Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence

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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:57 am

Partners of firm behind ‘Trump dossier’ plead the Fifth during congressional hearing
by lynx.media
October 20, 2017

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Founders of the research firm that compiled the dossier that alleged numerous still-unproven links between the president and Russia have pleaded the Fifth during a congressional hearing.

Thomas Catan and Peter Fritsch were subpoenaed earlier this month and appeared Wednesday before the House Intelligence Committee.

But they reportedly invoked the Fifth Amendment, which prevents someone from incriminating oneself, “to every question asked of them,” a source familiar with the hearing told The Daily Caller.

Their third business partner, Glenn Simpson, was also subpoenaed but did not appear with Catan and Fritsch — although he previously attended a 10-hour session with the Senate Judiciary Committee in August. All three men worked for The Wall Street Journal before founding opposition research firm Fusion GPS/

Attorneys for Fusion had previously suggested that the men would not cooperate with House investigators, in part because of prior confidentiality agreements.

“No American should be required to appear before Congress simply to invoke his constitutional privileges,” company lawyer Josh Levy told The DC this week.

“But that is what [Intelligence Committee] Chairman [Rep. Devin] Nunes did today with our clients at Fusion GPS, breaking with the practice of his committee in this investigation.

“The committee has not imposed this requirement on any other witness, including the president’s men,” Levy added.

“Any attempt to change either the narrative or a congressional committee’s focus will not change the facts, which we hope all serious investigators will learn.”

The former Journal reporters were hired by an ally of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during last year’s election cycle.

Working with the British ex-spy Christopher Steele, the firm produced a 35-page document full of allegations about Donald Trump’s supposed business and personal contacts in Russia.

Although the FBI has dismissed several of its more sensational claims as untrue and warned that many others are unprovable, the bureau has continued to cite the dossier as a source in its probe into whether Trump and his associates colluded with Russian agents to meddle in the election.


Republican legislators have questioned that reliance and also pressed investigators to confirm which Clinton backer hired Fusion.

Trump has suggested collusion allegations of his own over the dossier, tweeting this week that “workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?”
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:03 am

Clinton Campaign and Democratic Party Helped Pay for Russia Trump Dossier
by Kenneth P. Vogel
New York Times
October 24, 2017

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The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer
by Glenn Greenwald
January 11, 2017

ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER it was published, the farcical nature of the “dossier” manifested. Not only was its author anonymous, but he was paid by Democrats (and, before that, by Trump’s GOP adversaries) to dig up dirt on Trump. Worse, he himself cited no evidence of any kind but instead relied on a string of other anonymous people in Russia he claims told him these things.



Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence Dossier’ Directed against Donald Trump
by Prof Michael Keefer
Global Research
January 15, 2017

Within a day of BuzzFeed‘s publication of the document, the author’s identity was revealed by the Wall Street Journal.[11] He is one Christopher Steele, a former MI6 agent who is now co-principal of a consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence—and who has gone into hiding, leaving his neighbour in Surrey to feed the family cats and his partner in Orbis to make unrevealing statements to the press.[12]

According to Julian Borger of The Guardian, Steele’s writings about Trump “were initially commissioned as opposition research”—a polite term for scandal-mongering—“during the presidential campaign, but its author was sufficiently alarmed by what he discovered to send a copy to the FBI.”[13]

It seems more likely that his employers invited him to pass it on. The Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign inherited work by Steele that was initially paid for by Jeb Bush, who was steamrollered by Trump in the Republican primaries. They were desperate to divert attention away from the scandalous substance of the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta ...


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WASHINGTON — The presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid for research that was included in a dossier made public in January that contained salacious claims about connections between Donald J. Trump, his associates and Russia.

A spokesperson for a law firm said on Tuesday that it had hired Washington-based researchers last year to gather damaging information about Mr. Trump on numerous subjects — including possible ties to Russia — on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C.

The revelation, which emerged from a letter filed in court on Tuesday, is likely to fuel new partisan attacks over federal and congressional investigations into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates assisted in the effort.

The president and his allies have argued for months that the investigations are politically motivated. They have challenged the information contained in the dossier, which was compiled by a former British spy who had been contracted by the Washington research firm Fusion GPS.

The letter that was filed in court said that Fusion GPS began working for the law firm, Perkins Coie, in April 2016. Written by the firm’s managing partner Matthew J. Gehringer, the letter said that Fusion GPS had already been conducting the research “for one or more other clients during the Republican primary contest.”

Perkins Coie was paid $12.4 million to represent the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. during the 2016 campaign, according to filings. The role of the Clinton campaign and the national party in funding the research for the dossier was first reported on Tuesday by The Washington Post.

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Marc Elias outside the Supreme Court in Washington last year. Credit J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

At the time that Democrats began paying for the research, Mr. Trump was in the process of clinching the Republican presidential nomination, and Ms. Clinton’s allies were scrambling to figure out how to run against a candidate who had already weathered attacks from Republican rivals about his shifting policy positions, his character and his business record.

Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a respected former British spy with extensive experience in Russia, to conduct research into any possible connections between Mr. Trump, his businesses, campaign team and Russia.

... Steele, who as Hopkins and Harding inform us is unable to travel to Russia and has not set foot in that country for twenty years ...

-- Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence Dossier’ Directed against Donald Trump, by Prof Michael Keefer


Mr. Steele produced a series of memos that alleged a broad conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to influence the 2016 election on behalf of Mr. Trump. The memos also contained unsubstantiated accounts of encounters between Mr. Trump and Russian prostitutes, and real estate deals that were intended as bribes.

The contents of the memos circulated in Washington in late 2016, and were briefed to Mr. Trump by senior American intelligence officials during the presidential transition. The memos, which became known as the “Steele Dossier,” were made public by Buzzfeed — sparking an ongoing debate about their accuracy and about who funded the research.

Fusion GPS was started by three former Wall Street Journal employees. The firm worked directly with Perkins Coie and its lead election lawyer, Marc Elias, according to the law firm spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information about confidential business relationships. The law firm’s payments to Fusion GPS for the Russia research ended just before Election Day, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that neither the Clinton campaign, nor the D.N.C., was aware that Fusion GPS had been hired to conduct the research.

Earlier this year, Mr. Elias had denied that he had possessed the dossier before the election.

Anita Dunn, a veteran Democratic operative working with Perkins Coie, said on Tuesday that Mr. Elias “was certainly familiar with some of, but not all, of the information” in the dossier. But, she said “he didn’t have and hadn’t seen the full document, nor was he involved in pitching it to reporters.” And Mr. Elias “was not at liberty to confirm Perkins Coie as the client at that point,” Ms. Dunn said.

