May 17, 2019

STEELE IDENTIFIED RUSSIAN DOSSIER SOURCES, NOTES REVEAL


  • Christopher Steele told a State Department official a former Russian spy chief and a top Kremlin adviser were involved in an operation to collect compromising information on Donald Trump.
  • The State Department official’s notes also indicate Steele claimed the Russians, Vyacheslav Trubnikov and Vladislav Surkov, were “sources” for the dossier.
  • There is no evidence the compromising material mentioned in the dossier actually exists, raising questions about whether Steele was given disinformation.
  • Trubnikov, the former head of the SVR, also has links to Stefan Halper, an FBI informant who had contact with the Trump campaign.

Dossier author Christopher Steele identified a former Russian spy chief and a top adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin as being involved in handling potentially compromising information about President Donald Trump, State Department notes show.

In her notes, State Department official Kathleen Kavalec also referred to the two Russians — former Russian foreign intelligence chief Vyacheslav Trubnikov and Putin aide Vladislav Surkov — as “sources.”

The references to Trubnikov and Surkov, which have not previously been reported, are not definitive proof that either were sources for Steele’s dossier or that they were involved in an effort to collect blackmail material on Trump.

But the notes are significant because they are the first government documents that show Steele discussing potential sources for the information in his dossier, which the former MI6 officer provided to the FBI.

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May 16, 2019

COMEY AND BRENNAN APPEAR AT ODDS OVER WHO PUSHED TO INCLUDE DOSSIER IN INTEL REPORT


  • A dispute is emerging between former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan over who pushed to include information from the Steele dossier in an intelligence community assessment of Russian meddling.
  • Comey sent an email to FBI staff in December 2016 indicating that Brennan wanted to include dossier information, Fox News reported.
  • A former CIA official is disputing that claim, telling Fox News that it was Comey who wanted to cite the unverified Steele information.

A potential rift is emerging between James Comey and John Brennan over who pushed to include information from the unverified Steele dossier in an intelligence community assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Comey, a former FBI director, sent an email to subordinates in late 2016 indicating Brennan, a former CIA director, wanted to include materials from the dossier in the intelligence community assessment, known as the ICA, Fox News reported.

A former CIA official speaking on Brennan’s behalf is disputing the assertion. The former official told Fox that Brennan and James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, opposed Comey’s push to include Steele dossier information in the ICA.

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May 15, 2019

BARR REPORTEDLY WORKING CLOSELY WITH CIA TO REVIEW RUSSIA PROBE ORIGINS

Attorney General William Barr is reportedly working closely with the directors of the CIA, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to review the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, as well as surveillance efforts against the Trump campaign.

According to CNN, Barr is working with CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and ODNI Director Dan Coats on the interagency review.

Barr told Congress in April that he planned to form a team within the Justice Department to investigate whether the U.S. government improperly surveilled the Trump campaign.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 10.

“Yes, I think spying did occur,” Barr repeated, adding, “but the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated.”

“I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

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May 14, 2019

RUSSIA PROBE UNDER THE MICROSCOPE? BARR REPORTEDLY TAPS US ATTORNEY KNOWN FOR INVESTIGATING OFFICIALS

Attorney General William Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham on Monday to dig into the origins of the Russian collusion probe.

The New York Times and Associated Press both reported Monday evening that Barr had tapped Durham to “determine if intelligence collection involving the Trump campaign was ‘lawful and appropriate.'”

As several sources noted, Durham had a history of investigating the investigators.

The Associated Press noted that “Durham has previously investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of CIA videotapes and the Boston FBI office’s relationship with mobsters.”

Durham, who currently serves as the chief federal prosecutor for the state of Connecticut, will continue in that position, in addition to his role in the new investigation.

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May 13, 2019

OBAMA WHITE HOUSE TRACKED FOIA REQUEST FOR HILLARY EMAILS THAT WAS IMPROPERLY DENIED


  • Emails released to Judicial Watch show for the first time that the Obama White House kept tabs on a FOIA request for information on Hillary Clinton’s emails that was improperly rejected by the State Department.
  • The State Department claimed in May 2013 in response to the FOIA request that no responsive records existed. The agency’s internal watchdog later determined that denial to be ‘inaccurate and incomplete’ since Clinton used a personal email account to conduct State Department business.
  • “These documents suggest the Obama White House knew about the Clinton email lies being told to the public at least as early as December 2012,” says Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.

