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  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 Kremlin....at 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 , 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.