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 » 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.

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

Postby admin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:49 pm

Warner: Identifying FBI source to undermine Russia probe could be a crime
by Kyle Cheney
05/18/2018 08:53 PM EDT

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“It would be at best irresponsible, and at worst potentially illegal, for members of Congress to use their positions to learn the identity of an FBI source for the purpose of undermining the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in our election," Sen. Mark Warner said. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee warned Friday that his colleagues could be committing a crime if they obtain the identity of a secret FBI source and use it to undermine the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) raised the alarm in a Friday evening statement, as Republican allies of President Donald Trump have pressed the Justice Department for details about a source believed to have aided the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Trump campaign contacts with Russians.

“It would be at best irresponsible, and at worst potentially illegal, for members of Congress to use their positions to learn the identity of an FBI source for the purpose of undermining the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in our election," Warner said. "Anyone who is entrusted with our nation’s highest secrets should act with the gravity and seriousness of purpose that knowledge deserves.”

Trump raised questions about a potential FBI informant inside his campaign in a Friday tweet. "Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president," he said, adding, "If true - all time biggest political scandal!"

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani later clarified that neither he nor the president are aware if the story is true, but the notion of an informant inside the campaign has been the subject of recent news reports and has led Trump allies to claim the campaign was inappropriately surveilled.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post published stories Friday night reporting that a secret FBI informant met with multiple Trump campaign officials in 2016, but did not name the source.

The Justice Department recently denied a request by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes for details pertaining to the unidentified source, claiming it would risk national security and potentially endanger lives. Nunes and his allies have dismissed those claims and suggested they're not interested in the source's identity but details about the source's role in the probe.

Nunes, joined by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), traveled to the Justice Department last week for a briefing on top officials' concerns about providing more information. However, it's unclear if an accord has been reached.

FBI Director Christopher Wray offered a warning to Congress this week as well, telling the Senate Appropriations Committee that "The day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe."

Warner echoed that sentiment Friday.

“The first thing any new member of the Intelligence Committee learns is the critical importance of protecting sources and methods," he said. "Publicly outing a source risks not only their life, but the lives of every American, because when sources are burned it makes it that much harder for every part of the intelligence community to gather intelligence on those who wish to do us harm."
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:57 pm

Reagan Aides Describe Operation to Gather Inside Data on Carter
by Leslie H. Gelb
New York Times
July 7, 1983

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An operation to collect inside information on Carter Administration foreign policy was run in Ronald Reagan's campaign headquarters in the 1980 Presidential campaign, according to present and former Reagan Administration officials.

Those sources said they did not know exactly what information the operation produced or whether it was anything beyond the usual grab bag of rumors and published news reports. But they said it involved a number of retired Central Intelligence Agency officials and was highly secretive.

The 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. Mr. Halper, until recently deputy director of the State Department's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs and now chairman of the Palmer National Bank in Washington, was out of town today and could not be reached. But Ray S. Cline, his father-in-law, a former senior Central Intelligence official, rejected the account as a ''romantic fallacy.''

Investigations Under Way

The disclosure of the information-gathering operation added to the furor over revelations that Reagan campaign officials came into possession of Carter debate strategy papers before the candidates' televised debate. The matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Congressional committee.

Responding to inquiries about the gathering of information in the campaign, a high Reagan Administration official said there was a memorandum from a junior campaign official to several senior Reagan campaign aides citing the need for information from within the Carter Administration on foreign policy decisions. The official said Mr. Halper was not the junior official.

Tonight, The Washington Post said it had obtained documents that had been passed to officials in the Reagan campaign by a campaign volunteer, Daniel Jones, who said he had got them from a secret agent inside the Carter Administration. Notes by Mr. Jones on the documents described their source as a ''reliable mole.'' The Post said the memos were addressed to William J. Casey, Bob Gray and Edwin Meese 3d, all prominent officials in the Reagan election effort.

Mr. Meese, now the President's Counselor, and Mr. Gray indicated they did not remember seeing the memos. Mr. Jones told The Post and The Associated Press that he had written the memos and said he had met the ''mole'' but did not know his identity.

Mr. Halper, the former campaign aide said to have headed the information-gathering operation, nominally worked for Robert Garrick, the director of campaign operations. Mr. Garrick said in a telephone interview recently that Mr. Halper was ''supposed to help with communications, but I kind of thought he had another agenda going - he was always on the phone with the door closed, and he never called me in and discussed it with me.''

Speaking of Mr. Halper, David Prosperi, a Reagan campaign aide, now with the Superior Oil Company, said, ''He provided us with wire stories and Carter speeches, but people talked about his having a network that was keeping track of things inside the Government, mostly in relation to the October surprise.''

The Reagan campaign team used the term ''October surprise'' to refer to the possibility that President Carter might take some dramatic action with regard to the hostage situation in Iran or some other action to try to turn the tide of the election.

Mr. Casey, the Director of Central Intelligence, who was Mr. Reagan's campaign director, said in an interview Tuesday that such a surpise was of special concern to Reagan strategists. He said Mr. Garrick had spoken of using retired military officers to watch military airfields for the dispatching of hospital aircraft for the hostages.


A source from the Reagan campaign who asked not to be named said, ''There was some C.I.A. stuff coming from Halper, and some agency guys were hired.'' He added that he was never aware that this information was particularly useful and that he and others had their own sources within the Administration who provided unsolicited information.

Receipt of Security Papers

The same source said Richard V. Allen, Mr. Reagan's chief foreign policy adviser in the campaign and his first national security adviser, received classified National Security Council documents from a Carter Administration official. Mr. Allen has previously acknowledged receiving material, which he described as being ''innocuous,'' that dealt with morale on the N.S.C. staff.

According to the sources, Mr. Halper worked closely with David R. Gergen on the staff of George Bush when Mr. Bush was seeking the Republican Presidential nomination. The sources said that Mr. Gergen, now director of White House communications, and James A. Baker 3d, another top Bush campaign aide now an assistant to Mr. Reagan, brought Mr. Halper onto the Reagan campaign staff after the Republican convention.

Mr. Bush was Director of Central Intelligence under President Ford, and former Bush aides said today that many former C.I.A. officials had offered their help in the Bush campaign. The former aides said Mr. Bush himself was against anything that might smack of ''C.I.A. support.''

No Response From Gergen

Mr. Gergen declined to return several telephone calls. Instead, he telephoned Mr. Cline, Mr. Halper's father-in-law, and Mr. Cline got in touch with The New York Times.

Later, a source close to Mr. Gergen telephoned to say that Mr. Gergen was ''unaware of any organized intelligence operation of the kind described, but that he was aware that Mr. Halper was working on issues and the development of information for the campaign.''

The source added, ''There was definitely no reporting relationship to either Gergen or Baker during the campaign effort.'' Mr. Cline said Mr. Halper, his son-in-law, was on a ''special staff to analyze campaign issues, just as he did in the Bush campaign, and that he was responsible for looking for booby traps and studying what Carter people were saying to look for vulnerabilities.''

He added: ''I think this is all a romantic fallacy about an old C.I.A. network. I believe I have been close enough to the intelligence community for the last 40 years that I would have discovered it. Such an effort would not have been worthwhile and I believe it was not executed.'' He added, ''That does not mean that some individual or individuals didn't do something, but there was not a deliberate effort to penetrate'' the Government.

