James Comey wordt nu door de OIG Micheal Horowitz onderzocht voor het ongeautoriseerd lekken van overheidsinformatie naar de media. Comey heeft naar verluidt elementen uit een memo zelf geredigeerd in een poging om geheimen te beschermen voordat hij de documenten overhandigde aan zijn vriend Daniel Richman. Dit betekent dat hij als FBI-directeur zelf oordeelde dat de informatie uit de memo geheim was.quote:Nunes, Gowdy, Goodlatte Statement on Comey Memos
Washington, April 19, 2018
Today House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Ca.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) issued the following statement:
"We have long argued former Director Comey's self-styled memos should be in the public domain, subject to any classification redactions. These memos are significant for both what is in them and what is not.
Former Director Comey's memos show the President made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated. The memos also made clear the ‘cloud’ President Trump wanted lifted was not the Russian interference in the 2016 election cloud, rather it was the salacious, unsubstantiated allegations related to personal conduct leveled in the dossier.
The memos also show former Director Comey never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened. While former Director Comey went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented, and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation.
The memos also make certain what has become increasingly clear of late: former Director Comey has at least two different standards in his interactions with others. He chose not to memorialize conversations with President Obama, Attorney General Lynch, Secretary Clinton, Andrew McCabe or others, but he immediately began to memorialize conversations with President Trump. It is significant former Director Comey made no effort to memorialize conversations with former Attorney General Lynch despite concerns apparently significant enough to warrant his unprecedented appropriation of the charging decision away from her and the Department of Justice in July of 2016.
These memos also lay bare the notion that former Director Comey is not motivated by animus. He was willing to work for someone he deemed morally unsuited for office, capable of lying, requiring of personal loyalty, worthy of impeachment, and sharing the traits of a mob boss. Former Director Comey was willing to overlook all of the aforementioned characteristics in order to keep his job. In his eyes, the real crime was his own firing.
The memos show Comey was blind to biases within the FBI and had terrible judgment with respect to his deputy Andrew McCabe. On multiple occasions he, in his own words, defended the character of McCabe after President Trump questioned McCabe.
Finally, former Director Comey leaked at least one of these memos for the stated purpose of spurring the appointment of Special Counsel, yet he took no steps to spur the appointment of Special Counsel when he had significant concerns about the objectivity of the Department of Justice under Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
As we have consistently said, rather than making a criminal case for obstruction or interference with an ongoing investigation, these memos would be Defense Exhibit A should such a charge be made."
quote:Comey’s Memos Indicate Dossier Briefing Of Trump Was A Setup
Newly released memos from former FBI director James Comey indicate that an early 2017 briefing for Trump on the contents of an unverified dossier was part of a setup to enable media to report on the the most salacious details of the dossier.
Newly released memos written by former FBI director James Comey indicate that an early 2017 briefing for then-President-elect Donald Trump about the contents of an infamous dossier was held so it could be leaked to media outlets eager to report on the dossier’s allegations. In multiple memos, Comey specifically mentioned that CNN had the dossier and wanted a “news hook” that would enable the network to report on its most salacious allegations even though they had not been verified.
“I said the Russians allegedly had tapes involving him and prostitutes at the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow from about 2013,” Comey wrote of his conversation with Trump in a classified memo that was released in redacted form late Thursday. “I said I wasn’t saying this was true, only that I wanted him to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands.”
No media organizations had reported the allegations at the time Comey briefed Trump.
“I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook,” Comey added in his memo about the briefing with Trump on January 6, 2017.
In another classified memo written on January 28, 2017, Comey wrote that in a separate meeting Trump mentioned the allegation about the alleged tape of prostitutes at a hotel and called it “fake news.”
“I explained again why I had thought it important that he know about it,” Comey wrote. “I also explained that one of the reasons we told him was that the media, CNN in particular, was telling us they were about to run with it.”
Of the many thousands of articles promoting a still-unproven theory of treasonous collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia, few were as significant as CNN’s January 10 story “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him.” Extremely well-placed sources told CNN that the Obama administration’s top intelligence appointees had briefed Obama, Biden, and Trump all about a dossier they took incredibly seriously and considered credible. And it sounded really bad, as the headline indicated.
“Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump,” CNN declared. BuzzFeed published the actual dossier within minutes of CNN’s story going live, showing the world that the dossier was riddled with salacious gossip that lacked even a possibility of corroboration.
Keep in mind that nothing we now know about the dossier had been reported at the time. It wasn’t yet reported that it was used by the FBI to provide a substantial basis to wiretap at least one Trump affiliate despite the fact it was unverified. It wasn’t yet reported that the product was bought and paid for as a Hillary Clinton campaign operation, or that it was secretly funded by the DNC using a law firm as a pass-through to hide its provenance in federal campaign filings. It wasn’t yet reported that its author’s working relationship with the FBI was terminated because he had lied to the agency about how he wouldn’t talk to the media.
