Posts Tagged ‘James Clapper’

What Are the FBI and CIA Hiding?

August 1, 2018

The agency might have led the bureau down a rabbit hole in the 2016 Trump counterintelligence probe.

George Papadopoulos in London.
George Papadopoulos in London. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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Did the Central Intelligence Agency lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation down a rabbit hole in the counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign?

Although the FBI’s case officially began July 31, 2016, there had been investigative activity before that date. John Brennan’s CIA might have directed activity in Britain, which could be a problem because of longstanding agreements that the U.S. will not conduct intelligence operations there. It would explain why the FBI continues to stonewall Congress as to the inquiry’s origin.

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John Brennan. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press.

Further, what we know about the case’s origin does not meet the threshold required by the attorney general guidelines for opening a counterintelligence case. That standard requires “predicate information,” or “articulable facts.”

From what has been made public, all that passes for predicate information in this matter originated in Britain. Stefan Halper, an American who ran the Centre of International Studies at Cambridge, had been a CIA source in the past. Recent press reports describe him as an FBI informant. Joseph Mifsud, another U.K.-based academic with ties to Western intelligence, met with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos on April 26, 2016. Mr. Mifsud reportedly mentioned “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Then, on May 10, Mr. Papadopoulos met with Australian Ambassador Alexander Downer in London, to whom he relayed the claim about “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton.

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Peter Strzok

Peter Strzok, the FBI’s deputy assistant director, went to London Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the case was opened, ostensibly to interview Mr. Downer about his conversation with Mr. Papadopoulos. But what about the earlier investigative activity? The FBI would not usually maintain an informant in England. It is far likelier that in the spring of 2016 Mr. Halper was providing information to British intelligence or directly to the CIA, where Mr. Brennan was already pushing the collusion narrative.

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James Clapper

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, has acknowledged that “intelligence agencies” were looking into the collusion allegations in spring 2016. The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that British intelligence had been suspicious about contacts between associates of Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible Russian agents. That prompted Robert Hannigan, then head of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, to pass information to Mr. Brennan. With only these suspicions, Mr. Brennan pressured the FBI into launching its counterintelligence probe.

The FBI lacked any real predicate. But in the post-9/11 world, a referral from the CIA would cause some in the FBI to believe they had to act—particularly as the agency’s information originated with America’s closest ally. Shortly after the case opened that summer, Mr. Brennan gave a briefing to then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, telling him that the CIA had referred the matter to the FBI—an obvious effort to pressure the bureau to get moving on the collusion case.

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Harry Reid

As the FBI’s investigation progressed, it would use a surveillance warrant against Carter Page, a former member of Mr. Trump’s campaign, who had been in contact with Mr. Halper. A dossier prepared for the Clinton campaign by Christopher Steele, formerly of Britain’s MI6, was used to obtain the warrant.

The existence of the investigation was withheld from the congressional “gang of eight” because of its “sensitivity,” former FBI Director James Comey later said. The FBI continues to withhold the full details of the origin story from Congress. Their rationale is the “protection of sources,” as the origin lies with our best international partner.

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Although Mr. Brennan has exposed himself as a biased actor, the CIA has escaped criticism for using only thinly sourced information from British intelligence to snooker the FBI. Most damaging is the possibility that the CIA violated agreements with Britain by spying there rather than asking MI5 or MI6 to do so. And that may be what is really being withheld from Congress.

Mr. Baker is a retired FBI special agent and legal attaché.

Appeared in the August 1, 2018, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-are-the-fbi-and-cia-hiding-1533078662

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Trump Weighs Revoking Security Clearances for Several Ex-Obama Officials

July 24, 2018
Former DNI Clapper says the move would be ‘very, very petty’ — Ex-CIA chief Brennan called Trump’s Putin summit ‘treasonous’
John BrennanPhotographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of former FBI Director James Comey, ex-CIA Director John Brennan and other Obama-era national security officials who have criticized him.

Trump has been seething over criticism of his Helsinki summit last week with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and public doubts Trump expressed about U.S. intelligence findings that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Brennan called Trump’s performance “treasonous.”

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James Clapper

Tracking Trump: Follow the Administration’s Every Move

The president is “exploring the mechanism” to remove their access to classified information because of criticism the officials have leveled against his conduct of relations with Russia, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.

“They’ve politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances,” Sanders said. “Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate.”

Sanders said Trump also was considering stripping security clearances from James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence; Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency; and Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader in the Senate, said he understood Trump’s aggravation with the former officials’ criticism but expressed skepticism about the move.

“I don’t know whether they’ve been abusing their security clearance at all,” Cornyn told reporters. “That’s a very serious allegation, and I want to see what the results are.”

“This is just a very, very petty thing to do,” Clapper said on CNN. “The security clearance has nothing to do with how I or any of us feel about the president. I don’t get briefings, I don’t have access to any classified information, it’s frankly more of a courtesy.”

Hayden said the sanction won’t silence his criticism of Trump.

“I don’t go back for classified briefings,” Hayden said in a tweet. “Won’t have any effect on what I say or write.”

