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In the age of digital technology, and especially in the Age of Trump, leakers have become more prevalent than ever before, actively encouraged by various mainstream media outlets to work with them.
This article will mainly cover a period I have come to describe as “The Season of Leaks”, a time where Donald Trump was preparing for his role of President of the United States — and the ensuing months after, which eventually led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. From December 2016 to May 2017.
SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY: “You testified before the House Intelligence Committee that a lot of classified matters have ended up in the media recently. Without getting into any particular article — I want to emphasise that, without getting into any particular article — is there an investigation of any leaks of classified information relating to Mr. Trump or his associates?”
DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: “I don’t want to — I don’t want to answer that question, Senator, for reasons I think you know. There have been a variety of leaks — well, leaks are always a problem, but especially in the last three to six months.” — May 3, 2017 Testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee
For this article, it is recommended that you read “Fusion GPS”, “Christopher Steele”, “The Dossier”, “Alfa Bank” and, somewhat to a lesser extent, “Brennan’s Working Group”. This is more to cover the actions of journalists in the months prior to November 2016.
On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in an electoral college victory, bringing the White House and the United States back under the control of the Republican Party.
Washington was not happy.
It was November 8, 2016 that Donald Trump won the election to become the President of the United States. And that presented a big problem for the people of the Obama Administration, the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, and many, many more people that actively worked together to try and stop it.
The Steele dossier had already been making the rounds across the Obama Administration, intelligence agencies — both foreign and domestic — and the mainstream media. The media, such as The New York Times, operated on numerous leaks provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and Capitol Hill to track down any and all ties between Donald Trump, his campaign and the Russian Government.
The Obama Administration itself had participated in numerous Situation Room meetings, carried out by Cabinet members and intelligence agency heads, to monitor Russian interference during the election. Some of these attendees — Director Comey and Director Brennan — led their own investigations into the Trump campaign, based on two different sources of information: the Australian Government for Director Comey, and intercepted communications for Director Brennan.
I will also note that this is essentially more documentation than anything, as one of the next articles will focused on the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s actions between the same months, to give more context to the articles listed below.
We also have to cover Louise Mensch for those of you ready to comment about how she is crazy, et cetera.
The day before Election Day though, an article appeared: Louise Mensch published “EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia” in Heat Street, a media organisation founded in April 2016 by the former Conservative Member of Parliament with the backing of News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch, two months after she e-mailed the Clinton campaign to inform them that she backed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.
“Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”
“Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.”
“The FISA warrant was granted in connection with the investigation of suspected activity between the server and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank. However, it is thought in the intelligence community that the warrant covers any ‘US person’ connected to this investigation, and thus covers Donald Trump and at least three further men who have either formed part of his campaign or acted as his media surrogates. The warrant was sought, they say, because actionable intelligence on the matter provided by friendly foreign agencies could not properly be examined without a warrant by US intelligence as it involves ‘US Persons’ who come under the remit of the FBI and not the CIA. Should a counter-intelligence investigation lead to criminal prosecutions, sources say, the Justice Department is concerned that the chain of evidence have a basis in a clear warrant.” — Heat Street
As such, the article was the first to mention the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence team in conjunction with “Crossfire Hurricane”, it connected the Alfa Bank server story to it, and it also mentioned a series of ‘friendly foreign agencies’ that assisted with the investigation.
Mensch would later confirm that the four people listed on the apparent June FISA warrant were: Donald Trump, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Boris Epshteyn.
It should be noted that Louise Mensch wrote two opinion pieces for The New York Times: “Britain, Better Off Out of Europe” on February 11, 2016 and “What to Ask About Russian Hacking” on March 17, 2017.
It should also be noted that The Guardian, in a profile of Mensch published on February 17, 2017 by Julian Borger titled “Louise Mensch: the former British MP who scooped US media on Trump’s Russia ties”, noted the following:
“Two months later, however, the BBC put out a story echoing Mensch’s original report about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) court warrant issued in October to allow the justice department to look into transfers and communications between the Russian banks and Trump associate — and that US intelligence agencies were investigating the link.
The Guardian separately confirmed the original request for a Fisa warrant, which had been turned down earlier in the summer, and former officials said they believed the Mensch and BBC account of the Fisa warrants to be correct.” — Julian Borger, The Guardian
Look, I’m just covering the Mensch stuff now, don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Mensch was also on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee while she was in the House of Parliament back in 2011, which allowed her to participate in the FIFA investigation as she heard the allegations raised by Lord Triesman. Others on the committee at the time included John Whittingdale (chair), Paul Farrelly, Alan Keen, David Cairns, Adrian Sanders, Dr. Therese Coffey, Jim Sheridan and Damian Collins. It was also 2011 that Steele brought in Special Agent Michael Gaeta to investigate FIFA through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
If you are still with me, we will now continue.
After November 8, 2016, David Corn, a reporter at Mother Jones, visited the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Headquarters, where he passed his own version of the Steele memos to James A. Baker. Baker then passed the dossier over to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation team.
It should be noted that on July 27, 2017, Circa published the article “EXCLUSIVE: A top FBI lawyer is allegedly under an investigation for leaking classified information to the media”, which was followed on December 22, 2017’s article by Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Rachael Bade titled “Top FBI oficial linked to reporter who broke Trump dossier story”, which connected Baker to Corn.
On November 10, 2016, Special Agent Peter Strzok texted Lisa Page about an article written by Olivia Nuzzi, “Paul Manafort Thrown From Trump Crazy Train”, written on August 19, 2016 for The Daily Beast. Using the article, Special Agent Strzok suggested that they scrubs all names and exchange lists as they both had separate confidential informant information.
It should be noted that Olivia Nuzzi was the same reporter that decided to walk into Corey Lewandowski’s home office without permission, which Nuzzi had revealed in a profile of Hope Hicks.
“The day after Trump’s surprising win on Nov. 9, 2016, the FBI counterintelligence team engaged in a new mission, bluntly described in another string of emails prompted by another news leak.
‘We need ALL of their names to scrub, and we should give them ours for the same purpose,’ Strzok emailed Page on Nov. 10, 2016, citing a Daily Beast article about some of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s allegedly unsavory ties overseas.
‘Andy didn’t get any others,’ Page wrote back, apparently indicating McCabe didn’t have names to add to the ‘scrub’.
‘That’s what Bill said,’ Strzok wrote back, apparently referring to then-FBI chief of counterintelligence William Priestap. ‘I suggested we need to exchange our entire lists as we each have potential derogatory CI info the other doesn’t.’ CI is short for confidential informants.” — The Hill
The next day, on November 11, 2016, Sidney Blumenthal was interviewed by Niuewsuur, where he blamed Hillary Clinton’s loss of the election on a number of right-wing agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Field Office, due to their connection to Rudy Giuliani.
It should be noted that Sidney Blumenthal was the same person who spoke with Jonathan Winer in September 2016 and passed on the Cody Shearer memo — himself the brother-in-law of Strobe Talbott — which was then passed into the hands of Christopher Steele, who then passed it to the Crossfire Hurricane investigative team in October 2016.
SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: “It was the result of a cabal of right-wing agents of the FBI in the New York office attached to Rudy Giuliani, who was a member of the Trump campaign.” […] “I think it’s not unfair to call it a coup. Yeah, a coup d’etat.”
The same day, Chuck Ross published “Trump’s Top Military Adviser Is Lobbying For Obscure Company With Ties To Turkish Government” in The Daily Caller, which brought public attention to the connection between Flynn Intel Group and Inovo BV.
On November 16, 2016, Senator Chuck Schumer selected Senator Dianne Feinstein to be the Democratic ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with her previous position on the Senate Intelligence Committee to be filled by Senator Mark Warner.
Three days later, on November 19, 2016, Breitbart News announced it had generated 300 million page views and 45 million unique visitors within 31 days.
The next day, on November 20, 2016, Luke Harding published the article “The new special relationship: what does Putin want from Trump?” in The Guardian.
It should be noted that Luke Harding once wrote an article in 2010 which claimed a connection between Semyon Mogilevich and RosUkrEnergo through a WikiLeaks cable, which was then threatened with a legal complaint from the lawyers of Dmitry Firtash. Harding was also the Moscow Bureau Chief for The Guardian between November 2007 to February 2011. During this time, Harding wrote an article about the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow.
Years later, Harding wrote the book “Collusion: How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win”, and he attended the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar on April 28, 2017, which was convened by Sir Richard Dearlove, although Stefan Halper had left at this point.
On Wednesday, November 23, 2016, Borzou Daragahi published the article “New Details Show Trump’s Pick For Top Security Adviser May Have Broken Foreign Agent Law” in BuzzFeed News, which featured an interview with Ekim Alptekin and discussions about Flynn Intel Group and Inovo BV.
The same day, Josh Israel published the article “Why has the NRA been cozying up to Russia?” in ThinkProgress, which discussed Maria Butina.
On November 25, 2016, a senior Obama Administration official sent a statement to The New York Times, where they stated that the results of the 2016 election accurately matched the will of the American people.
“The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian Government-directed compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the President-elect. Nevertheless, we stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people.
The Federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day. As we have noted before, we remained confident in the overall integrity of electoral infrastructure, a confidence that was borne out on election day. As a result, we believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.
That said, since we do not know if the Russians had planned any malicious cyber activity for election day, we don’t know if they were deterred from further activity by the various warnings the U.S. government conveyed.” — The New York Times
On November 29, 2016, Senators Ron Wyden, Martin Heinrich, Jack Reed, Angus King, Mark Warner, Mazie Hirono and Barbara Mikulski sent a joint letter to President Barack Obama, where they requested for all information surrounding the Russian Government and the United States presidential election be declassified for the public.
The next day, on November 30, 2016, Ali Watkins published the article “Intel Officials Believe Russia Spreads Fake News” in BuzzFeed News. On the same day, Director Brennan was interviewed by BBC News, the first time a sitting head of an American intelligence agency had been interviewed by a British news source.
It should be noted that Ali Watkins, at the time, was in the middle of a sexual relationship with James “Jim” A. Wolfe, a senior aide and Director of Security to the Senate Intelligence Committee, a position he had held since May 1987. Instead of being fired, similar to Fusion GPS partner Jason Felch when he was caught having a sexual relationship with a source by The Los Angeles Times, Watkins was protected and reassigned by The New York Times.
The next month, in December 2016, Luke Harding of The Guardian met with Christopher Steele, where he saw the Steele memos for the first time, although he found himself unable to verify the information within.
When George Papadopoulos returned to Greece, as he addressed an audience of Greek Mayors in Thessaloniki on December 1, 2016, he texted an investigative reporter for Kathimerini named Marianna Kakaounaki that he had assisted Donald Trump in being elected as President of the United States, and expressed a desire to assist in the Trump Administration.
On December 5, 2016, Evan McMullin published the article “Trump’s Threat to the Constitution” in The New York Times.
It should be noted that Evan McMullin’s strategy to become the President of the United States was to split the electoral college majority and have the United States House of Representatives — and not the people of America — select him over Trump and Clinton as the next President.
“The bid was so quixotic that a handful of observers, some suspicious of McMullin’s C.I.A. background, wondered if someone was pulling the strings. ‘Who put him up?’ Sean Hannity asked on his radio show in late October. ‘The Bush people? The Romney people?’ At the time Hannity was asking these questions, the polls had tightened in Utah, where McMullin, who’s Mormon, had based his campaign, with an eye on the one, exceedingly unlikely path he had to the White House: If the race was close, and he prevailed in a single state, he might prevent Trump and Hillary Clinton from attaining an Electoral College majority. In that case, the House of Representatives would decide the next President and, who knows, maybe they would settle on him.” — The New Yorker
Four days later, on December 9, 2016, President Obama ordered for a review to be carried out by American intelligence agencies about Russian interference in United States elections since 2008.
Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller — with contributions from Julie Tate — then published the article “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House” in The Washington Post.
It should be noted that Ellen Nakashima is the same journalist that accepted the crafted story by Michael Sussmann — and told by Dmitri Alperovitch and Shawn Henry of CrowdStrike — that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked by the Russian Government, with a similar story being pushed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the same time by executives from the Democratic National Committee.
The same day, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane also published “Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says” in The New York Times. To note, Scott Shane was the same journalist that signed a non-disclosure agreement and learned about Project Birmingham directly from New Knowledge (who worked with Daniel Jones’s Democracy Integrity Project on DisInfo2018), which affected the Alabama special elections as a mimic of the Internet Research Agency.
Adam Jentleson, the former Chief of Staff to Senator Harry Reid, later tweeted: “I’ll say it: NYT interviewed Reid for this story. He said things contrary to the story. NYT discarded the interview.”
This was in reference to an article published by Erik Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers, the two journalists in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation at The New York Times, titled “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia”, published on October 31, 2016.
The next day, on December 10, 2016, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous — with contributions from Julie Tate — published the article “FBI and CIA give differing accounts to lawmakers on Russia’s motives in 2016 hacks” in The Washington Post.
The same day, a reporter contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation about whether they agreed with the conclusion that Russia assisted President-elect Donald Trump with his electoral college victory. Special Agent Strzok responded to the e-mail request.
“On Dec. 10, 2016, the FBI received an inquiry from a reporter about whether the FBI was uncertain about the emerging conclusion that Russia was trying to help Trump win. The reporter intended to report that FBI counterintelligence was ‘much less emphatic than the CIA about Russia intent.’
Strzok weighed in to help the FBI press office address the reporter’s question, an email that has now captured congressional investigators’ fancy because it states clearly the FBI couldn’t distinguish that any one of three possible motives drove Russia’s meddling.
‘The specific point I made was we did not have information to differentiate what their ultimate goal was,’ Strzok emailed, adding that then-Director James Comey told Senate Intelligence something similar.
