February 16, 2018

CIA Argues The Public Can’t See Classified Information It Has Already Given To Favored Reporters

Intelligence officials can selectively release classified information to trusted journalists while withholding the same information from other citizens who request it through open records laws, CIA lawyers argued Wednesday.

In a motion filed in New York federal court, the CIA claimed that limited disclosures to reporters do not waive national security exemptions to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies frequently deny records requests on the basis of protecting sensitive national security information, one of nine exemptions written into the federal FOIA law.

The case stems from lawsuit against the CIA by New York-based independent journalist Adam Johnson, who had used FOIA to obtain emails between the agency’s public information office and selected reporters from the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and The New York Times. The emails the CIA provided to Johnson were redacted, leading him to question why he was not allowed to see the same information that had been given to uncleared reporters.

Johnson challenged the redaction in court, arguing that the CIA, once it has selectively disclosed information to uncleared reporters, cannot claim the same information is protected by a FOIA exemption.

The judge in the case appeared to find Johnson’ argument compelling. In a court order last month, Chief Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York said FOIA laws do not authorize limited disclosure, to favored journalists or otherwise.

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February 15, 2018

DOJ Official Bruce Ohr Hid Wife’s Fusion GPS Payments From Ethics Officials

Bruce Ohr, the Department of Justice official who brought opposition research on President Donald Trump to the FBI, did not disclose that Fusion GPS, which performed that research at the Democratic National Committee’s behest, was paying his wife, and did not obtain a conflict of interest waiver from his superiors at the Justice Department, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show.

The omission may explain why Ohr was demoted from his post as associate deputy attorney general after the relationship between Fusion GPS and his wife emerged and Fusion founder Glenn Simpson acknowledged meeting with Ohr. Willfully falsifying government ethics forms can carry a penalty of jail time, if convicted.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) hired Fusion GPS to gather and disseminate damning info about Trump, and they in turn paid Nellie Ohr, a former CIA employee with expertise in Russia, for an unknown role related to the “dossier.” Bruce Ohr then brought the information to the FBI, kicking off a probe and a media firestorm.

The DOJ used it to obtain a warrant to wiretap a Trump adviser, but didn’t disclose to the judge that the DNC and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign had funded the research and that Ohr had a financial relationship with the firm that performed it — which could be, it turns out, because Ohr doesn’t appear to have told his supervisors. Some have suggested that the financial payments motivated Bruce Ohr to actively push the case.

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February 14, 2018

DNC Refused To Comply With Dossier-Related Subpoena, So BuzzFeed Sued

BuzzFeed News sued the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Tuesday to force the release of information that the news outlet hopes will help it defend against a lawsuit related to the Steele dossier.

BuzzFeed is seeking digital information that could shed light on the cyber attacks against the DNC during the presidential campaign.

The news outlet faces three separate lawsuit related to its publication of the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC.

The suit against the DNC seeks information that could help defend against a defamation lawsuit filed by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech executive accused in the dossier of using his web hosting companies to hack into the DNC’s computer systems.

Gubarev denies the allegations and has argued that BuzzFeed failed to verify the dossier before publishing the report in January 2017. Steele, a former MI6 officer, has acknowledged in a London court, where he is being sued by Gubarev, that the information about the tech executive had not been verified.

“As part of the discovery process, BuzzFeed is attempting to verify claims in the dossier that relate to the hacking of the DNC,” BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenhal said in a statement. “We’re asking a federal court to force the DNC to follow the law and allow BuzzFeed to fully defend its First Amendment rights.”

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February 13, 2018

Intriguing Links Emerge In GOP Led Dossier Investigation

The Republican-led investigation into the infamous anti-Trump dossier has recently revealed several intriguing links between Christopher Steele, lawyers, lobbyists, Democratic politicians, a former State Department official, and a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.

Most of the revelations come thanks to Sen. Chuck Grassley. The Iowa Republican released a letter in January that cited the names of several political operatives and lawyers who had not previously been linked to the dossier Steele wrote while on the payroll of the Clinton campaign and DNC.

And Thursday, a batch of text messages leaked to Fox News revealed that Steele used a back channel to communicate with Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate who is allied with Putin, is party to several of the connections. The billionaire has also worked closely in the past with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Steele connections are being investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley chairs, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The implications of the contacts remain to be seen, but they are worth watching as the investigation into the dossier goes on.

