January 2019

January 23, 2019 – Former Ukraine prosecutor Viktor Shokin is mentioned in Giuliani’s notes, stating he was told to back off Biden-linked Burisma probe

Joe Biden and Viktor Shokin (Credit: public domain)

“Ukraine’s former top prosecutor told Rudy Giuliani earlier this year that he was indeed asked to back off any probe of a natural gas company linked to Joe Biden’s son, according to a copy of Giuliani’s notes obtained by Fox News.

During the pair’s Jan. 23, 2019, phone call, scandal-scarred ex-prosecutor Viktor Shokin told Giuliani that his “investigations stopped out of fear of the United States,” after a top diplomat asked that he use “kid gloves” in pursuing the company, according to the notes of President Trump’s personal attorney, reported by the outlet.

“Mr. Shokin attempted to continue the investigations but on or around June or July of 2015, the U.S. Ambassador [to Ukraine] Geoffrey R. Pyatt told him that the investigation has to be handled with white gloves, which according to Mr. Shokin, that implied do nothing,” the notes from the phone call state.

Shokin was booted from his post in April 2016, amid accusations of corruption, including that his office was blocking major cases against allies and influential figures.” (Read more: New York Post, 10/02/2019)

January 23 & 25, 2019 – The Giuliani notes on his two meetings with former Ukrainian prosecutors

Credit: Teresa Kroeger/Drew Angerer/Getty Images/The Babel)

“Notes of Rudolph Giuliani’s interviews with two former Ukrainian prosecutors include one’s allegation that then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned him against investigating energy firm Burisma Holdings “as it was not in the interest of Joe and/or Hunter Biden.”

The prosecutor was later fired, under what President Trump says was pressure from Vice President Biden. His son Hunter had a lucrative role on the Burisma board.

The notes were published by a Ukrainian news site, and their authenticity was confirmed by Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, and by a second source who has seen the originals and who declined to be identified. But RealClearInvestigations could not confirm the prosecutors’ assertions as presented in the notes.

The documents are embedded in the Google-translated article linked to here and can be viewed by scrolling down the page.

A sample of Giuliani’s notes. (Credit: The Babel)

(…) The five pages of typewritten, printed-out notes – not transcripts –together with the IG’s cover letter to lawmakers, were posted this week on a Ukrainian website, The Babel. They appear to memorialize two conversations: one on Jan. 23, when Giuliani spoke by phone with the former general prosecutor of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin; the other is from two days later, when Shokin’s successor, then-General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, met Giuliani in New York.

In addition to the fired Shokin’s claim that President Poroshenko warned him not to investigate Burisma because it was not in the Bidens’ interest, the notes say, the prosecutor also said he “was warned to stop” by the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt.

The State Department declined to explain this assertion about Pyatt, who was ambassador to Ukraine from 2013 to 2016 and now is Ambassador to Greece. The Biden presidential campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Recounting Shokin’s version of events, the notes say he “was called into Mr. Poroshenko’s office and told that the investigation into Burisma and the Managing Director where Hunter Biden is on the board, has caused Joe Biden to hold up one billion dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine.” Poroshenko later told Shokin that “he had to be fired as the aid to the Ukraine was being withheld by Joe Biden,” the Giuliani interview notes say. (Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 10/09/2019)  (Archive)

January 23, 2019 – Opinion: FBI Special Agent Joseph Pientka Is the DOJ’s Invisible Man

Christopher Steele and Bruce Ohr (Credit: public domain)

(…) “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FISC] was not alerted to the fact that much of the information in the surveillance warrant on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page was being provided by paid political propagandists employed by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

To continue receiving Trump-Russia collusion propaganda from opposition research firm Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele—who had been hired by Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC—the FBI established a back-channel through former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr at the Department of Justice. After every meeting with Steele, Ohr would sit down for an interview with FBI Special Agent Joseph Pientka, who would fill out official FD-302 interview forms to pass on the information within the FBI.

(…) It seems something spooked the SpyGate plotters into presenting an appearance of drawing back from Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS while still surreptitiously using that political propaganda shop as a source for their ongoing investigations.

