Tag Archives: John Durham

Durham vs. Horowitz: Tension Over Truth and Consequences Grips the FBI’s Trump-Russia Reckoning

As he documents the role of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in generating false allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, Special Counsel John Durham has also previewed a challenge to the FBI’s claims about how and why its counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign began.

At stake is the completeness of the official reckoning within the U.S. government over the Russiagate scandal – and whether there will be an accounting commensurate with the offense: the abuse of the nation’s highest law enforcement and intelligence powers to damage an opposition presidential candidate turned president, at the behest of his opponent from the governing party he defeated.

The drama is playing out against the clashing approaches of the two Justice Department officials tasked with scrutinizing the Russia probe’s origins and unearthing any misconduct: Durham, the Sphinx-like prosecutor with a reputation for toughness whose work continues; and Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice inspector general, whose December 2019 report faulted the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe but nonetheless concluded that it was launched in good faith.

The bureau’s defenders point to Horowitz’s report to argue that the FBI’s Trump-Russia conspiracy investigation, codenamed Crossfire Hurricane, is untainted despite its extensive use of the discredited Clinton-funded Steele dossier. Though highly critical of the bureau’s use of Christopher Steele’s reports, Horowitz concluded that they “played no role in the Crossfire Hurricane opening,” which he said had met the department’s “low threshold” for opening an investigation.

But Durham has made plain his dissent. In response to Horowitz’s report, the special counsel announced that his office had “advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.” Durham stressed that, unlike Horowitz, his “investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department” and has instead obtained “information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”

Durham’s office has not described the specific basis for its disagreement. But the Crossfire Hurricane advocates’ defense has a big problem: copious countervailing evidence in the public record – including in Horowitz’s own report. A considerable paper trail points to Steele’s political opposition research playing a greater role in the probe than the FBI has acknowledged:

  • Numerous officials received Steele’s allegations – some meeting with the ex-British intelligence officer himself – and discussed sending them up the FBI chain weeks before July 31, 2016, the Horowitz-endorsed date when the bureau claims it opened the Russia-Trump “collusion” investigation. These encounters call into question the FBI’s claim that Steele played no role in triggering Crossfire Hurricane and that its team only received the dossier weeks after their colleagues, on Sept. 19.
  • The FBI’s own records belie its claims that it decided to launch the Russia probe not because of the dossier, but instead on a vague tip recounting a London barroom conversation with a low-level Trump campaign volunteer, George Papadopoulos. Australian diplomat Alexander Downer’s tip, recorded in bureau records, was that Papadopoulos had merely “suggested” that Russia had made an unspecified “suggestion” of Russian help – a thin basis upon which to investigate an entire presidential campaign.
  • Upon officially opening Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, FBI officials immediately took investigative steps that mirrored the claims in the Steele dossier even though they were supposedly unaware of it. In August, the FBI team opened probes of Trump campaign figures Carter Page, Michael Flynn, and Paul Manafort – all of whom are mentioned in the dossier – based on predicates that are just as flimsy as the Downer-Papadopoulos pretext.
  • The FBI’s claim that Steele played no role in sparking the Trump-Russia probe is further called into question by top bureau officials’ previous false claims about the investigation, including Steele’s role. They not only lied to the public and Congress, but to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

‘Definitely of Interest to the Counterintelligence Folks’

Durham’s November indictment of Igor Danchenko, Steele’s main source, was the final nail in the coffin for the Clinton-funded dossier. But to sympathetic media amplifiers of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, its origins were unscathed.

Horowitz’s report, wrote Mother Jones reporter (and early Steele media contact) David Corn, “concluded that the FBI investigation of Trump-Russia contacts had been legitimately launched” thereby proving that “there was no hoax.”

In an article attempting to demonstrate “Why the Discredited Dossier Does Not Undercut the Russia Investigation,” Charlie Savage of the New York Times said Horowitz’s report “established” that Steele’s allegations did not reach the Crossfire Hurricane team until Sept. 19, 2016, meaning that “they did not yet know about the dossier” when they launched the probe on July 31.

But if the Crossfire Hurricane team really did not learn of Steele until Sept. 19, then those leading the Russiagate probe were among the few high-ranking officials in Washington intelligence circles unaware of the dossier.

The first known Steele-FBI contact about the dossier came on July 5, more than three weeks before the Trump-Russia probe officially launched. Days before, Steele – working for the Clinton campaign via the Washington-based opposition research firm Fusion GPS – contacted Michael Gaeta, the senior FBI agent he had worked with on other matters. Gaeta was then serving in Rome as a legal attaché.

Steele, Gaeta recalled in congressional testimony, informed him that “I have some really interesting information you need to see … immediately.” Gaeta jumped at the chance: “I said, all right, I will be up there tomorrow,” and immediately caught a flight to London. At Steele’s office on that early-summer day, the former British spy briefed his eager FBI handler on the Trump-Russia conspiracy theories he had generated and handed over a copy of his first “intelligence report.”

