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Westlake Legal Group > Mueller Investigation

Deep State in Deep Trouble: Trump Grants AG William Barr Authorization To Release FISA Documents

Westlake Legal Group breaking-news-report-620x335 Deep State in Deep Trouble: Trump Grants AG William Barr Authorization To Release FISA Documents william barr President Trump Mueller Investigation Front Page Stories FISA Featured Story FBI and DOJ Corruption donald trump democrats Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power 2020

 

Republicans across America tonight are cheering President Trump’s decision to grant Attorney General William Barr the authorization to unseal all documents related to the FBI’s surveillance of his campaign in 2016. The President’s memo said: “The heads of elements of the intelligence community… and the heads of each department or agency that includes an element of the intelligence community shall promptly provide such assistance and information as the Attorney General may request in connection with that review.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders sent out a statement by tweet on Thursday evening which read:

Today, at the request and recommendation of the Attorney General of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election.

The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information. Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions.

I imagine this news has sent shockwaves throughout Washington tonight and sent many Democratic operatives running for cover.

We’ve already seen disagreement among several top Obama administration officials and we can expect that behavior to go into overdrive after this crucial development.

Among many other documents, the American people will finally get a glimpse of the FBI’s FISA Court application (and the three subsequent renewals) for the warrant to spy on Trump advisor Carter Page. This will indicate whether the bogus Steele dossier was used as the primary basis for obtaining the warrant, as it is believed. The heavily redacted state of the documents released last year left Republican investigators with many questions.

At any rate, this is exceptional news and will allow the President to start fighting back.

 

Here is a copy of the full White House Memo: (via LawFare)

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2019

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY
THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
THE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

SUBJECT: Agency Cooperation with Attorney General’s Review of Intelligence Activities Relating to the 2016 Presidential Campaigns
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1. Agency Cooperation.
The Attorney General is currently conducting a review of intelligence activities relating to the campaigns in the 2016 Presidential election and certain related matters. The heads of elements of the intelligence community, as defined in 50 U.S.C. 3003(4), and the heads of each department or agency that includes an element of the intelligence community shall promptly provide such assistance and information as the Attorney General may request in connection with that review.

Sec. 2. Declassification and Downgrading. With respect to any matter classified under Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009 (Classified National Security Information), the Attorney General may, by applying the standard set forth in either section 3.1(a) or section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526, declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence that relates to the Attorney General’s review referred to in section 1 of this memorandum. Before exercising this authority, the Attorney General should, to the extent he deems it practicable, consult with the head of the originating intelligence community element or department. This authority is not delegable and applies notwithstanding any other authorization or limitation set forth in Executive Order 13526.

Sec. 3. General Provisions.

(a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) The authority in this memorandum shall terminate upon a vacancy in the office of Attorney General, unless expressly extended by the President.

(d) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(e) The Attorney General is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

DONALD J. TRUMP

The post Deep State in Deep Trouble: Trump Grants AG William Barr Authorization To Release FISA Documents appeared first on RedState.

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Solomon, Hannity Sources: Trump Will Declassify First Batch of ‘Bucket 5’ FISA Documents Within 5-6 Days

Westlake Legal Group fisa-court-620x349 Solomon, Hannity Sources: Trump Will Declassify First Batch of ‘Bucket 5’ FISA Documents Within 5-6 Days Sean Hannity President Trump Mueller Investigation John Solomon Front Page Stories FISA Featured Story donald trump democrats corruption Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power

 

In a Tuesday night appearance on “Hannity,” The Hill’s John Solomon said “the President is going to add to the problems of the deep state when he declassifies these first documents in the next several days.”

Hannity, who apparently had heard the same news from his own sources, interrupted Solomon to say “So, we have similar sources, I’m getting.”

Solomon continued:

Yes. Absolutely. I’ve confirmed that sometime within the next seven to eight days, the President will declassify the first of many documents. This first one, we used to call Bucket Five, the exculpatory statements that the FBI possessed about its targets before it went to the FISA Court.

But let me tell you about one important dynamic that’s changed. Today at the Hill, [we have] a new poll out. For the first time, a majority of Americans support investigating the FBI’s conduct at the start of the Russia investigation. That is a sea change in public sentiment and I think  the American public is on to the scam that was going on.

It’s impossible to determine exactly what material is included in Bucket Five, but “Sundance” over at the Conservative Treehouse put together a document list last September along with the names of the agencies involved in the declassification process for each.

Via Conservative Treehouse

Bucket Five – Intelligence documents that were presented to the Gang of Eight in 2016 that pertain to the FISA application used against U.S. person Carter Page; including all exculpatory intelligence documents that may not have been presented to the FISA Court.

