January 2016

January 31, 2017 – John Podesta sets up fundraising meetings for Fusion GPS after Trump’s election victory

(Credit: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

“Former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was one of Fusion GPS’s “most helpful” resources in an effort to raise money after the 2016 election to continue investigating President Donald Trump, the co-founders of the opposition research firm revealed in a book released on Nov. 26.

Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the co-founders of Fusion GPS, wrote in “Crime in Progress” that Podesta provided welcome support in early 2017 for an effort to raise money to fund The Democracy Integrity Project (TDIP), a nonprofit group former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel Jones created on Jan. 31, 2017.

Podesta agreed during a meeting with Simpson in early 2017 to contact potential donors to help arrange meetings with Fusion GPS and Jones, according to the book.

“In mid-February [2017] and then again in early March, Jones — supported by Fritsch and Simpson — took prospecting trips in the West. They didn’t know the tech community well, so before heading out, they sought some door openers and validators from the world they knew best,” the authors wrote.

“One of the most helpful” resources turned out to be Podesta, according to Simpson and Fritsch.

“Podesta agreed to contact some friends out west on Jones’s behalf and told him to drop his name in talks with other potential supporters,” they said. “It was a brave gesture: He could have easily chosen to stay out of it altogether, given the fact that he had served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 12/02/2019)  (Archive)

January 10, 2017 – Strzok seeks to capitalize on news reports about dossier, text message suggests

Peter Strzok (Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“A newly revealed text message suggests that former FBI official Peter Strzok sought to capitalize on news reports in January 2017 that President Donald Trump had been briefed about allegations in the infamous Steele dossier.

Strzok wanted to use a CNN report related to the dossier as a reason to interview witnesses as part of the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, according to the text message.

“Sitting with Bill watching CNN. A TON more out,” Strzok, a former FBI counterintelligence official, texted to FBI lawyer Lisa Page on Jan. 10, 2017.

“Hey let me know when you can talk. We’re discussing whether, now that this is out, we use it as a pretext to go interview some people,” continued Strzok, according to a CNN report published Friday.

Just before Strzok sent the message, CNN had reported that top government officials, including then-FBI Director James Comey, briefed then-President-Elect Trump on Jan. 6, 2017 about some of the salacious allegations in the dossier, which was authored by former British spy Christopher Steele and financed by Democrats.

Hours after CNN reported about the briefing, BuzzFeed News published the unverified dossier in full.

It is not clear why Strzok needed the CNN report as a pretext to conduct interviews.

Strzok took part in some of those interviews as the FBI’s lead investigator on the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. He and another FBI agent interviewed then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn on Jan. 24, 2017. Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying in that interview about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 9/14/2018)

January 6, 2017 – Comey’s statement for the record on his first briefing with President-elect Trump re Russian meddling

Statement for the Record

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017

Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee

Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.

January 6 Briefing

James Comey (Credit: ABC News)

“I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.

The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.

The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.

It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves “turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.

Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.

In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.

I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) — once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months — three in person and six on the phone.” (Read more: CNN, 6/8/2017)


In a Comey interview with George Stephanopolous on April 13, 2018, he admits to not telling Trump the Steele Dossier was paid for by his political opponents, Clinton and the DNC.  (YouTube clip, 4/13/2018)

January 30, 2016 – Strzok-Page emails show FBI officials using unsecured devices for sensitive data

(Credit: Judicial Watch)

“Judicial Watch announced today that it has received 47 pages of records from the Department of Justice, including email exchanges between fired FBI official Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page revealing that FBI officials used unsecured devices in discussing how the U.S. could improve the sharing of sensitive data with the European Union top executive governing commission.

The documents also reveal that high-ranking FBI officials were not properly read-in to top secret programs.

(…) “The newly obtained emails came in response to a May 21 order by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to the FBI to begin processing 13,000 pages of records exchanged exclusively between Strzok and Page between February 1, 2015, and December 2017. The FBI refuses to timely process the records and will not complete review and production of all the Strzok-Page materials until at least 2020.

James Baker (Credit: public domain)

In a January 30, 2016 email exchange sent entirely over unsecure devices, top former FBI officials including General Counsel Jim Baker, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok, Page, unidentified individuals from the DOJ’s National Security Division and NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell, discuss a draft document with the subject line: “Revised IC Safe Harbor Letter (from [redacted] using [redacted] iPad).”

Baker notes in the exchange that he is attempting to work on the document using his smartphone: “So it is not possible to read the redlines on my smartphone. If you are still at the office, can you please save the redline version as a PDF and then resend? Thanks.”

Also, in the exchange, Strzok writes to Page:

IC Safe Harbor refers to a European Commission data-sharing arrangement with the United States that allowed for the transfer of personally identifiable information from the EU to the U.S. The arrangement was invalidated by the European Court of Justice after disclosures of NSA surveillance operations by Edward Snowden. The court ordered that a new, stronger version of the arrangement be reached by January 31, 2016.

