December 27, 2018 – Critics of Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise of ISIS
“In 2012, the CIA initiated a one billion dollar arm-and-equip operation to fund the so-called “moderate rebels” united under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). A classified Defense Intelligence Agency memo distributed across Obama administration channels in August of that year warned that jihadist forces emanating from Iraq aimed to exploit the security vacuum opened up by the US-backed proxy war to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” — an “Islamic State,” in the exact words of the memo.
Referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s Syrian affiliate by its name, Jabhat al-Nusra, before Western media ever had, the DIA emphasized the close ties the group had fostered with Syria’s “moderate rebels”: “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. AQI declared its opposition to Assad’s regime from the beginning because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”
The memo was authored under the watch of then-Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was convicted this year of failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey — an extremely ironic development considering Turkey’s role in fueling the Syrian insurgency. Predictably, the document was ignored across the board by the Obama administration. Meanwhile, heavy weapons were flowing out of the U.S. Incirlik air base in Turkey and into the hands of anyone who could grab them across the Syrian border.
As early as February 2013, a United Nations independent inquiry report concluded, “The FSA has remained a brand name only.” The UN further issued a damning assessment of the role of the United States, UK and their Gulf allies in fueling extremism across Syria. “The intervention of external sponsors has contributed to the radicalization of the insurgency as it has favored Salafi armed groups such as the al-Nusra Front, and even encouraged mainstream insurgents to join them owing to their superior logistical and operational capabilities,” the report stated.
How ISIS overran large swaths of territory in northeastern Syria and established its de facto capital Raqqa is scarcely understood, let alone discussed by Western media. That is partly because the real story is so inconvenient to the established narrative of the Syrian conflict, which blames Assad for every atrocity that has ever occurred in his country, and for some horrors that may not have ever taken place. Echoing the Bush administration’s discredited attempts to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda, some neoconservative pundits hatched a conspiracy theory that accused Assad of covertly orchestrating the rise of ISIS in order to curry support from the West. But the documented evidence firmly established the success of ISIS as a byproduct of the semi-covert American program to arm Assad’s supposedly moderate opposition.” (Read more: Consortium News, 12/27/2018)
November 8, 2017 – Translator at Trump Tower meeting testifies to previously interpreting for Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, President Obama
“Anatoli Samochornov, a Russian translator who was present at the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with campaign officials, testified that he was previously an interpreter for Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Barack Obama.”
(…) “Now it has emerged that, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Samochornov described his work personally interpreting on one occasion for Clinton, “two or three times” for Kerry and for “Mr. Obama’s summits at the United Nations.”
Samochornov gave his testimony last November and it was recently made public. The 121 pages of transcript were reviewed by Breitbart News and have become newly relevant following renewed news media scrutiny of the Trump Tower confab.
At the hearing, Samochornov stated that he had been “doing project management for a subcontractor of the U.S. Department of State.”
(…) “Regarding his work as a subcontractor for the U.S. government, Samochrnov stated that he “served as an interpreter for Secretary Clinton on one occasion.”
He continued: “I have two or three times interpreted for Secretary Kerry when he had meetings with his counterpart, Mr. Lavrov, and the group rounds about Syria. I have also interpreted Mr. Obama’s summits at the United Nations, and I believe Vice President Joe Biden also spoke there.”
(…) “Samochornov is not the only individual at the Trump Tower meeting with a personal tie to Clinton.
Email transcripts and other information disclosed in testimony released by the Senate Judiciary Committee reveal a significant relationship between Russian-born Washington lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who was present at the Trump Tower meeting, and an associate of Clinton. Akhmetshin also claims a personal relationship with Clinton and describes meeting with a Clinton associate the same day as the Trump Tower meeting.
In his Senate testimony, Akhmetshin says that he “knows” Hillary Clinton and has a personal relationship with her that dates back to the late-1990s. Besides describing a direct connection to Clinton, Akhmetshin also testified that he “knew some people who worked on” Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Akhmetshin further revealed that the same day as the Trump Tower meeting he met with a Clinton associate after the confab and possibly also just before.” (Read more: Breitbart News, 8/23/2018)
July – October, 2016: The Clinton machine floods the FBI with Trump-Russia dirt via State, Congress, Justice, and a top Democratic lawyer.
