Wednesday, February 28, 2018

State Department Official Jonathan Winer Connects Uranium One and the Russia Dossier with Hillary, Kerry, Steele, Blumenthal and Shearer

THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS THAT THE RUSSIA DOSSIER CAST OF CHARACTERS KEEPS EXPANDING. This time it's an Obama official with ties to Uranium One. • • • JONATHAN WINER : CLINTON-STEELE MIDDLEMAN? Breitbart's Aaron Klein reported on Tuesday that : "Jonathan M. Winer, the Obama State Department official who acknowledged regularly interfacing with the author of the controversial, largely discredited 35-page anti-Trump Dossier, served as senior vice president of a firm that did lobbying work for Tenex, the US subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian state corporation headquartered in Moscow. In 2010, Rosatom infamously purchased a controlling stake in Uranium One, the Canadian uranium mining company with operations in the US. The purchase was approved by the Obama administration in a decision that is currently being probed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence." Breitbart says that in a statement to it : "APCO Worldwide, where Winer served as senior vice president from 2008 to 2013, denied that the firm’s work for Rosatom’s subsidiary Tenex was related to the purchase of Uranium One or to the acquisition of uranium in general. Instead, APCO said its work for Tenex, which took place in 2010 and 2011, focused on sales of fuel to the US energy market [uranium fuel]. APCO also denied that Winer did any work related to Tenex." • • • WHO IS JONATHAN WINER? To refresh our memories about Jonathan Winer, on February 9, 2018, the Washington Examiner reported : "Former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Winer said former British spy Christopher Steele and longtime Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal were in contact with him about separate dossiers on Trump's possible ties to Russia. The former State Department official who served under former President Barack Obama confirmed recent allegations made by Republicans that the author of the infamous 'Trump Dossier' and an ally of Hillary Clinton gave him intelligence reports claiming to show collusion between President Trump’s campaign and the Russians." It was only after his name surfaced in news media reports related to probes by House Republicans into the Dossier that Winer wrote a Washington Post op-ed in which he conceded that while working at the State Department he exchanged documents and information with Russia Dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele. • Winer wrote in the op-ed for the WP on February 8 that former British spy Christopher Steele and longtime Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal were in contact with him about separate dossiers on Trump’s possible ties to Russia. Winer wrote in the op-ed that he became friends with Steele in 2009, 10 years after he left the State Department -- Winer served under Bill Clinton’s administration as the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for international law enforcement. In 2013, Winer returned to State to work under Secretary of State John Kerry -- at Kerry's insistence, according to Winer, because he had previously served Kerry as his Senate counsel. But, even after returning to the State Department, Winer kept in touch with Steele about matters regarding Russia, and in 2016 Steele told him he had learned of “disturbing information” in regards to Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. Winer wrote the WP op-ed piece to defend his contacts with Steele and Blumenthal. The Washington Examiner says that Winer’s recollection of events falls in line with events detailed in a criminal referral filed on January 4 by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of thre Senate Judiciary Committee, and committee member Lindsey Graham, targeting Steele. The criminal referral said there was some coordination between Clinton allies and the Obama administration to seek damaging information about Trump. • • • WINER'S WASHINGTON POST OP-ED. You can access the entire Jonathan M. Winer February 8 Washington Post op-ed at < >. In the headline to the op-ed, the WP labels Winer "a Washington lawyer and consultant, is a former US deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement and former special envoy for Libya." Winer defends himself in the op-ed against House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes earlier announcement that the next phase of his investigation of the events that led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller will focus on the State Department. Winer wrote : "His apparent area of interest is my relationship with former British intelligence professional Christopher Steele and my role in material that Steele ultimately shared with the FBI." Winer then gives his personal history : "Here’s the real story: In the 1990s, I was the senior official at the State Department responsible for combating transnational organized crime. I became deeply concerned about Russian state operatives compromising and corrupting foreign political figures and businessmen from other countries. Their modus operandi was sexual entrapment and entrapment in too-good-to-be-true business deals. After 1999, I left the State Department and developed a legal and consulting practice that often involved Russian matters. In 2009, I met and became friends with Steele, after he retired from British government service focusing on Russia. Steele was providing business intelligence on the same kinds of issues I worked on at the time. In 2013, I returned to the State Department at the request of Secretary of State John F. Kerry, whom I had previously served as Senate counsel. Over the years, Steele and I had discussed many matters relating to Russia. He asked me whether the State Department would like copies of new information as he developed it. I contacted Victoria Nuland, a career diplomat who was then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and shared with her several of Steele’s reports. She told me they were useful and asked me to continue to send them. Over the next two years, I shared more than 100 of Steele’s reports with the Russia experts at the State Department, who continued to find them useful. None of the reports related to US politics or domestic US matters, and the reports constituted a very small portion of the data set reviewed by State Department experts trying to make sense of events in Russia. In the summer of 2016, Steele told me that he had learned of disturbing information regarding possible ties between Donald Trump, his campaign and senior Russian officials. He did not provide details but made clear the information involved 'active measures,' a Soviet intelligence term for propaganda and related activities to influence events in other countries. In September 2016, Steele and I met in Washington and discussed the information now known as the 'Dossier.' Steele’s sources suggested that the Kremlin not only had been behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign but also had compromised Trump and developed ties with his associates and campaign. I was allowed to review, but not to keep, a copy of these reports to enable me to alert the State Department. I prepared a two-page summary and shared it with Nuland, who indicated that, like me, she felt that the Secretary of State needed to be made aware of this material. In late September, I spoke with an old friend, Sidney Blumenthal, whom I met 30 years ago when I was investigating the Iran-contra affair for then-Senator Kerry and Blumenthal was a reporter at The Post....The emails of Blumenthal, who had a long association with Bill and Hillary Clinton, had been hacked in 2013 through a Russian server. While talking about that hacking, Blumenthal and I discussed Steele’s reports. He showed me notes gathered by a journalist I did not know, Cody Shearer, that alleged the Russians had compromising information on Trump of a sexual and financial nature. What struck me was how some of the material echoed Steele’s but appeared to involve different sources. On my own, I shared a copy of these notes with Steele, to ask for his professional reaction. He told me it was potentially 'collateral' information. I asked him what that meant. He said that it was similar but separate from the information he had gathered from his sources. I agreed to let him keep a copy of the Shearer notes. Given that I had not worked with Shearer and knew that he was not a professional intelligence officer, I did not mention or share his notes with anyone at the State Department. I did not expect them to be shared with anyone in the US government. But I learned later that Steele did share them -- with the FBI, after the FBI asked him to provide everything he had on allegations relating to Trump, his campaign and Russian interference in US elections. I am in no position to judge the accuracy of the information generated by Steele or Shearer. But I was alarmed at Russia’s role in the 2016 election, and so were US intelligence and law enforcement officials. I believe all Americans should be alarmed -- and united in the search for the truth about Russian interference in our democracy, and whether Trump and his campaign had any part in it." • There are two glaring points to be made about the Winer op-ed. First, a person who says he had been "the senior official at the State Department responsible for combating transnational organized crime" must have instantly understood the significance of Steele's use of the phrase "collateral" information -- Winer would not have needed to ask what it meant. He knew. Second, Winer does not mention, nor does the WP, that Winer worked for APCO, the lobbying firm that did work for Tenex, the US subsidiary of the Russian-government-owned Rosatom that bought Uranium One in a deal that sold to Russia 20+% of US uranium reserves and raises serious questions about both Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Barack Obama as President in relation to the deal. Almost no media reports about Winer's op-ed mentions these elements. And, third, in his WP op-ed, Winer does not say whether he knew at the time that he interfaced with Steele that the ex-British spy was working for Fusion GPS, or that Fusion was being paid by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign via the Perkins Coie law firm [although he was doing pro bono work for the Clinton Foundation -- see next section]. • • • THE FACTS. Breitbart's Aaron Klein provides these details : "From 2008 to 2013, Winer worked at APCO Worldwide, where he served as senior vice president. A contract previously obtained by Circa shows that from 2010 to 2011, APCO was paid roughly $3 million by Tenex, the US subsidiary of Rosatom. Circa reported that it saw the contract between Tenex and APCO, which agreed that the 'total fee is comprised of the fixed quarterly fee which shall be $750,000 per each of the four three-month periods of rendering Services here under during the validity period of this contract, including the 18 percent Russian VAT payable in the territory of the Russian Federation.' " • When Breitbart asked APCO to clarify its work for Tenex, Aaron Klein says APCO sent Breitbart News a statement that said : “as clearly reported in APCO’s public filings from 2010 and 2011, available to anyone online, APCO’s work for Tenex focused entirely on the company’s interest in continuing sales of fuel to the US energy market. 'At the time, Tenex provided half of the fuel used by US nuclear energy producers under a Bush administration program,' the APCO statement continued. 'Any claim that APCO was involved in the Uranium One transaction or any related CIFIUS matter is completely false.' ” • However, Breitbart News reported that, "in addition to its work for Tenex, APCO did extensive pro bono work for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) from 2007 until 2016." This put APCO Worldwide in the Uranium One controversy -- TheHill reported that paid FBI informant Douglas Campbell, who infiltrated the Russian nuclear business world, claimed to three separate congressional committees in a written statement that Russia hired APCO to influence the Obama administration, singling out Hillary Clinton. Campbell claimed he was told by Russian nuclear executives that there was a connection between APCO’s CGI volunteer efforts and work that APCO did for Tenex. In a statement to Breitbart News, APCO Worldwide strongly denied that its work for CGI was in any way related to work the firm did for Tenex. The statement added that “Winer had no involvement on any matters related to Tenex or the Clinton Global Initiative. In fact, the four senior staff on the Tenex project included two former Bush administration officials and a former staff member for a Republican member of the Senate. APCO’s pro bono work for the Clinton Global Initiative is a matter of public record as part of our giving commitment reported to the UN Global Compact. This volunteer work began in 2007, three years before any discussion with Tenex, and continued until 2016, five years after the Tenex engagement ended. These engagements were unrelated and any suggestion that they were connected is a deliberate falsehood. APCO’s work on each of these projects was transparent, publicly documented and entirely proper.” • One America News Network begs to differ. OAN wrote on Tuesday that Winer, an "Obama administration official recently confessed to being in regular contact with the author of fake Trump dossier. Jonathan Winer admitted he shared information with former British spy Christopher Steele, confirming the contacts took place while he was working for the State Department." OAN cites the Winer op-ed for the Washington Post, summarizing it : "Winer said he met and befriended Steele in 2009, and the two subsequently exchanged business intelligence related to Russia. Winer returned to the State Department in 2013 whilst maintaining his contacts with Steele, who as Winer admits provided the department with information. Subsequently, Steele approached Winer in 2016 where he claimed to have compromising intelligence on then-candidate Donald Trump’s ties with Russian officials. Steele then gave Winer an early version of the now-debunked Trump Dossier. Winer says the document, funded by the DNC and the Clintons, circulated within the Obama-era State Department around September 2016. Additionally, Winer said he gave Steele the anti-Trump materials, which he received from a longtime Clinton ally and his own personal friend Sidney Blumenthal. Blumenthal, in turn, acquired these materials from Cody Shearer, who was himself involved in several Clinton-related scandals. Winer’s confessions suggest the anti-Trump bias during the 2016 election within the top echelons of the Obama administration could be much greater in scale than GOP lawmakers could imagine at the time of the release of their FISA abuse memo earlier this year." • OAN states that the Winer op-ed appeared at the moment that Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes said he was "continuing with his probe aimed at revealing the scale and extent of the anti-Trump biases within the US government during and immediately after the 2016 election. The Nunes probe is now focusing on Winer over his alleged involvement in the Obama-era FBI surveillance abuses against the 2016 Trump campaign detailed in the House GOP FISA memo. In his Washington Post op-ed, Winer does not mention that between 2008 and 2013, whilst keeping in touch with Steele, he worked as a consultant for APCO International. APCO was involved in the controversial Uranium One deal that gave 20-percent of US uranium output to a Russian state-owned firm Rosatom, according to FBI informant Douglas Campbell. Additionally, Winer was doing pro-bono work for the Clinton Global Initiative during