Russian Intelligence

August 23, 2019 – Unsealed documents prove former Trump associate, Felix Sater, was an informant for the FBI, CIA and DIA

Felix Sater (Credit: Stephen Voss/Redux)

“A former Trump business associate and witness in the special counsel’s probe provided “extensive” cooperation to U.S. spy agencies in numerous terrorism and mafia-related investigations, according to a court filing unsealed Friday.

Felix Sater provided the FBI, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency with intelligence on a broad range of topics over the course of more than a decade, Benton J. Campbell, the then-U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in an Aug. 27, 2009 court filing.

(…) Sater, an American citizen born in Russia, formally began cooperating with the U.S. government on Dec. 10, 1998, as part of an agreement that required him to plead guilty to racketeering and money laundering charges related to a $40 million stock scheme.

Over the course of the next decade, Sater obtained intelligence regarding mafia activities in New York, Russian organized crime schemes in Cyprus, and al-Qaeda activities in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Sater was credited with obtaining Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone numbers and with providing information about an assassination attempt against President George W. Bush.

Sater’s lawyers said in an Oct. 19, 2009 filing also unsealed Friday that he worked with U.S. military intelligence to covertly obtain details about a Russian anti-missile system.

The court filings, which were unsealed in response to a lawsuit media companies filed, confirm details of BuzzFeed News’ reporting in March 2018 on Sater’s expansive resume. Sater disclosed his informant work to BuzzFeed in an effort to push back on the media narrative that he was linked to Russian intelligence and Russian organized crime.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 8/23/2019) (Wall Street Journal, 8/23/2019)

May 20, 2019 – Devin Nunes challenges the FBI to prove Joseph Mifsud is a Russian operative

Devin Nunes outlines his request to intelligence agencies to prove Joseph Mifsud is a Russian intelligence operative. Apparently the current FBI is avoiding a response.

Hell, it’s not difficult to predict where the Mifsud story ends up.  It’s likely to come out that Mifsud was working for British intelligence interests; on or off-the-books; and friendly with dossier author Chris Steele (Orbis etc.).

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse/Fox News)

(Conservative Treehouse, 5/21/2019)

April 18, 2019 – Mueller report contains claim Russia taped Bill Clinton having phone sex with Monica Lewinsky

Bill Clinton (Credit: public domain)

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report mentions a claim that Russians recorded President Bill Clinton having phone sex with White House intern Monica Lewinsky — but the reference was redacted from the version released to the public.

(…) Clinton allegedly was recorded by Russia in the 1990s, allowing Russia to learn of the affair before American officials. A reference to the Clinton intercept was redacted from the Mueller report to protect “personal privacy,” but sources told the Washington Examiner that the context makes clear what was blacked out.

According to the report, Center for the National Interest President Dimitri Simes sent Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner a 2016 email with recommended talking points to counter Hillary Clinton’s Russia attacks. The email referenced “a well-documented story of highly questionable connections” between Bill Clinton and Russia.

At a meeting in New York, Simes told Kushner the details: Russia allegedly recorded President Clinton on the phone with Lewinsky, opening questions of foreign leverage over the ex-president-turned-potential first spouse.

“During the August 17 meeting, Simes provided Kushner the Clinton-related information that he had promised. Simes told Kushner that, [redacted],” the Mueller report says. “Simes claimed that he had received this information from former CIA and Reagan White House official Fritz Ermarth, who claimed to have learned it from U.S. intelligence sources, not from Russians.”

(Read more: Washington Examiner, 4/23/2019)

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)

Dec. 7, 2018 – Comey is questioned about secret memo on Lynch ahead of testimony and states he believes the Russian intel is “genuine” but questions accuracy

(Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press)

“A controversial and classified document, alleging potential misconduct by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, resurfaced on December 7, suggesting lawmakers may press Lynch about the memo during her own deposition.

While the contents of the document remain classified, media leaks suggest it includes an email from the then-chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Leonard Benardo of the Open Society Foundations, the nonprofit organization run by billionaire Democratic fundraiser George Soros. The email shows Lynch assured Clinton-campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized access to the private email server would not “go too far.”

(…) Comey said the document was one of the factors that led him to break from established protocol and announce the exoneration of Clinton in a press conference. During his transcribed deposition (pdf) on Capitol Hill on Dec. 9, Comey answered questions about the document to both a Democrat and a Republican.

“[I’ve] tried to be very careful in public comments about this. There was material that had not been verified that I believed if it became public, would be used to cast doubt on whether the Attorney General had acted appropriately with respect to the investigation,” Comey said in response to a question from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) about the document on Dec. 9. “I don’t think I’m allowed to go beyond that in characterizing that material.”

