May 2016

May 30, 2016 – Nellie Ohr sends an email titled “Reported Trove of Documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions’ ‘Black Cashbox’

Nikolai Holmov (Credit: Twitter)

“On May 30, 2016, Nellie Ohr sent an email to Bruce Ohr, Holtyn, Ivana Nizich, and Joe Wheatley—then both trial attorneys in the DOJ’s Organized Crime and Gang Section. Nizich had previously worked for Bruce Ohr. The email held a subject line that read “Reported Trove of Documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions’ ‘Black Cashbox.’” Within the email was the text from an article penned the day before by Nikolai Holmov, a blogger at Odessatalk, with the title bolded and enlarged. It also contained a link to the underlying article.

“Documentation regarding that Party of Regions’ ‘chyornaya kasse’ has now seemingly found its way to NABU, the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau,” the article stated.

The article contained a tweet that led to another article, in Russian, from May 28, 2016, providing further details on the “chyornaya kasse” or black box ledger:

“On Saturday, published in the Weekly Mirror, Ukraine, an interview was made public with the former First Deputy Head of the Security Service of Ukraine Viktor Trepak, who claims that he handed over documents confirming illegal payments of cash by the Party of Regions to a number of former and current senior officials. According to him, we are talking about the so-called “black bookkeeping” of the Party of Regions with total payments of about $2 billion.”

Trepak reportedly claimed his information regarding the more than $2 billion fund implicated “officials of the highest level, ministers and heads of departments, people’s deputies, famous politicians, public figures, representatives of international organizations, judges, including the highest judicial instances.”

(UPDATE) Interestingly, when one goes to Holmov’s Twitter feed, the last retweet sent (as of publication of this article) was on Jan. 11, 2019. It is a retweet of an announcement from Mark Galeotti that he was “joining the pre-eminent security think tank @RUSI_org as a Senior Associate Fellow.” Galeotti, as previously mentioned, had been referenced with some frequency in Ohr’s emails. In addition to being the author of numerous articles, Galeotti penned an article for Tablet Magazine, titled, “The ‘Trump Dossier,’ or How Russia Helped America Break Itself.”

Some questions raised in Holmov’s article would later prove prescient. “Have copies of these documents made their way to other, perhaps foreign security services? To what end?” he asked. “If there are foreign personalities involved, are those relevant documents to be shared with those nations—and when?”

Holmov addressed the motivations of the person responsible for disclosing the ledger, noting, “Not all informants are informants for cash reward—there are other (and perhaps more dangerous) motivators.”

He also wondered about the timing, observing that the documents had “not just appeared from nowhere. Somebody has kept it, knowing it to be what it is, for quite some time. Thus why now has it come to light and been given to the authorities?”

Interestingly, Holmov noted that no names or specifics have been made public “for now” as any such disclosure “could very well impede subsequent investigations by NABU.”  A Ukrainian court later determined that a NABU official played a role in the leaking of documents to The New York Times.

Nellie’s May 30, 2016, email would prove prophetic. It alerted officials within the Justice Department of a discovery that would have far-reaching implications for Manafort—and the Trump campaign—months before the news reached a national level. (Read more: themarketswork, 4/11/2019)  (Archive)

May 29, 2016 – NABU leaks the existence of the “black ledger”

“Manafort joined Trump’s campaign on March 29, 2016, and then was promoted to campaign chairman on May 19, 2016.  

NABU leaked the existence of the ledgers on May 29, 2016. Later that summer, it told U.S. media the ledgers showed payments to Manafort, a revelation that forced him to resign from the campaign in August 2016.” (Read more: The Hill, 4/25/2019)  (Archive)

May 23, 2016 – Luis Miranda’s emails are a part of the first to be exported from the DNC and are not addressed in the Mueller report

The Special Counsel that was formed to investigate “RussiaGate” appears to have been oblivious to the fact that emails were exported from Luis Miranda’s mailbox on May 23, 2016. Did the Special Counsel choose to omit information or did the evidence from Crowdstrike not inform them of all activity that occurred at the DNC?

For those who don’t already know, analysis of the leaked DNC emails that were published by WikiLeaks was carried out earlier this year and it revealed that the emails were acquired in multiple batches on different days. (This is something that can easily be verified independently by simply looking at the last modified dates in the metadata of WikiLeaks’ collection of DNC emails.)

