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I Sure Hope That I am Wrong, But…

The Saker’s full analysis of the forthcoming Trump–Putin meeting.

The Saker

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The talk of the week is the upcoming meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 conference this Friday. There have been some very good articles already written on this topic, I particularly recommend Adam Garrie’s “5 obstacles Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will have to address in their meeting” for The Duran and Israel Shamir’s “What Would Putin Tell Trump?” for The Unz Review. It is undeniable that the fact that these two men will finally meet is an event of immense significance and importance for the future not only of US-Russian relations, but even for the future or mankind.

Or is it?

I have to be honest here and say that my expectations are pretty close to zero. Oh sure, they will smile, probably a lot, and some minor issues, such as the seizure of the Russian diplomatic residence in the US, will be resolved. Probably. There might even be some kind of positive sounding sounds about “reaffirming the Minsk Agreement” or “fighting ISIS in Syria”, but compared to long list of truly vital issues which need to be urgently discussed and resolved, this will, I am afraid, be as close to nothing as it can get. Why do I say that?

First, we should all stop kidding ourselves, Russia and the USA do not have “disagreements”. The sad and frightening reality is that we are now closer to war than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not only are Russian and US servicemen now deployed in the same war zone (the Americans totally illegally), but unlike what happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis we have a US President who terminally lacks the willpower to deal with the crazies on the US side, I am talking about the Neocons, of course. In fact, under Kennedy there were no real Neocons to tackle to begin with. Now they are running the White House while Trump serves them coffee or watches TV in another room (I am joking of course, but just barely). In this context, to meet on the “sidelines” of a G20 conference is bordering on the criminally irresponsible. What the world would need is for Trump and Putin to meet in a “Camp David” like format for at least 3-5 days with all their key advisors and officials. Even if we assume 100% good will on both sides, meeting on the “sidelines” of an already big conference just won’t make it possible to get anything done. In the very best of cases Lavrov and Tillerson could have done most of the hard work away from the public eye, but the truth is that the Russians say that so far the two sides have not even agreed upon an agenda.

Second, it is absolutely clear that the US Ziomedia and Congress will declare any, any, positive outcome from the meeting as “Trump caved in to Putin” and try to get a pound of political flesh out of Trump for it. So for Trump any external success will mean an internal disaster. And we already know that the man does not have what it takes to deal with such attacks. Frankly, his only “tactic”, so to speak, to deal with the Neocons has been to try to appease them. So short of Trump asking for political asylum in Russia and joining Snowden somewhere in Russia, I don’t see him ever taking any independent action.

Third, if we look at the people around Trump it is pretty clear that the only intelligent and rational person in the White House is Rex Tillerson. The rest of them are lunatics, maniacs and imbeciles – the current US what shall I call it—“actions” (can’t call it a “policy”) towards Syria clearly prove that the Executive Branch is completely out of control. We now can clearly see that Mattis and McMaster are not these military geniuses presented to us by the Ziomedia but that, in fact, they are both phenomenally incompetent and that their views of the conflicts in Syria and even Afghanistan can only be characterized as totally lacking anything remotely resembling any kind of vision. Yet these two “geniuses” seem to be in charge. For all his intelligence, Tillerson can’t even rein in this Nikki idiot at the United Nations. We should stop kidding ourselves and stop pretending like there is anybody to talk to for the Russians. At best, they are dealing with a Kindergarten. At worst, they are dealing with an evil Kindergarten. But either way, there is nobody to talk to on the US side, much less so somebody to begin solving the many issues that need solving.

I will admit that I did have high hopes for Trump and his apparent willingness to sit down and have an adult conversation with the Russians. I was especially inspired by Trump’s repeated rejection of the Ziomedia’s narrative about Russia and by what appeared to me as his “no nonsense” approach towards getting things done. I wrote many articles for this blog saying that having hopes (not expectations!) for Trump was the right thing to do. And, frankly, I think that at the time it was. Last Fall I even wrote an entire chapter on this topic in the book “If I were King: Advice for President Trump“. The big difference is that before his election we could only judge Trump by his words. Now, however, we can judge him by his words and his actions and the latter show us a consistent pattern of supine subservience to the Neocons and their demands, from the betrayal of his friend and key advisor Flynn, to the recent threats to bomb Syria for, allegedly, “preparing” to use chemical munitions against civilians.

