July 30, 2019 – The DNC loses their racketeering suit against the Trump campaign, Russian Federation and Wikileaks and others
“Hours before the Democratic presidential debates, a federal judge dismissed the Democratic National Committee’s lawsuit that accused the Trump campaign, the Russian Federation, WikiLeaks and others of interfering in the 2016 elections.
“The primary wrongdoer in this alleged criminal enterprise is undoubtedly [sic] the Russian Federation, the first named defendant in the case and the entity that surreptitiously and illegally hacked into the DNC’s computers and thereafter disseminated the results of its theft,” wrote U.S. District Judge John Koeltl, a Clinton appointee.
Before weighing the evidence against Russia, however, Koeltl found that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act foreclosed him from holding it liable for the DNC server hack.
The DNC blamed a host of secondary actors in a conspiracy, including Russian-linked Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud; oligarchs Emin and Aras Agalarov; and Trump family members and campaign figures like Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and Roger Stone.
Finding these claims likewise unconvincing, Koeltl ruled that the U.S. Constitution protected them from liability related to disseminating stolen emails.
“The First Amendment prevents such liability in the same way it would preclude liability for press outlets that publish materials of public interest despite defects in the way the materials were obtained so long as the disseminator did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place,” the 81-page opinion states.
Citing precedent from the the Pentagon Papers case, Koeltl held that treating WikiLeaks as an accomplice “would render any journalist who publishes an article based on stolen information a co-conspirator in the theft.”
“If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet,” the opinion states. “But that would impermissibly elevate a purely private privacy interest to override the First Amendment interest in the publication of matters of the highest public concern. The DNC’s published internal communications allowed the American electorate to look behind the curtain of one of the two major political parties in the United States during a presidential election. This type of information is plainly of the type entitled to the strongest protection that the First Amendment offers.”
WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange argued last year that the DNC’s lawsuit threatened freedom of the press. Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the American Civil Liberties Union echoed those concerns in a friend-of-the-court brief.” (Read more: Courthouse News, 7/30/2019)
July 15, 2019 – A lawsuit claims Julian Assange told Ellen Ratner the DNC emails came from Seth Rich – A video confirms her meeting with Assange and that emails came from an “internal source”
“A rather stunning report from Gateway Pundit outlines information contained within a lawsuit filing. The lawsuit, filed by Businessman Ed Butowsky, alleges Wikileaks founder Julian Assange confirmed to Fox News analyst Ellen Ratner that the DNC leaked emails were received from Seth Rich and his brother Aaron.
The details contained within the lawsuit filing (full pdf below) are stunning.
If this information is true and accurate, the DOJ claim of a Russian hack – based on assertions by DNC contractor, Crowdstrike– would be entirely false. Additionally the DC murder of Seth Rich would hold a far more alarming motive.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 7/15/2019)
***UPDATE: “Due to the scale of ramification, there was some valid skepticism about the Butowsky assertion. However, recently unearthed footage from Ellen Ratner talking about her visit with Assange in November of 2016 seems to validate what the Butowsky’s lawsuit alleges.
In the video taken during a November 9th, 2016, Embry Riddle University symposium, Fox News analyst Ellen Ratner, representing the left, and former Congressman now Fox political analyst John Leboutillier, from the right, discussed the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. EXCERPT:
(h/t Michael Sheridan for the excerpt) The date of the Ratner symposium November 9, 2016, aligns with the time-frame of Ratner’s travel and meeting with Assange as outlined by Butowsky in his lawsuit. As noted Mrs. Ratner confirms that she did meet with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and that he did in fact tell her the leaked DNC emails came from inside the DNC. It was not a Russian hack.
Hopefully this will spur the DOJ under Attorney General Bill Barr to launch an inquiry which must obviously start with the questioning of Ratner.
