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Grassley’s, Lindsey Graham’s referral on Steele: did US media, Clinton campaign provide content for Trump Dossier?

Heavily redacted referral memo suggests US media, Clinton associates, had a hand in producing Trump Dossier

Alexander Mercouris

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Hot on the heels of the publication of the GOP memorandum (discussed by me here) has come another potentially even more extraordinary development in the Russiagate scandal.

This is the publication of a massively redacted version of the referral sent by Senators Grassley and Lindsey Graham to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein requesting that the Justice Department consider whether a criminal prosecution of Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump Dossier, should be brought.

The Senators’ referral or memorandum is so heavily redacted (whole paragraphs have been entirely blacked out) that it is exceptionally difficult to follow, and any analysis of it must be treated as strictly provisional pending release of a less heavily redacted version.

However what can be read from the Senators’ memorandum is disturbing enough.

Moreover it is now clear that over and above the lies Christopher Steele is alleged by the GOP memorandum to have told to the FBI about his contacts with the media, the Senators’ concerns and their referral to Rosenstein extend to the content of the Trump Dossier itself.

In order to show how this is so I am going to set out the Senators’ memorandum in its entirety.  Given that the published version of this document is so incomplete, it seems to me that it might potentially distort it even further if I simply published extracts from it.

MEMORANDUM

FROM:

Charles E. Grassley, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on the JudiciaryLindsey 0. Graham, Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime ~nd Terrorism,U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

TO:

The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of JusticeThe Honorable Christopher A. Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

RE:  Referral of Christopher Steele for Potential Violation of 18 U.S. C. § 1001

(1) As you know, former British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele was hired by the private firm Fusion GPS in June 2016 to gather information about “links between Russia and [then-presidential candidate] Donald Trump.”  Pursuant to that business arrangement, Mr. Steele prepared a series of documents styled as intelligence reports, some of which were later compiled into a “dossier” and published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.  On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia.  According to the law firm Perkins Cole, Mr. Steele’s dossier-related efforts were funded through Fusion GPS by that law firm on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Campaign.

(2) In response to reporting by the Washington Post about………….the Judiciary Committee began raising a series of questions to the FBI and the Justice Department about these matters as part of the Committee’s constitutional oversight responsibilities.

(3) The FBI has since provided the Committee access to classified documents relevant to the…………… As explained in greater detail below, when information in those classified documents is evaluated in light of sworn statements by Mr. Steele in British litigation, it appears that either Mr. Steele lied to the FBI or the British court, or that the classified documents reviewed by the Committee contain materially false statements.

(4) In response to the Committee’s inquiries, the Chairman and Ranking Member received a briefing on March 15, 2017, from then-Director James B. Corney, Jr.

(5) ………….

…..………….

(6)………….

….………….

(7) Similarly, in June 2017, former FBI Director Corney testified publicly before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he had briefed President-Elect Trump on the dossier allegations in January 2017, which Mr. Corney described as “salacious” and “unverified.”

(8) ………….

…..…………

(9)………….

……………..

(10)………..

……………..

(11)………..

…………….

(12) But there is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility.

(13)………..

……………..

(14)………..

……………..

(15)………..

……………..

(16)………..

……………..

(17)………..

……………..

(18) However, public reports, court filings, and information obtained by the Committee during witness interviews in the course of its ongoing investigation indicate that Mr. Steele……provided dossier information……..to numerous media organizations prior to the end of…….October 2016.

(19) In Steele’s sworn court filings in litigation in London, he admitted that he “gave off the record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda [i.e., the dossier] in late summer/autumn 2016.” In another sworn filing in that case, Mr. Steele further stated that journalists from “the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN” were “briefed at the end of September 2016 by [Steele] and Fusion at Fusion’s instruction.” The filing further states that Mr. Steele “subsequently participated in further meetings at Fusion’s instruction with Fusion and the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News, which took place mid-October 2016.” According to these court filings,”[t]he briefings involved the disclosure of limited intelligence regarding indications of Russian interference in the US election process and the possible co-ordination of members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian government officials.” In his interview with the Committee, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS confirmed this account by Mr. Steele and his company as filed in the British court.