his tenure with APCO." • AND, Douglas Campbell, the FBI informant, claimed that Russian nuclear officials “told me at various times that they expected APCO to apply a portion of the $3 million annual lobbying fee it was receiving from the Russians to provide in-kind support for the Clintons’ Global Initiative. The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the US-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.” • Compare Campbell's sworn testimony to the damage-control statement of APCO Worldwide on the matter to Circa last October, when APCO Worldwide Inc. stated : “APCO was not involved in any aspect of Uranium One.” • Further, who did Winer give Steele documents to at State? In the WP op-ed, Winer related that while he was at the State Department, he repeatedly passed documents from Steele related to Russia to State officials, including to Victoria Nuland, a career diplomat who worked under the Clintons and served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs under Kerry. Winer wrote : “Over the next two years, I shared more than 100 of Steele’s reports with the Russia experts at the State Department, who continued to find them useful." IN ADDITION, besides giving Steele’s dossier information to the State Department, Winer conceded that he also passed information from Blumenthal to Steele, specifically including charges about Trump that originated with Shearer. Winer called Sidney Blumethal "an old friend" whom he "met 30 years ago when I was investigating the Iran-Contra affair for then-Senator Kerry and Blumenthal was a reporter." Where? At the Washington Post. Before Russian hacking was front and center in the 2016 presidential campaign, the emails of Blumenthal, who had a long association with Bill and Hillary Clinton and worked closely with Hillary while she was at State, had been hacked in 2013 through a Russian server. While talking about that hacking, Winer says Blumenthal discussed Steele’s reports with him : "He showed me notes gathered by a journalist I did not know, Cody Shearer, that alleged the Russians had compromising information on Trump of a sexual and financial nature." Cody Shearer has numerous close personal and family connections to the Clintons and has reportedly been involved in numerous antics tied to them. National Review has labeled Shearer a “Creepy Clinton Confidante” and “The Strangest Character in Hillary’s Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.” • • • TO SUMMARIZE, Shearer gave reports to Obama State Department official Jonathan Winer, who passed them along to Steele. Steele compiled and gave the Russia Dossier to the FBI, and then gave the second dossier containing Shearer and Blumenthal raw unconfirmed information to the FBI in October 2016 and said some of the findings also aligned with information he had obtained from his own sources. Winer has confirmed a redacted Senate report that said just that -- information on candidate Trump flowed between Steele and Clinton operatives, with Winer as the middleman. Winer’s disclosures mean that, not only was the Hillary Clinton campaign paying Steele, but her loyalists Blumenthal and Shearer were also providing raw intelligence that got incorporated into the Steele Dossier and went to the FBI. The Senate criminal referral to DOJ, prepared by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, said two reports came from State (apparently through Winer) to Steele from Blumenthal-Shearer. Their source was a “foreign-sub-source” -- possibly Steele-paid intermediaries who collected from Kremlin sources his unverified attacks on Trump and associates. • Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has announced he will next investigate the Dossier roles of the State Department and Hillary Clinton’s operatives. Nunes has already discovered that the FBI used the partisan Russia Dossier, without explaining its Hillary campaign-DNC source, to convince a FISA judge to issue a wiretap warrant on Trump volunteer Carter Page that may have led to listening to conversations PAge had with Steve Bannon. Nunes also found that the FBI planned to pay Steele to continue investigating the candidate who became President Trump. Grassley’s criminal referral confirms Nunes’ findings and contains new Dossier information -- that Steele wrote an October 19 memo based on the Winer-Blumenthal-Shearer connection. It was not part of the 35-page Dossier posted on January 10, 2017, by BuzzFeed. Steele had contacted Winer in what the Grassley criminal referral, quoting an associate, described as his “desperate” effort to defeat Trump. • The Weekly Standard wrote this summary two days after Winer's WP op-ed appeared : "Whatever the headline, as an effort at self-justification Winer’s effort is an epic fail. Rather than putting to rest questions about the origin and dissemination of the Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, Winer’s account leaves the reader slack-jawed at the remarkable coincidences he cites and the astonishing characters who just happen to turn up in his narrative. As Winer tells it, he and Steele were old pals. They “met and became friends” in 2009, when both were in the business of selling “business intelligence,” much of it involving Russia. Winer went back to work at State in 2013, after his old Capitol Hill boss, John Kerry, had become Secretary of State. But he didn’t lose track of his friend Steele -- not at all. He shared, and shared, and shared Steele’s corporate intelligence work with the State Department’s Russia desk....(Let’s not speculate about how much it may have been worth to Steele to be able to tell his clients that the materials they were paying for were being regularly consumed by policy-makers in Foggy Bottom.) Come the summer of 2016, Steele’s prime client was the campaign of Hillary Clinton, by way of the hired-guns at Fusion GPS, for whom he was assembling a grab bag of Trump tales from some sort of Russian sources. Come the fall, Steele was spreading Dossier info to various news organizations, the FBI, and the State Department....Winer writes : 'I prepared a two-page summary and shared it with [Winer’s boss at State, Victoria] Nuland.'....To hear Winer tell it, when he gave her his memo, Nuland was all for the State Department doing something about it: She 'indicated that, like me, she felt that the secretary of State needed to be made aware of this material.' Maybe. But to hear Nuland tell it, she recognized the Dossier for what it was : 'What I did was say that this is about US politics, and not the work of -- not the business of the State Department,' Nuland said in an interview with Politico, 'and certainly not the business of a career employee who is subject to the Hatch Act, which requires that you stay out of politics. So, my advice to those who were interfacing with [Steele] was that he should get this information to the FBI, and that they could evaluate whether they thought it was credible.' But according to his piece in the Post, Winer had other people to share the Steele info with, too : 'In late September, I spoke with an old friend, Sidney Blumenthal.' Given Blumenthal’s well-earned reputation as a Clinton hatchet-man, the words 'old friend, Sidney Blumenthal' should be telling, if not alarming. So what was the nub of the conversation between these two old friends who just happen to have gotten together in the thick of a presidential campaign? Perhaps they were talking Libya -- Blumenthal had been trying for some time to get federal contracts for work in Libya, and Winer was the special envoy to the war-wracked country. But no, they ended up talking about the Dossier. You see, it just sort of came up naturally : Blumenthal’s emails had been hacked a few years before, and so 'While talking about that hacking, Blumenthal and I discussed Steele’s report.' You’d think that Sid would have been gob-smacked, astonished at the information sleuthing spook Steele had unearthed. Instead, and ever so matter-of-factly, Blumenthal pulled out a dossier of his own : 'He showed me notes gathered by a journalist I did not know, Cody Shearer, that alleged the Russians had compromising information on Trump of a sexual and financial nature.' That’s right, Blumenthal had a dossier of his own, compiled by a Clinton crony of decades’ standing, Cody Shearer, and right at the ready. What are the odds? If this extra dossier is as contrived as it sounds, it wouldn’t be the first time that Shearer peddled fabulous information against a Republican presidential ticket in the waning days of a Clinton campaign. In 1992 Shearer championed the phony story that a poor fellow named Brett Kimberlin was rotting in an Indiana jail, being kept incommunicado so that he couldn’t tell the world about how Vice President Dan Quayle bought marijuana from him back in the 1970s. Yes, Kimberlin was a drug smuggler, and yes, he was indeed in jail -- for a string of terroristic bombings in Indianapolis. Shearer was willing to promote the fantastical tales of the 'Speedway Bomber' if that helped his friends the Clintons. Winer seems not to have been at all astonished that two of his old friends -- Steele and Blumenthal -- themselves unacquainted, should each independently and of their own volition have presented him with the same bombshell material. Winer did not, so far as we know, look around for Allen Funt. No, instead he shared the Shearer memo with Steele, who in turn passed it along to the FBI. Do you think anyone bothered to mention to the Bureau, at the time, the peculiar circumstances and provenance of the notes, most notably that they had come from a source as compromised as Cody Shearer? Well, it never occurred to Winer, because he did not expect them 'to be shared with anyone in the US government.' ” • • • THE LAST CLINTON CON? Townhall's Emmett Tyrrell posted on February 15 the best short summary of this sordid and possibly criminal tale. Tyrrell called it "the Clintons' Final Con." The Townhall article asks : "So who has been colluding with the Russians? Agents of Trump, or agents of Hillary Clinton?" Shearer, the New York Times said in mid-February, "has been crisscrossing Eastern Europe for more than six months to secure the purported kompromat from a different Russian..." Shearer is only identified by the NYT as "an American political operative with ties to the Democratic party." The Spectator identified him more completely as a longtime "hatchet man" for the Clintons. Townhall say sthat : "While the Clinton campaign took considerable care to cover its tracks with its money trail, and the commingling of obvious Clintonistas like Blumenthal and Shearer with less well-known characters such as Steele, their efforts were not sufficient, as we can now see. Actually, they rarely are. If the Clintons were expert crooks, they would not have been caught so many times over the years. When caught, they always take refuge with their political friends and the press. Perhaps this time they did not think they would have to, for they were so far ahead in the polls. It is bracing to think that if the Clinton campaign had won the presidency, we would know nothing of their perfidy." • • • OBAMA'S ROLE? Now, congressional Republicans have former President Obama’s State Department in their crosshairs as they question whether FBI and DOJ investigations into President Trump were tainted by political bias and influence from key figures in Hillary Clinton's clan. Did the State Department run by John Kerry pass along information from Clinton’s allies that may have been used by the FBI to launch an investigation into whether the Trump campaign had improper contacts with Russia. The highly redacted criminal referral from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein states that former British intelligence official Christopher Steele crafted a memo in addition to the infamous Russia Dossier that was funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The Steele memo, dated October 19, was given to Steele by a contact at the State Department and was based on information provided by “a friend of the Clintons,” Grassley said. That State Department contact was undoubtedly Jonathan Winer and his friend was Sidney Blumenthal. Grassley wrote : “It is troubling enough that the Clinton campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about credibility." That, as they say, is to put it mildly -- very mildly. • House Intelligence Committee chairman Nunes “phase two” investigation will focus on the State Department : “What we’re looking at now is the State Department and some of the irregularities there, and we have several other areas we’re looking at.” The documents released by Grassley, as well as Nunes’s comments, suggest their probes will now investigate whether State Department officials inappropriately circulated information to Steele that was then used by the FBI. Townhall says : "GOP lawmakers are privately buzzing about two longtime Clinton confidants -- Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer -- as the likely sources for the October memo, which they believe reached Steele through his contact at the Obama State Department, Jonathan Winer. The Washington Post has reported that Steele had extensive contacts with Kerry’s State Department, which relied on him in an unofficial capacity for intelligence about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The WP reports that Steele sent monthly reports to Winer, who later prepared a summary of the information he’d received from Steele about Trump and briefed Kerry on the findings in the fall of 2016. But, the WP says Kerry did not act on the information because the FBI had already been in contact with Steele. • Conservative Zone wrote last Saturday that : "If Americans knew then what they know now, President Barack Obama might have been impeached. That’s why President Donald Trump has been leveling attacks at the ex-President for his failure to intervene in the Russian propaganda machine during the 2016 elections. In the midst of now proven wiretapping and external election meddling, President Obama had this to say at the time : “There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, there’s no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time, and so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes.” Talk about lying. • President Trump recently threw Obama’s words back in his face on Twitter, also indicating that President Obama may have let the Russians have their way believing the Democratic candidate would reach the White House. Trump tweeted : “The President Obama quote just before election. That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to ‘rock the boat. When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems.” Conservative Zone says that : "Although much of the Russian meddling was designed to obstruct Hillary Clinton from reaching the White House, President Obama sat on the information. The common wisdom is that Obama, the liberal-campaigning mainstream media and other Democrats believed the election was in the bag. President Obama didn’t act or raise concerns until after Hillary lost." • • • DEAR READERS, The Russia probe was the vehicle that Democrats thought would lead to impeachable “collusion” charges against President Trump. But, what the probe has actually uncovered is an improper FBI FISA-warrant-based investigation that ironically pointed to several high-ranking Obama administration officials. As President Trump so aptly tweeted : “Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?" • At the end of the day, President Obama had the duty try to stop Russian meddling. He chose to sit on his hands, his candidate lost, and he attempted to turn his busted political play into a gain. • As I have said before, we have enough evidence to indict the rest of the Dossier players, including Hillary. The only question that STILL needs to be asked is "What did Obama know and when did he know it?"

