With Bruce Ohr’s 302’s and Kathleen Kavalec’s memo available, the full picture of the agency machinations behind RussiaGate looks just like a coup.
If the FBI and DOJ undertook the Trump Russia collusion investigation without probable cause, then the question becomes whether it was a coup by the government with a thumb on the scale, or simply a series of honest mistakes. We finally have enough information in the public realm to answer that question — and it’s not looking like a series of honest mistakes.
Recently, the administration released the Bruce Ohr Form 302’s and a memo that Kathleen Kavalec sent to the FBI. These documents clarify whether the FBI and DOJ made criminal misrepresentations and material omissions in the 2016 and 2017 Verified Applications they submitted to the FISA Court for warrants to surveil Carter Page and effectively, through him, the Trump administration.
The documents establish that the government made errors in the four applications for a FISA warrant. Those errors, standing alone, do not mean that anyone in government committed a crime. But if the FBI Supervising Special Agent (SSA) and the other signatories knowingly falsified or knowingly made omissions of material facts before the Court, then this was a crime — and by extension, an attempted coup.
Whether government agents possessed culpable levels of knowledge depends on what they knew or should have known and when they knew it. The recently released Bruce Ohr 302’s and the Kathleen Kavalec memo go a long way to establishing what they knew — and what they refused to know. This memorandum summarizes that information.
As you read, green text highlights recently released information from Bruce Ohr and/or Kathleen Kavalec. That is just to make it easier to see where this information fits into the larger mosaic. At the end of the post, you’ll find a timeline through the FISA warrants in 2017, along with links for reference.
II. WHAT IS THE NEWLY RELEASED INFORMATION AND WHEN DID THE FBI INVESTIGATORS KNOW ABOUT IT?
Before doing a deep dive into the entirety of information available, everyone should be on the same page about the nature of the recently released information and why it matters. This section therefore briefly sums up what Ohr’s 302’s and Kavalec’s memo offer and when the FBI supervisors in charge of the Russia investigation effectively received them.
The Bruce Ohr 302’s
Bruce Ohr was a DOJ attorney. He matters because, for several years before the events at issue here, he knew both Glenn Simpson, who founded and headed Fusion GPS, and Christopher Steele, whom Fusion GPS hired to dig for dirt on Donald Trump. Although the reasons are unclear, we know that, during the critical period from July 2016 until at least May 2017, which was when the FBI targeted an investigation at Donald Trump and obtained the first FISA warrant on Carter Page, Ohr acted as a conduit between Simpson and Steele, on the one hand, and the FBI, on the other.
Critically, Ohr testified that, within a day or two of each contact he had with Simpson and/or Steele, he would then meet with FBI agents to pass on any and all information he had learned. [Bruce Ohr House Interview, pp. 13-14; 22; 25]. After his first meeting in July 2016 with Steele, Ohr took the information he received to FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe directed him to brief the lead Special Agent, Peter Strzok. After the briefing, Strzok arranged for another FBI agent to be Ohr’s regular contact whenever Ohr had something to report. The agent recorded each briefing on a Form 302, except for Ohr’s first (August 2016) and second (September/October 2016) meetings with the FBI, and then several meetings that occurred after May, 2017.
Kathleen Kavalec, a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department, met with Christopher Steele on October 11, 2016, although it’s not clear why. That said, Kavalec took notes and, on October 13, 2016, she typed them up and emailed them to the FBI where they were immediately forwarded to Special Agent Peter Strzok. Kavalec’s meeting covered the identity of Steele’s employer, Steele’s motivation to have his information released to the public, and the details of several of the allegations Steele asserted against Trump and his staff. [State Dept. Red Flag on Steele Went to Senior FBI Agent Well Before FISA Warrant]
Having now identified these newly released, and quite pivotal, documents, it’s time to return to the story behind the FBI’s applications to the FISA court for permission to eavesdrop on Carter Page and, through the two-hop rule, on anybody and everybody in the Trump campaign, including Trump himself.
III. The FBI / DOJ Carter Page FISA Applications in 2016 and 2017
The Carter Page FISA warrants, once issued, gave the FBI a license to use the most intrusive powers of government to fish among all of Page’s communications and then two bounces beyond — i.e., to President Trump and all in his campaign. Moreover, because the FBI was now fishing with what amounted to a general warrant (i.e., an open-ended search warrant with minimal substantive restrictions), if it happened to stumble on evidence of any crimes unrelated to the Russia investigation, whether the crime was tax evasion or anything else, then the FBI could and did prosecute. (Compare, McCarthy 2004 to McCarthy 2017)
You will recall that, while no one whom Steele mentioned in his Dossier had actually engaged in the chicanery alleged in the Dossier, Mueller nevertheless found grounds on which to prosecute for many of them, mostly for process crimes during the investigation itself. Ironically, two of the fish that neither the FBI nor Mueller managed to catch despite this unrestricted search were Carter Page or Donald Trump.
Given the vast power a FISA warrant extends to the government, the government has to meet a high bar to get the warrant approved. Keep in mind as you read the following that the person upon whom the FBI wishes to spy is unaware of these proceedings, so he has no representative in the FISA Court to protect his interests – nor does anyone else, such as Donald Trump, who likely to be caught and spied upon through the two hop rule.
Per 18 U.S.C. § 1804(a)(3)(A), the government must show the FISA court that there is probable cause to believe the original target is acting as an “agent of a foreign government.” 50 U.S. C § 1801(b)(2)(B) defines an “agent of a foreign government” as a person who, “pursuant to the direction . . . of a foreign power, knowingly engages in any other clandestine intelligence activities for or on behalf of such foreign power, which activities involve or are about to involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States.”
When a representative of our government goes before the FISA court, he is under a legal duty to include in the application all relevant information that would allow a judge to evaluate probable cause in a fair manner – remembering, again, that neither the original target nor any two-hop targeted is represented in this secret proceeding. An intentional fabrication or a knowing material omission in a FISA warrant application would constitute lying to a federal official, and that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. You can ask George Papadopoulos how that section works.
In the case of “RussiaGate,” the FBI submitted – and the FISA court granted warrants based thereon — four “Verified Applications” to for Carter Page. The first was an October 21, 2016, application that James Comey (FBI) and Sally Yates (DOJ) signed [FISA p. 1]. The rest occur in 2017: A January application that James Comey (FBI) and Sally Yates (DOJ) signed [FISA p. 84]; an April application that James Comey (FBI) and Dana Boente (DOJ) signed [FISA p. 182]; and a June application that Andrew McCabe (FBI) and Rod Rosenstein (DOJ) signed [FISA p. 292].
