September 2019

September 27, 2019 – The Trump-Zelensky transcript contradicts the whistleblower complaint in three notable instances

“The Trump-Zelensky transcript contradicts the whistleblower complaint in three notable instances, raising questions about the credibility of the whistleblower and his or her purported White House sources.

First, WB claims that his sources told him that after “an initial exchange of pleasantries” Trump “used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests.” The transcript shows that the leaders discussed meetings in Poland and DC before ending the call.

 

Second, WB claims that aside from the cases “purportedly dealing with the Biden family and the 2016 US election … no other ‘cases’ were discussed.” But the transcript shows that Trump and Zelensky talked of a potential probe of Marie Yovanovitch. (misspelled as Ivanovich)

Zelensky: “if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country” in regards to Yovanovitch.

In the transcript, Yovanovitch’s name is misspelled “Ivanovich” and Zelensky appears to have misstated her title as “Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine.”

WB claims the loading of the call transcript onto a secure system amounted to an abuse of that system since the “the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.” The transcript was labeled (properly) “SECRET/ORCON/NOFORN.”

The “SECRET/ORCON/NOFORN.” label was appropriate since the call contained Trump’s views on foreign nations, including Germany, a key U.S. ally. Unauthorized disclosure of such information has the potential to harm national security.

Pelosi kicked off impeachment before the White House released the transcript of the call and before the complaint was made public. As a result, she may not have been aware that the complaint is based on hearsay, some of which has now been contradicted by the call transcript.” (Ivan Pentchoukov @IvanPentchoukov/Twitter, 9/27/2019)

September 27, 2019 – Italian officials provide an audio recording of Joseph Mifsud’s deposition to AG Barr

(Credit: Communities Digital News)

“Attorney General William Barr reportedly listened to an audio recording of the mysterious professor at the center of the special counsel’s probe during a surprise trip last week to Italy.

Barr met with Italian intelligence officials during the trip, The Daily Beast reported citing Italian officials, and John Durham accompanied him. Durham is a federal prosecutor who is leading an inquiry into FBI and CIA intelligence-gathering activities related to the Trump campaign.

A source in Italy’s Ministry of Justice said that Italian officials played a tape for Barr and Durham, according to The Daily Beast. Another source said the Italians showed the U.S. officials other evidence related to Joseph Mifsud, who was once a Maltese diplomat and has held university positions in the U.K. and Italy.

The tape was a deposition that Mifsud gave after applying for police protection explaining why he might be in harm’s way, according to The Beast. The report said Italian Ministry of Justice records show that Mifsud applied for police protection.

Mifsud was scrutinized in the special counsel’s investigation because of his relationship in 2016 with George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide. Papadopoulos said Mifsud told him during an April 26, 2016 meeting in London that he had learned from Russian government officials that Russia had “dirt” on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.

(…) The special counsel portrayed Mifsud as a possible Russian agent; however, the Malta-born mystery man also has close ties to Western diplomats. He has visited the U.S. State Department and held a position at Rome’s Link Campus University, which has close ties to Western intelligence agencies.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 10/02/2019)  (Archive)

September 27, 2019 – State Department official Kurt Volker at center of whistleblower complaint, resigns

Kurt Volker (Credit: Reuters)

“Kurt Volker, the U.S. special representative to Ukraine, resigned Friday amid fallout from a whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump regarding a phone call in July with Ukraine’s president.

Volker was one of five State Department officials that House Democrats said Friday they want to depose as part of an impeachment inquiry of Trump. The whistleblower complaint focuses on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader.

Beginning earlier this year, Volker served as a liaison between officials in the incoming Zelensky administration and Rudy Giuliani, the Trump lawyer who pushed the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

(…) Volker helped Giuliani set up meetings with Zelensky aides. But the whistleblower complaint also says that Volker and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, met with Giuliani in an effort to “contain the damage” to national security.

Volker and Sondland also met with Ukrainian officials to help them understand the “different messages” they were receiving from Giuliani and official diplomatic channels.

Volker, who served as ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, joined the Trump State Department in 2017. He was also executive director at the McCain Institute, founded by late Arizona Sen. John McCain.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 9/27/2019)

Here is the first section from the complaint that mentions Sondland:

And here is the second:

 

September 26, 2019 – The anonymous “hearsay whistleblower” complaint re Trump/Zelensky call, is released (pdf)

Eric Ciaramella

“If you have read any of the documents that came from Fusion-GPS, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele, you will likely find an amazing amount of similarity to the format and writing in this “whistleblower” complaint.

