memos

April 18, 2019 – Konstantin Kilimnik, a key figure the Mueller report links to Russia, was a State Department intel source

Konstantin Kilimnik (Credit: public domain)

“In a key finding of the Mueller report, Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is tied to Russian intelligence.

But hundreds of pages of government documents — which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018 — describe Kilimnik as a “sensitive” intelligence source for the U.S. State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.

Why Mueller’s team omitted that part of the Kilimnik narrative from its report and related court filings is not known. But the revelation of it comes as the accuracy of Mueller’s Russia conclusions face increased scrutiny.

The incomplete portrayal of Kilimnik is so important to Mueller’s overall narrative that it is raised in the opening of his report. “The FBI assesses” Kilimnik “to have ties to Russian intelligence,” Mueller’s team wrote on page 6, putting a sinister light on every contact Kilimnik had with Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman.

What it doesn’t state is that Kilimnik was a “sensitive” intelligence source for State going back to at least 2013 while he was still working for Manafort, according to FBI and State Department memos I reviewed.

Kilimnik was not just any run-of-the-mill source, either.

He interacted with the chief political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, sometimes meeting several times a week to provide information on the Ukraine government. He relayed messages back to Ukraine’s leaders and delivered written reports to U.S. officials via emails that stretched on for thousands of words, the memos show.

The FBI knew all of this, well before the Mueller investigation concluded.

John Solomon tweets about the Manafort Ledger. (Credit: Twitter)

Alan Purcell, the chief political officer at the Kiev embassy from 2014 to 2017, told FBI agents that State officials, including senior embassy officials Alexander Kasanof and Eric Schultz, deemed Kilimnik to be such a valuable asset that they kept his name out of cables for fear he would be compromised by leaks to WikiLeaks.” (Read more: The Hill, 6/06/2019)

March 28, 2019 – A Federal judge rules the DOJ must hand over Comey memos

James Comey (Credit: Cliff Owen/The Associated Press)

“A federal judge ordered the FBI Thursday to turn over former Director James Comey’s memos, including the notes that he took during his infamous one-on-one meetings with President Trump.

Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of CNN, USA Today, Judicial Watch, and other outlets, telling the DOJ that it must hand over the Comey memos to the court for review and possible public release.

The memos include the notes that Comey said he leaked to the media to spark the appointment of a special counsel.

Media and watchdog groups have fought to obtain documents relating to Comey’s notes through the Freedom of Information Act since May 2017, when the existence of the Comey memos was first made public. The memos recount conversations between Comey and Trump that are hotly disputed, and the outlets argue that the public has a right to their contents.

But the DOJ has opposed their release. A significant amount of information from the Comey memos has already been made public, but other information has been redacted or otherwise concealed from public view. CNN is also fighting for access to the Justice Department’s sealed arguments explaining to the court why the DOJ is opposing the release of the memos.

(…) The Comey memos must now be turned over to the court by April 1. (Read more: Washington Examiner, 3/28/2019)

August 28, 2018 – Ohr’s testimony confirms the Nunes Memo — The Schiff memo, not so much

(…) “Last year, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued dueling memos about the Russia investigation. The release of Ohr’s testimony backs up then-chair Devin Nunes’ memo. Nunes’ memo explained that, after the FBI fired Steele as a source, he continued to feed Ohr intel, with the FBI interviewing Ohr to document the communications with Steele. Ohr confirmed that that is exactly what occurred.

Ohr’s testimony also refuted Schiff’s Democrat’s response memo. In that memo, Schiff called Nunes’ “reference to Bruce Ohr misleading,” stating that the Republican “misleads about the timeframe of Ohr’s communications with the FBI.” Schiff then claimed Ohr informed the FBI of the information Steele had shared with him in late November 2016—weeks after the election, and more than a month after the court approved the initial FISA application.

But as his just-released testimony made clear, Ohr contacted McCabe shortly after his July 30, 2016, meeting with Steele, and conveyed the details of that tête-à-tête to McCabe. Steele continued to provide Ohr with information on Trump. Ohr then passed those details on to Strzok and Lisa Page. Th[is] occurred well before Steele’s firing and the first FISA court order.

Ohr’s testimony has helped to clear up this dispute and others, but unfortunately there are many more questions left unanswered.” (Read more: The Federalist, 3/11/2019)

June 7, 2017 – The day before Comey testifies to congress, the FBI visits his home and collects four memos “as evidence”

A recent FOIA release from Judicial Watch (full pdf below) reveals that two of Mueller’s initial FBI agents, based on dates and redactions – likely Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, visited James Comey on June 7th, 2017, to retrieve a collection of his memos.

