"...against ALL enemies, foreign AND domestic."
"If you’re a leader, you lead the way. Not just on the easy ones; you take the tough ones too…” – MAJ Richard D. Winters (1918-2011), E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil... Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel." - Isaiah 5:20,24
|wishing we |
From the DoJ IG FISA report:
Bill Priestap was Strzok's boss. For a long time it was widely theorized he was a "good guy". But the report reveals he was part of this dirty operation just like the others.
Priestap decided there wouldn't be defensive briefings for the Trump campaign because it might alert campaign people engaged w the Russians. The FBI treated Donald Trump just like he was a tool of Russia. The utter contempt and disrespect shown Donald Trump was astounding.
and if the dossier wasn't a part of opening the investigation, why was the FBI so worried about the campaign just because someone told Papadopoulos the Russians had negative info on Clinton ? So what ?
Papadopoulos never even passed that info up the campaign chain. The FBI is hiding behind lies and deception to cover their outrageous behavior to interfere in the election and to bring down Donald Trump after the election.
Comey kept saying, and still does say, this was not an investigation into Trump or the Trump campaign. Utter BS.
The report says the information from Alexander Downer was sufficient to predicate the investigation. But the report also says the "quantum of information" met the low threshold established by DoJ and the FBI.
So as Comey and his crew of conspirators feel "vindicated" by the IG report, the real damning fact is that the DoJ/FBI used low standards to trigger the counterintel op into the Trump campaign. You have to be very naïve not to see this was a political attack abusing the power and authority that is given to federal agencies.
Priestap was the one who ultimately made the decision to open the investigation.
The IG did not find "documentary or testimonial evidence" that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open investigations into Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Michael Flynn, & Paul Manafort.
All I can say is that Horowitz is avoiding the obvious and there was lots of indicators of political bias and improper motivation.
Horowitz writes that texts between Strzok and Lisa Page included statements of hostility toward Donald Trump. But then Horowitz says Lisa Page did not play a role in the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane.
The report says Strzok was not the sole, or even the highest level decision maker, to open the investigation.
Those report observations seem contrary to hundreds of Strzok / Page text messages. And we only saw the ones the FBI would let us see.
Horowitz has the guilty people identified but won't condemn them because there were so many FBI people involved. It is like not charging a gang of bank robbers because the gang was so large the guilt gets spread out.This message has been edited. Last edited by: sdy,
|wishing we |
Lisa Page recently started to tweet
right Lisa. sure thing. You are a lying scumbag
|wishing we |
and this one:
Believe nothing, absolutely nothing, that comes from Benjamin Wittes or Susan Hennessey.
Lisa Page has thrown in with Wittes and the Lawfare group. It would be interesting to know when she actually hooked up so close to them.
Wittes is one of the antiTrump leaders who plots how to use lawyers and the court system to attack Donald Trump and to put road blocks in front of everything that President Trump attempts to accomplish.
from a report in 2018:
In October 2016 , in his Lawfare blog, Wittes wrote: “What if Trump wins? We need an insurance policy against the unthinkable: Donald Trump’s actually winning the Presidency.”
Wittes wrote that his vision of an “insurance policy” against Trump would rely on a “Coalition of All Democratic Forces” to challenge and obstruct Trump using the courts as a “tool” and Congress as “a partner or tool.”
He even mentioned impeachment — two weeks before Trump was elected
|I kneel for my God, |
and I stand for my flag
There used to be some shame in being labeled (rightfully so) a whore.
There was an insurance policy alright. It just didn't work, and not only didn't it work, it flat-out freaking backfired, which is why anyone knows your name, Lis, and why you're tweeting that bullshit at all.
"I sit astride life like a bad rider on a horse. I only owe it to the horse's good nature that I am not thrown off at this very moment." - Ludwig Wittgenstein
|wishing we |
This is the crap that happens when people like Horowitz don't call the facts for what they are
Strzok claims FBI, DOJ violated his free speech, privacy rights
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, a onetime member of former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, is claiming the FBI and Justice Department violated his rights of free speech and privacy when firing him for uncovered texts that criticized President Trump.
Strzok and his legal team made the claims in a court document filed Monday that pushes back on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) motion to dismiss the lawsuit he filed in August over his ouster a year earlier.
DOJ alleged in its motion to dismiss that Strzok’s role in high-profile investigations meant he was held to a higher standard when it came to speech. But Strzok’s legal team disputed this in Monday’s filing, saying that the approximately 8,000 other employees in similar positions retain their privacy even when using government-issued devices.
except hopefully the other 8,000 weren't conspiring in a coup attempt against the U.S. Presidency
“The government’s argument would leave thousands of career federal government employees without protections from discipline over the content of their political speech,” the filing said.
“Nearly every aspect of a modern workplace, and for that matter nearly every non-workplace aspect of employees’ lives, can be monitored,” it added. “The fact that a workplace conversation can be discovered does not render it unprotected.”
Strzok’s team also accuses the bureau and DOJ of only punishing those who condemn Trump, as “there is no evidence of an attempt to punish” those who verbally backed the president ahead of the 2016 election.
of all the FBI and DoJ people that have been associated with the counterintel op or the follow on Mueller fiasco, has a single person been identified as supporting Donald Trump ?
The FBI declined to comment, saying the bureau does not comment on pending litigation.
"It doesn't matter who you are — someone, like Pete, who has devoted his whole life to protecting this country, or a Gold Star family, or a Purple Heart winner, or a lifelong Republican who spent 5 years as a POW in North Vietnam. If you dare to raise your voice against President Trump, he and his allies will try to destroy you," Strzok attorney Aitan Goelman said in a statement to The Hill.
Strzok was fired after the Justice Department released 2016 texts he exchanged with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, where he called Trump an “idiot” and both openly hoped he would fail to get elected.
and then worked furiously to be sure his "hope" came true. Remember the text from Strzok to Page where he said after she was on Mueller's team and got Trump impeached, she could pull in $500,000 a year in private industry. That was their "incentive". Did Horowitz address that ?
Trump praised Strzok’s removal and has repeatedly pointed to the exchanges with Page as evidence of government bias against his administration.
The DOJ released the texts between Page and Strzok in December 2017, which Strzok said Monday was a “deliberate and unlawful” violation of the Privacy Act.
The texts previously got Strzok removed from Mueller’s investigation team.
Page also filed a suit against the FBI and DOJ earlier this month for allegedly violating her privacy.
CTH believes this is a legal maneuver to keep more texts from being released.
I have a feeling the worst of the texts have not been released
|wishing we |
I need to correct my post above.
In these May 2017 texts, Strzok and Lisa Page discuss the pros and cons of getting on the Mueller team
These two slimeballs thought that "the odds are nothing" that there was Trump campaign collusion w Russia, but it would be a "savvy business decision" to frame Trump.
