June 2019

June 25, 2019 – Judicial Watch Sues CIA for Inspector General’s report on Mena, Arkansas, airport drug, arms smuggling allegations

Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport (Credit: Michael Cate/Catemedia)

Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA seeking the CIA Inspector General’s November 1996 report related to a drug-running, arms smuggling and intelligence operation involving Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport in Arkansas.

The airfield in Mena was alleged to have been used in the 1980s by the CIA during the Reagan administration to smuggle arms to rebels in Nicaragua. A central figure in the operation was Barry Seal, a pilot and drug smuggler for Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel who became an undercover agent and informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

In November 1996, then-CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz absolved the CIA of involvement in the operation.

Hitz at the time said that “no evidence has been found to indicate that the CIA or anyone acting on its behalf participated in, or otherwise had knowledge of, any illegal or improper activities in Mena, Arkansas or the area north of Mena known as Nella, Arkansas.”

Judicial Watch chief investigative reporter Micah Morrison has written extensively on the activities surrounding the Mena airport. In an October 18, 1994, editorial feature for The Wall Street Journal titled “The Mena Coverup” Morrison wrote: “What do Bill Clinton and Oliver North have in common, along with the Arkansas State Police and the Central Intelligence Agency? All probably wish they had never heard of Mena.”

Morrison noted that Seal, who by 1984 was a DEA informant, “flew at least one sting operation to Nicaragua for the CIA.” Seal was murdered in 1986 by Colombian hitmen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“The CIA has for over 20 years stonewalled the release of information now sought by Judicial Watch on the Mena Airport controversy,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 6/25/2019)

June 25, 2019 – Congress issues a subpoena to Robert Mueller and he agrees to testify

Robert Mueller (Credit:Kevin Dietsch/UPI)

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify before Congress on July 17 on his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee announced Tuesday night.

In a joint statement, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said that Mueller had agreed to testify in an open session.

“Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack,” they said.

The committees issued subpoenas Tuesday to compel Mueller’s testimony, according to the joint statement. The decision to compel Mueller to testify is a landmark move that will put an end to a months-long saga on Capitol Hill where lawmakers have for weeks fought to get access to information about whether President Trump obstructed justice. (Read more: The Daily Beast, 6/25/2019)

June 24, 2019 – DOJ confirms Flynn defense team never received a transcript of Flynn/Kislyak phone call

“When General Michael Flynn entered into the seemingly coerced plea agreement with the special counsel team and prosecutor Brandon Van Grack (November 30, 2017), he gave up the right to defense discovery in his case.  In hindsight this will likely be viewed a mistake.

Lt. General Michael Flynn and his new attorney, Sidney Powell. (Credit: Megan Meneiro/Courthouse News)

(h/t Techno Fog) During a court appearance today by new attorney Ms. Sidney Powell, the topic of needing a classified security clearance -to review documents- was raised.  The DOJ responded to the assertion by saying no classified information was provided to the prior Flynn defense team, therefore Ms. Powell doesn’t need not carry that concern.

However, by admitting the DOJ provided no classified information to the defense, the prosecution is simultaneously admitting they never provided Flynn with a copy of the phone call transcript (December 29, 2016) between President-elect Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.  The content of that phone call lies at the heart of the FBI interview that took place on January 24th, 2017.

Judge Emmet Sullivan originally asked for the Flynn/Kislyak transcript; however, the prosecution said it was irrelevant to their case.  The judge accepted the non-production.

It is suspected Flynn may have been under a FISA surveillance warrant which seems confirmed by the Weissmann/Mueller report. The FBI intercepted, recorded, and later transcribed the December 29, 2016, conversation.

This is why the issue of how the FBI agents write the 302 summary of the Flynn January 24, 2017, interview becomes such an important facet.

On June 6, 2019, the DOJ released the FBI agent report (FD-302) written after their interview of Michael Flynn on Jan 24th, 2017. (Full pdf below) From prior testimony we know that FBI Agent Peter Strzok did the questioning and FBI Agent Joe Pientka took notes.

Lt. General Michael Flynn (Credit: public domain)

For some reason, within the DOJ release of the report they are continuing to redact the name Joe Pientka. [Could be due to ongoing employment]

It’s worth noting according to Mark Meadows the Office of Inspector General Michael Horowitz has interviewed Joe Pientka extensively; prior attempts by congress to gain testimony from Pientka were blocked by the FBI and Rod Rosenstein.

