On April 11, 2018, Devin Nunes was given access to a slightly redacted copy of the Electronic Communication.
Deputy AG Rosenstein and FBI Director Wray were facing a Congressional impeachment vote if they failed to deliver by last night.
After numerous unfulfilled requests for an Electronic Communication (EC) related to the opening of the FBI’s Russia counterintelligence probe, Chairman Trey Gowdy and I met this afternoon with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
During the meeting, we were finally given access to a version of the EC that contained the information necessary to advance the Committee’s ongoing investigation of the Department of Justice and FBI. Although the subpoenas issued by this Committee in August 2017 remain in effect, I’d like to thank Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for his cooperation today.
A Justice Official noted the following:
[The EC contains limited redactions] narrowly tailored to protect the name of a foreign country and the name of a foreign agent.
These words must remain redacted after determining that revealing the words could harm the national security of the American people by undermining the trust we have with this foreign nation. These words appear only a limited number of times, and do not obstruct the underlying meaning of the document.
The question now becomes – what foreign country and what foreign agent.
There are two probable answers.
- Australia and Alexander Downer.
- Britain and GCHQ’s then-head Robert Hannigan.
And a Wild Card:
- Unknown Baltic nation and: Hannigan or unknown foreign agent.
Australia and Alexander Downer relate to the FBI’s reported reasoning for the July Investigation – and involve George Papadopoulos. More later.
Trump’s candidacy was not particularly welcomed by the U.S. political establishment.
Governing bodies in Britain and the European Union were also worried.
The European Union was feeling pressure from Merkel’s “Open Borders” policy and ongoing monetary policy dissension:
A new terror warning was issued for European cties. At what point do we say we have had enough and get really tough and smart. Weak leaders!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2015
Britain was contending with the Brexit Movement:
Many people are equating BREXIT, and what is going on in Great Britain, with what is happening in the U.S. People want their country back!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016
The EU viewed Candidate-Trump’s rhetoric with growing alarm.
European Intelligence Agencies noticed as well.
The Guardian reported on the role of British Intelligence in an April 13, 2017 article:
GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information
Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians.
DNI James Clapper, confirmed EU involvement during Congressional testimony:
Feinstein: Over the spring of 2016, multiple European allies passed on additional information to the United States about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians. Is this accurate?
Clapper: Yes, it is, and it’s also quite sensitive. The specifics are quite sensitive.
Clapper also give an indication as to the quality – or lack thereof – of the intelligence:
Feinstein: What did the intelligence agencies do with the findings the Guardian wrote about?
Clapper: I’m not sure about the accuracy of that article. There was evidence of Russian activity. Mainly, in an information gathering or recon ordering mode, where they were investigating voter registration rolls and the like.
That activity started early, and so, we were monitoring this as it progressed.
CIA Director John Brennan was the conduit for intelligence flows from Europe:
Last April , the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was – allegedly – a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.
It was passed to the US by an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States.
Sometime in the early summer, Robert Hannigan, Britain’s intelligence head of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Brennan regarding alleged communications between the Trump Campaign and Moscow:
That summer, GCHQ’s then head, Robert Hannigan, flew to the US to personally brief CIA chief John Brennan. The matter was deemed so important that it was handled at “director level”, face-to-face between the two agency chiefs.
Hannigan’s U.S. counterpart wasn’t CIA Director Brennan – it was NSA Director Mike Rogers.
In April 2016, Rogers began an investigation into FISA Abuse involving the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and DOJ’s National Security Division (More here).
Rogers’ investigation might explain Hannigan’s unorthodox approach to Brennan. Conversely, Hannigan’s visit to Brennan might explain Rogers’ investigation.
Brennan used information gained from Hannigan – and other European sources – to start a multi-faceted investigation.
Brennan used the GCHQ information and other tip-offs to launch a major inter-agency investigation.
The taskforce included six agencies or departments of government.
The FBI, Treasury, and DOJ handled the domestic inquiry. The CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency handled foreign and intelligence aspects.
Brennan’s inter-agency task force is not to be confused with the July 2016 FBI Counterintelligence Investigation – which formed later at Brennan’s urging.
Following the establishment of the inter-agency task force it was reported a FISA warrant was sought in June 2016:
Lawyers from the National Security Division in the Department of Justice drew up an application. They took it to the secret US court that deals with intelligence, the FISA court. They wanted permission to intercept electronic records from two Russian banks.