Mr. Halper's personal secretary, who now works at the White House, was reached at her home through the White House switchboard, and when asked about an information-gathering network run by Mr. Halper in the campaign, she hung up. White House operators then said she was ''unavailable.''

None of the sources said they knew of any relationship between Mr. Halper and Mr. Casey in the campaign. Tuesday, Mr. Casey denied that there was a campaign ''intelligence organization as such.''

Mr. Halper served for almost two years as deputy director of the State Department's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs. State Department officials said the White House, and Mr. Gergen in particular, had applied a great deal of pressure to create this position for Mr. Halper.

Mr. Halper, 37 years old, also served in various capacities in the White House under Presidents Nixon and Ford. In an interview two weeks ago, Mr. Halper recalled that ''there was this material, the existence was widely known or at least generally known in the campaign.''

''I may have seen a few pages of it,'' he continued, ''but I can't confirm any particular subject or format. If pages of material had come my way, I would have routed them over to the debate group.'' Mr. Baker and Mr. Gergen were in charge of the debate group.

Mr. Halper said it was his recollection that ''the whole thing was not significant,'' and that ''it was pretty tightly held at some other level above me.'' ---- Aide Tells of Memos

WASHINGTON, July 6 (AP) - Daniel Jones, a Reagan volunteer, says he sent memorandums to top 1980 campaign officials attributing attached information to a ''mole'' in the Carter White House, The Washington Post said in its Thursday issue.

The newspaper said it had obtained the memos from a collector of campaign memorabilia who found them in the trash at Reagan campaign headquarters shortly after the election. Mr. Jones said, ''I can't deny it,'' adding ''you've got the documents,'' when shown some of the memos, the newspaper said.

Mr. Jones said he met with the secret agent only once and, declining to identify his source, added, ''I literally never knew his name.''

The memos were addressed to Edwin Meese 3d, now counselor to the President; William J. Casey, now Director of Central Intelligence, and the campaign's deputy director for communications, Bob Gray, now a Washington public relations executive.

Mr. Gray told The Associated Press, ''I don't remember them at all,'' though he remembered Mr. Jones. He also said, ''If I had tossed them in the trash can, then it's pretty obvious I did not think much of them.''

A call to the home of Mr. Casey's spokesman went unanswered. Mark Weinberg, assistant White House press secretary, read a statement from Mr. Meese that said: ''I recall that there was a volunteer on the campaign named Dan Jones. So far as I can recall, he would never have had any reason to write any memo to me. Certainly I do not have any recollection of any memo from him or anyone else which mentioned a mole in the White House.''

One Jones memo to the three campaign officials said: ''According to latest information from a reliable White House mole (at) 6:30 on Oct. 27, the following is President Carter's itinerary for the remainder of the campaign.'' The itinerary had been given to reporters by the White House two days earlier, the newspaper said. Contents of Memos

At the bottom, the memo said: ''Attached is recent White House memo re certain economic information.'' A check mark was beside Gray's name.

The White House memo, dated Oct. 24, was from two Presidential assistants, Anne Wexler and Alonzo McDonald, to members of the Cabinet outlining possible comments on the latest movements in the Consumer Price Index.

Another White House memo from the two, dated Oct. 10 and also on economics, bore the handwritten notation at the top: ''Bob - Report from White House mole.''

On the second page was the notation: ''Bob - expect this line of attack next week, Dan.'' Typed across the top of the first page was: ''To: William Casey (for transmittal to Martin Anderson.)'' The collector who made the memos available did not want to be identified, the newspaper said. According to the collector's account, he visited the Reagan campaign headquarters in suburban Arlington, Va., a few days after the election, seeking bumber stickers and campaign buttons. He was told they had just been thrown out and he was welcome to help himself to the trash behind the building.

There he found advertising layouts, which he took, and the documents, of which he took a carton-load.

Gray's Opinion of Jones

The newspaper quoted Mr. Gray as saying Mr. Jones was the ''kind of fellow who'd love to elevate his importance,'' adding, ''He liked to use the term 'White House mole' to build his sense of drama, and to show he had contacts.''

But Mr. Gray told The Associated Press: ''I did not tell them that. He's the kind of guy who might say that to feel important, that's the way I assess his personality.''

Mr. Gray also said of the material he was shown by the newspaper, ''There's no indication on the memo that it was received by any of us,'' and ''I would bet money that Casey and Meese never saw them.''
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:02 am

Coming in From the Cold, Going Out to the Bush Campaign
by Bill Peterson and Washington Post Staff Writer; Staff writer Ronald White contributed to this report.
March 1, 1980

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No one is sure who tacked up the red, white and blue "George Bush for President" poster beside the entrance to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., recently.

Workman quickly tore it down on the mistaken assumption that the poster was on CIA property. "We're studiously staying neutral in presidential politics," said press spokesman Dale Peterson.

But the poster was an important symbolic gesture, a commentary on the 1980 presidential race and the changing attitudes about the CIA.

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.

One top foreign policy and defense adviser is Ray Cline, a former deputy director of the CIA and director of intelligence and research at the State Department. Another defense adviser is Lt. Gen. Sam V. Wilson, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Lt. Gen. Howard A. Aaron, a former deputy director of DIA, is on Bush's national steering committee. Henry Knoche, Bush's right-hand man at the CIA and later acting director of the agency, is quietly campaigning for Bush in the West. And Robert Gambino recently left his job as CIA director of security to work full-time for Bush.

At least 20 other former intelligence officers are working in various volunteer capacities with the Bush campaign. Bruce Rounds, director of operations for Bush in New Hampshire, is a former CIA officer. So is Tennessee finance chairman Jon Thomas. Virginia coordinator Jack Coackley is a past executive director of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. And at least three retired CIA officers work on Bush's research staff.

"It's sure as hell not a CIA coup or anything like that," said Coakley, formerly with DIA. "But I can tell you there is a very high level of support for George Bush among current and former CIA employes."


A few years ago when the CIA was under almost daily attack for its abuses and excesses, no candidate would have dared accept such support. But today Bush openly welcomes it, and at almost every stop he receives his loudest applause when he calls for a stronger CIA.

Bush's political advisers originally were wary of their candidate's CIA ties. In a world where secret police forces routinely overthrow governments, they obviously didn't want him to become labeled "the CIA candidate."

Some of the ex-employes themselves worried about a backlash. "I could see the headlines: Bush Sprinkles Campaign With Former Spooks," said one former covert operator.

But Bush's old CIA associates argued that the public mood on the CIA was shifting. Foreign policy adviser Cline, now director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University, had been delivering pro-CIA lectures on college campuses and elsewhere since 1973 when he left the government in disgust "over what they were doing to the intelligence agencies."

For years he was heckled at almost every stop. "I don't get any heckling now. In fact, I'm quite popular," he says. "I found there was a tremendous constituency for the CIA in the sticks when everyone in Washington was still urinating all over it."


Bush bought Cline's argument. "He felt he did a good job at the CIA, and the support of the retired officers was a reflection of that," says press secretary Peter Teeley. "Quite frankly, Bush was upset with our concerns. He thought it was unfair."

The Iran and Afghanistan crisis have heightened interest still further in recent months, says Cline, a 20-year CIA veteran. "I've been beating this bush since 1974 and it's just dawning on people that we need stronger intelligence gathering.

"It's panned out almost too good to be true," he adds. "The country is waking up just in time for George's candidacy."

