Posts Tagged ‘Papadopoulos’

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/

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Mueller recommends up to six months of jail time for Papadopoulos

August 18, 2018
Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended up to six months in prison for former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, reports Reuters.

His reasoning: Mueller called prison for Papadopoulos “appropriate and warranted” in a court filing after the former campaign aide lied to federal agents investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Papadopoulos is scheduled for sentencing on September 7.

https://www.axios.com/robert-mueller-george-papadapoulos-russia-investigation-df594093-354b-478a-8220-7892a52fb1d4.html

Related:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/mueller-prosecutors-say-prison-is-optional-for-george-papadopoulos-in-russia-probe/2018/08/17/44a194ce-a194-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3be775817c36

Some Republicans will say how about Hillary Clinton, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr and a host of others…. None of them lied during the investigation?

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

July 10, 2018

Image result for clapper and john brennan, photos

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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Basis for FBI Probe On Trump? Slim to None (That we know of)

June 1, 2018

His story about the Papadopoulos meeting calls the FBI’s into question.

The Curious Case of Mr. Downer

High Commissioner of Australia to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer arrives at Downing Street in central London on March 22, 2017.
High Commissioner of Australia to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer arrives at Downing Street in central London on March 22, 2017.PHOTO: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

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To hear the Federal Bureau of Investigation tell it, its decision to launch a counterintelligence probe into a major-party presidential campaign comes down to a foreign tip about a 28-year-old fourth-tier Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos.

The FBI’s media scribes have dutifully reported the bare facts of that “intel.” We are told the infamous tip came from Alexander Downer, at the time the Australian ambassador to the U.K. Mr. Downer invited Mr. Papadopoulos for a drink in early May 2016, where the aide told the ambassador the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Word of this encounter at some point reached the FBI, inspiring it to launch its counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign on July 31.

Notably (nay, suspiciously) absent or muddled are the details of how and when that information made its way to the FBI, and what exactly was transmitted. A December 2017 New York Times story vaguely explains that the Australians passed the info to “American counterparts” about “two months later,” and that once it “reached the FBI,” the bureau acted. Even the Times admits it’s “not clear” why it took the Aussies so long to flip such a supposedly smoking tip. The story meanwhile slyly leads readers to believe that Mr. Papadopoulos told Mr. Downer that Moscow had “thousands of emails,” but read it closely and the Times in fact never specifies what the Trump aide said, beyond “dirt.”

When Mr. Downer ended his service in the U.K. this April, he sat for an interview with the Australian, a national newspaper, and “spoke for the first time” about the Papadopoulos event. Mr. Downer said he officially reported the Papadopoulos meeting back to Australia “the following day or a day or two after,” as it “seemed quite interesting.” The story nonchalantly notes that “after a period of time, Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, passed the information on to Washington.”

My reporting indicates otherwise. A diplomatic source tells me Mr. Hockey neither transmitted any information to the FBI nor was approached by the U.S. about the tip. Rather, it was Mr. Downer who at some point decided to convey his information—to the U.S. Embassy in London.

That matters because it is not how things are normally done. The U.S. is part of Five Eyes, an intelligence network that includes the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Five Eyes agreement provides that any intelligence goes through the intelligence system of the country that gathered it. This helps guarantee information is securely handled, subjected to quality control, and not made prey to political manipulation. Mr. Downer’s job was to report his meeting back to Canberra, and leave it to Australian intelligence. We also know that it wasn’t Australian intelligence that alerted the FBI. The document that launched the FBI probe contains no foreign intelligence whatsoever. So if Australian intelligence did receive the Downer info, it didn’t feel compelled to act on it.

But the Obama State Department did—and its involvement is news. The Downer details landed with the embassy’s then-chargé d’affaires, Elizabeth Dibble, who previously served as a principal deputy assistant secretary in Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.

When did all this happen, and what came next? Did the info go straight to U.S. intelligence? Or did it instead filter to the wider State Department team, who we already know were helping foment Russia-Trump conspiracy theories? Jonathan Winer, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, has publicly admitted to communicating in the summer of 2016 with his friend Christopher Steele, author of the infamous dossier.

I was unable to reach Mr. Downer for comment and do not know why he chose to go to the embassy. A conservative politician, he was Australia’s longest-serving foreign minister (1996-2007). Sources speculate that he might have felt his many contacts justified reaching out himself.

Meanwhile, something doesn’t gel between Mr. Downer’s account of the conversation and the FBI’s. In his Australian interview, Mr. Downer said Mr. Papadopolous didn’t give specifics. “He didn’t say dirt, he said material that could be damaging to her,” said Mr. Downer. “He didn’t say what it was.” Also: “Nothing he said in that conversation indicated Trump himself had been conspiring with the Russians to collect information on Hillary Clinton.”

