Posts Tagged ‘Democratic National Committee’

Trump-Russia dossier journalist doubts Christopher Steele’s claims

December 18, 2018

The journalist who was among the first to report on the Trump-Russia dossier suspects many of the allegations made in former British spy Christopher Steele’s collection of memos are “likely false.”

Yahoo chief investigative reporter Michael Isikoff was one of the journalists who met with Steele during the 2016 campaign.

Image result for Michael Isikoff, photos

On Sept. 23, 2016, he wrote an article about former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, which outlined how Page had attracted law enforcement’s attention for allegedly trying to establish back channels between the campaign and Russia and for discussing the lifting of sanctions with Moscow-linked officials. The article was frequently cited during congressional investigations into whether the Justice Department and FBI abused surveillance powers by gathering information on Page, a U.S. citizen, after obtaining warrants based on Steele’s unverified work.

Despite reporting accusations made by Steele, Isikoff told John Ziegler’s Free Speech Broadcasting podcast that many of the claims had still not been corroborated.

“In broad strokes, Christopher Steele was clearly onto something, that there was a major Kremlin effort to interfere in our elections, that they were trying to help Trump’s campaign, and that there was multiple contacts between various Russian figures close to the government and various people in Trump’s campaign,” Isikoff said Saturday. “When you actually get into the details of the Steele dossier, the specific allegations, we have not seen the evidence to support them, and, in fact, there’s good grounds to think that some of the more sensational allegations will never be proven and are likely false.”

Steele’s dossier was funded in part by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, conservative outlet the Washington Free Beacon, the Democratic National Committee, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It contained unsubstantiated claims that Russian intelligence operatives filmed President Trump with prostitutes urinating on a Moscow hotel bed and that Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague in August 2016 to make arrangements with agents of Moscow to hack data beneficial to then-candidate Trump. Trump and Cohen have vehemently denied the accusations. The FBI’s inquiry into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia eventually led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Isikoff added that Mueller’s investigation may not be as probative as some pundits hope or believe.

“Why wasn’t he charged with lying about it if that’s what he did? That would have been as serious a lie as the lie he told about the Trump Tower Moscow project,” Isikoff said, alluding to Cohen. “All the signs to me are that Mueller is reaching his end game, and we may see less than many people want him to find.”

Cohen pleaded guilty last month to lying to Congress about the Trump Organization real estate deal. He was sentenced to two months in prison for the charge, which was brought by Mueller’s team. It will be served concurrently with the three years he received as part of the case he faced in New York for campaign finance violations, and tax and bank fraud.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/trump-russia-dossier-journalist-doubts-christopher-steeles-claims

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Comey admits FBI didn’t verify claims in anti-Trump dossier

December 9, 2018

Former FBI Director James Comey admitted that the Bureau did not verify allegations in the Steele dossier before it was cited as grounds for snooping on a former Trump adviser in 2016.

The admission came in closed-door testimony before congressional investigators that was made public Saturday evening.

The dossier contained memos alleging Russian influence over Trump and his advisers and helped authorities get permission from a special court to surveil former Trump adviser Carter Page.

The compilation of the Steele dossier was funded first by a conservative publication, then by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

During his testimony Friday, Comey repeatedly professed ignorance regarding FBI investigations into Trump campaign associates in the weeks prior to the 2016 election.

Asked by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) what the FBI did to confirm the Steele dossier, Comey indicated that effort was still underway months after the warrant to surveil Page had already been granted and renewed.

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https://nypost.com/2018/12/08/comey-claimed-ignorance-about-warrant-at-house-hearing/

Companies who support dictatorships while bashing America should lose all federal funding

November 5, 2018

Google stopped Pentagon work after its engineers balked, but doesn’t blink when helping Communist China (a country that has killed tens of millions of its own citizens) censor or track dissidents.

McKinsey & Company, meanwhile, ceased its work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in anger over ICE’s role in countering illegal immigration, explaining that it “will not, under any circumstances, engage in any work, anywhere in the world, that advances or assists policies that are at odds with our values.” Perhaps McKinsey might then explain which values attracted it to work in Saudi Arabia or to assist Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dictatorial regime in Turkey.