(…) “Between July and October 2016, Clinton-connected lawyers, emissaries and apologists made more than a half-dozen overtures to U.S. officials, each tapping a political connection to get suspect evidence into FBI counterintelligence agents’ hands, according to internal documents and testimonies I reviewed and interviews I conducted.
(…) Ex-FBI general counsel James Baker, one of the more senior bureau executives to be targeted, gave a memorable answer when congressional investigators asked how attorney Michael Sussmann from the Perkins Coie law firm, which represented the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party, came to personally deliver him dirt on Trump.
“You’d have to ask him why he decided to pick me,” Baker said last year in testimony that has not yet been released publicly. The FBI’s top lawyer turned over a calendar notation to Congress, indicating that he met Sussmann on Sept. 19, 2016, less than two months before Election Day.
(…) Baker’s detailed account illustrates how a political connection — Sussmann and Baker knew each other — was leveraged to get anti-Trump research to FBI leaders.
“[Sussmann] told me he had cyber experts that had obtained some information that they thought they should get into the hands of the FBI,” Baker testified.
“I referred this to investigators, and I believe they made a record of it,” he testified, adding that he believed he reached out to Peter Strzok, the agent in charge of the Russia case, or William Priestap, the head of FBI counterintelligence.
“Please come get this,” he recalled telling his colleagues. Baker acknowledged it was not the normal way for counterintelligence evidence to enter the FBI.
But when the bureau’s top lawyer makes a request, things happen in the rank-and-file.
The overture was neither the first nor the last instance of Clinton-connected Trump dirt reaching the FBI.
(…) During a trip to Washington later that month, Steele reached out to two political contacts with the credentials to influence the FBI.
Then-senior State Department official Jonathan Winer, who worked for then-Secretary John Kerry, wrote that Steele first approached him in the summer with his Trump research and then met again with him in September. Winer consulted his boss, Assistant Secretary for Eurasia Affairs Victoria Nuland, who said she first learned of Steele’s allegations in late July and urged Winer to send it to the FBI.
(If you need further intrigue, Winer worked from 2008 to 2013 for the lobbying and public relations firm APCO Worldwide, the same firm that was a contractor for both the Clinton Global Initiative and Russia’s main nuclear fuel company that won big decisions from the Obama administration.) (Read much more: The Hill, 1/22/2019)
October 21, 2016 – Carter Page’s flawed FISA makes its way through the system
“[James] Baker told investigators that he felt it would be very difficult for the FBI or the DOJ to intentionally try to trick the FISC into issuing a FISA without sufficient evidence.
“Such a thing wouldn’t make its way through the system because somebody would ferret that out it in the process. And I seriously doubt that it would make its way to the FISA court. Because the FBI doesn’t want to — would not want to do that with respect to the director who is going to sign these things, nor to the Attorney General. And the Department of Justice would be very protective of the Attorney General and try to ferret out anything like that. And I think it would be kept away from the FISA court in the first instance,” Baker said.
The Page application was largely reliant on the Steele dossier, a series of memos that was unverified at its time of submission to the FISC and remains unverified to this day. Circular reporting, provided by Steele himself, was used as corroboration of the dossier. Additionally, Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, whose conversation with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer was used to open the FBI’s July 31, 2016, counterintelligence investigation, is referenced in the FISA, yet there “is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos,” according to a House Intelligence Committee memo.
Baker himself was unaware of some material facts. When he was told that high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr—who had passed information from Steele and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to the FBI—had informed the FBI that there was the potential for bias, Baker seemed surprised, telling investigators, “I don’t recall ever hearing that before just right now.”
Notably, Baker testified that he was aware of Ohr’s interactions with Steele and the FBI, but told investigators “they weren’t something I focused on.” When pressed, he stated:
“I was aware that Bruce Ohr had some type of relationship with the source, and that somehow through that mechanism, the details of which I did not know, information was flowing to the FBI. From the source through Bruce to the FBI.”
