Michael Atkinson

October 30, 2019 – Beltway talk suggests the alleged hearsay whistleblower is Eric Ciaramella

Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson arrives for a closed-door hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2019. (Credit: Eric Baradat/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

(…) RealClearInvestigations is disclosing the name because of the public’s interest in learning details of an effort to remove a sitting president from office. Further, the official’s status as a “whistleblower” is complicated by his being a hearsay reporter of accusations against the president, one who has “some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate” — as the Intelligence Community Inspector General phrased it circumspectly in originally fielding his complaint.

Federal documents reveal that the 33-year-old [Eric] Ciaramella, a registered Democrat held over from the Obama White House, previously worked with former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal critic of Trump who helped initiate the Russia “collusion” investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Further, Ciaramella (pronounced char-a-MEL-ah) left his National Security Council posting in the White House’s West Wing in mid-2017 amid concerns about negative leaks to the media. He has since returned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

“He was accused of working against Trump and leaking against Trump,” said a former NSC official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Also, Ciaramella huddled for “guidance” with the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, including former colleagues also held over from the Obama era whom Schiff’s office had recently recruited from the NSC. (Schiff is the lead prosecutor in the impeachment inquiry.)

Alexandra Chalupa and Eric Ciaramella (Credit: public domain)

And Ciaramella worked with a Democratic National Committee operative who dug up dirt on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, inviting her into the White House for meetings, former White House colleagues said. The operative, Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American who supported Hillary Clinton, led an effort to link the Republican campaign to the Russian government. “He knows her. He had her in the White House,” said one former co-worker, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.

Documents confirm the DNC opposition researcher attended at least one White House meeting with Ciaramella in November 2015.  She visited the White House with a number of Ukrainian officials lobbying the Obama administration for aid for Ukraine.

(…) A CIA officer specializing in Russia and Ukraine, Ciaramella was detailed over to the National Security Council from the agency in the summer of 2015, working under Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser. He also worked closely with the former vice president.

Federal records show that Biden’s office invited Ciaramella to an October 2016 state luncheon the vice president hosted for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Other guests included Brennan, as well as then-FBI Director James Comey and then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper.

Several U.S. officials told RealClearInvestigations that the invitation that was extended to Ciaramella, a relatively low-level GS-13 federal employee, was unusual and signaled he was politically connected inside the Obama White House.

Former White House officials said Ciaramella worked on Ukrainian policy issues for Biden in 2015 and 2016 when the vice president was President Obama’s “point man” for Ukraine. A Yale graduate, Ciaramella is said to speak Russian and Ukrainian, as well as Arabic. He had been assigned to the NSC by Brennan.

He was held over into the Trump administration, and headed the Ukraine desk at the NSC, eventually transitioning into the West Wing, until June 2017.

“He was moved over to the front office” to temporarily fill a vacancy, said a former White House official, where he “saw everything, read everything.”

The official added that it soon became clear among NSA staff that Ciaramella opposed the new Republican president’s foreign policies. “My recollection of Eric is that he was very smart and very passionate, particularly about Ukraine and Russia. That was his thing – Ukraine,” he said. “He didn’t exactly hide his passion with respect to what he thought was the right thing to do with Ukraine and Russia, and his views were at odds with the president’s policies.” (Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 10/30/2 019) (Archive)

October 24, 2019 – New Strzok texts reveal a ‘crescendo of leaks,’ Grassley/Johnson write ICIG Atkinson asking for an investigation

Ron Johnson (l) and Charles Grassley (Credit: public domain)

“Top Republicans on Wednesday demanded that Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) Michael Atkinson explain why the watchdog hasn’t said if it’s investigating “a number of leaks of highly sensitive information” in recent years — and released several previously unpublished texts and emails from since-fired FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, specifically asked the ICIG why Strzok texted bureau colleague Lisa Page on Dec. 15, 2016: “Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking into overdrive.”

“What are they worried about, and what are they kicking into ‘overdrive?’ Johnson and Grassley wrote. “Who are the ‘sisters,’ and what does it mean to say that the ‘sisters have [been] leaking like mad’?”

