Russian counterintelligence probe
December 19, 2018 – Lynch testimony reveals bias and intent for failing to give Trump defensive briefing
“The defensive briefing, after all, is a procedure that is often given to presidential candidates, elected officials and even U.S. businesses that have either been unwittingly approached by foreign actors attempting to gain trust and befriend those in position of influence.
The briefing allows the government to protect the candidates, specifically if there is substantial information or knowledge to suggest that someone has targeted an unwitting American for information. If the FBI or intelligence agencies suspect foreign adversaries may be trying to penetrate a presidential campaign, as those FBI and DOJ sources suggested in testimony to lawmakers, it would then be required to warn those affected, a senior former intelligence official told SaraACarter.com.
Why? Because foreign adversaries like China and Russia for example, and even allies, will attempt to glean information – or favor – from unwitting persons with access to senior level officials. The access can assist those nation’s own national interest or provide access for intelligence collection.
In the case of Trump, the FBI gave only a general counterintelligence briefing but did not provide information to the campaign that the FBI believed there were specific counterintelligence threats. For example, the FBI’s concern over campaign advisors George Papadopolous, Carter Page and then concerns over former national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.“It is an essential task of the FBI and the intelligence community to give a defensive briefing to a presidential candidate when a foreign adversary is attempting to penetrate or make contact with someone in the campaign,” said a former senior intelligence official. “If the FBI and DOJ were so concerned about Carter Page and (George) Papadopolous why didn’t they brief Trump when he became a candidate? The fact that they didn’t is very revealing. If they gave defensive briefing to the Clinton campaign then I think we have the answer.
Bruce Ohr’s 268-page testimony, released last week by Georgia Rep. Doug Collins reveals the machinations of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and the players involved. Ohr’s testimony coupled with testimony provided by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which has not been released but reviewed by this reporter, along with former FBI General Counsel James Baker’s testimony reveals a startling fact: everyone appeared to say they were concerned the Russian’s were penetrating the Trump campaign but no one at the DOJ or FBI authorized a defensive briefing.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 3/14/2019)
September 14, 2018 – Opinion: Lisa Page testifies FBI couldn’t prove Trump-Russia collusion before Mueller appointment
By: John Solomon
To date, Lisa Page’s infamy has been driven mostly by the anti-Donald Trump text messages she exchanged with fellow FBI agent Peter Strzok as the two engaged in an affair while investigating the president for alleged election collusion with Russia.
Yet, when history judges the former FBI lawyer years from now, her most consequential pronouncement may not have been typed on her bureau-issued Samsung smartphone to her colleague and lover.
Rather, it might be eight simple words she uttered behind closed doors during a congressional interview a few weeks ago.
“It’s a reflection of us still not knowing,” Page told Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) when questioned about texts she and Strzok exchanged in May 2017 as Robert Mueller was being named a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation.
With that statement, Page acknowledged a momentous fact: After nine months of using some of the most awesome surveillance powers afforded to U.S. intelligence, the FBI still had not made a case connecting Trump or his campaign to Russia’s election meddling.
Page opined further, acknowledging “it still existed in the scope of possibility that there would be literally nothing” to connect Trump and Russia, no matter what Mueller or the FBI did.
“As far as May of 2017, we still couldn’t answer the question,” she said at another point.”
(…) “For those who might cast doubt on the word of a single FBI lawyer, there’s more.” (Read more: The Hill, 9/14/2018)
September 11, 2018 – Ex-NSA Director disputes report that Trump asked him to push back on collusion probe
Former National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers on Tuesday disputed a report published in May 2017 alleging that President Donald Trump asked him to push back against the FBI’s collusion investigation.
“I’ve never had a discussion with collusion with the president of the United States,” Rogers said at an event held at George Mason University, according to CBS News.
“I’ve never been directed to do anything, coerced — any time I had a discussion I felt I was able to say, ‘Hey, here’s my view on that.’”