  1. All versions of the Carter Page FISA applications (DOJ) (DoS) (FBI) (ODNI).
  2. All of the Bruce Ohr 302’s filled out by the FBI. (FBI) (ODNI)
  3. All of Bruce Ohr’s emails (FBI) (DOJ) (CIA) (ODNI), and supportive documents and material provided by Bruce Ohr to the FBI. (FBI)
  4. All relevant documents pertaining to the supportive material within the FISA application. (FBI) (DOJ-NSD) (DoS) (CIA) (DNI) (NSA) (ODNI);
  5. All intelligence documents that were presented to the Gang of Eight in 2016 that pertain to the FISA application used against U.S. person Carter Page; including all exculpatory intelligence documents that may not have been presented to the FISA Court. (CIA) (FBI) (DOJ) (ODNI) (DoS) (NSA)
  6. All unredacted text messages and email content between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok on all devices. (FBI) (DOJ) (DOJ-NSD) (ODNI)
  7. The originating CIA “EC” or two-page electronic communication from former CIA Director John Brennan to FBI Director James Comey that started Operation Crossfire Hurricane in July 2016. (CIA) (FBI) (ODNI)

Last September, Trump announced plans to release the documents. There were two theories as to why he failed to follow through. It was rumored that foreign governments (specifically England and Australia) appealed to him to keep the material classified. The other possibility was, as Trump himself said, that his attorneys were concerned that Mueller’s team of angry Democrats might see that as obstruction.

Now that Mueller’s report has been submitted, that’s no longer a factor, although he does have a state visit with the Queen scheduled for early June.

So, we will continue to read the tea leaves and wait.

One indication that seems to support that Solomon’s and Hannity’s sources are correct is that the main subjects appear to be turning on each other. Former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan have publicly argued over whose idea it was to put the Steele dossier into the January 2017 Intelligence Assessment. James Comey and Loretta Lynch are at odds over how to characterize the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling over classified material. Was it a matter? Or was it an investigation?

It’s likely that similar disputes will arise between members of the deep state in the coming months.

In a Wednesday op-ed, scholar and conservative commentator Victor Davis Hanson asks, “So, how can we tell that the former accusers are now terrified of becoming the accused? Because suddenly the usual band of former Obama officials and Trump accusers have largely given up on their allegations that Trump was or is a Russian asset. The end of the Mueller melodrama has marked the beginning of real fear in Washington.”

Hanson writes:

Comey, the former FBI director, has hit the lecture and television circuit with his now-tired moralistic shtick that he alone had a “soul” while others allowed theirs to be eaten away by Trump. Translated, that means Comey is terrified that former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whom Comey attacked as a Trump enabler, knows that Comey himself may have broken the law—and may direct prosecutors on how to prove it.

Comey is also in a tiff with his former deputy, Andrew McCabe. Both know that the FBI under Comey illegally leaked classified information to the media. But Comey says McCabe went rogue and did it. Of course, McCabe’s attorney shot back that Comey had authorized it. Comey also claims the Steele dossier was not the chief evidence for a FISA warrant. McCabe insists that it was. It’s possible that one might work with prosecutors against the other to finagle a lesser charge.

Former CIA Director John Brennan has on two occasions lied under oath to Congress and gotten away with it. He may not get away with lying again if it’s determined that he distorted the truth about his efforts to spread the Steele dossier smears.

In sum, the old leaky vessel of collusion is sinking.

The rats are scampering from their once safe refuge—biting and piling on each other in vain efforts to avoid drowning.

Fingers crossed.

(Note: Solomon’s comments about declassification begin at 10:20 in the video.)

The post Solomon, Hannity Sources: Trump Will Declassify First Batch of ‘Bucket 5’ FISA Documents Within 5-6 Days appeared first on RedState.

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Pelosi and Schumer Continue Their Charade; But It’s Later Than They Think

Westlake Legal Group chuck-schumer-and-nancy-pelosi-responding-to-trum-2-23931-1547040396-4_dblbig-620x412 Pelosi and Schumer Continue Their Charade; But It’s Later Than They Think President Trump Nancy Pelosi Mueller Investigation John Solomon Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump democrats Congress Chuck Schumer Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power 2020

 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stops on the way to an important meeting with the President on infrastructure. She tells reporters that he is engaging in cover-up activities.

Pelosi had just emerged from a meeting of House Democrats where they had discussed the progress made in their myriad investigations of Trump. After giving reporters an update, she delivered the real message she’d wanted to convey:

We believe it’s very important to follow the law. We believe that no one is above the law including the President of the United States. And we believe that the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up. (repeats) In a cover-up. And that was the nature of the meeting.

The Speaker did not take questions. She had to run off to her meeting with the President.

In the meantime, Trump is told of Pelosi’s remarks and being human, he becomes angry.

Arriving at the White House, she is “surprised” that the President is furious and has decided to cancel their important meeting. My colleague, Streiff, wrote about this here.

She again speaks with reporters, this time with her buddy Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. With her signature “innocent” demeanor, she first told reporters about earlier negotiations they’d had with Trump on infrastructure. Then, she went in for the kill.

We went in the spirit of bipartisanship to find common ground with the President on this. He came into the room, made a statement that he made, I won’t even characterize it. (Pelosi grimaces, closes her eyes, shudders, smiles, babbles on about Thomas Jefferson’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s infrastructure initiatives, then resumes her attack.)