FBI Agent Joseph Pientka was never interviewed by the joint House judiciary and oversight committees (Goodlatte and Gowdy). The reason, as explained by Meadows, was simple; Pientka was on Weissmann and Mueller’s special counsel team. Congress was not allowed to interfere in the Mueller probe. In hindsight this looks like Weissmann, Mueller & Rosenstein strategically using the investigation as a shield from sunlight.

The interview took place on January 24, 2017. The report was written Jan 24th, 2017. The wording was then deliberated by the small group, approved by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and entered into the record on February 15th, 2017. (Read much more: Conservative Treehouse, 6/24/2019)

June 23, 2019 – Nunes threatens ninth criminal referral, says Trump-Russia conspiracy peddlers are ‘possessed’

“Rep. Devin Nunes threatened to send a ninth criminal referral regarding the Trump-Russia investigation to the Justice Department if he does not receive information he requested about British ex-spy Christopher Steele, and accused those who still push the Russian collusion conspiracy of being “possessed.”

The California Republican sent letters Friday to FBI Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is conducting a review of the origins of the Russia inquiry. He asked about records the Bureau received in October 2016 that show a top official at the State Department undermining Steele’s credibility. Steele authored a dossier, filled with salacious and unverified claims about President Trump’s ties to Russia, that was used by the FBI to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA warrants to wiretap onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

In a Fox News interview on Sunday, Nunes said someone at the FBI appears to have been “determined to hide” then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec’s notes from both the FISA court and Congress. In the last session, when Nunes was chairman, the House Intelligence Committee conducted its own investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“So they have until Friday to get it to us, and if they don’t, we will make our ninth criminal referral,” Nunes told host Maria Bartiromo. “Basically, we won’t know exactly who at the FBI obstructed justice, but — Durham or the Department of Justice should be able to figure it out because there’s e-mails that went around, and somebody decided not to give it to the Congress.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 6/23/2019)

June 20, 2019 – The Justice Department allows Congress to view the Rosenstein Scope Memos

Byron York has put down the crustless triangle sandwich and white wine spritzer long enough to finally discover the October 20th, 2017, scope memo written by Rod Rosenstein that authorized Weissman and Mueller to target Michael Flynn Jr.

(…)  The Justice Department has recently allowed members of some congressional committees to view the scope memos, and out of that has come the news that there was a third scope memo to Mueller. Dated Oct. 20, 2017, its contents remain a secret. But its very existence suggests something was going on behind the scenes in the relationship of Mueller and his supervisors at the Justice Department. (read more)

York continues… “At the moment, the third scope memo, like most of the second scope memo, remains a secret.“…  Good grief, seriously?  Funny how AG Barr is now letting congress look at the scope memos, meanwhile -despite the authorization to release provided by President Trump- the public is blocked from them.  I digress.

The October 20th, 2017, Rosenstein scope memo was specifically so that Weissmann and Mueller could target specific people for maximum political damage; including the targeting of Michael Flynn Jr. to generate leverage so that Flynn Sr. would have to accept a plea or see his family crushed under the weight of the weaponized special counsel.

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

The original authorization for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller was May 17th, 2017. However, the released Weissmann/Mueller report shows there were two additional scope memos authorizing specific targeting of the Mueller probe. The second  scope memo was August 2nd, 2017, (outlined here), and is an important part of the puzzle that helps explain the corrupt original purpose of the special counsel.

The third scope memo was issued by Rod Rosenstein to Robert Mueller on October 20th, 2017. The transparent intent of the third scope memo was to provide Weissmann and Mueller with ammunition and authority to investigate specific targets, for specific purposes. One of those targets was General Michael Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr.

As you review the highlighted portion below, found on pages 12 and 13 of the Weissmann report, read slowly and fully absorb the intent; the corruption is blood-boiling:

This third scope memo allowed Weissmann and Mueller to target tangentially related persons and entities bringing in Michael Cohen, Richard Gates, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn Jr. Additionally and strategically (you’ll see why), this memo established the authority to pursue “jointly undertaken activity“.

With Paul Manafort outlined as an investigative target in the original authorization and the second scope memo, the third scope memo authorizes expansion to his business partner Richard Gates and their joint businesses. This memo also permits the investigation of Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and all of his interests; and in ultimate weasel sunlight, Rosenstein authorizes an investigation of his boss, AG Jeff Sessions.