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Hillary Clinton with Brian Fallon, her campaign’s national press secretary, last year. On Tuesday, Mr. Fallon said he did not know that the author of a dossier on Mr. Trump was working on behalf of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Credit Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Brian Fallon, who served as a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, on Tuesday wrote on Twitter that he did not know that Mr. Steele had been working on behalf of the Clinton campaign before the election.

“If I had, I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him,” Mr. Fallon wrote.


A lawyer and spokeswoman for Fusion GPS did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for the D.N.C. sought to distance the national party from the work, noting that the party’s chairman, Tom Perez, was elected only after last year’s election. He and his leadership team “were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, the D.N.C. spokeswoman.

The work by Fusion GPS on the dossier has come under scrutiny from congressional investigators, who have questioned one of its founders and subpoenaed its banking records to try to determine who funded the research.

Fusion GPS is fighting the subpoena in federal court, and Mr. Gehringer’s letter was produced in connection with that legal case.


In the letter, Mr. Gehringer praised Fusion GPS for its “efforts to fulfill your obligation to maintain client confidentiality. In the circumstances, however, we believe it is appropriate to release Fusion GPS from this obligation as it relates to the identity of Perkins Coie.”

Mr. Gehringer added that, “given the interest in this issue, we believe it would be appropriate for all parties who hired Fusion GPS in connection with the 2016 presidential campaign to release Fusion GPS from this obligation as well.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on October 25, 2017, on Page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Clinton Campaign and D.N.C. Helped to Pay for Russia Dossier on Trump.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:15 am

Trump slams Democrats as 'disgrace' for helping to fund dossier
by Brian Ross, Matthew Mosk, and Cheyenne Haslett
Oct 25, 2017, 6:54 PM ET

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President Donald Trump lashed out at Democrats on Wednesday after a lawyers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee acknowledged helping fund the infamous dossier of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“I think it's a disgrace,” Trump said. “It's a very sad commentary on politics in this country.”

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Marc E. Elias, a lawyer who represented both the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained the Washington-based investigative firm Fusion GPS to conduct research.

In a letter obtained by ABC News addressed to an attorney for Fusion GPS, Matthew Gehringer, general counsel for Perkins Coie, detailed his firm’s arrangement with Fusion GPS.

“To assist in its representation of the DNC and Hillary for America, Perkins Coie engaged Fusion GPS in April of 2016, to perform a variety of research services during the 2016 election cycle,” Gehringer wrote. “By its terms, the engagement concluded prior to the November 2016 Presidential election.”

A full copy of the letter can be read below.

In August, ABC News reported that Fusion GPS was paid during the heated Republican primaries by a still unknown Republican and then later worked for Democrats, all of whom wanted to dig up dirt on Trump and plant negative news stories, according to political operatives.

The Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign inherited work by Steele that was initially paid for by Jeb Bush, who was steamrollered by Trump in the Republican primaries. They were desperate to divert attention away from the scandalous substance of the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, that Wikileaks was releasing to the public—the DNC emails in two batches on July 22 and November 6, and the Podesta emails on a daily basis beginning on October 7. They had fixed on a McCarthyite smearing of ‘Trump-the-Kremlin-puppet’ as the most efficacious way of doing so;[14] and they must have been sufficiently impressed by Steele’s work to hope that it might induce the FBI to give further momentum to their own previous claims.[15]

-- Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence Dossier’ Directed against Donald Trump, by Prof Michael Keefer, January 15, 2017


The 35-page dossier, prepared by a former British spy and Moscow station chief named Christopher Steele, alleges the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, and includes uncorroborated, salacious allegations about Trump himself, which he has repeatedly denied.

“It’s all fake news,” Trump said. “It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen.”

Between June 2015 to December 2016, the Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie $5.6 million in legal fees, according to campaign finance records examined by the Washington Post. And since November 2015, the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting.” It is not possible to know how much of those funds were passed on to Fusion GPS.

As Trump fumed, Democrats defended the campaign and the committee. Former Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon said the Democrats did nothing wrong.

“I think it's important to remember that opposition research happens all the time in the campaign,” Fallon said on CNN.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said the content of the document is more important than the circumstances behind its creation.

“It’s important to know who paid for it,” Swalwell told ABC News. “But it is also important to know if what’s in the dossier is true.”

The DNC, meanwhile, distanced itself from the reported revelation, saying its new leaders were not involved in the decision to retain the investigative firm.

“Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization. But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened,” said DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa.

Morell said he had learned that the former officer, Christopher Steele, paid his key Russian sources, and interviewed them through intermediaries.

"On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all," Morell said at an event sponsored by the Cipher Brief, an intelligence web site.

"There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it."

-- Clinton Ally Says Smoke, But No Fire: No Russia-Trump Collusion, by Ken Dilanian


The identity of the initial Republican funder of the dossier, however, remains a mystery.

Republican House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes approved a subpoena earlier this month that would force the bank handling finances for Fusion GPS to open up its books, which could force the identity of that initial client into public view.

In response to questions today from ABC’s Cecilia Vega, President Trump hinted that the identity might not remain a mystery for much longer.

“I think I would have, if I were to guess, I have one name in mind,” Trump said. “It will probably be revealed.”

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Matthew J. Gehringer
MGehringer@perkinscoie.com
D +13123248655
F +13123249655

October 24, 2017

VIA EMAIL

William W. Taylor, III
Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
1800 M Street, NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036

RE: FUSION GPS

Dear Mr. Taylor:

I write on behalf of Perkins Coie LLP as its General Counsel. We understand that your client, Fusion GPS, has received a number of requests for information regarding the identity of clients who engaged Fusion GPS to conduct research during the 2016 Presidential campaign. We further are aware that Fusion GPS is currently engaged in litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an effort to prevent the compelled disclosure of its bank records which would reveal confidential client information.

We recognize the important principle of client confidentiality, and we appreciate your efforts to fulfill your obligation to maintain client confidentiality. In the circumstances, however, we believe it is appropriate to release Fusion GPS from this obligation as it relates to the identity of Perkins Coie. Further, given the interest in this issue, we believe it would be appropriate for all parties who hired Fusion GPS in connection with the 2016 presidential campaign to release Fusion GPS from this obligation as well. Finally, now that the appropriate client representatives have been informed of the specifics of our engagement with Fusion GPS, and with their consent, Perkins Coie therefore authorizes you to disclose the following:

-- Fusion GPS approached Perkins Coie in early March of 2016 and, aware that Perkins Coie represented the Democratic National Committee ("DNC") and HFACC, Inc. ("Hillary for America") with respect to the 2016 elections, expressed interest in an engagement with the Firm in connection with the 2016 presidential election to continue research regarding then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, research that Fusion GPS had conducted for one or more other clients during the Republican primary contest.

