russiagate   591

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Russiagate Is Deader Than Ever A judge has ruled it was actually fine to publish material stolen by the Russian intelligence – even if the Trump campaign had done it By Leonid Bershidsky 1 August 2019,
The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Koeltl to dismiss the Democratic National Committee’s lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and others on Tuesday may look like something of an afterthought now that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has failed to find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump’s team. It is, however, anything but anticlimactic: It contains some hard truths for those still hanging on to the Trump-Russia story.

The DNC sued in April 2018, painting a picture of collusion between a Russian government eager to get Trump elected and a Trump campaign that was “a willing and active partner in this effort.” This picture, unlike Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s eventual report, was based on “connecting the dots” – an exercise in which many commentators have happily engaged since Trump won the 2016 election.

Even at the time it was filed, the DNC lawsuit was widely dismissed as a political stunt. But it also followed the example of the Democrats’ legal action against President Richard Nixon’s re-election committee after Watergate, which ended in a $750,000 settlement when Nixon resigned. Koeltl refused to penalize the DNC for suing frivolously: Indeed, the case helped him clarify some important points.

In his ruling, Koeltl, who once worked for Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, first explained that Russia cannot be sued in a U.S. court for government actions planned in Moscow. That seems obvious, but the DNC disputed it in the lawsuit, and there’d been a lot of public indignation about Russia’s actions on U.S. soil that contravene U.S. laws. The Russian government, of course, isn’t bound by these laws any more than the U.S. government is bound by Russian laws. As things stand, the two are adversaries, and as such, they’ll do to each other what they feel they can get away with, not what the other side deems legal. Retaliation is a matter of policy rather than law.

So when Trump called on Russia to hunt for missing Hillary Clinton emails, he wasn’t really condoning illegal action, since this concept doesn’t apply to the Russian government; he was merely hinting that as president, he wouldn’t retaliate against Russia for trying to unearth the emails. From a legal point of view, it appears safer to call on Russia to do some hacking than to ask the same of a specific American hacker. One can find Trump’s call unpalatable, or accept his logic that whatever helps him win is good, but this is a political choice, not a legal dilemma.

Another point Koeltl makes is that, though it’s not OK to steal documents such as personal and work-related emails, it’s perfectly OK to disseminate and publish them under the First Amendment – as long as the disseminator isn’t also the thief. This has important implications for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whom neither Mueller nor anyone else has accused of actually stealing the emails of DNC operatives and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta – or, indeed, any of the classified documents WikiLeaks has published. It can be argued that he helped some of the whistle-blowers to steal files and that constitutes a crime, but in general, he shouldn’t be held responsible for publishing pilfered material.

Moreover, according to the ruling, it’s fine to ask a thief for information he’s known to have stolen. And even if Russia’s military intelligence service had sent the stolen emails directly to the Trump campaign, the campaign wouldn’t have been legally liable for publishing it.

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, any foreign government can obtain, by whatever means, compromising information about any of the candidates, hand it to the media or to the candidate’s competitors, and the media or the competitors can publish it – all without anyone being legally liable.

I can see why that can make some people uncomfortable. But there it is. Countries will spy on each other, and they’ll get their hands on information of public interest in the process. If this information is genuine, the public should get access to it. (But of course the publisher should first make sure it's not fake). And the foreign government that stole the information should suffer the consequences – for example, in the form of sanctions – unless there are political reasons not to retaliate.

The Democrats should accept the reality and play by the same rules as their opponents – who, in this case, appear to have played by the rules, such as they are.

As for Trump-Russia, the Democratic candidates appear to have made the right decision about it. During Tuesday’s debate, the word “Russia” was heard exactly twice, from Senator Amy Klobuchar, who criticized Trump for pulling out of an arms control agreement. Perhaps the story will float up again as the campaign goes on – but it should stay buried. There are more legitimate reasons to push back against President Vladimir Putin’s regime: His aggression against neighboring countries, his ruthless suppression of protest, his support of other murderous regimes, and so on. In U.S. elections, it’s the voters who decide, regardless of whether Putin helps a candidate by sharing some kompromat.
RussiaGate  DNC 
16 days ago by juandante
Bill Binney: NSA Has 32 Pages of Communications Between Seth Rich and Julian Assange 21 APR Richard Charnin April 21, 2019
From Mark F. McCarty in About six months ago, a blogpost by “Publius Tacitus” appeared regarding attorney Ty Clevenger’s FOIA request regarding Seth Rich:
“But now there is new information that may corroborate what the human sources quoted in the Fox article claimed about Seth’s role in getting the DNC documents to Wikileaks. Borne from a FOIA request filed in November 2017 by attorney Ty Clevenger, who requested any information regarding Seth Rich and Julian Assange. The NSA informed Clevenger in a letter dated 4 October 2018 that:

Your request has been processed under the provisions of the FOIA. Fifteen documents (32 pages) responsive to your request have been reviewed by this Agency as required by the FOIA and have found to be currently and properly classified in accordance with Executive Order 13526. These documents meet the criteria for classification as set forth in Subparagraph © of Section 1.4 and remains classified TOP SECRET and SECRET.”

