BREAKING: E-mails Show FBI Brass Discussed Dossier Briefing Details With CNN
New e-mails show former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe was surprisingly knowledgeable about CNN’s understanding of and deliberation about a dossier briefing given to Donald Trump days before CNN ever reported on the matter.
Newly revealed e-mails show that former Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) deputy director Andrew McCabe was keenly aware of CNN’s internal understanding of a secret briefing about the infamous Steele dossier, days before CNN published any stories on the matter. The e-mails, which were obtained by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), also reveal that top officials used coded language to refer to the salacious and unverified allegations made by Steele.
Former FBI director James Comey briefed then-President-Elect Donald Trump on January 6, 2017, on at least one unproven allegation contained in Steele’s dossier, which was jointly funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. CNN broke the story about the dossier briefing on January 10, 2017, touching off a firestorm of hysteria that culminated in not just the firing of Comey by Trump, but the eventual appointment of Department of Justice (DOJ) special counsel Robert Mueller.
What we know about federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ spying on the Donald Trump campaign likely represents but a sliver of their covert activities. But it’s about time we do, and President Trump is right to demand an investigation. Here’s what we know so far.
In the run-up to the presidential election, on July 31, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened a “counterintelligence investigation” to probe whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to influence the election. Over the last two weeks, in a series of articles, The New York Times and Washington Post revealed that the investigation, dubbed operation Crossfire Hurricane, involved a government informant connected to the Trump campaign.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported more details of the informant’s “months-long pattern of seeking out and meeting three different Trump campaign officials.” The presumed informant, a professor with contacts with both the Central Intelligence Agency and MI6, first met with Carter Page, then a foreign policy advisor for Trump’s campaign, at a conference in Cambridge in July 2016. He met Page several more times before the election.
According to the Washington Post, the informant also met in the late summer “with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis,” offering “to provide foreign-policy expertise to the Trump effort.” Then in September, the informant “reached out to George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign-policy adviser for the campaign, inviting him to London to work on a research paper.”
“The White House Is Running This”: Grassley Demands DOJ Unredact Mystery Strzok-Page Texts | Zero Hedge
“The White House Is Running This”: Grassley Demands DOJ Unredact Mystery Strzok-Page Texts | Zero Hedge
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) fired off a letter to the Department of Justice Wednesday demanding unredacted versions of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former bureau attorney Lisa Page, including one exchange which took place after Strzok had returned from London as part of the recently launched “Operation Crossfire Hurricane” – referring to the White House “running” an unknown investigation.
After Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) fought tooth-and-nail for their release, the DOJ provided heavily redacted texts on May 1 and May 18. The visible portions of the texts, however, are troubling in light of recent developments – prompting Grassley’s request for unredacted copies.
“When viewing the still redacted portions in context with the unredacted material, it appeared that the redacted portions may contain relevant information relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the matter in which the Department of Justice and FBI handled the Clinton and Russia investigations.” –Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
In particular, Grassley notes:
“As one example of redacted material, in a text message produced to the Committee, the price of Andrew McCabe’s $70,000 conference table was redacted.”
“In another, an official’s name was redacted in reference to a text about the Obama White House ‘running’ an investigation, although it is unclear to which investigation they were referring“
Clapper Busted Leaking Dossier Details To CNN’s Jake Tapper, Lying To Congress About It
Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) turned CNN commentator James Clapper not only leaked information related to the infamous “Steele dossier” to CNN’s Jake Tapper while Clapper was in office – it appears he also lied about it to Congress, under oath.
The revelation that Clapper was responsible for leaking details of both the dossier and briefings to two presidents on the matter is significant, because former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey wrote in one of four memos that he leaked that the briefing of Trump on salacious and unverified allegations from the dossier was necessary because “CNN had them and were looking for a news hook.” –The Federalist
So Comey said that Trump needed to be briefed on the Dossier’s allegations since CNN “had them” – because James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence at the time, provided that information to the same network he now works for.
And who’s idea was it to brief Trump on the dossier? JAMES CLAPPER – according to former FBI Director James Comey’s memos:
“I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to the [president-elect] about alone or in a very small group,” Comey wrote.