Additionally, the senators pushed to know whether the ICIG was looking into Strzok’s email to FBI colleagues on April 13, 2017, when he wrote that an unidentified “agency” might be the “source of some of the leaks” to the media that he’d been seeing.

“I’m beginning to think the agency got info a lot earlier than we thought and hasn’t shared it completely with us,” Strzok wrote, according to documents that the senators included in their letter to the ICIG. “Might explain all these weird/seemingly incorrect leads all these media folks have. Would also highlight agency as a source of some of the leaks.”

In a June 6, 2017 email to Page, Strzok mused, “Think there will be a crescendo of leaks/articles leading up to Thurs.”

And, a Dec. 13, 2016 text message apparently showed Strzok trying to set up a Skype meeting with a reporter. “Text from reporter: retrieving my password for Skype,” he wrote.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz faulted the FBI last year for repeated violations of its media communications policy, noting that agents had received gifts from reporters and leaked regularly.

Then, on April 6, 2017, Strzok wrote to senior FBI leadership to complain about a New York Times article entitled, “C.I.A. Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed,” claiming it painted the FBI in an unfavorable light and got key facts wrong.

“Mike, below is inaccurate, favors the CIA at the expense of the FBI in particular, and is at odds with what Apuzzo and Goldman know,” Strzok wrote. “Most importantly, it’s at odds with the D’s [FBI Director’s] recent public testimony that we’ve been looking at links (which necessarily imply favoring Trump) since July ’16.”

Read the full letter to Atkinson, including the newly released Strzok Texts here.

(Read more: Fox News, 10/24/2019)  (Archive)

October 6, 2019 – Intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson interviews second whistleblower

“Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson interviewed a second whistleblower with alleged knowledge about the call between President Donald Trump and the leader of Ukraine.

Democrats have led an impeachment inquiry over the call.

The first whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid, confirmed on Oct. 6 that he’s also representing the second whistleblower. Like the first whistleblower, the second one is also a member of the intelligence community. According to Zaid, the anonymous official has firsthand knowledge of some of the events described by the first whistleblower. Both “made a protected disclosure under the law and cannot be retaliated against,” the attorney wrote on Twitter.

Zaid didn’t clarify whether the second whistleblower has filed a formal complaint, revealing only that he or she has spoken with Atkinson. Zaid didn’t reply to a request from The Epoch Times for clarification.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 10/06/2019)

September 21, 2019 – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denies suggestions Trump had put pressure on Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a July call

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko (Credit: Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

“In an interview with media outlet Hromadske, Prystaiko said Ukraine was an independent state and would not take sides in U.S. politics even if “in theory” the country was in a position to do so. He added that Kiev appreciated the assistance it received from Washington.

Zelenskiy’s office has so far declined to comment on the allegations.

“I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure,” Prystaiko said. “This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers.”

Trump dismissed the Sept. 12 complaint from the whistleblower within the intelligence community as a partisan hit against him.

Trump had spoken Zelenskiy less than three weeks before the complaint was filed. Trump is due to meet Zelenskiy during a United Nations gathering in New York.

Prystaiko said Zelenskiy had the right to keep conversations with other leaders confidential.

“I want to say that we are an independent state, we have our secrets,” he was quoted as saying in the interview.” (Read more: Reuters, 9/21/2019)

August 12, 2019 – An Intelligence officer files a whistleblower complaint against President Trump over a promise he made to a foreign leader

Retired Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to be confirmed as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, on July 25, 2018. (Credit: Al Drago/Getty Images)

“Congressional Democrats led by Rep. Adam Schiff are salivating over an August 12 whistleblower complaint by an intelligence officer over a ‘troubling promise’ President Trump allegedly made to a foreign leader during a phone call.

It is not clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with, or what was promised, according to the Washington Post – however, the complaint itself has given the president’s opponents a brand new ‘gotcha’ to chase in their quest to bring Trump down.

What’s more, acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has been refusing to share details about the phone call with lawmakers.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern,” a legal threshold that requires notification of congressional oversight committees.

But acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump’s alleged transgression with lawmakers, touching off a legal and political dispute that has spilled into public view and prompted speculation that the spy chief is improperly protecting the president. –WaPo

And as NBC News reports, over the last several days “the secret whistleblower complaint has been the subject of an increasingly acrimonious standoff between the acting intelligence chief and Schiff, who has demanded Maguire’s testimony and a copy of the complaint.”

Maguire has agreed to testify publicly next week, Schiff announced Wednesday, saying in a statement that the Inspector General “determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent,” adding “The committee places the highest importance on the protection of whistleblowers and their complaints to Congress.”

The matter burst into public view Friday when Schiff disclosed that an unspecified whistleblower complaint had been filed with the inspector general of the intelligence community, but was being withheld from his committee. That independent watchdog deemed the matter an “urgent concern” that he was required by law to turn over to the congressional intelligence committees.

But Maguire, after consulting with the Justice Department, overruled him, according to a series of letters between a DNI lawyer and Schiff that have been made public. –NBC News

According to Schiff, withholding the information from the House Intelligence Committee he chairs is illegal – and has raised questions over a potential coverup.

Trump, meanwhile, tweeted on Thursday, [Sept. 19, 2019]:

(Read more: Zero Hedge, 9/19/2019)

CNN analyst Phil Mudd responds following a report from The Washington Post revealing President Donald Trump’s communications with a foreign leader sparked the whistleblower complaint that has led the acting director of national intelligence to agree to testify amid a showdown with Congress.

August 12, 2019 – IC IG Michael Atkinson who forwards the hearsay whistleblower complaint against Trump, was Senior Counsel for the DOJ-NSD, the very epicenter of the political weaponization and FISA abuse

Michael Atkinson at his nomination hearing in May 2018. (Credit: public domain)

(…) “It should be emphasized the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community; the guy who accepted the ridiculous premise of a hearsay ‘whistle-blower‘ complaint, who was “blowing-the-whistle” based on second-hand information of a phone call without any direct personal knowledge, is Michael K. Atkinson.

Atkinson’s self-interest:  Michael K Atkinson was previously the Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ-NSD). That makes Atkinson senior legal counsel to John Carlin and Mary McCord who were former heads of the DOJ-NSD in 2016 when the stop Trump operation was underway.

[Irony Reminder: The DOJ-NSD was purposefully under no IG oversight. In 2015 the OIG requested oversight and it was Sally Yates who responded with a lengthy 58 page legal explanation saying, essentially, ‘nope – not allowed.’ (PDF HERE) All of the DOJ is subject to oversight, except the NSD.]

Put another way, Michael Atkinson was the lawyer for the same DOJ-NSD players who: (1) lied to the FISA court (Judge Rosemary Collyer) about the 80% non compliant NSA database abuse using FBI contractors; (2) filed the FISA application against Carter Page; and (3) used FARA violations as tools for political surveillance and political targeting.

Yes, that means Michael Atkinson was Senior Counsel for the DOJ-NSD, at the very epicenter of the political weaponization and FISA abuse.

Immediately after the Carter Page FISA warrant is approved, in the period where DOJ-NSD head John Carlin has given his notice of intent to leave but not yet left, inside those specific two weeks, the National Security Division of the DOJ tells the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) they have been breaking the law.  The NSD specifically inform the court they are aware of contractors who have been using FISA 702(16)(17) database search queries to extract information on political candidates.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has looked into the FISA application used against U.S. Person Carter Page.  Additionally, U.S. Attorney John Durham is said to be looking at the intelligence communities’ use of systems for spying and surveillance.

If the DOJ-NSD exploitation of the NSA database, and/or DOJ-NSD FISA abuse, and/or DOJ-NSD FARA corruption were ever to reach sunlight, Atkinson -as the lawyer for the process- would be under a lot of scrutiny for his involvement.

Yes, that gives current ICIG Michael Atkinson a strong and corrupt motive to participate with the Schiff/Lawfare impeachment objective.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 9/22/2019)

August 12 – October 11, 2019: A look at IC IG Michael Atkinson’s activities surrounding the hearsay whistleblower

“Last week the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, testified behind closed doors to congress. Atkinson testified about his role in bringing the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint forward.  The details of that testimony are now starting to surface and thankfully congress is taking a closer look at the sketchy background of Michael Atkinson.

