Ukraine

October 6, 2019 – Intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson interviews second whistleblower

“Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson interviewed a second whistleblower with alleged knowledge about the call between President Donald Trump and the leader of Ukraine.

Democrats have led an impeachment inquiry over the call.

The first whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid, confirmed on Oct. 6 that he’s also representing the second whistleblower. Like the first whistleblower, the second one is also a member of the intelligence community. According to Zaid, the anonymous official has firsthand knowledge of some of the events described by the first whistleblower. Both “made a protected disclosure under the law and cannot be retaliated against,” the attorney wrote on Twitter.

Zaid didn’t clarify whether the second whistleblower has filed a formal complaint, revealing only that he or she has spoken with Atkinson. Zaid didn’t reply to a request from The Epoch Times for clarification.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 10/06/2019)

October 3, 2019 – Judicial Watch files a FOIA lawsuit for records about the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor at VP Biden’s insistence

“Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records about the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor after then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold aid. The lawsuit was filed yesterday against the U.S. Department of State (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:19-cv-02893)).

The suit was filed after the State Department failed to respond to a May 7, 2019, FOIA request seeking access to the following records:

1.       Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to Viktor Shokin’s investigation of Mykola Zolchevsky and Shokin’s resignation at Ukraine’s Prosecutor General.

2.       Any and all records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the Department of State and any official, employee, or representative of the Office of the Vice President regarding Viktor Shokin.

In a widely distributed video, Joe Biden confirmed that he successfully pressured, under threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. government aid, the Ukrainian government to fire Shokin, who had allegedly launched an investigation into Burisma, which had purportedly paid Biden’s son Hunter $50,000 a month.

“The latest assault on President Trump is an obvious attempt to protect Joe Biden from the corruption scandals involving his son,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch’s latest lawsuit will be the first of many to try to get to the bottom of this influence-peddling scandal.”

(Judicial Watch, 10/03/2019)

October 2, 2019 – Closed-door State Department IG meeting disappoints U.S. media

“For two days the mainstream media were breathlessly reporting on an “urgent request” from the State Department Inspector General for a closed-door meeting.

Media sources whipped their left-wing audiences into an anticipatory frenzy with predictions of devastating information soon to come from an “explosive” and “highly unusual” request.  It must be connected to President Trump and Secretary Mike Pompeo hiding devastating information, they said

Well, the super-anticipated ‘closed-door’ briefing was held today, and the IG handed out packets of information related to revelations of Democrats colluding with the Ukraine government.  The exact opposite of what the media and the professional left anticipated.

WASHINGTON –  The State Department’s Inspector General shared a packet of months-old news stories and other Ukraine-related documents during an “urgent” briefing with Congressional staffers on Wednesday, sources told the Daily Caller.

Sources familiar with the meeting said the IG handed over a packet containing, among other old materials, news articles written this past spring by The Hill’s John Solomon about Democratic ties to Ukraine.

[…]  The briefing was a huge blow to Democrats, who were expecting bombshell information regarding the Trump administration’s contact with Ukraine and investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden.

In fact, several news outlets reported earlier in the day that the briefing would be about State Department leadership retaliating against career employees who wanted to cooperate with the Democrats’ investigation into Trump. (read more)

Whether the briefing was a set-up to embarrass the media is now being debated.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/02/2019)

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 – 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 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)

August 12 – October 11, 2019: A look at IC IG Michael Atkinson’s activities surrounding the hearsay whistleblower

“Last week the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, testified behind closed doors to congress. Atkinson testified about his role in bringing the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint forward.  The details of that testimony are now starting to surface and thankfully congress is taking a closer look at the sketchy background of Michael Atkinson.

Michael Atkinson (Credit: public domain)

There are numerous aspects to the whistle-blower (likely CIA operative Michael Barry), and the complaint, that just don’t add up. One of the areas of focus is the backdating of changes made to the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint form.  As Sean Davis notes:

[…] Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, told HPSCI lawmakers during a committee oversight hearing on Friday that the whistleblower forms and rules changes were made in, even though the new forms and guidance, which were not uploaded to the ICIG’s website until September 24, state that they were changed in August.