Before getting to more targets, notice the underlined passage about starting with a lot of investigative material because the special counsel was picking up a Russian interference investigation that had been ongoing for “nearly 10 months.”

I would also note that our CTH research indicates all of the illegally extracted FISA-702(16)(17) database search results would be part of this pre-existing investigative file available immediately to Weissmann and Mueller. However, in order to use the search-query evidence, Weissmann and Mueller would need to backfill some alternate justification; or find another way to “rediscover” the preexisting results….. I digress

The four identified targets within the original July 2016 investigation, “Operation Crossfire Hurricane”, were George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page. (See HPSCI report):

General Flynn was under investigation from the outset in mid-2016. The fraudulent FBI counterintelligence operation, established by CIA Director John Brennan, had Flynn as one of the early targets when Brennan handed the originating electronic communication“EC” to FBI Director James Comey.” (Read more: The Conservative Treehouse, 6/20/2019)

June 18, 2019 – Judicial Watch releases transcript of Justin Cooper’s deposition – Cheryl Mills communicates with him a week prior to testimony

Justin Cooper (Credit: public domain)

“Judicial Watch today released the deposition transcript of Justin Cooper, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and Clinton Foundation employee who registered the domain name of the unsecure clintonemail.com server that Hillary Clinton used while serving as Secretary of State. Cooper admits that he spoke with Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, one week prior to his deposition and let her know that the deposition had been scheduled. Cooper also said that he worked with Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, to create the private email system, but can’t recall if Clinton had any input in its creation or if he wiped the original server. The entire transcript is available here.

(…) Cooper testified that he spoke with Mills the week before giving his deposition:

Q When did you last speak with Cheryl Mills?

A Last week.

Judge Lamberth late last year criticized the DOJ, saying he was “dumbfounded” by the Inspector General report revealing that Mills had been given immunity and was allowed to accompany former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to her FBI interview. The full transcript of that hearing is available here.

I did print out and read that 500-page report when I got it and I was actually dumbfounded when found out, in reading that report, that Cheryl Mills had been given immunity because … I had myself found that Cheryl Mills had committed perjury and lied under oath in a published opinion I had issued in a Judicial Watch case where I found her unworthy of belief, and I was quite shocked to find out she had been given immunity in — by the Justice Department in the Hillary Clinton email case. So I did not know that until I read the IG report and learned that and that she had accompanied the Secretary to her interview.

(In an April 28, 2008 ruling relating to Mills’ conduct as a White House official in responding to concerns about lost White House email records, Judge Lamberth called Mills’ participation in the matter “loathsome.” He further stated Mills was responsible for “the most critical error made in this entire fiasco … Mills’ actions were totally inadequate to address the problem.”)

When Cooper was asked who approached him about creating the clintonemail.com account, Cooper answered: “It would have been a discussion with Huma Abedin.” Cooper also testified that Abedin was his primary contact regarding the choice of the domain name that was registered “I believe” in “January ’09.”

Cooper’s testimony is at odds with a 2016 Judicial Watch deposition of Abedin in which she testified that she became aware of the server through “reading in some news articles about a year, a year-and-a-half ago, when it was – it was being publicly discussed.”

Cooper said “I don’t recall” when asked if Clinton herself had any input in the creation of the domain name.

Cooper also testified that there were two servers: an original “Apple server” and then a Windows server, which was “the Pagliano server,” named after Clinton’s top State Department IT specialist Bryan Pagliano. Cooper said he couldn’t recall whether the Apple server was wiped once her emails were transferred over to the Pagliano server in early 2009.

When Cooper was asked to testify how many e-mails accounts he created or setup for Clinton he answered, “To the best of my recollection two or three.” Cooper also said that he and Pagliano set up email accounts for Abedin and Chelsea Clinton.

Pagliano was a Clinton State Department IT official who repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions in a 2016 Judicial Watch deposition.

(…) He identified controversial Clinton Foundation official and advisor to President Clinton Doug Band as the individual in a redacted FBI 302 report who had conversations with Cooper and Abedin about the Apple server and who thought adding Hillary Clinton to the server was a “bad idea.”
Q Let me direct your attention to the fourth paragraph about four lines up. This is a redacted version, so we don’t know who the interviewee is or some of the names. But I want to direct your attention to the line that starts off with the redaction and says, blank recall the conversation with Huma Abedin and Cooper regarding the addition of Hillary Clinton to the Apple server; do you see that?