(However, a word of caution, one of the memos was titled “last night at 6:30pm” and is being widely misinterpreted to have been written the night before (June 6th, 2017) when that is not accurate.  It is likely that memo relates to the January dinner in the White House with President Trump that held the same sentence.)

If we ignore the misinterpreted “last night” memo aspect (dinner with potus in January ’17), here’s what we can learn from this FOIA release:

♦First, the memos were picked up while FBI agent’s Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka were lead FBI agents that transferred into the Mueller team.  Therefore it’s likely they were the two who traveled to Comey’s house for this effort.

♦Second, the memos were picked up June 7th, 2017, the day before James Comey appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, June 8th, 2017 [See Link].

It was during this June 8th SSCI committee testimony where Comey first revealed the scope of his memo keeping.  Keep in mind, all prior research shows SSCI Chairman Richard Burr and SSCI Vice-Chair Mark Warner were part of the corrupt effort against President Trump.  Their committee was where leaker James Wolfe (sleeping with journalist Ali Watkins) was operational.  The SSCI was part of the aggregate coup effort.

WARNER: I think that’s a very important statement you just made. Then, unlike your dealings with presidents of either parties in your past experience, in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written record. Did you feel that you needed to create this written record of these memos, because they might need to be relied on at some future date?

COMEY: Sure. I created records after conversations that I think I did it after each of our nine conversations. If I didn’t, I did it for nearly all of them especially the ones that were substantive. I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself, but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution and the Independence of our investigative function. That’s what made this so difficult is it was a combination of circumstances, subject matter and the particular person.

WARNER: I think that is very significant. I think others will probably question that. Now, the chairman and I have requested those memos. It is our hope that the FBI will get this committee access to those memos so again, we can read that contemporaneous rendition so that we’ve got your side of the story. – Transcript Link

(Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Understanding the timeline; and overlaying the ideological intents and purposes; it would make sense that Robert Mueller and the ‘small group’ would want to exploit the memo content (hell, they likely knew all about it as soon as written), and simultaneously keep those memos buried and under their ‘small group’ control.

By taking custody of the memos, the Mueller investigative team would be able to block any outside inquiry.  That’s the motive for the FBI visit to James Comey on June 7th, 2017.  Comey could then talk about the memos the next day while knowing the ‘small group’ would use the “ongoing investigation” to keep them hidden from review.

Senators Mark Warner, Richard Burr and the media would be able to frame discussion of the memos to undermine President Trump, while knowing the memos would be kept out of public review.  With hindsight go back and review the SSCI testimony; this approach appears to have been pre-planned.

Now lets overlay the Archey Declarations” against the FOIA release.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 7/31/2019)

October 14, 2016 – Memos detail FBI’s ‘Hurry the F up pressure’ to obtain a Title 1 FISA warrant on the Trump campaign

(…) “The memos show Strzok, Lisa Page and others in counterintelligence monitored news articles in September 2016 that quoted a law enforcement source as saying the FBI was investigating Carter Page’s travel to Moscow.

The FBI team pounced on what it saw as an opportunity as soon as [Carter] Page wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey complaining about the “completely false” leak.

A clipping from Carter Page’s letter to James Comey.

“At a minimum, the letter provides us a pretext to interview,” Strzok wrote to Lisa Page on Sept. 26, 2016.

Carter Page (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Within weeks, that “pretext” — often a synonym for an excuse — had been upsized to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant, giving the FBI the ability to use some of its most awesome powers to monitor Carter Page and his activities.

To date, the former Trump adviser has been accused of no wrongdoing despite being subjected to nearly a year of surveillance.

Some internal memos detail the pressure being applied by the FBI to DOJ prosecutors to get the warrant on Carter Page buttoned up before Election Day.

In one email exchange with the subject line “Crossfire FISA,” Strzok and Lisa Page discussed talking points to get then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to persuade a high-ranking DOJ official to sign off on the warrant.

“Crossfire Hurricane” was one of the code names for four separate investigations the FBI conducted related to Russia matters in the 2016 election.

“At a minimum, that keeps the hurry the F up pressure on him,” Strzok emailed Page on Oct. 14, 2016, less than four weeks before Election Day.

Four days later the same team was emailing about rushing to get approval for another FISA warrant for another Russia-related investigation code-named “Dragon.”

“Still an expedite?” one of the emails beckoned, as the FBI tried to meet the requirements of a process known as a Woods review before a FISA warrant can be approved by the courts.

“Any idea what time he can have it woods-ed by?” Strzok asked Page. “I know it’s not going to matter because DOJ is going to take the time DOJ wants to take. I just don’t want this waiting on us at all.”

