Archive for the ‘“Trump dossier”’ category

Devin Nunes accuses FBI, DOJ of demonstrating ‘abuse’ of government surveillance programs

January 13, 2018

Devin Nunes accuses FBI, DOJ of demonstrating ‘abuse’ of government surveillance programs, Washington ExaminerDiana Stancy Correll, January 12, 2018

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told fellow Republicans he has witnessed evidence demonstrating a clear “abuse” of government surveillance programs by FBI and Justice Department officials, according to a new report.

Nunes’ comments were made as he was attempting to garner votes for a bill to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Section 702 permits the intelligence community to oversee foreign communications, but does not authorize the government to oversee Americans. The bill was passed by the House on Thursday.

Ahead of the vote, Nunes said he has not seen evidence to suggest Section 702 was abused to look at foreigners, but that other sections of the law had been misused by the government to oversee Americans, Fox News reported.

Nunes informed other lawmakers he would “read all 435 members of Congress into major abuses with other areas of FISA and will read members in ASAP” on those issues.

No further details were given given concerning the abuses Nunes brought up during the closed-door meetings this week. A report from the Washington Examiner this week said that representatives from congressional panels, including the House Intelligence Committee, viewed Obama-era FISA documents at the Justice Department earlier this month.

That meeting occurred after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray released the documents to lawmakers. Nunes had issued a letter to Rosenstein in December slamming the agencies for their “failure to fully produce” documents concerning the so-called “Trump dossier,” noting “at this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves.”

The Washington Examiner previously reported that the committees had the chance to view the documents that pertain to whether the FBI used unverified information from the dossier as a reason to spy on Americans.

Nunes said he will try to allow every member of the House to view the documents and come up with their own conclusions, though some Republicans already believe the dossier played a major role in leading to the authorization of surveillance of Trump officials.

Some aspects of the dossier — like communications between foreign nationals noted in the dossier — have been confirmed by officials. However, the majority of the scandalous allegations included in the document have not been verified.

The dossier came to light publicly after it was published in full by BuzzFeed in January 2017.

Byron York: What the Trump dossier criminal referral means

January 6, 2018

Byron York: What the Trump dossier criminal referral means, Washington ExaminerByron York, January 6, 2018

[T]here has been much speculation that the FBI used information from the uncorroborated dossier to seek court permission to spy on Americans in the Trump-Russia investigation. That would be a big deal, and it is an issue House and Senate Republicans are determined to sort out.

“I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation,” Grassley said in a statement Friday. “But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review. Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI.”

“Maybe there is some innocent explanation for the inconsistencies we have seen,” Grassley continued, “but it seems unlikely.”

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There’s been a lot of confusion about the decision by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and crime subcommittee chairman Lindsey Graham to refer Christopher Steele, author of the Trump dossier, to the Justice Department for a possible criminal investigation.

The two senators sent a brief letter Thursday to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray. The letter, which was unclassified and released to the public Friday, was a cover letter for what Grassley and Graham called a “classified memorandum related to certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple U.S. news outlets regarding the so-called ‘Trump dossier’ that Mr. Steele compiled on behalf of Fusion GPS for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee and also provided to the FBI.”

Grassley and Graham said that, on the basis of the classified information laid out in the memo, “we are respectfully referring Mr. Steele to you for investigation of 18 U.S.C. 1001, for statements the committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier.” (18 U.S.C. 1001 is the same federal false statements law that special counsel Robert Mueller has used to charge Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos in the Trump-Russia investigation.)

That’s all Grassley and Graham said, or at least all they said that was released to the public. The classified memo, of course, was not released at all.

It was all very confusing. What did the letter mean? Were Grassley and Graham alleging that Steele lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee? To some other congressional committee? To other investigators? If so, to whom?

The move met with skepticism in a number of circles. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called it an “effort to deflect attention” from the Trump-Russia probe. A former prosecutor called it “nonsense” in an interview with the Washington Post. A law professor speculated that it was “baseless.”