After nearly a year of wrangling, the seven memos written by Comey were finally handed over on Thursday to Congress, which oversees the operation and funding of the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The memos purport to show Comey’s version of his interactions with the president before Comey was fired last May. According to Daniel Richman, the original recipient of Comey’s leaks who now claims to be his personal attorney, Comey gave him four memos. Four of the seven memos are classified, meaning that at least one of the memos he leaked was classified. By his own account, Comey orchestrated these leaks to the media in order to launch an aggressive special counsel to avenge his firing by Trump in May 2017. The memos given to Congress on Thursday were quickly leaked to the media.
The first memo was sent on January 7, 2017, to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, General Counsel James Baker, and James Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff. McCabe has since been fired from the FBI and referred to DOJ for criminal prosecution for repeatedly lying under oath about leaking. Baker was reassigned. And Rybicki was replaced in January of 2018.
There are two things in the memo that are worth highlighting as relate to that blockbuster CNN story from January 10, 2017.
First, Comey claims that briefing the president-elect was the brainchild of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to the [president-elect] about alone or in a very small group,” Comey wrote. More on that in a bit.
“I then executed the session exactly as I had planned,” Comey noted before going into details of what he claimed he told the president-elect. He wrote that he told him about the now-infamous prostitute pee-pee videotape claims contained in the dossier. Then he wrote:
“I said I wasn’t saying this was true, only that I wanted him to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands. I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuses to write that the FBI has the material or [REDACTED] and that we were keeping it very close-hold. He said he couldn’t believe they hadn’t gone with it. I said it was inflammatory stuff that they would get killed for reporting straight up from the source reports.
Such a close-hold that someone at a very high level in the Obama administration gave the information to CNN almost immediately. CNN broke the news of the dossier and Comey’s briefing of the president just four days later.
With Comey claiming that Clapper wanted him to brief POTUS, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence final report on Russia has something of interest. The report, which was downplayed and panned by CNN, included a finding of interest related to discussions of the dossier with the media:
Finding #44: Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, now a CNN national security analyst, provided inconsistent testimony to the Committee about his contacts with the media, including CNN.”
So Comey, at Clapper’s expressed behest, told Trump that CNN was “looking for a news hook” to publish dossier allegations. He said this in the briefing of Trump that almost immediately leaked to CNN, which provided them the very news hook they sought and needed.
This briefing, and the leaking of it, legitimized the dossier, which touched off the Russia hysteria. That hysteria led to a full-fledged media freakout. During the freakout, Comey deliberately refused to say in public what he acknowledged repeatedly in private — that the President of the United States was not under investigation. He even noted in his memos that he told the president at least three times that he was not under investigation. Comey’s refusal to admit publicly what he kept telling people privately led to his firing.
That led to Comey leaking multiple memos in order to get a special counsel appointed out of revenge. That special counsel has utterly distracted multiple agencies and embroiled all three branches of government at the highest levels. All over a document that was secretly funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, contracted by a Democrat research firm with ties to the Kremlin, and authored by a shady foreign spy whose relationship with the FBI was terminated because he lied to them.
quote:Is 'can't prove untrue' new standard in Trump probe?
When a political figure is accused of wrongdoing, a conversation begins among journalists, commentators, and public officials. Are the charges true? Can the accusers prove it?
That's the way it normally works. But now, in the case of the Trump dossier – the allegations compiled by a former British spy hired by the Clinton campaign to gather dirt on presidential candidate Donald Trump – the generally accepted standard of justice has been turned on its head. Now, the question is: Can the accused prove the charges false? Increasingly, the president's critics argue that the dossier is legitimate because it has not been proven untrue.
It's an argument heard at the highest levels of government, academics, and media.
"Not a single revelation in the Steele dossier has been refuted," noted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in February.
In late December, Laurence Tribe, the Harvard law professor, tweeted a message about the allegations against Trump to his followers: "Retweet if, like me, you're aware of nothing in the [Trump] dossier that has been shown to be false."
"The dossier has not been proven false," said MSNBC anchor and former George W. Bush aide Nicolle Wallace in February.
More recently, Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC's "Meet the Press," asked former CIA Director John Brennan, "So far with this dossier, nothing yet has been proven untrue. How significant is that?"
"As Jim Comey has said, I think very famously, these were salacious and unverified allegations," Brennan responded. "Just because they were unverified does not mean they were not true."
That's where the Trump dossier story stands today. No one has proved that the most serious allegations are true. But since no one has proved them false, either, some in the political class act as if they were true.
What is still unclear is how much effort the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies put into trying to prove the dossier's allegations. Fired FBI Director James Comey noted in his January 28, 2017 memo that Trump asked that the FBI investigate the dossier's so-called "golden showers" allegation – the charge that Trump watched as prostitutes performed a kinky sex show in a Moscow hotel room in 2013. Comey, by his own account, demurred.
"I replied that it was up to him," Comey wrote, "but I wouldn't want to create a narrative that we were investigating him, because we are not and I worried such a thing would be misconstrued. I also said that it is very difficult to disprove a lie."
In an interview with ABC News, Comey repeated the story and added, "It's very difficult to prove something didn't happen."
For his part, Comey – who, as John Brennan noted, once called the dossier "salacious and unverified" – still won't vouch for its truthfulness. Instead, Comey makes a much softer claim, saying that the "core" of the dossier – the big-picture conclusion that Russia tried to interfere with the 2016 presidential election – is "consistent with the other information we'd gathered during the intelligence investigation."
