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FBI’s McCabe stonewalls on Trump Dossier

In seven hours of testimony FBI’s Deputy Director insists he still believes in Dossier FBI has been unable to verify

Alexander Mercouris

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On Tuesday 19th December 2017 it was the turn of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe to give evidence about Russiagate behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee.  Judging by this report on Fox News the Republican members of the Committee found it a frustrating experience

Congressional investigators tell Fox News that Tuesday’s seven-hour interrogation of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe contained numerous conflicts with the testimony of previous witnesses, prompting the Republican majority staff of the House Intelligence Committee to decide to issue fresh subpoenas next week on Justice Department and FBI personnel….

“It’s hard to know who’s telling us the truth,” said one House investigator after McCabe’s questioning….

Sources close to the investigation say that McCabe was a “friendly witness” to the Democrats in the room, who are said to have pressed the deputy director, without success, to help them build a case against President Trump for obstruction of justice in the Russia-collusion probe. “If he could have, he would have,” said one participant in the questioning.

Investigators say McCabe recounted to the panel how hard the FBI had worked to verify the contents of the anti-Trump “dossier” and stood by its credibility. But when pressed to identify what in the salacious document the bureau had actually corroborated, the sources said, McCabe cited only the fact that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had traveled to Moscow. Beyond that, investigators said, McCabe could not even say that the bureau had verified the dossier’s allegations about the specific meetings Page supposedly held in Moscow….

The sources said that when asked when he learned that the dossier had been funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, McCabe claimed he could not recall – despite the reported existence of documents with McCabe’s own signature on them establishing his knowledge of the dossier’s financing and provenance.

(bold italics added)

The key words are the ones I have highlighted and they go to the heart of the FBI’s – and Robert Mueller’s – problem.

Briefly, it is now clear that the entire Russiagate investigation rests on the Trump Dossier, which the FBI has admitted it cannot verify.  McCabe’s statement that the FBI has managed to ‘verify’ the fact that Carter Page travelled to Moscow in 2016 is almost an admission that no other part of the Trump Dossier can be verified.  ‘Verifying’ the fact that Carter Page went to Moscow in 2016 can hardly be the product of the FBI’s hard work given that Carter Page’s trip to Moscow was public knowledge before the Trump Dossier reported it.  The fact that this was only the part of the Trump Dossier McCabe would say was verified is a sure sign that the FBI has failed to verify any other part of it.

The fact that the FBI has been unable to verify the Trump Dossier was of course admitted to Congress by the FBI back in November.

However for McCabe to admit in testimony to Congress that the Trump Dossier cannot be verified would be to admit that the collusion allegations which are the focus of the Russiagate investigation and which originate from the Trump Dossier cannot be proved.  In that case there would be no sense in continuing further with the Russiagate investigation and the Republicans in Congress would be in a strong position to demand that it be brought to an end.

That is not a possibility that McCabe is in a position to consider because ending the Russiagate investigation without the collusion allegations proved would open up the FBI and McCabe himself to scrutiny over their actions in 2016 in placing under surveillance during the election individuals who were members of Donald Trump’s election team on the strength of a Dossier they cannot verify.

Needless to say the fact that the Dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign makes the matter worse.  As several Republican Congressmen have pointed out, it means that the FBI placed under surveillance individuals on the strength of unverified ‘research’ paid for by Donald Trump’s electoral opponent.

I would add that it is not only the FBI’s actions during the 2016 which are now open to criticism and scrutiny.  It is also McCabe’s own individual actions since his central role in launching the Russiagate investigation and in ordering the surveillance of Hillary Clinton’s opponents is now becoming increasingly clear.  Suffice to say that the discussion referred to by Peter Strzok in his ‘insurance’ email to his love Lisa Page took place in McCabe’s office.

It is not surprising therefore that McCabe continues to profess his belief in a Dossier he all but admits the FBI cannot verify.  It is also not surprising that he conveniently ‘forgot’ that the Dossier upon which his whole career and reputation and that of the FBI now depends was paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Meanwhile news from London must be making McCabe – and Robert Mueller and members of his team – still more concerned.