Although all four warrants are mostly redacted, the relevant part in each – Part III – is mostly unredacted. Part III is the section in which, as former DOJ attorney Andrew McCarthy explained, the FBI must set forth all relevant facts for the judge to evaluate probable cause.
IV. PROBABLE CAUSE
To understand the FISA warrant applications, one first needs to understand probable cause. This doctrine goes to the heart of whether the investigation of Trump and his campaign was a legitimate investigation or a coup attempt.
Much of the law and our system of government is based on a question so old it goes back to Plato. Who watches the watcher? In our political system, we answer the question in the Constitution with “checks and balances.” In the legal system, the answer has been enshrined in Western law since the Magna Carta as “due process of law.” The concept of “probable cause” is at the foundation of “due process of law.
Just because the law enforcement branch of government intends to use the authority and power of government to search or arrest someone — or in this case, to affect our country’s entire political future — doesn’t mean law enforcement agents can act unilaterally. They must convince an ostensibly neutral authority (i.e., a judge) that they are acting fairly and with justification (i.e, with “probable cause”). This due process is the difference between the American legal system, where the standard is “show me your probable cause to search and arrest someone,” and a police state system, which relies upon the “show me the man and I’ll find the crime” standard.
In a legitimate judicial system, probable cause has to be based on facts that have some objective reliability. Normally, when police apply for a warrant, the judge, acting pursuant to long standing rules of evidence, looks to facts based on first-hand observations; e.g., someone attests “I saw the crime” or “I tested the blood.” The further we get from those first-hand observations, the more stringent the standards must be – and even when we deal with those first-hand observations, the probity of the person attesting is of paramount importance. Ultimately, the sum of the facts must be sufficient to lead a reasonable man to believe that whatever fact law enforcement is asserting to the judge is more likely true than not. Here are five examples to explain:
Example 1: A warrant application states “Bob swears that he personally saw Kay steal a cake from Dave’s oven.” That would be a fact based on Bob’s first-hand observation. In this example, there is no reason to believe that Bob is either dishonest or biased.
A judge would always find probable cause to search Kay on those facts.
Example 2: A warrant application states “Bob swears that he heard Abe say that Kay stole a cake from Dave’s oven.” Abe is not there to attest to the truth of the matter asserted (namely, whether he saw Kay steal a cake), so all we have is Bob’s “hearsay” statement (“Bob heard Abe say. . . .”).
Standing alone, hearsay is not considered reliable. A judge would never find probable cause to search or arrest Kay on those facts alone.
Example 3: A warrant application states “Bob swears that Abe told him that Kay stole a cake from Dave’s oven. Additionally, Bob has provided accurate information in the past on other matters and there is no evidence he is prejudiced against Kay.”
This example still does not give probable cause to search or arrest Kay. While it matters that Bob has a reputation for truthfulness and lack of bias, that reputation standing alone still cannot be used to make hearsay evidence reliable. What matters in this example is still Abe’s description of what he allegedly saw and, as to Abe, we have no useful information about the truth of the matter asserted – that is, we don’t know if Abe said what Bob thinks he heard him say or saw what Bob thinks Abe saw.
Example 4: A warrant application states “Bob swears that he heard Abe say that he saw Kay steal a cake from Dave’s oven. Dave swears his chocolate cake was stolen and Charlie swears that he saw Kay a few minutes later in the vicinity of the oven with chocolate smeared on her lips. Moreover, Bob has previously told law enforcement accurate information.”
Most judges would rule that this establishes probable cause to invade Kay’s privacy and search for evidence that Kay stole the cake. There is hearsay, but there is additional first-hand evidence that ties Kay to the time and location of the crime, as well as circumstantial evidence that she may have been consuming chocolate at about the time of the crime. Moreover, it helps that Bob has a proven reputation for solid information.
Example 5: A warrant application states “Bob swears that he heard Abe say that he saw Kay steal a cake from Dave’s oven. Dave says his chocolate cake was stolen and Charlie swears that he saw Kay later that day with chocolate smeared on her lips. Bob has previously given honest and accurate information to law enforcement, but he hates Kay and is being paid by people who have a vested interest in seeing Kay arrested.” . . .
An officer aware of any reason to mistrust Bob would be under a duty to make the Court aware of those reasons. A judge would likely rule that the application does not establish probable cause, but would need more evidence, such as a sworn declaration from Abe or more circumstantial evidence that would tie Kay to the illegal act. In other words, Bob’s manifest bias taints the information and requires extra layers of certainty before the judge will impinge upon Kay’s Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
These examples sum up the problem for the FBI and DOJ when seeking a FISA warrant against Carter Page. Everything that Christopher Steele recorded in his memos charging Carter Page – acting as a liaison with Russia in an unlawful conspiracy and engaging in clandestine meetings with Igor Sechin and Igor Divyekin — was hearsay evidence. Steele had no first-hand knowledge of the criminal acts (and the known fact that Page traveled to Russia to make a public speech was not an illegal act that would lend weight to anything). Faced with this hearsay, the only way to establish probable cause would be for the government to show both that Christopher Steele had no substantial bias and that there were independent corroborating facts.
The government did neither: It hid from the court both the fact that Steele was ferociously biased and the fact that there were no independent corroborating facts. These major omissions could not be the result of carelessness or stupidity. They could only be intentional. And when you intentionally lie to a high-level secret court in order to spy on an opposition presidential candidate (and president-elect and president) . . . well, if it walks like a coup and talks like a coup, it’s a coup.
V. FBI/DOJ FALSEHOODS TO ESTABLISH PROBABLE CAUSE IN THE CARTER PAGE FISA APPLICATIONS
In the 2016 FISA application, Part III primarily memorializes Steele’s hearsay allegations regarding Carter Page. Without more, this should not have been enough to establish probable cause to issue a warrant. To punch up the application, and get the judge to issue a warrant, the FBI needed to corroborate at least some of those hearsay facts. (As an aside, we know from Jay Sekulow, Trump’s attorney, that the FISA court had already rejected three FISA applications earlier in 2016. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they contained Steele’s hearsay allegations without any corroboration.)
To that end — to corroborate Steele’s hearsay — in its October 2016 application the government offered a September 23, 2016 article from investigative reporter Michael Isikoff that recounted as fact the same allegations Steele had made. It turns out there was a good reason the article paralleled Steele’s claims: While Isikoff never names Steele as his source, the reality is that Isikoff based the article in toto on a briefing Steele gave him. Everything in the article was a repeat of Steele’s hearsay, just under Isikoff’s byline. By forgetting to mention this fact to the FISA court, the FBI and DOJ pretended that two separate parties independently knew the same facts — when, in truth, Steele’s hearsay was the only source for everything.