Strzok didn't tell Page about a 500k job, he told her she could make $600k after getting Trump impeached and then "exiting" the FBI.
adding: Strzok knows the odds are nothing, but in May 2017 they already have made 3 FISA warrants that Carter Page was a Russian foreign agentThis message has been edited. Last edited by: sdy,
|The Whack-Job |
Strzok used government issued phones. He had no expectation of privacy.
And everything on that phone was open to publication, to the public. He is so full of shit his eyes should be brown. Regards 18DAI
Blue lives matter.
|wishing we |
This is a rambling post trying to find a conclusion
The background is that when the transcript of the President's phone call to Zelensky was released, there was a rather incoherent part about Crowdstrike and the DNC server.
There was very suspicious behavior of the FBI when it did not demand to analyze the DNC servers after the email hacks of spring/summer 2016. The DNC, then led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, would not allow the FBI to see the DNC servers.
The DNC brought in Crowdstrike to do the analysis.
Actually, Michael Sussmann of Perkins Coie law firm brought in Crowdstrike for this task.
Michael Sussmann formerly w DoJ.
Michael Sussmann "nationally-recognized privacy, cybersecurity and national security attorney".
Sussmann the cybersecurity "expert" who went to FBI General Counsel James Baker in Sep 2016 and told him that Russia Alfa bank computers were secretly communicating with Trump Towers. (This was proven to be completely false)
Crowdstrike - founded in 2011 by George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch
In July 2015, Google heavily invested in Crowdstrike. The firm brought on board senior FBI executives, such as Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director (EAD) of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, and Steve Chabinsky, former deputy assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division
In June 2019, the company made its successful IPO on the NASDAQ, with the stock almost doubling after IPO
Alperovitch was born in Moscow but is now a U.S. citizen.
He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank
The Atlantic Council is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
In 2013, the Atlantic Council awarded Hillary Clinton it’s Distinguished International Leadership Award.
Victor Pinchuk is a Ukrainian billionaire.
He has supported the Atlantic Council, paid both Clintons to speak at events, contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and lent his private plane to the Clintons.
James Clapper and Evelyn Farcas are also associated w Atlantic Council
Mifsud tells Papadopoulos the Russians have damaging info on Clinton
Alexander Downer says Papadopoulos told him the Russians had some sort of Clinton damaging info
DNC (which had been hacked for 8 or 9 months) announces that the Russians have hacked their emails. Sussmann brought in Crowdstrike to do the analysis.
FBI relies solely on Crowdstrike analysis
FBI starts a counterintel op based on what Alexander Downer said. FBI does not talk to Papadopoulos for 6 months. FBI does not talk to others in the Trump campaign about it (except thru multiple spies trying to trick Trump campaign workers)
Are all these events unrelated ? not orchestrated ?
Strzok's lawyers are well aware of the case law against them, but what else do they have? They're hired to represent his best interests and just throwing their hands up into the air and saying "We surrender!", would not demonstrate "due diligence."
It looks to me like they fully expect criminal filings and are simply doing this as a public appeal, possibly with the hope of contaminating a jury pool. I'd love to see them both do hard-time in prison. It would set a great example for future managers and other employees who consider abusing their authority.
"I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."
|wishing we |
A NYT article from Dec 2016
shows why CIA wanted to take down Michael Flynn
Long before Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn became Donald J. Trump’s choice for national security adviser, he believed that the Central Intelligence Agency had become a political tool of the Obama administration — a view now echoed by the president-elect in his mocking dismissals of C.I.A. assessments that Russia sought to tip the election in Mr. Trump’s favor.
“They’ve lost sight of who they actually work for,” Mr. Flynn said in an interview with The New York Times in October 2015. “They work for the American people. They don’t work for the president of the United States.” He added, speaking of the agency’s leadership: “Frankly, it’s become a very political organization.”
Mr. Flynn’s assessment that the C.I.A. is a political arm of the Obama administration is not widely shared by Republicans or Democrats in Washington. But it has appeared to have been internalized by the one person who matters most right now: Mr. Trump.
I wonder what REPs think now
In the past few days, Mr. Trump has sought to portray reports of the agency’s assessments that Russia actively tried to interfere in the election as a desperate attempt by sore losers to taint his presidency before it begins
right again, Mr President
His denigration of C.I.A. officials as “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction” has opened up an extraordinary rift between the president-elect and the nation’s intelligence community that is unlikely to be bridged anytime soon.
Although it is unclear how much Mr. Flynn, 57, is responsible for Mr. Trump’s response to the C.I.A. assessment, during the presidential campaign he had substantial influence on the president-elect. He brought to the campaign views on Muslims and national security that tended to hew far closer to the right-wing fringes than the mainstream of the Republican Party.
Mr. Flynn also appears to have helped set the tone for Mr. Trump’s testy relationship with the intelligence community. In August, when the Trump campaign received its first intelligence briefing, Mr. Flynn was so combative with the briefers that another person in the room had to urge him to settle down, according to a person familiar with the episode who was told about it in confidence.
can't imagine why
On any number of issues — from the Obama administration’s failure to foresee the rise of the Islamic State to Mr. Flynn’s ouster as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the intelligence arm of the Defense Department — he has made it clear in recent years that he sees the political hand of the C.I.A. at work.
As director of the D.I.A. from 2012 to 2014, he pushed hard for his agency, long treated as second-rate by the C.I.A., to be given greater access to the trove of documents and other materials seized during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011. The C.I.A. controlled the material, and Mr. Flynn became convinced that the agency was refusing to share or declassify much of it because of fears that it would undermine the administration’s narrative about Al Qaeda’s waning strength at the time Bin Laden was killed.
“It’s all political with” the C.I.A. leadership, Mr. Flynn said in the 2015 interview, which focused on the rise of the Islamic State and American national security.
“If they put out what we knew, then the president could have not said, in a national election, ‘Al Qaeda’s on the run and we’ve killed Bin Laden,’” he said, referring to Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “Even today, he talks about Bin Laden as though that was a stroke of genius.”
Mr. Flynn also questioned the decision to kill Bin Laden. “Killing Bin Laden was the wrong thing to do,” he said. “They could have captured him.”
In killing Bin Laden, he said, “we created a new version of Allah.”
“What we should have done is shown him to be a decrepit old guy, put him in a freaking cage, in a cell, and put him on trial,” Mr. Flynn added. “Make it a big messy trial, make it global.”
I disagree w Flynn about that
Mr. Flynn has also said that the C.I.A., at the urging of the White House, was playing down warnings from the D.I.A. about the resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which would later become the Islamic State. “I’m telling you, the C.I.A. has a lot to reflect on because of this,” he said.
A number of current and former officials dispute Mr. Flynn’s account, saying concerns about the resurgence of Islamist militants in the midst of Syria’s civil war were widespread in the intelligence community
Mr. Flynn, who was fired from the D.I.A. after serving only two years of a three-year appointment, has described his dismissal as an act of political retribution by the C.I.A. and Obama administration officials who did not want to hear what he was saying.