It turns out that over the course of a libel action brought against him by a Russian businessman mentioned in the Trump Dossier, Christopher Steele its compiler is now starting to row back on some of its claims.  Here is what the Washington Times has to say about this

Christopher Steele, the former British spy who fueled an ongoing investigation into President Trump’s administration, was a lot more confident of his charges when he wrote his now-notorious 2016 dossier than he is today in defending it in a libel lawsuit.

While Mr. Steele stated matter-of-factly in his dossier that collusion between Mr. Trump and the Russian government took place, he called it only “possible” months later in court filings. While he confidently referred to “trusted” sources inside the Kremlin, in court he referred to the dossier’s “limited intelligence.”

In recent weeks, the dossier of opposition research has taken on added importance in the debate over the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into suspected Russia coordination and whether it is biased against Trump people. Congressional Republicans are demanding that the FBI explain how the deeply contested, Democrat-financed document took on such importance in a major government investigation.

Mr. Steele wrote 35 pages of memos in which he said Trump aides were part of a vast conspiracy with Moscow to interfere in the election against Hillary Clinton. The unverified charges were spread by Fusion GPS, the Washington-based political research firm that first commissioned the report. Mr. Steele bragged to Mother Jones magazine that he started the Mueller investigation by convincing FBI agents that summer about the credibility of his dossier.

It was later revealed that the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton helped fund the dossier, meaning that in essence her paid agent was spreading unsubstantiated charges to get to the FBI to investigate her opponent, critics say.

Now that Mr. Steele must defend those charges in a London courtroom, his confidence level has shifted down several notches.

In the dossier, he stated without reservation that an “extensive conspiracy between Trump’s campaign team and the Kremlin” existed.

He wrote that Mr. Trump, as a hotel builder and entrepreneur, engaged in an eight-year partnership with Russian intelligence dating back long before his presidential campaign, during which both sides traded information. One memo also claimed that the Kremlin had compiled enough financial and personal information on Mr. Trump that it could blackmail the Republican nominee.

He wrote that Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, and a campaign volunteer, Carter Page, in tandem orchestrated the campaign with Moscow to meddle in the race. He also maintained that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s attorney, traveled to Prague in August 2016 to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal staff and orchestrate a cover-up of the campaign’s hacking conspiracy

All of those charges have been denied, and none has been confirmed publicly by a press leak or congressional inquiry.

‘Limited’ intelligence

In court filings this year, Mr. Steele doesn’t sound as confident as his dossier.

He answered questions through his attorney in a libel complaint brought by a Russian entrepreneur, Aleksej Gubarev. Mr. Steele has accused Mr. Gubarev of being pressured by Russian’s FSB intelligence service to take part in hacking against the Democratic Party.

In one answer, Mr. Steele refers to the intelligence he gathered as “limited.” On the charge of collusion by Mr. Trumpand his campaign advisers, he now says there was only “possible coordination.”

His answer was to a question from Mr. Gubarev’s legal team on the lengths he took to brief American reporters as the fall campaign was in full swing.

Mr. Steele answered, “The briefings involved the disclosure of limited intelligence regarding indications of Russian interference in the U.S. election process and the possible coordination of members of the Trump’s campaign team and Russian government officials.”

At the request of Fusion GPS, the investigative firm hired by Democrats to handle and pay Mr. Steele, the former spy said he briefed The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo News, The New Yorker and CNN in person. He later briefed Mother Jones magazine via Skype.

In another indication that Mr. Steele was no longer wholeheartedly vouching for his own findings, he said he told journalists that they may not quote his research. He “understood that the information provided might be used for the purpose of further research, but would not be published or attributed,” he said through his attorney.

Mr. Steele also acknowledged that his final December memo, the only one that dealt with Mr. Gubarev, contained information he never vetted.

“The contents of the December memorandum did not represent (and did not purport to represent) verified facts, but were raw intelligence which had identified a range of allegations that warranted investigation given their potential national security implications,” he wrote.

He added, “Such intelligence was not actively sought; it was merely received.”

The unverified “raw intelligence” included Mr. Cohen reported trip to Prague.

Needless to say a Dossier the truth of which even its compiler cannot vouch for is not a Dossier that can be relied upon in court as evidence.

McCabe’s stonewall on Tuesday apparently went on for seven hours.  With Congressional Republicans having now worked out what is going on he must have found it an uncomfortable experience.  With more subpoenas coming and the Justice Department coming under increasing pressure I wonder for how much longer this situation can continue.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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