Read More: Rand Paul Seeks Bar on Trump-Critic Brennan’s Classified Access

The guidelines covering security clearances don’t permit revocation for political differences, and the former officials could challenge the step through an administrative process, said Mark Zaid, a Washington-based national security lawyer with expertise in security clearances.

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Michael Hayden

“It is completely inappropriate for anyone to lose their security clearance based on political differences,” Zaid said. “To my knowledge this has never been an issue before because no president in their right mind would ever ethically consider taking such an action.”

Still, Trump could simply order agencies to stop providing classified information to the former officials, Zaid said.

Brennan was CIA director under Obama and helped produce the intelligence reports that first found Russia meddled in the election. After Trump’s meeting last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brennan called Trump’s performance “treasonous” and said he “is wholly in the pocket of Putin and that his performance exceeded the threshold for impeachment for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’”

Brennan was one of several intelligence officials who showed Trump classified information just before he took office indicating Putin had personally authorized hacking to try and sway the 2016 U.S. election in Trump’s favor, according to the New York Times.

The idea of moving to revoke Brennan’s security clearance gained traction recently in conservative media circles. Fox News host Tucker Carlson on July 19 called Brennan an extremist with “a documented history of dishonesty” and said he shouldn’t have a clearance.

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said he urged Trump to revoke Brennan’s security clearance at a meeting with the president Monday. Trump is trying to court Paul to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite reservations the senator has expressed about Kavanaugh’s commitment to privacy rights.

— With assistance by Laura Litvan, and Chris Strohm

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-23/trump-weighs-revoking-security-clearances-for-comey-brennan

Is President Trump Illegitimate?

July 21, 2018

Russia hurt him, Comey helped him, but the Constitution put him in office.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting in Helsinki, July 16.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting in Helsinki, July 16. PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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Donald Trump never expected to be president. And, we might reasonably surmise, perhaps didn’t really want to be. Think about that as President Trump seeks to remake America’s relationship with the world as dramatically as any president in 70 years.

The Greek witch-goddess Circe gave her son a magic weapon to protect him on his search for his father, Odysseus. When father and son finally met, Odysseus was accidentally killed by the magic weapon. Oops.

Then-FBI Director James Comey received a magic weapon that, in his own mind, justified his usurping of the Justice Department’s decision whether to prosecute Hillary Clinton or her aides in the email case. Without Mr. Comey’s initial intervention, there never would have been his second intervention, reopening the Hillary case shortly before Election Day. Oops.

If veteran political analyst Ronald Brownstein is right, blue-collar white women in the upper Midwest elected Mr. Trump. What better antidote for the “Access Hollywood” scandal, then tanking the Trump campaign, than the revelation that the Hillary case was not only back but entangled with the underage sexting adventures of former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner.

If any Russian involvement helped Mr. Trump, this was it. As we know from credible reporting and from Mr. Comey’s own elliptical memoir, he was in possession of a captured Kremlin intelligence document that cited an alleged agreement between the Obama Justice Department and the Clinton campaign to bury the email case. This was Mr. Comey’s magic weapon.

Amanda Renteria, the Clinton campaign aide named in the Russian intelligence, has stated plainly that the information was “made up by the Russians.” The Justice Department’s inspector general said the info was viewed inside the FBI as “not credible” and “objectively false.” According to CNN and the Washington Post, some considered it a deliberate Kremlin plant.

Yet Mr. Comey, in a recent interview with PBS’s Judy Woodruff, described the information as “legitimate” and expressed agnosticism over whether it was “accurate.”

He told NBC’s Chuck Todd, “I’m just not, by my silence, agreeing with your predicate that it was false documents.”

What the heck is going on here?

This episode represents the only possible way Russia affected the election outcome. Other claims about its decisive effect are implausible.

Former Obama intelligence chief James Clapper flatly opines, based on his decades of experience, that Russia elected Mr. Trump, which might be more persuasive if his decades of experience were in U.S. electoral politics, not spywork and disinformation.

The Economist magazine, in honor of last week’s U.S. indictment of Russia’s GRU hackers, says the Kremlin only had to shift 0.03% of the total vote and therefore Mr. Trump may be illegitimate.

What these analysts ignore is net effect. Bernie voters and Catholics had reason to be offended by leaked Democratic emails, but these were one-day stories early in the race. The overall impact of Russia hacking and social media trolling not only was small on its own terms; it was swamped by the blowback on conventional media, which daily amplified accusations of Hillary supporters and Never Trump Republicans that Mr. Trump was in Vladimir Putin’s pocket.

Replay the election in your head, in fact, and it’s hard come to any conclusion other than Mr. Trump would have been much better off if Russia wasn’t a subject. Voters don’t vote on foreign policy. They do vote on character. There can’t be 75 people in America who cared that Mr. Trump promised better relations with Russia. There must have been hundreds of thousands or millions who followed half the GOP pundit and foreign-policy establishment in opposing Mr. Trump on character grounds, including his alleged footsie with the Kremlin.

I’ll say it again: It is overwhelmingly likely that Russian efforts, aside from their presumably unforeseen and accidental impact on Mr. Comey, cost Mr. Trump more votes than they got him.

