July 2018

July 27, 2018 – Lanny Davis, a Lie and the Mainstream Media – A mini-timeline on a busted fake news story

Michael Cohen leaves Federal court, Aug. 21, 2018, in New York. (Credit: ABC News)

The Fact

September 19, 2017 and October 25, 2017: In closed-door meetings with the House and Senate intelligence committees, Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, testifies that he had no foreknowledge of the Trump Tower meeting and didn’t know if Trump did either. (Axios, 8/23/2018) (Michael Cohen opening statement)

The Plot Begins

July 5, 2018: Maggie Haberman reports Michael Cohen hires ex-Clinton lawyer, Lanny Davis – Mr. Cohen has made moves to separate himself from Mr. Trump  (The New York Times, 7/05/2018)

The Media – hot off the press!

  • July 6, 2018: Another warning shot? Trump’s ex-lawyer hires Clinton ally (Chicago Sun Times, 7/6/2018)
  • July 6, 2018: “Tell Early, Tell It All, Tell It Yourself”: Can the Clinton Defense Save Michael Cohen? Cohen’s new attorney, Lanny Davis, thinks the truth will set his clients free—which could be bad news for Donald Trump. (Vanity Fair, 7/06/2018)
  • July 17, 2018: All eyes on Lanny Davis as Trump’s performance smells of treason (Baltimore Post Examiner, 7/17/2018)
  • July 25, 2018 – Michael Cohen is no longer a ‘punching bag’ for Donald Trump’s defense strategy, Lanny Davis says – He also said Cohen “has more truth to tell.(CNBC, July 25, 2018)

Two days later, more of Cohen’s “truths” are told to CNN and the Washington Post, anonymously, of course. Gee, who could this source be?

It was the natural progression of the plan for this fake news story in order to continue the Russiagate narrative and their efforts to impeach Trump.

The Lie

July 27, 2018: CNN and the Washington Post report that Cohen was willing to testify to special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump knew of the Trump Tower meeting in advance. (CNN, 7/27/2018) When The New York Post called Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, at the time to confirm the report, Davis spoke as an anonymous source and said it was accurate. (The New York Post, 8/23/2018)

July 27, 2018: The Washington Post – using an “anonymous source” they now admit was Davis, peddled the same story that “Cohen had told associates that he witnessed an exchange in which Trump Jr. told his father about an upcoming gathering in which he expected to get information about Clinton,” however the Post didn’t say Trump Jr. told Sr. it was the Russians.

WaPo has since updated the original article. (Washington Post, 7/27/2018)

The Bust

August 21, 2018 –  The Senate Intelligence committee finally responds to the CNN report because it conflicts with Cohen’s previous testimony. We’re curious as to why it took them nearly a month to respond.

“…What we can say is that we recently re-engaged with Mr. Cohen and his team following press reports that suggested he had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting between campaign officials and Russian lawyers at Trump Tower. Mr. Cohen had testified before the Committee that he was not aware of the meeting prior to its disclosure in the press last summer. As such, the Committee inquired of Mr. Cohen’s legal team as to whether Mr. Cohen stood by his testimony. They responded that he did stand by his testimony. 

We hope that today’s developments and Mr. Cohen’s plea agreement will not preclude his appearance before our Committee as needed for our ongoing investigation.” (Senate Intelligence Committee, 8/21/2018)

The next day, Davis taunts Trump, obviously unaware of the Intel committee’s press release.

  • August 22, 2018: Cohen’s lawyer claims the flip happened because of the Trump-Putin meeting (Vox, 8/22/2018)
  • August 22, 2018: Lanny Davis: Michael Cohen Has Information About Trump That Would Be “Of Interest” To Special Counsel Mueller (Real Clear Politics, 8/22/2018)
  • August 22, 2018: Michael Cohen Lawyer Lanny Davis Begs for GoFundMe Donations to ‘Truth Fund’ (Newsweek, 8/22/2018)
  • August 22, 2018: “I believe that Mr. Cohen has direct knowledge that would be of interest to Mr. Mueller that suggests — I’m not sure it proves — that Mr. Trump was aware of Russian government agents hacking illegally, committing computer crimes, to the detriment of the candidate who he was running against, Hillary Clinton,” Davis said in a Wednesday interview with PBS NewsHour.

Davis finally catches up and realizes the lie has placed his client in the precarious position of having to reappear before the Senate Intelligence committee and explain his now questionable testimony. Only then does Davis backpedal from his “confident assertions” that Cohen would share information with Mueller’s investigators.