Despite having a full week to come up with explanations for his office’s decisions to secretly change its forms to eliminate the requirement for first-hand evidence and to backdate those changes to August, Atkinson refused to provide any explanation to lawmakers baffled by his behavior. (read more)

The CIA ‘whistle-blower’ had no first-hand knowledge; everything was based on hearsay.  The CIA operative never informed the ICIG about prior contact and coordination with the House Intelligence Committee (Adam Schiff).  The CIA operative never disclosed congressional contact on the complaint form, and the complaint forms were changed specifically to accommodate this CIA operative.

On Sunday, October 6th, Ranking Member Devin Nunes also discussed his concerns with the testimony of Michael Atkinson.  Nunes noted the testimony “was a joke.”

Nunes told Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Sunday host Matt Boyle, “[The ICIG is] either totally incompetent or part of the deep state, and he’s got a lot of questions he needs to answer because he knowingly changed the form and the requirements in order to make sure that this whistleblower complaint got out publicly.”

“So he’s either incompetent or in on it, and he’s going to have more to answer for, I can promise you because we are not going to let him go; he is going to tell the truth about what happened,” Nunes added.  (read more)

ICIG Atkinson never reviewed the call transcript and facilitated the complaint processing despite numerous flaws.  Additionally, Atkinson ignored legal guidance from both the director of national intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel that highlighted Atkinson’s poor decision-making.

President Trump announced Joseph Macguire as the Acting ODNI on August 8th, 2019. (link)  The CIA operative “whistle-blower” letter to Adam Schiff and Richard Burr was on August 12th (link).   Immediately following this letter, the ICIG rules and requirements for Urgent Concern “whistle-blowers” was modified, allowing hearsay complaints. On August 28th Adam Schiff begins tweeting about the construct of the complaint.

Given the nature of Atkinson’s background, it appears his prior work in 2016, during his tenure as the lead legal counsel for the DOJ-NSD, likely played a role in his decision.

Here’s Nunes Sunday Interview (audio):

The center of the 2016 Lawfare Alliance election influence was/is the Department of Justice National Security Division, DOJ-NSD. It was the DOJ-NSD running the Main Justice side of the 2016 operations to support Operation Crossfire Hurricane and FBI agent Peter Strzok. It was also the DOJ-NSD where the sketchy legal theories around FARA violations (Sec. 901) originated.

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.

Michael Atkinson was the lawyer for the same DOJ-NSD players who: (1) lied to the FISA court (Judge Rosemary Collyer) about the 80% non compliant NSA database abuse using FBI contractors; (2) filed the FISA application against Carter Page; and (3) used FARA violations as tools for political surveillance and political targeting.

Yes, that means Michael Atkinson was Senior Counsel for the DOJ-NSD, at the very epicenter of the political weaponization and FISA abuse.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/07/2019)

(Republished with permission)

August 11, 2019 – The State Dept encourages and facilitates Rudy Giuliani’s meeting with Ukrainian officials who are trying to expose corruption of U.S. officials during the 2016 presidential election

Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hunter Biden (Credit: The Associated Press)

(…) “With more reporting by John Solomon, cited and attributed to on-the-record officials in the State Department and Ukraine, a much more clear picture emerges. In reality, and unfortunately as expected, the fulsome picture is 180° divergent from the media narrative.

The government of Ukraine under both Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and now President Volodymyr Zelensky, had been trying to deliver information about Obama officials and Democrat party officials (DNC on behalf of Hillary Clinton) requesting the government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2016 election.

Both Poroshenko and Zelensky administrations had tried, unsuccessfully, to get information to current U.S. officials. U.S. State Department officials in Ukraine were refusing to give visas to Ukrainian emissaries because they did not want the damaging information sent to the President Trump administration.

Failing to get help from the U.S. State Department, the Ukrainians tried a workaround and hired a respected U.S. lawyer to hand deliver the documentary evidence directly to the U.S. Department of Justice. The contracted American lawyer hand-delivered the information to the U.S. Department of Justice in New York.

