Tag: Prague

SPYGATE: What You Need to Know From These Notes the FBI Tried to Hide

Note: This article is a podcast summary of Episode 978 of The Dan Bongino Show, titled “It’s Over.” 

Christopher Steele’s dirty dossier was nonsense from day one, and now we have even more evidence that the FBI knew that but didn’t care. While the dossier was unfit for any American intelligence agency to rely on, that didn’t seem to matter for the anti-Trump faction within the FBI.

As those who have followed the Spygate debacle already know, it was Steele’s dossier used to justify surveillance of Trump campaign member Carter Page. The FBI went to a FISA court in late October 2016, dossier in hand, to justify surveillance. Of their source Christopher Steele, the FBI says in the warrant application that “Source #1 [Steele] has been compensated [REDACTED] by the FBI and the FBI is unaware of any derogatory information pertaining to Source #1.” The warrant was granted on October 21st.

We know from an interview conducted just ten days prior it was a lie that the FBI was “unaware” of any “derogatory information” pertaining to Steele. In fact, they had no shortage of reasons to find him uncredible.

The State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalac interviewed Steele on October 11th, which she chronicled in handwritten notes that were later typed and given to the FBI. Thanks for a Freedom of Information Act request from ‘Citizens United” these notes were unearthed. In those notes, Kavalec detailed Steele’s story of how Russians constructed a “technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election” that recruited emigres in the United States to “do hacking and recruiting.”

Steele also said that  “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami,” which leads Kavalec to make a note that “there is no Russian consulate in Miami.” That’s only the first comment Kavalec must have seen as damaging to Steele’s credibility.

Kavalec made note of comments that indicated Steele was speaking to the media (a cardinal sin for those working with the FBI, and a violation of his confidentiality agreement. It’s interesting that Steele was eventually fired by the FBI for speaking to the press, but not until after they got the FISA they wanted). As The Hill’s John Solomon writes:

“June — reporting started,” Kavalec wrote. “NYT and WP have,” she added, in an apparent reference to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Later she quoted Steele as suggesting he was “managing” four priorities — “Client needs, FBI, WashPo/NYT, source protection,” her handwritten notes show.

Kavalec also made note of Steele’s obvious political motivations, noting that Steele’s client (Fusion GPS) “is keen to see this information come to light prior to the November 8 [the election].” She also noted that “Orbis [Steele’s firm] undertook the investigation into the Russia/Trump connection at the behest of an institution he declined to identify that had been hacked.”

Further damaging his credibility, Steele floated a handful of conspiracy theories that should’ve been red flags to the FBI:

Steele offered Kavalec other wild information that easily could have been debunked before the FISA application — and eventually was, in many cases, after the media reported the allegations — including that:

  • Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with Russians;
  • Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort owed the Russians $100 million and was the “go-between” from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Trump;
  • Trump adviser Carter Page met with a senior Russian businessman tied to Putin;
  • The Russians secretly communicated with Trump through a computer system.

Speaking of at least one of those red flags, Kavolec appeared to make some effort to fact check Steele in real time as he was rattling off his conspiracy theories about Michael Cohen’s Russian contacts and alleged meeting with them in Prague (which we know did not happen). In her handwritten notes, Kavalec circled the date “Aug 18” right underneath a note about “Cohen – Prague.” Another note says “late/early Aug,” but the handwriting is somewhat unclear. Regardless, Kavalec is attempting to pinpoint a date of the alleged trip (which is more investigating than the FBI did into the mythical trip).

Kavalec forwarded her typed summary to the FBI and other government officials two days after her interview. In a sane world, this would’ve led the FBI to disregard Steele as an unreliable partisan looking to thwart a political opponent. Perhaps the FBI simply didn’t care because they had the same end goal.

This evidence is explosive, and implies that the FBI buried this information for over two and a half years. Making matters worse (and more suspicious), the FBI didn’t classify and redact Kavalac’s notes until this year in April thanks to Director Christopher Wray. Did he suddenly realize one of his tracks he forgot to cover?

Kavalec’s notes were also not provided to the House Intelligence Committee during the Russia probe.

We already learned that the FBI relied on a politically motivated shady document to spy on Carter Page – and that’s from the un-redacted parts of Kavalec’s notes! Who can imagine that’s buried within the redaction?

 

 

Despite New Reports, the Michael Cohen Prague Visit is Still Extremely Unlikely

Did we jump the gun in exonerating Michael Cohen from claims of Russian collusion? Probably not, but a new report is raising new questions. 