Other officials, including some with direct knowledge of the decision to dismiss Mr. Flynn, said he was forced out for a more straightforward reason: He was not a good manager, and his efforts to reform the agency left it in chaos.
It was not Mr. Flynn’s first run-in with the civilian intelligence community. The ill will stretches back years, current and former officials said, and it transformed into open hostility when Mr. Flynn was running military intelligence under Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal in Afghanistan.
In January 2010, after less than a year on the job, Mr. Flynn released a paper, “Fixing Intel,” that was highly critical of American intelligence work in Afghanistan. It bluntly stated that “the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy,” and said that it had only itself to blame because it had failed to understand Afghanistan’s cultural complexities.
The paper was widely praised in defense circles as insightful. But at the C.I.A., officials were furious at what they saw as a direct attack on the aptitude and professionalism of the roughly 1,000 agency personnel who were serving in Afghanistan at the time.
They were also incensed at the timing of the paper, which became public five days after a suicide attack that killed seven C.I.A. officers at a base in eastern Afghanistan. Mr. Flynn’s searing critique was seen at the agency as the height of insensitivity.
Mr. Flynn has been unapologetic about his views of not only the C.I.A. but other national security agencies, including the D.I.A. under his leadership.
“ They’ve really been lying to the American public ,” he said in the interview, referring to the Obama administration and much of the national security and intelligence establishment. “The Department of Defense and those of us that have allowed this sort of a happy talk — ‘We’re moving in the right direction, things are working.’ It’s not. The Taliban are going to come back into power, or ISIS is going to come back into power.”
that's what Flynn said in Oct 2015
no wonder the obama admin wanted to take Flynn down quick
|wishing we |
This is quite a surprise
Erik Wemple of Wash Post wrote a series of articles that critiqued the media that covered the Steele dossier
He did a good job
Only going to mention the general topics.
tears into the McClatchy reports where they just wouldn't give up on Cohen being in Prague. This was really bad. They kept coming back and being very firm. You could argue they crossed the line from "misinformed" to "outright lying".
Horowitz report confirms John Solomon’s scoop on FBI ‘spreadsheet’ regarding Steele dossier
Solomon cited a “source” as estimating that “the spreadsheet found upward of 90 percent of the dossier’s claims to be either wrong, nonverifiable or open-source intelligence found with a Google search.”
Fusion GPS says otherwise. “About the only thing from John Solomon that the Horowitz report confirms is that the FBI used a spreadsheet to evaluate the Steele memorandums, an unremarkable fact,”
For now, though, we’ll just note that time is the enemy of the “not disproven” defense. The longer the dossier’s claims linger in the public realm without corroboration, the flimsier they appear — even though Simpson and Fritsch maintain they were never supposed to meet the standards of a court filing or the front page of a newspaper to begin with
‘Disinformation’ claim ‘galls’ dossier author Christopher Steele
In an interview with the Erik Wemple Blog, Shane said the New York Times considered working up a master annotation of the dossier, complete with commentary on what was confirmed, what was debunked and what remained unproved. The newspaper abandoned the idea, however, because of the nature of the document itself. “We just found that there wasn’t enough certainty about the facts to really make that possible,” Shane said.
In their book “Crime in Progress,” Fusion GPS co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch write that the suggestion of a disinformation-tainted dossier “galls” Steele. “These people simply have no idea what they are talking about,” Steele told Simpson. “I’ve spent my entire adult life working with Russian disinformation. It’s an incredibly complex subject that is at the very core of my training and my professional mission.” The dossier author also charges that the idea the Russians would promote negative information about Trump is “not logical.” At least 70 percent of the “assertions” in the dossier are accurate, Steele believes, according to “Crime in Progress.”
except Steele never says which items are "accurate"
CNN lands an interview with its own contributor
Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe appeared on CNN’s “Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer. “Then-FBI Director Jim Comey — he says it was sloppiness. But this wasn’t just sloppiness. These were brutal mistakes, deliberate errors, concealments involving search warrant surveillance activities of an American citizen,” said Blitzer to one of the top FBI officials who oversaw the Page FISA warrants.
“They were very, very serious mistakes,” said McCabe, who said Horowitz “found no evidence that those misrepresentations were intentional. Nevertheless, they are unbelievably serious and something that has obviously gotten the court’s attention, as you would expect.”
How did CNN nail this riveting interview with a former FBI official at the center of the Horowitz report? Well, as CNN disclosed at the top of the interview, McCabe is a CNN contributor
Rachel Maddow rooted for the Steele dossier to be true. Then it fell apart.
I really liked this one
Sorting through the silence from the FBI and the unverified claims in the dossier, Maddow riffed on her Jan. 13, 2017, program: “I mean, had the FBI looked into what was in that dossier and found that it was all patently false, they could tell us that now, right?” said Maddow. “I mean, the dossier has now been publicly released. If the FBI looked into it and they found it was all trash, there’s no reason they can’t tell us that now. They’re not telling us that now. They’re not saying that. They’re not saying anything.”
That line of analysis has gained some important context via the Horowitz report. The FBI did, in fact, find “potentially serious problems” with Steele’s reporting as early as January 2017. A source review in March 2017 “did not make any findings that would have altered that judgment.”
It was dossier season, in any case, for Maddow
A much-cited defense of the Steele dossier has a problem
A year ago, in a post for Lawfare, Sarah Grant and Chuck Rosenberg assessed the durability of the Russia dossier compiled in 2016 by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. “The dossier holds up well over time, and none of it, to our knowledge, has been disproven,” they concluded.
The whole shebang, contended the dossier, “had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.”
In vetting these claims, Grant-Rosenberg relied on the July 2018 indictment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III against 12 officers of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU). The official record, argued the authors, makes some of the same connections found in the Steele dossier. However: It didn’t “corroborate the statement in the dossier that the Russian intelligence ‘operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team,'” conceded the authors.
‘Yeah, I briefly chased the pee tape’ — New York Times reporter talks Steele dossier, Horowitz report and more
The headline on the front page of the New York Times on Nov. 23 read, “Report Is Said To Clear F.B.I. Of Bias Claims,” by Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage.
But as Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff wrote last year, when “you actually get into the details of the Steele dossier, the specific allegations, we have not seen the evidence to support them, and, in fact, there’s good grounds to think that some of the more sensational allegations will never be proven and are likely false.”
Did you guys ever chase the pee tape?
Yeah, I briefly chased the pee tape.
What happened there?
I don’t want to get into it, but it just didn’t … [Editor’s note: At this point, Goldman’s voice trailed off.]
FBI Agent Who Interviewed Flynn Played Critical Role in Trump Campaign Investigation
DOJ internal investigation reveals the special agent was supervisor of Crossfire Hurricane, played key role in problematic FISA application
One of the special FBI agents who interviewed President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, at the White House in January 2017, played a much bigger role in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign—known as Crossfire Hurricane—than previously assumed, a report by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz reveals.
The agent was first introduced into the public realm in a May 11, 2018, letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who inquired about the FBI’s interview with Flynn.
