Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby Rory » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:13 pm ... ssia-gate/

The Missing Logic of Russia-gate
March 20, 2017

Exclusive: Russia-bashing and innuendos about disloyal Americans were all the rage at Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing on alleged Russian “hacking” of the presidential election, but logic is often missing, says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

As Rep. Adam Schiff tries out for the lead role in a remake of the Joe McCarthy hearings by maligning specific Americans as suspected Russian moles, some of the actual evidence argues against the Democratic notion that the Russians own President Trump and other key Republicans.

Retired U.S. Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn at a campaign rally for Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Oct. 29, 2016. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

For instance, last week, Democrats circulated a report showing that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who served briefly as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, had received payments from several Russia-related entities, totaling nearly $68,000.

The largest payment of $45,386 came for a speech and an appearance in Moscow in 2015 at the tenth anniversary dinner for RT, the international Russian TV network, with Flynn netting $33,750 after his speakers’ bureau took its cut. Democrats treated this revelation as important evidence about Russia buying influence in the Trump campaign and White House. But the actual evidence suggests something quite different.

Not only was the sum a relative trifle for a former senior U.S. government official compared to, say, the fees collected by Bill and Hillary Clinton, who often pulled in six to ten times more, especially for speeches to foreign audiences. (Former President Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin, The New York Times reported in 2015,)

Yet, besides Flynn’s relatively modest speaking fee, The Washington Post reported that RT negotiated Flynn’s rate downward.

Deep inside its article on Flynn’s Russia-connected payments, the Post wrote, “RT balked at paying Flynn’s original asking price. ‘Sorry it took us longer to get back to you but the problem is that the speaking fee is a bit too high and exceeds our budget at the moment,’ Alina Mikhaleva, RT’s head of marketing, wrote a Flynn associate about a month before the event.”

So, if you accept the Democrats’ narrative that Russian President Vladimir Putin is engaged in an all-out splurge to induce influential Americans to betray their country, how do you explain that his supposed flunkies at RT are quibbling with Flynn over a relatively modest speaking fee?

Wouldn’t you think that Putin would have told RT’s marketing department that the sky was the limit in paying off Flynn because the ever-prescient Russian president knew from his Ouija board in 2015 that Flynn would be the future national security adviser under President Trump?

After all, it’s become one of Official Washington’s favorite groupthinks that RT is nothing but a Russian propaganda front designed to destroy the faith that Americans have in their democratic process – as if the sleazy and shameful political campaigns financed with hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires need any help from RT.

Anti-Democracy Debates

But RT-bashing is always in season. The Director of National Intelligence’s report on Jan. 6, with its evidence-free “assessments” that Russia was engaged in undermining American democracy included a seven-page appendix dating from 2012 that described how RT was contributing toward that goal by portraying “the US electoral process as undemocratic.”

Jill Stein and Michael Flynn attending a dinner marking the RT network’s 10-year anniversary in Moscow, December 2015, sitting at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The “proof” behind the DNI’s accusation included RT’s articles on “voting machine vulnerabilities” although virtually every major U.S. news organizations ran similar stories in that time frame. The DNI report also took RT to task for covering the Occupy Wall Street movement and for reporting on the environmental dangers from “fracking,” topics cited as further proof that the Russian government was using RT to weaken U.S. public support for Washington’s policies (although, again, these are topics of genuine public interest).

To further demonstrate how RT was carrying out the Kremlin’s goal of spoiling Americans’ faith in the U.S. democratic process, the DNI report noted that “RT broadcast, hosted and advertised third-party candidate debates.”

Apparently, the DNI’s point was that showing Americans that there are choices beyond the two major parties was somehow seditious. “The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham,’” the DNI’s report said.

Yet, polls have shown that large numbers of Americans would prefer more choices than the usual two candidates and, indeed, most Western democracies have multiple parties. But somehow RT’s suggestion that other voices should be heard constituted an assault on American democracy.

As for Flynn, the report on his finances showed that he also received payments of $11,250 from the U.S. subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cyber-security firm, and $11,250 from a U.S. air cargo company associated with the Volga-Dnepr Group, owned by a Russian businessman.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, who was the chief defender of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was subjected to the Republicans’ over-the-top Benghazi investigations, switched positions in publicizing the news about Flynn’s post-government work related to Russia. Cummings was suddenly the accuser.

”I cannot recall any time in our nation’s history when the President selected as his National Security Advisor someone who violated the Constitution by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from an agent of a global adversary that attacked out democracy,” Cummings wrote in a letter to President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and FBI Director James Comey.

Heating Up the New Cold War

Cummings thus became another Democrat pouring gasoline on the smoldering tensions between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. For the Democrats, any dealing with any entity that had some connection to Russia is now prima facie evidence of disloyalty.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California

The context of these contacts has become almost irrelevant, subordinated to the larger goal of ousting Trump, whatever the cost, even transforming the Democratic Party into the party of the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism.

Yet, further undercutting the new certainty that Putin lined Trump’s pockets with rubles as a way to ensure his allegiance to the Kremlin is the story of Trump’s failed luxury hotel project intended to be built in Moscow several years ago.

