitch include:

Jack Posobiec
Donald Trump Jr.
Laura Ingraham
Sean Hannity
Michael McFaul (Obama’s ambassador to Russia)
Dan Bongino
Ryan Saavedra
Rudy Giuliani
Sebastian Gorka
John Solomon
Lou Dobbs
Pamella Geller
Sara Carter

(Read more: American Greatness, 10/15/2019)  (Archive)

October 11, 2019 – Judicial Watch: Former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testimony reveals she ordered State Dept. subordinates to monitor journalists, Trump allies

“Judicial Watch is investigating if prominent conservative figures, journalists and persons with ties to President Donald Trump were unlawfully monitored by the State Department in Ukraine at the request of ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, an Obama appointee. Yovanovitch testified “in secret” to the House impeachment inquiry against Trump on Friday, October 11, 2019. Her “secret” testimony was leaked to the New York Times during the hearing.

Judicial Watch has obtained information indicating Yovanovitch may have violated laws and government regulations by ordering subordinates to target certain U.S. persons using State Department resources. Yovanovitch reportedly ordered monitoring keyed to the following search terms: Biden, Giuliani, Soros, and Yovanovitch.  Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the State Department and will continue gathering facts from government sources.

Prior to being recalled as ambassador to Ukraine in the spring Yovanovitch reportedly created a list of individuals who were to be monitored via social media and other means.  Ukraine embassy staff made the request to the Washington D.C. headquarters office of the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. After several days, Yovanovitch’s staff was informed that the request was illegal and the monitoring either ceased or was concealed via the State Department Global Engagement Center, which has looser restrictions on collecting information.

“This is not an obscure rule, everyone in public diplomacy or public affairs knows they can’t make lists and monitor U.S. citizens unless there is a major national security reason,” according to a senior State Department official. If the illicit operation occurred, it seems to indicate a clear political bias against the president and his supporters. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who has also led American embassies in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, was appointed ambassador to Ukraine by Obama in 2016. She was recalled by the State Department in May and remains a State Department employee in Washington D.C.

(…) The prominent conservative figures — journalists and persons with ties to President Donald Trump — allegedly unlawfully monitored by the State Department in Ukraine at the request of ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch include:

Jack Posobiec

Donald Trump Jr.

Laura Ingraham

Sean Hannity

Michael McFaul (Obama’s ambassador to Russia)

Dan Bongino

Ryan Saavedra

Rudy Giuliani

Sebastian Gorka

John Solomon

Lou Dobbs

Pamella Geller

Sara Carter

Judicial Watch continues its investigation of these matters and will update its reporting as the situation unfolds.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 10/18/2019)

UPDATE: The Yovanovitch transcript was released and she was questioned about Crowdtangle during her deposition against President Trump on October 11, 2019. She claims to be unaware of the software while pointing to the State Department as being responsible for monitoring social media accounts.

The discussion begins on page 92 of  the Yovanovich transcript:

(Yovanovich Transcript, 10/11/2019)

May 16, 2019 – George Papadopoulos says the FBI tried to get his wife to ‘entrap’ him

Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos said Thursday that the FBI tried to get his wife to wear a wire to “entrap” him and that he thinks Congress “probably has transcripts” of meetings he had that prove he was spied on by the FBI.

“Besides the FBI trying to have my then-girlfriend, now wife, actually wear a wire to try to entrap me herself — which was completely crazy — she was an Italian citizen visiting me as a girlfriend. And they subpoenaed her and tried to flip her against me, which was incredibly bizarre,” Papadopoulos said on Fox News’The Ingraham Angle.”

Papadopoulos said he believes his wife was targeted because she knew all about academic Joseph Mifsud’s connection to Italian government.

“But what we believed that they really targeted her for is, we believe she knew all about Joseph Mifsud’s connections to the Italian government and his connections in Europe, which we just found out today that … the prime minister … just fired the heads of three intel agencies in Italy. And I think it has to do with the person, Joseph Mifsud, who the president and Devin Nunes and other people have been asking the government in Italy to examine a lot more because he’s actually at the core of this entire scam,” Papadopoulos said.

Mifsud, 59, a professor from Malta who helped ignite the Russia probe in 2016, has largely vanished from the public eye since his name began surfacing in news stories. Nunes, a California Republican, is ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.” (Read more: Fox News, 5/17/2019)

April 10, 2019 – Bill Barr testifies he thinks Donald Trump’s campaign was spied on and sees a basis to investigate

Attorney General Bill Barr testifies he thinks Trump’s 2016 campaign was spied on. He later clarifies that he believes there is a basis to investigate whether unauthorized surveillance occurred but provided no further details.