This might be his, shall we call it, “Las Vegas culture” – but Trump is all about form over substance and appearance over facts. Just look at his frankly pathetic threats (with no less than 3 aircraft carrier strike groups!) against the DPRK or his half-assed missile strike on the Syrian airbase: it’s all a big show, nothing more. No wonder the man likes “tweeting” – he seems to think in 140 character long “thought clusters”…

None of that would be too bad if the US, and the West generally, had a halfway decent media and a Legislative Branch worthy of its name. In theory, these could raise hell and demand that the President either resign or begin doing his job. But, of course, they don’t and they won’t. They hate Trump, of course, but they also own him. He can make fun of them in “tweets” in his free time, but in terms of his policies he does exactly what they want. And the very last thing they want is any kind of “detente” with Russia. At most, they will impeach Trump just to humiliate him, but that’s about it. They don’t even need to play their “Pence” card – Trump is what is colloquially known in US ghettos as their “punk-ass bitch”.

Ever since the ill-fated “GWOT” more or less petered out, Russia has become the indispensable bogeyman to terrify the public and justify multi-billion dollar corruption schemes. Not only that, but a “resurgent Russia” is the cornerstone justification of the AngloZionist paranoia about a need to spend more on the war state, the police state and, of course, on corporate greed. The powers that be are even re-heating old, Cold War era, scaring techniques:

The Defense Intelligence Agency has recently released a “Russian Military Power 2017” report. Since it is pretty well written, I actually recommend that you download and read it: it is a mix of pretty good information about the Russian Armed Forces and the garden variety nonsense about Russian hackers and their cyber-threat to US and its allies. Just set aside the clearly politically-induced nonsense and you are left with a rather well made summary of what the Russian Armed Forces are up to these days.

I have to thank the DIA for this report: it made me feel young again, like I was in the 1980s when all the students of warfare and of the Soviet military were reading these annual “Soviet Military Power” reports with great interest. But other than making some of us feel young, the real purpose of this document is clear and it is the very same one behind the Cold War era “Soviet Military Power” series: to justify an increase in “defense” (i.e. “aggression”) spending by showing how scary these evil Commies/Russkies were/are.

This would all be rather funny, and nostalgic in a way, if it did not show the total lack of imagination of the folks at the Pentagon. Far from coming up with anything novel or interesting, they are bringing back into service stuff which for years had been collecting dust in the memories of now mostly retired Cold Warriors. It is rather pathetic, really.

Over the past 30 years or so, Russia went from being the Soviet Union, to being a Somalia-like “democratic hell” during the 1990s, to becoming a completely new entity – a “New Russia” which is dramatically different from the Soviet Union of the 1980s. In contrast, the US got completely stuck in its old patterns, except for this time they are “the same, but even worse”. If the US did not have nukes that would almost be okay (after all, the world can let “Uncle Sam” slowly lose his sclerotic brain, who cares?) but when a nuclear superpower is acting like an out-of-control rogue state, this is very, very, scary.

So back to our G20 meeting again. The first thing which needs to be said is that Trump is weak, extremely weak: he goes in with the Ziomedia and Congress hating him and with a basically treacherous White House team clearly controlled by Pence, Kushner and the rest of the Neocon crazies. To make things worse, Trump can offer the Russians absolutely nothing they would want or need.

Please don’t buy this sanctions canard. The damage these sanctions could do they have already done. The simple truth is that Russia has already survived the sanctions and come out even stronger, this is confirmed by international organizations and by the private sector. In fact, removing the sanctions right now would hurt the Russian economy far more, especially the agricultural sector, which has greatly benefited from the de-facto protectionist protection provided to the Russian economy by these sanctions. Likewise, the Russian defense industry has successfully adapted to the total severance by the Ukronazi regime of all the defense contracts with Russia and now 100% Russian military systems and parts are being produced in Russia at a cheaper price and of a higher quality. Besides, since Congress and UN Nikki have made it pretty darn clear that sanctions will remain in place until Russia agrees to return Crimea to the Ukraine, nothing will change until the current Ukraine finally breaks into three or four parts.