At the same time, few outside the committee seemed to understand what the letter meant. So, here is what appears to be going on:

Steele has not talked to any of the three congressional committees investigating the Trump-Russia affair – the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, or the House Intelligence Committee. Steele did not make false statements to them because he has not made any statements to them.

Steele has, reportedly, talked to Mueller’s prosecutors, but it seems highly unlikely Grassley and Graham are suggesting Steele lied to Mueller because it is highly unlikely – actually, beyond highly unlikely – that the Mueller office would have shared any of Steele’s answers with the Senate Judiciary Committee. So, what were Grassley and Graham referring to in their letter? What are the “statements the committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made” that Grassley and Graham believe might be false?

The answer is that Steele talked – and talked a lot – to the FBI. Remember that when he began to compile the dossier in the summer of 2016, Steele reportedly concluded the sensational information he had picked up – allegations of election collusion and Trump sexual escapades in Russia – was so important that he had to take it to the FBI. Steele told the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones that he first took the material to the FBI “near the start of July.”

That began a series of communications between Steele and the bureau in which Steele made certain representations to the FBI about his work. It is a crime to make false statements to the FBI – doesn’t have to be under oath, doesn’t have to be in a formal interview or interrogation setting, it’s simply a criminal act to knowingly make a false statement to the FBI.

As a result of their talks, Steele and the FBI reached a tentative agreement whereby the FBI would pay Steele to continue the anti-Trump work.

All the while, Steele was also working for the opposition research firm Fusion GPS – his dossier was the result of a Fusion anti-Trump project funded by the Clinton campaign. As part of that, Steele briefed reporters on what he had found. In a London court case, Steele’s lawyers said that in September 2016, Fusion GPS directed Steele to brief reporters from the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, the New Yorker, Yahoo News, and, later, Mother Jones. Steele did each briefing individually.

One serious question is whether Steele told the FBI that he was telling reporters the same information – those explosive allegations about Trump and Trump associates – that he was bringing to bureau investigators. If the FBI knew that, would they have agreed to an arrangement to make Steele a paid FBI operative investigating the Trump-Russia affair? That would have been a most unorthodox arrangement, with Steele disseminating his allegations to the FBI and the press simultaneously.

That is not exactly how the FBI operates. So now the question is: When Steele was discussing working for the FBI, did he fully inform the FBI of what his work for the Clinton campaign involved, in particular his briefing the press on the findings he would be reporting to the FBI? To use Grassley’s and Graham’s words, were the “statements the committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier” accurate?

One way to find that out is to compare what Steele told the London court with what Steele told the FBI. Some of the London court testimony is public. As for what Steele told the FBI, the Senate Judiciary Committee has examined a lot of dossier-related material from the FBI under an agreement that allows the committee to view materials the bureau has originally produced to the House Intelligence Committee.

It appears that Grassley and Graham are pursuing inconsistencies between what Steele told the FBI and what Steele told the London court. If they conflict, which is true? If what Steele told the FBI was untrue, that’s a problem.

Ultimately, the Steele-FBI deal fell through, for reasons that have never been publicly disclosed.

But there has been much speculation that the FBI used information from the uncorroborated dossier to seek court permission to spy on Americans in the Trump-Russia investigation. That would be a big deal, and it is an issue House and Senate Republicans are determined to sort out.

“I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation,” Grassley said in a statement Friday. “But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review. Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI.”

“Maybe there is some innocent explanation for the inconsistencies we have seen,” Grassley continued, “but it seems unlikely.”

Panic at the Washington Post

December 26, 2017

Panic at the Washington Post, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, December 25, 2017

The Washington Post is worried. The lead headline in today’s paper edition reads: “Mueller criticism grows to a clamor — FBI Conspiracy Claim Takes Hold — Driven by activists, GOP lawmakers, Trump tweets.”

Turnabout is fair play. Last year around this time, an honest newspaper could easily have written: “Trump criticism grows to a clamor — Russia Collusion Takes Hold — Driven by activists, Democratic lawmakers, leaks.”

