Robert S. Mueller III

The Pronk Pops Show 1032, February 13, 2018, Story 1: General Flynn Did Not Lie To FBI According To Former FBI Director Comey — Department of Justice Railroaded General Flynn — Videos — Story 2: Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice Last Minute Inauguration Day CYA (Obama) Email On Russia That Obama Wants Investigations By The Book — No Not The Law — Yes The Book was Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky — Videos

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Story 1: General Flynn Did Not Lie To FBI According To Former FBI Director Comey — Department of Justice Railroaded General Flynn — Videos — 

JUST IN: MARK LEVIN Goes After Obama: Where is he? Has he gone into the witness protection?

Sean Hannity Feb 15, 2018 – Breaking News

BREAKING NEWS!!! RUSH LIMBAUGH: GEN. FLYNN INDICTMENT PART OF ‘ONE OF THE MOST GIGANTIC POLITICAL SCANDAL

NEW!!! Russian Collusion Proof Just Took Whole New Turn On Dems

Obama Holdouts at DOJ Railroaded Gen Michael Flynn

FBI director claims there is no bias in agency

Napolitano: Gen. Flynn – Why did he plead guilty to lying?

Why weren’t Hillary Clinton staffers investigated for lying to FBI?

Jason Chaffetz & Trey Gowdy Trust IG Horowitz, 2042

2-3-15 DOJ Inspector General Horowitz Testimony: Return to a “Culture of Openness”

IG Michael Horowitz Opening Statement Hearing Oversight Access Concerns

Clinton campaign looked to fire intel watchdog over email scandal

Joe diGenova describes “Brazen Plot To Exonerate Hillary Clinton”

Ex-inspector general: Blowback came from Clinton allies

Trey Gowdy States Michael Horowitz The I G Uncovered Peter Strzok In FBI Investigation

General Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI

Source: Flynn broken financially and emotionally

Jared Kushner directed Michael Flynn to contact Russian ambassador

Michael Flynn may have violated Logan Act: Chad Pergram

President Trump: Lying To The FBI ‘Destroyed’ Michael Flynn’s Life, But Not Hillary’s | NBC News

Flynn unlikely to face charges for lying to FBI, sources say

Meet the Inspector General

Photo of Michael E. Horowitz

Michael E. Horowitz was sworn in as the Inspector General of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 16, 2012, following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  Mr. Horowitz was previously confirmed by the Senate in 2003 to serve a six-year term as a Commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

As Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz oversees a nationwide workforce of more than 450 special agents, auditors, inspectors, attorneys, and support staff whose mission is to detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in DOJ programs and personnel, and to promote economy and efficiency in Department operations.  Since 2015, he has simultaneously served as the Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), an organization comprised of all 73 federal Inspectors General.

Mr. Horowitz worked from 2002 to 2012 as a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham, & Taft LLP, where he focused his practice on white collar defense, internal investigations, and regulatory compliance.  He also was a board member of the Ethics Resource Center and the Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics.

Prior to working in private practice, Mr. Horowitz worked in DOJ from 1991 to 2002.  He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1991 to 1999, where he was the Chief of the Public Corruption Unit and a Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.  In 1995, he was awarded the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for his work on a complex police corruption investigation.  Thereafter, he worked in the DOJ Criminal Division in Washington from 1999 to 2002, first as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and then as Chief of Staff.  Mr. Horowitz began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge John G. Davies of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and as an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton.

Mr. Horowitz earned his Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Brandeis University.

https://oig.justice.gov/about/meet-ig.htm

Byron York: Comey told Congress FBI agents didn’t think Michael Flynn lied

Congressional investigators are baffled by the turn of events in the Michael Flynn case. But they know they find the Flynn case troubling, from start to finish. (AP)Congressional investigators are baffled by the turn of events in the Michael Flynn case. But they know they find the Flynn case troubling, from start to finish. (AP)

Jan. 23, the Washington Post reported that the FBI had reviewed the Flynn-Kislyak calls and “has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government.” (The calls had been intercepted by U.S. intelligence because the U.S. monitored the Russian ambassador’s communications — something which Flynn, a former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, surely knew.)

Still, Flynn’s conversation had the attention of the Obama Justice Department, and in particular of deputy attorney general Sally Yates, who reportedly believed Flynn might have violated the Logan Act, a 218 year-old law under which no one had ever been successfully prosecuted. (Two people were charged in the 19th century, but the cases were dropped.)

Despite the high level of classification, word of the Justice Department’s concerns got to the press. On Jan. 12, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported that Flynn and Kislyak had talked. “What did Flynn say, and did it undercut U.S. sanctions?” Ignatius asked. “The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about ‘disputes’ with the United States. Was its spirit violated?”

Three days later, on Jan. 15, Vice President-elect Mike Pence (remember, this was all happening before the Trump administration took office) denied that Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. “They [Flynn and Kislyak] did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Pence told CBS.

On Jan. 20, Donald Trump became president. On Jan. 22, the Wall Street Journal reported that “U.S. counterintelligence agents have investigated communications” between Flynn and Kislyak. The investigation “aimed to determine the nature of Mr. Flynn’s contact with Russian officials and whether such contacts may have violated laws.”

On Jan. 24, the Justice Department — the Obama holdover Yates had become the acting attorney general — sent two FBI agents to the White House to question Flynn, who talked to them without a lawyer present.

It has sometimes been asked why Flynn, a man long familiar with the ways of Washington, would talk to the FBI without a lawyer. There seems to be no clear answer. On the one hand, as national security adviser, Flynn had plenty of reasons to talk to the FBI, and he could have reasonably thought the meeting would be about a prosaic issue involved in getting the new Trump National Security Council up and running. On the other hand, the media was filled with talk about the investigation into his conversations with Kislyak, and he might just as reasonably have thought that’s what the agents wanted to discuss. In any event, Flynn went ahead without an attorney present.

In addition, it appears the FBI did not tell White House officials, including the National Security Council’s legal adviser or the White House counsel, that agents were coming to interview the national security adviser over a potentially criminal matter.

Two days later, on Jan. 26, Yates and a high-ranking colleague went to the White House to tell counsel Don McGahn about the Flynn situation. “The first thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that Gen. Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself,” Yates testified in a May 2017 appearance before a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee. That was an apparent reference to the Logan Act, although Yates never specifically said so. “We took him [McGahn] through in a fair amount of detail of the underlying conduct, what Gen. Flynn had done.”

Yates then explained to McGahn her theory that Flynn might be vulnerable to blackmail. The idea was that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak, which of course the Russians knew. And then if Flynn lied to Pence, and Pence made a public statement based on what Flynn had told him, then the Russians might be able to blackmail Flynn because they, the Russians, knew Flynn had not told the vice president the truth.

It was a pretty far-fetched notion, but, along with the never-successfully-prosecuted Logan Act, it was apparently the basis upon which the FBI went inside the White House to do an unannounced interview of a key member of the new administration.

In their discussion, McGahn asked Yates: Even if one White House official lied to another, what’s that to the Justice Department? “It was a whole lot more than one White House official lying to another,” Yates testified. “First of all, it was the vice president of the United States and the vice president had then gone out and provided that information to the American people who had then been misled and the Russians knew all of this, making Mike Flynn compromised now.”

Yates went to see McGahn twice, on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27. On Feb. 13, Flynn resigned. That same day, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department had pursued Flynn on the grounds of a potential Logan Act violation.

“Yates, then the deputy attorney general, considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call to be ‘highly significant’ and ‘potentially illegal,’ according to an official familiar with her thinking,” the Post reported. “Yates and other intelligence officials suspected that Flynn could be in violation of an obscure U.S. statute known as the Logan Act, which bars U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another country.”

On Feb. 14, the New York Times reported that, “Obama advisers grew suspicious that perhaps there had been a secret deal between the incoming [Trump] team and Moscow, which could violate the rarely enforced, two-century-old Logan Act barring private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers in disputes with the United States.” (The paper added that the Obama advisers asked the FBI if Flynn and Kislyak had discussed a quid pro quo, only to learn the answer was no.)

At that point, the public still did not know that the Jan. 24 FBI interview of Flynn had taken place. That report came on Feb. 17, when the Washington Post reported the interview in a story headlined, “Flynn told FBI he did not discuss sanctions.” That was the piece that noted Flynn was in legal jeopardy, and that, “Lying to the FBI is a felony offense.”

Congress, in the meantime, was in the dark about what was going on. Given the intense discussion of the Flynn case in the media, there was no doubt lawmakers were going to want to know what was happening in the Flynn matter, as well as other aspects of the Trump-Russia investigation. (At that point, the FBI had never even publicly acknowledged that there was an investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.)

So Comey went to Capitol Hill in March to brief lawmakers privately. That is when he told them that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe Flynn had lied, or that any inaccuracies in Flynn’s answers were intentional. And that is when some lawmakers got the impression that Flynn would not be charged with any crime pertaining to the Jan. 24 interview.

There was still the possibility Flynn could face legal trouble for something else, like failing to register his representation of Turkey. But as far as the question of a “1001 charge” — a charge of lying to investigators, known by its number in the federal code — some lawmakers took that as a sign that Flynn was out of the woods.

On the other hand, the FBI does not make prosecution decisions. (That was not true, of course, in the case of the Clinton email investigation, in which the attorney general effectively gave Comey the decision of whether or not to prosecute.) It could be that the FBI agents who did the questioning were overruled by Justice Department officials who came up with theories like Flynn’s alleged violation of the Logan Act or his alleged vulnerability to blackmail.

In any event, much happened after the FBI director’s March briefings of Congress. In May, the president fired Comey. The Justice Department, under Trump-appointed deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, chose Robert Mueller to be the Trump-Russia special counsel. Mueller gathered a number of prosecutors known for tough, take-no-prisoners tactics. And on Dec. 1, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Yates went on to become a heroine of the Trump resistance (and at least one of Mueller’s prosecutors) after she refused to enforce the president’s travel ban executive order, and Trump summarily fired her. Her legacy lives on in United States v. Michael T. Flynn.

But to outside observers, mystery still surrounds the case. To some Republicans, it appears the Justice Department used a never-enforced law and a convoluted theory as a pretext to question Flynn — and then, when FBI questioners came away believing Flynn had not lied to them, forged ahead with a false-statements prosecution anyway. The Flynn matter is at the very heart of the Trump-Russia affair, and there is still a lot to learn about it.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/byron-york-comey-told-congress-fbi-agents-didnt-think-michael-flynn-lied/article/2648896

 

Exclusive: CIA Ex-Director Brennan’s Perjury Peril

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes next plans to investigate the role former CIA Director John Brennan and other Obama intelligence officials played in promoting the salacious and unverified Steele dossier on Donald Trump — including whether Brennan perjured himself in public testimony about it.

In his May 2017 testimony before the intelligence panel, Brennan emphatically denied the dossier factored into the intelligence community’s publicly released conclusion last year that Russia meddled in the 2016 election “to help Trump’s chances of victory.”

Brennan also swore that he did not know who commissioned the anti-Trump research document (excerpt here), even though senior national security and counterintelligence officials at the Justice Department and FBI knew the previous year that the dossier was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Last week, Nunes (R-Calif.) released a declassified memo exposing surveillance “abuses” by the Obama DOJ and FBI in their investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia. It said the agencies relied heavily on the uncorroborated dossier to take out a warrant to secretly surveil a Trump adviser in the heat of the 2016 presidential election, even though they were aware the underlying “intelligence” supporting the wiretap order was political opposition research funded by Clinton allies — a material fact they concealed from FISA court judges in four separate applications.

 Rep. Devin Nunes.

Nunes plans to soon release a separate report detailing the Obama State Department’s role in creating and disseminating the dossier — which has emerged as the foundation of the Obama administration’s Russia “collusion” investigation. Among other things, the report will identify Obama-appointed diplomats who worked with partisan operatives close to Hillary Clinton to help ex-British spy Christopher Steele compile the dossier, sources say.

“Those are the first two phases” of Nunes’ multipart inquiry, a senior investigator said. “In phase three, the involvement of the intelligence community will come into sharper focus.”

The aide, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Nunes will focus on Brennan as well as President Obama’s first CIA director, Leon Panetta, along with the former president’s intelligence czar, James Clapper, and national security adviser, Susan Rice, and security adviser-turned U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, among other intelligence officials.

“John Brennan did more than anyone to promulgate the dirty dossier,” the investigator said. “He politicized and effectively weaponized what was false intelligence against Trump.”

Attempts to reach Brennan for comment were unsuccessful.

Several Capitol Hill sources say Brennan, a fiercely loyal Obama appointee, talked up the dossier to Democratic leaders, as well as the press, during the campaign. They say he also fed allegations about Trump-Russia contacts directly to the FBI, while pressuring the bureau to conduct an investigation of several Trump campaign figures starting in the summer of 2016.

Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort was wiretapped in addition to Trump adviser Carter Page during the campaign. (Page has not been charged with a crime. Manafort was recently indicted for financial crimes unrelated to the Moscow “collusion” activities alleged in the dossier.)

On Aug. 25, 2016, for example, the CIA chief gave an unusual private briefing to then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in which he told Reid the Russians were backing Trump and that the FBI would have to take the lead in an investigation because the FBI is the federal agency in charge of domestic intelligence and, unlike the CIA, can spy on U.S. citizens.

Two days after Brennan’s special briefing, Reid fired off a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey demanding he open an investigation targeting “individuals tied to Trump” to determine if they coordinated with the Russian government “to influence our election.”

“The Trump campaign has employed a number of individuals with significant and disturbing ties to Russia and the Kremlin,” the then-top Democrat in the Senate added in his two-page letter.

Reid then alluded to Page as one of those compromised individuals and repeated an unproven charge from the dossier that Page had met with two Kremlin officials in Moscow in July 2016 to discuss removing U.S. sanctions on Russia. Page has repeatedly denied the allegation under oath, swearing he never even met the Russian officials named in the dossier.

“Any such meetings should be investigated,” Reid asserted.

Less than two months later, Comey signed an application for a surveillance warrant to monitor Page’s emails, text messages, phone conversations and residence.

Christopher Steele, former British spy.

Unsatisfied with the progress of Comey’s investigation, Reid released an open letter to the FBI chief in late October 2016 accusing him of sitting on evidence. Reid told Comey that from his communications with “other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity.”

Congressional investigators say that the “explosive information” Reid referred to was the false or unverified claims in the Clinton-funded dossier — which the sources say were passed along by Brennan. They add that Brennan gave more than one briefing.

After Trump won the election, sources say, the CIA director sought to “weaponize” the dossier’s wild accusations against the president-elect.

In early January, just weeks before Trump was inaugurated, investigators say Brennan saw to it that the contents from the dossier were attached to an official daily intelligence briefing for Obama. The special classified briefing was then leaked to the major Washington media, allowing them to use the presidential briefing to justify the publication of claims they had up to that point not been able to substantiate and had been reluctant to run.

CNN broke the news that the dossier — described as “classified documents” — had been attached to the briefing report by the CIA, and had been given to the president. The top-level credence that the government was placing in the dossier gave prominent newspapers, including the Washington Post and New York Times, justification to follow suit.

In addition, BuzzFeed published 35 pages of the dossier in full. (The Internet news outlet was recently sued by Trump campaign lawyer Michael Cohen, whom the dossier accused of conspiring with the Kremlin to pay Russian hackers to steal Clinton campaign emails. It’s one of several libel and defamation lawsuits tied to the dossier.)

At the time, the Washington Post was assured by Obama intelligence officials that “the sources involved in the [dossier’s] reporting were credible enough to warrant inclusion of their claims in the highly classified [presidential] report.” Months later in public testimony, however, Brennan said the dossier and its sources were not credible enough to incorporate the information in a separate January 2017 intelligence report on Russian election interference publicly released by the administration. The published unclassified version of the report nonetheless echoes the dossier’s central assertion that Moscow meddled in the election to help Trump.

Brennan later swore the dossier did not “in any way” factor into the CIA’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election to help Trump. However, congressional investigators suggest a still-classified version of the January 2017 intelligence report contradicts his claim. Also in his May 2017 testimony, Brennan swore he had no idea who commissioned the dossier.

CIA veterans say Brennan was the most politicized director in the agency’s history and was responsible for much of the anti-Trump bias from the intelligence community during the campaign and transition period.

Former CIA field operations officer Gene Coyle, a 30-year agency veteran who served under Brennan, said he was “known as the greatest sycophant in the history of the CIA, and a supporter of Hillary Clinton before the election.”

“I find it hard to put any real credence in anything that the man says,” he added.

Coyle noted that Brennan broke with his predecessors who stayed out of elections. Several weeks before the vote, he said, “Brennan made it very clear that he was a supporter of candidate Clinton, hoping he would be rewarded with being kept on in her administration.” (Brennan is a liberal Democrat. In fact, at the height of the Cold War in 1976, he voted for a Communist Party candidate for president.)

What’s more, his former deputy at the CIA, Mike Morell, who formed a consulting firm with longtime Clinton aide and campaign adviser Philippe Reines, even came out in early August 2016 and publicly endorsed her in the New York Times, while claiming Trump was an “unwitting agent” of Moscow.

Former FBI Director James Comey.

“In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” he claimed. “My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it. This is what I did for the CIA. This is what I am doing now. Our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president.”

Reid repeated Morell’s allegation against Trump in his August 2016 letter to Comey.

Career U.S. intelligence officials say Morell, like Brennan, was personally invested in a Clinton victory.

Morell “had aspirations of being CIA director if she had won,” said former FBI counterintelligence official I.C. Smith, whose service overlapped with Brennan’s.

Investigators are trying to learn if the Clinton campaign shared, through Reines, the early memos on the dossier it was paying for with Morrell before he wrote his Times op-ed.

Morell could not be reached for comment. But he pushed back hard last week against Nunes releasing his memo exposing the FBI’s reliance on the dossier for Trump wiretaps, which he argued “did not have to happen. It undermines the credibility of the FBI in the public’s eyes, and with no justification in my view.”

“What happened here underscores the partisanship and the dysfunction of a very important committee in Congress, and that does not serve Congress well. It doesn’t serve the intelligence community, and it doesn’t serve the country well,” Morell continued earlier this week in an interview with CBS News, where he now works as a “senior national security contributor.”

Sources say Brennan is aware that the House Intelligence Committee is targeting him in its wide-ranging investigation of the dossier and investigative and intelligence abuses related to it, and that Nunes plans to call him and other former Obama administration officials before the panel to question them based on newly obtained documents and information.

Last week, perhaps not coincidentally, Brennan signed a contract with NBC News and MSNBC to be their “senior national security and intelligence analyst.”

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Brennan laced into Nunes for releasing the memo revealing FBI surveillance abuses related to the dossier, claiming the head of the intelligence panel has “abused the office of the chairmanship.”

“It really underscores just how partisan Mr. Nunes has been,” Brennan charged.

In the interview, Brennan claimed he first learned of the existence of the dossier “in late summer of 2016, when there were some individuals from the various U.S. news outlets who asked me about my familiarity with it. And I had heard just snippets about it.”

He further contended that he had neither seen nor read the dossier until a month after the election.

“I did not know what was in there,” Brennan said. “I did not see it until later in that year, I think it was in December.”

Brennan also insisted he did not know who was pulling the strings on the research that went into the dossier.

“I was unaware of the provenance of it as well as what was in it,” he said, and he reasserted that “it did not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment that was done.”

Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, is also coming under scrutiny for his role in the dossier.

He joined Brennan in giving Obama a two-page summary of the dossier memos during the presidential briefing in January 2017. Days later, Clapper expressed “profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press,” and misleadingly referred to the dossier as a “private security company document.”

James Clapper, former director of national intelligence.

The intelligence committee plans to press Clapper to find out if he knew at the time that, in fact, the document was political opposition research underwritten by the Clinton campaign, and whether any of the leaks to the media came from his office.

“I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC [intelligence community],” he maintained at the time, adding that “we did not rely upon [the dossier] in any way for our conclusion” on Russian interference.

In October 2016, during the heat of the campaign, Clapper issued a public report declaring that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime directed the cyberattacks on Clinton campaign emails, echoing memos Steele was delivering at the time to the Clinton campaign.

A year later, after it was finally revealed in the national media that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the research that went into the notorious dossier, Clapper insisted it “doesn’t matter who paid for it.”

“It’s what the dossier said and the extent to which it was — it’s corroborated or not. We had some concerns about it from the standpoint of its sourcing, which we couldn’t corroborate,” Clapper added last October in an interview with CNN.

He went on to strongly suggest that the intelligence assessment report he issued with Brennan, which concluded the Kremlin not only hacked the Democratic campaign but did so specifically to put Trump in the White House, was based on “some of the substantive content of the dossier.”

“But at the same time, some of the substantive content, not all of it, but some of the substantive content of the dossier, we were able to corroborate in our Intelligence Community Assessment from other sources, which we had very high confidence of,” Clapper said.

Investigators say Nunes intends to drill down on exactly who those “other sources” are now that his committee has learned that top officials at both the FBI and Justice Department relied on a Yahoo! News article as their additional sourcing to corroborate the dossier allegations they cited to obtain Trump campaign wiretap warrants — even though it turns out the main source for the Yahoo! story was merely the dossier’s author, Steele, who was disguised as “a Western intelligence source.”

Clapper, who recently signed his own media deal, joining CNN as a paid “contributor,” bashed Nunes on the network and suggested the release of future reports could endanger the intelligence community’s mission. He said his release of the FBI memo was “political” and an “egregious” betrayal of “others in the intelligence community who have a lot at stake here with the whole FISA [surveillance] process.”

https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2018/02/11/former_cia_director_john_brennan_investigated_for_perjury.html

Dossier’s 10 core collusion accusations remain unverified 20 months later

Christopher Steele, former British intelligence officer in London Tuesday March 7, 2017 where he has spoken to the media for the first time . Steele who compiled an explosive and unproven dossier on President Donald Trump’s purported activities in Russia …
 – The Washington Times – Monday, February 12, 2018

Christopher Steele’s unproven dossier is a mix of felony charges against President Trump and his people, as well as supposed gossip inside the Kremlin over computer hacking and personnel firings.

For the ongoing special counsel investigation into suspected TrumpRussia election coordination, it is helpful to separate what counts: Dust away the atmospherics — supposed Kremlin intrigue — and focus on the collusion charges brought by the former British spy based on his paid intermediaries and Moscow sources. None is identified.

Funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, these specific dossier charges of secret spy missions and criminality are what came to permeate the FBI investigation. Republicans say the FBI abused the court process by using the partisan charges to obtain four wiretap warrants against the other campaign. They say the bureau has yet to confirm any charge.

As the dossier today takes on even more importance, The Washington Times identified Mr. Steele’s 10 core collusion accusations. The analysis includes the charges’ status, 20 months after Mr. Steele first contacted the FBI and urged the prosecution of President Trump.

• The Trump campaign launched an “extensive conspiracy” with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. To date, no public verification.

• Mr. Trump, for decades a developer of tall buildings, maintained an eight-year relationship of give-and-take with Russian intelligence. To date, no public verification.

Mr. Trump and senior campaign aides actively supported the Russia hacking of Democratic Party computers to steal and release stolen emails. To date, no public verification.

• Volunteer Carter Page and campaign manager Paul Manafort personally conspired with Moscow to hack the Democrats’ computers. When the hacking began in 2015, neither man was associated with the Trump campaign. Both deny the charge. Mr. Page testified under oath that he had never met or spoken with Mr. Manafort. To date, no public verification of this dossier part.

• Mr. Page, an Annapolis graduate, an energy investor and a former resident of Moscow, traveled to that city in early July 2016 to deliver a public speech at a university. The dossier says he met with two top Kremlin operatives and discussed bribes for working to lift economic sanctions. Mr. Page testified under oath that he had never met nor spoke with them. He has filed libel lawsuits.

• Mr. Trump engaged with Russian prostitutes during a trip to Moscow in 2013. Mr. Trump has denied this numerous times. To date, no public verification.

• Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016. His supposed mission: to orchestrate payments with agents of Vladimir Putin to cover up the hacking. At that point, the hacking was known worldwide. Mr. Cohen repeatedly has denied under oath that he took such a trip and showed his passport. He has filed libel lawsuits, including against Fusion GPS. Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson, who ordered the dossier, has suggested that Mr. Cohen took a private Russian plane and might have been on a yacht in the Adriatic Sea. To date, there has been no public verification of any of this.

• Russian tech entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, owner of XBT Holding, hacked the Democrat Party computers with spyware and pornography. He has denied this repeatedly. He sued Mr. Steele for libel in a London court, where the former spy said the information was raw call-in information and not verified.

• Three Russian oligarchs and shareholders in Alfa Bank were involved in Russian election interference and paid bribes to Mr. Putin. They deny the charges and have filed libel lawsuits.

• Mikhail Kalugin was chief of the economic section at the Russian Embassy in Washington. Mr. Steele accuses him of being a spy and of funding the hacking with skimmed-off pension funds. He was supposedly whisked out of Washington when the hacking scandal broke in August. Washington associates of Mr. Kalugin told The Washington Times that the diplomat announced his planned departure 10 months beforehand. He and his family returned to Moscow. He now works in the Foreign Ministry. A former senior U.S. government official told The Times that Mr. Kalugin was never internally identified as a spy.

Republicans and dossier targets uniformly deride the 35 pages as falsehoods and fabrications. Some Democrats have acknowledged that the collection of memos is flawed.

But there are steadfast dossier believers, such liberal Twitter brigades and Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the leading Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The FBI used the unverified dossier on Oct. 21, 2016, to obtain a court wiretap warrant on Mr. Page that lasted nearly a year.

Agents included dossier information in the application and three subsequent renewals. The filing was based on the pledge from Mr. Steele that he was not the source of a dossier-type report on Mr. Page that Michael Isikoff reported in Yahoo News in September 2016. But in the London court case, Mr. Steele acknowledged that he was the source.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, released a declassified referral last week that urges the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of Mr. Steele for lying to the FBI.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s ranking Democrat, issued a rebuttal on Friday.

“Not a single revelation in the Steele dossier has been refuted,” she said, referring to the former MI-6 officer as a “respected and reliable expert on Russia.”

She said the Grassley-Graham referral “provides no evidence that Steele was ever asked about the Isikoff article or if asked that he lied.”

But the Republican senator’s referral said there is ample evidence that Mr. Steele lied.

“There is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility,” the referral said.

The next paragraph, which presumedly details that evidence, is completely redacted.

The two senators wrote, “The FBI already believed Mr. Steele was reliable, he had previously told the FBI he had not shared the information with the press — and lying to the FBI is a crime.”

Four targets of the dossier have filed seven libel lawsuits against Mr. Steele, Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed, which first posted it online on Jan. 10, 2017, during Mr. Trump’s presidential transition.

Then FBI-Director James B. Comey told Mr. Trump in a one-on-one meeting that month that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”

At the same time, the FBI was citing dossier information before a judge to obtain a second 90-day wiretap warrant on Mr. Page. There would be two more, the last in June 2017.

J.D. Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesman and Trump campaign adviser, has suffered over a year of government, press and congressional scrutiny. All the negative attention is because he had brief encounters with the Russian ambassador at the Republican National Convention.

“At least four dozen Trump associates have reportedly been summoned before the various congressional committees and special counsel over anything and everything related to TrumpRussia,” Mr. Gordon told The Washington Times. “Apart from targeting the president with a high-tech coup, the Democrats and ‘Never Trump‘ Republicans are trying to destroy a large group of innocent people who were merely trying to serve their country in presidential politics.”

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/feb/12/trump-dossiers-10-core-collusion-accusations-unver/

The Ticking Memo

Victor Davis Hanson

The House Intelligence Committee memo is pretty simple. It should not have been classified and thus far withheld from the public. In fact, far more information now needs to be released.

Despite the outcry, as Chairman Devin Nunes clarified, the memo can easily be in the near future supported or refuted by adducing official documents. In other words, the memo makes a series of transparent statements and leaves it up to the criminal-justice system and the public to ascertain subsequent criminal liability.

It is likely that the basic accuracy of the document will not be questioned, but rather opponents, some of them mentioned in the memo, will either ask why the resulting embarrassing information needed to be aired or insist that there are only minor possible crimes in the events it narrates, or both. Remember, officials from the FBI supposedly read the memo before its release to ensure that there were not factual errors or misrepresentations.

In sum, on four occasions during and after the 2016 campaign, the FBI and DOJ approached a federal FISA court — established to allow monitoring of foreign nationals engaged in efforts to harm the U.S. or American citizens deliberately or inadvertently in their service — to surveil Carter Page, a sometime Trump adviser. These requests also mentioned George Papadopoulos, apparently as a preexisting target of an earlier investigation by FBI official Peter Strzok, but according to the memo mysteriously there was not adduced any direct connection between the two individuals’ activities.

The basis of the requests was an anti-Trump dossier that the FBI and DOJ had purchased from a private concern. At the time of their various requests, FBI director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, apparently knew that the document was the work of an opposition-research team, hired and paid, through a series of intermediaries, by the Clinton campaign. The same knowledge supposedly was known to DOJ officials Sally Yates, Dana Boente, and Rod Rosenstein, who variously joined the FISA requests. The FBI and DOJ requests to the court were also apparently bolstered by citing news accounts in the popular media about possible Russian collusion, which in circular fashion had been the result of efforts by the authors and purveyors of the dossier to leak its contents to the media. On various later occasions, high FBI officials purportedly admitted to the congressional inquirers both that the FISA requests would not have been made without use of the dossier, and yet its contents could not be verified or in fact were scarcely yet scrutinized. Apparently, no FBI or DOJ officials informed the court over the duration of these various requests that a) the dossier was paid for by the Clinton campaign, b) the FBI in turn apparently paid to obtain it, c) supporting news stories used to substantiate the dossier were the result of deliberately leaking the same document to seed stories in media organizations, or d) a DOJ official both met the author of the dossier and informed the FBI that he was a biased source — but either did not inform other DOJ and FBI officials that his own spouse was a collaborator who worked on the dossier, or such knowledge was known to DOJ and FBI officials but not passed on at some point to the FISA judge, apparently because the court might not have otherwise approved of the request or might have acted to revoke prior requests.