Grassley specifically asked that the Department of Justice (DOJ) “make Special Agent Joe Pientka available for a transcribed interview with Committee staff no later than one week following the production of the requested documents.”
In a report released in December by Horowitz on the FBI’s FISA abuse during its investigation of the Trump campaign, the role of an unidentified FBI supervisory special agent (SSA)—described in Horowitz’s report as “SSA 1”—was featured prominently throughout. The description of events and dates match the public information on Pientka’s actions, and on Dec. 13, Pientka was confirmed by Fox News as being “SSA 1.”
The inspector general report noted that all the participating members of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team were selected by Strzok, Pientka, and “the Intel Section chief,” who is almost certainly intelligence analyst Jonathan Moffa, who, according to July 16, 2018, testimony from Lisa Page, worked on both the Clinton and Trump investigations with Strzok.
On page xviii of the inspector general report, it was disclosed that Pientka was running the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign as its supervisor. Pientka also was the agent who provided defensive briefings to the Trump and Clinton campaigns in August 2016.
“We learned during the course of our review that in August 2016, the supervisor of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, SSA 1 [Pientka], participated on behalf of the FBI in a strategic intelligence briefing given by Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to candidate Trump and his national security advisors, including Michael Flynn, and in a separate strategic intelligence briefing given to candidate Clinton and her national security advisors,” the report states.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), during congressional testimony given by Horowitz, noted that the FBI used this meeting as an opportunity to effectively spy on the Trump campaign and gather further information—a characterization that Horowitz agreed with. Horowitz also said in his testimony he was concerned about this practice:
Sen. Graham: “So when we get defensively briefed tomorrow, would it be okay for FBI agents to open up 302s on what we said?”
Mr. Horowitz: “We have very significant concerns about that.”
Horowitz noted in his report that Pientka was specifically selected to “provide the FBI briefings, in part, because Flynn, who was a subject in the ongoing Crossfire Hurricane investigation, would be attending the Trump campaign briefing.”
Just prior to this defensive briefing, on Aug. 1, 2016, Strzok and Pientka “traveled to the European city to interview the FFG [Friendly Foreign Government] officials who met with Papadopoulos in May 2016.” The IG report noted that “during the interview they learned that Papadopoulos did not say that he had direct contact with the Russians.”
It also appears that Pientka was in charge of selecting the Confidential Human Sources (CHS) that were used against George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Flynn:
“In determining how to use CHSs in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, SSA 1 and the case agents told the OIG that they focused their CHS operations on the predicating information and the four named subjects,” the inspector general report states.
The report describes “a consensually recorded meeting in August 2016 between Carter Page and an FBI CHS.” The IG noted that Pientka and “Case Agent 1 told the OIG that this meeting was important for the investigation.” But it appears that important information from this meeting was left out of the Page FISA application.
In footnote 197, the IG noted that “Page’s comment about his lack of a relationship with Manafort was relevant to one of the allegations in the Steele reporting that was relied upon in the Carter Page FISA applications, but information about the August 2016 CHS meeting was not shared with the OI attorneys handling the FISA applications until June 2017.”
It also appears that Pientka had some concerns and advanced warnings regarding the media contacts by Christopher Steele—who produced a dossier on Trump for the Clinton campaign that was critical in the FBI obtaining a FISA warrant—specifically regarding the Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff:
“SSA 1’s notes from a meeting on September 30 contain the following notation: ‘control issues—reports acknowledged in Yahoo News.’ We asked SSA 1 whether he was concerned at the time that there were control issues with Steele. He stated that he was concerned but that he was not sure that Steele was responsible for providing information to Yahoo News. In addition, he said he was focused on Steele’s discussions with the State Department about his work with the FBI,” the report states.
“SSA 1 stated that an important objective of the planned meeting with Steele in early October was to obtain ‘exclusivity’ in Steele’s reporting relationship, meaning that Steele would provide his intelligence related to the election exclusively to the FBI.”
There were further concerns regarding Steele’s credibility that were relayed to Pientka relatively early on that were never transmitted to the FISA court. State Department official Kathleen Kavalec met with Steele in October 2016 and was provided with some information from Steele that she knew to be inaccurate. According to the IG report, this information was relayed directly to Pientka:
“The FBI liaison informed SSA 1 and Case Agent 1 via email on November 18 that Kavalec had met with Steele, she had taken notes of their meeting, the liaison could obtain information from Kavalec about the meeting, and, according to Kavalec, the information from Steele’s reporting about a Russian consulate being located in Miami was inaccurate.”
Additionally, the Department of Justice’s Office of Intelligence (OI) questioned the Crossfire Hurricane team on Oct. 12, 2016—prior to the first FISA application on Trump campaign aide Page—asking the FBI team to “articulate why it deems [Steele’s] reporting to be credible notwithstanding [Steele] did the investigation based on [a] private citizen’s motivation to help [Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party].”
Pientka appeared to personally vouch for Steele to the OI, responding “that: (1) the FBI has had an established relationship with the source since 2013; (2) the source was generating reporting well before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane and the leaks concerning the DNC emails, and therefore this was not a situation where a source was attempting to steer an ongoing investigation; and (3) Steele was not a U.S. citizen and therefore had no vested interest in the outcome of the election.”
The IG report also noted that FBI emails made clear that Pientka was fully aware by Jan. 11, 2017, that the investigative firm hired by the DNC was the same firm that had hired Steele to “conduct his election-related research,” and noted, “We found no evidence that this information was shared with OI.”
Horowitz also noted that by “February and March 2017, it was broadly known among FBI officials working on and supervising the investigation, and shared with senior NSD and ODAG officials, that Simpson (who hired Steele) was himself hired first by a candidate during the Republican primaries and then later by someone related to the Democratic Party.”
As Horowitz noted in his report, “Nevertheless, the footnote in Renewal Application Nos. 1, 2, and 3, was not revised to reflect this additional information.”
Pientka’s Role in Reviewing the Facts in FISA Application
It appears that Pientka also had direct involvement in the review of the Woods File for the Page FISA application and subsequent renewals. The inspector general report notes that “SSA 1, was responsible for confirming that the Woods File was complete and for double-checking the factual accuracy review to confirm that the file contained appropriate documentation for each of the factual assertions in the FISA application.”
According to the report, Pientka “said he found that each factual assertion was supported by documentation in the Woods File, and he had no concerns with how the Woods Procedures were completed.”
Pientka also told the inspector general, however, that he didn’t personally review the entire document:
“SSA 1 told us that he relied on Case Agent 1 to highlight each relevant fact in the supporting document in the Woods File, and that once he verified that each highlighted fact corresponded to a factual assertion in the application, he would move on to the next fact, without necessarily reviewing the entire document.”
The inspector general report, however, identified “at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Page FISA applications, and many additional errors in the Woods Procedures. These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to the OI (Office of Intelligence) and failing to flag important issues for discussion.”
On the original Page FISA application, Horowitz noted seven specific errors:
The FBI omitted information from the FISA application that detailed work that Page had previously done for another U.S. government agency.
