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FBI Director Comey confirms US does NOT know Russia provided DNC/Podesta emails to Wikileaks

In congressional testimony FBI Director Comey slips out that US intelligence does not know how Russia passed on stolen emails to Wikileaks, revealing that the entire Russiagate scandal is based on guesses.

Alexander Mercouris

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Ploughing through the testimony FBI Director James Comey gave to the House Intelligence Committee on 19th March 2017, I came across an exchange he had with Representative Adam Schiff, which has gone entirely unreported and the importance of which has been entirely looked.

This exchange shows that the US intelligence community admits that Russian intelligence did not have direct contact with Wikileaks, and did not pass on the stolen Podesta and DNC emails to Wikileaks.

The exchange between Schiff and Comey reads as follows

SCHIFF: Are you aware that Mr. Stone also stated publicly that he was in direct communication with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks?

COMEY: Same answer.

SCHIFF: Are you aware that Mr. Stone also claimed that he was in touch with an intermediary of Mr. Assange?

COMEY: Same answer.

SCHIFF: This is a question I think you can answer. Do you know whether the Russian intelligence service has dealt directly with WikiLeaks or whether they too used an intermediary?

COMEY: We assessed they used some kind of cutout. They didn’t deal directly with WikiLeaks. In contrast to D.C. Leaks and Guccifer 2.0.

SCHIFF: In early October, are you aware that Mr. Stone tweeted I have total confidence that my hero, Julian Assange will educate the American people soon. Are you aware of that tweet?

COMEY: I’m back to my original same answer.

SCHIFF: And are you aware that it was only days later that WikiLeaks released the Podesta e-mails?

COMEY: Same answer.

(bold italics added)

In other words US intelligence admits that the stolen emails were not passed on to Wikileaks by Russian intelligence.  Instead it ‘assesses’ (ie.believes) that they were provided to Wikileaks by someone else, who US intelligence ‘assesses’ (ie. believes) was acting as a ‘cutout’ for Russian intelligence.

From the exchange it appears that both Schiff and Comey were aware of the fact, obviously because it is set out in the classified section of the ODNI report on Russia’s alleged interference in the US election, which Schiff as a member of the House Intelligence Committee will have read.

Julian Assange and Craig Murray insist that Wikileaks did not have any contact with Russian intelligence and were not given the Podesta and DNC emails by Russian intelligence.  Comey’s exchange with Schiff conclusively proves that they are telling the truth.

What about the US intelligence community’s ‘assessment’ that the person or persons who passed on the Podesta and DNC emails to Wikileaks was a ‘cutout’of Russian intelligence – ie. an intermediary concealing his/her/their true identity – and what of Representative Schiff’s fairly transparent attempt to imply that Donald Trump’s aide Roger Stone was that ‘cutout’?

The point about the first is that an ‘assessment’ means that there is no actual knowledge but that there is merely a guess.  In other words US intelligence does not actually know that the person or persons who passed on the Podesta and DNC emails to Wikileaks actually was a ‘cutout’ of Russian intelligence.   It merely guesses that he/she/they was.

As to Schiff’s insinuations against Roger Stone, Stone was actually fired from the Trump campaign amidst much public acrimony as early as 8th August 2015 ie. a full year before the supposedly suspicious activities Schiff  is talking about, which took place between August and October 2016.  However Stone does seem to have had some sort of informal role in the Trump campaign thereafter, even though it doesn’t seem to have been a very helpful one.

In any event, to see the absurdity of Schiff’s claim that Stone could be some sort of ‘cutout’ employed by Russian intelligence, it is in fact merely necessary to see what Schiff has to say about him

The U.S. intelligence committee also later confirms that the documents were in fact stolen by Russian intelligence and Guccifer 2.0 acted as a front. Also in late July, candidate Trump praises WikiLeaks, says he loves them and openly appeals to the Russians to hack his opponents emails telling them that they will be richly rewarded by the press.