The Obama White House kept tabs on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email accounts that the State Department improperly denied, according to newly released emails.

The emails, which were provided to Judicial Watch, show for the first time that the Obama White House was aware of the Clinton-related FOIA request, which the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) submitted to the State Department in December 2012.

The State Department denied the request in May 2013, claiming that no responsive records existed. That despite officials at the State Department, the White House and even President Obama himself knowing that Clinton used a personal email account for government business.

The State Department’s inspector general determined in a report released on Jan. 7, 2016 that the State Department’s denial of the CREW request was “inaccurate and incomplete.”

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May 10, 2019

ALEXANDER DOWNER DEFENDS FBI TIPOFF THAT SPARKED TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE


  • In his most detailed remarks on the topic so far, former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer defended the tip he gave the FBI regarding George Papadopoulos.
  • Downer said that as a “warrior the Western alliance,” he provided the FBI with a memo he wrote after a May 10, 2016 meeting in which he says Papadopoulos mentioned that Russia might release information about Hillary Clinton close to the election.
  • “I don’t know why he told me this,” said Downer, dismissing Papadopoulos’s claims that the diplomat was sent to elicit damaging information about him.

Calling himself a “warrior for the Western alliance,” former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer defended sending in the tip that sparked the FBI’s investigation of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.

In his most extensive interview on the topic to date, Downer gave his version of a conversation he had with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos in London in May 2016 that would serve as the catalyst for the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.

Downer, who served as Australia’s top diplomat to the U.K. at the time, provided a memo he wrote following the meeting to the FBI more than two months later. According to Downer, Papadopoulos mentioned that Russia might have information on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that they could release before the 2016 election.

Downer disputed claims that the ex-diplomat was part of a conspiracy to entrap the campaign adviser.

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May 9, 2019

SENATE INTEL COMMITTEE REPORTEDLY SUBPOENAS DON JR.

The Republican-controlled Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. as part of its Russia investigation, Axios reports.

The subpoena is the first believed to have been issued in any of the Russia investigations for one of President Donald Trump’s children.

According to Axios, the committee wants Trump Jr. to answer questions about his previous Senate testimony.

It is not clear what parts of Trump Jr.’s previous testimony the committee wants to review. The real estate executive has faced scrutiny over his involvement in the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a group of Russians who had offered to provide information about Hillary Clinton. He was also involved in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation on Nov. 29 to lying to the Senate Intelligence and House Intelligence Committees about the extent of his negotiations on the Trump Tower skyscraper.

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May 8, 2019

PAPADOPOULOS SUSPECTS OTHER 2016 GOP CAMPAIGNS WERE SPIED ON

Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos told Tucker Carlson on Tuesday that he suspects the Obama administration spied on other 2016 presidential primary campaigns.

Papadopoulos, whose meeting with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer was used to open the FBI’s July 31, 2016 counterintelligence probe, says he believes he was being monitored long before he joined the Trump campaign.

“In November of 2015, upon the same month that I was going to the Ben Carson campaign—because people forget that I was on Carson’s campaign before I joined Trump’s campaign—I was living in London and I had been approached by high-level State Department officials and even the CIA in London,” Papadopoulos said.

He continued, “They invited me to the U.S. embassy to meet with me and to basically probe me and to get to know why I’m joining the Ben Carson campaign and what the Ben Carson campaign was really all about. And the man who invited me was David Kovatch, who still works at the U.S. embassy in London. I think he’s directing the Energy Department over there. So clearly, by November 2015, I don’t think that Trump’s campaign was the only one that was under surveillance, quite frankly.”

“I think many of the Republican candidates probably had some sort of illicit surveillance upon their own campaigns, because it wasn’t just Donald Trump who was running for the presidency against Clinton…”

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May 7, 2019

PETER STRZOK SUSPECTED CIA WAS BEHIND INACCURATE MEDIA LEAKS

Peter Strzok suspected CIA employees were behind inaccurate leaks to the press regarding possible Trump campaign contacts with Russia, according to an email the former FBI counterintelligence official sent to colleagues in April 2017.

