November 2018

November 30, 2018 – Putin spokesman shares 2016 emails from Michael Cohen

Dmitry Peskov (Credit: Pavel Golovkin/The Associated Press)

(…) And as if the media needed more evidence that the Trump Tower Moscow controversy has already been litigated in the public eye, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday offered a quick reminder when he showed two of Cohen’s emails to a group of reporters, confirming a 15-month old report that Cohen had reached out to him to ask for help with facilitating the project (none was offered, and the project was eventually abandoned), the Daily Mail reported.

As a reminder, here’s what Peskov and Cohen said about Cohen’s ‘contact’ with the Kremlin at the time (per CNN). Cohen has since admitted to lying about the talks ending in January 2016, and has instead claimed that they continued – with the president’s involvement at times – until the summer of 2017.

“This email said that a certain Russian company together with certain individuals is pursuing the goal of building a skyscraper in the ‘Moscow City’ district, but things aren’t going well and they asked for help with some advice on moving this project forward,” Peskov said. “But, since, I repeat again, we do not react to such business topics — this is not our work — we left it unanswered.”
He added: “We cannot discuss with President Putin hundreds and thousands of different requests, which, by the way, come from a variety of countries.”

Cohen revealed Monday that he had made the overture to Moscow at a point well into Trump’s presidential campaign.

“The Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected,” Cohen said in a written statement.

“In late January 2016, I abandoned the Moscow proposal because I lost confidence that the prospective licensee would be able to obtain the real estate, financing and government approvals necessary to bring the proposal to fruition,” he added. “It was a building proposal that did not succeed and nothing more.”
(Read more: Zero Hedge, 11/30/2018)

November 30, 2018 – New details reinforce that the FBI used fake pretexts to start investigating Trump

“The evidence continues to mount that during the Obama administration, the FBI used George Papadopoulos as a prop to legitimize launching its investigation into the Donald Trump campaign. While the FBI claimed it initiated Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016 in response to reports that Russian-linked individuals told Papadopoulos the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, that story seemed shaky from the start.

Since then, text and email messages between former MI6 spy and Fusion GPS dossier author Christopher Steele and twice-demoted Department of Justice attorney Bruce Ohr raised the possibility that information Steele fed the FBI through Ohr was the true justification for the the FBI targeting the Trump campaign. A Wednesday tweet from Carter Page gives further credence to the suggestion that the Hillary Clinton campaign-funded Steele dossier served as the basis for the FBI’s interest in the Trump campaign.

In his tweet, Page included a screen grab of a July 2016 text message from Washington Post reporter Damian Paletta asking the former Trump campaign advisor about his supposed meeting in Moscow with Igor Sechin, and another meeting Page reportedly had with “a senior Kremlin official—Divyekin—and he said they have solid kompromat on Clinton as well as Trump.”

The details in Paletta’s text mirror the information contained in the Steele dossier memorandum dated July 19, 2016. The July 26, 2016, date of the text indicates Steele must have shared his supposed intelligence with the Washington Post reporter around that time. Here are relevant sections in the dossier memorandum, below.

It is difficult to fathom that Steele would share the details of his dossier with a reporter but not with his long-time friend Ohr when Steele met with Bruce and his wife Nellie on July 30, 2016 in Washington D.C. Yet, in his memorandum on the Russian investigation, incoming House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff claimed “Steele’s reporting did not reach the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters until mid-September 2016, more than seven weeks after the FBI opened its investigation, because the probe’s existence was so closely held within the FBI.”

A second detail from this week’s reporting on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation adds further evidence to the fraud the FBI pushed in pointing to Papadopoulos as the basis for the Russian probe. Papadopoulos’ purported Russian connection was a Maltese academic named Joseph Mifsud, who supposedly told Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. However, as I noted previously, in February 2017—more than six months after the FBI launched their investigation into the Trump campaign—Mifsud spoke at a State Department-sponsored function in Washington D.C., at which time the FBI interviewed him. Mifsud later returned to Italy and disappeared.” (Read more: The Federalist, 11/30/2018)

November 30, 2018 – The case of Mueller’s mystery nemesis is picking up serious steam

D.C. District Court (Credit: public domain)

“A case has been bouncing between the Washington, D.C. District Court and Circuit Court of Appeals at a breakneck pace since it was first filed in August. Pretty much everything about it has been under seal, though, so there’s no certainty on the issues involved. Whatever they may be, and whomever the person is, the court will address them in two weeks. The D.C. Circuit announced Friday that they will be hearing oral arguments in the case on December 14, in a closed session.