Steele’s allegations did not stay in London, as Gaeta quickly shared them with FBI colleagues. “I couldn’t just sweep it under the rug, couldn’t discount it just on its face,” he told Congress, adding that Steele “was an established source.” On July 12, Gaeta told a colleague in the FBI’s New York field office, the then-assistant special agent in charge, about Steele’s allegations. According to Horowitz — the IG who concluded that Steele “played no role in the Crossfire Hurricane opening” – this agent then informed his superior about the Steele allegations “the same day.” The Steele material, Horowitz’s team was told, was seen by these FBI officials as “something that needs to be handled immediately” and “definitely of interest to the Counterintelligence folks.”

On July 28, at his FBI colleague’s request, Michael Gaeta passed along copies of the two reports he had received from Steele. As Horowitz later found, the first one (dated June 20, 2016) provided by Steele to Gaeta, would later become “one of four of Steele’s reports that the FBI relied upon to support” its surveillance applications for Carter Page.

Steele’s conspiracy theories quickly made their way up the FBI chain. According to the inspector general’s report, Gaeta heard from a colleague that high-level officials were already “aware of the reports’ existence,” including at the “Executive Assistant Director (EAD) level” at FBI headquarters in Washington. This occurred, Gaeta told Congress, “on maybe the 1st of August, right around then,” or “either the 31st of July.”

“I was told by the [assistant special agent in charge] at a very high level, he goes at the EAD level at headquarters they have the reports,” Gaeta said. According to the IG report, Gaeta emailed an FBI supervisor on July 28 to report that Steele had told him that contents of two of his reports “may already be circulating at a ‘high level’ in Washington, D.C.”

Gaeta also discussed the Steele dossier claims with the legal attaché overseeing his work at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. The unidentified government lawyer told the inspector general that he signed off on Gaeta’s discussions with the New York field office, and also recalled having the “expectation” that “Steele’s reporting” would be provided “to the Counterintelligence Division (CD) at FBI Headquarters within a matter of days.”

Before making the trip to see Steele in London, Gaeta also received the approval of Victoria Nuland, a senior Obama administration State Department official who now serves under President Biden. By her own telling, Nuland’s office then received information directly from Steele “in the middle of July.” Steele, Nuland recalled in a 2018 interview, “passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction to that was, this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI.”

Yet another senior U.S. government official also shared Steele’s information with the FBI. It helped that he had a personal connection: Then-senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie worked alongside Steele at Fusion GPS, first made contact with Steele right before the former British spy’s meeting with Gaeta on July 5, and then shortly after. This led to a July 30 breakfast between the Ohrs and Steele at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. – one day before Crossfire Hurricane began. At this sit-down, Ohr recalled to Congress, Steele claimed that he had evidence that Russian intelligence “had Donald Trump over a barrel.”

According to Ohr, “I wanted to provide the information he [Steele] had given me to the FBI.” He immediately reached out to Andrew McCabe, the then-deputy director of the FBI. “I went to his office to provide the information, and Lisa Page was there,” Ohr recalled, referring to the FBI attorney who exchanged anti-Trump text messages with Strzok while both worked on the Trump-Russia probe. “So I provided the information to them.”

When exactly this pivotal meeting occurred has never been resolved, and all involved have a fuzzy recollection. The transcript of Ohr’s August 2018 House testimony shows him responding “Yes” to a question placing his meeting with McCabe and Page on July 30 – the same day he met Steele, and one day before the Trump-Russia probe officially began. Yet earlier in the deposition, Ohr guessed that he in fact met with McCabe and Page “in August.” When he spoke to the DOJ inspector general, Ohr “did not recall exactly when he contacted McCabe.”

Despite that testimony, Horowitz instead relied on an entry in Ohr’s calendar to determine the meeting did not take place until Oct. 18. McCabe, who was forced to resign from the department for lying about his contacts with the media, said he believes the meeting occurred in “fall 2016” and “did not remember Ohr calling him to set up the meeting or how it came to be scheduled.”

‘Suggested … Some Kind of Suggestion’

According to the official narrative, while top-ranking FBI officials shared and discussed the Steele dossier with everyone but Crossfire Hurricane team members, the counterintelligence division decided to investigate the Trump’s campaign’s potential ties to Russia on July 31 based on an unrelated tip from Alexander Downer, the Australian diplomat. At a London bar in May, campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos reportedly told Downer that Russia had offered to help the Trump campaign by anonymously releasing information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Although there was no evidence that the Trump campaign had pursued, received, or used this undefined material, FBI officials deemed this rumor sufficient grounds to investigate the campaign for potential involvement in Russia’s alleged theft of DNC emails published by Wikileaks.

“In other words,” Peter Strzok, the senior FBI counterintelligence agent who opened the Trump-Russia probe, wrote in his memoir, “Papadopoulos had somehow learned about the hacking operation before the public did and had advance knowledge of the Russian plan to use that information to hurt Clinton’s campaign. Even the FBI hadn’t known about it at that time.”

But when the Australian tip that reached the FBI in July 2016 was finally disclosed to the public in December 2019, Papadopoulos’ supposed “advance knowledge” about Russia’s alleged “hacking operation” turned out to be non-existent. The FBI’s tip from Downer contained no mention of the DNC hacking, a Russian interference campaign, or even the stolen emails handed to WikiLeaks. Nor did they even have any trace to suggest that a Russian intermediary had made an overture.

Instead, according to the FBI Electronic Communication (EC) that opened the Trump-Russia probe, the FBI only heard that Papadopoulos, in his conversation with Downer, “suggested” that “the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia” (emphasis added) that it could “assist” the Trump campaign “with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama).”