(20) ….……..

….…………..

(21)…………

………………

(22)…………

………………

(23) Mr. Steele conducted his work for Fusion GPS compiling the “pre-election memoranda” “[b]etween June and early November 2016.”  In the British litigation, Mr. Steele acknowledged briefing journalists about the dossier memoranda “in late summer/autumn 2016.”  Unsurprisingly, during the summer of 2016, reports of at least some of the dossier allegations began circulating among reporters and people involved in Russian issues.  Mr. Steele also admitted in the British litigation to briefing journalists from the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN in September of 2016.  Simply put, the more people who contemporaneously knew that Mr. Steele was compiling his dossier, the more likely it was vulnerable to manipulation. In fact, in the British litigation, which involves a post-election dossier memorandum, Mr. Steele admitted that he received and included in it unsolicited – and unverified – allegations.  That filing implies that he similarly received unsolicited intelligence on these matters prior to the election as well, stating that Mr. Steele “continued to receive unsolicited intelligence on the matters covered by the pre-election memoranda after the US Presidential election.“

(24) ………….

……………….

(25) One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges…………, as well as……….. Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from……US State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with….., a contact of….., a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to….. .” It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

(26)…………

……………..

(27)…… ….

…………….

(28) On September 23, 2016, Yahoo News published its article entitled “U.S. Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Adviser and Kremlin.”  That article described claims about meetings between Carter Page and Russians, including Igor Sechin. Mr. Sechin is described in the article as “a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister” under sanction by the Treasury Department in response to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine.  The article attributes the information to “a well-placed Western intelligence source,” who reportedly said that “[a]t their alleged meeting, Sechin raised the issue of the lifting of sanctions with Page.” This information also appears in multiple “memoranda” that make up the dossier.

(29) In sum, around the same time Yahoo News published its article containing dossier information about Carter Page, Mr. Steele and Fusion GPS had briefed Yahoo News and other news outlets about information contained in the dossier.

(29)…………

………..…….

(30)..………..

……………..

(31) Accordingly, we are referring Christopher Steele to the Department of Justice for investigation of potential violation(s) of 18 U.S.8. § 1001.

(all italics and bold lettering in the original; paragraph numbers added)

I have added paragraph numbers to make it easier to find my citations from the Senators’ memorandum.  I have also deleted the very extensive notes and references that can be found at the bottom of the pages of the original Senators’ memorandum.  These are probably as important as the text of the Senators’ memorandum itself.  However in its present heavily redacted form they make the Senators’ memorandum appear even more difficult to follow than it already is.  The notes and references can be found in a PDF of the original of the Senators’ memorandum, which can been seen by following this link.

The most important words in the Senators’ memorandum are in my opinion these

…….On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia…..

(from paragraph 1)

……..Simply put, the more people who contemporaneously knew that Mr. Steele was compiling his dossier, the more likely it was vulnerable to manipulation. In fact, in the British litigation, which involves a post-election dossier memorandum, Mr. Steele admitted that he received and included in it unsolicited – and unverified – allegations.  That filing implies that he similarly received unsolicited intelligence on these matters prior to the election as well, stating that Mr. Steele “continued to receive unsolicited intelligence on the matters covered by the pre-election memoranda after the US Presidential election.“

(from paragraph 23)

One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges…………, as well as……….. Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from……US State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with….., a contact of….., a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to….. .” It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

(paragraph 25)

The wording in paragraph 1 appears to cast doubt on the extent to which the Trump’s Dossier really is based on Russian sources (…….On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia…..);

The wording in paragraph 23 appears to say that because information from the Trump Dossier was being published by the media at the same time that the Trump Dossier was being compiled Christopher Steele, pressure increased on Steele from people who had thereby learnt of the Trump Dossier’s existence to include in the Trump Dossier information Steele has himself admitted was ‘unsolicited’ and ‘unverified’. It seems that some of this information was in fact included in it.