Five hundred million Yahoo! accounts reportedly were hacked in 2014. And, “a different attack in 2013 compromised more than 1 billion accounts. The two attacks are the largest known security breaches of one company’s computer network.” According to IT experts, the iPad is also notoriously insecure from hacking.

In a February 5, 2016, email Strzok indicates to Page that at least two, and possibly more, top FBI officials had not been properly “read-in” to top secret, compartmented programs. Those included McCabe and Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Preistap. It is indicated Page needs some read-ins as well.


(Read more: Judicial Watch, 9/13/2018)

January 20, 2016 – January 20, 2017: Samantha Power sought to unmask Americans on almost daily basis, sources say

Samantha Power (Credit: Forbes)

“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.

John Brennan (l) and Trey Gowdy (Credit: CSpan)

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)

January 19, 2016 – The Obama administration pressures Ukraine to Investigate Manafort

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko (l) and Joe Biden pose for the media prior to meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 20, 2016. (Credit: Michel Euler/Reuters)

“In January 2016, top Ukrainian corruption prosecutors and officials from Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), FBI, State Department and Department of Justice (DOJ) met in Washington, according to an April 26 article by The Hill.

The meeting, which was reportedly billed as “training,” apparently also touched on two other matters—the revival of a closed investigation into payments to U.S. figures from Ukraine’s Russia-backed Party of Regions and the closure of an ongoing Ukrainian investigation into Burisma.

According to The Hill’s reporting, the Ukrainian Embassy confirmed that meetings were held, but said it “had no record that the Party of Regions or Burisma cases came up in the meetings.”

A Jan. 22, 2016, NABU press release confirmed that NABU Director Artem Sytnyk was in Washington from Jan. 19 to 21.

At the same time as the NABU meeting with Obama officials, Vice President Biden also met with senior Ukrainian officials. On Jan. 21, 2016, Biden met with Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine. According to the White House release, the two leaders agreed “to continue to move forward on Ukraine’s anti-corruption agenda.”

Biden shakes hands with Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman in Biden’s ceremonial office in Washington DC, June 15, 2016. (Credit: The Associated Press)

Just six days earlier, on Jan 15, 2016, Biden had met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, promising to commit $220 million in new assistance to Ukraine that year.

Notably, several months later, Sytnyk and Ukrainian Member of Parliament Serhiy Leshchenko would publicly disclose the contents of the Ukrainian “black ledger” to the media, which implicated Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort. The revelation would force Manafort from the campaign.

Leshchenko also served as a source for various individuals, including journalist Michael Isikoff and Democratic National Committee (DNC) operative Alexandra Chalupa. In addition, Leshchenko served as a direct source of information for Fusion GPS—and its researcher, former CIA contractor Nellie Ohr.

Another Ukrainian-related meeting also took place in January 2016 when Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American, informed an unknown senior DNC official that she believed there was a Russian connection with the Trump campaign. Notably, this theme would be picked up by the Clinton campaign in the summer of 2016. Chalupa also told the official to expect Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign.

Alexandra Chalupa (Credit: public domain)

How Chalupa knew to expect Manafort’s involvement with the Trump campaign in January remains unknown, but her forecast proved prescient, as Manafort reached out to the Trump campaign shortly after, on Feb. 29, 2016, through a mutual acquaintance, Thomas J. Barrack Jr. According to Manafort, he and Trump hadn’t been in communication for years until the Trump campaign responded to Manafort’s offer.

As The Epoch Times previously reported, on May 30, 2016, Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr sent an email to her husband, high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr, and three other DOJ officials to alert them of the discovery of the “Reported Trove of Documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions’ ‘Black Cashbox.’” It was this discovery that led to Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign in August 2016.

On Aug. 14, 2016, The New York Times published an article alleging that payments to Manafort had been uncovered from the Party of Regents’ “black box”—the 400-page handwritten ledger released by Leshchenko. The article proved to be a fatal blow for Manafort, who resigned from the Trump campaign just days later. (Read more: The Epoch Times, 4/26/2019)

January 19, 2016 – The hearsay whistleblower chairs a meeting with the FBI, DoJ and DoS to contain Ukraine’s investigation of Burisma and ramp up the investigation of Paul Manafort

Eric Ciaramella shakes hands with President Obama. (Credit: public domain)

On January 19, 2016, Eric Ciaramella chaired a meeting of FBI, Department of Justice and Department of State personnel, which had two main objectives:

  1.       To coerce the Ukrainians to drop the Burisma probe, which involved Vice President Joseph Biden’s son Hunter, and allow the FBI to take over the investigation.
  2.       To reopen a closed 2014 FBI investigation that focused heavily on GOP lobbyist Paul Manafort, whose firm long had been tied to Trump through his partner and Trump pal, Roger Stone.