The FBI document acknowledged that the nature of the “suggestion” was “unclear” and that the possible Russian help could entail “material acquired publicly” – in other words, not emails hacked from the DNC, which, as Horowitz noted, were “not mentioned in the EC.” The FBI also acknowledged that it had no evidence concerning the Trump camp’s receptivity to the “suggested… suggestion”: It was “unclear how Mr. Trump’s team reacted to the offer,” the EC stated, and that Russia could act “with or without Mr. Trump’s cooperation.” Although Papadopoulos’ October 2017 guilty plea with the Mueller team suggested that he had told Downer about “thousands of emails” obtained by Russia, Downer later stated that the Trump campaign volunteer had made no mention of any stolen emails, and fact “didn’t say what it was” that Russia had on offer.

In other words, what Strzok wrote in his own book was untrue.

Because Downer’s tip was so thin, the FBI’s predicate was not only vague or even exculpatory, but also contained no indication that the “some kind of suggestion” actually came from the Russian government, or a Russian national, or anyone for that matter. When it opened the probe, the FBI did not even know that that the purported “suggestion” to Papadopoulos came from his conversation with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic. For his part, Mifsud has denied making any “suggestion” of Russian help to Papadopoulos at all.

To accept that the FBI’s decision to open the Trump-Russia investigation was well-founded, one has to stipulate that the nation’s premier law enforcement agency decided to investigate a presidential campaign, and then a president, based on a low-level volunteer having “suggested”, during a barroom chat, “some kind of suggestion from Russia” that contained no mention of the alleged Russian hacking or stolen emails that the Trump campaign was supposedly conspiring over. One would also have to accept that the bureau was not influenced by the far more detailed claims of direct Trump-Russia connections – an alleged conspiracy that would form the heart of the investigation – advanced in the widely-circulating Steele dossier.

‘An Insufficient Basis’ for the Probe’s Supposed Predicate

Adding to the questions surrounding the FBI’s basis for opening a Trump-Russia counterintelligence probe is that, upon doing so, the Crossfire Hurricane team didn’t bother to contact the campaign volunteer whose vague “suggestion” supposedly triggered it. Instead, the FBI expanded the probe to multiple other figures in the Trump orbit. Although no intelligence connected them to Downer’s vague tip, all three shared the distinction of being named as Russia conspirators or assets in the Steele dossier.

Rather than just focusing on Papadopoulos – who was never wiretapped and not even interviewed until January of 2017 – the FBI quickly opened parallel probes of campaign volunteer Carter Page, campaign adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. According to Horowitz, Strzok described “the initial investigative objective of Crossfire Hurricane” as an effort “to determine which individuals associated with the Trump campaign may have been in a position to have received the alleged offer of assistance from Russia” (emphasis added) that Papadopoulos had “suggested.”

The FBI identified Page, Flynn, and Manafort as additional investigative targets, the IG found, not based on any new intelligence but because they had “ties to Russia or a history of travel to Russia.” They relied on a rarely used law – the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires Americans representing foreign governments to disclose these relationships – as the basis for their inquiries.

“Lacking any evidence — and admitting such in their own opening document — the team, nevertheless, proceeded to simply speculate who ‘may have’ accepted the Russian offer and subsequently opened up full investigations on four Americans,” Kevin Brock, the former FBI assistant director for intelligence and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), opined in Congressional testimony in 2020. “This is unconscionable and a direct abuse of FBI authorities.”

When it comes to Papadopoulos, the FBI “initially considered seeking FISA surveillance of Papadopoulos” but quickly determined that it had “an insufficient basis” to do so, Horowitz found. But if the FBI felt that it had “an insufficient basis” to spy on Papadopoulos, how could the FBI deem him to be a sufficient basis for investigating and spying on members of the campaign that he worked for?

On Steele, a Pattern of FBI ‘Factual Misstatements and Omissions’

Although Horowitz took the FBI at its word that Steele played no role in triggering Crossfire Hurricane, he did so after documenting multiple instances of FBI lies – including about Steele’s role in the probe.

When the FBI used the Steele dossier to seek surveillance warrants on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, the bureau made 17 “factual misstatements and omissions” to the FISA court, Inspector General Horowitz found in his December 2019 report.

These abuses included embellishing Steele’s established reliability as an FBI source; omitting information that undermined the credibility of Steele’s main source, Igor Danchenko, and the fanciful claims he told Steele about prostitutes and billion dollar bribes; concealing that Steele was a source for a Yahoo News article that the FBI also cited as source material; omitting that both Page and Papadopoulos had made exonerating statements to FBI informants; and, most notably, omitting that the Clinton campaign was paying for Steele’s services. The FISA court concurred with Horowitz, invalidating two of the four Page surveillance warrants on the basis of the FBI’s “material misstatements.”

When the FBI briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee on its use of the Steele dossier in 2018, it told similar falsehoods while presenting the Clinton contractor as credible. According to the FBI’s prepared talking points, the Senate was erroneously told that Steele’s main source Danchenko “did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier.” Danchenko, the FBI additionally claimed, also “maintains trusted relationships with individuals who are capable of reporting on the material he collected for Steele.” The FBI also said that its discussions with Danchenko “confirm that the dossier was not fabricated by Steele.”

