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FBI’s Russiagate strategy: Stonewall until next year’s Congressional elections

FBI plays for time as credibility of Trump Dossier on which Russiagate investigation based collapses

Alexander Mercouris

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The news that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe plans to retire next year comes as no surprise following his disastrous showing in his testimony to Congress a week ago.

The FBI’s problem – and the key problem of the whole Russiagate probe – is that the evidence on which it was launched and upon which it continues to be based – Christopher Steele’s Trump Dossier – cannot be verified because it is untrue.

However admitting this fact would be tantamount to admitting that there is no case for Special Counsel to investigate – which would lead to calls for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation to be terminated – and would lead to questions about the FBI’s conduct during the 2016 election.

Not only would that be disastrous in itself – with questions being asked about why the FBI undertook surveillance of Hillary Clinton’s opponents on the strength of a Trump Dossier paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign which the FBI cannot verify – but it would lead to questions about the FBI’s attitude not just towards Donald Trump but towards Hillary Clinton as well.

Not only did the FBI clear Hillary Clinton of charges relating to her misuse of a private email server whilst Secretary of State – a serious matter in itself and one made worse by the admission that the first draft of FBI Director James Comey’s statement into the matter referred to her “gross negligence”, wording which actually meets the legal threshold for bringing a prosecution – but the FBI failed to undertake its own investigation of the alleged hacking of the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers, relying instead on the opinions of an expert – Crowdstrike – who was paid by the Hillary Clinton funded DNC.

Coming on top of the revelations of FBI lead investigator Peter Strzok’s anti Trump text messages to his lover Lisa Page – text messages which together with Strzok’s sacking Mueller kept secret for six months – this conduct during the 2016 election by the FBI does suggest bias on the part of the FBI in favour of Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump.

Though it has taken them many months to grasp this, Republicans in the Congress and the media have now started to do so, though it should be said that there continue to be a small number of Republican Senators whose personal antagonism towards Donald Trump is so intense that it blinds them to the truth.

The result of the broader Republican realisation of the grossly partisan nature of Russiagate scandal  – and that Donald Trump is not therefore a Kremlin stooge – is however a rallying behind Donald Trump by Republicans in Congress and in the media, of which the recent tax reform bill is the first product.

Not only does this make an impeachment of Donald Trump now extremely unlikely – even if the Democrats win control of Congress a successful impeachment will require the support of Republican Senators – but with the Republicans for the moment still in control of the committees of the House and Senate which are investigating Russiagate, all the indications are that 2018 could see the Republicans going on the offensive, and the Democrats and the FBI being thrown onto the defensive, as the focus of the Russiagate scandal shifts away from the collusion allegations to the things the Hillary Clinton campaign and FBI were doing.

The driving force behind the Republican counter attack is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Devin Nunes.  The Washington Times reports the sort of investigations he is now setting in train

What is unfolding for the House intelligence committee is an investigation that has broadened from supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Driven by Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, the committee is examining the following:

• Who funded the dossier and how its information was spread by paymaster Fusion GPS and then used by the FBI.

• The Obama administration’s “unmasking” of the identities of private citizens caught up in surveillance of foreigners.

• Recent misconduct inside the Department of Justice and the FBI.

It is unsurprising that in the face of this counter attack FBI officials deeply implicated in the Russiagate probe like FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe are choosing to retire.

It is also unsurprising that FBI General Counsel James Baker – a Comey friend and loyalist – has been transferred to other duties now that it has become known that he was in contact with the Mother Jones reporter who interviewed the Trump Dossier’s compiler Christopher Steele and who gave credence to Steele’s work.

In passing, the lawyers of Alexey Gubarev – the Russian businessman who has brought a libel claim against Buzzfeed because it published the Trump Dossier in which he is named – say that they have ascertained the identity of the official who leaked the Trump Dossier to Buzzfeed, even though a US judge recently refused Gubarev’s request for an order that Buzzfeed disclose his or her identity.

If Gubarev’s lawyers are right and they have correctly identified this person then it is only a matter of time before his or her identity is made public, with potentially very embarrassing consequences, and not just for the individual in question.

The Washington Times sets out the FBI’s problem

Sources speculated to The Washington Times that it would be embarrassing for Mr. McCabe to condemn a political opposition research paper on which his agents based decisions to open a counterintelligence investigation and interview witnesses. Some press reports said the FBI cited the dossier’s information in requests for court-approved wiretaps…..