The imprisonment of more journalists than any other country on earth? Ethnic cleansing of Kurds in Afrin? Support for Islamist terrorist groups? The mercurial Erdogan ultimately turned on McKinsey in a fit of pique at Washington, but the consulting firm still walked away with the Turkish cash.

Opinion
By Michael Rubin
Washington Examiner

U.S. administrations come and go. While domestic and foreign policy remains broadly consistent across administrations, both pundits and press amplify differences and demonize opponents. Too often, the political base believes the rhetoric. Progressives believed George W. Bush or Mitt Romney were extremists or devils incarnate. Journalists labeled mainstream Republicans as “ultra-conservatives,” if not racists. To be fair, the same phenomenon manifested itself on the political right with regard to anti-Obama conspiracy theories.

Beyond political mudslinging, however, there is a crisis of confidence within America about what it means to be American. Revisionist historians seek to transform the United States from a beacon of freedom and democracy to a country responsible for all the world’s ills. Keith Ellison, the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, for example, last year told progressive activists that North Korean communist leader Kim Jong Un was a more responsible leader than President Trump.

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Keith Ellison

Alas, young engineers and consultants living sheltered, insulated lives secure in prominent U.S. companies may believe such rhetoric. Not all have traveled outside Western liberal democracies and, when they do, it is usually in luxury. While it is easy to throw around terms like fascism, few have a visceral understanding of just what that means. When financially secure and free to opine, socialism may seem cool, never mind that it is an ideology which has contributed to the murder of almost 100 million people in the last century. Intersectionality is epistemological nonsense; in reality, it is just an excuse to embrace without consequence or thought the most illiberal ideas and causes.

Despite what partisan web outlets suggest, for example, there is no moral equivalence between the United States and Iran. Anyone never threatened by Iran’s purges, death squads, and mass repression may not realize that the progressive rhetoric and human rights rhetoric employed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are simply cynical efforts to shape perceptions that contradict reality.

Image result for Mohammad Javad Zarif, photos

Mohammad Javad Zarif

But what should policymakers do when moral and cultural equivalence has run amok and the employees of tech firms and consultancies would rather, whether because of naivete or ignorance, aid autocratic and murderous regimes than accept contracts from the U.S. government? What is the proper recourse?

Here, perhaps the 1996 Solomon Amendment can provide some direction: During the Vietnam War, many universities kicked ROTC chapters off campus and prohibited U.S. military and intelligence community recruitment on campus. Decades after the Vietnam War ended, such bans continued. Universities might rhetorically embrace a competition of ideas but, too often the progressivism at top universities like Yale, Harvard, and Stanford is an intolerant strain meant more to shield dominant campus narratives from challenge. The 1996 Solomon Amendment sought to compel an end to discrimination against the ROTC by enabling the Defense Department to deny grants to universities which engaged in such anti-military discrimination. This woke up even the most partisan university administrator, as they recognized what could happen if their universities lost tens of millions of grant dollars upon which so many departments had become dependent.

The parallels aren’t identical, but if American tech firms and consultancies would rather bolster dictatorships like China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia while they simultaneously impose a political litmus test upon their U.S. work, then perhaps it is time for Congress and the federal government to create a new Solomon Amendment for the 21st century: To discriminate against the United States should mean an end to federal contracts and other government or taxpayer-funded revenue streams. Simply put, U.S. funds should never enable anti-Americanism at home or abroad, nor should there be no accountability when U.S. companies play politics with national security.

Michael Rubin (@Mrubin1971) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.

DNC boss challenged after claiming Democrats ‘never hesitated to take action’ on sexual misconduct allegations

November 4, 2018

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez was challenged Sunday when he said his party has “never hesitated” to act on sexual misconduct allegations leveled at its members.

Perez made the comments when asked during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program why Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was still serving as his deputy at the DNC, despite being accused of domestic violence by his former girlfriend. A probe by Minnesota’s state Democratic Party reported last month that it found no evidence to substantiate Karen Monahan’s claims, which Ellison has vehemently denied.