October 19, 2018 – Nellie Ohr tells Congress that one of her tasks at Fusion GPS was to research Trump’s family

Nellie Ohr (Credit: Getty Images)

“The wife of a Justice Department official who worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign told Congress in 2018 that one of her tasks at the opposition research firm was to research President Donald Trump’s children, including their business activities and travel.

(…) Ohr, a trained Russian linguist, also detailed some of the topics she worked on for Fusion GPS, which was hired by the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign and DNC to investigate Trump.

One area of focus was Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s two oldest children.

“But in terms of actually performing research, did you begin to break out President Trump’s family in terms of Melania Trump, all of his children? Were you doing independent research based off of each family member?” one lawmaker asked Ohr.

“I did some,” Ohr said. “As I recall, I did some research on all of them, but not into much depth.”

“How about Donald Trump Jr.? Did you do more in-depth research on Donald Trump Jr. than some of the others?” she was asked.

“I’m afraid it was relatively superficial. It was,” adding that, “I looked into some of his travels and you know not sure how much detail I remember, at this point.”

“Ivanka Trump?”

“I looked into some of her travels,” said Ohr.

The goal was “to see whether they were involved in dealings and transactions with people who had had suspicious pasts.”

Nellie Ohr also testified that she investigated any links between Russian oligarchs and the Trump real estate empire.

It is unclear whether Ohr shared any information that she gathered working for Fusion GPS with her husband, who served as associate deputy attorney general until he was reassigned in December 2017. There is also no indication that Ohr’s research of the Trump children wound up in the dossier, which the FBI used to obtain surveillance warrants against Carter Page.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 1/30/2019)

October 18, 2018 – DNI Declassifies FISA Judge James Boasberg 2018 Ruling – FBI conducts “tens of thousands” of unauthorized NSA database queries

“There is a lot to unpack in a decision today by the Director of National Intelligence to declassify (with redactions) a 2018 FISA court ruling about ongoing unauthorized database search queries by FBI agents/”contractors” in the period covering 2017/2018.

BACKGROUND: In April 2017 the DNI released a FISA report written by Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer that showed massive abuse, via unauthorized searches of the NSA database, in the period of November 2015 through May 2016. Judge Collyer’s report specifically identified search query increases tied to the 2016 presidential primary.  Two years of research identified this process as the DOJ/FBI and IC using the NSA database to query information related to political candidates, specifically Donald Trump.

Judge James Boasberg (Credit: public domain)

Now we fast-forward to Judge Boasberg in a similar review (full pdf below), looking at the time period of 2017 through March 2018.

The timing here is an important aspect.

It is within this time-period where ongoing DOJ and FBI activity transfers from the Obama administration (Collyer report) into the Trump administration (Boasberg report).

It cannot be overemphasized as you read the Boasberg opinion, or any reporting on the Boasberg opinion, that officials within DOJ and FBI are/were on a continuum.  Meaning the “small group” activity didn’t stop after the election but rather continued with the Mueller and Weissmann impeachment agenda.

Remember, the 2016 ‘insurance policy’ was to hand Mueller the 2016 FBI investigation so they could turn it into the 2017 special counsel investigation. Mueller, Weissmann and the group then used the ‘Steele Dossier’ as the cornerstone for the special counsel review.  The goal of the Mueller investigation was to construct impeachment via obstruction. The same players transferred from “crossfire hurricane” into the Mueller ‘obstruction‘ plan.

Within Judge Boasberg’s review of the 2017 activity, he outlines an identical set of FISA violations from within the FBI units and “contractors” as initially outlined by Judge Collyer a year earlier.  Judge Boasberg wrote his opinion in October 2018 and that opinion was declassified today (October 8th, 2019). Boasberg is reviewing 2017 through March 2018.  [Main link to all legal proceedings here]

(Via Wall Street Journal)  The intelligence community disclosed Tuesday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year found that the FBI’s pursuit of data about Americans ensnared in a warrantless internet-surveillance program intended to target foreign suspects may have violated the law authorizing the program, as well as the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

The court concluded that the FBI had been improperly searching a database of raw intelligence for information on Americans—raising concerns about oversight of the program, which as a spy program operates in near-total secrecy.

(…)  The court ruling identifies tens of thousands of improper searches of raw intelligence databases by the bureau in 2017 and 2018 that it deemed improper in part because they involved data related to tens of thousands of emails or telephone numbers—in one case, suggesting that the FBI was using the intelligence information to vet its personnel and cooperating sources. Federal law requires that the database only be searched by the FBI as part of seeking evidence of a crime or for foreign intelligence information.