As early as February 2016, this column described Mr. Trump as a “democratic accident” waiting to happen: “What began as a scheme to become more famous is in danger of running away with the country.”

It was entirely possible for Mr. Trump to be the last man standing in a crowded GOP primary field full of candidates who might have bested him one on one. He clearly lucked out with Hillary as his Democratic opponent. Of course, the totality of effects decides even a close election. But if you’re looking for a single, conscious, deliberate action by any human being that influenced the outcome, you’re left with Mr. Comey and his Russia-supplied magic weapon.

By the way, this doesn’t make Mr. Trump an illegitimate president. He’s a natural-born U.S. citizen of the requisite age and won a majority of the Electoral College.

Appeared in the July 21, 2018, print edition.

Trump’s Russia policy lets Putin ‘punch above his weight’

July 20, 2018

US President Donald Trump faced a deluge of criticism for siding with Vladimir Putin against his own intelligence agencies on Monday before backtracking. After a week of US diplomatic missteps and reversals, only the Russian leader emerged unscathed.

Trump confounded both his backers and his critics on Monday by standing beside Russian President Vladimir Putin and announcing that Putin’s “powerful” denials of election meddling had convinced him, despite the US intelligence community’s unanimous assessment that Russian efforts sought to influence the 2016 vote.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people,” Trump told a joint press conference in Helsinki. “But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

The US president offered a clear juxtaposition between what his administration has told him and what Putin said privately in their one-on-one meeting in the Finnish capital.

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“[Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me, and some others. They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said.

His announcement ignited a firestorm of criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, including accusations of “treason”.

Republican Senator John McCain said the statement was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.

“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate,” McCain said in a statement, adding: “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”

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Former director of national intelligence James Clapper called Trump’s statement “an incredible capitulation” while former CIA director John Brennan said on Twitter that it was “nothing short of treasonous”.

John O. Brennan

@JohnBrennan

Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

But Trump wasn’t done yet. Putin told the Helsinki press conference that he would allow US investigators probing allegations of Russian election meddling under Special Counsel Robert Mueller to question 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted in the case last week. But in exchange, Putin wanted Russian officials to interrogate those Americans whom he accuses of involvement in unspecified “illegal actions” on Russian territory, notably prominent Putin critic Bill Browder, former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and others.

“I think that’s an incredible offer,” Trump said, sparking a new round of widespread and bipartisan outrage that Trump would even consider turning Americans – including former diplomats – over to a foreign power for questioning.

By Tuesday the White House was in full defence mode, with Trump telling the press he misspoke in Helsinki regarding Russia’s election interference. When he said, “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia, he had actually meant “wouldn’t”.

“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia’,” Trump said. “Sort of a double negative.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also later backtracked on Putin’s proposal to swap citizens for questioning, saying Thursday that Trump “disagreed” with the plan.

Hours later, Trump risked courting controversy anew by asking staff to invite Putin to Washington in the autumn.

Making Russia great again

Trump’s week of diplomatic U-turns left many observers scratching their heads, wondering if he had an overall strategy for dealing with the Kremlin. Some attributed his compliance to a personal history of relying on Russian money for many of his business ventures. Others have suggested, more darkly, that Trump’s obeisance is linked to Russian attempts to swing the 2016 election in his favour.

Whatever the reason behind it, Trump’s amenable stance on Russia is at odds with the rest of the US establishment, rendering it difficult for the United States to pursue a consistent, coherent policy towards Moscow.

“Most of the US government is hawkish and suspicious of Russia,” observed Dr Jacob Parakilas, deputy head of the US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House. “Congress, which can barely agree on anything across party lines these days, has repeatedly passed sanctions against Russia and other related measures by overwhelming, veto-proof margins. There is little to no support for what Trump might call a ‘good relationship’ with Putin in the US military, the intelligence community, or the diplomatic corps.”

And yet Trump, as the head of state, “sees things quite differently and is willing to disregard the advice of virtually everyone in the government he leads”, Parakilas said. “But his power is far from absolute, and he can’t compel them to take his view. That inevitably stands in the way of [policy] coherence.”

Parakilas said that while Trump might not have an overarching plan for his Kremlin policy, “instinctually he wants to lower tensions with Russia and focus on creating a more adversarial economic relationship with the EU and China”.

Such goals may be impossible to realise, however.

“Given what’s arrayed against him internally and externally, I think there’s very little chance of that happening, and I don’t think he has a backup plan,” Parakilas said.

“So he’ll keep trying to find opportunities to ingratiate himself with Putin where he can, but those [efforts] will contribute to growing political blowback at home.”

‘THIS IS A GREAT TRIUMPH FOR PUTIN’

Playing a weak hand

Putin, for his part, has proved his expertise in parlaying relative weakness into strength.

According to James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, the announcement that Putin has been invited to the White House in the autumn is “another win for Kremlin”.

“[I]t once again sets Russia up as a major league power – above and beyond all others really,” Nixey said in an email. “This is in direct contrast to Russia’s direction of travel. It is NOT a modernising, economically improving power. So Russia, once again, punches above its weight.”