But the FBI concealed – just as it did with the FISA court – that Danchenko had in fact told its agents that corroboration for the dossier’s claim was “zero”; that he “has no idea” where claims sourced to him came from; and that the Russia-Trump rumors he passed along to Steele came from “word of mouth and hearsay” and “conversation that [he] had with friends over beers” that should be taken with “a grain of salt.”

When the FBI’s deceptive reliance on Steele was brought to light in a memo from then-House intelligence chairman Rep. Devin Nunes in early 2018, the FBI fought to prevent its release. Moreover, the FBI resorted to more deception: In an explosive Jan. 31 statement aimed at thwarting the Nunes memo’s release, the FBI claimed that it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

The FBI’s tactic failed, and the memo was released two days later. When the first of the FBI’s Carter Page warrants was declassified in July 2018, it showed that the only material omissions of fact were made by the FBI. The FBI told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that it “believes that [Russia’s] efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with” the Trump campaign. Its source for this belief was Steele, whom it described as “Source #1” and “credible” – all while omitting that the Clinton campaign was footing the bill.

In addition, unidentified intelligence and law enforcement officials went out of their way to bolster Steele’s image via anonymous leaks to credulous news outlets. “U.S. investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier,” a CNN headline proclaimed in February 2017, weeks after the dossier’s publication. The FBI is “continuing to chase down stuff from the dossier, and, at its core, a lot of it is bearing out,” an unidentified “intelligence official” told The New Yorker later that month.

The FBI’s faith in Steele extended to sharing classified information with him. According to Horowitz, at an October 2016 meeting in Rome, FBI agents gave Steele a “general overview” of Crossfire Hurricane, including its then-secret probes of Manafort, Page, Flynn, and Papadopoulos. The FBI was so eager to enlist Steele that it offered to pay him $15,000 “just for attending” the Rome meeting and a “significantly” greater amount if he could collect more information.

This early FBI enthusiasm for Steele – and lengthy record of lying about it — is hard to square with the bureau’s subsequent claims that he only played a minor role.

Durham’s Dissent Could Become a Political Flashpoint

Despite uncovering FBI deceptions, Horowitz acknowledged that he was relying largely on the word of the officials he was investigating. “We did not find information in FBI or Department ECs [Electronic Communications], emails, or other documents, or through witness testimony, indicating that any information other than the [Friendly Foreign Government] information” – Australia’s tip from Downer — “was relied upon to predicate the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” his report states.

As his dissenting statement made clear, Durham is not limited to one department nor to its employees’ voluntary testimony.

Durham’s grand juries have already yielded indictments of two Clinton campaign-tied operatives for deceptive attempts to influence the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. That Horowitz has already uncovered so many inconsistencies in the FBI’s account – and that Durham has gone out of his way to question the FBI predication that Horowitz accepted – suggests that the Steele dossier and the Alfa Bank “secret hotline” story are far from the only fraudulent Trump-Russia activity in Durham’s sights.

If Durham does unearth additional evidence that the FBI did not launch the Trump-Russia probe in the way that it claims, then that would be yet another devastating revelation for a bureau that has already been caught relying on Clinton-funded disinformation and lying about it. Given how hard the FBI and Democratic Party allies have fought to shield this conduct from scrutiny, Durham’s probe could become a major political flashpoint as his probe reaches its final months and hones in on its final targets.

This RealClearInvestigations article was republished by The Gateway Pundit with permission and then subsequently appropriated by the Underground Newswire without permission.

Durham Zeroes in on Clinton Campaign, Could Call Some Aides to Testify, Court Memo Reveals

By John Solomon

Hillary Clinton’s team long fought to keep its ties to Christopher Steele’s dossier from public view, but Special Counsel John Durham is now making clear he has a strong interest in her campaign’s behavior during the Russia collusion probe. He is even suggesting some of her aides could be summoned as trial witnesses.

Durham’s earth-shaking revelation came inside a routine court filing this month in the case of Igor Y. Danchenko, a Russian analyst who was a primary source in 2016 for Steele’s now-infamous dossier. Danchenko has been charged with repeatedly lying to the FBI during the Russia collusion probe and has pleaded innocent.

File DanchenkoIndictment.pdf

Durham’s motion asked the presiding judge to determine whether Danchenko’s lawyers —Danny Onorato and Stuart Sears of the Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears law firm — pose a conflict of interest because the firm also represents the Hillary for America campaign as well as several former campaign officials in “matters before the special counsel.”

“The Clinton Campaign financed the opposition research reports, colloquially known as the ‘Dossier,’ that are central to the Indictment against the defendant,” the Durham team stated in the motion. “Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, the government respectfully requests that the Court inquire into the potential conflict issues set forth herein.”

File DurhamMotionDanchenkoClintonConflicts.pdf

Prosecutors said they want to know what the Clinton campaign knew about the accuracy of the Steele dossier’s now-discredited allegations of Trump-Russia collusion and whether any campaign “representatives directed, solicited, or controlled” Danchenko’s activities assisting Steele.

“The interests of the Clinton Campaign and the defendant could potentially diverge in connection with any plea discussions, pre-trial proceedings, hearings, trial, and sentencing proceedings,” the prosecutors told the court, often referring to the Steele dossier as “Company Reports.”