On August 8th, Roger Stone, a long time Trump political advisor and self-proclaimed political dirty trickster, boasts in his speech that he has communicated with Assange and that more documents would be coming, including an October surprise. In the middle of August, he also communicates with the Russian cut out Guccifer 2.0 and authors a Breitbart piece denying Guccifer’s links to Russian intelligence.

Then later, in August, Stone does something truly remarkable. When he predicts that John Podesta’s personal emails will soon be published, trust me he says, it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel, #crookedHillary. In the weeks that follow, Stone shows remarkable prescience. I have total confidence that WikiLeaks and my hero, Julian Assange will educate the American people soon, he says, #LockHerUp. Payload coming, he predicts and two days later it does.

WikiLeaks releases its first batch of Podesta emails. The release of John Podesta’s emails would then continue on a daily basis, up until the election.

What sort of a Russian intelligence ‘cutout’ is it who openly brags on Twitter and in the media of his contacts with Wikileaks and Guccifer 2.0 – the latter supposedly the ‘public front’ of Russian intelligence?  Given that by his own admission Stone was in contact with Julian Assange and Wikileaks, it is far more likely that he obtained his “remarkable prescience” about the imminent publication of the Podesta emails as a result of a tip-off from them.  That is the obvious explanation, which has apparently been given by Stone himself, and there is no reason to doubt it, or to involve the Russians.

As it happens Comey’s response to Schiff (“we assessed they used some kind of cutout”) clearly implies that the US intelligence community does not know the identity of the alleged ‘cutout’, and Stone’s brazen behaviour makes it very unlikely he could have been that person.

The importance of all this is that though there is some very circumstantial and highly disputed evidence that the Russians may have hacked into the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers, the Russiagate allegations also require that the Russians passed on the emails they stole from the computers to Wikileaks.  If this was not the case then the Russians could not have been responsible for the publication of the emails, in which case the whole thesis that they interfered in the US election collapses.

It now turns out that the US intelligence community does not in fact know that it was the Russians who passed on the stolen emails to Wikileaks.  On the contrary the US intelligence community admits the Russians were not in contact with Wikileaks, and it seems US intelligence does not actually know who was.  Its theory it was the Russians who passed on the emails to Wikileaks it turns out is no more than a guess.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the reason why the US intelligence community believes it was the Russians who passed on the stolen emails to Wikileaks is because it believes it was the Russians who hacked John Podesta’s and the DNC’s computers.

Whilst that is possible, the one does not follow from the other, and the first may anyway not even be true.  After all the FBI has never itself examined John Podesta’s and the DNC’s computers, and the whole theory it was the Russians who hacked the computers depends on a guess made by a private company CrowdStrike that Cozy Bair and Fancy Bear – the malware tools used to hack the computers – have some connection to Russian intelligence.

In other words, it turns out that the whole foundation story of the whole Russiagate scandal – that the Russians hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers and passed on their stolen emails to Wikileaks – turns out to be based on no factual knowledge but purely on a chain of guesses.

That has actually been obvious all along, but it is interesting to see James Comey confirm it.

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Peace on Korean Peninsula within reach, if only Trump can remove Pompeo & Bolton (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 152.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the results of the Putin-Kim summit in Vladivostok, Russia, aimed at boosting bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries, as well as working to contribute to a final peace settlement on the Korean peninsula.

Putin’s meeting with Kim may prove to be a pivotal diplomatic moment, as North Korea continues to work towards normalizing ties with the U.S. amidst ongoing denuclearization talks with the Trump White House.

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Via the BBC…

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un needs international security guarantees if he is to end his nuclear programme.

Such guarantees would need to be offered within a multinational framework, he added, following talks near Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.

Mr Kim praised the summit as a “very meaningful one-on-one exchange”.

Mr Putin said North Korea’s leader was “fairly open” and had “talked freely on all issues that were on the agenda”.

The meeting followed the breakdown of talks between the US and North Korea in February, when Mr Kim met US President Donald Trump in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Those talks reportedly stalled over North Korea’s demand for full economic sanctions relief in return for some denuclearisation commitments – a deal the US was not willing to make.