There certainly isn't anything improper about involvement of former intelligence officers in a political campaign. All of those working for Bush appear to be retired or ex-intelligence officers. And the "old boy" intelligence network doesn't dominate the Bush campaign any more than other networks of former associates Bush developed in his days at Yale University, the Republican National Committee, of which he was chairman, the State Department (Bush was U.N. ambassador and envoy to China), Congress or in the oil business.

But there are some rumblings of uneasiness in the intelligence network. When the Association of Former Intelligence Officers held its annual banquet last October, former executive director Coakley counted 180 of the 240 persons present wearing George Bush buttons. And he recalls David Phillips, the association founder, declaring: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem and that problem is George Bush."

Coakley and other former intelligence officers see the support for Bush as a perfectly natural phenomenon. "This is the first time any significant number of us have ever gotten involved in a presidential race. I don't think it's because he's one of us. After all, he was only at the CIA one year."

"But he was there when everything was going downhill. People there perceived him as someone who did a very good job under difficult circumstances," he continues. "Maybe more important, he's the only candidate any of us can remember who has made the agency an issue. He's the guy who raised the intelligence community to a national campaign issue."

Coakley estimates there are about 25 former intelligence officers actively involved in the Bush effort, most on a part-time, volunteer basis. As the Virginia campaign coordinator, he is one of the highest placed former intelligence officers in the Bush campaign.

Cline, Wilson, Aaron and Gen. Richard Stillwell, once the CIA's chief of covert operations for the Far East, are considered top-level advisers on foreign policy and defense matters. Cline's role is probably the most important here. He has helped organize groups of experts for Bush to meet with, talks frequently with the candidate, and 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.


Up to this point, the advisers have worked on a very informal basis, says Cline. "When the right time comes, I'd like to organize something like one of my old CIA staffs."

Only two of the former intelligence officers are on the Bush payroll. Former CIA security director Gambino functions as a traveling bodyguard for Bush, who has refused the Secret Service protection offered presidential candidates. The other paid worker is Harry Webster, who worked in clandestine operations during 25 years with the CIA, now a Bush field coordinator in northern Florida.

More typical is Evan Parker, a CIA retiree, who has worked three days a week in Bush's research department since last fall. Few of the ex-intelligence officers knew Bush personally before the campaign; most say their CIA background never comes up in their work.

Jon Thomas, Bush's Tennessee finance chairman, is an exception. He was working in the CIA's clandestine operations division in Madrid when Bush was CIA director, and he uses his experience as an endorsement of Bush's capacity to be a good president.

"When Bush became director, the agency had been dragged across the coals in all directions for several years. There was disastrously low morale, and our efficiency had fallen way off. You just couldn't get anything done.

"Bush turned it around in about 90 days. He was very human and very effective, just what the agency needed at that point," he says. "I firmly believe we wouldn't be in the trouble we're in today in Iran and Afghanistan if George Bush had stayed at the CIA."
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:07 am

Cambridge Prof with CIA, MI6 Ties Met with Trump Adviser During Campaign, Beyond
by Chuck Ross
The Daily Caller
3:10 PM 05/17/2018

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Days after Carter Page’s high-profile trip to Moscow in July 2016, the Trump campaign adviser had his first encounter with Stefan Halper, a University of Cambridge professor with CIA and MI6 contacts.

The conversation seemed innocent enough, Page tells The Daily Caller News Foundation. He recalls nothing of substance being discussed other than Halper’s passing mention that he knew then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But the interaction was one of many that the pair would have over the next 14 months, through a period of time when Page was under the watchful eye of the U.S. government.


Their relationship included a number of in-person meetings, including at Halper’s farm in Virginia.

Page’s encounters with Halper were quite different from those that another Trump campaign adviser had during the campaign with the 73-year-old academic. As TheDCNF reported exclusively in March, Halper and George Papadopoulos met several times over a period of a few days in Sept. 2016. Several days earlier, Halper contacted and met with a third Trump campaign official. That official, who has requested anonymity, told TheDCNF that Halper expressed interest in helping the campaign.

Unlike with Page, Halper’s relationship with Papadopoulos was ostensibly more of a business arrangement than a fledgling friendship.

Halper, a veteran of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, unsolicitedly contacted Papadopoulos on Sept. 2 with an offer to fly the Trump associate to London for several nights to discuss a policy paper about energy issues in Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Papadopoulos, who has worked on energy issues at various think tanks, accepted the offer and flew to London.

Papadopoulos and Halper met several times during that stay, having dinner one night at the Travellers Club, an Old London gentleman’s club frequented by international diplomats. They were accompanied by Halper’s assistant, a Turkish woman named Azra Turk. Sources familiar with Papadopoulos’s claims about his trip say Turk flirted with him during their encounters and later on in email exchanges.

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Stefan Halper (Youtube screen capture)

Papadopoulos wrote the paper and delivered it in early October. He was paid $3,000 for the work. Days before making that payment, Halper had finalized a contract with the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon’s think tank. Federal records show that Halper has been paid $928,800 since 2012 for work on four policy projects for the Pentagon. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)

***

Halper’s contacts with Page and Papadopoulos are significant because they are two of four Trump associates who were targets of an FBI counterintelligence investigation nicknamed “Crossfire Hurricane.” Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn were the other two.

The investigation melded exactly one year ago on Thursday with the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Page has said he is not a target of that investigation, while Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with another professor, Joseph Mifsud.

The New York Times published an extensive report on Wednesday detailing the origin of “Crossfire Hurricane,” which was formally opened on July 31, 2016.

The probe was opened based on a tip from Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the U.K. Downer said that in May 2016, Papadopoulos told him during a conversation in London about Russians having Clinton emails.


That information was passed to other Australian government officials before making its way to U.S. officials. FBI agents flew to London a day after “Crossfire Hurricane” started in order to interview Downer.

It is still not known what Downer says about his interaction with Papadopoulos, which TheDCNF is told occurred around May 10, 2016.

About two weeks before that, Papadopoulos met in London with Mifsud. Papadopoulos has told the special counsel that during their conversations, Mifsud claimed to have learned that the Russian government had Clinton emails.

Emails were also brought up during Papadopoulos’s meetings with Halper, though not by the Trump associate, according to sources familiar with his version of events. The sources say that during conversation, Halper randomly brought up Russians and emails. Papadopoulos has told people close to him that he grew suspicious of Halper because of the remark.


The Times’ Wednesday report included a major bombshell: Current and former government officials told the newspaper that “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos.” (RELATED: Report: Government Informant Spied On Two Trump Campaign Aides)

That detail matches up with a May 8 report from The Washington Post that an American citizen who has been a longtime FBI and CIA source has provided information about the Trump campaign that is now in the hands of the special counsel’s office.

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George Papadopoulos (LinkedIn)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has asked the Department of Justice for documents related to the source, but the agency has claimed that providing the information would put the source’s life at risk. Revealing information about the source would also jeopardize relationships with foreign intelligence services, the DOJ has argued. (RELATED: Secret Source Who Aided Mueller Probe Is Deemed Off Limits To Congress)

Whether Halper is that source has been a subject of some speculation over the past week, with Halper’s name being floated by TV and radio pundits as well as Internet sleuths. Congressional investigators have refused to confirm or deny whether he is. The FBI declined comment when asked about The Times’ reporting about the informant. But current and former government officials have told TheDCNF that he is a person of significant importance to the investigation, though they have not said whether he is a source for the FBI or CIA.