Earlier in the month, we noted just how flimsy a particular claim about him in Chris Steele’s dossier is; that Cohen allegedly traveled to Prague to meet with Russians with the goal of rigging the election by limiting coverage regarding Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and enlisting the help of Russian hackers. 

There are numerous reasons to doubt the dossier account, namely due to the facts that:

  • Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis, a major Clinton ally, denies the Prague visit.
  • Cohen, who is now turning on Trump, has not corroborated any collusion claims (but has instead focused on the unrelated  Stormy Daniels story).
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Greg Miller said during a book interview that sources at the FBI and CIA don’t believe that the Prague incident ever happened. Miller said that Post reporters “literally spent weeks and months trying to run down” leads from the dossier, and that they “sent reporters through every hotel in Prague, through all over the place, just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty.” Interestingly, that fact has yet to be reported in the Washington Post.
  • “Russian Roulette” author Michael Isikoff (which pushes the collusion narrative) now acknowledges that the dossier is “likely false.”

But according to a new report from McClatchy DC, the evidence of Cohen’s Prague visit has been uncovered at last.

The New, 100% Anonymous Evidence

According to McClatchy’s report, the supposed smoking gun was found in Cohen’s cell phone records. Like any supposedly reputable news agency today, they rely exclusively on anonymous sources that have “knowledge of the matter” (how convenient!). To quote:

A mobile phone traced to Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say.

During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said.

McClatchy acknowledges that while they believe they’ve proven Cohen was in Prague after all, there still isn’t any evidence as to why he was there, or what he did while he was there. The “people familiar with the matter” reportedly gave this new information over to Robert Mueller. Humorously, McClatchy also writes that “McClatchy reported in April 2018 that Mueller had obtained evidence Cohen traveled to Prague from Germany in late August or early September of 2016, but it could not be learned how that information was gleaned.” 

The irony is apparently lost with the sentence “it could not be learned how that information was gleaned,” as we’re being presented with anonymous sources once again.

Holes in McClatchy’s Report

Right off the bat, we’re to parse how it’s possible that Cohen denied this Prague visit under oath to the Senate, but Mueller has done nothing to charge him with lying for that claim despite supposedly having information to the contrary (according to “sources”).

Cohen has already denied the report, which again, would result in perjury charges if he’s being untruthful. He’s already turned on Trump when it comes to payments to Stormy Daniels – why would he put himself at risk of further charges, unless he’s actually telling the truth?

Meanwhile, the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross has found a number of reasons to cast doubt on McClatchy’s report. According to Ross:

As others, even Trump critics have noted, the sourcing is sketchy. “Four sources familiar” doesn’t tell us if it’s gov’t officials, Michael Cohen associates, or even Fusion GPS. There’s also the circumstantial evidence undercutting the dossier’s claims on Cohen/Prague: Cohen did not plead guilty to lying about Prague, even though he denied the trip in his congressional testimony.

No other news outlets have corroborated the McClatchy stories, and Mueller’s office issued a statement after the first story cautioning against believing stories with vague sourcing.

And most important:

There’s reason to believe that the McClatchy reporters have relied on Fusion GPS, which has a strong incentive to bolster the dossier. Glenn Simpson was out spreading a fake story about a conservative lawyer that these McClatchy reporters referenced.

As Ross noted, McClatchy’s new report is really just an extended version of a report of theirs from last April which also claimed to find evidence of Cohen’s trip to Prague. That initial report provoked a rare response from Mueller’s office cautioning against taking such reporting at face value. A spokesperson for Mueller’s office said “What I have been telling all reporters is that many stories about our investigation have been inaccurate. Be very cautious about any source that claims to have knowledge about our investigation and dig deep into what they claim before reporting on.”

If the report was bogus then, why wouldn’t it be now? I’d say the probability that the special counsel has evidence of Cohen’s visit to Prague and has decided to instead charge him for financial crimes instead of lying to their faces is approximately zero.

The Russia Hoax has Collapsed

The final nails are finally being hammered into the “Russian collusion” narrative’s coffin, and new developments from the past week should cause even Trump’s most hysterical critics to reconsider (which they won’t, of course).

Dan documented the death of the collusion narrative yesterday on the podcast. If you missed it – here’s what you need to know.

Comey Deflects Dossier Dirt

After speaking with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee, fired FBI head James Comey came out firing against Fox News and Trump. “So another day of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Steele dossier. This while the President of the United States is lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI and attacking the rule of law in this country. How does that make any sense at all?” Comey asked, before then blaming distrust of the FBI on Fox News.