(Credit: CNN)

August 23, 2018:  Davis, speaking on the record, apologized for confirming something he did not know to be true. “I regret that I wasn’t clear enough to The Post. I should have been more clear. I could not independently confirm the information in the CNN story,” he said. “I’m sorry that I left that impression. I wasn’t at the meeting. The only person who could confirm that information is my client.” (The New York Post, 8/23/2018)

August 25, 2018: President Trump tweeted about Davis’s stunning 180 on the Cohen claims, writing: “Michaels Cohen’s attorney clarified the record, saying his client does not know if President Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting (out of which came nothing!). The answer is that I did NOT know about the meeting. Just another phony story by the Fake News Media!” — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2018

August 26, 2018, The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Davis said in an interview that he is “no longer certain about claims he made to reporters on background and on the record in recent weeks about what Cohen knows about Trump’s awareness of the Russian efforts.

Davis told the Washington Post that he cannot confirm media reports that Cohen is prepared to tell special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that Trump had advance knowledge of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting –(Washington Post, 8/26/18)

August 27, 2018:- Lanny Davis Says He Was A Source For CNN’s Trump Tower Story  (Buzzfeed, 8/27/2018)

August 27, 2018CNN Is Standing By Its Trump Tower Story Despite Contradictions (The Daily Caller, 8/27/2018)

Lanny Davis talks to members of the media during a news conference on Jan. 10, 2015, in Philadelphia. (Credit: Joseph Kaczmarek/The Associated Press)

“Davis also walked back an idea he widely circulated after Cohen’s guilty plea that Trump knew about Russian hacking of Democratic emails in advance – which he has mentioned numerous times in recent interviews, “repeatedly touting his client’s potential value to Mueller.”

Four days later and Davis takes it all back.

Asked Saturday how confident he was that Trump knew about the hacking before it became public, Davis said: “I am not sure. There’s a possibility that is the case. But I am not sure.”

Davis said that in discussing the hacking allegations last week, he should have emphasized his lack of certainty. He said he raised the idea that Cohen might have information about Trump’s knowledge because he had a strong feeling that might be the case. –WaPo

“I was giving an instinct that he might have something to say of interest to the special counsel” about hacking, Davis said. In retrospect, he said, “I am just not sure.”

In response to the Washington Post’s original July 27th article:

“I should have been more clear — including with you — that I could not independently confirm what happened,” Davis said, adding perhaps the most difficult four words for an attorney to utter: “I regret my error.”

In the past week, when asked directly by CNN’s Anderson Cooper whether there was information that Trump knew about his son’s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya beforehand, Davis said, “No, there’s not.”

In a statement Saturday, a CNN spokeswoman said, “We stand by our story, and are confident in our reporting of it.” –WaPo

We wonder how many people donated to Cohen’s “GoFundMe” campaign assuming he had the goods?

We wonder if Podesta ever let Davis crisis manage Hillary Clinton’s email scandal?” (Zero Hedge, 8/28/2018)

“On my honor I give you my word I will not mention to anyone my involvement. ” — Michael Cohen lawyer Lanny J Davis to Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta https://t.co/8pydGMaYer pic.twitter.com/i7pfYdJbxL

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 24, 2018

A Good Explanation

(Timeline editor’s note: I decided to create a mini-timeline for this story because it is the most egregious example to date of how a fake story is born. I was reminded of the dozens of so-called journalists listed in the original email timeline, who were so ready and willing to tee-up stories in Clinton’s favor. Also, who can forget the MSM’s willingness to tout Donald Trump during the primary, at the Clinton campaign’s request?)

July 22, 2018 – Clapper admits on CNN that Obama ordered spying on the Trump team

Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper admitted in a CNN interview Saturday that former President Obama instigated the ongoing investigations into Donald Trump and those in his orbit.

Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Clapper let slip:

“If it weren’t for President Obama we might not have done the intelligence community assessment that we did that set up a whole sequence of events which are still unfolding today including Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. President Obama is responsible for that. It was he who tasked us to do that intelligence community assessment in the first place.”

July 21, 2018 – The FISA applications reveal the DOJ used news outlets to establish probable cause

“The FISA applications further exposed the extent to which the DOJ relied on unverified media reports to support their request for court-ordered electronic surveillance of Page. Contrary to Democrat claims that the applications’ reliance on a Yahoo News article was passing, the FISA documents detailed the Yahoo News article’s assertion that a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” told the news organization that Page met with the Russian agents in July.

