Posts Tagged ‘Steele dossier’

Sudden shift in get-Trump talk; now it’s campaign finance, not Russia

December 11, 2018

 

“We’ll ride any horse we can get on this…”

Prosecutors investigating President Trump made big news Friday, but it wasn’t about Russia. Rather, in their sentencing recommendation for fixer Michael Cohen, lawyers with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York wrote that in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump directed Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who wanted money to keep quiet about sexual dalliances. While such arrangements are legal, prosecutors argued that since the payoffs occurred during the campaign, they were violations of campaign finance laws.

By Byron York
Opinion
Washington Examiner

Image result for James comey, photos

Cohen, who is cooperating because prosecutors nailed him for tax evasion and bank fraud in his private business, pleaded guilty to two felony campaign finance violations. So no one has to talk about an “alleged” campaign finance scheme; there’s already a guilty plea. But what was really significant about the sentencing memo was that prosecutors specifically said Trump told Cohen to do it.

“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” prosecutors said. “He acted in coordination with and at the direction of [Trump].”

Those words caused a sudden shift in the debate over investigating the president. What had been a two-year-long conversation about Trump and Russia instantly became a conversation about Trump and campaign finance.

“Prosecutors are now implicating the president in at least two felonies,” said CNN.

“Federal prosecutors in New York say that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to commit two felonies,” said NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“At least two felonies,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy.

“Implicated in two felonies,” said anti-Trump gadfly George Conway, husband of top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

And so on.

“There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him,” said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who will become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee next month, “that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”

Jerry Nadler, the Democrat who will chair the House Judiciary Committee, said the campaign finance charges “would be impeachable offenses because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office.” Nadler said he has still not determined whether the charges, even though they could be the basis for impeachment, are important enough to actually go forward, at least yet.

Image result for Jerry Nadler, photos

Jerry Nadler

Nadler’s public caution is understandable; his committee will have the responsibility of starting the impeachment process, if that is what Democratic leaders decide. But the fact is, a number of Democrats clearly believe they already have enough evidence to impeach.

One significant problem could be that the campaign finance charge against the president is a pretty iffy case. Back in 2010, the Justice Department accused 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards of a similar scheme — an alleged campaign finance violation based on a payoff to a woman with whom Edwards had had an affair (and a child).

Edwards said he arranged the payment to save his reputation and hide the affair from his wife. The Justice Department said it was to influence the outcome of a presidential election.

The New York Times called the Edwards indictment “a case that had no precedent.” Noting that campaign finance law is “ever changing,” the paper said the Edwards case came down to one question: “Were the donations for the sole purpose of influencing the campaign or merely one purpose?”

The Justice Department failed miserably at trial. Edwards was acquitted on one count, while the jury deadlocked in Edwards’ favor on the others. Prosecutors opted not to try again.

President Trump would point out that the accusation against him differs in at least one key respect from Edwards. Prosecutors accused Edwards of raising donor money to pay off the woman. Trump used his own money, which even the byzantine and restrictive campaign finance laws give candidates a lot of freedom to use in unlimited amounts.

So even more than Edwards, if the Justice Department pursued a case against Trump, it would be on unprecedented grounds.

But the political reality is, it doesn’t really matter if it is a weak case. And it doesn’t matter if Trump himself has not been indicted, or even that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Because now, Democrats can say, “The Justice Department has implicated the president in two felonies. Two felonies. TWO FELONIES!”

Politically, that’s as good as an indictment of Trump. Perhaps even better, since it does not give the president a forum to make a proper legal defense.

The last few days have seen a big pivot in the campaign against Donald Trump. For two-plus years, it was Russia, Russia, Russia. But despite various revelations in the Russia probe, the case for collusion remains as sketchy as ever. Now, though, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have given Democrats a new weapon against the president. Look for them to use it.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/byron-york-sudden-shift-in-get-trump-talk-now-its-campaign-finance-not-russia

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

December 9, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russian Oligarch: How Oleg Deripaska Is Trying to Escape U.S. Sanctions

November 5, 2018
Oleg Deripaska — Credit Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

This spring, a British lord with deep ties to the governing Conservative Party and a reputation as a do-gooder environmentalist arrived in Washington on an unlikely mission: to save the business empire of Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia’s most infamous oligarchs.

Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska.  Credit Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Mr. Deripaska was in deep trouble. In April, the Trump administration had announced sanctions on oligarchs close to President Vladimir V. Putin, and on their companies, as punishment for Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and for other hostile acts. A billionaire who controls the world’s second-largest aluminum company, Mr. Deripaska faced possible ruin.

Portrayed as little more than a thug by his critics and suspected by United States officials of having ties to Russian organized crime, Mr. Deripaska, 50, has spent two decades trying to buy respect in the West. London welcomed him; Washington still mostly has not. Successive administrations have limited his ability to travel to the United States.

Even Mr. Putin was unable to resolve the situation when he interceded personally with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama on Mr. Deripaska’s behalf.

By  Andrew Higgins and Kenneth P. Vogel
The New York Times

Image result for Oleg Deripaska, photos

But with so much on the line this time, Mr. Deripaska’s allies are now fighting back aggressively, mobilizing a vast influence machine on both sides of the Atlantic in an all-out effort to undo the sanctions against his companies before they take full effect.

The campaign to help Mr. Deripaska is playing out against an especially sensitive political backdrop. Any step by the administration that is seen as favorable to a powerful Russian is sure to draw scrutiny at a time when the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is continuing his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Moreover, Mr. Deripaska has been a subsidiary character in that inquiry, not as a target but because he at one point employed Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, as an adviser. Mr. Manafort was convicted on one set of fraud charges and pleaded guilty to other charges in cases brought by Mr. Mueller, and is now cooperating with the prosecution.

But the current lobbying effort on behalf of Mr. Deripaska’s companies still appears to have made substantial headway. In recent months, Mr. Deripaska’s firms have notched initial victories by winning multiple postponements from the Treasury Department of the sanctions on the oligarch’s holding company, EN+, and the giant aluminum company it controls, Rusal.

Now, with the administration closing in on its latest self-imposed deadline to make a final decision by Dec. 12, there are signs that Mr. Deripaska’s companies could escape the sanctions entirely.

Oleg Deripaska in London in 2011. He is one of Russia’s most prominent, and by some accounts notorious, oligarchs. Credit Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has signaled that he is open to a plan under which Mr. Deripaska would reduce his stake in his companies in return for the sanctions being lifted.

But sidestepping the business sanctions is not Mr. Deripaska’s only goal. His team is preparing an audacious and previously unreported campaign to remove the personal sanctions on him, too. Removing the personal sanctions would eliminate substantial barriers to his doing business in the United States and around the world, and could be a requirement for him to get his hands on the money — potentially billions of dollars — resulting from any sale of part of his stake in the companies.

“Oleg Deripaska understands better than most Russian oligarchs how money buys influence in Washington,” said Michael R. Carpenter, a former National Security Council official during the Obama administration who is now senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. “It seems like he’s now using that knowledge to try to save his skin.”

The elaborate influence operation highlights one of the fastest-growing elements of the lobbying business: helping deep-pocketed foreign interests massage the sanctions, tariffs and other tools deployed by Mr. Trump against foreign governments, individuals and industries.

Read the rest:

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/04/world/europe/oleg-deripaska-russia-oligarch-sanctions.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

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See also:

Russia Blocks Critic’s Site, Warns Google About Billionaire Yacht Videos

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-15/russia-blocks-putin-critic-s-site-warns-google-on-tycoon-report

How House Democrats Plan to Investigate Trump’s Russia Ties

November 3, 2018

Gains in the congressional election next week would give Democrats crucial subpoena power.

During Trump’s first two years in office, House Republicans used the committee largely to protect him. In an interview with Foreign Policy, one of the committee’s ambitious young Democrats, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, explained exactly how that would change.

House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference about the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit in Washington on July 17. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference about the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit in Washington on July 17. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

If Democrats win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections, they will take over a prize possession: the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, with full subpoena power to investigate President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

During Trump’s first two years in office, House Republicans used the committee largely to protect him. In an interview with Foreign Policy, one of the committee’s ambitious young Democrats, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, explained exactly how that would change.