It is not at all clear who these people who the Senators say gave Steele this ‘unsolicited’ and ‘unverified’ information were, but the wording of the entirety of paragraph 23 suggests that some of them at least were people working in the US media.

If so, then the US media had a hand in the creation of the Trump Dossier.

The wording in paragraph 25 has attracted the most attention, with suggestions – eg, from Byron York – that the ‘unpublished entry’ of 19th October 2016 may refer to the compilation I have previously referred to as the ‘second Trump Dossier’ the existence of which was revealed by the Guardian in a recent article.

There are strong reasons to think this is correct.

The Guardian has said that Steele provided this ‘second Trump Dossier’ to the FBI in October 2016.

That corresponds closely with the date of the ‘unpublished entry’ referred to in paragraph 25, which is dated 19th October 2016;

Paragraph 25 says the this ‘unpublished entry’ refers to a report which was ‘the second in a series’.

This shows that there was more than one report and that they formed a series, which clearly points to the existence of a second dossier.   That plausibly is the ‘second Trump Dossier’ referred to by the Guardian.

Though paragraph 25 is heavily redacted, it seems that the report upon which Steele based his unpublished of 19th October 2016 entry was sourced to “a friend of the Clintons”.

That closely matches Cody Shearer, the person whom the Guardian says was the person who was responsible for the ‘second Trump Dossier’.

Byron York has set out the convoluted way in which the report from the ‘second Trump Dossier’ reached Christopher Steele

According to the referral, Steele wrote the additional memo based on anti-Trump information that originated with a foreign source. In a convoluted scheme outlined in the referral, the foreign source gave the information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton, who then gave the information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then gave the information to Steele. Steele wrote a report based on the information, but the redacted version of the referral does not say what Steele did with the report after that.

Byron York has also dropped a heavy hint about who were the people involved

Published accounts in the Guardian and the Washington Post have indicated that Clinton associate Cody Shearer was in contact with Steele about anti-Trump research, and Obama State Department official Jonathan Winer was a connection between Steele and the State Department during the 2016 campaign.

What paragraph 25 says, especially when it is read in combination with paragraph 23, gives rise to deep concern.

Paragraph 23 says that as news that Steele was compiling the Trump Dossier spread he came under growing pressure to include in it “unsolicited” and “unverified” information from a variety of different sources.

Though given the way in which the Senators’ memorandum has been redacted it is hard to be sure, it looks as if the unpublished entry of 19th October 2016 was one of the products of this pressure, with a ‘friend of the Clintons” (Cody Shearer?) directly implicated on this occasion as a source.

Moreover it seems that the US State Department – which was once headed by Hillary Clinton – was somehow involved.

The Senators do not hesitate to spell out the implications of this

It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

Beyond this there has to be the obvious concern of this having given rise to a feedback loop, with Steele’s own disclosures being reported back to him in a way which might make it appear that they were being independently reported to him.

By way of example, the article in the Guardian claims that the ‘second Trump Dossier’ somehow corroborates the first Trump Dossier.

Given that Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS had been working hard throughout the summer and autumn of 2016 to spread information drawn from the Trump Dossier far and wide across the US media landscape, and given that top members of the Clinton campaign (including Bill and Hillary Clinton) would of course have known about the information which appeared in the Trump Dossier, it is entirely likely that the ‘second Trump Dossier’, instead of corroborating the Trump Dossier is actually based upon it.

Something very like that – of information originating with Steele being used to ‘corroborate’ information originating with Steele – is after all what the GOP memorandum says happened with the 23rd September 2016 story which appeared in Yahoo News.

The FBI mistook this story as providing independent corroboration of the information in the Trump Dossier, and told the FISA court this when they used information from the Trump Dossier and from the Yahoo News story to apply on 21st October 2016 for a surveillance warrant against Carter Page.