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Opioids and Guns : Different Issues but the Same Democrat Posturing

THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS ABOUT OPIOIDS AND GUNS. • CONGRESS AND THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC. The Democrats are divided and it is preventing any useful action on the opioid epidemic that is ravaging some towns in America. TheHill reported on Sunday that : "Congress is moving to take a second crack at opioid legislation, with lawmakers broadly agreeing that they need to do more to deal with a crisis that’s killing more than 42,000 people per year. There’s a sense of urgency to the push, as lawmakers continue to hear story after story of people in their communities dying from overdoses. The crisis is showing no signs of abating..." Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in 2016, but lawmakers and advocates broadly agree that it’s only one part of the solution." • Grant Smith, interim director for the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs says : “CARA in a lot of ways provided a starting point for a lot of the work that needs to be done. Legislation needs to focus on expanding access to evidence-based treatment, as well as improving tactics to reduce the harm of opioid usage, such as making an overdose reversal drug accessible to communities and nonmedical settings. That’s what’s going to fundamentally wind down the overdose crisis,” he says, adding, “A border wall or an emphasis on law enforcement is not going to address the situation.” • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin its push for new opioid legislation Wednesday, holding a hearing on eight enforcement and patient safety-related bills. It’s the first of three hearings, the other two of which will focus on prevention and insurance coverage. The committee chairman, Greg Walden, says he’s working under an aggressive timetable, in coordination with leadership, to pass opioid legislation out of the House by the Memorial Day weekend. Walden told TheHll : “This is affecting everybody's district, and we want to build on our past efforts, which were significant, but this remains a big problem.” Walden is from Oregon. Meanwile, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are working on legislation that Whitehouse referred to as “CARA 2.0.” Part of their goal is to help ensure the $6 billion for combating opioids and mental health that lawmakers included in a spending deal this month goes to the right places. At an event hosted by TheHill on Valentine's Day, Whitehouse said he and Portman are working to “make sure that the $6 billion...gets dedicated and appropriated in ways that are consistent with the direction that the Congress displayed in CARA, and so we’re trying to meld the commitment and the CARA principles together. We’re trying to sort it out fairly quickly.” The House legislation will create new policies, some of which are likely to need a slice of the newly approved funds. Walden told TheHill : “As we begin to look at some of the initiatives, we'll probably target and authorize spending some of that money on some of these initiatives.” • Advocates have been working behind the scenes for months to put together research and policy ideas, according to TheHill : "The Addiction Policy Forum has been coordinating the effort with a working group of 200 organizations. They’ve met with committee staff in both chambers as well as leadership on both sides of the aisle. 'Our grass roots is heartened that Congress is looking at this issue, dedicating dollars and starting to prioritize the mark-up of new legislation,' Jessica Nickel, Addiction Policy Forum’s president and CEO, said. 'We hope to work very closely with every member and every committee as we build these bills to make sure that they are informed by families and science.' The 2016 bill originally included some provisions dealing with opioid recovery services that didn’t make the final product. To help with the new legislative effort, 'we've provided some ideas and some feedback particularly from the recovery community,' Nickel said. 'CARA had many pieces within the recovery pillar that ended up on the cutting room floor that we need to prioritize to be included in any work that the CARA champions do to build and improve on CARA.' ” • Patty McCarthy Metcalf, executive director of Faces and Voices of Recovery, another advocacy group, told TheHill about several specific provisions -- such as a national youth recovery initiative specifically authorizing grants aimed at helping young people in recovery. Metcalf said : “We’re tired of getting scrapped and being the last to be recognized as a valuable part of the system.” Metcalf hopes some of the $6 billion is funneled toward recovery-related efforts. • Advocates stressed the need to bolster the treatment system for people with an opioid addiction. Andrew Kessler, founder of Slingshot Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in behavioral health policy, said : “We are still lacking infrastructure. We’re lacking in treatment spots, we’re lacking in number of facilities. We’re lacking in number of [treatment] professionals.” • What does CARA do? It authorized grants to help states fight the opioid epidemic, and a biomedical innovation bill approved several months later appropriated $1 billion over two years for states to fight the crisis. Regina LaBelle, who served as chief of staff for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama administration, said lawmakers and the Trump administration need to focus on what steps the states are taking to combat the epidemic : “I think what’s really needed is making certain that states have strategies in place, that they are making sure that monies are being spent in local communities, making sure that cities and local governments are getting the money that they need.” • • • HHS WEIGHS IN. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is supporting medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as a crucial component of stemming the opioid crisis plaguing the nation. In his first extensive remarks on the opioid epidemic, set to be delivered Saturday, Azar will announce two measures aimed at increasing this form of treatment. Azar will tell the National Governors" Association that : “Medication-assisted treatment works. The evidence on this is voluminous and ever growing.” • Addiction experts have long touted medication-assisted treatment -- which aims to couple medicine with therapy -- as a gold standard of treatment for an opioid addiction. Azar’s remarks Saturday will point to the challenge in obtaining this form of treatment. He said that about one-third of speciality substance abuse treatment programs offer MAT. Failing to do so, says Azar, is : “like trying to treat an infection without antibiotics. Under this administration, we want to raise that one-third number -- in fact, it will be nigh impossible to turn the tide on this epidemic without doing so.” Secretary Azar says that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will release two new draft guidances "soon." Last November, the FDA approved Buprenorphine, one medication-assisted treatment administered by a monthly injection, making it easier to adhere to the medication. The FDA will draft guidance to clarify what kind of evidence manufacturers that are trying to develop new forms of the medication need in order obtain approval for monthly injectable forms of buprenorphine. The FDA will also draft guidance aimed at “encouraging more flexible and creative designs of MAT studies.” Researchers will be tasked with developing new ways to evaluate the effects of MAT formulations. • The opioid epidemic has ravaged areas across the country, and has shown no sign of stopping. Deaths from opioid overdoses increased nearly 28% from 2015 to 2016, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In late October, President Trump declared the epidemic a public health emergency. Months later, however, some advocates have expressed frustration that it didn’t produce much action. In mid-January, the administration extended the emergency declaration another 90 days. Advocates had also been pushing for more funding, saying a robust infusion of federal dollars is needed to curb the crisis. A budget deal passed earlier this month included $6 billion over two years for the opioid and mental health crises. Trump’s budget proposed $10 billion in funding to address the opioid epidemic for fiscal 2019. Now, Congress will also examine bills aimed at curbing the epidemic, as the House Energy and Commerce Committee will kick off its legislative push on Wednesday. • • • WHAT IS THE SOLUTION? Does a solution require multiple federal legislation, six new bills, billions of dollars spent for advocacy group pet topics, or federal surveillance of state efforts to deal with the opioid epidemic in each state?? • Is there one word in the report from TheHill conference or any of the advocacy groups or Congress about what causes the opioid epidemic??? NO. The epidemic has been caused by doctors prescribing these potent painkillers to the degree that patients get 'hooked' on them. Then drug dealers step in and supply the addicts. That analysis does not need multiple congressional bills or reams of advocacy advice. Halting the opioid epidemic requires, FIRST, outlawing the manufacture and availability by prescription of ANY opioid. Second, Congress needs to fund a greatly increased US southern border security effort to seal the border sufficiently to prevent new sources of illegal opioids from entering the country. THIRD, those already addicted to opioids need to be treated -- at state and local levels -- using FDA drugs for MAT, and whatever else is realistically working. If that requires federal funding, it should be made available without onerous reporting or other strings attached that only serve to make the federal government seem more important than it really is in this fight. • This is just one more time when federal bureaucrats and lobbying groups are doing more harm than good. President Trump needs to tell Congress to get the job done. Unless there are drug pushers hiding out as members of Congress, there should be no disagreement on Capitol Hill about dealing swiftly and efficiently with the opioid epidemic. • • • OPIOIDS ARE A LOT LIKE GUNS FOR DEMOCRATS. Everybody is talking but pointing in different directions. In the case of guns, common sense solutions suggested by Republicans who represent the position of the majority of Americans are being stonewalled by Democrats, who are frozen into inaction because they represent two very different constituencies. Democrat leaders want to support the idea that Congress should take action on gun control, but face warnings from some Democrats that doing too much could, as TheHill reported on Tuesday, "drive away voters in the swing districts they’ll need to retake the Speaker’s gavel" in the November mid-term elections. • A number of rank-and-file lawmakers view this month’s shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school as a potential tipping point in the years-long congressional stalemate over new gun restrictions, and they are calling for extensive reforms, including a ban on military-style weapons (whatever that means). Representative Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents Parkland, said, in a hugely illogical comparison : “Americans don’t own tanks or missiles, so why should our streets be flooded with weapons of war made for the sole purpose of killing people?” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi is a co-sponsor of the military-style weapons ban. TheHill calls this "a clear sign that House leaders don’t intend to shy away from an aggressive approach to the issue -- a rare move for the minority leader prone to avoiding official endorsements of specific bills." • BUT, other Democrats warn that embracing aggressive new gun restrictions carries risks, particularly in conservative-leaning districts where gun rights are sacred. An unnamed former aide to a Democrat leader told TheHill : “It’s one of those fundamental issues that riles up American politics -- it’s up there with abortion and immigration -- and they need to be very careful. If a Democratic candidate, or the party as a whole, overextends on this issue, then it becomes incredibly easy for the Republicans to play that up in a lot of districts. It’s easier to demagogue on this than to do something about it, and you risk overreaching as a party if you try to make it a one-size-fits-all [issue].” An addition, gun-control ProgDems say that Pelosi's pre-Parkland calls for quick action on three more modest proposals -- creating a special committee to examine gun violence, expanding background checks before almost all gun sales and empowering federal researchers to study gun violence as a public health issue (research that’s currently banned) -- would be attacked by the National Rifle Association anyway, so congressional Democrats should, according to another unnamed Democrat aide, downplay the dangers of an assertive push for expansive reforms like the assault weapons ban. • Centrist Democrats don't agree. Even their more modest centrist approaches have drawn attacks from gun rights supporters, endangering their Democratic sponsors. Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told TheHill he came under criticism for sponsoring a bill -- backed by Republicans and the NRA -- that bolstered the existing background check system : “That was a very narrow, tailored solution. Even there they were saying we were trying to take guns away." • Other Democrats -- Representatives Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) -- are pushing a bill allowing law enforcement and family members to petition judges for restraining orders targeting gun owners showing signs of violence or instability. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) are going to introduce legislation reinstating an Obama-era regulation, eliminated by Republicans last year, that prohibited gun sales to those individuals deemed so unstable that they can’t manage their own finances. Represnetative Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) is talking about legislation to spike taxes on guns and ammunition. Still other Democrats want to raise the gun-buying age from 18 to 21, a proposal Trump and other Republicans have flirted with but that is opposed by the NRA and many Americans. • Yet, says TheHill : "the Democrats’ campaign arm is shying away from the notion that the party will adopt any national message on gun reform, citing regional and cultural differences across the country. And a second leadership aide suggested Democrats won’t go too far with their proposals, since major reforms are unlikely under a GOP-controlled Congress." • The aide added : “If we’re in the majority, of course the legislation changes." That would be a major change from earlier periods of Democrat control of Congress when they did nothing to advance their supposed opposition to guns. Democrats’ history with gun reform does not show any tendancy to enact laws such as they are now proposing. Under President Clinton, they enacted a 10-year ban on assault weapons, but it was widely viewed as a factor helping to secure George W. Bush’s White House victory six years later. Aside from 2007 legislation designed to encourage more background check reporting -- a measure adopted in the wake of the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech the same year -- they abandoned the issue. Indeed, says TheHill : "when Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee requested background check hearings in 2010, when they controlled the gavel, they were refused. Pelosi defended that decision this month, saying it was a practical one : The votes to pass the legislation, she argued, simply weren’t there in the Senate at the time." • • • DEAR READERS, Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt suggested Monday he's not holding his breath for Congress to take action this year. He’s more focused on this fall’s elections, particularly at the state level. Feinblatt added : “There’s a lot of talk, but it’s herding cats in Congress....When I think about where we’re putting most of our muscle today, it’s to throw them out. It will be the states that actually show Washington, DC, where the public stands.” • And, that is one more reason why the November mid-term elections are critical. Saving the Second Amendment from ProgDem cherry-picking bit-by-bit destruction is the most important single issue for conservative voters this Fall. • The mainstream media propagandist arm of the ProgDems is helping with what seem to be deliberate lies about GOP members of Congress. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday that : "A number of media figures and gun control groups have grossly misstated the amount of money the National Rifle Association (NRA) has donated to Republican candidates in their coverage following the deadly shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The NRA's political action committee, like all federal PACs, is limited in how much it can give to candidates every election cycle. A federal PAC is allowed to contribute a maximum of $10,000 per candidate, per election cycle ($5,000 for a primary, and $5,000 for a general election). Despite these limits, many have been using terminology that attributes inaccurate political donations to Republican politicians by what appears to be combining actual donations to candidates with the NRA's independent expenditures, which are not "contributions," "funding," or associated with any candidates or campaigns in any way." • The Free Beacon reported that MSNBC's Joy Reid, for example, tweeted out a picture of Senator Marco Rubio on February 24 that read, "Donations from the NRA to Sen. Marco Rubio -- $3,303,355." The photo was retweeted nearly 4,700 times and liked more than 5,700 times. On Saturday morning, Reid talked about that figure on her MSNBC segment : "So now, Marco Rubio is essentially not taking a single step away from the NRA. In fact, let's look at his history. Over the course of his career, his donations from the NRA total -- top -- $3.3 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics." FACT : The NRA's PAC has donated only $9,900 directly to Rubio's campaign, all of which came during the 2016 cycle. The NRA did spend $2.3 million on independent expenditures in Florida during Rubio's 2016 race targeting former Democratic representative Patrick Murphy and $1 million in favor of Rubio. However, independent expenditures, such as money put into advertisements, are not "donations" and cannot be coordinated with a candidate's campaign. Reid's producer did not return a Free Beacon request for comment on Reid associating them with donations directly to Rubio. • And, TIME published an article following the tragedy titled, "Here's How Much the NRA has Given to Florida Lawmakers." The piece included a viral tweet from Bess Kalb, a writer for the Jimmy Kimmel Live television show, that read, "In the 2015-2016 election cycle, GOP candidates took $17,385,437 from the NRA." The TIME article transitioned from the tweet to Florida federal candidates, writing that they were given $834,165 in donations from the NRA PAC throughout the 2016 elections. FACT : The 19 federal politicians from Florida received a total of $42,600 during the 2016 election cycle. The $834,165 figure stated by the publication is the total combined amount that the NRA PAC gave to all federal politicians across the United States during the 2016 cycle. TIME corrected and updated their article after being told of the actual amounts that the lawmakers were given. • Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group funded by liberal billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and Moms Demand Safety, another gun control group, ran a two-page, $230,000 advertisement in the New York Times with a list of every Republican politician that has "received NRA donations," TheHill reported. The list included 100 names of politicians, their phone numbers, and what they have received from the NRA. The NYT ad reads : "These members of Congress take NRA money, but refuse to take action to pass gun safety legislation." The second page of the ad features a photo of children leaving Majory Stoneman following the shooting and a cut line that says, "We're children. You guys are adults...get something done." FACT : Many of the figures associated with the politicians who "take NRA money" are also misleading, as they appear to combine totals for the donations directly to candidates with the independent money that was spent during their respective races that is separate from the campaigns. Everytown did not return a Free Beacon request for comment by press time on why they labeled their figures as "funding" to the candidates. • Another FACT : The NRA's PAC has averaged around $1.3 million in total direct contributions to all federal candidates per election cycle since 1990, according to data used from the Center for Responsive Politics. • Compare this to the lobbying expenditures of Everytown for Gun Safety and its affiliates : $1,350,000 (2016). In 2015 lobbying expenditures were $1,450,000. And, 19 out of 27 Everytown for Gun Safety lobbyists in 2015-2016 have previously held government jobs. The bill most frequently lobbied on by Everytown for Gun Safety was H.R.1217 (Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015) that aimed to ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System AND to expand the background check system to encompass the commercial sale of all firearms, including those sold at gun shows, through the Internet and in classified ads. The bill did not get to a floor vote. • Opioids. Guns. ProgDems cannot defeat Republican positions as the majority in Congress who represent the majority of Americans. But, ProgDems can keep anything from happening, while blaming Republicans for the confusion in their own Democrat Party. Remember that in November.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Papadopoulos, Page, the Russians, FBI/DOJ, Mueller, Trump : a Spy Tale Worthy of le Carre

TODAY'S NEWS IS THAT MIFSUD-PAPADOPOULOS AND STEELE-PAGE STORIES ARE SIMILAR. We discussed George Papadopoulos in yesterday's blog. Today, it's Carter Page. • • • CARTER PAGE AND RUSSIA. In an April 4, 2017, article, Foreign Policy writes : "Russian intelligence agents working in New York City met with Carter Page, a one-time foreign-policy advisor to President Donald Trump, and attempted to recruit the business consultant as a spy in 2013. While the effort was ultimately unsuccessful as the FBI broke up the spy ring in 2015, the meetings between Page and the Russian intelligence officers constitute one of the most substantive ties to date between a member of the Trump camp and Russian intelligence....In the 2015 complaint that details an FBI investigation into a three-man Russian spy ring, the foreign agents describe their attempt to recruit Page, describing him as an ambitious climber eager to make money in Russia’s energy...Victor Podobnyy, an officer of the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, told his boss, Igor Sporyshev : 'It’s obvious that he wants to earn lots of money.' Podobnyy, officially an attaché to the Russian mission of the UN, told Page that he would work with Sporyshev, as Russia’s trade representative in New York, to win contracts for Page. 'He went to Moscow and forgot to check his inbox, but he wants to meet when he gets back,' Podobnyy told Sporyshev on April 8, 2013. 'I think he is an idiot and forgot who I am.' Podobnyy noted that Page wrote him emails in Russian 'to practice,' and said 'he flies to Moscow more than I do.' But Podobnyy never intended to deliver on those promises and instead pumped Page for information....According to a summary of the allegations against the Russian spies, Page provided Podobnyy with his views on the future of the energy industry, as well as related documents. Collecting such information about the Western outlook on the energy industry, the lynchpin of the Russian economy, would represent one key task for Moscow agents stationed in the United States. All three defendants in the complaint worked in the economics division of the SVR. Based on the FBI complaint, it appears Page never realized his Russian contact worked on behalf of Moscow’s intelligence services." • Foreign Policy cites the Steele Dossier, labeling it full "of unconfirmed intelligence reports authored by a former British spy, Christopher Steele," that alleges that Page met with the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft Igor Sechin, considered to be one of President Vladimir Putin’s key deputies. According to Steele’s reporting, Page and Sechin discussed lifting sanctions imposed on Russia as a resulted of its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and support of pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine....the Steele Dossier claims that Page also met with a member of the Russian government during his July [2016] trip. During that meeting, the Russian official, Igor Divyekin, allegedly revealed that the Kremlin had in its possession compromising information on Hillary Clinton and discussed releasing it to the Trump campaign. According to Steele, Divyekin may also have hinted that the Kremlin was also in possession of so-called 'kompromat' on Trump, which Trump 'should bear in mind in his dealings with' Russia." Page has consistently denied all of these allegations. • Fox News wrote on February 6 that : "Carter Page was a relative unknown until he became a major figurehead in the Russia investigation. Who is he and how long has he been on the FBI's radar?....Page was asked last year by congressional investigators to turn over records from the past seven years pertaining to Russian contacts and communications. And Page also was the subject of a surveillance warrant obtained by the FBI and Department of Justice as part of their probe, according to a memo released by House Republicans earlier this month. Page, 46, is the founder and managing partner at Global Energy Capital LLC, an investment service company in New York. He was an investment banker for Merrill Lynch for seven years, having spent time in London and Moscow, in addition to New York, his biography on the company’s website states. Much of Page’s life is relatively unknown. He graduated from the US Naval Academy and has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business....Page is a former foreign policy advisor to Trump. He left the campaign after only a few months, following questions about his connections to Russian officials. He also was mentioned in former British spy Christopher Steele's controversial Dossier -- a 35-page document he compiled for opposition research firm Fusion GPS....'I did nothing that could even possibly be viewed as helping them in any way,' Page has told Fox News about his conversations with Russian officials...Page spent three years in Moscow, where he opened a Merrill Lynch office, according to his biography....Russian intelligence agents once unsuccessfully tried to recruit Page as a spy in 2013, Foreign Policy has reported. Page contended that any information he shared with Russians was nothing more than 'the same energy documents that [he] sent [and] gave' to his students at NYU....Page testified before the House Intelligence Committee that he had contact with a high-level Russian official while on a trip to Russia in 2016, according to transcripts of the hearing. During the trip, Page said he 'briefly said hello' to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. Page also testified that he had alerted then-Senator Jeff Sessions -- now the US attorney general -- of the trip he took to Russia, contradicting previous testimony given by Sessions. Additionally, Page testified that he did not have information about Russian election interference. • Why was Page under FBI/DOJ surveillance? According to the Nunes Memo released by the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year, the infamous Trump Russia Dossier "formed an essential part" of the applications by the FBI and DOJ to spy on Page. The Dossier claimed Page met with Russian oil magnate Igor Sechin. Page told Fox News that he’s never met the man. In requesting the surveillance warrant, investigators did not reveal the partisan nature of the Dossier or that it was paid for, at least in part, by the Democratic National Committee and the campaign for Hillary Clinton, according to the Nunes Memo. Republicans have said the Nunes Memo showed that the FBI and DOJ used improper surveillance techniques, and President Trump said the document “totally vindicates” him in the Russia probe. • • • SCOTT RITTER HIGHLIGHTS ERRORS IN FBI/DOJ REQUESTS FOR FISA SURVEILLANCE. In his long February 4 article in TruthDig, Scott Ritter says this about the Nunes Memo, the Steele Russia Dossier and the FISA application : "Detractors of the House Intelligence Committee majority Memo point out that the Steele Dossier is irrelevant as it relates to any FISA warrant application, noting that Page’s history of being a potential target for recruitment by Russian intelligence services would alone sustain any FISA warrant application. Page was caught up in a 2013 FBI investigation against a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Pobodnyy. Page’s name had come up in the course of electronic surveillance the FBI carried out. The FBI interviewed Page in 2015 and cleared him of any wrongdoing. The issue before the FISA court was not whether Page could have been 'developed' as an asset of Russian intelligence. While such suspicions might serve to open an FBI investigation, they could not, on their own, sustain a FISA warrant. The critical information the FISA court needed is whether the target of the warrant was knowingly working on behalf of a foreign entity. This is the case that the FBI and DOJ would need to make to the FISA court, in the form of a sworn affidavit and application. The FBI and DOJ would need to attest that they possessed evidence that Page knew he was helping the Russians. There had to be actual evidence of action." But, says Ritter, the 2015 interview the FBI conducted with Page -- which would have been part of any review of the Page case by the DOJ’s national security division in accordance with the “Woods procedures” instituted in 2003 that mandate a review of any related criminal investigations and the existence of any prior relationship between the subject and the FBI -- "would have resolved any questions about whether Page was a knowing asset of the Russian intelligence service in 2013, thereby negating any chance that the FBI would be able to revive the 2013 contact between Page and the Russians as evidence of cooperation with Russia in 2016." Ritter points out : "What is interesting about the April 2017 application [for renewal] is that the level of public scrutiny of the Steele Dossier engendered by BuzzFeed’s publication of it in January 2017 would seem to have at least raised the issue of Steele’s credibility as a source, something that should have been reflected in the FISA renewal application....To what extent, if any, the Steele Dossier factored in the April 2017 application for renewal, and whether the FBI informed the FISA court about the 10 hours of questioning it conducted with Page, is not known. Nor is the context, if any, the FBI provided to any intercepted communications that would raise them to the level needed to sustain a renewal of a FISA warrant." • The final FISA renewal application was submitted and approved in July 2017. This application was signed off on by McCabe and acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. By this time, says Ritter, "the media had run with numerous stories about Page being the subject of a FISA warrant, and Page himself had appealed to both Rosenstein and Mueller to make public the application used to grant his FISA warrant. Page was unemployed, his professional life ruined by the public revelations about allegations