‘In other words, the activity is one-sided and clear but we can’t say the sole and primary purpose was specifically intended to help someone, hurt someone else or undermine the process. The reality is all three,’ he wrote.” — John Solomon, The Hill
On December 11, 2016, Glenn Simpson forwarded a link to the ThinkProgress article titled “Why has the NRA been cozying up to Russia?”, published on November 24, 2016, to Nellie Ohr via e-mail.
The next day, on December 12, 2016, Evelyn Farkas published the article “Here’s What America Needs to Know About Trump and Russia” in Politico, while Josh Earnest, the press secretary, said that President-elect Trump benefited from the Russian cyber-attacks.
It should be noted that Evelyn Farkas participated on a panel at the Atlantic Council on November 3, 2016 with Miriam Elder, Steven Lee Myers and David Kramer. She also had a panel with John Carlin on April 13, 2016, and was the founder of Farkas Global Strategies LLC on April 23, 2016. Farkas also offered to work for the Clinton campaign on February 21, 2016 in an e-mail sent to John Podesta after she attended “Tony’s brunch”.
On December 13, 2016, Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane — with contributions from Kitty Bennett — published the article “The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.” in The New York Times.
Meanwhile, William Bastone published “RNC E-Mail Was, In Fact, Hacked By Russians” in The Smoking Gun. Neil King then informed his friends that he would be leaving The Wall Street Journal in order to join the organisation Fusion GPS.
Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Lindsay then published “Exclusive: Top U.S. spy agency has not embraced CIA assessment on Russia hacking — sources” in Reuters, which referred to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd also published the article “How Russia Wins an Election” in Politico.
It should be noted that Clint Watts is the same person that testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and told them to “follow the trail of dead Russians”. He also ran the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which he claimed was the target of a cyber attack, which he notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation about. Watts is also on the board of the Committee to Investigate Russia, alongside others, such as Evelyn Farkas, Jeh Johnson, Max Boot, James Clapper, John Brennan and Charles “Charlie” Sykes. Watts was also responsible, with colleagues, for the launch of Hamilton 68 on August 15, 2017, which is currently preparing for a second version.
On December 14, 2016, Alana Goodman published the article “EXCLUSIVE: Ex-British ambassador who is now a WikiLeaks operative claims Russia did NOT provide Clinton emails — they were handed over to him at a D.C. park by an intermediary for ‘disgusted’ Democratic whistleblowers” in Daily Mail, which detailed a visit by Craig Murray to the American University on September 26, 2016 to collect John Podesta’s e-mails from an intermediary.
The next day, on December 15, 2016, Neil King informed Politico that he would be leaving The Wall Street Journal for Fusion GPS. Meanwhile, Evelyn Farkas was interviewed on CNN, where she pushed Russian election meddling, and Kurt Eichenwald was interviewed by Tucker Carlson.
It should be noted that Eichenwald was one of the many journalists that acquired access to the Steele memos.
Special Agent Strzok and Page then texted each other about a sister organisation leaking information to the mainstream media, which they suggested was for political reasons. John Podesta, meanwhile, published the article “John Podesta: Something is deeply broken at the FBI” in The Washington Post.
Podesta himself would later be hired by The Washington Post as a contributor on February 23, 2017.
Director James Clapper then signed the “Procedures For the Availability or Dissemination of Raw Signals Intelligence Information By the National Security Agency Under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333 (Raw SIGINT Availability Procedures)”.
In mid-December 2016, Louise Mensch officially left Heat Street. At the same time, The Washington Post received an anonymous letter which detailed a meeting between Jared Kushner and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, where they apparently discussed a communications channel between Russia and the Trump transition team.
On December 16, 2016, President Obama delivered his final end-of-year press conference of his Presidency, where he discussed the United States presidential election being overrun with leaked information.
At the same time, Special Agent Strzok and Lisa Page texted each other about the article “FBI in agreement with CIA that Russia aimed to help Trump win White House” from The Washington Post, where he expressed frustration with the angling of the article as the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not recently align with that view.
Joseph Cox then published the article “A Brief Interview with The Shadow Brokers, The Hackers Selling NSA Exploits” in Motherboard.
Two days later, on December 18, 2016, Attorney General Loretta Lynch was interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper about the tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton. At the same time, John Podesta was interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd, where he said his last contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation was October 9, 2016.
On December 19, 2016, David Corn and Russ Choma published the article “Here’s Another Trump Cabinet Pick With Close Financial Ties To Russians” in Mother Jones, which was about Wilbur Ross.
On Tuesday, December 20, 2016, Eric Lipton published the article “How We Identified the D.N.C. Hack’s ‘Patient Zero’” in The New York Times.
The day after, on December 21, 2016, Sean O’Neill published the article “Russian F1 tycoon funded Cambridge spy forum” in The Times of London.
On December 23, 2016, Matt Tait published the article “Putin’s Way of War” in Politico.
It should be noted that Matt Tait, also known as pwnallthethings on Twitter, is a former analyst at GCHQ and one of the prominent Twitter researchers into “Guccifer 2.0”. Tait was also reached out to by Peter W. Smith, but we’ll get to that later. Tait is also a contributor to Lawfare.
A few days later, on December 30, 2016, David Kramer published the article “Now, really crank up heat on Russia” in Politico.
David Kramer, before this article had been published, had already met with Steele and caused the chain of events which led to Senator John McCain handing the memos to Director Comey.
It is now 2017.
In January 2017, Yoni Ariel — born Jonathan Schwartz — started to try and pass fake Exxon documents purchased from the Italian businessman Corrado Pasetti to a number of anti-Trump and Democratic activists, and also to various media establishments, including BuzzFeed News, Bloomberg News, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
On January 3, 2017, Jason Leopold was hired by BuzzFeed News as an investigative journalist.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch then signed the “Procedures For the Availability or Dissemination of Raw Signals Intelligence Information By the National Security Agency Under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333 (Raw SIGINT Availability Procedures)”.
Senator Chuck Schumer was then interviewed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, where he issued an indirect threat at President-elect Trump on behalf of the intelligence community.
RACHEL MADDOW: “This was history just a little while ago tonight. You see the scare quotes there? ‘The ‘intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!’ We’re actually told- intelligence sources tell NBC News since this tweet has been posted that, actually, this intelligence briefing for the President-elect was always planned for Friday. It hasn’t been delayed. He’s- he’s taking these… shots, this antagonism, he’s taunting to the intelligence community.”
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: “Let me tell you: you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed, businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”
On January 4, 2017, Damian Paletta and Julian E. Barnes — with contributions from Carol E. Lee, Shane Harris and Siobhan Hughes — published the article “Donald Trump Plans Revamp of Top U.S. Spy Agency”, which was about the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Meanwhile, Ali Watkins published “The FBI Never Asked For Access To Hacked Computer Servers” in BuzzFeed News.
On January 5, 2017, President-elect Trump tweeted: “How did NBC get ‘an exclusive look into the top secret report he (Obama) was presented?’ Who gave them this report and why? Politics!”.