“This is really problematic for the FBI and DOJ right now,” said the source familiar with the congressional investigations. “They realize stonewalling is not going to work anymore, but they haven’t decided on a new strategy to manage the deluge of information spilling out about top officials’ conflicts of interest, their use of the Steele dossier and their own connections to Fusion GPS.”

In fact it is not difficult to see what the FBI’s – and the Democrats’ – strategy now is.

It is to stonewall until the Congressional elections in the fall of 2018, in the hope that these will give control of Congress – and by extension of the Congressional committees looking into Russiagate – to the Democrats,  thereby enabling the Democrats to close down the Congressional probes the Republicans are now launching into the actions of the FBI.

In the meantime Mueller, having draw a blank on the collusion allegations, will continue to fish around for anything else he can use in order to justify keeping his investigation going.

Recent reports speak of Mueller rummaging though bank records in Cyprus shortly after he asked for similar information from Deutsche Bank, despite these enquiries with foreign banks appearing to have little or no bearing on the collusion allegations between the Trump campaign and the Russians which Mueller is supposed to be investigating.

The main emphasis of Mueller’s inquiry – and of the Democrats in Congress and in the media – however now looks to be the contacts which took place – in the main after the election and apparently on Donald Trump’s personal orders – between Russian ambassador Kislyak and General Flynn, with Mueller seemingly looking for ways to cobble together some charge against some senior official in the Trump administration on the strength of them.

The 2016 election shows that in the present volatile and highly polarised atmosphere in the US it is not easy to predict the outcome of US elections.

Donald Trump’s Republican base is said to be firmly behind him, something even Roy Moore’s failure in Alabama appears to show.

If so then expectations of a Democratic landslide in the Congressional elections in 2018 may turn out to be wrong.

However the usual trend in the US is for Congressional elections held midway through a President’s first term to show a big swing towards the opposition party.

Most expect this pattern to recur in 2018, in which case the possibility that the Democrats could gain control of Congress following the elections next year is a real one.

If so then the time available for Congressional Republicans like Devin Nunes to take the battle to the FBI may be short.

Whilst the incentive to do so is strong – it is difficult to imagine anything that might hurt the Democrats more in advance of the Congressional elections than a revelation of the sort of things which were actually happening during the 2016 election – the time window to do so will soon begin to close.

For the sake of their party as well as for the sake of the proper functioning of the political system of the United States it is to be hoped that Congressional Republicans like Congressman Nunes use the short time which may be available to them wisely.

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BARR: No collusion by any Americans

Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Alex Christoforou

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Attorney General Barr found no one in the Trump campaign colluded with “Russia” to meddle in the 2016 US election.

A devastating blow to Democrats and their mainstream media stenographers.

Trump reacted immediately…

Via RT…

With the full report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into claims President Donald Trump colluded with Russia about to be released, Attorney General William Barr is giving a press conference about its findings.

Barr maintains the allegation that the Russian government made efforts to interfere in the election through the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Kremlin-control “troll farm”, as well as “hacking efforts” by the Russian intelligence agency GRU.

The bottom line, Barr says, is that Mueller has found Russia tried to interfere in the election, but “no American” helped it.

Barr explained the White House’s interaction with the Mueller report, whether Trump used executive privilege to block any of its contents from release, as well as on how the Justice Department chose which bits of the 400-page paper to redact.

On the matter of obstruction of justice, Barr said he and his deputy Rod Rosenstein have reviewed Mueller’s evidence and “legal theories”, and found that there is no evidence to show Trump tried to disrupt the investigation.

He said Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Most of the redactions in the report were made to protect ongoing investigations and personal information of “peripheral third parties”.

Barr said that no-one outside the Justice Department took part in the redacting process or saw the unredacted version, except for the intelligence community, which was given access to parts of it to protect sources.

Trump did not ask to make any changes to Mueller’s report, Barr said.

Trump’s personal counsel was given access to the redacted report before its release.

A number of Trump-affiliated people, as well as Russian nationals, have been indicted, charged or put on trial by Mueller over the course of the past two years, but none for election-related conspiracy. Still, Democrats in Congress as well as numerous establishment media personalities have been insisting that Barr, a Trump pick for AG office, is somehow “spinning” its findings in order to protect and exonerate Trump, and are calling to see the full report as soon as possible.