However, after delivering the information and not hearing back from the U.S. government, the Ukrainian government, now led by President Zelensky, interpreted the silence as the Trump administration and U.S. government (writ large) being upset about the Ukraine involvement overall. Out of concern for a serious diplomatic breakdown, the Zelensky administration made a personal request to the U.S. State Department for assistance.

The U.S. State Department then reached out to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani; and asked him if he would meet with Zelensky’s top lawyer, Andrei Yermak.

Rudy Giuliani agreed to act as a diplomatic intermediary and met with Yermak in Spain. After the meeting, Mr. Giuliani then contacted the State Department Officials in charge of Ukraine and Europe and debriefed them on the totality of the subject matter as relayed by Andrei Yermak.

All of this activity preceded the phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

President Trump and President Zelensky discussed the issues, and this phone call is the one now referenced by the concerned “whistleblower”. The “whistleblower” obviously had no knowledge of the background and why the subject matter discussed in the phone call was framed as it was.

Apparently, in the phone call, President Zelensky was explaining what action the Ukranian government had already taken to try and get the information about corrupt U.S. officials, including former VP Joe Biden, to the U.S. government.

It was from this clarification of information that President Trump is reported to have told Zelensky it was OK to proceed with an internal investigation of corruption in Ukraine that might also encompass former U.S. officials.  Yes, that would include Joe Biden.

From this context, we can see how the “whistle-blower”, knowing only half of the information – might incorrectly perceive the conversation. Additionally, there’s a possibility the “whistle-blower” may be ideologically aligned with the same government entities that were trying to block the Ukrainian government from delivering the information in the first place.

Beyond the media, pundits and democrat politicians making fools of themselves, four very significant questions/issues become obvious:

  1. Who in the U.S. State Department Ukraine embassy was blocking the visas of Ukrainian officials, and why?
  2. Who was the official at the New York office of the DOJ who took custody of the records hand-delivered by the American lawyer working on behalf of Ukraine? and…
  3. Why were those records never turned over to Main Justice?…. Or
  4. If they were turned over to main Justice, why didn’t they inform the Trump administration they had received them?

At the end of this fake news narrative parade, these will be the questions that remain. (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 9/21/2019)

May 31, 2019 – The Ukrainian security council servers are removed from the presidential administration’s situation room

Maria Zakharova (Credit: Alexander Shcherbak/TASS)

(Timeline editor’s note: Could this be the server that President Trump was referring to during his conversation with newly elected President Zelensky?)

“The new secretary of Ukraine’s security council earlier said that servers and other equipment with classified information had disappeared from the presidential administration’s situation room.

The team of Ukraine’s ex-president Pyotr Poroshenko has removed the servers of the country’s National Defense and Security Council from the presidential administration possibly to cover up certain tracks, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman wrote on her Facebook page on Friday.

“Western sponsors provided Poroshenko and his team with vast funding to finance their efforts to build a ‘new Ukraine,’ including projects in defense and information security. And now, the [new] ‘unmercenary’ president has to finance the new equipment on his own. I think this charity stunt was carried out with an eye on covering up tracks later,” Maria Zakharova said.

The spokeswoman said she was surprised by the fact that the country’s national security service, the SBU, had turned a blind eye to Poroshenko’s decision to lease equipment for the national security council from a private firm, to finance it out of his own pocket and to install it without proper checks.

“How could equipment be brought and installed at the presidential administration building without proper checks and cataloguing and then subsequently be dismantled and taken away in the same manner?” she asked rhetorically.

On Tuesday, the new secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Alexander Danilyuk, said that monitors, servers and other equipment with classified information had disappeared from the presidential administration’s situation room. He said the disappearance took place when the power transition process was in full swing. The ex-president’s spokesman, Svyatoslav Tsegolko, replied that the lease of the equipment was financed out of Poroshenko’s own pocket, and it was returned to the legitimate owner when Poroshenko lost his post.” (TASS, 5/31/2019)  (Archived) 

May 9, 2019 – Who Were the Mueller Report’s Hired Guns?

By: Paul Sperry, RealClearInvestigations

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller spent more than $732,000 on outside contractors, including private investigators and researchers, records show, but his office refuses to say who they were. While it’s not unusual for special government offices to outsource for services such as computer support, Mueller also hired contractors to compile “investigative reports” and other “information.”