The Democrats’ investigation would focus on bank and travel records of Trump lieutenants and businesses. It would also attempt to resolve questions about the president’s knowledge of a Russian offer during the 2016 campaign to provide political dirt on his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. And in the aftermath of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, the committee might also scrutinize Trump’s business ties to the Gulf.

While Senate committees typically require the assent of the chairman and ranking member to issue a subpoena, House committees grant that authority to the chairman alone. This makes the House Intelligence Committee, with its jurisdiction over the massive U.S. intelligence community, a uniquely powerful tool in the hands of a savvy investigator.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Foreign Policy: If Democrats take over Congress and control of the House Intelligence Committee, what are your investigative priorities?

Eric Swalwell: The first would be to fill in the gaps that exist between what we wanted to pursue in the Russia investigation and what the Republicans allowed us to pursue, which was almost zero when it came to using subpoena power to get documents, bank records, cell-phone records, travel logs, etc. There are a lot of gaps to fill in there.

More broadly, we’ll be looking at what we can do to protect and secure the 2020 presidential election. That will be a major target, we expect, based on what the Russians did in 2016 and what they are doing now. We want to make sure that Americans have the awareness they need when they go to the polls in 2020.

FP: Are there specific documents that you plan to use the committee’s subpoena power to seek?

ES: There are a lot of unanswered questions around the Trump Tower meeting [with a Russian lawyer close to the Kremlin]. What happened with Don Jr. [Trump’s son, who attended the meeting] and his father when the offer was made a couple days before the meeting of compromising information on Hillary Clinton?

There was a blocked number that was called in the phone records we have from Donald Trump Jr. We know from other testimony that candidate Trump had a number that would come up as blocked. If Donald Trump Jr. told his father of the offer, that would change everything, because they always denied that that was the case.

Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen was in negotiations during the early part of the primary to put a Trump Tower in Moscow. And there are still questions about whether he went over during the campaign to Eastern Europe to meet with Russians, as the Steele dossier alleges. Getting those travel logs would be important.

Deutsche Bank has come up a number of times as a lender to the Trump Organization. They have a history of being fined for essentially laundering money for the Russians. At a time when Donald Trump was not receiving loans from any U.S.-based bank, he was getting help from Deutsche Bank.

We’d like to understand the true financial relationship there and whether any Russian money was involved.

Those are just a few, but they should have been pushed through in the last two years. Every request to do so was denied by Republicans on the committee.

FP: Do you plan to examine Michael Cohen’s business activities following the inauguration?

ES: We want to see if he colluded or cooperated. It looks like he was offering to work with Russians or Russian-connected individuals to be a consultant and perhaps someone who could influence the administration.

Our primary interest is in lines of inquiry that tell us what the relationships are between the Trump family, the business, and the campaign with the Russians—whether it was during the campaign or even ongoing today.

FP: Do you plan to examine reports that Gulf states attempted to influence the Trump campaign through fundraisers and other wealthy individuals?

ES: The Trump family and organization, based on press accounts, have had puzzling relationships with the Qataris, the Emiratis, and the Saudis. Before the Jamal Khashoggi tragedy, there may have been an argument that that’s not as relevant as other priorities that we have.

However, now we are learning more about Mr. Khashoggi and how he was killed, the lack of a response from the Trump team, and the long-standing financial interests that Donald Trump had with the Saudis.

And then put into perspective that the first trip the president made internationally was to Saudi Arabia, and right after that trip is when this split with Qatar happened and the blockade occurred.

There’s a lot of questions about what happened with those three countries and the Trump campaign, and whether the administration, the campaign, and the business were viewed as essentially for sale. Did foreign adversaries beyond Russia see them as easy marks because they didn’t have any scruples or code of ethics? I think those are fair lines to pursue.

FP: The recent history of the House Intelligence Committee has been deeply politicized, and its Republican leaders have been accused of running political interference on behalf of the president. How do you avoid the same charge if you plan an aggressive investigation of the president?

ES: You demonstrate with your deeds that you’re only interested in a serious investigation. You don’t do things just because you can. You don’t do things that have already been done. You aren’t out to seek a pound of flesh.

Ranking member [Adam] Schiff has a sincere interest in trying to heal some of the wounds that were inflicted by the way that Chairman [Devin] Nunes led the committee. We want to get back to the comity that we’ve had in the past.