“What I say is that we should always take those complaints seriously, and we do, and that’s why an investigation was conducted, that’s why Congressman Ellison asked for a House Ethics investigation,” Perez said. “And Democrats have never hesitated to take action, unlike Republicans.”

Image result for Keith Ellison, tom perez, photos

The response prompted immediate pushback from anchor Jake Tapper. “Wait a second,” he said. “Democrats have never hesitated to take action” Do you mean in the last year or do you mean historically? Because historically, I could go through a list of people.”

When questioned about allegations made against former President Bill Clinton and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Perez responded by saying he has only been chair of the party for the last 18 months.

“Well, and, again, you saw what happened in Sen. Franken’s situation,” Perez said, referring to Franken’s resignation last year over accusations of misbehavior toward women. “Democrats didn’t hesitate to do something, even if it was difficult because that was the right thing to do.”

“I think Keith Ellison’s ex-girlfriend deserves to be heard, and deserves to be treated with dignity, and deserves to have a fair and full investigation, and that’s exactly what has been done,” Perez added. “And I also believe that when women succeed, America succeeds. And the agenda of this administration is an agenda that’s making it much harder for women to succeed.”

Ellison announced in June that he would step down from his House seat to campaign to become Minnesota’s next attorney general. He is currently leading Republican challenger Doug Wardlow in the polls.

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https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/dnc%20boss%20challenged%20after%20claiming%20democrats%20’never
%20hesitated%20to%20take%20action’%20on%20sexual%20misconduct%20allegations

Carter Page suing DNC for defamation over Steele dossier — DOJ, FBI Wrongdoing Unravels

October 16, 2018

Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page is suing the Democratic National Committee for defamation over the Christopher Steele dossier.

Page claims in a lawsuit filed in Oklahoma federal court on Monday that from June 2016 through at least September 2016, the DNC, its law firm Perkins Coie and two of the firm’s partners, Marc Elias and Michael Sussmann, intentionally spread the contents of the dossier to media organizations and to entities in the US government.

Page says he wants to hold them accountable for “funding and distributing to the media an extensive series about him they knew to be false.”

The so-called “Trump dossier,” commissioned by Fusion GPS, contained many scandalous and unverified claims about President Trump’s ties to Russia.

It also said that Page was the Trump campaign’s intermediary to Russia. Page denies this.

“The slanderous statements made and libelous documents” allegedly provided to the media, “directly exposed Dr. Page to public hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy… and injured him severely in all his occupations, and tended to scandalize both his colleagues and friends,” the lawsuit states.

He is seeking special and punitive damages in excess of $75,000.

The DNC and Perkins Coie didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.

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Trump blasts FBI, DOJ over report on Carter Page surveillance warrants

https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/404673-trump-blasts-bias-if-no-fisa-hearings-held-for-fbi-surveillance

and

Memos detail FBI’s ‘Hurry the F up pressure’ to probe Trump campaign

https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/395776-memos-detail-fbis-hurry-the-f-up-pressure-to-probe-trump-campaign

U.K. Accuses Russia of Waging Cyber Attacks Against the West

October 4, 2018

The announcement comes as the Dutch government said its intelligence services disrupted a GRU cyberhack of chemical weapons watchdog

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects the headquarters of the GRU in  November 2006.
Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects the headquarters of the GRU in November 2006. PHOTO: DMITRY ASTAKHOV/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX
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LONDON—The British government Thursday stepped up its accusations against Russia’s military intelligence service, saying the unit had directed a series of high-profile online hacks including the 2016 leak of Democratic National Committee emails and the release of U.S. and other athletes’ antidoping test results.

The British Foreign Office said Russia’s military intelligence unit, the GRU, was guilty of “indiscriminate and reckless” cyberattacks over the last three years that targeted a range of political and media institutions.

The statement comes following a serious deterioration in British relations with the Kremlin following an alleged chemical-weapons attack this year on Sergei Skripal, a former GRU officer living in Britain, for which the U.K. holds his former employer responsible.