For months we’ve been told the FBI acted because it was alarmed that Mr. Papadopoulos knew about those hacked Democratic emails in May, before they became public in June. But according to the tipster himself, Mr. Papadopoulos said nothing about emails. The FBI instead received a report that a far-removed campaign adviser, over drinks, said the Russians had something that might be “damaging” to Hillary. Did this vague statement justify a counterintelligence probe into a presidential campaign, featuring a spy and secret surveillance warrants?

Unlikely. Which leads us back to what did inspire the FBI to act, and when? The Papadopoulos pretext is getting thinner.

Spy in Trump Campaign Nicknamed ‘The Walrus’ By Campaign Staff

May 23, 2018

A Cambridge University professor with CIA contacts who President Trump calls a ‘spy’ kept tabs on key Trump campaign contacts – and once tried to establish that Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos was linked to the Russia-based hacking of emails belonging to Hillary Clinton.

The academic, Stefan Halper, had contacts with Trump campaign advisers including Papadopoulos, Carter Page and former national campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis.

He dined with Papadopoulos, bringing along his Turkish assistant, Azra Turk.

Halper, 73, cut a colorful figure as he strolled through diplomatic, academic, and espionage circles, having served in the Reagan, Ford, and Nixon administrations.

Owing to his girth, he earned the nickname ‘the walrus’ from some who know of his exploits.

Cambridge University academic Stefan Halper tried to get three Trump campaign aides to trust him in 2016, including then-foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos

Cambridge University academic Stefan Halper tried to get three Trump campaign aides to trust him in 2016, including then-foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos

During one of their dinners, Halper asked Papadopoulos whether he was involved in Russian hacking of Democratic emails, The Daily Caller reported.

‘George, you know about hacking the emails from Russia, right?’ he asked, according to multiple news reports.

After Papadopoulos denied it, Halper grew frustrated.

Papadopoulos sat down in London for dinner with Halper and was asked what he knew about Russians hacking Hillary Clinton's emails – a question that now appears part of a spy plot

Papadopoulos sat down in London for dinner with Halper and was asked what he knew about Russians hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails – a question that now appears part of a spy plot

The odd question would fit with a scenario suggested over the weekend by conservative pundits, in which Halper – acting on the FBI’s behalf – attempted to confirm Papadopoulos’ complicity but came up empty-handed.

Papadopoulos also claimed Halper’s assistant, Turk, flirted with him during their meetings, according to the Daily Caller.

His contacts with Trump’s campaign took place while the FBI was undertaking a probe since revealed to be called ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ seeking to uncover ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. It later would morph into the Russia probe being overseen by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The Washington Post and New York Times both reported Halper’s existence as an informant but did not publish his identity. Halper’s name had been circulating among reporters and others in Washington for weeks – as Republicans in Congress put pressure on the Justice Department to release the name and work product of the the FBI’s informant.

Halper, who has longstanding MI6 and CIA ties, married into the family of U.S. intelligence legend Ray Cline – famed for being the chief CIA analyst during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Halper also cultivated a relationship with Carter Page, a Trump aide, and invited him to visit his home in Virginia

Halper also cultivated a relationship with Carter Page, a Trump aide, and invited him to visit his home in Virginia

Cultivating a rapport with Papadopoulos to gain his confidence was apparently important enough to the FBI that Halper offered him a payment for an academic paper – as a pretext for having in-person meetings.

Agreeing to pay Page $3,000 for a policy paper about erergy issues in Turkey, Israel and Cyprus gave him a reason to spend even more money to fly him to London to discuss the project during meetings and at least one dinner.

They met at the Travellers Club, a gentleman’s club there. Later, Turk tried to meet with Papadopoulos in his home town of Chicago.

Halper had asked Papadopoulos about writing the paper on about ‘a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea,’ according to the New York Times.

Papadopoulos was the first figure to plead guilty in the Mueller probe. He admits he lied to the FBI about his contacts with another professor, Joseph Mifsud, a London-based academic originally from Malta who had Kremlin contacts.

Papadopoulos says it was Mifsud who told him the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

President Trump smelled blood over the weekend, demanding a Justice Department inquest into whether or not the Obama administration spied on his campaign organization for partisan purposes.