That is a huge lie to the Court, one that cannot, under any circumstance, be explained away or excused. It is axiomatic that a person’s own hearsay declarations, standing alone, can never be used to corroborate those same declarations. Anyone who knowingly misleads a court in this way is acting unlawfully. One could not have clearer evidence of bad faith.
Nor can anyone in the FBI defend these pivotal omissions as mere oversights. In the three-page section of the 2016 FISA Application devoted to the Isikoff article, this language appears in Footnote 18:
[Steele] provided the results of his research to [Simpson], and the FBI assesses that Simpson likely provided this information to the law firm that hired [Simpson] in the first place. Steele told the FBI that he/she only provided this information to [Simpson] and to the FBI. [Redacted] The FBI does not believe that [Steele] directly provided this information to the press.”
Bullshit. The Federal Bureau of INVESTIGATION failed to investigate whether Steele “directly provided this information to the press.” Equally, they failed to investigate whether Simpson provided it to the press.
Steele, while employed by Glen Simpson and Fusion GPS, was also acting as a confidential informant on the FBI payroll in September and October of 2016. [Judicial Watch]. The original agreement between the FBI and Steele was that, while acting as an informant, Steele would only provide his Russia allegations “to [Simpson] and to the FBI.” If the FBI is talking about what they “believe” rather than statements made under oath from Steele and Simpson, that means that they never asked the glaringly, blatantly obvious question, “Did you, Mr. Steele, or you Mr. Simpson, based on Mr. Steele’s dossier, brief Michael Isikoff for his September 23 article?”
In other words, when the Isikoff article came out, the FBI studiously ignored it and maintained deliberate ignorance so they could continue to use the article as corroboration for all of Steele’s hearsay allegations. And these are our super-spies???? It’s like something out of an episode of Get Smart. This was a trick beneath the level of high school kids. Not only for the good of our country, but for the good of the gene pool, these people need to be placed in a jail.
If you want more proof about the FBI’s deliberately assumed ignorance, the recently released Kavalec memo provides it. As a reminder, Kavalec sent her memo to the FBI eight days before the 2016 FISA Application and the FBI internally forwarded it the Special Agent in charge of the Trump Russia investigation. Thus, the Special Agent had the opportunity to read that
The [institution that had been hacked and now employed Steele] had approached Orbis [Steele’s Company] based on the recommendation of Glenn Simpson . . . and is keen to see this information [Steele’s voluminous allegations re Trump] come to light prior to November 8. [emphasis added]
Folks, that is called being put on notice that Steele had a motivation to see his Russia allegations make it into the public realm before the election. Thus, it was criminally unreasonable of the FBI merely to make an assumption about the Isikoff article, then use it as corroboration of the Steele hearsay, without directly questioning Steele.
And how concerned was the FBI that no one in the FBI or DOJ might screw up and find the answer to whether Steele briefed Isikoff — thereby imputing knowledge to the FBI at large? We know that too and the answer’s not pretty.
In Bruce Ohr’s first recorded FBI interview given within 31 days of the Oct. 21, 2016 FISA Application filed with the Court, Ohr states in apparent response to a question from the FBI handler:
Simpson and Steele could have met with Yahoo or Michael Isikoff jointly, but Ohr does not know if they did.
One would think that, given Ohr’s inclusive answer, the FBI could have and should have pursued the issue about Simpson’s and Steele’s communications with the media. Nevertheless, we know that nothing changed in the way the FBI presented Isikoff’s articles in its three subsequent FISA applications. The same footnote comments to the Isikoff article, with the same bald assertion about what the FBI “believed,” remained in place. Put another way, not only did the FBI deliberately not ask Steele or Simpson whether they briefed Isikoff in October 2016, when they were put on notice that Steele or Simpson could in fact have briefed Isikoff, they nevertheless continued their “ignorance is bliss” approach for each of the three subsequent FISA Warrants in 2017. In that way, they could continue using the Isikoff article as independent corroboration for Steele’s hearsay allegations.
This deliberate ignorance was criminal with regard to the 2016 FISA. It was outrageously criminal as to the three subsequent Verified Applications for FISA Warrant filed in 2017.
Earlier, I noted the fact that the FBI’s conduct would have fit comfortably into a Get Smart episode. The Get Smart analogy becomes even stronger by the end of October 2016, when the FBI deliberately enveloped itself in a “cone of silence” so that it would be ignorant of events in the outside world – for that was when it became public knowledge that Steele had been briefing reporters. Journalist David Corn, after a briefing with Steele, effectively outed Steele as his source in his October 31, 2016, Mother Jones article, A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump. As a result of the article, the FBI officially terminated Steele as a source. [Washington Times] Yet still no one in the FBI asked Steele if he had briefed Isikoff.
By November 2016, the FBI had ample reasons to believe that Steele was briefing other news outlets, even if they assiduously refrained from asking Steele that question. The reality was that, despite getting paid as a confidential informant for the FBI, during the September and October 2016 time frame, Steele was doing a PR blitz that saw him briefing virtually every major media outlet in the US, from Mother Jones, to the Washington Post, to the New York Times, to ABC, to NBC, and Yahoo. [Senate Testimony of Glen Simpson.] Thus, in the first FBI interview with Bruce Ohr for which a 302 exists, the FBI agent recorded:
Ohr knew Glen Simpson hired Steele to dig up Trump’s connections to Russia. . . . Ohr knew that Glen Simpson was hired by a lawyer who does opposition research. Ohr knew Steele’s reporting was going to the Clinton Campaign, John Winer at State Dept., and the FBI. Ohr was aware that Simpson was passing Steele’s information to many individuals or entities and at times Steele would attend meetings with Simpson.
In the second interview not long after that, the agent recorded:
Simpson directed Steele to speak to the press as that was what he was being paid to do. Ohr does not know if Steele going to Mother Jones was Simpson’s idea or not.
And again, in the third interview, still in December 2016, after Ohr had met again with Simpson, Ohr told his FBI briefer that:
Simpson asked Steele to speak to the Mother Jones reporter as it was his Hail Mary attempt.
In sum, the FBI was under a legal duty to provide all relevant information to establish probable cause. It knew – it could not avoid knowing – that the Isikoff article, because it was based upon Steele’s hearsay, could not then be used to corroborate Steele’s hearsay. Nevertheless, the FBI repeatedly continued to use the Isikoff article as the primary means to corroborate Steele’s hearsay – something signed off on by FBI Directors James Comey (FISA Warrants 1-3) and Andrew McCabe (FISA Warrant 4), as well as by DOJ Attorneys Sally Yates (FISA Warrants 1-2), Dana Boente (FISA Warrant 3) and Rod Rosenstein (FISA Warrant 4).