Just as statements from unverified “sub-sources” could not establish probable cause, unverified newspaper articles could not either. The DOJ, however, did not limit itself to repeating the Yahoo News article’s claims, which the public later learned had also originated from Steele. The FISA application also cited two other media reports.

One was apparently Josh Rogin’s Washington Post opinion article, which reported claims that Trump campaign members “worked behind the scenes to make sure [the GOP]’s platform would not call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces.” The DOJ also relied on an article from August 2016—likely the Michael Crowley Politico piece—that “opined that while the reason for [Trump’s] shift [in Russian policy] was not clear, [Trump]’s more conciliatory words, which contradict [the GOP]’s official platform, follow [Trump]’s recent association with several people sympathetic to Russian influence in Ukraine, including foreign policy advisor Carter Page.”

There are two fundamental problems with this portion of the FISA application. First, as the Washington Examiner’s Byron York explained, the GOP platform narrative the Washington Post and Politico pushed was extremely misleading. Second, when I asked Page whether he participated in the GOP Russia platform debate, the former Trump advisor responded with an emphatic “NEVER,” and shared this excerpt from his defamation lawsuit against a media conglomerate:

Plaintiff, Dr. Page arrived on Delta flight 5353 at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport at 1:36 p.m. on July 18, 2016, the same day that the Washington Post published the following report: ‘Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine’. (Delta Air Lines flight confirmation attached as Exhibit 19(a)) Dr. Page played no role whatsoever in the drafting of the 2016 Republican party platform.

The FISA applications create the false impression that Page was involved with the GOP platform debate. The DOJ then used that misleading inference to support its claim that Page was a foreign agent.” (Read more: The Federalist, 7/23/2019)  (Archive)

July 21, 2018 – The FISA applications relied on hearsay from tertiary sources

“The newly released FISA applications also confirm a fourth significant fact: To obtain the surveillance warrant, the DOJ and FBI relied on unverified hearsay from sub-sources (i.e., Steele’s sources) of unknown reliability.

While the government may rely on unverified information provided by an informant who has a history of providing reliable information, to establish probable cause with evidence coming from a source of unknown reliability, the government must corroborate that information. The FISA applications make no mention of corroboration of the sub-sources’ claims concerning Page’s purported conversations with two Russian agents.

Further, the FISA applications reveal that the DOJ only established Steele’s reliability, not that of “sub-sources.” But as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy first highlighted in February 2018:

The only reliability that counts is the reliability of the factual informants, not of the investigator who purports to channel the informants. The judge wants to know why the court should believe the specific factual claims: Was the informant truly in a position to witness what is alleged, and if so, does the informant have a track record of providing verified information? The track record of the investigator who locates the sources is beside the point. A judge would need to know whether Steele’s sources were reliable, not whether Steele himself was reliable.

While we do not know what lay behind the redacted portions of the applications, it seems clear from the placement, context, size of the blackouts that the FBI did not include information in the application either establishing the sub-sources’ reliability or detailing any efforts to corroborate Page’s claimed collusion with the Russian agents.” (Read more: The Federalist, 7/23/2018)  (Archive)

July 21, 2018 – The redacted FISA applications reveal the FBI paid Christopher Steele

“It has long been known that the Clinton campaign and DNC paid Steele to compile the dossier. Media outlets have also reported, though, that the FBI did not compensate Steele. For instance, the Washington Post ran a story asserting, based on “several people familiar with the arrangement,” that Steele “had reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him,” but “[u]ltimately, the FBI did not pay Steele.” In another article, the Washington Post again claimed Steele was “not being paid as an informant,” but added that he may have been reimbursed for some travel expenses.

Those reports now appear questionable: The FISA applications state that Steele (identified as Source #1), “has been compensated” “by the FBI.” The redactions, though, leave open the question of how much and whether any of the payments compensated Steele for investigating the Trump campaign.” (Read more: The Federalist, 7/23/2018)  (Archive)

July 21, 2018 – Some various observations of the newly released redacted Carter Page FISA applications

The Carter Page FISA Applications are out.

Importantly, The released version appears to be from the FISA Court. Note the stamp of the Court Clerk on the first page.

Although heavily redacted, much information appears to be contained within.

You should consider the redactions acts of self-preservation by the DOJ rather than reflections of National Security concerns.

You can find the Page FISA Applications herehere and here. Embedded version below.

The first link is to the FBI Vault (you can download). The second link is to the New York Times pdf version. The third is a Scrib’d upload courtesy of the Conservative Treehouse.