The FBI mischaracterized former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s prior work for the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the FISA application.
The FBI didn’t inform the FISA Court of certain material concerns regarding a key source that Steele used for his dossier: that Person 1 was a “boaster,” an “egoist,” and “may engage in some embellishment.”
The FBI used a Sept. 23, 2016, article by Yahoo News reporter Michael Isikoff as corroboration of Steele’s reporting. The FBI failed to inform the FISA Court that Steele was actually the source for Isikoff’s article.
The FBI failed to provide the FISA Court with a statement by Trump campaign adviser Papadopoulos to a confidential human source (CHS) in September 2016—presumably FBI informant Stefan Halper—in which Papadopoulos denied that anyone from the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia.
The FBI also omitted a statement from Page denying that he ever met former Trump campaign manager Manafort. This denial was important as Steele claimed that Page was acting as an intermediary to Russia on behalf of Manafort.
Finally, the FBI “cherry-picked” statements made by Page to an FBI confidential human source that served to support obtaining a FISA on Page, while, at the same time, excluding statements from Page that weren’t supportive of such an action.
All of these errors, along with 10 more identified by the IG report with regard to the three renewals of the FISA on Page, appear to have had at least some direct overlap with Pientka’s work and his oversight, or lack thereof, of the underlying Woods Documents, which were supposed to back up the assertions made in any FISA application and renewals.
Pientka’s Contact With Bruce Ohr
Bruce Ohr, who was the highest-ranking career official in the DOJ in 2016, played a crucial role in passing on unfounded allegations against Trump from Steele and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to the FBI—specifically to Pientka—who was assigned as Ohr’s initial FBI “handler.” Pientka summarized their conversations in FBI FD-302 forms—which were obtained by Judicial Watch and made public in August 2019.
On Nov. 21, 2016, Ohr was introduced to Pientka, the first of his four FBI handlers, during a meeting with FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page—both key players in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. The next day, on Nov. 22, 2016, Ohr met alone with Pientka and the sequence of 302’s stemming from these ongoing interviews began.
In that Nov. 22 interview, Ohr relayed a large amount of vital information to Pientka—most of which was never relayed by the FBI to the FISA Court. Notably, the FBI had already terminated Steele as a source at the start of November 2016 because of his communications with the media.
Specifically, Ohr told Pientka that Simpson had been hired by “a lawyer who does opposition research.” Simpson’s firm, Fusion GPS, had been hired by law firm Perkins Coie on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in April 2016.
According to the inspector general report, this information was already known to Pientka on Aug. 2, 2016:
“An FBI agent from another FBI field office sent an email to his supervisor stating that he had been contacted by a former CHS who ‘was contacted recently by a colleague who runs an investigative firm. The firm had been hired by two entities (the Democratic National Committee as well as another individual … not name[d]) to explore Donald J. Trump’s longstanding ties to Russian entities.’ On or about August 2, 2016, this information was shared by a CD supervisor with the Section Chief of CD’s Counterintelligence Analysis Section I (Intel Section Chief), who provided it that day to members of the Crossfire Hurricane team (then Section Chief Peter Strzok, SSA 1, and the Supervisory Intel Analyst).”
Ohr, according to the report, also told Pientka of Steele’s bias against Trump during his first interview in November 2016, noting that Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the U.S. President.” This strong bias on Steele’s part wasn’t relayed to the FISA court.
Ohr told Pientka that he knew “[redacted] reporting on Trump’s ties to Russia were going to the Clinton Campaign, Jon Winer at the U.S. State Department and the FBI.” Ohr also told Pientka that “Simpson and others were talking to Victoria Nuland at the U.S. State Department,” and that “Simpson was passing [redacted] information to many individuals or entities and at times [redacted] would attend meetings with Simpson.”
Ohr also told Pientka about a meeting between Steele and Yahoo News reporter Isikoff, which resulted in a Sept. 23, 2016, article on Page, “U.S. Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Adviser and Kremlin.”
“Simpson and [redacted] could have met with Yahoo or Michael Isikoff jointly, but OHR does not know if they did. OHR provided copies of notes he took after the meeting with [redacted] which are enclosed as attachments,” according to the FBI’s 302 documents.
The redacted name is almost without doubt a reference to Steele.
Isikoff’s article would be used by the FBI in the Page FISA application. The FBI told the FISA court in its application that the FBI “does not believe that Source #1,” later identified as Steele, “directly provided this information to the identified news organization that published the September 23rd News Article.”
Notably, the FBI would cite Isikoff’s article, along with the inaccurate disclaimer, in each of the three subsequent FISA renewals, despite knowing since at least Nov. 22, 2016, via Pientka’s communications with Ohr, that Steele had been the source for Isikoff’s piece.
Around two weeks later, during a Dec. 5, 2016, FBI interview, Ohr told Pientka that his wife, Nellie Ohr, had worked for Fusion GPS from October 2015 to September 2016 and during a Dec. 20 interview, he provided the FBI with a thumb drive containing “the totality of the work Nellie Ohr conducted for Simpson.” Additionally, Bruce Ohr provided the FBI with a dossier on former Trump campaign chairman Manafort titled, “Manafort Chronology” that had been compiled by Nellie Ohr.
Five days later, during a meeting on Dec. 10, 2016, Ohr met with Simpson, who gave him a memory stick that Ohr believed contained the Steele dossier. Ohr then passed the memory stick to Pientka two days later.
Ohr repeatedly stated in congressional testimony that he never vetted any of the information provided by either Steele or Simpson. He simply turned it over or relayed it to the FBI—usually to Pientka. What Ohr didn’t know was that Pientka was transmitting all the information directly to FBI Agent Strzok.
Rep. Mark Meadows: “Was Joe Pientka your go-between in December when you got additional information from either Christopher Steele or Glenn Simpson in getting it to the FBI?”
Bruce Ohr: “Joe Pientka, I believe, was my contact at that time, yeah.”
Rep. Meadows: “You have a meeting, You get information. You immediately go to Joe Pientka, who immediately goes to Peter Strzok. Are you aware of that?”
Mr. Ohr: “No.”
Horowitz, in his testimony before Congress, seemed genuinely surprised at Ohr’s role and the FBI’s ongoing use of him as a conduit to Steele. This was made apparent during questioning that took place during Horowitz’s Dec. 11, 2019, testimony with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.):
Mr. Horowitz: “So at the time of these events he [Ohr] was an associate deputy attorney general and the head of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force working out of the Deputy Attorney General’s office [Sally Yates].”
Sen. Sasse: “The Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force? And that’s connected to election interference by the Russians how?”
Mr. Horowitz: “It is not.”
Sen. Sasse: “What the hell’s he doing here?”
Mr. Horowitz: “That was precisely the concern which we lay out here. He had no role in any of the election interference matters.”
The FBI’s Flynn Interview
On Jan. 24, 2017, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then-national security adviser to President Donald Trump, was interviewed by both Strzok and Pientka about two conversations that Flynn had with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December 2016.