But we have a job to do as well. We’re not going to have the shovels out and bury the evidence as was done in the last two years.

FP: The great weapon of the current Republican majority on the committee is the use of the unilateral subpoena power and the ability of the chairman to act unilaterally. Is there a part of you that’s a little bit excited to have unilateral subpoena power?

ES: There’s a lot of evidence that we want to pursue. The investigation was essentially a “take them at their word” investigation. We weren’t able to test the accounts that were given to us to see if they could be corroborated or contradicted. And subpoena power will allow us to do that.

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering cyberspace. @EliasGroll

George Soros gave $1M to group that paid for Fusion GPS research

November 1, 2018

Democratic billionaire George Soros has given $1 million to a group which has paid for research from Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the infamous Trump dossier.

The money was given to the Democracy Integrity Project, according to a Soros representative who spoke to the New York Times. Soros is mulling donating even more.

The $1 million figure appears to be newly revealed information. It was reported earlier this year by the Washington Post that Soros had given a grant to the nonprofit group.

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George Soros

The Democracy Integrity Project was created after the 2016 election and is dedicated to investigating election interference.

Fusion GPS is known for commissioning ex-British spy Christopher Steele to compile opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Published in full by BuzzFeed in January 2017, the dossier contains a collection of salacious and unverified claims about Trump’s potentially compromising ties to Russia.

Soros’ fundraising efforts have made him a favorite target of Republicans claiming he is a secret force seeking to influence politics, among other conspiracy theories.

GOP investigators are concerned about potential surveillance abuse by the government, as the FBI used Steele’s salacious dossier, which was funded in part by Democratic interests, in multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications to gain the authority to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

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

October 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and

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

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

Steele dossier hasn’t provided Robert Mueller with long sought evidence of a crime or collusion

September 23, 2018

No evidence has emerged supporting Steele’s claims in the long investigation seeking a crime….

— The Steele dossier’s allegation that the Kremlin is blackmailing President Donald Trump with a so-called “pee tape” has cast a cloud over the Trump presidency.
— The Democrat-funded dossier claims Trump used prostitutes during a visit to Moscow in 2013.
— But a music publicist who has been interviewed at length in the Mueller investigation says he was with Trump for most of his time in Moscow and that the dossier’s allegations are “unlikely.” 


A British music publicist who was with President Donald Trump during a trip to Moscow in 2013 says it is “unlikely” the real estate mogul used prostitutes during his brief visit to the Russian capital, as the infamous Steele dossier alleges.

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In an interview with The Washington Post, Rob Goldstone said he was with Trump for 31 out of the 36 hours the future president was in Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.

The Ritz Carlton in Moscow is the alleged site of the most salacious allegation made in the Steele dossier, which was funded by Democrats and written by former British spy Christopher Steele.

A June 20, 2016, memo from the dossier alleges Kremlin operatives have blackmailed Trump with video footage of him engaged with prostitutes in a hotel room at the Ritz. According to one of Steele’s sources, the video shows the prostitutes performing a “golden showers” act in front of Trump. (RELATED: Fusion GPS Doubted The Credibility Of Major Dossier Source)

Trump has vehemently denied the allegation and no evidence has emerged supporting Steele’s claims, but it is frequently touted by Trump critics as evidence the Republican is under Kremlin control.

Trump landed in Moscow in his private plane at around 3 p.m. on a Friday and left at around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, according to WaPo. Goldstone said he was in Trump’s vicinity for all but five hours when Trump was seemingly asleep in his hotel room. (RELATED: ‘Fifty-Fifty’: Christopher Steele Is Unsure About The ‘Golden Showers’ Tape)

Goldstone, who is releasing a book Tuesday, has been questioned at length by prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller regarding his interactions with Trump and members of his campaign. Goldstone is who contacted Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016 to offer a meeting with a group of Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. (RELATED: Rob Goldstone Speaks Out On Trump Jr.-Russia Emails: It Was ‘Puffed Up’)

Goldstone worked for Emin Agalarov, a pop musician whose father is billionaire real estate mogul Aras Agalarov. The Agalarov family partnered with Trump to host the beauty pageant.