Lobbyist back channel between Warner and Steele 

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February 12, 2018

Holder Says Trump Obstructed Justice: How Ironic — And Flat Out Wrong

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama’s self-described “wingman,” made headlines recently by regurgitating Democrats’ fanciful claim that President Trump has obstructed justice. “If one looks at the dismissal of James Comey and the reasons why the president told Lester Holt he did that . . .  and a variety of other things, I think you technically have a case of obstruction of justice,” Holder opined. This vapid political posturing serves as a vivid reminder that Obama did not name Holder to the nation’s top law enforcement post because of his (non-existent) lawyering skills or legal acumen. Instead, Holder “earned” the position because he is a loyal errand boy of the Democratic Party who “facilitated the most unjust presidential pardon in American history” for Bill Clinton.

It is the height of hypocrisy for “the first sitting attorney general and first sitting Cabinet member in U.S. history to be held in criminal and civil contempt of Congress by both Democrats and Republicans” to accuse anyone else of corruptly obstructing justice. As Obama’s wingman, Holder shamelessly politicized the DOJ and “did everything he could to evade [congressional] oversight responsibilities by misleading, misinforming and ignoring members of Congress and its committees.” But the aspiring presidential candidate’s recent statements reflect liberals’ desperate attempt to cheat Trump out of the White House since they could not beat him fair and square in an election. Unfortunately for liberals, the notion that Trump obstructed justice by firing a confirmed leaker like Comey cannot withstand legal scrutiny.

In response to questioning from Holt on whether the Russian investigation had influenced his decision to fire the former director, the president clearly explained that, “I just want somebody that’s competent…. [Comey’s] not. He’s a show boater.” Trump also noted that the FBI was “in turmoil” thanks to Comey’s poor leadership. Ironically, before Comey’s firing, Democrats overwhelmingly agreed with Trump. After Trump’s election, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said of the FBI director, “I do not have confidence in him any longer.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also expressed the view that “Maybe [Comey’s] not in the right job.” And liberal Senator Dianne Feinstein “took perhaps the strongest shot at Comey,” declaring that his conduct was “appalling.”

Holder fails to explain how the president broke the law by firing an incompetent government employee who Republicans and Democrats alike agreed had engaged in appalling conduct. Nevertheless, he and other liberals are cynically exploiting the fact that Trump also stated that “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.” But the fact that Trump wanted to fire Comey because he is an incompetent showboat and the fact that Trump believes the “Russia thing” is a witch hunt backed by sore loser liberals don’t add up to obstruction of justice no matter how desperately Democrats—and their media allies—try to spin the facts.

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February 9, 2018

Strzok May Have Used His Cell Phone In A SCIF, Himself Breaking Classified-Info Rules

Released texts between Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who ran the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server, and his lover, FBI attorney Lisa Page, reveal the strong possibility that Strzok used his cell phone in a SCIF — a strict violation of protecting classified information.

Such a breach would compromise Strzok’s ability to probe Clinton for mishandling classified info and show a lack of awareness about security breaches, which is what he was tasked to investigate. The text messages that the Senate released Wednesday show that Strzok texted his mistress on Aug. 11, 2016, “We’re in Jims SCIF.”

SCIF stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, and it is where the most sensitive classified material is kept and story. SCIFs strictly bar all electronic equipment and require all people place their phones in lockers before entering.

The lead up to Strzok’s visit to “Jims SCIF” took place around meetings at the Department of Justice. Strzok said he had meetings at “DoJ at 4 then Baker 430.”

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February 8, 2018

FBI informant says Russians wired money in hopes of influencing Hillary Clinton in Uranium One ploy

An FBI informant connected to the "Uranium One" scandal said that Russian nuclear executives sent money to the United States in hopes it would influence the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a report Wednesday.

In written testimony obtained by the Hill, the informant, Douglas Campbell, told Congress that Russian nuclear officials told him that Moscow hired American lobbying firm APCO Worldwide with a $3 million annual lobbying fee in hopes of influencing Clinton to "reset" U.S.-Russia relations while supporting former President Bill Clinton’s charity efforts.

“The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months,” Campbell explained. “APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.”

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for APCO said that their work with the Clinton Foundation and Russia are not connected in any way and their work with Russia did not involve Uranium One.

A spokesperson for Clinton said that Campbell’s testimony is a distraction from the Trump-Russia investigation.

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February 7, 2018

Grassley-Graham Memo: Dossier Author Christopher Steele Lied to FBI, FBI Didn’t Tell FISA Court

Trump dossier author Christopher Steele lied to the FBI about his contact with Yahoo News, and the FBI misled a court to obtain a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser, according to a less-redacted version of a memo by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Their memo, which was released Tuesday evening after the FBI withdrew some of its previous redactions, also reveals a number of other bombshells, and backs up assertions made in the House Intelligence Committee memo.