Meanwhile, Moyer testified that without the Steele dossier, the Page FISA would have had a “50/50” chance of achieving the probable cause standard before the FISA court. Notably, to this day, the Steele dossier is considered to have been largely discredited.
Baker appeared to understand the sensitivity of the Page FISA, telling investigators at one point that he envisioned an interview like the one he was currently involved in:
“I anticipated being sitting here in rooms like this down the road, I seriously did, and I knew that it was — I knew that it was sensitive. I knew that it would be controversial … It was connected to a candidate — this person had connections to a candidate for the office of President of the United States. That alone was enough to make me worried about it and made me focus on it.”
Despite this admission, when asked if he had reviewed any of the three Page FISA renewals, Baker responded that he had not done so, telling investigators, “The machinery was moving and the renewals they had expiration dates and so on.” (Read more: Epoch Times, 2/11/2019)
- Alexander Downer
- Andrew McCabe
- Antony J. Blinken
- Ash Carter
- Bruce Ohr
- Christopher Steele
- Clinton/DNC/Steele Dossier
- Department of Justice
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant
- Fusion GPS
- George Papadopoulos
- Glenn Simpson
- James Baker
- James Clapper
- James Comey
- John Brennan
- John Kerry
- October 2016
- Stephanie O'Sullivan
- Susan Rice
- U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)
Ecuador cuts the Internet access for the leader of WikiLeaks due to its impact on the US presidential election.
On October 17, 2016, Julian Assange, the leader of WikiLeaks, announces that his Internet access has been cut off. Assange, an Australian citizen, was granted diplomatic asylum in 2012 by Ecuador. He has been living in the Ecuador embassy in London ever since, due to fears that he could be arrested by the US or Sweden.
In late July 2016, WikiLeaks published 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Since October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks has been publishing emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta on a daily basis, with the US presidential election due to take place on November 8, 2016.
One day later, the government of Ecuador says it had temporarily restricted Assange’s Internet access, due to WikiLeaks releasing documents “impacting on the US election campaign. … The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate.” However, Ecuador reaffirms its commitment to giving Assange asylum.
Despite the restriction, WikiLeaks continues to publish new Podesta emails every day, and continues posting Tweets on the official WikiLeaks Twitter feed. WikiLeaks accuses Secretary of State John Kerry of pressuring Ecuador into taking action. However, both the US and Ecuador governments deny that. (Politico, 10/18/2016) (Guardian, 10/18/2016)
The US government formally accuses the Russian government of hacking and publishing emails related to US political entities.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper releases a statement in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security claiming that leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites “are intended to interfere with the US election process. … We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
The New York Times comments that the statement does “not name President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but that appear[s] to be the intention.”
Many thousands of emails and other documents have been posted in recent months on the WikiLeaks website, but WikiLeaks won’t say where their leaks come from. Two newly created websites attributed to DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 have also posted leaks. Both groups claim to have no ties to the Russian government, but the US government claims otherwise.
The statement adds that US intelligence agencies are less certain who is responsible for “scanning and probing” online voter registration lists in various US states in recent months. Those “in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company,” but the statement doesn’t assert that the Russian government is responsible.
The Times notes that the “announcement [comes] only hours after Secretary of State John Kerry called for the Russian and Syrian governments to face a formal war-crimes investigation over attacks on civilians in Aleppo and other parts of Syria. Taken together, the developments mark a sharp escalation of Washington’s many confrontations with [Russia] this year.”
US officials had debated for months whether or not to formally accuse Russia, and if so, when. An unnamed “senior administration official” says that with only about a month to go before the November presidential election, President Obama was “under pressure to act now,” in part because the closer the declaration would be to election day, the more political it would seem.
It is unclear what action the US will take in an attempt to punish Russia, if any. A range of options are being considered, including economic sanctions and covert cyber attacks against Russian targets. (The New York Times, 10/7/2016)
September 19, 2016 – Fusion GPS founder has contact with State Department official during 2016 Campaign
“One of the co-founders of the opposition research firm that commissioned the Steele dossier was in contact with a State Department official in the days before a news article was published laying out allegations contained in the salacious anti-Trump report.