Trump could, in theory, offer the Russians to stop sabotaging the peace process in Syria and the Russians would surely welcome that. But since the US policy of illegal air and missile strikes combined with a deployment of US forces on the ground in Syria is failing anyway, see here and here, the Russians are going to get what they want whether the US wants it or not.

As for the Ukraine, the situation there is so bad that an increasing number of specialists are saying that even the US has lost control of Banderastan and that now it’s going to be all about intra-Ukie power plays: the social, political, military, cultural and economic disaster has reached what I would call an “escape velocity” when the various processes taking place are basically chaotic, unpredictable and unmanageable. I am personally very dubious that the Americans would have anything to offer the Russians.

How about the other way around? What could the Russians offer Trump?

Again, I am afraid that nothing much either.

Russian foreign policies are all centered around the development of a multi-polar world and Putin is now extremely busy dealing with some seriously important matters. So what can Putin offer Trump? A promise not to invade Lithuania? Trump knows that there never was any such threat to begin with. It’s not like Putin can agree to pretend not to see the constant inflow of NATO forces and equipment into eastern Europe as the latter constitute a serious threat to Russian national security. Could the Russian promise that they won’t fly over the Baltic without their transponders on? Hardly, since the first ones to switch off their transponders were the Americans. What about a Russian promise not to intercept Secretary of Defense Mattis’ civilian transport aircraft over international waters? But wait – that was the other way around, it’s NATO (a Polish F-16 actually) which intercepted Shoigu’s aircraft over the Baltic Sea during a long announced and official trip from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad (and who then ran away as soon as a Russian SU-27 showed the missiles it was carrying under it’s wings which by convention means “get the hell out of here or I shoot you down“), so its not the Russians, but the American who need to rein in their yapping poodle.

[Sidebar: I have never been a big admirer of Polish politicians, but now Poland is reaching truly historical lows in terms of cowardice, dishonor and plain stupidity; from their “war on statues“, to their idiotic accusation that the Russian ATC deliverately crashed an official Polish aircraft ( resulting from their categorical inability to accept that their own politicians gave a stupid order to their pilots) to Prime Minister Kazinsky’s war on “cyclists and vegetarians“, to the resurrection of the extremely dangerous “Three Seas” plan – Poland is constantly up to the no good and self-deafeningly stupid. But then, what are we to expect from a country which considers a character like Pilsudksi as a national hero? Sadly, Poland is repeating its worst historical mistake: the one of constantly trying to trigger a conflict between the West and Russia (apparently, history has taught them nothing). So now, the tiny Polish poodle is barking at the Russian Bear convinced that Uncle Sam and the West will protect him if the bear comes down charging. Truly, human stupidity is limitless].

I think I can guess what the Americans want: a partition of Syria, if not de jure then de facto. I don’t think that this will work. For one thing, the Americans are (yet again) overlooking the fact that the main actor in Syria is not Russia but Iran and Iran has no reason whatsoever to agree to any such partition. Neither do the Russians, of course. The only ones truly interested in a partition of Syria are,who else, the Israelis and since they are now back in charge of the White House, they are the ones pushing for this “solution”. But that is something Turkey and Iran cannot accept as this would not only create a “Wahabistan” in eastern Syria, but also some kind of Kurdistan in the north – hardly a recipe for peace. And, finally, let’s not forget the Syrians themselves. They perfectly understand that any partition of their homeland would leave them squeezed between Israel in the southwest and some kind of crazy Daesh pretend-caliphate in the northeast – why would they ever accept such a rotten and, not to mention, unsustainable deal?

For the Americans, of course, it’s the other way around: since they could not get the black flag of Daesh to fly over Damascus they see the partition of Syria as the only acceptable outcome. They will therefore oppose any peace process, especially one crafted by Russia, Iran and Turkey, with every ugly trick in their bag.

So, will the upcoming meeting yield nothing, nothing at all?