According to court documents from the Flynn case, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed.” It was during this interview that Flynn reportedly lied to the FBI.
Details about Flynn’s phone conversation with Kislyak were leaked to the media on Jan. 12, 2017. Flynn ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI regarding the conversations with Kislyak. It remains unknown to this day who leaked Flynn’s classified call—a felony violation.
Notably, The Washington Post reported on Jan. 23, 2017, that the FBI found no evidence of wrongdoing in Flynn’s actual call with the Russian ambassador.
While the inspector general report doesn’t discuss the case of Flynn in great detail, it details Pientka’s involvement with the defensive briefings made to the Trump campaign in August 2016. Horowitz noted in his report that “we found that SSA 1 [Pientka] was selected to provide the FBI briefings, in part, because Flynn, who was a subject in the ongoing Crossfire Hurricane investigation, would be attending the Trump campaign briefing.”
When asked about this, Pientka told the IG that “one of the reasons for his selection was that ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence, at the time headed by DNI James Clapper] had informed the FBI that one of the two Trump campaign advisors attending the August 17 briefing would be Flynn. He further stated that the briefing provided him ‘the opportunity to gain assessment and possibly have some level of familiarity with [Flynn]. So, should we get to the point where we need to do a subject interview … I would have that to fall back on.'”
When the IG asked Pientka to elaborate on the use of the term “assessment,” Pientka told the IG:
“[Flynn’s] overall mannerisms. That overall mannerisms and then also if there was anything specific to Russia, or anything specific to our investigation that was mentioned by him, or quite frankly we had an … investigation, right. And any of the other two individuals in the room, if they, any kind of admission, or overhear, whatever it was, I was there to record that.”
According to the IG report, Pientka was “the only FBI representative at the ODNI briefing on August 17, 2016, which was attended by Trump, Flynn, and another Trump campaign advisor.”
According to the IG’s report, Pientka drafted an Electronic Communication documenting his participation in the defensive briefing to the Trump campaign and added it to the Crossfire Hurricane investigative file.
“SSA 1 told us that he documented those instances where he was engaged by the attendees, as well as anything related to the FBI or pertinent to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, such as comments about the Russian Federation. SSA 1 said that he also documented information that may not have been relevant at the time he recorded it, but might prove relevant in the future,” the inspector general report states.
Interestingly, Pientka told Horowitz that “he did not memorialize in writing the briefing he participated in of candidate Clinton and her national security advisors because the attendees did not include a subject of an FBI investigation, and because there was nothing from the other briefings that was of investigative value to the Crossfire Hurricane team.”
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined…. The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.”
– Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778
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too mean to quit!
So, if I have this right, this dippy broad tells the FBI that they cannot check those servers and they just say "OK, and walk away!?!?!?!"
And those were apparently "street level" agents.
Just how far can/should we trust these "agents?"
Reminds me of a time several years ago when I was helping clean up some big time fraud/theft in a small company. $12 million dollars had disappeared from company bank accounts, and we knew who had done it.
I contacted the IRS and after several phone calls was told that the agent's bosses told her to drop it. (no political crap involved as far as I know).
She apologized and said her hands were tied.
My comment, "Oh, this fish is not big enough to fry, I guess".
She tried to laugh, and agreed with me. So the laziness and corruption is not limited to the FBI.
There has never been an occasion where a people gave up their weapons in the interest of peace that didn't end in their massacre. (Louis L'Amour)
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical. "
"America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." Alexis de Tocqueville
The Idaho Elk Hunter
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re wcb6092 post above,
Why hasn't Pientka been fired ?
Also from the DoJ IG report:
So Glenn Simpson who was central to the dossier, and still declares it valid today, declines to talk to the IG.
James Comey and James Baker hide behind not having current clearances to answer questions.
Funny how the game is played. In public these guys are tigers and full of righteous statements of honor and ethics. Proclamations of protecting the country from the "Russia controlled" Donald Trump. But when it comes time to testify, they clam up .
Comey's book : "A Higher Loyalty, Truth, Lies, and Leadership"
Comey skipped his chance at "leadership" to tell the "truth" so he could hide his "lies" and his "higher loyalty" to the deep state.
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Victor Davis Hanson
Rachel Maddow, Robert Mueller's legal dream team, Paul Krugman all have lessons for 2020
The Washington Post recently published a surprising indictment of MSNBC host, Stanford graduate and Rhodes scholar Rachel Maddow.
Post media critic Erik Wemple wrote that Maddow misled her audience by claiming the now-discredited Steele dossier was largely verifiable — even at a time when there was plenty of evidence that it was mostly bogus.
At the very time Maddow was reassuring viewers that Christopher Steele was believable, populist talk radio and the much-criticized Fox News Channel were insisting that most of Steele’s allegations simply could not be true. Maddow was wrong. Her less degreed critics proved to be right.
In 2018, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and the committee’s then-ranking minority member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., each issued contrasting reports of the committee’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign team and the misbehavior of federal agencies.
Schiff’s memo was widely praised by the media. Nunes’ report was condemned as rank and partisan.
Many in the media went further. They contrasted Harvard Law graduate Schiff with rural central Californian Nunes to help explain why the clever Schiff got to the bottom of collusion and the “former dairy farmer” Nunes was “way over his head” and had “no idea what’s going on.”
Recently, the nonpartisan inspector general of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, found widespread wrongdoing at the DOJ and FBI. He confirmed the key findings in the Nunes memo about the Steele dossier and its pernicious role in the FISA application seeking a warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
In contrast, much of what the once-praised Schiff had claimed to be true was proven wrong by Horowitz — from Schiff’s insistence that the FBI verified the Steele dossier to his assertion that the Department of Justice did not rely chiefly on the dossier for its warrant application.
When special counsel Robert Mueller formed an investigatory team, he stocked it with young, progressive Washington insiders, many with blue-chip degrees and résumés.
The media swooned. Washington journalists became giddy over the prospect of a “dream team” of such “all-stars” who would demolish the supposedly far less impressively credentialed Trump legal team.
We were assured by a snobbish Vox, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team is full of pros. Trump’s team makes typos.”
Yet after 22 months and $32 million worth of investigation, Mueller’s team found no Russian collusion and no evidence of actionable Trump obstruction during the investigation of that non-crime. All the constant media reports that “bombshell” Mueller team disclosures were imminent and that the “walls are closing in” on Trump proved false.
Mueller himself testified before Congress, only to appear befuddled and almost clueless at times about his own investigation. Many of his supposedly brightest all-stars, such as Lisa Page, Peter Strzok and Kevin Clinesmith, had to leave his dream team due to unethical behavior.
In contrast, Trump’s widely derided chief lawyers — 69-year-old Ty Cobb, 78-year-old John Dowd, and 63-year-old radio and TV host Jay Sekulow — stayed out of the headlines. They advised Trump to cooperate with the Mueller team and systematically offered evidence and analyses to prove that Trump did not collude with the Russian to warp the 2016 election. In the end, Mueller’s “hunter-killer team” was forced to agree.