A newly-unredacted portion of the memo says that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley, ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Graham all saw the FISA warrant application and renewals for a surveillance warrant on Carter Page.

According to the memo, the FBI relied “heavily” on the Steele dossier, and also relied on “numerous” other FBI documents related to Steele, in order to get a surveillance warrant on Page in October 2016, and to continue surveilling him through 2017.

Then-FBI Director James Comey briefed Feinstein and Grassley in March 2017, and told them that the FBI had relied on the dossier “absent meaningful corroboration — and in light of the highly political motives surrounding its creation” because Steele himself was considered reliable due to his past work with the FBI.

The House Intelligence Committee memo asserted that the FBI had significantly relied on the dossier to get the warrant, but critics refuted that.

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February 6, 2018

Christopher Steele Fears Deposition Will Put Dossier Sources At Risk

Former British spy Christopher Steele is resisting efforts to face a deposition in a lawsuit over his infamous dossier.

Steele’s lawyers argued in a court in London that a deposition would put the former spy’s dossier sources at risk as well as endanger U.K. national security interests.

Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman identified in the dossier, is seeking Steele’s deposition as part of a lawsuit against BuzzFeed News, which published the unverified document on Jan. 10, 2017.

The dossier alleges, among other things, that Gubarev used his tech companies to hack into Democrats’ email systems. He is also suing Steele in London, where the ex-MI6 agent is based.

Gubarev’s U.S. attorneys are asking to depose Steele for seven hours in order to find out whether he vetted his sources and the information in the dossier.

But Steele’s lawyers say that he is concerned that the deposition would “require the disclosure of sensitive intelligence information which would endanger UK national security interests and personnel,” Reuters reported.

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February 5, 2018

The GOP memo proves the ‘deep state’ is real

Now that we know what the declassified House memo says about government misconduct, we also know what it means: The Washington swamp — the deep state — is bigger, more vicious and more dangerous to American liberty than even a cynic could have imagined.

Because of the memo and previous revelations, we know that swamp creatures are embedded in the top of the FBI and the Department of Justice. Some used their power to try to tip a presidential campaign based on their personal politics.

They conducted a sham investigation of the Democratic candidate and misled federal judges to spy on at least one associate of her Republican challenger.

To block exposure of their misdeeds, these officials falsely claimed that national security would be damaged. Add that despicable lie — issued in the name of the FBI itself — to their shameful records.

Thanks to the battle over the memo, we also know with 100 percent certainty that the mainstream media is part of the swamp. The efforts by The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, to keep the memo from ever seeing sunshine were appalling.

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February 2, 2018

Strzok-Page Texts Show Concern With ‘Security/Monitoring Issues’

Text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page show the two FBI officials discussing “security/monitoring” issues with FBI-issued cell phones, according to a letter sent Wednesday to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“These phones suck as much as they do because of the program we use to capture texts, full stop,” Page, an FBI lawyer, said in an Aug. 2016 text message highlighted by Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

In a letter to Rosenstein, Johnson signaled that he is expanding an investigation into current and former FBI officials’ use of non-government phones and email accounts.

Johnson asked Rosenstein in his letter to provide text messages and emails for 16 current and former FBI officials, including Strzok, Page, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former general counsel James Baker, former chief of staff James Rybicki, and several officials in the counterintelligence division and technology division.

Johnson’s investigation is running parallel to one being conducted by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Horowitz uncovered texts between Strzok and Page showing that they frequently expressed anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias while working on both the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton email probe.

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February 1, 2018

Schiff Claims House Intel Republicans ‘Secretly Altered’ Spy Memo

California Rep. Adam Schiff claimed Wednesday that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee altered a controversial surveillance memo after the panel voted earlier this week to release the document to the public.

In a letter to California Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, Schiff claimed that Democrats discovered on Wednesday that the classified four-page memo had been “secretly altered” prior to being sent to the White House for review.

“After reviewing both versions, it is clear that the Majority made material changes to the version it sent to the White House, which Committee members were never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved,” Schiff wrote.

The Intelligence Committee voted along party lines on Monday to release the memo, which alleges that the FBI and Justice Department misled a federal judge in order to obtain a surveillance warrant in order to spy on Trump associates.

The White House is poised to release the memo on Thursday.

Schiff did not say what edits were made to the memo, and a spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee called the Democrat’s effort a “strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo.”

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