A year ago, an honest newspaper could not have written that the Trump collusion criticism was driven by the FBI. The facts supporting such a headline were not known. Now we have good reason to suspect that the FBI was, in fact, advancing the collusion claim.

The FBI reportedly offered money to Christoper Steele to continue his work on the anti-Trump dossier (in testimony before Congress Rod Rosenstein refused to say whether the FBI paid or offered to pay for the dossier). The FBI may well have used information in the dossier to secure approval of surveillance efforts from the FISA court.

The FBI also helped push the dossier into the public’s consciousness. Its general counsel, James Baker, reportedly told reporter David Corn about the dossier, thus enabling Corn to write about it just before the election. And FBI director Comey briefed president-elect Trump on the dossier, which led to publication of its contents by BuzzFeed.

We also know about the quest of Peter Strzok, a high-level FBI man, for an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency.

But let’s return to the Washington Post’s story about growing criticism of Mueller. The three distressed Post writers are less than fully open when it comes to informing readers what — other than activists, GOP lawmakers, and Trump tweets — is causing criticism of Mueller to grow to a clamor.

They acknowledge that it has something to do with Strzok’s role as Mueller’s former top investigator. However, they do their best to make Strzok seem innocuous.

The story introduces him by noting that he called Trump an “idiot” and predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the election in a landslide — statements that don’t distinguish him from tens of thousands of government employees and millions of other Americans. They also quote a former colleague of Strzok who says:

To think Pete could not do his job objectively shows no understanding of the organization. We have Democrats, we have Republicans, we have conservatives and liberals. . . . Having personal views doesn’t prevent us from independently following the facts.

The problem with peddling this happy narrative is that it ignores Strzok’s anti-Trump zeal, his obvious desire to impress his mistress, and his damning statement about the need for an “insurance policy” against Trump becoming president. The Post, in fact, never mentions that statement.

The Post also manages to ignore the hyper-partisan nature of Mueller’s staff, even excluding Strzok, whom he reassigned. There is a passing reference to Andrew Weissmann’s gushing note to Sally Yates praising her for her resistance to Trump, but no discussion of the ideologically one-sided composition of Team Mueller — a marked contrast to Ken Starr’s balanced staff.

Even with that diverse staff, Starr was successfully portrayed as spearheading a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” It’s not surprising that as more and more evidence emerges of bias within Mueller’s team, criticism mounts and takes hold.

Mueller himself is a Republican. But he is also a friend of James Comey, another fact the Post ignores. The steady stream of evidence of Comey’s anti-Trump animus and manipulative conduct has contributed to declining faith in Mueller.

And then, there’s the fact that Mueller appears to have come up empty so far on “collusion” by Trump. A prosecutor investigating a president is bound to lose credibility if, after an extended period of time, he neither produces evidence against the president nor exonerates him of the set of crimes that supposedly underlie the investigation.

A prosecutor who cannot credibly be accused of bias — either personal or within his team — buys himself time and patience from the public. Mueller is not that prosecutor.

In sum, the Post’s account of how Mueller lost the “near-universal support” he enjoyed earlier is shallow.

The Post’s story is significant, nonetheless. Clearly, the Post is concerned that, as it states, the growing criticism of Mueller “threatens to shadow his investigation’s eventual findings.”

It does, indeed. A recent Harvard poll found that 54 percent of voters believe that “as the former head of the FBI and a friend of James Comey,” Mueller has a conflict of interest in the proceedings. Meanwhile, only 35 percent believe that evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia has been found.

I’m sure Mueller believes his own press-clippings, but the public no longer does. The press, it seems, is beginning to realize this.

