possible China hack

August 14, 2019 – A Grassley/Graham/Johnson memo suggests the FBI failed to seek access to certain highly classified information potentially relevant to the Clinton email investigation

From left to right, Senators Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

(…) “Thanks to the relentless investigative work of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), we are learning that the Hillary Clinton email case may not really be settled.

A staff memo updating the two senators’ long-running probe discloses that the FBI — the version run in 2016 by the now-disgraced and fired James ComeyAndrew McCabe and Peter Strzok — failed to pursue access to “highly classified” evidence that could have resolved important questions.

The failure to look at the evidence back in 2016 occurred even though the agents believed access to the sensitive evidence was “necessary” to complete the investigation into Clinton’s improper transmission of classified emails — some top-secret — on her unsecure private email server, the memos show.

To make matters worse, the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has known about that decision since at least 2018, thanks to the work of the DOJ’s internal watchdog, Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz, who provided DOJ leaders and Congress with a classified appendix explaining what happened.

But Johnson and Grassley have been unable to get answers for a year, even from Attorney General William Barr, about whether the FBI intends to look at the critical evidence it skipped back in 2016.

The Senate staff memo succinctly lays out just how egregious the FBI’s decision was in 2016.

The inspector general’s “appendix raised a number of serious questions because, as explained on page 154 of the unclassified DOJ IG report, the FBI decided not to seek access to certain highly classified information potentially relevant to the investigation despite members of the FBI case team referring to the review as a ‘necessary’ part of the investigation,” the Senate staff wrote.

“As a result of the findings in that appendix, Senator Grassley wrote a classified letter to DOJ on October 17, 2018, which remains unanswered. On January 15, 2019, at Mr. Barr’s nomination hearing, Senator Grassley asked Mr. Barr if he would answer the letter, if confirmed, to which he attested, ‘Yes, Senator.’ On April 16, 2019, Senators Grassley, Johnson, and Graham sent a letter to Attorney General Barr reiterating the need for a written response to that letter.”

The DOJ’s silence on the road that the FBI willfully chose not to take is all the more deafening given what we already know about the Clinton email case.” (Read more: The Hill, 8/22/2019)

August 29, 2018 – FBI Refuses To Confirm Or Deny ICIG Warned Of Clinton Server Intrusion

Inspector General Intelligence Community Logo (Credit: public domain)

“The FBI refuses to disclose whether or not it met with senior members of the Intelligence Community Inspector General on the subject of foreign intrusion of former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s private server.

An FBI spokeswoman refused to confirm if Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) officials — including Frank Rucker, its chief investigator — briefed top bureau officials about evidence of penetration of Clinton’s private server by a Chinese government intelligence operation. “We have no comment,” she told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Earlier Wednesday, an FBI spokesman released what appeared to be a categorical statement about the Clinton server: “The FBI has not found any evidence the servers were compromised,” the FBI stated.

The statement does not address a central aspect of TheDCNF’s reporting, which was that the ICIG briefed top bureau officials on three separate occasions to warn the FBI of an “anomaly” they found in 30,000 in-bound and outgoing emails. The report is based on an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter. The anomaly showed a code embedded in Clinton’s server was producing in real time a “courtesy copy” to a third party.

The third party was a Chinese state-owned company based in Northern Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C., and was part of an ongoing Chinese government intelligence operation, according to two separate sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

According to one source, the last ICIG briefing was held in June 2016 about a month before former FBI Director James Comey stated that he did not recommend any indictment of Clinton for mishandling classified materials.

Comey in that widely reported July 5, 2016 press conference stated he did not find “direct evidence” that Clinton’s email domain was successfully hacked.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 8/29/2018)

June 5, 2018 – Bill Priestap, former assistant director of FBI counterintelligence, testifies he was unaware of the ICIG 811 referral on the possible compromise of Clinton emails

(…) “President Donald Trump suggested in August last year that Clinton’s emails were obtained by China.

The president was likely responding to a report released days earlier by the Daily Caller, citing two anonymous sources, claiming that a Chinese-owned company operating in the Washington area obtained nearly all of Clinton’s emails. The firm received Clinton’s emails in real time using a code embedded on a private, unauthorized email server she used for government work while she was secretary of state, the report alleged. Fox News confirmed the Daily Caller report, citing two anonymous sources. It isn’t clear if the Fox sources are different from those used by the Daily Caller.

Kable and Chappell served as section chiefs at the bureau’s counterintelligence division alongside Strzok during the early days of the Clinton-email investigation. Both Kable and Chappell have expertise in Chinese espionage, a factor which, if the media reports about China are true, may have initially contributed to their selection for the Clinton-email team.

Kable led investigations against “known and suspected Chinese intelligence officers in the U.S.” for a year and five months starting in 2009, according to an FBI promotion notice and his LinkedIn profile. While little is known about Chappell’s time at the FBI, he was cited among experts on Chinese espionage in a Fox News article published two weeks after the start of the Clinton-email probe. Executive Assistant Director Randall Coleman, the senior most official overseeing the email probe, is also cited in the article, as well as the related FBI press release.