It was obviously written by a Lawfare member.

The complaint is the same structure as the Steele Dossier.  No direct knowledge; no direct evidence to the claims; second-hand gossip, rumors from people who might have known another person to have overheard something, mixed with prior media reports to narrate a story as told by the author. Here is the complaint:

The complaint is based on the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine.  Here’s the transcript of that call:

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) is Michael K Atkinson.  ICIG Atkinson is the official who accepted the ridiculous premise of a hearsay ‘whistle-blower‘ complaint; an intelligence whistleblower who was “blowing-the-whistle” based on second-hand information of a phone call without any direct personal knowledge, ie ‘hearsay‘.

Michael K Atkinson was previously the Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ-NSD) in 2016. That makes Atkinson senior legal counsel to John Carlin and Mary McCord who were the former heads of the DOJ-NSD in 2016 when the stop Trump operation was underway.

If the DOJ-NSD exploitation of the NSA database, and/or DOJ-NSD FISA abuse, and/or DOJ-NSD FARA corruption were ever to reach sunlight, current ICIG Atkinson -as the lawyer for the process- would be under a lot of scrutiny for his involvement.

Yes, that gives current ICIG Michael Atkinson a strong and corrupt motive to participate with the Schiff/Lawfare impeachment objective.

Atkinson’s conflict-of-self-interest, and/or possible blackmail upon him by deep state actors who most certainly know his compromise, likely influenced his approach to this whistleblower complaint.   That would explain why the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Counsel so strongly rebuked Atkinson’s interpretation of his responsibility with the complaint.

In the Justice Department’s OLC opinion, they point out that Atkinson’s internal justification for accepting the whistleblower complaint was poor legal judgment.  [See Here]  I would say Atkinson’s decision is directly related to his own risk exposure:

(Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 9/26/2019)

September 26, 2019 – Solomon: Once-secret memos cast doubt on Joe Biden’s Ukraine story

Joe Biden (Credit: Council on Foreign Relations)

“Former Vice President Joe Biden, now a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, has locked into a specific story about the controversy in Ukraine.

He insists that, in spring 2016, he strong-armed Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor solely because Biden believed that official was corrupt and inept, not because the Ukrainian was investigating a natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, that hired Biden’s son, Hunter, into a lucrative job.

There’s just one problem.

Hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents — many from inside the American team helping Burisma to stave off its legal troubles — conflict with Biden’s narrative.

And they raise the troubling prospect that U.S. officials may have painted a false picture in Ukraine that helped ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview Hunter Biden during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For instance, Burisma’s American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after Biden forced the firing of the country’s chief prosecutor and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutors, according to the Ukrainian government’s official memo of the meeting. The effort to secure that meeting began the same day the prosecutor’s firing was announced.

In addition, Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends, according to that memo and the American legal team’s internal emails.

The memos raise troubling questions:

1.)   If the Ukraine prosecutor’s firing involved only his alleged corruption and ineptitude, why did Burisma’s American legal team refer to those allegations as “false information?”

2.)   If the firing had nothing to do with the Burisma case, as Biden has adamantly claimed, why would Burisma’s American lawyers contact the replacement prosecutor within hours of the termination and urgently seek a meeting in Ukraine to discuss the case?

Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) since the summer of 2018, fearing it might be evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws. First, they hired a former federal prosecutor to bring the information to the U.S. attorney in New York, who, they say, showed no interest. Then, the Ukrainians reached out to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.” (Read more: The Hill, 9/26/2019)

September 21, 2019 – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denies suggestions Trump had put pressure on Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a July call

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko (Credit: Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

“In an interview with media outlet Hromadske, Prystaiko said Ukraine was an independent state and would not take sides in U.S. politics even if “in theory” the country was in a position to do so. He added that Kiev appreciated the assistance it received from Washington.

Zelenskiy’s office has so far declined to comment on the allegations.

“I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure,” Prystaiko said. “This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers.”

Trump dismissed the Sept. 12 complaint from the whistleblower within the intelligence community as a partisan hit against him.

Trump had spoken Zelenskiy less than three weeks before the complaint was filed. Trump is due to meet Zelenskiy during a United Nations gathering in New York.

Prystaiko said Zelenskiy had the right to keep conversations with other leaders confidential.

“I want to say that we are an independent state, we have our secrets,” he was quoted as saying in the interview.” (Read more: Reuters, 9/21/2019)

September 19, 2019 – Schiff acts like he doesn’t know what was in the hearsay whistleblower complaint; Pelosi admits to knowing what was said in the Trump-Zelensky call before transcript was released

“In the days leading up to last week’s release of a whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff implied that he was unaware of the substance of the allegations in the document, which centered on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president.