Their first application, in June , was rejected outright by the judge.
At this point, I can’t verify with absolute certainty the existence OR non-existence of the June ’16 FISA Application.
But it’s worth noting that Senator Chuck Grassley requested information regarding the June ’16 FISA Application in a June 28, 2017 letter.
Brennan’s May 23, 2017 House Intelligence testimony provided some further clues to what was transpiring:
I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion — cooperation occurred.
Brennan’s intelligence “served as the basis for the FBI investigation”.
Brennan repeatedly made the assertion that he turned over any and all evidence to the FBI.
I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign was shared with the bureau [FBI].
We, the CIA and the intelligence community had collected a fair amount of information in the summer of 2016 about what the Russians were doing on multiple fronts. And we wanted to make sure that the FBI had full access to that.
Consider the situation Brennan was creating.
Repeated transfers of foreign intelligence from the CIA Director pushed the FBI towards the establishment of a formal Counterintelligence Investigation.
Imagine having to later testify before Congress and admit that you repeatedly ignored evidence the CIA Director considered credible and had personally passed along.
After a certain point, Comey was left with no choice.
FBI Agent Peter Strzok drafted the Electronic Communication and the FBI formally opened a Counterintelligence Investigation into the Trump Campaign.
The FBI would later determine there were no clear Russian links. Brennan’s evidence did not hold up to scrutiny.
Brennan later confirmed the use of British Intelligence – but conveniently left out his prominent role:
Todd: Did the Papadopoulos thing come through the CIA via the Five Eyes thing? Is that how that works?
Brennan: I’m not going to get into details about how it was acquired. But the FBI has very close relationship with its British counterparts. And so the FBI had visibility into a number of things that were going on involving some individuals who may have had some affiliation with the Trump campaign.
Suddenly it was the FBI that had visibility into “things that were going on”.
Chuck Todd referenced Five Eyes and Papadopoulos.
Five Eyes refers to a formalized intelligence-sharing alliance between the United States, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
George Papadopoulos – not Brennan – is supposedly the reason the FBI opened their Investigation into the Trump Campaign.
From the New York Times:
During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.
The diplomat, Alexander Downer, informed the Australian government of the conversation.
Two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts.
The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the FBI to open an investigation in July 2016.
The House Memo would corroborate – and criticize – the FBI’s claimed use of Papadopoulos to open the July 2016 Trump-Russia Investigation:
The Page FISA application mentions information regarding Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos. There is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok.
Note: The House Memo is not validating Papadopoulos as an appropriate rationale. They are merely re-stating the FBI’s formal reasoning.
The Papadopoulos excuse never made any sense.
The FBI didn’t bother to interview Papadopoulos until January 15, 2017. The conversation in question took place in May 2016. The FBI knew of this conversation no later than July 2016.
If the Papadopoulos information was enough to open a FBI counterintelligence investigation in July 2016, why did the FBI wait until January 2017 to even speak with Papadopoulos.
And if the Papadopoulos information was so critical, why was there no mention of either the information or Papadopoulos in any of the three Intelligence Community Reports on Russian Election Interference.
One other item of note.
On April 1, 2016 – before Papadopoulos reportedly was told Moscow had emails embarrassing to Clinton – the extradition of Romanian hacker Guccifer was reported:
A Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer” who posted unofficial emails sent to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Internet was extradited from Romania and made his first court appearance in the United States on Friday.
It is entirely likely – perhaps probable – this story is what Papadopoulos was referring to in that London bar conversation.
The Electronic Communication lists the name of a “foreign country” and the name of a “foreign agent”.
As I noted, there are two likely possibilities contained within the EC.
- Australia and Alexander Downer.
- Britain and GCHQ’s then-head Robert Hannigan.
But there’s only one true answer.
CIA Director John Brennan used information from our European counterparts to force FBI Director Comey into starting a formal Trump-Russia Investigation.
In my opinion, there are two fundamental stories that will ultimately unveil the entirety of what’s transpired in Washington:
- John Brennan’s role in establishing the FBI’s Trump-Russia Investigation and pushing the Trump-Russia Narrative.
- FISA Abuse committed by the DOJ’s National Security Division and the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.