Speaking after the talks on Thursday, Mr Putin said he wanted to see full denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

But he said this could only be achieved through respect for international law.

“We need to restore the power of international law, to return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world,” he said.

Mr Kim greeted Russian officials warmly when he arrived in Russia on Wednesday.

The North Korean leader was entertained by a brass band in Vladivostok before he got inside a car flanked by bodyguards, who – in now familiar scenes – jogged alongside the vehicle as it departed.

What do we know about the summit?

According to the Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the US.

“There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment,” Mr Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

“But, on the other hand, efforts are being made by other countries. Here all efforts merit support as long as they really aim at de-nuclearisation and resolving the problem of the two Koreas.”

What do both sides want?

This visit is being widely viewed as an opportunity for North Korea to show it has powerful allies following the breakdown of the talks with the US in February.

The country has blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi summit. Earlier this month North Korea demanded that Mr Pompeo be removed from nuclear talks, accusing him of “talking nonsense” and asking for someone “more careful” to replace him.

The summit is also an opportunity for Pyongyang to show that its economic future does not depend solely on the US. Mr Kim may try to put pressure on Moscow to ease sanctions.

Analysts say the summit is an opportunity for Russia to show that it is an important player on the Korean peninsula.

President Putin has been eager to meet the North Korean leader for quite some time. Yet amid the two Trump-Kim summits, the Kremlin has been somewhat sidelined.

Russia, like the US and China, is uncomfortable with North Korea being a nuclear state.

How close are Russia and North Korea?

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union (of which Russia is the main successor state) maintained close military and trade links with its communist ally, North Korea, for ideological and strategic reasons.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, trade links with post-communist Russia shrank and North Korea leaned towards China as its main ally.

Under President Putin, Russia recovered economically and in 2014 he wrote off most of North Korea’s Soviet-era debt in a major goodwill gesture.

While it is arguable how much leverage Russia has with the North today, the communist state still regards it as one of the least hostile foreign powers.

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Putin meets Kim for the first time (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at the historic meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.

The meeting marks the first ever summit between the two leaders.

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Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via RT…

Leaders of Russia and North Korea sat down for a historic summit in Vladivostok, expressing hope it will revive the peace process in the Korean Peninsula and talks on normalizing relations with the US.

The summit on Russky Island, just off Vladivostok, started a little late because President Vladimir Putin’s flight was delayed. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had made the trip by train, arriving on Wednesday.

In brief public remarks before the talks, the two leaders expressed hope the summit will help move forward the reconciliation process in the Korean Peninsula. Putin welcomed Kim’s contributions to “normalizing relations” with the US and opening a dialogue with South Korea.

Kim said he hoped the Vladivostok summit would be a “milestone” in the talks about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but also build upon “traditionally friendly ties” between Russia and North Korea.

The North Korean leader also made a point of thanking Putin for flying all the way to Vladivostok for the meeting. The Far East Russian city is only 129 kilometers from the border with North Korea.

The historic summit takes place less than two months after Kim’s second summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi fell apart without a breakthrough on denuclearization. The US rejected North Korea’s request for partial sanctions relief in return for moves to dismantle nuclear and missile programs; Washington insists on full disarmament before any sanctions are removed.

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the main subject of the Kim-Putin summit, but there will also be talks about bilateral relations, trade, and humanitarian aid. The first one-on-one meeting is scheduled to last about an hour, followed by further consultations involving other government officials.

Following the summit, Putin is scheduled to visit China.

 

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Kim And Putin: Changing The State Of The Board In Korea

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


Today is a big day for Korea. The first face-to-face summit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un takes place.

At the same time the 2nd annual Belt and Road Forum kicks off in Beijing.

This meeting between Putin and Kim has been in the works for a while but rumors of it only surfaced last week. But don’t let the idea that this was put together at the last minute fool you.

It wasn’t.

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

I know that sounds bold. But hear me out.

And while no one seems to think this meeting is important or that anything of substance will come from it I do. It is exactly the kind of surprise that Putin loves to spring on the world without notice and by doing so change the board state of geopolitics.