By the way, when it comes to the most spectacular allegation in the dossier – the sex story – even the dossier's author doesn't have much faith in its veracity.
In the new book Russian Roulette, authors Michael Isikoff and David Corn note that Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier, once said there was perhaps a 50-50 chance of the Moscow sex episode being true. Glenn Simpson, head of the opposition research company Fusion GPS, which commissioned the dossier, reportedly considered the Russian source for the story a "big talker" who might have made it up to impress Steele.
But now, some leading lights in the political conversation defend the dossier by arguing that it has not been proven untrue – as if that, instead of proof of truth, were the standard to apply to such consequential allegations.
"Setting aside the absurd and patently unfair 'guilty until proven innocent' standard that thinking requires, it also ignores the fact that the FBI has never tried to disprove it," Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor who now serves on the House Judiciary Committee, said in a recent text exchange. "When the president asked the FBI to do exactly that, one of Jim Comey's secret memos documents the response: [Comey] told him it is 'very difficult to disprove a lie.'"
Yes, it is. And that's something to keep in mind whenever someone suggests the dossier is worthwhile because it hasn't been proven false.
quote:Unpacking the Other Clinton-Linked Russia Dossier
A copy of the little-publicized second dossier in the Trump-Russia affair, acquired by RealClearInvestigations, raises new questions about the origins of the Trump investigation, particularly about the role of Clinton partisans and the extent to which the two dossiers may have been coordinated or complementary operations.
The second dossier -- two reports compiled by Cody Shearer, an ex-journalist and longtime Clinton operative -- echoes many of the lurid and still unsubstantiated claims made in the Steele dossier, and is receiving new scrutiny. On Sunday, Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a TV interview that his panel is shifting its investigative focus concerning the origins of the Russia investigation from the FBI to the State Department. This probe will include the Shearer dossier.
In late September 2016, Sidney Blumenthal, a close Clinton confidant and colleague of Shearer’s, passed Shearer’s dossier on to State Department official Jonathan M. Winer, a longtime aide to John Kerry on Capitol Hill and at Foggy Bottom.
According to Winer’s account in a Feb. 8, 2018 Washington Post op-ed, he shared the contents of the Shearer dossier with the author of the first dossier, ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who submitted part of it to the FBI to further substantiate his own investigation into the Trump campaign. Steele was a subcontractor working for the Washington, D.C.-based communications firm Fusion GPS, which was hired by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee to compile opposition research on her Republican opponent.
Steele’s 35-page dossier was used as evidence in October 2016 to secure from a secret court a surveillance warrant on volunteer Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Among issues the intelligence panel will likely want clarified is whether the FBI also used Shearer’s material as evidence in obtaining the FISA warrant.
Shearer did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment. Attempts to reach Winer by email were unsuccessful. And efforts to reach Blumenthal through his publisher were unsuccessful.
The copy of the Shearer memo provided to RealClearInvestigations is made up of two four-page reports, one titled “Donald Trump—Background Notes—The Compromised Candidate,” the other “FSB Interview” – the initials standing for the Russian Federal Security Service.
The only Trump campaign figures named are Donald Trump himself and his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, misspelled as “Manniford.” Shearer may be hinting at a third person when he quotes, without substantiation, a Turkish businessman saying a Russian source knows of a “cut out” or intermediary through whom the prospective “president of the U.S.” would communicate “into President Putin’s office." The version of the two memos RCI has seen is undated.
For the first report, Shearer claims he interviewed journalists and various media personalities, as well as the unnamed Turkish businessman with “excellent contacts within the FSB.” The businessman appears to be relaying information from what Shearer describes as the Turk’s “FSB guy.” The second report, “FSB Interview,” is an account of an interview with a source identified as an FSB agent. It’s not clear if the Turkish businessman’s FSB source in the first report is the same person Shearer interviews in the second. Neither is named.
The first Shearer report, “Donald Trump—Background Notes,” begins much like the Steele dossier. It alleges that Trump has been compromised by Russia and has engaged in illegal financial transactions with Russian figures: “At a time in the early l990’s when he was under severe financial stress Donald Trump visited Moscow in search of investors,” writes Shearer.
“Since the Trump name wasn’t worth much at that stage,” Shearer continues, “Trump’s only luck was in establishing relationships with oligarchs who needed someone to help them launder their money; which is what Trump did in return for some capital.” Shearer offers no source for these allegations, or proof of these transactions.
Like the Steele dossier, Shearer’s memo passes along unsubstantiated gossip about Trump’s sex life: According to Shearer’s FSB source, it was “From observing Trump for years in previous visits to Moscow, the FSB knew he had a weakness for women.”
Shearer’s FSB source told him “that he knew that Trump eventually learned that he had been flipped in a honeypot operation in Moscow.” Shearer’s memo echoes the most notorious, and salacious, item in the Steele dossier. Shearer’s FSB source claims that Trump was “filmed twice in Moscow in November 2013, during the Miss Universe pageant. Once in the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel.” The FSB source “believes a copy of the sex videos is in Bulgaria, Israel and FSB political unit vaults in Moscow."