As other foreign policy observers have noted, Trump’s seeming acquiescence to the Kremlin is baffling given Russia’s geostrategic importance. The United States has by far the world’s strongest military and the largest GDP, while Russia does not even crack the world’s top 10 economies, according to the World Bank. And yet Trump appears keen to grant Moscow international footing equal to that of Washington.

Russia is geographically sprawling and has a lot of Soviet legacy relationships…” noted political science professor Robert E. Kelly in a Twitter post“[B]ut it’s actually rather sluggish and being surpassed by cleaner, more globalized states you wouldn’t think of as out-running Moscow.”

Russia’s GDP is smaller than that of either Brazil, Italy or Canada, he noted. So for all its nuclear “bluster” and “fatiguing trouble-making” along its perimeter, Russia is “basically a stagnant, over-sized middle power”.

“It’s amazing how well Putin plays a weaker hand than most people recognize,” Kelly wrote.

Robert E Kelly

@Robert_E_Kelly

As Trump rushes to build a Russo-US “special responsibility for maintaining international security,” recall that Russia’s GDP is now smaller than that of Brazil, Italy, Canada, and S Korea, states we normally think of as middle powers. I’m not sure most people realize this; /1

But Russia seems to be taking a long-term view, willing to bide its time to reap any benefits. Moscow is hoping to amass what Nixey called “mini victories” from the US president, always “with the possibility of more substantial victories down the line”.

“The Russians are patient with Trump,” he said, “as they spot opportunity in his weakness and vanity.”

In an analysis for Chatham House, Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at the Russia and Eurasia Programme, said that for all the surprises on offer in Helsinki, Trump’s Putin meeting could have turned out much worse for America’s European allies.

Trump had “demonstrated his willingness to make sudden unilateral concessions that compromise the security of his allies” at his June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by announcing the suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea, long a point of contention with Pyongyang.

Against this backdrop, there was a real danger that, “left to his own devices, he might have been persuaded by President Putin to do the same in the Baltic states and Poland”, Giles said. And such a move “would have provoked an immediate crisis between the United States and its NATO allies”.

Despite the consternation that followed the Helsinki summit, he wrote, “both the United States and its European allies may have got off lightly”.

AFP

Donald Trump Should Start a National Cybersecurity Defense Effort

July 20, 2018

Donald Trump should use his executive powers as President of the United States to solve one of the most vexing problems of modern government: unauthorized cyber intrusion, theft, hacking and service disruption.

The U.S. government and the American people have long been the victims of cyberattacks.

During the Obama Administration, cyber attacks and loss of government data became commonplace. While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, used a computer without any government security features in her home for virtually all her State Department email and business. Huma Abedin copied many of the emails which ended up on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

The fact that the FBI under James Comey and Peter Strzok failed to hand down an indictment does not mean that Mrs. Clinton, or anyone else, didn’t commit a crime. Clinton and her staff certainly violate statutes with regard to the handling of classified information. The lackluster cybersecurity measures of the DNC and the Clinton campaign have caused America an undue amount of anguish and division ever since.

For no reason.

This does not mean that Republicans are OK on cybersecurity. They aren’t.

Every corner of the U.S. government needs more attention on cybersecurity.

We can’t allow Vladimir Putin to be our guardian.

Trump needs to look at the big picture.

The president can easily get started by naming a Blue Ribbon panel of experts from the technology sector like Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to pay pay back the United States of America for their riches by helping to make the U.S. the most cyber-secure nation in the world.

Maybe the retired Mr. John Brennan and James Clapper can contribute some expertise.

The United States should be the world leader in cybersecurity; ready, willing and able to defend itself at all times and to help friends and allies around the world.

Commentary
By John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Related:

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FILE PHOTO: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a press conference on the Trump Administration’s tax cuts at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, U.S., on June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan/File Photo

Did Hillary’s email security negligence as U.S. Secretary of State invite Russian cyber meddling?

Hillary Clinton speaking during a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday.

Personal, not secure, “home-brew” email server? Poster child for bad cyber security/National security.

Hillary Clinton was exonerated for mishandling classified email by:

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Vladimir Putin in Moscow in December. Credit Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

 

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Ten Years of Russian Cyber Attacks on Other Nations

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hacking-in-america/timeline-ten-years-russian-cyber-attacks-other-nations-n697111

President Barack Obama announced the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, a prisoner swap and the $1.7 billion settlement with Iran in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Jan. 17.
President Barack Obama  PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

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John Emerson, Washington's man in Berlin, to meet with Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, over claims Angela Merkel's phone was tapped by US

Chancellor Merkel called President Obama demanding answers after reports emerged that the US may have been monitoring her phone Photo: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks at the Center for American Progress’ 2014 Making Progress Policy Conference in Washington November 19, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25. Photo: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg News
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Clapper: “Badge Of Honor” When Trump Attacks Me, John Brennan, Hayden, Comey — Is something fishy in U.S. intelligence?

July 20, 2018

President Trump ripped former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, General Hayden, James Comey, and Andrew McCabe as well as Peter Strzok and “his lover” Lisa Page and said that he never had confidence in them in an interview that aired on CBS Evening News.