For any who doubted assertions the Steele Dossier was the primary means to obtain the Page FISA Warrant doubt no longer.

As we’ve long-said, the Steele Dossier was a primary component of evidence the FBI presented to the FISA Court.

The four FISA Judges are now known with certainty. We’d previously narrowed down the list:

This next bit will ultimately prove important:

Other recognizable names were involved:

A suspicion – which I share:

Before you proceed, a reminder:

This is an excellent observation:

Source # 1 is Christopher Steele. Steele was paid by the FBI:

From the second page of the FISA Application:

There are indeed contradictions:

And some circular evidence-gathering:

Wait, what:

The subject of the FISA Application, Carter Page, had a reaction:

I’ll close it out with this:

The Carter Page FISA Documents:

2016 FISA Application on Carter Page by The Conservative Treehouse on Scribd

(Jeff Carlson, themarketswork.com, 7/21/2018)

July 21, 2018 – The redacted FISA applications reveal The DOJ sought the FISA surveillance order based on information provided “by the U.S. Department of State”

Victoria Nuland (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Last month, during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, it was revealed for the first time that “[f]ormer British spy Christopher Steele visited the State Department in October 2016 and briefed officials there about his work on the infamous anti-Trump dossier.” During questioning of President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland, committee Chairman Richard Burr disclosed that “[b]ased upon our review of the visitor logs at the State Department, Mr. Steele visited the State Department, briefing officials on the dossier in October 2016.”

Nuland, who in June 2016 had authorized the FBI to meet with Steele in London, denied attending the October 2016 meeting with Steele. She also “said in previous interviews that she and other State Department officials referred the dossier to the FBI,” but as The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross noted, “Burr’s revelations suggest the agency maintained interest in Steele and his report much longer than previously known.”

Saturday’s release of the FISA applications now exposes a new troubling detail: The DOJ sought the FISA surveillance order based on the information provided “by the U.S. Department of State” “in or about October 2016.” When considered in light of last month’s revelation that Steele had met with State Department officials in October, it now appears that the Obama administration’s State Department bore equal responsibility for presenting the FISA court unverified hearsay to justify spying on the Trump campaign. (Read more: The Federalist, 07/23/2018)  (Archive)

July 21, 2018 – The DOJ releases [redacted] Carter Page FISA applications

“In an unprecedented move, the Department of Justice has released 412 pages of top-secret documents related to surveillance conducted against former Trump campaign chairman Carter Page.

The documents include an October 2016 application and three renewal applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants taken out against Page.

The New York Times and other news outlets obtained the applications through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

“The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” reads the FISA application.

“As discussed above, the FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government,” reads the initial FISA application, dated Oct. 21, 2016. The Justice Department and FBI obtained three additional FISAs in January, April and June 2017.

The application also says that the FBI had probable cause to believe that Page engaged in “clandestine intelligence activities” and is an agent of a foreign power.

Republican and Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence previously released highlights from the documents. A memo released by Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has revealed that the Justice Department and FBI relied heavily on the Democratic-funded Steele dossier in the FISA applications.

The dossier is the first piece of evidence cited in the FISA application section laying out the allegations that Page coordinated with Russian government officials on election-related “influence activities.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 7/21/2019) ( Carter Page FISA Docs)

July 21, 2018 – Katica finds in FBI report, reference to a thumb drive the FBI received from Clinton’s lawyer, and it reveals her emails were being auto-forwarded to a “foreign entity”

Katica @GOPPollAnalyst (Credit: Twitter)

Researcher and Paul Combetta aka Stonetear whistleblower, Katica@GOPPollAnalyst, tweets to Rep. Louie Gohmert after a combined House Judiciary and Oversight Committee hearing. Katica’s tweet was in response to a question Gohmert posed to Peter Strzok regarding a “foreign entity” found on Clinton’s private server, when a forensic analysis was done by the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General’s office.

The forensic analysis revealed nearly all of Clinton’s emails were automatically forwarded to an unknown email address (not Russia). Gohmert said the ICIG investigator, Frank Rucker, presented the findings to Strzok, but that the FBI official did not do anything with the information.