In fact the September 2016 Yahoo News story did not corroborate the Trump Dossier since it was based on information drawn from the Trump Dossier provided to Yahoo News by Christopher Steele.

In summary, the Senators’ memorandum appears to paint an alarming picture in which the Trump Dossier far from being based on information provided to Christopher Steele by his network in Russia was actually a kind of collaborative effort, with lots of people across the US media and in the Clinton campaign involved in producing it.

That would explain why its entries so closely followed the news cycle.

Some of these people perhaps were not fully aware of what they were doing, but there has to be a concern that some of them – especially those involved in the Clinton campaign – were, and of course Steele himself would have known all along what was going on.

I say all this in part because the convoluted way in which the ‘second Trump Dossier’ reached Steele looks frankly like an attempt to create ‘distance’ between associates of the Clintons and Steele.

The reference to the State Department suggests that elements of the US bureaucracy were involved, and certain comments Representative Nunes has made in an interview with Fox News suggest that more revelations about the involvement of the State Department are on the way.

In passing, involvement by the State Department might explain the reference in the Trump Dossier to the Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin.

An article by the BBC dated 30th March 2017 – which revealed that the Trump Dossier was providing the ‘frame narrative’ for the Russiagate investigation – claimed that the single reference to Kalugin in the Trump Dossier was being treated by US intelligence as a reason for taking its claims seriously.  This despite the fact that the Trump Dossier had misspelled Kalugin’s name as “Kulagin”

……sources I know and trust have told me the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy.

It is not clear if the American intelligence agencies already believed this when they got Steele’s report on the “diplomat”, as early as May 2016.

But it is a judgment they made using their own methods, outside the dossier….

Steele’s work remains fiercely controversial, to some a “dodgy dossier” concocted by President Trump’s enemies.

But on this vitally important point – Kalugin’s status as a “spy under diplomatic cover” – people who saw the intelligence agree with the dossier, adding weight to Steele’s other claims.

Based on what the Senators’ memorandum tells us, there now has to be at least a possibility that Steele got the information about Kalugin not from his sources in Russia but from the State Department. That might explain why he got the spelling of Kalugin’s name wrong.

If this is all correct, then it paints a most ominous picture.

It would mean that the US news media has been busy ever since the summer of 2016 reporting news about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia which it had itself a hand in creating.

There also has to be concern that something more sinister was going on, and that what we are looking at is an intentional campaign of disinformation orchestrated during the Presidential election by people involved with the Clinton campaign.

I say this because – as the Senators point out – the DNC and the Clinton campaign not only paid for the Trump Dossier but people connected to the Clintons were also feeding information to Steele, some of which may have found its way into the Trump Dossier.

The very heavily redacted nature of the Senators’ memorandum means that conclusions about it such as those made in this article must be tentative.

However on any analysis the facts set out in the heavily redacted version of the Senators’ memorandum which has now been published are worrying enough.

Given the extent to which the Justice Department and the FBI have already been compromised by Christopher Steele’s activities it is now obvious that they cannot be expected to conduct what now looks certain to be a criminal investigation which may touch on their own conduct.

Appointing a second Special Counsel to carry out a proper investigation is now essential.

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Airline wars heat up, as industry undergoes massive disruption (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 145.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the global commercial airline industry, which is undergoing massive changes, as competition creeps in from Russia and China.

Reuters reports that Boeing Co’s legal troubles grew as a new lawsuit accused the company of defrauding shareholders by concealing safety deficiencies in its 737 MAX planes before two fatal crashes led to their worldwide grounding.

The proposed class action filed in Chicago federal court seeks damages for alleged securities fraud violations, after Boeing’s market value tumbled by $34 billion within two weeks of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX.