What Is the Larger Context?

What does it all mean — both the memo itself and subsidiary public revelations about the Strzok-Page texts, and the circumstances around the firing or reassignments of several DOJ and FBI top officials?

I don’t think there is any more doubt that the candidacy of Donald Trump terrified top officials of the Obama DOJ and the FBI, James Comey especially. A few may have genuinely believed Trump was a beneficiary of Russian efforts at collusion; more likely, Comey, McCabe, and Strzok may have believed that such a charge was unlikely but still useful as a means to thwart the idea of a Trump presidency. Either way, the DOJ and the FBI deliberately distorted the nature of the FISA court process by either withholding information that they knew would likely negate their requests or misrepresenting the nature of the evidence they produced.

It is also clear from the contacts between Mr. Simpson, Mr. Steele, and representatives of the DOJ and FBI, and the employment of Ms. Ohr on the dossier team, that there were conflicts of interest at best, and, at worst, collusion between Obama DOJ and FBI officials and the de facto contractors hired by the Clinton team to find ways of disseminating supposedly embarrassing information before the November 2016 election.

The larger landscape around the memo’s revelations was not just that DOJ and FBI officials were disturbed by the Trump candidacy. They were also likely assuming that he would not be elected, and thus any questionable efforts to ensure that Trump was not elected might not be investigated in an incoming Clinton administration, but perhaps in some way even rewarded.

The Scope of the Memo

So far, none of the congressional committees have released information about the actual scope and effects of these and possible other FISA court orders — and to what degree, if any, other American citizens were surveilled and whether such resulting surveillance was used by the Mueller investigation to indict individuals, or whether the names of U.S. citizens in such reports were illegally unmasked by Obama officials and then leaked to the media. We are told such information is coming.

Would there ever have been a Mueller investigation without the DOJ and FBI efforts to persuade the FISA court? Would the prior investigations by Peter Strzok (who later expressed strong dislike of Donald Trump and worried over his candidacy to the point of meeting and commiserating with Andrew McCabe) into George Papadopoulos on their own have sustained a subsequent Mueller investigation, or was such a weak agenda to be resuscitated by the FISA surveillance? (I.e., was some impetus for the FISA warrant request an effort to find something that might energize the Strzok efforts?) And who was the FISA judge or judges, and are we to believe that he or they could not have asked a simple question concerning the nature and origins of the dossier? Was he incompetent, biased, or representative of the dangerous tendency of judges to rubber-stamp such FISA requests?

Is This a Scandal?

If all this is not a scandal — then the following protocols are now considered permissible in American electoral practice and constitutional jurisprudence: An incumbent administration can freely use the FBI and the DOJ to favor one side in a presidential election, by buying its opposition research against the other candidate, using its own prestige to authenticate such a third-party oppositional dossier, and then using it to obtain court-ordered wiretaps on American citizens employed by a candidate’s campaign — and do so by deliberately misleading the court about the origins and authors of the dossier that was used to obtain the warrants. Some Historical Context Watergate was about largely failed presidential cover-up attempts to enlist the CIA and FBI to squash an investigation into a politicized burglary. Iran-Contra was supposedly about rogue administration officials trying to circumvent the law by providing arms to a foreign government to release hostages and thereby obtain cash to help perceived friendly foreign agents without knowledge of and in contravention of Congress.

The current internal efforts in the middle of a campaign to weaponize the FBI and DOJ are something new. And it illustrates a larger effort of the prior administration to warp FBI investigations of Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized and illegal email server and other purported improper behavior, as well as efforts of Obama-administration officials to improperly request unmasking of improperly surveilled Americans for improperly political purposes. These efforts come on top of previous attempts to politicize the IRS in order to oppose perceived political opponents and to monitor journalists reporting stories deemed unfavorable to the administration. Finally, unlike past administration scandals, when the press posed as custodians of the public interest and demanded transparency from government agencies, this time around the media are arguing for secrecy and suppression of documents, and are unconcerned with likely violations of the civil liberties of American citizens by overzealous federal officials likely breaking the law.

What about the FBI?

There is much worry that the memo’s release will hurt the FBI. But such concern is predicated on the definition of the FBI.

If the agency is defined as its top echelon, then, yes, the FBI’s highest officials are discredited, the now-compulsive tweeter James Comey especially. But if the FBI is defined by thousands of rank-and-file professional agents, then the agency is not only not discredited, but empowered by a timely reminder that true patriots at the FBI never break federal law on the dubious rationale that their purportedly noble ends justify any means necessary to obtain them.

No one forced FBI director James Comey to withhold critical information from a FISA judge in order to surveil American citizens, or to purchase an opposition-research dossier from a political campaign in the middle of an election cycle. Nor did anyone force Comey to leak confidential notes of a meeting with the president of the United States to the media in a deliberate effort to force appointment of a special counsel. Comey swore that he did not write his letter of legal exoneration until after interviewing Hillary Clinton; we now know that was likely also a false statement. Comey also changed the wording of his original draft to ensure Hillary Clinton’s immunity from possible criminal liability.

No one forced the FBI’s top lawyer and recently reassigned general counsel, James Baker, to leak elements of the so-called Steele dossier to the media during the 2016 campaign

No one forced Peter Strzok and Lisa Page to conduct a romantic affair via FBI secure phones, a texting correspondence that revealed that they both were prejudicial to the object of their own then-current investigation, Donald Trump, or to meet with Andrew McCabe to commiserate about their mutual dislike of Donald Trump. Note that their departures from the Mueller collusion investigation were not immediately announced, but rather such news was released months later to suggest that the reassignments were neither connected nor out of the ordinary.

No one forced a compromised Andrew McCabe to continue with the Hillary Clinton email investigation, despite the fact that his wife had recently received several hundred thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from a Clinton-affiliated political-action committee. No one forced him to concede that without the use of the dossier, FISA warrants would have been unlikely. Who Will Be Held Accountable? Many of the those with possible criminal exposure have already either been fired (Comey, McCabe), reassigned (Page, Strzok, Ohr), or are considered sacrosanct (Obama, Loretta Lynch, etc.). Rod Rosenstein’s fate is, for now, largely a political matter, and only later a legal one.

Still, a special counsel might indict a number of officials for deliberately misleading a federal judge, or violating statutes prohibiting the surveillance of American citizens, or lying while under oath, or he might retract indictments and confessions based on deliberate misrepresentations to a federal judge.A bipartisan 9/11–like commission could at least issue a report and recommendations to ensure that the DOJ and FBI never again intervene in a U.S. election.

By all means, let us see the transcript of the McCabe interview, the Democratic minority memo, the actual FISA court requests, the complete text trove of Page and Strzok, the prior administration’s requests to unmask surveilled American citizens, Clinton-campaign communications about the procurement of the dossier, and the transcripts of those surveilled.

We need to find out whether Russian collusion and interference into the 2016 election was far more devious and complex than believed and whether it involved seeding the research behind the Clinton campaign’s purchased oppositional dossier in order to undermine a U.S. election, leading to the greatest irony of all: a special counsel investigating what likely did not happen while ignoring what likely did — perhaps the greatest political scandal of the modern age. At this point, the only cure for the wound is far more light. THE CORNER The one and only. FULL BLOG   SPONSORED CONTENT The

 http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/456084/nunes-memo-fbi-doj-corruption-ticking-memo

Office of Inspector General (United States)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Office of the Inspector General)

In the United States, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is a generic term for the oversight division of a federal or state agency aimed at preventing inefficient or illegal operations within their parent agency. Such offices are attached to many federal executive departmentsindependent federal agencies, as well as state and local governments. Each office includes an Inspector General (or I.G.) and employees charged with identifying, auditing, and investigating fraud, waste, abuse, embezzlement and mismanagement of any kind within the executive department.

History

In the United States, other than the military departments, the first Office of Inspector General (OIG) was established by act of Congress in 1976[1] under the Department of Health and Human Services, to fight waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid, and more than 100 other HHS programs.[2] With approximately 1,600 employees, the OIG performs audits, investigations, and evaluations, to establish policy recommendations for decision-makers and the public.

Description

Federal offices of inspectors general

There are 73 federal offices of inspectors general,[3] a significant increase since the statutory creation of the initial 12 offices by the Inspector General Act of 1978.[4] The offices employ special agents (criminal investigators, often armed) and auditors. In addition, federal offices of inspectors general employ forensic auditors, or “audigators,” evaluators, inspectors, administrative investigators, and a variety of other specialists. Their activities include the detection and prevention of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of the government programs and operations within their parent organizations. Office investigations may be internal, targeting government employees, or external, targeting grant recipients, contractors, or recipients of the various loans and subsidies offered through the thousands of federal domestic and foreign assistance programs.[5] The Inspector General Reform Act of 2008[6] (IGRA) amended the 1978 act[4] by increasing pay and various powers and creating the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).[7]

Example of an OIG report, from the DoD OIG[8]

Some inspectors general, the heads of the offices, are appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate.[9] For example, both the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Labor and the inspector general of the U.S. Agency for International Development are presidentially appointed. The remaining inspectors general are designated by their respective agency heads,[10] such as the U.S. Postal Service inspector general.[11]Presidentially appointed IGs can only be removed, or terminated, from their positions by the President of the United States, whereas designated inspectors general can be terminated by the agency head.[12] However, in both cases Congress must be notified of the termination, removal, or reassignment.

While the IG Act of 1978 requires that inspectors general be selected based upon their qualifications and not political affiliation, presidentially appointed inspectors general are considered political appointees and are often selected, if only in part and in addition to their qualifications, because of their political relationships and party affiliation. An example of the role political affiliation plays in the selection of an inspector general, and the resulting pitfalls, can be seen in the 2001 Republican appointment (and resignation under fire) of Janet Rehnquist[13] (daughter of former Chief Justice of the United StatesWilliam Rehnquist) to the post of inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.[14]

While all of the federal offices of inspector generals operate separately from one another, they share information and some coordination through the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).[15] As of 2010, the CIGIE[16] comprised 68 offices. In addition to their inspector general members, CIGIE includes non-inspector general representatives from the federal executive branch, such as executives from the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Government Ethics, the Office of Special Counsel, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. CIGIE also provides specialized training to the inspector general community.

Further evidence of coordination between federal offices of inspector generals can be seen by the public through the offices’ shared website,[17] and the use of shared training facilities and resources, such as the Inspector General Criminal Investigator Academy (IGCIA),[18] and their Inspector General Community Auditor Training Team (IGCATS),[19] which are hosted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).

Evidence of the offices’ return on investment to taxpayers can be seen through their semi-annual reports to Congress, most of which are available on each office’s website.[3]

Since the post-9/11 enactment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002,[20] resulting in the amendment of the IG Act of 1978, Section 6e, most presidentially appointed IG special agents have had full law enforcement authority to carry firearms, make arrests, and execute search warrants. Prior to this time, most presidentially appointed IG and some designated IG special agents had the equivalent law enforcement authorities as a result of other statutes or annually required deputation by the U.S. Marshals Service. The 2002 amendment to the IG Act of 1978 made most deputation of presidentially appointed IG special agents unnecessary. Some designated IG special agents, however, still have full law enforcement authority today by virtue of this continued deputation. Some OIGs employ no criminal investigators and rely solely on administrative investigators, auditors, and inspectors.

U.S. offices of inspector general

Presidentially appointed inspectors general

Designated federal entity inspectors general

Special inspectors general

Legislative agency inspectors general

Other federal inspectors general

U.S. military

Within the United States Armed Forces, the position of inspector general is normally part of the personal staff serving a general or flag officer in a command position. The inspector general’s office functions in two ways. To a certain degree they are ombudsmen for their branch of service. However, their primary function is to ensure the combat readiness of subordinate units in their command.

An armed services inspector general also investigate noncriminal allegations and some specific criminal allegations, to include determining if the matter should be referred for criminal investigation by the service’s criminal investigative agency.

The Air Force Inspector General Complaints Program was established to address the concerns of Air Force active duty, reserve, and Guard members, civilian employees, family members, and retirees, as well as the interest of the Air Force. One of the first responsibilities of the Air Force inspector general is to operate a credible complaints program that investigates personnel complaints: Fraud, Waste, and Abuse (FWA) allegations; congressional inquiries; and issues involving the Air Force mission. Personnel complaints and FWA disclosures to the IG help commanders correct problems that affect the productivity, mission accomplishment, and morale of assigned personnel, which are areas of high concern to Air Force leaders at all levels.[85]

See:

Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute Enforcement

The OIG develops and distributes resources to assist the health care industry in its efforts to comply with the Nation’s fraud and abuse laws and to educate the public about fraudulent schemes so they can protect themselves and report suspicious activities.[2]

In recent years, the OIG has made an effort to target hospitals and healthcare systems for Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute violations pertaining to the management of physician compensation arrangements.[86] In 2015, a fraud alert was issued to publicize the OIG’s intent to further regulate such non-compliance.[87] In light of such efforts and consequent record-breaking settlements, healthcare experts have begun to call for the transition from paper based physician time logging and contract management to automated solutions.[88]

Criticism

Inspectors General have also been criticized for being, rather than guardians of whistleblowers, instead, ineffective, inactive, or at worst, instruments by which whistleblowers are persecuted. One example is from the Securities and Exchange Commission OIG. In a 2011 article by Matt Taibbi, SEC whistleblowers said that complaining to the SEC OIG was “well-known to be a career-killer.”[89] Another example is from whistleblower Jesselyn Radack‘s book Canary in the Coalmine, in which she describes her experience complaining to the Department of Justice OIG; instead of helping her, the IG office helped the DOJ get her fired and restricted from practicing as a lawyer.[90] Another example is from the Thomas Andrews Drake case, in which several complainants to the Department of DefenseOIG over NSA’s Trailblazer Project were later raided by the FBI and some threatened with criminal prosecution.[91]

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Inspector_General_(United_States)

Story 2: Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice Last Minute CYA Email That Obama Wants Investigations By The Book — No Not The Law — Yes The Book was Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky — Videos

See the source imageSee the source image

Tucker Carlson Tonight 2/15/18 | Fox News Today

Susan Rice faces questions by senators over ‘unusual’ email

Sen. Graham details ‘odd’ Susan Rice email on Russia probe

Andy McCarthy explains significance of Susan Rice’s email

The Treasonous Deep State Conspiracy Hits Critical Mass — Lionel on “Real News With David Knight”

Rush Limbaugh: Susan Rice’s email & one of the most gigantic political scandals of our lifetime

Mark Levin Show 02-13-2018 Susan Rice’s email exposes Obama’s involvement in FISA abuse even more

Sekulow Discusses Susan Rice Inauguration Day Email on Russia

Sen. Chuck Grassley Questions Susan Rice About ‘Unusual’ Documentary Letter to Herself

Debate: Susan Rice’s email and what did Obama know about Russia probe?

GRASSLEY GRAHAM MEMO RELEASES SUSAN RICE EMAIL ON JAMES COMEY MEETING WITH OBAMA

Jim Jordan Reacts to Susan Rice’s Inauguration Day Email

Susan Rice email was an attempt to cover its track: Rep. Louie Gomert

Obama campaign connection to Fusion GPS

Obama knew about the Russian dossier: Tony Shaffer

Susan Rice FLIPS On Obama, Shocking ‘Secret Action’ She Took 15 Mins After Trump Sworn In

Why the Susan Rice Unmasking Case Is Important and What You Need to Know

Fmr. FBI agent defines the Susan Rice unmasking

  Your email continued:

President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book”.  The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective.  He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.
From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.
The next part of your email remains classified.  After that, you wrote:
The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team.  Comey said he would.
It strikes us as odd that, among your activities in the final moments on the final day of the Obama administration, you would feel the need to send yourself such an unusual email purporting to document a conversation involving President Obama and his interactions with the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia investigation.  In addition, despite your claim that President Obama repeatedly told Mr. Comey to proceed “by the book,” substantial questions have arisen about whether officials at the FBI, as well as at the Justice Department and the State Department, actually did proceed “by the book.”
In order for the Committee to further assess the situation, please respond to the following by February 22, 2018:
 
  1. Did you send the email attached to this letter to yourself?  Do you have any reason to dispute the timestamp of the email?
 
  1. When did you first become aware of the FBI’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia?
 
  1. When did you become aware of any surveillance activities, including FISA applications, undertaken by the FBI in conducting that investigation?  At the time you wrote this email to yourself, were you aware of either the October 2016 FISA application for surveillance of Carter Page or the January 2017 renewal?
 
  1. Did anyone instruct, request, suggest, or imply that you should send yourself the aforementioned Inauguration Day email memorializing President Obama’s meeting with Mr. Comey about the Trump/Russia investigation?  If so, who and why?
 
  1. Is the account of the January 5, 2017 meeting presented in your email accurate?  Did you omit any other portions of the conversation?
 
  1. Other than that email, did you document the January 5, 2017 meeting in any way, such as contemporaneous notes or a formal memo?  To the best of your knowledge, did anyone else at that meeting take notes or otherwise memorialize the meeting?
 
  1. During the meeting, did Mr. Comey or Ms. Yates mention potential press coverage of the Steele dossier?  If so, what did they say?
 
  1. During the meeting, did Mr. Comey describe the status of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele, or the basis for that status?
 
  1. When and how did you first become aware of the allegations made by Christopher Steele?
 
  1. When and how did you first become aware that the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded Mr. Steele’s efforts?
 
  1. You wrote that President Obama stressed that he was “not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective.”  Did President Obama ask about, initiate, or instruct anything from any other perspective relating to the FBI’s investigation?
 
  1. Did President Obama have any other meetings with Mr. Comey, Ms. Yates, or other government officials about the FBI’s investigation of allegations of collusion between Trump associates and Russia?  If so, when did these occur, who participated, and what was discussed?
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.  Please contact Patrick Davis of Chairman Grassley’s staff at (202) 224-5225 or Lee Holmes of Chairman Graham’s staff at (202) 224-5972 if you have any questions.
Sincerely,
Charles E. Grassley                                                     Lindsey O. Graham
Chairman                                                                     Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary                                        Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
                                                                                    Committee on the Judiciary
Enclosure: as stated.
cc:       The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
Committee on the Judiciary
-30-

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1028, February 7, 2018, Story 1: Two Party Tyranny of Big Government Parties Passes Senate Bipartisan Budget Busters Bill — Would Add Over $1,000,000,000,000 In Deficits and National Debt In Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 And Even More in Unfunded Liabilities/Obligations Burdening Future Generations — Federal Government Spending is Out of Control — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Congress is Beyond Obese — Vote Out Of Office All The Democrat and Republican Big Spenders  —  Tea Party Time — Videos — Story 2: Clinton Obama Conspiracy To Fix FBI Clinton Email Investigation and Exonerate Clinton and Spying on Republican Presidential Candidate and President-Elect Trump Using Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign Paid For Opposition Research Based on Russian Government Salacious and Unverifiable Disinformation Summarize in Christopher Steele Dossier   — American People Demand Appointment of Special Counsel Now! — Videos

Posted on February 7, 2018. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Business, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care Insurance, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Insurance, Investments, James Comey, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Media, Medicare, Monetary Policy, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Corruption, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Social Science, Social Security, Spying, Spying on American People, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1028, February 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1027, February 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1026, February 1, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1025, January 31, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1024, January 30, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1023, January 29, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1022, January 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1021, January 25, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1020, January 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1019, January 18, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1018, January 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1017, January 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1016, January 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1015, January 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1014, January 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1013, December 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1012, December 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1011, December 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1010, December 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1009, December 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1008, December 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1007, November 28, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 1005, November 22, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 1001, November 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1000, November 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 999, November 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 998, November 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 997, November 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 996, November 6, 2017

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Story 1: Two Party Tyranny of Big Government Parties Passes Senate Bipartisan Budget Busters Bill — Would Add Over $1,000,000,000,000 In Deficits and National Debt In Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 And Even More in Unfunded Liabilities/Obligations Burdening Future Generations — Federal Government Spending is Out of Control — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Congress is Beyond Obese — Vote Out Of Office All The Democrat and Republican Big Spenders  —  Tea Party Time — Videos

Big Spender

Big Spender
The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real big spender
Good lookin’ so refined
Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s goin’ on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point
I don’t pop my cork for every man I see
Hey big spender,
Spend a little time with me
Wouldn’t you like to have fun, fun, fun
How’s about a few laughs, laughs
I could show you a good time
Let me show you a good time!
The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real big spender
Good lookin’ so refined
Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s goin’ on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point,
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see
Hey big spender
Hey big spender
Hey big spender
Spend, a little time with me
Yes
Songwriters: Cy Coleman / Dorothy Fields
Big Spender lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

U.S. Debt Clock Real Time

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Senate reaches bipartisan budget deal

Senate Leaders McConnell & Schumer Reach Budget Deal As Shutdown Looms | Andrea Mitchell | MSNBC

Breaking News – US senators agree to raise spending

Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff on the Implications of Rising National Debt

Laurence Kotlikoff-US in Worse Shape Financially Than Russia

US Debt & Unfunded Liabilities-Where we are going-Dr. Yaron Brook

Consequences of Printing Money/ Inflation- Dr. Yaron Brook

How Big is the U.S. Debt? – Learn Liberty

Published on Feb 12, 2016

“Economics: How Big is the U.S. Debt?” presented by Learn Liberty. How do you feel the government should be spending or saving money? Let us know in the comments below. Learn More: http://www.learnliberty.org/

 

Senate leaders see two-year budget deal within their grasp

 February 6 at 10:29 PM 
Top Senate leaders were working Tuesday to finalize a sweeping long-term budget deal that would include a defense spending boost President Trump has long demanded alongside an increase in domestic programs championed by Democrats.As negotiations for the long-term deal continued, the House passed a short-term measure that would fund the government past a midnight Thursday deadline and avert a second partial shutdown in less than a month.The House bill, which passed 245 to 182, would fund most agencies through March 23 but is a nonstarter in the Senate because of Democratic opposition.But the top Senate leaders of both parties told reporters earlier in the day that a breakthrough was at hand on a longer-term budget deal. Spending has vexed the Republican-controlled Congress for months, forcing lawmakers to rely on multiple short-term patches.“We’re on the way to getting an agreement and on the way to getting an agreement very soon,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

From left, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at an event honoring Bob Dole last month. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed him, “I am very hopeful that we can come to an agreement, an agreement very soon.”

Despite the optimism, no agreement was finalized with less than three days until Thursday’s deadline. And even as congressional leaders were sounding an upbeat note, Trump was raising tensions by openly pondering a shutdown if Democrats did not agree to his immigration policies.

“I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,” Trump said at a White House event focused on crime threats posed by some immigrants. “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety . . . let’s shut it down.”

Trump’s remarks appeared unlikely to snuff out the negotiations, which mainly involved top congressional leaders and their aides — not the president or his White House deputies — and have largely steered clear of the explosive immigration issue.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday afternoon that Trump was not pushing for the inclusion of immigration policies in the budget accord, something that would upend the sensitive talks.

“I don’t think that we expect the budget deal to include specifics on the immigration reform,” she said. “But we want to get a deal on that.”

The agreement McConnell and Schumer are contemplating, with input from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), would clear the way for a bipartisan accord that would break through the sharp divides that helped prompt a three-day government shutdown last month.

If Congress doesn’t reach agreement on crucial immigration issues and pass a spending bill, the costly consequence would be another government shutdown.

Under tentative numbers discussed by congressional aides who were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations, defense spending would get an $80 billion boost above the existing $549 billion in spending for 2018. Nondefense spending would rise by $63 billion from its current $516 billion. The 2019 budget would include similar increases.

“Democrats have made our position in these negotiations very clear,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “We support an increase in funding for our military and our middle class. The two are not mutually exclusive. We don’t want to do just one and leave the other behind.”

Among the other issues that could be addressed in the deal is an increase in the federal debt limit, which could be reached as soon as early March, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The aides said that an increase was being discussed in the negotiations but that no final decisions have been made.

“It’s a question of what the traffic will bear,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Senate GOP leader, describing the likelihood of a debt-ceiling increase.

A disaster aid package aimed at the victims of recent hurricanes and wildfires is also part of the talks, potentially adding $80 billion or more to the deal’s overall price tag. That provision could help win support from lawmakers representing affected areas in California, Florida and Texas but further repel conservatives concerned about mounting federal spending.

Even the rumors of a coming deal were enough to send some hard-liners reeling.

“This is a bad, bad, bad, bad — you could say ‘bad’ a hundred times — deal,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. “When you put it all together, a quarter-of-a-trillion-dollar increase in discretionary spending — not what we’re supposed to be doing.”

If the parties cannot reach an agreement in the next two days, it is unclear how a shutdown might be averted.

Multiple House Republicans said Tuesday that if the Senate takes their spending bill and substitutes its version with a significant boost for domestic programs, they could not vote for it. House Democrats, meanwhile, have showed only limited willingness to help pass temporary spending measures absent a broader agreement.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, said a broad deal encompassing a debt-limit increase and a huge disaster package would be “considered a lead balloon” among hard-line conservatives. “It’d get zero support” from the caucus, he said, aside from a member or two representing states affected by the disasters.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told members of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Congress should “not let disagreements on domestic policy continue to hold our nation’s defense hostage.” He warned that a failure to pass long-term funding would imperil troop paychecks, inhibit the maintenance of planes and ships, stunt recruiting and otherwise harm military readiness.

“To carry out the strategy you rightly directed we develop, we need you to pass a budget now,” he said.

The House bill would increase Pentagon funding to $584 billion and guarantee it through Sept. 30, while the rest of the government would continue to be funded at 2017 levels through March 23.

The bill also would affect many other moving parts in the health-care system. It would postpone planned cuts in funding to hospitals that treat an especially large share of poor patients, eliminating reductions in “disproportionate share” payments for this year and 2019 and shifting the $6 billion in reductions to 2021 through 2023.

Amy Goldstein and Paul Sonne contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/spending-plan-remains-unsettled-as-clock-ticks-toward-shutdown-deadline/2018/02/06/1639ab26-0b53-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.1cad6154d736

 

Congressional leaders reach budget deal

The agreement would raise stiff spending caps and help stave off a shutdown.

In addressing the challenges facing Congress in 2015, Jim DeMint, President of The Heritage Foundation, noted that “Americans expect more from their leaders than just tapping the brakes as we drive off a fiscal cliff.” Indeed.

The 114th Congress has an opportunity and obligation to stop Washington’s taxpayer-financed spending spree. Over the past 20 years, spending has grown 63 percent faster than inflation. Unless leaders emerge with the courage to change the nation’s course for the better, the future looks like more of the same as total annual spending will grow from $3.5 trillion in 2014 to $5.8 trillion in 2024.1

Congress is financing the profligate spending by increasing taxes and incurring stunning amounts of debt. In 2014, Congress borrowed 14 cents of every dollar it spent, totaling a half a trillion dollars. Even more alarming, the country just surpassed $18 trillion in cumulative national debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the country is projected to borrow another $9.6 trillion over the next 10 years.2

The Danger of Inaction

Every generation confronts a defining challenge by which it will be judged, and so does every Congress. To understand why controlling spending and debt is the signature challenge of the 114th, one must understand the consequences of inaction. In its long-term projections, the CBO warns3 that failure to get spending and debt under control include:

  • A Slower Economy. According to the CBO, inaction on federal spending and taxes means that in 25 years—just when today’s kids and their children are trying to make their way in the world—“gross national product in 2039 would be roughly 3 percent lower.”
  • A National Security Risk. In addition, the CBO notes that growing debt “could also compromise national security by constraining defense spending in times of international crises.”
  • Limitations in Responding to Unexpected Challenges. Finally, if Congress does not tackle spending and debt sooner rather than later, the CBO warns that policymakers’ ability “to respond to unexpected challenges, such as economic downturns or financial crises” is far more limited.

Can any Member of Congress, in good conscience, leave a nation under their stewardship with decreased economic vitality and at greater risk for national security or financial crises?

Of course not.

Where to Begin

As the Chinese philosopher Laozi noted, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This compilation of recommendations is about single steps. In fact, it offers the 535 lawmakers holding the purse strings more than 100 ways to cut federal spending and reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

Much more needs to be done to address 2014’s federal spending of $3.5 trillion.4 But the recommendations in this report deal not just with dollars; they also address the size, scope, and character of the federal government.

When Congress actually eliminates wasteful programs or reins in runaway spending, it sends a powerful message. Like the relatively recent congressional ban on earmarks for pet projects like the “bridge to nowhere,” any move to cut federal spending tells Americans that Congress has the discipline to say “no” and act in the best interests of the nation—not just their own self-preservation. It says that individual Members of Congress have the courage to stare down the special interests, the cronyism of the powerful, and a Washington culture that thrives on handing out more federal dollars.

Eliminating or scaling back programs that constitute federal overreach also has far greater—but often unseen and unmeasured—economic benefits than the federal dollars saved. Whenever the federal role is downsized to return to its constitutional role, new economic opportunities are created for the private sector to innovate and fill needs based on market demand and competition. So many of the programs cited in this Budget Book do not just cost money, they actually distort and retard economic growth because they tilt the playing field toward vested interests and engage in tasks in which the federal government has no business. An example is the Export–Import Bank, which provides subsidized export financing primarily for the benefit of multinational corporations, while disadvantaging others.

Entitlements: The Ultimate Challenge

Almost half of all federal spending goes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Clearly, any effort to rein in federal spending will absolutely require major reforms to these and other entitlement programs. Toward that end, The Heritage Foundation has written extensively on how to restructure Social Security5 and Medicare,6 and Medicaid,7 as well as the need to repeal Obamacare8 and replace it with market-based, patient-centered reforms.9

Entitlement reform involves complex and extensive policy changes that require far more explanation than this book’s format allows. Readers are encouraged to explore The Heritage Foundation’s many resources on these topics.10

Defense: A National Priority

The Heritage Foundation’s recommendations for spending reforms in the Department of Defense come with a unique caveat: Any savings should be reinvested back into strengthening the country’s defense capabilities. Despite the overall Washington spending spree of the last 20 years, defense has not been adequately funded.