About that Page/Strzok ‘insurance policy’

December 14, 2017

About that Page/Strzok ‘insurance policy’, Amerian ThinkerPatricia McCarthy, December 14, 2017

Bottom line?  Our DOJ and FBI (and the IRS) have been hopelessly corrupted by the Obama administration that used them to torment its opponents.  Neither agency can now be trusted. They are tainted by their self-righteous campaign to destroy a man they loathe for, most of all, being an outsider.  Trump was never a member of their exclusive club; he was busy working, building things all over the world, employing thousands of people, getting things done.  Imagine his frustration at the snail’s pace at which Congress works. They work hard at getting nothing done.

Hats off to Jim Jordon, Trey Gowdy, Louie Gohmert, Ron DeSantis, and Chuck Grassley, to name a few of the few.  Their responses to the thoroughly ridiculous conflicts of interest that invalidate the Mueller investigation are normal, and they are justifiably outraged.  The Democrats seem to have no problem at all with all the overt malice at the root of the Obama/Clinton plan to stop Trump.

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“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he [Trump] gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,

writes FBI counterintelligence officer Peter Strzok to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an extramarital affair while spearheading both the Clinton email inquiry and the early Trump-Russia probe, adding,

“It’s like a life insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”  (March 4, 2016)

Isn’t it clear that “the path” was a developing strategy by which these co-conspirators would stop Trump by any means necessary?  Was it at that meeting with “Andy” McCabe, then #2 at the FBI, where the three of them conjured the idea of using the FISA court to get warrants in order to unmask members of the Trump campaign so they could be surveilled?

Surely, they would find something criminal.

“Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.” – Lavrentiy Beria, head of Joseph Stalin’s secret police

These people obviously believed themselves to be above the law.  And then when Trump became the GOP candidate, they instituted the next phase:   Use the fake dossier commissioned by the Hillary Clinton campaign, the one filled with all manner of fabricated crimes and offenses Trump had allegedly committed, maybe even pay Fusion GPS to amp it up, make it even more salacious.  Then they would use it to bring about Trump’s downfall?

They had planned to prevent his election.

When that failed, they planned to take him out before inauguration.

Once he was inaugurated, they doubled down.

In cahoots with Comey, they would lie, cheat and leak. Then, when for good reason, Trump fired James Comey, they, these arrogant, biased snobs at the FBI, shifted into high gear.  They began leaking like sieves (remember Ellen Farkus?).

Then there is Charles Ohr of the DOJ and his lovely wife Nellie.

Ohr met with Christopher Steele before and after the election; Steele is the man who provided the dirt on Trump via his pals in Moscow.   Then Mrs. Ohr got a Ham radio license!  The NSA would be hard pressed to capture those conversations.  So, an employee of the DOJ was paid by Fusion GPS to further harm Trump.

In an atypical moment of craven cowardice, Jeff Sessions foolishly recused himself from the made-up-out-of-whole-cloth collusion with Russia inquiry,  turning the power over the eventual investigation to Rod Rosenstein, the man who embarrassed himself at the hearing before the House Oversight Committee yesterday.  Jim Jordan, Trey Gowdy, and a few others asked him withering questions on point and got nowhere.  The man defended Mueller’s hiring a team chock full of progressive activists.  The obvious conclusion is that their mission, which they chose to accept, was to find Trump guilty of an impeachable offense.  There was no crime to begin with; Sessions never should have allowed this investigation.  But this team of witch hunters was given free rein and an unlimited budget to get the job done.

This is a constitutional crisis so much worse than Watergate that it boggles the mind.  Americans now are coming to grips with the fact that their government law enforcement institutions are corrupt to the core.  The Left embraces this reality because they think it benefits them.  The Republicans in Congress are, with several terrific exceptions, all Walter Mittys, powerful in their own minds but absolute wusses on planet earth.

Bottom line?  Our DOJ and FBI (and the IRS) have been hopelessly corrupted by the Obama administration that used them to torment its opponents.  Neither agency can now be trusted. They are tainted by their self-righteous campaign to destroy a man they loathe for, most of all, being an outsider.  Trump was never a member of their exclusive club; he was busy working, building things all over the world, employing thousands of people, getting things done.  Imagine his frustration at the snail’s pace at which Congress works. They work hard at getting nothing done.