A I do.

Q Do you know who that individual would be …

A I suspect it’s Doug Band.

Q The next line says, blank thought it was a bad idea, but the issue had been decided by that point in time; do you see that?

A Yes.

(Read more: Judicial Watch, 6/18/2019)

June 17, 2019 – The State Department identifies 23 violations, ‘multiple security incidents’ concerning Clinton emails

(Credit: Fox News)

“The State Department revealed Monday that it has identified “multiple security incidents” involving current or former employees’ handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails, and that 23 “violations” and seven “infractions” have been issued as part of the department’s ongoing investigation.

The information came in a letter to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is responsible for overseeing the security review.

“To this point, the Department has assessed culpability to 15 individuals, some of whom were culpable in multiple security incidents,” Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, wrote to Grassley. “DS has issued 23 violations and 7 infractions incidents. … This number will likely change as the review progresses.”

The State Department, calling the matter “serious,” said it expected to conclude the investigation by Sept. 1. The department acknowledged that the probe was unusually time-consuming.

(…) “In every instance in which the Department found an individual to be culpable of a valid security violation or three or more infractions, the Department forwarded the outcome to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (DS/PSS), to be placed in the individuals’ official security file,” Taylor wrote. “All valid security incidents are reviewed by DS and taken into account every time an individual’s eligibility for access to classified information is considered.

“This referral occurred whether or not the individual was currently employed with the Department of State and such security files are kept indefinitely,” Taylor added. “Consistent with the referral policy, for individuals who were still employed with the Department at the time of adjudication, the Department referred all valid security violations or multiple infractions to the Bureau of Human Resources.”

The State Department declined to release the names of the employees, consistent with its procedures. The department promised another update once its review is completed.” (Read more: Fox News, 6/17/2019)

June 13, 2019 – Heather Samuelson’s Judicial Watch deposition discusses her immunity, when she became aware of the private server and deleting 33,000 emails

Clinton’s email deleting attorneys David Kendall, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson (r). (Credit: public domain)

“Judicial Watch announced today that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s White House Liaison at the State Department, and later Clinton’s personal lawyer, Heather Samuelson, admitted under oath that she was granted immunity by the U.S. Department of Justice in June 2016:

Samuelson: I was provided limited production immunity by the Department of Justice.

Judicial Watch: And when was that?

***

Samuelson: My recollection, it was June 2015 [later corrected to 2016].

A complete copy of her deposition transcript is available here. Samuelson also revealed that, contrary to what she told the FBI in 2016, she was, in fact, aware that Sec. Clinton used a private email account while secretary of state:

Judicial Watch: Ms. Samuelson, when did you first become aware that Secretary Clinton used the e-mail address hdr22@clintonemail.com while she was at the State Department?

Samuelson: I believe I first became aware when either she e-mailed me on personal matters, such as wishing me happy birthday, or when I infrequently would receive e-mails forwarded to me from others at the department that had that e-mail address listed elsewhere in the document.

***

Judicial Watch: Okay. And who were the State Department officials?

Samuelson: I recall Cheryl Mills, but it could have been others.

Samuel’s admission to Judicial Watch that she became aware of Clinton’s non-State.gov emails during her service in the Clinton State Department White House Liaison Office during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state (January 2009 – February 2013) contradicts the notation in the FBI’s May 24, 2016 302 report on Samuelson’s interview with FBI agents:

Samuelson did not become aware of Clinton’s use of a private email account and server until she was serving as Clinton’s personal attorney.

After Clinton left office, Samuelson worked for a year in the office of the White House Counsel before becoming Clinton’s personal attorney, where, in 2014, she was primarily responsible for conducting the review of Clinton emails and sorting out “personal” emails from government emails, which were returned to the State Department under the direction of Cheryl Mills and Clinton lawyer David Kendall.  After the emails were returned to State, Clinton deleted the rest of the “personal” emails from her server, wiping it clean. Samuelson conducted the review of emails on her laptop, using Clinton server files downloaded from Platte River Networks, which housed the Clinton email server. Judicial Watch questioned her about a “gap” in the emails she discovered:

Judicial Watch: I believe you, during your interview with the FBI, you were asked about a gap in e-mails that you noticed in Secretary Clinton’s e-mails from January 2009 to March of 2009. Do you recall that?

Samuelson: I do.