Michael Atkinson (Credit: public domain)

There are numerous aspects to the whistle-blower (likely CIA operative Michael Barry), and the complaint, that just don’t add up. One of the areas of focus is the backdating of changes made to the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint form.  As Sean Davis notes:

[…] Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, told HPSCI lawmakers during a committee oversight hearing on Friday that the whistleblower forms and rules changes were made in, even though the new forms and guidance, which were not uploaded to the ICIG’s website until September 24, state that they were changed in August.

Despite having a full week to come up with explanations for his office’s decisions to secretly change its forms to eliminate the requirement for first-hand evidence and to backdate those changes to August, Atkinson refused to provide any explanation to lawmakers baffled by his behavior. (read more)

The CIA ‘whistle-blower’ had no first-hand knowledge; everything was based on hearsay.  The CIA operative never informed the ICIG about prior contact and coordination with the House Intelligence Committee (Adam Schiff).  The CIA operative never disclosed congressional contact on the complaint form, and the complaint forms were changed specifically to accommodate this CIA operative.

On Sunday, October 6th, Ranking Member Devin Nunes also discussed his concerns with the testimony of Michael Atkinson.  Nunes noted the testimony “was a joke.”

Nunes told Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Sunday host Matt Boyle, “[The ICIG is] either totally incompetent or part of the deep state, and he’s got a lot of questions he needs to answer because he knowingly changed the form and the requirements in order to make sure that this whistleblower complaint got out publicly.”

“So he’s either incompetent or in on it, and he’s going to have more to answer for, I can promise you because we are not going to let him go; he is going to tell the truth about what happened,” Nunes added.  (read more)

ICIG Atkinson never reviewed the call transcript and facilitated the complaint processing despite numerous flaws.  Additionally, Atkinson ignored legal guidance from both the director of national intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel that highlighted Atkinson’s poor decision-making.

President Trump announced Joseph Macguire as the Acting ODNI on August 8th, 2019. (link)  The CIA operative “whistle-blower” letter to Adam Schiff and Richard Burr was on August 12th (link).   Immediately following this letter, the ICIG rules and requirements for Urgent Concern “whistle-blowers” was modified, allowing hearsay complaints. On August 28th Adam Schiff begins tweeting about the construct of the complaint.

Given the nature of Atkinson’s background, it appears his prior work in 2016, during his tenure as the lead legal counsel for the DOJ-NSD, likely played a role in his decision.

Here’s Nunes Sunday Interview (audio):

The center of the 2016 Lawfare Alliance election influence was/is the Department of Justice National Security Division, DOJ-NSD. It was the DOJ-NSD running the Main Justice side of the 2016 operations to support Operation Crossfire Hurricane and FBI agent Peter Strzok. It was also the DOJ-NSD where the sketchy legal theories around FARA violations (Sec. 901) originated.

Michael K Atkinson was previously the Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ-NSD) in 2016. That makes Atkinson senior legal counsel to John Carlin and Mary McCord who were the former heads of the DOJ-NSD in 2016 when the stop Trump operation was underway.

Michael Atkinson was the lawyer for the same DOJ-NSD players who: (1) lied to the FISA court (Judge Rosemary Collyer) about the 80% non compliant NSA database abuse using FBI contractors; (2) filed the FISA application against Carter Page; and (3) used FARA violations as tools for political surveillance and political targeting.

Yes, that means Michael Atkinson was Senior Counsel for the DOJ-NSD, at the very epicenter of the political weaponization and FISA abuse.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/07/2019)

(Republished with permission)

March 26, 2015 – In Paul Combetta’s preparation to delete and then transfer the rest of Hillary Clinton’s emails, he first sent them to a dummy Gmail address with a name similar to a business in China

Paul Combetta (Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

(…) “Virtually every email which was sent to and received on the Clinton-email server was forwarded to “carterheavyindustries@gmail.com,” which raised a concern that a foreign actor gained access to Clinton’s emails after an intelligence community inspector general (ICIG) investigator searched Google for “Carter Heavy Industries” and came up with  a result for Shandong Carter Heavy Industry Co., Ltd, according to the documents (pdf).

