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‘Russiagate’ and the House Intelligence Committee (analysis and discussion)

The key disclosure of the hearing from the House Intelligence Committee is that US citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing have been investigated as part of a classified counter-espionage investigation since July.

Alexander Mercouris

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FBI Director Comey’s and NSA Director Rogers’s public testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday 20th March 2017 cast some interesting light on the ‘Russiagate’ allegations, though these were not the ones the media has sought to emphasise.

Firstly, almost from the moment the House Intelligence Committee began its session, the establishment media as one chose to highlight Comey’s public confirmation that the FBI is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the US election, and that this involves investigating allegations of collusion between some of President Trump’s associates and the Russians, as if this was a major revelation.

Suffice to say that this was the headline story in all the British newspapers on Monday and on the BBC, as well as in the Washington Post.  The confirmation was called a ‘bombshell’, or at least a ‘setback’ for the President.

It should be said clearly that it was nothing of the sort.

The fact that the FBI is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the elections, and that this involves investigating allegations of collusion between some of President Trump’s associates and the Russians, has been all over the media for months, in fact since long before the election.  It would have been nothing short of ridiculous, and would have served no purpose, if Comey had refused to confirm that such an investigation was underway when he appeared publicly before the Committee, and it would have rendered his entire public appearance before the Committee completely pointless had he done so.

It should also be said clearly that the mere fact that an investigation is underway is not in itself proof that any crime or wrongdoing was committed or that any person is guilty of anything.  Comey made that very point in his testimony, and it is the reason why he – very properly – repeatedly refused to discuss individual cases.  The way in which some sections of the media are trying to overturn the whole presumption of innocence by insinuating that the mere existence of an investigation is a sign of guilt, is actually shocking.

A far more important revelation to have come out of the Committee is that this is a counter-espionage not a crime investigation, and that it was (according to Comey) launched at the end of July 2016.

We can probably be a little more precise as to the precise date.  On 22nd July 2016 Wikileaks began publishing the DNC emails.  On 25th July 2016 the FBI publicly confirmed that it was investigating the hack of the DNC’s computers (though in the event it never actually examined them).  That suggests that the investigation was launched between those dates, ie. almost immediately after Wikileaks started publishing the DNC emails.

That is important since the US intelligence community did not publish its first assessment that Russia was behind the DNC and Podesta leaks before October 2016, and did not publish its final assessment until January 2017.

In other words someone decided between 22nd and 25th July 2016 – long before any intelligence assessments had been published blaming Russia, and directly after the DNC leaks appeared – that the Russians were responsible, and initiated an FBI counter-espionage investigation.

What this also means is that this investigation was underway throughout the critical weeks of the election, with Donald Trump’s associates, and quite possibly (indeed probably) Donald Trump himself, being investigated and monitored by the FBI and by other US intelligence agencies throughout the election period as part of a counter-espionage investigation.

There was no word at the House Intelligence Committee hearing of who was the person or persons who initiated the investigation, or what were the reasons for doing so before any intelligence assessments blaming the Russians had been published.

For the record, I will say that though Barack Obama was the President at the time, and would have been receiving any confidential intelligence assessments, I am sure he was not that person.

Despite the denials of physical wiretaps of Trump Tower, that an investigation and surveillance operation of at least some of Donald Trump’s associates and quite possibly of Donald Trump himself was underway during the election period is therefore now officially confirmed as fact, and is no longer subject to doubt.

I would add that since this was a counter-espionage investigation and not a crime investigation, it was and could be launched despite the fact that neither in July 2016 nor at any time since has there been any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of those US citizens who are being investigated and who might have been placed under surveillance.

We know this for a fact because numerous sources, including Devin Nunes, the Committee Chair who together with the other members of the Committee receives in private classified updates of the progress of the investigation, have told us as much.

One particular point constantly made by Hillary Clinton’s supporters – that Comey treated Hillary Clinton unfairly by making public the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server whilst concealing the ‘far more serious investigation’ of the contacts between Donald Trump’s associates and Russia – might as well be addressed at this point.

Hillary Clinton’s defenders who make this claim consistently underestimate the seriousness of the issue of her misuse of a private server.   The key point anyway is that these are two completely different types of investigation.

The investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server was a crime investigation into a potential federal felony.  The investigation into the contacts between Donald Trump’s associates and Russia falls under a counter-espionage investigation, in which they are not necessarily suspected of any crime or wrongdoing.  Since this is a counter-espionage investigation whose subject is classified, and which has been brought in the absence of any suspicion of any crime or wrongdoing by any particular person, it would have been wholly wrong for Comey to disclose its existence until the Justice Department gave him permission to do so, which it only did just before his appearance before the Committee on Monday.

One other important fact came out of the Committee hearing.

The Republicans on the Committee have rallied behind the President, almost certainly because – as Nunes says – the investigation has produced no evidence of any crime or wrongdoing by anyone.  Instead, to Comey’s obvious unease, they are refusing to let the question of who was responsible for the leaking of the classified information that destroyed General Flynn’s career rest.

Both Representative Schiff for the Democrats and Representative Gowdy for the Republicans set out in public for the Committee the persons who each believes should be investigated, in the one case for collusion with the Russians, in the other for leaking the information about General Flynn.

It should be stressed that in neither case has any evidence been published against any of these persons.  Nunes and Gowdy have however correctly pointed out that in contrast to the claims about collusion with Russia, in the case of the leaking of classified information to destroy General Flynn there is no doubt that a federal felony was committed.  That does make Gowdy’s list of names at least interesting

GOWDY: I guess what I’m getting at, Director Comey, is you say it’s vital, you say it’s critical, you say it’s indispensable. We both know it’s a threat to the reauthorization of 702 later on this fall. And by the way, it’s also a felony punishable by up to 10 years.

So how would you begin your investigation, assuming for the sake of argument that a U.S. citizen’s name appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times unlawfully. Where would you begin that investigation?

COMEY: Well, I’m not gonna talk about any particular investigation…

GOWDY: That’s why I said in theory.

COMEY: You would start by figuring out, so who are the suspects? Who touched the information that you’ve concluded ended up unlawfully in the newspaper and start with that universe and then use investigative tools and techniques to see if you can eliminate people, or include people as more serious suspects.

GOWDY: Do you know whether Director Clapper knew the name of the U.S. citizen that appeared in the New York Times and Washington Post?

COMEY: I can’t say in this forum because again, I don’t wanna confirm that there was classified information in the newspaper.

GOWDY: Would he have access to an unmasked name?

COMEY: In — in some circumstances, sure, he was the director of national intelligence. But I’m not talking about the particular.

GOWDY: Would Director Brennan have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?

COMEY: In some circumstances, yes.

GOWDY: Would National Security Adviser Susan Rice have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?

COMEY: I think any — yes, in general, and any other national security adviser would, I think, as a matter of their ordinary course of their business.

GOWDY: Would former White House Advisor Ben Rhodes have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?

COMEY: I don’t know the answer to that.

GOWDY: Would former Attorney General Loretta Lynch have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?

COMEY: In general, yes, as would any attorney general.

GOWDY: So that would also include Acting AG Sally Yates?

COMEY: Same answer.

GOWDY: Did you brief President Obama on — well, I’ll just ask you. Did you brief President Obama on any calls involving Michael Flynn?

COMEY: I’m not gonna get into either that particular case that matter, or any conversations I had with the president. So I can’t answer that.

I have recently written that the true scandal of the 2016 US Presidential election is that under cover of a counter-espionage investigation cooked up through a wave of anti-Russian hysteria US citizens who had been accused of no wrongdoing were being investigated and placed under surveillance by the US’s intelligence and security agencies during the election.  Despite all the evasions and qualifications that came from the Committee and from Comey and Rogers during the hearings, there is now official confirmation that this investigation and surveillance during this election actually took place.

What was interesting is that their questions about the leaks suggest that the Republicans on the Committee are beginning to see it this way, and are starting to look beyond the cloud of anti-Russian paranoia which has been blown up to confuse the issue.  This is why they homed in on the question of who was behind the leaks that destroyed General Flynn.

As for the Democrats, they may also be starting to sense this as well.  Glenn Greenwald thinks they are starting to have doubts about ‘Russiagate’, and I think he is right.  That no doubt explains the frantic attempts of people like Schiff to keep ‘Russiagate’ going by conjuring up more and more claims against people like Manafort and Carter Page, who must by now have been investigated already.  It may also explain some of the fantastic language some of the Democrats on the Committee resorted to.