-- To assist in its representation of the DNC and Hillary for America, Perkins Coie engaged Fusion GPS in April of 2016, to perform a variety of research services during the 2016 election cycle. By its terms, the engagement concluded prior to the November 2016 Presidential election.


Nothing in this consent to the disclosure above authorizes Fusion GPS to disclose or waive any privilege with respect to communications or other information otherwise protected by this Firm's or its clients' attorney-client privilege and work product protections, nor does this authorization constitute a waiver of any applicable privilege of this Firm or its clients.

Very truly yours,

Matthew J. Gehringer
General Counsel
Perkins Coie LLP

MJG:jmg
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:00 am

John Podesta, Whose Lawyer Paid For Dossier, Told Senate He Didn’t Know Who Funded It
by Chuck Ross
5:54 PM 10/26/2017

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, recently denied to Senate Intelligence Committee investigators that he knew who had funded the infamous Steele dossier on Donald Trump.

But when he issued that denial, Podesta happened to be sitting next to the man who did pay for the salacious document: Marc Elias, the general counsel for the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.

Elias was in the Senate meeting in his capacity as Podesta’s personal attorney,
CNN reported on Thursday. But the lawyer, a partner at the firm Perkins Coie, apparently did not reveal during the interview that he was involved in the dossier, which was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS and written by former British spy Christopher Steele.

The Senate interview with Podesta was conducted before it was revealed that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee jointly funded the dossier. The Washington Post reported that Elias, a longtime Democratic party “fixer,” paid Fusion GPS through Perkins Coie.

Podesta’s denial raises questions about how much control the campaign had over the anti-Trump project. Nobody affiliated with the campaign — including Clinton herself — have come forward to say that they were aware of the full extent of Elias’ and Fusion’s activities.

It was reported on Wednesday that Clinton told associates that she did not hear of the dossier until it was published in January by BuzzFeed. Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon also said he was not aware of the campaign’s role in funding the dossier until earlier this week.

Top officials at the DNC also say they were unaware of Elias’ dossier efforts. CNN reported that former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also told the Senate panel that she did not know who paid Fusion for the dossier.

Fusion had been investigating Trump since Sept. 2015 as part of a contract it had with a Republican donor who opposed the real estate tycoon. Fusion approached Perkins Coie in March 2016 after the Republican client dropped from the project. The following month, Perkins Coie hired Fusion to continue its investigation of Trump. Fusion hired Steele in June, and the former British spy would go on to write the 35 page dossier on Trump.

It is unclear how much the Clinton campaign and DNC ultimately paid for the dossier. They paid Perkins Coie a total of $12 million during the 2016 election cycle.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:54 am

When Scandals Collide
by Andrew C. McCarth
October 25, 2017 9:44 AM

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As Rich noted last night, we have learned finally, courtesy of the Washington Post, that Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the notorious “Trump Dossier,” was funded by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Of course, the Clinton campaign and the DNC always want layers of deniability and obfuscation – and let’s note that it has served them well – so they hire lawyers to do the icky stuff rather than doing it directly. Then, when the you-know-what hits the fan, outfits like Fusion GPS try to claim that they can’t share critical information with investigators because of (among other things) attorney-client confidentiality concerns.

Here, the Clinton campaign and the DNC retained the law firm of Perkins Coie; in turn, one of its partners, Marc E. Elias, retained Fusion GPS. We don’t know how much Fusion GPS was paid, but the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid $9.1 million to Perkins Coie during the 2016 campaign (i.e., between mid-2015 and late 2016).

A friend draws my attention to an intriguing coincidence.

In its capacity as attorney for the DNC, Perkins Coie – through another of its partners, Michael Sussman – is also the law firm that retained CrowdStrike, the cyber security outfit, upon learning in April 2016 that the DNC’s servers had been hacked.

Interesting: Despite the patent importance of the physical server system to the FBI and Intelligence-Community investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Bureau never examined the DNC servers. Evidently, the DNC declined to cooperate to that degree, and the Obama Justice Department decided not to issue a subpoena to demand that the servers be turned over (just like the Obama Justice Department decided not to issue subpoenas to demand the surrender of critical physical evidence in the Clinton e-mails investigation).

Instead, the conclusion that Russia is responsible for the invasion of the DNC servers rests on the forensic analysis conducted by CrowdStrike. Rather than do its own investigation, the FBI relied on a contractor retained by the DNC’s lawyers.


The most significant pressing question about the so-called Trump Dossier is whether it was used by the FBI and the Obama Justice Department to get a warrant from the FISA court to conduct national-security surveillance on people connected to the Trump campaign. As I have previously pointed out, this would not be as scandalous as it sounds if (a) the Justice Department had a good faith basis to believe the people the Bureau wanted to surveil were acting as agents of Russia, and (b) the FBI first corroborated whatever information it took from the dossier before presenting it to the FISA court.

But it certainly is interesting that we are once again, in a case involving alleged Russian espionage, reviewing a situation in which the FBI relied on a contractor retained by the DNC’s and the Clinton campaign’s lawyers at Perkins Coie.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:12 am

Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier
by Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett and Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post
October 24, 2017

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The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

Fusion GPS gave Steele’s reports and other research documents to Elias, the people familiar with the matter said. It is unclear how or how much of that information was shared with the campaign and the DNC and who in those organizations was aware of the roles of Fusion GPS and Steele. One person close to the matter said the campaign and the DNC were not informed by the law firm of Fusion GPS’s role.

According to the Post, a source "close to the matter" said the Clinton campaign and the DNC were told of Fusion GPS’s role by the law firm.

-- Clinton Campaign, DNC Helped Fund Research That Became Notorious Trump ‘Dossier’, by Monica Alba, Ken Dilanian and Phil Helsel, nbcnews.com


The dossier has become a lightning rod amid the intensifying investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia. Some congressional Republican leaders have spent months trying to discredit Fusion GPS and Steele and tried to determine the identity of the Democrat or organization that paid for the dossier.

Trump tweeted as recently as Saturday that the Justice Department and FBI should “immediately release who paid for it.”

Elias and Fusion GPS declined to comment on the arrangement.

A DNC spokeswoman said “[Chairman] Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization. But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened.”

Brian Fallon, a former spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said he wasn’t aware of the hiring during the campaign.

“The first I learned of Christopher Steele or saw any dossier was after the election,” Fallon said. “But if I had gotten handed it last fall, I would have had no problem passing it along and urging reporters to look into it. Opposition research happens on every campaign, and here you had probably the most shadowy guy ever running for president, and the FBI certainly has seen fit to look into it. I probably would have volunteered to go to Europe myself to try and verify if it would have helped get more of this out there before the election.”