(…) Frank Rucker, the ICIG investigator, and Jeanette McMillian, an ICIG attorney, told the FBI about the anomaly on Feb. 18, 2016, at a meeting which included Peter Strzok, who had just taken over as the section chief heading the investigation. Rucker told Congress that Strzok was “aloof and dismissive” and didn’t ask many questions.

(…) McMillian told Congress that her understanding of the Carter Heavy Industries email address was that it was a “drop box” to which the emails from the Clinton server were sent in real time.

“Even if you didn’t address an email to this address, the email went to it anyway,” McMillian said.

Rucker told Congress that it appeared that the Carter Heavy Industries email was inserted into Clinton’s server “based on his reading of the metadata.” Rucker was also concerned because he reviewed an email in which Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner, discuss how Weiner’s account was possibly hacked by a political opponent who ended up receiving copies of all of his emails.

The investigator told Congress that it appears that the Carter Heavy Industries email was inserted into the routing table of Clinton’s server, but that he could only be sure if he examined the server, which he did not have access to. There could be an alternative explanation to why the email address was in virtually every message, Rucker said.

McMillian and Rucker were interviewed by the Senate Finance and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees on Dec. 4, 2018, in response to media reports that cited anonymous sources claiming that China gained access to Clinton’s emails. The committees released unclassified versions of those transcripts along with several sets of supporting documents on Aug. 14.

The documents include several emails from Clinton and her staffers with message metadata showing the Carter Heavy Industries email address as a recipient.

Inspector General’s Inquiry

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz was aware of the ICIG’s referral to the FBI but did not address it in his 568-page report on the FBI and DOJ handling of the Clinton-email inquiry. Horowitz had promised Congress a year ago to look into and report on what the FBI did to investigate the matter. The newly released documents include the results of Horowitz’s inquiry in the form of an April 9, 2019, letter to senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)

In the letter, Horowitz and Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson write that the Carter Heavy Industries email account was created by Platte River Networks employee Paul Combetta, who managed Clinton’s email server. Combetta allegedly created the Carter Heavy Industries email on Aug. 20, 2012. Combetta then used the email as “dummy email” in order to transfer messages archived on Clinton’s second private server to the Platte River Networks server in early 2014.

What Combetta did with the email account between 2012 and 2014 and who else had access to it before and after the transfer remains a mystery. Neither the DOJ nor the ICIG inspector generals provide any details on whether the FBI ever examined the matter.

Combetta’s use of this email account is addressed in Horowitz’s report, although it is referred to as a “dummy email” instead of revealing the actual address. Horowitz and Atkinson do not explain how Combetta came to pick the email address. Combetta’s lawyer told Horowitz that the Carter Heavy Industries email was a made-up name and that Combetta had no connection to Shandong Carter Heavy Industry Co., Ltd.

Combetta, through an attorney, refused to be interviewed by the DOJ inspector general about the matter, according to the letter. He also said he had no documents responsive to subpoena about the issue.

Horowitz wrote that his office did not find any evidence to contradict the claims of Combetta’s lawyer.

“Accordingly, other than the similarity discussed above between the dummy email address and the name of a Chinese company identified by the former ICIG analyst and former Inspector General McCullough during a Google search, the ICIG and the DOJ OIG are unaware of any information that links Combetta or the dummy email address that he created with the Chinese government or a Chinese-owned company,” Horowitz and Atkinson wrote.

(Read more: The Epoch Times, 8/15/2019)

(Timeline editor’s note: There is a question as to whether Carter Heavy Industry is actually a Chinese owned company due to a subtitle on their website stating they are a solely owned U.S. company, so it is most likely a branch of Carter operating in Shandong. Also of note, Shandong Carter’s real business email address is not a Gmail address.)

(A snippet from Shandong Carter Heavy Industry’s website specifying they are a U.S. company.)