The revelations detailing Clapper’s leak to CNN can be found in a 253-page report by the House Intelligence Committee majority released on Friday – which also found “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”
As Sean Davis of The Federalist bluntly states: “Clapper leaked details of a dossier briefing given to then-President-elect Donald Trump to CNN’s Jake Tapper, lied to Congress about the leak, and was rewarded with a CNN contract a few months later.”
From Clapper’s Congressional testimony:
MR. ROONEY: Did you discuss the dossier or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists?
MR. CLAPPER: No.
Clapper later changed his tune after he was confronted about his communications with Tapper:
“Clapper subsequently acknowledged discussing the ‘dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper,’ and admitted that he might have spoken with other journalists about the same topic,” the report reads. “Clapper’s discussion with Tapper took place in early January 2017, around the time IC leaders briefed President Obama and President-elect Trump, on ‘the Christopher Steele information,’ a two-page summary of which was ‘enclosed in’ the highly-classified version of the ICA,” or intelligence community assessment.
From House Intel Report: “Former DNI James Clapper, now a CNN national security analyst, acknowledged discussing the dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper and admitted that he might have spoken with other journalists about the same topic.” Early Jan 2017 https://t.co/adtMqdRsVlpic.twitter.com/mG2y5BFpOr
An internal House probe concluded that Pakistani IT aides Imran Awan along with four other individuals inappropriately accessed House servers and moved data
They impersonated at least 15 U.S. House members they did not work for and the Democratic Caucus, using their credentials to gain access to the system – a federal offense.
Data was migrated from several servers onto a single server, which disappeared while being monitored by police
The Awans engaged in a “pattern of login activity” which suggest steps were taken to conceal their activity
House Democrats in turn misrepresented the issue to their own members as solely a matter of theft
No criminal charges have been filed related to the data breaches or a number of other violations
In what must surely warrant a Special Counsel by now, an internal House investigation concluded that Pakistani IT aides Imran Awan and wife Hina Alvi, along with Imran’s brothers Abid and Jamal and a friend, impersonated at least 15 U.S. House members for whom they did not work – using their credentials to log into Congressional servers, before migrating data to a single server, which was stolen during the investigation, all while covering their tracks – reports Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller.
This, and much more is detailed in a presentation assembled the House’s internal watchdog – the Office of the Inspector General, after a four-month internal probe.
The presentation, written by the House’s Office of the Inspector General, reported under the bold heading “UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS” that “5 shared employee system administrators have collectively logged into 15 member offices and the Democratic Caucus although they were not employed by the offices they accessed.” –DC
One systems administrator “logged into a member’s office two months after he was terminated from that office,” reads the investigative summary.
There are strong indications that many of the 44 members’ data — including personal information of constituents seeking help — was entirely out of those members’ possession, and instead was stored on the House Democratic Caucus server. The aggregation of multiple members’ data would mean all that data was absconded with, because authorities said that entire server physically disappeared while it was being monitored by police. –DC
The OIG also concluded that the Awans’ behavior appeared to be a “classic method for insiders to exfiltrate data from an organization,” as well as indications that a House server was “being used for nefarious purposes and elevated the risk that individuals could be reading and/or removing information,” and “could be used to store documents taken from other offices,” the Caller reports.
A House committee staffer close to the probe told The Daily Caller that “the data was always out of [the members’] possession. It was a breach. They were using the House Democratic Caucus as their central service warehouse.”
“All 5 of the shared employee system administrators collectively logged onto the Caucus system 5,735 times, an average of 27 times per day… This is considered unusual since computers in other offices managed by these shared employees were accessed in total less than 60 times,” the presentation reads.
The internal document also shoots down any notion that the access was for some legitimate purpose – indicating “This pattern of login activity suggests steps are being taken to conceal their activity.”
A second presentation shows that shortly before the election, their alleged behavior got even worse. “During September 2016, shared employee continued to use Democratic Caucus computers in anomalous ways:
Logged onto laptop as system administrator
Changed identity and logged onto Democratic Caucus server using 17 other user account credentials
Some credentials belonged to Members
The shared employee did not work for 9 of the 17 offices to which these user accounts belonged.”
The second presentation found “possible storage of sensitive House information outside of the House … Dropbox is installed on two Caucus computers used by the shared employees. Two user accounts had thousands of files in their Dropbox folder on each computer,” which is strictly against House rules due to fact that Dropbox is offsite.
Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), simply accessing a computer and obtaining information carries a sentence of up to 10 years for more than one conviction of the same abuse. Trespassing on a government computer also carries a 10 year sentence. You can see the rest of the CFAA penalties below, many of which appear to fit the Awan case:
While each violation above carries its own penalties, let’s look at the first one; National Security violations Under the CFAA, a felony:
Whoever— (1) having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access,and by means of such conduct having obtained information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive order or statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations, or any restricted data, as defined in paragraph y. of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully communicates, delivers, transmits, or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it . . . shall be punished as provided in subsection (c) of this section.
The punishment under 18 U.S. Code § 1030 is up to 20 years in prison for each violation.
Meanwhile, House Democratic leadership has been downplaying the alleged breach by pointing to recent bank fraud charges the Awans were slapped with after Imran Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport attempting to flee the country.
Rep. Ted Lieu of California, who employed Abid Awan and is a member of the foreign affairs committee, said as far as he was concerned it was a simple issue of bank fraud.
“The staffer that I used, there was no allegation,” he told a TV station. “If you look at the charge of the brother, he was charged with bank fraud… that has nothing to do with national security.” –DC
The only Democrat who appears to have attempted to intervene with the Awans’ access is Rep. Xavier Becerra who ran the House Democratic Caucus server, knew about the unauthorized access, and tried to stop them according to the OIG report – however “the suspect defied him.” That said, Bacerra does not appear to have warned other offices that might have been affected.
“The Caucus Chief of Staff requested one of the shared employees to not provide IT services or access their computers,” the OIG report reads, adding “This shared employee continued.” Unfortunately, while police were keeping tabs on the server as a primary piece of evidence in their ongoing investigation, they discovered in January that it was taken from under their noses and replaced with a different computer”
To read more about the Awans, take a look at the extensive reporting below by Luke Rosiak:
Imran Awan: A Continuing DCNF Investigative Group Series
Disobedient Media previously reported on the Senate’s passage of legislation that reauthorized a section of controversial FISA law. Since publishing that article, President Trump tweeted that he had signed off on the legislation, despite widespread calls to veto the bill. FISA laws were initially implemented in 2008 under President Obama, and were set to expire last week.
The Verge reported that Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act provides the director of national intelligence and attorney general with the authority to surveil anyone outside of the country, and remains controversial. The Verge added that, while it is designed to target and surveil non-US citizens, privacy advocates say that US citizens can get caught up as well. “This new bill includes some new provisions: authorities can now access communications that simply mention the target, even if they are not the recipient of said message.”
Additional press reports cited The American Civil Liberties Union, who called on Trump to veto the FISA section 702 reauthorization bill. The ACLU wrote: “Trump’s tweet saying the law he signed was different from the one “so wrongly abused” before was not accurate.” The ACLU tweeted that the bill Trump signed “allows the government to violate Americans’ rights and makes the law worse in several ways.”
Media coverage of the reauthorization of FISA 702 has been markedly tepid in recent weeks, often echoing the sentiments of establishment think tanks. CNN’s coverage on the issue was stridently pro-NSA, titled: “Senate must pass FISA Section 702 to protect Americans.” CNN’s article remarkably paralleled the Heritage Foundation, who wrote: “Renewal of FISA’s Section 702: Why America Needs the Provision.” That a supposedly left-leaning press outlet and a conservative think-tank are echoing the same chorus line is particularly noteworthy.
This consensus between legacy press outlets and a right-wing think tank represents an example of what Disobedient Media has previously characterized as an immaterial division between “left” and “right” wing factions within the establishment. The real unanimity between these apparently opposing sides is revealed by their agreement on issues like FISA.
Meanwhile, Fox News related that the FISA Amendments Act allows the government to collect the data from American firms, such as Google or Microsoft, according to the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology. Additionally, Disobedient Media previously cited JustSecurity’s observation that The NSA’s own slides describe targeting individuals in Latin America based on issues like “energy” and “political affairs.” This is important because it belies platitudes provided by Paul Ryan, CNN, The Heritage Foundation and their ilk aimed at excusing illegal surveillance in the name of national security and fighting terrorism.