On the same day, there was a push by the United States Department of State to try and disseminate as much information as possible to Capitol Hill, including to Senator Mark Warner, Senator Ben Cardin and Senator Robert Corker. This was the same day as President Obama’s briefing by various intelligence agency heads.
On January 6, 2017, Ken Dilanian published the article “Report: Putin, Russia Tried to Help Trump By ‘Discrediting’ Clinton” in NBC News, and then Dilanian, William Arkin and Hallie Jackson published “U.S. Has ID’d Russians Who Gave Hacked Emails to WikiLeaks” in NBC News.
It should be noted that Ken Dilanian has previously submitted drafts to the Central Intelligence Agency’s press handlers prior to publication.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the unclassified version of its report for President Obama on Russian influence in the presidential election on January 6, 2017.
On the same day, President-elect Trump was briefed about Russian cyber attacks by Directors Clapper, Brennan, Rogers and Comey at Trump Tower in New York. In attendance were Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and President-elect Trump. After some time, Director Comey and President-elect Trump were on their own, when Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on the 2-page synopsis of the Steele memos.
After the meeting, Director Clapper spoke with Jake Tapper about the Steele memos and the briefings he attended with both President Obama and President-elect Trump, and shortly after appeared on CNN, where he was interviewed by Tapper.
It should be noted that Clapper would later be hired as an analyst at CNN on August 1, 2017.
On January 7, 2017, two Israeli intelligence officers visited the headquarters of BuzzFeed News in San Francisco, CA, where they showed the reporters their own copy of the Steele memos to prove that agencies around the world were investigating President-elect Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.
The next day, on January 8, 2017, President-elect Trump tweeted: “Before I, or anyone, saw the classified and/or highly confidential hacking intelligence report, it was leaked out to @NBCNews. So serious!”
On January 10, 2017, Jake Tapper, Carl Bernstein, Jim Sciutto and Evan Perez published the article “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him” in CNN.
Then, Ken Bensinger, Miriam Elder and Mark Schoofs published the article “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia” in BuzzFeed News, which revealed the existence of the Steele dossier to the world. Bensinger had received the dossier from Kramer on December 29, 2016 — the day before Kramer’s article, “Now, really crank up heat on Russia” in Politico.
It should be noted that in Bensinger’s book “Red Card: How the U.S. Blew the Whistle on the World’s Biggest Sports Scandal”, he directly acknowledges Fusion GPS’s Jason Felch as a true friend. Elder previously resided in Moscow from at least 2011 to 2013, having attended the Valdai Discussion Club in November 2011, while Schoofs attended the same Logan Symposium in 2015 as every partner of Fusion GPS.
Immediately after, President-elect Trump tweeted: “FAKE NEWS — A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”, while Michael Cohen tweeted: “I have never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews”. Julia Ioffe then said through Twitter that she had been reached out with the Steele memos earlier.
At the same time, Special Agent Strzok texted Lisa Page about the release of the Steele dossier, as he watched CNN with Bill Priestap: Special Agent Strzok had decided to use the release as a pretext to interview people connected to it. He then sent an e-mail about the three different versions of the dossier they had received — Glenn Simpson’s, David Corn’s and Senator John McCain’s — as the McCain one was identical to the one released by BuzzFeed News.
Meanwhile, Director Brennan signed “Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Activities: Procedures Approved by the Attorney General Pursuant to Executive Order 12333”, while Ben Smith tweeted that it was Ken Bensinger who received the Steele dossier.
On January 11, 2017, Steele was notified that his name would soon be published by The Wall Street Journal, which forced him to flee his £1.5 million home in Surrey, England with his family, leaving his cat with his neighbour. This was followed by the article “Christopher Steele, Ex-British Intelligence Officer, Said to Have Prepared Dossier on Trump” in The Wall Street Journal. 10 Downing Street then confirmed that they had issued a DA-notice to protect Steele’s identity.
Jake Tapper, through a government source, then confirmed on CNN that the Michael Cohen listed in the Steele memos was a different Cohen, with the same birth year but different birth date and a different country’s passport.
JAKE TAPPER: “Let me just make one other point, because Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, er, has been out there because in this uncorroborated report, it talks about Michael Cohen, Trump’s official corporate lawyer, making a trip to the Czech Republic. My reporting suggests that, er, people did try to run that down, and that they concluded that it was a different Michael Cohen. It was a Michael Cohen with a passport from another country, the same birth year, different birth date. So for Michael Cohen to dispute that he was in the Czech Republic completely confirms and conforms with our reporting, and it’s one of the reasons why did not get specific with these allegations, and that’s why I hope at the press conference today people are more general and don’t get into the specifics because a lot of that stuff has not been proven.”
Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Karen DeYoung — with contributions from Sari Horwitz and Julie Tate — published the article “Decision to brief Trump on allegations brought a secret and unsubstantiated dossier into public domain” in The Washington Post, as Director Clapper contacted President-elect Trump about the dossier’s release.
Evan Perez and Stephen Collinson published the article “US spy chief rejects Trump’s attack over Russia dossier” in CNN.
On Thursday, January 12, 2017, Attorney General Lynch signed “Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Activities: Procedures Approved by the Attorney General Pursuant to Executive Order 12333”.
Shortly after, the Obama Administration announced new rules to allow the National Security Agency to share private data gathered without warrant, court orders or Congressional authorisation with 16 other intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Kim Sengupta published the article “Revealed: former British ambassador Sir Andrew Wood’s key role in Trump investigation” in The Independent, while Paul Wood published “Trump ‘compromising’ claims: How and why did we get here?” in BBC News. Ronen Bergman also published “US intel sources warn Israel against sharing secrets with Trump administration” in Yediot Ahronot.
Georgi Gotev published the article “British spy behind Trump’s ‘kompromat’ also investigated EU’s Georgieva” in EURACTIV, while Nick Hopkins and Luke Harding published “Donald Trump dossier: intelligence sources vouch for author’s credibility” in The Guardian. Evelyn Farkas then published her own article “Does Putin Have Something On Trump? Obama Should Tell Us” in Newsweek.
At the same time, an alternate leaking procedure had started: David Ignatius published “Why did Obama dawdle on Russia’s hacking?” in The Washington Post, which revealed the existence of the calls between Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Michael Flynn for the first time through a senior United States Government official.
“According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? 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? The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.” — The Washington Post
On January 13, 2017, Chuck Ross published the article “EXCLUSIVE: OPPO RESEARCHER BEHIND TRUMP DOSSIER IS LINKED TO PRO-KREMLIN LOBBYING EFFORT” in The Daily Caller. Kim Sengupta published “Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele’s frustration as FBI sat on Donald Trump Russia file for months” in The Independent.
Ken Dilanian, Michele Neubert, Cassandra Vinograd and Tracy Connor then published “Christopher Steele, Trump Dossier Author, Is a Real-Life James Bond” in NBC News, which featured an interview with Nigel West. Meanwhile, Sheera Frenkel published the article “Spy Agencies Around The World Are Digging Into Trump’s Moscow Ties” in BuzzFeed News.