This back-channel allowed the FBI to hide Fusion GPS’s—and the Clinton campaign’s–role in providing much of the “evidence” being used to drive these politically-motivated investigations of Trump and his associates.

So why Bruce Ohr? Because he was a top official inside the Department of Justice and close to the DOJ’s National Security Division [NSD].

The point was to launder Fusion GPS’s Trump-Russia allegations through Ohr to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and lead agent on the Trump case, Peter Strzok, so it could be claimed the information was coming from a legitimate intelligence source instead of from paid political propagandists working for Hillary Clinton.

This means it’s highly likely that when Bruce Ohr’s personal notes from his meetings with Fusion GPS are compared with the official FD-302 interview forms that Agent Pientka filled out following his interviews with Ohr, they are not going to match when it comes to what the stated source was for the Trump-Russia information.

For Pientka to write down on the 302 forms that this information on Trump-Russia he was being given by Ohr was still coming from the Fusion GPS boys after the FBI had supposedly severed all ties with them would have defeated the entire reason for going to the trouble of establishing a backchannel in the first place.

Investigative journalist John Solomon of The Hill has stated in his reports that he has been shown Ohr’s handwritten notes that he made during his talks with Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele. So in his own notes, Ohr made it clear who he was talking to and where he was getting these allegations from.

So now the $56,000 question: What do the FD-302 forms Pientka filled out actually say about where the Trump-Russia allegations came from? Do the interview forms admit the allegations were coming from a politically motivated propaganda shop, or do they claim the information came from politically neutral intelligence sources?

I’ve no doubt that at some time in the past year and a half, the DOJ Inspector General’s office sat Pientka down for extensive and detailed interviews about his dual roles in both the Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn affair (he and Strzok interviewed Flynn), and with the Fusion GPS back-channel to the FBI. What he told them must have been incredibly sensitive, since nobody has publicly seen or heard from Pientka all this time, even though House and Senate committees have requested that the DOJ produce him for testimony.  Whatever Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s investigators discovered in their interviews with Pientka, they are keeping a very tight lid on it.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/23/2019)

January 21, 2019 – Lindsey Graham to continue oversight of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications

Lindsey Graham (Credit: Fox News Sunday)

“New tensions are flaring on the Senate Judiciary Committee over plans by newly minted Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to dig into Obama-era scandals.

Graham, a close ally of President Trump’s, has outlined several areas he wants to probe now that he has the Judiciary Committee gavel.

They include the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

(…) Graham told reporters earlier this month that he would do a “deep dive into the FISA issue” as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And he told Fox News last month that he believed the FBI “phoned in” the Clinton probe and were “in the tank” for the Democratic presidential nominee.

“There’s a certain unevenness here about how you investigate campaigns,” Graham said, adding that he believed there was “100 percent” a double standard between how the bureau handled the investigation into Clinton compared to investigating the Trump campaign.

Graham also said late last year that he would “totally” investigate the FBI’s handling of its investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Clinton’s email. He added separately last month that he would “get to the bottom of” the FISA warrant applications against Page and that he wanted to have “an in-depth discussion” with former FBI Director James Comey.

Asked about his investigation plans and the criticism from Democrats, a spokeswoman for Graham pointed to a pair of tweets from the GOP senator on Friday where he doubled down.

Graham described as “stunning” a Fox News report that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr discussed his views on a controversial research opposition dossier on Trump with individuals now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“These purported revelations will NOT get a pass in Senate Judiciary Committee,” Graham added.” (Read more: The Hill, 1/21/2019)

January 18, 2019 – Opinion: Buzzfeed, like Lawfare, has a role to play in Resistance operation

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

“While the media banter relentlessly about their latest resistance angle du jour; it is perhaps a more beneficial discussion to remind and outline the larger strategy at play. Honing the political skills.

The baseline here is that everything the institutional-left does, is sequential and planned. This is what they do.  This is all they do.  None of the characters within the institutions of professional leftism create anything; build anything; have a life purpose for anything, other than organizing their efforts to exploit control of others via politics.  This is all they know how to do.  When you develop your skills to see their patterns you can then see the predictability behind it.

