Hillary Clinton allies fed FBI Donald Trump-Russia stories

By – The Washington Times – Sunday, April 14, 2019

loyalists fed the ’s upper echelon an assortment of anti- criminal accusations during the 2016 campaign and his presidency, according to a string of interview transcripts released in recent weeks.

, former general counsel who participated on the receiving end, testified that the situation was “horrible” and “highly unusual.”

At least 10 of ’s supporters directly or via middlemen told the bureau tales about Russia- conspiracies. It appears to be an unprecedented effort by a presidential campaign and the party in power to count on the to knock out the other party’s candidate and president.

The transcripts create the picture of an not always following expected norms as it activated an unofficial conveyor belt to make sure the allegations reached the counterintelligence division. It opened an investigation into the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016. In October, it began wiretapping at least one Republican while dispatching possibly multiple undercover sources to spy.

In the end, the Democratic Party-financed charges fell flat. Special counsel Robert Mueller reported last month that his 22-month investigation failed to establish a – conspiracy to interfere in the election by computer hacking and social media trolling.

Attorney General William Barr testified to Congress that he personally is reviewing how the began the Trump investigation. He said that Obama officials spied on the Republican’s campaign and that he is trying to determine whether it was justified.

, a former top legal adviser to bureau director James B. Comey, testified last year to a House judiciary oversight task force that he became skeptical of anti- data.

“I had a jaundiced eye about everything, yes,” said. “I had skepticism about all this stuff. I was concerned about all of this. This whole situation was horrible, and it was novel and we were trying to figure out what to do, and it was highly unusual.”

A transcript of his closed-door testimony was released by Rep. Doug Collins, Georgia Republican. He has posted a series of such transcripts from an investigation that ended in January when Democrats took control of the House and turned all their guns on President .

In one plot line, operatives tried to sell the same conspiracy theory to different levels at the Justice Department.

said Michael Sussmann, a lawyer at the firm that represented the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, met with him to pitch the infamous Alfa Bank server story. The Democrats’ theory was that the Trump Organization maintained a direct computer server hookup to Moscow’s Alfa Bank, owned by oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

’s election didn’t derail the Alfa effort. In December 2016, Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr met with Glenn R. Simpson, a co-founder of the private investigative firm Fusion GPS. It had hired Christopher Steele the previous June. The erstwhile British intelligence officer went on to produce the unverified anti- dossier, financed by Democrats.

Some cybersleuths traced the server to a marketing firm, but Mr. Simpson told Mr. Ohr, “There was communication and it wasn’t spam.”

The Sussmann and Simpson meetings showed the unusual access operatives enjoyed. They were selling the Alfa charge to the ’s top lawyer and to the Justice Department’s No. 4 official.

‘It is not normal’

A scorecard of some of the s.

talked with Mr. Sussmann on several occasions and shipped his material — a quarter-inch-thick document and a computer thumb drive — to the counterintelligence wing, then led by Bill Priestap and Peter Strzok. Mr. Strzok is noted for his dislike of and pledged to “stop” him.

also said he received dossier material from Mother Jones reporter David Corn, whom he had known for years. ’s attorney said his client is under criminal suspicion in a press leak investigation.

Mr. Ohr communicated repeatedly with Mr. Steele and Mr. Simpson to hear their Russian collusion charges. He conveyed them to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; his counsel, Lisa Page; and Mr. Strzok. Mr. Ohr’s wife worked for Mr. Simpson at Fusion.

At one point, Mr. Ohr handed the two thumb drives containing his wife’s anti- suspicions on business ties with and dossier data. Mr. Ohr had his own handler, Joe Pientka, who recorded at least a dozen interviews with Mr. Ohr after the election into 2017, based on Mr. Steele’s continuous flow of anti- charges.

Mr. Steele provided his unproven theories to the through Mr. Ohr and received material from a State Department official. After the election, Mr. Steele went a new route: recruiting a Republican, Sen. John McCain, to spread his dossier.

In December, McCain handed the dossier to Mr. Comey, whose team already possessed most of its memos. David Kramer, a McCain associate, proceeded to spread dossier charges among at least eight news outlets, including CNN and BuzzFeed, which published it.

Jonathan M. Winer, an Obama State Department official, worked with loyalists Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, who wrote their own anti- dossier. Pre-election, Mr. Winer provided their paper to Mr. Steele, who was working with the .

conceded that highly unusual methods were playing out in 2016 and 2017. For example, Mr. Ohr was not involved in the investigation officially, yet he was the messenger for information from Fusion GPS operatives to the .

Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, asked: “So you are using DOJ officials without the knowledge of the hierarchy at DOJ? That seems strange. Why would you do that? Is that the normal way that you would conduct an investigation?”

: “No, it is not normal.”

Mr. Meadows also asked whether knew the had violated its protocol. The bureau fired Mr. Steele for breaking the rules of a confidential source by leaking to Mr. Corn at Mother Jones. Yet the still sought his information for more than a year.

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” answered.

Evidence for wiretaps

also spoke of a working relationship with The New York Times. Mr. Sussmann had provided The Times with the Alfa Bank cyberdetective work. said the counterintelligence division wanted the newspaper to put a hold on a story.

“So they give it to The New York Times, they give it to you, and does your bias alarm go off anywhere?” Mr. Meadows asked.

: “I was concerned about the nature of this material from the first instance.”

In his House testimony, Mr. Ohr said he warned the that the Fusion GPS data flow came from loyalists.

“So when I provided it to the , I tried to be clear that this is source information,” Mr. Ohr testified. “I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware. These guys were hired by somebody relating to — who’s related to the Clinton campaign, and be aware — you know, they were somehow working associated with the Clinton campaign.”

The used the Steele dossier as the major piece of evidence to persuade judges to approve a year’s worth of wiretaps on associate Carter Page. Mr. Page was never charged by the special counsel and said the Steele document was full of lies.

Another House witness last year was George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign volunteer who unwittingly sparked the July 31 investigation.

His complex story is full of mysterious characters, intrigue and speculation. As a volunteer stationed at a think tank in London, he met Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud. In an encounter on April 26, 2016, Mr. Mifsud told him he heard that owned thousands of emails.

This conversation eventually found its way to the ’s Mr. Strzok, who kicked off the investigation.

Mr. Mifsud has visited frequently but appears to be an unlikely Russian agent. He taught Western intelligence operatives at a college in Rome, socialized with British foreign affairs people and was a welcomed guest in Washington in 2014.

Papadopoulos suspects Mr. Mifsud was a Western intelligence asset, as was Stefan Halper, a U.S. academic who befriended associates while working as an informant.

Papadopoulos was never accused of acting on the email tip. He pleaded guilty to lying to the about whether he was a campaign official when he met Mr. Mifsud.

After hearing Papadopoulos’ story, Rep. John Ratcliffe, Texas Republican, wondered aloud: “Based on what you’ve told us, I’m trying to figure out why one of what has become the highest-profile investigations in U.S. history alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government centered around you, a 28-year-old campaign adviser on the job for about a month who, to this day, has never been to , and, to this day, has never knowingly met a member of the Russian government.”

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