In a separate announcement on Thursday, a Dutch government official said its intelligence services disrupted a GRU cyberhack of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which monitors the use of chemical weapons, in April this year.

The OPCW, based in The Hague, was the international agency that confirmed chemical weapons were used on British soil as part of the attempted murder of Mr. Skripal and his daughter in March. OPCW officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Moscow was bitter in its condemnation of the U.K.’s claim, describing the allegations as delusional and a “diabolical blend of perfume.”

“They mixed everything up in one bottle, which could be a bottle of Nina Ricci perfume: GRU, cyber spies, Kremlin hackers, and the [World Anti-Doping Agency],” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s told reporters at a press briefing Thursday, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

British authorities believe the Novichok nerve agent was hidden in a Nina Ricci perfume bottle.

After the attempted poisoning earlier this year the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to expose the GRU’s activities.

Many of the cyberattacks cited by the U.K. have already been attributed to Russian hackers. However, it is the first time the U.K. government has linked them directly back to the Kremlin.

“The U.K. government has made the judgment that the Russian government—the Kremlin—was responsible,” for the hacks the Foreign Office said.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, which is affiliated to the U.K. top intelligence agency, said with “high confidence” that the GRU were behind theft and leak of embarrassing Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

It added that the GRU was responsible for a number of other attacks including the “Fancy Bear” or “Strontium” hacks, where phishing emails were used to direct targets to fake websites designed to resemble legitimate ones where they steal login credentials.

The U.K. also said that the GRU was behind hackers who accessed the World Anti-Doping Agency’s medical database and released the private information of top U.S. Olympians and other athletes.

A number of other cyberattacks were also traced to the intelligence agency, including ransomware that encrypted hard drives and paralyzed Russia’s central bank and caused disruption on the Kiev subway.

Diplomatic relations between the U.K. and Russia have hit lows following the attempted murder of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English town of Salisbury earlier this year.

Two men, identified as Russian GRU operatives by the British, have been charged by U.K. prosecutors. Russian President Vladimir Putin previously dismissed the allegations of Russian involvement, saying the two men accused by the U.K. of the poisonings were civilians.

Mr. Putin this week lambasted Mr. Skripal, branding him ’scum’ and a ’traitor.’

“Some media outlets are trying to put forward the idea that Skripal was practically a human- rights defender,” Mr. Putin said Wednesday in an address at Russian Energy Week in Moscow, “He is simply a spy and a traitor to his country. He is just scum, and that is it.”

The fallout from the poisoning led to the expulsion by Western governments of Russian diplomats, including 23 from the U.K., its single biggest expulsion in more than three decades.

Mr. Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who was a double agent for the U.K., and his daughter are now under the protection of British authorities at an undisclosed location.

Write to Max Colchester at max.colchester@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-accuses-russia-of-waging-a-cyber-war-against-the-west-1538652668

Related:

UK, Australia blame Russian military for cyber attacks

October 4, 2018

Britain and Australia on Thursday blamed Russia’s military intelligence service for some of the biggest cyber attacks of recent years — including one on the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

They said the GRU military intelligence service could have only been conducting operations of such scale on Kremlin orders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly and angrily rejected similar charges.

He told US President Donald Trump during a July summit in Helsinki that talk of Russia meddling in the 2016 election was “nonsense”.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin leave after a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. AP PHOTO/Alexander Zemlianichenko

But Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Australian government pointed the blame directly at alleged GRU front operations such as Fancy Bear and APT 28.

The announcement could further strain relations between Russia and Britain that began to deteriorate with the 2006 assassination with polonium in London of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

“This is not the actions of a great power, this is the actions of a pariah state,” British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said during a visit to Brussels.

“We’ll continue working with allies to isolate, make them understand they cannot continue to conduct themselves in such a way.”

The Australian government added that Russia’s actions violated its international commitments to “responsible state behaviour” in cyberspace.

“Cyberspace is not the Wild West,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a joint statement.