We were hoping to give this President an opportunity to have a signature infrastructure initiative… (still smiling pleasantly, childlike)

For some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part, (or maybe it was because you just told reporters that he’s engaging in cover-up activities. Pelosi starts again, reaching for words, stuttering) That he really couldn’t…come…match…the greatness of the challenge that we have. Uh, he…wasn’t really respectful of the reason…uh…of the Congress and the White House working together (shrugs). He just (shrugs again, she just can’t figure this out) took a pass. And it just makes me wonder…why he did that.

In any event, I pray for the President of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America.

She then yields to the “distinguished Democratic leader of the Senate, Mr. Schumer.”

“To watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop.” (rambles on)

It was surreal to watch Pelosi and Schumer trying to point the finger at President Trump. “And it just makes me wonder…why he did that.”

Why do you think Nancy? Four thorough investigations of Trump have been conducted and zero have found that he engaged in any wrongdoing.

But that doesn’t stop Nancy and Chuck from continuing the charade.

Democrats shouldn’t be able to get away with making such blanket charges. “He’s engaged in a cover-up?” What exactly is he covering up? “He obstructed justice.” How, specifically, did he obstruct justice? Because he was falsely accused of a crime that was ruining his presidency and one day, in anger and frustration, he ordered the White House attorney to fire the prosecutor?

The deep state, in which Pelosi and Schumer play important roles, has tried for three years to manipulate Americans into believing that President Trump is crazy, angry, corrupt, immoral, treasonous and dangerous.

But, guess what? If what investigative reporter John Solomon announced in a Tuesday night appearance on “Hannity” is correct, and he’s been right about a lot of things, Trump will declassify the first batch of “Bucket Five” information (FISA documents) in five to six days. (I will report on it this morning.)

And Nancy and Chuck will be the ones in cover-up mode.

The post Pelosi and Schumer Continue Their Charade; But It’s Later Than They Think appeared first on RedState.

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DOJ Inexplicably Strikes A Deal With Adam Schiff To Release A Portion Of Mueller Documents

Westlake Legal Group schiff-bug-eyes-620x566 DOJ Inexplicably Strikes A Deal With Adam Schiff To Release A Portion Of Mueller Documents william barr stephen boyd Special Counsel Mueller Investigation Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump doj democrats Congress Allow Media Exception adam schiff

 

The DOJ issued a statement on Tuesday announcing an agreement with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to share some of the Mueller Investigation documents. However, they warn their cooperation will end if House Democrats try to enforce their subpoena to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress.

The DOJ’s statement said:

The Department of Justice has already begun the process of identifying, locating, and reviewing the materials potentially responsive to the categories of documents [requested by the Committee]…This process will not continue should the Committee take the unnecessary and unproductive step of moving to hold the Attorney General in contempt.

The Department may be in a position to discuss making them available to the Committee in relatively short order, subject to processing and reviewing.

In a tweet, Schiff rephrased the agreement to make it appear that he was the one dictating terms.

Schiff tweeted: “DOJ has accepted our offer, and will begin turning over to the Committee twelve categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials beginning this week. Our subpoena will remain in effect, and be enforced should DOJ fail to comply with the full document request.”

The mainstream media is portraying this as a win for the Democrats. The headline for this story in the Washington Post is entitled “DOJ offers to share Mueller documents to avoid House action.”

I don’t understand why the DOJ caved on this. Obviously, I have no idea what the DOJ’s reason is for acquiescing on this issue, but it most definitely gives the impression that Schiff has prevailed in this battle.

Here are two responses to Schiff’s tweet:

Awesome work Congressman. You didn’t relent and the DOJ saw that they have no choice but to cooperate.

Barr needs to be contained. Citing him on contempt might have been more effective in the long run than seeing the counterintelligence. How much isn’t he going to see? What was left out of the deal?

It is entirely possible that the DOJ’s stated reason for providing the documents is their real reason. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to Schiff on Tuesday in which he offered the DOJ’s cooperation on the condition that the committee “confirms today that it will not pursue any vote on an ‘enforcement action.’”

Perhaps the documents the DOJ plans to turn over are completely innocuous. If that’s true, then they really aren’t giving up much ground.

DOJ officials may also feel that, because the executive and the legislative branches must interact in order to accomplish anything, they want to be seen as being willing to cooperate.

The post DOJ Inexplicably Strikes A Deal With Adam Schiff To Release A Portion Of Mueller Documents appeared first on RedState.

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If December 2016 Comey Email Is Accurate, Then Brennan Perjured Himself – Again

Westlake Legal Group ap-john-brennan-620x409 If December 2016 Comey Email Is Accurate, Then Brennan Perjured Himself – Again Trey Gowdy Mueller Investigation maria bartiromo Judge Napolitano John Brennan james comey Front Page Stories Featured Story FBI and DOJ Corruption dossier donald trump Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power

CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2016, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the Islamic State. Brennan said that the Islamic State remains “formidable” and “resilient,” is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks on the West and will rely more on guerrilla-style tactics to compensate for its territorial losses in the Middle East. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On Sunday, former Republican Congressman and current Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy appeared on “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo.