Until all the interviews are completed by Congress and DOJ’s inspector general later this year, we won’t know why counterintelligence agents who normally take a methodical approach to investigation felt so much pressure days before the election on this case.” (Read more: The Hill, 7/06/2018)

October 11, 2016 – DOJ and FBI officials hide a State Dept email that memorializes Christopher Steele’s political motives

“If ever there were an admission that taints the FBI’s secret warrant to surveil Donald Trump’s campaign, it sat buried for more than 2 1/2 years in the files of a high-ranking State Department official.

Kathleen Kavalec (Credit: BizPacReview)

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec’s written account of her Oct. 11, 2016, meeting with FBI informant Christopher Steele shows the Hillary Clinton campaign-funded British intelligence operative admitted that his research was political and facing an Election Day deadline.

And that confession occurred 10 days before the FBI used Steele’s now-discredited dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s ties to Russia.

Steele’s client “is keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8,” the date of the 2016 election, Kavalec wrote in a typed summary of her meeting with Steele and Tatyana Duran, a colleague from Steele’s Orbis Security firm. The memos were unearthed a few days ago through open-records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United.

Kavalec’s notes do not appear to have been provided to the House Intelligence Committee during its Russia probe, according to former Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). “They tried to hide a lot of documents from us during our investigation, and it usually turns out there’s a reason for it,” Nunes told me. Senate and House Judiciary investigators told me they did not know about them, even though they investigated Steele’s behavior in 2017-18.

One member of Congress transmitted the memos this week to the Department of Justice’s inspector general, fearing its investigation of FISA abuses may not have had access to them.

Nonetheless, the FBI is doing its best to keep much of Kavalec’s information secret by retroactively claiming it is classified, even though it was originally marked unclassified in 2016.

The apparent effort to hide Kavalec’s notes from her contact with Steele has persisted for some time.

State officials acknowledged a year ago they received a copy of the Steele dossier in July 2016, and got a more detailed briefing in October 2016 and referred the information to the FBI.

But what was discussed was not revealed. Sources told me more than a year ago that Kavalec had the most important (and memorialized) interaction with Steele before the FISA warrant was issued, but FBI and State officials refused to discuss it, or even confirm it.” (Read more: The Hill, 5/07/2019) (Kavalec Memo)

 

“On May 10, 2019, against the backdrop of documents from the state department, Senator Lindsey Graham sends a letter to both OIG Michael Horowitz and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seeking additional information about State Department contact with Christopher Steele.  (Source Link – Senate Judiciary)

Additionally, the FBI has apparently reversed course on the self-serving redactions they put in place when the Kavalec Memo was released.  A less redacted version is linked here.

Apparently the Russian “mole” in the DNC didn’t warrant the investigative curiosity of the FBI.  Instead, they took the sketchy dossier info and called Carter Page an “agent of a foreign power”….  Go figure.” (Conservative Treehouse, 5/10/2019)

April-September 2016: A closer look at the Shearer memos/dossier

Cody Shearer (Credit: public domain)

“Rep. Nunes is not the first Republican to question what role the Shearer memo may have played in the FBI’s investigation into the Trump team and its possible role in securing the warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Chairman Charles Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham of the Senate Judiciary Committee alluded to the Shearer document in a memorandum attached to a Jan. 4, 2018 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein referring Steele to the Department of Justice for a criminal inquiry. In their redacted classified memorandum, the two Republican senators hint at the possibility that the FBI’s probe into the Trump team’s possible ties to Russia is the result of an operation managed by the Clinton inner circle.

“One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by BuzzFeed is dated October 19, 2016,” write Grassley and Graham. “Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company ‘received this report from [REDACTED] US State Department,’ that the report was second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who ‘is in touch with [REDACTED], a contact of [REDACTED], a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to [REDACTED].’ It is troubling enough that the Clinton campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele’s allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”

Writing in his Feb. 8 Washington Post op-ed about getting the Shearer memo from Sidney Blumenthal in  September 2016, Obama State Department official Winer explained that soon after the Blumenthal meeting, he met with Christopher Steele. Winer had known Steele, a longtime associate who often used Winer as his point of contact at the State Department. Steele had shown Winer the memos he’d written on Trump’s possible ties to Russia.

Winer asserted that in reading Shearer’s memo, he was “struck … how some of the material echoed Steele’s but appeared to involve different sources.” He shared Shearer’s memo with Steele, who described it as “potentially ‘collateral’ information,” presumably to buttress his own findings. The FBI, as Winer explained, had asked Steele to provide any supporting information. From the Grassley-Graham letter, it appears that Steele gave the FBI the Shearer report titled “FSB Interview,” “the second in a series.” He either withheld the first, “The Compromised Candidate” report, or Winer never gave it to him.