(…) If this information turns out to be true and accurate, the entire narrative around the DNC “hack” will have been proven to be intentionally manufactured.” (Read more: The Conservative Treehouse, 7/21/2019)
April 18, 2019 – Mueller’s own report undercuts its core Russia-meddling claims
“While the 448-page Mueller report found no conspiracy between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, it offered voluminous details to support the sweeping conclusion that the Kremlin worked to secure Trump’s victory. The report claims that the interference operation occurred “principally” on two fronts: Russian military intelligence officers hacked and leaked embarrassing Democratic Party documents, and a government-linked troll farm orchestrated a sophisticated and far-reaching social media campaign that denigrated Hillary Clinton and promoted Trump.
But a close examination of the report shows that none of those headline assertions are supported by the report’s evidence or other publicly available sources. They are further undercut by investigative shortcomings and the conflicts of interest of key players involved:
- The report uses qualified and vague language to describe key events, indicating that Mueller and his investigators do not actually know for certain whether Russian intelligence officers stole Democratic Party emails, or how those emails were transferred to WikiLeaks.
- The report’s timeline of events appears to defy logic. According to its narrative, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced the publication of Democratic Party emails not only before he received the documents but before he even communicated with the source that provided them.
- There is strong reason to doubt Mueller’s suggestion that an alleged Russian cutout called Guccifer 2.0 supplied the stolen emails to Assange.
- Mueller’s decision not to interview Assange – a central figure who claims Russia was not behind the hack – suggests an unwillingness to explore avenues of evidence on fundamental questions.
- U.S. intelligence officials cannot make definitive conclusions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer servers because they did not analyze those servers themselves. Instead, they relied on the forensics of CrowdStrike, a private contractor for the DNC that was not a neutral party, much as “Russian dossier” compiler Christopher Steele, also a DNC contractor, was not a neutral party. This puts two Democrat-hired contractors squarely behind underlying allegations in the affair – a key circumstance that Mueller ignores.
- Further, the government allowed CrowdStrike and the Democratic Party’s legal counsel to submit redacted records, meaning CrowdStrike and not the government decided what could be revealed or not regarding evidence of hacking.
- Mueller’s report conspicuously does not allege that the Russian government carried out the social media campaign. Instead it blames, as Mueller said in his closing remarks, “a private Russian entity” known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).
- Mueller also falls far short of proving that the Russian social campaign was sophisticated, or even more than minimally related to the 2016 election. As with the collusion and Russian hacking allegations, Democratic officials had a central and overlooked hand in generating the alarm about Russian social media activity.
- John Brennan, then director of the CIA, played a seminal and overlooked role in all facets of what became Mueller’s investigation: the suspicions that triggered the initial collusion probe; the allegations of Russian interference; and the intelligence assessment that purported to validate the interference allegations that Brennan himself helped generate. Yet Brennan has since revealed himself to be, like CrowdStrike and Steele, hardly a neutral party — in fact a partisan with a deep animus toward Trump.
Uncertainty Over Who Stole the Emails
The Mueller report’s narrative of Russian hacking and leaking was initially laid out in a July 2018 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers and is detailed further in the report. According to Mueller, operatives at Russia’s main intelligence agency, the GRU, broke into Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails in March 2016. The hackers infiltrated Podesta’s account with a common tactic called spear-phishing, duping him with a phony security alert that led him to enter his password. The GRU then used stolen Democratic Party credentials to hack into the DNC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) servers beginning in April 2016. Beginning in June 2016, the report claims, the GRU created two online personas, “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0,” to begin releasing the stolen material. After making contact later that month, Guccifer 2.0 apparently transferred the DNC emails to the whistleblowing, anti-secrecy publisher WikiLeaks, which released the first batch on July 22 ahead of the Democratic National Convention.
The report presents this narrative with remarkable specificity: It describes in detail how GRU officers installed malware, leased U.S.-based computers, and used cryptocurrencies to carry out their hacking operation. The intelligence that caught the GRU hackers is portrayed as so invasive and precise that it even captured the keystrokes of individual Russian officers, including their use of search engines.