In his capacity as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Gowdy had access to classified documents relating to the Trump/Russia collusion investigations. He has actually seen most of the material he discusses on Fox. However, it would be illegal for Gowdy to reveal specifics about any of them.

It’s been alleged that in December 2016, Comey sent an email to top-level FBI officials (said to include then-General Counsel James Baker, then-Chief of Counterespionage Peter Strzok, and then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe). Comey allegedly wrote that [CIA Director} John “Brennan insisted the crown material be included in the intel assessment charge.”

(Note: Bartiromo said that former FBI Director James Comey commonly referred to the dossier as the “crown material.”)

Pundits have been questioning whether or not the dossier was included in the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment. If so, this would be the fifth known use of it. It’s been established that the dossier was presented by the FBI as a serious document on at least four occasions.

Last week, Comey and Brennan were pointing at each other as to whose idea it was to include the dossier in the intelligence assessment. In an appearance on Fox last week, Gowdy said, “Comey has a better argument than Brennan, based on what I’ve seen.” My colleague, Streiff, posted here about this.

Gowdy told Bartiromo that Brennan, Clapper and Comey know full well the dossier was used in the intelligence assessment. He said:

What we’re trying to figure out is whether or not it was used a fifth time in the intelligence assessment. And you’ve got Brennan, Clapper and Comey, all three who know full well whether or not it was used in the intelligence assessment but… they’re giving you different versions, right.

So there is information that exists in December of 2016 and I hope anyone who has access to it… Senator Burr, Devin [Nunes], whoever is open minded. Go look at that.

And I think it will help you understand whether or not that dossier, that unverified hearsay, was used… five times or just four times by the United States government. It’s pretty bad if it was just four times, it’s really bad if it was five.

This morning, Fox News’ Judge Napolitano joined the panel on Maria Bartiromo’s show and said: I haven’t seen the e-mail obviously, but if the e-mail is correct, it directly contradicts what Brennan said under oath, which is another thing for the folks in Connecticut to examine  – whether or not the former director of the CIA perjured himself – in order to make himself look good.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Brennan has lied. The Washington Post published a July 2014 op-ed entitled, “Obama Should Fire John Brennan.” It was written after it became clear Brennan had lied about whether “the CIA had illegally accessed Senate Intelligence Committee staff computers “to thwart an investigation by the committee into” the agency’s past interrogation techniques.”

“In 2011, Brennan claimed that dozens of U.S. drone strikes on overseas targets had not killed a single civilian.” Even those who supported the drone program called this statement absurd.

I’m with Trey Gowdy on this one.

The post If December 2016 Comey Email Is Accurate, Then Brennan Perjured Himself – Again appeared first on RedState.

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Democratic Witnesses Admit The Release of Full Mueller Report Would Require AG Barr to Break the Law

Westlake Legal Group jerry-nadler-with-pants-up-to-his-armpits Democratic Witnesses Admit The Release of Full Mueller Report Would Require AG Barr to Break the Law william barr Rep. Kelly Armstrong President Trump Mueller Investigation Jerrold Nadler Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump democrats corruption Contempt of Congress Congress Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power   Image via Twitter, https://twitter.com/shack_jd/status/1127181490771513344

 

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) questioned three Democratic expert witnesses at a House Judiciary Committee hearing where they reluctantly admitted that a full release of the Mueller Report would be a violation of the law. In other words, the subpoena issued by Democrats on Jerrold Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee offers Attorney General William Barr the choice between committing an illegal act or being held in contempt of Congress.

In the clip below, Armstrong asks Yeshiva University law professor Kate Shaw, “If Attorney General William Barr would have provided a completely non-redacted report, would he have violated the law?”

Shaw responded, “Yeah, I think the law protects grand jury material. I would agree with that. Yeah.”

Armstrong asked R Street Institute Senior Fellow Paul Rosenzweig if he agreed with that.

Rosenzweig replied, “I agree, though I would say that nothing in the statute prevents [the attorney general] from asking a court for permission to provide that rule 6(e) material.”

Armstrong said, “I agree with that, but nothing in the statute or authority compells him to do that and a subpoena doesn’t compell him to go to court.”

Rosenzweig agreed. “A subpoena surely does not compell him to go to court.”

Finally, Armstrong addressed Georgia State University law professor Neil Kinkopf. “Professor Kinkopf, do you agree with that?”

Kinkopf answered with a terse, “Sure.”

Following the committee vote to hold Barr in contempt, a DOJ spokesperson pointed out that Barr had made “extraordinary efforts to provide Congress with information related to Mueller’s report, however the attorney general was not going to break the law. The Attorney General could not comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena without violating the law, court rules, and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department’s prosecutorial functions.”

Considering the fact that Barr was under no legal obligation to release any portion of the report, Nadler and company are on very shaky ground here and they know it. But this form of intimidation has worked for them before.

There are two reasons why this strategy will no longer work for them.

First, there’s a new sheriff in town. Bill Barr doesn’t suffer fools.

Second, Mueller’s conclusion that Trump did not collude with the Russians to win the presidency and his inability to find sufficient evidence that he obstructed justice, has given Trump new confidence. He’s put up with document requests for over two years and those days are over.