Due to all these articles, Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner released a joint statement where they announced that the Senate Select Committee On Intelligence would open an investigation into Russian intelligence activities during the 2016 United States presidential election.
On January 14, 2017, Nick Pisa published the article “IT’S JUST GOSSIP Ex-MI6 spy Christopher Steele charged £130,000 for Trump ‘dirty dossier’ and ‘sexed it up to please the people paying him’” in The Sun.
Meanwhile, Natasha Bertrand published the article “Report: CIA set up task-force in 2016 to investigate possible Russian funding of Trump’s campaign” in Business Insider, which featured a mention that Senator Harry Reid had acquired his own copy of the Steele dossier.
The next day, on January 15, 2017, Vice President-elect Mike Pence started to appear in television interviews, where he said that Flynn did not speak about sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak. At the same time, Reince Priebus appeared on NBC News and said the same thing.
Priebus also appeared on ABC News’s “This Week”, where he was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos. Priebus mentioned during the interview that President-elect Trump had no intention of removing Director Comey from his position as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Two days later, on January 17, 2017, Georgi Gotev and James Crisp published the article “Author of Trump’s dirty dossier ‘had UK agencies’ among his clients” in EURACTIV.
On January 18, 2017, Peter Stone and Greg Gordon published the article “FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump” in McClatchy.
The next day, on January 19, 2017, Michael S. Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo — with contributions from Jonathan Martin — published the article “Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates” in The New York Times.
Lisa Page and Special Agent Strzok then texted each other about an article in The New York Times, which had undermined the credibility of an item or an investigation, which frustrated the two of them.
Meanwhile, Miriam Elder attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. David Corn published the article “Investigators on the Trump-Russia Beat Should Talk to This Man” in Mother Jones, which was about Sergei Millian.
Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017.
On January 22, 2017, Carol E. Lee, Devlin Barrett and Shane Harris — with contributions from Paul Sonne and Damian Paletta — published the article “U.S. Eyes Michael Flynn’s Links to Russia” in The Wall Street Journal, which detailed the counterintelligence investigation into the communications between Ambassador Kislyak and Flynn. At the same time, an associate of Brett Kimberlin’s contacted BuzzFeed News to discuss the fake Exxon documents.
It should be noted that Devlin Barrett was used as a vehicle of leaked information from Lisa Page and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
LISA PAGE: “Still on with devlin. Mike’s phone is ON FIRE.”
PETER STRZOK: “You may want to tell Devlin he should turn on CNN, there’s news going on.”
LISA PAGE: “He knows. He just got handed a note.”
PETER STRZOK: “Ha. He asking about it now?”
LISA PAGE: “Yeah. It was pretty funny.”
The next day, on January 23, 2017, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller published the article “FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit” in The Washington Post.
On Tuesday, January 24, 2017, Mark Maremont published two articles — “Key Claims in Trump Dossier Said to Come From Head of Russian-American Business Group” and “Alleged Source of Claims in Trump Dossier Joined Trip That Drew FBI Scrutiny” — in The Wall Street Journal, which outed and expanded on Sergei Millian.
Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman published the article “Trump Is Said to Keep James Comey as F.B.I. Director” in The New York Times.
A few days later, on January 27, 2017, Scott Shane, David E. Sanger and Andrew E. Kramer — with contributions from Adam Goldman — published the article “Russians Charged With Treason Worked in Office Linked to Election Hacking” in The New York Times. This article was then texted about by Special Agent Strzok to Lisa Page with two words: “It begins…”
On January 30, 2017, Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk published the article “US-Russian Businessman Said to Be Source of Key Trump Dossier Claims” in ABC News.
It should be noted that Brian Ross was suspended for four weeks on December 2, 2017 from ABC News for an erroneous report he gave on December 1, 2017. A few months later, in July 2018, ABC News severed ties with Brian Ross. Ross was also the same person who interviewed Sergei Millian in July 2016, a few weeks after he had become a source for the Steele memos through an intermediary without his knowledge.
The day after, on January 31, 2017, Will Stewart and Valeria Sukhova published the article “EXCLUSIVE: Russian businessman named as source for spy’s dossier of filthy claims about Trump has asked for U.S. government protection — and was refused” in Daily Mail, which was about Sergei Millian and his family.
In February 2017, Fusion GPS ceased their payments to three unknown journalists. Meanwhile, Carole Cadwalladr started her investigation into Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU, which led to her meeting with Andy Wigmore for coffee to discuss Nigel Farage’s visit to the United States.
It should be noted that Carole Cadwalladr was one of the journalists that attended the Moscow Millionaire’s Fair in November 2007, which was the same Millionaire Fair attended by Donald Trump and Sergei Millian.
On February 2, 2017, Vivian Salama — with contributions from Mark Stevenson — published the article “Trump to Mexico: Take care of ‘bad hombres’ or US might” in The Associated Press, while Greg Miller and Philip Rucker — with contributions from A. Odysseus Patrick — published “‘This was the worst call by far’: Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader” in The Washington Post.
On February 6, 2017, Jason Leopold officially started to work at BuzzFeed News.
Two days later, on February 8, 2017, Flynn was interviewed by reporters at The Washington Post, where Flynn denied discussing sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak.
The next day, on February 9, 2017, Flynn’s spokesperson contacted the reporters at The Washington Post and suggested that Flynn could not be certain if a discussion about sanctions came up in his conversations with Ambassador Kislyak.
Meanwhile, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo — with contributions from Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt — published the article “Flynn Is Said to Have Talked to Russians About Sanctions Before Trump Took Office” in The New York Times. At the same time, Jonathan Landay and David Rohde published “Exclusive: In call with Putin, Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty” in Reuters.
On February 10, 2017, Jim Sciutto and Evan Perez — with contributions from Pamela Brown and Marshall Cohen — published the article “US investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russian dossier” in CNN.
On the day of Flynn’s resignation, on February 13, 2017, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Philip Rucker — with contributions from Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller — published the article “Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say” in The Washington Post.
The next day, on February 14, 2017, Richard Pollock published the article “EXCLUSIVE: In Final Interview, Defiant Flynn Insists He Crossed No Lines, Leakers Must Be Prosecuted” in The Daily Caller, as Brian Stelter published “How leaks and investigative journalists led to Flynn’s resignation” in CNN.
At the same time, Peter Baker, Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, Adam Goldman and Julie Hirschfeld Davis — with contributions from Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt — published “Flynn’s Downfall Sprang From ‘Eroding Levels of Trust’” in The New York Times.
It should be noted that Maggie Haberman’s father-in-law is Vartan Gregorian, the President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and an attendee of the Clinton Global Initiative meetings. Vartan is also a founder of the 100 Lives Foundation, alongside Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan. Ruben Vardanyan was appointed to a Russian economic modernisation council by President Vladimir Putin and formerly assisted with Don Cheadle’s Not On Our Watch organisation. Ruben also served on the board of Joule Unlimited with John Podesta in 2011.