Some of the details are included in a Tuesday letter sent by Perkins Coie to a lawyer representing Fusion GPS, telling the research firm that it was released from a ­client-confidentiality obligation. The letter was prompted by a legal fight over a subpoena for Fusion GPS’s bank records.

People involved in the matter said that they would not disclose the dollar amounts paid to Fusion GPS but that the campaign and the DNC shared the cost.

Steele previously worked in Russia for British intelligence. The dossier is a compilation of reports he prepared for Fusion GPS. The dossier alleged that the Russian government collected compromising information about Trump and that the Kremlin was engaged in an effort to assist his campaign for president.

U.S. intelligence agencies later released a public assessment asserting that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to aid Trump. The FBI has been investigating whether Trump associates helped the Russians in that effort.

Trump has adamantly denied the allegations in the dossier and has dismissed the FBI probe as a witch hunt.

Officials have said that the FBI has confirmed some of the information in the dossier. Other details, including the most sensational accusations, have not been verified and may never be.

Fusion GPS’s work researching Trump began during the Republican presidential primaries, when the GOP donor paid for the firm to investigate the real estate magnate’s background.

Fusion GPS did not start off looking at Trump’s Russia ties but quickly realized that those relationships were extensive, according to the people familiar with the matter.

When the Republican donor stopped paying for the research, Elias, acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, agreed to pay for the work to continue. The Democrats paid for research, including by Fusion GPS, because of concerns that little was known about Trump and his business interests, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Those people said that it is standard practice for political campaigns to use law firms to hire outside researchers to ensure their work is protected by attorney-client and work-product privileges.

The Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, according to campaign finance records, and the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting’’ since November 2015 — though it’s impossible to tell from the filings how much of that work was for other legal matters and how much of it related to Fusion GPS.

At no point, the people said, did the Clinton campaign or the DNC direct Steele’s activities. They described him as a Fusion GPS subcontractor.

Steele's sources provided the bulk of the dossier, but Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson and his partners were involved in the investigation, people familiar with the matter have told NBC News.

-- Clinton Campaign, DNC Helped Fund Research That Became Notorious Trump ‘Dossier’, by Monica Alba, Ken Dilanian and Phil Helsel, nbcnews.com


Some of Steele’s allegations began circulating in Washington in the summer of 2016 as the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation into possible connections between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Around that time, Steele shared some of his findings with the FBI.

After the election, the FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering intelligence about Trump and Russia, but the bureau pulled out of the arrangement after Steele was publicly identified in news reports.

The dossier was published by BuzzFeed News in January. Fusion GPS has said in court filings that it did not give BuzzFeed the documents.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that Steele was respected by the FBI and the State Department for earlier work he performed on a global corruption probe.

In early January, then-FBI Director James B. Comey presented a two-page summary of Steele’s dossier to President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump. In May, Trump fired Comey, which led to the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia matter.

Congressional Republicans have tried to force Fusion GPS to identify the Democrat or group behind Steele’s work, but the firm has said that it will not do so, citing confidentiality agreements with its clients.

Last week, Fusion GPS executives invoked their constitutional right not to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee. The firm’s founder, Glenn Simpson, had previously given a 10-hour interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Over objections from Democrats, the Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), subpoenaed Fusion GPS’s bank records to try to identify the mystery client.

Fusion GPS has been fighting the release of its bank records. A judge on Tuesday extended a deadline for Fusion GPS’s bank to respond to the subpoena until Friday while the company attempts to negotiate a resolution with Nunes.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:27 am

FBI once planned to pay former British spy who authored controversial Trump dossier
by Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman
February 28, 2017

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The former British spy who authored a controversial dossier on behalf of Donald Trump’s political opponents alleging ties between Trump and Russia reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work, according to several people familiar with the arrangement.

The agreement to compensate former MI6 agent Christopher Steele came as U.S. intelligence agencies reached a consensus that the Russians had interfered in the presidential election by orchestrating hacks of Democratic Party email accounts.

While Trump has derided the dossier as “fake news” compiled by his political opponents, the FBI’s arrangement with Steele shows that the bureau considered him credible and found his information, while unproved, to be worthy of further investigation.

Ultimately, the FBI did not pay Steele. Communications between the bureau and the former spy were interrupted as Steele’s now-famous dossier became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials, according to the people familiar with the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

At the time of the October agreement, FBI officials probing Russian activities, including possible contacts between Trump associates and Russian entities, were aware of the information that Steele had been gathering while working for a Washington research firm hired by supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to the people familiar with the agreement. The firm was due to stop paying Steele as Election Day approached, but Steele felt his work was not done, these people said.

Steele was familiar to the FBI, in part because the bureau had previously hired him to help a U.S. inquiry into alleged corruption in the world soccer organization FIFA. The FBI sometimes pays informants, sources and outside investigators to assist in its work. Steele was known for the quality of his past work and for the knowledge he had developed over nearly 20 years working on Russia-related issues for British intelligence. The Washington Post was not able to determine how much the FBI intended to pay Steele had their relationship remained intact.

The dossier he produced last year alleged, among other things, that associates of Trump colluded with the Kremlin on cyberattacks on Democrats and that the Russians held compromising material about the Republican nominee.

These and other explosive claims have not been verified, and they have been vigorously denied by Trump and his allies.

The FBI, as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee, is investigating Russian interference in the election and alleged contacts between Trump’s associates and the Kremlin.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters that he had seen “no evidence so far” of Trump campaign contacts with Russia but said a bipartisan House inquiry would proceed so that “no stone is unturned.”

The revelation that the FBI agreed to pay Steele at the same time he was being paid by Clinton supporters to dig into Trump’s background could further strain relations between the law enforcement agency and the White House.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment. Steele’s London-based attorney did not respond to questions about the agreement.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment.

Steele, 53, began his Trump investigation in June 2016 after working for another client preparing a report on Russian efforts to interfere with politics in Europe.

U.S. intelligence had been independently tracking Russian efforts to influence electoral outcomes in Europe.

Steele was hired to work for a Washington research firm, Fusion GPS, that was providing information to a Democratic client. Fusion GPS began doing Trump research in early 2016, before it hired Steele, on behalf of a Republican opposed to the businessman’s candidacy. The firm declined to identify its clients.

Steele’s early reports alleged a plan directed by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin to help Trump in 2016.

“Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years,” Steele wrote in June.

Steele’s information was provided by an intermediary to the FBI and U.S. intelligence officials after the Democratic National Convention in July, when hacked Democratic emails were first released by WikiLeaks, according to a source familiar with the events. After the convention, Steele contacted a friend in the FBI to personally explain what he had found.

As summer turned to fall, Steele became concerned that the U.S. government was not taking the information he had uncovered seriously enough, according to two people familiar with the situation.