Here’s what Binney says: “Ty Clevenger has FOIAed information from NSA asking for any data that involved both Seth Rich and also Julian Assange. And they responded by saying we’ve got 15 files, 32 pages, but they’re all classified in accordance with executive order 13526 covering classification, and therefore you can’t have them. That says that NSA has records of communications between Seth Rich and Julian Assange. I mean, that’s the only business that NSA is in — copying communications between people and devices”.

If Binney is interpreting this correctly — and bear in mind that, not only is he extraordinarily bright, but he is sometimes referred to as “the father of the NSA” — this provides strong support for the hypothesis that Seth was indeed Wikileaks’ source for the DNC emails it published. Assange has strongly hinted at this.
WilliamBinney  BillBinnie  Russiagate  JulianAssange  Wikileaks  SethRich 
17 days ago by juandante
Russiagate: The Great Tragic Comedy of Modern Journalism > Matt Bivens, MD Follow Mar 25
In its Russiagate coverage, The New York Times has repeatedly offered a graphic accusing the President’s retinue of “more than 100 contacts with Russian nationals.” This decision to question the loyalty of people who have had contact with a Russian national — so, for just knowing or meeting a Russian — has been a staple of New York Times coverage.
“More than 100 contacts with Russian nationals.” It’s incredible that this can even be an allegation — in our paper of record — there in explainer graphics almost every day, for more than two years now. It smacks of the famous Senator Joseph McCarthy speeches in the 1950s: “I have in my hand a list of 205 [or 57, or 81]…”
And yet no one ever seemed to mind.
After all, as former intelligence chief (and liar to Congress) James Clapper has asserted on television, “Russians are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor.” Worse, I may have already been co-opted and penetrated without even knowing it! As Clapper said recently on CNN when asked if Trump could be “a Russian asset,” it is “a possibility, and I would add to that a caveat, whether witting or unwitting.”
RussiaGate  NewYorkTimes 
17 days ago by juandante
Russian Hacking: The CIA Never Lies? By Joe Clifford December 22, 2016
Be honest now. Did you believe the US intelligence agencies when they claimed it was a “Slam Dunk” Iraq had WMD? That bit of propaganda cost 5,000 American lives, and more than a million Iraqi lives. To make matters even more horrible, 600,000 children under 5 years old died because of brutal sanctions.

They sold that war using fake, distorted evidence, and outright lies, to support their need for a war. They even introduced “forged” documents from Niger to sell the war. Tragically the US public bought it, hook line and sinker, even though there were knowledgeable people who saw through the ruse. Experts who knew the intelligence was baseless, were ignored by mainstream media, and the propaganda by government and its mouthpiece, mainstream media, went unchallenged. These intelligence agencies were the very same who did not foresee the fall of the Berlin wall until it was on the ground in pieces, nor did they see the destruction of the WTC until it too, was on the ground. And this would be the same CIA who this week, submitted a written apology to the Turkish government for making “false claims” about Turkey” oil trading with Daesh.

Now we are told the Russians interfered with our elections, but this time it is different. They don’t offer any evidence or proof whatsoever, let alone fake evidence. Their claims are based on anonymous sources, unnamed sources, and terms like “consensus view”, with not a shred of absolute proof. Based on the Iraq lies, they learned you can sell the US public anything, if you just keep repeating the lie. The “Big Lie” theory is alive and well today. If you repeat something enough, it becomes fact. The intelligence agencies refused to brief congress, and they refused to brief the electors before voting for President. Why
RussianHackers  RussiaGate  CIA 
17 days ago by juandante
Big Tech Massive Influence on 2016 Election 20 JUL Richard Charnin 7/20/19
Big Tech Massive Influence on 2016 Election

Dr. Robert Epstein exposes Google’s role in America’s elections. His analysis indicates that from 2.6 to 10.4 million votes were shifted to Clinton in the 2016 election by using search engine manipulation and other techniques.

Epstein has been a Research Psychologist for 30 years, He received his PhD from Harvard. His focus has been on Google and its ability to manipulate the thinking of people. Google’s search algorithm supported Clinton in 2016. In 2020, up to 15 million votes could be shifted.