Goldstone contacted Trump Jr. at the behest of Emin Agalarov on June 3, 2016. In an email, Goldstone said a “Russian government attorney” wanted to meet to provide information about potentially illegal campaign contributions from Russians to Hillary Clinton.

“If it is what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. responded.

The meeting was held at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. But most participants, including Goldstone, say the meeting was a dud. The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, reportedly used the opportunity not to talk about Clinton, but to focus on the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that sanctions Russian human rights abusers.

Veselnitskaya was working closely at the time with Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, to overturn the Magnitsky Act. As part of the project, she was also working with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele to write the dossier.

Goldstone said Mueller’s team was less interested in the Trump Tower meeting than they were about the relationship between the Agalarovs and Trumps.

The dossier’s claims about Trump’s visit to Moscow have been called into question, even by Steele himself.

Steele, a former MI6 official, put the odds that the “golden showers” tape exists at “50-50,” according to “Russian Roulette,” a book from two journalists who met with Steele prior to the 2016 election.

Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, also called the credibility of the dossier’s source into question. According to “Russian Roulette,” Simpson considered the alleged source, a Belarus-born businessman named Sergei Millian, to be “a big talker.”

https://dailycaller.com/2018/09/22/trump-golden-showers-unlikely/

Peter Strzok-Lisa Page texts discuss others ‘leaking like mad’ ahead of Russia investigation: Report

September 13, 2018

A newly released series of text messages from former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — the pair involved in an extramarital affair and shared texts critical of President Trump — show that others may have been “leaking like mad” ahead of the federal Russia probe, a new report says.

“Oh, remind me to tell you tomorrow about the times doing a story about the rnc hacks,” Page said to Strzok in a December 2016 conversation, according to Fox News.

“And more than they already did? I told you Quinn told me they pulling out all the stops on some story…,” Strzok said in response, likely referring to Richard Quinn who worked as the chief of the Media and Investigative Publicity Section in the Office of Public Affairs.

“Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad,” Strzok said in a subsequent text. “Scorned and worried, and political, they’re kicking into overdrive.”

[Trump: FBI, DOJ doing ‘nothing’ in response to Strzok text on ‘media leak strategy’]

Although Strzok didn’t specify whom he was referring to when he said “sisters,” retired FBI special agent and former FBI national spokesperson John Iannarelli suggested it was a reference to another intelligence agency or a federal law enforcement agency, according to Fox News.

On that same day the conversation occurred, multiple news outlets reported that U.S. intelligence officials believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had a direct role and authorized Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The report comes after Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., expressed “grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at the FBI and DOJ related to ongoing investigations” in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week, reacting to other texts between Strzok and Page were given to Congress.

Meadows is particularly concerned with a text sent on Apr. 10, 2017.

“I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about the media leak strategy with DOJ before you go,” Strzok wrote.

Thar text came a day before the Washington Post reported that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page had been surveilled by the FBI after the agency received a warrant from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a move that has elicited backlash because it partly relied on details included in the unverified and so-called “Trump dossier” that contains damaging information about Trump.

But Strzok’s lawyer Aitan Goelman said the “media leak strategy” was a reference to a DOJ-wide initiative to identify and prevent staff members from disclosing information to the media.

Strzok was a leading official in the FBI’s investigation on Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and was also part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation examining Russian interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Strzok was removed from the Mueller team last year and was fired from the FBI in August following his appearance before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees in July, where he said he did not speak to journalists during his time on the Russia probe.

Page resigned from her post in 2018.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/peter-strzok-lisa-page-texts-discuss-others-leaking-like-mad-ahead-of-russia-investigation-report

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Trump Tweets Criticism of FBI, DOJ on ‘Media Leak Strategy’ of Peter Strzok, Lisa Page

September 11, 2018

President Trump lamented on Tuesday that “nothing is being done” to investigate former FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page after a report said they had planned a “media leak strategy” to embarrass the president.

“New Strzok-Page texts reveal ‘Media Leak Strategy.’ @FoxNews So terrible, and NOTHING is being done at DOJ or FBI – but the world is watching, and they get it completely,” the president wrote on his Twitter account.

A report late Monday on Fox News said GOP Rep. Mark Meadows sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to alert him to the actions of Strzok and Page that were revealed in newly released text messages.