In fact, the report contains crucial gaps in the evidence that might support that authoritative account. Here is how it describes the core crime under investigation, the alleged GRU theft of DNC emails:
Between approximately May 25, 2016 and June 1, 2016, GRU officers accessed the DNC’s mail server from a GRU-controlled computer leased inside the United States. During these connections, Unit 26165 officers appear to have stolen thousands of emails and attachments, which were later released by WikiLeaks in July 2016. [Italics added for emphasis.]
The report’s use of that one word, “appear,” undercuts its suggestions that Mueller possesses convincing evidence that GRU officers stole “thousands of emails and attachments” from DNC servers. It is a departure from the language used in his July 2018 indictment, which contained no such qualifier:
“It’s certainly curious as to why this discrepancy exists between the language of Mueller’s indictment and the extra wiggle room inserted into his report a year later,” says former FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley. “It may be an example of this and other existing gaps that are inherent with the use of circumstantial information. With Mueller’s exercise of quite unprecedented (but politically expedient) extraterritorial jurisdiction to indict foreign intelligence operatives who were never expected to contest his conclusory assertions in court, he didn’t have to worry about precision. I would guess, however, that even though NSA may be able to track some hacking operations, it would be inherently difficult, if not impossible, to connect specific individuals to the computer transfer operations in question.”
The report also concedes that Mueller’s team did not determine another critical component of the crime it alleges: how the stolen Democratic material was transferred to WikiLeaks. The July 2018 indictment of GRU officers suggested – without stating outright – that WikiLeaks published the Democratic Party emails after receiving them from Guccifer 2.0 in a file named “wk dnc linkI .txt.gpg” on or around July 14, 2016. But now the report acknowledges that Mueller has not actually established how WikiLeaks acquired the stolen information: “The Office cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”
Another partially redacted passage also suggests that Mueller cannot trace exactly how WikiLeaks received the stolen emails. Given how the sentence is formulated, the redacted portion could reflect Mueller’s uncertainty:
Contrary to Mueller’s sweeping conclusions, the report itself is, at best, suggesting that the GRU, via its purported cutout Guccifer 2.0, may have transferred the stolen emails to WikiLeaks. ”
Aaron Mate’ addresses each of the bullet points above in much greater detail at: (RealClearInvestigations, 7/05/2019)
April 11, 2019 – Hillary Clinton says newly arrested Julian Assange needs to “answer for what he has done”
“Hillary Clinton said on Thursday newly arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange needs to “answer for what he has done.” The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and former US secretary of state weighed in on Assange at an event in New York for her and husband Bill Clinton’s speaking tour. Clinton also joked that Assange was the only foreigner who US President Donald Trump’s administration would “welcome” into the country. WikiLeaks‘ publication of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers during the 2016 election season hurt Clinton’s presidential campaign. Assange was arrested by British police on Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been holed up for nearly seven years under political asylum. The US has charged him with conspiring with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon.”
February 27, 2019 – Cohen testifies Trump had prior knowledge of Wikileaks release of the DNC emails…and so did the rest of the world
(…) “Cohen came to the hearing loaded for bear, alleging in the opening minutes that Trump knew in advance that WikiLeaks planned in July 2016 to release a batch of emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Cohen testified that he overheard a phone call from Trump’s longtime friend and confidante Roger Stone in which Stone, in July 2016, allegedly informed Trump he had spoken by telephone with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and learned that the anti-secrecy group would be publishing a “massive dump” of Clinton emails within days.
Cohen said he could hear the call because Trump had put Stone on speaker phone — a common practice of Trump’s, he said — and estimated that the call took place on July 18 or 19. Prosecutors have said that WikiLeaks confirmed to an online persona operated by Russian military intelligence officers on July 18 that it had received “the 1GB or so archive” of stolen material and would make the documents public that week.” (Washington Post, 2/28/2019)
While Cohen is still testifying, Wikileaks tweets about Julian Assange discussing their plan to republish Clinton’s emails in March, 2016. The State Department originally published Clinton’s emails in an unsearchable format. Wikileaks was kind enough to reformat the emails to make them searchable.