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Trump specifically called out Brennan and Clapper in the interview with Jeff Glor of CBS News that aired Wednesday night. He called Brennan a “total low-life” and that Clapper had gone “haywire.”

“In the past, no, I have no confidence in a guy like Brennan. I think he’s a total low-life. I have no confidence in Clapper,” Trump told CBS News.

Trump’s comments inspired Clapper to go on CNN late Wednesday evening to respond to the attack.

TRUMP: Well, certainly in the past, it’s been terrible. You look at Brennan, you look at Clapper, you look at Hayden, you look at Comey, you look at McCabe, you look at Strzok and his lover, Lisa Page. You look at other people in the F.B.I. that have been fired, are no longer there.

Certainly I can’t have any confidence in the past. But I can have a lot of confidence in the present and the future, because it’s getting to be now where we’re putting our people in. But in the past, no, I have no confidence in a guy like Brennan. I think he’s a total low-life. I have no confidence in Clapper. You know, Clapper wrote me a beautiful letter when I first went to office, and it was really nice.

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CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. FILE photo

And then, all of a sudden, he’s gone haywire because they got to him and they probably got him to say things that maybe he doesn’t even mean. But no, I certainly don’t have confidence in past people. You look at what’s happened. Take a look at all of the shenanigans that have gone on. Very hard to have confidence in that group.

“It’s reached the point, and I think I’m speaking for my case and John Brennan’s. It’s almost a badge of honor when the president sees fit to go after individual private citizens. And I think I can speak, as well, for all of us to say — and I include Jim Comey in this,” Clapper told CNN.

Clapper responded on Wednesday’s The Situation Room, calling the attacks a “badge of honor” for himself and John Brennan.

JAMES CLAPPER, FMR. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLEGENCE: It’s reached the point, and I think I’m speaking for my case and John Brennan’s. It’s almost a badge of honor when the president sees fit to go after individual private citizens. And I think I can speak, as well, for all of us to say — and I include Jim Comey in this. The only reason we’ve spoken out about all of this is our genuine concerns about this president and this presidency and who is assaulting values and institutions and standards of this country, which collectively we’ve spent decades defending.

As for the beautiful letter that I wrote to then President-elect Trump, it was a note that accompanied the first presidential daily briefing he received after he became president-elect. One of the things that I made a point of in that letter was to join him or ask him to abide by, support and protect the principle of truth to power, Which Dan Coats, to his great credit, is doing. And so, anyway, I’ll stop there if you have more questions.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: I do. General Clapper, he’s basically accusing and John Brennan and General Hayden and others of plotting against him during the campaign, while he was running for president, trying to undermine him. I mean, this is the president of the United States making an accusation like that.

CLAPPER: This is an absurd allegation and there’s no basis in facts or evidence for that.

Our concern — and now I’m speaking specifically for Jim Comey and John Brennan and Mike Rogers as well. What’s is it that the Russians were doing to interfere in our political processes?

As I said before, I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff in my 60+ years in intelligence but nothing that disturbs me as much as this. So it was about the Russians and there was no intent to undermine President-elect and later President Trump. It’s an absurd allegation.

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/07/19/clapper_badge_of_honor_when_trump_attacks_me_john_brennan_hayden_and_comey.html

Did the U.S. Intelligence Community Collude With Hillary Clinton Campaign to Influence the Outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election?

July 10, 2018

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CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. FILE photo

As controversial as the Steele dossier has become, it may well prove key to a political corruption scandal far more insidious than anyone has presently suggested. To be sure, critics have blasted its seeming partisan falsity, and many also have declaimed that it enabled the FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. And there is evidence that the opening of the “Russiagate” investigation was itself premised strongly on this “salacious and unverified” report. But little attention has been paid to the role of American intelligence agencies in its creation, which now is appearing substantial, and which would implicate a governmental conspiracy making Watergate look like child’s play.

This is not to minimize the profoundly troubling questions that this dossier has already presented, including those about the legitimacy of using “human sources” (i.e., spies) to entrap the opposition candidate during a presidential campaign. These questions are being doggedly pursued by Congress, and fought tooth and nail by a DOJ/FBI whose present and former officials face serious jeopardy. For instance, any official who knowingly presented a materially false FISA application, for warrant or extensions, should be guilty, for one, of obstruction of justice under 18 U.S.C. §1505.

By John D. O’Connor | Is the attorney who revealed Mark Felt as Watergate’s Deep Throat

But reasonable inferences to be drawn from the known evidence suggest that governmental wrongdoing may be even more darkly sinister than DOJ critics presently imagine, encompassing possible criminality so pervasive and widespread that every top DOJ and FBI official serving in 2016 may face discipline or even indictment. The basis for this pandemic criminality would be the participation of the DOJ, FBI and CIA, not just in the questionable use of the partisan, false Clinton-funded Steele Dossier, but in its planning and development, an issue not yet been meaningfully explored.

Why would engagement in the dossier’s creation be any more heinous than the FISA fraud already being widely suggested? No one should make light of the distinct possibility that some officials possibly defrauded the FISA court, FISC, wrongdoing, however, also possibly excused as negligent, blinding political bias. But if the Steele dossier was conceived and developed by our own intelligence agencies, as opposed to it having been used by them after this allegedly reliable dossier fell in their laps, the potential for criminality changes dramatically.