In October, anticipating that funding supplied through the original client would dry up, Steele and the FBI reached a spoken understanding: He would continue his work looking at the Kremlin’s ties to Trump and receive compensation for his efforts.

But Steele’s frustration deepened when FBI Director James B. Comey, who had been silent on the Russia inquiry, announced publicly 11 days before the election that the bureau was investigating a newly discovered cache of emails Clinton had exchanged using her private server, according to people familiar with Steele’s thinking.

Those people say Steele’s frustration with the FBI peaked after an Oct. 31 New York Times story that cited law enforcement sources drawing conclusions that he considered premature. The article said that the FBI had not yet found any “conclusive or direct link” between Trump and the Russian government and that the Russian hacking was not intended to help Trump.

After the election, the intelligence community concluded that Russia’s interference had been intended to assist Trump.

In January, top intelligence and law enforcement officials briefed Trump and President Barack Obama on those findings. In addition, they provided a summary of the core allegations of Steele’s dossier.

News of that briefing soon became public. Then BuzzFeed posted a copy of Steele’s salacious but unproven dossier online, sparking outrage from Trump.

“It’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen,” Trump told reporters in January. “It was a group of opponents that got together — sick people — and they put that crap together.”

He later tweeted that Steele was a “failed spy.”

The development marked the end of the FBI’s relationship with Steele.

After he was publicly identified by the Wall Street Journal as the dossier’s author, Steele went into hiding. U.S. officials took pains to stress that his report was not a U.S. government product and that it had not influenced their broader conclusions that the Russian government had hacked the emails of Democratic officials and released those emails with the intention of helping Trump win the presidency.

A friend draws my attention to an intriguing coincidence.

In its capacity as attorney for the DNC, Perkins Coie – through another of its partners, Michael Sussman – is also the law firm that retained CrowdStrike, the cyber security outfit, upon learning in April 2016 that the DNC’s servers had been hacked.

Interesting: Despite the patent importance of the physical server system to the FBI and Intelligence-Community investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Bureau never examined the DNC servers. Evidently, the DNC declined to cooperate to that degree, and the Obama Justice Department decided not to issue a subpoena to demand that the servers be turned over (just like the Obama Justice Department decided not to issue subpoenas to demand the surrender of critical physical evidence in the Clinton e-mails investigation).

Instead, the conclusion that Russia is responsible for the invasion of the DNC servers rests on the forensic analysis conducted by CrowdStrike. Rather than do its own investigation, the FBI relied on a contractor retained by the DNC’s lawyers.


-- When Scandals Collide, by Andrew C. McCarth


“The [intelligence community] has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions,” then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said in a statement in January.

The owner of a technology company identified in Steele’s dossier as a participant in the hacks is now suing Steele and BuzzFeed for defamation. BuzzFeed apologized to the executive and blocked out his name in the published document.

Comey spent almost two hours this month briefing the Senate Intelligence Committee. Democrats in the House have informally reached out to Steele in recent weeks to ask about his willingness to testify or cooperate, according to people familiar with the requests. Steele has so far not responded, they said.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:57 am

Hillary Clinton’s disingenuous dossier outrage
by Callum Borchers
Washington Post
October 25, 2017 at 9:52 AM

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The Washington Post’s Adam Entous looks at the role that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee played in funding the research that led to a dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s links to Russia. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde, Patrick Martin/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

When BuzzFeed published that now-infamous dossier of unproven claims about Donald Trump and Russia, in January, former Hillary Clinton campaign aides expressed outrage that news outlets that had obtained the dossier before Election Day did not make its contents public in time to influence voters, and Clinton later aired the same grievance in her book about the presidential race.

It turns out that the reaction of the Democratic presidential nominee and her team was disingenuous. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday night that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund the dossier, compiled by a former British intelligence officer, through a law firm hired to conduct opposition research.

The Clinton camp left out its own role in the dossier's creation, as it ripped the media for sitting on information that journalists had been unable to verify. What Clinton and her advisers presented as their judgment that the media had made the wrong call was, in fact, their frustration at having failed to plant negative news reports before ballots were cast.

Recall that BuzzFeed published the dossier in full on Jan. 10, after CNN reported that the FBI had briefed President Barack Obama and then-President-elect Trump on its contents. Many journalists criticized BuzzFeed's decision, arguing that news outlets should not spread claims they can't corroborate, even if the FBI considers the claims significant enough to share with the president and his soon-to-be successor.

The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information – built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump.

But the case, as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof. Further, the continued use of the word “assesses” – as in the U.S. intelligence community “assesses” that Russia is guilty – suggests that the underlying classified information also may be less than conclusive because, in intelligence-world-speak, “assesses” often means “guesses.”

The DNI report admits as much, saying, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary ...


-- US Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia ‘Hack’, by Robert Parry


In December, John McCain provided a copy of this report to the FBI and demanded they take it seriously.

At some point last week, the chiefs of the intelligence agencies decided to declare that this ex-British intelligence operative was “credible” enough that his allegations warranted briefing both Trump and Obama about them, thus stamping some sort of vague, indirect, and deniable official approval on these accusations. Someone — by all appearances, numerous officials — then went to CNN to tell the network they had done this, causing CNN to go on air and, in the gravest of tones, announce the “Breaking News” that “the nation’s top intelligence officials” briefed Obama and Trump that Russia had compiled information that “compromised President-elect Trump.”

CNN refused to specify what these allegations were on the ground that it could not “verify” them. But with this document in the hands of multiple media outlets, it was only a matter of time — a small amount of time — before someone would step up and publish the whole thing. BuzzFeed quickly obliged, airing all of the unvetted, anonymous claims about Trump.

Its editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, published a memo explaining that decision, saying that — although there was “serious reason to doubt the allegations” — BuzzFeed in general “errs on the side of publication” and “Americans can make up their own minds about the allegations.”

-- The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer, by Glenn Greenwald


But Clinton press aides Brian Fallon and Nick Merrill contended, on Twitter, that the real journalistic malpractice was not publishing information contained in the dossier earlier.

Brian Fallon ✔@brianefallon
This was long rumored during the campaign, and many reporters know at least some of what Russia was alleged to havehttps://twitter.com/jeneps/status/8 ... 1185055744
3:24 PM - Jan 10, 2017


Brian Fallon ✔@brianefallon
Today has brought a gush of reporting that outlets knew about and sat on prior to November 8
cc: @GlenCaplin1https://twitter.com/PaulBlu/status/818985935450894337 …
6:06 PM - Jan 10, 2017


Brian Fallon ✔@brianefallon
I repeat: certain media outlets were told this prior to November 8.https://twitter.com/politicalwire/statu ... 2527741952
6:07 PM - Jan 10, 2017


Nick Merrill @NickMerrill
In fact, if we want to get specific, one outlet, a very very prominent outlet, threw cold water on this when Slate beat them to the punch. https://twitter.com/brianefallon/status ... 6133399552
6:11 PM - Jan 10, 2017


Merrill was referring to the New York Times, which reported on Oct. 31, 2016, that the FBI had “chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.” Journalist Franklin Foer had reported on the possible secret channel in Slate earlier that day.