Julian Assange was also interviewed on June 12, 2016, stating he would soon be releasing emails related to Hillary Clinton, long before the presumable phone call Michael Cohen overheard between President Trump and Roger Stone.
Matt Taibbi understands the entire world knew about the upcoming Wikileaks release, long before the phone call Michael Cohen claims he overheard in July, 2016.
Jimmy Dore breaks it down:
December 11, 2018 – DNC threatens press freedom and Wikileaks pushes back hard
Jimmy Dore explains how the Democratic National Committee’s lawsuit against Wikileaks, is a threat against freedom of the press and our First Amendment rights.
November 28, 2018 – Opinion: The Guardian’s Manafort story looks like an effort to create Trump Collusion Narrative Three
By: Margot Cleveland
“On Tuesday The Guardian ran an exclusive claiming that “Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign.” According to The Guardian, Manafort met with the WikiLeaks’ founder at the embassy three times—in 2013, 2015, and in spring 2016.
While acknowledging that the purpose of the claimed meeting is unknown, The Guardian implies Manafort’s supposed March 2016 secret rendezvous concerned WikiLeaks’ role in releasing the hacked Democratic National Committee emails. “The revelation could shed new light on the sequence of events in the run-up to summer 2016, when WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails hacked by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency,” The Guardian wrote.”
(…) “what is clear is that The Guardian’s story was read round the world. Major media outlets quickly regurgitated the tale that “Manafort held secret talks with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange around the time he joined Trump’s campaign.”
The timing of Tuesday’s story suggests a concerted effort to craft a new Trump collusion narrative. Just the day before, in a court filing, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team claimed Manafort violated his plea agreement by lying to federal agents “on a variety of subject matters” that would be detailed later in a sentencing submission.
Manafort, who pleaded guilty earlier this year in a Washington D.C. federal court to two criminal counts related to foreign lobbying, denies lying to the FBI or the special counsel’s office, but The Guardian’s story now gives the public cause to imagine that Manafort’s purported prevarication concerned his supposed meeting with Assange in March 2016.
Tuesday also saw CNN contributor Carl Bernstein furthering the narrative that Manafort served as the Russia connection. According to the former Watergate reporter, Mueller’s team is investigating a 2017 meeting between Manafort and the Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno. Bernstein reported that “according to a source with personal knowledge of the matter,” the special counsel is inquiring whether Manafort discussed WikiLeaks or Assange when he met with Moreno.
While CNN acknowledged that Moreno had previously stated that his 2017 meeting with Manafort involved a group of Chinese investors hoping to privatize the country’s electrical services, the goal of Bernstein’s source seems clear: to connect Manafort to Assange. That goal coincides with the story pushed by The Guardian’s two unnamed sources.
Here, the public would be wise to remember that The Guardian’s story represents the third attempt to connect the Trump campaign to the Russian hacking of the DNC emails in an effort to convince the American public that the Republican presidential candidate colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.” (Read more: The Federalist, 11/28/2018)
October 4, 2018 – The NSA has 32 pages of communications connected to Seth Rich and all are classified as Top Secret or Secret
Attorney Ty Clevenger files a FOIA request with the NSA in November, 2017 for the communication records of Seth Rich. Here are the specific documents Clevenger requests:
The NSA responded to Ty Clevenger in a letter dated October 4, 2018 stating:
Executive Order 13526, Section 1.4, Subparagraph (c) reads as follows:
It is not clear if the Seth Rich documents found by the NSA are connected to Julian Assange because there are many other names listed in the FOIA request that could be connected to the documents.
May 30, 2018 – Is Joseph Mifsud a Russian spy? A deeper look…
(…) “If Joseph Mifsud truly is a Russian agent, it is odd that neither the Western intelligence agencies he snookered nor the U.S. government is acting as if he is.