Judicial Watch: Okay. Can you explain to me what that gap was?

Samuelson: My understanding is — well, I’m sorry. I should say my recollection is when we received the documents — the file from Platte River Networks, there was a period of time that was missing in her e-mails. And that period of time was January 2009 to March 2009.

Judicial Watch: And what did you do as the result of discovering this gap in the e-mails from January 2009 to March 2009?

***

Samuelson: I asked Platte River why we did not have — why they did not provide those.

Judicial Watch: And what did they tell you?

Samuelson: They said they did not have that information.

Judicial Watch: Did Platte River have access during 2014 to the server that housed Secretary Clinton’s e-mails to her Clintonemail.com account –

***

– and was there any discussion as to whether they could obtain Secretary Clinton’s e-mails from that server from January 2009 to March 2009?

***

Samuelson: I did ask them, and they said they did not have any e-mails from that period.

Samuelson also testified in her deposition that she created an “after action memo” in or around December 2014 to memorialize the email search. Samuelson’s lawyer directed her not to answer questions about this memo.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 6/28/2019)

June 12, 2019 – Rep. Elise Stefanik fact checks Rep. Adam Schiff on Comey testimony

“Elise Stefanik (R., NY) clashed with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Ca.) Tuesday during a House Intelligence Committee hearing. Schiff claimed Stefanik was wrong about former FBI director James Comey’s testimony concerning when Congress was informed about the investigation into the Trump campaign.

The New York representative questioned Andrew McCarthy during a committee hearing yesterday about notifying congressional leadership when an investigation is opened into a political campaign. She specifically referred to the FBI opening its investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016, a counter-intelligence investigation codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane.”

Former FBI Director James Comey testified in March of 2017 that congressional leadership was not notified until that month about the investigation due to its sensitive nature.

“We know now that the FBI opened its counter-intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016, but they did not brief the Gang of Eight until March 2017 just days before former director Comey publicly announced the investigation during a March 20th, 2017 open hearing before this committee,” Stefanik said yesterday.

Schiff tried to correct Stefanik, telling her that her timeline was not correct, to which Stefanik doubled down.

“Regarding the timeline, it was clear in the open hearing in front of this committee that director Comey testified that he chose not to brief the Gang of Eight on the opening of the counter-intelligence investigations,” Stefanik said.

“I hope you would agree based upon the testimony of Director Comey that he circumvented the process,” she added later.

“I would only say that that was not his testimony,” Schiff responded. “The first time he was briefing the counter-intelligence investigation to us was contemporaneous with his disclosing it to the public.” Stefanik responded that Schiff was misrepresenting her statement.

A subsequent tweet from Stefanik confirmed her claims about Comey’s testimony. The video of Comey’s March 2017 testimony shows Comey admitting that the FBI delayed notifying congressional leadership about the investigation into the Trump campaign.

(Read more: Washington Free Beacon, 6/13/2019)

June 12, 2019 – Devin Nunes compares the Mueller report to the Clinton/DNC/Steele dossier

“Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, sharply criticized the Mueller report during a June 12 hearing, saying the report failed to address key players and irregularities in the FBI’s investigation and contained selectively edited information.

Nunes also called out his Democratic counterparts, saying that former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report did debunk many of the false claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia that had been perpetuated by Democrats, including members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Witnesses at the hearing—titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume 1″—included Robert Anderson and Stephanie Douglas, described by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as former executives from the FBI’s counterintelligence division. Left out of Schiff’s description was the fact that both witnesses had worked under former FBI Director Mueller prior to his role as special counsel.

Prompted:

(…) Nunes, who referred to the Mueller report as “the Mueller dossier,” noted that it “either debunked many of their favorite conspiracy theories or did not even find them worth discussing.” Nunes then provided a specific list:

  • “Mueller’s finding that Michael Cohen did not travel to Prague to conspire with Russians.
  • No evidence that Carter Page conspired with Russians.
  • No mention of Paul Manafort visiting Julian Assange in London.
  • No mention of secret communications between a Trump Tower computer server and Russia’s Alfa Bank.
  • And no mention of former NRA lawyer Cleta Mitchell or her supposed knowledge of a scheme to launder Russian money through the NRA for the Trump campaign. Insinuations against Mitchell originated with Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson and were first made public in a document published by Democrats on this committee.”

(Read more: The Epoch Times, 6/12/2019)