“For example, the Clinton Campaign and the defendant each might have an incentive to shift blame and/or responsibility to the other party for any allegedly false information that was contained within the Company Reports and/or provided to the FBI,” the Durham filing stated. “Moreover, it is possible that one of these parties might also seek to advance claims that they were harmed or defrauded by the other’s actions, statements, or representations.”

For the first time, Durham also raised the possibility aides to Hillary Clinton could testify at Danchenko’s trial.

“In the event that one or more former representatives of the Clinton Campaign (who are represented by defense counsel’s firm) are called to testify at any trial or other court proceeding, the defendant and any such witness would be represented by the same law firm, resulting in a potential conflict,” Durham’s team argued.

And for one of the first times, Durham’s team declares to a court what it believes was the political motive for the Clinton campaign to pay its law firm, Perkins Coie, to hire the Fusion GPS investigative firm to hire the retired MI6 agent Steele to write anti-Trump Russia reports known as the dossier.

“The Clinton Campaign, through Law Firm-1 and U.S. Investigative Firm-1, commissioned and financed the Company Reports in an attempt to gather and disseminate derogatory information about Donald Trump,” the filing stated.

In all, the latest Durham court filing identifies five areas where the prosecutor’s case may pose a conflict, including:

  • the Clinton campaign’s “knowledge or lack of knowledge concerning the veracity of information” in the dossier created by Steele with help from Danchenko;
  • the Clinton campaign’s “awareness or lack of awareness of the defendant’s collection methods and sub-sources”;
  • “meetings or communications” between the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS and Steele “regarding or involving” Danchenko;
  • “the defendant’s knowledge or lack of knowledge regarding the Clinton Campaign’s role in and activities surrounding the” Steele dossier;
  • And “the extent to which the Clinton Campaign and/or its representatives directed, solicited, or controlled” Danchenko’s activities.

“On each of these issues, the interests of the Clinton Campaign and the defendant may diverge,” the court filing explained.

The memo gives the most detailed explanation to date of Durham’s interest in the Clinton campaign and its potential exposure in his criminal investigation, surprising even some veteran Russiagate investigators.

“He is moving forward methodically against the largest organized criminal enterprise to ever take down a presidential election,” said Kash Patel, the former chief investigative counsel for the House Intelligence Committee. Patel worked with Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee’s chairman, to expose the bogus Russia collusion narrative as a political dirty trick that fed opposition research to the FBI to cause Trump to be investigated on false pretenses.

Patel, a former federal prosecutor and adviser to Trump, told the John Solomon Reports podcast that the memo is “an unbelievable twist” in the Russia case. He said the fact that the law firm representing the Clinton campaign is the same one representing Danchenko was certain to raise questions.

“You have to ask yourself why,” he said. “Why would the Clinton campaign lawyers go and represent the Steele dossier’s No. 1 source, who has been charged federally with five counts of lying to the FBI in a 39-page indictment that cites Clinton campaign former staffers?

“There is no such thing as coincidences in these types of investigations.”

Durham Tells Court Members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign Under Scrutiny

Martin Walsh
December 22, 2021

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion

Special Counsel John Durham’s team has informed a federal court that former members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign are under scrutiny for their possible roles in spreading Trump-Russia collusion allegations.

“Durham’s team requested that a judge ‘inquire into a potential conflict of interest’ connected to the lawyers for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s main anti-Trump dossier source, Igor Danchenko, pointing out that a separate lawyer at their firm ‘is currently representing the 2016 ‘Hillary for America’ presidential campaign, as well as multiple former employees of that campaign, in matters before the special counsel,’” Newsmax reported.

“Danchenko was charged with five counts of making false statements to the FBI. Durham’s indictment said Danchenko, a U.S.-based and Russian-born researcher, made these statements about the information he provided to Steele for his dossier, which the FBI relied upon when seeking authority for the secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide but which now has been discredited,” the report continued.

“The attorneys who took over as Danchenko’s lawyers this month told Judge Anthony Trenga of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that Durham’s team was raising questions about Robert Trout, who is of counsel at their firm and previously represented Clinton campaign members, but insisted there is no conflict of interest,” the report continued.

Durham’s team said that there are 5 topics that may become relevant to Danchenko’s defense.

1. “The Clinton campaign’s knowledge or lack of knowledge concerning the veracity of information” in the Steele dossier;

2. “The Clinton campaign’s awareness or lack of awareness” of Danchenko’s “collection methods” for the dossier;

3. “Meetings or communications” between the Clinton campaign and Steele about Danchenko;

4. “The defendant’s knowledge or lack of knowledge regarding the Clinton campaign’s role in” the dossier;

5. “The extent to which the Clinton campaign and/or its representatives directed, solicited, or controlled” Danchenko’s actions.

Durham noted that: “On each of these issues, the interests of the Clinton Campaign and the defendant might diverge. For example, the Clinton Campaign and the defendant each might have an incentive to shift blame and/or responsibility to the other party for any allegedly false information that was contained within the Company Reports and/or provided to the FBI.”

Investigative reporter John Solomon has a theory about who special counsel John Durham will go after next — the FBI.

During an interview on Fox News, Solomon and host Maria Bartiromo spoke about Durham’s investigation and what might be next.