– Airports and tennis stars –

Russia is not the only nation accused of conducting aggressive cyber operations in recent years.

The United States blames North Korea for hacking Sony in 2014 and launching the WannaCry ransomware attack last year.

US security researchers said on Wednesday that an elite group of North Korean hackers was also the source of attacks on world banks that netted “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

But British government sources said the NCSC has assessed with “high confidence” that the GRU was “almost certainly” behind the DNC hack that some Hillary Clinton supporters helped tip the US election in Trump’s favour.

Batches of DNC emails were later published by WikiLeaks. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether their release was coordinated with the Trump campaign.

Mueller in July indicted 12 Russian GRU officers in connection with the DNC attack.

The independent findings by Britain and Australia may help Mueller fend off some of the accusations of political bias in his probe.

British sources said the GRU was also behind BadRabbit ransomware that caused disruptions on the Kiev metro and at an international airport in the Ukrainian port of Odessa last October.

The same attack affected Russia’s Interfax news agency and the popular Fontanka.ru news site.

British sources said the third strike resulted in the release of the medical files of global sports stars in August 2017.

They included tennis’s Serena and Venus Williams and Britain’s Tour de France winning cyclists Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) thinks the files’ release resulted from a data hack of its Doping Administration and Management system.

Russia was arguing at the time that its athletes were being unfairly targeted by anti-doping inspectors.

The fourth attack identified by the NCSC accessed multiple accounts belonging to a small UK-based TV station.

Some opposition Russian-language channels operate out of London.

– Blurring war and peace –

British government sources identified 12 fronts the GRU allegedly uses to conduct its operations in cyberspace.

APT 28 and Fancy Bear have already been identified by the Mueller probe.

The other names on the list include Cyber Berkut — long suspected of targeting Ukraine — as well as less-known groups such as Sednit and BlackEnergy Actors.

Researchers at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London said Russia often conducts cyber attacks to simply show it is capable of disrupting the networks of a potential enemy.

“The GRU’s activities go well beyond this traditional peacetime espionage role,” said RUSI Professor Malcolm Chalmers.

“By launching disruptive operations that threaten life in target societies, they blur the line between war and peace.”

AFP

Devin Nunes: ‘Laughable’ to argue Trump’s declassification order endangers national security

September 18, 2018

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said it is “laughable” to claim President Trump’s order Monday to declassify documents related to the Russia investigation is a danger to national security.

The “mainstream media” is “buying the Kool-Aid,” Nunes, R-Calif., said in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham reacting to a warning given hours earlier by his Democratic counterpart on the intelligence panel.

In a statement, Rep. Adam Schiff called Trump’s order a “clear abuse of power” and said he was previously informed by the FBI and Justice Department that they would consider the release of these materials the stepping past a “red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods.”

Image result for Adam Schiff, photos

Rep. Adam Schiff

Nunes brushed off what he described as a political “play call,” which has been echoed by other Democrats, politicos, and legal experts. “It’s laughable that they are saying this will somehow endanger national security,” Nunes said. “This is really full transparency for the American people.”

Answering a push by his GOP allies in Congress, who have been clamoring to secure public evidence showing a tainted Russia investigation and bias in the top levels of the DOJ and FBI, the White House announced early Monday evening that Trump had ordered the declassification of certain key documents that Nunes and others have had their eyes on, and more.

Among them are about 20 pages of the June 2017 application to the FISA court seeking the authority to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who had suspicious ties to Russia. While it’s not the first application submitted — there were four in total — Nunes explained this one contains the main details of the other three. The FISA documents were released earlier in the summer, but in heavily redacted form.

The GOP majority in the House Intelligence Committee, with the release of a memo in February that was declassified by Trump, raised the alarm about the FBI possibly misleading the FISA court by hiding the political origins of dossier, written by ex-British spy Christopher Steele and funded in part by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Trump and Republicans have repeatedly questioned the credibility of the Russia investigation, specifically how much the dossier — which contains unverified claims about Trump’s ties to Russia — was used by top federal law enforcement officials to justify launching it in 2016. Trump’s order Monday also covers documents on FBI interviews with DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who not only fed the bureau information he got from Steele, but also has a wife who had done work for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the dossier.