If our intelligence agencies had a hand in creating this dossier, such would have been done with the intent to frame Trump for serious crimes, to leak false charges to the media during an election campaign, and possibly to use as an insurance policy supporting impeachment. Our trusted intelligence organizations, reminiscent of East Germany’s, would have employed their vast powers to corrupt our most important democratic processes.

Before the skeptical reader dismisses these statements as so much overheated rhetoric, let’s calmly examine this hypothesis. We now know that the Steele dossier is false in its major claims, at least as to Trump’s involvement. If American intelligence (FBI, CIA and DNI James Clapper) substantially developed the dossier, it would have only done so if it knew that the dossier would be false. If it was planned to be a true report, why would these agencies bother disguising the report, using a law firm, a British spy, and an opposition research firm? These American agencies, which were closely cooperating with British GCHQ, could have produced the same salacious findings, and presented them to FISC with even greater credibility than, as they did, vouching for a former British spy’s credibility. If the claims were thought to be true, the FBI and CIA, also citing GCHQ, could strongly rely on their own stellar reputations to support their own report. So they would use a “cutout” like Steele only if they needed deniability should the falsity be discovered. Since Clinton was heavily favored, this potential discovery would be a minimal risk, especially with the unctuous Comey continuing in his twelve-year FBI term. But the unthinkable happened.

Let’s consider the circumstantial indicia suggesting that our intelligence agencies did participate in the Steele dossier ab initio. The first such fingerprint is that of British intelligence, present throughout the CIA/DOJ/FBI work, and closely connected to Steele.

As the British journal Guardian has reported, and left-leaning Media Matters has confirmed, the tip that Putin intended to financially support Trump was relayed from GCHQ to the CIA, led at the time by Brennan, in December 2015. So GCHQ was involved from the outset, and was itself likely no fan of a possible Trump presidency which had much in common with the governmentally despised Brexit movement. Brennan then hurriedly formed an “inter-agency” group, including the FBI, which we know existed as of December 28, 2015, when FBI lawyer Lisa Page inquired of her lover, FBI Deputy Peter Strzok about his request for approval of “LUREs,” fedspeak for human informants or spies, inferentially to penetrate the Trump campaign.

What suggests continuing GCHQ involvement is the British locus of subsequent spying and entrapping activity, such as approaches to London resident George Papadopoulos by Joseph Mifsud, Sergei Millian and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, all occurring in March through mid-May 2016. Later Stefan Halper lured Papadopoulos, Carter Page and, unsuccessfully, Steven Miller to London for more entrapping initiatives. Indeed, GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan traveled to Washington in August 2016 to personally discuss the investigation with Brennan.

We know that retired British spies stay close and loyal to their alma mater, with reciprocity, which would suggest that Christopher Steele’s retention in June 2016, by Clinton’s Fusion GPS, was likely sanctioned by GCHQ, with the approval of its partners CIA and FBI. Let’s put it this way: could Steele do what he did, seemingly exploiting CGHQ assets regarding sensitive American issues, without the explicit approval of GCHQ and its partners the CIA and FBI? Of course not.

Icing on this cake is provided, first, by the shadowy Sergei Millian, who had presumably been working for some intelligence agency (perhaps playing a double game) when hounding Papadopoulos commencing April 2016. Whoever was Millian’s employer, it certainly spoon-fed him as “Source D” and “Source E” to Steele, who pumped out his first report tout de suite, relying mainly on Millian. At the least, the readily talkative Millian was certainly known to GCHQ and its partners CIA and FBI, who in turn employed the frighteningly partisan Strzok. So we ask, were these three partnering agencies so incompetent that they could not uncover in seven months what Steele found in days for his first report, after his retention, in June 2016? Of course they could have. But they knew such reporting would be palpably false, and so, we infer, routed the false Millian stories through Steele.

By June 2016 all the human sources of GCHQ, CIA and FBI had come up dry, with the best they had being Papadopoulos’s repeating the ho-hummer that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary. And by June 2016, their first FISA application suffered the unusual and ignominious disgrace of having been rejected by a normally friendly FISC, one of the disappointed officials being DOJ’s Bruce Ohr. So they were in a pickle: they did not have enough evidence to get a FISA warrant, and yet needed a FISA warrant to get evidence, failing which the whole venture would have been dead in June 2016. If they were going to gamble to fabricate evidence, they needed a cutout – Steele – precisely because they could not themselves get a legitimate warrant based on legitimate evidence. And the cutout had to be sellable to FISC as a trained intelligence agent with good credentials, like Steele.

In that vein, it appears that Steele himself was not hired to do real investigatory work so much as to be a “front” through which to route claims to FISC that were not proven. He was paid a mere $168,000 (out of a multi-million-dollar research budget), a startlingly low figure for what claims to be highly sensitive digging through numerous sources in multiple countries. So clearly, whether through his handler, Nellie Ohr, the Russian-speaking wife of Bruce Ohr, or through GCHQ and its American partners, Steele was being fed his purported findings.