Hats off to Jim Jordon, Trey Gowdy, Louie Gohmert, Ron DeSantis, and Chuck Grassley, to name a few of the few.  Their responses to the thoroughly ridiculous conflicts of interest that invalidate the Mueller investigation are normal, and they are justifiably outraged.  The Democrats seem to have no problem at all with all the overt malice at the root of the Obama/Clinton plan to stop Trump.

Let us hope that the IG investigation into all of this will be legitimate, honest and above board.   Is it looking into the Clintons’ corruption re: Uranium One, and their habit of selling access?  Will the IG report include information about the Clintons’ takeover of the DNC, the hacking of the DNC computers that they refused to let the FBI examine?  The murder of Seth Rich?  Who exactly is Imran Awan, the IT guy who probably knows everything and likely was blackmailing a few Dems?

The damning texts from Strzok to his paramour, an FBI lawyer, are a sad commentary on the state of the FBI.  The agency has a severe ethics problem and can no longer be trusted to enforce the law.   Mueller once headed the FBI but did not know better than to stack his team with anti-Trump activists!  That does not pass the smell test.  He did because he knew no one would stop him.  McCabe is tainted, as is Rosenstein.  Time will tell us how Wray performs but he has yet to impress.   As Camus said, “A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”  Our FBI and DOJ have become wild beasts that threaten American civil society.

 

Story Laundering: Fusion GPS, Fake News, Russians and Reporters

November 3, 2017

Story Laundering: Fusion GPS, Fake News, Russians and Reporters, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, November 3, 2017

 

The media is no longer a journalistic institution. It’s a political institution. It’s a component of a political infrastructure of unelected officials, bureaucracies and institutions that controls our government.

Fake news, Fusion GPS, internet censorship and all the rest are symptoms of this overriding problem.

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“The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Ben Rhodes gloated. “That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Rhodes, the White House’s “Obama whisperer”, was explaining how he had pulled the wool over the media’s eyes on the Iran Deal to a journalist. The media responded to the story by attacking the journalist who reported it, not Rhodes for viewing them as easily manipulated useful idiots.

The media knew that it knew nothing. And it didn’t care. It just didn’t want outsiders to know it.

What ties together the debate about Russian collusion, fake news and Fusion GPS is the implosion of the media. What were the professional reporters doing while Rhodes was manipulating the 27-year-olds? They were working at places like Fusion GPS and ‘story laundering’ narratives to the kiddies.

The media markets its investigative journalism chops even as investigative journalism no longer fits into its business model. Companies like Fusion GPS and political manipulators like Ben Rhodes step into the vacuum by covertly providing them with the core product. Much of the media is really in the business of ‘story laundering’ by rewriting talking points, smears and hit pieces from organizations like Fusion GPS.

The readers get talking points served to them without ever knowing who actually produced them. The forensic examination of the Trump dossier answered some of these questions. Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS hired a British former intelligence officer. And he got his material from, among other sources, a Russian intelligence officer. And they passed the material to the media and the FBI.

It took a great deal of effort, including a congressional subpoena, a national scandal and the threat of impeachment, to peel back the workings of the media and expose how the dossier sausage got made. Most packaged media stories never receive this level of scrutiny. And the media is quick to indignantly defend its lack of transparency and reliance on anonymous sources in its Trump hit pieces.

But what the current controversy really reveals is the decline and fall of the media.

The media has outsourced story generation to the shadowy underworld that produced the Trump dossier. Much as NPR outsourced its coverage of the Iran Deal to Ploughshares and the Iran Lobby in exchange for $100K. This isn’t bias in the conventional sense. It’s native advertising all the way. The media ‘rents’ space to outside interests. It rewrites their stories in the house style and runs them.

Sometimes, like NPR, there’s a financial arrangement. Other times the media gets stories that it lacks the resources and the time to generate on its own. Or access. And sometimes it’s just a political alliance.