Special Agent Strzok texted Lisa Page that Joshua Campbell was in touch with reporters from The New York Times about the article “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence”, which was subsequently published by Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo.
It should be noted that Joshua Campbell eventually publicly resigned from the Federal Bureau of Investigation through an opinion piece in The New York Times on February 2, 2018, similar to Ned Price’s own resignation through The Washington Post on February 20, 2017. They are also friends.
In mid-February 2017, The Washington Post officially decided that the Exxon documents were forgeries.
The day after, on February 15, 2017, Reince Priebus met and discussed with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe the article “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence”, where Deputy Director McCabe disputed the report but did not say that any actions would be taken to handle it.
Afterwards, Deputy Director McCabe contacted Priebus via telephone, where he declined to publish a statement about the story. Shortly after, Director Comey contacted Priebus via telephone to discuss potentially leaking a rebuttal story, which Director Comey disagreed with.
Kevin G. Hall, Peter Stone, Greg Gordon and David Goldstein then published the article “Russian diplomat under U.S. scrutiny in election meddling speaks” in McClatchy.
On February 16, 2017, Evan Perez published the article “Flynn changed story to FBI, no charges expected” in CNN.
The same day, President Trump hosted a press conference during the nomination for the next United States Secretary of Labor.
“Well, the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake. So one thing that I felt it was very important to do — and I hope we can correct it. Gecause there’s nobody I have more respect for — well, maybe a little bit but the reporters, good reporters.” — President Donald Trump
On February 19, 2017, Megan Twohey and Scott Shane — with contributions from Michael Schwirtz — published the article “A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates” in The New York Times.
On February 22, 2017, Christopher Miller interviewed Konstantin Kilimnik at an Italian restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine.
The next day, on February 23, 2017, Jim Sciutto, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, Manu Raju and Pamela Brown published the article “FBI refused White House request to knock down recent Trump-Russia stories” in CNN, while Christopher Miller published his interview with Kilimnik, “Who Is Paul Manafort’s Man In Kyiv? An Interview With Konstantin Kilimnik” in RadioFreeEurope.
On February 27, 2017, Ali Watkins published the article “The Senate Intelligence Committee Found Itself Shaken With One Phone Call” in BuzzFeed News.
On the final day of February, February 28, Evan McMullin published the article “Evan McMullin: Conservatives, stop caving to Trump on liberty” in CNN.
In March 2017, Roger Stone was interviewed by Randy Credico on WBAI, where they discussed the WikiLeaks back channel.
On March 1, 2017, Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt — with contributions from Matt Apuzzo, Charlie Savage and Mark Mazzetti — published the article “Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking” in The New York Times.
The next day, on March 2, 2017, Kim Sengupta published the article “Exclusive: US Senate calls on British spy Christopher Steele to give evidence on explosive Trump-Russia dossier” in The Independent. Elsewhere, Steve Reilly published “Exclusive: Two other Trump advisers also spoke with Russian envoy during GOP convention” in USA Today.
The same day, Mark Levin discussed the Obama Administration’s collusion with the mainstream media on his evening show to undermine the Trump Administration.
On March 3, 2017, President Trump formulated a plan to fight against the leak culture within the Trump Administration.
The next day, on March 4, 2017, President Trump tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” This was followed with, “Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” And then, “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
On March 5, 2017, James Clapper was interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” by Chuck Todd, where he said he did not see any wiretap activity done to any member of the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
“That assertion was in line with previous statements by Obama administration officials, including James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, who said during a March 5 appearance on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that the surveillance court issued no warrants either for the president or his campaign staff.
‘For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as D.N.I., there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,’ Mr. Clapper said.” — NBC News
On March 7, 2017, Kevin G. Hall, Adam Bell, Rick Rothacker and Greg Gordon published the article “Trump, Russian billionaire say they’ve never met, but their jets did — in Charlotte” in McClatchy.
Meanwhile, Representative Adam Schiff was interviewed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, where he said he was open to interviewing Christopher Steele, either in front of the House Intelligence Committee or with him directly.
On March 8, 2017, William Bastone published the article “Roger Stone’s Russian Hacking ‘Hero’” in The Smoking Gun.
The next day, on March 9, 2017, James Clapper was interviewed on NBC News’s “Meet the Press”. Ali Watkins then published the article “Inside The Investigation To Get To The Bottom Of Russia’s Role In The Election” in BuzzFeed News, which discussed the role of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Separately, Pamela Brown and Jose Pagliery published the article “Sources: FBI investigation continues into ‘odd’ computer link between Russian bank and Trump Organization” in CNN.
On March 10, 2017, Andrew Blake published the article “Roger Stone, Trump confidant, acknowledges ‘innocuous’ Twitter conversation with DNC hackers” in The Washington Times, which was in relation to Roger Stone’s “ROGER STONE: THE SMOKING GUN AIMS, FIRES, MISSES” in Stone Cold Truth. Ben Mathis-Lilley, meanwhile, published “Trump Adviser Admits to Private Communication With Account Linked to Russian Election Hackers” in Slate.
Tim Meekel — with contributions from Tim Stuhldreher — then published “FBI gets Lititz firm’s help in probe of Russian bank’s ‘odd’ interest in Trump Hotels marketing mails” in Lancaster Online. Ali Watkins then published “Former Trump Adviser Carter Page Is Offering To Help The Senate Investigate Russia” in BuzzFeed News.
CNN decided to bolster the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence department shortly after, with the article “The super-secret division in charge of the Russia investigation”, written by Scott Glover, Pamela Brown and Shimon Prokupecz.
On March 14, 2017, Andrew Napolitano appeared on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends”, where he claimed three intelligence sources informed him that President Obama used GCHQ to spy on the Trump campaign.
“Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano believes former President Barack Obama might have gone ‘outside the chain of command’ in order to spy on then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
During a Tuesday morning appearance on Fox News’ ‘Fox and Friends,’ Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, made the bombshell claim that ‘three intelligence sources’ told the network that Obama used GCHQ, a British intel agency, to spy on the Trump campaign in order to avoid any record of the alleged wiretapping.
‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice,’ Napolitano said. ‘He used GCHQ.’
According to the Fox analyst, GCHQ has ’24-hour access’ to the NSA’s database.
‘So by simply having two people go to them saying, ‘President Obama needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump, conversations involving President-elect Trump, he’s able to get it,’ Napolitano told host Brian Kilmeade. ‘And there’s no American fingerprints on this.’” — The Blaze
Mike Moore then published the article “EXCLUSIVE: FBI’s Own Political Terror Plot; Deputy Director and FBI Brass Secretly Conspired to Wage Coup Against Flynn & Trump” in True Pundit.
On March 15, 2017, Ali Watkins published the article “Former Top Trump Adviser Mike Flynn Was Investigated By The FBI, Source Says” in BuzzFeed News.
Representative Schiff and Representative Devin Nunes sent a letter to Director James Comey, Director Mike Rogers and Director Mike Pompeo to request information on leaks of classified information and potential unmasking of American citizens to be collected by March 17, 2017.