It will yield the fact that the two leaders spoke to each other, face to face. That is not unimportant. I also have some hopes for some type of ‘deconfliction’ agreements between Russia and the US/NATO (switch their bloody transponders on again!). If we can get resumption of some kind of talks between NATO and Russia it would also be a good thing, even if nothing much concrete is achieved by this. I suspect that Trump would love the ditch the Ukraine, but he can’t do that for political reasons. If the Russians can con the Americans to endorse, even just verbally, the Astana talks on Syria that would be good because it would make it marginally harder for the Pentagon and/or the CIA to engage in false flag chemical attacks or any other such nonsense. Am I missing something? Yeah, probably some kind of “cultural exchanges” (that’s when diplomats are truly desperate and have nothing else to offer) or a common plan to protect polar bears (thank God for small things all the same!).

The Russians will probably try to get Trump into agreeing to some kind of new UN Resolution on Syria, but since we all know that the US disregards UN resolutions anyway, it won’t be much of a victory, even if it will feel good for a while.

I hope I am wrong, really wrong, totally wrong even. I will be watching the (hopefully joint) press conference of Trump and Putin on Friday with a tiny leftover and paradoxical spark of hope that maybe, just maybe, Trump has something good left inside him. But I won’t be holding my breath. They say that hope dies last. Maybe. I will find out on Friday.

Originally published at unz.com

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Curious Bedfellows: The Neocon And Progressive Alliance To Destroy Donald Trump

The neocon metamorphosis is nearly complete as many of the neocons, who started out as Democrats, have returned home, where they are being welcomed for their hardline foreign policy viewpoint.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via OffGuardian.com:


The Roman poet Ovid’s masterful epic The Metamorphoses includes the memorable opening line regarding the poem’s central theme of transformation. He wrote In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas corpora, which has been translated as “Of shapes transformed to bodies strange, I purpose to entreat…”

Ovid framed his narrative around gods, heroes and quasi-historical events but if he were around today, he would no doubt be fascinated by the many transformations of the group that has defined itself as neoconservative.The movement began in a cafeteria in City College of New York in the 1930s, where a group of radical Jewish students would meet to discuss politics and developments in Europe. Many of the founders were from the far left, communists of the Trotskyite persuasion, which meant that they believed in permanent global revolution led by a vanguard party. The transformation into conservatives of a neo-persuasion took place when they were reportedly “mugged by reality” into accepting that the standard leftist formulae were not working to transform the world rapidly enough. As liberal hawks, they then hitched their wagon to the power of the United States to bring about transformation by force if necessary and began to infiltrate institutions like the Pentagon to give themselves the tools to achieve their objectives, which included promotion of regime change wars, full spectrum global dominance and unconditional support for Israel.

The neocons initially found a home with Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, but they moved on in the 1970s and 1980s to prosper under Ronald Reagan as well as under Democrat Bill Clinton. Their ability to shape policy peaked under George W. Bush, when they virtually ran the Pentagon and were heavily represented in both the national security apparatus and in the White House. They became adept at selling their mantra of “strong national defense” to whomever was buying, including to President Obama, even while simultaneously complaining about his administration’s “weakness.”

The neoconservatives lined up behind Hillary Clinton in 2016, appalled by Donald Trump’s condemnation of their centerpiece war in Iraq and even more so by his pledge to end the wars in Asia and nation-building projects while also improving relations with the Russians. They worked actively against the Republican candidate both before he was nominated and elected and did everything they could to stop him, including libeling him as a Russian agent.

When Trump was elected, it, therefore, seemed that the reign of the neocons had ended, but chameleonlike, they have changed shape and are now ensconced both in some conservative as well as in an increasing number of progressive circles in Washington and in the media. Against all odds, they have even captured key posts in the White House itself with the naming of John Bolton as National Security Adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Bolton’s Chief of Staff is Fred Fleitz, a leading neocon and Islamophobe while last week Trump added Iran hawk Richard Goldberg to the National Security Council as director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction. Goldberg is an alumnus of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is the leading neocon think tank calling incessantly for war with Iran.

Meanwhile, the neocon metamorphosis is nearly complete as many of the neocons, who started out as Democrats, have returned home, where they are being welcomed for their hardline foreign policy viewpoint. Glenn Greenwald reports that, based on polling of party supporters, the Democrats have gone full-Hillary and are now by far more hawkish than the Republicans, unwilling to leave either Syria or Afghanistan.