They have equally condemned Barr’s decision to hold a news conference before the report is release, claiming he is trying to shape the public perception in Trump’s favor.

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Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Important events have occurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks that underline how the overall political reconfiguration of the region is in full swing. The Shia axis continues its diplomatic relations and, following Rouhani’s meeting in Baghdad, it was the turn of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be received in Tehran by the highest government and religious authorities. Among the many statements released, two in particular reveal the high level of cooperation between the two countries, as well as demonstrating how the Shia axis is in full bloom, carrying significant prospects for the region. Abdul-Mahdi also reiterated that Iraq will not allow itself to be used as a platform from which to attack Iran: “Iraqi soil will not be allowed to be used by foreign troops to launch any attacks against Iran. The plan is to export electricity and gas for other countries in the region.”

Considering that these two countries were mortal enemies during Saddam Hussein’s time, their rapprochement is quite a (geo)political miracle, owing much of its success to Russia’s involvement in the region. The 4+1 coalition (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria plus Hezbollah) and the anti-terrorism center in Baghdad came about as a result of Russia’s desire to coordinate all the allied parties in a single front. Russia’s military support of Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah (together with China’s economic support) has allowed Iran to begin to transform the region such that the Shia axis can effectively counteract the destabilizing chaos unleashed by the trio of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One of the gaps to be filled in the Shia axis lies in Lebanon, which has long experienced an internal conflict between the many religious and political currents in the country. The decision by Washington to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel pushed the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, to make an important symbolic visit to Moscow to meet with President Putin.

Once again, the destabilizing efforts of the Saudis, Israelis and Americans are having the unintended effect of strengthening the Shia axis. It seems that this trio fails to understood how such acts as murdering Khashoggi, using civilian planes to hide behind in order to conduct bombing runs in Syria, recognizing the occupied territories like the Golan Heights – how these produce the opposite effects to the ones desired.

The supply of S-300 systems to Syria after the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane took place as a result of Tel Aviv failing to think ahead and anticipate how Russia may respond.

What is surprising in Moscow’s actions is the versatility of its diplomacy, from the deployment of the S-300s in Syria, or the bombers in Iran, to the prompt meetings with Netanyahu in Moscow and Mohammad bin Salman at the G20. The ability of the Russian Federation to mediate and be present in almost every conflict on the globe restores to the country the international stature that is indispensable in counterbalancing the belligerence of the United States.

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange. Another military and economic example can be found in a third axis; not the Shia or Saudi-Israeli-US one but the Turkish-Qatari one. In Syria, Erdogan started from positions that were exactly opposite to those of Putin and Assad. But with decisive military action and skilled diplomacy, the creation of the Astana format between Iran, Turkey and Russia made Turkey and Qatar publicly take the defense of Islamist takfiris and criminals in Idlib. Qatar for its part has a two-way connection with Turkey, but it is also in open conflict with the Saudi-Israeli axis, with the prospect of abandoning OPEC within a few weeks. This situation has allowed Moscow to open a series of negotiations with Doha on the topic of LNG, with these two players controlling most of the LNG on the planet. It is evident that also the Turkish-Qatari axis is strongly conditioned by Moscow and by the potential military agreements between Turkey and Russia (sale of S-400) and economic and energy agreements between Moscow and Doha.

America’s actions in the region risks combining the Qatari-Turkish front with the Shia axis, again thanks to Moscow’s skilful diplomatic work. The recent sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, together with the withdrawal from the JCPOA (the Iranian nuclear agreement), has created concern and bewilderment in the region and among Washington’s allies. The act of recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel has brought together the Arab world as few events have done in recent times. Added to this, Trump’s open complaints about OPEC’s high pricing of oil has forced Riyadh to start wondering out aloud whether to start selling oil in a currency other than the dollar. This rumination was quickly denied, but it had already been aired. Such a decision would have grave implications for the petrodollar and most of the financial and economic power of the United States.

If the Shia axis, with Russian protection, is strengthened throughout the Middle East, the Saudi-Israel-American triad loses momentum and falls apart, as seen in Libya, with Haftar now one step closer in unifying the country thanks to the support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia, with Fayez al-Sarraj now abandoned by the Italians and Americans awaiting his final defeat.