Steele’s job, thus, seems something other than the “opposition research” it has been labelled, to Comey and Brennen’s likely relief. Rather, his concealed partisan provenance and his professional intelligence reporting style were seemingly intended from the outset to support a FISA application, using Steele as a credible front. Let’s put it differently: if Steele’s work was not intended from the beginning to be used in a warrant application, why would it be written in an intelligence report style? Why all the efforts to hide his financing by Clinton? These efforts only make sense if they were originally pointed toward a warrant.

While all of the foregoing suggests, circumstantially, coordination and planning from the get-go, it is confirmed by Fusion’s hiring of Nellie Ohr just as Bruce Ohr was failing in the first FISA application, shortly following a White House visit in April 2016 by Mary Jacoby, wife of Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson. Nellie provided Steele with researchobtained a ham radio license, presumably for secure communications with Steele (including husband Bruce?), and Bruce delivered the product to the FBI’s Peter Strzok, who met with Steele around the time of the first report. So the Nellie Ohr-Steele-Bruce Ohr-Strzok pipeline was pumping early on. And, of course, Steele kept spitting out his seemingly spoon-fed reports well into October, each one of them going, it appears, directly into FBI and CIA hands. Were the FBI, CIA and GCHQ partner merely passive recipients? Common sense argues no. After all, Strzok and Bruce Ohr met with Steele on multiple occasions as the reports were prepared, presumably as something other than human out-boxes.

In addition to obtaining an illegitimate FISA warrant, were our intelligence agencies looking to politicize Steele’s phony reports? The ink was barely dry on most of Steele’s “findings” when Brennan made a big play of his “secret” briefing of the Gang of Eight in August 2016, along with his special private briefing of the unprincipled Senator Harry Reid, who had falsely leaked as to Mitt Romney in 2012. Reid, thereafter, to no one’s surprise, wrote a public letter alluding to the scurrilous allegations.

In short, if the Steele dossier did not simply come over the transom, but was in fact developed in coordination with them, then Comey, Brennan and Clapper, along with their underlings, should face serious consequences. We have heard their pious pronouncements about the sanctity of our democratic processes. Were these agencies, as the facts suggest, wrongfully interfering in the 2016 election? Documents sought by Congress should provide conclusive answers in what may be a scandal of unprecedented explosiveness.

John D. O’Connor is the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the co-author of “A G-Man’s Life: The FBI, Being ‘Deep Throat,’ and the Struggle for Honor in Washington” and is a producer of “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” (2017), written and directed by Peter Landesman.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

TAGS : FISA MUELLER RUSSIA INVESTIGATION STEELE DOSSIER

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Looming question for Mueller probe: How much to make public?

June 25, 2018

America has waited a year to hear what special counsel Robert Mueller concludes about the 2016 election, meddling by the Russians and — most of all — what Donald Trump did or didn’t do. But how much the nation will learn about Mueller’s findings is very much an open question.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein may end up wrestling with a dilemma similar to the one that tripped up fired FBI director James Comey: how much to reveal about Trump’s actions in the event the president is not indicted. Rosenstein, who lambasted Comey for disclosing negative information about Hillary Clinton despite not recommending her for prosecution, may himself have to balance the extraordinary public interest in the investigation against his admonition that investigators should not discuss allegations against people they don’t prosecute.

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Robert Mueller

The quandary underscores how there’s no easy or obvious end game for the investigation, which last month reached its one-year anniversary. Though Mueller is expected to report his findings to Rosenstein, there’s no requirement that those conclusions be made public. And whatever he decides will unfold against the backdrop of a Justice Department inspector general report that reaffirmed department protocol against making detailed public statements about people who aren’t charged.

“Those are going to be the hard questions at the end of Mueller’s investigation: what is the nature of that report, and which if any parts are provided to Congress and the public,” said Georgetown law professor Marty Lederman, a former official in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. “There’s just no way for us to know what if any parts of those reports can be made public or should be made public or will be made public.”

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

The investigation has hit a critical phase. A forthcoming decision by Trump and his lawyers on whether to sit for an interview with Mueller, who is examining whether the president sought to obstruct justice, could hasten the conclusion of the investigation with regard to the White House. What happens next is unclear, though Mueller has been closely conferring along the way with Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official who appointed him special counsel.

If he decides a crime was committed, it’s theoretically possible he could seek a grand jury indictment, though that outcome is seen as highly questionable given a Justice Department legal opinion against charging a sitting president. Trump’s lawyers say Mueller’s team has indicated that it plans to follow that guidance. Depending on his findings, he also could seek to name Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case against other defendants, an aggressive step taken by the special prosecutor who investigated President Richard Nixon.

The regulations require Mueller to report his findings confidentially to Rosenstein, who would then decide how and whether to share with Congress. Lawmakers and the public would almost certainly demand access to that report, no matter the conclusion; a determination of wrongdoing would presumably be forwarded to Congress to begin impeachment proceedings, while a finding that no crime was committed would be publicly trumpeted by Republicans as vindication of the president.

Image result for james comey, photos

Spokespeople for Mueller and the Justice Department declined to comment on the options under consideration.

The easiest avenue for public disclosure in any criminal investigation is an indictment in which prosecutors lay out their allegations. But options are much trickier when cases close without prosecution.