The arrangement has led congressional investigators, government watchdog groups and others to speculate that the private investigators and researchers who worked for the special counsel’s office might have included Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, the private research firm that hired Steele to produce the Russia collusion dossier for the Clinton campaign.

Robert Mueller arriving at the office: His report recycles dossier dirt. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

They suspect the dossier creators may have been involved in Mueller’s operation – and even had a hand in his final report – because the special counsel sent his team to London to meet with Steele within a few months of taking over the Russia collusion investigation in 2017. Also, Mueller’s lead prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, had shared information he received from Fusion with the media.

Raising additional suspicions, Mueller’s report recycles the general allegations leveled in the dossier. And taking a page from earlier surveillance-warrant applications in the Russia investigation, it cites as supporting evidence several articles – including one by Yahoo! News – that used Steele and Fusion as sources.

Mueller even kept alive one of the dossier’s most obscene accusations – that Moscow had “compromising tapes” of Trump with Russian hookers – by slipping into a footnote an October 2016 text Trump lawyer Michael Cohen received from a “Russian businessman,” who cryptically intimated, “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia.” Lawyers for the businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladze (who is actually a Georgian-American), are demanding a retraction of the footnote, arguing Mueller omitted the part of his text where he said he did not believe the rumor about the tapes, for which no evidence has ever surfaced.

Mueller’s reliance on the Steele dossier is raising questions because it occurred long after FBI Director James B. Comey described the dossier as “salacious and unverified.”

U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the report should be renamed “The Mueller Dossier,” because he says it contains a lot of similar innuendo. Even though Mueller failed to corroborate key allegations leveled in the dossier, Nunes said his report twists key facts to put a collusion gloss on events. He also asserted that it selectively quotes from Trump campaign emails and omits exculpatory information in ways that cast the campaign’s activities in the most sinister light.

A detail from the website of Steele’s private London firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.

Steele’s 17-memo dossier alleged that the Trump campaign was involved in “a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Russian government to rig the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor. It claimed this conspiracy “was managed on the Trump side by Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, who was using foreign policy adviser Carter Page and others as intermediaries.” Specifically, the dossier accused Page of secretly meeting with Kremlin officials in July 2016 to hatch a plot to release dirt on Hillary Clinton. And it accused Manafort of being corrupted by Russian President Vladimir Putin through his puppets in the Ukraine.

Likewise, Mueller’s report focuses on Manafort and Page and whether they “committed crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”

Though the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government, the Mueller report implies there may be a kernel of truth to the dossier’s charges.

“In July 2016, Campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page traveled in his personal capacity to Moscow and gave the keynote address at the New Economic School,” according to the section on him. “Page had lived and worked in Russia between 2003 and 2007. After returning to the United States, Page became acquainted with at least two Russian intelligence officers, one of whom was later charged in 2015 with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of Russia.”

Carter Page at a news conference  in Moscow in 2016. (Credit: Pavel Golovkin/The Associated Press)

Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, heads to a news conference at RIA Novosti news agency in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Page said he was in Moscow on a visit to meet with businessmen and politicians.

Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow and his advocacy for pro-Russian foreign policy drew media attention,” Mueller’s narrative continued. “July 2016 was also the month WikiLeaks first released emails stolen by the GRU [Russian intelligence] from the DNC.”

“Page acknowledged that he understood that the individuals he has associated with were members of the Russian intelligence services,” the report added, implying that Page in the 2015 case (referenced above) knowingly cavorted with Russian spies, which echoes charges Steele made in his dossier.

But federal court records make it clear that Page did not know that those men were Russian agents.

Mueller also left out of his report a detail RealClearInvestigations has previously reported: that Page was a cooperating witness in the case in question, helping the FBI eventually put a Russian agent behind bars in 2016. Nor did Mueller see fit to include in his report another exculpatory detail revealed in agent Gregory Mohaghan’s complaint and reported earlier by RCI — namely, that the Russians privately referred to Page as “an idiot” who was unworthy of recruitment.