Shearer claims that his Turkish businessman source is able to confirm in 15 minutes with a phone call to his “FSB guy” that Trump was “compromised.” Shearer writes in the first report that he has “asked the FSB source for documentation, photos and other related materials and talking sources who will verify this story.” Evidently, none were made available to Shearer.
As in the Steele dossier, Shearer’s ostensible Russian sources explain that the explicit purpose of the FSB operation is to elect Trump. The Turk’s FSB source says it was “launched with a wild-eyed fantasy of electing someone president of the U.S. who communicated through a cut out into President Putin’s office.”
Again as in the Steele dossier, there are allegations of Russia stealing Clinton emails and tampering with voting machines. According to the Turkish businessman’s contact: “The Trump operation also involved hacking his opponents and trying to alter votes on election day.”
The Shearer memos also describe a split in Russia’s ruling circles, a la the Steele dossier. One side is eager to help Trump, another thinks it’s unwise to get in the middle of American politics. Shearer’s FSB source presents himself as a member of the moderate faction. He claims he is spilling the beans to Shearer in order to help restore U.S.-Russia relations. Shearer’s source says: “By helping expose and embarrass Putin in regards to what he has done with Trump—which has spiraled out of control—might eventually improve relations between the U.S. and Russia; because what he has done is dangerous.”
Was the Shearer Dossier Used for the FISA Warrant?
Rep. Nunes is not the first Republican to question what role the Shearer memo may have played in the FBI’s investigation into the Trump team and its possible role in securing the warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Chairman Charles Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham of the Senate Judiciary Committee alluded to the Shearer document in a memorandum attached to a Jan. 4, 2018 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein referring Steele to the Department of Justice for a criminal inquiry. In their redacted classified memorandum, the two Republican senators hint at the possibility that the FBI’s probe into the Trump team’s possible ties to Russia is the result of an operation managed by the Clinton inner circle.
“One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by BuzzFeed is dated October 19, 2016,” write Grassley and Graham. “Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company ‘received this report from [REDACTED] US State Department,’ that the report was second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who ‘is in touch with [REDACTED], a contact of [REDACTED], a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to [REDACTED].’ It is troubling enough that the Clinton campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele’s allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”
Writing in his Feb. 8 Washington Post op-ed about getting the Shearer memo from Sidney Blumenthal in September 2016, Obama State Department official Winer explained that soon after the Blumenthal meeting, he met with Christopher Steele. Winer had known Steele, a longtime associate who often used Winer as his point of contact at the State Department. Steele had shown Winer the memos he’d written on Trump’s possible ties to Russia.
Winer asserted that in reading Shearer’s memo, he was “struck … how some of the material echoed Steele’s but appeared to involve different sources.” He shared Shearer’s memo with Steele, who described it as “potentially ‘collateral’ information,” presumably to buttress his own findings. The FBI, as Winer explained, had asked Steele to provide any supporting information. From the Grassley-Graham letter, it appears that Steele gave the FBI the Shearer report titled “FSB Interview,” “the second in a series.” He either withheld the first, "The Compromisaed Candidate" report, or Winer never gave it to him.
During the same period, late summer and early fall, the FBI was seeking a FISA warrant on Carter Page. A Department of Justice spokesperson declined comment when RCI emailed to ask if the Shearer memo was used as part of the Steele dossier to secure the warrant on Page’s communications that was granted Oct. 21, 2016.
When news of the Shearer memo broke more than a year later, the Guardian reported in a Jan. 30, 2018 article that the FBI “is still assessing details in the ‘Shearer memo’ and is pursuing intriguing leads.” The memo, the Guardian explained, “was initially viewed with skepticism, not least because he had shared it with select media organizations before the election.”
Even as his FSB memo was provided to the FBI before the election, it appears that Shearer was shopping his information to press outfits while also comparing rumors with leading journalists. Shearer’s first report, “The Compromised Candidate,” is a record of various journalists and media personalities explaining how they’ve heard the same rumors, and even tried, unsuccessfully, to report the story that Shearer is pushing in the second report.
For instance, according to the first report, Brian Ross from ABC News told Shearer that he, too, heard Trump was “compromised sexually in Moscow right before the beauty contest he was hosting.”
Ross was suspended by ABC News after incorrectly reporting that Trump had directed campaign adviser, and later National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials before the 2016 election. Shearer writes in his memo that Ross told him that if there were a “talking head source” who could corroborate Shearer’s claims regarding Trump’s sexual activities in Russia, “[Ross] would fly to Moscow to tape and air for broadcast” an interview with the source. After I emailed Ross for comment, an ABC spokesperson responded to say that ABC does not “comment on our reporting process.”
In the same report, Shearer quotes a conversation with former CIA officer Robert Baer, again hinting at another intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Shearer writes that Baer told him “the Russians had established an encrypted communication system with a cut out between the Trump campaign and Putin.”
Baer told RCI that “he’d heard that story from acquaintances at the New York Times who were trying to run the story down.”
Baer said he remembered speaking with Shearer about Trump and Russia in “March or April” of 2016. If Baer’s memory is correct then Shearer was investigating the Trump story at around the same time the Clinton campaign and the DNC hired Fusion GPS to compile opposition research on the Trump campaign.