It is criminal that FBI employees repeatedly submitted to a FISA judge a document in which they falsely verified a critical fact by intentionally maintaining ignorance despite readily available information. It is not that they were that dumb. It is that they never had any expectation of their wrongdoing ever being made public.
VI. ADDITIONAL OMISSIONS OF MATERIAL FACT IN THE FISA WARRANTS
The follow is a list of additional o missions of material fact in the FISA warrants. These material omissions go to Steele’s reliability as a witness free of bias and to any other indicators that there were problems with the material he was providing.
1) In all four FISA Verified Applications, the FBI tries to establish that Steele did not know for whom he was ultimately working when Glenn Simpson (an intermediary) hired him. Doing so would allow the FBI to avoid having to address whether his true employer’s interest in defeating Trump was an influence upon Steele. To that end, in Footnote 8 to all four verified FISA applications, the FBI states:
[Steele] was approached by [Glen Simpson] who indicated to Steele that a law firm had hired [Simpson] to conduct research regarding Simpson’s ties to Russia. . . . [Simpson] hired [Steele] to conduct this research. [Simpson] never advised [Steele] as to the motivation behind the research into [Trump’s] ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that [Simpson] was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trump’s] campaign.
Again, the FBI had notice that this was false in all of its particulars. Steele knew precisely who his ultimate employer was, even if the FBI was playing dumb in the FISA application. In her October 13, 2016 memo, Kathleen Kavalec writes of her meeting with Christopher Steele:
[Steele’s company] Orbis undertook the investigation into Trump/Russia at the behest of an institution that he declined to identify that had been hacked. The institution approached them on the recommendation of Glen Simpson. . . . (Emphasis mine.)
Nod nod, wink wink.
What kind of high school-level bullshit games are these people playing? “An institution that . . . had been hacked.”??? “The FBI speculates . . . “???
It does not matter what the FBI or anyone else thinks. What matters when a judge evaluates a declarant’s bias is what the declarant thinks. Steele believed the DNC was employing him – and, in fact, he was correct. The FBI’s failure to provide that information to the Court — and indeed, its manifest effort to leave the FISA Court with a false impression about Steele’s understanding — is a criminal omission of material fact.
A side note: 52 U.S.C. § 30104(b)(5)(A) requires campaigns to itemize and report their expenditures over $200. The Hildabeast campaign hired Marc Elias of Perkins Coie to serve as general counsel for the campaign. In addition to providing legal services, Elias also hired Glen Simpson to dig up opposition research. Simpson, in turn, hired Steele.
The Hildabeast campaign, by using Perkins Coie as cover, never itemized its expenses for Fusion GPS, obscuring the fact that it funded the FBI investigation that turned America upside down for three years. Suffice it to say, if Michael Cohen can be convicted for a campaign finance violation for expenses paid to Stormy Daniels that Trump never itemized, if we are to have equal justice in this country, Marc Elias needs to be occupying the prison cell adjoining Cohen. He looks like he could benefit from a prison diet anyway.
Having said all of the above, on yet a second side note, you can see the slimeball James Comey playing this high school level game of feigned ignorance in action in April, 2018. He’d be eaten alive in Court.
2) After recounting Steele’s past history of providing information to the FBI that was subsequently corroborated in court, the FBI then states in the 2016 FISA Warrant at Footnote 8: “. . . the FBI is unaware of any derogatory information [regarding Steele].”
Folks, a witness’s bias is always material and relevant to evaluating whether the witness’s information is reliable. The Court needs this “derogatory information,” especially in a secret hearing, such as a FISA hearing, at which the parties being affected by any court rulings are not only not represented, they’re not even aware there is a hearing taking place. Besides the fact addressed above – namely, that Steele understood that the Hillary campaign was his true employer – we know (and the FBI knew) from Ohr’s first 302 that Steele had a deep personal animus against Trump:
Steele was desperate that Trump not get elected and passionate about him not being the U.S. President.
That was not included in any of the four FISA warrants, although, as a senior DOJ attorney’s assessment, it was material, relevant and known to the FBI. Again, a criminal omission on the warrants.
3) Yet another piece of derogatory information that would be relevant to the Court is whether any of the information Steele provided was false. In the FISA warrants, the FBI made much of the fact that Steele had previously provided information that was subsequently corroborated in Court in a case predating the Trump-Russia hoax. Apparently FBI personnel felt that information erased the need for them to advise the Court that some of the information Steele was now providing was false on its face. Again going back to Kavalec’s October 13, 2016 memo, she wrote:
[Steele claims that] there is a technical/human operation being run out of Moscow targeting the election. There is a significant Russian network in the U.S. run by the Russian Embassy that draws on emigres to do hacking and recruiting. . . . Payment to those recruited are run out of the Russian Consulate in Miami. (Comment: . . . It is important to note that there is no consulate in Miami.) (Emphasis mine.)
That claim, about the pension scheme and the Russian Consulate in Miami, was also a part of Steele’s dossier, Dossier No. 2016/095. It was undated, but the numbering puts the date between July 21 and 29, 2016, so we know that Steele’s erroneous information was known to the FBI even before the Kavalec memo – yet it appears in none of the FISA applications.
Interestingly, and just for a bit of humor to put Russian interference in context, Steele, after making all the nefarious allegations about this pension scheme, memorializes in what we can imagine are shocked and breathless tones that the Russian scheme involved “tens of thousands of dollars.” Really. [Steele Dossier] As you contemplate that number, note that the total amount spent in the 2016 election was $6.8 billion – and that Hillary’s contribution alone was a comfortable $1.2 billion.
IV. REMAINING UNKNOWNS
There is no doubt that the FBI had cause to investigate foreign involvement in our 2016 election, regardless of its size. But did the FBI or anyone else have cause to open a formal investigation into the Trump campaign for complicity with Russia? That depends on George Papadopoulos.
The standard to investigate someone is a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is involved in a crime. The “hook” for investigating Trump and his campaign was supposedly a reasonable suspicion that George Papadopoulos of the Trump campaign knew of the DNC hack before it was publicly announced. Indeed, that is mentioned prominently in all four FISA Applications filed against Carter Page. [Update: Andrew McCarthy has weighed in on Papadopolous as the justification for an investigation against the Trump campaign in another excerpt from his new book. This chapter is entitled The Bogus Story That Launched A Collusion Probe.]
The facts were that George Papadopolous was a third tier, unpaid aide to the Trump campaign. On March 14, 2016 Papadopoulos met Maltese Professor Josef Mifsud [U.S. v. Papadopoulos] There is an outstanding question as to whether Mifsud was a Western Intelligence operative whom our own intel folks sent to make contact with Papadopoulos. [Redstate citing multiple other sources].