During the same period, late summer and early fall, the FBI was seeking a FISA warrant on Carter Page. A Department of Justice spokesperson declined comment when RCI emailed to ask if the Shearer memo was used as part of the Steele dossier to secure the warrant on Page’s communications that was granted Oct. 21, 2016.

When news of the Shearer memo broke more than a year later, the Guardian reported in a Jan. 30, 2018 article that the FBI “is still assessing details in the ‘Shearer memo’ and is pursuing intriguing leads.” The memo, the Guardian explained, “was initially viewed with skepticism, not least because he had shared it with select media organizations before the election.”

Even as his FSB memo was provided to the FBI before the election,  it appears that Shearer was shopping his information to press outfits while also comparing rumors with leading journalists. Shearer’s first report, “The Compromised Candidate,” is a record of various journalists and media personalities explaining how they’ve heard the same rumors, and even tried, unsuccessfully, to report the story that Shearer is pushing in the second report.

Robert Baer (Credit: CNN)

(…) In the same report, Shearer quotes a conversation with former CIA officer Robert Baer, again hinting at another intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Shearer writes that Baer told him “the Russians had established an encrypted communication system with a cut out between the Trump campaign and Putin.”

Baer told RCI that “he’d heard that story from acquaintances at the New York Times who were trying to run the story down.”

Baer said he remembered speaking with Shearer about Trump and Russia in “March or April” of 2016. If Baer’s memory is correct then Shearer was investigating the Trump story at around the same time the Clinton campaign and the DNC hired Fusion GPS to compile opposition research on the Trump campaign.

Shearer writes in his first report that he was told by Alan Cullison of the Wall Street Journal that Fusion GPS principals and former Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch (Shearer misspells both names in the memo) had been hired by the DNC to “rack [sic] down Trump compromised story.”

(…) The inaccuracies in Shearer’s account fuel suspicions that he misidentified the source of the information on who was funding the Steele dossier. What matters is that Shearer knew who was paying for Fusion GPS’s work on Trump. More important, if Steele received both of Shearer’s reports in September 2016, that would contradict the information in the FBI’s warrant application that said Steele didn’t know who was paying for his work. The source of the funding was right there in Shearer’s first memo. The FBI’s warrant application, however, says Simpson “never advised Source No. 1 [Mr. Steele] as to the motivation behind the research into candidate’s #1 [Mr. Trump’s] ties to Russia.” If Steele had both of Shearer’s reports, he knew he was being paid by the DNC.

This Washington Post Steele dossier timeline indicates Steele’s memo dated September 14, 2016, sounds very similar to Shearer’s FSB “pee-pee” memo that Jonathan Winer gave to Steele in the same month. (Credit: Washington Post)

The members of the press corps whom Simpson and Steele were briefing during that period almost certainly knew who was paying. Shearer’s notes, according to the Feb. 9, 2018 Journal article, “circulated in political and journalistic circles in Washington in late 2016.” Whoever saw both of Shearer’s reports would have known that the DNC was paying for the Fusion GPS campaign—long before the information became public a year later, in October 2017.

Cullison, who declined to comment for this story, was the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow correspondent for 20 years. The memo has him telling Shearer that since May 2016 he, too, had been looking into rumors of Trump’s activities in Moscow, including allegations of his sexual activities.

“Our reporter was unable to corroborate these allegations,” WSJ spokesperson Severinghaus said in the February Journal article, “and determined the information provided by Mr. Shearer did not meet our high standards for fair and accurate reporting.”

To this date, no journalist has been able to confirm on its own any of the incendiary allegations of Trump-Russia collusion story since the rumors surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign. The first accounts of the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia were published by Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News (Sept. 23, 2016) and David Corn of Mother Jones (Oct. 31). Both were sourced to Steele’s research.

Shearer’s first report shows that the story was circulating through the press corps for months, and no one was able to confirm it.

Shearer tried to drum up interest in the collusion narrative but no one in the press was biting. No one was willing to sink time and prestige on material sourced to unnamed Russian intelligence officials that was provided by a Clinton political operative whose partner, Sidney Blumenthal, had an even more controversial reputation.

But it would be different if it came from someone else, an intelligence operative whose American handlers worked up a suitable legend of his exploits in a glamorous, allied clandestine service, and his deep knowledge of all things Russian. So what did it matter if Steele had become an executive in a corporate intelligence firm whose official cover had been blown a decade before and who hadn’t been to Russia in years? The byline of a former MI6 agent could credential a compendium of unsubstantiated rumors when the names of Clinton confederates Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal could not.” (Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 4/26/2018)  (Archive)