Shearer writes in his first report that he was told by Alan Cullison of the Wall Street Journal that Fusion GPS principals, and former Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch (Shearer misspells both names in the memo) had been hired by the DNC to “rack [sic] down Trump compromised story.”
In a Feb. 9, 2018 Wall Street Journal story about the Shearer memo and the appearance of a Journal employee, Cullison, in one of Shearer’s two reports, a spokesman for Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Journal, disputed Shearer’s claim.
“Among the many inaccuracies in Mr. Shearer’s account of his conversations with our reporter in summer 2016 is his claim that the Journal knew who was funding Fusion GPS’s efforts,” Steve Severinghaus told the Journal . “The WSJ reporter had no such knowledge until it became public.”
The inaccuracies in Shearer’s account fuel suspicions that he misidentified the source of the information on who was funding the Steele dossier. What matters is that Shearer knew who was paying for Fusion GPS’s work on Trump. More important, if Steele received both of Shearer’s reports in September 2016, that would contradict the information in the FBI’s warrant application that said Steele didn’t know who was paying for his work. The source of the funding was right there in Shearer's first memo. The FBI's warrant application, however, says Simpson “never advised Source No. 1 [Mr. Steele] as to the motivation behind the research into candidate’s #1 [Mr. Trump’s] ties to Russia.” If Steele had both of Shearer’s reports, he knew he was being paid by the DNC.
The members of the press corps whom Simpson and Steele were briefing during that period almost certainly knew who was paying. Shearer’s notes, according to the Feb. 9, 2018 Journal article, “circulated in political and journalistic circles in Washington in late 2016.” Whoever saw both of Shearer’s reports would have known that the DNC was paying for the Fusion GPS campaign—long before the information became public a year later, in October 2017.
Cullison, who declined to comment for this story, was the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow correspondent for 20 years. The memo has him telling Shearer that since May 2016 he, too, had been looking into rumors of Trump’s activities in Moscow, including allegations of his sexual activities.
“Our reporter was unable to corroborate these allegations,” WSJ spokesperson Severinghaus said in the February Journal article, “and determined the information provided by Mr. Shearer did not meet our high standards for fair and accurate reporting.”
To this date, no journalist has been able to confirm on its own any of the incendiary allegations of Trump-Russia collusion story since the rumors surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign. The first accounts of the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia were published by Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News (Sept. 23, 2016) and David Corn of Mother Jones (Oct. 31). Both were sourced to Steele’s research.
Shearer’s first report shows that the story was circulating through the press corps for months, and no one was able to confirm it.
Shearer tried to drum up interest in the collusion narrative but no one in the press was biting. No one was willing to sink time and prestige on material sourced to unnamed Russian intelligence officials that was provided by a Clinton political operative whose partner, Sidney Blumenthal, had an even more controversial reputation.
But it would be different if it came from someone else, an intelligence operative whose American handlers worked up a suitable legend of his exploits in a glamorous, allied clandestine service, and his deep knowledge of all things Russian. So what did it matter if Steele had become an executive in a corporate intelligence firm whose official cover had been blown a decade before and who hadn’t been to Russia in years? The byline of a former MI6 agent could credential a compendium of unsubstantiated rumors when the names of Clinton confederates Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal could not.
Shearer, Blumenthal and Their Clinton Pedigrees
Cody Shearer was raised in a media family, which was also a Clinton family. His father was Lloyd Shearer, who wrote a Hollywood gossip column for Parade magazine under the pseudonym Walter Scott. The Shearers’ Brentwood, Calif., home, says a source who knows the Shearer family, “was a real West Coast political center. You’d find actors and TV people rubbing elbows with politicians, like Bill Clinton. The Shearer kids all hitched their wagons to the Clintons. And once he became president they all came with him to Washington.”
The eldest Shearer sibling, Derek, became Clinton’s ambassador to Finland. Cody’s late twin sister, Brooke, served as an aide to Hillary Clinton during the 1992 campaign and later worked in the Clinton White House. Brooke also worked as a private investigator for Terry Lenzner, who helped dig up dirt on one of Bill Clinton’s accusers, Paula Corbin Jones.
Brooke Shearer was married to Clinton’s former Oxford classmate Strobe Talbott, deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration. Talbott is now president of Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Cody Shearer apparently traded on his brother-in-law’s position.
In the mid-’90s, during the middle of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Shearer represented himself to associates of Bosnian-Serb President Radovan Karadzic as an agent of the State Department. Shearer told his Serbian contacts that he was in contact with Talbott, as well as President Clinton. The Serbs gave Shearer at least $25,000 in exchange for the help he promised in ameliorating impending war crimes charges against Karadzic. It’s not clear whether his promised assistance helped, since Karadzic was found guilty of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in 2016 at the International Criminal Tribunal. Talbott reportedly knew of his brother-in-law’s efforts but was unsuccessful in stopping him.
“Cody was the black sheep of the family,” says the Shearer family acquaintance. “No one really knew what he was going to do for a living, and lots of people are still unsure what he does. When he went to Washington, he got close to Sidney Blumenthal.”
lumenthal is the former Washington Post and New Yorker writer who earned enmity from some of his colleagues for using his pen and position to defend the Clintons and attack their rivals. In 1997, he joined the White House as a senior adviser. When he took that job, the joke within the White House press corps was that Blumenthal should put in for “back pay.”
