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Why The DNC was not hacked by the Russians

Why does a cyber security company wait 45 days after allegedly uncovering a massive Russian attack on the DNC server to take concrete steps to safeguard the integrity of the information held on the server?

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Via Sic Semper Tyrannis. Authored by William Binney, former Technical Director NSA and Larry Johnson, former State CT and CIA


The FBI, CIA and NSA claim that the DNC emails published by WIKILEAKS on July 26, 2016 were obtained via a Russian hack, but more than three years after the alleged “hack” no forensic evidence has been produced to support that claim. In fact, the available forensic evidence contradicts the official account that blames the leak of the DNC emails on a Russian internet “intrusion”.  The existing evidence supports an alternative explanation–the files taken from the DNC between 23 and 25May 2016 and were copied onto a file storage device, such as a thumb drive.

If the Russians actually had conducted an internet based hack of the DNC computer network then the evidence of such an attack would have been collected and stored by the National Security Agency. The technical systems to accomplish this task have been in place since 2002. The NSA had an opportunity to make it clear that there was irrefutable proof of Russian meddling, particularly with regard to the DNC hack, when it signed on to the January 2017 “Intelligence Community Assessment,” regarding Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election:

  • We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.

The phrase, “moderate confidence” is intelligence speak for “we have no hard evidence.” Thanks to the leaks by Edward Snowden, we know with certainty that the NSA had the capability to examine and analyze the DNC emails. NSA routinely “vacuumed up” email traffic transiting the U.S. using robust collection systems (whether or not anyone in the NSA chose to look for this data is another question). If those emails had been hijacked over the internet then NSA also would have been able to track the electronic path they traveled over the internet. This kind of data would allow the NSA to declare without reservation or caveat that the Russians were guilty. The NSA could admit to such a fact in an unclassified assessment without compromising sources and methods. Instead, the NSA only claimed to have moderate confidence in the judgement regarding Russian meddling. If the NSA had hard intelligence to support the judgement the conclusion would have been stated as “full confidence.”

We believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller faces major embarrassment if he decides to pursue the indictment he filed–which accuses 12 Russian GRU military personnel and an entity identified as, Guccifer 2.0, for the DNC hack—because the available forensic evidence indicates the emails were copied onto a storage device.

According to a DOJ press release on the indictment of the Russians, Mueller declares that the emails were obtained via a “spearphising” attack:

In 2016, officials in Unit 26165 began spearphishing volunteers and employees of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, including the campaign’s chairman. Through that process, officials in this unit were able to steal the usernames and passwords for numerous individuals and use those credentials to steal email content and hack into other computers. They also were able to hackinto the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) through these spearphishing techniques to steal emails and documents,covertly monitor the computer activity of dozens of employees, and implant hundreds of files of malicious computer code to steal passwords and maintain access to these networks.

The officials in Unit 26165 coordinated with officials in Unit 74455 to plan the release of the stolen documents for the purpose of interfering with the 2016 presidential election. Defendants registered the domain DCLeaks.com and later staged the release of thousands of stolen emails and documents through that website. On the website, defendants claimed to be “American hacktivists” and used Facebook accounts with fictitious names and Twitter accounts to promote the website.  After public accusations that the Russian government was behind the hacking of DNC and DCCC computers, defendants created the fictitious persona Guccifer 2.0. On the evening of June 15, 2016 between 4:19PM and 4:56PM, defendants used their Moscow-based server to search for a series of English words and phrases that later appeared in Guccifer 2.0’s first blog post falsely claiming to be a lone Romanian hacker responsible for the hacks in the hopes of undermining the allegations of Russian involvement.(https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/grand-jury-indicts-12-russian-intelligence-officers-hacking-offenses-related-2016-election)

Notwithstanding the DOJ press release, an examination of the Wikileaks DNC files do not support the claim that the emails were obtained via spearphising. Instead, the evidence clearly shows that the emails posted on the Wikileaks site were copied onto an electronic media, such as a CD-ROM or thumbdrive before they were posted at Wikileaks. The emails posted on Wikileaks were saved using the File Allocation Table (aka FAT) computer file system architecture.

An examination of the Wikileaks DNC files shows they were created on 23, 25 and 26 May respectively. The fact that they appear in a FAT system format indicates the data was transfered to a storage device, such as a thumb drive.

How do we know? The truth lies in the “last modified” time stamps on the Wikileaks files.  Every single one of these time stamps end in even numbers.  If you are not familiar with the FAT file system, you need to understand that when a date is stored under this system the data rounds the time to the nearest even numbered second.