Russian-born analyst Igor Danchenko — key source for the Steele dossier that alleged ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia — was arrested by federal agents as part of the Durham investigation.

Solomon explained that he believes Durham is dealing with “two buckets.”

In one “bucket,” there are the last two indictments against officials who were connected to Hillary Clinton and their plan to feed the FBI false information about Trump-Russia conspiracies.

Solomon said the other “bucket” focuses on the FBI and whether agents knowingly mislead the FISA court to obtain warrants to spy on members of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Solomon also disputes former FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok’s statement on MSNBC last week that the FBI never investigated the Trump campaign in 2016, as Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Mueller probe makes another indictment.

“There’s no doubt there is activity inside the grand jury right now aimed at looking at top-level officials of the FBI, and it’s based on this evidence. We all look at the fact that Denchenko was interviewed by the FBI on January 17, and disowned a lot of the things that were said to him,” he said.

SOURCE: https://conservativebrief.com/criminal-56817/

Durham Inquiry into Spying on Trump Campaign Could Drop Bombshells by End of Summer

 Isabelle Z.
August 10th, 2020

There has been a lot of speculation that U.S. Attorney John Durham will hold off on releasing the results of his investigation into spying on the Trump campaign until after the election to avoid accusations of political interference. However, sources who have worked with Durham on public corruption cases in the past have said they doubt he will yield to political pressure, with some believing he may even drop a few bombshells before Labor Day.

This is supported by the words of Attorney General William Barr, who refused to rule out the possibility of a pre-election release of information. Citing a long-standing policy by the Justice Department not to announce any new developments in politically sensitive cases prior to an election, Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) asked Barr if he would commit to not releasing any reports by Durham ahead of the election. In response, he simply stated, “No.”

Because that policy bars prosecutors from taking big steps in this type of case within 60 days of an election, Durham has until the Friday before Labor Day to make a move outside of this window. So far, Durham has been pretty quiet about his investigation into the Russiagate investigation of President Trump and his 2016 campaign. This has prompted lots of speculation regarding who could be prosecuted and when action might be taken.

Because the probe involves the Trump administration as well as high-level officials from the previous administration, including former Vice President Joe Biden, the consequences of the investigation could be significant. Notes that were recently declassified by the FBI show that Biden provided input in the investigation of Trump adviser Michael Flynn.

At the center of the case is government spying on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election and whether or not that surveillance was justified or was simply done to smear Trump’s campaign and, later, his presidency. Durham’s investigation is also looking into the potential role of the CIA and whether it monitored Trump advisers overseas or broke laws restricting spying on American citizens.

Should Durham release a report that indicates widespread corruption or seek a criminal indictment or plea agreements involving former officials from the Obama-Biden administration, it could turn voters away from Biden. If the news is postponed until after the election, on the other hand, it could dishearten Trump’s base.

Former assistant FBI Director Chris Swecker, who has worked with Durham on past investigations, said: “I would find it hard to believe that he punts under any circumstances.”

He added that delaying the work until after the election might risk throwing away 16 months’ worth of investigations. Should Biden be elected, Durham’s work would essentially be canceled out as the new president would likely replace Barr and Durham. However, if the reports and potential indictments are made public ahead of the election, a potential Biden administration would be in the position where they have to take further action or close the probe down and make themselves look even more corrupt.

“John knows this, and I fully expect he will take action before the election,” Swecker said.

Criminal charges could be forthcoming

He also believes that any action taken by Durham will extend beyond a report. In fact, he is expecting criminal charges to be announced. He said that Durham is not “squeamish” when it comes to bringing indictments and thinks the case would have been closed by now had crimes not been uncovered. He also pointed to a lack of media leaks from Durham’s office as more evidence that a serious corruption case is in the works.

The Attorney General has said that Obama and Biden are not targets in the case, but some experts believe that former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith may be one focus of the investigation for his role in doctoring an email used to gain surveillance approval for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. A leak of sensitive information to a columnist from the Washington Post about conversations involving Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador may also be an area of interest in the investigation.

Trump told Fox Business that he heard the information Durham has uncovered in the investigation is “breathtaking” and will show he was maliciously targeted by the Obama administration.

Democrats appear to be quite worried about this investigation, and Barr’s recent refusal to commit to not releasing Durham’s report ahead of the election indicates that we could well get some answers within the next few weeks.

Upcoming Election Won’t Delay Report From US Attorney John Durham: Barr

ZACHARY STIEBER 
July 29, 2020

The looming November presidential election will not delay a report from U.S. Attorney John Durham, Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers in Washington this week.

“I will be very careful. I know what Justice Department policy is,” Barr said while appearing Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee. “Any report will be, in my judgment, not one that is covered by the policy and would disrupt the election.”

The policy in question is informal guidance not to take action that could be viewed as influencing elections. Barr in a memo (pdf) in February said the department “must exercise particular care regarding sensitive investigations and prosecutions … especially in an election year.”

Rep. Debbie Murcasel-Powell (D-Fla.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, tried getting Barr to commit to not releasing the report because of the upcoming election.

“No,” Barr responded. Asked again, he added: “No. I will be very careful.”

“We’re not going to interfere—in fact, I’ve made it clear that we’re not going to tolerate interference,” Barr told the lawmaker.