that he had colluded with the Russians and was under active FBI investigation, the totality of which could be linked back to the information Steele provided the FBI. And yet somehow, in the face of overwhelming evidence of Page’s innocence, the FISA court saw fit to grant yet another renewal of its warrant." • • • BREITBART WEIGHS IN ON THE DEMOCRAT REBUTTAL TO THE NUNES MEMO. Breitbart's Kristina Wong wrote on February 25 : "The 10-page memo -- which was supposed to be a total takedown of the memo committee Republicans released last month exposing alleged FBI abuse -- ended up confirming it instead. Not only did it fail to refute the Republican Memo, but it raised additional questions for the Justice Department and the FBI’s handling of the Dossier....The Democrat memo confirms that the FBI used the Dossier in the initial surveillance warrant application and subsequent renewals, and confirms that the FBI never told the court that the Clinton campaign or the DNC were behind the Dossier. The Democrat memo reveals the actual language the DOJ and FBI gave the court -- which has no hint that the Clinton campaign or the DNC were behind the Dossier authored by ex-British spy Christopher Steele. The language actually masks the identities of Perkins Coie, the law firm the campaign and the DNC used as a cutout to hire Fusion GPS, and of Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS. They are simply referred to as 'US-based law firm' and 'US Person' which could be any one of tens of thousands of law-firms and any one of hundreds of millions of Americans. In addition, the language said the FBI 'speculates' that both were 'likely' looking for information that could be used to discredit Trump’s campaign -- instead of revealing the true motive behind the Dossier....The Democrat memo confirmed the Republican memo’s assertion that the FBI also used a Yahoo News article in the surveillance warrant application and subsequent renewals, and defends the FBI for never disclosing to the court that Steele was also the source cited in the article, even after Steele admitted it in a British court before the last renewal and the FBI had evidence that he was talking to media outlets in violation of an agreement with the FBI." • Interestingly, Wong says the Democrat rebuttal "also confirmed the Republican memo’s assertion that the FBI included allegations about another campaign member George Papadopoulos in the surveillance warrant application for Carter Page, even though there were no links between Papadopoulos and Page. The Democrat memo said the FBI did so anyway because it provided 'broader context' to evaluate the allegations against Page. • The major revelation suggested by the Democrat rebuttal concerns the timing of the receipt of the Dossier by the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters. The Democrat rebuttal says the FBI team did not receive the Dossier until mid-September. BUT, according ot Wong : "A recent report by Paul Sperry said on August 25, 2016, then-CIA chief John Brennan gave an “unusual private briefing” to then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Two days later, Reid fired off a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey demanding he open an investigation citing Page and repeating an unproven charge from the Dossier. If the Democratic memo’s assertion is true that the Dossier did not reach the investigating team until mid-September, was it because of Obama’s CIA chief and the top Democratic leader in the Senate? • The Democrat rebuttal also raises questions as to what real evidence the FBI actually had on Page, including that two Russian spies had tried to recruit Page as a spy -- but did not include that those efforts were unsuccessful. The Republican rebuttal, which included a point-by-point refutation, stated : 'The Democratic memo fails to explain why, if evidence of Page’s past activities was so compelling, the Steele Dossier was used in the FISA application at all, much less formed the ‘bulk’ of the Page FISA application." • • • PAGE AND THE RUSSIAN SPIES. The GOP answer to the Democrat rebuttal says : “By participating in voluntary interviews with FBI, Page cooperated with the successful prosecution of the Russian intelligence officer who called him ‘an idiot’ -- and two of his colleagues.” The Daily Beast also wrote an article on February 25 that stated : "A footnote left unredacted in the just-released memo ‘correcting the record’ on the Russia investigation shows why, as early as 2013, the FBI thought Page might be a Russian spy....the FBI had been watching Page as a potential Russian spy since 2013, long before Page was mentioned in the Dossier of dirt on the Trump-Russia connection compiled by former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele over the summer and fall of 2016. Indeed, the FBI had managed to bug what the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) considered a secure office in New York, and had picked up detailed conversations about recruitment efforts, including those apparently focused on Page. But to discover just how detailed, one must follow the footnotes. At the bottom of page three in the Democratic memo, about half of the last paragraph is blacked out. It says Page, an energy consultant, had 'an extensive record' doing something [redacted] 'prior to joining the Trump campaign.' It notes that he lived in Moscow from 2004 to 2007 and 'pursued business deals with Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom.' And when 'a Russian intelligence officer...targeted Page for recruitment, Page showed [redacted].” Page has not been charged with any crimes, [was not indicted as a spy with the three Russians,] and has denied repeatedly to the FBI, to congressional investigators, and in public, that he was involved with the Russian intelligence services or in any respect responsible for alleged complicity between the Trump campaign and the this point in the first paragraph of page four of the redacted Democratic memo, footnote 10 leads us to a reference that is partly blacked out. But the footnote cites in the clear the case of US v. Evgeny Buryakov, a/k/a “Zhenya,” Igor Sporyshev, and Victor Podobnyy, US Southern District of New York, January 23, 2015. All three of those named were indicted as agents for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Buryakov was under 'non-official cover' as a bank employee without diplomatic immunity. He had been leading a seeming placid existence in the bucolic Riverdale section of the Bronx with his wife and two children. He pleaded guilty in US Federal Court in early 2016 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. The other two spies were officially working for the Russian government in relatively benign capacities : Sporyshev as a trade representative and Podobnyy as an attaché at the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. Unfortunately those two, Sporyshev and Podobnyy, were protected by diplomatic immunity and were allowed to leave the United States. They are the ones who would know precisely if, when and how Page may have been recruited successfully. In the 2015 FBI complaint, the relevant dialogue between the SVR operatives in 2013 is translated from the Russian as follows : VP: [Male-1, i.e., Page] wrote that he is sorry, he went to Moscow and forgot to check his inbox, but he wants to meet when he gets back. I think he is an idiot and forgot who I am. Plus he writes to me in Russian [to] practice the language. He flies to Moscow more often than I do. He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project he could rise up. Maybe he can. I don’t know, but it’s obvious that he wants to earn lots of money....I also promised him a lot : that I have connections in the Trade Representation, meaning you that you can push contracts [laughs]. I will feed him empty promises." • The FBI agent who filed the formal complaint, Gregory Monaghan of the New York field office, notes that he and another FBI agent interviewed Male-1, who by all indications is Carter Page, on June 13, 2013, and the subject said he had met Podbonyy at an energy symposium in New York City. During this initial meeting, the Russian gave the subject his business card and two email addresses. Over the following months the Russian spy and this “Male-1,” who’s evidently Page, “exchanged emails about the energy business and met in person on occasion,” with the American energy consultant providing his outlook on current and future developments in the energy industry, and providing documents about the energy business. • To anyone not trying to destroy President Trump by using Carter Page, these comments filed in a federal court proceeding that led to the conviction of three Russian spies is ample proof that Carter Page may well have been an idiot -- but not a Russian spy -- he was interested in business and making money, which is always a very dangerous game when the money is to be found by working with Russian apparatchiks and oligarchs. • The Washington Times put it into perspective : "The Dossier was written by Mr. Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. His central charge is that Mr. Page, during a public speaking trip in Moscow in July 2016, met with two Kremlin figures and discussed bribes in exchange for US sanctions relief. The two Russians are Igor Sechin, head of Russia’ state-owned Rosneft oil company, and Igor Diveykin, a member of Vladimir Putin’s administrative staff....Mr. Page lived in Moscow in the mid-2000s while a banker for Merrill Lynch. He continued to do business with Russians via his own New York investment company. He testified to the committee that he had a 10-second greeting with Mr. Dvorkovich, a Putin aide, as he spoke at the New Economic School. Mr. Page said Mr. Baranov was an old friend from his Moscow days and they met for drinks. He requested that this testimony transcript be released, which it was." • • • JOSEPH MIFSUD. We noted yesterday that a source at Link Campus University in Rome told BuzzFeed on January 1 that Joseph Mifsud hasn't been seen at the university in many weeks. Joseph Mifsud is the Maltese professor who, court documents say, told Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. His information has been removed from the website of the university in Italy where he's worked for years. LCU professors, who spoke to BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity because they feared they would lose their jobs, said they and other colleagues haven’t seen the Maltese academic on the Rome campus in many weeks. In November, an LCU spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that Mifsud had held an on-and-off contractual relationship with the university since the 2000s. At the time, the spokesperson said that he was a visiting professor from the University of Stirling in Scotland. Mifsud quit his post at the Scottish university, where he was also working, a few weeks later, according to Scottish broadcaster STV. But, an LCU source said in an email that Mifsud was “a lot more” than a visiting professor. The same source, based on direct conversations with Mifsud and the leadership at the university, told BuzzFeed News in November that the Maltese academic was one of the main drivers behind LCU’s partnerships with a string of international entities and universities, including Lomonosov Moscow State University, one of Russia’s most prestigious universities. BuzzFeed says that at the time, LCU declined to say whether Mifsud, who spoke at an event in Moscow celebrating the partnership in October 2016, had any role in establishing the relationship. The LCU professor also said that international partnerships were part of a broader push to attract funding for the Italian university from Russia, the Middle East, and Asia. • Interest in Mifsud's current employment status was triggered by a New York Times report that Papadopoulos told Australia's ambassador to the UK in May 2016 that the Russians had "political dirt" on then–Democratic presidential candidate Clinton. According to the NYT report, that information helped trigger the FBI's probe into contacts between Russian agents and the Trump campaign when it was passed to the US two months later -- after WikiLeaks began publishing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee. In documents accompanying Papadopoulos's October guilty plea to charges he'd lied to FBI agents about his contacts with Mifsud, Mueller's office said Mifsud told Papadopoulos in late April 2016 that the Russians possessed "dirt" on Clinton "in the form of 'thousands of emails.'" That was nearly two months before the Russian hacking of the DNC computer system became public. • Also now missing from the LCU faculty pages is Nagi Idris, director of the London Centre of International Law Practice, an organization with which both Mifsud and Papadopoulos claimed to have been affiliated in the past. Idris was previously listed as an overseas professor on the faculty pages, according to archived versions of the website. And in an online bio he describes himself as a visiting professor at the university. • AND, we should note that my internet search today has produced no information about where Joseph Mifsud is or whether he is in hiding in Russia or eleswhere. The mysterious professor Mifsud -- with connections to Russia, who reportedly gave George Papadopoulos information about DNC hacking and Wikileaks emails negative to the Hillary Clinton campaign before they were published online -- HAS VANISHED, just like any Russian spy would in such circumstances. Is that what Joseph Mifsud is?? We simply do not know -- yet. • • • ANOTHER LINK IN THE PAPADOPOULOS / PAGE STORIES -- WAS SERGEI MILLIAN A STEELE DOSSIER SOURCE? ABC News broke this story last Tuesday, February 20. ABC says : "Sergei Millian emerged last year as one of the more intriguing characters to surface during the ongoing investigations into foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Belarusan-American businessman and onetime Russian government translator claimed to have brokered Trump-branded real estate to Russian buyers. He contacted high-level members of the Trump campaign who have since been swept into the widening Russia probe. And he was alleged in news reports to be the unwitting source of a key allegation contained in the infamous Dossier of unverified claims that have beguiled the Trump presidency from its inception. Congressional investigators want to interview Millian, sources familiar with aspects of the congressional inquiries told ABC News. They have been trying -- and failing -- to track him down for months. So where in the world is he?" • That is indeed the question. Like Joseph Mifsud, Sergai Millian has disappeared. Last week, Millian offered those investigators a tantalizing clue as to his possible whereabouts, posting on Twitter a photo of himself addressing what appears to be a Harvard Business School event , with the caption, "Speaker at Harvard University." BUT, says ABC : "Not so fast. A university spokesman told ABC News there is no record of Millian appearing there in recent years. 'We have him listed as a guest speaker at a European Conference held at the school on March 3, 2013. His session was about Russian- European Energy Relations, said Brian Kenny, a Harvard spokesman. 'That's all the information I have.' " • It is unclear what Millian's role, if any, is in the Russia "collusion" investigation. Millian has said publicly that he has no ties to the scandal and has simply been pursuing his efforts to foster cooperation as the head of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. He tweeted in August 2017 : "The more fake news appear, the heavier the price will be paid by those who are behind this organized campaign." But, ABC says Millian has not always been silent : "He granted an interview to ABC News in July of 2016, during the presidential campaign. He described meeting Trump in 2008 during a marketing meeting to help bring attention to the Trump-branded development in Hollywood, Florida. He had even posed for a photo with Trump at the event and, he said, was introduced to Michael Cohen, who was then the senior attorney for the Trump Organization. 