Democrats have decried the GOP efforts, characterizing them as a means to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In his statement Monday, Schiff accused Trump of deciding to “intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.”

Meanwhile, there has been talk that Trump could be breaking the law with his order; not in regards to the Russia documents, but rather with the unexpected move of ordering the unredacted release of text messages of current and former officials, including ex-FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Ohr, and former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who became infamous for their anti-Trump text messages.

“There could very likely be Privacy Act implications,” former Justice Department attorney Scott Hodes told Politico.

While Nunes and others, like Trump ally Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., praised Trump for allowing transparency to win, there remain hurdles. In a statement Monday evening, the Justice Department suggested that the declassification effort, which will involve multiple agencies, will take some time.

“When the President issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House Counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests. The Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the President’s order,” a DOJ spokeperson said.

Even when the documents are declassified, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano warned that some of them may not see the light of day. “Just because something is no longer classified doesn’t mean it’s public,” he said on air.

Former government officials explained to the Wall Street Journal that members of Congress, including those in the House Intelligence Committee, could obtain them and then release some of the documents themselves. They would also be subject to freedom of information laws.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/devin-nunes-laughable-to-argue-trumps-declassification-order-endangers-national-security

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Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr was told Russia had ‘Trump over a barrel’ — report

September 1, 2018

Trump-Russia dossier author also said to tell Bruce Ohr that campaign aide Carter Page met with more-senior Russian officials than he’d acknowledged

 

In this photo from August 28, 2018, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr arrives for a closed hearing of the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In this photo from August 28, 2018, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr arrives for a closed hearing of the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump “over a barrel,” according to multiple people familiar with the encounter.

The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said.

The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.

They add to the public understanding of those pivotal summer months as the FBI and intelligence community scrambled to untangle possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. And they reflect the concern of Steele, a longtime FBI informant whose Democratic-funded research into Trump ties to Russia was compiled into a dossier, that the Republican presidential candidate was possibly compromised and his urgent efforts to convey that anxiety to contacts at the FBI and Justice Department.

The people who discussed Ohr’s interview were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the closed session and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

US President Donald Trump speaks with reporters upon arriving at the White House on August 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Among the things Ohr said he learned from Steele during the breakfast was that an unnamed former Russian intelligence official had communicated that Russian intelligence believed “they had Trump over a barrel,” according to people familiar with the meeting.

It was not clear from Ohr’s interview whether Steele was directly told that or had picked that up through his contacts, but the broader sentiment is echoed in Steele’s dossier.

Steele and Ohr, at the time of the election a senior official in the deputy attorney general’s office, had first met a decade earlier and bonded over a shared interest in international organized crime. They met several times during the presidential campaign, a relationship that has exposed both men and federal law enforcement more generally to partisan criticism, including from Trump.

Republicans contend the FBI relied excessively on the dossier during its investigation and to obtain a secret wiretap application on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. They also say Ohr went outside his job description and chain of command by meeting with Steele, including after his termination as a FBI source, and then relaying information to the FBI.

Trump this month proposed stripping Ohr, who until this year had been largely anonymous during his decades-long Justice Department career, of his security clearance and has asked “how the hell” he remains employed. He has called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt” and denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

The president and some of his supporters in Congress have also accused the FBI of launching the entire Russia counterintelligence investigation based on the dossier. But memos authored by Republicans and Democrats and declassified this year show the probe was triggered by information the US government earlier received about the Russian contacts of then-Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.

The FBI’s investigation was already under way by the time it received Steele’s dossier. The investigation’s lead agent, Peter Strzok, told lawmakers last month that “it was not Mr. Ohr who provided the initial documents that I became aware of in mid-September.”

Ohr described his relationship with Steele during a House interview Tuesday.

This photo from March 7, 2017, shows Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, in London. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

One of the meetings he recounted was a Washington breakfast attended by Steele, a Steele associate and Ohr. Ohr’s wife, Nellie, who worked for Fusion GPS, the political research firm that hired Steele, attended at least part of it.