For instance, the FBI interviewed Mifsud in Washington, D.C., between Feb. 8-12, 2017, less than two weeks after its first interview with Papadopoulos, on Jan. 27, when he admitted to meeting Mifsud and talking about Hilary Clinton emails.
Mifsud was in Washington to speak at the large annual conference for Global Ties U.S., an organization that has been a partner of the U.S. State Department for over 50 years. Several State Department officials also spoke at the conference. France’s ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud, was one of several foreign envoys to the United States who lectured at the 2017 event.
So why did the FBI not arrest Mifsud? The State Department declined to comment when RCI emailed to ask why it did not prevent its officials from appearing at an event with a “Kremlin-linked” figure who was key to Russia’s effort to interfere in the 2016 election.
If Mifsud was a Russian spy, it’s unclear why after Papadopoulos’ July 27, 2017 arrest that no U.S. intelligence officials warned their European partners that they were hosting a foreign agent on their territory.
Mifsud met with many senior British politicians, even after the FBI knew of the Downer conversations, and had interviewed Papadopoulos under oath. Mifsud met Alok Sharma, then a Foreign Office minister for Asia/Pacific, and now minister of state for employment, “a couple of times” at least, including at a fundraiser Oct. 19, two weeks after Papadopoulos’ Oct. 5 guilty plea.
At that same fundraiser, Mifsud was photographed next to Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, the most senior intelligence official responsible for running MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence service, and Government Communications Headquarters, the UK equivalent of America’s National Security Agency.
The office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, declined to comment when RCI emailed to ask if it alerted the UK government about Mifsud after Papadopoulos’s arrest. British government agencies did not respond by press time to requests for comment about whether the UK had been warned by its U.S. partners about Mifsud before the foreign secretary and other senior politicians mingled with an alleged Russian agent.” (Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 5/30/2018)
Disobedient Media’s Elizabeth Vos dives even deeper:
“Over the last few months, Professor Joseph Mifsud has become a feather in the cap for those pushing the Trump-Russia narrative. He is characterized as a “Russian” intelligence asset in the mainstream press, despite his declarations to the contrary. However, evidence has surfaced that suggests Mifsud was anything but a Russian spy and may have actually worked for British intelligence. This new evidence culminates in the ground-breaking conclusion that the UK and its intelligence apparatus may be responsible for the invention of key pillars of the Trump-Russia scandal. If true, this would essentially turn the entire RussiaGate debacle on its head.
To give an idea of the scope of this report, a few central points showing the UK connections with the central pillars of the Trump-Russia claims are included here, in the order of discussion in this article:
- Mifsud allegedly discussed that Russia has ‘dirt’ on Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails’ with George Papadopoulos in London in April 2016.
- The following month, Papadopoulos spoke with Alexander Downer, Australia’s ambassador to the UK, about the alleged Russian dirt on Clinton while they were drinking at a swanky Kensington bar, according to The Times. In late July 2016, Downer shared his tip with Australian intelligence officials who forwarded it to the FBI.
- Robert Goldstone, a key figure in the ‘Trump Tower’ part of the RussiaGate narrative, sent Donald Trump Jr. an email claiming Russia wanted to help the Trump campaign. He is a British music promoter.
- Christopher Steele, ex-MI6, who worked as an MI6 agent in Moscow until 1993 and ran the Russia desk at MI6 HQ in London between 2006 and 2009. He produced the totally unsubstantiated ‘Steele Dossier’ of Trump-Russia allegations, with funding from the Clinton campaign and the DNC.
- Robert Hannigan, the head of British spy agency GCHQ, flew to Washington DC to share ‘director-to-director’ level intelligence with then-CIA Chief John Brennan.
Each of these strands of UK-tied elements of the Russiagate narrative can be substantially dismantled on close inspection. This untangling process leads to the surprising conclusion that UK intelligence services fabricated evidence of collusion in order to create the appearance of a Trump-Russia connection.