Whoever the source turns out to be, the fact that the FBI had an informant spying on the Trump campaign is likely to generate bitter partisan debate. Democrats will likely defend the maneuver on the grants that Trump aides’ activities warranted surveillance. Republicans have already started to point out that the use of informants undercuts Democrats’ denials that the government surveilled members of the Trump campaign.

***

Page’s relationship with Halper tracks closely with the period when the Trump adviser was under heavy scrutiny from the federal government.

By the time he joined the campaign in March 2016, Page was already known to the FBI, though not because of any criminal activity. FBI agents interviewed him in 2013 as part of an investigation into a Russian spy ring operating in New York. Page said he met with one of the Russians and provided him with academic papers he had written.

The FBI put Page back on its radar at around the time he joined the Trump campaign. In late-spring 2016, top government officials, including then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then-FBI Director James Comey, discussed whether to alert the Trump campaign to Page’s past interactions with the Russian spy ring. But government officials decided against providing the information.

Page’s visit to Moscow, where he spoke at the New Economic School on July 8, 2016, is said to have piqued the FBI’s interest even further. Page and Halper spoke on the sidelines of an election-themed symposium held at Cambridge days later. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6 and a close colleague of Halper’s, spoke at the event.

Page was invited to the event in June by a University of Cambridge doctoral candidate.

Page would enter the media spotlight in September 2016 after Yahoo! News reported that the FBI was investigating whether he met with two Kremlin insiders during that Moscow trip.

It would later be revealed that the Yahoo! article was based on unverified information from Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier regarding the Trump campaign. Steele’s report, which was funded by Democrats, also claimed Page worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on the collusion conspiracy.


Page and Manafort have vehemently denied the allegations, with both men saying they don’t know each other.

The FBI and DOJ would cite the dossier and the Yahoo! article in an application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against Page. The spy warrant was granted on Oct. 21, 2016, weeks after Page left the Trump team. The warrant would be renewed three times, in January, April and June. It expired in Sept. 2017, at around the time that Page and Halper fell out of contact. Page did not describe his final contacts with Halper. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: In Private, Papadopoulos Denies Collusion)

***

Halper has links to the CIA stretching back decades. His late father-in-law was Ray Cline, a CIA legend who served as director of the agency’s bureau of intelligence and research. Halper also worked with a team of former CIA officers on George H.W. Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential primary bid.

Halper was reportedly in charge of a team of former CIA analysts who kept tabs on the Jimmy Carter campaign.

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.

In Dec. 2016, both Halper and Dearlove threatened to resign from the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar because of what Halper said was “unacceptable Russian influence on the group.”

Halper has not responded to numerous requests for comment. A man answered a phone call placed to Halper’s number in March but denied that he was the professor. Azra Turk, the woman who accompanied Halper during his meetings with Papadopoulos, recently shut down her phone service.

Correction: This article initially referred to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation as “Hurricane Crossfire.” It is named “Crossfire Hurricane.”
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:18 am

F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims
by Adam Goldman, Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg
New York Times
May 18, 2018

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President Trump accused the F.B.I., without evidence, of planting a mole inside his campaign to undermine his presidential run. But the F.B.I. in fact dispatched a confidential informant to meet with Trump campaign advisers as it began its investigation into possible links between his campaign and Russia.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump accused the F.B.I. on Friday, without evidence, of sending a spy to secretly infiltrate his 2016 campaign “for political purposes” even before the bureau had any inkling of the “phony Russia hoax.”

In fact, F.B.I. agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign.
The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page, who was also under F.B.I. scrutiny for his ties to Russia.

The role of the informant is at the heart of the newest battle between top law enforcement officials and Mr. Trump’s congressional allies over the F.B.I.’s most politically charged investigations in decades. The lawmakers, who say they are concerned that federal investigators are abusing their authority, have demanded documents from the Justice Department about the informant.

Law enforcement officials have refused, saying that handing over the documents would imperil both the source’s anonymity and safety. The New York Times has learned the source’s identity but typically does not name informants to preserve their safety.

Democrats say the Republicans’ real aim is to undermine the special counsel investigation. Senior law enforcement officials have also privately expressed concern that the Republicans are digging into F.B.I. files for information they can weaponize against the Russia inquiry.

Over the past two days, Mr. Trump has used speculative news reports about the informant, mostly from conservative media, to repeatedly assail the Russia investigation.

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday. “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!”

No evidence has emerged that the informant acted improperly when the F.B.I. asked for help in gathering information on the former campaign advisers, or that agents veered from the F.B.I.’s investigative guidelines and began a politically motivated inquiry, which would be illegal.

But agents were leery of disrupting the presidential campaign again after the F.B.I. had announced in a high-profile news conference that it had closed the case involving Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to current and former law enforcement officials.

After opening the Russia inquiry about a month later, they took steps, those officials said, to ensure that details of the inquiry were more closely held than even in a typical national security investigation, including the use of the informant to suss out information from the unsuspecting targets. Sending F.B.I. agents to interview them could have created additional risk that the investigation’s existence would seep into view in the final weeks of a heated presidential race.

F.B.I. officials concluded they had the legal authority to open the investigation after receiving information that Mr. Papadopoulos was told that Moscow had compromising information on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” months before WikiLeaks released stolen messages from Democratic officials. As part of the operation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, the F.B.I. also began investigating Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his future national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Details about the informant’s relationship with the F.B.I. remain scant. It is not clear how long the relationship existed and whether the F.B.I. paid the source or assigned the person to other cases.

Informants take great risks when working for intelligence services, Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified before Congress on Wednesday. Their identities must not be exposed, he said, hinting at congressional efforts to obtain the name of the source. “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.”

One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, acknowledged on Friday that neither the president nor his legal team knew with certainty that the F.B.I. had implanted a spy in the Trump campaign, as he and the president had alleged.

“I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,” Mr. Giuliani said on CNN. “For a long time, we’ve been told there was some kind of infiltration.”

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, according to one person familiar with the source’s work.

F.B.I. agents were seeking more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails, and one month after their Russia investigation began, Mr. Papadopoulos received a curious message. The academic inquired about his interest in writing a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a subject of Mr. Papadopoulos’s expertise.

The informant offered a $3,000 honorarium for the paper and a paid trip to London, where the two could meet and discuss the research project.

“I understand that this is rather sudden but thought that given your expertise it might be of interest to you,” the informant wrote in a message to Mr. Papadopoulos, sent on Sept. 2, 2016.

Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the academic and one of his assistants, a young woman.

Over drinks and dinner one evening at a high-end London hotel, the F.B.I. informant raised the subject of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails that had spilled into public view earlier that summer, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The source noted how helpful they had been to the Trump campaign, and asked Mr. Papadopoulos whether he knew anything about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Papadopoulos replied that he had no insight into the Russian campaign — despite being told months earlier that the Russians had dirt on Mrs. Clinton in the form of thousands of her emails. His response clearly annoyed the informant, who tried to press Mr. Papadopoulos about what he might know about the Russian effort, according to the person.

The assistant also raised the subject of Russia and the Clinton emails during a separate conversation over drinks with Mr. Papadopoulos, and again he denied he knew anything about Russian attempts to disrupt the election.

After the trip to London, Mr. Papadopoulos wrote the 1,500-word research paper and was paid for his work. He did not hear again from the informant.


Mr. Page, a Navy veteran, served briefly as an adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign until September 2016. He said that he first encountered the informant during a conference in mid-July of 2016 and that they stayed in touch. The two later met several times in the Washington area. Mr. Page said their interactions were benign.