Beside the “over a barrel” remark, Ohr also told Congress that Steele told him that Page, a Trump campaign aide who traveled to Moscow that same month and whose ties to Russia attracted FBI scrutiny, had met with more-senior Russian officials than he had acknowledged.

The breakfast took place amid ongoing FBI concerns about Russian election interference and possible communication with Trump associates.

By that point, Russian hackers had penetrated Democratic email accounts, including that of the Clinton campaign chairman, and Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign associate, was said to have revealed that Russians had “dirt” on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of emails, court papers say.

That revelation prompted the FBI to open the counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016, one day after the breakfast but based on entirely different information.

Ohr told lawmakers he could not vouch for the accuracy of Steele’s information but has said he considered him a reliable FBI informant who delivered credible and actionable intelligence, including about corruption at FIFA, soccer’s global governing body.

In the interview, Ohr acknowledged that he had not told superiors in his office, including Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, about his meetings with Steele because he considered the information inflammatory raw source material.

He also provided new details about the department’s move to reassign him once his Steele ties were brought to light.

Ohr said he met in late 2017 with two senior Justice Department officials, Scott Schools and James Crowell, who told him they were unhappy he had not proactively disclosed his meetings with Steele. They said he was being stripped of his associate deputy attorney post as part of an internal reorganization that would have occurred anyway, people familiar with Ohr’s account say.

He met again soon after with one of the officials, who told him Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein didn’t believe he could remain in his current position as director of a law enforcement grant-distribution initiative known as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces program because the position entailed White House meetings and interactions.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined comment.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/sources-justice-deptartment-lawyer-was-told-russia-had-trump-over-a-barrel/

Rudy Giuliani: DOJ lawyer Bruce Ohr should be investigated for felony

August 31, 2018

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested the Department of Justice should investigate its own employee, Bruce Ohr, over payments his wife received from Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the Steele dossier.

Bruce Ohr in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 2010.
Bruce Ohr in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 2010. PHOTO: C-SPAN

Writing on Twitter, Giuliani questioned whether the Justice Department has opened an investigation into whether Ohr had a written waiver for his wife’s work for Fusion GPS.

“What are the odds the DOJ or Mueller have begun an investigation of Bruce Ohr for violating 18 USC sec. 208? That’s a federal felony unless he disclosed all facts to the DOJ and has a written waiver. How many of you know what that is?” Giuliani wrote.

Rudy Giuliani

@RudyGiuliani

What are the odds the DOJ or Mueller have begun an investigation of Bruce Ohr for violating 18 USC sec. 208? That’s a federal felony unless he disclosed all facts to the DOJ and has a written waiver. How many of you know what that is?

Rudy Giuliani

@RudyGiuliani

Ohr’s wife was financially benefitted by Ohr, a DOJ official, advancing the Steele phony dossier. Her firm got some part of the $1.02 million paid by Hillary and DNC. A crime unless he has a written waiver from Obama’s politicized DOJ which is possible.

Ohr’s wife, a Russia expert named Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS as part of its Democrat-funded investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

The law firm that represented the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC) paid Fusion GPS just over $1 million to investigate Trump. Fusion, which was founded by three former Wall Street Journal reporters, paid Steele $178,000 for his work. Nellie Ohr was paid $44,000, according to California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who took part in Ohr’s hearing Tuesday.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that Ohr did not obtain a conflict of interest waiver from the Justice Department for his wife’s work. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Bruce Ohr Hid Wife’s Fusion GPS Payments From DOJ)

According to Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, Ohr’s wife receiving money on the dossier project would constitute “a crime unless he has a written waiver from Obama’s politicized DOJ which is possible.”

Asked for comment, a Justice Department spokeswoman referred the matter to the DOJ’s office of the inspector general.

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TAGS : BRUCE OHR DONALD TRUMP RUDY GIULIANI

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https://dailycaller.com/2018/08/30/giuliani-bruce-ohr-felony/

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