'Trump's team, they realized that we have lots of connection with Russian investors. And they noticed that we bring a lot of investors from Russia,' Millian told ABC News. 'And they needed my assistance, yes, to sell properties and sell some of the assets to Russian investors.' Millian said he signed an agreement 'with his team so I can be his official broker.' " • BUT, both Cohen and the developer of Trump Hollywood, the Related Group, told ABC News that they had no record of any signed agreement with Millian. Cohen said : "I've never met the guy. I have spoken to him twice. The first time, he was proposing to do something. He's in real estate. I told him we have no interest. Second time he called me, I asked him not to call me anymore." • During the 2016 campaign, Millian had contact with several of then-candidate Trump's campaign aides and business colleagues, including GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, the campaign figure who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with the federal probe. Papadopoulos's fiancee Simona Mangiante told ABC News that Millian approached Papadopoulos early in 2016, after he became associated with the campaign, and they struck up a friendship. Millian also briefly engaged in social media contact on Twitter with Cohen. Cohen later told ABC News that he exchanged emails with Millian in order to tell him to stop exaggerating his ties to the Trump Organization. Cohen said he wrote Millian to say it had become clear "that you too are seeking media attention off of this false narrative of a Trump-Russia alliance" and to ask him to stop "attempting to inject yourself into this crazy, [Hillary] Clinton campaign lie." • Last spring, news reports alleged that Millian was an unwitting source of information for the uncorroborated "DOSSIER" compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for the Washington research firm Fusion GPS. That firm's founder, Glenn Simpson, would not confirm that to Congress in November, but he told the House Intelligence Committee that Millian caught his attention early on -- Simpson said : "Sergei Millian isn't named in the Dossier, but is someone who was important." In more recent interviews, Millian has denied being the source of any information that appeared in the Dossier. Interestingly, Millian made his denial on Russian TV, appearing on a Russian talk show modeled after CBS's 60 Minutes. Millina told the Russian 60 Minutes : "This is just a blatant lie." He called it an attempt "to show our president [Trump -- Millian is a US citizen] in a bad light, using my name." • ABC says Millian "declined to respond to its emailed questions in recent months, other than sending an email objecting to his portrayal in earlier reports and expressing general frustration with the media coverage that has centered on him." Millian wrote to ABC : "Shame on you for working like this and deceiving your viewers." A phone number listed for him on the Russian American Chamber of Commerce web site that does not accept calls or messages. • As for Millian's whereabouts, that remains something of a mystery. ABC says : "Public records suggest he lived in Atlanta, and later at locations in New York City. Last year, he posted photos of himself in Washington, DC, attending parties celebrating the Trump Inauguration. And that photo from Harvard? It was geo-tagged in New York -- perhaps a new clue for congressional investigators who are hoping to speak with him." • • • WAS MILLIAN KILLED? On February 12, the Daily Caller published an article by Chuck Ross titled "Anti-Trump Harvard Professor Floats Fake Claim That Dossier Source Died In Russia Plane Crash." The Harvard law professor and member of the anti-Trump “Resistance” who floated the rumor Monday was Laurence Tribe. Professor Tribe claimed on Twitter that Sergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman alleged to be a Dossier source, was killed on February 11 when a Saratov Airlines plane crashed near Moscow. All 71 passengers died. Tribe wrote : “Among those killed in the tragic plane crash yesterday : Sergei Millian, a Papadopoulis friend who had emailed Kushner and is said to be behind one of the most salacious claims in the Dossier on Trump’s involvement with Russia.” Tribe added cynically : "Probably just coincidence." Tribe has been described as Barack Obama’s legal mentor from the former President’s days at Harvard Law School. • Clearly, Professor Tribe was trying by innuendo to suggest that the plane crash was an attempt to quiet a Dossier source. • Tribe linked his tweet to a Washington Post article from March 2017 identifying Millian as “Source D” and “Source E” in the infamous Dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele. According to the WP report and others, Millian was the source behind some of the most salacious claims in the Dossier, including that the Kremlin is blackmailing President Trump and that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russians. Trump and members of his campaign have denied the allegations. • Millian has claimed he was not a source for the Dossier, but he has avoided addressing whether he may have inadvertently provided information that wound up in Steele’s report. • During the 2016 campaign, Millian was also in touch with George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign advisor who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians while working on the campaign. • As for Profssor Lawrence Tribe, ABC says : "Tribe is no marginal figure. He co-wrote an op-ed for The New York Times Monday accusing House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes of obstructing the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia." • ABC NEWS also called the Daily Caller report that Millian was killed in the Russian plane crash "false." The rumor that Millian was killed in the Saratov plane crash originated, as many rumors do, on the internet, says ABC : "Conspiracy theorists claimed that a passenger named Sergei Panchenko was really Millian. But, as was pointed out by many responding to Tribe, the passenger manifest listed Panchenko as being born in 1973. Millian, whose real name is Siarhei Kukuts, is 39 years old, meaning he was born in 1978 or 1979. [NOTE: That seems to be an insignificant difference that could have been a clerical error or the effort of the killers to provide cover for themselves.] • • • DEAR READERS, the Steele Dossier, the Papadopoulos-Mifsud conversations and London connections, the FBI/DOJ lies and misleading arrangement of unproven 'facts' in the FISA application to spy on Carter Page -- all fit into a many-tentacled tale of Russian efforts to lure Trump campaign staff into their net in order, apparently, to try to smear Trump, not Hillary Clinton. And, the Russians had a lot of help from the likes of FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and everyone at the FBI and DOJ who signed off on the initial application for the FISA warrant in October 2016, or the applications for renewal. The DNC can be added to that list, as can the Hillary Clinton campaign -- they paid for the Steele Dossier that was shopped to the FBI through Senator John McCain and Sir Andrew West, the former British Ambassador to Russia. Add both McCain and West to the list. The UK Independent wrote on January 12, 2107, that Ambassador West "played a key role in American intelligence agencies receiving explosive allegations about Donald Trump and the Kremlin. The Independent has learned that US Senator John McCain spoke to Sir Andrew Wood, who served in Moscow as the UK’s head of mission for five years, about claims that the US President-elect was susceptible to blackmail over alleged sexual activity and that his team had colluded with Moscow during the presidential election campaign. The meeting took place at an international security conference in Halifax, Canada, last November [2016], after Mr Trump’s victory. There, Mr McCain sought the advice of Sir Andrew, a highly respected retired British diplomat, on a Dossier that was put together by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer, about Mr Trump and the Moscow connection." Senator McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, was so concerned by what he had heard that he personally met James Comey, the director of the FBI, after returning from the Canadian conference, and passed on the information. The Independent wrote : "It formed part of a report about Russian interference in the US presidential election process that was presented to Barack Obama and Mr Trump by the intelligence agencies....Sir Andrew told The Independent: “Yes, I did meet Senator McCain and his aides at the conference. The issue of Donald Trump and Russia was very much in the news and it was natural to talk about it. We spoke about the kind of activities the Russians can be engaged in. We also spoke about how Mr Trump may find himself in a position where there could be an attempt to blackmail him with Kompromat [the Russian term for compromising material] and claims that there were audio and video tapes in existence.” Sir Andrew, an advisor to Tony Blair after serving as ambassador to Russia from 1995 to 2000 and then Yugoslavia, said : “I would like to stress that I did not pass on any Dossier to Senator McCain or anyone else and I did not see a Dossier at the time. I do know Christopher Steele and in my view he is very professional and thorough in what he does....'I don’t think I have done anything wrong at all in what I have done.' The British government, according to the Independent, sought to impose a DA (Defence Advisory) Notice to stop the media from disclosing Steele’s name -- standard practice for serving and former intelligence officers : "However, this was lifted after the name emerged overseas. The revelations have been followed by some Tory MPs fulminating that the British role in it was a plot to sour relations between the UK and the incoming Trump administration." • So, Papadopoulos and Page. Two names inextricably intertwined by their business contacts with Russia. Both were contacted by Russians or men with Russian connections. Two of those men -- Joseph Mifsud and Sergai Millian -- have disappeared. There are allegations tha Millian was killed in a Russian plane crash -- which would certainly raise issues about what Millain knew and who did killed him, if the plane was brought down to rid the Russians of Millian. Were Papadopoulos and Page unwitting pieces in the Russian meddling campaign, used as sources of information and to create Fake sinister connections inside the Trump campaign. Did the Russians set up the FBI with Steele, Papadopoulos and Page, Mangiante, Mifsud and Millian -- using them to feed to the FBI Fake 'facts' that permitted FISA surveillance of Page, and through him, of Trump and his campaign and transition teams. If so, that sounds a lot like efforts to destroy Trump, not Hillary. • And, what is the role of Simona Mangiante, the fiancee of George Papadopoulos. She now has told one interviewer that she could have been inadvertently swept up in a spy plot. Was she the Putin niece" Joseph Mifsud introduced to Papadopoulos? We do not know. • Finally, could Papadopoulos and Page have been cutout spies for either the Russians or the FBI -- or for both, unbeknownst to the other side? Or were they insignificant "rogue spooks" who bolted when they decided that the story was bigger than their intel loyalties and that they had a duty-bound role to play in bringing it to light. And, just what is the "story"? We really do not know that either. There is a long road ahead before all the details are brought to light and organized into a logical tale -- it ever that is allowed to occur. That leaves us with a lot of questions and no answers. It's a case for George Smiley.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

George Papadopoulos and Carter Page : Intertwined Stories in the Spooks vs Russians FBI/DOJ/Mueller Collusion Saga

THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS ABOUT RUSSIANS AND A SELDOM-REFERENCED MEETING. The meeting was between George Papadopolous and Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic, with high level connections to the Russian state. He is a former employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta, a former principal in the London Centre of International Law Pracitce. Mifsud was born on Malta in 1960, graduated from the University of Malta, the University of Padua, and Queen's University Belfast. • • • IS MIFSUD A SPY? The Guardian calls him a "shadowy professor," who has been welcomed by London, and says : "He seems to be a spy, but Joseph Mifsud meets ministers and lands university posts....‘Professor' Joseph Mifsud once said he was not a Russian spy. Then he vanished and stayed vanished despite multiple attempts by journalists to put pertinent questions to him. Though he is not named in the [Mueller] indictment, prosecutors working for the Mueller inquiry into Russian involvement in Donald Trump’s election allege this ghostly presence, this incredible vanishing man, was the conduit between the Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos and a Kremlin with 'dirt' to share on Hillary Clinton. The rest of us are in the dark. But perhaps not wholly so." • The Guardian notes that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. For his part, says the Guardian, the “professor” has at least raised questions about how respectable academic institutions and the highest levels of British politics are open to penetration by kleptomaniac regimes : "Anyone who examines Mifsud’s career should be wary of believing a word he says. But on one point he is right. He’s not a traditional spy, if your image of the spy is a brutal cold war colonel from the KGB. He appears to be something altogether more modern. Mifsud is from Malta. He received a Phd from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1995, on how to reform primary school education, and then served as an assistant to a Maltese foreign minister....In 2008, he popped up at the EMUNI University in Slovenia. It may not be Europe’s most distinguished academic institution, but it was too distinguished for Mifsud. The Times of Malta reported he left in haste after pocketing €39,000 in expenses, including an impressive €13,767 for mobile calls." Where did Mifsud go after exiting Slovenia? The Guardian says : "Why, dear old London town, of course....Mifsud set up the 'London Academy of Diplomacy' and boasted to the Washington Diplomat that it was 'one of the best diplomatic academies in the world.' Mifsud denies any wrongdoing and is, of course, innocent until proved guilty. Still...the London Academy of Diplomacy does not look like an elite diplomatic finishing first glance it appears to resemble just the type of front organisation an espionage agency would establish." • Mifsud expanded from his academy. According to the author of the Guardian article : "Undeterred by the rickety surroundings, Mifsud quickly found institutions ready to boost his credentials. The University of East Anglia took him on in 2011 and claimed he was a professor, although no one can see how he earned the title. In 2016, he moved to Stirling University, which was delighted that he flew 'the University of Stirling flag' at 'high-profile' meetings with Putin. You have to have encountered the fierce jealousy with which academics guard their specialisms to realise how unusual it is for two universities to treat Mifsud as an authority on international diplomacy when what expertise he possessed was on early years education. I asked Stirling and East Anglia what academic qualifications Mifsud had for the posts they granted him, what checks they had run on his academy and what financial arrangements they had made with him. Britain’s universities are as bad at replying to questions in the public interest as they are at defending freedom of speech. Stirling refused to answer. East Anglia said it might