Prior Example: Former FBI Director James Comey briefs president-elect Trump on the two-page salacious dossier aspect; Former DNI James Clapper, knowing the briefing, then discusses the dossier briefing with CNN… this opens the door for the media who are waiting. Once the narrative door is opened, Buzzfeed enters and transmits the story of the unfounded and uncorroborated Steele Dossier. The key point to understand is that everything from the briefing, to Clapper, to CNN, to Buzzfeed, was scripted and planned. This is the pattern. As we have mentioned the pattern becomes predictable.

This predictability is how CTH was able to state in December 2018 that Michael Cohen would most likely be the centerpiece of the first ‘impeachment’ block; and from knowing how the script rolls, CTH was able to predict the exact timing (Thursday after Superbowl, 2/7/19); and the exact committee (Cummings, House Oversight); for the first hearing that will exploit Michael Cohen.

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

The current Buzzfeed claims being widely promoted today are all part of that pre-scheduled ‘impeachment’ process.  When we approach the term “impeachment” we are not discussing it as the technical and legal approach for removal of a President; but rather the political use of the process to damage President Donald Trump.

Professional political Democrats would not be using “impeachment” in the constitutional sense of the process; but rather weaponizing the process –as a tool itself– to: •target the executive office; •diminish the presidency (“isolate”/”marginalize”, Alinsky rules); •and position themselves for 2020.

Optics and innuendo are key elements, tools per se’, in the Alinsky narrative engineering process.  That’s why Pelosi, Schumer and the democrat machine are going bananas about getting a raw Mueller report and not a version from AG Barr {explained here}.

From Pelosi’s rules, we now know Elijah Cummings will deliver the schedule for impeachment hearings before his deadline on April 15th. We also know from the outline of the process they are following, the next likely witness to be subpoenaed, and to grab the media headlines will be Donald Trump Jr.

That’s where Adam Schiff (HPSCI) and Jerry Nadler (Judiciary) come in with the technical hearings to begin the ‘impeachment’ specifics.  However, they need a predicate to get from Michael Cohen to Donald Trump Jr.

So, knowing they need a baseline predicate…. How do you get from Michael Cohen to Donald Trump Jr?  A = You use the Trump Tower Moscow narrative….  See the map?

Elijah Cummings needs a reference point to take Cohen toward DT-Jr, that’s where Buzzfeed comes in.  Is there any factual basis for the claims within the Buzzfeed report?  No, but that’s not what they need… they need “innuendo” to investigate.

“President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.” (link)

The article is fraught with flawed assumptions and flat-out nonsense; even claiming emails and documents (unseen by the authors) to support the foundation of the article.  Note that no-one else in media is validating this claim. However, that doesn’t matter…. what matters is the ‘claim that needs to be investigated’.  Did President Trump direct Michael Cohen to lie to congress; no, that’s silly.

In the aftermath of the SSCI (Mark Warner) drum-beating a false story about Trump Tower Moscow as evidence of ‘possible’ influence over Trump….. Did Cohen participate in writing a brief set of talking points for the Trump organization to clear up this false and malicious political narrative?  Probably.  Most large organizations do that to share with top executives so everyone has the same set of facts to deal with.

Is that document the electronic evidence (emails) inferred, skewed, and manipulated within the Buzzfeed report?…  I’d wager B.I.N.G.O.

All of it is a nothing-burger, but that doesn’t technically matter for the needs of the ‘resistance’; what they need is a tenuously valid innuendo trail they can exploit with Michael Cohen on February 7th, that will allow Elijah Cummings to pass that specific aspect to Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler.

See how that works?

(Conservative Treehouse, 1/18/2019) (Republished with permission)

January 17, 2019 – Charles Ortel Opinion: The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

“The recent ruling by US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth may become a breakthrough in the 5-year long Clinton email scandal, Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel told Sputnik, asking how it happened that the Obama administration, the CIA and FBI had apparently overlooked “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”

“The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money-laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption”, says Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel, commenting on a US federal judge ordering former Obama officials to answer the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch’s (JW) questions on Hillary Clinton’s private email issue and the Benghazi scandal.