Nadler and all the other Democrats who voted to hold Barr in contempt should all be questioned under oath just as the three expert witnesses were questioned by Armstrong. They will be forced to tell the truth. Yes, if the Attorney General had complied with our subpoena, he would have violated the law.

End of discussion.

The post Democratic Witnesses Admit The Release of Full Mueller Report Would Require AG Barr to Break the Law appeared first on RedState.

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The History of the ‘Steele Dossier’ Begins in April 2007

Westlake Legal Group ap-christopher-steele-620x413 The History of the ‘Steele Dossier’ Begins in April 2007 Viktor Yanukovich Paul Manafort nellie ohr Mueller Investigation Michael Isikoff Mary Jacoby Lee Smith John Brennan james comey Glenn Simpson Front Page Stories Featured Story FBI and DOJ Corruption david corn corruption collusion cia Christopher Steele Bruce Ohr Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power

Christopher Steele, former British intelligence officer in London Tuesday March 7, 2017 where he has spoken to the media for the first time . Steele who compiled an explosive and unproven dossier on President Donald Trump’s purported activities in Russia has returned to work. Christopher Steele said Tuesday he is “really pleased” to be back at work in London after a prolonged period out of public view. He went into hiding in January. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) appeared on Fox News’ “Hannity” this week to discuss the origins of the Steele dossier. He said it should really be called the “Simpson” dossier. Although Christopher Steele likely contributed “stories” to the dossier, and his years of experience in British intelligence lent credence to the document, Nunes believes that Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson may actually have written the majority of it.

In his book “Spygate,” journalist Dan Bongino makes the same case. He points out the striking similarities between articles Simpson and his wife, Mary Jacoby wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2007 and 2008 and the Steele dossier.

The Tablet’s Lee Smith promoted this theory in a lengthy, but fascinating, December 2017 article.

One of Simpson and Jacoby’s articles, entitled “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington,” was written on April 17, 2007. It discussed the growing trend of wealthy foreigners, Russians in particular, to hire influential Washington insiders as lobbyists, for help with legal troubles or simply to be introduced to the city’s rich and the powerful. Included in their list of American lobbyists and “fixers” is Paul Manafort.

Paul Manafort, a former adviser to Mr. Dole’s presidential campaign, has advised a Ukrainian metals billionaire and his close political ally, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. Mr. Yanukovich, who favors closer ties with Mr. Putin’s administration, is embroiled in a power struggle with pro-Western Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

In May 2008, they discovered that Paul Manafort was working as a consultant for John McCain’s presidential campaign. Manafort’s business partner, Rick Davis, who was also charged by Robert Mueller, was McCain’s campaign manager. They reported this in an article entitled “McCain Consultant Is Tied To Work for Ukraine Party.” It began:

A consultant to Sen. John McCain [Manafort] hired a public-relations firm last year to burnish the U.S. image of a Ukrainian political party backed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.

Simpson and Jacoby wrote about Manafort’s lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, and it’s ties to Ukraine’s Party of Regions and mentioned that Putin campaigned for Yanukovich.

The pair cite a 2006 breakfast for journalists at the Willard Hotel at which Manafort appeared with the “pro-Kremlin” Yanukovich and wrote that Manafort was in his “entourage when Yanukovich spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

Also discussed are Davis Manafort’s connections to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Smith points out that in March 2016, three things were happening. Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign. Glenn Simpson consulted with the Clinton campaign’s lawyer, Marc Elias, a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm, to see if they had any interest in continuing the opposition research project against Donald Trump which Fusion GPS had begun for the Washington Free Beacon. And Ukrainian American DNC consultant and activist Alexandra Chalupa was warning the Clinton campaign about Paul Manafort’s strong ties to Yanukovich. She later told CNN, “I flagged for the DNC the significance of his hire.”

At this time, Fusion GPS was working with a Putin-linked group, represented by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, to assist in their efforts to repeal the Magnitsky Act. (For a full description of what led to this Act, please read Marc Thiessen’s article here.)

Smith then makes the case that Simpson either wrote most of the dossier himself, or at least a good chunk of it.

Once you understand that Simpson knew exactly who Paul Manafort was, it’s impossible not to spot the former journalist’s creative wit sprinkled throughout the dossier, which uses the tantalizing figure of “PUTIN” to draw attention to corruption that Glenn Simpson knew was entirely real from his own reporting. “Ex-Ukrainian President YANUKOVYCH confides directly to PUTIN that he authorised (sic) kick-back payments to MANAFORT, as alleged in western media,” the dossier relates. “Assures Russian President however there is no documentary evidence/trail.”

It’s as if Simpson has hung a “Kick Me” sign on Manafort to encourage some prosecutor to find the “documentary evidence/trail” that did in fact exist. Sure enough, Special Counselor for the Russia investigations Robert Mueller found it. The October indictment charges Manafort with laundering millions that came from Yanukovich. Manafort’s relationship with Yanukovich was widely known inside Ukrainian political circles, as well as to Clinton campaign head John Podesta’s brother Tony Podesta, who worked directly for Manafort while he represented Yanukovich.