The media is trying to cash in on the institutional legacy of the corporations that bear the old names, but have no functional resemblance to what the news business used to be. Today’s media isn’t in the news business. Its outlets report the news only to the degree that they have to. And when they do, they rely on viral stories or rewriting an original report. The media’s real business is serving as a clearinghouse for narratives. These clearinghouses operate out of major urban power centers. They know next to nothing about much of the country. And they don’t care. It’s why they didn’t see Trump’s victory coming.

Trump doesn’t just outrage the media politically. He’s a threat to their business model. The media’s new business is political gatekeeping as the intermediary between political interests and the public. If you want to give Iran a blank check to develop its nukes, touch off a panic over the environment or make anthem protests into a trend, you go to the media. And then your business deal with Iran, your solar panel investments or your hijacked family foundation pushing black nationalist chic will thrive.

The existence of President Trump undermines the media’s gatekeeping powers. He is a living reminder that the media’s power is limited. That’s why he has become the media’s number one target.

The internet is the media’s other problem. Gatekeeping was easier when broadcasting was expensive and hard. The media used Trump’s victory to corral Facebook and Google, the big search and social media companies, into letting them serve as the gatekeepers of online news under the guise of fighting fake news. But the media’s fake news crusade is entirely a consequence of its own corruption.

The public turned to alternative news, both real and fake, because it doesn’t trust the media. And the Trump dossier case is more evidence that the media can’t be trusted. Everything from satire sites to Russian influence operations thrive in the alternative media space because there is no longer a consensus about truth or ethics. And it’s the media that destroyed truth and ethics in journalism.

As the media moved from biased reporting to political gatekeeping, it sharply narrowed the range of permissible opinions. Every story became an ‘ad’ for one cause or another. Fewer stories existed for their own sake. Instead each story promoted a political or cultural agenda. Even if a story was not overtly political, a political ‘advertisement’ of some kind had to be slipped in there somehow.

Most people didn’t realize that they were reading, watching and hearing a bunch of non-stop political ads disguised in a thousand different styles from reporting (“Gun Violence Strikes Again in American City) to explainers (“10 Things You Need to Know About Gun Violence”), but they found the product stifling and artificial. When everything is an ad, then nothing feels real.

The Russians were perfectly adapted to enter this space because the media had become ‘Russian’. It was a collective propaganda organ with close links to the government blasting identical content from its interchangeable outlets. As in Russia, the public instinctively distrusted the media. Different became authentic. The more different, the more authentic.

And instead of trying to regain public trust, the media decided to censor the internet.

The media wasn’t prepared for there to be a debate about the meaning of ‘fake news’. It wants the power to define what ‘news’ and ‘fake news’ are. This is not the agenda of an institution dedicated to public service, but of a cartel whose entire identity is tied up with total control over a product.

The product isn’t news. It’s narrative.

The media is a narrative cartel. Forget the five Ws of journalism, who, what, where, when and why. It isn’t interested in what happened. It wants to make certain things happen. And when you want to make things happen, you’re no longer an observer. You’re not the fifth estate. You’re one of the first two.

And so the media is in a power struggle with the White House not, as it pretends, over access, transparency or truth, but over policy. And it’s acting as a proxy in this power struggle for assorted interests, some named and some nameless, as it did with Hillary’s anti-Trump dossier.

The media is no longer a journalistic institution. It’s a political institution. It’s a component of a political infrastructure of unelected officials, bureaucracies and institutions that controls our government.

Fake news, Fusion GPS, internet censorship and all the rest are symptoms of this overriding problem.

Carter Page bashes House Intelligence Committee in testimony before panel

November 2, 2017

Carter Page bashes House Intelligence Committee in testimony before panel, Washington Times,  November 2, 2017

Carter Page says false charges in a Democrat-financed dossier brought him “irreparable damage” and subjected him to death threats. (Associated Press)

Mr. Steele, who paid Russian sources with Democratic Party money, made allegations that Mr. Page:

  • While on a publicized speaking appearance in Moscow in July 2016, met with two Kremlin connected figures who have been sanctioned by the U.S.
  • Agreed to a brokerage fee in exchange for pushing the end of U.S. sanctions.
  • Told an “ethnic Russian” he was working to swing Bernie Sanders voters to Mr. Trump’s side.
  • Worked hand-in-hand with then-campaign manager Paul Manafort to have Russia interfere in the 2016 election, including hacking Democratic Party computers.