Also that day, Mother Jones magazine reported that a “former senior intelligence officer for a Western country” had “provided the [FBI] with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump — and that the FBI requested more information from him.” The memos comprised the dossier that BuzzFeed later published.

Consistent with the Mother Jones report, the Times reported that “intelligence officials have said in interviews over the last six weeks that apparent connections between some of Mr. Trump's aides and Moscow originally compelled them to open a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Republican presidential candidate.”

“Still,” the Times added, throwing the “cold water” Merrill spoke of, “they have said that Mr. Trump himself has not become a target. And no evidence has emerged that would link him or anyone else in his business or political circle directly to Russia's election operations.”

Clinton complained about the Times report in her post-election book, “What Happened”:

In the summer of 2016, according to The Washington Post, the FBI convinced a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there was probably cause to believe that Trump adviser Carter Page was acting as a Russian agent, and they received a warrant to monitor his communications. The FBI also began investigating a dossier prepared by a well-respected former British spy that contained explosive and salacious allegations about compromising information the Russians had on Trump. The intelligence community took the dossier seriously enough that it briefed both President Obama and President-elect Trump on its contents before the inauguration.

. . .

Sources within the FBI also convinced the New York Times to run a story saying they saw “no clear link to Russia,” countering Franklin Foer's scoop in Slate about unusual computer traffic between Trump Tower and a Russian bank.


CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you one other final question on the infamous dossier that was put together by this former British operative named Christopher Steele. Why did you feel the need to brief the president on that at the time?

JAMES CLAPPER:

We felt that it was important that he know about it, that it was out there. And that, without respect to the veracity of the contents of the dossier, that's why it was not included as a part of our report. Because much of it could not be corroborated. And importantly, some of the sources that Mr. Steele drew on, second and third order assets, we could not validate or corroborate.

-- Full Clapper: "No Evidence" of Collusion Between Trump and Russia: Interview with James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, by Chuck Todd


Note that Clinton described the dossier only as having been “prepared by a well-respected former British spy” — as if the spy, Christopher Steele, had acted on his own. Clinton certainly gave no indication that her campaign helped finance his work.

There is a fundamental contradiction here: Clinton wanted the dossier to be viewed as credible yet she did not want to be connected to it. She hoped the media, before Election Day, would publish claims about Trump to which she was unwilling to attach her own name.

Update: Appearing on CNN Wednesday morning, Fallon said he personally did not know that the Clinton campaign helped fund the dossier and said he was unsure whether Clinton did.

“How could you not know that the Clinton team was paying for it?” CNN's John Berman asked. “And didn't someone in the Clinton campaign know this?”

“I'm sure that there's a small group of folks that were aware,” Fallon replied, “but it was kept, for reasons that I can understand, to a very select group.”

According to Fallon, Clinton “may have known, but the degree of exactly what she knew is beyond my knowledge.”

Fallon might be right, but ignorance is a pretty weak excuse here. At minimum, some people within the campaign were aware of funding the dossier, yet the campaign allowed spokesmen and the candidate herself to make public statements that were misleading by omission.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 6:42 am

Here’s How Much The FBI Planned To Pay Trump Dossier Author
by Chuck Ross
The Daily Caller
1:42 PM 04/22/2017

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New details are emerging about the FBI’s arrangement with the former British spy who compiled the infamous opposition research dossier on Donald Trump.

According to The New York Times, FBI agents met in early October with the former spy, Christopher Steele, to discuss his future work on the dossier. Steele had started compiling research in June on Trump’s potential ties to Russia. He was working for Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that was a client of an ally of Hillary Clinton’s.

The Times reports that Steele and the FBI settled on a $50,000 payout if the ex-MI6 agent could corroborate information contained in his dossier.

As The Times notes, the payment was never made, perhaps suggesting that Steele was not able to confirm information in his memos.


Here’s The Times reporting:

Mr. Steele met his F.B.I. contact in Rome in early October, bringing a stack of new intelligence reports. One, dated Sept. 14, said that Mr. Putin was facing “fallout” over his apparent involvement in the D.N.C. hack and was receiving “conflicting advice” on what to do.

The agent said that, if Mr. Steele could get solid corroboration of his reports, the F.B.I. would pay him $50,000 for his efforts, according to two people familiar with the offer. Ultimately, he was not paid.


The report raises questions about the degree of confidence that the FBI had in the dossier. And that level of confidence is important because the FBI reportedly relied on the dossier in a September application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

A Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court judge granted that warrant, meaning that the court agreed there was probable cause to believe that Page was working as an agent of the Russian government.


A July 19 memo from Steele’s dossier alleges that the Trump campaign used Page as an intermediary in a “well-developed conspiracy” to help Trump during the election. The source of that claim has since been identified as Sergei Millian, a Belarusian-American businessman who has a history of exaggerating his business ties.

Another July 19 memo from the dossier alleges that Page, a low-level adviser on the campaign who never met Trump, met secretly with Kremlin officials and Igor Sechin, the president of Russian oil giant Rosneft, to discuss relaxing Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia.

Page, an energy consultant, has denied having the secret meeting and says he has never met Sechin.

One question that the Times report raises is whether the FBI wanted Steele to get “solid corroboration” of all of his reports or just some of them. Many of Steele’s memos do not refer to the Trump campaign. Instead, they discuss internal Kremlin deliberations about meddling in the election.

The Washington Post last month broke the news that the FBI made an informal agreement with Steele, who runs Orbis Business Intelligence in London.

The Post’s report says that the agreement between Steele and the bureau fizzled out because the dossier “became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials.”

Despite that claim, Steele’s dossier was not publicly revealed for several months after his FBI agreement. The document was not published until Jan. 10 by BuzzFeed News. Steele’s last memo for the dossier is dated Dec. 13.

That memo makes several claims that are now the subject of a lawsuit against BuzzFeed. The memo alleges that a Russian tech executive named Aleksej Gubarev operated a computer hacking network that targeted Democrats during the election. Gubarev denies the claim and is suing BuzzFeed for publishing the dossier with his name in it.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:40 pm

The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election
by Glenn Greenwald
May 19 2018, 7:27 a.m.