get back to me this week." • As soon as the scandal broke, the London Academy of Diplomacy closed its doors [NOTE : and apparently became the London Centre of International Law Practice], says the Guardian : "It’s almost as if it were an intelligence asset whose cover had been blown, rather than an academic institution dedicated to an impartial understanding of international affairs. But for a few years, East Anglia and Stirling helped Mifsud appear to be an expert on diplomacy. He put his unearned reputation to work. At one point, Mifsud said he was close to the Clinton Foundation. At another, he befriended and hired Gianni Pittella, the Italian leader of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European parliament. Naturally, Mifsud moved in on Boris Johnson and the Tory right...Alok Sharma, a Foreign Office minister until June this year, confirmed Mifsud had attended a fundraising dinner in his constituency. Mifsud boasted he would be 'meeting Boris Johnson for dinner re Brexit.' And indeed he did meet [Johnson]. I don’t know how the Mifsud affair will end. But I do know this....when we talk of spies, we will soon need to think less of cruel men extracting secrets from terrified victims and more of podgy 'professors' pushing at open doors." • • • THE TIMES OF MALTA. Mifsud's 'hometown' paper, the Times of Malta, had this to say about him on January 27 : "Mueller is continuing with his investigations on the Trump-Russia Affair. A few weeks ago he called to testify Papadopoulos’s Italian fiancée Simona Mangiante. Both she and Papadopoulos had spent some time working for Mifsud. According to Mangiante, who spoke to the Business Insider, “I knew something was wrong from the first day I arrived there.” Mangiante added: 'It all felt very artificial. I had worked in real diplomatic environments and this didn’t feel that way at all. I never even had clarity about who [Mifsud] actually was.' Mueller continues to investigate. After having worked for Bartolo, duped Frendo into believing he would get him elected and glued himself to Muscat’s movement, will the mysterious Mifsud be the cause of President Trump’s downfall? Time will tell." • Not a glowing endorsement of a Malta native son. • • • SIMONA MANGIANTE. Business Insider wrote in early January that the wedding plans of Simona Mangiante, a 29-or-34-year-old Italian lawyer -- her ages are variously reported -- and former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos that were put on hold after Papadopoulos was arrested and put on house arrest last July. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russia-linked professor Joseph Mifsud, and Mangiante found herself in Mueller's crosshairs, too. Mangiante says her fiancé, George Papadopoulos, is staying positive : "George is very calm. There are moments, of course, when we get down. There are a lot of restrictions." • Papadopoulos, a young energy consultant was apparently working in London and as part of Mifsud's academy before his work for the Trump campaign landed him squarely in the middle of the FBI's investigation into Russia's election interference, has been on house arrest since last July at the home he owns with his mother and younger brother in Chicago. • Simona Mangiante was allegedly recruited by Mifsud from the European parliament because of her excellent contacts book. Through Mifusd's academy, she met and fell in love with Papadopoulos. She now lives with him in Chicago, but remembered that, while the academy had an impressive London address in a townhouse overlooking Lincoln’s Inn Fields, behind its doors there was just one table for the staff to work from. They had to supply their own laptops and were wary of the 'sneaky' Mifsud. Mangiante and Papadopoulos first met in person in New York in April 2017, she said, about seven months after they first started chatting on LinkedIn. They traveled to Europe that summer for a whirlwind vacation and parted ways in late July, with Mangiante staying in Italy and Papadopoulos heading back to the US. Mangiante said : "We had traveled to Mykonos, to Athens, and to Capri. He had finished his work for the campaign and I had left my job at the European Parliament. We spent every second together." • But, upon landing at Dulles airport in Washington, DC on July 27, Papadopoulos was arrested by the FBI. By the time he emerged from his Alexandria jail cell on July 28, Papadopoulos had become a cooperating witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Mangiante said she did not hear from him again for five days. Then, on August 1. Papadopoulos's cousin wrote to her on Facebook, explaining that he had been arrested. Managinate said : "It was traumatic, and completely unexpected. I didn't know what was going on. So I went to the US, and everything changed completely." • Mangiante flew to Chicago to see Papadopoulos and was served with a subpoena by a federal agent working for Mueller, who had already charged Papadopoulos with lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia-linked foreign nationals during the election. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to the charge. Mangiante said receiving the subpoena was "unreal. When he came to deliver my subpoena, my first reaction was to contact the Italian embassy." The embassy told her that they could find an American lawyer to represent her in Chicago. But the rate would be about $800 per hour -- money she said she didn't have. So she went into the interview without one. The interview lasted about two hours, and they asked "a lot of questions about Joseph Mifsud," Mangiante said, referring to the London-based professor who told Papadopoulos in April 2016 that the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." Mangiante told BI she was happy with the interview because she had nothing to hide : "It was shocking to me that they wanted me as a witness." • • • WHY WAS MUELLER INTERESTED IN SIMONA MANGIANTE? Business International says : "The FBI's interest in Mangiante makes sense given the three months she spent working for Mifsud -- from September through November of 2016 -- at the London Centre of International Law Practice. The organization listed Mifsud as its director as recently as October, but his biography was deleted from the website following Papadopoulos' indictment. The special counsel's statement of offense outlined Papadopoulos' contact with a London-based 'professor' who was later identified as Mifsud in news reports. Mangiante said she first met Mifsud when she started her job at the European Parliament in 2009. He struck her as a lobbyist who worked 'to connect people from different governments,' she said. When her contract was up in September 2016 with the European Parliament in Brussels, Mangiante wanted to move to London. Scouring LinkedIn, she noticed that Mifsud's organization was looking to hire people with experience working for the EU. On her arrival at Mifsud's London Centre, Mangiante felt that : "something was wrong from the first day I arrived there. It all felt very artificial. I had worked in real diplomatic environments and this didn't feel that way at all. I never even had clarity about who [Mifsud] actually was." Mangiante left the organization in November 2016. By that point, she had already begun chatting with Papadopoulos, who had messaged her on LinkedIn two months earlier after seeing that they shared a mutual professional connection -- Mifsud. 'Not even George really knew anything about him,' Mangiante said." • • • THE AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMAT AND PAPADOPOULOS. Business International says Mifsud came under renewed scrutiny in January, when the New York Times reported that Papadopoulos drunkenly told an Australian diplomat in a May 2016 London encounter -- one month after meeting with Mifsud -- that Russia had dirt on Clinton. The diplomat relayed the details of his conversation with Papadopoulos to Australian government officials, who in turn relayed it to the US government shortly after news surfaced that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked. Papadopoulos' inadvertent disclosure, combined with the DNC data breach, were apparently leaked and started being cited by Progressives, Democrats, and the mainstream media such as the NYT as what triggered the FBI's Trump-Russia probe. Asked why she thought Papadopoulos told the Australian diplomat about Russia's Clinton dirt, or what he may have meant by it, Mangiante said she wasn't certain : "I was not there. But they clearly had had many drinks." • • • MIFSUD'S RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS. Mifsud has also been filmed speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club, a think tank based in the Russian city of Veliky Novgorod that is close to President Vladimir Putin and hosts him every year for a keynote address. Mifsud also wrote three pro-Russia articles that are featured on Valdai's website. Beyond that, BI says not much is known. In November, Mifsud disappeared from Link Campus University (LCU) in Rome, the private university where he has worked on-and-off since the early 2000s. Mifsud managed the university's international partnerships, according to BuzzFeed, including one with Lomonosov Moscow State University. Court documents filed by Mueller's team and made public in late October show that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal agents about the timing and nature of his conversations with Mifsud. He told the FBI in his January interview that Mifsud was "a nothing" and "just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something." But, he did not tell the agents initially about Mifsud's claims that he had high-level Russian government connections and had learned of Kremlin dirt on Clinton. • LCU has since removed Mifsud's biography from their website. The school also removed the biography for Nagi Idris, the director of Mifsud's London Centre of International Law Practice. Mangiante said she was introduced to Idris on her first day of work at the Centre. Before it was pulled, Mifsud's London Centre biography said he had "lectured extensively throughout the world," "worked in a number of universities," "attended and chaired conferences" and "organized major ministerial and institutional meetings on pan-Mediterranean dialogue." He also worked for the government of his native Malta. • • • THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND PAPADOPOULOS. The Trump campaign, after Papadopoulos' guilty plea, described him as a "coffee boy" who played no meaningful foreign policy role? Simona Mangiante rejects that claim : "I've seen the emails," Mangiante said, referring to Papadopoulos' communications during the election with high-level members of the Trump campaign. • She told ABC last month that Papadopoulos had communicated with Steve Bannon, who chaired the campaign before becoming the White House chief strategist, and Michael Flynn, a top campaign surrogate who Trump later appointed national security advisor. 'It's very naive to dismiss somebody like that, as a 'coffee boy,' when you have evidence,' Mangiante said. 'They're just undermining all of George's efforts. He even helped to organize a meeting between Trump and [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi through a connection he had at the Egyptian embassy.' • In an interview with the Corriere della Serra, Mangiante was asked : "How did he end up on Trump’s electoral committee?" Her answer was : "He’s an expert on energy issues. In Washington he was at the Hudson Institute [NOTE : The Hudson Institute said in a statement that Papadopoulos was just an unpaid intern in 2011 and only worked as a freelance contractor for one Hudson senior fellow in 2013 and 2014]. Then he came into contact with Ben Carson [NOTE : Carson hired him because of the Hudson Institute reference on his CV], and went on to join Trump’s committee, where he devoted himself mainly to the Middle East, putting to good use his relations with prominent figures, especially in Egypt and Israel." • BI says it is possible that : "Papadopoulos represented the campaign at numerous points during the election. He attempted for months to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin, helped craft Trump's first major foreign policy speech, and gave an interview as a Trump campaign official to Russia's Interfax News Agency six weeks before Election Day. He also represented the campaign at a Republican National Convention event and met with Israeli leaders as a foreign policy advisor during Trump's inauguration." The Trump organization has denied most ofthese assertions. • On February 7, the Washington Post ran an article on the Papadopoulos-Mangiante relationship : "They were brought together through the serendipity of a mutual connection -- a man [Joseph Mifsud] who now plays a central role in Papadopoulos’s guilty plea....Mangiante and Papadopoulos’s relationship just happened to hinge on a man listed in a sworn affidavit as a potential Russian cutout [an undercover spy who has contact with his handler but is generally hidden from the wider intel organization]....The couple, then two strangers, first connected over the social networking site LinkedIn after Papadopoulos noticed that they shared a mutual connection, Joseph Mifsud, a mysterious former Maltese government official who ran an institute called the London Centre of International Law Practice in Britain. Mangiante, 34, had started working at the organization after meeting Mifsud while she was employed at the European Parliament in Brussels. Papadopoulos, 30, who had worked for Mifsud’s organization as well, reached out to say he liked her profile picture. 'How do you know him?' Papadopoulos asked her about Mifsud, Mangiante said in an interview with Business Insider. 'What does he do? Not even George really knew anything about him.'....Meanwhile, Mifsud is at the center of Papadopoulos’s case in the Russia investigation, as outlined by the special counsel. Referred to in court documents as 'the professor,' it is Mifsud and the statements federal authorities said he made to Papadopoulos that the Russians had 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton in the form of 'thousands of emails,' which helped land Papadopoulos in hot water. He is one of the purported Russia-linked contacts that Papadopoulos first told investigators had occurred before the campaign, when in fact they occurred during the campaign, according to court documents in the case. Mifsud, who has not been charged in the investigation, has denied the claims Papadopoulos made to federal authorities as 'nonsense. I strongly deny any discussion of mine about secrets concerning Hillary Clinton,' he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica last year.” • In the Mueller plea agreement, Papadopoulos depicts Mifsud as a contact eager to help play matchmaker between the Trump team and President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. The Washington Post wrote last November 4 : "Mifsud introduces Papadopoulos to a woman he identifies as Putin’s niece, promises top-level Russian meetings for Trump aides and returns from a visit to Moscow offering 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton based on 'thousands of emails' obtained by the Russian government. The plea agreement makes no direct accusation against Mifsud. But a sworn affidavit from FBI Special Agent Robert Gibbs at least raises the possibility he was a Russian cutout : 'The Russian government and its intelligence and security services frequently make use of non-governmental intermediaries to achieve their foreign intelligence objectives,' Gibbs writes. 