“I’m beginning to think the agency got info a lot earlier than we thought and hasn’t shared it completely with us. Might explain all these weird/seemingly incorrect leads all these media folks have. Would also highlight agency as source of some of the leaks,” Strzok wrote in an email to FBI colleagues on April 13, 2017.

The email is highlighted in a letter that two Republican senators sent Monday to Michael K. Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community.

In the letter, Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin asked Atkinson if he has investigated whether the CIA or other intelligence community agencies leaked information to the press.

They pointed to a Dec. 15, 2016 text message that Strzok, the lead investigator on the Trump-Russia probe, sent to then-FBI attorney Lisa Page.

“Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive,” Strzok wrote Page.

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May 6, 2019

MUELLER AGREES TO ‘TENTATIVE’ DATE TO TESTIFY BEFORE HOUSE JUDICIARY, DEMOCRAT SAYS

Special counsel Robert Mueller has set a “tentative” date of May 15 to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline told “Fox News Sunday.”

Democrats have ramped up calls for Mueller to testify to Congress in the wake of Attorney General William Barr’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1 about his interactions with the special counsel’s office regarding the release of the Russia report.

Mueller, a former FBI director, was unable to establish that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. He declined to make a decision on whether President Donald Trump should be charged with obstructing the investigation. That left the decision up to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who decided against pursuing an obstruction case.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, offered Mueller a chance Thursday to testify before that panel if he feels the need to correct any statements made by Barr.

Mueller sent Barr a letter on March 27 raising concerns about a four-page memo that Barr sent Congress summarizing the main conclusions of the special counsel’s probe. Mueller claimed that Barr’s letter lacked “context” and had led to misinterpretations in the press. 

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May 3, 2019

STEFAN HALPER’S ‘ASSISTANT’ IN PAPADOPOULOS SPY OPERATION HAS BEEN OUTED


  • A woman who met alongside Stefan Halper in September 2016 with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has been identified in a press report as an FBI investigator.
  • Azra Turk, an alias for the investigator, was tasked by the FBI to accompany Halper during his meetings in London with Papadopoulos.
  • Halper also made contact during the campaign with Trump aides Carter Page and Sam Clovis.

A woman who posed as an assistant to former Cambridge professor Stefan Halper has been identified as an FBI investigator who worked on an intelligence-gathering operation against George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser.

The New York Times reports that the woman, who used the alias Azra Turk, was tasked by the FBI to work alongside Halper during a series of meetings with Papadopoulos in London in September 2016.

The operation, which The Times says yielded little information from Papadopoulos, adds a new wrinkle to “Spygate,” the term that President Donald Trump began using after it was reported in May 2018 that Halper was a longtime CIA and FBI informant.

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May 2, 2019

AG BARR ‘CONCERNED’ THAT STEELE DOSSIER WAS RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION

Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday he is reviewing whether the infamous Steele dossier was a product of Russian disinformation.

Barr made the explosive revelation during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding the results of the special counsel’s probe. The investigation severely undercut the Democrat-funded Steele dossier, which alleged a “well-developed conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

Barr was asked about the origins of the dossier during an exchange with Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

“Can we state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of the Russian disinformation campaign?” asked Cornyn, a Republican.

Barr replied: “No, I can’t state that with confidence and that is one of the areas that I’m reviewing. I’m concerned about it, and I don’t think it’s entirely speculative.”

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May 1, 2019

NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY ‘UNMASKINGS’ SKYROCKETED LAST YEAR

The National Security Agency (NSA) disclosed the identities of nearly 17,000 U.S. residents and businesses to American intelligence officials last year through a legal — but controversial — practice known as “unmasking,” according to a report released Tuesday.

The number of unmaskings — 16,721 to be exact — marks a 75 percent increase from 2017, which saw the NSA make 9,529 disclosures to intelligence agencies. Between September 2015 and August 2016, the first 12-month period in which NSA statistics were gathered, only 9,215 unmaskings occurred.

The unmasking process has become controversial over the past two years. Republicans have alleged that Obama administration officials abused foreign surveillance laws by making unnecessary unmasking requests of Trump associates during the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as during the presidential transition period.