Durham is probing the origins of the FBI’s investigation into possible links between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian actors, a probe boosted by unsubstantiated information compiled by a former British spy who was paid by the Democratic National Committee and Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.

Epoch Times Photo
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) speaks in Doral, Fla., in a file photograph. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
John Durham
John Durham is sworn in as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut in New Haven, Conn., on Feb. 22, 2018. (Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut)

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said recently during an appearance on Fox News that criminal charges will come out of the investigation.

“I know I expect indictments based on the evidence I’ve seen,” he said, adding, “It’s all starting to unravel, and I tell you, it’s time that people go to jail and people are indicted.”

Barr has said he doesn’t expert the investigation to directly lead to former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now running for president. But Americans will recognize some of the names linked to the probe, Barr teased last month.

Later in June, Barr said Durham is “pressing ahead as hard as he can” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I expect that we will have some developments, hopefully before the end of the summer,” the attorney general said on Fox.

The lack of visible progress has frustrated some Trump allies.

“It’s been slow,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) told Barr. “I think the Durham investigation is something most of us were waiting for.”

The attorney general declined to give any details on the probe. “I cannot get into that,” he said.

Janita Kan and Isabel Van Brugen contributed to this report.

BREAKING: Meadows Signals Imminent Indictments in Durham Probe: ‘It’s Time for People to go to Jail’

 Gregg Re
July 19th, 2020

The Justice Department’s watchdog has identified critical errors in every FBI wiretap application.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that it’s “time for people to go to jail” as part of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into FBI misconduct — prompting ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos to sound a celebratory note on Twitter.

The comments came as Fox News learned this weekend that Jennifer Boone, a senior FBI official who oversaw the flawed probe into former Trump adviser Carter Page, has received a major promotion to lead a field office — and the bureau won’t say why.

Meadows, during his Sunday interview with Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” also previewed the Trump administration’s soon-to-be-released plans for reopening schools and implementing new economic stimulus measures. More details, Meadows said, would be coming this week.

However, Meadows’ comments on the Durham probe were among his most suggestive yet. They followed Attorney General Bill Barr’s comments to Fox News earlier this year that Durham’s findings have been “very troubling” and that familiar names are currently being probed.

“I think the American people are expecting indictments,” Meadows told anchor Maria Bartiromo. “I expect indictments based on the evidence I’ve seen. Lindsey Graham did a good job in getting that out. We know that they not only knew that there wasn’t a case, but they continued to investigate and spy.”

Internal FBI documents that emerged in April showed that Peter Strzok — the now-disgraced anti-Trump former head of FBI counterintelligence — ordered the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to remain open even after it was slated to be closed due to a lack of so-called “derogatory” information. Strzok pursued an investigation based on the Logan Act, a law never used in a successful prosecution and that was intended to prevent individuals from falsely representing the U.S. government abroad in a pre-telephone era.

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, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“And yes, I use the word spy on Trump campaign officials and actually even doing things when this president was sworn in,” Meadows continued. “And after that and doing in an inappropriate manner, you’re going to see a couple of other documents come out in the coming days that will suggest that not only was the campaign spied on, but the FBI did not act appropriately as they were investigating. It’s all starting to come unraveled. And I tell you, it’s time that people go to jail and people are indicted.”

The Justice Department’s (DOJ’s) watchdog has identified critical errors in every FBI wiretap application that it audited as part of the fallout from the bureau’s heavily flawed investigation into former Trump adviser Carter Page, who was surveilled during the campaign in part because of a largely discredited dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The FBI repeatedly accused Page of being a “foreign agent” in its warrant applications. Page has not been charged with any wrongdoing, and the DOJ has since admitted that its warrant applications lacked probable cause and should not have been sought.

Additionally, an ex-FBI lawyer in that case even falsified a CIA email submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in order to make Page’s communications with Russians appear nefarious, the DOJ inspector general found. The FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was allegedly told by the CIA that Page had reported his Russian contacts and was essentially acting as an informant — only for Clinesmith to allegedly omit that exculpatory information in a surveillance warrant application that framed Page’s communications with Russians as a sign that he was a secret foreign agent.

Separately, Fox News has learned that senior FBI official Jennifer Boone, who the IG said was “at Headquarters overseeing” the Page investigation, received a promotion to head the bureau’s Baltimore field office last year. Boone was at the same level as Strzok in the FBI hierarchy.

The IG report indicates that Boone also handled outreach to Bruce Ohr, who was a key contact inside the Justice Department for ex-British spy Christopher Steele — the author of the now-discredited anti-Trump dossier produced by the research firm Fusion GPS as opposition research for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS at the time.

“Boone did not recall who ultimately decided to move forward with [Page FISA] Renewal Application No. 2, and available documents do not indicate,” the IG wrote.

IG REPORT CONTRADICTS EXPERTS’ REPEATED CLAIMS ON FISA PROCESS

Boone also “told us that [she] did not recall being advised that the information from the [Steele] Primary Sub-source significantly differed from the information in Steele’s reporting,” the IG added.

The FBI declined to comment specifically about Boone’s promotion when reached by Fox News this weekend.