This trend begins with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese scholar with an eclectic academic history who Quartz described as an “enigma,” while legacy press has enthusiastically characterized him as a central personality in the Trump-Russia scandal. The New York Times described Mifsud as an “enthusiastic promoter of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia”, citing his regular involvement in the annual meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club, a Russian-based think-tank, as well as three short articles he wrote in support of Russian policies.
Mifsud strongly denied claims that he was associated with Russian intelligence, telling Italian newspaper Repubblica that he was a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Clinton Foundation, adding that his political outlook was “left-leaning.” Last month, Slate reported Mifsud had ‘disappeared’, as did some of the other figures linking the UK to the Trump-Russia scandal. This aspect will be discussed in more detail below.
To contextualize Mifsud’s eclectic academic career in terms of intelligence service, it is helpful to note that research undertaken by this author and Suzie Dawson as part of the Decipher You project has repeatedly shown the close ties – an outright merger in many cases – between the intelligence community and academia. This enmeshment also takes place with think-tanks, NGOs, and in the corporate sphere. In this light, Mifsud’s brand of ‘scholarship’ becomes far less mysterious.
Mifsud’s alleged links to Russian intelligence are summarily debunked by his close working relationship with Claire Smith, a major figure in the upper echelons of British intelligence. A number of Twitter users recently observed that Joseph Mifsud had been photographed standing next to Claire Smith of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee at Mifsud’s LINK campus in Rome. Newsmax and Buzzfeed later reported that the professor’s name and biography had been removed from the campus’ website, writing that the mysterious removal took place after Mifsud had served the institution for “years.”
WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange likewise noted the connection between Mifsud and Smith in a Twitter thread, additionally pointing out his connections with Saudi intelligence: “[Mifsud] and Claire Smith of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee and eight-year member of the UK Security Vetting panel both trained Italian security services at the Link University in Rome and appear to both be present in this photo.”
The photograph in question originated on Geodiplomatics.com, where it specified that Joseph Mifsud is indeed standing next to Claire Smith, who was attending a: “…Training program on International Security which was organised by Link Campus University and London Academy of Diplomacy.” The event is listed as taking place in October 2012. This is highly significant for a number of reasons.” (Read more: Disobedient Media, April 4, 2018)
May 2018 – WikiLeaks veteran flips on Assange for immunity
“A WikiLeaks volunteer and friend of Chelsea Manning agreed to cooperate with the US Justice Department and appear in front of an Alexandria, VA grand jury in exchange for immunity [in May 2018], reports the Daily Beast.
“I decided to cooperate in exchange for immunity,” said David House – a computer science graduate and political activist who previously refused to testify against Julian Assange in 2011, only to be subpoenaed last May for an encore appearance in front of a grand jury that’s been investigating the WikiLeaks founder for almost nine years.
“You know, I’m walking around on the street out here. I’m not in an embassy,” he added.
House spoke briefly with prosecutors and then testified for about 90 minutes in front of the grand jury, he said. “They wanted to know about my meetings with Assange, they wanted to know broadly about what we talked about,” he recalled. Prosecutors seemed particularly interested in the potential for collateral damage in some of Assange’s leaks. The identities of some American collaborators were exposed in Assange’s release of State Department cables and Army field reports from Afghanistan, which triggered internal debate and led to the departure of some of WikiLeaks’ key staffers early on. –Daily Beast
“They showed me chat logs in which I was arguing vehemently with him about releasing documents that would leave people vulnerable and put people’s lives at risk,” said House. “That was the only thing they put in front of my face that made me think, ‘This may be what they’re going after him for.’”
Chelsea Manning, meanwhile has refused to comply with a March 5 subpoena in the same case – making good on a vow to fight the subpoena in court.
“I am not going to contribute to a process that I feel is dangerous and could potentially place me in a position where I am forced to backtrack on the truth,” Manning told the New York Times.” (Read more: Zero Hedge, 3/02/2019)