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Former Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page on Thursday began his scheduled testimony before the House Intelligence Committee by bashing the panel itself.

He released his opening statement which singles out Democrats for reading charges against him from a Democratic Party-funded dossier.

Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democratic, was especially harsh on Mr. Page at the televised March hearing with then-FBI Director James Comey. Mr. Schiff read unverified allegations against Mr. Page from former British spy and dossier writer Christopher Steele.

Mr. Carter, a former volunteer Trump adviser who runs an energy investment firm in New York and worked for Merrill Lynch in Moscow in the 2000s, called Mr. Schiff’s and other Democrats’ dossier-quoting as “extensive misinformation.”

“Whereas my name was so thoroughly tarnished during your Committee’s March 20, 2017 discussion with James Comey about the Dodgy Dossier on national television,” he said. “I also request in the interest of time that my short biography be submitted for the record.”

If there is one person besides President Trump who was thoroughly trashed in the dossier, it was Mr. Page.

Mr. Steele, who paid Russian sources with Democratic Party money, made allegations that Mr. Page:

  • While on a publicized speaking appearance in Moscow in July 2016, met with two Kremlin connected figures who have been sanctioned by the U.S.
  • Agreed to a brokerage fee in exchange for pushing the end of U.S. sanctions.
  • Told an “ethnic Russian” he was working to swing Bernie Sanders voters to Mr. Trump’s side.
  • Worked hand-in-hand with then-campaign manager Paul Manafort to have Russia interfere in the 2016 election, including hacking Democratic Party computers.

Mr. Page has said the charges are fiction. He never met the two men in Moscow; he did not discuss or receive a brokerage fee; he did not have a discussion about Mr. Sanders; He has never met Mr. Manafort.

Referring to himself in the third person in his submitted biography, Mr. Page said, “He never was asked to obtain nor was he provided negative information about anyone, including Mrs. Hillary Clinton, by any Russian person or entity.”

Mr. Page served on the same campaign advisory panel as George Papadopoulos. Special Counsel Robert Mueller disclosed this week that Mr. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent about his contacts with Russian-connected people during the campaign. Mr. Mueller said he is cooperating with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The panel met one time, with candidate Trump attending.

The FBI obtained a eavesdropping warrant against Mr. Page in the summer of 2016 on suspicion he worked as a agent for Russia.

The Annapolis graduate and former Navy officer said he was never a foreign agent. He called the monitoring unjustified and questions whether it was based on the dossier.

Nothing Burger With Wheeze

October 31, 2017

Nothing Burger With Wheeze, Amerian Greatness, October 31, 2017

 

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump. I believe this whole misbegotten investigation, in the end, will garner a lot of scalps. But the scalps will not, I suspect, be those of Trump or his supporters. Rather, the whole focus of the investigation is likely to shift to the real “colluders with Russia,” the Clintons and their enablers.

This is not a result, I surmise, that Robert Mueller will relish. But if he does not recuse himself (and there are good reasons that he should), I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction. It will be irresistible. And it won’t be directed against Donald Trump.

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Given the ocean of blaring red type with which the Drudge Report greeted the news of the indictment of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates on Monday morning, you might have thought that here, at last, was the smoking gun in the Trump-colludes-with-Ruskies-to-snatch-the-election-from-Hillary narrative. I have no doubt the collective hearts of Max Boot, Gabe Schoenfeld, and Bill Kristol skipped a joyous beat when they heard tell of the indictments this weekend. “At last!” I could almost hear them exclaim, “It’s make-way-for-ducklings time! Trump will soon be gone and the power brokers will once again pay attention to us. Order in the universe will be restored.”