The two last exchanged emails in September 2017, about a month before a secret warrant to surveil Mr. Page expired after being repeatedly renewed by a federal judge. Mr. Trump’s congressional allies have also assailed the surveillance, accusing law enforcement officials, with little evidence, of abusing their authority and spying on the Trump campaign.

The informant also had contacts with Mr. Flynn, the retired Army general who was Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser. The two met in February 2014, when Mr. Flynn was running the Defense Intelligence Agency and attended the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, an academic forum for former spies and researchers that meets a few times a year.

According to people familiar with Mr. Flynn’s visit to the intelligence seminar, the source was alarmed by the general’s apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance. The concern was strong enough that it prompted another person to pass on a warning to the American authorities that Mr. Flynn could be compromised by Russian intelligence, according to two people familiar with the matter.


Two years later, in late 2016, the seminar itself was embroiled in a scandal about Russian spying. A number of its organizers resigned over what they said was a Kremlin-backed attempt to take control of the group.

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Fandos, Sharon LaFraniere, Katie Benner and Eileen Sullivan.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:00 am

Intelligence experts accuse Cambridge forum of Kremlin links: Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, resigns from Cambridge Intelligence Seminar
by Sam Jones, Defence and Security Editor
Financial Times
December 16, 2016

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Sir Richard Dearlove, the ex-chief of MI6, has cut his ties with the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar © FT montage/Photographs: Alamy, Getty

A group of intelligence experts, including a former head of MI6, has cut ties with fellow academics at Cambridge university, in a varsity spy scare harking back to the heyday of Soviet espionage at the heart of the British establishment.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the ex-chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and former master of Pembroke college, Stefan Halper, a senior foreign policy adviser at the White House to presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and Peter Martland, a leading espionage historian, have resigned as conveners of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar — an academic forum for former practitioners and current researchers of western spycraft — because of concerns over what they fear could be a Kremlin-backed operation to compromise the group.

Mr Halper said he had stepped down due to “unacceptable Russian influence on the group”.


The seminar, established by Christopher Andrew, the official historian of MI5 and former chairman of the history faculty at the university, is one of the most respected networks in its field.

Recent attendees at its discussions, held every Friday at Corpus Christi college, have included Mike Flynn, president-elect Donald Trump’s choice as US national security adviser, and Sir Simon Fraser, the recently retired permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office.

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Peter Martland and Stefan Halper quit the CIS along with Sir Richard Dearlove. Christopher Andrew co-chaired the rival CSI before his resignation in the spring, which was unrelated to Veruscript

Sir Richard and his colleagues suspect that Veruscript — a newly established digital publishing house that has provided funding to set up a new journal of intelligence and to cover some of the seminar’s costs — may be acting as a front for the Russian intelligence services.

They fear that Russia may be seeking to use the seminar as an impeccably-credentialed platform to covertly steer debate and opinion on high-level sensitive defence and security topics, two people familiar with their thinking said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Financial Times has been unable to independently substantiate their claims — and no concrete evidence has been provided to back them.


The three stepped down as conveners before the start of the Michaelmas term. Sir Richard confirmed his resignation as convener but declined to comment further. Mr Martland did not respond to a request for comment.

Their concerns come against a backdrop of growing paranoia about Russian subversion in the west. With relations between London and Moscow at their lowest ebb since the height of the cold war, Britain’s spy agencies are working overtime to try and counter Russian covert action in the UK.

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The seminars are held every Friday at Corpus Christi college © Dreamstime

Spurred by the mounting concern over Russian meddling in the US presidential election, western spooks are rushing to try and get a fuller picture of the Kremlin’s strategy for manipulating information to influence opinion.

A senior Whitehall security official said that while the authorities could not comment on specific investigations into covert Russian meddling, they were nevertheless aware that suspicions such as those flagged at Cambridge were “the kind of thing that we are aware of being of concern”.

Reliable evidence of Russia’s information war to back up such assertions has been in short supply, however. Indeed, the dispute at Cambridge revives uncomfortable memories of cold war fearmongering — and has sharply divided dons at the intelligence seminar.

While the febrile intellectual atmosphere at Cambridge in the 1930s — charged with radical new socialist thinking and invigorated by a fractious international environment — was an ideal recruiting ground for young, charismatic Soviet agents such as Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, whose work was the acme of cold war intelligence gathering, the modern academic milieu is a less obvious target for Russian espionage.

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Cambridge undergraduates vote under the watchful eye of a policeman in 1935 © Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Prof Andrew, whose books on the KGB are among the most exhaustive on the history of Russian information warfare as well as the infamous Cambridge spy ring of the 1930s, said the suggestion of a Russian covert operation to compromise the seminar was “absurd”.

The seminar is “entirely unclassified” Prof Andrew pointed out, adding that the new Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism was not formally affiliated to the gathering.

Some of the academics the FT spoke to suggested that the dispute over the seminar might be tinged by an element of competition: Sir Richard and his colleagues who have departed from the seminar run a separate organisation — the Cambridge Security Initiative — which pursues a similar, though more commercially-oriented, agenda.

The CSI, which also holds regular briefings and discussions, counts Sir Iain Lobban and Sir David Omand, both former heads of the electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, as members of its advisory board.

Prof Andrew was co-chair of CSI alongside Sir Richard but resigned in the spring. He said his resignation was unrelated to any matters regarding Veruscript. All of the individuals the FT spoke to emphasised that they hoped the two organisations would have an amicable future relationship.

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Four members of the 'Cambridge Five', graduates of Trinity College, who passed information from British Intelligence to the Soviet Union in the 1940s and 1950s. Clockwise from top left, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby and Guy Burgess

Neil Kent, the lead convener of the seminar and editor-in-chief of the new journal also stepped back from the CSI. Mr Kent, a linguist and expert in Russian culture, said it was “inconceivable” that the Russian government was in any way involved.

“Cambridge is a wonderful place of conspiracy theories but the idea that there is a Machiavellian plot here is ridiculous,” he said. “The idea any of us would be involved in anything that smacks of Russian influence . . . it’s real Reds under the bed stuff — the whole thing is ludicrous.”


Mr Kent is responsible for building the links between the seminar and the organisation at the centre of the controversy, Veruscript. It was established by a friend of Mr Kent’s from Cambridge, Gleb Cheglakov, a Russian physicist.

According to Mr Kent, the new journal will cost roughly £50,000 a year to run and, although start-up funding is being supplied by Veruscript, ultimately it will draw on other sources of finance, to ensure its independence.

Mr Kent said he did not know where Veruscript’s money came from.

Corporate records show Veruscript is run by a company called AGC Partners, based in London.

Mr Cheglakov told the FT that the company was set up by himself and his wife using their own money. The company, which boasts a slick website and employs about a dozen people, claims it will shake up the academic publishing business by paying for peer reviews of its articles by approved academics.

AGC Partner’s corporate records show it was established in 2012. Mr Cheglakov said he was its cofounder although it is legally fully owned by Nazik Ibraimova, his Kygryz wife. Ms Ibraimova could not be reached for comment. The FT attempted to reach the company a number of times by phone and email.

Corporate records show Ms Ibraimova initially funded the company with a series of £50,000 loans made in six-monthly increments. In the past year, the company has significantly expanded. Its accounts show a loss of £410,000 in 2015, the last year for which figures have been filed.