“So far as I knew at the time, and still think, the material itself was genuine, which is a separate question, though, from whether it was what it said was accurate,” Comey added in response to a question from Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

Comey had previously written about the document in his book, explaining that he made the exoneration announcement because of a “development still unknown to the American public” that “cast serious doubt” on Lynch.

During his testimony, Comey agreed disclosing information in the document to the public would “have caused some to question the objectivity of the Department of Justice (DOJ).”

According to Comey, Lynch and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates were briefed on the contents of the document. The FBI then interviewed Lynch about the matter, although he was not present, Comey said.

If, since last year, the FBI or lawmakers had found a way to verify the accuracy of the document, it would prove that Obama administration officials at the highest level were using their power to further a political agenda. The finding could be especially devastating since it could implicate the head of the Justice Department, an entity traditionally independent of The White House and politics.

Lynch’s actions are behind three of the main reasons that Comey cites for announcing that no charges will be brought against Clinton. The usual protocol is for the Justice Department, not the FBI, to make a determination about bringing charges. Neither the FBI nor the DOJ announces details of investigations that do not result in prosecution.

Comey said he decided to make the announcement because of the way Lynch’s tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton could be perceived. Lynch had also told Comey to refer to the Clinton investigation as a matter.

The FBI would go on to interview Clinton on July 2, five days after the tarmac meeting. According to Ratcliffe, Clinton was never asked about the tarmac meeting during the FBI interview.”  (Read more: The Epoch Times, 12/09/2018)

April 23, 2018 – The Contradictions Surrounding Mifsud

“After the publication of Disobedient Media’s coverage of ‘eclectic scholar’ Joseph Mifsud’s unexamined ties to UK intelligence officials, this author was contacted by Chris Blackburn, a UK Political Analyst focusing on International Relations and Security, whose Twitter post instigated this writer’s research into the matter.

Chris Blackburn’s initial Tweets on the matter included of a photograph showing UK Joint Intelligence Committee member Claire Smith and Joseph Mifsud together at LINK Campus in Rome, where they collaborated on a training program involving Italian military officials. Disobedient Media was able to confirm the photograph’s authenticity, finding that the program was organized by the London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD), which Mifsud directed. The event took place in 2012 – a significant date because, at that time, Claire Smith was a member of the UK intelligence security vetting panel.

(Credit: Disobedient Media)

As Blackburn informed us, there is more to this story than is told by that single photograph, or by the October 2017 photograph of Mifsud standing with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. The following discussion took place electronically.

(…) “When Joseph Mifsud’s name was leaked by The Washington Post as being the ‘professor’ named in George Papadopoulos’ court papers, bloggers and journalists took to Twitter to try to understand who he was. Everyone was looking for connections to Russia. They quickly found them. The London Centre for International Law Practice (LCILP) had been working on hosting financial sanctions workshops, and LINK Campus in Rome and the London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD) had provided a vehicle for Mifsud to make connections with Russian universities and academics.”

“Before the story broke, I had heard of the London Centre for International Law Practice (LCILP) where George Papadopoulos and Mifsud both worked. The relatively new legal firm had been trying to move into the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) sector in the UK. They had done some research into ISIS territorial gains in the Middle East and wrote a widely circulated report on the group. They also hosted a few seminars with [UK] Foreign Office types on terrorism. LCILP had also tried to reach out to a couple of Bangladeshi activists working on the Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunals. I didn’t think much of it, but I couldn’t ignore it. Why would a suspected Russian intelligence front try to engage with Bangladesh’s War Crimes Tribunal from London?”

“I quickly found that LCILP’s director Peter Dovey had been a left-wing solicitor and set up a legal entity called the Police Station Defence Service (PSDS) along with Nagi Idris, another LCILP director, and an American-Mexican called George San Martin. George San Martin had been a major figure in left-wing activism in the US. The FBI should have found that.”

“While other researchers were looking into Mifsud’s academic links to Russia, I decided to conduct a more wide-ranging investigation. The London Academy of Diplomacy was being built up in the press as a shady operation. It wasn’t. British diplomats and Foreign Office ministers often visited LAD. Sir Tony Baldry, Alok Sharma MP and former Foreign Secretary William Hague all visited LAD or spoke at their conferences.”

“The Commonwealth and various governments, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, sent their diplomats to train there. Nabil Ayad, the founding director of LAD, had built up the academy as a respectable powerhouse in London’s diplomatic community. Counter-intelligence investigators would only be concentrating on Mifsud’s high-frequency contacts and associations. They would be examining people he worked with on a regular basis. As an academic working in diplomacy, Mifsud would have thousands of contacts. FBI investigators would be looking for intelligence ties.”