First, President Barack Obama cut $400 billion from the nation’s defense budget in 2009 and 2010. Then, Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which is scheduled to cut an additional $1 trillion from defense through 2021.11 In fact, relative to other federal spending, the automatic cuts from the BCA have and will continue to hit defense hardest. Defense discretionary spending is scheduled to bear 49.5 percent of total cuts,12 despite representing just 16.8 percent of total spending. On the other hand, mandatory spending will bear just 14.4 percent of total cuts despite representing 63.8 percent of total spending.13

The underfunding of the Defense Department is further exacerbated by the fact that increases in defense spending after 9/11 were dedicated to the rising cost of maintaining an aging inventory, the growth in compensation and benefits for military personnel and retirees, and to fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The combination of too little defense spending and internal cost growth has resulted in declining military capabilities. The Defense Department continues to reduce the size of its forces, investments in weapon systems are continuously delayed, and declining readiness means that the men and women in uniform are ill-prepared for combat.

Defense of the country is a core constitutional function of the federal government. Unlike the ever widening array of social services being assumed by the federal government, defending the country is a true national priority.14 It should not continue to be weakened by spending cuts or a growing federal debt. As part of its effort to strengthen national security, the Defense Department must limit waste and control unnecessary cost growths, channeling savings into defense areas of need.15 The Heritage Foundation’s recommendations reflect that mission.

Moving Forward

As Members of Congress take up the public policy challenge of their lifetimes—putting government back on a constitutional path—the following recommendations should be part of their action plan. The proposals in this volume offer Members of Congress who pledged to get government spending under control specific recommendations that can make their promises concrete. In this way, they can become the “conscience of Congress.” Paired with strong reforms of the major entitlement programs of Medicare and Social Security, and repeal of Obamacare, the 114th Congress can get spending under control.

For greater detail on 2014 federal spending facts and trends, see The Heritage Foundation’s “Federal Spending By the Numbers, 2014: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points.

Endnotes

  1. Romina Boccia, John W. Fleming, and Spencer Woody, “Federal Spending by the Numbers, 2014: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points (Including 51 Examples of Government Waste),” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 162, December 8, 2014. 
  2. Congressional Budget Office, “The 2014 Long-Term Budget Outlook,” July 15, 2014, 
(accessed December 15, 2014). 
  3. Congressional Budget Office, “Answers to Questions for the Record Following a Hearing on ‘The 2014 Long-Term Budget Outlook’ Conducted by the House Committee on the Budget,” September 30, 2014, 
 (accessed December 15, 2014). 
  4. Romina Boccia, John W. Fleming, and Spencer Woody, “Federal Spending by the Numbers, 2014: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points (Including 51 Examples of Government Waste),” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 162, December 8, 2014. 
  5. Rachel Greszler and Romina Boccia, “Social Security Trustees Report; Unfunded Liability Increased $1.1 Trillion and Projected Insolvency in 2033,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2936, August 4, 2014. 
  6. Robert E. Moffit and Alyene Senger, “Real Medicare Reform: Why Seniors Will Fare Better,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2800, May 20, 2013. 
  7. Nina Owcharenko, “Medicaid Reform: More than a Block Grant Is Needed,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3590, May 4, 2012. 
  8. Robert E. Moffit, “Four Years of Obamacare: Early Warning Come True,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2907, April 28, 2014 
  9. Edmund F. Haislmaier et al., “A Fresh Start for Health Care Reform,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2970, October 30, 2014. 
  10. The Heritage Foundation
  11. Mackenzie Eaglen and Diem Nguyen Salmon, “Super Committee Failure and Sequestration Put at Risk Ever More Military Plans and Programs,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2625, December 5, 2011. 
  12. Patrick Louis Knudsen, “$150 Billion in Spending Cuts to Offset Defense Sequestration,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2744, November 15, 2012. 
  13. Congressional Budget Office, “An Update to the Economic and Budget Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022,” August 22, 2012, 
Tables 1-3 and 1-4. 
  14. Jim Talent, “America’s Strategic Drift,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, October 6, 2014. 
  15. Mackenzie Eaglen and Julia Pollak, “How to Save Money, Reform Processes, and Increase Efficiency in the Defense Department,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2507, January 10, 2011. 

http://budgetbook.heritage.org/introduction/

Amount Added to the Debt for Each Fiscal Year Since 1960:

Barack Obama:Added $7.917 trillion, a 68 percent increase from the $11.657 trillion debt at the end of George W. Bush’s last budget, FY 2009.

George W. Bush:Added $5.849 trillion, a 101 percent increase from the $5.8 trillion debt at the end of Clinton’s last budget, FY 2001.

Bill Clinton: Added $1.396 trillion, a 32 percent increase from the $4.4 trillion debt at the end of George H.W. Bush’s last budget, FY 1993.

George H.W. Bush: Added $1.554 trillion, a 54 percent increase from the $2.8 trillion debt at the end of Reagan’s last budget, FY 1989.

Ronald Reagan: Added $1.86 trillion, a 186 percent increase from the $998 billion debt at the end of Carter’s last budget, FY 1981. Reaganomics didn’t work to grow the economy enough to offset tax cuts.

Jimmy Carter: Added $299 billion, a 43 percent increase from the $699 billion debt at the end of  Ford’s last budget, FY 1977.

Gerald Ford: Added $224 billion, a 47 percent increase from the $475 billion debt at the end of Nixon’s last budget, FY 1974.

Richard Nixon: Added $121 billion, a 34 percent increase from the $354 billion debt at the end of LBJ’s last budget, FY 1969.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Added $42 billion, a 13 percent increase from the $312 billion debt at the end of JFK’s last budget, FY 1964.

John F. Kennedy: Added $23 billion, an 8 percent increase from the $289 billion debt at the end of Eisenhower’s last budget, FY 1961.

Dwight Eisenhower: Added $23 billion, a 9 percent increase from the $266 billion debt at the end of Truman’s last budget, FY 1953.

Harry Truman: Added $7 billion, a 3 percent increase from the $259 billion debt at the end of FDR’s last budget, FY 1945.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Added $236 billion, a 1,048 percent increase from the $23 billion debt at the end of Hoover’s last budget, FY 1933.

Herbert Hoover: Added $6 billion, a 33 percent increase from the $17 billion debt at the end of Coolidge’s last budget, FY 1929.

Calvin Coolidge: Subtracted $5 billion from the debt, a 26 percent decrease from the $21 billion debt at the end of Harding’s last budget, FY 1923.

Warren G. Harding: Subtracted $2 billion from the debt, a 7 percent decrease from the $24 billion debt at the end of Wilson’s last budget, FY 1921.

Woodrow Wilson: Added $21 billion to the debt, a 727 percent increase from the $2.9 billion debt at the end of Taft’s last budget, FY 1913.

FY 1789 – FY 1913: $2.9 billion debt created. (Source: Historical Tables, U.S. Treasury Department.)

https://www.thebalance.com/us-debt-by-president-by-dollar-and-percent-3306296

Joint Statement of Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on Budget Results for Fiscal Year 2017


10/20/2017

Receipts by Source
Outlays by Agency

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney today released details of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 final budget results. The deficit in FY 2017 was $666 billion, $80 billion more than in the prior fiscal year, but $36 billion less than forecast in the FY 2018 Mid-Session Review (MSR). As a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the deficit was 3.5 percent, 0.3 percentage point higher than the previous year.[1]

Growth in spending outpaced growth in tax receipts for the second year in a row as a result of historically subpar economic growth. Rising deficits show that smart spending restraint and pursuing policies that promote economic growth, like tax reform and reductions in regulatory burden, are critically necessary to promote long-term fiscal sustainability.

“Today’s budget results underscore the importance of achieving robust and sustained economic growth. Through a combination of tax reform and regulatory relief, this country can return to higher levels of GDP growth, helping to erase our fiscal deficit,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “The Administration’s pro-growth policies will create better, higher-paying jobs, make American businesses competitive again, and bring back cash from offshore to invest here at home. This will help place the nation on a path to improved fiscal health and create prosperity for generations to come.”

“These numbers should serve as a smoke alarm for Washington, a reminder that we need to grow our economy again and get our fiscal house in order. We can do that through smart spending restraint, tax reform, and cutting red tape,” said Director Mulvaney.

Summary of Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Results

Year-end data from the September 2017 Monthly Treasury Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government show that the deficit for FY 2017 was $666 billion, $80 billion higher than the prior year’s deficit. As a percentage of GDP, the deficit was 3.5 percent, an increase from 3.2 percent in FY 2016 and above the average of 3.1 percent over the last 40 years.

The FY 2017 deficit of $666 billion was $63 billion greater than the estimate in the FY 2018 Budget (Budget), and $36 billion less than estimated in the MSR, a supplemental update to the Budget published in July.

Table 1. Total Receipts, Outlays, and Deficit (in billions of dollars)
Receipts Outlays Deficit
FY 2016 Actual 3,267 3,852 -586
    Percentage of GDP 17.7% 20.9% 3.2%
FY 2017 Estimates:
    2018 Budget 3,460 4,062 -603
    2018 Mid-Session Review 3,344 4,045 -702
FY 2017 Actual 3,315 3,981 -666
    Percentage of GDP 17.3% 20.7% 3.5%
Note: Detail may not add to totals due to rounding.

 

Government receipts totaled $3,315 billion in FY 2017. This was $48 billion higher than in FY 2016, an increase of 1.5 percent, below expectations from both the Budget and the MSR. As a percentage of GDP, receipts equaled 17.3 percent, 0.4 percentage point lower than in FY 2016 and 0.1 percentage point below the average over the last 40 years. The dollar increase in receipts for FY 2017 can be attributed to higher social insurance and retirement receipts and net individual income taxes, partially offset by lower deposits of earnings by the Federal Reserve.

Outlays grew in FY 2017, but by less than expected in the Budget and the MSR, and decreased slightly as a percentage of GDP. Outlays were $3,981 billion, $128 billion above those in FY 2016, a 3.3 percent increase. As a percentage of GDP, outlays were 20.7 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than in the prior year, but above the 40-year average of 20.5 percent. Contributing to the dollar increase over FY 2016 were higher outlays for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and interest on the public debt. In addition, one-time upward revisions in estimates of credit subsidy for outstanding Federal loans and loan guarantees, primarily in the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, increased outlays relative to FY 2016 by $55 billion. Lower spectrum auction receipts and higher spending by the Federal Emergency Management Administration for hurricane relief and recovery also contributed to the increase.

Total Federal borrowing from the public increased by $498 billion during FY 2017 to $14,667 billion. The increase in borrowing included $666 billion in borrowing to finance the deficit, partly offset by $167 billion related to other transactions that on net reduced the Government’s financing requirements, such as changes in cash balances and net disbursements for Federal credit programs. As a percentage of GDP, borrowing from the public declined from 76.7 percent of GDP at the end of FY 2016 to 76.3 percent of GDP at the end of FY 2017.

Below are explanations of the differences between estimates in the MSR and the year-end actual amounts for receipts and agency outlays.

Fiscal Year 2017 Receipts

Total receipts for FY 2017 were $3,314.9 billion, $28.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate of $3,343.6 billion. This net decrease in receipts was primarily attributable to lower-than-estimated collections of deposits of earnings by the Federal Reserve, other miscellaneous receipts, and corporation income tax receipts.  Table 2 displays actual receipts and estimates from the Budget and the MSR by source.

 

Fiscal Year 2017 Outlays

Total outlays were $3,980.6 billion for FY 2017, $64.7 billion below the MSR estimate. Table 3 displays actual outlays by agency and major program as well as estimates from the Budget and the MSR. The largest changes in outlays from the MSR were in the following areas:

Department of Defense — Outlays for the Department of Defense were $568.9 billion, $9.9 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is mostly due to lower-than-expected outlays for operation and maintenance, which were $7.8 billion less than the MSR estimate. Operation and maintenance disbursements were less than anticipated for Army contracts from FY 2016 and prior years, reimbursements from the Coalition Support Fund, and Defense Health Program and counter-ISIL “train and equip” contracts. Additionally, outlays were lower than expected by $1.5 billion for Army military personnel, $1.4 billion for revolving and management funds due to lower-than-expected fuel costs, and $1.0 billion for disbursements against aircraft procurement contracts. These differences were partially offset by $2.2 billion of higher-than-expected outlays for research, development, test and evaluation.

Department of Education — Outlays for the Department of Education were $111.7 billion, $1.8 billion higher than the MSR estimate. This difference was driven by outlays for higher education programs. In the Pell Grant program, outlays were $0.9 billion higher than projected in the MSR, due to faster-than-expected disbursement patterns. For the Federal Direct Student Loan program, because of changes in the mix of activity in direct student loans, $0.7 billion more in positive subsidy outlays for the FY 2017 loan cohort were recorded in FY 2017 than estimated in the MSR.

Department of Health and Human Services — Outlays for the Department of Health and Human Services were $1,116.8 billion, $11.8 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays for Medicaid spending were $3.8 billion less than projected at MSR, driven primarily by lower benefit expenditures than was anticipated during the second half of the year. National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s outlays were $1.5 billion lower than projected, due in part to lower-than-expected disbursement for research grants in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. The Service and Supply Fund (SSF) outlaid $0.9 billion less than expected at MSR. SSF expected higher outlays in FY 2017 mainly due to an anticipated increase in contracts serviced; however many of these contracts will be outlaid starting in FY 2018 instead. Outlays for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) were lower than expected due to procurements that occurred much later in the fiscal year than originally planned.

Department of Homeland Security — Outlays for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were $50.5 billion, $2.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays in a number of DHS components were below the MSR estimates. Outlays for Customs and Border Protection were $1.4 billion below the MSR estimates, due to slower-than-expected spending for procurements and construction for customs enforcement and border protection infrastructure projects. Outlays for the National Protection and Programs Directorate were $1.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due to slower-than-expected outlays of the agency’s cyber budget. Outlays for the Transportation Security Administration were $0.9 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due to slower-than-expected outlays from obligations for airport security construction projects. Partially offsetting these decreases, outlays for the Federal Emergency Management Agency were $2.0 billion higher than the MSR estimates because of response activities related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Department of Justice — Outlays for the Department of Justice were $31.0 billion, $3.4 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is primarily due to payments from the Assets Forfeiture Program being $2.3 billion less than estimated in the MSR. Also contributing to the overall difference was higher-than-expected receipts from fines and penalties, which were $0.7 billion higher than the MSR estimate. Outlays were $0.5 billion lower than the MSR for programs within the Office of Justice Programs partially due to pending litigation. Outlays were also lower across many other programs due to delayed action on FY 2017 appropriations.

Department of Labor — Outlays for the Department of Labor were $40.1 billion, $3.6 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Nearly $2 billion of this difference is attributable to lower-than-projected unemployment insurance benefit outlays because the actual unemployment rate was lower than assumed in the MSR economic forecast. Another $1.5 billion of the difference is attributable to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), due to both gross outlays being less than expected and offsetting receipts being greater than expected. The majority of the change in outlays is related to lower-than-expected payouts in the single employer program. PBGC also anticipated a substantial investment loss in FY 2017, but experienced a profit, leading to much higher offsetting receipts than anticipated in the MSR.

Department of State — Outlays for the Department of State were $27.1 billion, $3.0 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays were lower than expected for Department of State foreign assistance programs by $1.6 billion, mostly due to lower-than-anticipated spending for Global Health Programs, which was driven primarily by a delay in lump sum payments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The delay was necessary due to a shortfall in confirmed statutorily required matching payments from other donors. In addition, lower-than-expected outlays for capital-intensive programs such as new overseas facility construction and delayed payments for contributions to international organizations and peacekeeping were primarily responsible for the remaining difference of $1.3 billion from the MSR estimate.

Department of Transportation — Outlays for the Department of Transportation were $79.4 billion, $2.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Nearly $0.9 billion of this difference is due to lower-than-expected outlays for highways and transit programs. Most of the remaining difference is an accumulation of lower-than-expected spending across a number of programs.  Late-year congressional action on FY 2017 appropriations delayed grant-making and hiring activity across the agency.

Department of the Treasury — Outlays for the Department of the Treasury were $546.4 billion, $17.3 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Virtually all of the difference is due to interest on the public debt, which was $16.4 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Interest on the public debt is paid to the public and to trust funds and other Government accounts. The difference is the result of lower-than-projected interest paid to the public on inflation-indexed securities and other marketable Treasury securities, as well as lower-than-projected interest paid to Government accounts.

International Assistance Programs — Outlays for International Assistance Programs were $18.9 billion, $4.1 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is largely due to net outlays for Department of State Foreign Military Sales that were more than $3 billion lower than the MSR estimate due to higher-than-anticipated receipts received from foreign governments for weapons purchases.

Social Security Administration — Outlays for the Social Security Administration were $1,000.8 billion, $1.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate. The difference, which is relatively small in comparison to total program outlays, is primarily attributable to lower-than-expected outlays for the Disability Insurance Trust Fund and Supplemental Security Income programs.

United States Postal Service — Net outlays for the United States Postal Service were -$2.2 billion, $5.5 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays were lower than the MSR estimate due largely to the failure of the Postal Service to make required payments for health and pension contributions.

Railroad Retirement Board — Outlays for the Railroad Retirement Board were $5.2 billion, $1.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due largely to the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust’s unrealized gains and losses on investments. Actual returns to the Trust were much higher than projected in the MSR due to favorable market conditions in the last few months of FY 2017.

Undistributed Offsetting Receipts — Undistributed Offsetting Receipts were -$236.9 billion, $6.6 billion higher than the MSR estimate. Net outlays for interest received by trust funds were $3.0 billion higher than the MSR estimate (lower net collections). The difference is due largely to the interest earnings of the Military Retirement Fund, which were $4.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate, partly offset by higher-than-projected interest earnings in some other programs. This intragovernmental interest is paid out of the Department of the Treasury account for interest on the public debt and has no net impact on total Federal Government outlays. In addition, receipts for employer share, employee retirement were $2.5 billion higher than MSR estimates (lower net collections) primarily due to the failure of the Postal Service to make required accrual payments to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund.

 

___________________________

 

[1] The estimates of GDP used in the calculations of the deficit and borrowing relative to GDP reflect the revisions to historical data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in July 2017. GDP for FY 2017 is based on the economic forecast for the President’s 2018 Budget, adjusted for the BEA revisions.

https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0184.aspx

 

Story 2: Clinton Obama Conspiracy To Fix FBI Clinton Email Investigation and Exonerate Clinton and Spying on Republican Presidential Candidate and President-Elect Trump Using Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign Paid For Opposition Research Based on Russian Government Sources Salacious and Unverifiable Disinformation Summarized in Christopher Steele’s Dirty Dossier — FBI and DOJ Failed To Disclose Who Paid For Dossier To FISA Court — American People Demand Appointment of Special Counsel Now! — Videos

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

Sean Hannity 2/7/18 | Hannity Fox News Today February 7, 2018

BREAKING: Clinton Associates Fed Information To Dossier Author Christopher Steele(VIDEO)!!!

Hannity Fox News 2/6/18 – Hannity February 6, 2018

The Second Memo of Senator Grassley and Senator Graham

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Trey Gowdy to Comey CUT the BS game & come back with all facts on illegal leaks & Trump-Russia Probe

 

Criminal referral backs up Nunes on dossier claims, as Dems push rebuttal memo

Clinton associates fed information to Trump dossier author Steele, memo says

Clinton associates were “feeding” allegations to former British spy Christopher Steele at the same time he was compiling the controversial anti-Trump dossier paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign, according to an unclassified memo from senior Senate Republicans who recently made a criminal referral.

Those Republicans, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., had asked the Justice Department in January to investigate Steele based on evidence they say suggests he lied to the FBI about his contacts with the media (a violation of 18 USC 1001) — or the FBI misrepresented Steele’s statements.

The lawmakers are now asking the FBI for an emergency review of their criminal referral so it can be made public, with limited redactions.

Steele already is under scrutiny over the unverified Trump dossier, which a House Intelligence Committee document released last Friday alleged was at the heart of the FBI and DOJ’s request for a surveillance warrant for a Trump associate.

The memo from Grassley and Graham, which is now public for the first time, provides new insight into Steele’s circle of contacts during that time. While heavily redacted, the memo states Steele said he received information that came from “a foreign sub-source who ‘is in touch with (redacted), a contact of (redacted), a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to (redacted).”

grassley graham split

Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham have made a criminal referral regarding ex-British spy Christopher Steele.

“It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility,” the senators wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia probe, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“…there is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility,” the senators wrote.

Entire sections of the memorandum were redacted by the FBI on the basis that it contained classified information, though a review of the document shows the FBI redacted references to media reporting, including a Washington Post story available on the Internet.

The senators are asking for a declassification review because much of the information was declassified by the president when the House Intelligence Committee memo was released Friday. The memo found the dossier was used to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page — and neither the FBI nor Justice Department told the national security court that it was financed by the DNC and Clinton campaign, and bureau contact with Steele was terminated over his contact with the media.

While the FBI fought the release of that memo, the senators also say the FBI’s claims “mischaracterize and misstate” the amount of classified information in the Steele referral. The senators are asking that the FBI and Justice Department “immediately review the classified referral in light of [Friday’s] declassification and provide the Committee with the declassified version by no later than February 6, 2018.”

In a heavily redacted Jan. 19 letter, Gregory A. Brower, assistant director for FBI congressional affairs, said the FBI “respects” the committee’s commitment to transparency but the bureau “cannot and will not weaken its commitment” to protecting classified information because it is in the public domain.

Hillary Clinton REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

A Clinton family associate allegedly helped feed information to Christopher Steele.  (Reuters)

“Public reporting about (redacted) does not affect the FBI’s policy with respect to classification (redacted) nor does it diminish our obligations (redacted),” he wrote.

The House Intelligence Committee has long struggled with the FBI and Justice Department over access to Trump dossier and surveillance records. After August subpoenas were ignored, the committee threatened to hold Wray and Rosenstein in contempt of Congress before a deal was reached.

The memo detailing alleged surveillance abuse by the FBI and Justice Department was fully declassified after the committee followed a long-standing congressional rule which asks the president whether he objects to the record’s release. In this case, the president exercised his powers as commander-in-chief to immediately declassify the document.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Pamela K. Browne is Senior Executive Producer at the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been recognized with several awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the news magazine “Fox Files” and later, “War Stories.”

Cyd Upson is a Senior Producer at FOX News.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/02/05/clinton-associates-fed-information-to-trump-dossier-author-steele-memo-says.html

Hero or hired gun? How a British former spy became a flash point in the Russia investigation.

 February 6 at 10:04 PM 
2:50
What you need to know about Christopher Steele, the FBI and the Trump ‘dossier’

The Russia probe got its start with a drunken conversation, an ex-spy, WikiLeaks and a distracted FBI. 

In the fall of 2016, a little more than a month before Donald Trump was elected president, Christopher Steele had the undivided attention of the FBI.

For months, the British former spy had been working to alert the Americans to what he believed were disturbing ties Trump had to Russia. He had grown so worried about what he had learned from his Russia network about the Kremlin’s plans that he told colleagues it was like “sitting on a nuclear weapon.”

He was now being summoned to Rome, where he spent hours in a discreet location telling four American officials — some of whom had flown in from the United States — about his findings.

The Russians had damaging information about Trump’s personal behavior and finances that could be used to pressure the GOP nominee. What’s more, the Kremlin was now carrying out an operation with the Trump campaign’s help to tilt the U.S. election — a plot Steele had been told was ordered by President Vladi­mir Putin.

The FBI investigators treated Steele as a peer, a Russia expert so well-trusted that he had assisted the Justice Department on past cases and provided briefing material for British prime ministers and at least one U.S. president. During intense questioning that day in Rome, they alluded to some of their own findings of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign and raised the prospect of paying Steele to continue gathering intelligence after Election Day, according to people familiar with the discussion.

But Steele was not one of them. He had left the famed Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, seven years earlier and was now working on behalf of Fusion GPS, a private Washington research firm whose work at the time was funded by Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party.

The meeting in Rome captured the unusual and complicated role of Steele, who wrote memos that came to be known as the dossier and who has become the central point of contention in the political brawl raging around the Russia inquiry by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Those who believe Steele consider him a hero, a latter-day Paul Revere who, at personal risk, tried to provide an early warning about the Kremlin’s unprecedented meddling in a U.S. campaign. Those who distrust him say he is merely a hired gun leading a political attack on Trump.

Steele himself struggled to navigate dual obligations — to his private clients, who were paying him to help Clinton win, and to a sense of public duty born of his previous life.

Sir Andrew Wood, a British former diplomat and friend of Steele, said he urged him in the fall of 2016 to alert the authorities. “The right sort of people” needed to be told, Wood said he told Steele. “My opinion was, ‘You don’t have a choice. At least, you don’t have an honorable choice.’ ”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered a competing argument: “You can be an FBI informant. You can be a political operative. But you can’t be both, particularly at the same time.”

Among Steele’s actions now under scrutiny is his decision to forward to the FBI — along with his own research — a separate report detailing uncorroborated allegations about Trump’s behavior that had been written by a longtime Clinton friend.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment. Steele, who is facing libel lawsuits by people named in the dossier of research he compiled, declined to comment.

This portrait of Steele’s work is drawn from interviews with his friends and associates, former intelligence colleagues, court documents, congressional testimony and people familiar with the ongoing Russia investigations.

More than a year after the dossier’s completion, it remains unclear whether authorities have corroborated Steele’s specific allegations about Trump’s connections to Russia — including titillating claims that the Russians have compromising information about the president. Trump has denied Steele’s charges. However, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the Russians engaged in an elaborate operation to swing the election to Trump.

Steele, 53, who sports a graying coif and tailored suits with cuff links, has said little publicly since he was identified more than a year ago as the author of the dossier. Friends and former colleagues said he has been dismayed by the attacks on him, particularly a criminal referral about his actions that two U.S. senators made to the Justice Department, accusing him of lying about his contacts with news organizations. The move was viewed by some British lawmakers and longtime intelligence officials as an affront to the special bond between the United States and Britain.

Last week, House Republicans released a memo alleging that the Justice Department overly relied on Steele’s research in an application to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page and did not adequately disclose Steele’s partisan ties to the court.

Democratic lawmakers rejected those claims, saying the GOP document inflates the role Steele’s information played in the warrant. And intelligence officials have said the court was told that some of the research in the warrant application was paid for by a political entity.

The president has seized on Steele’s role as evidence that Mueller’s entire investigation is tainted. “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe,” he tweeted Saturday. “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.”Those who know Steele say he grew increasingly alarmed about the prospect of the election of a U.S. president who he believed could be unduly swayed by Moscow. As his anxiety drove him to reach out to the FBI, he also met with journalists from several news organizations, including The Washington Post.

‘He’s the spy’

Steele had all the right credentials for the job.

He was steeped in Russia early on after being recruited to Britain’s elite spy service from the University of Cambridge. He spent two decades working for the MI6 spy agency, including a stint in his mid-20s in Moscow, where he served undercover in the British Embassy.

When he returned to work for the agency in London, he provided briefing materials on Russia for senior government officials and led the British inquiry into the mysterious 2006 death in London of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB official and Putin critic.

In 2009, after more than two decades in public service, Steele turned to the private sector and founded a London-based consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, drawing on the reputation and network he developed doing intelligence work.

Among those who have continued to seek his expertise is Steele’s former boss Richard Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004.

In an interview, Dearlove said Steele became the “go-to person on Russia in the commercial sector” following his retirement from the Secret Intelligence Service. He described the reputations of Steele and his business partner, fellow intelligence veteran Christopher Burrows, as “superb.”

Sir Richard Dearlove, a former head of MI6, called Steele a “go-to person on Russia.” (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire via Associated Press)

In one of his first cases as a private consultant, Steele worked closely with the FBI in its investigation of corruption at FIFA, the powerful worldwide soccer governing body. Steele, who at the time was working for the English Football Association, shared his research with top officials at the Justice Department. U.S. officials eventually charged 14 top soccer executives and their associates with wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

Steele and Burrows soon amassed a group of clients that included multinational companies and wealthy business titans, including some Russians, according to people familiar with their work.

Steele continued to feed information to the U.S. government, passing along intelligence he gathered about Ukraine and Russia for corporate clients in 2014 and 2015 to a friend at the State Department, according to former assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland. “He offered us that reporting free, so that we could also benefit from it,” she said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

In June 2016, Steele was contacted by Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of Fusion GPS. Simpson and Steele had been introduced by a mutual friend in 2009 who knew that they shared a near-obsessive interest in Russian organized crime and that they had worked together on previous cases.

Simpson had an intriguing offer: Would Steele’s firm help research Trump’s ties to Russia?

Simpson’s firm had been looking into Trump’s history as a businessman, including his work in Russia, for months — first for the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication that is funded in part by GOP hedge fund executive Paul Singer. After that arrangement ended in the spring, the law firm Perkins Coie hired Fusion GPS to continue the work on behalf of Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

By the time Steele signed on as a subcontractor, Fusion GPS’s financing for the project was exclusively Democratic.

Most of Simpson’s research was based on scouring public records, court filings and media reports from around the world.

Steele brought far more: He was able to tap a network of human sources cultivated over decades of Russia work. He moved quickly, reaching out to Russian contacts and others he referred to as “collectors” who had other sources — some of whom had no idea their comments would be passed along to Steele.

His sources included “a close associate of Trump,” as well as “a senior Russian foreign ministry figure” and a “former top-level Russian intelligence officer,” both of whom Steele indicated had revealed their information to a “trusted compatriot,” he later reported to Fusion GPS.

Just weeks after taking the case, Steele told friends that the initial intelligence he had gathered was “hair-raising.”

Trump allegedly had been compromised by video evidence of encounters with prostitutes, Steele’s reports said. And he had been wooed by Russian financial inducements, including opportunities to develop Trump buildings in the former Soviet Union and lucrative real estate deals with Russian buyers of his properties.

Steele wrote up his initial findings in late June in the first of 17 memos that later would be known as the dossier. “U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE DONALD TRUMP’S ACTIVITIES IN RUSSIA AND COMPROMISING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE KREMLIN,” he wrote at the top.

