Tuesday, September 19, 2017


ObamaGate started with investigations under the false pretense that "Russia hacked the election" (live blog updated by Mark F. McCarty). The House Intel Ctee chairman Nunes vindicated that President Trump was surveilled (Senate probe). Obama officials unmasked US private citizens; the information was then leaked to the media. The House Judicial Committee finally started a broad investigation and has requested a Special Counsel

UPDATE: U.S. investigators wiretapped President Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a report by CNN that vindicates the president’s earlier claims, which were mocked as a conspiracy theory. (...) a report Monday evening said U.S. investigators obtained a surveillance warrant on Manafort from a secret court and had monitored him before and after the election, including a “period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.” The report said the secret court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had authorized a surveillance warrant against Manafort for an investigation that began in 2014, looking into his firm, the Podesta Group, and another firm’s lobbying work for Ukraine’s pro-Russian former ruling party. “The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence,” a source told CNN. However, the FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended early into this year. The report notably does not say when the new warrant was obtained.

Manafort joined the Trump campaign as its chairman in May 2016. The new warrant was “part of the FBI’s efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives,” according to the report. The report notes, “such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials” — but doesn’t specify which top Justice Department and FBI officials had approved it. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former FBI Director James Comey were leading the agencies, respectively, at the time.

The report said the first warrant had already expired when Manafort had become the chairman in May. Before he left in August, FBI investigators “noticed what counterintelligence agents thought was a series of odd connections between Trump associates in Russia.” A some point, the FBI obtained the new FISA warrant and began monitoring Manafort again — who has a residence in Trump Tower. The story said it’s “unclear” whether the FBI surveillance took place there. The Justice Department and the FBI denied that Trump was being wiretapped. Comey later in March disputed Trump’s claims — in testimony that lawmakers could now find misleading. (More)

⏩Manafort's political and business dealings with Russian and Ukrainian officials are under scrutiny in the various investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Manafort has been singled out as one of the key players, to the point that the FBI carried out an early morning raid on his home earlier this summer. Manafort worked for Trump between May and August 2016 as campaign chairman and his dealings with Ukraine eventually led to his ouster. According to CNN, the court ordered surveillance against Manafort began again after his departure from campaign because FBI investigators noticed contacts between Trump associates and the Russian government. (...)

(...) The screws appear to be tightening on Manafort. On Sunday, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, said it's "likely" the Senate Judiciary Committee will issue a subpoena for Manafort. And to make matters worse for the former Trump campaign chairman, the New York Times reported Monday special counsel Robert Mueller plans to indict Manafort. Manafort is under investigation for violations of tax law, money laundering, and failing to disclose his lobbying activities, according to the report. (More)

Sep. 14, 2017


Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN. The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House. The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said. Rice’s previously undisclosed revelation in a classified setting shines new light on a practice that had come under sharp criticism from the committee chairman, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and President Donald Trump, who previously accused Rice of committing a crime. But her explanation appears to have satisfied some influential Republicans on the committee, undercutting both Nunes and Trump and raising new questions about whether any Trump associates tried to arrange back-channel discussions with the Russians. (Source)

Sep. 6, 2017


(...) the House Intelligence Committee has quietly subpoenaed the Department of Justice and the FBI, in order to obtain documents relating to “Trump dossier” author Christopher Steele. Washington Examiner reports:

The subpoenas are an indication of growing frustration inside the committee over the FBI and Justice Department’s lack of cooperation in the Trump-Russia investigation. The committee issued the subpoenas — one to the FBI, an identical one to the Justice Department — on August 24, giving both until last Friday, September 1, to turn over the information. Neither FBI nor Justice turned over the documents, and now the committee has given them an extension until September 14 to comply. Illustrating the seriousness with which investigators view the situation, late Tuesday the committee issued two more subpoenas, specifically to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (...) It’s time for those behind the phony Trump Dossier to come forward, and U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro thinks so too. A new report by Fox News says former MI-6 British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele has been ordered to give a deposition in the lawsuit against Buzzfeed over the dossier. Recently, Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the debunked ‘Russian dossier’ to smear Trump refused to tell Congress who the political sources are that commissioned the salacious document. (More)

Aug. 12, 2017


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