Excluding such details is curious, given that the Mueller report quotes from the same FBI complaint and cites it in its footnotes. Similarly, in its section dealing with Manafort, the Mueller report echoes the dossier’s claims that the Trump campaign chairman was in cahoots with the Kremlin, even though Mueller never charged him with  conspiring to collude with Russia.

A 2006 photo of Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime employee of Paul Manafort who ran the Ukraine office of his lobbying firm. The Mueller report suggests he was one of Manafort’s Kremlin handlers. (Credit: The Associated Press)

The special prosecutor’s report indicated that one of Manafort’s Kremlin handlers was Konstantin Kilimnik.

“Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s plan to win the election,” it said. “That briefing encompassed the Campaign’s messaging and its internal polling data. It also included discussion of ‘battleground’ states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.”

Except that this wouldn’t have been an unusual conversation: Kilimnik was a longtime Manafort employee who ran the Ukraine office of his lobbying firm. Footnotes in Mueller’s report show that Manafort shared campaign information to impress a former business partner, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was suing him over financial losses. Mueller failed to tie the information exchange to Russian espionage. He also failed to mention that Deripaska is an FBI informant.

Mueller’s team worked closely with dossier author Steele, a long-retired British intelligence officer who worked for the Clinton campaign. Mueller’s investigators went to London to consult with Steele for at least two days in September 2017 while apparently using his dossier as an investigative road map and central theory to his collusion case. Steele now runs a private research and consulting firm in London, Orbis Business Intelligence.

It’s not clear if Mueller’s office paid Steele, but recently released FBI records show the bureau previously made a number of payments to him, and at one point during the 2016 campaign offered him $50,000 to continue his dossier research. Steele was also paid through the Clinton campaign, earning $168,000 for his work on the dossier.

Paul Manafort at court last year with wife Kathleen. (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

Expenditure statements show that the Special Counsel’s Office outsourced “investigative reports” and “information” to third-party contractors during Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian “collusion” during the 2016 presidential election.

Over the past few months, Mueller’s office has rejected several formal requests from RealClearInvestigations for contract details, including who was hired and how much they were paid.

Washington-based Judicial Watch suspects Mueller’s office may have farmed out work to the private Washington research firm Fusion GPS or its subcontractor Steele, both of whom were paid by the Clinton camp during the 2016 presidential election. Several law enforcement and Hill sources who spoke with RCI also believe Steele and Fusion GPS were deputized in the investigation.

The government watchdog group has requested that the Justice Department turn over the contracting records, along with all budget requests Mueller submitted to the attorney general during his nearly two-year investigation. It’s also requested all communications between the Special Counsel’s Office and the private contractors it used.

A Judicial Watch spokesman said its Freedom of Information Act request is pending.

Glenn Simpson (Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press)

Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined comment when asked specifically if Mueller’s team hired or collaborated with Fusion GPS or any of its subcontractors. Mueller took over the FBI’s Russia probe in May 2017, whereupon he hired many of the agents who handled Steele and pored over his dossier.

For the first reporting period ending Sept. 30, 2017, and covering just four months, the Special Counsel’s Office reported paying $867 to unnamed contractors for “investigative reports/information,” along with $3,554 in “miscellaneous” payments to contractors.

In the next reporting period ending March 31, 2018, the office stopped breaking out investigative reports and information as a separate line item, lumping such contractual services under the category “Other,” which accounted for a total of $10,812, or more than 4% of the total spending on outside contracts.

For the six months ending Dona – the latest reporting period for which there is data – Mueller’s office showed a total of $310,732 in payments to outside contractors. For the first time, it did not break out such expenses into subcategories, though it noted that the lion’s share of the $310,000 was spent on “IT services.”

Mueller concluded his investigation and delivered his final report in March. The next expenditure report, for the period October 2018-March 2019, will cover contract work directly tied to compiling the report.

Asked if the contracting details were classified, Carr demurred. If the information is not deemed classified, it must be made public, Judicial Watch maintains.

Republican critics on the Hill say Mueller’s written narrative was slanted to give the impression there still might be something to the dossier’s most salacious allegations, even though Mueller found no evidence corroborating them or establishing that Trump or his campaign coordinated or cooperated with Russian meddling in the election.