The Washington Post reported May 22, 2017, that Trump separately asked Rogers and Dan Coats, the director of the office of national intelligence, to push back against the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The alleged request came after then-FBI Director James Comey testified that the bureau was investigating whether members of the Trump team conspired with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Citing multiple anonymous sources, WaPo reported that Rogers refused to comply with Trump’s request. The newspaper also reported that a senior NSA official wrote a memo detailing the interaction between Trump and Rogers.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 9/12/2018)
June 7, 2018 – Clapper expresses doubt on Samantha Power’s claims about her role in unmasking Americans
“James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, expressed doubt on Thursday at former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power’s claims about her role in unmasking Americans’ identities in intelligence reports.”
“…It was revealed in October that Power made 260 unmasking requests during her final year in office, a rate that far surpassed her previous rate of unmaskings.”
(…) “Power told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in an interview in October that others in government made the unmasking requests under her name.
Asked about Power’s explanation by Hewitt, Clapper suggested that it is cause for concern.
“If that happened, if people usurped the authority to request unmaskings, would that concern you, Director Clapper?” Hewitt asked.
“Yeah, it would,” said Clapper.
“I don’t know quite how that would happen, you know, because the only way you can make an unmasking request is that you have authorized access to the report in question in the first place.”
“So I don’t know how that, quite how that would work,” he added.”
March 5, 2018 – A source behind the Trump Russia investigation, former Australian prime minister Alexander Downer, donated $25 million to Clinton Foundation
“The Australian diplomat whose tip in 2016 prompted the Russia-Trump investigation previously arranged one of the largest foreign donations to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable efforts, documents show.
Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s role in securing $25 million in aid from his country to help the Clinton Foundation fight AIDS is chronicled in decade-old government memos archived on the Australian foreign ministry’s website.
Downer and former President Clinton jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 2006 that spread out the grant money over four years for a project to provide screening and drug treatment to AIDS patients in Asia.
The money was initially allocated to the Clinton Foundation but later was routed through an affiliate of the charity known as the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), officials said. Australia was one of four foreign governments to donate more than $25 million to CHAI, records show.”
(…) “Downer, now Australia’s ambassador to London, provided the account of a conversation with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a London bar in 2016 that became the official reason the FBI opened the Russia counterintelligence probe.
But lawmakers say the FBI didn’t tell Congress about Downer’s prior connection to the Clinton Foundation. Republicans say they are concerned the new information means nearly all of the early evidence the FBI used to justify its election-year probe of Trump came from sources supportive of the Clintons, including the controversial Steele dossier.” (Read more: The Hill, 3/05/2018)
July 18th, 2017 – Why Did DOJ Deputy Asst. AG Rod Rosenstein Reauthorize FISA Warrant on July 18th, 2017? – Mueller and Rosenstein Timeline
“One of the most frequent questions about Deputy Asst. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein circles around his decision to reauthorize the FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant used against Carter Page and by extension the Trump campaign. In this outline we take the timeline and overlay new information that helps to understand what was going on:
It appears Special Counsel Robert Mueller began his investigation of Russian interference and the possibility of Trump campaign collusion, right where the FBI counterintelligence operation left-off. This is additionally supported by reviewing the original investigative instructions as outlined by Rod Rosenstein the day Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel.
The key phrase here is: “to serve as Special Counsel to oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election”… Here, Rosenstein is clearly instructing Robert Mueller to pick-up the former Counterintelligence Investigation previously headed by FBI Asst. Director of Counterintelligence Bill Priestap, and his #2 FBI Agent Peter Strzok.”
(…) “It was ten months before the Special Counsel was assigned when Page and Strzok were messaging each-other about the “insurance policy” discussed in Andrew McCabe’s office. The Page/Strzok messages were on August 18th, 2016.
That “insurance policy” is widely believed to have been short-hand to describe an effort to conduct surveillance on candidate Trump, which could later ensure a strategic plan to disrupt and possibly eliminate Trump if elected, via the Russia collusion narrative.
That plan needed legal FBI authority to conduct surveillance – which could be used to weaponize intelligence. That plan culminated in the Carter Page Title-1 FISA warrant as the deployment mechanism, on October 21st, 2016.