When the supposed clueless Trump was elected, a number of elites pronounced his economic plans to be absurd. We were told that Trump was bound to destroy the U.S. economy.
Former Princeton professor and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman insisted that Trump would crash the stock market. He even suggested that stocks might never recover.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Trump would bring on a recession within a year and a half.
The former head of the National Economic Council, Steven Rattner, predicted a market crash of “historic proportions.”
In contrast, many of Trump’s economic advisers during his campaign and administration, including outsider Peter Navarro, pundit Stephen Moore, former TV host Larry Kudlow and octogenarian Wilbur Ross, were caricatured.
Yet three years later, in terms of the stock market, unemployment, energy production and workers’ wages, the economy has been doing superbly.
The point of these sharp contrasts is not that an Ivy League degree or a Washington reputation is of little value, or that prestigious prizes and honors account for nothing, or even that supposed experts are always unethical and silly.
Instead, one lesson is that conventional wisdom and groupthink tend to mislead, especially in the age of online echo chambers where an often sheltered and blinkered elite lives.
We forget that knowledge can be found at all ages, and in all places. And ethics has nothing to do with degrees or pedigrees.
Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow in military history at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a professor emeritus of classics at California State University, Fresno. He is the author of more than two dozen books, ranging in topics from ancient Greece to modern America, most recently "The Case for Trump" (Basic Books, 2019) He lives in Selma, California
|wishing we |
moving at a snail's pace thru the DoJ IG report
maybe sub-snail pace
In the Executive Summary, Horowitz says
immediately after opening Crossfire Hurricane (31 July 2016), the team submitted name trace requests to other U.S. govt agencies and a foreign intelligence agency to identify Trump campaign officials in a position to receive the alleged offer of assistance from Russia.
foreign intel to spy on the Trump campaign
Strzok and a SSA (Supervisory Special Agent) went abroad to interview the source FFG info
travel sounds like to London, and source sounds like Alexander Downer of Australia
Strzok also searched the FBI database of CHSs to identify sources who could provide info about connections between Russia and Trump campaign
did his search bring up Christopher Steele ?( who was an active FBI CHS at this time)
Next Strzok used CHSs to interact and consensually record multiple conversations with Papadopoulos and Carter Page both before and after they were working for the Trump campaign
???? President Trump publicly said they were on his campaign on 21 Mar 2016.
why was the FBI using CHSs on Papadop and Page before 21 Mar 2016 ?
was this truly "consensual" recording?
remember the Strzok text to Lisa Page on 28 Dec 2015 asking if she had her "oconus lures" in place ?
Horowitz found it "concerning" that policy did not require the FBI to consult w DoJ in advance of Conf Human Source operations involving advisors to a major party candidate's presidential campaign.
but don't worry, Horowitz includes a "recommendation" to address this issue
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Wash Post continues to surprise. They have out an 8th article on news media that claimed the Steele dossier was true even after the govt investigations found it to be baseless for all its major claims.
This time they go after CNN
They ask a great question
Dear CNN: What parts of the Steele dossier were corroborated?
By Erik Wemple
Cable news analysis is no match for a huge, complicated, controversial and unverifiable document.
For proof of this dynamic, sample a conversation from CNN’s “New Day” morning program in January 2018. Co-hosts John Berman and Poppy Harlow chatted with Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) about President Trump’s attacks against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who was at the time investigating whether Trump’s 2016 campaign had coordinated with Russia.
As the discussion progressed, Stewart chose to attack the dossier of memorandums compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. “We now know that the dossier, which was so famous and really the foundation for many of these accusations — asking the FBI, tell me anything in that, that’s true. And they can’t . . .” said Stewart.
“ Look, what was true: Russian election meddling ,” responded Berman, “all of the intelligence agencies say is true.”
so what ?
Then Berman moved from the general to the semi-specific: “Many of the meetings that the dossier discusses were corroborated, of course.”
Into the weeds they dove, with Berman mentioning alleged meetings between Russians and former Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos:
Berman: Number two, there are meetings between Russians, Carter Page, meetings with Russia. George Papadopoulos, meetings with Russia.
Stewart: Well, of course, U.S. citizens meet with Russians every day.
Berman: But that was in the dossier.
Recent history frowns upon this exchange.
Yes, the dossier’s passages on Russian meddling exist. But before Steele submitted his first memorandum to research firm Fusion GPS, The Post had already reported in June 2016 that Russian government hackers had infiltrated the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee — netting emails that would be leaked in the following months.
As EmptyWheel’s Marcy Wheeler noted last year, “ The Steele report remained way behind public contemporaneous reporting on the hack-and-leak” operation.
As for the meetings: The dossier doesn’t even mention Papadopoulos. “None of Steele’s sources had ever reported on him,” write Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, co-founders of the firm that commissioned the dossier, in their book “Crime in Progress.”
The dossier does mention the alleged activities of Page, against whom the feds secured warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) with information from the dossier. However, the report released Dec. 9 by Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, says this about the dossier and Page: "We determined that prior to and during the pendency of the FISAs, the FBI was unable to corroborate any of the specific substantive allegations against Carter Page contained in the election reporting [i.e., dossier] and relied on in the FISA applications.”
Dossier-deflating references such as that populate the Horowitz report . Its global assessment is blunt: “The FBI concluded, among other things, that although consistent with known efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections, much of the material in the Steele election reports, including allegations about Donald Trump and members of the Trump campaign relied upon in the Carter Page FISA applications, could not be corroborated ; that certain allegations were inaccurate or inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team ; and that the limited information that was corroborated related to time, location, and title information, much of which waspublicly available .”
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The findings create a problem for many media figures, including CNN, whose anchors and guests repeatedly defended the Steele dossier on the grounds that it had been corroborated in some fashion. Here’s a look at some examples:
“You ask your intel community. Your intel community has corroborated all the details.” — CNN host Alisyn Camerota to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), 12/8/2017
“That takes you back to the infamous Steele dossier . . . that information collected by a former British intelligence officer about some of the allegations about the president’s activities in Moscow with women there. If that turns out to be true — and I think we have information that suggests the FBI has corroborated some of that — I could see a national security implication.” — Phil Mudd, CNN counterterrorism analyst, 3/26/2018
“Of course, we now know that the DNC did pay for this Steele dossier drafted by that British agent, Christopher Steele, containing allegations of coordination and the like with Trump and Russia. Some of those have been corroborated. Some of those have not been substantiated in that dossier.” — CNN correspondent Manu Raju, 12/18/2017
"A lot has been been verified.” — CNN anchor John Vause, 1/19/2018
“Listen, so we haven’t reported here on CNN the salacious details of that dossier, but much of the dossier has been corroborated.” — CNN anchor Don Lemon, 11/15/2017
CNN’s prism for viewing the dossier emerges from a story by CNN’s Jim Sciutto and Evan Perez on Feb. 10, 2017. It was titled, “US investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier.” So what “aspects” had CNN corroborated? Michael Cohen’s alleged trip to Prague? Those Trumpian “moles” inside the DNC? The wide-ranging and mutually backscratching alliance between the Trump campaign and Russia?