We have examined 500 DNC email files stored on Wikileaks and all 500 files end in an even number—2, 4, 6, 8 or 0. If a system other than FAT had been used, there would have been an equal probability of the time stamp ending with an odd number. But that is not the case with the data stored on the Wikileaks site. All end with an even number.

The DNC emails are in 3 batches (times are GMT).

Date        Count       Min Time    Max Time FAT  Min Id Max Id

2016-05-23  10520  02:12:38      02:45:42 x    3800   14319

2016-05-25  11936  05:21:30       06:04:36 x    1         22456

2016-08-26  13357  14:11:36       20:06:04 x    22457  44053

The random probability that FAT was not used is 1 chance in 2 to the 500th power or approximately 1 chance in 10 to the 150th power – in other words, an infinitely high order.

This data alone does not prove that the emails were copied at the DNC headquarters. But it does show that the data/emails posted by Wikileaks did go through a storage device, like a thumbdrive, before Wikileaks posted the emails on the World Wide Web.

This fact alone is enough to raise reasonable doubts about Mueller’s indictment accusing 12 Russian soldiers as the culprits for the leak of the DNC emails to Wikileaks. A savvy defense attorney will argue, and rightly so, that someone copied the DNC files to a storage device (Eg., USB thumb drive) and transferred that to Wikileaks.

We also tested the hypothesis that Wikileaks could have manipulated the files to produce the FAT result by comparing the DNC email files with the Podesta emails (aka Larter file) that was released on 21 September 2016. The FAT file format is NOT present in the Podesta files. If Wikileaks employed a standard protocol for handling data/emails received from unknown sources we should expect the File structure of the DNC emails to match the file structure of the Podesta emails. The evidence shows otherwise.

There is further compelling technical evidence that undermines the claim that the DNC emails were downloaded over the internet as a result of a spearphising attack. Bill Binney, a former Technical Director of the National Security Agency, along with other former intelligence community experts, examined emails posted by Guccifer 2.0 and discovered that those emails could not have been downloaded over the internet as a result of a spearphising attack. It is a simple matter of mathematics and physics.

Shortly after Wikileaks announced it had the DNC emails, Guccifer 2.0 emerged on the public stage, claimimg that “he” hacked the DNC and that he had the DNC emails. Guccifer 2.0 began in late June 2016 to publish documents as proof that “he” had hacked from the DNC.

Taking Guccifer 2.0 at face value—i.e., that his documents were obtained via an internet attack—Bill Binney conducted a forensic examination of the metadata contained in the posted documents based on internet connection speeds in the United States. This analysis showed that the highest transfer rate was 49.1 megabytes per second, which is much faster than possible from a remote online connection. The 49.1 megabytes speed coincides with the download rate for a thumb drive.

Binney, assisted by other colleagues with technical expertise, extended the examination and ran various tests forensic from the Netherlands, Albania, Belgrade and the UK. The fastest rate obtained — from a data center in New Jersey to a data center in the UK–was 12 megabytes per second, which is less than a fourth of the rate necessary to transfer the data, as it was listed from Guccifer 2.

The findings from the examination of the Guccifer 2.0 data and the Wikileaks data does not prove who copied the information to a thumbdrive, but it does provide and empirical alternative explanation that undermines the Special Counsel’s claim that the DNC was hacked. According to the forensic evidence for the Guccifer 2.0 data, the DNC emails were not taken by an internet spearphising attack. The data breach was local. It was copied from the network.

There is other circumstantial evidence that buttresses the conclusion that the data breach was a local effort that copied data.

First there is the Top Secret information leaked by Edward Snowden. If the DNC emails had been hacked via spearphising (as alleged by Mueller) then the data would have been captured by the NSA by means of the Upstream program (Fairview, Stormbrew, Blarney, Oakstar) and the forensic evidence would not modify times – the data would be presented as sent.

Second, we have the public reporting on the DNC and Crowdstrike, which provide a bizarre timeline for the alleged Russian hacking.

It was 29 April 2016, when the DNC claims it became aware its servers had been penetrated (see https://medium.com/homefront-rising/dumbstruck-how-crowdstrike-conned-america-on-the-hack-of-the-dnc-ecfa522ff44f). No claim yet about who was responsible.

According to CrowdStrike founder, Dimitri Alperovitch, his company first detected the Russians mucking around inside the DNC server on 6 May 2016. A CrowdStrike intelligence analyst reportedly told Alperovitch that:

Falcon had identified not one but two Russian intruders: Cozy Bear, a group CrowdStrike’s experts believed was affiliated with the FSB, Russia’s answer to the CIA; and Fancy Bear, which they had linked to the GRU, Russian military intelligence.