Simpson hired Christopher Steele in June 2016. According to Smith, Steele had been “identified as a British spy in 1999.” He had been chief of the “Russia desk when Russian assassins killed FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko in London and was hardly in a position to make discreet inquiries. Still, Simpson must have thought Steele’s name at a minimum would be useful in marketing whatever his firm pulled together. Reportedly, Steele had a good relationship with the FBI, and journalists love spies who spill secrets.”

Next, Simpson hired Nellie Ohr, the wife of Bruce Ohr (who at the time was the fourth highest ranking DOJ official, but was later demoted twice after his involvement with Fusion GPS was discovered).

Smith noted that, despite her impressive education and having lived in Russia decades earlier, “she was not a spy, or even a journalist. In this world, she was definitely an amateur.” He added:

Much of the reporting in the dossier is recognizably the kind of patter that locals in closed or semi-closed societies engage in to impress expats—the kind of thing you hear in a bar, or on the cab ride from the airport to the hotel. So you’re telling me this guy Carter Page, who almost no one in Moscow has heard of, was offered a 19 percent stake in Rosneft—worth around $10 billion—if Trump relieved sanctions on Russia? Da—some say even 21 percent.

In late April 2016, the DNC noticed unusual network activity and called in CrowdStrike. They were told they’d been hacked by Russians and their emails had been leaked to Wikileaks. After the emails were released the weekend before the Democratic Convention, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters, “some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”

Smith explains:

Which experts? The tech experts at CrowdStrike might be able to tell you who did something but not why. Mook doesn’t name the “experts” who had clued him in to Russia’s intentions—but the DNC and Clinton campaign did have an oppo-research firm under contract that was in the middle of putting together a file that would claim that the Russians were trying to get Trump elected. Since Steele authored the dossier’s first memo a month before Mook’s comment, on June 20, it seems fair to assume that Mook understood the thrust of the dossier, which the campaign had paid for, and that his claim regarding Russia’s intentions is the first public reference to the dossier.

On July 31, 2016, a week after the leaked emails, the FBI opened their counterintelligence investigation.

Then-CIA Director John Brennan was one of the earliest and most enthusiastic high-level Obama officials to push the dossier. It is highly likely he sent a copy to President Obama in June 2016.

According to a June 23, 2017, Washington Post article, “an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.”

The article said, “Inside was an intelligence bombshell.”

A report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives—defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump…

[The] “material was so sensitive that CIA Director John O. Brennan kept it out of the president’s daily brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad.”

It’s unknown who leaked this information to the Washington Post. There were many similar leaks to the press. “If the CIA had a human intelligence source that close to Putin, publication of the Post article could have exposed that source—doing incalculable damage to American national security. He and many of his loved ones would then have presumably died horrible deaths.”

In August 2016, Brennan briefed then-Senate Minority Harry Reid (D-NV) about the dossier.

Brennan complained that “the CIA, focused on foreign intelligence, was limited in its legal ability to investigate possible connections to Mr. Trump.” Reid then wrote a  a public letter to then-FBI Director James Comey warning that the Russian “interference is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.”

Following Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email investigation after her emails were found on a laptop owned by Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin, Reid sent another open letter to the FBI Director. He wrote:

In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community. It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government—a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public … and yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.

(Christopher Steele had spoken to the media in September. Specifically, he told his story to journalist Michael Isikoff who published an article in YahooNews! at the end of September. I wrote about that here. Isikoff’s article was used by the FBI to corroborate the dossier in their FISA Court application.)

Steele had also spoken to Journalist David Corn who published an article on October 31, 2016 in Mother Jones. Corn wrote that Reid was referencing the findings of a “former Western intelligence officer—who spent almost two decades on Russian intelligence matters and who now works with a U.S. firm that gathers information on Russia for corporate clients.”

According to Corn, Steele said that “in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump.”

It’s not clear if Corn received his information from Steele or from then-FBI General Counsel James Baker, who is a long-time friend, or perhaps both. (Baker is currently under a criminal investigation for allegedly leaking classified information to the press.)

A long and convoluted story, I agree. And this is just the beginning.

The post The History of the ‘Steele Dossier’ Begins in April 2007 appeared first on RedState.

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Barr: ‘This Was Handled At The Very Senior Levels Of These Departments, It Was NOT Handled In The Ordinary Way’

Westlake Legal Group william-barr-620x348 Barr: ‘This Was Handled At The Very Senior Levels Of These Departments, It Was NOT Handled In The Ordinary Way’ william barr Special Counsel President Trump Mueller Investigation james comey Front Page Stories Featured Story FBI and DOJ Corruption donald trump democrats corruption Congress bill hemmer Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power

William Barr – Caricature by DonkeyHotey, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

 

Fox News’s Bill Hemmer sat down with Attorney General William Barr on Thursday in El Salvador to discuss the origins of the Trump/Russia collusion investigation.

Barr began by telling Hemmer:

I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together, in a sense I have more questions today than when I first started.

People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale.

I’m not saying that happened but it’s something we have to look at.