On 15 January, US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, fmr. secretary of state Clinton’s former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap must answer the watchdog’s written questions about the State Department’s response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

BREAKING: Citing government shutdown, DOJ/State seek to stall court-ordered discovery ordered to begin yesterday on Clinton Email, Benghazi Scandal: Top Obama-Clinton Officials, Susan Rice, and Ben Rhodes to Respond to @JudicialWatch Questions Under Oath https://t.co/kka1QCEWtG pic.twitter.com/WYHLLTFP0G

— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton)

​”In time, historians will likely document that the Clintons and Obamas entered office in January 2009 with a grand plan to transform America’s relations with key powers, especially in the Middle East,” Ortel said. “This plan involved toppling national leaders in many nations by fomenting local uprisings using clandestine resources, in actions that were not likely validly authorized by Congress, as is certainly required under US laws.” (Read more: Sputnik News, 1/17/2019)

January 15, 2019 – Federal Court orders discovery on Clinton Email, Benghazi scandal

Judge Royce Lamberth (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/Legal Times)

“Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap — will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department’s objections to Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”)

Judicial Watch’s discovery will seek answers to:

  • Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;
  • whether the State Department’s efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and
  • whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

Discovery is scheduled to be completed within 120 days. The court will hold a post-discovery hearing to determine if Judicial Watch may also depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.

Judge Lamberth ordered written responses under oath to Judicial Watch’s questions from Obama administration senior officials Rice, Rhodes and Sullivan, and former FBI official Priestap. Rice and Rhodes will answer interrogatories under oath on the Benghazi scandal. Rejecting the State and Justice Department objections to discovery on the infamous Benghazi talking points, Judge Lamberth reiterated:

Yet Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case: information about the points’ development and content, as well as their discussion and dissemination before and after Rice’s appearances could reveal unsearched, relevant records; State’s role in the points’ content and development could shed light on Clinton’s motives for shielding her emails from FOIA requesters or on State’s reluctance to search her emails.

Judicial Watch also may serve interrogatories on Monica Hanley, a former staff member in the State Department’s Office of the Secretary, and on Lauren Jiloty, Clinton’s former special assistant.

Eric Boswell (Credit: public domain)

According to Lamberth’s order, regarding whether Clinton’s private email use while Secretary of State was an intentional attempt to evade FOIA, Judicial Watch may depose:

  1. Eric Boswell, the former Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.… Boswell’s March 2009 memo to Mills … discusses security risks Clinton’s Blackberry use posed more generally. And Boswell personally discussed the memo with Clinton. So, he plainly has relevant information about that conversation and about his general knowledge of Clinton’s email use. Judicial Watch may depose Boswell.
  2. Justin Cooper. the Clinton Foundation employee who created the clintonemail.com server. In its proposal, Judicial Watch noted Cooper’s prior congressional testimony “appears to contradict portions of the testimony provided by Huma Abedin in the case before Judge Sullivan.” … Cooper repeatedly told Congress that Abedin helped set-up the Clintons’ private server, e.g., Examining Preservation of State Department Federal Records: [before a Congressional hearing] Abedin testified under oath she did not know about the server until six years later.… Judicial Watch may depose Cooper.
  3. Clarence Finney, the former deputy director of State’s Executive Secretariat staff…. [T]his case’s questions hinge on what specific State employees knew and when they knew it. As the principal advisor and records management expert responsible for controlling Clinton’s official correspondence and records, Finney’s knowledge is particularly relevant. And especially given the concerns about government misconduct that prompted this discovery, Judicial Watch’s ability to take his direct testimony and ask follow-up questions is critical.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 1/15/2019)

January 14, 2019: Opinion – NYT Reveals FBI Retaliated Against Trump For Comey Firing

Mollie Hemingway

By: Mollie Hemingway

“…the New York Times revealed the FBI’s surprisingly flimsy justification for launching a retaliatory investigation into President Donald Trump, their chief adversary during their recent troubled era.

The Saturday New York Times article appeared on page one, above the fold, with the almost laughable headline “F.B.I. Investigated if Trump Worked for the Russians.” The online version of the story was headlined “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.” Nine paragraphs into the story, the reporters admit that there is and was literally “no evidence” to support the idea Trump worked for Russia.