In other cases, the court ruling reveals improper use of the database by individuals. In one case, an FBI contractor ran a query of an intelligence database—searching information on himself, other FBI personnel and his relatives, the court revealed.  (more)

As with the Collyer report, I am going line-by-painstaking-line through the Boasberg report (yeah, swamped); and what is clear is that in 2017 the FBI ‘bad actors’ and ‘contractors’ were continuing to try and subvert the safeguards put into place by former NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.   The 2017 non-compliance rate is similar to the 2016 review.

Judge Boasberg touches on the April 2017 Judge Collyer report.  Here is the carefully worded DNI explanation of the connective tissue (emphasis mine):

(…)  The FISC also concluded that the FBI’s querying and minimization procedures, as implemented, were inconsistent with Section 702 and the Fourth Amendment, in light of certain identified compliance incidents involving queries of Section 702 information.

These incidents involved instances in which personnel either misapplied or misunderstood the query standard, such that the queries were not reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information or evidence of a crime. Some of these instances involved queries concerning large numbers of individuals.

While stating that the Government had taken “constructive steps” to address the identified issues, the FISC held that these steps did not fully address the statutory and Fourth Amendment concerns raised by the compliance incidents.

(…) Additionally, the FISC considered the scope of certain new restrictions regarding “abouts” communications that were enacted in the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017. “Abouts” collection is the acquisition of communications that contain a reference to, but are not to or from, a Section 702 target. As the NSA explained in April 2017 (see NSA’s April 28, 2017 Statement), the NSA stopped acquiring any upstream internet communications that are solely “about” a foreign intelligence target and, instead, limited its Section 702 collection to only those communications that are directly “to” or “from” a foreign intelligence target.

NSA’s 2018 Targeting Procedures contained the same limitation. Although the Government did not seek to resume “abouts” collection, the FISC, with assistance from amici, reviewed whether the “abouts” restrictions applied to any other types of Section 702 acquisitions currently being conducted. While the FISC held that the “abouts” restrictions apply across Section 702 acquisitions, it found that current Section 702 acquisitions did not implicate the “abouts” restrictions. (read more)

(Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/09/2019) (Archive)

Here is the October 2018 Boasberg Opinion:

April 13, 2017 – GCHQ admits the British spy agency was digitally wiretapping Trump associates in 2015

A month before the GCHQ admits to digitally wiretapping the Trump administration, Bob Zimmerman (l) and Obama spokesman, Ben Ferguson (r), appear with Pamela Brown on CNN March 4, 2017, to deny it was occurring. (Credit: CNN)

“The British Guardian posted a report on April 13 claiming that its sources now admit that the British spy agency GCHQ was digitally wiretapping Trump associates, going back to late 2015. This was presumably when the December 2015 Moscow meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lt. General Michael Flynn took place.

This runs contrary to the blanket nature of the denial insinuated in GCHQ’s carefully-crafted statement of March 17 claiming it was all “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous” that they conducted surveillance of “then president-elect” Donald Trump (emphasis added). The surveillance went back a year before he became “president-elect.”

President Trump’s claim of being “wire tapped” has been vindicated. Indeed, the surveillance is far more extensive than even he suspected at the time.

Based on the new disclosures, we can safely conclude that the world’s most advanced and extensive system of computerized espionage was indeed used against him and people he worked with, for political purposes, with the knowledge and approval of top Obama officials such as CIA Director John Brennan (one major name implicated by the Guardian).

Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who said GCHQ was involved in wiretapping Trump, was also vindicated. Fox News owes Napolitano an apology for yanking him off the air for a week for making that “controversial” and now-verified assertion.” (Read more: Accuracy in Media, 4/17/2017)

March 17, 2017 – Top NSA official, Rick Ledgett, ridicules ‘nonsense’ allegation Britain spied on Trump

“Allegations from the United States that British spy agency GCHQ snooped on Donald Trump during his election campaign are “arrant nonsense,” the deputy head of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) said in an interview on Saturday.

President Trump has stood by unproven claims that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 White House race. On Thursday his spokesman cited a media report that Britain’s GCHQ was behind the surveillance.

Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the NSA, told BBC News the idea that Britain had a hand in spying on Trump was “just crazy.”

“It belies a complete lack of understanding of how the relationship works between the intel community agencies, it completely ignores the political reality of ‘would the UK government agree to do that?’” Ledgett said.

There would be no advantage for Britain’s government in spying on Trump, given the potential cost, he said.

“It would be epically stupid,” said Ledgett, who is due to retire shortly.

Current and former NSA officials have described an acrimonious relationship between intelligence agencies and the Trump administration.” (Read more: NBC News, 3/18/2017)  (Archive)