Law&Crime has previously reported on the mysterious legal battle that appears to be going on between Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s office and an unidentified grand jury witness.

This latest development comes two weeks after the unknown appellant filed a 6,487-word brief in the case.

Speculation has been rampant as to what the case is about. Is it a challenge to Mueller’s authority like those brought by Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller or Concord Management? Is it something else altogether?

And most intriguingly, who is it?” (Read more: Law & Crime, 11/30/2018)

November 23, 2018 – Whitaker’s post provides ample tools to disrupt Mueller probe

Matthew Whitaker (l) and Robert Mueller (Credit: CNBC/Getty Images)

“Much of the focus on President Trump’s appointment of Whitaker to temporarily replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been on the possibility of Whitaker removing Mueller, a move that would undoubtedly spark public outrage and trigger full-scale investigations by Democrats, who are poised to take control of the House in January.

But federal regulations offer Whitaker, now acting attorney general, broad authority with respect to the special counsel that extends beyond the ability to remove Mueller, giving him the ability to curtail the probe in ways that would not necessarily become public knowledge until after the Russia investigation is over.

Whitaker has the power to weigh in on any major steps in the probe, such as the issuance of new subpoenas and indictments.

Should he remain at the helm of the Justice Department until the conclusion of the investigation, it will be up to Whitaker to decide which portions, if any, of Mueller’s final report are submitted to Congress or released to the public.

“He has a lot of authority, starting with his authority to remove Mueller if he finds he has good cause for doing so under the relevant regulation,” said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor. “There are both hard and soft powers that the relevant regulation gives to the acting attorney general.”

Whitaker has assumed oversight of the probe from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a critical point in the investigation, as the special counsel reviews Trump’s written answers to questions about potential collusion between his campaign and Moscow in 2016 and mulls further steps in his scrutiny of longtime Trump ally Roger Stone.

There are no outward signs of Whitaker limiting the probe. In a court filing Monday, Mueller’s team signaled that their authorities remain intact following the leadership shuffle at the Justice Department. Sessions submitted his resignation at Trump’s request on Nov. 7, and Whitaker was named acting attorney general that same day.” (Read more: The Hill, 11/23/2018)

November 20, 2018 – House GOP to hold hearing into DOJ’s probe of Clinton Foundation

Mark Meadows (Credit: public domain)

“Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Tuesday that House Republicans plan to hear testimony on Dec. 5 from the prosecutor appointed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to probe alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation.

Meadows, who is chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, told Hill.TV’s “Rising” that it’s time to “circle back” to U.S. Attorney General John Huber’s investigation with the Justice Department into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged any improper activities.

“Mr. [John] Huber with the Department of Justice and the FBI has been having an investigation – at least part of his task was to look at the Clinton Foundation and what may or may not have happened as it relates to improper activity with that charitable foundation, so we’ve set a hearing date for December the 5th,” he told Hill.TV during an interview on Wednesday.

Meadow’s said the committee plans to delve into a number of Republicans concerns surrounding the foundation, including whether any tax-exempt proceeds for personal gain and whether the Foundation complied with IRS laws.

Sessions appointed Huber last year to work in tandem with the Justice Department to look into conservative claims of misconduct at the FBI and review several issues surrounding the Clintons. This includes Hillary Clinton’s ties to a Russian nuclear agency and concerns about the Clinton Foundation.

Huber’s work has remained shrouded in mystery. The White House has released little information about Huber’s assignment other than Session’s address to Congress saying his appointed should address concerns raised by Republicans.”  (Read more: The Hill, 11/20/2018)

November 19, 2018 – Devin Nunes: ‘Fourth bucket’ of classified emails show info withheld from FISA court

“House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., revealed the existence of a “fourth bucket” of information related to potential misconduct by the FBI that he wants declassified.

On his way out as chairman, as Democrats will take control of the House next year, Nunes said his panel’s investigation into the Justice Department and FBI is largely complete. Still, he said the public release of these “buckets” would help give his efforts a sense of “finality.”