A source familiar with those negotiations told me that Trump had hoped to get a half interest in the $2 billion project but that Russian-Israeli investor Mikhail Fridman, a founder of Russia’s Alfa Bank, balked because Trump was unwilling to commit a significant investment beyond the branding value of the Trump name.

Again, if the Democratic narrative is to be believed – that Putin controls all the businesses in Russia and wanted to pay off Trump – it’s hard to understand why the hotel deal fell through. Or, for that matter, why RT was nickel-and-diming Flynn.

The other problem with the Democratic narrative is that it always assumes that Putin could foretell that Trump would rise in 2016 to win the U.S. presidential election and thus there was value in corrupting Trump and his entourage with money and other favors.

The fact that almost no political pundit in the United States shared that prediction even last year would seem to demonstrate the kookiness of the Democratic assumptions and the flaws in the U.S. Intelligence Community’s “assessments” about alleged Russian “hacking” and distribution of Democratic emails.

Those “assessments” also assume that Putin’s motives were to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign, boost Trump and – as FBI Director Comey added on Monday – turn Americans against their democracy.

But there is a counter-argument to that thinking: Assuming that Putin read the polls like everyone else, would he risk infuriating the likely next President of the United States – Hillary Clinton – by embarrassing her with an email leak that would amount to a pinprick? Clinton herself blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director Comey’s decision to briefly reopen the investigation into whether she endangered national security by using a private email server as Secretary of State.

Unless one assumes that Putin’s Ouija board also predicted Comey’s actions or perhaps that Comey is another Russian mole, wouldn’t it be a huge risk for Putin to anger Clinton without ensuring her defeat? There’s the old saying that “if you strike a king, you must kill him,” which would seem to apply equally to a queen. But logical thinking no longer applies to what’s going on in Official Washington.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:20 pm

are you going to the rally in Louisville tonight Rory?

this is the headline of the day

the FBI is investigating a sitting presidents campaign

Charles P. Pierce‏Verified account

Dear America: Your president is under investigation by the FBI counterintelligence spooks. This is not normal.

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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:21 pm

Analysis: FBI bombshell creates 'a big gray cloud' over Trump's White House
Susan Page , USA TODAY Published 3:48 p.m. ET March 20, 2017 | Updated 23 minutes a

FBI Director James Comey is publicly confirming for the first time that the FBI is investigating Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. (March 20) AP

WASHINGTON — Not since Watergate.

FBI Director James Comey delivered more than one bombshell at a rare public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee Monday. He said there was no evidence to back up President Trump's accusation that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, joining congressional leaders and intelligence officials in discounting Trump's unsubstantiated claims.

What was more explosive, though, was Comey's matter-of-fact confirmation that the FBI is investigating whether Trump associates colluded with Russia in the effort by one of the United States' leading global adversaries to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign.

To be sure, the FBI in recent years has been drawn into investigations involving the top ranks of the White House, from Scooter Libby's leaking of a CIA operative's name during the George W. Bush administration to President Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. But not since the Watergate scandal that forced President Richard Nixon to resign more than a half-century ago has there been an official investigation of such potential consequence.

"The charges involved are more serious than anything we’ve seen in recent decades," says political historian Matthew Dallek, a professor at George Washington University and author of Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security. "That is far from a lone instance of an illegal leak or a president fudging the truth under oath about sex with a White House intern. While we obviously don’t know what evidence the FBI has assembled and whether anybody will ever be charged with a crime, the scope of the investigation appears to encompass at least several of Trump’s chief advisers and perhaps Trump himself."

The disclosure creates complications for the Trump Justice Department in overseeing the probe and is sure to fuel Democratic arguments that an independent counsel needs to be named. While Comey declined to outline a timetable for the FBI inquiry, questions about whether some in the Trump team coordinated with Moscow's meddling are all but certain to hang over the administration for months or even years.

Just ask veterans of the Iran-contra investigation in the Reagan White House or of the Monica Lewinsky investigation in the Clinton White House the sort of shadow they can cast.

Comey promised that the FBI would "follow the facts wherever they lead" — including whether any crimes were committed. Because of extraordinary public interest, he said Justice Department officials had authorized him to take the unusual step of commenting on an active counterintelligence investigation.

“If the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime," California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the panel, said in his opening statement. "It would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history."

After more than five hours of testimony, Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., closed the hearing with an almost anguished plea to Comey to finish the investigation as soon as possible. "The longer this hangs out here, the bigger the cloud is," he said. "There is a big gray cloud that you have now put over people who have very important work to do to lead this country."

The White House dismissed the whole idea as preposterous.

"James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia," Trump declared in a the first of a string of early-morning tweets Monday on his personal Twitter account, @realdonaldtrump. "This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!" He declared: "The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign."

Then he tweeted: "The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!"

That was advice Nunes and other Republicans on the committee took, asking more questions about who might have leaked information to news organizations than they did about the substance of the information that was leaked. They focused in particular on the disclosure that a phone call by Trump adviser Michael Flynn was captured during surveillance of the Russian ambassador. The law calls for the identify of Americans to be masked when they are caught up in foreign eavesdropping.