But a report from The New York Times on Wednesday raises news questions about Schiff’s claims.

According to the newspaper, Schiff had a general idea of the substance of the complaint by the time it was filed on Aug. 12. That’s because the would-be whistleblower approached a Schiff aide on the House Intelligence Committee. In turn, the aide directed the individual to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG), and briefed Schiff on the subject of the complaint.

Schiff and his staff “knew at least vaguely” what was in the complaint when it was filed, according to The Times.

But Schiff played coy for weeks when discussing the mysterious complaint. During his many interviews about the allegations against Trump, he did not reveal that his office had been in contact with the whistleblower or that he had any awareness of the person’s allegations.

In a Sept. 19 press conference, he suggested that he did not know what the whistleblower was alleging. He also asserted that he might not even know that a complaint had been filed if Michael Atkinson, the IC IG, had not contacted Congress earlier last month regarding the complaint.

“In the absence of the actions, and I want to thank the inspector general, in the absence of his actions in coming to our committee, we might not have even known there was a whistleblower complaint alleging an urgent concern,” Schiff said during a press briefing on Sept. 19.

Schiff left out the part about his staff member directing the whistleblower to contact the IC IG in the first place.

(Read more: The Daily Caller, 10/02/2019)

On Sunday, September 30, 2019, Nancy Pelosi appears CBS 60 Minutes and says the following:

“He told me it was perfect, that there was nothing on the call,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” referring to a conversation she had with President Trump before the Trump administration released the transcript.

But I know what was in the call,” Pelosi continued, before quickly adding, “I mean, uh, it was in the public domain.”
(Read more: Sarah Carter, 9/30/2019)

September 18, 2019 – Judicial Watch files a FOIA lawsuit for the records of FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for records about FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta, who was the Legal Attaché in Rome who helped circulate the Steele dossier (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-02722)).

The suit was filed after the Justice Department and FBI failed to respond to an August 10, 2018, FOIA requests seeking:

  • All records of communications, including emails (using [his or her] own name or aliases), text messages, instant chats and encrypted messages, sent to and from former FBI Legal Attaché in Rome, Special Agent Michael Gaeta, mentioning the terms “Trump”, “Clinton”, “Republican”, “Democrat”, and/or “conservatives.”
  • All SF50s and SF52s of SA Michael Gaeta.
  • All expense reports and travel vouchers submitted for SA Michael Gaeta.

On August 28, 2018, Bruce Ohr testified before a joint task force of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees that Christopher Steele, author of the Clinton funded dossier, gave two reports from the dossier to Gaeta.

In the July 30 meeting, Chris Steele also mentioned something about the doping — you know, one of the doping scandals. And he also mentioned, I believe — and, again, this is based on my review of my notes — that he had provided Mr. Gaeta with two reports…”

The only thing I recall him mentioning is that he had provided two of his reports to Special Agent Gaeta.

Gaeta reportedly was authorized by then Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to meet with Steele at his office in London to receive reports from the dossier

The purpose of the London visit was clear. Steele was personally handing the first memo in his dossier to Gaeta for ultimate transmission back to the FBI and the State Department.

For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele’s reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting. On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the offices of Steele’s firm, Orbis.

“The FBI is covering up its role in the Russiagate hoax,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch has had to fight the FBI ‘tooth and nail’ for every scrap of information about the illicit targeting of President Trump.” (Read more: September 18, 2019)

September 17, 2019 – Trump directs ODNI, DoJ and FBI to immediately declassify materials

The White House Press Secretary released the following statement on September 17, 2019:

At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

(whitehouse.gov/briefing, 9/17/2019)

September 14, 2019 – Senator Graham says U.S. officials received as many as six warnings about Christopher Steele’s reliability as a source

The London offices of Orbis Business Intelligence. (Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Friday that U.S. officials received as many as six warnings that dossier author Christopher Steele was an unreliable source of information regarding President Donald Trump.

Graham discussed the assessment of Steele during a radio interview with host Sean Hannity, but he stopped short of describing all of the information regarding the former British spy because much of it is classified.

“There’s four events that I’m aware of, five actually, where the system was informed that Christopher Steele was an unreliable informant when it came to Trump,” Graham told Hannity.

“Some of them I can’t tell you yet until we get this stuff declassified. But I think it’s going to be five; it may be six,” the South Carolina Republican added later.” (Daily Caller, 9/14/2019)