It surprised few veterans of the White House press corps that Blumenthal and Fusion GPS would surface together in the Trump-Russia story.
Simpson has previously described what he does as “journalism-for-hire,” and his organization provides journalists with enough leads for stories and sources that many print and broadcast outlets in Washington and New York consider him a valued asset. And few journalists have been willing to bite the hand that feeds them. As one Fusion GPS target, William Browder, told me last year, “I discovered that Glenn Simpson was so deeply embedded as a source for different stories, no one wanted to write a story about him.”
But the “Steele dossier” is an example of another kind of service that Fusion GPS offers clients—partisan attacks disguised as journalism, such as the smear campaign in defense of Venezuelan oligarchs whose corruption was revealed by journalists Alek Boyd and Thor Halvorssen.
Most famously, Fusion GPS went after Browder on behalf of Kremlin-affiliated business interests that sought to undo the U.S. sanctions legislation on Putin allies that Browder spearheaded. If it seems strange that many of the media figures attacking Trump for his ostensibly pro-Putin positions have signed up to attack an anti-Putin activist like Browder, one explanation is that they are longtime associates of Glenn Simpson and the recipients of Fusion GPS tips and leaks.
As for Blumenthal, his fierce loyalty to the Clintons has led him to cross lines in the past, most notoriously by leading the press campaign to discredit Monica Lewinsky.
During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Blumenthal directed journalists to investigate Barack Obama’s birth certificate, suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s opponent was secretly Kenyan—a theme later picked up by Donald Trump.
Participating in the birther narrative was enough to keep Blumenthal out of Hillary Clinton’s State Department. When the newly appointed secretary of state wanted to bring him on board, Obama White House officials nixed it.
But that wasn’t enough to keep Blumenthal at bay. He was drawing a check from the Clinton Foundation when he started to email Secretary of State Clinton about the situation in Libya after the United States helped topple Moammar Gaddafi in October 2011. Blumenthal’s private intelligence unit included former CIA operative Tyler Drumheller, now deceased, and Cody Shearer.
According to a New York Times report, “much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government.”
One of the Clinton aides responsible for keeping Blumenthal in check was Jake Sullivan, an adviser to her 2008 campaign who became her deputy chief of staff at the State Department and later the department’s director of policy planning. Blumenthal sent 25 Libya memos to Clinton, which she frequently forwarded to Sullivan, who then distributed them to colleagues. “In many cases,” the Times reported, “Mr. Sullivan would paste the text from the memos into an email and tell the other State Department officials that they had come from an anonymous ‘contact’ of Mrs. Clinton.”
So, why did some State Department officials take Blumenthal seriously when he came forward with Shearer’s memo on Trump and Russia? Why did Jonathan Winer pass it on to Steele?
According to his own account, Winer had known Steele since 2009. They were both working on Russia-related issues in the private sector. At the outset of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and later annexation of Crimea, Steele shared reports he’d written for an undisclosed private client with Winer. He forwarded them to other State Department officials, like Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. Winer says that over the course of the two-year crisis, he shared more than 100 of Steele’s reports on Ukraine and Crimea with his colleagues.
According to Winer, Steele came forward with the Trump memos in mid-September 2016. Winer took notes and passed them on to Nuland. Both State Department officials agreed that Secretary of State John Kerry needed to know what Steele had found. Although her chronology differed from Winer's, Nuland recalled on CBS’s “Face the Nation” in February that after seeing the material she concluded that “this needs to go the FBI.”
Presumably, the House Intelligence Committee will ask Nuland and Winer to clarify the timeline. Perhaps that will illuminate the State Department’s role and whether it helped initiate the probe into the Trump campaign by passing Steele’s notes to the FBI. The committee may also be curious to know why former senior government officials played any role in Steele’s investigation at all.
The standard explanation for Winer and Nuland’s actions is that they trusted Steele. They knew his work on Ukraine. He was a former intelligence officer from one of America’s oldest allies, so his information on Trump had to be taken seriously. The stakes were enormous—a candidate for the highest office in the land might be compromised by a foreign, often adversarial, government.
But there’s another way to see it.
The U.S. and U.K. are part of an intelligence-sharing arrangement known as the “Five Eyes,” which includes the three other major English-speaking world powers: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The arrangement is premised on trust. All five members trust each other not only to share information vital to their national security but also to not collect intelligence against each other by spying on officials, or businessmen and each other’s citizens. When former British spy Christopher Steele brought his memos to Winer, one senior U.S. intelligence official explained to RCI, “Steele was violating the fundamental premise of the Five Eyes relationship.”
Further, even if Winer had no idea who was funding Steele’s work or that it was opposition research, Steele was a foreign national spying on a fundamental American political institution, a presidential campaign. If he had possession of the Shearer memo disclosing that the DNC had hired Simpson and Fritsch, Winer knew at the very least that there was a politically funded campaign to find dirt on the Republican candidate—a campaign that certainly resembled Steele’s research. This appears not to have bothered Winer, who turned Shearer’s memos over to Steele.