On March 16, 2017, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger — with contributions from Greg Miller — published the article “Trump adviser Flynn paid by multiple Russia-related entities, new records show” in The Washington Post.
Before March 17, 2017, the Penn Quarter Group worked with Reuters to create the article “Russian elite invested nearly 0 million in Trump buildings”, which was subsequently published on March 17 by Nathan Layne, Ned Parker, Svetlana Reiter, Stephen Grey and Ryan McNeill.
The same day, Special Agent texted Lisa Page that employees on Capitol Hill were leaking information to The Washington Post in preparation for Director Comey’s testimony on March 20, 2017.
After March 17, 2017, Special Agent Strzok texted Lisa Page about the leak investigation, where he hoped that the people at the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be ignored, while people at the White House and the United States Department of Justice would be targeted.
On March 18, 2017, Carol E. Lee, Rob Barry, Shane Harris and Christopher S. Stewart published the article “Mike Flynn Didn’t Report 2014 Interaction With Russian-British National” in The Wall Street Journal, where one of the sources was Stefan Halper.
Before March 20, 2017, the Penn Quarter Group worked with McClatchy to create the article “FBI’s Russia-influence probe includes a look at Breitbart, InfoWars news sites”, which was subsequently published by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon on March 20.
The day after, on March 21, 2017, Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk published the article “Russian mafia boss still at large after FBI wiretap at Trump Tower” in ABC News, while Chuck Ross published “Former DNC Official Partnered with Convicted Bomb Maker to Investigate Trump” in The Daily Caller.
On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Jim Sciutto — with contributions from Jeremy Diamond — published the article “US officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians” in CNN. Meanwhile, Jose Pagliery published “Russian bank sends threatening letter to computer scientist who called for Trump investigation” in CNN.
In the evening, Representative Schiff was interviewed by Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press”, where the Representative claimed that there was more than circumstantial evidence which proved that President Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia during the presidential election.
“The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee claimed Wednesday evening that he has seen ‘more than circumstantial evidence’ that associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russia while the Kremlin attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Ranking Member on the committee, was asked by Chuck Todd on ‘Meet The Press Daily’ whether or not he only has a circumstantial case.
‘Actually no, Chuck,’ he said. ‘I can tell you that the case is more than that and I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now.’” — NBC News
On March 23, 2017, Evelyn Farkwas was interviewed by Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”.
EVELYN FARKAS: “I was- I was urging my former colleagues and- and- frankly speaking, the people on the Hill- it was more actually aimed- aimed at telling the Hill people: ‘Get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the Administration’. Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people who left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy, um, that the Trump folks, that they found out how what we knew what we knew about their — the staff, the Trump staff’s dealing with Russians — that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia. So then I had talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew that they were trying to also help get information to the Hill.”
As a reminder:
“Judicial Watch today released two sets of heavily redacted State Department documents, 38 pages and 48 pages, showing classified information was researched and disseminated to multiple U.S. Senators by the Obama administration immediately prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The documents reveal that among those receiving the classified documents were Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Sen. Robert Corker (R-TN).”
“The documents reveal the Obama State Department urgently gathering classified Russia investigation information and disseminating it to members of Congress within hours of Donald Trump taking office.” — Judicial Watch, December 14, 2018
Meanwhile, Kevin G. Hall and Tim Johnson published the article “Russian techie says the FBI still hasn’t called, and now he’s back in the news” in McClatchy.
Two days later, on March 25, 2017, Maggie Haberman published the article “Boris Epshteyn, Trump TV Surrogate, Is Leaving White House Job” in The New York Times.
On March 28, 2017, Daniel J. Jones met with agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he discussed Penn Quarter Group’s role in exposing foreign influence in western elections, the funding of Penn Quarter Group by 7–10 wealthy donors in New York and California for approximately million, and that the services of Steele, Fusion GPS and [REDACTED] had been retained by his organisation. He then elaborated and said that the plans were to provide information to policymakers on Capitol Hill, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the mainstream media, which was already in effect.
On March 29, 2017, Ken Dilanian, Tom Winter and Kenzi Abou-Sabe published the article “Ex-Trump Aide Manafort Bought New York Homes With Cash” in NBC News.
Later, Dilanian published “Senate Intel Committee May Interview Ex-UK Spy Christopher Steele” in NBC News, which discussed Steele’s ongoing negotiations with the Senate Intelligence Committee and his reluctance to meet with them due to safety concerns. Gloria Borger then published the article “Source: Kushner meeting with Russian bank exec was effort to ‘engage with’ Russia” in CNN.
On March 30, 2017, Evelyn Farkas contacted The Daily Caller to clarify her remarks made on March 23. Paul Wood then published “Trump Russia dossier key claim ‘verified’” in BBC News, while Matthew Rosenberg, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman — with contributions from Mark Mazzetti, Matt Apuzzo and Emmarie Huetteman — published “2 White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports” in The New York Times.
In April 2017, Eric Lichtblau left his position as a reporter at The New York Times.
On April 1, 2017, Louise Mensch published the article “Alfa Bank, Trump Tower and a Social Media Impeachment” in Patribotics.
The next day, on April 2, 2017, David J. Lynch published the article “FBI plans to create special unit to co-ordinate Russia probe” in The Financial Times, while Mike Cernovich published the article “Susan Rice Requested Unmasking of Incoming Trump Administration Officials” in Medium.
On April 3, 2017, James A. Wolfe and Ali Watkins contacted each other numerous times, exchanging roughly 124 electronic communications. Shortly after, Watkins published “A Former Trump Adviser Met With A Russian Spy” in BuzzFeed News, which detailed Carter Page’s encounter with Russian intelligence in 2013.
Watkins and Wolfe then engaged in a 7-minute conversation, followed by Watkins being interviewed on the day by Rachel Maddow about the article. Another 90 minutes after the interview, and Watkins and Wolfe spoke to each other again for 15 minutes. Carter Page would later confirm his encounter with Evgeny Buryakov in an interview with Brian Ross at ABC News.
Meanwhile, Ritums Rozenbergs and Uldis Dreiblats published the article “KNAB gribejis nonpratinat Donaldu Trampu” in NRA, which discussed Latvian authorities being interested in President Trump. The Wall Street Journal then published “Susan Rice Unmasked”, which confirmed that Susan had unmasked one member of President Trump’s transition team between November 8, 2016 to January 20, 2017.
On April 4, 2017, Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk published the article “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page targeted for recruitment by Russian spies” in ABC News. At the same time, Susan Rice was interviewed by Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports”, where she denied improperly unmasking members of the Trump transition team.
On April 6, 2017, reporters at The Wall Street Journal contacted Adam Waldman and asked whether he was Steele’s intermediary for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Waldman warned Senator Mark Warner about shortly after.
Will Stewart then published the article “EXCLUSIVE: Did the CIA have a mole at the heart of Putin’s hacking operation for years? Russians charge spy colonel with treason, find m in his house — then discover his identity is fake” in Daily Mail.