Regardless, in April 2016, Mueller alleges that the DCCC and DNC were hacked. [Mueller Report] On April 26, 2016 Papadopoulos meets Mifsud, who had just returned from Russia. Mifsud tells Papadopoulos that he had “learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton. . . . “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.” [U.S. v. Papadopoulos] Papadopoulos stated in testimony before the House that he believed that meant the Russians had emails from Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, when she was running all State Department business through an illegal, unsecured private server in her home. [Papadopoulos House Interview p. 21] So did half of America.
But it would be months before the FBI interviewed Papadopoulos and this legitimate ambiguity explained. In the interim, Papadopoulos met with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer and allegedly stated something about what he had heard from Mifsud. Downer allegedly wrote it down in a memo he forward to Australian intelligence. The Aussies forwarded that memo to the FBI when Wikileaks began releasing e-mails. This was the basis on which the FBI justified opening an investigation of presidential candidate Trump?
What was in the memo? It has never been made public.
Downer, in a Sky News Interview, stated that, in the memo he forwarded to Australian Intelligence, he wrote that Papadopoulos “mentioned that Russia might have information on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that they could release before the 2016 election.” Downer further stated that “There was no suggestion from Papadopoulos nor in the record of the meeting that we sent back to Canberra, there was no suggestion that there was collusion between Donald Trump or Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians.”
So again, does this really constitute reasonable suspicion in July 2016 to open an investigation of Donald Trump and his campaign? It does not seem to be, but the last piece of the puzzle, at least during the period from July 2016 through January 2017, is the 302 Form of the FBI’s interview in August, 2016 with Alexander Downer, which has not been released. We need to see it. Either the investigation into Trump never should have begun or, without anything to corroborate the criminal allegations of Steele, it should have ended the moment the DOJ and FBI determined that their suspicions about Papadopoulos were unfounded.
Certainly, after the FBI interviewed Papadopoulos on January 27, 2017, it was false to continue making the accusations that Papadopoulos knew of the DNC hacks before, absent facts to the contrary. Yet Papadopoulos appears in all of the Verified Applications to the FISA Court right through June 2017. Moreover, Papadopoulos’s understanding was known before Rod Rosenstein, in May 2017, gave Mueller the mandate to conduct illegal criminal investigation into Trump and others under the guise of a counter-intelligence investigation. The whole foundation for the coup rests on that knowingly false allegation.
As for whether what I describe above constitutes a coup attempt, I’m reasonably confident that it does. The documents available to the public reveal that the FBI and the DOJ deliberately and consistently lied by omission to the FISA Court. This is worse than lying to an ordinary court in which the opposing party is present and can fight back against the government claims. The FISA Court is an utterly secret proceeding that is kept from tyranny only because of the requirement that the government must make available to the judge, not only information supporting the government’s petition, but also weaknesses in the government’s petition. When the government manifestly and purposefully violates those rules, it is committing a criminal act – and in this case, it committed the criminal act in an effort to destroy, first, an opposition president candidate, second, a president elect, and third, an actual president. I think that there is more than sufficient probable cause to investigate all of that.
ADDENDUM – TIMELINE
March 2016 Podesta and the Clinton Campaign allege that they’ve been hacked. [Mueller Report]
March 2016 Trump is the front runner for the Republican nomination and appears near certain for the nomination after Super Tuesday on 15 March.
March 14, 2016 Papadopoulos first meets Maltese Professor Josef Mifsud [U.S. v. Papadopoulos] According to Mifsud’s attorney, Mifsud is associated with Western Intelligence and his superiors at Link University, an agent training ground, instructed him to make contact with Papadopoulos. [Redstate citing multiple other sources]
April 2016 Mueller alleges that it was within this time that the DCCC and DNC were allegedly hacked. (To date, no one outside of the DCCC, the DNC< and Crowdstrike has seen the servers to confirm the alleged hacks). [Mueller Report]
April 2016 Perkins Coie, acting on behalf of the DNC and Hillary for America, hires Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research. [NYT, 24 Oct 2017 Ltr Perkins Coie] A spokesman for Perkins Coie later claims that Perkins Coie, to which the DNC and Hillary Campaign paid $12.4 million, never informed its clients that Perkins Coie had hired Fusion GPS on their behalf. [ABA Journal] By doing this, Perkins Coie (1) creates work product and attorney-client protections; and 2) gives the campaigns plausible deniability for evading campaign finance laws. Because opposition research is not a normal legal expense, the campaigns should have publicly itemized money sent to Fusion GPS for its work. [FEC Complaint for campaign finance violation, CFR v. Steele et. al)
April 26, 2016 Papadopoulos meets Mifsud who had just returned from Russia. Mifsud tells Papadopoulos that he had “learned that the Russians had obtained ‘dirt’” on then-candidate Clinton. . . . “[T]he Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.” [U.S. v. Papadopoulos] Papadopoulos stated in testimony before the House that he believed that meant the Russians had emails from Clinton’s time as Secretary of State when she was running affairs of state over an illegal, and unsecured, private server out of her home. [Papadopoulos House Interview p. 21]
April or May 2016 Perkins Coie employed Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Trump. Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS’s founder and principal, understood that the DNC and Hillary Campaign were Perkins Coie’s employers and that any work his form did was ultimately on their behalf. [Simpson House Testimony, p. 19]
May 6 2016 According to Mueller, “Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.” [Mueller Report at p.89] Papadopoulos has testified that he did have a conversation on May 6 with Alexander Downer, but he has no recollection of discussing Russia. [Papadopoulos House Interview p. 21]
May 10, 2016 Alexander Downer, in a Sky News Interview, states that he wrote a memo he forwarded to Australian Intelligence. He said that Papadopoulos “mentioned that Russia might have information on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that they could release before the 2016 election.” Downer further stated, “There was no suggestion from Papadopoulos nor in the record of the meeting that we sent back to Canberra, there was no suggestion that there was collusion between Donald Trump or Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians.” [Daily Caller] That said, the FBI interviewed Downer shortly after the FBI received his memorandum. The 302 of that interview is still not public. [Daily Mail] Although Papadopoulos was purportedly Ground Zero for concerns about Trump and Russia, the FBI first interviewed him in January, 2017, six months after it opened its investigation into Trump.
May 18, 2016 DNI Clapper announces that “Foreign spy services are trying to hack into digital networks used by U.S. presidential campaigns.” [LA Times]
June — October 2016 The FISA Court rejects three different FISA applications from the FBI that apparently targeted Team Trump. [CTH]
June 2016 During his October 11, 2016 meeting with the State Department’s Kathleen Kavalec, Steele tells her that Fusion GPS hired him in June. Within two weeks of his hiring, Steele suddenly claimed to have knowledge that Trump had been a Russian spy for at least five years — something that had apparently eluded our intelligence agencies the entire time. Coincidentally, at that time Hillary (who was getting tens and hundreds of people at her rallies) needed something dramatic to deal with the threat Trump (who was getting tens of thousands of people at his rallies) posed to her candidacy.