Speaking with anchor Maria Bartiromo on her Fox News program “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nunes said the first of three “buckets” were the Russia-related documents President Trump walked back from declassifying earlier this year.

The last tranche of documents, he said, pertains to emails showing knowledge about withholding information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

“The new fourth bucket that we’re asking to be declassified now is — for months we have been reviewing emails between FBI, and DOJ, and others that clearly show that they knew about information that should have been presented to the FISA court,” he said. (Read more: Washington Examiner, 11/19/2018)

November 19, 2018 – Opinion: Questions grow about FBI vetting of Christopher Steele’s Russia expertise

Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with Hillary Clinton during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016, in St Louis, Missouri. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By: John Solomon

(…) “Both the DOJ’s inspector general and multiple committees in Congress are investigating whether the FBI properly handled the Trump-Russia collusion case or whether it fell prey to political pressure and shoddy investigative work, as congressional Republicans and President Trump himself claim.

The FBI has an obligation to submit only verified information to support a FISA warrant.

If the FBI failed to perform the sort of due diligence required to ensure that Steele’s expertise on Russia was reliable and that his dossier was verified, it would mark a massive failure in the FISA process.

There are growing warning signs that the FBI may have rushed its due diligence on Steele’s Russia work product, perhaps in part because it had enjoyed an earlier successful relationship in a corruption case involving European soccer.

My sources tell me that FBI counterintelligence analyst Jon Moffa recently told congressional investigators in a transcribed interview that the bureau was still trying to verify the Steele dossier when it was submitted as evidence for the FISA warrant.

“Our work on verifying facts of the FISA would have been — facts of the reporting would have been ongoing at the time the FISA was generated,” Moffa told House investigators, according to the transcript.

Moffa’s statement isn’t the only red flag.

From my earlier reporting, we know that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page told Congress this past summer that in May 2017seven months after the FISA warrant was issued, and nine months after the Russia probe was started — the FBI had not corroborated the main allegation in Steele’s dossier about collusion between Moscow and the Trump.

And former FBI Director James Comey testified in June 2017 that the dossier was considered unverified and salacious.

Yet it was used as evidence to justify the FBI spying on the campaign of a duly-elected GOP presidential nominee’s campaign, even though it started as political opposition research paid for by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” (Read more: The Hill, 11/19/2018)

November 19, 2018 – FBI raids home of Clinton Foundation federally protected whistleblower, Nathan “Nate” Caine

Nathan (Nate) Cain (Credit: Twitter)

“FBI agents raided the home of a recognized Department of Justice whistleblower who privately delivered documents pertaining to the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One to a government watchdog, according to the whistleblower’s attorney.

The Justice Department’s inspector general was informed that the documents show that federal officials failed to investigate potential criminal activity regarding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation and Rosatom, the Russian company that purchased Uranium One, a document reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation alleges.

The delivered documents also show that then-FBI Director Robert Mueller failed to investigate allegations of criminal misconduct pertaining to Rosatom and to other Russian government entities attached to Uranium One, the document reviewed by TheDCNF alleges. Mueller is now the special counsel investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

(…) Sixteen agents arrived at the home of Dennis Nathan Cain, a former FBI contractor, on the morning of Nov. 19 and raided his Union Bridge, Maryland, home, Socarras told TheDCNF.

Federal Magistrate Stephanie Gallagher (Credit: public domain)

The raid was permitted by a court order signed on Nov. 15 by federal magistrate Stephanie A. Gallagher in the U.S. District Court for Baltimore and obtained by TheDCNF.

A special agent from the FBI’s Baltimore division, who led the raid, charged that Cain possessed stolen federal property and demanded entry to his private residence, Socarras told TheDCNF.

“On Nov. 19, the FBI conducted court authorized law enforcement activity in the Union Bridge, Maryland area,” bureau spokesman Dave Fitz told TheDCNF. “At this time, we have no further comment.”

Cain informed the agent while he was still at the door that he was a recognized protected whistleblower under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act and that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz recognized his whistleblower status, according to Socarras.

He legally gave Congress about the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One,” the whistleblower’s lawyer, Michael Socarras, told TheDCNF, noting that he considered the FBI’s raid to be an “outrageous disregard” of whistleblower protections.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 11/29/2018)