Trump campaign

December 19, 2018 – Lynch testimony reveals bias and intent for failing to give Trump defensive briefing

Loretta Lynch (Credit: Moriah Ratner/The Hill)

“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)

November 30, 2018 – Putin spokesman shares 2016 emails from Michael Cohen

Dmitry Peskov (Credit: Pavel Golovkin/The Associated Press)

(…) And as if the media needed more evidence that the Trump Tower Moscow controversy has already been litigated in the public eye, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday offered a quick reminder when he showed two of Cohen’s emails to a group of reporters, confirming a 15-month old report that Cohen had reached out to him to ask for help with facilitating the project (none was offered, and the project was eventually abandoned), the Daily Mail reported.

As a reminder, here’s what Peskov and Cohen said about Cohen’s ‘contact’ with the Kremlin at the time (per CNN). Cohen has since admitted to lying about the talks ending in January 2016, and has instead claimed that they continued – with the president’s involvement at times – until the summer of 2017.

“This email said that a certain Russian company together with certain individuals is pursuing the goal of building a skyscraper in the ‘Moscow City’ district, but things aren’t going well and they asked for help with some advice on moving this project forward,” Peskov said. “But, since, I repeat again, we do not react to such business topics — this is not our work — we left it unanswered.”
He added: “We cannot discuss with President Putin hundreds and thousands of different requests, which, by the way, come from a variety of countries.”

Cohen revealed Monday that he had made the overture to Moscow at a point well into Trump’s presidential campaign.

“The Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected,” Cohen said in a written statement.

“In late January 2016, I abandoned the Moscow proposal because I lost confidence that the prospective licensee would be able to obtain the real estate, financing and government approvals necessary to bring the proposal to fruition,” he added. “It was a building proposal that did not succeed and nothing more.”
(Read more: Zero Hedge, 11/30/2018)

November 30, 2018 – New details reinforce that the FBI used fake pretexts to start investigating Trump

“The evidence continues to mount that during the Obama administration, the FBI used George Papadopoulos as a prop to legitimize launching its investigation into the Donald Trump campaign. While the FBI claimed it initiated Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016 in response to reports that Russian-linked individuals told Papadopoulos the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, that story seemed shaky from the start.

Since then, text and email messages between former MI6 spy and Fusion GPS dossier author Christopher Steele and twice-demoted Department of Justice attorney Bruce Ohr raised the possibility that information Steele fed the FBI through Ohr was the true justification for the the FBI targeting the Trump campaign. A Wednesday tweet from Carter Page gives further credence to the suggestion that the Hillary Clinton campaign-funded Steele dossier served as the basis for the FBI’s interest in the Trump campaign.

In his tweet, Page included a screen grab of a July 2016 text message from Washington Post reporter Damian Paletta asking the former Trump campaign advisor about his supposed meeting in Moscow with Igor Sechin, and another meeting Page reportedly had with “a senior Kremlin official—Divyekin—and he said they have solid kompromat on Clinton as well as Trump.”

The details in Paletta’s text mirror the information contained in the Steele dossier memorandum dated July 19, 2016. The July 26, 2016, date of the text indicates Steele must have shared his supposed intelligence with the Washington Post reporter around that time. Here are relevant sections in the dossier memorandum, below.

It is difficult to fathom that Steele would share the details of his dossier with a reporter but not with his long-time friend Ohr when Steele met with Bruce and his wife Nellie on July 30, 2016 in Washington D.C. Yet, in his memorandum on the Russian investigation, incoming House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff claimed “Steele’s reporting did not reach the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters until mid-September 2016, more than seven weeks after the FBI opened its investigation, because the probe’s existence was so closely held within the FBI.”

A second detail from this week’s reporting on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation adds further evidence to the fraud the FBI pushed in pointing to Papadopoulos as the basis for the Russian probe. Papadopoulos’ purported Russian connection was a Maltese academic named Joseph Mifsud, who supposedly told Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. However, as I noted previously, in February 2017—more than six months after the FBI launched their investigation into the Trump campaign—Mifsud spoke at a State Department-sponsored function in Washington D.C., at which time the FBI interviewed him. Mifsud later returned to Italy and disappeared.” (Read more: The Federalist, 11/30/2018)

November 28, 2018 – Opinion: The Guardian’s Manafort story looks like an effort to create Trump Collusion Narrative Three

Paul Manafort (l) and Julian Assange (Credit: public domain)

By: Margot Cleveland

“On Tuesday The Guardian ran an exclusive claiming that “Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign.” According to The Guardian, Manafort met with the WikiLeaks’ founder at the embassy three times—in 2013, 2015, and in spring 2016.