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AN EXTREMELY STRANGE EPISODE that has engulfed official Washington over the last two weeks came to a truly bizarre conclusion on Friday night. And it revolves around a long-time, highly sketchy CIA operative, Stefan Halper.

Four decades ago, Halper was responsible for a long-forgotten spying scandal involving the 1980 election, in which the Reagan campaign – using CIA officials managed by Halper, reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director and then-Vice-Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush – got caught running a spying operation from inside the Carter administration. The plot involved CIA operatives passing classified information about Carter’s foreign policy to Reagan campaign officials in order to ensure the Reagan campaign knew of any foreign policy decisions that Carter was considering.

Over the past several weeks, House Republicans have been claiming that the FBI during the 2016 election used an operative to spy on the Trump campaign
, and they triggered outrage within the FBI by trying to learn his identity. The controversy escalated when President Trump joined the fray on Friday morning. “Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” Trump tweeted, adding: “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a “hot” Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!”

In response, the DOJ and the FBI’s various media spokespeople did not deny the core accusation, but quibbled with the language (the FBI used an “informant,” not a “spy”), and then began using increasingly strident language to warn that exposing his name would jeopardize his life and those of others, and also put American national security at grave risk. On May 8, the Washington Post described the informant as “a top-secret intelligence source” and cited DOJ officials as arguing that disclosure of his name “could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI.”

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, who spent much of last week working to ensure confirmation of Trump’s choice to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, actually threatened his own colleagues in Congress with criminal prosecution if they tried to obtain the identity of the informant. “Anyone who is entrusted with our nation’s highest secrets should act with the gravity and seriousness of purpose that knowledge deserves,” Warner said.


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But now, as a result of some very odd choices by the nation’s largest media outlets, everyone knows the name of the FBI’s informant: Stefan Halper. And Halper’s history is quite troubling, particularly his central role in the scandal in the 1980 election. Equally troubling are the DOJ and FBI’s highly inflammatory and, at best, misleading claims that they made to try to prevent Halper’s identity from being reported.

To begin with, it’s obviously notable that the person the FBI used to monitor the Trump campaign is the same person who worked as a CIA operative running that 1980 Presidential election spying campaign.


It was not until several years after Reagan’s victory over Carter did this scandal emerge. It was leaked by right-wing officials inside the Reagan administration who wanted to undermine officials they regarded as too moderate, including then White House Chief of Staff James Baker, who was a Bush loyalist.

The NYT in 1983 said the Reagan campaign spying operation “involved a number of retired Central Intelligence Agency officials and was highly secretive.” The article, by then-NYT reporter Leslie Gelb, added that its “sources identified Stefan A. Halper, a campaign aide involved in providing 24-hour news updates and policy ideas to the traveling Reagan party, as the person in charge.” Halper, now 73, had also worked with Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Alexander Haig as part of the Nixon administration.

When the scandal first broke in 1983, the UPI suggested that Halper’s handler for this operation was Reagan’s Vice Presidential candidate, George H.W. Bush, who had been the CIA Director and worked there with Halper’s father-in-law, former CIA Deputy Director Ray Cline, who worked on Bush’s 1980 presidential campaign before Bush ultimately became Reagan’s Vice President.
It quoted a former Reagan campaign official as blaming the leak on “conservatives [who] are trying to manipulate the Jimmy Carter papers controversy to force the ouster of White House Chief of Staff James Baker.”

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Halper, through his CIA work, has extensive ties to the Bush family. Few remember that the CIA’s perceived meddling in the 1980 election – its open support for its former Director, George H.W. Bush to become President – was a somewhat serious political controversy. And Halper was in that middle of that, too.

In 1980, the Washington Post published an article reporting on the extremely unusual and quite aggressive involvement of the CIA in the 1980 presidential campaign. “Simply put, no presidential campaign in recent memory — perhaps ever — has attracted as much support from the intelligence community as the campaign of former CIA director Bush,” the article said.

Image

Though there was nothing illegal about ex-CIA officials uniting to put a former CIA Director in the Oval Office, the paper said “there are some rumblings of uneasiness in the intelligence network.” It specifically identified Cline as one of the most prominent CIA official working openly for Bush, noting that he “recommended his son-in-law, Stefan A. Halper, a former Nixon White House aide, be hired as Bush’s director of policy development and research.”

In 2016, top officials from the intelligence community similarly rallied around Hillary Clinton. As The Intercept has previously documented:

Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell not only endorsed Clinton in the New York Times but claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” George W. Bush’s CIA and NSA director, Gen. Michael Hayden, pronounced Trump a “clear and present danger” to U.S. national security and then, less than a week before the election, went to the Washington Post to warn that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin” and said Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”


So as it turns out, the informant used by the FBI in 2016 to gather information on the Trump campaign was not some previously unknown, top-secret asset whose exposure as an operative could jeopardize lives. Quite the contrary: his decades of work for the CIA – including his role in an obviously unethical if not criminal spying operation during the 1980 presidential campaign – is quite publicly known.

AND NOW, as a result of some baffling choices by the nation’s largest news organizations as well as their anonymous sources inside the U.S. Government, Stefan Halper’s work for the FBI during the 2016 is also publicly known

Last night, both the Washington Post and New York Times – whose reporters, like pretty much everyone in Washington, knew exactly who the FBI informant is – published articles that, while deferring to the FBI’s demands by not naming him, provided so many details about him that it made it extremely easy to know exactly who it is. The NYT described the FBI informant as “an American academic who teaches in Britain” and who “made contact late that summer with” George Papadopoulos and “also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page.” The Post similarly called him “a retired American professor” who met with Page “at a symposium about the White House race held at a British university.”

In contrast to the picture purposely painted by the DOJ and its allies that this informant was some sort of super-secret, high-level, covert intelligence asset, the NYT described him as what he actually is: “the informant is well known in Washington circles, having served in previous Republican administrations and as a source of information for the C.I.A. in past years.”

Despite how “well known” he is in Washington, and despite publishing so many details about him that anyone with Google would be able to instantly know his name, the Post and the NYT nonetheless bizarrely refused to identity him, with the Post justifying its decision that it “is not reporting his name following warnings from U.S. intelligence officials that exposing him could endanger him or his contacts.” The NYT was less melodramatic about it, citing a general policy: the NYT “has learned the source’s identity but typically does not name informants to preserve their safety,” it said.

In other words, both the NYT and the Post chose to provide so many details about the FBI informant that everyone would know exactly who it was, while coyly pretending that they were obeying FBI demands not to name him. How does that make sense? Either these newspapers believe the FBI’s grave warnings that national security and lives would be endangered if it were known who they used as their informant (in which case those papers should not publish any details that would make his exposure likely), or they believe that the FBI (as usual) was just invoking false national security justifications to hide information it unjustly wants to keep from the public (in which case the newspapers should name him).