“As we are in start-up mode, all journals are currently operating at a loss with Veruscript picking up the costs,” Mr Cheglakov said in a statement. The business is looking to significantly expand, he added. “[We] will publish journals from across the research spectrum: sciences, humanities and social sciences . . . We are a truly community-based publisher. [The] Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism Studies is our first journal to launch but we are also in the process of launching journals in areas as diverse as Functional Nanomaterials, Quantum Matter and Energy Storage.”

Mr Cheglakov did not specifically address the question of any connection between the company and the Russian government.


He stressed that all of the journals backed by Veruscript would be completely editorially independent of the organisation. “We aim to be a force of good within the publishing industry,” he said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Mon May 18, 2020 8:35 am

Robert Mueller Did Not Merely Reject the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theories. He Obliterated Them.
by Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept
April 18 2019, 2:01 p.m.

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WASHINGTON — “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,” a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of Jan. 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. “The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation’s public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action.

“You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,” he wrote to the group, which called itself “Red Dawn,” an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. “Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities.”

His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials. It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen.

Even after Mr. Trump took his first concrete action at the end of January — limiting travel from China — public health often had to compete with economic and political considerations in internal debates, slowing the path toward belated decisions to seek more money from Congress, obtain necessary supplies, address shortfalls in testing and ultimately move to keep much of the nation at home.

Unfolding as it did in the wake of his impeachment by the House and in the midst of his Senate trial, Mr. Trump’s response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives.

-- He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus: An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response, by Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti and Julian E. Barnes


THE TWO-PRONGED CONSPIRACY THEORY that has dominated U.S. political discourse for almost three years – that (1) Trump, his family and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, and (2) Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin — was not merely rejected today by the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It was obliterated: in an undeniable and definitive manner.

The key fact is this: Mueller – contrary to weeks of false media claims – did not merely issue a narrow, cramped, legalistic finding that there was insufficient evidence to indict Trump associates for conspiring with Russia and then proving their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That would have been devastating enough to those who spent the last two years or more misleading people to believe that conspiracy convictions of Trump’s closest aides and family members were inevitable. But his mandate was much broader than that: to state what did or did not happen.

That’s precisely what he did: Mueller, in addition to concluding that evidence was insufficient to charge any American with crimes relating to Russian election interference, also stated emphatically in numerous instances that there was no evidence – not merely that there was insufficient evidence to obtain a criminal conviction – that key prongs of this three-year-old conspiracy theory actually happened. As Mueller himself put it: “in some instances, the report points out the absence of evidence or conflicts in the evidence about a particular fact or event.”

With regard to Facebook ads and Twitter posts from the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, for example, Mueller could not have been more blunt: “The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation” (emphasis added). Note that this exoneration includes not only Trump campaign officials but all Americans:

Some IRA employees, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated electronically with individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities, including the staging of political rallies.5 The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA's interference operation.


To get a further sense for how definitive the Report’s rejection is of the key elements of the alleged conspiracy theory, consider Mueller’s discussion of efforts by George Papadopoulos, Joseph Misfud and and “two Russian nationals” whereby they tried “to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and Russian officials” to talk about how the two sides could work together to disseminate information about Hillary Clinton. As Mueller puts it: “No meeting took place.”

Several of the media’s most breathless and hyped “bombshells” were dismissed completely by Mueller. Regarding various Trump officials’ 2016 meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Mueller said they were “brief, public and nonsubstantive.” Concerning the much-hyped change to GOP platform regarding Ukraine, Mueller wrote that the “evidence does not establish that one campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican platform was undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia,” and further noted that such a change was consistent with Trump’s publicly stated foreign policy view (one shared by Obama) to avoid provoking gratuitous conflict with the Kremlin over arming Ukrainians. Mueller also characterized a widely hyped “meeting” between then-Senator Jeff Sessions and Kislyak as one that did not “include any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.”

Regarding one of the most-cited pieces of evidence by Trump/Russia conspiracists – that Russia tried once Trump was nominated to shape his foreign policy posture toward Russia – Mueller concluded that there is simply no evidence to support it:

7. Post-Convention Contacts with Kislyak

Ambassador Kislyak continued his efforts to interact with Campaign officials with responsibility for the foreign-policy portfolio -- among them Sessions and Gordon -- in the weeks after the Convention. The Office did not identify evidence in those interactions of coordination between the Campaign and the Russian government.


In other crucial areas, Mueller did not go so far as to say that his investigation “did not identify evidence” but nonetheless concluded that his 22-month investigation “did not establish” that the key claims of the conspiracy theory were true. Regarding alleged involvement by Trump officials or family members in the Russian hacks, for instance, Mueller explained: “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.


As for the overarching maximalist conspiracy – that Trump and/or members of his family and campaign were controlled by or working for the Russian government – Mueller concluded that this belief simply lacked the evidence necessary to prosecute anyone for it:

The investigation did not, however, yield evidence sufficient to sustain any charge that any individual affiliated with the Trump Campaign acted as an agent of a foreign principal within the meaning of FARA or, in terms of Section 951, subject to the direction or control of the government of Russia, or any official thereof. In particular, the Office did not find evidence likely to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Campaign officials such as Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Carter Page acted as agents of the Russian government -- or at its direction, control, or request, during the relevant time period.1282


And Mueller’s examination of all the so-called “links” between Trump campaign officials and Russia that the U.S. media has spent almost three years depicting as “bombshell” evidence of criminality met the same fate: the evidence could not, and did not, establish that any such links constituted “coordination” or “conspiracy” between Trump and Russia:

IV. RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT LINKS TO AND CONTACTS WITH THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN

The Office identified multiple contacts -- "links," in the words of the Appointment Order -- between Trump Campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government. The Office investigated whether those contacts constituted a third avenue of attempted Russian interference with or influence on the 2016 presidential election. In particular, the investigation examined whether these contacts involved or resulted in coordination or a conspiracy with the Trump Campaign and Russia, including with respect to Russia providing assistance to the Campaign in exchange for any sort of favorable treatment in the future. Based on the available information, the investigation did not establish such coordination.


Perhaps most amazingly, even low-level, ancillary, hangers-on to the Trump campaign that even many Russiagate skeptics thought might end up being charged as Russian agents were not.

All the way back in March, 2017, in reporting that even anti-Trump intelligence officials were warning Democrats that there was no solid evidence of a Trump/Russia conspiracy, I predicted that the appointment of a Special Counsel (which I vehemently favored) would likely end up finding evidence of financial impropriety by Paul Manafort unrelated to the 2016 election, as well as a possible indictment of someone like Carter Page for acting in concert with the Russian government:

It's certain possible to envision an indictment of a low-level operative like Carter Page, or the prosecution of someone like Paul Manafort on matters unrelated to hacking, but the silver bullet that Democrats have been led to expect will sink Trump appears further away than ever.

But given the way these Russia conspiracies have drowned out other critical issues being virtually ignored under the Trump presidency, it’s vital that everything be done now to make clear what is based in evidence and what is based in partisan delusions. And most of what the Democratic base has been fed for the last six months by their unhinged stable of media, online, and party leaders has decisively fallen into the latter category, as even their own officials are now desperately trying to warn.