Emails obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show that Glenn Simpson, an executive at Fusion GPS, contacted Jonathan Winer, who then served as State’s special envoy for Libya, on Sept. 19 and Sept. 22, 2016. That was days ahead of the publication of a Yahoo! News article that was the first story to cite information gathered by Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the dossier.
Winer, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State John Kerry, was a source for that article, which laid out Steele’s allegations about Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser who would become the target of FBI surveillance.
The emails, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on TheDCNF’s behalf by Judicial Watch, show for the first time that Simpson had direct contact with a State Department official.
The emails do not mention the dossier or Steele, but they do show that Simpson was desperate to speak with Winer, a Democratic attorney who also served in the State Department during the Clinton administration.
Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, sent an email on Sept. 19, 2016 asking Winer if he was in town.
(…) Congressional investigators have looked into Winer and the State Department’s role in handling the Steele information and other intelligence used in the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign. Republicans have long been puzzled over information that flowed through Foggy Bottom prior to making its way to FBI investigators.
Victoria Nuland, who served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, approved a July 5, 2016, meeting between FBI Agent Michael Gaeta and Steele in Rome. Fusion GPS had hired Steele just weeks earlier to investigate President Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia. The ex-MI6 officer wrote his first of 17 dossier memos on June 20, 2016. That document alleged that the Kremlin had blackmail material on Trump. (Read more: The Daily Caller, 3/04/2019)
August 9, 2016 – In response to Brennan’s warnings, Rice, Haines and Monaco convene meetings in the Situation Room
“National security adviser Susan Rice, deputy national security adviser and former deputy director of the CIA under Brennan, Avril Haines, and White House homeland-security adviser Lisa Monaco convened meetings in the Situation Room to weigh the mounting evidence of Russian interference and generate options for how to respond. At first, only four senior security officials were allowed to attend: Brennan, Clapper, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and FBI Director James B. Comey. Aides ordinarily allowed entry as “plus-ones” were barred.
Gradually, the circle widened to include Vice President Biden and others. Agendas sent to Cabinet secretaries — including John F. Kerry at the State Department and Ashton B. Carter at the Pentagon — arrived in envelopes that subordinates were not supposed to open. Sometimes the agendas were withheld until participants had taken their seats in the Situation Room.”
(…) “They were concerned that any pre-election response could provoke an escalation from Putin. Moscow’s meddling to that point was seen as deeply concerning but unlikely to materially affect the outcome of the election. Far more worrisome to the Obama team was the prospect of a cyber-assault on voting systems before and on Election Day.
They also worried that any action they took would be perceived as political interference in an already volatile campaign. By August, Trump was predicting that the election would be rigged. Obama officials feared providing fuel to such claims, playing into Russia’s efforts to discredit the outcome and potentially contaminating the expected Clinton triumph.
Before departing for an August vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, Obama instructed aides to pursue ways to deter Moscow and proceed along three main paths: Get a high-confidence assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies on Russia’s role and intent; shore up any vulnerabilities in state-run election systems; and seek bipartisan support from congressional leaders for a statement condemning Moscow and urging states to accept federal help.” (Read more: Washington Post, 6/23/2017)
August 4, 2016 – A few operational details of the CIA/NSA/FBI/White House counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign
(…) “In the first week of August — directly after the creation of Crossfire Hurricane — Director Brennan contacted Avril Haines via telephone, as he had received intelligence in relation to President Vladimir Putin.
An envelope which contained “eyes only” instructions was sent by courier from the Central Intelligence Agency to the White House. The contents of the envelope were shown to four people: President Barack Obama, and three of his senior aides, most likely Denis McDonough, Susan Rice and Avril Haines.
Within the envelope was a valuable source that Director Brennan had used to ascertain certain information, a source which he intentionally kept away from the Presidential Daily Brief. This was because, by 2013, the Presidential Daily Brief was being received by over 30 recipients.
“Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.
But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objects — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.” — The Washington Post
As a result of this, Director Brennan created a secret task force at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Headquarters, which was composed of several dozen analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Working Group reported to two different groups.
- President Barack Obama and less than 14 senior United States Government officials.