Steele told associates that he was so nervous about the explosive nature of the information that he sent the memo via a commercial courier to Washington, rather than electronically.

In short order, Steele made another fateful decision: that he needed to confide in U.S. law enforcement officials. He contacted a Rome-based FBI official with whom he had worked on the FIFA case and asked him to visit him in London in July, according to people familiar with the matter.

Steele told Simpson of his plan to meet with the FBI, describing it as an obligation rooted in his past work for the British government.

“ ‘I’m a former intelligence officer, and we’re your closest ally,’ ” Steele told Simpson, according to testimony Simpson later gave to the House Intelligence Committee. “ ‘You know, I have obligations, professional obligations. If there’s a national security emergency or possible national security issue, I should report it.’ ”

Simpson said he did not question Steele’s judgment: “He’s the spy,” Simpson said. “I’m the ex-journalist.” Simpson declined to comment to The Post.

On July 5, 2016, the Rome-based FBI agent met with Steele and Burrows in Orbis’s London offices, housed in a five-story Georgian-style building in the Victoria neighborhood.

Later that month, Steele reached out to a State Department contact in Washington, according to Nuland, who said officials decided his allegations were best left to the FBI.

In late July, Steele told friends he was rattled when WikiLeaks released thousands of internal Democratic National Committee emails on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, material that U.S. law enforcement officials said was hacked by Russia. Then Trump — who had repeatedly praised Putin on the campaign trail — publicly called on Russia to hack and release a cache of missing Clinton emails.

Steele, who had researched Russian attempts to interfere in European elections for another client, began to fear that the Americans were not taking the Kremlin’s efforts seriously enough, associates said.

In the early fall, he and Burrows turned to Dearlove, their former MI6 boss, for advice. Sitting in winged chairs at the Garrick Club, one of London’s most venerable private establishments, under oil paintings of famed British playwrights, the two men shared their worries about what was happening in the United States. They asked for his guidance about how to handle their obligations to their client and the public, Dearlove recalled.

Dearlove said their situation reminded him of a predicament he had faced years earlier, when he was chief of station for British intelligence in Washington and alerted U.S. authorities to British information that a vice presidential hopeful had once been in communication with the Kremlin.

He said he advised Steele and Burrows to work discreetly with a top British government official to pass along information to the FBI.

At the time of the meeting, Dearlove said he did not know whether Steele had approached the FBI.

Burrows declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Steele sought out Wood, the former British ambassador to Moscow. The two had become friendly after leaving government service. A court filing would later call him an Orbis associate, but Wood said he had no financial relationship with Steele or his company.

Sir Andrew Wood, a British former ambassador to Moscow, said Steele “wanted to share the burden.” (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

Over several hours in Wood’s living room in a stylish London neighborhood, Steele outlined his findings and the two men dissected the credibility of Steele’s information, including whether his sources could be leading him astray on purpose, Wood recalled. The conversation was anguished at times, he said.

“He wanted to share the burden a bit,” Wood said.

They concluded that Steele’s sources were speaking at considerable risk to themselves and had no discernible reason to deceive the small intelligence firm.

“You have to go through the intellectual process of deciding whether it was a complete con,” Wood said. “He was speaking like someone who believed what he was saying was soundly based.”

Dossier goes public

As Steele sat down in a seventh-floor conference room at The Post’s downtown Washington headquarters in late September 2016, he looked out at the bustling newsroom with obvious discomfort.

“Don’t you have any meeting space without glass walls?” the longtime intelligence officer asked.

On that September day, Steele talked for almost two hours — occasionally interrupted by Simpson, who was in attendance. The Post agreed to keep the session off the record because of the sensitivity of the material, but is now reporting the existence of the visit and a subsequent one in October — although not what was discussed — because they have been referenced in court documents.

The Post made efforts to independently confirm Steele’s information at the time, but was unable to corroborate his specific findings and did not publish stories based on the material.

Around the same time, Steele also met with other news organizations including the New York Times, the New Yorker and Yahoo News, according to court filings. In an article published on Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff reported that U.S. officials had received “intelligence reports” alleging that Page had met with Igor Sechin, executive chairman of the Russian energy corporation Rosneft, while in Moscow in July — a finding of Steele’s research. Page has denied meeting with Sechin but later acknowledged interacting with one of his deputies.

FBI officials did not know Steele had spoken to Yahoo, according to a declassified version of the criminal referral released Tuesday by two Republican U.S. senators, which they suggested meant Steele had lied about his media contacts.

Steele also spoke around that time to then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, with whom he had worked on the FIFA case. The British former spy told Ohr that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” House Republicans alleged in their memo released last week. At the time, Ohr’s wife, a Russia expert, was working as a researcher for Fusion GPS.

The GOP memo argued that Steele’s comments to Ohr were “clear evidence of Steele’s bias,” saying they should have been noted in the warrant application that the Justice Department submitted that included his research. The classified warrant application and internal FBI documents cited in the memo have not been released, making it impossible to independently verify the claims made by the memo’s authors.

Friends of Steele said his comment was not driven by political bias, but by his alarm after sifting through months of reports about Trump’s ties to Russia.

Then came the Rome meeting. During his meeting with the four FBI officials, Steele gleaned that the bureau had independently developed information that appeared to match some of his reports — and that the FBI was particularly interested in a young Trump campaign foreign policy adviser named George Papadopoulos, he would later tell associates. Papadopoulos had not surfaced in Steele’s research, according to his memos.

“Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter,” Simpson told a Senate committee in August, adding: “My understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing.”

Weeks after the Rome meeting, the Justice Department incorporated some of Steele’s research into its secret application for a warrant to surveil Page.

Friends said Steele felt more upbeat after Rome, but his mood quickly turned. Four days after returning to London, WikiLeaks began posting the private emails of Clinton campaign chief John D. Podesta — a slow release of information that would last until Election Day.

Steele kept up his communications with the FBI, which over months included phone calls, emails and Skype exchanges that have been documented in hundreds of pages of internal FBI records reviewed by congressional investigators.

In October, he shared with his contacts at the bureau another report he had received from a State Department employee about Trump and Russia, according to people familiar with the document. It was written by Cody Shearer, a freelance journalist who was friends with Hillary and Bill Clinton. Shearer gave it to author and Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, who transmitted it to Jonathan Winer, then a State Department official.

The memo claimed that a source inside the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) spy agency alleged that Trump had financial ties to influential Russians and that the FSB had evidence of him engaging in compromising personal behavior, according to a copy obtained by The Post.

Blumenthal declined to comment and Shearer did not respond to requests for comment. An attorney for Winer, Lee Wolosky, said his client “was concerned in 2016 about information that a candidate for the presidency may have been compromised by a hostile foreign power. Any actions he took were grounded in those concerns.”

In a note to the FBI, Steele made clear that he could not vouch for the accuracy of the Shearer memo, but noted that it echoed his own research, which also found that the Russians allegedly held evidence that could be used against Trump.

“We have no means of verifying the sources or the information but note some of their own is remarkably similar to our own, albeit from a completely different sourcing chain,” he wrote, according to people familiar with Steele’s message.

Republican congressional investigators are now exploring whether Steele’s research was shaped by information gathered by Clinton allies or if the Russians may have given him incorrect information, according to people with knowledge of their inquiries.

In a letter to the Justice Department released Monday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote that the fact that “Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”

Election Day was rapidly approaching, and Steele appeared increasingly disturbed by what he considered a lack of sufficient media attention to Russia’s activities. He made a second visit to The Post’s newsroom in October, this time visibly agitated.

Meanwhile, the public was unaware that the FBI was investigating Trump associates. Steele understood the reason: Bureau officials repeatedly told him they were extremely cautious about taking actions that could be viewed publicly as influencing an election, associates said.

So he was stunned on Oct. 28 when then-FBI Director James B. Comey announced that he was reopening an inquiry into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Three days later, the New York Times reported that FBI officials had not turned up evidence that the Trump campaign had links to Russia.

Steele and Simpson were dismayed, Simpson later testified.

“Chris was concerned that something was happening at the FBI that we didn’t understand, and that there may be some political maneuvering or improper influence,” Simpson told the House committee, adding that “we were very concerned that the information that we had about the Russians trying to interfere in the election was going to be covered up.”


Glenn Simpson, left, co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, arrives for an appearance before the House Intelligence Committee in November with lawyer Joshua A. Levy. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

He and Steele decided that “it would be fair if the world knew that both candidates were under FBI investigation,” Simpson said.

On Oct. 31, Mother Jones published a story by David Corn headlined, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.”

The story did not name Steele, but it was based on information he shared, Corn later reported.

The late October events ruptured Steele’s relationship with his FBI handlers. The former intelligence officer was “suspended and terminated” by the bureau after the Mother Jones story, according to the GOP memo.

Steele told friends a different version: that he had been in talks to work with the FBI after his contract with Fusion GPS lapsed but that he cut off the discussions in frustration. The FBI, which had agreed to fund his trip to Rome, never reimbursed his expenses, according to people familiar with the situation.

Then Trump won.

In the aftermath, Steele quickly provided a full review of his findings for a senior British official, a step he had told the FBI in Rome he would take in the case of a Trump victory, according to people briefed on his decision.

By mid-November, Wood — the former diplomat and Steele friend — said he approached Steele to discuss whether they needed to take further steps to ensure the U.S. government was aware of his information, as well. They were particularly eager to provide the research to Republicans who shared their wariness of Russia.

Wood said he reached out to David Kramer, a former State Department official who was close to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a Russia expert. Kramer declined to comment.

Kramer arranged for Wood to meet McCain in a small room on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada in December, Wood said.

There, Wood described Steele’s research and told McCain he could arrange for him to review it.

“I told him, ‘I know there’s a document. I haven’t read it, but it seems to me that it’s reliably set up,’ ” he said.

McCain, he recalled, “was visibly shocked.”

The senator expressed interest in reading the full report, Wood said, recalling that McCain responded, “Thank you for seeing me. You did the right thing and I’m grateful. My first thought has to be for my country.”

A McCain spokeswoman declined to comment.

Ten days later, in a cloak-and-dagger scene, Kramer and Steele arranged to meet at Heathrow Airport in London. Kramer was told that he should look for a man wearing a blue raincoat and carrying a Financial Times under his arm, according to people familiar with the episode.

Kramer accompanied Steele to his home, where he spent a few hours reviewing the Trump research.

Back in Washington, Kramer received a copy of the dossier from Simpson and completed the handoff to McCain.

In a private meeting on Dec. 9, McCain gave Comey the dossier — passing along information that Steele had provided to the FBI earlier in the year.

Shortly before Inauguration Day, Comey briefed Trump on the document, alerting him to what the FBI director would later describe to Congress as a report that contained “salacious, unverified” information that was circulating in the media.

Steele’s role would soon emerge publicly. BuzzFeed published the dossier, and then the Wall Street Journal identified him as the author.

Steele went into hiding, leaving his London home with his family for six weeks.

He reemerged in March, speaking briefly outside his office to thank supporters. “I won’t be making any further statements or comments at this time,” Steele said.

He has not been heard from publicly since. But in September, according to people familiar with his activities, Steele spent two days behind closed doors, talking to Mueller’s investigators.

Devlin Barrett, Alice Crites and Dana Priest contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hero-or-hired-gun-how-a-british-former-spy-became-a-flash-point-in-the-russia-investigation/2018/02/06/94ea5158-0795-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html?utm_term=.4b18a293460c

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1027, February 2, 2018, Story 1: FISA Memo Released By House Intelligence Committee Summarize Abuse of Surveillance Powers By FBI and Justice Department — Release All Documents Including Warrant Applications For Both Carter Page and Papadopoulos To Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court  — Appoint Special Prosecutor to Investigate FBI and Department of Justice for Corruption and Malfeasance By Their Leadership — Partisan Plotters Vs. American People — Videos

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Read: the full text of the Nunes memo

The House Intelligence Committee just released the “Nunes memo” — and it contains some explosive allegations about the FBI.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted on Monday night to release the four-page memo, authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), which alleges that the FBI abused its power in surveilling Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. The vote gave the president five days to review the classified document and decide whether it should be released for the public.

Despite objections from the FBI and Democrats, Trump authorized the release of the memo on Friday. Minutes later, the House Intelligence Committee released it to the public.

The memo makes several claims that could potentially threaten special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.

Here are the memo’s key claims:

You can read the full text of the Nunes memo here:

And here’s the text of the memo reprinted in full below:

THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON

February 2, 2018

The Honorable Devin Nunes

Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

United States Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On January 29, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (herein after “the Committee”) voted to disclose publicly a memorandum containing classified information provided to the Committee in connection with its oversight activities (the “Memorandum,” which is attached to this letter). As provided by clause 11(g) of Rule of the House of Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its determination that the release of the Memorandum would serve the public interest.

The Constitution vests the President with the authority to protect national security secrets from disclosure. As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is the President’s responsibility to classify, declassify, and control access to information bearing on our intelligence sources and methods and national defense. See, e.g., Dep of Navy v. Egan, 484 US. 518, 527 (1988). In order to facilitate appropriate congressional oversight, the Executive Branch may entrust classified information to the appropriate committees of Congress, as it has done in connection with the Committee’s oversight activities here. The Executive Branch does so on the assumption that the Committee will responsibly protect such classified information, consistent with the laws of the United States.

The Committee has now determined that the release of the Memorandum would be appropriate. The Executive Branch, across Administrations of both parties, has worked to accommodate congressional requests to declassify specific materials in the public interest.(1) However, public release of classified information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation of powers concerns. Accordingly, the Committee’s request to release the Memorandum is interpreted as a request for declassification pursuant to the President’s authority.

The President understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest obligation. Accordingly, he has directed lawyers and national security staff to assess the declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of classified information, including those under Section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526. Those standards permit declassification when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to protect the information. The White House review process also included input from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice. Consistent with this review and these standards, the President has determined that declassification of the Memorandum is appropriate.

Based on this assessment and in light of the significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification of the Memorandum. To be clear, the Memorandum rejects the judgments of its congressional authors. The President understands that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the circumstances leading to the declassification through this process are extraordinary, the Executive Branch stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards and processes, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Donald F. McGahn II

Counsel to the President

cc: The Honorable Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Honorable Adam Schiff

Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

[Footnote]

(1) See, e.g., S. Rept. 114-8 at 12 (Administration of Barack Obama) (“On April 3, 2014 … the Committee agreed to send the revised Findings and Conclusions, and the updated Executive Summary of the Committee Study, to the President for declassification and public release.”); H. Rept. 107-792 (Administration of George W. Bush) (similar); E.O. 12812 (Administration of George H.W. Bush) (nothing Senate resolution requesting that President provide for declassification of certain information via Executive Order).


Declassified by order of the President

February 2, 2018

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members

From: HPSCI Majority Staff

Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to theCommittee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation Update

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (up; under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is aUS citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division. The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. 1805 (d)(1)) a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications. in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington DC in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

4) According to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—“salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but 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 Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.

https://www.vox.com/2018/2/2/16957588/nunes-memo-released-full-text-read-pdf-declassified

The allegations aim to call the FBI and Justice Department’s professionalism into question.

By 

 

The Full Text of the Nunes Memo

On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released the controversial document, which alleges surveillance abuses by the FBI.

 

 

On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Republican Representative Devin Nunes, released a four-page memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. Earlier this week, Republicans on the committee voted to make the document public. The classified document has drawn criticism from Democratic lawmakers, who argue it is misleading, as well as from law enforcement officials. In a rare statement, the FBI warned against the document’s release, saying it had “grave concerns” about its accuracy. Despite pushback from officials, the White House approved the release of the memo Friday.Below, read the memo in full.

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members

From: HPSCI Majority Staff

Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation UpdateOn October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §,1805(d)(l)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard—particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.
1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.
a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.
a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.4) According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—“salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but 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 Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/read-the-full-text-of-the-nunes-memo/552191/

Trump–Russia dossier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Trump–Russia dossier, also known as the Steele dossier,[1] is a private intelligencedossier of 17 memos that were consecutively written from June to December 2016[2] by former MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele. It contains allegations of misconduct and conspiracy between the Donald Trumpcampaign and the Russian government before and during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, much of it detailing alleged cooperation between the campaign and Russians to interfere in the election to benefit Trump.[3] The contents of the dossier were published in full by BuzzFeed on January 10, 2017.[4] Several mainstream media outlets have criticized BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the dossier.[5][6][7]

Some of the dossier’s allegations have been confirmed, while others have yet to be proved or disproved.[8][9] Some claims may require access to classified information for verification.[10] The media, intelligence community, as well as most experts have treated the dossier with caution, while Trump himself denounced the report as “fake news“. In February 2017, some details related to conversations between foreign nationals were independently verified.[11] As of December 2017, the dossier’s allegations of collusion have not been corroborated.[12][13]

The dossier was produced as part of opposition research during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. After Trump emerged as the probable Republican nominee, attorney Marc Elias of the Perkins Coie law firm retained American research firm Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research about Trump on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton presidential campaign. Fusion GPS later contracted Steele to compile the dossier.[14] Following Trump’s election as president, Steele continued working on the report, with funding from Democrats ceasing and financing finally coming directly from Glenn R. Simpson of Fusion GPS.[15] The completed dossier and its information was then passed on to British and American intelligence services.[16]

Allegations

The dossier contains multiple allegations, some of which are currently unverified and others for which possible verification is classified.[10] Natasha Bertrand has stated that it “alleges serious misconduct and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia’s government”, and that, quoting the dossier, the “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership was managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort.”[17]

The memos allege that Russia has been cultivating a relationship with Trump for decades, that the Kremlin favored Trump in the U.S. presidential election, and took various actions during the 2016 election to promote his candidacy and oppose Hillary Clinton‘s. The document claims that several of Trump’s associates, in particular campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s personal attorney Michael D. Cohen, and Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page, worked with Russian contacts to promote Trump’s candidacy. Alleged activities include planning the hack of Democratic National Committee emails and their subsequent leaking, arranging coverups and cash payments, and promising favorable policies toward Russia if Trump was elected. The document also claims that Russian operators possessed compromising information about Trump which could make him subject to blackmail.

Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations, labeling the dossier as “discredited”, “debunked”, “fictitious”, and “fake news”.[18]

History

The dossier and the investigations preceding it were part of opposition research on Trump. The investigation into Trump was initially funded by a conservative political website before Steele was involved, and later was funded by Democrats.[19][20][2][21]

In October 2015, during the Republican primary campaign, The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website primarily funded by Republican donor Paul Singer, hired the American research firm Fusion GPS to conduct general opposition research on Trump and other Republican presidential candidates.[1] For months, Fusion GPS gathered information about Trump, focusing on his business and entertainment activities. When Trump became the presumptive nominee on May 3, 2016, The Free Beacon stopped funding research on him.[2][22][23]

In April 2016, Marc Elias, a partner in the large Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie and head of its Political Law practice, hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Trump. Elias was the attorney of record for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton presidential campaign.[14] As part of their investigation, Fusion GPS hired Orbis Business Intelligence, a private British intelligence firm, to look into connections between Trump and Russia. Orbis co-founder Christopher Steele, a retired British MI6 officer with expertise in Russian matters,[2] was hired in May or June to do the job.[24]

According to Fusion GPS’s co-owners, Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, they did not tell Steele who their clients were and “gave him no specific marching orders beyond this basic question: ‘Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?'”[25] In total, Perkins Coie paid Fusion GPS $1.02 million in fees and expenses, $168,000 of which was paid to Orbis and used by them to produce the dossier.[26] Simpson has stated that Steele did not pay any of his sources.[27][25][unreliable source?]

According to Steele, he soon found “troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. He said that, according to his sources, “there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.” He described the finding as “an extraordinary situation” and concluded it was “sufficiently serious” for him to share it with the FBI, which he did in July 2016.[28]

Steele delivered his report as a series of two- or three-page memos, starting in June 2016 and continuing through December. He continued his investigation even after the Democratic client stopped paying for it following Trump’s election.[2] After the election, Fusion GPS co-owner Simpson “reportedly spent his own money to continue the investigation”.[15]

On his own initiative, Steele decided to also pass the information to British and American intelligence services because he believed the findings were a matter of national security for both countries.[29] According to the testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, Steele approached the FBI because he was concerned that the then candidate, Donald Trump, was being blackmailed by Russia.[30] However, he became frustrated with the FBI, which he believed was failing to investigate his reports, choosing instead to focus on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. According to The Independent, Steele came to believe that there was a “cabal” inside the FBI, particularly its New York field office linked to Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, which blocked any attempts to investigate the links between Trump and Russia.[29] In October 2016, Steele had compiled 33 pages (16 memos) and passed on what he discovered so far to a reporter from Mother Jones magazine.[28]

In a court filing in April 2017, Steele revealed previously unreported information that in December 2016, shortly after the presidential election, he gave a copy of the 16 memos to “the senior British national security official and sent an encrypted version to Fusion GPS with instructions to deliver a hard copy to Senator John McCain (R-AZ).[31] McCain, who had been informed about the alleged links between Kremlin and Trump, met with former British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood. Wood confirmed the existence of the dossier and vouched for Steele’s “professionalism and integrity”.[29] McCain obtained the dossier from David J. Kramer and took it directly to FBI director James Comey on December 9, 2016.[2][20] Comey has confirmed that counter-intelligence investigations are under way into possible links between Trump associates and Moscow, and CNN has reported that the FBI used the dossier to bolster its investigations.”[31]

After delivering the 16 memos, more information was received, and two more pages, the “December memo”, dated “13 December 2016”, was prepared. It alleged efforts by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay those who had hacked the DNC and to “cover up all traces of the hacking operation”.[32][31] Trump and Cohen have denied the allegations.[32][31][33] Cohen said that between August 23 and August 29 he was in Los Angeles and in New York for the entire month of September.[34] According to a Czech intelligence source, there is no record of him entering Prague by plane, but Respekt magazine pointed out that it’s theoretically possible he could have entered by car or train from a neighboring country in the Schengen Zone.[35]

Hints of existence

By the third quarter of 2016, many news organizations knew about the existence of the dossier, which had been described as an “open secret” among journalists. However, they chose not to publish information that could not be confirmed.[2] Finally on October 31, 2016, a week before the election, Mother Jones reported that a former intelligence officer, whom they did not name, had produced a report based on Russian sources and turned it over to the FBI.[28] It starts with the allegation that:

The “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance”. It maintained that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals”. It claimed that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him”.

— Mother Jones, October 31, 2016[28]

In October 2016, the FBI reached an agreement with Steele to pay him to continue his work, according to involved sources reported by The Washington Post. “Steele was known for the quality of his past work and for the knowledge he had developed over nearly 20 years working on Russia-related issues for British intelligence.”[36] The FBI found Steele credible and his unproved information worthy enough that it considered paying Steele to continue collecting information, but the release of the document to the public stopped discussions between Steele and the FBI.[36]

President-Elect Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier by the chiefs of several U.S. intelligence agencies in early January 2017. Vice President Joe Biden has confirmed that he and the president had received briefings on the dossier, and the allegations within.[37][22][38][39]

On January 10, 2017, CNN reported that classified documents presented to Obama and Trump the previous week included allegations that Russian operatives possess “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump. CNN stated that it would not publish specific details on the memos because it had not “independently corroborated the specific allegations”.[40][41] Following the CNN report,[42]BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier that it said was the basis of the briefing, including unverified claims that Russian operatives had collected “embarrassing material” involving Trump that could be used to blackmail him.[43][44][41][45]

Many news organizations knew about the document in the fall of 2016, before the presidential election, but did not publish it because they could not independently verify the information.[46] BuzzFeed was harshly criticized for publishing what Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan called “scurrilous allegations dressed up as an intelligence report meant to damage Donald Trump”,[47] while The New York Times noted that the publication sparked a debate centering on the use of unsubstantiated information from anonymous sources.[48] BuzzFeed’s executive staff said the materials were newsworthy because they were “in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media” and argued that this justified public release.[5]

Authorship

When CNN reported the existence of the dossier on January 10, 2017,[49] it did not name the author of the dossier, but revealed that he was British. Steele concluded that his anonymity had been “fatally compromised” and realized it was “only a matter of time until his name became public knowledge”, and, accompanied by his family, he fled into hiding in fear of “a prompt and potentially dangerous backlash against him from Moscow”.[50][51][19]The Wall Street Journal revealed Steele’s name the next day, on January 11.[52] Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, for whom Steele worked at the time the dossier was authored, and its director Christopher Burrows would not “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the dossier.[49][2]

Called by the media a “highly regarded Kremlin expert” and “one of MI6’s greatest Russia specialists”, Steele formerly worked for the British intelligence agency MI6 and is currently working for Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, a private intelligence company Steele co-founded in London.[53][52][54] Steele entered MI6 in 1987, directly after his graduation from Cambridge University.[55]

Former British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood has vouched for Steele’s reputation.[29] He views Steele as a “very competent professional operator … I take the report seriously. I don’t think it’s totally implausible.” He also stated that “the report’s key allegation—that Trump and Russia’s leadership were communicating via secret back channels during the presidential campaign—was eminently plausible”.[56]

On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB/FSB general, was found dead in his car in Moscow. Erovinkin was a key liaison between Igor Sechin, head of state-owned oil company Rosneft, and President Putin. Steele claimed much of the information came from a source close to Sechin. According to Christo Grozev, a journalist at Risk Management Lab, a think-tank based in Bulgaria, the circumstances of Erovinkin’s death were “mysterious”. Grozev suspected Erovinkin helped Steele compile the dossier on Trump and suggests the hypothesis that the death may have been part of a cover-up by the Russian government.[57][58]Mark Galeotti, senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, who specializes in Russian history and security, rejected Grozev’s hypothesis.[59][57]In interviews with Luke Harding, “Steele was adamant that Erovinkin wasn’t his source and ‘not one of ours.’ As a person close to Steele put it to me: ‘Sometimes people just die.'”[60]

On March 7, 2017, as some members of the U.S. Congress were expressing interest in meeting with or hearing testimony from Steele, he reemerged after weeks in hiding, appearing publicly on camera and stating, “I’m really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis’s offices in London today.”[61]

Veracity

Observers and experts have had varying reactions to the dossier. Generally, “former intelligence officers and other national-security experts” urged “skepticism and caution” but still took “the fact that the nation’s top intelligence officials chose to present a summary version of the dossier to both President Obama and President-elect Trump” as an indication “that they may have had a relatively high degree of confidence that at least some of the claims therein were credible, or at least worth investigating further”.[62] The author of the dossier said he believes that 70–90% of the document is accurate.[63] Steele said that his FBI contacts greeted his intelligence report with “shock and horror”.[63] In his June 2017 congressional testimony, former FBI director James Comey called “some personally sensitive aspects” of the dossier “salacious and unverified,” but he did not state that the entire dossier was unverified or that the salacious aspects were false. When Senator Richard Burr asked if any of the allegations in the dossier had been confirmed, Comey said he could not answer that question in a public setting.[64][10]

Vice President Biden told reporters that while he and President Obama were receiving a briefing on the extent of Russian hackers trying to influence the US election, there was a two-page addendum which addressed the contents of the Steele dossier.[65] Top intelligence officials told them they “felt obligated to inform them about uncorroborated allegations about President-elect Donald Trump out of concern the information would become public and catch them off-guard”.[66]

Former Los Angeles Times Moscow correspondent Robert Gillette wrote in an op-ed in the Concord Monitor that the dossier has had at least one of its main factual assertions verified. On January 6, 2017, the Director of National Intelligence released a report assessing “with high confidence” that Russia’s combined cyber and propaganda operation was directed personally by Vladimir Putin, with the aim of harming Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and helping Trump.[67] Gillette wrote: “Steele’s dossier, paraphrasing multiple sources, reported precisely the same conclusion, in greater detail, six months earlier, in a memo dated June 20.”[68]

Newsweek published a list of “13 things that don’t add up” in the dossier, writing that the document was a “strange mix of the amateur and the insightful” and stating that the document “contains lots of Kremlin-related gossip that could indeed be, as the author claims, from deep insiders—or equally gleaned” from Russian newspapers and blogs.[69] Former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton stated that certain aspects of the dossier were inconsistent with British intelligence’s understanding of how the Kremlin works, commenting: “I’ve seen quite a lot of intelligence on Russia, and there are some things in [the dossier] which look pretty shaky.”[70]

According to Business Insider, the dossier alleges that “the Trump campaign agreed to minimize US opposition to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine”.[17] In July 2016, the Republican National Convention made changes to the Republican Party’s platform on Ukraine: initially they proposed providing “lethal weapons” to Ukraine, but the line was changed to “appropriate assistance”. J. D. Gordon, who was one of Trump’s national security advisers during the campaign, said that he had advocated for changing language because that reflected what Trump had said.[17][71]

Reputation in the U.S. intelligence community

According to Paul Wood of BBC News, the information in Steele’s report is also reported by “multiple intelligence sources” and “at least one East European intelligence service”. They report that “compromising material on Mr. Trump” included “more than one tape, not just video, but audio as well, on more than one date, in more than one place, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg.” While also mentioning that “nobody should believe something just because an intelligence agent says it”,[72][52] he added that “the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat—or compromising material—on the next US commander in chief” and “a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign”.[73][74][72] On March 30, 2017, Wood reported that the FBI was using the dossier as a roadmap for its investigation.[75] On April 18, 2017, CNN reported that, according to U.S. officials, information from the dossier had been used as part of the basis for getting the FISA warrant to monitor former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page during the summer of 2016. Officials told CNN this information would have had to be independently corroborated by the FBI before being used to obtain the warrant.[16]

Susan Hennessey, a former National Security Agency lawyer now with the Brookings Institution, stated: “My general take is that the intelligence community and law enforcement seem to be taking these claims seriously. That itself is highly significant. But it is not the same as these allegations being verified. Even if this was an intelligence community document—which it isn’t—this kind of raw intelligence is still treated with skepticism.”[62][76] Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes wrote that “the current state of the evidence makes a powerful argument for a serious public inquiry into this matter”.[76]Robert S. Litt, a former lawyer for the Director of National Intelligence, wrote that the dossier “played absolutely no role” in the intelligence community’s determination that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[77]