-- The Intercept, March 16, 2017


But so vacant is the Mueller investigation when it comes to supporting any of the prevailing conspiracy theories that it did not find even a single American whom it could indict or charge with illegally working for Russia, secretly acting as a Russian agent, or conspiring with the Russians over the election – not even Carter Page. That means that even long-time Russiagate skeptics such as myself over-estimated the level of criminality and conspiracy evidence that Robert Mueller would find:

3. Carter Page

Carter Page worked for the Trump Campaign from January 2016 to September 2016. He was formally and publicly announced as a foreign policy advisor by the candidate in March 2016.516 Page had lived and worked in Russia, and he had been approached by Russian intelligence officers several years before he volunteered for the Trump Campaign. During his time with the Campaign, Page advocated pro-Russia foreign policy positions and traveled to Moscow in his personal capacity. Russian intelligence officials had formed relationships with Page in 2008 and 2013 and Russian officials may have focused on Page in 2016 because of his affiliation with the Campaign. However, the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.


In sum, Democrats and their supporters had the exact prosecutor they all agreed was the embodiment of competence and integrity in Robert Mueller. He assembled a team of prosecutors and investigators that countless media accounts heralded as the most aggressive and adept in the nation. They had subpoena power, the vast surveillance apparatus of the U.S. government at their disposal, a demonstrated willingness to imprison anyone who lied to them, and unlimited time and resources to dig up everything they could.

The result of all of that was that not a single American – whether with the Trump campaign or otherwise – was charged or indicted on the core question of whether there was any conspiracy or coordination with Russia over the election. No Americans were charged or even accused of being controlled by or working at the behest of the Russian government. None of the key White House aides at the center of the controversy who testified for hours and hours – including Donald Trump, Jr. or Jared Kushner – were charged with any crimes of any kind, not even perjury, obstruction of justice or lying to Congress.

These facts are fatal to the conspiracy theorists who have drowned U.S. discourse for almost three years with a dangerous and distracting fixation on a fictitious espionage thriller involved unhinged claims of sexual and financial blackmail, nefarious infiltration of the U.S. Government by familiar foreign villains, and election cheating that empowered an illegitimate President. They got the exact prosecutor and investigation that they wanted, yet he could not establish that any of this happened and, in many cases, established that it did not.

THE ANTI-CLIMACTIC ENDING of the Mueller investigation is particularly stunning given how broad Mueller’s investigative scope ended up being, extending far beyond the 2016 election into years worth of Trump’s alleged financial dealings with Russia (and, obviously, Manafort’s with Ukraine and Russia). There can simply be no credible claim that Mueller was, in any meaningful way, impeded by scope, resources or topic limitation from finding anything for which he searched.

Despite efforts today by long-time conspiracist theorists to drastically move goalposts so as to claim vindication, the historical record could not be clearer that Mueller’s central mandate was to determine whether crimes were committed by Trump officials in connection with alleged Russian interference in the election. The first paragraph of the New York Times article from May, 2017, announcing Mueller’s appointment, leaves no doubt about that:

The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, dramatically raising the legal and political stakes in an affair that has threatened to engulf Mr. Trump’s four-month-old presidency.


As recently as one month ago, former CIA Director and current NBC News analyst John Brennan was confidently predicting that Mueller could not possibly close his investigation without first indicting a slew of Americans for criminally conspiring with Russia over the election, and specifically predicted that Trump’s family members would be included among those so charged:

Terry Moran

@TerryMoran
John Brennan has a lot to answer for—going before the American public for months, cloaked with CIA authority and openly suggesting he’s got secret info, and repeatedly turning in performances like this.

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Obviously, none of that happened. Nor were any of the original accusations that launched this three-year-long mania — from an accusatory August, 2016 online commercial from the Clinton campaign — corroborated by the Mueller Report:

Indeed, so many of the most touted media “bombshells” claiming to establish Trump/Russia crimes have been proven false by this report. Despite an extensive discussion of Paul Manafort’s activities, nothing in the Report even hints, let alone states, that he ever visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, let alone visited him three times, including during the 2016 election. How the Guardian could justify still not retracting that false story is mystifying.

Faring even worse is the Buzzfeed bombshell from January claiming that “President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow” and that “Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.” Mueller himself responded to the story by insisting it was false, and his Report directly contradicts it, as it makes clear that Cohen told Mueller the exact opposite:


But Cohen said that he and the President did not explicitly discuss whether Cohen's testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project would be or was false, and the President did not direct him to provide false testimony. Cohen also said he did not tell the President about the specifics of his planned testimony. During the time when his statement to Congress was being drafted and circulated to members of the JDA, Cohen did not speak directly to the President about the statement, but rather communicated with the President's personal counsel -- as corroborated by phone records showing extensive communications between Cohen and the President's personal counsel before Cohen submitted his statement and when he testified before Congress.


Equally debunked is CNN’s major blockbuster by Jim Sciutto, Carl Bernstein, and Marshall Cohen from last July that “Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower.” The Mueller Report says the exact opposite: that Cohen had no knowledge of Trump’s advanced knowledge.

And the less said about the Steele Dossier, pee-pee tapes, secret meetings in Prague, and indescribably unhinged claims like this one, the better:




But beyond the gutting of these core conspiracy claims is that Mueller’s investigation probed areas far beyond the initial scope of Trump/Russia election-conspiring, and came up empty. Among other things, Mueller specifically examined Trump’s financial dealings with Russia to determine whether that constituted incriminating evidence of corrupt links:

Because Trump’s status as a public figure at the time was attributable in large part to his prior business and entertainment dealings, this Office investigated whether a business contact with Russia-linked individuals and entities during the campaign period—the Trump Tower Moscow project, see Volume I, Section IV.A.1, infra—led to or involved coordination.


Indeed, Mueller’s examination of Trump’s financial dealings with Russia long pre-dates the start of the Trump campaign, going back several years before the election:

Between at least 2013 and 2016, the Trump Organization explored a similar licensing deal in Russia involving the construction of a Trump-branded property in Moscow. The project, commonly referred to as a "Trump Tower Moscow" or "Trump Moscow" project, anticipated a combination of commercial, hotel, and residential properties all within the same building. Between 2013 and June 2016, several employees of the Trump Organization, including then-president of the organization Donald J. Trump, pursued a Moscow deal with several Russian counterparties. From the fall of 2015 until the middle of 2016, Michael Cohen spearheaded the Trump Organization's pursuit of a Trump Tower Moscow project, including by reporting on the project's status to candidate Trump and other executives in the Trump Organization.290


Mueller additionally made clear that he received authorization to investigate numerous Americans for ties to Russia despite their not being formally associated with the Trump campaign, including Michael Cohen and Roger Stone. And regarding Cohen, Mueller specifically was authorized to investigate any attempts by Cohen to “receive funds from Russia-backed entities.” None of this deep diving to other individuals or years of alleged financial dealings with Russian resulted in any finding that Trump or any of his associates were controlled by, or corruptly involved with, the Russian government.

Then there is the issue of Manafort’s relationship with the Ukrainians, and specifically his providing of polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, an episode which Trump/Putin conspiracist Marcy Wheeler, along with many others, particularly hyped over and over. To begin with, Mueller said his office “did not identify evidence of a connection” between that act and “Russian interference in the election,” nor did he “establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-inteference efforts”:

Because of questions about Manafort's credibility and our limited ability to gather evidence on what happened to the polling data after it was sent to Kilimnik, the Office could not assess what Kilimnik (or others he may have given it to) did with it. The Office did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort's sharing polling data and Russia's interference in the election, which had already been reported by U.S. media outlets at the time of the August 2 meeting. The investigation did not establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-interference efforts.


