On or shortly after March 9, 2016, NSA Director Rogers became aware of improper access to raw FISA data (FISA Court Ruling p. 83-84).
On March 9, 2016, DOJ oversight personnel conducting a minimization review at the FBI’s [Redacted] learned that the FBI had disclosed raw FISA information, including but not limited to Section 702-acquired information, to a [Redacted] Compliance Report at 92.
FISA access was being granted to private contractors:
[Redacted] is part of the [Redacted] and “is largely staffed by private contractors” [Redacted] certain [Redacted] contractors had access to raw FISA information on FBI storage systems [Redacted].
And the FISA access appeared to be quite broad:
The apparent purpose for the FBI’s granting such access was to receive analytical assistance from [Redacted]. Nonetheless, the [Redacted] contractors had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the FBI’s requests; [Redacted].
On April 18 2016, Director Rogers shut down FBI/DOJ contractor access to the FISA data.
The FBI discontinued the above-described access to raw FISA information as of April 18, 2016.
This activity had been going on since at least November 2015 (Page 82).
NSA examined all queries using identifiers for “U.S. persons targeted using the [Redacted] tool in [Redacted] from November 1, 2015 to May 1, 2016.
For background see:
- The Uncovering – Mike Rogers’ Investigation, Section 702 FISA Abuse & the FBI
- John Carlin – The Former NSD Head Who Enabled the FBI’s Carter Page FISA Warrant
Rogers discovery and subsequent discontinuation of private contractors created a problem for the FBI. Access to the NSA Database was now shut down – or at least impeded.
With this backdrop, let’s take a quick look at some events occurring around this timeframe:
- March 9 2016 – NSA Director Rogers becomes aware of improper access to raw FISA data.
- March 14 2016 – Papadopoulos first meets Mifsud in Italy – approximately one week after officially joining the Trump team.
- March 21 2016 – Carter Page joins the Trump Campaign as an advisor on foreign policy.
- March 24 2016 – Papadopoulos, Mifsud, Olga Polonskaya and unknown fourth party met in a London cafe.
- March 28 2016 – Paul Manafort joins Trump Campaign as campaign convention manager.
- Late March 2016 – FBI Agents visited the Clinton Campaign Headquarters in Brooklyn.
- April 2016 – Brennan is shown information on the Trump Campaign from a Baltic State Intelligence Agency – UK Intelligence may be more likely.
- April 2016 – National Security Agency (NSA) Director Rogers orders NSA compliance officer to run full audit on 702 NSA compliance.
- April 2016 – Fusion GPS hired by Perkins Coie on behalf of the DNC.
- April 18 2016 – Mike Rogers shuts down FBI/DOJ contractor access to the FISA Search System.
- April 18 2016 – Date DNC says they were hacked. See also, The FBI’s Outside Contractors, DNC Servers & Crowdstrike.
- April 18 2016 – Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to Ivan Timofeev, an official at a state-sponsored think tank called Russian International Affairs Council.
- April 19 2016 – Wife of Glenn Simpson (Fusion GPS) Mary Jacoby visits White House.
- April 25 2016 – Two WH meetings between FBI Counsel James Baker and Trisha B Anderson (FBI), Tashina Guahar( DOJ), John T Lynch (DOJ), John (Brad) Wiegmann (DOJ), Alan Rozenshtein (DOJ), Norman (Christopher) Hardee (DOJ), and Iris Lan (DOJ). DOJ attorneys Tashina Guahar, Christopher Hardee, Brad Wiegmann are FISA attorneys. Note: Meeting link now broken. Cannot locate active secondary source. Treat accordingly.
- April 26 2016 – Mifsud tells Papadopoulos he’s met with high-level Russian government officials who have “dirt” on Clinton.
- Late April 2016 – Clinton Campaign begins paying Fusion GPS. Steele is probably working with Fusion – at least informally.
Note: For a larger timeline of events see, A Surveillance Timeline.
A quick summation.
On March 9, 2016, Rogers becomes aware of the FBI’s private contractors. Five days later, George Papadopoulos is first contacted by Mifsud. Contact between Papadopoulos and Mifsud continues through late April 2016.
The FBI visits the Clinton Campaign in late March 2016. Brennan receives foreign intelligence on the Trump Campaign in April 2016.
On April 18, 2016, Rogers shuts down the FBI’s private contractor access. The information flow is shut off. “Coincidentally,” this is the same day the DNC will claim their servers were hacked. For thoughts on this timing see, The FBI’s Outside Contractors, DNC Servers & Crowdstrike.
The day after access is shut down, Simpson’s wife visits the White House (h/t Katica). One week later, Mifsud supposedly tells Papadopoulos the Russians have dirt on Clinton.
In late April 2016, the Clinton Campaign hires Fusion GPS and the formulation of Trump-Russia Collusion begins.
Here’s where things get even more interesting.
“But need to try to fix a HUGE who f-up”
Rogers’ discovery got their attention.
Interestingly, there are no texts from either Strzok or Page on either April 17 or April 18, 2016 – when Rogers shut down the FBI’s private contractor access.