- A team of operations specialists at the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Also in early August 2016 — presumably the same week — agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, where they questioned her about a letter they had received in early March 2016 from a foreign source, supposedly written by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Leonard Benardo of the Open Society Foundations regarding the Midyear Exam investigation.
During this meeting, the agents offered to give Attorney General Lynch a “defensive briefing”. Shortly after this, the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that the Benardo letter was an unreliable document.
President Obama ordered his aides to determine ways to retaliate or deter against the Russian Government through three steps:
- Gain a high-confidence assessment from the United States intelligence agencies on Russia’s role and intent.
- Check vulnerabilities in state-run election systems.
- Seek bipartisan support from Congressional leaders for a statement condemning Moscow and urging states to accept federal assistance.
The same week, Rice, Haines and Lisa Monaco convened meetings in the White House Situation Room, which would later be referred to as “Deputies Meetings”. These meetings were initially attended by:
- Director John Brennan, Central Intelligence Agency
- Director James Clapper, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
- Director James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Attorney General Loretta Lynch, United States Department of Justice
As time passed, another Cabinet member joined the Deputies Meetings: Vice President Joe Biden.
The Deputies Meetings needed to defend against any potential leaks, and therefore followed the same protocols taken during the planning stages of the raid of Osama bin Laden.
At a later time, agendas were directly sent to Cabinet secretaries, including Secretary John Kerry and Secretary Ashton Carter. When an agenda was received, their subordinates were ordered never to open the envelopes. Further to this, some agendas were withheld until the participants had arrived in the Situation Room and sat down.
Ordinarily, a video feed from the White House Situation Room is fed into various National Security Council offices to allow senior aides to view the events with zero sound. However, during the Deputies Meetings, the video feeds were switched off.
One of these Deputies Meetings was hosted by Haines, where the attendees of the meetings argued that any deliberative attempt to strike back against Russia would become a tool of propaganda for President Vladimir Putin, while another was concerned about the potential effect any action may have on Election Day 2016.
Haines would later note she was “very concerned” during this time about the potential of Russians gaining influence within the Trump campaign, although she apparently remained unaware of the existence of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 4/29/2019)
- Ashton B. Carter
- Avril Haines
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Crossfire Hurricane
- Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
- Denis McDonough
- Department of Justice
- Deputies Meetings
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- Joe Biden
- John Brennan
- John Kerry
- Leonard Benardo
- Lisa Monaco
- Loretta Lynch
- Mid Year Exam (MYE)
- National Security Agency (NSA)
- Open Society Foundations
- Russia election interference
- Susan Rice
- Vladimir Putin
- White House Situation Room
July 15, 2016 – From the Dossier to Papadopoulos, Obama’s State Department had early role in Trump-Russia probe
(…) “State Department officials obtained and reviewed parts of the infamous Steele dossier by mid-July 2016, well before FBI headquarters had access to the document. The U.S. embassy in London was also an early recipient of information about former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that the FBI would use to justify opening its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016. And in a little-noticed Senate hearing on Wednesday, it was revealed that dossier author Christopher Steele briefed State Department officials at Foggy Bottom in October 2016.”
(…)”Three diplomats — Victoria Nuland, Jonathan Winer and Elizabeth Dibble — appear to be key to the State Department’s role in handling Trump-related Russia information.
The State Department’s involvement in the Russia matter first came to light only in December 2017, nearly a year after the publication of the Steele dossier.
That’s because Winer, a former Senate aide to former Secretary of State John Kerry, disclosed in a little-noticed MSNBC documentary that he met with Steele during the summer of 2016.
Nuland came forward to acknowledge that she received and handled information from Steele in an interview on Feb. 4. Winer then wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post on Feb. 8 asserting that he was being unfairly targeted by Nunes.
Winer and Nuland suggested in their disclosures that they determined Steele’s reports were too hot for the State Department to handle. They have both claimed they referred the information to the FBI, which was better suited to verify Steele’s still-unverified allegations.
But there is plenty of evidence that the State Department did not merely refer Trump-Russia information to the FBI.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr revealed in a hearing on Wednesday that State Department visitor logs showed Steele visited Foggy Bottom just weeks before the 2016 election.” (Read more: Daily Caller, 6/22/2018)