The first batch of emails acquired in May were mostly from Luis Miranda’s mailbox (which was also the source of most of the emails dubbed as “damaging” by the media), however, emails from Jeremy Brinster, Ryan Banfill and Andy Crystal also appear to have been acquired on this date.

These emails were exported to EML files on May 23, 2016.

Strangely, though, there is no mention of this date in the Netyksho indictment or the Mueller report.

The Mueller report states:

And the Netyksho indictment states:

The phrase “during that time” implies that research attributed to Yermakov occurred between the dates cited.

However, we already know that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks started to be acquired before that time.

To clarify, this means emails (from mailboxes of Miranda, Brinster, Banfill and Crystal) were exported on May 23, 2016 and then, approximately 2 days later, Yermakov allegedly researched PowerShell commands to export emails and the DNC’s mail server was allegedly accessed by GRU officers who then took a batch of emails spanning multiple mailboxes.

(I say “allegedly accessed” because both the Netyksho indictment and the Mueller report lack sufficient evidence to demonstrate that infrastructure attributed to the GRU was genuinely controlled by the GRU.)

And it seems the activity relating to May 23, 2016 may be unknown to the Special Counsel for some reason.

CrowdStrike had started monitoring the network two weeks prior to the email acquisition on May 23, 2016. So, they should have captured and recorded evidence of this activity but, oddly, it seems the Special Counsel was unaware of it.” (Read more: Adam Carter, 10/20/2019)  (Archive)

May 17, 2016 – A Strzok email says “we know foreign actors obtained access” to some Clinton emails, including at least one “secret” message

Hillary Clinton and Peter Strzok (Credit: Getty Images)

“Foreign actors” obtained access to some of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails — including at least one email classified as “secret” — according to a new memo from two GOP-led House committees and an internal FBI email.”

(…) “The House committees, which conducted a joint probe into decisions made by the DOJ in 2016 and 2017, addressed a range of issues in their memo including Clinton’s email security.

“Documents provided to the Committees show foreign actors obtained access to some of Mrs. Clinton’s emails — including at least one email classified ‘Secret,'” the memo says, adding that foreign actors also accessed the private accounts of some Clinton staffers.

The memo does not say who the foreign actors are, or what material was obtained, but it notes that secret information is defined as information that, if disclosed, could “reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.”

The committees say that no one appears to have been held accountable either criminally or administratively.

Relatedly, Fox News has obtained a May 2016 email from FBI investigator Peter Strzok — who also is criticized in the House memo for his anti-Trump texts with colleague Lisa Page. The email says that “we know foreign actors obtained access” to some Clinton emails, including at least one “secret” message “via compromises of the private email accounts” of Clinton staffers.” (Strzok Email, 5/17/2016)  (Read more: Fox News, 6/14/2018)

May 15, 2016 – Comey asks Rybicki to create a list of all cases charged in the last 20 years for mishandling classified information

“On May 15, 2016, James Rybicki, former chief of staff to Comey, sends FBI General Counsel James Baker; Bill Priestap, former assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division; McCabe; Page; and others an email with the subject line “Request from the Director.”

James Rybicki (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

Rybicki writes: By NLT [no later than] next Monday, the Director would like to see a list of all cases charged in the last 20 years where the gravamen of the charge was mishandling classified information.

It should be in chart form with: (1) case name, (2) a short summary for content (3) charges brought, and (4) charge of conviction.

If need be, we can get it from NSD [National Security Division] and let them know that the Director asked for this personally.

Please let me know who can take the lead on this.

Thanks!

Jim

Page forwards to Strzok: FYSA [For your situational awareness]

Strzok replies to Page: I’ll take the lead, of course – sounds like an espionage section question… Or do you think OGC [Office of the General Counsel] should?

And the more reason for us to get feedback to Rybicki, as we all identified this as an issue/question over a week ago.

Page replies: I was going to reply to Jim [Rybicki] and tell him I can talked [sic] to you about this already. Do you want me to? (Read more: Judicial Watch, 2/15/2019)

May 15, 2016 – Financial analyst alleges major holes in Clinton Foundation records

(…) “The Clinton Foundation network is actually comprised of several different charities that all perform seemingly similar functions. Those include the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Clinton Climate Initiative and several more, all with varying degrees of overlapping finances.