“Mifsud worked with diplomats and NATO allies, so they would need to know the potential damage he had caused. I found that two of Joseph Mifsud’s closest colleagues, who the FBI would have designated as high-frequency, were Claire Smith and Gianni Pittella. They had followed him between LAD, Stirling University and LINK Campus in Rome. Claire Smith was a former member of Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). As a team, Smith and Mifsud trained Italian law enforcement on intelligence at LINK Campus in Rome. LINK Campus’ ties to the Italian Foreign Ministry and intelligence agencies had been quickly skimmed over by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Buzzfeed and The Guardian.”

Italian politician Gianni Pittella at Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign launch in Philadelphia, July 2016, “calling Donald Trump ‘a virus’ which needed to be stopped, while his close collaborator Mifsud was supposedly helping Trump’s campaign to conspire with Russia.” (Credit: Corriere Della Sera)

Gianni Pittella has known Mifsud for a while. They met at the European Parliament and have collaborated on numerous projects together. In July 2016Pittella gave a rousing speech at Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign launch in Philadelphia, calling Donald Trump ‘a virus’ which needed to be stopped, while his close collaborator Mifsud was supposedly helping Trump’s campaign to conspire with Russia. If the FBI had been doing a proper investigation into Joseph Mifsud, these two connections should have raised red flags immediately.”

“If Mifsud was working with western intelligence agencies that would be rather pertinent in an espionage scandal. Italian journalists have been slow to pick up the story, but they are now calling LINK Campus the ‘007 university’ because Vincenzo Scotti, a former Italian Foreign Minister, and director at LINK University, has been trying to defend himself from suggestions he’s in Russia or the CIA’s pocket.”

“The venue for the alleged acts of treachery involving Papadopoulos and Mifsud – LINK Campus Rome – should have set alarm bells ringing for the FBI’s counter-intelligence investigators. The CIA has a long history of working there. David Ignatius of The Washington Post even wrote about a CIA-sponsored event he attended at LINK Campus in 2004.” (Read more: Disobedient Media, 4/23/2018)

June 22, 2017 – Grassley, Feinstein, Graham and Whitehouse write to former AG Lynch with questions about the Russian intel that alleges she made private assurances to Clinton aide, Amanda Renteria

Bill meets Loretta on the Phoenix airport tarmac, June 27, 2016.(Credit: ABC News)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham, and Ranking Member Sheldon Whitehouse sought information about alleged political interference by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch during the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The bipartisan inquiry comes as the Judiciary Committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the removal of James Comey as FBI Director.

In April 2017The New York Times reported that the FBI came into possession of a batch of hacked documents, one of which was said to be authored by a “Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far.” Chairman Grassley then requested a copy of the document from the Justice Department, which has failed to respond. A month laterThe Washington Post reported similar facts and provided further details about individuals involved in these communications. The Post reported that the email in question, sent by then-chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Leonard Benardo of the Open Society Foundations, indicated that Lynch had privately assured Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the FBI’s investigation wouldn’t “go too far.”

Comey was reportedly concerned that the communication would raise doubts about the investigation’s independence and began discussing plans to announce the end of the Clinton email investigation rather than simply referring it to the Department for a prosecutorial decision. Comey’s extraordinary action to announce the end of the investigation was a break from Justice Department protocol and was later cited as justification for his removal from the FBI.

In their letters to Benardo, Open Society Foundations’ General Counsel Gail Scovell, Renteria, and former Attorney General Lynch, the Senators seek details about the reported communication, copies of any related documents and whether the FBI contacted them to investigate the alleged communication.

The reports come amidst numerous allegations of political inference in controversial and high-profile investigations spanning the current and previous administrations. The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the FBI and Justice Department and is obliged to oversee any potential misconduct or inappropriate political influence at these agencies.

The full text of the letters can be found at the following links:

Letter to Mr. Leonard Benardo
Letter to Ms. Gail Scovell
Letter to Ms. Renteria
Letter to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch

(Senate Judiciary Press, 6/23/2017)

December 30, 2016 – The credibility of cyber firm Crowdstrike, claiming Russia hacked the DNC, comes under serious question

Jeffrey Carr (Credit: Vimeo)

“The cyber security firm hired to inspect the DNC hack and determine who was responsible is a firm called Crowdstrike. Its conclusion that Russia was responsible was released last year, but several people began to call its analysis into question upon further inspection.

Jeffrey Carr was one of the most prominent cynics, and as he noted in his December post, FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report: A Fatally Flawed Effort:

The FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report (JAR) “Grizzly Steppe” was released yesterday as part of the White House’s response to alleged Russian government interference in the 2016 election process. It adds nothing to the call for evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacking the DNC, the DCCC, the email accounts of Democratic party officials, or for delivering the content of those hacks to Wikileaks.