No, the “aspects” were “conversations between foreign nationals,” reported Sciutto and Perez. The story continued: “The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals. Sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of US intelligence collection programs.” Though the story was silent on which particular allegations in the dossier drew strength from these findings, CNN indicated that the intercepted communications fostered “greater confidence” in the dossier among the authorities.
At the time, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.” It is here that some hindsight-assisted dossier accountability falls on the Erik Wemple Blog. After Spicer’s blast, we wrote a post criticizing the White House for its “authoritarian” response to the CNN story. Though the White House’s conduct was typically bush-league and anti-democratic, the Erik Wemple Blog should have spread some of the skepticism to CNN for its vague story. We did not — a pathetic media-criticism failure.
We have asked CNN to point us to any subsequent reporting — by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, for instance, or the Horowitz report — that shores up the Sciutto-Perez story about confirmed communications from the dossier. Weeks after the CNN story surfaced, the New Yorker reported, too, that authorities had confirmed some of the dossier’s “less explosive claims, relating to conversations with foreign nationals.”
In any case, CNN dined out on the Sciutto-Perez story. On May 30, 2017, for instance, anchor Anderson Cooper said, “And regardless of the sourcing, it’s not accurate to say that dossier has been discredited. We’re not reporting on the details of it because some of it has yet to be confirmed or disproven. . . . To say, however, that it’s been completely discredited in part or in whole is simply not true. In fact, CNN reported in February, some parts of that dossier have been corroborated. For instance, the U.S. intelligence agencies found that some of the meetings and communications contained in the dossier indeed took place on the dates and . . . locations as described.” On June 7, 2017, anchor Wolf Blitzer said, “CNN, by the way, has corroborated some elements of that dossier.”
Roughly a month later, CNN exploded over the release of emails involving Donald Trump Jr. and that famous meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, among others. Emails showed that Trump Jr. had reason to expect dirt on Hillary Clinton. In a July 11, 2017, appearance on CNN, Sciutto spotted good news for the dossier: “We already know and we have reported that the intelligence community has corroborated some of what was contained in that dossier,” said Sciutto, whom the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross named the dossier’s foremost defender. “Some of those meetings took place. Here you have something that corroborates at least one of the main propositions of the dossier, right, was that there were meetings between Trump world and Russia with the intent to cooperate on releasing damaging information about Hillary Clinton.”
Upon further investigation, the Trump Tower meeting fell short of the “extensive conspiracy" allegations of the dossier. As the Mueller report put it: “Although damaging opposition research is surely valuable to a campaign, it appears that the information ultimately delivered in the meeting was not valuable.” One of the participants — Georgian-American businessman Ike Kaveladze — provided his daughter this assessment: “meeting was boring. The Russians did not have any bad info on Hilary.”
While Mueller and media figures investigated what happened — and didn’t happen — in that meeting, the dossier “corroboration” claims continued spilling from CNN airwaves.
Given the frequency of such commentary, the Erik Wemple Blog posed a question to the network: Just which parts of the dossier, in CNN’s view, have been corroborated? It’s an important question not only because of CNN’s claims, but also because the dossier itself is so vast, containing in excess of 100 paragraphs spread across 35 pages.
Does CNN believe that there was an “extensive conspiracy between [Trump’s] campaign team and Kremlin, sanctioned at highest levels and involving Russian diplomatic staff based in US”? Does CNN believe there was a two-way exchange of intelligence and that one “mechanism for transmitting . . . intelligence involves ‘pension’ disbursements to Russian emigres living in the US as cover . . .”
We didn’t receive an on-the-record response to that particular inquiry. The network, however, has issued this statement about its overall coverage: “CNN stands by our reporting. Our approach to the dossier has been consistent since day one. CNN only reported details when they were corroborated, part of a government filing, or publicly discussed by officials or those mentioned.”
Perhaps a more detailed answer lies in CNN’s January 2019 story under the headline, “Revisiting the Trump-Russia dossier: What’s right, wrong and still unclear?” Deference to Steele permeates the story. For instance, the CNN assessment says, “The dossier said that the hacks against Democrats, which were publicly released by WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, were part of a wider Russian hacking effort. That has since been confirmed in Mueller’s court filings.” Again, The Post — days before the first dossier report — made that clear. (In fact, an early Steele report plays up an alleged dossier against Hillary Clinton, consisting of “bugged conversations” and other eavesdropping on the veteran politico during her visits to Russia over the years. What happened to that?)
The CNN story also pads the dossier with this claim: “Another allegation that’s proven true: Steele’s sources noted that the Russian government had indirectly paid Michael Flynn to travel to Moscow, a reference to his attendance at a gala honoring the state-run broadcaster RT.”
Well. Flynn’s gala participation in December 2015 was promoted by RT and drew some coverage in the media as well, so the trip itself was no secret. As for the payment, Flynn himself confirmed it during an interview with Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News in July 2016. “Top Trump adviser defends payment for Russian speaking engagement,” reads the Yahoo News headline.
So, by July 2016, the world knew that Flynn had traveled to Russia for the gala, and that he’d been paid for it. The dossier memorandum containing this same claim about Flynn — and others — is dated Aug. 10, 2016. Therefore, Steele’s claim about Flynn appeared to be an aggregation job.
There’s a contradiction deep in CNN’s record on the dossier. On the one hand, its journalists talked about its alleged corroboration for years. On the other hand, the network was careful not to parrot particular claims from the dossier, as its own statement notes. That restraint stemmed from start of the dossier drama, after CNN itself — behind reporting from Perez, Sciutto, Jake Tapper and contributor Carl Bernstein — scooped in January 2017 that then-President-elect Trump had been briefed on the dossier. “At this point, CNN is not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations,” noted the story.
The FBI, as it turned out, didn’t independently corroborate key, specific allegations, either — as the Horowitz report found. Based on a massive document review as well as interviews with more than 100 witnesses, the Justice Department inspector general’s team discovered that the FBI had built a spreadsheet of Steele claims — as John Solomon reported in July — with very few, if any, checkmarks. The 400-plus page Horowitz report brims with credibility-diminishing information on the dossier and the methods used to compile it.
So how did CNN handle the news of the dossier’s non-corroboration?
“There was no spying and many parts of that dossier were later corroborated," said CNN anchor Christine Romans on Dec. 11, two days after the Horowitz report hit the streets.
The problem with such chatter lies in its suggestiveness. The dossier is best known to the public as a set of allegations alleging conspiracy with Russians by Trump campaign aides. By hyping small-bore “corroboration” — about “meetings" or “communications” or whatever — CNN programming bathed the dossier’s large-bore claims in credibility that they turn out not to deserve.
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