Russian meddling

August 20, 2019 – Indicted Russian firm, Concord Management and Consulting, challenges Mueller’s meddling accusations that are, ‘at best misleading and at worst demonstrably false’

Attorneys Eric Dubelier, second from right, and Katherine Seikaly, second from left, representing Concord Management and Consulting LLC on May 9, 2018. (Credit: Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

“The Russian consulting firm accused of bankrolling social media meddling in the 2016 presidential election spent less than $5,000 on candidate ads and rallies that would be subject to government auditing, the company argues in a court filing.

The motion from Concord Management and Consulting LLC challenges the federal government’s assertion that it spent huge sums of Russian money on social media aimed at disrupting the American political process.

Concord is charged with failing to file with the Federal Election Commission. The firm says some of the online ads listed in an indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller cost less than $10 each and added up to $2,930. Conjured-up rallies cost another $1,833 in payroll.

The 2018 indictment accuses Concord of funding the Internet Research Agency. That is the Russian troll farm in St. Petersburg that bought the internet ads, did social media spoofing and set up rallies against candidate Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump.

“The allegation in the Indictment claiming that IRA spent thousands of dollars each month to purchase advertisements is at best misleading and at worst demonstrably false because the discovery indicates that many of the advertisements took place after the 2016 presidential election or did not involve any clearly identifiable candidate,” Concord attorney Eric A. Dubelier argued in a Monday filing in U.S. District Court.

In its filing, Concord cited cost figures based on evidence from U.S. prosecutors. The indictment listed ads that were required to be reported in campaign finance reports to the FEC.

The filing’s main argument has to do with the identities of defendants. It claims the government refuses to say which company employees violated FEC laws. Only one Concord employee is listed: its head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a food service mogul close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” (Read more: The Washington Times, 8/20/2019)

December 19, 2018 – Democratic and neoconservative operatives meddle in US 2018 election by creating a fake army of Russian bots

“US cyber-security experts have blamed Russia for meddling in American elections since 2016. Now it has emerged that authors of a Senate report on ‘Russian’ meddling actually ran a “false flag” meddling operation themselves.

A week before Christmas, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Russia of depressing Democrat voter turnout by targeting African-Americans on social media. Its authors, New Knowledge, quickly became a household name.

Jonathon Morgan (l) and Ryan Fox (Credit: Medium/New Knowledge)

Described by the New York Times as a group of tech specialists who lean Democratic, New Knowledge has ties to both the US military and intelligence agencies. Its CEO and co-founder Jonathon Morgan previously worked for DARPA, the US military’s advanced research agency. His partner, Ryan Fox, is a 15-year veteran of the National Security Agency who also worked as a computer analyst for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Their unique skill sets have managed to attract the eye of investors, who pumped $11 million into the company in 2018 alone.

Morgan and Fox have struck gold in the “Russiagate” racket, which sprung into being after Hillary Clinton blamed Moscow for Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016. Morgan, for example, is one of the developers of the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, the online tool that purports to monitor and expose narratives being pushed by the Kremlin on Twitter. The dashboard is bankrolled by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy – a collection of Democrats and neoconservatives funded in part by NATO and USAID.

It is worth noting that the 600 “Russia-linked” Twitter accounts monitored by the dashboard are not disclosed to the public, making it impossible to verify its claims. This inconvenience has not stopped Hamilton 68 from becoming a go-to source for hysteria-hungry journalists, however…

New Knowledge’s victory lap was short-lived. On December 19, a New York Times story revealed that Morgan and his crew had created a fake army of Russian bots, as well as fake Facebook groups, in order to discredit Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama’s 2017 special election for the US Senate.

Judge Roy Moore (Credit: public domain)

Working on behalf of the Democrats, Morgan and his crew created an estimated 1,000 fake Twitter accounts with Russian names, and had them follow Moore. They also operated several Facebook pages where they posed as Alabama conservatives who wanted like-minded voters to support a write-in candidate instead.