Apparently, without knowledge of the underlying sketchy context inside the application (Steele Dossier) of the FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant, on July 18th, 2017, Asst. AG Rod Rosenstein renews the FISA warrant as the 3rd continuance of an investigative tool. This time to be used by Robert Mueller. And with this intensely broad and intrusive surveillance authority Mueller’s investigative unit now has the legal authority to capture the records of everyone within two-hops of Carter Page. That includes the entire Trump campaign and likely almost all of the Trump administration.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 5/04/2018)
April 14, 2017 – Damning new Strzok text to Page: “The Times is angry with us about the WP scoop”
“A series of text messages released Wednesday reveal that former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok was in contact with reporters at the New York Times and Washington Post regarding stories they published about the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and President Trump’s campaign during the spring of 2017, according to a series of texts obtained by SaraACarter.com.
The text messages suggest that Strzok, along with his paramour, former FBI Attorney Lisa Page, had been in contact with reporters from both newspapers. Strzok specifically mentioned two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times writer Michael Schmidt in his text message to Page.
“Also, apparently Times is angry with us about the WP (Washington Post) scoop and earlier discussion we had about the Schmidt piece that had so many inaccuracies. Too much to detail here, but I told Mike (redacted) and Andy they need to understand we were absolutely dealing in good faith with them,” Strzok texted to Page on April 14, 2017. “The FISA one, coupled with the Guardian piece from yesterday.”
(The New York Times did not respond immediately for comment. The Washington Post also did not respond immediately for comment.)
According to several U.S. officials who spoke to this news outlet, “Mike” mentioned in Strzok’s text message is Mike Kortan, the former FBI assistant director for public affairs who retired in February. “Andy” was in reference to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe was fired earlier this year after it was revealed in DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report that said he lied to investigators and leaked information to the media. (Read more: Sarah Carter, 9/12/2018)
January 6, 2017 – Comey’s statement for the record on his first briefing with President-elect Trump re Russian meddling
Statement for the Record
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017
Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee
Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.
January 6 Briefing
“I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.
The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.
The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.
It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves “turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.
Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.
In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.
I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) — once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months — three in person and six on the phone.” (Read more: CNN, 6/8/2017)
In a Comey interview with George Stephanopolous on April 13, 2018, he admits to not telling Trump the Steele Dossier was paid for by his political opponents, Clinton and the DNC. (YouTube clip, 4/13/2018)
December 9, 2016 – John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to Comey
“Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.
The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump’s relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant. BuzzFeed on Tuesday published the documents, which it said were “unverified and potentially unverifiable”.
The Guardian has not been able to confirm the veracity of the documents’ contents, and the Trump team has consistently denied any hidden contacts with the Russian government.” (Read more: The Guardian, 1/11/2017)
July 31, 2016 – The official beginning of the FBI’s Trump/Russia investigation codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane”
“The FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia was originally known as “Crossfire Hurricane” before it was widely known to the public and even the bureau itself, officials told The New York Times.
The case, named after a Rolling Stones lyric, was used by only the small group of agents sent to interview the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom, who had evidence of possible collusion between Russia and a Trump adviser.
Five agents embarked to London in the summer of 2016 for a rare interview with the diplomat after deliberations between American and Australian officials, where they gathered information that would provide the basis for the Russia probe that is still ongoing.
The Times previously reported that a young foreign policy aide on the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, revealed he knew of hacked Democratic Party emails to Australian Ambassador Alexander Downer over late-night drinks in London.
Downer reportedly notified U.S. intelligence officials of his run-in with Papadopoulos after the emails, which contained damaging information about 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton just as the aide had said, began to leak to the public.
From there, the tight group of FBI agents went forward in interviewing Trump associates, which was kept secret for fear of leaks that could sway the campaign.
The official look into the Trump campaign reportedly began just days after the bureau closed its investigation into Clinton for her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State.” (Read more: The Hill, 5/16/2018)