The neocon survival and rejuvenation is particularly astonishing in that they have been wrong about virtually everything, most notably the catastrophic Iraq War. They have never been held accountable for anything, though one should note that accountability is not a prominent American trait, at least since Vietnam. What is important is that neocon views have been perceived by the media and punditry as being part of the Establishment consensus, which provides them with access to programming all across the political spectrum. That is why neocon standard-bearers like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have been able to move effortlessly from Fox News to MSNBC where they are fêted by the likes of Rachel Maddow. They applauded the Iraq War when the Establishment was firmly behind it and are now trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency because America’s elite is behind that effort.

Indeed, the largely successful swing by the neocons from right to left has in some ways become more surreal, as an increasing number of progressive spokesmen and institutions have lined up behind their perpetual warfare banner. The ease with which the transformation took place reveals, interestingly, that the neocons have no real political constituency apart from voters who feel threatened and respond by supporting perpetual war, but they do share many common interests with the so-called liberal interventionists. Neocons see a global crisis for the United States defined in terms of power while the liberals see the struggle as a moral imperative, but the end result is the same: intervention by the United States. This fusion is clearly visible in Washington, where the Clintons’ Center for American Progress (CAP) is now working on position papers with the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

One of the most active groups attacking President Trump is “Republicans for the Rule of Law,” founded by Bill Kristol in January 2018, as a component of Defending Democracy Together(DDT), a 501(c)4 lobbying group that also incorporates projects called The Russia Tweets and Republicans Against Putin. Republicans Against Putin promotes the view that President Trump is not “stand[ing] up to [Vladimir] Putin” and calls for more aggressive investigation of the Russian role in the 2016 election.

DDT is a prime example of how the neoconservatives and traditional liberal interventionists have come together as it is in part funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire co-founder of eBay who has provided DDT with $600,000 in two grants through his Democracy Fund Voice, also a 501(c)4. Omidyar is a political liberal who has given millions of dollars to progressive organizations and individuals since 1999. Indeed, he is regarded as a top funder of liberal causesin the United States and even globally together with Michael Bloomberg and George Soros. His Democracy Fund awarded $9 million in grants in 2015 alone.

Last week, the Omidyar-Kristol connection may have deepened with an announcement regarding the launch of the launch of a new webzine The Bulwark, which would clearly be at least somewhat intended to take the place of the recently deceased Weekly Standard. It is promoting itself as the center of the “Never Trump Resistance” and it is being assumed that at least some of the Omidyar money is behind it.

Iranian-born Omidyar’s relationship with Kristol is clearly based on the hatred that the two share regarding Donald Trump.

Omidyar has stated that Trump is a “dangerous authoritarian demagogue… endorsing Donald Trump immediately disqualifies you from any position of public trust.”

He has tweeted that Trump suffers from “failing mental capacity” and is both “corrupt and incapacitated.”

Omidyar is what he is – a hardcore social justice warrior who supports traditional big government and globalist liberal causes, most of which are antithetical to genuine conservatives. But what is interesting about the relationship with Kristol is that it also reveals what the neoconservatives are all about. Kristol and company have never been actual conservatives on social issues, a topic that they studiously avoid, and their foreign policy is based on two principles: creating a state of perpetual war based on fearmongering about foreign enemies while also providing unlimited support for Israel. Kristol hates Trump because he threatens the war agenda while Omidyar despises the president for traditional progressive reasons. That hatred is the tie that binds and it is why Bill Kristol, a man possessing no character and values whatsoever, is willing to take Pierre Omidyar’s money while Pierre is quite happy to provide it to destroy a common enemy, the President of the United States of America.

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Nancy Pelosi tries to deplatform U.S. President Trump over the wall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 170.

Alex Christoforou

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In response to Pelosi’s disgusting act of censorship, Trump trolled the Speaker of the House in epic fashion by forcing the cancellation of a trip to Afghanistan, Brussels and Egypt by Nancy Pelosi and her massive entourage.

In a letter addressed to Pelosi, U.S. President Trump told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…

“I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.”

“I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is appropriate.”