“Whoever wrote the report leaves you with the idea there’s still something to all the allegations of collusion that were first promoted by the dossier,” said a witness who was interviewed by Mueller’s investigators late in the probe and is referenced in the report.

Donald Trump Jr., right, with his father: The Mueller report gives the miss-impression that the president’s oldest son was collaborating with WikiLeaks. (Credit: Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

In a section on Donald Trump Jr., moreover, the report gives the misimpression that the president’s oldest son was collaborating with WikiLeaks on the release of the Clinton campaign emails.

“Donald Trump Jr. had direct electronic communications with WikiLeaks during the campaign period,” it stated.

In fact, Trump got an unsolicited message through his Twitter account from WikiLeaks. He described the outreach as “weird” in an email to senior Trump campaign staff at the time. Other contemporaneous messages make it clear he had no advance knowledge about any Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks.

The FBI first began receiving memos from Steele’s dossier in early July 2016 and used the documents as the foJeundation for its October 2016 application for a warrant to wiretap the private communications of Page. These milestones are missing from the Mueller report’s chronology of events. In fact, neither Steele nor his dossier is mentioned by name anywhere in the first half of the report dealing with collusion, though their allegations are hashed out.

Some Mueller critics are focused on the role played by his top prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter with longstanding ties to Steele and Fusion GPS.

Andrew Weissmann, now a senior fellow at NYU Law. (Credit: NYU Law)

“Weissman had a lot to do with the way the report was written,” said author Jerome Corsi, who, as a friend of Trump confidant Roger Stone, was targeted by Mueller. “That’s why it’s basically a political document.”

Corsi said he spent more than 40 hours with Mueller’s prosecutors and investigators, who grilled him about possible ties to WikiLeaks but never charged him with a crime.

Formerly a top Justice Department official under Obama, Weissmann not only donated to Clinton’s presidential campaign but also attended her election-night party in New York City in November 2016. Three months earlier, he was briefed on Steele’s dossier and other dirt provided by the Clinton contractor and paid FBI informant. In early 2017, Weissmann helped advance the Russia collusion narrative by personally sharing Steele’s and Fusion’s dirt on Trump and his advisers with Washington reporters.

In an April 2017 meeting he arranged at his office, Weissmann gave guidance to four Associated Press reporters who were investigating Manafort, according to internal FBI  documents.

Among other things, they discussed rumors that Manafort used “some of the money from shell companies to buy expensive suits.” A month later, Weissmann became the lead prosecutor handling the Manafort case for Mueller. His February 2018 indictment of Manafort highlights, among other things, the Trump adviser’s taste for expensive suits.

Attempts to reach Weissmann for comment were unsuccessful.

Edward Baumgartner: worked for Fusion GPS
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. (Credit: YouTube screen grab)

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said there are signs Mueller may have hired “researchers” like Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, who worked with Steele on the dossier, along with Edward Baumgartner and Nellie Ohr, who have worked for Fusion GPS, which originally hired Steele in June 2016 after contracting with the Clinton campaign.

“I ran into Glenn at the 2017 Aspen Security [Forum], and I distinctly remember him leaning in and claiming he was working for the government,” said one associate, who wished to remain anonymous.

Congressional investigators say Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, has been feeding Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate investigative tips regarding Trump and his associates, including Manafort.

In 2017, for instance, he urged Democrats specifically to look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank, which has financed some of Trump’s businesses, because he suspected some of the funding may have been laundered through Russia.

Around the time Simpson began coordinating with Democratic investigators looking into Trump’s bank records, Mueller subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for financial records for Manafort and other individuals affiliated with Trump.

Simpson did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

Founded by the journalist-turned-opposition researcher, Fusion has rehired Steele to continue his anti-Trump work with millions of dollars in left-wing funding from The Democracy Integrity Project, a Washington-based nonprofit started in 2017 by former FBI analyst Daniel Jones, who also worked for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

In March 2017, Jones met with FBI agents to provide them data he collected from IT specialists he hired to analyze web traffic between servers maintained by the Trump Organization and a Russian bank mentioned in the dossier. The traffic turned out to be innocuous marketing emails, or spam. (RealClearInvestigations, 5/09/2019)

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