Ortel said the foundations’ complex paper trails are littered with mistakes and repeat filings.

In November, the Clinton Health Access Initiative was forced to refile its tax returns after a review revealed big-ticket foreign donations that had been left off its Form 990 filing.

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has been removed from the website of a prominent nonprofit watchdog, Charity Navigator, because its “atypical business model can not be accurately captured” by methods used to size up traditional charities.

The pattern extends to smaller charities linked to the Clintons, Ortel noted. One organization founded by former President Bill Clinton, the American India Foundation, has problems that stretch around the country.

For example, the American India Foundation’s nonprofit status was revoked in Illinois in 2002, according to state records. This year, the charity was listed as “not in good standing.”

In Massachusetts, the foundation had its nonprofit status revoked in June 2014 and was not reinstated until March 22 of this year.

In March 2015, the charity held a gala in an Atlanta hotel, according to an event promotion.

But the American India Foundation was not then registered to solicit funds in the state of Georgia, correspondences shared with the Washington Examiner suggest. In fact, the only charity in the Clinton orbit that was registered in the Peach State as of October was the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation — even though the Clinton Global Initiative plans to hold its glitzy annual conference in Atlanta next month.

An official with the Georgia secretary of state’s office said the state government did not have an open investigation into potentially unregistered arms of the Clinton Foundation, although emails shared with the Examiner indicate inquiries about the charities were routed to a securities enforcement attorney in November of last year.

Sandra Miniutti (Credit: public domain)

Sandra Miniutti of Charity Navigator said the patchwork of nonprofit regulations across different states can sometimes trip up well-meaning charities.

“The current state registration system is complex, bureaucratic and out-of-date with the modern times,” Miniutti said. “It was conceived before the internet and technology made it easily for charities to solicit across state lines.”

Miniutti said nonprofits often tap outside firms to keep up with compliance issues.

“While we don’t condone non-compliance, it is not particularly surprising to hear of an organization accidentally being out of compliance,” she said.

Hal Moroz, a private attorney and former Georgia judge, said he referred some of Ortel’s findings on the violations of the foundation to the state attorney general’s office.

“This is a matter of great public interest because we have a major party presidential candidate who has been greatly enriched by the questionable activities of a foundation that was meant to serve charitable public interests,” Moroz said.

“The records of charities are open to public review and scrutiny, and this is so because there are certain tax advantages to registering under state and federal law as a charity and the citizens of the United States foot the bill for these tax advantages,” he added.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 5/16/2016)

May 10, 2016 – George Papadopoulos, Alexander Downer & the Opening of the FBI Investigation

By: Jeff Carlson (themarketswork.com)

“The New York Times provided us an introduction to FBI reasoning in launching the Trump-Russia Inquiry – drunken comments from George Papadopoulos:

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Alexander Downer (Credit: The Australian)

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?

The Papadopoulos/Downer meeting has been portrayed as a chance encounter in a bar. That does not appear to be the case. Papadopoulos was introduced to Downer through a chain of two intermediaries. Papadopoulos knew an Israeli embassy official in London named Christian Cantor who introduced Papadopoulos to Erika Thompson. Thompson was a counselor to Downer and served in Australia’s London embassy.

On May 4, 2016, Papadopoulos gave an interview to the London Times in which he stated then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron should apologize to Trump for negative comments. The interview was not well-received. According to the Daily Caller, Thompson reached out to Papadopoulos two days after the story appeared and said Downer wanted to meet with Papadopoulos. The meeting between Papadopoulos and Downer took place on May 10, 2016. Downer reportedly told Papadopoulos to “leave David Cameron alone.”

We know Papadopoulos mentioned “thousands of emails” in his FBI Interview regarding his April 26, 2016 meeting with Mifsud. That comment is noted in the July 28, 2017 Affidavit and the October 5, 2017 Statement of the Offense. However, there is nothing regarding comments made to Alexander Downer in either document.

What does Alexander Downer have to say about the May 10, 2016 meeting. From a news.com.au article:

“We had a drink and he (Papadopoulos) talked about what Trump’s foreign policy would be like if Trump won the election.”