June 3, 2016 Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump, Jr., to set up a meeting, stating “The Crown prosecutor of Russia . . . offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” [Mueller Report at pp. 110-123]
June 9, 2016 A meeting takes place at Trump Tower between Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, jared Kushner and Fusion GPS employer/Russian government lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The meeting did not go as promised for Veselnitskaya did not offer negative information. [Mueller Report at pp. 110-123] Simpson would later refer to the meeting in his testimony as validating the claim in the June 20 Dossier memo that Trump was exchanging information with Russia. [Senate Testimony of Glen Simpson, pp. 154-155]
June 14, 2016 The Washington Post reports that Russian hackers had hacked the DNC. [Moscow Project]
June 20, 2016 Buzzfeed publishes the Steele Dossier (No. 2016/080), complete with its claims that Trump has been in league with Russia for five years and that he could be blackmailed by Russia because they the Russians have a tape of Trump with Russian hookers who are urinating on a bed. [Steele Dossier]
July – September 2016 Simpson testifies that “I had spoken with reporters over the course of the summer and through the fall about the investigations by the government and the controversy over connections between — alleged connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Some of what we discussed was informed by Chris’s [i.e., Steele’s] reporting.” [Senate Testimony of Glen Simpson, p. 203]
July 4, 2016 This is the approximate date on which Steele contacts the FBI in to provide them with a copy of his first report. [Senate Testimony of Glen Simpson, pp. 159-163; House Testimony of Glen Simpson, p. 77] According to Steele, Steele made this decision unilaterally, without consulting his client. [House Testimony of Glen Simpson, pp. 59-61]
July 5, 2016 FBI Director Comey announces that, even though Hillary had deliberately and intentionally bypassed State Department security for all her communications, including those that were confidential and or had top secrets, he had decided that she could not be prosecuted. [Bookwormroom]
July 19, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/94, which accuses Carter Page of meeting in Russia with Sechin and Divyekin to discuss lifting sanctions and of accepting bribes worth billions. [Steele Dossier] This 2nd Steele Report claims a Trump official knows that Russia is responsible for DNC hacks and is using Wikileaks for plausible deniability; and that Page and Manafort are the liaisons with Russia. This same report states that Russia is financing its activities using a pension scheme run out of Russian consulates in New York, Washington, and Miami [Steele Dossier] There is no Russian consulate in Miami.
July 22, 2016 Wikileaks begins publishing the DNC / Podesta e-mails [Moscow Project]
July 21 – 29, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/095, which is undated, but numbering puts the date between July 21 and 29. Again, it states that a Trump associate acknowledges the Kremlin behind DNC hack and using Wikileaks to release for plausible deniability – all with the full knowledge of Trump and his senior staff. In return, Trump “had agreed to sideline Russian involvement in the Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/NATO defense commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from the Ukraine,” calling that a “priority” for Putin. Carter Page and Manafort are the liaisons with Russia. This report lays out the pension scheme supposedly being run through Russian consulates in New York, D.C., and Miami to fund hacking. [Note again that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.] According to Steele, “tens of thousands of dollars” are involved. [Steele Dossier] Note that the total amount spent in the 2016 election was $6.8 billion. [CBS News]
July 26, 2016 According to Footnote 465 in the Mueller Report, Alexander Downer’s May 6, 2016, conversation with Papadopoulos arrived as a tip to the FBI. The actual information is not quoted, nor is there any indication about how it arrived at the FBI. To my knowledge, the FBI has not formally interviewed Downer. Footnote 465 reads: “This information is contained in the FBI case-opening document and related materials. The foreign government conveyed this information to the U.S. government on July 26, 2016, a few days after WikiLeaks’s release of Clinton-related emails. The FBI opened its investigation of potential coordination between Russia and the Trump Campaign a few days later based on the information.” [Mueller Report]
July 30, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/097. In it, he now contends that the Trump-Russia intel relationship has been ongoing for eight years, not five. Trump Team and Putin concerned about fallout from the DNC hack. [Steele Dossier]
July 30, 2016 1st Steele-Ohr Meeting (reported by Ohr in his November 22, 2016, interview). Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, and one other person from Orbis are present. Steele is very anxious to brief the FBI and Ohr. Gives the prior reports on Trump-Russia, including Carter Page allegations.
July 31, 2016 The FBI opens up its Crossfire Hurricane investigation aimed at alleged Trump-Russia ties. [Mueller Report]
August 2016 Simpson meets with Bruce Ohr to brief him on suspected Trump liaisons with Russia. McCabe then directs Ohr to meet with “Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and some people from the Department’s — Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and I gave them the information that I had received.” Ohr specifically told these people the information he had was unvetted intel from someone connected the Clinton campaign. [Bruce Ohr House Interview, pp. 13-14; 22; 25]
August 5, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/100, which purports to contain inside Kremlin information. [Steele Dossier]
August 10, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/101, which purports to have more inside Kremlin information. It asserts that Russia subsidized visits to Russia by Jill Stein, Carter Page and Mike Flynn. [Steele Dossier]
August 10, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/102 with yet more alleged inside Kremlin information. [Steele Dossier]
August 22, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/105 in which he contends that Ukrainian President Yankovich made kick-backs to Manafort but tells Putin they are untraceable. Ukraine corruption concerns and Lewandowski drove out Manafort. [Steele Dossier]
August 27, 2016 Harry Reid sends a letter to Comey referencing Carter Page and others in the Trump organization who have ties to Russia, demanding a full investigation, and referring to Trump as an “unwitting agent” of Russia. [pdf]
September 14, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/111 based on what he claims is inside Kremlin information. He states that Mikhail Kalugin, a Russian diplomat in DC involved in the spying and hacking ops, was pulled out of DC on short notice because he was about to be exposed for overseeing the pension payment scheme. [Steele Dossier] In actuality, Kalugin’s rotation back to Moscow after a six-year posting had been announced months prior. [Washington Times]
September 14, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/112 which again purports to have inside Kremlin info. [Steele Dossier]
September 14, 2016 In Steele Dossier No. 2016/113, Steele asserts that Trump supposedly had sex parties and hookers in St. Petersburg. [Steele Dossier]