As with Winer, RCI tried unsuccessfully for comment from Sullivan, a well-respected foreign policy hand who was in line to become Hillary Clinton’s White House national security adviser. According to Clinton campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, she and Sullivan took the lead in briefing the press on the Trump-Russia collusion story, starting in July 2016 at the Democratic National Convention. After a Slate story asserted that a Trump organization computer server was communicating with a Russian bank, Sullivan issued a statement from the campaign under his own name, claiming, “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow. … This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia.”
What RCI wanted to ask Sullivan was whether he would have approached the Trump-Russia collusion story differently had he known of Shearer and Blumenthal’s involvement.
As for whether the Clinton campaign was aware of the Steele dossier, there is no doubt. A long profile of Steele in the New Yorker magazine shows that Marc Elias, the lawyer for the firm that hired Fusion GPS on behalf of the campaign, “summarized some of the information to top campaign officials, including the campaign manager Robby Mook.”
If Sullivan was briefed on Steele’s investigation, it surely would’ve sounded more serious than a Cody Shearer project. Perhaps that was the point. In fact, that was Glenn Simpson’s innovation. He ran the same sort of shop Sidney Blumenthal did, and the same sort of campaign. They were both working on the collusion story. The difference is that Christopher Steele’s byline gave it the appearance of credibility—even if it included Cody Shearer’s work.
As it turned out, it didn’t really matter. So what if Blumenthal and Fusion GPS were both parts of a multi-channel Clintonworld operation to manufacture evidence against Trump to feed through various channels to the FBI? It didn’t matter so long as Hillary got elected.
Nee hoor, dat doen anderen. Hij vertaalt gewoon de talking points.quote:
quote:RUSSIA REPORT: Three Major Take-Aways
Republican members clear Trump; Object to 'excessive and unjustified redactions'
The House Intelligence Committee released its long-anticipated and highly redacted Russian intelligence report Friday clearing President Donald Trump’s campaign from “colluding” with Russians in the 2016 presidential election and chiding the intelligence community for “significant intelligence tradecraft failings” as the committee found no evidence to date that collusion had occurred.
The 248-page report, of which some pages were completely redacted after review by FBI and DOJ officials, have raised the ire of committee Republicans and will lead to a review of the report once again in an effort to un-redact elements of the report that the Committee says does not relate to the classified material. Numerous Congressional committees have complained openly that the DOJ and FBI continue to “stonewall” their investigations and have slow rolled documents needed for adequate oversight of the highly controversial investigations into Trump and the Bureau’s handling of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for government business.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, said in a press release that due to public interest and the importance of the report the Committee chose to make the report public. Nunes has had to threaten Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray with contempt of Congress before documents have been provided. It’s a battle that he continues to fight but one that has slowed down the progress of the Committee’s investigations, say congressional sources, familiar with the investigations.
Nunes stated in the press release that “we object to the excessive and unjustified number of redactions, many of which do not relate to classified information. The Committee will convey our objections to the appropriate agencies and looks forward to publishing a less redacted version in the near future.”
Three Major Takeaways from the Russia Report’s Findings:
1. Flynn Didn’t Lie
Former National Security Advisor Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the embattled three-star general who was fired by the White House for allegedly misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversation with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, did not lie to the FBI special agents who interviewed him at the White House in January 2017.
This is important because Flynn eventually plead guilty to one count of making false statements about his December 2016 phone conversation with Kislyak to DOJ Special Counsel Robert Mueller, “even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents did not detect any deception during Flynn’s interview.”
It is odd that Flynn would plead guilty to one count of lying when the agents didn’t believe that he was purposefully misleading them but close friends and associates of Flynn told this reporter that he has been forced to sell his home in northern Virginia in an effort to keep up with mounting legal fees and that he couldn’t afford to keep fighting the Special Counsel.
Even more bizarre is that one of the two agents who conducted the interview was FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who is now under investigation himself for sending vehemently anti-Trump text messages to his paramour FBI Attorney Lisa Page, as previously reported. Strzok, who was the former Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, was removed from the Special Counsel’s investigation after the DOJ Inspector General uncovered the anti-Trump texts, which also appeared to contain information on the investigations. Strzok was moved to the Human Resources division of the FBI. Both Page and Strzok continue to work with the FBI but are believed to be cooperating with the DOJ investigations, according to sources.
Highly classified Intelligence Leaks
Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak was leaked to columnist David Ignatius with the Washington Post on January, 12. The transcripts of the phone conversation is considered highly classified leak and a violation of federal law. It is currently under investigation and was believed by Republicans to have come from a senior level Obama administration official and considered highly classified.
Flynn was asked by a Presidential Transition Team member to contact foreign governments
Moreover, according to the report, the “on or about December 22, 2016, ‘a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team’ (PTI) directed General Flynn to contact representatives of foreign governments. This request concerned a resolution about Israeli settlements submitted by Egypt to the U.N. Security Council around December 21, 2016. Later, on December 22, General Flynn contacted Ambassador Kislyak and ‘requested that Russia vote against or delay the resolution.’ The next day, Ambassador Kislyak informed General Flynn that Russia would not comply On December 29, 2016, President Obama ‘authorized a number of actions’ – including new sanctions-‘in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016.’