Barr said that gathering information has been challenging because “this was handled at the very senior level of these departments. It was not handled in the ordinary way that investigations or counterintelligence activities are conducted. Senior officials took “ad hoc” approach during origins of Russia probe.”

This is uncharted territory for government officials. How often do unelected bureaucrats try to remove a U.S. President from office?

Barr indicated he doesn’t have much information to work with yet, telling Hemmer he thinks “there’s a misconception out there that we know a lot about what happened…Bob Mueller didn’t look at the government’s activity. He was looking at whether or not the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russians. He was not going back and looking at the counterintelligence program.”

He would not allow Hemmer to pin him down on details he was unsure of. Hemmer asked when he believed the FBI began spying on the Trump campaign, and Barr replied, “I’m not going to speculate about when it started. I’m going to find out when it started.”

Next, Hemmer asked if he is aware of when Robert Mueller knew there was no collusion. Barr said, “No, I couldn’t say that.” Even if he does know, it was smart of him not to go there.

They spoke about Democrats’ calls for his resignation and accusations that he has lied or misled Congress. Barr called Nancy Pelosi’s accusation that he lied to Congress “laughable.”

He said, “It’s a laughable charge and I think it’s largely being made to try to discredit me partly because they may be concerned about the outcome of a review of what happened during the election.” He added that “they may be trying to undermine my credibility, but obviously you can look at the face of my testimony and see on its face that there was nothing inaccurate about it.”

When asked about the House Judiciary Committee’s vote to hold him in contempt of Congress, Barr was dismissive and said, “That’s part of the usual … political circus that’s being played out. It doesn’t surprise me.” He is imperturbable.

Barr said they will be looking closely at the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day. He said “some very strange developments took place in that time.” He referred specifically to the January 6, 2017 meeting when intelligence officials briefed President-elect Trump on the dossier and “the leaking of information subsequent to that meeting.”

As always, the new attorney general was direct and he is determined to get to the bottom of this.

Following the interview, Hemmer said, “He clearly believes he is the target of a Democrat-led House and he expected that when he took the job.”

Unfortunately, that’s not paranoia.

Earlier this week, Barr showed that despite the smear campaign again him, he still has a sense of humor.

The Hill reported that, spying Nancy Pelosi on the sidelines of a Capitol Hill event, Barr approached her, shook her hand and said, “Madame Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?”

A bystander told The Hill that Pelosi, “not missing a beat, smiled and indicated to the attorney general that the House sergeant-at-arms was present at the ceremony should an arrest be necessary. The attorney general chuckled and walked away.”

I applaud the Attorney General for his pluck. President Trump couldn’t have made a better choice.

The post Barr: ‘This Was Handled At The Very Senior Levels Of These Departments, It Was NOT Handled In The Ordinary Way’ appeared first on RedState.

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Former FBI General Counsel: We Were ‘Quite Worried’ Comey Would Use Dossier To Blackmail Trump

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Following a meeting with British spy Christopher Steele in September 2016, reporter Michael Isikoff broke the story about the infamous dossier. In what is referred to as circular reporting in the world of journalism, the FBI used Isikoff’s article in their FISA Court application to corroborate the allegations of the dossier.

Isikoff interviewed former FBI General Counsel James Baker in an episode of Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” which aired on Tuesday.

The interview began with questions about “internal bureau debates” over what to tell President-elect Trump about the dossier in the upcoming January 6, 2017 briefing by intelligence community leaders. Knowing that the media already had the story, Baker and Comey felt they had an “obligation” to notify Trump.

Baker told Isikoff, because “the press has it, it’s about to come out. You should be alerted to that fact.” However, “we were quite worried about the Hoover analogies, and we were determined not to have such a disaster happen on our watch.”

According to Baker, “senior FBI officials were concerned then director James Comey would appear to be blackmailing  Trump – using tactics notoriously associated with J.Edgar Hoover.”

Isikoff questioned Baker about Attorney General William Barr’s appointment of prosecutor John Durham to lead the investigation into the origins of the Trump/Russia story. He replied, “I welcome scrutiny. I plan to fully cooperate with the department to help them figure out what happened. Because I believe what happened was lawful, at least based on every piece of information that I have.”

Baker maintained:

The FBI would have been derelict in its duty if it did not investigate the allegations about Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 election. It was pretty alarming. The thought that somehow somebody in either one of the campaigns might have had some connection to that [the Russians] or some awareness of it that they didn’t inform the FBI about was … quite concerning and disorienting.

Yes, we can imagine.

Baker said that he and Comey disagreed on what exactly to tell Trump. Comey believed they should tell Trump that he was not a “subject” of the investigation. Baker disagreed, telling Isikoff “I didn’t think it was accurate to say that he wasn’t under investigation. Trump was clearly a “subject” of the investigation because, as head of his own campaign, he was among those whose activities were being examined by the FBI.”

Baker told Isikoff that “Comey thought explaining that distinction to the president-elect would have been “too confusing.” It would have been “hard to understand, be misinterpreted and he just didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”

During the briefing, Comey wound up telling Trump that “he was not under investigation.” This was a mistake because Comey declined to make this statement publicly. Isikoff said that Comey’s refusal to do so was “a key factor that led to Trump’s decision to fire him.”