President Donald Trump took the new revelations about an informant to demand a Justice Department investigation of the FBI's conduct

President Donald Trump took the new revelations about an informant to demand a Justice Department investigation of the FBI’s conduct

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5753903/FBI-spy-Trump-campaign-asked-foreign-policy-adviser-hacked-Clinton-emails.html#ixzz5GKNbXhaf
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WSJ: The FBI Hid A Mole In The Trump Campaign

May 11, 2018

On Wednesday we reported on an intense battle playing out between House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (D-CA), the Department of Justice, and the Mueller investigation concerning a cache of intelligence that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein refuses to hand over – a request he equated to “extortion.”

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, closeup

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that Nunes was denied access to the information on the grounds that it “could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI.

After the White House caved to Rosenstein and Nunes was barred from seeing the documents, it also emerged that this same intelligence had already been shared with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 US election.

On Wednesday afternoon, however, news emerged that Nunes and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) would receive a classified Thursday briefing at the DOJ on the documents. This is, to put it lightly, incredibly significant.

Why? Because it appears that the FBI may have had a mole embedded in the Trump campaign.

In a bombshell op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel shares a few key insights about recent developments. Perhaps we should start with the ending and let you take it from there. Needless to say Strassel’s claims, if true, would have wide ranging implications for the CIA, FBI, DOJ and former Obama administration officials.

Strassel concludes: 

“I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it.”

Authored by Kimberley Strassel, op-ed via The Wall Street Journal,

About That FBI ‘Source’

Did the bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Which would lead to another big question for the FBI: When? The bureau has been doggedly sticking with its story that a tip in July 2016 about the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos launched its counterintelligence probe. Still, the players in this affair—the FBI, former Director Jim Comey, the Steele dossier authors—have been suspiciously vague on the key moments leading up to that launch date. When precisely was the Steele dossier delivered to the FBI? When precisely did the Papadopoulos information come in?
And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips.

We also know that among the Justice Department’s stated reasons for not complying with the Nunes subpoena was its worry that to do so might damage international relationships. This suggests the “source” may be overseas, have ties to foreign intelligence, or both. That’s notable, given the highly suspicious role foreigners have played in this escapade. It was an Australian diplomat who reported the Papadopoulos conversation. Dossier author Christopher Steele is British, used to work for MI6, and retains ties to that spy agency as well as to a network of former spooks. It was a former British diplomat who tipped off Sen. John McCain to the dossier. How this “top secret” source fits into this puzzle could matter deeply.

I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it. But what is clear is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the FBI’s 2016 behavior, and the country will never get the straight story until President Trump moves to declassify everything possible. It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-05-10/wsj-fbi-hid-mole-trump-campaign

Related:

Related (Wall Street Journal):

Was the FBI Outright Spying On The Trump Campaign?

May 11, 2018

Image result for spy in your keyboard, photos

 

There’s no doubt that the “swamp” in Washington was stunned, enraged and even left fearful by the 2016 election of Donald Trump to the Oval Office. And individuals reacted in their shock.

 

Examples are galore.

Take, for instance, fired FBI Director James Comey, who took documents from private meetings with the president and gave them to a friend to give to a reporter so they would be publicized – and, he hoped, trigger a special counsel investigation.

And it’s known now that one of the main documents used by the government to give to a court as evidence so that they could start spying on the Trump campaign was a hired political hit piece done by a contractor for a company paid off by Hillary Clinton.

Now talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh is suggesting that, based on the evidence that’s become available, the Deep State may have had a spy infiltrate the Trump campaign.

“These swamp people are so in the vapors with all of this – I think they’re so shocked and stunned over everything that’s happened – that they have long since abandoned any rationality whatsoever,” he said.

“I actually believe the FBI planted an informant in the Trump campaign – before Mueller was appointed, obviously,” he said

He cited three recent publications in coming to his conclusion.

The first was a column by Kimberley Strassel, of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which made the point “that the Trump legal team is narrowly focused, that they’re focused on defending and protecting Trump and what they need to be focused on is defending and protecting the Constitution and the presidency and the executive branch – and in doing so, they will take care of Trump.”

Her theory, he explained, is that the attack being sustained by Trump critics isn’t an attack on him, “it’s an attack on the Constitution.”

“It is an attempt to say that any president exercising his constitutional duties is obstructing justice! He can’t fire Comey, that’s obstructing justice? That’s bogus! Her point is, the Constitution permits him control of the executive branch! He can do with anybody in the executive branch what he wants! He can declassify any file that he wants! He could make sure that we all could see the FISA warrant application. He could release everything; nobody could stop him. Her point is actually very good, that any president exercising his constitutional duties cannot be guilty of obstruction.”

Second, for Limbaugh, was a Washington Post report that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is seeking information from the Justice Department about “an individual who people close to the matter say is a sensitive, longtime intelligence source for the CIA and FBI.”