On April 30, 2016 we have this Strzok text – found by Tracybeanz:
1. Brace yourselves. Sometimes when you are investigating one thing, you end up stumbling into something so big- so damning, you have to pinch yourself. Inside of the Strzok/Page text messages, on April 30, 2016, lies this little gem: (page 202)https://t.co/DNs5skOJJj pic.twitter.com/MQntAJnPhh
— Tracybeanz (@tracybeanz) May 31, 2018
Here’s the Strzok text:
“And now we’ve switched from the Patriot Act to a wire carrying current.”
The FBI suddenly switched from gathering Section 702 FISA data to active surveillance. Strzok’s text aligns rather nicely with events contained in the timeline.
A wire carrying current could mean multiple things – electronic surveillance (tapping a phone line). It could also be a euphemism for physical/human surveillance.
Papadopoulos comes to mind. As does Manafort (more below).
There may have been more going on.
We know that National Security Letters (NSLs) were used on the Trump Campaign. National Security Letters allow for gathering of non-content info – dates emails sent, dates calls made – but not the actual content of those emails or calls.
The assumption is that NSLs were employed after the FBI opened their Counterintelligence Investigation on July 31, 2016.
The Strzok text makes me question that timing:
Was the 1st FBI National Security Letter issued all the way back in April 2016?
April 18 2016 -Mike Rogers shuts down FBI/DOJ contractor access to the FISA Search System.
April 30 2016 – FBI “we’ve switched from the Patriot Act to a wire carrying current.” https://t.co/8HHtFZtyVI
— Jeff @ themarketswork (@themarketswork) June 1, 2018
We know that Steele and Simpson had known each other since 2009. The common story is that Steele began working with Fusion GPS on the Dossier in June 2016. Luke Harding, one of the few reporters to know Steele personally, offers a slightly different timeline:
In early spring 2016, Simpson approached Steele, his friend and colleague. Steele began to scrutinize Paul Manafort, who would soon become Trump’s new campaign manager.
From April , Steele investigated Trump on behalf of the DNC, Fusion’s anonymous client. All Steele knew at first was that the client was a law firm. He had no idea what he would find.
Court documents tell us Orbis was officially engaged by Fusion in June 2016, but preliminary investigative work probably began earlier.
Other related events began somewhat concurrently.
On March 25, 2016, DNC Operative Alexandra Chalupa shared concerns regarding Manafort, Trump and their ties to Russia with the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S.
On March 29, 2016, Chalupa briefed DNC staff on the same matters:
The day after Manafort’s hiring was revealed, she briefed the DNC’s communications staff on Manafort, Trump and their ties to Russia, according to an operative familiar with the situation.
Chalupa said the [Ukrainian] embassy also worked directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions.
From April 4 through April 12 2016 – Ukrainian Parliamentarian Olga Bielkov had four meetings – with Samuel Charap (International Institute for Strategic Studies), Liz Zentos (National Security Council), Michael Kimmage (State Dept) and David Kramer (McCain Institute).
Doug Schoen filed FARA documents showing he was paid $40,000 a month by Ukrainian Billionaire Victor Pinchuk (page 5) to arrange these meetings.
Pinchuk has long-standing ties to the Clinton Foundation.
On April 26, 2016, Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff published a story on Yahoo News about Paul Manafort’s business dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
I spoke to a delegation of 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine last Wednesday at the Library of Congress – the Open World Society’s forum – they put me on the program to speak specifically about Paul Manafort and I invited Michael Isikoff whom I’ve been working with for the past few weeks and connected him to the Ukrainians.
For more on Chalupa see: Victoria Nuland, Alexandra Chalupa, Ukrainian Ties & the Steele Dossier.
Rogers’ discovery of the FBI’s use of private contractors on March 9, 2016 appears to be a proverbial kick to the hornets nest. Activity began to pick up and accelerated significantly during April 2016.
Passive intelligence gathering stopped and active surveillance initiated – through the incorporation of active human sourcing and planned-for use of National Security Letters.
Here is a continuation of the timeline as we move through May towards a busy June 2016:
- April/May 2016 – Fusion GPS hires Christopher Steele.
- April/May 2016 – Fusion GPS hires Nellie Ohr, wife of DOJ Assoc. Deputy AG Bruce Ohr.
- May 2016 – Trump becomes presumptive GOP Nominee.
- May 4 2016 – Papadopoulos gives his interview to the London Times. It is not well-received in London.
- May 9-13 2016 – FBI Counterintelligence Head Bill Priestap is in London. h/t @JohnWHuber.
- May 10 2016 – Papadopoulos meets with Australian Diplomat Alexander Downer. It is Downer who seeks out the meeting.
- May/June 2016 – Halper invites Carter Page to July 2016 Cambridge symposium regarding the upcoming election.
- May/June 2016 – Brennan creates a six-agency task force to investigate Russian Interference.
- May 19 2016 – Paul Manafort promoted to campaign chairman and chief strategist for Trump Campaign.
- May 23 2016 – Nellie Ohr applies for a HAM Radio license.
- Early Summer (probably June) 2016 – Brennan is briefed in-person by GCHQ’s then-head, Robert Hannigan, on information in the possession of British Intelligence.
- June 2016 – Brennan passes his intelligence to the FBI. This intelligence “served as the basis for the FBI investigation”.
- June 2016 – Possible FISA Application prepared by NSD lawyers.
For the larger timeline and continuation of events see, A Surveillance Timeline.
newer post The Shifting Political Sands of Italy
older post A Partial Surveillance Timeline