In Clinton’s case, Comey held an extraordinary news conference in which he said Clinton did indeed have classified information on her private email server and branded her and her aides as “extremely careless.” But he concluded his remarks by recommending against charges, saying no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case.

That decision was condemned last May by Rosenstein, who said “we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.”

Inspector General Michael Horowitz echoed that criticism in a report this month that accused Comey of breaking from protocol. And Comey’s successor, Christopher Wray, further rebuked Comey at a congressional hearing last week, saying, “I think the policies the department has governing commenting publicly about uncharged conduct are there for good reason.”

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James Clapper and John Brennan

Solomon Wisenberg, the deputy independent counsel in the 1990s investigation involving President Bill Clinton, said he struggled to envision Rosenstein making public the extent of Mueller’s findings if there’s no indictment “because it would be completely inconsistent with the criticism of Comey — and it wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do.”

“It’s long been considered unethical to not charge someone but smear them,” he said.

Lederman, however, said he thought it made sense to publicly release what investigators found about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, especially if it could be relevant to helping combat the problem in the future.

“I don’t think there’s a problem to the extent the report would be less focused on what Trump did wrong in the past and is focused on his ability or willingness to deal with the Russia threat in the future,” he said.

As the investigation inches toward resolution, there’s not much reliable precedent to predict the outcome here.

Independent counsel Ken Starr issued a public report on Bill Clinton, but his appointment came under a different law. A special counsel investigation into the 2003 leak of a CIA officer’s identity resulted in criminal charges against a Bush administration White House official, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby,” but produced no public report summarizing all the findings of probe.

Regardless of the conclusion, the public clamor for a full accounting may make it impossible for Mueller to wind up his investigation with only minimal comment, said Bill Jeffress, one of Libby’s lawyers.

“If that conclusion is simply Mueller announcing, ‘I’ve wound up my investigation and haven’t indicted anyone else,’ nobody’s going to be satisfied with that.”

___

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

The Associated Press

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James Comey isn’t above the law

June 3, 2018

There they go again. For the one millionth time, anti-Trumpers are horrified, aghast, stupefied.

The president’s latest offense against their sensibilities is a pointed use of his pardon power. So far, he has pardoned just five people, including Jack Johnson, the legendary black boxer whose conviction a century ago was an act of pure racism.

But four others involve recent, politically-tinged cases, including that of conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza. Most alarming for the usual critics, the president hints that he is just getting started and cites a possible pardon of Martha Stewart, whose conviction came under James Comey, the former FBI boss and Trump’s archenemy.

The things Comey didn’t mention are astonishing when you remember that Trump would take the oath of office in just two weeks. The new commander in chief was deliberately being kept in the dark by the outgoing administration.

So what was Comey up to with that very limited briefing? It’s possible the sole purpose was to mention the prostitutes, then give CNN the story as a way to inject the dossier into the political bloodstream and hope Trump would step aside.

Or perhaps the goal was to monitor how Trump reacted. Recall that the investigation was still secret, Page was still being surveilled and other campaign players, including Flynn, were being picked up “incidentally” on other wiretaps. Maybe Trump was, too.

In his book, Comey writes that Martha Stewart was prosecuted for lying about a stock sale to “reinforce a culture of truth-telling.”

Fair enough, but to truly “reinforce a culture of truth-telling,” those who enforce the laws must be held to at least the same standard as everyone else.

That’s the most important message Trump is sending with the pardons of people prosecuted by Comey and his cronies. Even the FBI is not above the law.

https://nypost.com/2018/06/02/james-comey-isnt-above-the-law/

With ‘Spygate,’ Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Theories to Erode Trust

May 29, 2018

“The diabolical brilliance of the Trump strategy of disinformation is that many people are simply going to hear the charges and countercharges, and decide that there must be something to them because the president of the United States is saying them.”

As a candidate, Donald J. Trump claimed that the United States government had known in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks. He hinted that Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who died in his sleep two years ago, had been murdered. And for years, Mr. Trump pushed the notion that President Barack Obama had been born in Kenya rather than Honolulu, making him ineligible for the presidency.

None of that was true.

Last week, President Trump promoted new, unconfirmed accusations to suit his political narrative: that a “criminal deep state” element within Mr. Obama’s government planted a spy deep inside his presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win — a scheme he branded “Spygate.” It was the latest indication that a president who has for decades trafficked in conspiracy theories has brought them from the fringes of public discourse to the Oval Office.

Now that he is president, Mr. Trump’s baseless stories of secret plots by powerful interests appear to be having a distinct effect. Among critics, they have fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media that mirror his own.

President Trump’s promotion of elaborate, unproven theories appears to be having a distinct effect.Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times

“The effect on the life of the nation of a president inventing conspiracy theories in order to distract attention from legitimate investigations or other things he dislikes is corrosive,” said Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and biographer. “The diabolical brilliance of the Trump strategy of disinformation is that many people are simply going to hear the charges and countercharges, and decide that there must be something to them because the president of the United States is saying them.”

Read the rest:

The New York Times

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/us/politics/trump-conspiracy-theories-spygate.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news