In an internal memo, New Knowledge boasted that it had orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet.

It worked. The botnet claim made a splash on social media and was further amplified by Mother Jones, which based its story on expert opinion from Morgan’s other dubious creation, Hamilton 68.

Scott Shane (Credit: public domain)

Ultimately, Moore ended up losing the race by a miniscule 1.5 percentage points – making his opponent Doug Jones the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the US Senate in over 25 years.

Things got even weirder when it turned out that Scott Shane, the author of the Times piece, had known about the meddling for months, because he spoke at an event where the organizers boasted about it!

Shane was one of the speakers at a meeting in September, organized by American Engagement Technologies, a group run by Mikey Dickerson, President Barack Obama’s former tech czar. Dickerson explained how AET spent $100,000 on New Knowledge’s campaign to suppress Republican votes, “enrage” Democrats to boost turnout, and execute a “false flag” to hurt Moore. He dubbed it “Project Birmingham.”

Reid Hoffman (Credit: Wikipedia)

The money for the venture came from a $750,000 contribution to AET by Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn and a big Democrat donor. Once that emerged, Hoffman offered a public apology for his connection to the shady operation, but insisted that he didn’t know what his money was going towards.

“I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing,” Hoffman said in a statement.

“For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET — the organization I did support — more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject.”

As for Shane, he told BuzzFeed that he was “shocked” by the revelations, but had signed a nondisclosure agreement at the request of AET, so he could not talk about it further.” (Read more: Russia Today, 12/29/2018)

October 25, 2017 – Editorial: When Scandals Collide

Andrew C. McCarthy

By: Andrew McCarthy

(…) “we have learned finally, courtesy of the Washington Post, that Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the notorious “Trump Dossier,” was funded by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Of course, the Clinton campaign and the DNC always want layers of deniability and obfuscation – and let’s note that it has served them well – so they hire lawyers to do the icky stuff rather than doing it directly. Then, when the you-know-what hits the fan, outfits like Fusion GPS try to claim that they can’t share critical information with investigators because of (among other things) attorney-client confidentiality concerns.

Here, the Clinton campaign and the DNC retained the law firm of Perkins Coie; in turn, one of its partners, Marc E. Elias, retained Fusion GPS. We don’t know how much Fusion GPS was paid, but the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid $9.1 million to Perkins Coie during the 2016 campaign (i.e., between mid-2015 and late 2016).

In its capacity as attorney for the DNC, Perkins Coie – through another of its partners, Michael Sussman – is also the law firm that retained CrowdStrike, the cyber security outfit, upon learning in April 2016 that the DNC’s servers had been hacked.

A friend draws my attention to an intriguing coincidence.

Interesting: Despite the patent importance of the physical server system to the FBI and Intelligence-Community investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Bureau never examined the DNC servers. Evidently, the DNC declined to cooperate to that degree, and the Obama Justice Department decided not to issue a subpoena to demand that the servers be turned over (just like the Obama Justice Department decided not to issue subpoenas to demand the surrender of critical physical evidence in the Clinton e-mails investigation).

Instead, the conclusion that Russia is responsible for the invasion of the DNC servers rests on the forensic analysis conducted by CrowdStrike. Rather than do its own investigation, the FBI relied on a contractor retained by the DNC’s lawyers.” (Read more: National Review, 10/25/2017)

July 18th, 2017 – Why Did DOJ Deputy Asst. AG Rod Rosenstein Reauthorize FISA Warrant on July 18th, 2017? – Mueller and Rosenstein Timeline

Rod Rosenstein (Credit: The Associated Press)

“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:

  • Why did Rosenstein renew that sketchy FISA warrant July 18th, 2017?
  • Why did Mueller request clarity two weeks later on August 2nd, 2017?
  • 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)

    January 6, 2017 – Comey’s Trump Tower meeting is part of a FBI counterintelligence investigation

    The Trump Tower in New York City, December 2018. (Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    (…) Comey told Horowitz that the information he obtained from his conversation with Trump “ought to be treated…[like] FISA derived information or information in a [counterintelligence] investigation.” In other words, his meeting with Trump had very direct surveillance overtones and intentions—and directly counters what he had testified to Congress.