Susan Rice, who served as President Obama’s national security adviser, told Congress in 2017 that she unmasked the identities of Trump associates who took part in a meeting with officials from the United Arab Emirates in December 2016. Samantha Power, who served as ambassador to the United Nations, said that an associate submitted 260 unmasking requests under her name in 2016.

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April 30, 2019

FBI INVESTIGATING ANTIFA FOR PLOTTING TO BUY GUNS FROM CARTEL FOR ‘ARMED REBELLION’

The FBI is investigating anti-fascist activists for an alleged plot to buy guns from a Mexican cartel in order to “stage an armed rebellion” at the southern border, according to an unclassified document obtained by The Chicago Tribune.

The FBI document, from December of 2018, warns of militant antifa activists planning to “disrupt security operations” at the U.S.-Mexico border. The group allegedly planned to buy guns from a Mexican cartel associate known as Cobra Commander, in order to “stage an armed rebellion at the border.”

The source who provided it to the San Diego Tribune asked the outlet not to publish the six-page document because the investigation is ongoing, and the outlet cited two additional law enforcement officials who confirmed the news. The FBI has warned dozens of law enforcement agencies in both Mexico and the United States of the alleged plot.

Two of the men named in the report told the San Diego Tribune the allegations are absurd.

“It doesn’t make any sense that someone from the United States would purchase guns in Mexico,” Ivan Reibeling, the man known as Cobra Commander, told the outlet. “And the Hondurans certainly didn’t bring money to buy guns. It doesn’t make any sense; in fact it’s extremely absurd to say the Hondurans wanted to attack the United States at the border.

The FBI sent the report marked “priority” to agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the CIA and the National Security Administration.

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April 29, 2019

TRUMP ‘OUTS’ JUDGE NAPOLITANO, SAYS HE CAME ASKING FOR SCOTUS NOD

President Donald Trump tweeted after Saturday’s rally in Wisconsin an attack on Judge Andrew Napolitano, claiming the judge had come to him privately to ask for a Supreme Court nomination.

“Thank you to brilliant and highly respected attorney Alan Dershowitz for destroying the very dumb legal argument of ‘Judge’ Andrew Napolitano….” Trump began, following his praise of Harvard professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz with an immediate pivot to an attack on Napolitano.

“….Ever since Andrew came to my office to ask that I appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I said NO, he has been very hostile! Also asked for pardon for his friend. A good ‘pal’ of low ratings Shepard Smith,” the president concluded.

Trump appeared to be referring to the fallout from the recently-released Mueller report, which Napolitano has argued on his Fox News Digital show “Judge Napolitano’s Chambers” stands as proof that the president obstructed justice.

“Prosecutors prosecute people who interfere with government functions and that’s what the president did by obstruction, where is this going to end? I don’t know, but I am disappointed in the behavior of the president,” Napolitano said, calling that behavior “immoral,” “criminal,” “defenseless” and “condemnable.”

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April 26, 2019

TRUMP SAYS HE WILL DECLASSIFY FBI’S RUSSIA PROBE DOCUMENTS, ‘AND MUCH MORE’

President Donald Trump committed Thursday to declassifying a slew of records related to the Russia probe “and much more.”

Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he was “glad” he waited to declassify the documents until after the end of the special counsel’s investigation.

“I thought that maybe they would obstruct if I did it early, and I think I was right,” Trump said.

Trump has for months considered releasing portions of a classified surveillance warrant application granted in June 2017 against Carter Page, the former Trump campaign adviser. He has also considered declassifying FBI notes of interviews with Bruce Ohr, the Justice Department official who served as dossier author Christopher Steele’s handler for months after the 2016 election.

Trump ordered all of the documents declassified on Sept. 17, 2018, but reversed course four days later. Trump said at the time that he decided not to declassify the documents after meeting with the Justice Department.

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April 25, 2019

GEORGIAN BUSINESSMAN RELEASES TEXTS WITH COHEN THAT WERE LEFT OUT OF MUELLER REPORT


  • A Georgian-American businessman is calling for a retraction of a footnote in the special counsel’s report that refers to a text message exchange with Michael Cohen about a rumored Trump sex tape.
  • Giorgi Rtskhiladze’s lawyer sent a letter to the attorney general claiming that the Mueller report has “glaring inaccuracies.”
  • The report quoted a text message in which Rtskhiladze told Cohen he was “stopping the flow” of tapes of Trump. But in a text message left out of Mueller’s report, Rtskhiladze suggested he did not believe the rumor. 