On February 10, 2017, CNN reported that some communications between “senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals” described in the dossier had been corroborated by multiple U.S. officials. They “took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier”. Sources told CNN that some conversations had been “intercepted during routine intelligence gathering”, but refused to reveal the content of conversations, or specify which communications were detailed in the dossier. CNN was unable to confirm whether conversations were related to Trump. U.S. officials said the corroboration gave “US intelligence and law enforcement ‘greater confidence’ in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents”.[11]

British journalist Julian Borger wrote in October 2017 that “Steele’s reports are being taken seriously after lengthy scrutiny by federal and congressional investigators”, at least Steele’s assessment that Russia had conducted a campaign to interfere in the 2016 election to Clinton’s detriment; that part of the Steele dossier “has generally gained in credibility, rather than lost it”.[78] Liberal commentator Jonathan Chait wrote in December 2017 about the dossier that mainstream media “treat it as gossip” whereas the intelligence community “take it seriously”.[79]

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DRhode Island), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has stated: “As I understand it, a good deal of his information remains unproven, but none of it has been disproven, and considerable amounts of it have been proven.”[80]

Carter Page testimony

On November 2, 2017, Carter Page, Donald Trump’s foreign policy adviser during the campaign, testified before the House Intelligence Committee which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Page testified he informed Jeff SessionsJ. D. GordonHope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, of a planned trip to Russia and that Lewandowski approved the trip, responding “If you’d like to go on your own, not affiliated with the campaign, you know, that’s fine.”[81][82] In his testimony, Page admitted he met with high ranking Kremlin officials. Previously, Page had denied meeting any Russian officials during the trip. His comments appeared to corroborate portions of the dossier.[83][84]

Use in 2017 Special Counsel investigation

According to Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), the dossier’s allegations are being investigated by a Special Counsel led by Robert Mueller, which is also investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.[85] In the summer of 2017, Mueller’s team of investigators met with Christopher Steele.[86] As some leads stemming from the dossier have already been followed and confirmed by the FBI, legal experts have stated that Special Counsel investigators, headed by Robert Mueller, are obligated to follow any leads the dossier has presented them with, irrespective of what parties financed it in its various stages of development, or “[t]hey would be derelict in their duty if they didn’t.”[85][87]

While Trump and some Republicans have claimed that the dossier was behind the beginning of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential conspiracy with Russia, in December 2017, former and current intelligence officials revealed that the actual impetus was a series of comments made in May 2016 by Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos during a night of “heavy drinking at an upscale London bar” made to a top Australian diplomat in Britain. Papadopoulos revealed that he had inside information by bragging that the Kremlin had “thousands of emails” stolen from Hillary Clinton which could be used to damage her campaign. He had learned this about three weeks earlier. Two months later, when WikiLeaks started releasing DNC emails, Australian officials alerted the Americans about Papadopoulos’ remarks.[88][89]

Other soon-discovered factors then played into the FBI’s decision to investigate Russian interference and any role played by the Trump campaign: intelligence from friendly governments, especially the British and Dutch, and then the information about a trip to Moscow by Trump adviser Carter Page. Steele’s first report was sent to Fusion GPS, dated June 20, 2016, and FBI agents first interviewed Steele in October 2016.[89] A year later, in October 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and became a cooperating witness in Mueller’s investigation.[88]

Reactions

November 14, 2017 – House Intelligence Committee Transcript by Glenn Simpson

August 22, 2017 Fusion GPS Testimony Transcript of Glenn Simpson

Donald Trump called the dossier “fake news” and criticized the intelligence and media sources that published it.[90] During a press conference on January 11, 2017, Trump denounced the unsubstantiated claims as false, saying that it was “disgraceful” for U.S. intelligence agencies to report them. Trump refused to answer a question from CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta on the subject. In response, CNN said that it had published “carefully sourced reporting” on the matter which had been “matched by the other major news organizations”, as opposed to BuzzFeed‘s posting of “unsubstantiated materials”.[91][42]James Clapper described the leaks as damaging to US national security.[92] This also contradicted Trump’s previous claim that Clapper said the information was false; Clapper’s statement actually said the intelligence community had made no judgement on the truth or falsity of the information.[93]

Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov insisted in an interview that the document is a fraud, saying “I can assure you that the allegations in this funny paper, in this so-called report, they are untrue. They are all fake.”[94] The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, called the people who leaked the document “worse than prostitutes”[95] and referred to the dossier itself as “rubbish”.[96] Putin went on to state he believed that the dossier was “clearly fake”,[97]fabricated as a plot against the legitimacy of President-elect Donald Trump.[98]

Some of Steele’s former colleagues expressed support for his character, saying “The idea his work is fake or a cowboy operation is false—completely untrue. Chris is an experienced and highly regarded professional. He’s not the sort of person who will simply pass on gossip.”[99]

Among journalists, Bob Woodward called the dossier a “garbage document,” while Carl Bernstein took the opposite view, noting that the senior-most U.S. intelligence officials had determined that the content was worth reporting to the president and the president-elect.[100]

Ynet, an Israeli online news site, reported on January 12, 2017 that U.S. intelligence advised Israeli intelligence officers to be cautious about sharing information with the incoming Trump administration, until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Steele’s report, has been fully investigated.[101]

Aleksej Gubarev, chief of technology company XBT and a figure mentioned in the dossier, sued BuzzFeed for defamation on February 3, 2017. The suit, filed in a Broward County, Florida court, centers on allegations from the dossier that XBT had been “using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership”.[102][103] In the High Court of Justice, Steele’s lawyers said their client did not intend for the memos to be released, and that one of the memos “needed to be analyzed and further investigated/verified”.[104]

On March 2, 2017, media began reporting that the Senate may call Steele to testify about the Trump dossier.[105] On March 27, 2017, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley asked the Department of Justice to initiate an inquiry into Fusion GPS, who initially retained Steele to write the dossier.[106] Fusion GPS was previously associated with pro-Russia lobbying activities due to sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act.[107] On August 22, 2017, Steele met with the FBI and had provided them with the names of his sources for the allegations in the dossier.[108]

Steven L. Hall, former CIA chief of Russia operations, has compared Steele’s methods with those of Donald Trump Jr., who sought information from a Russian attorney in June 2016: “The distinction: Steele spied against Russia to get info Russia did not want released; Don Jr took a mtg to get info Russians wanted to give.”[109]

On January 2, 2018, the founders of Fusion GPS, Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch authored an op-ed in the New York Times, requesting that Republicans, “release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony” and further wrote that, “the Steele dossier was not the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.”[25] Ken Dilanian of NBC News clarified that a “source close to Fusion GPS” told him that the FBI had not planted anyone in the Trump camp, but rather that Simpson was referring to George Papadopoulos.[110][111]

On January 5, 2018, in the first known Congressional criminal referral resulting from investigations related to the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley made a referral to the Justice Department suggesting that they investigate possible criminal charges against Christopher Steele, author of the dossier.[112][113] Senator Lindsey Graham also signed the letter.[114][115] Both Grassley and Graham declared that they were not alleging that Steele “had committed any crime. Rather, they had passed on the information for ‘further investigation only’.”[116] The referral was met with skepticism from legal experts, as well as some of the other Republicans and Democrats on the Judiciary committee, who had reportedly not been consulted.[114]

On January 8, 2018, a spokesman for Grassley said he did not plan to release the transcript of Simpson’s August 22, 2017 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[117] The next day, Ranking Committee Member Senator Dianne Feinstein unilaterally released the transcript.[118][119]

Also on January 9, 2018, Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen sued Buzzfeed for defamation over allegations about him in the dossier, which Buzzfeed had published.[120]

On January 18, 2018, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the transcript of the Glenn Simpson Testimony given on November 14, 2017.[121][122] Democratic committee member Adam Schiff stated that the testimony contains “serious allegations that The Trump Organization may have engaged in money laundering with Russian nationals”. Trump Organization’s chief counsel Alan Garten called the allegations “unsubstantiated” and “reckless”, and said that Simpson was mainly referring to properties to which Trump licensed his name. Democratic member Jim Himes said that Simpson “did not provide evidence and I think that’s an important point. He made allegations.”[123]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump%E2%80%93Russia_dossier

How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt

WASHINGTON — 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.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

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 F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.

If Mr. Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. and is now a cooperating witness, was the improbable match that set off a blaze that has consumed the first year of the Trump administration, his saga is also a tale of the Trump campaign in miniature. He was brash, boastful and underqualified, yet he exceeded expectations. And, like the campaign itself, he proved to be a tantalizing target for a Russian influence operation.

 

While some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have derided him as an insignificant campaign volunteer or a “coffee boy,” interviews and new documents show that he stayed influential throughout the campaign. Two months before the election, for instance, he helped arrange a New York meeting between Mr. Trump and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.

The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigationinto the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?

It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies.

Interviews and previously undisclosed documents show that Mr. Papadopoulos played a critical role in this drama and reveal a Russian operation that was more aggressive and widespread than previously known. They add to an emerging portrait, gradually filled in over the past year in revelations by federal investigators, journalists and lawmakers, of Russians with government contacts trying to establish secret channels at various levels of the Trump campaign.

The F.B.I. investigation, which was taken over seven months ago by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has cast a shadow over Mr. Trump’s first year in office — even as he and his aides repeatedly played down the Russian efforts and falsely denied campaign contacts with Russians.

They have also insisted that Mr. Papadopoulos was a low-level figure. But spies frequently target peripheral players as a way to gain insight and leverage.

F.B.I. officials disagreed in 2016 about how aggressively and publicly to pursue the Russia inquiry before the election. But there was little debate about what seemed to be afoot. John O. Brennan, who retired this year after four years as C.I.A. director, told Congress in May that he had been concerned about multiple contacts between Russian officials and Trump advisers.

Russia, he said, had tried to “suborn” members of the Trump campaign.

‘The Signal to Meet’

Mr. Papadopoulos, then an ambitious 28-year-old from Chicago, was working as an energy consultant in London when the Trump campaign, desperate to create a foreign policy team, named him as an adviser in early March 2016. His political experience was limited to two months on Ben Carson’s presidential campaign before it collapsed.

Mr. Papadopoulos had no experience on Russia issues. But during his job interview with Sam Clovis, a top early campaign aide, he saw an opening. He was told that improving relations with Russia was one of Mr. Trump’s top foreign policy goals, according to court papers, an account Mr. Clovis has denied.

Traveling in Italy that March, Mr. Papadopoulos met Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor at a now-defunct London academy who had valuable contacts with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Mifsud showed little interest in Mr. Papadopoulos at first.

But when he found out he was a Trump campaign adviser, he latched onto him, according to court records and emails obtained by The New York Times. Their joint goal was to arrange a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Moscow, or between their respective aides.

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Sam Clovis, a former co-chairman of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, denies that he told Mr. Papadopoulos that improving relations with Russia was one of Mr. Trump’s top foreign policy goals during Mr. Papadopoulos’s interview for a job with the campaign. CreditWin Mcnamee/Getty Images

In response to questions, Mr. Papadopoulos’s lawyers declined to provide a statement.

Before the end of the month, Mr. Mifsud had arranged a meeting at a London cafe between Mr. Papadopoulos and Olga Polonskaya, a young woman from St. Petersburg whom he falsely described as Mr. Putin’s niece. Although Ms. Polonskaya told The Times in a text message that her English skills are poor, her emails to Mr. Papadopoulos were largely fluent. “We are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” Ms. Polonskaya wrote in one message.

More important, Mr. Mifsud connected Mr. Papadopoulos to Ivan Timofeev, a program director for the prestigious Valdai Discussion Club, a gathering of academics that meets annually with Mr. Putin. The two men corresponded for months about how to connect the Russian government and the campaign. Records suggest that Mr. Timofeev, who has been described by Mr. Mueller’s team as an intermediary for the Russian Foreign Ministry, discussed the matter with the ministry’s former leader, Igor S. Ivanov, who is widely viewed in the United States as one of Russia’s elder statesmen.

When Mr. Trump’s foreign policy team gathered for the first time at the end of March in Washington, Mr. Papadopoulos said he had the contacts to set up a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Mr. Trump listened intently but apparently deferred to Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama and head of the campaign’s foreign policy team, according to participants in the meeting.

Mr. Sessions, now the attorney general, initially did not reveal that discussion to Congress, because, he has said, he did not recall it. More recently, he said he pushed back against Mr. Papadopoulos’s proposal, at least partly because he did not want someone so unqualified to represent the campaign on such a sensitive matter.

If the campaign wanted Mr. Papadopoulos to stand down, previously undisclosed emails obtained by The Times show that he either did not get the message or failed to heed it. He continued for months to try to arrange some kind of meeting with Russian representatives, keeping senior campaign advisers abreast of his efforts. Mr. Clovis ultimately encouraged him and another foreign policy adviser to travel to Moscow, but neither went because the campaign would not cover the cost.

Mr. Papadopoulos was trusted enough to edit the outline of Mr. Trump’s first major foreign policy speech on April 27, an address in which the candidate said it was possible to improve relations with Russia. Mr. Papadopoulos flagged the speech to his newfound Russia contacts, telling Mr. Timofeev that it should be taken as “the signal to meet.”

“That is a statesman speech,” Mr. Mifsud agreed. Ms. Polonskaya wrote that she was pleased that Mr. Trump’s “position toward Russia is much softer” than that of other candidates.

Stephen Miller, then a senior policy adviser to the campaign and now a top White House aide, was eager for Mr. Papadopoulos to serve as a surrogate, someone who could publicize Mr. Trump’s foreign policy views without officially speaking for the campaign. But Mr. Papadopoulos’s first public attempt to do so was a disaster.

In a May 4, 2016, interview with The Times of London, Mr. Papadopoulos called on Prime Minister David Cameron to apologize to Mr. Trump for criticizing his remarks on Muslims as “stupid” and divisive. “Say sorry to Trump or risk special relationship, Cameron told,” the headline read. Mr. Clovis, the national campaign co-chairman, severely reprimanded Mr. Papadopoulos for failing to clear his explosive comments with the campaign in advance.

From then on, Mr. Papadopoulos was more careful with the press — though he never regained the full trust of Mr. Clovis or several other campaign officials.

Mr. Mifsud proposed to Mr. Papadopoulos that he, too, serve as a campaign surrogate. He could write op-eds under the guise of a “neutral” observer, he wrote in a previously undisclosed email, and follow Mr. Trump to his rallies as an accredited journalist while receiving briefings from the inside the campaign.

In late April, at a London hotel, Mr. Mifsud told Mr. Papadopoulos that he had just learned from high-level Russian officials in Moscow that the Russians had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents. Although Russian hackers had been mining data from the Democratic National Committee’s computers for months, that information was not yet public. Even the committee itself did not know.

Whether Mr. Papadopoulos shared that information with anyone else in the campaign is one of many unanswered questions. He was mostly in contact with the campaign over emails. The day after Mr. Mifsud’s revelation about the hacked emails, he told Mr. Miller in an email only that he had “interesting messages coming in from Moscow” about a possible trip. The emails obtained by The Times show no evidence that Mr. Papadopoulos discussed the stolen messages with the campaign.

Not long after, however, he opened up to Mr. Downer, the Australian diplomat, about his contacts with the Russians. It is unclear whether Mr. Downer was fishing for that information that night in May 2016. The meeting at the bar came about because of a series of connections, beginning with an Israeli Embassy official who introduced Mr. Papadopoulos to another Australian diplomat in London.

It is also not clear why, after getting the information in May, the Australian government waited two months to pass it to the F.B.I. In a statement, the Australian Embassy in Washington declined to provide details about the meeting or confirm that it occurred.

“As a matter of principle and practice, the Australian government does not comment on matters relevant to active investigations,” the statement said. The F.B.I. declined to comment.

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A House Judiciary Committee session last month at which Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified. Mr. Sessions was head of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team. CreditAl Drago for The New York Times

A Secretive Investigation

Once the information Mr. Papadopoulos had disclosed to the Australian diplomat reached the F.B.I., the bureau opened an investigation that became one of its most closely guarded secrets. Senior agents did not discuss it at the daily morning briefing, a classified setting where officials normally speak freely about highly sensitive operations.

Besides the information from the Australians, the investigation was also propelled by intelligence from other friendly governments, including the British and Dutch. A trip to Moscow by another adviser, Carter Page, also raised concerns at the F.B.I.

With so many strands coming in — about Mr. Papadopoulos, Mr. Page, the hackers and more — F.B.I. agents debated how aggressively to investigate the campaign’s Russia ties, according to current and former officials familiar with the debate. Issuing subpoenas or questioning people, for example, could cause the investigation to burst into public view in the final months of a presidential campaign.

It could also tip off the Russian government, which might try to cover its tracks. Some officials argued against taking such disruptive steps, especially since the F.B.I. would not be able to unravel the case before the election.

Others believed that the possibility of a compromised presidential campaign was so serious that it warranted the most thorough, aggressive tactics. Even if the odds against a Trump presidency were long, these agents argued, it was prudent to take every precaution.

That included questioning Christopher Steele, the former British spy who was compiling the dossier alleging a far-ranging Russian conspiracy to elect Mr. Trump. A team of F.B.I. agents traveled to Europe to interview Mr. Steele in early October 2016. Mr. Steele had shown some of his findings to an F.B.I. agent in Rome three months earlier, but that information was not part of the justification to start an counterintelligence inquiry, American officials said.

Ultimately, the F.B.I. and Justice Department decided to keep the investigation quiet, a decision that Democrats in particular have criticized. And agents did not interview Mr. Papadopoulos until late January.

Opening Doors, to the Top

He was hardly central to the daily running of the Trump campaign, yet Mr. Papadopoulos continuously found ways to make himself useful to senior Trump advisers. In September 2016, with the United Nations General Assembly approaching and stories circulating that Mrs. Clinton was going to meet with Mr. Sisi, the Egyptian president, Mr. Papadopoulos sent a message to Stephen K. Bannon, the campaign’s chief executive, offering to broker a similar meeting for Mr. Trump.

After days of scheduling discussions, the meeting was set and Mr. Papadopoulos sent a list of talking points to Mr. Bannon, according to people familiar with those interactions. Asked about his contacts with Mr. Papadopoulos, Mr. Bannon declined to comment.

Mr. Trump’s improbable victory raised Mr. Papadopoulos’s hopes that he might ascend to a top White House job. The election win also prompted a business proposal from Sergei Millian, a naturalized American citizen born in Belarus. After he had contacted Mr. Papadopoulos out of the blue over LinkedIn during the summer of 2016, the two met repeatedly in Manhattan.

Mr. Millian has bragged of his ties to Mr. Trump — boasts that the president’s advisers have said are overstated. He headed an obscure organization called the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, some of whose board members and clients are difficult to confirm. Congress is investigating where he fits into the swirl of contacts with the Trump campaign, although he has said he is unfairly being scrutinized only because of his support for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Millian proposed that he and Mr. Papadopoulos form an energy-related business that would be financed by Russian billionaires “who are not under sanctions” and would “open all doors for us” at “any level all the way to the top.”

One billionaire, he said, wanted to explore the idea of opening a Trump-branded hotel in Moscow. “I know the president will distance himself from business, but his children might be interested,” he wrote.

Nothing came of his proposals, partly because Mr. Papadopoulos was hoping that Michael T. Flynn, then Mr. Trump’s pick to be national security adviser, might give him the energy portfolio at the National Security Council.

The pair exchanged New Year’s greetings in the final hours of 2016. “Happy New Year, sir,” Mr. Papadopoulos wrote.

“Thank you and same to you, George. Happy New Year!” Mr. Flynn responded, ahead of a year that seemed to hold great promise.

But 2017 did not unfold that way. Within months, Mr. Flynn was fired, and both men were charged with lying to the F.B.I. And both became important witnesses in the investigation Mr. Papadopoulos had played a critical role in starting.

 

After Donald J. Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination, Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee by their law firm, Perkins Coie, to try to unearth damaging information about him. CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — This article was updated on Dec. 21 with more details about Fusion GPS, the company that compiled the dossier, and who paid for it.

The dossier of research into President Trump’s connections to Russia is the product of a research firm founded by a former journalist, Glenn R. Simpson.

What is the dossier?

It is a 35-page collection of research memos written by Christopher Steele, a respected former British intelligence agent, primarily during the 2016 presidential campaign. The memos, compiled by a research firm called Fusion GPS, allege a multifaceted conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to help Mr. Trump defeat Mrs. Clinton. The memos also detail unsubstantiated accounts of encounters between Mr. Trump and Russian prostitutes, and real estate deals that were intended as bribes, among other claims about Mr. Trump’s businesses.

Mr. Simpson founded Fusion GPS in 2010. The firm is paid to do research by a variety of clients, including political donors, corporations, hedge funds and law firms. During election years, the firm is mostly focused on political opposition research — digging up dirt on a client’s opponent. The firm’s website lists very few details — there is a two-paragraph description of what the firm does and a single email address.

Who paid for it?

During the Republican primaries, a research firm called Fusion GPS was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, to unearth potentially damaging information about Mr. Trump. The Free Beacon — which was funded by a major donor supporting Mr. Trump’s rival for the party’s nomination, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida — told Fusion GPS to stop doing research on Mr. Trump in May 2016, as Mr. Trump was clinching the Republican nomination.

After Mr. Trump secured the nomination, Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and the D.N.C. by their law firm, Perkins Coie, to compile research about Mr. Trump, his businesses and associates — including possible connections with Russia. It was at that point that Fusion GPS hired Mr. Steele, who has deep sourcing in Russia, to gather information.

In October, Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post that his party was outraged at Mrs. Clinton’s involvement.

Does it matter who paid for it?

That depends on your politics.

Republicans have criticized the dossier since it was first publicly disseminated when BuzzFeed published it in January. Mr. Trump has blasted it as “fake news” and “phony stuff,” and alleged that it is part of a broader witch hunt intended to cast doubt on his victory. His allies now contend that the allegations in the dossier are discredited by the fact that it was funded at least partially by the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. Mr. Trump asserted in October in an interview with Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that the Democrats’ payments for the research were “the real collusion.”

Democrats argue that who paid for the research is irrelevant to the veracity of its claims, which they say should be thoroughly investigated. Yet some of the Democrats who funded the dossier have been wary of being associated with it. The lead Perkins Coie lawyer representing both the campaign and the D.N.C., Marc Elias, pushed back earlier this year when asked whether his firm was the client for the dossier, whether he possessed it before the election and whether he was involved in efforts to encourage media outlets to write about its contents.

In October, the veteran Democratic consultant Anita Dunn, who is working with Perkins Coie, explained Mr. Elias’s earlier response. “Obviously, he was not at liberty to confirm Perkins Coie as the client at that point, and should perhaps have ‘no commented’ more artfully,” Ms. Dunn wrote in an email.

Is this sort of research common or legal?

Campaigns and party committees frequently pay companies to assemble what’s known in politics as opposition research — essentially damaging information about their opponents — and nothing is illegal about the practice.

However, Republicans and campaign watchdogs have accused the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. of violating campaign finance laws by disguising the payments to Fusion GPS on mandatory disclosures to the Federal Election Commission. Their disclosure reports do not list any payments from the Clinton campaign or the D.N.C. to Fusion GPS. They do list a total of $12.4 million in payments to Perkins Coie, but that’s almost entirely for legal consulting, with only one payment — of $66,500 — for “research consulting” from the D.N.C.

In a complaint filed with the election commission in October, the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit group that urges stricter enforcement of election laws, alleged that “at least some of those payments were earmarked for Fusion GPS, with the purpose of conducting opposition research on Donald Trump.” The complaint asserts that the failure to list the ultimate purpose of that money “undermined the vital public information role that reporting is intended to serve.”

Graham M. Wilson, a partner at Perkins Coie, called the complaint “patently baseless,” in part because, he said, the research was done “to support the provision of legal services, and payments made by vendors to sub-vendors are not required to be disclosed in circumstances like this.”

Who else knew about the Fusion GPS research during the campaign?

Officials from the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. have said they were unaware that Perkins Coie facilitated the research on their behalf, even though the law firm was using their money to pay for it. Even Mrs. Clinton found about Mr. Steele’s research only after BuzzFeed published the dossier, according to two associates who discussed the matter with her. They said that she was disappointed that the research — as well as the fact that the F.B.I. was looking into connections between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia — was not made public before Election Day.

But word of the memos and their contents had circulated in Washington political and media circles before the election. In British court filings, Mr. Steele’s lawyers said that he and Fusion GPS briefed journalists from a range of media outlets, including The New York Times, on his research starting in September 2016.

Yet the research and even the existence of the dossier were not reported by the media, with the exception of Mother Jones magazine, which published a story in the days before the election that described the dossier, its origin and significance, while omitting the salacious claims.

How much of the dossier has been substantiated?

There has been no public corroboration of the salacious allegations against Mr. Trump, nor of the specific claims about coordination between his associates and the Russians. In fact, some of those claims have been challenged with supporting evidence. For instance, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, produced his passport to rebut the dossier’s claim that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official last year.

Where does the dossier fit in with the government’s Russia investigations?

James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director whose firing by Mr. Trump prompted the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, received a copy of the memos after Election Day from Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. Mr. McCain had dispatched David J. Kramer, a former top State Department official, to obtain the dossier directly from Mr. Steele. And before Election Day, the F.B.I. reached an agreement to pay Mr. Steele to continue his research, though that plan was scrapped after the dossier was published. During the presidential transition, senior American intelligence officials briefed Mr. Trump and President Barack Obama on the dossier.

Investigators from the House and Senate intelligence committees and Mr. Mueller’s team have been exploring claims made in the dossier. Mr. Mueller’s team reportedly interviewed Mr. Steele over the summer.

Mr. Simpson has provided at least 20 hours of testimony to three different congressional committees investigating the possible Russia ties. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, has described Mr. Simpson as “uncooperative.”

“The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok,” the memo spearheaded by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes reads.  

Some Republicans have argued that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign began because of the now-infamous Steele dossier, which had salacious and unverified claims connecting Trump to Russia.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to charges brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia investigation.

The same memo did confirm that the Steele dossier was used to justify a decision to seek a FISA warrant against Trump aide Carter Page.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/nunes-memo-george-papadopoulos-investigation-triggered-formal-launch-of-fbi-probe-in-trump-campaign/article/2647947

Christopher Steele

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Christopher Steele
Service Secret Intelligence Service
Active 1987–2009
Other work Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd

Born 24 June 1964 (age 53)
AdenSouth Arabia(now Yemen)
Occupation Private intelligence consultant
Alma mater Girton College, Cambridge

Christopher David Steele (born 24 June 1964) is a founding director of Orbis Business Intelligence, a London-based private intelligence firm. He authored a dossier that claims Russia collected a file of compromising information on U.S. PresidentDonald Trump.[1][2] Steele served as a British intelligence officer with the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 from 1987 until his retirement in 2009.

Early life

Christopher David Steele was born in the Yemeni city of Aden (then part of the Federation of South Arabia), on 24 June 1964.[3] His parents, Perris and Janet, had met while working at the Met Office, which is the United Kingdom’s national weather service. His paternal grandfather was a coal miner from Pontypridd in Wales.[4] Steele spent time growing up in Aden, the Shetland Islands northeast of Great Britain, and Cyprus, as well as at Wellington College, Berkshire which is a school in Great Britain.[4]

He attended Girton College, Cambridge and wrote for the oldest of Cambridge University‘s main student newspapersVarsity.[4][5] In the Easter term of 1986, Steele was President of The Cambridge Union debating society,[6][7] and graduated with a degree in Social and Political Sciences in 1986.[8]

Career

Steele was recruited by MI6 directly following his graduation from Cambridge, working in London at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 1987 to 1989.[3] From 1990 to 1992, Steele worked under diplomatic cover as an MI6 agent in Moscow, serving at the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Moscow.[7][9] Steele was an “internal traveller”, visiting newly-accessible cities such as Samara and Kazan.[4]

Steele’s identity as an MI6 officer was one of 115 names Her Majesty’s Government attempted to suppress through a DSMA-Notice in 1999.[10][11] He returned to London in 1993, working again at the FCO until his posting to Paris in 1998, where he served under diplomatic cover until 2002.[9][12][13][14] In 2003, Steele was sent to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan as part of an MI6 team, briefing Special Forces on “kill or capture” missions for Taliban targets, and also spent time teaching new MI6 recruits.[9] By 2006, Steele was heading the Russia Desk at MI6.[4][7][15]

Steele’s expertise on Russia remained valued, and he served as a senior officer under John Scarlett, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), from 2004 to 2009.[15] Steele was selected as case officer for Alexander Litvinenko and participated in the investigation of the Litvinenko poisoning in 2006.[9] It was Steele who quickly realised that Litvinenko’s death “was a Russian state ‘hit'”.[15]

Private sector

In March 2009, Steele with his fellow MI6-retiree Chris Burrows co-founded the private intelligence agency Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., based in Grosvenor Square Gardens near Buckingham Palace.[16][7] Between 2014 and 2016 Steele created over 100 reports on Russian and Ukrainian issues, which were read within the United States Department of State, and he was viewed as credible by the United States intelligence community.[4]

In 2017 Steele established a new company called Chawton Holdings, again with Christopher Burrows.[17]

FIFA research

In 2010, The Football Association, England’s domestic football governing body, organized a committee in hopes of hosting the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. In advance of the FBI launching its 2015 FIFA corruption case, members of the FBI’s “Eurasian Organized Crime” squad met with Steele in London to discuss allegations of possible corruption in the FIFA.[16][18]

2017 Trump dossier

Background and information gathering

In September 2015, the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, retained the services of Fusion GPS, a private Washington D.C. political research firm, to conduct research on several primary Republican Party candidates including candidate Trump. The research was unrelated to Russia and was ended once Trump was determined to be the presidential nominee.