Comey said that the FBI investigation is open-ended and has far to go.  Given the stakes involved, I wonder whether it will report at all.

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Deep State insurrection defying POTUS Trump’s order to release unredacted FISA docs (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 113.

Alex Christoforou

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Deep State officials like ex-CIA chief John Brennan are in panic mode.

Deep State DOJ tool Rod Rosenstein refuses to comply with Trump’s executive order as afforded him by the US Constitution.

Establishment Democrats are all over the mainstream media channels calling the act of releasing documents criminal.

The US President wants every American citizen to see the full, unredacted version of the FISA documents used to spy on Carter Page. Trump is simply asking for full transparency, in what has become a two year, multi-million dollar witch hunt, to find collusion where there is none.

This is all you need to know about the hoax that was and is Trump-Russia collusion and the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the insurrection taking place at the US Department of Justice, as Democrats, ex-Obama officials, and DOJ directors are doing everything in their power to make sure the truth, about how the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page was obtained, remains hidden from the eyes of the American public.

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Via Zerohedge


Despite President Trump’s Monday order for the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials related to the Russia investigation, “without redaction,” the agencies involved are planning to do so anyway, according to Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are going through a methodical review and can’t offer a timeline for finishing, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive matter. –Bloomberg

Trump ordered the DOJ to release the text messages of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also ordered released are specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The DOJ and the FBI are expected to submit proposed redactions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – which will prepare a package for Trump to sign off on.

“When the president issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests,” a Justice Department spokesman said in a statement. “The department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the president’s order.”

The agencies are likely to cite national security concerns over revealing classified “sources and methods” pertaining to the Russia investigation – which will put them in direct conflict with Trump’s order. Trump, as president, has the power to override the agencies and declassify material on his own.

Trump’s order to release the documents comes after months of requests from GOP lawmakers, while the DOJ has repeatedly denied their requests for more transparency.

The FBI’s spy…

According to Bloomberg, the DOJ is interpreting Trump’s request to include information about the use of confidential informant (spy) Stephan Halper during the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation. After taking in over $400,000 from the Obama Pentagon under the auspices of a research contract, Halper befriended and spied on members of the Trump campaign, including aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Showdown?

Top Congressional Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff and Mark Warner penned a joint letter to ODNI Director Dan Coates, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding that the agencies defy President Trump.

In the letter, the lawmakers “express profound alarm” at the decision to “intervene in an ongoing law enforcement investigation that may implicate the President himself or those around him.”

“Any decision by your offices to share this material with the President or his lawyers will violate longstanding Department of Justice polices, as well as assurances you have provided to us.”

The letter then demands that the agencies brief the Gang of Eight before releasing the materials “to anyone at the White House.”

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Trump Weighs In On The Single Worst Mistake In American History

Trump hits Bush: Invading Iraq ‘the single worst decision ever made’.

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Via Zerohedge


In a wide ranging interview with The Hill on Tuesday conducted in the Oval Office, President Trump was asked to give his take on the biggest mistake in American history.

Considering just how open-ended a question that is, it’s perhaps surprising that he merely went back less than a couple decades into the Bush presidency, though Trump’s base will certainly welcome it as it hearkens back to his “America First” foreign policy vision of the campaign trail.

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush,” the president during his interview with Hill.TV.

“Obama may have gotten them (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country,” he said.

Trump explained the reasoning behind this choice, and why it wasn’t something like the civil war or another defining and devastating event reaching far into American History.

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Some scholars and humanitarian groups estimate that over one million Iraqis were killed in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003. A 2008 Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll, for example, found that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

“To me it’s the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.”

Various estimates on the Iraq war’s cost have put the total taxpayer bill as low as near $2 trillion, but none dispute that it is in the multiple trillions, and estimates will vary widely depending on if veteran care is factored into it.

The comments echo things Trump said on the campaign trail in 2016. For example during one of his first major foreign policy speeches then candidate Trump said, “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.” And referencing the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, he said during the same speech, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.”

He had previously shocked pundits for being the first Republican nominee for president to trash George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and has more recently likened it to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest”.

All of this is a hopeful sign considering the extremely heightened and dangerous tensions over Syria this week, and given Trump seems to have vacillated between “bringing the troops home” and getting more involved. On Monday Trump hinted that a decision on the U.S. role in Syria is coming soon.