He (Trump) hadn’t got the nomination at that stage. During that conversation he (Papadopoulos) mentioned the Russians might use material that they have on Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the election, which may be damaging.

On April 28, 2018, Downer gave an interview to The Australian. The story, which I’ve read, is behind a paywall – but the Daily Caller provides some details:

“We didn’t know anything about Trump and Russia and we had no particular focus on that,’’ Downer says of the Papadopoulos meeting. “For us we were more interested in what Trump would do in Asia” Downer told The Australian. “He [Papadopoulos] didn’t say dirt; he said material that could be damaging to her. No, he said it would be damaging. He didn’t say what it was.”

“By the way, nothing [Papadopoulos] said in that conversation indicated Trump himself had been conspiring with the Russians to collect information on Hillary Clinton. It was just that this guy, [Papadopoulos], clearly knew that the Russians did have material on Hillary Clinton — but whether Trump knew or not? He didn’t say Trump knew or that Trump was in any way involved in this. He said it was about Russians and Hillary Clinton; it wasn’t about Trump.”

Interestingly, the Schiff Memo appears to back this account up. From page two:

“Papadopoulos’ disclosure occurred against the backdrop of Russia’s aggressive covert campaign to influence our elections, which the FBI was already monitoring. We would later learn in Papadopoulos’ plea that the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton emails.”

Despite initial reporting to the contrary, it appears neither “political dirt” nor Clinton emails were ever mentioned at the Papadopoulos/Downer meeting. Notably, Papadopoulos didn’t mention anything to indicate Trump knew of the Clinton information, or had any role in its collection or potential distribution.

There’s been some confusion over how Papadopoulos’ comments made their way to the FBI. Downer stated in his interview that he reported the conversation back to Australia almost immediately…” (Read much more: themarketswork.com, 8/15/2018)

May 4, 2016 – Strzok and Page text “Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE (Mid Year Exam)…”

At the same time Donald Trump becomes the presumed Republican presidential nominee, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page feel an added pressure to end the Clinton email investigation.

May 3, 2016 – Justice Dept. takes steps to restore IG watchdogs’ access to records

Michael Horowitz & Sally Yates (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP, Pete Marovich/Getty)

“The Justice Department took steps Tuesday to restore the access of some government watchdogs to sensitive internal records, but officials called on Congress to enact a permanent, wider fix.

The inspector general offices for 72 agencies across the federal government charged that legal policy changes made by the Obama administration over the last several years had curtailed their access to records, harmed a wide range of investigations and compromised their independence.

At least 20 investigations into topics such as sexual abuse at the Peace Corps and fatal shootings by the Drug Enforcement Administration were slowed, hindered, or sometimes closed as a result of the changes, the inspectors general said.

Justice Department officials said Tuesday that a new directive and an accompanying legal opinion would address some of those concerns.

In a memo dated Monday, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said that responding to investigations by the Justice Department’s inspector general “is of the highest priority” for the department, and she directed officials to provide timely access to all the material requested.

That includes grand jury documents, wiretapping records and other confidential materials that a controversial Justice Department legal opinion last year concluded could be withheld in some circumstances. Ms. Yates’s memo was first reported by The Associated Press.

In December, a congressional spending bill signed by President Obama threatened to cut off funding if records were improperly withheld from the inspectors general for the Justice Department and five others covered by the bill: the Commerce Department, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Legal Service Corporation.

A legal opinion last week by the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel — replacing the one that came out last year — said that because of that funding measure, all material must now be turned over to those watchdogs through the end of the fiscal year in September.

In a telephone interview, Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general and leader of the governmentwide association of inspectors general, said it was unfortunate that it had taken the threat of a cutoff in funding by Congress for his office to see its full access to investigative records restored for now.

“The I.G.s have a right to access these documents — period,” he said.” (Read more: New York Times, 5/03/2016)

May 3, 2016 – Donald Trump becomes the presumptive Republican presidential nominee

Donald Trump (Credit: Win McNamee/Reuters)

“Donald J. Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday with a landslide win in Indiana that drove his principal opponent, Senator Ted Cruz, from the race and cleared the way for the polarizing, populist outsider to take control of the party.”