The firm was subsequently hired by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee through their shared attorney at Perkins Coie, Marc Elias. Fusion GPS then hired Christopher Steele [19] to investigate Trump’s Russia-related activities.[16]According to CNNHillary Clinton‘s campaign and the Democratic National Committee took over the financing of the inquiry into Donald Trump and produced what became known as the Trump dossier.[20]

In July 2016, Steele, on his own initiative, supplied a report he had written to an FBI agent in Rome.[21] His contact at the FBI was the same senior agent with whom he had worked when investigating the FIFA scandal.[9] By early October 2016, he had grown frustrated at the slow rate of progress by the FBI investigation, and cut off further contact with the FBI.[19]

In September 2016, Steele held a series of off the record meetings with journalists from The New York TimesThe Washington PostYahoo! NewsThe New Yorker and CNN.[4] In October 2016, Steele spoke about his discoveries to David Corn of the progressive American political magazine Mother Jones. Steele said he decided to pass his dossier to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that the material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Trump, but was a matter of national security for both countries.[22] Corn’s resulting 31 October article was the first to publicly mention the dossier, although the article did not disclose Steele’s identity.[22] The magazine did not publish the dossier itself, however, or detail its allegations, since they could not be verified.[23]

The January 18, 2018 memo by the majority (Republican) staff of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) states that as a result of the Mother Jones article, Steele “was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines the most serious of violations–an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI”[24], though this claim has not been independently corroborated and the FBI and Department of Justice have criticized the memo for mischaracterizations and omissions of fact.

Post-election work on the dossier

The project was no longer of interest to the Democrats, following Trump’s victory in November 2016.[citation needed] Steele continued to work for Fusion GPS on the dossier without a client to pay him.[25] After the election, Steele’s memos “became one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, as reporters—including from The New York Times—scrambled to confirm or disprove them.”[25]

On 18 November 2016, Sir Andrew Wood, British ambassador to Moscow from 1995 to 2000, met with U.S. Senator John McCain at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, and told McCain about the existence of the collected materials about Trump.[26] Wood vouched for Steele’s professionalism and integrity.[27] In early December, McCain obtained a copy of the dossier from David J. Kramer, a former U.S. State Department official working at Arizona State University.[25] On 9 December 2016 McCain met personally with FBI Director James Comey to pass on the information.[26]

Compromised identity

On 11 January 2017, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Steele was the author of the controversial dossier about Trump, citing “people familiar with the matter.”[2] Although the dossier’s existence had been “common knowledge” among journalists for months at that point and had become public knowledge during the previous week, Steele’s name had not been revealed. The Telegraph asserted that Steele’s anonymity had been “fatally compromised” after CNN published his nationality.[19]

The Independent reported that Steele left his home in England several hours before his name was published as the author of the dossier, as he was fearful of retaliation by Russian authorities.[19] In contrast, The Washington Post reported that he left after he had been identified earlier in the day by the initial Wall Street Journal report.[28]

Christopher Burrows, director of Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., said he would not “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the dossier.[29]

Steele’s relationship with the FBI is generally agreed to have ended at or by the public revelation of Steele’s identity.[30][24]

On 7 March 2017, as some members of the United States Congress were expressing interest in meeting with or hearing testimony from Steele, he reemerged after weeks in hiding, appearing publicly on camera and stating, “I’m really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis’s offices in London today.”[31]

Disclosure and reactions

In early January 2017 a two-page summary of the Trump dossier was presented to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump in meetings with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.[32]

On 10 January 2017, BuzzFeed was the first media outlet to publish the full 35-page dossier. In publishing the Trump dossier, BuzzFeed stated that it had been unable to verify or corroborate the allegations.[33] The UK issued a DSMA notice on 10 January 2017, requesting that the media not release Steele’s identity,[34] although the BBC and other UK news media released the information in news stories the same day.[10] Trump vigorously denied the dossier’s allegations, calling it fake news during a press conference.[35]Vladimir Putin also dismissed the claims.[36]

Ynet, an Israeli online news site, reported that American intelligence advised Israeli intelligence officers to be cautious about sharing information with the incoming Trump administration, until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Steele’s report, has been fully investigated.[37]

Former British ambassador to Russia, Sir Tony Brenton, read Steele’s report. Speaking on Sky News he said, “I’ve seen quite a lot of intelligence on Russia, and there are some things in it which look pretty shaky.” Brenton expressed some doubts due to discrepancies in how the dossier described aspects of the hacking activities, as well as Steele’s ability to penetrate the Kremlin and Russian security agencies, given that he is an outsider.[38]

On 15 March 2017, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell raised questions about the dossier. He was concerned about the accuracy of the information, due to the approach taken by Steele to gather it. Steele gave money to intermediaries and the intermediaries paid the sources. Morell said, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.” Morell continues to believe that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 U.S.presidential election.[39]

Role in subsequent investigations

In the summer of 2017, two Republican staffers for the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence traveled to London to investigate the dossier, visiting the office of Steele’s attorney but not meeting with Steele.[40]

Steele reportedly revealed the identities of the sources used in the dossier to the FBI.[41] Investigators from Robert Mueller’sSpecial Counselinvestigation team met with Steele to interview him about the dossier’s claims.[42][43]

Legal action

In August 2017 lawyers for Russian internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, who was mentioned in Steele’s dossier, demanded Steele give a deposition regarding the dossier, as part of a libel lawsuit against BuzzFeed News.[44][45][46] Steele objected to testifying but his objections were rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Mancusi Ungaro, who allowed the deposition to proceed.[47][48]

Senate Republicans’ referral for a criminal investigation[edit]

On January 5, 2018, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, joined by senior Republican member Lindsey Graham, issued a criminal referral regarding Steele to the Justice Department for it to investigate whether Steele had lied to the FBI about his interactions with the media regarding the contents of the dossier.[49][50][51] Because the referral is based on classified FBI documents, the context in which the Republican senators allege Steele to have lied is not publicly known.[51] Both Grassley and Graham declared that they were not alleging that Steele “had committed any crime. Rather, they had passed on the information for ‘further investigation only’.”[52]

The referral was met with skepticism from legal experts, as well as members of both parties on the Judiciary Committee.[50] Fusion GPS lawyer Joshua A. Levy said that the referral was just another effort to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the election and that: “After a year of investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, the only person Republicans seek to accuse of wrongdoing is one who reported on these matters to law enforcement in the first place.”[50] Veteran prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg called the referral “nonsense” because “the FBI doesn’t need any prompting from politicians to prosecute people who have lied to them.”[50] Another former federal prosecutor, Justin Dillon said that “it was too early to assume the letter was simply a political attack”. The senior Democrat on the Committee, Diane Feinstein, said that the referral was made without consultation of any Democrats on the committee. A Republican aide said that Grassley and Graham were “carrying water for the White House”, but that their actions didn’t reflect the views of the committee as a whole, and that other members were upset with Grassley over the matter.[50] Grassley implied that Steele’s conduct was equivalent to that of George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, two Trump aides that pled guilty to lying to the FBI, commenting: “If the same actions have different outcomes, and those differences correspond to partisan political interests, then the public will naturally suspect that law enforcement decisions are not on the up-and-up.”[51]

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Steele

Carter Page

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Carter Page
Carter Page MSNBC June 2017 YouTube.png
Born Carter William Page
June 3, 1971 (age 46)
MinneapolisMinnesota, U.S.
Education United States Naval Academy(BS)
Georgetown University (MA)
New York University (MBA)
University of London (PhD)
Occupation Investment banker
foreign policy analyst
Political party Republican

Carter William Page (born June 3, 1971) is an American oil industry consultant and a former foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump during his 2016 Presidential election campaign.[1] Page is the founder and managing partner of Global Energy Capital, a one-man investment fund and consulting firm specializing in the Russian and Central Asian oil and gas business.[2][3][4] He has been a focus of the 2017 Special Counsel investigation into links between Trump associates and Russian officials and Russian interference on behalf of Trump during the 2016 Presidential election.[2]

Life and career

Carter Page was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 3, 1971,[5] the son of Allan Robert Page and Rachel (Greenstein) Page.[6][7] His father was from Galway, New York, and his mother was from Minneapolis.[8] His father was a manager and executive with the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Company.[9] Page was raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, and graduated from Poughkeepsie’s Our Lady of Lourdes High School in 1989.[6]

Page graduated in 1993 from the United States Naval Academy; he was a Distinguished Graduate (top 10% of his class) and was chosen for the Navy’s Trident Scholar program, which gives selected officers the opportunity for independent academic research and study.[10][11][12] During his senior year at the Naval Academy, he worked as a researcher for the House Armed Services Committee.[13] He served in the Navy for five years, including a tour in western Morocco as an intelligence officer for a United Nations peacekeeping mission.[13] In 1994, he completed a master of arts degree in National Security Studies at Georgetown University.[13]

Education and business

After leaving the Navy, Page completed a fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations and in 2001 he received an MBA from New York University.[10][14] In 2000, he began work as an investment banker with Merrill Lynch in the firm’s London office, was a vice president in the company’s Moscow office,[3] and later served as COO for Merrill Lynch’s energy and power department in New York.[11] Page has stated that he worked on transactions involving Gazprom and other leading Russian energy companies. According to business people interviewed by Politico in 2016, Page’s work in Moscow was at a subordinate level, and he himself remained largely unknown to decision-makers.[3]

After leaving Merrill Lynch in 2008, Page founded his own investment fund, Global Energy Capital with partner James Richard and a former mid-level Gazprom executive, Sergei Yatsenko.[15][3] The fund operates out of a Manhattan co-working space shared with a booking agency for wedding bands, and as of late 2017, Page was the firm’s sole employee.[2] Other businesspeople working in the Russian energy sector said in 2016 that the fund had yet to actually realize a project.[2][3]

Page received his Ph.D. in 2012 from SOAS, University of London, where he was supervised by Shirin Akiner.[2][10] His doctoral thesis on the transition of Asian countries from communism to capitalism was rejected twice before ultimately being accepted by new examiners. One of his original examiners later said Page “knew next to nothing” about the subject matter and was unfamiliar with “basic concepts” such as Marxism and state capitalism.[16] He sought unsuccessfully to publish his doctoral thesis as a book; a reviewer described it as “very analytically confused, just throwing a lot of stuff out there without any real kind of argument.”[2] Page blamed these failures on anti-Russian and anti-American bias.[16] He later ran an international-affairs program at Bard College and taught a course on energy and politics at New York University.[17][18]

In more recent years Page has written columns in Global Policy Journal, a publication of Durham University in the UK.[3]

Foreign policy and alleged links to Russia

In 1998, Page joined the Eurasia Group, a strategy consulting firm, but left three months later. In 2017, Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer recalled on his Twitter feed that Page’s strong pro-Russian stance was “not a good fit” for the firm and that Page was its “most wackadoodle” alumnus.[19] Stephen Sestanovich later described Page’s foreign-policy views as having “an edgy Putinist resentment” and a sympathy to Russian leader Vladimir Putin‘s criticisms of the US.[2] Over time, Page became increasingly critical of US foreign policy toward Russia, and more supportive of Putin, with a US official describing Page as “a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did”.[4] Page is frequently quoted by Russian state television, where he is presented as a “famous American economist”.[3] In 2013, Russian intelligence operatives attempted to recruit Page, and one described him as enthusiastic about business opportunities in Russia but an “idiot”.[2][20] News accounts in 2017 indicated that because of these ties to Russia, Page had been the subject of a FISA warrant in 2014, at least two years earlier than was indicated in the stories concerning his role in the 2016 Presidential campaign of Donald Trump.[21][22]

Trump 2016 presidential campaign

Page served as a foreign-policy advisor to Donald Trump‘s 2016 Presidential campaign.[23] In September 2016, U.S. intelligence officials investigated alleged contacts between Page and Russian officials subject to U.S. sanctions, including Igor Sechin.[4] After news reports began to appear describing Page’s links to Russia and Putin’s government, Page stepped down from his role in the Trump campaign.[1][24]

Shortly after Page resigned from the Trump campaign, the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a warrant from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil Page’s communications.[25] To issue the warrant, a federal judge concluded there was probable cause to believe that Page was a foreign agent knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence for the Russian government. Page was the only American who was directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe. The 90-day warrant was repeatedly renewed.[26]

In January 2017, Page’s name appeared repeatedly in a leaked contract intelligence dossier containing unsubstantiated allegations of close interactions between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.[27][28][29][30] By the end of January 2017, Page was under investigation by the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. He has denied wrongdoing.[31] The Trump Administration has attempted to distance itself from Page, denying that he was in fact an “advisor” to Trump.[2]

In October 2017, Page said he would not cooperate with requests to appear before the Intelligence Committee and would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.[32] He said this was because they were requesting documents dating back to 2010, and he did not want to be caught in a “perjury trap.” He expressed the wish to testify before the committee in an open setting.[33]

Testimony before the House Intelligence Committee

On November 2, 2017, Page testified to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that he had informed Jeff SessionsCorey LewandowskiHope Hicks and other Trump campaign officials that he was traveling to Russia to give a speech in July 2016.[34][35][36]

Page testified that he had met with Russian government officials during this trip and had sent a post-meeting report via email to members of the Trump campaign.[37] He also indicated that campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis had asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement about his trip.[38] Elements of Page’s testimony contradicted prior claims by Trump, Sessions, and others in the Trump administration.[34][37][39][40] Lewandowski, who had previously denied knowing Page or meeting him during the campaign, said after Page’s testimony that his memory was refreshed and acknowledged that he had been aware of Page’s trip to Russia.[41]

Page also testified that after delivering a commencement speech at the New Economic School in Moscow, he spoke briefly with one of the people in attendance, Arkady Dvorkovich, a Deputy Prime Minister in Dmitry Medvedev‘s cabinet, contradicting his previous statements not to have spoken to anyone connected with the Russian government.[42] In addition, while Page denied a meeting with Igor Sechin, the president of state-run Russian oil conglomerate Rosneft as alleged in the Donald Trump–Russia dossier, he did say he met with Andrey Baranov, Rosneft’s head of investor relations.[43] The dossier alleges that Sechin offered Page the brokerage fee from the sale of up to 19 percent of Rosneft if he worked to roll back Magnitsky Act economic sanctions that had been imposed on Russia in 2012.[43][44][45] Page testified that he did not “directly” express support for lifting the sanctions during the meeting with Baranov, but that he might have mentioned the proposed Rosneft transaction.[43]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carter_Page

George Papadopoulos

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
George Papadopoulos
Papadopolous Mugshot.jpg

George Papadopoulos after he was arrested by the FBI at Dulles Airport
Born August 1987 (age 30)[1]
ChicagoIllinois, U.S.
Residence Ravenswood, Chicago, Illinois
Citizenship United States of America
Education Niles West High School
Alma mater

George Demetrios Papadopoulos[2] (born August 1987) is a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign. On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about contacts he had with the Russian government in 2016 relating to U.S.-Russia relations and Trump’s campaign.

Early life and education

Papadopoulos was born in August 1987 at Swedish Covenant Hospital[1] in Chicago, Illinois,[3] to Greek immigrants[1][4] originally from Thessaloniki.[5] His father, Antonis was heavily involved in the local politics of the Greek-American community[5] and the former president of the Pan-Macedonian Union of the United States.[5] His mother, Kate, was born in Greece and listed her hometown on her son’s birth certificate as Worcester, Massachusetts.[2] For years he lived at a large house on the corner of a tree-lined street[2] in Lincolnwood, Illinois[1] and graduated from Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, in 2005. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from DePaul University in 2009.[2][6] He says he speaks ArabicEnglishFrench and Greek.[3] He later went on to earn a MSc degree in security studies at the University College London.[2]

Early career

Papadopoulos was an unpaid intern at the Hudson Institute from 2011 to 2015 specializing in the eastern Mediterranean and later worked as a contract research assistant to a senior fellow at the institute.[4][7]

He describes himself as an “oil, gas, and policy consultant” on his LinkedIn page.[8] In 2014, Papadopoulos authored op-ed pieces in Israeli publications. In one, published in the Arutz Sheva, Papadopoulos argued that the U.S. should focus on its “stalwart allies” IsraelGreece, and Cyprus to “contain the newly emergent Russian fleet”; in another, published in Ha’aretz, he contended that Israel should exploit its natural gas resources in partnership with Cyprus and Greece rather than Turkey.[9] He directs an international energy center at the London Centre of International Law Practice.[10]

Beginning in December 2015, Papadopoulos served on the National Security and Foreign Policy Advisory Committee for Ben Carson‘s campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.[11] He left the Carson campaign in February 2016.[4] Following his indictment, he was described by HuffPost as “a little-known, little-qualified 30-year-old.”[12][13]

Involvement in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign

According to court records, Papadopoulos was recruited to join Trump’s foreign policy advisor team in early March 2016 by Sam Clovis. In a meeting on March 6, the official told him that one of the campaign’s foreign policy priorities was improved U.S.-Russia relations, though Clovis later denied having said that.[14] Donald Trump identified Papadopoulos as one of his campaign’s foreign policy advisors on March 21, 2016, in an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Post.[10] Trump said: “He’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy”.[4] At the time he was living in London, where he was approached by Joseph Mifsud, a professor with connections to high-ranking Russian officials.[15] Mifsud was a regular at meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club, an annual conference held in Sochi, Russia, attended by Vladimir Putin.[16] Mifsud told him the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” The two met on March 14 and 21, 2016. At the March 21 meeting Mifsud brought along a Russian woman, Olga Polonskaya, who posed as Putin’s niece.[17][18]

Papadopoulos sent emails concerning Putin to at least seven campaign officials. Clovis, as Trump national campaign co-chairman, encouraged Papadopoulos to fly to Russia to meet with agents of the Russian Foreign Ministry, after being told that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton it wanted to share with Trump’s campaign.[19][20][21][22] This occurred before there was public knowledge of the hack of Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta‘s emails, both of which U.S. intelligence agencies believe were carried out by Russia.[23]In May 2016, Papadopoulos told the top Australian diplomat to the United KingdomAlexander Downer, that Russia had “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton, leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Donald Trump presidential campaign.[18][24]

Between March and September 2016, Papadopoulos made at least six requests for Trump or representatives of his campaign to meet in Russia with Russian politicians. In May, campaign chairman Paul Manafort forwarded one such request to his deputy Rick Gates, saying “We need someone to communicate that [Trump] is not doing these trips. It should be someone low-level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” Gates delegated the task to the campaign’s correspondence coordinator, referring to him as “the person responding to all mail of non-importance.”[20][25][26]

In an interview about Russia–United States relations with Interfax in September 2016, Papadopoulos said that Barack Obama had failed to follow through on his promises to cooperate with Russia, and asserted that the U.S. had made insufficient joint efforts with Russia against terrorism.[27] As foreign policy advisor during Trump’s campaign, Papadopoulos helped set up a New York meeting between Trump and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian head of state.[18] On January 20, 2017, just hours before Trump was going to be inaugurated, Papadopoulos and incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus met with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.[28] Just after Trump became President, Papadopoulos visited Israel and told settlers in the West Bank that Trump supported their settlements.[9][29]

Senator Richard Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, said in October 2017 that the panel was interested in Papadopoulos because he had sent e-mails attempting to set up meetings between Trump and Putin.[30] The recipients of emails about outreach to the Russian government reportedly were Clovis, Corey Lewandowski, Manafort, Gates, representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ivan Timofeev, and others.[19]

Arrest and guilty plea

The Statement of Facts of Guilt, filed October 5, 2017, and unsealed October 30, 2017, showing the facts admitted by Papadopoulos as part of his guilty plea

After being interviewed by FBI agents on January 27, 2017, Papadopoulos deactivated his Facebook account, which contained correspondences with Russians, and created a new one.[31] Papadopoulos was arrested at Washington-Dulles International Airport on July 27, 2017, and he has since been cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation.[21] On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to making false statements to FBI agents relating to contacts he had with agents of the Russian government while working for the Trump campaign.[32][33] The guilty plea was part of a plea bargainreflecting his cooperation with the Mueller investigation.[21] Papadopoulos’s arrest and guilty plea became public on October 30, 2017, when court documents showing the guilty plea were unsealed.[34] As of January 17, 2018, Papadopoulos had not been sentenced.[35][importance?]

Following his guilty plea, Trump belittled Papadopoulos as a “young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar” and said few people in his campaign had heard about Papadopoulos.[36][37]FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, among others, noted that during the campaign, Trump named Papadopoulos as one of his five foreign policy advisers—alongside Keith KelloggCarter PageWalid Phares and Joseph Schmitz—and described Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy”.[38][39][40][41] From March to August 2016, Papadopoulos “was identified as having contacts with senior members of the Trump campaign on at least a dozen occasions.”[40] On January 22, 2017, shortly following Trump’s inauguration as President, Papadopoulos met with the head of Israel’s Shomron Regional CouncilYossi Dagan, in Washington D.C. Papadopoulos was reported to have communicated to Dagan the Trump administration’s desire to work closely with Israel on the question of settlements.[42]

Papadopoulos’s fiancée said his job on the campaign was to set up meetings with foreign leaders and that he had been in regular contact with high-ranking campaign officials.[43] She later predicted Papadopoulos’s role in the Russia investigation would be similar to that of John Dean of the Watergate scandal.[44]

Personal life

As of October 2017, Papadopoulos had lived for the past few years with his mother and brother in the Ravenswood neighborhood of ChicagoIllinois.[1]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Papadopoulos

United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
(FISC)
Location Washington, D.C.
Appeals to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
Established 1978
Authorized by 50 U.S.C. §§ 18031805
Composition method Chief Justice appointment
Judges assigned 11
Judge term length 7 years
Chief Judge Rosemary M. Collyer
Official court website

The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) is a U.S. federal court established and authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the United States by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Such requests are made most often by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Congress created FISA and its court as a result of the recommendations by the U.S. Senate‘s Church Committee.[1] In 2013, The New York Times said “it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court.”[2]

From its opening in 1978 until 2009, the court was housed on the sixth floor of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.[3][4] Since 2009, the court has been relocated to the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C.[3][4]

In 2013, a top-secret order issued by the court, which was later leaked to the media from documents culled by Edward Snowden, required a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records—including those for domestic calls—to the NSA.

FISA warrants

Each application for one of these surveillance warrants (called a FISA warrant) is made before an individual judge of the court. The court may allow third parties to submit briefs as amici curiae. When the U.S. Attorney General determines that an emergency exists, the Attorney General may authorize the emergency employment of electronic surveillance before obtaining the necessary authorization from the FISC, if the Attorney General or their designee notifies a judge of the court at the time of authorization and applies for a warrant as soon as practicable but not more than seven days after authorization of such surveillance, as required by 50 U.S.C. § 1805.

If an application is denied by one judge of the court, the federal government is not allowed to make the same application to a different judge of the court, but may appeal to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Such appeals are rare: the first appeal from the FISC to the Court of Review was made in 2002 (In re Sealed Case No. 02-001), 24 years after the founding of the court.

Also rare is for FISA warrant requests to be turned down. During the 25 years from 1979 to 2004, 18,742 warrants were granted, while only four were rejected. Fewer than 200 requests had to be modified before being accepted, almost all of them in 2003 and 2004. The four rejected requests were all from 2003, and all four were partially granted after being submitted for reconsideration by the government. Of the requests that had to be modified, few were before the year 2000. During the next eight years, from 2004 to 2012, there were over 15,100 additional warrants granted, and another seven being rejected. Over the entire 33-year period, the FISA court granted 33,942 warrants, with only 12 denials – a rejection rate of 0.03 percent of the total requests.[5] This does not include the number of warrants that were modified by the FISA court.[6]

FISA warrant requests for electronic surveillance[a][7]
Year # Requests
submitted
# Requests
approved
# Requests
modified
# Requests
denied
1979[8] 199 207 0 0
1980 319 322 1 0
1981 431 433 0 0
1982 473 475 0 0
1983 549 549 0 0
1984 635 635 0 0
1985 587 587 0 0
1986 573 573 0 0
1987 512 512 0 0
1988 534 534 0 0
1989 546 546 0 0
1990 595 595 0 0
1991 593 593 0 0
1992 484 484 0 0
1993 509 509 0 0
1994 576 576 0 0
1995 697 697 0 0
1996 839 839 0 0
1997 749 748 0 0
1998 796 796 0 0
1999 886 880 0 0
2000 1,005 1,012 1 0
2001 932 934 4 0
2002 1,228 1,228  2  0 [b] 0
2003 1,727 1,724 79 [c]
2004 1,758 1,754 94 0
2005 2,074 2,072 61 0
2006 2,181 2,176 73 1
2007 2,371 2,370 86 4
2008 2,082 2,083 2 1
2009 1,329 1,320 14 2
2010 1,511 1,506 14 0
2011 1,676 1,674 30 0
2012 1,789 1,788 40 0
2013 1,588 1,588 34 0
TOTALS 35,529 35,434 533 12

Notes:

  1. Jump up^ Excludes physical searches
  2. Jump up^ Two modifications that were later reversed by the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, in a case entitled In re Sealed Case No. 02-001.
  3. Jump up^ All four were later partially granted, after being submitted for reconsideration by the government.

On May 17, 2002, the court rebuffed Attorney General John Ashcroft, releasing an opinion that alleged that the FBI and Justice Department officials had “supplied erroneous information to the court” in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps, including one signed by FBI Director Louis J. Freeh.[9] Whether this rejection was related to the court starting to require modification of significantly more requests in 2003 is unknown.

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that the Bush administration had been conducting surveillance against U.S. citizens without the knowledge of the court since 2002.[10] On December 20, 2005, Judge James Robertson resigned his position with the court, apparently in protest of the secret surveillance,[11] and later, in the wake of the Snowden leaks of 2013, criticized the court-sanctioned expansion of the scope of government surveillance and its being allowed to craft a secret body of law.[12] The government’s apparent circumvention of the court started prior to the increase in court-ordered modifications to warrant requests.

In 2011, the Obama administration secretly won permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases. The searches take place under a surveillance program Congress authorized in 2008 under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the target must be a foreigner “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, and the court must approve the targeting procedures in an order good for one year. But a warrant for each target would thus no longer be required. That means that communications with Americans could be picked up without a court first determining that there is probable cause that the people they were talking to were terrorists, spies or “foreign powers”. The FISC also extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years with an extension possible for foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purposes. Both measures were done without public debate or any specific authority from Congress.[13]

Secrecy

Because of the sensitive nature of its business, the court is a “secret court” – its hearings are closed to the public. While records of the proceedings are kept, they also are unavailable to the public, although copies of some records with classified information redacted have been made public. Due to the classified nature of its proceedings, usually only attorneys licensed to practice in front of the US government are permitted to appear before the court. Because of the nature of the matters heard before it, court hearings may need to take place at any time of day or night, weekdays or weekends; thus, at least one judge must be “on call” at all times to hear evidence and decide whether or not to issue a warrant.

A heavily redacted version of a 2008 appeal by Yahoo![14] of an order issued with respect to NSA’s PRISM program had been published for the edification of other potential appellants. The identity of the appellant was declassified in June 2013.[15]

Criticism

There has been growing criticism of the court since the September 11, 2001 attacks. This is partly because the court sits ex parte – in other words, in the absence of anyone but the judge and the government present at the hearings.[4] This, combined with the minimal number of requests that are rejected by the court has led experts to characterize it as a rubber stamp (former National Security Agency analyst Russ Tice called it a “kangaroo court with a rubber stamp”).[16] The accusation of being a “rubber stamp” was rejected by FISA Court president Reggie B. Walton who wrote in a letter to Senator Patrick J. Leahy: “The annual statistics provided to Congress by the Attorney General … – frequently cited to in press reports as a suggestion that the Court’s approval rate of application is over 99% – reflect only the number of final applications submitted to and acted on by the Court. These statistics do not reflect the fact that many applications are altered to prior or final submission or even withheld from final submission entirely, often after an indication that a judge would not approve them.”[17] He added: “There is a rigorous review process of applications submitted by the executive branch, spearheaded initially by five judicial branch lawyers who are national security experts and then by the judges, to ensure that the court’s authorizations comport with what the applicable statutes authorize.”[18] In a following letter Walton stated that the government had revamped 24.4% of its requests in the face of court questions and demands in time from July 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013.[19][20][21] This figure became available after Walton decided in the summer of 2013 that the FISC would begin keeping its own tally of how Justice Department warrant applications for electronic surveillance fared – and would track for the first time when the government withdrew or resubmitted those applications with changes.[21] Some requests are modified by the court but ultimately granted, while the percentage of denied requests is statistically negligible (11 denied requests out of around 34,000 granted in 35 years – equivalent to 0.03%).[7][16][22][23] The accusation that the FISC is a “rubber stamp” court was also rejected by Robert S. Litt (General Counsel of Office of the Director of National Intelligence): “When [the Government] prepares an application for [a section 215 order, it] first submit[s] to the [FISC] what’s called a “read copy”, which the court staff will review and comment on. [A]nd they will almost invariably come back with questions, concerns, problems that they see. And there is an iterative process back and forth between the Government and the [FISC] to take care of those concerns so that at the end of the day, we’re confident that we’re presenting something that the [FISC] will approve. That is hardly a rubber stamp. It’s rather extensive and serious judicial oversight of this process.”[24]

A 2003 Senate Judiciary Committee Interim Report on FBI Oversight in the 107th Congress by the Senate Judiciary Committee: FISA Implementation Failures cited the “unnecessary secrecy” of the court among its “most important conclusions”:

The secrecy of individual FISA cases is certainly necessary, but this secrecy has been extended to the most basic legal and procedural aspects of the FISA, which should not be secret. This unnecessary secrecy contributed to the deficiencies that have hamstrung the implementation of the FISA. Much more information, including all unclassified opinions and operating rules of the FISA Court and Court of Review, should be made public and/or provided to the Congress.[25]

Allegations of bias

In a July 2013 interview, Senator and privacy advocate Ron Wyden described the FISC warrant process as “the most one-sided legal process in the United States”. “I don’t know of any other legal system or court that really doesn’t highlight anything except one point of view”, he said. Later in the interview he said Congress should seek to “diversify some of the thinking on the court”.[26]

Elizabeth Gotein, a co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, has criticized the court as being too compromised to be an impartial tribunal that oversees the work of the NSA and other U.S. intelligence activities. Since the court meets in secret, hears only the arguments of the government prior to deciding a case, and its rulings cannot be appealed or even reviewed by the public, she has argued that: “Like any other group that meets in secret behind closed doors with only one constituency appearing before them, they’re subject to capture and bias.” [27]

A related bias of the court results from what critics such as Julian Sanchez, a scholar at the Cato Institute, have described as the near certainty of the polarization or groupthink of the judges of the court. Since all of the judges are appointed by the same person (the Chief Justice of the United States), as of 2013 nearly all currently serving judges are of the same political party (the Republican Party), hear no opposing testimony and feel no pressure from colleagues or the public to moderate their rulings, group polarization is almost a certainty. “There’s the real possibility that these judges become more extreme over time, even when they had only a mild bias to begin with”, Sanchez said.[27]

Appointment process

The court’s judges[28] are appointed solely by the Chief Justice of the United States without confirmation or oversight by the U.S. Congress.[29] This gives the chief justice the ability to appoint like-minded judges and create a court without diversity.[30][31] “The judges are hand-picked by someone who, through his votes on the Supreme Court, we have come to learn has a particular view on civil liberties and law enforcement”, Theodore Ruger, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said with respect to Chief Justice John Roberts. “The way the FISA is set up, it gives him unchecked authority to put judges on the court who feel the same way he does.”[29] And Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, added, “Since FISA was enacted in 1978, we’ve had three chief justices, and they have all been conservative Republicans, so I think one can worry that there is insufficient diversity.”[32] Since May 2014, however, four of the five judges appointed by Chief Justice Roberts to the FISA Court were appointed to their prior federal court positions by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

There are some reform proposals. Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut proposed that each of the chief judges of the 12 major appeals courts select a district judge for the surveillance court; the chief justice would still pick the review panel that hears rare appeals of the court’s decisions, but six other Supreme Court justices would have to sign off. Another proposal authored by Representative Adam Schiff of California would give the president the power to nominate judges for the court, subject to Senate approval, while Representative Steve Cohen proposed that Congressional leaders pick eight of the court’s members.[33]

Judicial and public oversight

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, has argued that, without having to seek the approval of the court (which he has said merely reviews certifications to ensure that they – and not the surveillance itself – comply with the various statutory requirements), the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence can engage in sweeping programmatic surveillance for one year at a time.[34] There are procedures used by the NSA to target non-U.S. persons[35] and procedures used by the NSA to minimize data collection from U.S. persons.[36] These court-approved policies allow the NSA to do the following:[37][38]

  • keep data that could potentially contain details of U.S. persons for up to five years;
  • retain and make use of “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;
  • preserve “foreign intelligence information” contained within attorney–client communications; and
  • access the content of communications gathered from “U.S. based machine[s]” or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the U.S., for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.

Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, said in light of revelations that the government secured telephone records from Verizon and Internet data from some of the largest providers that safeguards that are supposed to be protecting individual privacy are not working.[18] Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that when courts make mistakes, the losing party has the right to appeal and the erroneous decision is reversed. “That process cannot happen when a secret court considers a case with only one party before it.”[18]

According to The Guardian, “The broad scope of the court orders, and the nature of the procedures set out in the documents, appear to clash with assurances from President Obama and senior intelligence officials that the NSA could not access Americans’ call or email information without warrants”.[37] Glenn Greenwald, who published details of the PRISM surveillance program, explained:

that this entire process is a fig leaf, “oversight” in name only. It offers no real safeguards. That’s because no court monitors what the NSA is actually doing when it claims to comply with the court-approved procedures. Once the Fisa court puts its approval stamp on the NSA’s procedures, there is no external judicial check on which targets end up being selected by the NSA analysts for eavesdropping. The only time individualized warrants are required is when the NSA is specifically targeting a US citizen or the communications are purely domestic. When it is time for the NSA to obtain Fisa court approval, the agency does not tell the court whose calls and emails it intends to intercept. It instead merely provides the general guidelines which it claims are used by its analysts to determine which individuals they can target, and the Fisa court judge then issues a simple order approving those guidelines. The court endorses a one-paragraph form order stating that the NSA’s process “‘contains all the required elements’ and that the revised NSA, FBI and CIA minimization procedures submitted with the amendment ‘are consistent with the requirements of [50 U.S.C. § 1881a(e)] and with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States'”. As but one typical example, The Guardian has obtained an August 19, 2010, Fisa court approval from Judge John D. Bates which does nothing more than recite the statutory language in approving the NSA’s guidelines.

Once the NSA has this court approval, it can then target anyone chosen by their analysts, and can even order telecoms and internet companies to turn over to them the emails, chats and calls of those they target. The Fisa court plays no role whatsoever in reviewing whether the procedures it approved are actually complied with when the NSA starts eavesdropping on calls and reading people’s emails. The guidelines submitted by the NSA to the Fisa court demonstrate how much discretion the agency has in choosing who will be targeted. … The only oversight for monitoring whether there is abuse comes from the executive branch itself: from the DOJ and Director of National Intelligence, which conduct “periodic reviews … to evaluate the implementation of the procedure”. At a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon, deputy attorney general James Cole testified that every 30 days, the Fisa court is merely given an “aggregate number” of database searches on US domestic phone records. … The decisions about who has their emails and telephone calls intercepted by the NSA is made by the NSA itself, not by the Fisa court, except where the NSA itself concludes the person is a US citizen and/or the communication is exclusively domestic. But even in such cases, the NSA often ends up intercepting those communications of Americans without individualized warrants, and all of this is left to the discretion of the NSA analysts with no real judicial oversight.[39]

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole and NSA Deputy Director John C. Inglis cited the court’s oversight in defending the constitutionality of the NSA’s surveillance activities before during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in July 2013. Representative Jerrold Nadler, challenged Cole’s defense of the program’s constitutionality, and he said the secrecy in which the court functioned negated the validity of its review. “The fact that a secret court unaccountable to public knowledge of what it’s doing … may join you in misusing or abusing the statutes is of no comfort whatsoever”, Nadler said.[40] Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, said the secrecy that comes along with national security makes it difficult to evaluate how the administration carries out the wide authority Congress has given it. “FISA court judges hear all of this and they think it’s legal,” Kerr said. “What we really don’t know, though, are what the FISA court’s opinions say.”[18]

Secret law

In July 2013, The New York Times published disclosures from anonymous government whistleblowers of secret law written by the court holding that vast collections of data on all Americans (even those not connected in any way to foreign enemies) amassed by the NSA do not violate the warrant requirements of Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It reported that anyone suspected of being involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage or cyber-attacks, according to the court, may be considered a legitimate target for warrantless surveillance. Acting like a parallel U.S. Supreme Court, the court greatly broadened the “special-needs” exception to do so.[2]

The newspaper reported that in “more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans”.[2][a] It also wrote, with respect to the court:

In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the ‘special needs’ doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures … The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said. That legal interpretation is significant, several outside legal experts said, because it uses a relatively narrow area of the law – used to justify airport screenings, for instance, or drunken-driving checkpoints – and applies it much more broadly, in secret, to the wholesale collection of communications in pursuit of terrorism suspects.[2]

The “special-needs” doctrine is an exemption to the Fourth Amendment’s Warrants Clause which commands that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be and seized”. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized an exemption to the Warrants Clause “outside the foreign intelligence context, in so-called ‘special-needs’ cases. In those cases, the Court excused compliance with the Warrant Clause when the purpose behind the governmental action went beyond routine law enforcement and insisting upon a warrant would materially interfere with the accomplishment of that purpose. See, Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646, 653 (1995) (upholding drug testing of highschool athletes and explaining that the exception to the warrant requirement applied “when special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable-cause requirement[s] impracticable (quoting Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 873 (1987))); Skinner v. Ry. Labor Execs. Ass’n, 489 U.S. 602, 620 (1989) (upholding regulations instituting drug and alcohol testing of railroad workers for safety reasons); cf. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 23-24 (1968) (upholding pat-frisk for weapons to protect officer safety during investigatory stop)”.[41] The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review concluded on August 22, 2008, in the case In re Directives [redacted text] Pursuant to Section 105B of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that the “special-needs” doctrine applied by analogy to justify a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement for surveillance undertaken for national security purposes and directed at a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S.[41][42][43][44]

James Robertson – a former judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who, in 2004, ruled against the Bush administration in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, and also served on the FISC for three years between 2002 and 2005 – said he was “frankly stunned” by the newspaper’s report that court rulings had created a new body of law broadening the ability of the NSA to use its surveillance programs to target not only terrorists but suspects in cases involving espionage, cyberattacks and weapons of mass destruction.[45] Geoffrey R. Stone, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said he was troubled by the idea that the court is creating a significant body of law without hearing from anyone outside the government, forgoing the adversarial system that is a staple of the American justice system. He said, “That whole notion is missing in this process”.[2]

The court concluded that mass collection of telephone metadata (including the time of phone calls and numbers dialed) does not violate the Fourth Amendment as long as the government establishes a valid reason under national security regulations before taking the next step of actually examining the contents of an American’s communications. This concept is rooted partly in the special needs doctrine. “The basic idea is that it’s O.K. to create this huge pond of data”, an unnamed U.S. official said, “but you have to establish a reason to stick your pole in the water and start fishing”.[2] Under the new procedures passed by the U.S. Congress in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, even the collection of metadata must be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation or other intelligence activities. The court has indicated that while individual pieces of data may not appear “relevant” to a terrorism investigation, the total picture that the bits of data create may in fact be relevant, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the decisions.[2]

A secret ruling made by the court that redefined the single word “relevant” enabled the NSA to gather phone data on millions of Americans. In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the court accepted that “relevant” could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people, in contrast to a more conservative interpretation widely applied in criminal cases, in which only some of those records would likely be allowed.[46] Under the Patriot Act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation can require businesses to hand over “tangible things”, including “records”, as long as the FBI shows it is reasonable to believe the things are “relevant to an authorized investigation” into international terrorism or foreign intelligence activities. The history of the word “relevant” is key to understanding that passage. The Supreme Court in 1991 said things are “relevant” if there is a “reasonable possibility” that they will produce information related to the subject of the investigation. In criminal cases, courts previously have found that very large sets of information did not meet the relevance standard because significant portions – innocent people’s information – would not be pertinent. But the court has developed separate precedents, centered on the idea that investigations to prevent national-security threats are different from ordinary criminal cases. The court’s rulings on such matters are classified and almost impossible to challenge because of the secret nature of the proceedings. According to the court, the special nature of national-security and terrorism-prevention cases means “relevant” can have a broader meaning for those investigations, say people familiar with the rulings.[46]

People familiar with the system that uses phone records in investigations have said that the court’s novel legal theories allow the system to include bulk phone records, as long as there are privacy safeguards to limit searches. NSA analysts may query the database only “when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization”, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.[46] The NSA database includes data about people’s phone calls – numbers dialed, how long a call lasted – but not the actual conversations. According to Supreme Court rulings, a phone call’s content is covered by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which restricts unreasonable searches, but the other types of data are not.[46]

“Relevant” has long been a broad standard, but the way the court is interpreting it, to mean, in effect, “everything”, is new, said Mark Eckenwiler, a lawyer who until December 2012 was the Justice Department’s primary authority on federal criminal surveillance law. “I think it’s a stretch” of previous federal legal interpretations, said Eckenwiler. If a federal attorney “served a grand-jury subpoena for such a broad class of records in a criminal investigation, he or she would be laughed out of court”.[46] Given the traditional legal definition of relevant, Timothy Edgar, a former top privacy lawyer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Council in the Bush and Obama administrations, noted it is “a fair point” to say that someone reading the law might believe it refers to “individualized requests” or “requests in small batches, rather than in bulk database form”. From that standpoint, Edgar said, the reinterpretation of relevant amounts to “secret law”.[46]

Controversies

2013 NSA controversy

In June 2013, a copy of a top-secret warrant, issued by the court on April 25, 2013, was leaked to London’s The Guardian newspaper by NSA contractor Edward Snowden.[47][48][49][50][51] That warrant orders Verizon Business Network Services to provide a daily feed to the NSA containing “telephony metadata” – comprehensive call detail records, including location data[52] – about all calls in its system, including those that occur “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls”.[53] The Obama administration published on July 31, 2013[54][55] a FISA Court ruling supporting an earlier order requiring a Verizon subsidiary to turn over all of its customers’ phone logs for a three-month period, with rules that must be followed when accessing the data.[56]

The document leaked to The Guardian acted as a “smoking gun” and sparked a public outcry of criticism and complaints[47][57][58] that the court exceeded its authority and violated the Fourth Amendment by issuing general warrants.[59] The Washington Post then reported that it knew of other orders, and that the court had been issuing such orders, to all telecommunication companies, every three months since May 24, 2006.[60]

Since the telephone metadata program[61] was revealed, the intelligence community, some members of Congress, and the Obama administration have defended its legality and use. Most of these defenses involve the 1979 Supreme Court decision Smith v. Marylandwhich established that people do not have a “reasonable expectation” of privacy for electronic metadata held by third parties like a cellphone provider.[62] That data is not considered “content”, theoretically giving law enforcement more flexibility in collecting it.[63]

On July 19, 2013, the court renewed the permission for the NSA to collect Verizon customer records en masse.[64][65] The U.S. government was relying on a part of American case law known as the “third-party doctrine”. This notion said that when a person has voluntarily disclosed information to a third party — in this case, the telephony metadata — the customer no longer has a reasonable expectation of privacy over the numbers dialed nor their duration. Therefore, this doctrine argued, such metadata can be accessed by law enforcement with essentially no problem.[66] The content of communications are, however, subject to the Fourth Amendment. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers”.[67]

Former FISC judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who provided the legal foundation for the NSA amassing a database of all Americans’ phone records, told associates in the summer of 2013 that she wanted her legal argument out.[68] Rulings for the plaintiff in cases brought by the ACLU on September 10 and 12, 2013, prompted James Clapper to concede that the government had overreached in its covert surveillance under part 215 of FISA and that the Act would likely be amended to reflect Congressional concern.[69]

The American Civil Liberties Union, a customer of Verizon, asked on November 22, 2013 a federal district court in Lower Manhattan, New York to end the NSA phone call data collection program. The ACLU argued that the program violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of privacy and information as well as exceeding the scope of its authorizing legislation, Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The U.S. government countered that the program is constitutional and that Congress was fully informed when it authorized and reauthorized Section 215. Moreover, a government lawyer said, the ACLU has no standing to bring the case because it cannot prove that its members have been harmed by the NSA’s use of the data.[70]

2016 presidential election controversy

In November 2016, Louise Mensch reported on the news website Heat Street that, after an initial June 2016 FBI request was denied, the FISA court had granted a more narrowly-focused October request from the FBI “to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia”.[71] On 12 January 2017, BBC journalist Paul Wood reported that, in response to an April 2016 tip from a foreign intelligence agency to the CIA about “money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign”, a joint taskforce had been established including representatives of the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency; and in June 2016 lawyers from the Department of Justice had applied to the FISA court for “permission to intercept the electronic records from two Russian banks”. According to Wood, this application was rejected, as was a more narrowly focussed request in July, and the order was finally granted by a different FISA judge on 15 October, three weeks before the presidential election.[72] On January 19 the New York Times reported that one of its sources had claimed “intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House”.[73]

On 13 March, the Senate Intelligence Committee demanded that the Trump administration provide evidence to support the US president’s claim,[74] and on 16 March the committee reported that they had seen no evidence to support Trump’s accusation that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 presidential campaign.[75]

On Fox News on March 14, commentator Andrew Napolitano said, “Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. … He used GCHQ. What is that? It’s the initials for the British intelligence spying agency. Simply by saying to them, ‘The president needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump’s conversations’ he’s able to get it and there’s no American fingerprints on this.” Two days later, on March 16, White House press spokesperson, Sean Spicer, read this claim to the press. A GCHQ spokesman responded: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”[76] On March 17, the US made a formal apology to Britain for the accusation.[77]

On April 11, the Washington Post reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant in the summer of 2016 to monitor then Trump adviser Carter Page.[78] According to the report, “The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.” The report also states that the warrant has been renewed multiple times since its first issue.

Composition

When the court was founded, it was composed of seven federal district judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States, each serving a seven-year term, with one judge being appointed each year. In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act expanded the court from seven to eleven judges, and required that at least three of the Court’s judges live within twenty miles (32 km) of the District of Columbia. No judge may be appointed to this court more than once, and no judge may be appointed to both the Court of Review and the FISA court.

As of 2017, Chief Justice John Roberts has appointed all of the current judges, four of whom were nominated to their District Court judgeships by a Democratic President.[2]

Membership[edit]

(as of 19 May 2017)

Judge Judicial district Date appointed Term expiry Reference
Rosemary Collyer District of Columbia March 8, 2013 March 7, 2020 [79]
May 19, 2016
Presiding
Jeb Boasberg District of Columbia May 19, 2014 May 18, 2021 [79][80]
Rudolph Contreras District of Columbia May 19, 2016 May 18, 2023 [81]
Anne Conway Middle District of Florida May 19, 2016 May 18, 2023 [81]
Raymond Dearie Eastern District of New York July 2, 2012 July 1, 2023 [79]
Claire Eagan Northern District of Oklahoma February 13, 2013 May 18, 2019 [79]
James Jones Western District of Virginia May 19, 2015 May 18, 2022 [82]
Robert Kugler District of New Jersey May 19, 2017 May 18, 2024 [83]
Michael Mosman District of Oregon May 4, 2013 May 3, 2020 [79]
Thomas Russell Western District of Kentucky May 19, 2015 May 18, 2022 [82]
Dennis Saylor District of Massachusetts May 19, 2011 May 18, 2018 [79]

Former members[edit]

[hide]Judge Judicial district Date appointed Term expiry Ref
Sidney Aronovitz Southern District of Florida June 8, 1989 May 18, 1992 [84]
Harold Baker Central District of Illinois May 19, 1998 May 18, 2005 [84]
John Bates District of Columbia February 22, 2006 February 21, 2013 [84]
May 19, 2009
Presiding
Dee Benson District of Utah April 8, 2004 April 7, 2011 [84]
Dudley Bonsal Southern District of New York December 2, 1981 May 18, 1984 [84]
Robert Broomfield District of Arizona October 1, 2002 May 18, 2009 [84]
Stanley Brotman District of New Jersey July 17, 1997 May 18, 2004 [84]
Albert Bryan Eastern District of Virginia January 1, 1979 January 1, 1986 [84]
James Cacheris Eastern District of Virginia September 10, 1993 May 18, 2000 [84]
James Carr Northern District of Ohio May 19, 2002 May 18, 2008 [84]
Earl Carroll District of Arizona February 2, 1993 May 18, 1999 [84]
Jennifer Coffman Eastern District of Kentucky May 19, 2011 January 8, 2013 [84]
John Conway District of New Mexico May 19, 2002 October 30, 2003 [84]
Conrad Cyr District of Maine May 19, 1987 November 20, 1989 [84]
Frederick Daugherty Northern District of Oklahoma May 19, 1981 May 18, 1988 [84]
Michael Davis District of Minnesota May 19, 1999 May 18, 2006 [84]
Edward Devitt District of Minnesota January 11, 1985 November 10, 1992 [84]
Martin Feldman Eastern District of Louisiana May 19, 2010 May 18, 2017 [79]
Frank Freedman District of Massachusetts May 30, 1990 May 18, 1994 [84]
Nathaniel Gorton District of Massachusetts May 19, 2001 May 18, 2008 [84]
Joyce Green District of Columbia May 19, 1988 May 18, 1995 [84]
May 19, 1990
Presiding
George Hart District of Columbia May 19, 1979
Presiding
May 18, 1982 [84]
Claude Hilton Eastern District of Virginia May 19, 2000 May 18, 2007 [84]
Thomas Hogan District of Columbia May 19, 2009 May 18, 2016 [79][85]
May 19, 2014
Presiding
Malcolm Howard Eastern District of North Carolina May 19, 2005 January 8, 2012 [84]
George Kazen Southern District of Texas July 15, 2003 May 18, 2010 [84]
John Keenan Southern District of New York July 24, 1994 May 18, 2001 [84]
Colleen Kollar-Kotelly District of Columbia May 19, 2002
Presiding
May 18, 2009 [84]
Frederick Lacey District of New Jersey May 19, 1979 May 18, 1985 [84]
Royce Lamberth District of Columbia May 19, 1995
Presiding
May 18, 2002 [84]
Thomas MacBride Eastern District of California May 19, 1979 May 18, 1980 [84]
Lloyd MacMahon Southern District of New York July 5, 1985 April 8, 1989 [84]
Frank McGarr Northern District of Illinois May 19, 1979 May 18, 1983 [84]
Mary McLaughlin Eastern District of Pennsylvania May 19, 2008 May 18, 2015 [79]
James Meredith Eastern District of Missouri May 19, 1979 May 18, 1981 [84]
Wendell Miles Western District of Michigan September 21, 1989 May 18, 1996 [84]
Herbert Murray District of Maryland May 19, 1986 May 18, 1993 [84]
James Noland Southern District of Indiana May 19, 1983 May 18, 1990 [84]
May 19, 1988
Presiding
William O’Kelley Northern District of Georgia May 19, 1980 May 18, 1987 [84]
Lawrence Pierce District of Columbia May 19, 1979 January 1, 1981 [84]
James Robertson District of Columbia May 19, 2002 December 19, 2008 [84]
Charles Schwartz Eastern District of Louisiana August 5, 1992 May 18, 1999 [84]
Frederick Scullin Northern District of New York May 19, 2004 January 8, 2011 [84]
John Smith District of Columbia May 19, 1982
Presiding
May 18, 1988 [84]
William Stafford Northern District of Florida May 19, 1996 May 18, 2003 [84]
Ralph Thompson Western District of Oklahoma June 11, 1990 May 18, 1997 [84]
Roger Vinson Northern District of Florida May 4, 2006 May 3, 2013 [84]
Reggie Walton District of Columbia May 19, 2007 May 18, 2014 [86]
February 22, 2013
Presiding
Susan Webber Wright Eastern District of Arkansas May 19, 2009 May 18, 2016 [79]
James Zagel Northern District of Illinois May 19, 2008 May 18, 2015 [79]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Court

 

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Don’t Wait For The Trump Boom — It’s Already Here

 Rising: The economy, in case you hadn’t noticed, is surging right now as we enter 2018. It’s not an accident. Nor is it a delayed reaction to Obamanomics, as some misguided pundits would have it. It’s Trumponomics in action, and it works.

As so many others, we thought that it might take a while for President Trump’s policies to kick in. After all, there’s usually a lag time between the action (the policy) and the reaction (economic growth). But the fact is, the previous administration’s policies — trillion-dollar “stimulus,” ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, a disastrous regulatory expansion — were so growth-damaging that even the possibility that they would be reversed has brought about a welcome burst of growth.

President Trump, working fast, changed many of those economy-slowing policies by deregulating, weakening Dodd-Frank, getting rid of ObamaCare’s mandate, and cutting taxes sharply for all Americans and businesses alike, among many other things.

 

We see it now in literally dozens of economic indicators, both large and small:

Had enough? We could go on. The fact is, these are the most bullish economic conditions in America since the early 1980s. We know, because that’s when this newspaper first began. That was the Reagan Boom, a period that followed a near-decade of stagflation, high interest rates, job frustration and, perhaps worst of all, disco.


No Hidden Agenda: Get News From A Pro-Free Market, Pro-Growth Perspective


We could easily add dozens other items to our list of economic data and other things that have “suddenly” or “unexpectedly,” as the media like to say, gotten much better during just one year of President Trump. The list would be a long one.

No, we’re not Pollyannas. We know, of course, that markets sometimes go down; that the economy sometimes shrinks; and that people sometimes lose jobs. A policy mistake here, a foreign policy scare there, one rate-hike too many by the Fed — any of these things could take down soaring markets and the economy. So could an unforeseen financial disaster somewhere. Bitcoin? Shaky European banks? A state pension-fund bankruptcy? Who knows. It’s part of the eternal ebb and flow of a market economy.

But right now, growth-enhancing policies are in place in the U.S., and the economy looks set to grow by more than 3% for a third straight quarter and into 2018, a welcome relief from the subpar 1.5% GDP growth of the Obama years. After having their bridles reined in for nearly a decade by Big Government and high taxes, the economy’s horses are free to run. In case you missed it, don’t wait for the starting gun — the horses have already left the gate.

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Trump’s Deregulation Binge Is Already Lightening The Economy’s Load 

Trump’s Inclusive Jobs Boom 

https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/dont-wait-for-the-trump-boom-its-already-here/

 

U.S. Debt by President: By Dollar and Percent

Why the Winner Is…Barack Obama

5 presidents and their debt
 (L-R) President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter attend the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center April 25, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Updated December 01, 2017

What’s the best way to determine how much each president contributed to the $20 trillion U.S. debt? The most popular method is to compare the debt level from when a president enters office to the debt level when he leaves. A good visual representation is a graph showing the percent of the debt accumulated under each president. You can also compare the debt as a percent of economic output.

But these aren’t accurate ways to measure the debt created by each president.

Why? The president doesn’t have much control over the debt added during his first year in office. That’s because the budget for that fiscal year was already set by the previous president.

For example, President Bush took office in January 2001. He submitted his first budget in February. But that was for FY 2002, which didn’t begin until October 1. For the first nine months of his new term, Bush had to live with President Clinton’s last budget. That was FY 2001, which continued until September 30, 2001. This is why no new president is accountable for the budget deficit in his first year in office.

Yes, it’s confusing. But the federal fiscal year is set up that way to give the new president time to put together his budget during his first month in office.

The Best Way to Measure Debt by President

One way to measure the debt by president is to sum his budget deficits. That’s because the president is responsible for his budget priorities.

Each year’s deficit takes into account budgeted spending and anticipated revenue from proposed tax cuts or hikes. For details, see Deficit by President and Deficit by Year.

But there’s a difference between the deficit and the debt by president. That’s because all presidents can employ a sleight of hand to reduce the appearance of the deficit.

They can borrow from federal retirement funds. For example, the Social Security Trust Fund has run a surplus since 1987. That’s because there were more working people contributing via payroll taxes than retired people withdrawing benefits. The Fund invests its surplus in U.S. Treasury notes. The president can reduce the deficit by spending these funds instead of issuing new Treasurys.

Barack Obama — Under President Obama, the national debt grew the most dollar-wise. He added $7.917 trillion, a 68 percent increase, in seven years. This was the fifth-largest increase percentage-wise. Obama’s budgets included the economic stimulus package. It added $787 billion by cutting taxes, extending unemployment benefits, and funding public works projects. The Obama tax cuts added $858 billion to the debt in two years.

Obama’s budget increased defense spending to between $700 billion and $800 billion a year. Federal income was down, thanks to lower tax receipts from the 2008 financial crisis. He also sponsored the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It was designed to reduce the debt by $143 billion over 10 years. But these savings didn’t show up until the later years.

George W. Bush — President Bush added $5.849 trillion, the second-greatest amount.

It was the fourth-largest percentage increase. Bush increased the debt 101 percent from where it started on September 30, 2001, at $5.8 trillion. That’s the end of FY 2001, which was President Clinton’s last budget. Bush launched the War on Terror in response to the 9/11 attacks.  The War on Terror included two wars. The War in Afghanistan cost $1 trillion and the Iraq War cost $807.5 billion. They increased military spending to record levels of $600 billion to $800 billion a year.

President Bush also responded to the 2001 recession by passing EGTRRA and JGTRRA. The Bush tax cuts further reduced revenue. He approved a $700 billion bailout package for banks to combat the 2008 global financial crisis.  Both Presidents Bush and Obama had to contend with higher mandatory spending for Social Security and Medicare.

Franklin D. Roosevelt  President Roosevelt increased the debt the most percentage-wise. Although he only added $236 billion, this was a 1,048 percent increase from the $23 billion debt level left by President Hoover. Of course, the Great Depression took an enormous bite out of revenues. The New Deal cost billions. But FDR’s major contribution to the debt was World War II spending. He added $209 billion to the debt between 1942 and 1945.

Woodrow Wilson — President Wilson was the second-largest contributor to the debt percentage-wise. He added $21 billion, which was a 727 percent increase over the $2.9 billion debt of his predecessor. Wilson had to pay for World War I. During his presidency, the Second Liberty Bond Act gave Congress the right to adopt the national debt ceiling.

Amount Added to the Debt for Each Fiscal Year Since 1960:

Barack Obama:Added $7.917 trillion, a 68 percent increase from the $11.657 trillion debt at the end of George W. Bush’s last budget, FY 2009.

  • FY 2016 – $1.423 trillion.
  • FY 2015 – $327 billion.
  • FY 2014 – $1.086 trillion.
  • FY 2013 – $672 billion.
  • FY 2012 – $1.276 trillion.
  • FY 2011 – $1.229 trillion.
  • FY 2010 – $1.652 trillion.
  • FY 2009 – $253 billion. (Congress passed the Economic Stimulus Act, which spent $253 billion in FY 2009. This rare occurrence should be added to President Obama’s contribution to the debt.)

George W. Bush:Added $5.849 trillion, a 101 percent increase from the $5.8 trillion debt at the end of Clinton’s last budget, FY 2001.

  • FY 2009 – $1.632 trillion. (Bush’s deficit without the impact of the Economic Stimulus Act).
  • FY 2008 – $1.017 trillion.
  • FY 2007 – $501 billion.
  • FY 2006 – $574 billion.
  • FY 2005 – $554 billion.
  • FY 2004 – $596 billion.
  • FY 2003 – $555 billion.
  • FY 2002 – $421 billion.

Bill Clinton: Added $1.396 trillion, a 32 percent increase from the $4.4 trillion debt at the end of George H.W. Bush’s last budget, FY 1993.

  • FY 2001 – $133 billion.
  • FY 2000 – $18 billion.
  • FY 1999 – $130 billion.
  • FY 1998 – $113 billion.
  • FY 1997 – $188 billion.
  • FY 1996 – $251 billion.
  • FY 1995 – $281 billion.
  • FY 1994 – $281 billion.