It merely listed every threat group ever reported on by a commercial cybersecurity company that is suspected of being Russian-made and lumped them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection exists.

Unlike Crowdstrike, ESET doesn’t assign APT28/Fancy Bear/Sednit to a Russian Intelligence Service or anyone else for a very simple reason. Once malware is deployed, it is no longer under the control of the hacker who deployed it or the developer who created it. It can be reverse-engineered, copied, modified, shared and redeployed again and again by anyone. In other words — malware deployed is malware enjoyed!

If ESET could do it, so can others. It is both foolish and baseless to claim, as Crowdstrike does, that X-Agent is used solely by the Russian government when the source code is there for anyone to find and use at will.

If the White House had unclassified evidence that tied officials in the Russian government to the DNC attack, they would have presented it by now. The fact that they didn’t means either that the evidence doesn’t exist or that it is classified.

If it’s classified, an independent commission should review it because this entire assignment of blame against the Russian government is looking more and more like a domestic political operation run by the White House that relied heavily on questionable intelligence generated by a for-profit cybersecurity firm with a vested interest in selling “attribution-as-a-service”.

Nevertheless, countless people, including the entirety of the corporate media, put total faith in the analysis of Crowdstrike despite the fact that the FBI was denied access to perform its own analysis. Which makes me wonder, did the U.S. government do any real analysis of its own on the DNC hack, or did it just copy/paste Crowdstrike?

As The Hill reported in January:

The FBI requested direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) hacked computer servers but was denied, Director James Comey told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The bureau made “multiple requests at different levels,” according to Comey, but ultimately struck an agreement with the DNC that a “highly respected private company” would get access and share what it found with investigators.

“We’d always prefer to have access hands-on ourselves if that’s possible,” Comey said, noting that he didn’t know why the DNC rebuffed the FBI’s request.

This is nuts. Are all U.S. government agencies simply listening to what Crowdstike said in coming to their “independent” conclusions that Russia hacked the DNC? If so, that’s a huge problem. Particularly considering what Voice of America published yesterday in a piece titled, Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data:

An influential British think tank and Ukraine’s military are disputing a report that the U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has used to buttress its claims of Russian hacking in the presidential election.

The CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists.

But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.

The challenges to CrowdStrike’s credibility are significant because the firm was the first to link last year’s hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors, and because CrowdStrike co-founder Dimiti Alperovitch has trumpeted its Ukraine report as more evidence of Russian election tampering.

(Read more: Michael Krieger/Liberty Blitzkrieg, 3/22/2017)

March 1, 2016 – The FBI is given a Russian intel doc citing an email that suggests AG Lynch assured a Clinton aide she would not let the email investigation go too far

“In the midst of the 2016 presidential primary season, the FBI received what was described as a Russian intelligence document claiming a tacit understanding between the Clinton campaign and the Justice Department over the inquiry into whether she intentionally revealed classified information through her use of a private email server.

Leonardo Bernardo (Credit: Open Society Foundations)

The Russian document cited a supposed email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter. If true, the revelation of such an understanding would have undermined the integrity of the FBI’s investigation.

Current and former officials have said that Comey relied on the document in making his July decision to announce on his own, without Justice Department involvement, that the investigation was over. That public announcement — in which he criticized Clinton and made extensive comments about the evidence — set in motion a chain of other FBI moves that Democrats now say helped Trump win the presidential election.

(…) The document, obtained by the FBI, was a piece of purported analysis by Russian intelligence, the people said. It referred to an email supposedly written by the then-chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and sent to Leonard Benardo, an official with the Open Society Foundations, an organization founded by billionaire George Soros and dedicated to promoting democracy.

The Russian document did not contain a copy of the email, but it described some of the contents of the purported message.

Amanda Renteria (Credit: Jahz Tello/GVWire)

In the supposed email, Wasserman Schultz claimed Lynch had been in private communication with a senior Clinton campaign staffer named Amanda Renteria during the campaign. The document indicated Lynch had told Renteria that she would not let the FBI investigation into Clinton go too far, according to people familiar with it.

Current and former officials have argued that the secret document gave Comey good reason to take the extraordinary step over the summer of announcing the findings of the Clinton investigation himself without Justice Department involvement.

From the moment the bureau received the document from a source in early March 2016, its veracity was the subject of an internal debate at the FBI. Several people familiar with the matter said the bureau’s doubts about the document hardened in August when officials became more certain that there was nothing to substantiate the claims in the Russian document. FBI officials knew the bureau never had the underlying email with the explosive allegation if it ever existed. (Read more: The New York Times, 5/24/2017)