Commenting on the over 2,000 troops now in Syria ostensibly as part of the “anti-ISIL” coalition campaign, Trump indicated this mission could end soon: “We’re very close to being finished with that job,” he said. He followed with: “And then we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re going to do.”

We consider it a hopeful and a good sign that Trump is possibly revisiting his “America First” foreign policy pledges by identifying the Iraq War as the worst mistake in US history.

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Brett Kavanaugh eleventh hour smear begins to fall apart (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Trump is urging the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh to testify and be heard.

Trump said he wants to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, noting that it would be “unfortunate” if she does not testify before a Senate committee. Trump told reporters Wednesday as he left the White House to view hurricane damage in North Carolina…

“If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”

“If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that would be very interesting.”

From Trump’s lips to God’s ear…Blasey Ford came out to issue a statement essentially saying that she will not testify to Congress, either in an open or closed door session.

Furthermore it appears that Ford will not even allow Senate investigators to fly to California and obtain her statement from the comfort of her own home (as Senator Grassley has offered to do).

Ford is demanding an FBI investigation into an allegation with no date, time or place attached to it. 

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the dangerous game of identity politics being played by the establishment, Democrat left, and their mainstream media minions.

The premise that a four decades old accusation is all that is needed to destroy a person’s entire life, threatens to tear down the most basic foundational values adhered to from within the US Constitution, and propel the United States of America towards a fascist state where censorship, citizen surveillance, and evidence free accusations are used to keep the establishment left in power and the American population cowered in fear.

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According to Zerohedge, Democrats’ Hail Mary play to stymie the confirmation of Trump SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to fizzle out. As angry Dems demanded that a Monday hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh be delayed until the FBI has a chance to investigate, turncoat Republicans (on whom the Dems had been depending for votes) instead withdrew their support and fell in line after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley declared that he would not honor Democrats’ request. Grassley revealed his intention to stand firm late Tuesday after lawyers for Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey, who is claiming that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her 35 years ago when the two were 17-year-old high school students, said their client wouldn’t be wiling to appear at Monday’s hearing.

According to the HillGrassley said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to delay the hearing now that Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly. However, while Ford’s attorneys have insisted that their client has taken a polygraph test and “deserves to be heard”, Ford has bizarrely insisted that the FBI should have an opportunity to investigate her claims before she appears before the committee in order to spare her the “trauma” of confronting her alleged assailant.

Ford’s lawyers conveyed her request in the form of a letter sent to the committee, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

Senator Grassley said he would refuse this request as several Republicans who had appeared to be on the cusp of defecting said they wouldn’t support further delays should Ford prove unwilling to testify.

Via the Hill…

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who was one of the first Republicans to call for the Judiciary Committee to hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sunday.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters earlier Tuesday that Ford’s lack of response to the committee about testifying was “puzzling.”

And GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who had threatened to vote against Kavanaugh if Ford wasn’t given the chance to be heard, told CNN that he expected the committee to move on if she doesn’t appear.

“I think we’ll have to move to the markup,” he told CNN. “I hope she does (appear). I think she needs to be heard.”

Via Zerohedge…

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations and insisted he didn’t attend the party where the physical assault allegedly took place. Patrick Smyth, a fellow former Georgetown Prep student whom Ford alleges was also in attendance during the party issued a statement via his lawyer standing up for Kavanaugh. And in a separate letter to Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not only does Smyth repudiate Ford’s allegations, but he adds that he doesn’t remember this party even taking place.

Of course, Feinstein – who admitted last night that she couldn’t say for certain that Ford’s story is entirely truthful – sat on Ford’s allegations for three months before referring them to the FBI and sharing them with other lawmakers (who purportedly “leaked” it to the press). President Trump on Tuesday said that he “feels sorry” for Kavanaugh, adding that he doesn’t want to “play into [Democrats] hands”, presumably by giving them more time to drag out the confirmation process.

“They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don’t want to play into their hands,” Trump said.

Without the support of their Republican allies, Democrats will lack the votes on the committee to hold up the nomination past Monday. Though bizarrely, Kavanaugh himself hasn’t said yet whether he would or wouldn’t testify, which begs the question: If neither Kavanaugh nor Ford appear at the hearing, what exactly will lawmakers discuss?

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