Justice has refused to provide any information on the “U.S. citizen who has aided the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.”

Third was a Wall Street Journal report that commented on that very source.

“I would not be surprised if, in fact, the FBI planted an informant in the Trump campaign in order to try to prove this Russia collusion business,” Limbaugh said Thursday.

He noted Nunes’ demands for documents and information – and the Justice Department’s refusal.

He explained that one of the reports suggests that reporters already know who the “top secret” source is.

He noted the description as a “U.S. citizen,” who has been an informant for both “the CIA and FBI,” and has provided information that was given to Mueller.

“So the Journal editorial claims the Post already knows who this source is – and if they do, why can’t Nunes? Well, Nunes learning somehow would violate national security,” he said.

The claims include that outing the source could “damage relationships with other countries,” but Limbaugh said “only if the source is a foreign citizen, but we know now the source isn’t.”

“The source is a U.S. citizen, so outing the source would not damage relationships with other countries unless this source has also been involved in screwing other countries. But it suggests that the source has worked overseas. If they’re gonna claim that a U.S. citizen cannot be outed here because it might damage relationships other countries, it means he has worked overseas. Suggests it, anyway,” he continued.

Further, Limbaugh added, “And the story says the ‘role of the intelligence source’ could further provoke Republicans who have accused Justice and the FBI of engaging in ‘misuse of their surveillance power,” and, here we go, ‘hinting that the government may have used the source to snoop on the Trump campaign’”

“There it is. So it’s a pretty safe bet that the FBI planted an informant in the Trump campaign. Nunes wants to know who it is; the DOJ says, ‘No way, Jose!’” he said.

“If they had an informant in that campaign who was supposed to find the collusion and they still don’t have it? I mean, look at what we’re learning. They had an informant in the campaign, and they still don’t have any evidence!”

Further, he pointed out that Glenn Simpson, of Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to create the so-called dossier allegedly about Trump, testified in 2017 that “the FBI had a source in the Trump campaign.”

“Simpson claimed it was ‘a voluntary source,’ meaning it wasn’t a plant, meaning somebody on the Trump team decided to become an informant against Trump,” Limbaugh said.

His conclusion?

“This is the FBI more than likely planting an informant inside the campaign. Just remember, if they had somebody that nobody knew was there looking for this collusion and still didn’t find it, then what the hell is going on with this investigation?”

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2018/05/rush-did-fbi-plant-spy-in-trump-campaign/#ptRzvem2GOqhfCmO.99

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Related (Wall Street Journal):

About That FBI ‘Source’

May 11, 2018

Did the bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

 

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Which would lead to another big question for the FBI: When? The bureau has been doggedly sticking with its story that a tip in July 2016 about the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos launched its counterintelligence probe. Still, the players in this affair—the FBI, former Director Jim Comey, the Steele dossier authors—have been suspiciously vague on the key moments leading up to that launch date. When precisely was the Steele dossier delivered to the FBI? When precisely did the Papadopoulos information come in?

 

Image result for George Papadopoulos, photos

George Papadopoulos

And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips…

.

 

And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips.

We also know that among the Justice Department’s stated reasons for not complying with the Nunes subpoena was its worry that to do so might damage international relationships. This suggests the “source” may be overseas, have ties to foreign intelligence, or both. That’s notable, given the highly suspicious role foreigners have played in this escapade. It was an Australian diplomat who reported the Papadopoulos conversation. Dossier author Christopher Steele is British, used to work for MI6, and retains ties to that spy agency as well as to a network of former spooks. It was a former British diplomat who tipped off Sen. John McCain to the dossier. How this “top secret” source fits into this puzzle could matter deeply.

I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it. But what is clear is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the FBI’s 2016 behavior, and the country will never get the straight story until President Trump moves to declassify everything possible. It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/about-that-fbi-source-1525992611

Australian diplomat’s tip led to Trump Russia probe: New York Times

December 31, 2017

A Trump campaign adviser’s revelations to the UK-based diplomat eventually prompted the FBI to open an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a US newspaper reports.

Trump and Putin (picture-alliance/dpa/AP)

A tip from a top Australian diplomat helped persuade US authorities to investigate Russian attempts to intervene in the 2016 US presidential election, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Australian officials passed on information to the FBI that the diplomat, Alexander Downer, had allegedly received from George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser to Donald Trump, during what the Times described as “a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar” in May 2016.

Papadopoulos, an ex-foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who is now a cooperating witness in the investigation, reportedly told Downer that Russia had thousands of emails that would embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Downer, a former foreign minister, is Australia’s top diplomat in Britain.