Mid-to Late-September 2016 Simpson testifies that Steele, at the FBI’s request, met with FBI agents in Rome to give a full and complete briefing on his findings, including the identities of his sources. [Senate Testimony of Glen Simpson, pp. 174-175] Simpson seems to give conflicting testimony about this in the House, claiming that no one from government reached out to Simpson or Steele until Bruce Ohr contacted them “after Thanksgiving.” [House Testimony of Glen Simpson, p. 78]
September 2016 Steele, in a court admission, states that he gave “off-the-record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda in late summer/autumn 2016.” (The 1st day of Fall that year was September 22.) “The journalists initially briefed 16 at the end of September” by Steele “and Fusion at Fusion’s instruction were from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN. “ [Senate Testimony of Glen Simpson, pp. 204-205] At least one of these briefings occurred in the office of the DNC’s general counsel. [Washington Times]
September 23, 2016 On or about this day, Steele met again with Bruce Ohr. Steele stated that “the Alfa server in the U.S. is the link to the Trump campaign and that Sergei Millian’s Russia/America organization had used the server in the past two weeks. . . .” Ohr also assessed that Steele “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and passionate about him not being the U.S. President.” Further, Ohr states “Simpson and Steele could have met with Yahoo or Michael Isikoff jointly, but Ohr does not know if they did.” This appears in the 302 from November 22 meeting with the FBI. Simpson seems to give conflicting testimony about this in the House, claiming that no one from government reached out to Simpson or Steele until Bruce Ohr contacted them “after Thanksgiving.” [House Testimony of Glen Simpson, p. 78] [Note that the Alfa Bank server theory was later definitively debunked (Washington Times) Mueller does not even mention allegations regarding the Alfa Bank server in his report. [Mueller Report]]
September 23, 2016 Investigative Reporter Michael Isikoff, following a briefing from Michael Steele and Glen Simpson [Isikoff describes meeting] publishes an article repeating Steele’s allegations against Carter Page and Trump and establishing that the charges were sufficiently serious that they were under federal investigation. [U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin, Yahoo News]. Isikoff used another official as an independent source to corroborate that the FBI was investigating Page. He had no independent verification for the substantive statements he relayed from Steele. [Here’s How the Steele Dossier Spread Through the Media and Government, Daily Caller]
End of September 2016 Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr’s wife, ends her employment with Fusion GPS. She had worked there since October 2015. [House Interview of Nellie Ohr]
October 11, 2016 Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec prepares a memo following her meeting with Christopher Steele. She writes that “[Steele’s company] Orbis undertook the investigation into Trump/Russia at the behest of an institution that he declined to identify that had been hacked. The institution approached them on the recommendation of Glen Simpson . . . and is keen to see this information come to light prior to the election. Orbis undertook the investigation in June 2016.” She later writes that Steele stated “There is a technical/human operation being run out of Moscow targeting the election. There is a significant Russian network in the U.S. run by the Russian Embassy that draws on emigres to do hacking and recruiting. . . . Payment to those recruited are run out of the Russian Consulate in Miami. (Comment: . . . It is important to note that there is no consulate in Miami.)” [Kavalec Memo pdf]
October 12, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/130 with purported inside Kremlin information. [Steele Dossier]
October 13, 2016 Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec forwarded her notes (typed and handwritten) in an email to the FBI. [FBI Steele Story Falls Apart] FBI Agent Stephen Laycock received the email and forwarded it immediately to FBI Agent Strzok. [State Dept. Red Flag on Steele Went to Senior FBI Agent Well Before FISA Warrant]
Mid-October 2016 On instruction from Fusion GPS, Steele participated in further meetings with Fusion and the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News. [Senate Testimony of Glen Simpson, p. 205]
October 18, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/134. In it, Steele alleges a Carter Page meeting with Sechin, including the promise of a billion dollar bribe to remove sanctions; asserts that Michael Cohen is supposedly a key player in the Trump Russia conspiracy; and claims Cohen’s wife is Russian and that her father is a major developer in Moscow. [Steele Dossier] None of this is true. Regarding Cohen’s wife, she is Ukrainian. Her father, whose name Steele misspelled, was an emigre to the United States and lived and worked in New York. Note that “the same source that Steele used for the Cohen allegations provided Steele with information about Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. “ [Daily Caller]
October 19, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/135. In it, he now asserts that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is the liaison with Russia after Manafort and Page departures. Cohen, he says, met with Russian agents in an EU country in August to cover up the Trump relationship. [Steele Dossier]
October 20, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/136. His new “information” is that Michael Cohen met in Prague with Russian government figures in August to “clean up” after revelations about Manafort and Carter Page in the news. [Steele Dossier]
October 21, 2016 The FBI submits a FISA Application on Carter Page, which Peter Strzok verifies and that Comey signs for the FBI and Sally Yates signs for the DOJ. [FISA at p. 1]
October 28, 2016 Comey reopens the FBI’s investigation into Hillary e-mails after tens of thousands of them are found on Anthony Weiner’s computer. Weiner, a convicted sex offender, is the husband to Huma Abadein, Hillary Clinton’s closest aide. [Washington Times]
Late October 2016 “[A]gain at Fusion’s instruction, in late October 2016 [Steele] briefed the journalist from Mother Jones by Skype.” [Senate Testimony of Glen Simpson, p. 206]
October 31, 2016 Journalist David Corn, after briefing by Steele, effectively outs Steele as his source when he publishes A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump in Mother Jones.
November 1, 2016 Steele had been paid as an informant by the FBI. [Federalist, Judicial Watch] Because Steele had admitted to a third party that he was an FBI informant for the FBI, the FBI officially ends using Steele as a source. [Washington Times]
November 8, 2016 Trump wins the general election, becoming President-Elect of the United States.
Mid-November 2016 Senator John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, attends the Halifax International Security Conference. Sir Andrew Wood, a retired British diplomat who knew Steele from his time in the Foreign Office, tells him about the Steele Dossier. [Testimony of David Kramer, pp. 22-23]
November 22, 2016 Bruce Ohr does an interview with the FBI. He states that his first meeting with Steele occurred on or about 30 July. Steele produced first two reports. Ohr states that during the time span from July 30 through November 22, 1) he knew Steele had been hired by Glen Simpson; 2) “Ohr knew Simpson was hired by a lawyer who does opposition research;” 3) “Ohr knew Steele’s reporting was going to the Clinton Campaign, John Winer at State Dept., and the FBI.” 4) and Ohr was aware that Simpson was passing Steele’s information to many individuals or entities and at times Steele would attend meetings with Simpson.”