Isikoff asked Baker if bureau officials believed the allegations made in the dossier. Baker said “we took it seriously. We didn’t necessarily take it literally like it was literally true in every respect. But it was something that we were obligated to … assess.”

Asked why the FBI included the dossier in their October 23, 2016 FISA Court application for the warrant to spy on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, Baker told him, “at the end of the day, the FBI believed [Steele] to be reliable.”

This statement is hard to believe for two reasons.

First, the Hill’s John Solomon reported last week that the FBI’s counterintelligence team had been notified by State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec eight days before they submitted their FISA application, of what she had learned in her meeting with Steele. Steele had admitted his work was political, had told her his client was “keen” to break this story before Election day, and that Kavalec had found inaccuracies in his story.

Second, the FBI fired Isikoff on November 1, 2016 because he had spoken to the press.

Isikoff asked Baker why the FBI declined to give a “defensive briefing” to the Trump campaign as is customary under circumstances like these. Baker said:

It was just simply we didn’t know enough at the time to assess what was going on, who was connected to what, who was responsible … Can you imagine the criticism that we might have gotten had we given briefings precipitously to people that we later thought were actually suspects in some fashion then? So you’ve tipped them off about the investigation. … We only knew the tip of the iceberg.

And finally, Baker spoke about the press coverage he’s been receiving.

It’s been horrible to be publicly criticized by President Trump in his tweets. It was very unnerving and sort of an out-of-body experience to have the president of the United States tweeting about you and in what I perceived to be a negative light. But at the same time, in a strange way … when the president first started to attack me, and throughout this period, my friends have rallied around me. And so I’ve been extremely fortunate and lucky to, to have that. I’ve made the analogy to feeling like Jimmy Stewart at the end of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’

Well, Mr. Baker , the wheel has turned. The former FBI top lawyer had better get used to the criticism and the scrutiny because he, Comey and many other Obama officials will be forced into the public spotlight over the months to come.

The post Former FBI General Counsel: We Were ‘Quite Worried’ Comey Would Use Dossier To Blackmail Trump appeared first on RedState.

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Barr’s Pick To Lead Russia Collusion Investigation Has Been On The Case Since At Least October

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It turns out that John Durham, the prosecutor chosen by Attorney General William Barr to lead the probe into the origins of the Trump/Russia Collusion investigation isn’t so new to the case after all.

Real Clear Investigations’ Eric Felten published an excerpt from former FBI General Counsel James Baker’s October 3, 2018 closed testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. Baker is currently under criminal investigation for possible illegal leaking of classified information to the press.

During questioning by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), it was revealed that John Durham is the prosecutor assigned to Baker’s case.

The following partial transcript (via Real Clear Investigations) from Baker’s October 3, 2018 testimony shows how this was discovered.

Note: David Corn is the Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones. He was one of the first journalists to write an article about the Steele Dossier in October 2016. Throughout the summer and fall of 2016, the FBI received various versions of the dossier from different sources. One of those came from David Corn.

Rep. Jordan: Tell me about your relationship with David Corn.

Baker: David is a friend of mine.

Jordan: Tell me about that. A close friend? Long-time friend?

Baker: Long-time friend.

Jordan: When did you first meet Mr. Corn?

Baker: I don’t specifically remember. A long time ago, though.

Jordan: Years ago?

Baker: Years and years and years ago, yeah. Our kids carpooled together. We carpooled with them when our kids were little

Jordan: Prior to the election of – Presidential election of 2016. How many times did you talk with David Corn in the weeks and months prior to election day?

Baker: I don’t remember.

Jordan: Is it fair to say you did talk with Corn?

Baker: Yes, I did, but I just don’t remember how many [times].

Jordan: So did you talk to Mr. Corn about anything that the FBI was working on? Specifically the now infamous Steele dossier?”

Baker’s lawyer, Dan Levin: (interrupts) One second. (Levin and Baker speak privately.)

Levin: I cannot let [Baker] answer these questions right now. You may or may not know, he’s been the subject of a leak investigation which is still – a criminal leak investigation that’s still active at the Justice Department. I’m sorry. I’m cutting off any discussion about conversations with reporters.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): You’re saying he’s under criminal investigation? That’s why you’re not letting him answer?

Levin: Yes.

Jordan: There is an ongoing investigation by whom?

Levin: The Justice Department.

Jordan: I mean, is the inspector general looking at this or is this—

Levin: No. It’s Mr. John Durham, a prosecutor…I don’t want him talking about conversations he’s had with reporters because I don’t know what the questions are and I don’t know what the answers are right now. Given that there is an ongoing investigation of him for leaks which the Department [of Justice] has not closed, I’m not comfortable letting him answer questions.

This particular excerpt from Baker’s testimony was disclosed in January, and at that point, the name John Durham would have been meaningless to most of us. It is good news that John Durham is already familiar with at least some aspects of the case. I would even say it’s likely he’s been working on the larger investigation for longer than the public has been led to believe.

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