“The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the FBI to open an investigation in July 2016,” the newspaper said.

Alexander Downer (Getty Images/AFP/D. Leal-Olivas)Alexander Downer has been Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK since 2014

The new revelation means that it was not just the so-called Steele dossier — allegations compiled by British intelligence agent Christopher Steele that Russia had collected damning information on Trump — that led to the probe, but also direct information from one of the US’s closest allies.

Read more: Donald Trump’s presidency: Taking stock and looking ahead

Closely guarded secret in the FBI

White House lawyer Ty Cobb declined to comment, saying in a statement that the administration was continuing to cooperate with the investigation now led by special counsel Robert Mueller “to help complete their inquiry expeditiously.”

Court documents unsealed two months ago show that in April 2016 Papadopoulos met with Joseph Mifsud, a professor in London who told him about Russia’s cache of emails — before the Democratic National Committee became aware of the intrusion into its email systems by hackers later linked to the Russian government.

The New York Times said that once the information from the Australian diplomat had reached the agency, the FBI kept it as one of their “most closely guarded secrets,” and avoided issuing subpoenas in the run-up to the election in November 2016, for fear of disrupting the campaigns.

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo dismissed Papadopoulos as a volunteer “coffee boy” only marginal to the Trump campaign, though it has since emerged that the foreign policy aide brokered a meeting between Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before the election.

bk/se (AP, dpa)

http://www.dw.com/en/australian-diplomats-tip-led-to-trump-russia-probe-us-paper/a-41982452

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George Papadopoulos was working as an energy consultant in London when the Trump campaign named him a foreign policy adviser in early March 2016. Credit via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.

If Mr. Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. and is now a cooperating witness, was the improbable match that set off a blaze that has consumed the first year of the Trump administration, his saga is also a tale of the Trump campaign in miniature. He was brash, boastful and underqualified, yet he exceeded expectations. And, like the campaign itself, he proved to be a tantalizing target for a Russian influence operation.

While some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have derided him as an insignificant campaign volunteer or a “coffee boy,” interviews and new documents show that he stayed influential throughout the campaign. Two months before the election, for instance, he helped arrange a New York meeting between Mr. Trump and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.

Read the rest:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/30/us/politics/how-fbi-russia-investigation-began-george-papadopoulos.html

Bannon and Lewandowski Are Asked to Testify to House Russia Investigators

December 22, 2017

Bloomberg

By Billy House

 Updated on 
  • House Intelligence panel’s Russia probe sent invites this week
  • Committee sent voluntary invitation for closed-door interviews
Steve Bannon

Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon and his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski have been asked to testify to House lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Both men were sent letters this week by the House Intelligence Committee asking them to testify in early January, according to an official familiar with the panel’s schedule.

The committee hasn’t yet received a response from either Bannon or Lewandowski. The invitation, which didn’t come in the form of a subpoena compelling them to testify, was for a “voluntary interview” in the committee’s offices, which means it would be held behind closed doors, the official said.

 Image result
Corey Lewandowski

The letter doesn’t lay out specific reasons the committee wants to interview them, or the questions the panel wants to pose, but it makes clear that the interviews are part of the Russia investigation.

Bannon, who worked as Trump’s top strategist during the campaign and for several months in the White House, hasn’t been publicly accused of any wrongdoing.

Bannon was a key member of Trump’s team when the president fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI director James Comey.

Your Guide to Understanding the Trump-Russia Saga: QuickTake Q&A

During the campaign, Bannon was also a liaison to its data-analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica.

Alexander Nix, the chief executive officer of Cambridge Analytica, met with the House Intelligence probe earlier this month. Nix faced questions about whether he sought material from WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that was stolen from computers of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, who managed Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Lewandowski’s Role

Lewandowski was fired as campaign manager on June 20, 2016, and replaced by Paul Manafort, who has been indicted for money laundering charges by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Before Lewandowski left, he was among among several senior Trump campaign officials who received communications from foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos about his outreach to the Russian government, according to published news accounts.

The Washington Post reported last month that court filings show Papadopoulos wrote to Lewandowski several times to let him know that the Russians were interested in forging a relationship with the campaign.

The Post said that included one message in May 2016, in which Papadopoulos forwarded to Lewandowski an offer of “cooperation” from a Russian with links to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Is this something we want to move forward with?” he asked. There was no indication of how Lewandowski responded, wrote the Post. Lewandowski has said publicly he doesn’t recall whether he received emails from Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in early October to lying to federal agents about his outreach to Russia.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-22/bannon-lewandowski-said-to-be-asked-to-testify-to-house-probe