No such luck, friends. As Ted Cruz observed many months ago, the whole Russian collusion delusion is a “nothing burger.” Robert Mueller’s heavy-handed “let’s-squeeze-’em” pursuit of these two former players in Donald Trump’s campaign may make for dramatic headlines. And doubtless, it is a nuisance (and potentially more) for Messrs. Manafort and Gates, who, if they have incompetent lawyers, may face jail time and extensive fines. But really, at the end of the day, their alleged malfeasance, despite the “Conspiracy against the United States” heading in the indictment, amounts to concealing from Uncle Sam some $75 million they hoovered up as unregistered foreign agents for Ukraine and sending the proceeds through the rinse, suds, spin, and dry cycle back home in the United States. Naughty, yes; prosecutable, to be sure; but it has nothing to do with the assigned subject of Robert Mueller’s terrier-like activities as special counsel.

As my friend Andrew C. McCarthy put it in a characteristically incisive summary of the episode, Mueller’s case “seems shaky and overcharged” and will likely be a “boon to Trump,” who is not mentioned in the indictment, which focuses on activities that took place five and even 10 years ago, long before Donald Trump began disturbing the sleep of the NeverTrumpers.

“Even from Paul Manafort’s perspective,” McCarthy notes,

there may be less to this indictment than meets the eye — it’s not so much a serious allegation of “conspiracy against the United States” as a dubious case of disclosure violations and money movement that would never have been brought had he not drawn attention to himself by temporarily joining the Trump campaign.

Moreover, McCarthy continues, “From President Trump’s perspective, the indictment is a boon from which he can claim that the special counsel has no actionable collusion case.”

It appears to reaffirm former FBI director James Comey’s multiple assurances that Trump is not a suspect. And, to the extent it looks like an attempt to play prosecutorial hardball with Manafort, the president can continue to portray himself as the victim of a witch hunt.

A few days ago, the world was stunned by the news that 1) the original funder of the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research was the conservative website Washington Free Beacon, edited by Matthew Continetti, the son-in-law of energetic NeverTrumper Bill Kristol, and 2) when the Beacon ended its contract with Fusion GPS, its services were picked up by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. It was at that point, in May-June 2016, that Fusion GPS employed the former British Spy Christopher Steele to look for dirt on Trump in Russia. That was the origin of the infamous “Trump Dossier,” with its (in the words of former FBI director James Comey) “salacious and unverified” claims about Donald Trump’s behavior in Russia.

This whole story has been exhaustively and exhaustingly picked over. Who knew that Tony Podesta, older brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, was in bed (and in today’s climate, we must stipulate, not literally) with Paul Manafort? Yep, it’s true. And this just in—the elder Podesta has just announced that he is stepping down from his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, after, nota bene, it was announced that Mueller was turning his jaundiced eye on him.

Who knew that the FBI, too, engaged the services of Spook Steele to continue gathering dirt on Trump? Did that work provide the rationale for the Obama Administration’s going to the FISA Court to get authorization to bug Trump’s associates? What about Robert Mueller? He was head of the FBI when that storied agency was prevailed upon not to announce it was investigating the Russian company that acquired Uranium One, and thereby some 20 percent of U.S. Uranium assets, back when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and Barack Obama was still pursuing his “reset” with Russia. What’s going on there? And the $140 million (give or take) that found its way into the coffers of the Clinton Foundation around the time of that transfer? Or the $500,000 speaking fee for a short speech by Bill Clinton, paid by a Russian bank working for the Russian company acquiring Uranium One? What about that?

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump. I believe this whole misbegotten investigation, in the end, will garner a lot of scalps. But the scalps will not, I suspect, be those of Trump or his supporters. Rather, the whole focus of the investigation is likely to shift to the real “colluders with Russia,” the Clintons and their enablers.

This is not a result, I surmise, that Robert Mueller will relish. But if he does not recuse himself (and there are good reasons that he should), I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction. It will be irresistible. And it won’t be directed against Donald Trump.