“As I’m sure you know, Director [Christopher] Wray recently sat for an interview with your colleague Bret Baier where he talked about the corrective measures he has instituted in response to the FISA IG Report,” an FBI spokesperson told Fox News. “We won’t have a comment beyond what the director said to Mr. Baier.”

http://video.foxnews.com/v/6163110515001

Republicans have complained that Wray hasn’t responded to their requests to interview other key officials who oversaw aspects of the Page probe, including Joe Pietnka — who was scrubbed from the FBI website after Fox News inquired about him. Sources say Pientka received a major promotion that moved him from Virginia to a senior role in the San Francisco field office, and public records reviewed by Fox News confirm that Pientka has moved residences.

On Friday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released newly declassified documents that they say “significantly undercut” the “reliability” of the infamous Steele dossier from the Russia probe, as well as the accuracy and reliability of the factual assertions in the FISA warrants against Page.

HOROWITZ REPORT SPOTLIGHTS ROLE OF LITTLE-KNOWN AGENT PIENTKA

The first document, which the committee said spanned 57 pages, is a summary of a three-day interview Steele’s primary sub-source. The document revealed that the dossier was “unsubstantiated and unreliable,” according to sources who reviewed it, and showed that the FBI was on notice of the dossier’s credibility problems, yet continued to seek further FISA warrant renewals for Page.

Moreover, the document demonstrated that the information Steele’s primary sub-source provided him was “second and third-hand information and rumors at best.”

FBI DOUBTED STEELE DOSSIER RELIABILITY, NEW DOCS SHOW

The document also revealed that Steele’s primary sub-source “disagreed with and was surprised by” how information he gave Steele was then conveyed by Steele in the dossier.

The documents were not the first evidence showing the FBI had reason to doubt the Steele dossier. It emerged in April that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team investigating the Trump 2016 campaign received multiple indications that Steele was part of an elaborate “Russian disinformation campaign,” according to several declassified footnotes from the IG report.

The information flatly contradicted numerous media reports.

The FBI’s legal counsel has described the warrant to surveil Page as “essentially a single source FISA” wholly dependent on the dossier, which also made numerous other unsubstantiated claims about Russian hackers in a nonexistent consulate in Miami, Cohen’s purported trips to Prague, and lurid blackmail tapes. Special Counsel Robert Muller couldn’t find any evidence supporting those allegations.

Opinion: No, Mr. Durham. We Need Your Report Before Election Day

Roger L. Simon
July 9th, 2020

Commentary

Fox’s Brooke Singeman, who has been perspicacious in her coverage of the probe of the Russia probe, has a disturbing “exclusive” Thursday with the headline: “Durham, under pressure to wrap up investigation, could ‘punt’ to after Election Day: source

Wouldn’t we love to know who her “source” or “sources” were? But never mind for the moment. The story begins:

“U.S. Attorney John Durham is under pressure to wrap up his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe by the end of the summer, but if he doesn’t, he could wait to reveal his findings or initiate prosecutions until after the 2020 presidential election, Fox News has learned

Two sources familiar with Durham’s investigation told Fox News this week that Durham is working expeditiously to try to finish the probe by the end of summer, but that several lines of investigation are not yet complete.

‘He believes it’s critical to do them,’ one source said. ‘He is feeling more pressure to get this done and wrapped up.’

The source also told Fox News that Durham “does not want this to be viewed political,” and the closer it gets to November, Durham could “punt it to after the election.”

Durham does not want his report “to be viewed political”? He must be dreaming. Nothing could be more political. It’s inextricably so, no matter what he says or does or when he does it.

To wit, what Mr. Durham is said to be investigating is whether one or more of our most important law enforcement and intelligence agencies (DOJ, FBI, CIA, State Department and so forth) were highjacked and used illegally to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president and/or for undercutting his presidency and administration after he was.

What in the Sam Hill could be more political than that?

Yes, it would be a crime as well, but a crime for the most obvious and extreme political ends.

And if Durham does “punt” until after the 2020 election, it could become more political still, pushing our society to the edge of civil war and beyond.

Imagine this: Joe Biden wins the election and come January 2021, just before his inauguration, the Durham report comes out. Several major players in the aforementioned government agencies, household names at this point, are indicted.

These indictments go all the way to the top but not quite, leaving Obama and Biden unscathed, at least technically. (I am taking William Barr at his word that the former president and vice president are not being investigated, although it will more than likely be clear that they are not, shall we say, in the clear.)

How does Mr. Durham, or any reasonable person, expect the losers in the election, the tens of millions of Trump supporters, to react then?

With massive justifiable outrage is my guess.

They will do any number of things from refusing to pay taxes to acts of sabotage to taking to the streets in a more militarily organized fashion than anything we are seeing today.

And, for that matter, how could a Joe Biden possibly govern with criminal indictments of his and Obama’s previous administration all around him? Whatever moral authority he had would be gone.

In all, the country would start to disintegrate. You name the way.

No, John Durham had better think twice about “punting” his report until after the election.

Of course, that’s assuming Ms. Singeman’s “sources” are reliable. We have seen many instances where journalists’ sources have not been. The anonymous source is the rotten underbelly of journalism, frequently used for nefarious ends and often is the cause of rewards like a Pulitzer that seem ludicrous months or even weeks later.

I’m hoping this is the case here, but I wonder.

Whatever is true, Mr. Durham, please finish quickly, before the election. You owe it to the American public.