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Feinstein’s leak of Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson’s Senate testimony backfires

Attempt to give Trump Dossier credibility fails, instead highlighting its role in triggering Russiagate investigation

Alexander Mercouris

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An infallible sign that a bad case is collapsing under its own weight comes when its proponents show that they have misunderstood the evidence which is supposed to underpin it.

A classic example of this happened yesterday in the Russiagate case when Senator Dianne Feinstein unilaterally published the transcript of the testimony of Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS given to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 22nd August 2017.

Fusion GPS is the political consultancy firm which acting on behalf of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign commissioned from the ex British spy Christopher Steele the ‘research’ which became the Trump Dossier.

As it has become increasingly clear that the Trump Dossier is the primary evidence – indeed so far it is the only evidence – behind the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that information from it was used by the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain surveillance warrants on members of the Trump campaign from the FISA court, hard questions have increasingly been asked about it by the Republicans in the Senate and the House.

Recently the FBI has admitted that it has been unable to verify the collusion claims in the Trump Dossier, whilst Senators Grassley and Lindsey Graham have recently written a letter to the Justice Department asking for an investigation of Christopher Steele – the Trump Dossier’s compiler – because of inconsistencies in his statements.

Grassley’s and Lindsey Graham’s letter about Steele to the Justice Department annoyed Feinstein, who has now countered by publishing Simpson’s testimony without first consulting Grassley, who is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein’s reasons for doing this are not entirely clear – her statement explaining her reasons is vague and unhelpful – but initial media reports strongly suggest that she thought Simpson’s testimony would rescue the credibility of the Trump Dossier by showing that its claims had been corroborated by a source within the Trump campaign who had independently contacted the FBI.

I say this because that is what the media reports which appeared directly after Feinstein’s publication of the transcript of Simpson’s testimony were saying.  See for example this article in Politico which says the following

Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, whose firm commissioned a controversial dossier alleging secret ties between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin, told congressional investigators last summer that the FBI found the dossier credible because an undisclosed “human source” associated with Trump had offered the bureau corroborating information.

(bold italics added)

The transcript runs to 312 pages and I doubt that the media could have read it through thoroughly when the initial reports appeared.  That suggests to me that they were directed to the relevant section of the transcript by Feinstein’s staff, who presumably interpreted it for them as Feinstein understood it.

The relevant section in Simpson’s testimony appears on pages 174 to 175 of the transcript and reads as follows

Q. You said that he told you of the meeting with the FBI in Rome in mid or late September, that

he “gave them a full briefing”?

A. A debrief I think is what he probably said, they had debriefed him. I don’t remember him articulating the specifics of that. You know, my understanding was that they would have gotten into

who his sources were, how he knew certain things, and, you know, other details based on their own intelligence.

Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.

Q. And did you have any understanding then or now as to who that human intelligence source from inside the Trump campaign might have been?

MR. LEVY: He’s going to decline to answer that question.

MS. SAWYER: On what basis?

MR. SIMPSON: Security.

MR. LEVY: Security.

These words do not in fact say the FBI had been tipped off by someone working for the Trump campaign that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, though it is easy to see how Feinstein might have thought they did.

What these words actually say is that the FBI had obtained information which originated from someone within the Trump campaign which appeared to confirm that collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was taking place.

That is not of course the same thing.

We now know that what Simpson was referring to was George Papadopoulos’s drunken bragging in a London bar in May 2016 in the presence of the Australian High Commissioner, during which he was overheard saying that the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton.

In the hours that followed Feinstein’s publication of the transcript of Simpson’s testimony the fact that it was Papadopoulos Simpson had referred to was confirmed by someone ‘close to Fusion GPS’ ie. to Simpson himself. That it was Papadopoulos Simpson referred to is in fact obvious if one reads his words closely.

In a recent article for The Duran I discussed the Papadopoulos affair in detail and showed how the claim about the Russians having ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton was most likely Papadopoulos’s own invention and is in any event a false clue which leads nowhere.

In other words the information in Simpson’s testimony which Feinstein seems to have thought would corroborate the Trump Dossier actually does no such thing, and it is doubtful that anyone in Special Counsel Mueller’s team or in the Justice Department or in the FBI any longer thinks it does.

In fact the most important thing which Simpson’s testimony does is that it confirms something completely different.

This is that Steele first informed the FBI about the contents of the first entry in the Trump Dossier in late June or early July 2016, shortly after it was written on 20th June 2016, and before Wikileaks published the DNC emails on 22nd July 2016, and before the FBI received the tip-off about Papadopoulos’s bragging in the London bar from Australia, which was after the DNC emails were published.

Simpson’s extensive discussion of Steele’s first meeting with the FBI in late June or early July 2016 is set out at length on pages 160 to 170 of the transcript.

Over the course of this discussion Simpson claims that the idea of contacting the FBI first came from Steele, that Steele was concerned that the Russians were blackmailing Trump presumably with the film they had made of the Moscow hotel orgy referred to in the first entry of the Trump Dossier, and that Steele knew who to contact at the FBI and actually met with this person and briefed him about what the first entry of the Trump Dossier said.

Simpson gives the name of this FBI official who met with Steele in late June or early July 2016.  The name is redacted from the transcript but based on what we now know it was probably Peter Strzok, who was at the time the FBI’s deputy director of counter-espionage and its expert on Russia.

According to Simpson Steele then met with the FBI again in Rome in September 2016 – his interlocutor was probably again Peter Strzok – who then told him that they believed the Dossier was true because of the tip-off they had got about Papadopoulos (this is what the passage on pages 174 to 175 quoted above refers to).

This information all but confirms the primacy of the Trump Dossier in triggering the Russiagate inquiry.

Contrary therefore to what the New York Times has recently claimed, Simpson’s testimony suggests that the information about Papadopoulos was treated by the FBI as important because it was thought (wrongly) to confirm the collusion allegations in the Trump Dossier.  It was not the evidence which independently of the Trump Dossier started the inquiry.

That at least seems to me the obvious interpretation of Simpson’s words

Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.

As the Trump Dossier’s credibility has collapsed the FBI and the Democrats have sought to distance themselves from it even if they cannot bring themselves to repudiate it.  Simpson’s evidence however appears to confirm its essential role in triggering the whole Russiagate scandal.

For those who are concerned about the truth or otherwise of the Russiagate collusion allegations, it is at this point useful to note that the information which originally inspired those allegations and which led to their investigation by the FBI is now admitted to be (1) the Trump Dossier, which cannot be verified, and (2) the information coming from Papadopoulos, which supposedly corroborated the Trump Dossier, but which does no such thing and which is now known to have been a false clue.

Why then if the evidence upon which the Russiagate investigation was launched has been discredited is the investigation still continuing?

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

RT

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Via RT…


The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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