George H.W. Bush: Added $1.554 trillion, a 54 percent increase from the $2.8 trillion debt at the end of Reagan’s last budget, FY 1989.

  • FY 1993 – $347 billion.
  • FY 1992 – $399 billion.
  • FY 1991 – $432 billion.
  • FY 1990 – $376 billion.

Ronald Reagan: Added $1.86 trillion, a 186 percent increase from the $998 billion debt at the end of Carter’s last budget, FY 1981. Reaganomics didn’t work to grow the economy enough to offset tax cuts.

  • FY 1989 – $255 billion.
  • FY 1988 – $252 billion.
  • FY 1987 – $225 billion.
  • FY 1986 – $297 billion.
  • FY 1985 – $256 billion.
  • FY 1984 – $195 billion.
  • FY 1983 – $235 billion.
  • FY 1982 – $144 billion.

Jimmy Carter: Added $299 billion, a 43 percent increase from the $699 billion debt at the end of  Ford’s last budget, FY 1977.

  • FY 1981 – $90 billion.
  • FY 1980 – $81 billion.
  • FY 1979 – $55 billion.
  • FY 1978 – $73 billion.

Gerald Ford: Added $224 billion, a 47 percent increase from the $475 billion debt at the end of Nixon’s last budget, FY 1974.

  • FY 1977 – $78 billion.
  • FY 1976 – $87 billion.
  • FY 1975 – $58 billion.

Richard Nixon: Added $121 billion, a 34 percent increase from the $354 billion debt at the end of LBJ’s last budget, FY 1969.

  • FY 1974 – $17 billion.
  • FY 1973 – $31 billion.
  • FY 1972 – $29 billion.
  • FY 1971 – $27 billion.
  • FY 1970 – $17 billion.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Added $42 billion, a 13 percent increase from the $312 billion debt at the end of JFK’s last budget, FY 1964.

  • FY 1969 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1968 – $21 billion.
  • FY 1967 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1966 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1965 – $6 billion.

John F. Kennedy: Added $23 billion, an 8 percent increase from the $289 billion debt at the end of Eisenhower’s last budget, FY 1961.

  • FY 1964 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1963 – $7 billion.
  • FY 1962 – $10 billion.

Dwight Eisenhower: Added $23 billion, a 9 percent increase from the $266 billion debt at the end of Truman’s last budget, FY 1953.

  • FY 1961 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1960 – $2 billion.
  • FY 1959 – $8 billion.
  • FY 1958 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1957 – $2 billion surplus.
  • FY 1956 – $2 billion surplus.
  • FY 1955 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1954 – $5 billion.

Harry Truman: Added $7 billion, a 3 percent increase from the $259 billion debt at the end of FDR’s last budget, FY 1945.

  • FY 1953 – $7 billion.
  • FY 1952 – $4 billion.
  • FY 1951 – $2 billion surplus.
  • FY 1950 – $5 billion.
  • FY 1949 – slight surplus.
  • FY 1948 – $6 billion surplus.
  • FY 1947 – $11 billion surplus.
  • FY 1946 – $11 billion.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Added $236 billion, a 1,048 percent increase from the $23 billion debt at the end of Hoover’s last budget, FY 1933.

  • FY 1945 – $58 billion.
  • FY 1944 – $64 billion.
  • FY 1943 – $64 billion.
  • FY 1942 – $23 billion.
  • FY 1941 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1940 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1939 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1938 – $1 billion.
  • FY 1937 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1936 – $5 billion.
  • FY 1935 – $2 billion.
  • FY 1934 – $5 billion.

Herbert Hoover: Added $6 billion, a 33 percent increase from the $17 billion debt at the end of Coolidge’s last budget, FY 1929.

  • FY 1933 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1932 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1931 – $1 billion.
  • FY 1930 – $1 billion surplus.

Calvin Coolidge: Subtracted $5 billion from the debt, a 26 percent decrease from the $21 billion debt at the end of Harding’s last budget, FY 1923.

  • FY 1929 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1928 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1927 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1926 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1925 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1924 – $1 billion surplus.

Warren G. Harding: Subtracted $2 billion from the debt, a 7 percent decrease from the $24 billion debt at the end of Wilson’s last budget, FY 1921.

  • FY 1923 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1922 – $1 billion surplus.

Woodrow Wilson: Added $21 billion to the debt, a 727 percent increase from the $2.9 billion debt at the end of Taft’s last budget, FY 1913.

  • FY 1921 – $2 billion surplus.
  • FY 1920 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1919 – $13 billion.
  • FY 1918 – $9 billion.
  • FY 1917 – $2 billion.
  • FY 1916 – $1 billion.
  • FY 1915 – $0 billion (slight surplus).
  • FY 1914 – $0 billion.

FY 1789 – FY 1913: $2.9 billion debt created. (Source: Historical Tables, U.S. Treasury Department.)

https://www.thebalance.com/us-debt-by-president-by-dollar-and-percent-3306296

Joint Statement of Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on Budget Results for Fiscal Year 2017


10/20/2017

Receipts by Source
Outlays by Agency

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney today released details of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 final budget results. The deficit in FY 2017 was $666 billion, $80 billion more than in the prior fiscal year, but $36 billion less than forecast in the FY 2018 Mid-Session Review (MSR). As a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the deficit was 3.5 percent, 0.3 percentage point higher than the previous year.[1]

Growth in spending outpaced growth in tax receipts for the second year in a row as a result of historically subpar economic growth. Rising deficits show that smart spending restraint and pursuing policies that promote economic growth, like tax reform and reductions in regulatory burden, are critically necessary to promote long-term fiscal sustainability.

“Today’s budget results underscore the importance of achieving robust and sustained economic growth. Through a combination of tax reform and regulatory relief, this country can return to higher levels of GDP growth, helping to erase our fiscal deficit,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “The Administration’s pro-growth policies will create better, higher-paying jobs, make American businesses competitive again, and bring back cash from offshore to invest here at home. This will help place the nation on a path to improved fiscal health and create prosperity for generations to come.”

“These numbers should serve as a smoke alarm for Washington, a reminder that we need to grow our economy again and get our fiscal house in order. We can do that through smart spending restraint, tax reform, and cutting red tape,” said Director Mulvaney.

Summary of Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Results

Year-end data from the September 2017 Monthly Treasury Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government show that the deficit for FY 2017 was $666 billion, $80 billion higher than the prior year’s deficit. As a percentage of GDP, the deficit was 3.5 percent, an increase from 3.2 percent in FY 2016 and above the average of 3.1 percent over the last 40 years.

The FY 2017 deficit of $666 billion was $63 billion greater than the estimate in the FY 2018 Budget (Budget), and $36 billion less than estimated in the MSR, a supplemental update to the Budget published in July.

Table 1. Total Receipts, Outlays, and Deficit (in billions of dollars)
Receipts Outlays Deficit
FY 2016 Actual 3,267 3,852 -586
    Percentage of GDP 17.7% 20.9% 3.2%
FY 2017 Estimates:
    2018 Budget 3,460 4,062 -603
    2018 Mid-Session Review 3,344 4,045 -702
FY 2017 Actual 3,315 3,981 -666
    Percentage of GDP 17.3% 20.7% 3.5%
Note: Detail may not add to totals due to rounding.

 

Government receipts totaled $3,315 billion in FY 2017. This was $48 billion higher than in FY 2016, an increase of 1.5 percent, below expectations from both the Budget and the MSR. As a percentage of GDP, receipts equaled 17.3 percent, 0.4 percentage point lower than in FY 2016 and 0.1 percentage point below the average over the last 40 years. The dollar increase in receipts for FY 2017 can be attributed to higher social insurance and retirement receipts and net individual income taxes, partially offset by lower deposits of earnings by the Federal Reserve.

Outlays grew in FY 2017, but by less than expected in the Budget and the MSR, and decreased slightly as a percentage of GDP. Outlays were $3,981 billion, $128 billion above those in FY 2016, a 3.3 percent increase. As a percentage of GDP, outlays were 20.7 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than in the prior year, but above the 40-year average of 20.5 percent. Contributing to the dollar increase over FY 2016 were higher outlays for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and interest on the public debt. In addition, one-time upward revisions in estimates of credit subsidy for outstanding Federal loans and loan guarantees, primarily in the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, increased outlays relative to FY 2016 by $55 billion. Lower spectrum auction receipts and higher spending by the Federal Emergency Management Administration for hurricane relief and recovery also contributed to the increase.

Total Federal borrowing from the public increased by $498 billion during FY 2017 to $14,667 billion. The increase in borrowing included $666 billion in borrowing to finance the deficit, partly offset by $167 billion related to other transactions that on net reduced the Government’s financing requirements, such as changes in cash balances and net disbursements for Federal credit programs. As a percentage of GDP, borrowing from the public declined from 76.7 percent of GDP at the end of FY 2016 to 76.3 percent of GDP at the end of FY 2017.

Below are explanations of the differences between estimates in the MSR and the year-end actual amounts for receipts and agency outlays.

Fiscal Year 2017 Receipts

Total receipts for FY 2017 were $3,314.9 billion, $28.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate of $3,343.6 billion. This net decrease in receipts was primarily attributable to lower-than-estimated collections of deposits of earnings by the Federal Reserve, other miscellaneous receipts, and corporation income tax receipts.  Table 2 displays actual receipts and estimates from the Budget and the MSR by source.

 

Fiscal Year 2017 Outlays

Total outlays were $3,980.6 billion for FY 2017, $64.7 billion below the MSR estimate. Table 3 displays actual outlays by agency and major program as well as estimates from the Budget and the MSR. The largest changes in outlays from the MSR were in the following areas:

Department of Defense — Outlays for the Department of Defense were $568.9 billion, $9.9 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is mostly due to lower-than-expected outlays for operation and maintenance, which were $7.8 billion less than the MSR estimate. Operation and maintenance disbursements were less than anticipated for Army contracts from FY 2016 and prior years, reimbursements from the Coalition Support Fund, and Defense Health Program and counter-ISIL “train and equip” contracts. Additionally, outlays were lower than expected by $1.5 billion for Army military personnel, $1.4 billion for revolving and management funds due to lower-than-expected fuel costs, and $1.0 billion for disbursements against aircraft procurement contracts. These differences were partially offset by $2.2 billion of higher-than-expected outlays for research, development, test and evaluation.

Department of Education — Outlays for the Department of Education were $111.7 billion, $1.8 billion higher than the MSR estimate. This difference was driven by outlays for higher education programs. In the Pell Grant program, outlays were $0.9 billion higher than projected in the MSR, due to faster-than-expected disbursement patterns. For the Federal Direct Student Loan program, because of changes in the mix of activity in direct student loans, $0.7 billion more in positive subsidy outlays for the FY 2017 loan cohort were recorded in FY 2017 than estimated in the MSR.

Department of Health and Human Services — Outlays for the Department of Health and Human Services were $1,116.8 billion, $11.8 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays for Medicaid spending were $3.8 billion less than projected at MSR, driven primarily by lower benefit expenditures than was anticipated during the second half of the year. National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s outlays were $1.5 billion lower than projected, due in part to lower-than-expected disbursement for research grants in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. The Service and Supply Fund (SSF) outlaid $0.9 billion less than expected at MSR. SSF expected higher outlays in FY 2017 mainly due to an anticipated increase in contracts serviced; however many of these contracts will be outlaid starting in FY 2018 instead. Outlays for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) were lower than expected due to procurements that occurred much later in the fiscal year than originally planned.

Department of Homeland Security — Outlays for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were $50.5 billion, $2.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays in a number of DHS components were below the MSR estimates. Outlays for Customs and Border Protection were $1.4 billion below the MSR estimates, due to slower-than-expected spending for procurements and construction for customs enforcement and border protection infrastructure projects. Outlays for the National Protection and Programs Directorate were $1.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due to slower-than-expected outlays of the agency’s cyber budget. Outlays for the Transportation Security Administration were $0.9 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due to slower-than-expected outlays from obligations for airport security construction projects. Partially offsetting these decreases, outlays for the Federal Emergency Management Agency were $2.0 billion higher than the MSR estimates because of response activities related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Department of Justice — Outlays for the Department of Justice were $31.0 billion, $3.4 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is primarily due to payments from the Assets Forfeiture Program being $2.3 billion less than estimated in the MSR. Also contributing to the overall difference was higher-than-expected receipts from fines and penalties, which were $0.7 billion higher than the MSR estimate. Outlays were $0.5 billion lower than the MSR for programs within the Office of Justice Programs partially due to pending litigation. Outlays were also lower across many other programs due to delayed action on FY 2017 appropriations.

Department of Labor — Outlays for the Department of Labor were $40.1 billion, $3.6 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Nearly $2 billion of this difference is attributable to lower-than-projected unemployment insurance benefit outlays because the actual unemployment rate was lower than assumed in the MSR economic forecast. Another $1.5 billion of the difference is attributable to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), due to both gross outlays being less than expected and offsetting receipts being greater than expected. The majority of the change in outlays is related to lower-than-expected payouts in the single employer program. PBGC also anticipated a substantial investment loss in FY 2017, but experienced a profit, leading to much higher offsetting receipts than anticipated in the MSR.

Department of State — Outlays for the Department of State were $27.1 billion, $3.0 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays were lower than expected for Department of State foreign assistance programs by $1.6 billion, mostly due to lower-than-anticipated spending for Global Health Programs, which was driven primarily by a delay in lump sum payments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The delay was necessary due to a shortfall in confirmed statutorily required matching payments from other donors. In addition, lower-than-expected outlays for capital-intensive programs such as new overseas facility construction and delayed payments for contributions to international organizations and peacekeeping were primarily responsible for the remaining difference of $1.3 billion from the MSR estimate.

Department of Transportation — Outlays for the Department of Transportation were $79.4 billion, $2.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Nearly $0.9 billion of this difference is due to lower-than-expected outlays for highways and transit programs. Most of the remaining difference is an accumulation of lower-than-expected spending across a number of programs.  Late-year congressional action on FY 2017 appropriations delayed grant-making and hiring activity across the agency.

Department of the Treasury — Outlays for the Department of the Treasury were $546.4 billion, $17.3 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Virtually all of the difference is due to interest on the public debt, which was $16.4 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Interest on the public debt is paid to the public and to trust funds and other Government accounts. The difference is the result of lower-than-projected interest paid to the public on inflation-indexed securities and other marketable Treasury securities, as well as lower-than-projected interest paid to Government accounts.

International Assistance Programs — Outlays for International Assistance Programs were $18.9 billion, $4.1 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is largely due to net outlays for Department of State Foreign Military Sales that were more than $3 billion lower than the MSR estimate due to higher-than-anticipated receipts received from foreign governments for weapons purchases.

Social Security Administration — Outlays for the Social Security Administration were $1,000.8 billion, $1.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate. The difference, which is relatively small in comparison to total program outlays, is primarily attributable to lower-than-expected outlays for the Disability Insurance Trust Fund and Supplemental Security Income programs.

United States Postal Service — Net outlays for the United States Postal Service were -$2.2 billion, $5.5 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays were lower than the MSR estimate due largely to the failure of the Postal Service to make required payments for health and pension contributions.

Railroad Retirement Board — Outlays for the Railroad Retirement Board were $5.2 billion, $1.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due largely to the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust’s unrealized gains and losses on investments. Actual returns to the Trust were much higher than projected in the MSR due to favorable market conditions in the last few months of FY 2017.

Undistributed Offsetting Receipts — Undistributed Offsetting Receipts were -$236.9 billion, $6.6 billion higher than the MSR estimate. Net outlays for interest received by trust funds were $3.0 billion higher than the MSR estimate (lower net collections). The difference is due largely to the interest earnings of the Military Retirement Fund, which were $4.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate, partly offset by higher-than-projected interest earnings in some other programs. This intragovernmental interest is paid out of the Department of the Treasury account for interest on the public debt and has no net impact on total Federal Government outlays. In addition, receipts for employer share, employee retirement were $2.5 billion higher than MSR estimates (lower net collections) primarily due to the failure of the Postal Service to make required accrual payments to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund.

 

___________________________

 

[1] The estimates of GDP used in the calculations of the deficit and borrowing relative to GDP reflect the revisions to historical data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in July 2017. GDP for FY 2017 is based on the economic forecast for the President’s 2018 Budget, adjusted for the BEA revisions.

https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0184.aspx

 

Economy to grow at 5.4% rate in first quarter, Atlanta Fed tracker shows

  • The Atlanta Fed updated its rolling look at the U.S. economy, projecting that GDP would grow 5.4 percent in the first quarter.
  • If the forecast holds, it would be the strongest quarter since the economic recovery began and would more than double the typical annualized growth during the period.

The economy is on track to put up blockbuster growth numbers in the first quarter, according to the latest forecast from the Atlanta Fed.

GDP is expected to surge 5.4 percent to start 2018, the central bank branch estimated in its latest rolling look at how the economy is progressing.

If the forecast holds, it would be the best quarter since the Great Recession ended in 2009. The previous highest was third quarter of 2014, which hit 5.2 percent.

However, the Atlanta Fed’s tracker has shown to have reliability issues in the past. In particular, the model’s sensitivity to the ISM Manufacturing Index has led the gauge astray multiple times, causing growth to be overstated.

The ISM numbers were the principle impetus for the raise in growth projections Thursday.

Real consumer spending jumped from 3.1 percent to 4 percent amid a sharp savings drawdown, and private fixed-investment growth surged from 5.2 percent to 9.2 percent.

Since 2015, ISM boosts have caused the Atlanta Fed to overstate growth by 0.8 percentage points on average, including 1.9 percent points in the fourth quarter tracking on Nov. 1, according to CNBC calculations.

That comes as jobless claims hover around generational lows and the unemployment rate is at 4.1 percent. Productivity, however, continues to be lackluster, falling 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter against an expected rise of 1 percent.

GDP for the fourth quarter came in at 2.6 percent, a disappointment caused primarily by a decline in inventories and a surge in imports, temporary setbacks expected to reverse in the quarters ahead.

President Donald Trump rode to office on promises of growth that would hit at least 3 percent and run as high as 6 percent.

The Atlanta Fed also was optimistic about the 2017 first quarter, estimating growth at one point to be 3.4 percent, where the final reading came in at 1.2 percent.

—With reporting by CNBC’s Steve Liesman.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/01/economy-to-grow-at-5-point-4-percent-rate-in-first-quarter-atlanta-fed-tracker-shows.html

National Income and Product Accounts
Gross Domestic Product: Fourth Quarter and Annual 2017 (Advance Estimate)

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of
2017 (table 1), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the
third quarter, real GDP increased 3.2 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the fourth-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source
data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see "Source Data for the
Advance Estimate" on page 3). The "second" estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete
data, will be released on February 28, 2018.

Real GDP: Percent Change from Preceding Quarter
The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal
consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, exports, residential fixed investment,
state and local government spending, and federal government spending that were partly offset by a
negative contribution from private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the
calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter reflected a downturn in private inventory
investment that was partly offset by accelerations in PCE, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state
and local government spending, and federal government spending, and an upturn in residential fixed
investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, turned up.

Current-dollar GDP increased 5.0 percent, or $238.3 billion, in the fourth quarter to a level of $19,738.9
billion. In the third quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 5.3 percent, or $250.6 billion (table 1 and table
3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter, compared
with an increase of 1.7 percent in the third quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 2.8 percent,
compared with an increase of 1.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index
increased 1.9 percent, compared with an increase of 1.3 percent (appendix table A).


Personal Income (table 10)

Current-dollar personal income increased $178.9 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with an
increase of $112.3 billion in the third. The acceleration in personal income primarily reflected an upturn
in personal interest income and an acceleration in nonfarm proprietors’ income.

Disposable personal income increased $139.0 billion, or 3.9 percent, in the fourth quarter, compared
with an increase of $73.8 billion, or 2.1 percent, in the third. Real disposable personal income increased
1.1 percent, compared with an increase of 0.5 percent.

Personal saving was $384.4 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $478.3 billion in the third. The
personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 2.6 percent
in the fourth quarter, compared with 3.3 percent in the third.


2017 GDP

Real GDP increased 2.3 percent in 2017 (that is, from the 2016 annual level to the 2017 annual level),
compared with an increase of 1.5 percent in 2016 (table 1).

The increase in real GDP in 2017 primarily reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed
investment, and exports. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The acceleration in real GDP from 2016 to 2017 reflected upturns in nonresidential fixed investment and
in exports and a smaller decrease in private inventory investment.  These movements were partly offset
by decelerations in residential fixed investment and in state and local government spending. Imports,
which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, accelerated.

Current-dollar GDP increased 4.1 percent, or $762.3 billion, in 2017 to a level of $19,386.8 billion,
compared with an increase of 2.8 percent, or $503.8 billion, in 2016 (table 1 and table 3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.8 percent in 2017, compared with an increase
of 1.0 percent in 2016 (table 4). The PCE price index increased 1.7 percent, compared with an increase
of 1.2 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.5 percent, compared
with an increase of 1.8 percent (appendix table A).

During 2017 (measured from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2017), real GDP
increased 2.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent during 2016.  The price index for gross
domestic purchases increased 1.9 percent during 2017, compared with an increase of 1.4 percent during
2016 (table 7).


Source Data for the Advance Estimate

Information on the assumptions used for unavailable source data in the advance estimate is provided in
a Technical Note that is posted with the news release on BEA’s Web site. A detailed "Key Source Data
and Assumptions" file is also posted for each release. For information on updates to GDP, see the
"Additional Information" section that follows.

                                   *          *          *
                     Next release:  February 28, 2018 at 8:30 A.M. EST
                Gross Domestic Product:  Fourth Quarter 2017 (Second Estimate)
                                   *          *          *

Additional Information

                                        Release Dates in 2018


      Estimate                   2017: IV and annual    2018: I           2018: II           2018: III
Gross Domestic Product
 Advance                         January 26             April 27          July 27            October 26
 Second                          February 28            May 30            August 29          November 28
 Third                           March 28               June 28           September 27       December 21

Corporate Profits
 Preliminary                     …                      May 30            August 29          November 28
 Revised                         March 28               June 28           September 27       December 21



                                      Additional Information

Resources

Additional resources available at www.bea.gov:
•	Stay informed about BEA developments by reading the BEA blog, signing up for BEA’s email
        subscription service, or following BEA on Twitter @BEA_News.
•	Historical time series for these estimates can be accessed in BEA’s Interactive Data Application.
•	Access BEA data by registering for BEA’s Data Application Programming Interface (API).
•	For more on BEA’s statistics, see our monthly online journal, the Survey of Current Business.
•	BEA's news release scheduleNIPA Handbook:  Concepts and Methods of the U.S. National Income and Product Accounts

Definitions

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy
less the value of the goods and services used up in production. GDP is also equal to the sum of personal
consumption expenditures, gross private domestic investment, net exports of goods and services, and
government consumption expenditures and gross investment.

Current-dollar estimates are valued in the prices of the period when the transactions occurred—that is,
at “market value.” Also referred to as “nominal estimates” or as “current-price estimates.”
Real values are inflation-adjusted estimates—that is, estimates that exclude the effects of price changes.
The gross domestic purchases price index measures the prices of final goods and services purchased by
U.S. residents.

The personal consumption expenditure price index measures the prices paid for the goods and services
purchased by, or on the behalf of, “persons.”

Personal income is the income received by, or on behalf of, all persons from all sources:  from
participation as laborers in production, from owning a home or business, from the ownership of
financial assets, and from government and business in the form of transfers. It includes income from
domestic sources as well as the rest of world. It does not include realized or unrealized capital gains or
losses.

Disposable personal income is the income available to persons for spending or saving. It is equal to
personal income less personal current taxes.

Personal outlays is the sum of personal consumption expenditures, personal interest payments, and
personal current transfer payments.

Personal saving is personal income less personal outlays and personal current taxes.
The personal saving rate is personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income. (For a
comparison of personal saving in BEA's national income and product accounts (NIPAs) with personal
saving in the Federal Reserve Board's financial accounts of the United States, go to
www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/nipa-frb.asp.

For more definitions, see the Glossary: National Income and Product Accounts.


Statistical conventions

Annual rates. Quarterly values are expressed at seasonally-adjusted annual rates (SAAR), unless
otherwise specified. Dollar changes are calculated as the difference between these SAAR values. For
detail, see the FAQ “Why does BEA publish estimates at annual rates?”

Percent changes in quarterly series are calculated from unrounded data and are displayed at annual
rates, unless otherwise specified. For details, see the FAQ “How is average annual growth calculated?”

Quantities and prices. Quantities, or “real” volume measures, and prices are expressed as index
numbers with a specified reference year equal to 100 (currently 2009). Quantity and price indexes are
calculated using a Fisher-chained weighted formula that incorporates weights from two adjacent
periods (quarters for quarterly data and annuals for annual data). “Real” dollar series are calculated by
multiplying the published quantity index by the current dollar value in the reference year (2009) and
then dividing by 100. Percent changes calculated from real quantity indexes and chained-dollar levels
are conceptually the same; any differences are due to rounding.

Chained-dollar values are not additive because the relative weights for a given period differ from those
of the reference year. In tables that display chained-dollar values, a “residual” line shows the difference
between the sum of detailed chained-dollar series and its corresponding aggregate.


Updates to GDP

BEA releases three vintages of the current quarterly estimate for GDP:  "Advance" estimates are
released near the end of the first month following the end of the quarter and are based on source data
that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency; “second” and “third” estimates
are released near the end of the second and third months, respectively, and are based on more detailed
and more comprehensive data as they become available.

Annual and comprehensive updates are typically released in late July. Annual updates generally cover at
least the 3 most recent calendar years (and their associated quarters) and incorporate newly available
major annual source data as well as some changes in methods and definitions to improve the accounts.
Comprehensive (or benchmark) updates are carried out at about 5-year intervals and incorporate major
periodic source data, as well as major conceptual improvements.
The table below shows the average revisions to the quarterly percent changes in real GDP between
different estimate vintages, without regard to sign.

Vintage                               Average Revision Without Regard to Sign
                                         (percentage points, annual rates)
Advance to second                                     0.5
Advance to third                                      0.6
Second to third                                       0.2
Advance to latest                                     1.3
Note - Based on estimates from 1993 through 2016. For more information on GDP
updates, see Revision Information on the BEA Web site.

The larger average revision from the advance to the latest estimate reflects the fact that periodic
comprehensive updates include major statistical and methodological improvements.

Unlike GDP, an advance current quarterly estimate of GDI is not released because data on domestic
profits and on net interest of domestic industries are not available. For fourth quarter estimates, these
data arCopy a Poste not available until the third estimate.
https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2018/gdp4q17_adv.htm

A SUMMARY OF THE 2017 ANNUAL REPORTS

Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees

A MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC:

Each year the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds report on the current and projected financial status of the two programs. This message summarizes the 2017 Annual Reports.

Both Social Security and Medicare face long-term financing shortfalls under currently scheduled benefits and financing. Lawmakers have a broad continuum of policy options that would close or reduce the long-term financing shortfall of both programs. The Trustees recommend that lawmakers take action sooner rather than later to address these shortfalls, so that a broader range of solutions can be considered and more time will be available to phase in changes while giving the public adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits.

Social Security and Medicare together accounted for 42 percent of Federal program expenditures in fiscal year 2016. The unified budget reflects current trust fund operations. Consequently, even when there are positive trust fund balances, any drawdown of those balances, as well as general fund transfers into Medicare’s Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) fund and interest payments to the trust funds that are used to pay benefits, increase pressure on the unified budget. Both Social Security and Medicare will experience cost growth substantially in excess of GDP growth through the mid-2030s due to rapid population aging caused by the large baby-boom generation entering retirement and lower-birth-rate generations entering employment. For Medicare, it is also the case that growth in expenditures per beneficiary exceeds growth in per capita GDP over this time period. In later years, projected costs expressed as a share of GDP rise slowly for Medicare and are relatively flat for Social Security, reflecting very gradual population aging caused by increasing longevity and slower growth in per-beneficiary health care costs.

Social Security

The Social Security program provides workers and their families with retirement, disability, and survivors insurance benefits. Workers earn these benefits by paying into the system during their working years. Over the program’s 82-year history, it has collected roughly $19.9 trillion and paid out $17.1 trillion, leaving asset reserves of more than $2.8 trillion at the end of 2016 in its two trust funds.

The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund, which pays retirement and survivors benefits, and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund, which pays disability benefits, are by law separate entities. However, to summarize overall Social Security finances, the Trustees have traditionally emphasized the financial status of the hypothetical combined trust funds for OASI and DI. The combined funds-designated OASDI- satisfy the Trustees’ test of short-range (ten-year) financial adequacy. The Trustees project that the combined fund asset reserves at the beginning of each year will exceed that year’s projected cost through 2029. However, the funds fail the test of long-range close actuarial balance.

The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund, which pays retirement and survivors benefits, and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund, which pays disability benefits, are by law separate entities. However, to summarize overall Social Security finances, the Trustees have traditionally emphasized the financial status of the hypothetical combined trust funds for OASI and DI. The combined funds-designated OASDI- satisfy the Trustees’ test of short-range (ten-year) financial adequacy. The Trustees project that the combined fund asset reserves at the beginning of each year will exceed that year’s projected cost through 2029. However, the funds fail the test of long-range close actuarial balance.

The Trustees project that the combined trust funds will be depleted in 2034, the same year projected in last year’s report. The projected 75-year actuarial deficit for the OASDI Trust Funds is 2.83 percent of taxable payroll, up from 2.66 percent projected in last year’s report. This deficit amounts to 1 percent of GDP over the 75-year time period, or 21 percent of program non-interest income, or 17 percent of program cost. A 0.05 percentage point increase in the OASDI actuarial deficit would have been expected if nothing had changed other than the one-year shift in the valuation period from 2016 through 2090 to 2017 through 2091. The effects of recently enacted legislation, updated demographic and economic data, and improved methodologies further increased the actuarial deficit by 0.12 percent of taxable payroll.

Social Security’s total income is projected to exceed its