According to a congressional aide, Pelosi and several other politicians were already on buses preparing to leave the U.S. Capitol when the U.S. President cancelled their trip.

Trump suggested that Pelosi fly commercial to Afghanistan and elsewhere should she wish.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Nancy Pelosi is trying to censor Trump and prevent the U.S. President from delivering the State of the Union to the American people, in what is clearly another liberal left deplatforming ploy.

Instead of debating the issues about the wall and immigration with fact, logic, and policy positions, Pelosi (out of fear) is trying to silence Trump and squash debate and political discourse.

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Via The Gateway Pundit

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday asking him to postpone the State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of Congress scheduled for January 29.

Pelosi cited security concerns over the partial government shutdown.

Pelosi said both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now – with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs. Therefore, they would not be ready for the speech.

Pelosi posted her letter to Trump on Twitter, saying, “Today, I wrote to  recommending that we delay the State of the Union until after government re-opens, as the , the lead federal agency for  security, faces its 26th day without funding.” (Text version of letter below tweet.)

The Department of Homeland Security refuted the Speaker’s claims — The Secret Service is ready for the SOTU.

And on Thursday FOX News reported that Speaker Pelosi was using “all kinds of security” manpower for her pricey trip with Democrats to Belgium and Afghanistan.

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BuzzFeed pushes fake Michael Cohen news, as real news breaks on HUGE conspiracy against Trump at FBI and DOJ (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 169.

Alex Christoforou

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According to Zerohedge, in an almost unprecedented event – having rarely commented on stories related to the special counsel’s investigation – Robert S. Mueller III’s office put out a statement firmly disputing the reporting of the news site BuzzFeed reported that the president instructed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about his push for a Moscow real estate project

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” the special counsel’s office said.

As The Hill reports, BuzzFeed had released a statement earlier Friday defending the reporters behind the story and saying that it “stands by this story 100%,” and for his part, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis refused to confirm or deny the report during an interview with MSNBC on Friday afternoon.

President Trump retweeted a few social media reactions…

And then made his own views clear:

Meanwhile the real election collusion bombshell had nothing to do with Russia, Moscow hotels, or Michael Cohen, and everything to do with bullet proof evidence that DOJ official, Bruce Ohr, warned all the higher-ups at the FBI and DOJ (Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe, etc…) that the Steele dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton, and was extremely biased against Donald Trump.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how BuzzFeed pushed out a clear, fake propaganda story on Trump, Cohen, and more stupidity about Moscow hotel deals, as real reporter, John Solomon broke a massive story, with solid evidence and facts, that show the FBI and DOJ knew that the Steele dossier was a complete work of fiction, and knowingly hide that fact from FISA courts.

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Authored by John Solomon, via The Hill

When the annals of mistakes and abuses in the FBI’s Russia investigation are finally written, Bruce Ohr almost certainly will be the No. 1 witness, according to my sources.

The then-senior Department of Justice (DOJ) official briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.

Ohr’s briefings, in July and August 2016, included the deputy director of the FBI, a top lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and a Justice official who later would become the top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller.

At the time, Ohr was the associate deputy attorney general. Yet his warnings about political bias were pointedly omitted weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that the FBI obtainedfrom a federal court, granting it permission to spy on whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election.

Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day.

They also contradict a key argument that House Democrats have made in their formal intelligence conclusions about the Russia case.

Since it was disclosed last year that Steele’s dossier formed a central piece of evidence supporting the FISA warrant, Justice and FBI officials have been vague about exactly when they learned that Steele’s work was paid for by the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

A redacted version of the FISA application released last year shows the FBI did not mention any connection to the DNC or Clinton. Rather, it referred to Steele as a reliable source in past criminal investigations who was hired by a person working for a U.S. law firm to conduct research on Trump and Russia.

The FBI claimed it was “unaware of any derogatory information” about Steele, that Steele was “never advised … as to the motivation behind the research” but that the FBI  “speculates” that those who hired Steele were “likely looking for information to discredit” Trump’s campaign.

Yet, in testimony last summer to congressional investigators, Ohr revealed the FBI and Justice lawyers had no need to speculate: He explicitly warned them in a series of contacts, beginning July 31, 2016, that Steele expressed biased against Trump and was working on a project connected to the Clinton campaign.