Also endlessly hyped by Wheeler and other conspiracists were the post-election contacts between Trump and Russia: as though it’s unusual that a major power would seek to build new, constructive relationships with a newly elected administration. Indeed, Wheeler went so far as to cite these post-election contacts to turn her own source into the FBI on the ground that it constituted smoking gun evidence, an act for which she was praised by the Washington Post (nothing Wheeler claimed about the evidence “related to the Mueller investigation” that she claimed to possess appears to be in the Mueller Report). Here again, the Mueller Report could not substantiate any of these claims:

B. Post-Election and Transition-Period Contacts

Trump was elected President on November 8, 2016. Beginning immediately after the election, individuals connected to the Russian government started contacting officials on the Trump Campaign and Transition Team through multiple channels -- sometimes through Russian Ambassador Kislyak and at other times through individuals who sought reliable contacts through U.S. persons not formally tied to the Campaign or Transition Team. The most senior levels of the Russian government encouraged these efforts. The investigation did not establish that these efforts reflected or constituted coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia in its election-interference activities.


The centerpiece of the Trump/Russia conspiracy – the Trump Tower meeting – was such a dud that Jared Kushner, halfway through the meeting, texted Manafort to declare the meeting “a waste of time,” and then instructed his assistant to call him so that he could concoct a reason to leave. Not only could Mueller not find any criminality in this meeting relating to election conspiring, but he could not even use election law to claim it was an illegal gift of something of value from a foreigner, because, among other things, the information offered was of so little value that it could not even pass the $2,000 threshold required to charge someone for a misdemeanor, let alone the $25,000 required to make it a felony.

Neither the Trump Tower meeting itself nor its participants – for so long held up as proof of the Trump/Russia conspiracy – could serve as the basis for any finding of criminality. Indeed, the key Trumpworld participants who testified about what happened at that meeting and its aftermath (Trump Jr. and Kushner) were not even accused by Mueller of lying about any of it.

NONE OF THIS IS TO SAY that the Mueller Report exonerates Trump of wrongdoing. Mueller makes clear, for instance, that the Trump campaign not only knew that Russia was interested in helping it win the election but was happy to have that help. There’s clearly nothing criminal about that. One can debate whether it’s unethical for a presidential campaign to have dirt about its opponent released by a foreign government, though anyone who wants to argue that has to reconcile that with the fact that the DNC had a contractor working with the Ukrainian government to help Hillary Clinton win by feeding them dirt on Trump and Manafort, as well as a paid operative named Christopher Steele (remember him?) working with Russian officials to get dirt on Trump.

POLITICO
PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION
Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire
Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.
By Kenneth P. Vogel and David Stern
01/11/2017 05:05 AM EST


As is true of all investigations, Mueller’s team could not access all relevant information. Some was rendered inaccessible through encryption. Other information was deleted, perhaps with corrupt motives. And some witnesses lied or otherwise tried to obstruct the investigation. As a result, it’s of course possible that incriminating evidence existed that Mueller – armed with subpoena power, unlimited resources, 22 months of investigative work, and a huge team of top-flight prosecutors, FBI agents, intelligence analysts and forensic accountants – did not find.

But anything is possible. It’s inherently possible that anyone is guilty of any crime but that the evidence just cannot be found to prove it. One cannot prove a negative. But the only way to rationally assess what happened is by looking at the evidence that is available, and that’s what Mueller did. And there’s simply no persuasive way – after heralding Mueller and his team as the top-notch investigators that they are and building up expectations about what this would produce – for any honest person to deny that the end of the Mueller investigation was a huge failure from the perspective of those who pushed these conspiracies.

Mueller certainly provides substantial evidence that Russians attempted to meddle in various ways in the U.S. election, including by hacking the DNC and Podesta and through Facebook posts and tweets. There is, however, no real evidence that Putin himself ordered this, as was claimed since mid-2016. But that Russia had done such things has been unsurprising from the start, given how common it is for the U.S. and Russia to meddle in everyone’s affairs, including one another’s, but the scope and size of it continues to be minute in the context of overall election spending:

To reach larger U.S. audiences, the IRA purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted the IRA groups on the newsfeeds of U.S. audience members. According to Facebook, the IRA purchased over 3,500 advertisements, and the expenditures totaled approximately $100,000.


The section of Mueller’s report on whether Trump criminally attempted to obstruct the investigation is full of evidence and episodes that show Trump being dishonest, misleading, and willing to invoke potentially corrupt tactics to put an end to it. But ultimately, the most extreme of those tactics were not invoked (at times because Trump’s aides refused), and the actions in which Trump engaged were simply not enough for Mueller to conclude that he was guilty of criminal obstruction.

As Mueller himself concluded, a reasonable debate can be conducted on whether Trump tried to obstruct his investigation with corrupt intent. But even on the case of obstruction, the central point looms large over all of it: there was no underlying crime established for Trump to cover-up.

All criminal investigations require a determination of a person’s intent, what they are thinking and what their goal is. When the question is whether a President sought to kill an Executive Branch investigation – as Trump clearly wanted to do here – the determinative issue is whether he did so because he genuinely believed the investigation to be an unfair persecution and scam, or whether he did it to corruptly conceal evidence of criminality.

That Mueller could not and did not establish any underlying crimes strongly suggests that Trump acted with the former rather than the latter motive, making it virtually impossible to find that he criminally obstructed the investigation.

THE NATURE OF OUR POLITICAL DISCOURSE is that nobody ever needs to admit error because it is easy to confine oneself to strictly partisan precincts where people are far more interested in hearing what advances their agenda or affirms their beliefs than they are hearing the truth. For that reason, I doubt that anyone who spent the last three years pushing utterly concocted conspiracy theories will own up to it, let alone confront any accountability or consequences for it.

But certain facts will never go away no matter how much denial they embrace. The sweeping Mueller investigation ended with zero indictments of zero Americans for conspiring with Russia over the 2016 election. Both Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner – the key participants in the Trump Tower meeting – testified for hours and hours yet were never charged for perjury, lying or obstruction, even though Mueller proved how easily he would indict anyone who lied as part of the investigation. And this massive investigation simply did not establish any of the conspiracy theories that huge parts of the Democratic Party, the intelligence community and the U.S. media spent years encouraging the public to believe.


Those responsible for this can refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing. They can even claim vindication if they want and will likely be cheered for doing so.

But the contempt in which the media and political class is held by so much of the U.S. population – undoubtedly a leading factor that led to Trump’s election in the first place – will only continue to grow as a result, and deservedly so. People know they were scammed, that their politics was drowned for years by a hoax. And none of that will go away no matter how insulated media and political elites in Washington, northern Virginia, Brooklyn, and large West Coast cities keep themselves, and thus hear only in-group affirmation while blocking out all of that well-earned scorn.

Correction: A paragraph was originally included that misread a tweet from earlier today by the New York Times’ Kenneth Vogel, in which he asserted that the Mueller Report confirmed, not negated, the New York Times’ original, now-retracted report about Paul Manafort. In that tweet, Vogel was suggesting that the NYT’s retraction was wrong (as Marcy Wheeler argued), not that the original story was wrong. That paragraph, which also critiqued Wheeler’s analysis of the New York Times’ retraction, was in error and was deleted almost immediately after publication of this article.
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