Epstein is working on a system to counter Big Tech. He states that Congress needs to end the Google monopoly by declaring its database to be public.
RussiaGate  RichardCharnin  Google 
17 days ago by juandante
The Russian Hackers Who Didn’t Hack Anything By JIM GERAGHTY July 26, 2019 10:10 AM
Making the click-through worthwhile: A shocking New York Times headline about Russian hackers and the 2016 presidential election doesn’t quite live up to the hype; another PAC with shady spending is discovered; an important argument about college education and what kind of people society values; and an interview about writing novels and cultural paranoia....
RussiaGate  NewYorkTimes 
17 days ago by juandante
'Russian election hack impossible': NSA veteran & whistleblower
NSA veteran and whistleblower Bill Binney says that it is technically impossible for Russia to have hacked the election and that behind-the-scenes forces within the US have fabricated the “Russian hackers” narrative from the very beginning.
Russiagate  BillBinney 
17 days ago by juandante
Lying Bigot James Clapper Assures World The Russia Narrative He Built Is Legit > Caity Johnstone July 18, 2018
Russiagate is so weird. I went weeks without writing anything about it so I’d forgotten how breathtakingly bizarre it is. A new “BOMBSHELL” Russia story comes out every few hours (all coincidentally right before or right after the Helsinki summit, which is perfectly normal and not at all suspicious), never containing anything other than unsubstantiated assertions by the known liars and manipulators of the US intelligence community. And every time without fail my social media mentions light up with another wave of people screaming “Okay, now you definitely have to admit this is real, Caitlin Johnstone!”

If you point out that no, those are still just unsubstantiated assertions from the same secretive, shady cast of characters who’ve recently organized the decimation of Iraq, Libya and Syria based on lies, you get called a “bot” and accused of conducting psyops for the Kremlin.

“But read the indictment!” they say. “These assertions are really, really detailed!”
RussiaGate  JamesClapper 
17 days ago by juandante
Here Are 5 Big Holes in Mueller's Work > Here Are 5 Big Holes in Mueller's Work
Robert Mueller’s two-year, $25.2 million investigation was supposed to provide the definitive account of Donald Trump, Russia and the 2016 election. Yet even after he issued a 448-page report and testified for five hours before Congress, critical aspects remain unexplained, calling into question the basis for the probe and the decisions of those who conducted it.

Time and again in his report and his testimony, Mueller refused to address a wide range of fundamental issues, claiming they were beyond his purview. Some of the issues Mueller and his team did not clarify include whether the FBI had a sound predicate for opening a counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign; whether the FBI knowingly relied on false material; and the links between U.S. government agencies and key figures who fueled the most explosive claims of an illicit Trump-Russia relationship. Mueller claimed that he was prevented from answering critical questions due to ongoing Justice Department reviews, one by Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham and the other by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. In the meantime, here are some of the biggest mysteries that Mueller’s team left hanging in the air.

Who Is Joseph Mifsud, and Was He the Actual Predicate for the Russia Investigation?

Mueller's pointed refusal to answer questions about Mifsud underscored that his team did not provide a plausible explanation for the incident that supposedly sparked the Russia investigation in July 2016. Mifsud is the mysterious Maltese professor who reportedly informed Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Their conversation took place in April 2016, before the alleged hacking of Democratic Party emails was publicly known.

Joseph Mifsud: "not a Russian spy but a Western intelligence cooperator," lawyer says.
Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS via AP
About a week later, Papadopoulos reportedly mentioned Mifsud's claim to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer over a drink in London – not, as the New York Times reported, after “a night of heavy drinking.” Downer took little note of the conversation until WikiLeaks released the stolen Democratic National Committee emails in July, after which he relayed his conversation with Papadopoulos to the U.S. Embassy in London. Downer's tip made its way to the FBI, which used it to launch the "Crossfire Hurricane" probe on July 31, 2016.

Mifsud has been widely portrayed as a Russian intermediary to the Trump campaign. In a May op-ed, former FBI Director James Comey referred to him as "a Russian agent." Mueller's report did not go that far. But it insinuates that Mifsud has suspicious Russian ties by claiming he "had connections to Russia" and "maintained various Russian contacts." A close reading of that ambiguous language reveals nothing – connections to whom or what? Missing from Mueller's account – and adding to the mystery -- is the complicating fact that, as Lee Smith reported for RealClearInvestigations, Mifsud's "closest public ties are to Western governments, politicians, and institutions, including the CIA, FBI and British intelligence services."

Stephan Roh, a Swiss lawyer who has previously represented Mifsud, confirms this, saying his former client "is not a Russian spy but a Western intelligence cooperator." In a recent interview with The Hill, Roh suggested that Mifsud got involved with Papadopoulos as part of an unspecified "intel operation" to find out "whether Papadopoulos was an 'agent provocateur' seeking foreign contacts."