The top of the article, however, immediately presented the FBI-friendly interpretation of the agency’s motivations as fact — without evidence and despite strong evidence to the contrary — saying the FBI began its investigation because they were “so concerned by the president’s behavior” rather than saying it was because they were “so concerned he’d continue to expose their behavior” or “so concerned he’d hold them accountable for their political investigations.”

The article accepts FBI spin that arguing for better relations with the nuclear-armed Russia “constituted a possible threat to national security” that could only be explained if Trump was “knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.” Because FBI officials personally opposed Trump’s foreign policy, and that of the tens of millions of Americans who voted for him, the FBI was “suspicious” of him, we’re told. The reporters admit the reckless decision by FBI officials was “an aggressive move” that disturbs many former law enforcement officials.

The FBI never had a good reason to investigate Trump, according to information in the article, but even the justifications they use are erroneous. For example, all three items mentioned here are inaccurately framed and presented:

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

First, Trump never called on Russia to hack Clinton, despite repeated media claims to the contrary. Clinton had already destroyed her server, along with 30,000 emails she claimed were about yoga, while she was under investigation for mishandling classified information. Trump was highlighting that tons of hackers could have already accessed her insecure server when it still existed and, if they had, those emails should be released so that Americans would know what foreign governments undoubtedly already did. It was a way to highlight her reckless handling of classified information and the global security concerns of that.

Second, having a foreign policy different from those who seek conflict with Russia is neither a problem nor any of the FBI’s business. In fact, it’s a big part of why the American people voted for Trump. The American people get to determine who sets foreign policy, and they do so through elections. The FBI does not get to set foreign policy by running criminal and counterintelligence investigations to punish those who step outside their preferred approach. They have no constitutional authority to do that.

Third, even if the Republican Party had changed its convention platform regarding Ukraine, which it had not, that is also neither a problem nor any of the FBI’s business. It’s shocking and scandalous that the FBI thinks it should criminalize foreign policy disputes.” (Read more: The Federalist, 1/14/2019)

January 10, 2019 – Judicial Watch to depose former top officials involved in the Clinton email scandal

Judicial Watch announced today that it submitted a court-ordered discovery plan for the depositions of several top former government officials involved in the Clinton email scandal, including Obama administration senior officials Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap.

Judicial Watch “intends to update the Court regarding the depositions of Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills at the conclusion of the 16-week discovery period, unless the Court believes such notice is not necessary.” The plan for discovery is the latest development in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Read the discovery plan here:

January 2, 2019 – The exculpatory Russia evidence about Mike Flynn that US intel kept secret

Lt. General Michael Flynn (Credit: Olivier Doullery/Abaca Press)

“For nearly two years now, the intelligence community has kept secret evidence in the Russia collusion case that directly undercuts the portrayal of retired Army general and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn as a Russian stooge.

(…) Yes, the Pentagon did give a classified briefing to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in May 2017, but then it declined the senator’s impassioned plea three months later to make some of that briefing information public.

“It appears the public release of this information would not pose any ongoing risk to national security. Moreover, the declassification would be in the public interest, and is in the interest of fairness to Lt. Gen. Flynn,” Grassley wrote in August 2017.

Were the information Grassley requested made public, America would have learned this, according to my sources:

    • Before Flynn made his infamous December 2015 trip to Moscow — as a retired general and then-adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — he alerted his former employer, the DIA.
    • He then attended a “defensive” or “protective” briefing before he ever sat alongside Vladimir Putin at the Russia Today (RT) dinner, or before he talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
    • The briefing educated and sensitized Flynn to possible efforts by his Russian host to compromise the former high-ranking defense official and prepared him for conversations in which he could potentially extract intelligence for U.S. agencies such as the DIA.
    • When Flynn returned from Moscow, he spent time briefing intelligence officials on what he learned during the Moscow contacts. Between two and nine intelligence officials attended the various meetings with Flynn about the RT event, and the information was moderately useful, about what one would expect from a public event, according to my sources.

(Read more: The Hill, 1/02/2019)