CNN also reported Paul Ryan’s statement on the bill, which emphasized its use being limited to ‘terrorists’ in foreign countries: “This is about foreign terrorists on foreign soil. That’s what this is about, so let’s clear up some of the confusion here.” Despite Ryan’s attempt at “clarifying confusion,” his statement flies in the face of Snowden documents published in 2013 that showed the NSA also spied illegally on Americans.
The revelations from the Snowden files are important when critically appraising claims that such powers will only be used on ‘terrorists’ outside the U.S. Pro Publica wrote regarding the Snowden files’ revelation that under the Obama Administration, the NSA was given massive powers of warrantless surveillance of American citizens’ internet traffic. To pretend ignorance regarding the reality behind the renewal of FISA 702 in the face of these facts is absurd.
That the NSA targets political dissidents and American citizens provides legitimate cause for concern over the passage of FISA reauthorization. The issue is compounded in light of recent DecipherYoufindings showing that the NSA also actively attempts to avoid government oversight.
On the same day that Trump tweeted that he’d signed the FISA section 702 reauthorization, Suzie Dawson and this author analyzed a never-before scrutinized Snowden file that showed the NSA endorsing an employee who had interfaced with Congress, and who advised the NSA move to avoid legislative oversight. The file in question was titled: “Do We Over-Classify? Are We Sharing Enough Information?”
Suzie Dawson, a journalist, activist, and current leader of the Internet Party of New Zealand, noted that the unnamed author was effectively telling the entire NSA staff that: “The Senate Intelligence Committee should not be allowed to set the terms for reform of the NSA.” Such a revelation is both disturbing and relevant in regards to the current issues surrounding FISA 702.
The file contains an incredible statement made by the unnamed individual, whose role was at one time to interface between the agency and Congress. They wrote: “…My worry is that a consensus is building within Congress that they need to take action to deal with this problem. Trust me, we don’t want that. We need to address this issue so that the solution is one of our creation and not one that is imposed on us from the outside.”
During the DecipherYou stream, Dawson commented on the contents of the document: “They [Congress] are mandated by law to set the terms under which the NSA operate. The NSA does not have the mandate to set the terms under which the NSA operates. But this entire document is saying that the NSA needs to set their own rules and boundaries.”
Dawson continued: “Oversight is there because the NSA does not work for the NSA, the NSA works for the public, the Congressional overseers are the elected representatives of the public. It is their job to set the borders and boundaries of what NSA can do, what it’s mission is, why it does that mission, and how it can do that mission.”
The author of the file discusses their experience as an interface between Congress and the NSA as well as having served as “the budget monitor for all of the NSA’s programs,” as part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. They recounted participating in the NSA’s ‘Legislative Affairs Office,’ which is tasked with interfacing with the Congress, and controls the communications with legislators, determining which information lawmakers receive.
Dawson explained: “If you are in the NSA, you are not allowed to talk to Congress without going through this office… their job is to whitewash and micromanage information that reaches oversight committees. So this person was a part of that office, and has come out of that office, and is 100% resistant to oversight.” She assed that the SID Today document had gone out to the entire NSA workforce, which indicates that the NSA endorsed their sentiments.
The document states: “My second “first job” at NSA was on the Senate team (Duh!) in the Legislative Affairs Office (LAO). That job afforded me the opportunity to utilize the experience I had gained working on Capitol Hill to help the Agency’s senior leaders to develop a successful strategy for dealing with the Congress. That was a particularly challenging and rewarding time in my career.”
The NSA’s disturbing level of independence from legislative oversight was also discussed by The Atlantic in 2013: “…In a representative democracy with a bicameral legislature, Congress was surprised to find that a federal intelligence agency they’d scarcely heard of was bigger and more powerful than one that they’d created. Even after post-Vietnam cutbacks, the NSA counted 68,203 staffers in 1978, making it bigger than all other intelligence agencies combined. And it was unlike other agencies.”
As this author discussed with Dawson during the DecipherYou episode relating to this finding, the document completely undercuts any pretense that the NSA needs powers including FISA to protect the American people or the rest of the world, for that matter.
Primary source information, of which the document is a particularly important example, adds to the growing number of important findings stemming from DecipherYou. The files shed light on current issues including the passage legislation renewing FISA section 702, and the implications stemming from the overreach of the NSA as a result of such legislation. Disobedient Media will continue to report on important discoveries from never-before-scrutinized Snowden files as they emerge.