That is, contain the investigation of Biden’s son and ramp up the investigation of Paul Manafort.

According to White House logs, the attendees at the January 19, 2016 meeting in Room 230A of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building were:

Eric Ciaramella – National Security Council Director for Ukraine

Liz Zentos – National Security Council Director for Eastern Europe

David G. Sakvarelidze – Deputy General Prosecutor of Ukraine

Anna E. Iemelianova (Yemelianova) – Legal Specialist, US Embassy Kyiv and US Department of Justice’s Anti-Corruption Program.

Nazar A. Kholodnitsky, Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor

Catherine L. Newcombe – attorney in the Criminal Division, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, with the U.S. Department of Justice

Svitlana V. Pardus – Operations, Department of Justice, U.S. Embassy, Ukraine.

Artem S. Sytnyk  – Director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine

Andriy G. Telizhenko, political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington DC

Jeffrey W. Cole – Resident Legal Advisor at U.S. Embassy Ukraine, presumed to be FBI

(The American Thinker, 12/06/2019)  (Archive)

January 14, 2016 – Some of the emails on Clinton’s server are so sensitive, the IC OIG investigators initially don’t have clearance to view them

(Charles McCullough (Credit: Fox News)

“Some of the information that passed through Hillary Clinton’s private email server was so sensitive that high-level officials examining the account had to get special security clearance before they could proceed with their probe, NBC’s Ken Dilanian reported on Tuesday.

That is according to an intelligence official familiar with the probe into the former secretary of state’s “homebrew” server, which is being led by the intelligence community’s inspector general, Charles McCullough.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also been looking into whether classified material was mishandled during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department from 2009 to 2013.

Some of the emails found on Clinton’s account — according to a letter McCullough sent to senior lawmakers on January 14 and obtained by Fox News and other publications — contained intelligence so sensitive that it has since been allocated to a special access program (SAP) designation.

SAPs are designed to safeguard information deemed more sensitive than even “top secret.”

“The special access program in question was so sensitive that McCullough and some of his aides had to receive clearance to be read in on it before viewing the sworn declaration about the Clinton emails,” Dilanian reported.” (Read more: Business Insider, 1/21/2016)

January 8, 2016 – A McCabe email is at odds with Comey’s concerns ahead of publication of the dossier

Matthew Axelrod (l), Andrew McCabe (c) and Sally Yates (Credit: public domain)

“Comey wrote in a January 7, 2017 email to FBI leadership that he told Trump that he was providing the briefing about the dossier because “media like CNN had [the dossier] and were looking for a news hook.”

“I said it was inflammatory stuff that they would get killed for reporting straight up from the source reports,” Comey continued.

On January 8, 2017 then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wrote to senior FBI leadership that “CNN is close to going forward with the sensitive story … The trigger for them [CNN] is they know the material was discussed in the brief and presented in an attachment.”

McCabe, who was Lisa Page’s boss, also emailed then-deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and then-principal deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod, saying, “Just an FYI, and as expected, it seems CNN is close to running a story about the sensitive reporting.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 9/14/2018)

Late 2015 – Early 2016: ICIG McCullough sends a team to the FBI to detail the anomaly that was found on Clinton’s server

Charles McCullough (Credit: Fox News)

“In either late 2015 or early 2016, the IC inspector general, Chuck McCullough, sent Frank Rucker and Janette McMillan to meet with the FBI in order to detail the anomaly that had been uncovered. That meeting was attended by four individuals, including Strzok, then-Executive Assistant Director John Giacalone, and then-Section Chief Dean Chappell. The identity of the fourth individual remains unknown, though Moffa, who also met with the IG at various times, is a possible candidate. Charles Kable, who also met with the ICIG at several points, is another possible candidate.

Priestap testified that he had not been briefed on the Clinton server anomaly by Strzok, noting “this would have been a big deal.”

“I am not aware of any evidence that demonstrated that. I’m also not aware of any evidence that my team or anybody reporting to me on this had advised me that there were anomalies that couldn’t be accounted for. I don’t recall that,” he said.

Priestap’s admission that this was all new information to him, prompted an observation from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that Strzok appeared to be exercising significant investigative control:

Mr. Meadows: “It sounds like Peter Strzok was kind of driving the train here. Would you agree with that?”

Mr. Priestap: “Peter and Jon, yeah.”

As Meadows noted during testimony, this matter still had to be officially “closed out” by the FBI before the official closing of the Clinton investigation. Strzok personally called the IC inspector general within minutes of Comey’s July 5, 2016, press conference on the Clinton investigation, telling him that the FBI would be sending a “referral to close it out.”

Meadows seemed genuinely surprised that Strzok had apparently kept this information successfully hidden from Priestap, noting, “I’m a Member from North Carolina, and you’re saying that I have better intel than you do?” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/31/2019)