While the globe continues its multipolar transformation, the delicate balancing role played by Russia in the Middle East and North Africa is emphasized. The Venezuelan foreign minister’s recent visit to Syria shows how the front opposed to US imperialist bullying is not confined to the Middle East, with countries in direct or indirect conflict with Washington gathering together under the same protective Sino-Russian umbrella.

Trump’s “America First” policy, coupled with the conviction of American exceptionalism, is driving international relations towards two poles rather than multipolar ones, pushing China, Russia and all other countries opposed to the US to unite in order to collectively resist US diktats.

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Nigel Farage stuns political elite, as Brexit Party and UKIP surge in polls (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 144.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party’s stunning rise in the latest UK polls, which show Tory support splintering and collapsing to new lows. Theresa May’s Brexit debacle has all but destroyed the Conservative party, which is now seeing voters turn to UKIP and The Brexit Party.

Corbyn’s Labour Party is not finding much favor from UK voters either, as anger over how Britain’s two main parties conspired to sell out the country to EU globalists, is now being voiced in various polling data ahead of EU Parliament elections.

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Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk:


The Guardian reports Tories Hit by New Defections and Slump in Opinion Polls as Party Divide Widens.

The bitter fallout from Brexit is threatening to break the Tory party apart, as a Europhile former cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell on Sunday announces he is defecting to the independent MPs’ group Change UK, and a new opinion poll shows Conservative support plummeting to a five-year low as anti-EU parties surge.

The latest defections come as a new Opinium poll for the Observer shows a dramatic fall in Tory support in the past two weeks and a surge for anti-EU parties. The Conservatives have fallen by six percentage points to 29% compared to a fortnight ago. It is their worst position since December 2014. Labour is up one point on 36% while Ukip is up two points on 11%.

Even more alarmingly for the Tories, their prospects for the European elections appear dire. Only 17% of those certain to vote said they would choose the Conservatives in the European poll, while 29% would back Labour, and 25% either Ukip (13%) or Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party (12%).

YouGov Poll

A more recent YouGov Poll looks even worse for the Tories

In the YouGov poll, UKIP and BREX total 29%.

Polls Volatile

Eurointellingence has these thoughts on the polls.

We have noted before that classic opinion polls at a time like this are next to useless. But we found an interesting constituency-level poll, by Electoral Calculus, showing for the first time that Labour would get enough constituency MPs to form a minority government with the support of the SNP. This is a shift from previous such exercises, which predicted a continuation of the status quo with the Tories still in command.

This latest poll, too, is subject to our observation of massively intruding volatility. It says that some of the Tory’s most prominent MPs would be at risk, including Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan-Smith. And we agree with the bottom-line analysis of John Curtice, the pollster, who said the abrupt fall in support for Tories is due entirely to their failure to have delivered Brexit on time.

The Tories are facing two electoral tests in May – local elections on May 2 and European elections on May 23. Early polls are show Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party shooting up, taking votes away from the Tories. If European elections were held, we would expect the Brexit party to come ahead of the Tories. Labour is rock-solid in the polls, but Labour unity is at risk as the pro-referendum supporters want Jeremy Corbyn to put the second referendum on the party’s manifesto.

Tory Labour Talks

The Tory/Labour talks on a compromise have stalled, but are set to continue next week with three working groups: on security, on environmental protection, and on workers’ rights. A separate meeting is scheduled between Philip Hammond and John McDonnell, the chancellor and shadow chancellor. The big outstanding issue is the customs union. Theresa May has not yet moved on this one. We noted David Liddington, the effective deputy prime minister, saying that the minimum outcome of the talks would be an agreed and binding decision-making procedure to flush out all options but one in a series of parliamentary votes.

May’s task is to get at least half of her party on board for a compromise. What makes a deal attractive to the Tories is that May would resign soon afterwards, giving enough time for the Tory conference in October to select a successor before possible elections in early 2020.

This relative alignment of interests is why we would not rule out a deal – either on an agreed joint future relationship, or at least on a method to deliver an outcome.

Customs Union

A customs union, depending on how it is structured, would likely be worse than remaining. The UK would have to abide by all the EU rules and regulations without having any say.

Effectively, it will not be delivering Brexit.

Perhaps May’s deal has a resurrection.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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