Ohr talks about meeting with Steele on or about September 23, at which time Steele discussed the “Alfa server” and Ohr assessed Steele as being “desperate” to ensure Trump did not win election. Further he notes that either Simpson or Steele or the two together briefed Isikoff before the latter wrote his September 23 article. [Note that the Alfa Bank server theory was later definitively debunked (Washington Times) Mueller does not even mention allegations regarding the Alfa Bank server in his report. [Mueller Report]]
Ohr “never believed that Steele was making up information or shading it. He . . . would say this is what [redacted] are telling me. . . . Ohr honestly believes Steele reported what he heard from [redacted] but that doesn’t make the story true.” [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
November 28, 2016 At Senator. McCain’s request, David Kramer flies to London to meet Steele. Steele briefs Kramer and lets him review a hard copy of the dossier. [Testimony of David Kramer]
November 29, 2016 Next day, Kramer flies back to U.S. and meets Glenn Simpson who gives him a hard copy of the dossier with the understanding that Kramer will give it to McCain. [Testimony of David Kramer]
December 5, 2016 Bruce Ohr’s second FBI interview. Questions are about what Ohr knew of Steele’s relationship with John Winer at State Dept. Many redactions. Ohr says he knew the two often met, but that he was never present. Ohr states that “Simpson directed Steele to speak to the press as that was what he was being paid to do. Ohr does not know if Steele going to Mother Jones was Simpson’s idea or not.” Glenn Simpson hired Ohr’s wife to do research for the firm. [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
December 12, 2016 Bruce Ohr’s third FBI interview. Ohr reports he met with Simpson on December 10 and that Simpson gave him a 10 GB thumb drive. Ohr does not know what is on it. Simpson identified Michael Cohen as having many Russian clients and now acting as the liaison between Trump and Russia. Cohen may have attended a meeting in Prague in September as regards the conspiracy. More minor information. Confirms that Simpson did tell Steele to brief Mother Jones as a “hail Mary.” [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
December 13, 2016 Steele produces Dossier No. 2016/166. More information on Cohen’s alleged meeting in Prague. [Steele Dossier]
December 29, 2016 Steele asks Kramer to meet Ken Bessinger of Buzzfeed to discuss the dossier. Does not direct one way or the other on providing a copy of the dossier. Kramer left Bessinger alone with the dossier and Bessinger took photographs. [Testimony of David Kramer at p.p. 58-63]
December 2016 Kramer testifies that Simpson is very interested in whether the FBI is acting on the Dossier as provided by McCain to Comey on 9 Dec. Simpson and Kramer spoke about it on several occasions, some of which were initiated by Simpson. [Testimony of David Kramer at p. 47-48]
December 2016 Media began contacting Kramer about the Dossier, incl. Mother Jones, the Guardian, ABC News, Washington Post, the New York Times and McClatchy. Moreover, Kramer provided copies of the dossier to WSJ, Wapo and McClatchy. Kramer further testified “And there were three others.· Two of whom Mr. Steele asked me to meet with. So maybe if you want, I will deal with the last one first. I gave a copy to Bob Little at NPR. I believe 16 the day before it was all released. And that was I felt NPR I could trust. Then, the other two were Buzzfeed and Carl Bernstein. Both of the meetings occurred at Mr. Steele’s 21. [Testimony of David Kramer at p. 48 – 54]
January 4, 2017 DNI Clapper releases “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” based on input from hand picked analysts from CIA, FBI and NSA. None of the other intelligence agencies were involved.
January 2017 FISA Application for renewal on Carter Page signed by James Comey and Sally Yates. [FISA at p. 84]
January 23, 2017 Fifth interview of Ohr by FBI. Ohr was contacted on 20 Jan. by Simpson. Guessing from the redactions, Steele was concerned with the Buzzfeed publication of the entire Dossier. Steele said that he spoke with a staff member in McCain’s office at the request of [redacted]. Steele had not discussed the Dossier with anyone after October, 2016. [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
January 27, 2017 FBI does its first interview with George Papadopoulos. [U.S. v. Papadopoulos]
February 6, 2017 Sixth interview of Ohr by FBI is cryptic. Steele had contacted Ohr to ask who would be his knew contact with the FBI if he was fired. The agents interviewing Ohr asked “if he [Steele] would be comfortable getting the name of an FBI Agent.” “. . . Ohr reminded the interviewing agents Kavalec spoke with Steele several times before the 2016 election and believed Steele’s reporting to have generated from mainly ________ [redacted]” [?????] “Ohr also advised _________ [redacted] an attorney representing _________ [redacted]. _________ [redacted] explained his client felt _________ [redacted] _________ [redacted] were recently complicated by the FBI, who he felt viewed him as a criminal. _________ [redacted] informed Ohr that _________ [redacted] would like “to clean things up” and felt the circumstances surrounding the 2016 election had become “too emotional.” Ohr stated, as he understood it, _________ [redacted] was informed of what was required after the FBI interview. [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
February 14, 2017 Seventh interview of Ohr by the FBI. Steele contacted Ohr on Feb. 11. “Steele’s company is continuing to work for both _________ [redacted] and another attorney for _________ [redacted]. “. . . Steele was beginning to worry about his business and was preparing a __________ [redacted] to broker a business relationship with the FBI.” [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
March 20, 2017 In testimony before the House, “in contravention of Justice Department policy, that [the DOJ had authorized him to announce that] (a) the FBI was conducting a counterintelligence investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the election; (b) this probe included “investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts”; and (c) the FBI would further assess whether any crimes were committed.” Dana Boente was acting AG at the time of the announcement. [McCarthy]
April 2017 3rd FISA Application for a warrant on Carter page, signed by James Comey for the FBI and by Dana Boente for the DOJ [FISA at p. 182]
May 8, 2017 Eighth interview of Ohr by the FBI. Steele contacted Ohr on 3 May. Steele and Simpson are “lawyering up.” Steele was concerned about Comey’s testimony and his responses would be to questions by Sen. Grassley, but was now satisfied. Steele restricted by UK law and thus could not testify before Congress. Winer “was bringing over a letter separately.” [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
May 12, 2017 Ninth interview of Ohr by the FBI. Steele had contacted Ohr about a letter he had received from the Senate Intelligence Committee. _________ [redacted] requested Ohr ask Steele if he would be willing to have a conversation with FBI agents in the UK. [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
May 15, 2017 Tenth interview of Ohr by the FBI. Steele had spoken with Ohr on 12 May. Ohr asked whether Steele would meet with FBI agents in UK. Steele agreed though would have to check with _________ [redacted]. Ohr “was clear that this would be nothing more than a conversation with the FBI . . .” [????] [Bruce Ohr 302’s]
June 2017 4th FISA Application for a warrant on Carter page, signed by Andrew McCabe for the FBI and by Rod Rosenstein for the DOJ [FISA at p. 292]
October 24, 2017 Perkins Coie waives attorney-client privilege as regards its employment of Fusion GPS [24 Oct Ltr Perkins Coie]