Here is a clip of Louie Gohmert’s exchange with Peter Strzok regarding Clinton’s emails sent to an unauthorized source:

Katica discovered in Part 3 of the FBI Vault report, mention of an unknown email address on Clinton’s server and tweets her findings to Representative Louie Gohmert:

Katica’s tweet to Representative Louie Gohmert (Credit: Twitter)

Katica then tweets: “FBI Vault part 3, page 61: The hackers then used the password to modify the users gmail/yahoo account to auto-forward to [redacted]. “

FBI Vault Part 3, page 61

Katica continues, “One common theme with hackers is they create an email account relatively close to the ID of the person they hacked. Huma: My email address is misspelled…and clintonmail has never been hacked. Part 3, page 89.”

FBI Vault Part 3, page 89

 

The FBI report also states, in February 2011, several State employees were victims of Yahoo and Gmail phishing attacks and Clinton’s private server was affected.(Read more: Katica@GOPPollAnalyst/Twitter, 7/22/2018)

(Timeline editor’s note: Katica constantly amazes us with her discoveries and is one of the few researchers willing to do the painstaking work of reading the Clinton FBI reports, making sense of them and then posting her findings to the public. Her work is invaluable for those seeking documented details.)

July 20, 2018 – Peter Strzok statements about the Weiner laptop conflict with DOJ Inspector General claims about Weiner laptop

“With the exceptional help of John Spiropoulos we investigate a conflict completely ignored by media and congress. Peter Strzok, the FBI’s lead Investigator in the Clinton email investigation, never intended to investigate the laptop before the election. The evidence, in his own words, is in the report by the Inspector General. In addition, the IG report includes a jaw dropping contradiction regarding the investigation of the laptop. Strzok says one thing; the FBI’s computer experts say another. It calls into question the entirety of the laptop investigation.

There is a great deal of inconsistent application of law surrounding the DOJ/FBI investigative authority during 2015 and 2016. There is also a great deal of fatigue surrounding discussion of those inconsistent applications. Contradictions, inconsistency and obtuse justifications are as rampant in our midst as the political narratives shaping them. Perhaps that’s by design.

Reading Chapter 11 of the IG Report reinforces an acceptance that not only is there a need for a special counsel, but there is a brutally obvious need for multiple special counsels; each given a specific carve-out investigation that comes directly from the content of the Inspector General report. This issue of the handling of the Weiner/Abedin laptop screams for a special counsel investigation on that facet alone. Why?

Well, consider this from page #388 (emphasis mine):

Midyear agents obtained a copy of the Weiner laptop from NYO immediately after the search warrant was signed on October 30.

The laptop was taken directly to Quantico where the FBI’s Operational Technology Division (OTD) began processing the laptop. The Lead Analyst told us that given the volume of emails on the laptop and the difficulty with de-duplicating the emails that “at least for the first few days, the scale of what we’re doing seem[ed] really, really big.”

Strzok told us that OTD was able “to do some amazing things” to “rapidly de-duplicate” the emails on the laptop, which significantly lowered the number of emails that the Midyear team would have to individually review. Strzok stated that only after that technological breakthrough did he begin to think it was “possible we might wrap up before the election.” (pg 388)

The key takeaway here is two-fold. First, the laptop is in the custody of the FBI; that’s important moving forward (I’ll explain later). Also, specifically important, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, the lead investigative authority in the Hillary Clinton MYE (Mid-Year-Exam), is explaining to the IG how they were able to process an exhaustive volume of emails (350,000) and Blackberry communications (344,000) in a few days; [Oct 30 to Nov 5]

Note: “OTD was able “to do some amazing things to rapidly de-duplicate” the emails on the laptop.

OK, you got that?

Now lets look at the very next page, #389 (again, emphasis mine):

(…) The FBI determined that Abedin forwarded two of the confirmed classified emails to Weiner. The FBI reviewed 6,827 emails that were either to or from Clinton and assessed 3,077 of those emails to be “potentially work-related.”The FBI analysis of the review noted that [b]ecause metadata was largely absent, the emails could not be completely, automatically de-duplicated or evaluated against prior emails recovered during the investigation and therefore the FBI could not determine how many of the potentially work-related emails were duplicative of emails previously obtained in the Midyear investigation. (pg 389)

See the problem? See the contradiction?

Strzok is saying due to some amazing wizardry the FBI forensics team was able to de-duplicate the emails. However, FBI forensics is saying they were NOT able to de-duplicate the emails.

Both of these statements cannot be true. And therein lies the underlying evidence to support a belief the laptop content was never actually reviewed. But it gets worse, much worse… (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 7/20/2018)

(Note From the Editor: Conservative Treehouse has granted us permission to share more of their work than what Fair Use would normally allow. We thank them for their generosity and excellent, investigative work. Please don’t stop reading here, there is a lot more to their story.)