Even without Mifsud's suspicious – and as yet un-explained – Western ties, the FBI's origin story for Crossfire Hurricane is suspect. The tip that the FBI received from Downer was vague and devoid of any claims that Russia had obtained Hillary Clinton's emails. In a 2017 interview, Downer recalled only that Papadopoulos "mentioned the Russians might use material that they have on Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the election, which may be damaging." (Italics added for emphasis.) Papadopoulos "didn’t say dirt; he said material that could be damaging to her. … He didn’t say what it was." Given that the FBI opened its investigation on the basis of Downer's claim about what Papadopoulos said, this is a critical admission. If Downer's memory is accurate, that means the FBI opened a nearly unprecedented counterintelligence probe of a presidential campaign on the second-hand report of a rumor that Russians – not the Trump campaign – possessed unspecified "material that could be damaging to [Clinton]."

The Mueller report acknowledges the tenuous nature of the Downer tip with qualified, ambiguous language that fails to mention the stolen emails at the heart of the Russia probe. It describes the "information [that] prompted the FBI" to open the Trump-Russia investigation as follows (italics added for emphasis):

Papadopoulos had suggested to a representative of that foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Putting aside the report’s misleading conflation of Papadopoulos and the Trump campaign to imply a wider web of actors, the vagueness of Mueller’s language raises the question: Is that all the FBI had? Given that Mueller did not, in fact, find evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, understanding the real reasons the probe was launched seems crucial to understanding the events of 2016. But Mueller punted.

Instead of settling the question, Mueller’s failure only fueled speculation: Did the FBI egregiously overreact by launching its Trump-Russia probe on vague and ultimately fruitless information or is Mifsud himself evidence that the Russia investigation was itself a set-up launched for still unknown reasons?

What Was the Role of the Steele Dossier?

Mueller also refused to address another key driver of the Trump-Russia probe – the series of unverified and salacious opposition research memos against Trump secretly financed by the Clinton campaign and the DNC and compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. Some Republicans believe the dossier was the real trigger of the FBI probe and that Mifsud was later used as an excuse by the FBI to cover that up once the dossier’s partisan origins were revealed. As he did with Mifsud, Mueller, who was FBI Director between 2001 and 2013, stonewalled the many Republican efforts to press him on this topic.

Christopher Steele: described as "Source #1" and "credible."
Victoria Jones/PA via AP
Although the full extent of the FBI's reliance on the Steele dossier remains unclear, what has already been publicly confirmed is damning. In the fall of 2016, the FBI cited the Steele dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant on Carter Page, giving it a “two-hop” surveillance window into the Trump campaign. In Page's FISA warrant, the FBI said it "believes that [Russia's] efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with" the Trump campaign. Steele is then described as "Source #1" and "credible." A footnote in the FISA application states the “FBI speculates” that Steele was hired by people “likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trump's] campaign” but did not disclose that Trump's political rivals – the DNC and the Clinton campaign – were paying him.

The fact that the FBI did not tell the court everything it knew about the dossier’s origins and that it relied on salacious claims paid for by Trump's opponent to spy on a member of Trump's campaign is a scandal in itself. But that did not interest Mueller. Nor did Mueller and his team address the bizarre intersection between the firm that hired Steele, Fusion GPS, and one of the key Russian figures who fueled claims of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, Natalya Veselnitskaya. On the days before and after she attended the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 – based on the false offer of Russian dirt on Clinton -- the Russian attorney had dinner with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. Veselnitskaya worked for the Russian gas firm Prevezon, which had hired Fusion GPS to help it fight the Magnitsky Act sanctions against some highly placed Russians allegedly connected to the death of a Russian whistleblower. The Mueller report omits Veselnitskaya's relationship with Fusion GPS and instead describes her as someone who "previously worked for the Russian government and maintained a relationship with that government throughout this period of time."

When several Republican lawmakers pressed Mueller on whether he investigated the Fusion GPS-Veselnitskaya connection, he responded that it was "outside my purview."

Why Did the Mueller Team Invent the Polling Data Theory About Konstantin Kilimnik, and Omit His U.S. Ties?

Konstantin Kilimnik: Mueller team was well aware of countervailing information.
AP Photo
Mueller also refused to answer critical questions about his report's portrayal of Konstantin Kilimnik. The longtime business associate of Trump’s one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort, became central to the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory as a result of the Mueller team's own innuendo. In January 2019, Mueller accused Manafort of lying about sharing Trump campaign polling data with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign. According to Mueller, the FBI had assessed that Kilimnik has an unspecified "relationship with Russian intelligence." In court, Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann repeated that ambiguous claim and tacked on a piece of tantalizing flourish: "This goes to the larger view of what we think is going on, and what we think is the motive here. This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating." Weissmann's comments fueled widespread speculation – and even confident assertions – that Kilimnik had passed … [more]
RussiaGate  RussianHackers  RobertMueller 
19 days ago by juandante

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