'This structure serves in part to hide the overt involvement of the Russian government.' Russia, he continues, 'has used individuals associated with academia and think tanks in such a capacity.' Mifsud last week insisted he was 'not a secret agent. I never got any money from the Russians.' But on other points he has been contradictory. When the indictment was unsealed on Monday, he initially denied that he was the 'professor' cited in the court papers. Then on Tuesday he confirmed it, but told London’s Daily Telegraph that the descriptions of his role were 'exaggerated' and insisted he had had no contact with Russian officials. But the same day, The Post reported that he had boasted to his former assistant late last year that he had had a meeting with Putin. On Wednesday, he told Italy’s La Repubblica that Papadopoulos’s claims about him in the indictment were 'nonsense. I strongly deny any discussion about secrets concerning Hillary Clinton,' he said. 'I swear it on my daughter.' But then, minutes later, he related that he had been in Moscow during the presidential campaign and had had a conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He also said he was in touch with officials at Russian think tanks that are considered close to the Kremlin and the Foreign Ministry. As for the alleged niece of Putin, Mifsud laughed off the suggestion that she was related to the Russian president. 'She’s just a student,' he said. 'A very good-looking one.'....Equally perplexing was the London Center of International Law Practice. The center supposedly operates from a fine Georgian building overlooking a leafy London square. When a Post reporter buzzed the door on several occasions during business hours last week, no one answered. Until recently, the staff Web page had 33 people listed on it, including Joseph Mifsud. But the page was deleted on October 23, a week before the Papadopoulos plea agreement was unsealed....Another person connected to the center was Papadopoulos, who worked there in the spring of 2016 under the lofty title of director of the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security. It’s unclear whether the center explains how the young Papadopoulos and the middle-aged Mifsud first connected. But, Andrew Glencross [NOTE : a politics expert who taught at Stirling between 2013 and 2016] described Mifsud for the WP as 'personable, congenial' and 'an inveterate name dropper in terms of politicians.' Glencross speculated that whenever they met, they probably saw in each other kindred spirits. '[Mifsud] is exactly the type of person who is on the make, or wants to be on the make in foreign policy circles,' he said. 'I can see why someone like Papadopoulos, if he wanted to make himself seem more important, he would want to latch on to someone like Joseph.' ” • • • THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PAPADOPOULOS STORY. On February 4, TruthDig published a long analysis of the Steele Dossier and the Nunes Memo by contributor Scott Ritter, a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, who has become controversial because of his later criticism of US foreign policy in the Middle East. Ritter spent more than a dozen years in the intelligence field, beginning in 1985 as a ground intelligence officer with the US Marine Corps. • In his long analysis, Ritter has this to say about the Nunes Memo connection to George Papadopoulos : "Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, told investigators from both the Senate and the House that Steele was so concerned with the national security implications of the information he was collecting on Trump that, on his own volition, he reached out to a prior contact in the FBI stationed in Rome to bring it to the attention of US authorities [NOTE: Steele was rabidly anti-Trump]. Steele’s connection with this FBI contact dated to 2010, when Steele provided reporting to the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force that proved useful in a subsequent FBI investigation of corruption in the upper levels of the world soccer association, or FIFA. Steele’s FBI contact, special agent Michael Gaeta, was, as of 2016, assigned to the US Embassy in Rome as an assistant legal attaché. Steele and Gaeta met in Rome on July 5, 2016, when Steele provided a copy of his initial memo that, among other details, reported on the Russians’ compilation of a Dossier of compromising information on Hillary Clinton. The media has treated this meeting very casually, as if it were a chance encounter between two old friends. This, however, is not how the FBI works. Steele may have viewed Gaeta as an 'old friend,' but to Gaeta, Steele was what the FBI called an 'extra-territorial confidential human source,' or ET CHS, with whom any relationship required vetting and approval at multiple levels of FBI bureaucracy, regardless of Steele’s status as a prior confidential source. The FBI is not in the business of haphazardly collecting information on American citizens, especially high-profile ones such as Donald Trump. Before Gaeta could continue working with Steele, several steps would have had to been taken to validate his utility as an FBI source." Ritter says the FBI would have undertaken what it calls “an open full investigation” that would guide any relationship between the FBI and the Steele...."determining whether the information he provided supported an existing investigation or was of sufficient quality and detail to warrant opening a new, stand-alone investigation. Given the sensitive circumstances surrounding the information Steele provided, any request for guidance submitted by Gaeta would have been subjected to even greater scrutiny by the FBI bureaucracy. The information Steele provided to Gaeta would have been forwarded to the FBI’s directorate of intelligence, which oversees the FBI’s confidential human source program, for evaluation...for reliability, authenticity, integrity and overall value of a given source....this evaluation would have been overseen by the FBI’s human intelligence management unit." Ritter says : "The House Intelligence Committee majority Memo made mention of this process when it noted that, according to assistant director Bill Priestap, head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division...was conducting source validation of the Steele information (the memo further noted that this validation process was 'still in its infancy,' and that the Steele data had been 'minimally corroborated')....the agency would have subjected Gaeta’s request to use Steele as an ET CHS to what is called an 'enhanced review,' which would have been overseen by Carlos Cases, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s international operations division, who was responsible for legal attaché operations at the time. Steele also would have been thoroughly vetted by special agent Peter Strzok, deputy director of the FBI’s counterintelligence directorate, who oversaw a counterintelligence investigation opened by the FBI in late June 2016 to investigate allegations of Russian interference in the elections arising from the alleged theft and subsequent public dissemination of emails from the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Strzok’s investigation provided the 'hook' needed by Gaeta and the FBI to legitimately consider Steele as an ET CHS, and Strzok would have carefully evaluated all information provided by Steele." • Ritter states : "This is not an insignificant factor. The House Intelligence Committee majority Memo notes that the October 21, 2016, FISA application targeting Page incorporated information from an FBI investigation into another foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign named GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS. Papadopoulos had come to the FBI’s attention through information provided by the Australian government that detailed a May 2016 meeting between an Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, and Papadopoulos in a London bar. During this meeting, Papadopoulos recounted an April 2016 conversation with a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud, who claimed that the Russian government had 'thousands' of emails belonging to Clinton that contained compromising information. WikiLeaks’ publication of stolen DNC emails in June 2016 provided the FBI with the nexus needed to use the Australian information to open an investigation on Papadopoulos. For Strzok, the information Steele provided Gaeta about the existence of a Russian Dossier of compromising communications involving Clinton provided corroboration for the Downer/Papadopoulos information. This created the kind of circular corroboration that human source managers seek to avoid, one in which Steele’s information was used to corroborate the Papadopoulos information, which was then used to sustain a FISA warrant application targeting Carter Page that was justified, in large part, by the information provided to the FBI by Steele." • Simply put, according to Ritter : "The degree to which the FISA court was made aware of the extent of the cross-corroboration and source contamination inherent in the Papadopoulos information used to sustain the FISA warrant application targeting Page is unknown. However, the communication of sensitive FBI information by a case agent such as Gaeta to a confidential human source such as Steele is a violation of FBI procedure, and would normally be justification for invalidating Steele as a confidential human source. In short, Steele’s information should never have seen the light of day in any FISA court warrant application. This would also hold true for any information, such as the Papadopoulos conversation with Downer, for which Steele’s information was used as a means of corroboration." • The FBI vetting that Ritter refers to -- vetting and validating a confidential human source as sensitive as Steele -- would take about 60 days, according to Ritter. During this time, Ritter says : "Because Steele made extensive use of sub-sources, this aspect of his work would also have to be factored into the plan. This time frame tracks with the chronology of Simpson’s declared interactions with the FBI -- about 2.5 months transpired between Steele’s initial meeting in Rome on July 5, 2016, and his follow-up meeting in mid-to-late September 2016....What emerges is the reality that when Steele traveled to Rome in September 2016, it wasn’t for continuing an informal relationship between himself and special agent Gaeta, as Simpson contended in his congressional testimony. By this time, Steele had been carefully vetted by both the FBI and DOJ, and Gaeta had been formally designated as the case agent responsible for handling an extra-territorial confidential human source -- Christopher Steele....The nature of their financial arrangement would have been spelled out, as well as the intelligence collection plan Steele was being charged with implementing. The latter is a critical factor that has been overlooked in the coverage of the Steele Dossier....the fact is that following the late September 2016 meeting with the FBI in Rome, Steele was serving as a controlled confidential human source for the FBI, preparing reports from sub-sources based upon specific tasking from the FBI. The FBI relationship with Steele was that of a controlled extra-territorial confidential human source whose activities were scripted by both the FBI and the DOJ to further the prosecutorial or intelligence objectives of the investigation. Every aspect of the relationship between the FBI and Steele would have been documented at multiple levels within the FBI and DOJ." • The extent to which Steele’s relationship with Fusion GPS was communicated to the FBI and the DOJ is unknown, but Ritter states : "The House Intelligence Committee majority Memo notes, however, that both the FBI and DOJ were aware of the 'political origins' of the information Steele had provided to the FBI....The problem for the FBI was that it had used Steele’s information to support its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, mainly in the form of sworn affidavits submitted in support of a FISA warrant derived from the FBI’s interactions with Steele. Corn’s [Mother Jones] article of his interview of Steele exposed as a lie the information at the heart of the FBI and DOJ’s FISA warrant application, simultaneously invalidating any information attributed to Steele, as well as all information that relied upon Steele’s now-tainted information for corroboration. This included...the Papadopoulos information. As of October 2016, the FBI had yet to interview Papadopoulos. Without corroboration of the information Steele provided in his June 20, 2016, report, turned over to Gaeta on July 5, 2016, the counterintelligence investigation Strzok headed would have not been able to act on the information the Australian government provided concerning alleged barroom conversations between Papadopoulos and Downer. The 'emails' allegedly alluded to by Papadopoulos that Mifsud claimed Russia possessed would have had no 'hook' to corroborate them. The emails WikiLeaks released in July 2016 that triggered Strzok’s investigation had either not been written at the time Papadopoulos spoke with Mifsud in April 2016 or had not yet been compiled by the malware alleged by the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike to have been behind the theft of the DNC emails." • • • DEAR READERS, as Scott Ritter concluded : "Void of the Steele Dossier as corroboration, the Papadopoulos-Mifsud conversation, as reported by Downer, simply had no legal legs to stand on, and as such would have been unusable in support of a FISA warrant application. Underscoring the seriousness the FBI attached to this issue, James Baker, the FBI’s general counsel, met with Corn prior to the 2016 election. Corn specifically denies that Baker was a source for his article on Steele. The only other explanation for a Baker-Corn meeting would be for the FBI’s general counsel to confirm Steele as Corn’s source in support of the FBI’s subsequent decision to sever relations with Steele, including the forfeiture of the $50,000 payment Steele was to have received for his work." We know that both FBI director James Comey and former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates signed off on the initial application for a FISA warrant in October 2016, as well as the initial application for renewal submitted in January 2017." But, says Ritter, if the FBI and DOJ FISA renewal left unchanged the information linked to Steele that underpinned its initial application, it was "misleading at best," because by January 2018, the FBI had terminated its relationship with Steele based on the deceit of the former British intelligence officer. Thus : "all Steele’s reporting should have been recalled as unreliable, as well as any corroborating information that could be linked to Steele in any way," including the Papadopoulos investigation. • The Steele-Russia-Page story line and the Mifsud-Papadopoulos story provided to Business Insider by Simona have much in common. Page and Papadopoulos were both in the energy consulting business and had business contacts with Russia; both were contacted by Russians or men with Russian connections; both had Trump campaign roles or contacts; both tried to use those roles and contacts to hype their importance; both were caught in the Mueller investigation because of that hyping; the Trump campaign denied that they had key campaign roles. • It is easy to argue that both Papadopoulos and Page were unwitting pieces in the Russian meddling campaign, used as sources for information and to spread Fake sinister connections inside the Trump campaign, and also setting up the FBI to use them as sources that permitted FISA surveillance of Trump and his campaign and transition teams. BUT, the George Papadopoulos story has one extra element -- Simona Mangiante. We know little about her, except what she tells us heself. Italian media say she was born near Naples of Italian parents. She vaguely answered ABC News questions about whether she speaks Russian. Was she the "Putin niece" Joseph Mifsud introduced to Papadopoulos -- if so, did Papadopoulos believe Mifsud? We have no idea. Was Simona Mangiante a Russian spy or an unwitting conduit to Papadopoulos and the Trump campaign. We simply do not know. • In fact, could Papadopoulos and Page have been cutout spies for either the Russians OR the FBI? All questions with no answers as yet. • Tomorrow we'll look at the Carter Page story.