  • Russia’s entrance into Syria in 2015, two days after Putin’s historic speech at the U.N. General Assembly
  • 2018’s State of the Union address where he announced hypersonic missiles, embarrassing the U.S. Militiary-Industrial Complex which accelerated the Bolton Doctrine of subjugating the world
  • Flying 2 TU-160 nuclear-armed bombers to Venezuela, creating panic in D.C. leading to the ham-fisted regime change operations there.
  • Nationalization of Yukos.
  • The operation to secure Crimea from U.S. invasion by marines aboard the U.S.S Donald Cook during the Ukrainian uprising against Viktor Yanukovich.

Both Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping are angry at the breakdown of the talks in Hanoi back in February. It was clear that everyone expected that meeting to be a rubber stamp on a deal already agreed to by all parties involved.

In fact the two meetings between Kim and Trump were only possible because Trump convinced them of his sincerity to resolve the ‘denuclearization’ of North Korea which would clear a path to rapid reunification.

It’s why they went along with the U.S.’s increased sanctions on North Korea as administered through the U.N. in 2017.

That John Bolton and Mike Pompeo destroyed those talks and Trump was unwilling or unable (who cares at this point, frankly, useless piece of crap that he is) to stop them embarrassed and betrayed them.

They are now done with Trump.

He’ll get nothing from either of them or Kim until Trump can prove he’s in charge of his administration, which he, clearly, is not.

And they will be moving forward with their own agenda for security and Asian economic integration. So I don’t think the timing of this meeting with that of the Belt and Road Forum is an accident.

And that means moving forward on solving the Korea problem without Trump.

It is clear from the rhetoric of Putin’s top diplomat, the irreplaceable Sergei Lavrov, that Russia’s patience is over. They are no longer interested in what Trump wants and they will now treat the U.S. as a threat, having upped their military stance towards the U.S. to that of “Threat.”

If Bolton wants anything from Russia at this point he best be prepared to start a war or piss off.

This is also why Russia took the gloves off with Ukraine in the run up to the Presidential elections, cutting off energy and machinery exports with Ukraine.

To put paid Putin’s growing impatience with U.S. policies, he just issued the order to allow residents of Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics to apply for Russian passports.

This will send Bolton into apoplexy. Angela Merkel of Germany will be none too pleased either. Putin is now playing hardball after years of unfailing politeness.

It’s also why Lavrov finalized arms and port deals all over the Middle East in recent weeks, including those with Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and India.

Bolton, Pompeo and Pence are ideologues. Trump is a typical Baby Boomer, who lives in a bubble of his own design and believes in an America that never existed.

None of them truly understand the fires they are stoking and simply believe in the Manifest Destiny of the U.S. to rule the world over a dim and barbaric world.

Putin, Xi, Rouhani in Iran and Kim in North Korea are pragmatic men. They understand the realities they live in. This is why I see Putin willing tomorrow to sit down with Kim and flaunt the U.N. sanctions and begin the investment process into North Korea that should have begun last year.

Putin would not be making these moves if he didn’t feel that Bolton was all bark and no bite when it came to actual war with Russia. He also knows that Germany needs him more than he needs Germany so despite the feet-dragging and rhetoric Nordstream 2 will go forward.

Trade is expanding between them despite the continued sanctions.

Putin may be willing to cut a deal with President-elect Zelensky on gas transit later in the year but only if the shelling of the LPR and DPR stops and he guarantees no more incidents in the Sea of Azov. This would also mollify Merkel a bit and make it easier for her politically to get Nordstream 2 over the finish line.

There are moments in history when people go too far. Bolton and Pompeo went too far in Hanoi. He will pay the price now. Putin and Kim will likely agree to something in Vladivostok that no one is expecting and won’t look like much at first.

But the reality is this summit itself marks a turning point in this story that will end with the U.S. being, in Trump’s transactional parlance, a “price taker” since it has so thoroughly failed at being a “price maker.”

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