Ohr had firsthand knowledge about the motive and the client: He had just met with Steele on July 30, 2016, and Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the same firm employing Steele.

“I certainly told the FBI that Fusion GPS was working with, doing opposition research on Donald Trump,” Ohr told congressional investigators, adding that he warned the FBI that Steele expressed bias during their conversations.

“I provided information to the FBI when I thought Christopher Steele was, as I said, desperate that Trump not be elected,” he added. “So, yes, of course I provided that to the FBI.”

When pressed why he would offer that information to the FBI, Ohr answered: “In case there might be any kind of bias or anything like that.” He added later, “So when I provided it to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information, I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware.”

Ohr went further, saying he disclosed to FBI agents that his wife and Steele were working for the same firm and that it was conducting the Trump-Russia research project at the behest of Trump’s Democratic rival, the Clinton campaign.

“These guys were hired by somebody relating to, who’s related to the Clinton campaign and be aware,” Ohr told Congress, explaining what he warned the bureau.

Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented both the DNC and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election, belatedly admitted it paid Fusion GPS for Steele’s work on behalf of the candidate and party and disguised the payments as legal bills when, in fact, it was opposition research.

When asked if he knew of any connection between the Steele dossier and the DNC, Ohr responded that he believed the project was really connected to the Clinton campaign.

“I didn’t know they were employed by the DNC but I certainly said yes that they were working for, you know, they were somehow working, associated with the Clinton campaign,” he answered.

“I also told the FBI that my wife worked for Fusion GPS or was a contractor for GPS, Fusion GPS.”

Ohr divulged his first contact with the FBI was on July 31, 2016, when he reached out to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI attorney Lisa Page. He then was referred to the agents working Russia counterintelligence, including Peter Strzok, the now-fired agent who played a central role in starting the Trump collusion probe.

But Ohr’s contacts about the Steele dossier weren’t limited to the FBI. He said in August 2016 — nearly two months before the FISA warrant was issued — that he was asked to conduct a briefing for senior Justice officials.

Those he briefed included Andrew Weissmann, then the head of DOJ’s fraud section; Bruce Swartz, longtime head of DOJ’s international operations, and Zainab Ahmad, an accomplished terrorism prosecutor who, at the time, was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor.

Ahmad and Weissmann would go on to work for Mueller, the special prosecutor overseeing the Russia probe.

Ohr’s extensive testimony also undercuts one argument that House Democrats sought to make last year.

When Republicans, in early 2018, first questioned Ohr’s connections to Steele, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sought to minimize the connection, insisting he only worked as an informer for the FBI after Steele was fired by the FBI in November 2016.

The memo from Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) team claimed that Ohr’s contacts with the FBI only began “weeks after the election and more than a month after the Court approved the initial FISA application.”

But Ohr’s testimony now debunks that claim, making clear he started talking to FBI and DOJ officials well before the FISA warrant or election had occurred.

And his detailed answers provide a damning rebuttal to the FBI’s portrayal of the Steele material.

In fact, the FBI did have derogatory information on Steele: Ohr explicitly told the FBI that Steele was desperate to defeat the man he was investigating and was biased.

And the FBI knew the motive of the client and did not have to speculate: Ohr told agents the Democratic nominee’s campaign was connected to the research designed to harm Trump’s election chances.

Such omissions are, by definition, an abuse of the FISA system.

Don’t take my word for it. Fired FBI Director James Comey acknowledged it himself when he testified last month that the FISA court relies on an honor system, in which the FBI is expected to divulge exculpatory evidence to the judges.

“We certainly consider it our obligation, because of our trust relationship with federal judges, to present evidence that would paint a materially different picture of what we’re presenting,” Comey testified on Dec. 7, 2018. “You want to present to the judge reviewing your application a complete picture of the evidence, both its flaws and its strengths.”

Comey claims he didn’t know about Ohr’s contacts with Steele, even though his top deputy, McCabe, got the first contact.

But none of that absolves his FBI, or the DOJ for that matter, from failing to divulge essential and exculpatory information from Ohr to the FISA court.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.

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