On April 10, 2017, Special Agent Strzok texted Lisa Page to discuss a media leak strategy.
The next day, on April 11, 2017, Ellen Nakashima, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous published the article “FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page” in The Washington Post. Around this time, Nakashima was in touch with James A. Wolfe, a relationship that had begun around December 2015.
This was then followed by Jim Sciutto, Manu Raju and Eric Bradner publishing the article “CNN Exclusive: Classified docs contradict Nunes surveilance claims, GOP and Dem sources say” in CNN.
On April 12, 2017, President Trump was interviewed by Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business, where he said that he had confidence in Director Comey but kept his options open for dismissing him from the position. Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo — with contributions from Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt — then published “Court Approved Wiretap on Trump Campaign Aide Over Russia Ties” in The New York Times, which Special Agent Strzok then texted Lisa Page about.
“April 12, 2017: Peter Strzok congratulates Lisa Page on a job well done while referring to two derogatory articles about Carter Page. In the text,Strzok warns Page two articles are coming out, one which is ‘worse’ than the other about Lisa’s ‘namesake’. Strzok added: ‘Well done, Page.’” — Sara Carter
Jack Gillum, Chad Day and Jeff Horwitz published the article “AP Exclusive: Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout” in The Associated Press.
On April 13, 2017, Luke Harding, Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Nick Hopkins published the article “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia” in The Guardian.
The next day, on April 14, 2017, Sir Richard Dearlove was interviewed by Prospect Magazine, where he claimed that President Trump had borrowed funds from Russia during the 2008 United States financial crisis. Meanwhile, Special Agent Strzok texted Lisa Page about the recent stories in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian.
“Strzok wrote, ‘Also, apparently Times is angry with us about the WP (Washington Post) scoop and earlier discussion we had about the Schmidt piece that had so many inaccuracies. Too much to detail here, but I told Mike (redacted) and Andy they need to understand we were absolutely dealing in good faith with them,’ Strzok texted to Page on April 14, 2017. ‘The FISA one, coupled with the Guardian piece from yesterday.’ (The New York Times did not respond immediately for comment. The Washington Post also did not respond immediately for comment.)” — Sara Carter
On April 19, 2017, Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott — with contributions from Warren Strobel and Arshad Mohammed — published the article “Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US election” in Reuters. Meanwhile, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Manu Raju — with contributions from Pamela Brown and Marshall Cohen — published “FBI used dossier allegations to bolster Trump-Russia investigation” in CNN.
On April 20, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that leaks had become a priority to the United States Department of Justice. The same day, Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz and Eric Bradner — with contributions from Laura Jarrett — published “Sources: US prepares charges to seek arrest of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange” in CNN.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference Thursday that Assange’s arrest is a ‘priority.’
‘We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,’ he said. ‘This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.’” — CNN
On April 21, 2017, Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz, Jim Sciutto and Marshall Cohen published the article “Sources: Russia tried to use Trump advisers to infiltrate campaign” in CNN.
On April 22, 2017, Special Agent Strzok texted Lisa Page to congratulate her on the release of an article about Carter Page.
The same day, Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman and Eric Lichtblau — with contributions from Emily Buamgaertner, Mark Landler and Kitty Bennett — published “Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election.” in The New York Times.
On April 25, 2017, the United States Senate confirmed Rod Rosenstein to become the next Deputy Attorney General of the United States at a vote of 94–6.
Two days later, on April 27, 2017, Special Agent Strzok and Lisa Page texted each other about providing access to the mainstream media for an article.
In May 2017, Reality Winner printed a document from the National Security Agency which detailed Russian cyber attack operations on how they hacked a voting equipment vendor in Florida and their attempts to break into local election systems during the 2016 presidential election.
On May 2, 2017, Jim Sciutto, Manu Raju and Pamela Brown — with contributions from Gloria Borger — published the article “Sources: Former Acting AG Yates to contradict administration about Flynn at hearing” in CNN.
On May 3, 2017, Director Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he stated that he had never authorised anybody to be a source in news reports about either the Midyear Exam investigation nor the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. After the testimony, President Trump decided to fire Director Comey.
SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY: “Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?”
DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: “Never.”
SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY: “Question two, relatively related, have you ever authorised someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?”
DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: “No.”
SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY: “Has any classified information relating to President Trump or his association — associates been declassified and shared with the media?”
DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: “Not to my knowledge.”
On May 5, 2017, Anthony Cormier published the article “This Is The Inside Of Trump’s Lawyer’s Passport” in BuzzFeed News.
On Monday, May 8, 2017, Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube published the article “Flynn Never Told DIA That Russians Paid Him, Say Officials” in NBC News, followed by Kristen Welker, Dafna Linzer and Dilanian publishing the article “Obama Warned Trump Against Hiring Mike Flynn, Say Officials”, also in NBC News.
The next day, on May 9, 2017, the day of the dismissal of Director James Comey, Mike Levine and Pierre Thomas published the article “Officials fear Russia could try to target US through popular software firm under FBI scrutiny” in ABC News, which was about Kaspersky Lab.
On May 10, 2017, President Trump tweeted: “The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false — Fake News. Have not spoken to Roger in a long time — had nothing to do with my decision.” Meanwhile, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown published the article “CNN exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI’s Russia investigation” in CNN.
On May 11, 2017, the exclusive interview between President Trump and NBC News’s Lester Holt was aired, while Mike Levine — with contributions from Pierre Thomas — published “Russian firm under FBI scrutiny offers to help any federal investigation” in ABC News, which was again about Kaspersky Lab.
Michael S. Schmidt — with contributions from Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman — also published “In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.” in The New York Times, having received the information from James Comey’s friend, Daniel Richman.
On May 12, 2017, President Trump tweeted: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Betsy Woodruff and Jana Winter, meanwhile, published the article “FBI Agents Worry White House Will Kneecap Russia Probe” in The Daily Beast.
Three days later, on May 15, 2017, William Finnegan published the article “Taking Down Terrorists In Court” in The New Yorker, which was an expose on Zainab Ahmad and her career.
Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe — with contributions from Julie Tate and Ellen Nakashima — would then publish “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador” in The Washington Post.
The same day, Special Agent Strzok texted Lisa Page about the Washington Post’s article: “And WP push reporting T disclosed highly classified foreign govt info to Russians last week re CT threat…”
The next day, on May 16, 2017, Special Agent Strzok texted Lisa Page: “Nyt push”. On the day, Michael S. Schmidt — with contributions from Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman — published “Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation” in The New York Times. Meanwhile, Richard Pollock published “Exclusive: Clapper’s Intel ‘Reforms’ Helped Rice ‘Unmask’ Americans” in The Daily Caller.
On May 17, 2017, Adam Entous published the article “House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump” in The Washington Post. At the same time, Matthew Rosenberg and Mark Mazzetti — with contributions from Matt Apuzzo — published “Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House” in The New York Times.
And then Mueller was hired.
And that’s that.
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