*****

According to the complaint, Boeing “effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty” by rushing the 737 MAX to market to compete with Airbus SE, while leaving out “extra” or “optional” features designed to prevent the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

It also said Boeing’s statements about its growth prospects and the 737 MAX were undermined by its alleged conflict of interest from retaining broad authority from federal regulators to assess the plane’s safety.

*****

Boeing said on Tuesday that aircraft orders in the first quarter fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier, with no orders for the 737 MAX following the worldwide grounding.

On April 5, it said it planned to cut monthly 737 production to 42 planes from 52, and was making progress on a 737 MAX software update to prevent further accidents.

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Via Zerohedge…

Step aside (fading) trade war with China: there is a new aggressor – at least according to the US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer – in town.

In a statement on the USTR’s website published late on Monday, the US fair trade agency announced that under Section 301 of the Trade Act, it was proposing a list of EU products to be covered by additional duties. And as justification for the incremental import taxes, the USTR said that it was in response to EU aircraft subsidies, specifically to Europea’s aerospace giant, Airbus, which “have caused adverse effects to the United States” and which the USTR estimates cause $11 billion in harm to the US each year

One can’t help but notice that the latest shot across the bow in the simmering trade war with Europe comes as i) Trump is reportedly preparing to fold in his trade war with China, punting enforcement to whoever is president in 2025, and ii) comes just as Boeing has found itself scrambling to preserve orders as the world has put its orderbook for Boeing 737 MAX airplanes on hold, which prompted Boeing to cut 737 production by 20% on Friday.

While the first may be purely a coincidence, the second – which is expected to not only slam Boeing’s financials for Q1 and Q2, but may also adversely impact US GDP – had at least some impact on the decision to proceed with these tariffs at this moment.

We now await Europe’s angry response to what is Trump’s latest salvo in what is once again a global trade war. And, paradoxically, we also expect this news to send stocks blasting higher as, taking a page from the US-China trade book, every day algos will price in imminent “US-European trade deal optimism.”

Below the full statement from the USTR (link):

USTR Proposes Products for Tariff Countermeasures in Response to Harm Caused by EU Aircraft Subsidies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found repeatedly that European Union (EU) subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States.  Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) begins its process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies.

USTR is releasing for public comment a preliminary list of EU products to be covered by additional duties.  USTR estimates the harm from the EU subsidies as $11 billion in trade each year.  The amount is subject to an arbitration at the WTO, the result of which is expected to be issued this summer.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.  “Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft.  When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

In line with U.S. law, the preliminary list contains a number of products in the civil aviation sector, including Airbus aircraft.  Once the WTO arbitrator issues its report on the value of countermeasures, USTR will announce a final product list covering a level of trade commensurate with the adverse effects determined to exist.

Background

After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States (France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) to cease their subsidization of Airbus, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies in 2004. In 2011, the WTO found that the EU provided Airbus $18 billion in subsidized financing from 1968 to 2006.  In particular, the WTO found that European “launch aid” subsidies were instrumental in permitting Airbus to launch every model of its large civil aircraft, causing Boeing to lose sales of more than 300 aircraft and market share throughout the world.

In response, the EU removed two minor subsidies, but left most of them unchanged.  The EU also granted Airbus more than $5 billion in new subsidized “launch aid” financing for the A350 XWB.  The United States requested establishment of a compliance panel in March 2012 to address the EU’s failure to remove its old subsidies, as well as the new subsidies and their adverse effects.  That process came to a close with the issuance of an appellate report in May 2018 finding that EU subsidies to high-value, twin-aisle aircraft have caused serious prejudice to U.S. interests.  The report found that billions of dollars in launch aid to the A350 XWB and A380 cause significant lost sales to Boeing 787 and 747 aircraft, as well as lost market share for Boeing very large aircraft in the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets.

Based on the appellate report, the United States requested authority to impose countermeasures worth $11.2 billion per year, commensurate with the adverse effects caused by EU subsidies.  The EU challenged that estimate, and a WTO arbitrator is currently evaluating those claims

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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

RT

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Via RT…


Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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