While acknowledging that the purpose of the claimed meeting is unknown, The Guardian implies Manafort’s supposed March 2016 secret rendezvous concerned WikiLeaks’ role in releasing the hacked Democratic National Committee emails. “The revelation could shed new light on the sequence of events in the run-up to summer 2016, when WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails hacked by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency,” The Guardian wrote.”

(…) “what is clear is that The Guardian’s story was read round the world. Major media outlets quickly regurgitated the tale that “Manafort held secret talks with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange around the time he joined Trump’s campaign.”

The timing of Tuesday’s story suggests a concerted effort to craft a new Trump collusion narrative. Just the day before, in a court filing, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team claimed Manafort violated his plea agreement by lying to federal agents “on a variety of subject matters” that would be detailed later in a sentencing submission.

Manafort, who pleaded guilty earlier this year in a Washington D.C. federal court to two criminal counts related to foreign lobbying, denies lying to the FBI or the special counsel’s office, but The Guardian’s story now gives the public cause to imagine that Manafort’s purported prevarication concerned his supposed meeting with Assange in March 2016.

Tuesday also saw CNN contributor Carl Bernstein furthering the narrative that Manafort served as the Russia connection. According to the former Watergate reporter, Mueller’s team is investigating a 2017 meeting between Manafort and the Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno. Bernstein reported that “according to a source with personal knowledge of the matter,” the special counsel is inquiring whether Manafort discussed WikiLeaks or Assange when he met with Moreno.

While CNN acknowledged that Moreno had previously stated that his 2017 meeting with Manafort involved a group of Chinese investors hoping to privatize the country’s electrical services, the goal of Bernstein’s source seems clear: to connect Manafort to Assange. That goal coincides with the story pushed by The Guardian’s two unnamed sources.

Here, the public would be wise to remember that The Guardian’s story represents the third attempt to connect the Trump campaign to the Russian hacking of the DNC emails in an effort to convince the American public that the Republican presidential candidate colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.” (Read more: The Federalist, 11/28/2018)

October 3, 2018 – Top FBI lawyer Baker offers ‘explosive’ testimony on ‘abnormal’ handling of Russia probe into Trump campaign

James Baker (Credit: Fox News)

“Former top FBI lawyer James Baker gave “explosive” closed-door testimony on Wednesday detailing for congressional investigators how the Russia probe was handled in an “abnormal fashion” reflecting “political bias,” according to two Republican lawmakers present for the deposition.

Some of the things that were shared were explosive in nature,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told Fox News. “This witness confirmed that things were done in an abnormal fashion. That’s extremely troubling.”

Meadows claimed the “abnormal” handling of the probe into alleged coordination between Russian officials and the Trump presidential campaign was “a reflection of inherent bias that seems to be evident in certain circles.” The FBI agent who opened the Russia case, Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page and others sent politically charged texts, and have since left the bureau.

Baker, who had a closely working relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, left the bureau earlier this year.

The lawmakers would not provide many specifics about the private transcribed interview, citing a confidentiality agreement with Baker and his attorneys. However, they indicated in broad terms that Baker was cooperative and forthcoming about the genesis of the Russia case in 2016, and about the surveillance warrant application for Trump campaign aide Carter Page in October 2016.” (Read more: Fox News, 10/03/2018)

October 2, 2018 – Two more prosecutors leaving Mueller team

Kyle Freeny (l) and Brandon van Grack (Credit: LinkedIn/MSNBC)

“Two Justice Department prosecutors assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller‘s ongoing investigation are leaving the office to return to previous postings.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, confirmed in an email to The Hill that Kyle Freeny and Brandon Van Grack are leaving the probe.

The two prosecutors had worked on the criminal cases involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to CNN.

Van Grack recently left the probe to return to the agency’s national security division while Freeny will remain on until mid-October before returning to the agency’s criminal division.

Carr said that Van Grack will continue to contribute to the special counsel investigation “on specific pending matters that were assigned to him during his detail.” (Read more: The Hill, 10/02/2018)

September 14, 2018 – Opinion: Lisa Page testifies FBI couldn’t prove Trump-Russia collusion before Mueller appointment

Lisa Page arrives on Capitol Hill July 16, 2018, to participate in an interview with the House judiciary and oversight and reform committees. (Credit: Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE)

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

Admiral Michael Rogers appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 5, 2016. (Credit: CSpan3)

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)

August 31, 2018 – Senior FBI attorney Trisha Anderson, did not read Carter Page Title 1 FISA warrant application before signing off on it

Trisha Anderson (Credit: public domain)

Congressional testimony by Trisha Anderson highlights unusual process used by FBI and DOJ to obtain FISA warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Trisha Anderson, the Principal Deputy General Counsel for the FBI and head of the National Security and Cyber Law Branch, signed off on a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page—before it went to FBI Director James Comey—despite admitting not having read it.