Despite playing a prominent role in the investigation, Kable’s name isn’t mentioned in Horowitz’s otherwise voluminous and exhaustive report (pdf) on the handling of the Clinton-email investigation. Chappell, who met the ICIG and worked in counterespionage, also isn’t mentioned in the report. The FBI wouldn’t confirm whether Chappell still works for the bureau.

With the exception of Comey, every person in the chain of command above Strzok was replaced at different points during the Clinton-email investigation. On Dec. 9, 2015, Comey moved Kable out of FBI headquarters to the Washington field office, ending his term on the Clinton-email probe.

Bill Priestap (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

Two weeks after Kable’s departure, Comey appointed Bill Priestap to serve as assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, replacing Randall Coleman, who held the same position until Dec. 21, 2015. A month later, Comey appointed Andrew McCabe to replace Mark Giuliano as deputy director, and the following month, Comey appointed Michael Steinbach to replace Giacalone as the executive assistant director for the National Security Branch.

If Kable was the fourth person present at the meeting when Rucker told FBI about the email metadata anomalies, Strzok would be the only official who learned of the ICIG lead and remained on the Clinton-email investigation until it was concluded.

Priestap, who arrived six months after the ICIG anomaly referral, told lawmakers on June 5 last year that he didn’t know Frank Rucker, the ICIG investigator, and that he was never informed of the referral on the anomalies in the metadata in Clinton’s emails. Strzok reported to Priestap.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/29/2019)

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.)

November 11, 2011 – An email between John Podesta and Chelsea Clinton reveals another private email account and possible Chinese hacking

“Another private email address surfaces in the Wikileaks Podesta emails, and it apparently belongs to Chelsea Clinton aka Anna James. Most notable in her conversation with John Podesta right before Thanksgiving, 2011, is an admission to their “technology was all compromised” during a recent visit to China.

 

 

In June 2011, Google Inc. publicly warned that hackers based in China were targeting the Gmail email accounts of senior US officials. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/2/2011

On July 26, 2011, Clinton shows awareness of the problem through a joke.

Another State Department official sends Clinton an email, and some confusion results about the official’s two email accounts.

Clinton writes, “I just checked and I do have your state but not your Gmail – so how did that happen. Must be the Chinese!”

US Department of State, 9/3/2015)  (Wikileaks, 11/20/2011)  (Thompson Timeline, 7/26/2011)

April 2010 – Present: China reads emails of top US officials

A secret NSA map obtained exclusively by NBC News shows the Chinese government’s massive cyber assault on all sectors of the U.S economy, including major firms like Google and Lockheed Martin, as well as the U.S. government and military. (Credit: NBC News)

“China’s cyber spies have accessed the private emails of “many” top Obama administration officials, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a top secret document obtained by NBC News, and have been doing so since at least April 2010.

The email grab –- first codenamed “Dancing Panda” by U.S. officials, and then “Legion Amethyst” –- was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.

In 2011, Google disclosed that the private gmail accounts of some U.S. officials had been compromised, but the briefing shows that private email accounts from other providers were compromised as well.

The government email accounts assigned to the officials, however, were not hacked because they are more secure, says the senior U.S. intelligence official.

The senior official says the private emails of “all top national security and trade officials” were targeted.

The Chinese also harvested the email address books of targeted officials, according to the document, reconstructing and then “exploiting the(ir) social networks” by sending malware to their friends and colleagues.

The time period overlaps with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while Secretary of State from Jan. 21, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2013. The names and ranks of the officials whose emails were actually grabbed, however, were not disclosed in the NSA briefing nor by the intelligence official.” (Read more: NBC News, 8/10/2015)

February 2009 – February 2013: It is suspected China hacked Clinton’s private email server throughout her term as Secretary of State

James Comey states in a July 5, 2017 press conference, his agency will recommend the US Department of Justice (DoJ) not to press official charges against Hillary Clinton. (Credit: MSNBC)

“A Chinese-owned company operating in the Washington, D.C., area hacked Hillary Clinton’s private server throughout her term as secretary of state and obtained nearly all her emails, two sources briefed on the matter told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Chinese firm obtained Clinton’s emails in real time as she sent and received communications and documents through her personal server, according to the sources, who said the hacking was conducted as part of an intelligence operation.

The Chinese wrote code that was embedded in the server, which was kept in Clinton’s residence in upstate New York. The code generated an instant “courtesy copy” for nearly all of her emails and forwarded them to the Chinese company, according to the sources.

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found that virtually all of Clinton’s emails were sent to a “foreign entity,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, said at a July 12 House Committee on the Judiciary hearing. He did not reveal the entity’s identity, but said it was unrelated to Russia.

Two officials with the ICIG, investigator Frank Rucker and attorney Janette McMillan, met repeatedly with FBI officials to warn them of the Chinese intrusion, according to a former intelligence officer with expertise in cybersecurity issues, who was briefed on the matter. He spoke anonymously, as he was not authorized to publicly address the Chinese’s role with Clinton’s server.

Among those FBI officials was Peter Strzok, who was then the bureau’s top counterintelligence official. Strzok was fired this month following the discovery he sent anti-Trump texts to his mistress and co-worker, Lisa Page. Strzok didn’t act on the information the ICIG provided him, according to Gohmert.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 8/27/2018)