    According to his Congressional testimony, Comey had told Trump at the Jan. 6, 2017, meeting that he was not under investigation by the FBI, noting, “sir, we’re not personally investigating you.”

    Prior to the meeting with Trump at Trump Tower, Comey met with FBI officials involved in the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the Trump campaign to discuss a strategy to obtain information and how to memorialize it right after the meeting.

    Comey told the IG that in advance of his meeting with President-elect Trump, he “met with senior leaders of the FBI, including his Chief of Staff James Rybicki, then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, then-FBI General Counsel James Baker, and the supervisors of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.

    According to the IG report, multiple FBI witnesses said the meeting was intended, in part, to see how President-elect Trump reacted to the allegations and whether he would reveal new information useful for their counterintelligence investigation.

    (…) Comey’s meeting with Trump followed a formal briefing that Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and National Security Director James Clapper had provided to Obama just hours earlier regarding the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russia hacking and election interference.

    Comey outlined to the IG the details of the meeting that took place between only himself and Trump:

    “At the conclusion of our session, the COS [Chief of Staff Priebus] asked whether there is anything we haven’t mentioned that they should know or that might come out. I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to the PE [President-Elect] about alone or in a very small group…”

    “…I then executed the session exactly as I had planned. I told him [President Trump] that I wanted to meet with him to tell him more about what is in the reports written by [redacted – likely Steele]. I said that the written reports themselves were [redacted] and the content known at IC senior level and that I didn’t want him caught cold by some of the detail…”

    “I said the Russians allegedly had tapes involving him and prostitutes at the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow from about 2013…I said I wasn’t saying this was true, only that I wanted him to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands. I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the FBI has the material or [REDACTED] and that we were keeping it very close-hold.”

    Notably, Comey only informed President Trump of the “salacious” details contained within the dossier. Comey would later tell CNN’s Jake Tapper that he did so “Because that was the part that the leaders of the intelligence community agreed he needed to be told about.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 9/02/2019)

    August 29, 2016 – Harry Reid cites evidence of Russian tampering in US vote, and seeks FBI inquiry

    Harry Reid (Credit: public domain)

    “In a letter to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., Mr. Reid wrote that the threat of Russian interference “is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.” Recent classified briefings from senior intelligence officials, Mr. Reid said in an interview, have left him fearful that President Vladimir V. Putin’s “goal is tampering with this election.”

    (…) “Mr. Reid’s accusation that Russia is seeking not only to influence the election with propaganda but also to tamper with the vote counting goes significantly beyond anything the Obama administration has said in public.

    While intelligence agencies have told the White House that they have “high confidence” that Russian intelligence services were behind the hacking of the Democratic committee, the administration has not leveled any accusations against Mr. Putin’s government. Asked about that in the interview, Mr. Reid said he was free to say things the president was not.

    But Mr. Reid argued that the connections between some of Donald J. Trump’s former and current advisers and the Russian leadership should, by itself, prompt an investigation. He referred indirectly in his letter to a speech given in Russia by one Trump adviser, Carter Page, a consultant and investor in the energy giant Gazprom, who criticized American sanctions policy toward Russia.

    “Trump and his people keep saying the election is rigged,” Mr. Reid said. “Why is he saying that? Because people are telling him the election can be messed with.” Mr. Trump’s advisers say they are concerned that unnamed elites could rig the election for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

    Mr. Reid argued that if Russia concentrated on “less than six” swing states, it could alter results and undermine confidence in the electoral system. That would pose challenges, given that most states have paper backups, but he noted that hackers could keep people from voting by tampering with the rolls of eligible voters.” (Read more: New York Times, 8/29/2016)