(https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a49902/the-russian-emigre-leading-the-fight-to-protect-america/)

And what did CrowdStrike do about this? Nothing. According to Michael Isikoff, CrowdStrike claimed their inactivity was a deliberate plan to avoid alerting the Russians that they had been “discovered.” This is nonsense. If a security company detected a thief breaking into a house and stealing its contents, what sane company would counsel the client to do nothing in order to avoid alerting the thief?

We know from examining the Wikileaks data that the last message copied from the DNC network is dated Wed, 25 May 2016 08:48:35. No DNC emails were taken and released to Wikileaks after that date.

CrowdStrike waited until 10 June 2016 to take concrete steps to clean up the DNC network. Alperovitch told Esquire’s Vicky Ward that:

Ultimately, the teams decided it was necessary to replace the software on every computer at the DNC. Until the network was clean, secrecy was vital. On the afternoon of Friday, June 10, all DNC employees were instructed to leave their laptops in the office.

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a49902/the-russian-emigre-leading-the-fight-to-protect-america/

Why does a cyber security company wait 45 days after allegedly uncovering a massive Russian attack on the DNC server to take concrete steps to safeguard the integrity of the information held on the server? This makes no sense.

A more plausible explanation is that it was discovered that emails had been downloaded from the server and copied onto a device like a thumbdrive. But the culprit had not yet been identified. We know one thing for certain—CrowdStrike did not take steps to shutdown and repair the DNC network until 18 days after the last email was copied from the server.

The final curiosity is that the DNC never provided the FBI access to its servers in order for qualified FBI technicians to conduct a thorough forensic examination. If this had been a genuine internet hack, it would be very easy for the NSA to identify when the information was taken and the route it moved after being hacked from the server. The NSA had the technical collection systems in place to enable analysts to know the date and time of the messages. But that has not been done.

Taken together, these disparate data points combine to paint a picture that exonerates alleged Russian hackers and implicates persons within our law enforcement and intelligence community taking part in a campaign of misinformation, deceit and incompetence. It is not a pretty picture.

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Tjoe
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Tjoe

“It is not a pretty picture.” No indeed…what they are hiding is culpability and covering up being accessory on 9.11.

You can call me AL
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You can call me AL

The whole Russian thing is a nonsense. Thank you for the report, but I am sick and tired of reading and hearing about it; the US should gain a little maturity, instead of playing these pathetic, embarrassing childish games all the time.

Interested Party
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Interested Party

I am not very comp/electronic savvy so when this states that the data shows they were uploaded to a thumb drive……is that proof positive they were not hacked……then loaded to a thumb drive……and then given to Wiki?

Or is this proof that they were absolutely NOT hacked and that they were captured at the source and put on CD or tumb drive?

Herbert Dorsey
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Herbert Dorsey

The fact is that Craig Murray personally handed the incriminating DNC information over to Julian Assange and has stated so numerous times. But this information is never published by the mainstream media because it goes against their propaganda line against Russia. Most informed persons know this fact. What is not known is whether or not Craig Murray got the information from Seth Rich.

edding
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edding

Add to that that in Obama’s final press conference he said: “The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/us/politics/obama-final-press-conference.html) Now deconstruct it. He speaks of ‘the conclusions of the intelligence community’ when it was a cherry picked group led by Brennan and Comey that failed to conduct forensics, and could have produced proof of Russian hacking from the NSA if it had existed, by virtue of the fact that… Read more »

edding
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edding

Furthermore, VIPS also took it a step further in making an assessment that the CIA with its Vault 7 Marble toolbox could have simulated- i.e., framed- the Russians – by leaving fingerprints in one of five or six different languages, including Russian – where in fact very crude trace fingerprints were left.

john vieira
Guest

“Oh what a tangled web we weave…” Russiagate, Russian “hacking” leading into the farcical mueller enquiry…all a badly choreographed performance from day one that was spotted for what it was by some but due to the extreme efforts of the mainstream fake corrupted media was strung out even to this time…collecting a slew of idiot supporters in their wake…

Mike Phoenix
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Mike Phoenix

Sorry but there is a big flaw in the CT in this article. The main argument is that because the copy of the emails downloaded to the public from Wikileaks were downloaded from a thumb drive that proves that the DNC leak was the result of an inside job, not Russian hacking. This is a bad assumption. Just because the copy of the emails that was published by Wikileaks was downloaded from a thumb drive doesn’t mean the server wasn’t hacked by the Russians and the data loaded to a thumb drive. This is a big hole in the conspiracy… Read more »

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US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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