Though truly, Comey should be blaming distrust of the FBI on the FBI’s actions. Even former assistant FBI counterintelligence division director Bill Priestap acknowledged that dossier wasn’t verified before being used to justify surveillance on members of the Trump campaign team. And as we documented in “Spygate,” there are countless other procedures the FBI ignored or violated in using the Steele dossier. Is concern over the FBI ignoring procedures to justify politically-motivated spying something that only concerns Fox News viewers? If so, that paints Fox News viewers in a positive light.

Of course, Comey is only deflecting to blame Fox News to deflect away from his own role in pushing the bogus dossier, which is even more bogus than we thought.

The Dossier – Glaring Errors Remain, Trump Critics Express Doubt, and Steele Admits Political Motivation

While it’s not like the dossier had any credibility in the first place, we can revise its “D-” grade for truthfulness to a straight “F” for a number of reasons.

  1. The dossier story that Michael Cohen visited Prague to pay Russian hackers remained unverified. Cohen’s spokesman Lanny Davis (a Clinton ally) laughed off the alleged Prague trip when asked about if it happened on MSNBC, telling host Kasie Hunt “No. No. Everybody, America, we all love Kasie’s show. No, no Prague, ever, never.” And Cohen, who is now turning on Trump, still denies the Prague story and hasn’t corroborated any elements of the collusion narrative (which he probably would if it were true).
  2. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Greg Miller said during a book interview that sources at the FBI and CIA don’t believe that the Prague incident ever happened. Miller said that Post reporters “literally spent weeks and months trying to run down” leads from the dossier, and that they “sent reporters through every hotel in Prague, through all over the place, just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty.” Interestingly, that fact has yet to be reported in the Washington Post.
  3. “Russian Roulette” author Michael Isikoff (which pushes the collusion narrative) now acknowledges that the dossier is “likely false.”
  4. There’s no secret that the dossier is politically motivated (as indicated by the Clinton campaign funding its creation), but we finally have Steele on record admitting as much thanks to a lawsuit from Russian bankers smeared in his dossier. In an answer to questions from interrogators, Steele wrote “Fusion’s immediate client was law firm Perkins Coie. It engaged Fusion to obtain information necessary for Perkins Coie LLP to provide legal advice on the potential impact of Russian involvement on the legal validity of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election. Based on that advice, parties such as the Democratic National Committee and HFACC Inc. (also known as ‘Hillary for America’) could consider steps they would be legally entitled to take to challenge the validity of the outcome of that election.”

Is there anyone not in agreement that the dossier is a politically motivated hoax, except James Comey? It’s certainly not just “Fox News” saying as much, and thus far, the only evidence of attempted foreign meddling in the 2016 election came from the Clinton camp. Comey doesn’t have a problem with that, apparently.

The Framing of Flynn – New Information

In the past we’ve documented how Michael Flynn was setup, having not been charged with a crime relating to collusion, but rather for misremembering the contents of a telephone conversation he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak over sanctions. In late December 2016, the two discussed the sanctions against Russia Obama had just passed, and Kislyak promised that Russia would not react with sanctions of their own. Other sanctions related to Israel were also discussed. Flynn reportedly didn’t recall discussing sanctions when quizzed by the FBI.

At worst, it seemed that Flynn simply misremembered his conversation, which is extremely likely.

In a stunning new development, we’ve learned from a 302 report that proper protocol wasn’t followed to protect Flynn against entrapment. A 302 report contains accounts from the agents of what they said and did while interviewing Flynn, and the FBI waited over half a year to detail the Flynn interview. Interestingly, there were two 302 reports, which Robert Mueller claims was due to a drafting error (though many are speculating it proves the 302 was edited). The 302 contains numerous pieces of damaging information, including:

  • Flynn saying “yes, good reminder” when being asked about whether he discussed sanctions related to Israel with Kislyak (he did), even though the public was told Flynn lied in response to that question.
  • The fact that Flynn spoke with representatives from thirty other countries on December 22nd, making it likely that Flynn could’ve been confusing his calls when answering the FBI’s questions.
  • The revelation that Flynn had at least one other conversation with Kisylak (again, making it likely he could be truthful about the contents of a conversation he was confusing with another). Flynn thanks the FBI for this reminder (which isn’t indicative of an adversarial interview), and says he doesn’t remember if he discussed sanctions about Russia (which is radically different from a denial).

If I were asked to recall a random phone conversation while on vacation, I doubt I’d be able to do it. Add in thirty other calls, and faulty memory is to be expected. No one has yet to put forward a convincing motive for why Flynn would knowingly lie to the FBI. Given he didn’t do anything illegal, why would he bother?

For a more extensive summary, give the podcast a listen for yourself.