In any event, publication of those articles by the NYT and Post last night made it completely obvious who the FBI informant was, because the Daily Caller’s investigative reporter Chuck Ross on Thursday had published an article reporting that a long-time CIA operative who is now a professor at Cambridge repeatedly met with Papadopoulos and Page. The article, in its opening paragraph, named the professor, Stefan Halper, and described him as “a University of Cambridge professor with CIA and MI6 contacts.”

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Ross’ article, using public information, recounted at length Halper’s long-standing ties to the CIA, including the fact that his father-in-law, Ray Cline, was a top CIA official during the Cold War, and that Halper himself had long worked with both the CIA and its British counterpart, the MI6. As Ross wrote: “at Cambridge, Halper has worked closely with Dearlove, the former chief of MI6. In recent years they have directed the Cambridge Security Initiative, a non-profit intelligence consulting group that lists ‘UK and US government agencies’ among its clients.”

Both the NYT and Washington Post reporters boasted, with seeming pride, about the fact that they did not name the informant even as they published all the details which made it simple to identify him. But NBC News – citing Ross’ report and other public information – decided to name him, while stressing that it has not confirmed that he actually worked as an FBI informant:

The professor who met with both Page and Papadopoulos is Stefan Halper, a former official in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations who has been a paid consultant to an internal Pentagon think tank known as the Office of Net Assessment, consulting on Russia and China issues, according to public records.

Ken Dilanian
@KenDilanianNBC
“The professor who met with both Page and Papadopoulos is Stefan Halper, a former official in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations who has been a paid consultant to an internal Pentagon think tank known as the Office of Net Assessment.” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna875516
7:17 PM - May 18, 2018

Was there really a federal spy inside the Trump campaign?
The president's claim of a "spy" inside his campaign has been dismissed as absurd, but the FBI has been known to send informants to speak to suspects.
nbcnews.com


THERE IS NOTHING inherently untoward, or even unusual, about the FBI using informants in an investigation. One would expect them to do so. But the use of Halper in this case, and the bizarre claims made to conceal his identity, do raise some questions that merit further inquiry.

To begin with, the New York Times reported in December of last year that the FBI investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia began when George Papadopoulos drunkenly boasted to an Australian diplomat about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton. It was the disclosure of this episode by the Australians that “led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired,” the NYT claimed.

But it now seems clear that Halper’s attempts to gather information for the FBI began before that. “The professor’s interactions with Trump advisers began a few weeks before the opening of the investigation, when Page met the professor at the British symposium,” the Post reported. While it’s not rare for the FBI to gather information before formally opening an investigation, Halper’s earlier snooping does call into question the accuracy of the NYT’s claim that it was the drunken Papadopoulos ramblings that first prompted the FBI’s interest in these possible connections. And it suggests that CIA operatives, apparently working with at least some factions within the FBI, were trying to gather information about the Trump campaign earlier than had been previously reported.

Then there are questions about what appear to be some fairly substantial government payments to Halper throughout 2016. Halper continues to be listed as a “vendor” by websites that track payments by the federal government to private contractors.


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Earlier this week, records of payments were found that were made during 2016 to Halper by the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment, though it [is] not possible from these records to know the exact work for which these payments were made. The Pentagon office that paid Halper in 2016, according to a 2015 Washington Post story on its new duties, “reports directly to Secretary of Defense and focuses heavily on future threats, has a $10 million budget.”

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It is difficult to understand how identifying someone whose connections to the CIA is a matter of such public record, and who has a long and well-known history of working on spying programs involving presidential elections on behalf of the intelligence community, could possibly endanger lives or lead to grave national security harm. It isn’t as though Halper has been some sort of covert, stealth undercover asset for the CIA who just got exposed. Quite the contrary: that he’s a spy embedded in the U.S. intelligence community would be known to anyone with internet access.

Equally strange are the semantic games which journalists are playing in order to claim that this revelation disproves, rather than proves, Trump’s allegation that the FBI “spied” on his campaign. This bizarre exchange between CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and the New York Times’ Trip Gabriel vividly illustrates the strange machinations used by journalists to justify how all of this is being characterized:

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andrew kaczynski
My question about this headline. How is this "not" considered spying if it was done at FBI''s behest? nytimes.com/2018/05/18/us ...

F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims

Trip Gabriel@tripgabriel
Miriam Webster: Spying is "to watch secretly usually for hostile purposes."

A law enforcement investigation is not generally "hostile" toward a target; it's to protect the public from wrongdoing.
19:41 PM - 18 May 2018


Despite what Halper actually is, the FBI and its dutiful mouthpieces have spent weeks using the most desperate language to try to hide Halper’s identity and the work he performed as part of the 2016 election. Here was the deeply emotional reaction to last night’s story from Brookings’ Benjamin Wittes, who has become a social media star by parlaying his status as Jim Comey’s best friend and long-time loyalist to security state agencies into a leading role in pushing the Trump/Russia story:

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Benjamin Wittes@benjaminwittes
I have a whole lot to say about how the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the President of the United States teamed up to out an intelligence source who aided our country in a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation against a hostile foreign power.

Benjamin Wittes@benjaminwittes
But I am too angry to write right now -- and Twitter is probably not the right forum. So I'll leave it at this for now: Important people defiled their oaths of office for these stories to appear.
9:52 PM - 18 May 2018

Benjamin Wittes@benjaminwittes
I'll have more to say over the weekend.


Wittes’ claim that all of this resulted in the “outing” of some sort of sensitive “intelligence source” is preposterous given how publicly known Halper’s role as a CIA operative has been for decades. But this is the scam that the FBI and people like Mark Warner have been running for two weeks: deceiving people into believing that exposing Halper’s identity would create grave national security harm by revealing some previously unknown intelligence asset.

Wittes also implies that it was Trump and Devin Nunes who are responsible for Halper’s exposure but he almost certainly has no idea of who the sources are for the NYT or the Washington Post. And note that Wittes is too cowardly to blame the institutions that actually made it easy to identify Halper – the New York Times and Washington Post – preferring instead to exploit the opportunity to depict the enemies of his friend Jim Comey as traitors.

Whatever else is true, the CIA operative and FBI informant used to gather information on the Trump campaign in the 2016 campaign has, for weeks, been falsely depicted as a sensitive intelligence asset rather than what he actually is: a long-time CIA operative with extensive links to the Bush family who was responsible for a dirty and likely illegal spying operation in the 1980 presidential election. For that reason, it’s easy to understand why many people in Washington were so desperate to conceal his identity, but that desperation had nothing to do with the lofty and noble concerns for national security they claimed were motivating them.
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