“Review of these new documents raises grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at the FBI and DOJ related to ongoing investigations,” Meadows wrote in the letter.

He said the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee discovered a April 10, 2017, text from Strzok to Page that said: “I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go.”

Then, two days later, Strzok reaches out to Page to congratulate her for planting two stories that were critical of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“Well done, Page,” Strzok wrote.

Meadows’ letter notes that the Washington Post wrote a story on April 11, 2017, about the FBI receiving a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page and that it had convinced a judge there was “probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia.”

The message “should lead a reasonable person to question whether there was a sincere desire to investigate wrongdoing or to place derogatory information in the media to justify a continued probe,” Meadows wrote in the letter.

Strzok worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into any links between Trump campaign officials and Russia but was removed after text messages between him and Page showed they were critical of the president.

He was fired by the FBI in August.

Page, a former FBI lawyer who had an affair with Strzok, also was removed from Mueller’s team. She has since resigned.

https://nypost.com/2018/09/11/trump-responds-to-strzok-page-texts-on-media-leak-strategy/

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Peter Strzok, Lisa Page conspired to leak anti-Trump stories to mainstream media

September 11, 2018

FBI agent Peter Strzok conspired with his in-house lover to leak anti-Trump stories to the media in spring 2017 when he headed the Russia probe into the Trump campaign, a congressman said on Monday.

Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein saying a House task force had just received a new shipment of Justice Department documents.

By  – The Washington Times – Monday, September 10, 2018

“Our review of these new documents raises grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at FBI and DOJ,” Mr. Meadows said. “Review of these new documents suggest a coordinated effort on the part of the FBI and DOJ to release information in the public domain potentially harmful to President Donald Trump’s administration.”

Mr. Meadows provided an example.

On April 10, 2017, Mr. Strzok text-messaged Lisa Page, his lover and then-FBI counsel, to discuss a “media leak strategy.”

“I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go,” Mr. Strzok said.

Two days later, Mr. Strzok congratulated Ms. Page on two derogatory stories that appeared about Carter Page, a former Trump volunteer whom the FBI was wiretapping.

The Washington Post broke a story about the wiretap on April 11, Mr. Meadows said, which suggested Trumpconnections to Russia.

Mr. Strzok became famous for previously released text messages that showed a strong bias against Mr. Trump. At one point he told Ms. Page he had a plan to “stop” Mr. Trump.

In congressional testimony, Mr. Strzok denied that his bias affected how he conducted the Trump probe, saying that if he wanted to he could have leaked stories to the news media.

The Justice Department fired Mr. Strzok after a scathing inspector general report.

The Meadows letter to the Justice Department was first reported by journalist Sara Carter.

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Photo by: Manuel Balce Ceneta
FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, testifies before a House Judiciary Committee joint hearing on “oversight of FBI and Department of Justice actions surrounding the 2016 election” on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 12. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Mr. Meadows told Mr. Rosenstein that the new discoveries should prompt the Justice Department to turn over messages from three other FBI and Justice officials who may have communicated with Mr. Strzok, Ms. Page and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Mr. Meadows also wants communications with Andrew Weissmann, a top deputy to Russia probe special counsel Robert Mueller.

The House task force investigating the FBI’s 2016-17 Trump probe is comprised of two of the chamber’s regular committees — Oversight and Government Reform, and Judiciary.

Testifying July 12 before the House task force, Mr. Strzok presented himself as a straight arrow who didn’t let his biases interfere with his 20-plus-year FBI career. He also handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which exonerated her, before quickly pivoting in July 2016 to the Russia-Trump probe.

“Let me be clear unequivocally and under oath, not once in my 26 years of defending our nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took. This is true for the Clinton email investigation, for the investigation into Russian interference and for every other investigation I have worked on. It is not who I am and it is not something I would ever do, period.”

He added, “There is, however, one extraordinarily important piece of evidence supporting my integrity, the integrity of the FBI and our lack of bias. In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign.

“This information had the potential to derail and quite possibly defeat Mr. Trump, but the thought of expressing that or exposing that information never crossed my mind. That’s what FBI agents do every single day and that’s why I’m so proud of the bureau.”

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/sep/10/peter-strzok-lisa-page-conspired-leak-anti-trump-s/

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