After the sanction was placed on Russia at the end of the Obama administration the report found that Gen. Flynn had discussed with a senior transition team member “what, if anything, to communicate to the Russian Ambassador about the U.S. sanctions.”
Comey walks back on Flynn
Even former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump last year, had apparently told Congress that the agents did not believe Flynn had lied. Although, in recent interviews to promote his book A Higher Loyalty, Comey is saying now that he has no recollection of what the agents may or may not have thought. His statements contradict the findings of the Russia report and previous stories that suggest he knew the agents did not believe Flynn lied to them.
The Russia report, however, is highly redacted and it appears by reading the report that there was more information on Flynn that has yet to be made public. If it is eventually redacted we may have more answers than questions on what Flynn did and possibly what Comey knew.
2. Clapper Leaked the Dossier To Numerous Reporters
In early March, I reported that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper may have leaked information to CNN regarding the classified briefings given to then president-elect Trump on former British spy Christopher Steele’s dossier, which claimed the Russians had compromising information on the president-elect.
Clapper’s role became more apparent when the Comey’s memos about his interactions with Trump were released to the public. In the memos, Comey admits that it was Clapper who asked him to brief Trump on the dossier and Comey has repeated that in a number of interviews over the past several weeks. He also noted that he told Trump that CNN and other news outlets had the dossier and were looking for a “news hook.”
“I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to the [President-elect] about alone or in a very small group,” Comey said.
“I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to the [President-elect] about alone or in a very small group,” Comey said.
In an interview with Fox News Bret Baier, Comey discusses briefing the President on the more salacious parts of the dossier.
BAIER: The intel briefing at Trump Tower. You briefed the president-elect on the sliver of the dossier, really the salacious part about the prostitutes in Moscow and that allegation.
BAIER: Didn’t include anything broader than that, right?
COMEY: Correct. My mission in that private briefing was just to tell him about that slice of it.
Russia report evidence on Clapper
The Russia report discovered that Clapper, who is now a CNN national security analyst, “provided inconsistent testimony to the Committee about his contacts with the media, including CNN.”
They noted that when Clapper was initially asked about leaks related to the dossier in July 2017, Clapper denied “discussing the dossier compiled by Steele or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists.”
But according to the report, Clapper eventually acknowledged discussing the “dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper.” He also admitted that he may have told other journalists about the dossier.
“Clapper’s discussion with Tapper took place in early January 2017, around the time IC leaders briefed President Obama and President-elect Trump, on ‘the Christopher Steele information,’ a two-page summary of which was ‘enclosed in’ the highly-classified version of the ICA,” the Russia report states.
On Jan. 10, 2017, Tapper published an article on CNN’s Tapper referring to the briefing and the classified documents. It noted that the “classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations…about Mr. Trump that was included in a two-page synopsis . . . appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.” It also mentioned that it was “derived from memos compiled by a former British intelligence analyst operative.”
Those claims were sourced to “multiple U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings. The next day, Clapper issued a statement describing a call with President-elect Trump in which Clapper “expressed my profound-dismay at the leaks that have been appearing the in the press.”
After CNN published the briefing, Buzzfeed then published the dossier and the Russia collusion story was well underway, according to the report and numerous congressional officials.
3. Former Feinstein Staffer Continues Where Fusion GPS Left Off
Last but not least, as first reported by Sean Davis with The Federalist, a former staff member for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, is helping direct a continued investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
The Fusion GPS investigation, which was paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and DNC, is being picked up by Daniel J. Jones, a former Feinstein staffer. According to Davis, the former staffer “is intimately involved with ongoing efforts to retroactively validate a series of salacious and unverified memos produced by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, and Fusion GPS.”
Jone’s name appears to be redacted in the Russia report but his company, “Penn Quarter Group” is mentioned in its continuing efforts to investigate Trump and apparently they have raised $50 million to continue the investigation, according to a more detailed story by the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross.
Davis noted that congressional documents and texts leaked between Sen. Mark Warner,D-Va. and Oleg Daripaska, a registered foreign agent for a Russian aluminum oligarch “indicate that Daniel J. Jones is intimately involved with ongoing efforts to retroactively validate a series of salacious and unverified memos produced by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, and Fusion GPS. The dossier, which declassified documents show was used as a basis for securing secret wiretaps on Trump campaign affiliates, was reportedly jointly funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
Worden jullie nou vrolijk van dit topic, dat door TS wordt gebruikt als zijn persoonlijke propagandakanaal?quote:
Mee eens. Niet geïnteresseerden hoeven het niet te lezen. Het is niet verplicht om te reageren.quote:
Nondeju. Ik zie het nu pas.quote:
Ga je gang!quote:Op maandag 30 april 2018 15:57 schreef Fir3fly het volgende:
Niemand hoeft te reageren, en vrijwel niemand doet dat dan ook. Als je het allemaal zo geweldig vindt ga dan de discussie aan. Geef eens een mening. Stel eens een vraag.
Om de zoveel tijd roepen hoe geweldig het is dat iemand zo veel tijd steekt in deze onzin, daar moeten we het van hebben .