Anderson, whose division was also assigned the Mid-Year Exam—the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server—was responsible for legal oversight of the FBI’s FISA process, and provided a final sign-off before FISA applications were sent to the FBI Director level. Anderson, who supervised the FBI attorneys involved in FISA applications, including the Page FISA, characterized her role as being “involved at a supervisory level within the legal chain of command.”

Although she did not voluntarily reveal the information, she admitted during questioning that she was the individual responsible at the senior executive service (SES) level for signing off on the original Carter Page FISA application:

Mr. Breitenbach: You had mentioned earlier that all FISAs have to be signed off, have an approver at an SES level. In OGC? Or is that anywhere inside the FBI?

Ms. Anderson: In NSLB, in my particular branch.

Mr. Breitenbach: In NSLB?

Ms. Anderson: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Mr. Breitenbach: Okay. Who was that SES approver for the Carter Page FISA?

Ms. Anderson: My best recollection is that I was for the initiation.

In her Aug. 31, 2018, testimony, a transcript of which was reviewed for this article, Anderson described her role in the FISA process as “a backstop” whereby she would serve as “a last check in the process to ensure that all necessary elements of the FISA package were present and that it met the basic requirements of probable cause.”

However, there appears to be significant latitude in the “backstop” review process. According to Anderson, the Department of Justice (DOJ) attached a “cover note” that identified potential issues, if any, for her to review with every FISA application. If no issues were identified by the DOJ, then according to Anderson, there would be no need for her to read the FISA application:

Ms. Anderson: [So] there typically would be a cover note that would summarize the FISA. That cover note is generated by DOJ. And because of the time pressures involved and the sort of very-last-stop-in-the-process nature of the review, the SES review, that’s done, I wouldn’t read a FISA unless there were some sort of issue that was identified based on the cover note.

Mr. Breitenbach: You are, though, reviewing for the sufficiency of probable cause —

Ms. Anderson: After many people have reviewed that assessment. And so, as I mentioned, this was essentially a backstop to all of the other processes and the rigor that had been applied by DOJ attorneys and by FBI investigative and legal personnel.

Despite its politicized nature and obvious sensitivity, it appears that no issues were identified in relation to the Page FISA as Anderson testified that she had not read the FISA application, only the DOJ cover note:

Mr. Breitenbach: Does that mean you read the FISA —

Ms. Anderson: No.

(…)

Mr. Breitenbach: Okay. So you did not read the FISA, but you would’ve been familiar then with at least part of the FISA with regard to the legal predication for probable cause in the FISA in order to be able to sign it?

Ms. Anderson: I would be familiar based on the cover note, yes.

Mr. Breitenbach: On the cover note. Okay. So —

Ms. Anderson: In the case of the Carter Page FISA, I was generally familiar with the facts of the application —

Mr. Breitenbach: Okay.

Ms. Anderson: — before I signed that cover note.

Anderson claimed that in the case of the Page FISA, her approval was “more administrative in nature” because “all necessary approvals, including up through and including the leadership of the FBI and the leadership of the Department” had been obtained by the time the Page FISA came to her desk for sign-off.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 2/07/2019)

August 28, 2018 – Bruce Ohr: FBI Knew About Bias Before Getting a FISA On Carter Page

Bruce Ohr arrives to testify before the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees on Aug. 28, 2018. (Credit: Chris Wattie/Reuters)

“Senior Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr testified Tuesday that prior to obtaining the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on short-term Trump campaign volunteer, Carter Page, the FBI was aware that former British spy and anti-Trump dossier author, Christopher Steele was biased against then-candidate Trump. He also stated that the FBI knew that his wife, Nellie Ohr was working for Fusion GPS, the now-embattled research firm which was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC to compile the dossier with Steele. This, according to Congressional sources with direct knowledge of Ohr’s closed-door deposition.

Ohr stated during his hours-long testimony that the FBI failed to disclose this pertinent information to the nation’s secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) when it sought an application to spy on Page. The FBI also failed to disclose that when it sought the application, it was using senior Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr as a cut-out for a source the bureau had terminated.

Ohr had also communicated with senior members of the FBI, including former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI attorney Lisa Page, and former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, at the bureau but stated that his superiors at the Justice Department were not aware that he was being used as a source for the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign, according to sources who spoke to SaraACarter.com.

“When it comes to the dossier, the hours of testimony from Bruce Ohr only further confirm how wrong the FBI operated,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told this news outlet. Jordan would not give details on the testimony but stated that Ohr’s deposition was a necessary part of the investigation and getting to the truth.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 8/28/2018)