A Georgian-American businessman is accusing special counsel Robert Mueller of publishing “glaring inaccuracies and misrepresentations” about rumors of alleged sex tapes of President Donald Trump during a visit to Moscow in 2013.

In a letter sent to Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, a lawyer for the businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, called on the Justice Department to retract a footnote in Mueller’s report mentioning an Oct. 30, 2016 text message exchange he had with attorney Michael Cohen about a rumored Trump tape.

Rtskhiladze claims that the special counsel’s report inaccurately quotes his text message with Cohen. He says that additional text messages not quoted in the report show that he was doubtful about a rumor he had heard from an associate in Moscow about the existence of a tape.

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April 24, 2019

RUSH LIMBAUGH AND TRUMP DISCUSSED ‘GOLDEN SHOWERS’ STORY DURING RECENT GOLF OUTING

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh revealed on Tuesday that he and President Trump “were laughing ourselves silly” during a golf outing this weekend over the infamous “golden showers” claim from the Steele dossier.

In an interview on Fox News, host Martha MacCallum asked Limbaugh if he got the sense during the golf session that Trump was bothered by any part of the Mueller report, which was released last Thursday.

Limbaugh said he didn’t discuss with Trump “what he thought of this and that.” But the golf group did laugh off the most salacious allegation made in the dossier: that Trump was recorded in a Moscow hotel room in 2013 with a group of Russian prostitutes. 

“At lunch after the round, he was telling Lexi about the golden showers story and how ridiculous it is, and everybody was laughing. The fact that the media believed it, the fact that people actually thought that Trump would hire some prostitutes to urinate on a bed because Obama had slept in it, we’re laughing ourselves silly over this as he told the story,” Limbaugh said.

According to the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC, Trump watched as the Russian prostitutes urinated on each other in a “golden showers” scene.

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April 23, 2019

TRUMP FED PICK STEPHEN MOORE RESPONDS TO ‘CHARACTER ASSASSINATION’ BY CNN

Stephen Moore, one of President Donald Trump’s recent picks to join the Federal Reserve Board, slammed the media on Monday for attacks over old columns he wrote about women in sports.

CNN published an article Monday quoting four columns Moore, a former economic adviser to the Trump campaign, wrote in the early 2000s for National Review magazine. The columns included pithy jokes and commentary about banning female announcers and referees from NCAA basketball games and questioning why ESPN would ever air women’s basketball.

“How outrageous is this? This year they allowed a woman ref a men’s NCAA game. Liberals celebrate this breakthrough as a triumph for gender equity,” Moore wrote. “Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women? What’s next? Women invited to bachelor parties?”

“There’s no joy in dunking over a girl,” Moore added about women joining men’s sports. “Never mind that I can’t dunk (except on the eight-foot baskets). If I could, I wouldn’t celebrate dunking over someone named Tina.”

“This was a spoof,” Moore said in a statement to CNN about the columns. “I have a sense of humor.”

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April 22, 2019

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SEEKS 18-MONTH PRISON SENTENCE FOR RUSSIAN AGENT MARIA BUTINA

The Justice Department recommended an 18-month prison sentence Friday for Maria Butina, a Russian national who prosecutors claim helped the Russian government by reporting back to Moscow on key political figures in the U.S.

Prosecutors said in their court filing that Butina “was not a spy in the traditional sense” and is not a trained intelligence officer of the Kremlin. Instead, the government claims that Butina took part in a “spotting and assessing” operation on behalf of the Russian government to identify potential intelligence assets in the U.S.

Butina worked with a Russian government official identified as Alexander Torshin to infiltrate conservative groups like the National Rifle Association and to establish contacts with Republican presidential campaigns, according to prosecutors.

“Acquiring information valuable to a foreign power does not necessarily involve collecting classified documents or engaging in cloak-and-dagger activities,” prosecutors said in Friday’s filing.

“Something as basic as the identification of people who have the ability to influence policy in a foreign power’s favor is extremely attractive to those powers,” it said. “This identification could form the basis of other forms of intelligence operations, or targeting, in the future.”

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