"Some of that may rise to the level of a crime," Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said.

There were signs that Trump was watching — and no signs that he was ready to temper his rhetoric.

While Comey was testifying, there was a tweet on the official @POTUS Twitter account. "FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia," it said — suggesting without evidence that the former president himself was behind the leak. Another tweet declared: "The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process."

That wasn't quite what they said, Comey and Rogers told the panel when the tweet was read to them, in what amounted to an awkward fact-checking exchange in real time with their boss. They said they hadn't drawn conclusions on the impact of Moscow's efforts.

Comey did predict that Russia's efforts to disrupt American elections weren't over.

"They’ll be back in 2020," he warned. "They may be back in 2018. And one of the conclusions they may draw ... is they were successful." ... /99411214/

Winners and losers from the James Comey hearing

By Chris Cillizza March 20 at 4:14 PM

FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, a highly anticipated event that yielded confirmation of an investigation into contacts between Donald Trump's campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election.

I watched, tweeted and picked some of the best and worst of the hearing. Here they are:

* Jamey Comey: Comey is an old hand at these sorts of hearings. But he still put on a command performance on Monday. He wanted to make two points: 1) The FBI is investigating connections and possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian intelligence officials and 2) Zero evidence has been found by either the FBI or the broader Justice Department to support Trump's wiretapping claims. Comey did both — and those were the two main headlines of the day. He also displayed a remarkable ability to walk the very fine line between what he could say and what he should say. The FBI director was polite but firm and totally unwilling to entertain the dozens of hypotheticals thrown at him by members of Congress on both sides.

* Adam Schiff: Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, was the most effective panel member from his party in laying out the Russia case and undermining Trump's wiretapping claims. It wasn't perfect — he went on way too long at the opening of the hearing when everyone and their brother wanted to hear from Comey — but Schiff asked the right questions in a straightforward and intelligible way. His profile has soared amid the ongoing Russia investigation, and his performance on Monday won't slow that rise. The question is what Schiff wants to do next. If Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) decides not to run for reelection in 2018, that might be an opportunity for Schiff to move onto an even bigger stage.

* Trey Gowdy: The South Carolina congressman isn't everyone's cup of tea. He mugs for the cameras, dramatically pauses and, broadly speaking, knows he is performing for a national (cable) audience every second. Those quirks notwithstanding, I thought Gowdy did the best job of scoring points on the question of the illegality of the leaks coming out of the intelligence community — better than Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who chairs the committee. Gowdy also has a sense of humor — about himself and politics more generally — that I thought he showcased nicely, particularly in the waning moments of the very long hearing.

* Elise Stefanik: The Republican from New York is one of the most junior members of the committee. Which means she didn't get first, second or even third cut at questioning Comey or Rogers. In fact, she didn't get to ask her first question until the hearing had gone on for more than four hours. Still, Stefanik was insightful and probing — asking good questions that actually elicited responses from Comey and Rogers. Kudos.

* Donald Trump: During a break in the action around 1 p.m. Eastern time, former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) acknowledged on CNN that the morning had not gone well for the president. Correct. For all of the attempts by Republican members to focus on the potential criminality of the leaking from the intelligence community, the big takeaways — no wiretapping evidence, an ongoing Russia investigation — were bad news for Trump. Perhaps trying to turn things around, he tweeted this around lunchtime:

President Trump ✔ @POTUS
FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia.
11:33 AM - 20 Mar 2017
7,538 7,538 Retweets 15,542 15,542 likes
But Comey did no such thing. He simply didn't comment on a question Gowdy asked him. And Comey had made clear repeatedly during the day that his refusal to answer certain questions should, in no way, be taken as a tacit admission of anything. Which, of course, is exactly what Trump did. Coming out of the hearing, the questions about wiretapping and Russia are going to grow louder. And that's bad for Trump.

* Mike Conaway: The Texas Republican seemed to think he had spotted a crack in Comey's answer about the goal of Russian hacking in the election. Comey, according to Conaway, had said that the goal of the hacking was to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the 2016 election. But Comey had said that the goal was to elect Trump. Boom! Roasted! Except that, as Comey quickly pointed out, there were only two viable candidates running. Meaning that if Russia wanted one to lose, it, by default, wanted the other one to win. Here's a look at Conaway after that Comey answer:

* The media: Comey doesn't seem to think much of us. He repeatedly noted that he sees incorrect reporting about classified information all the time in the media — and chooses not to correct it. Not great. For us.

* Questions that aren't really questions: This hearing was absolutely lousy with these sorts of questions — from members on both sides of the aisle. One example from an unnamed member (mostly because I can't remember who it was): “You are aware that Paul Manafort was a member of Donald Trump's senior campaign staff? And that Manafort has ties to Ukraine? Can you confirm Mr. Manafort is a target of the FBI investigation?”

I mean. Come on. ... bd1050bf70
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:24 pm

so why is there such a huge difference in standards regarding Russia? Their president came to power on the back of a string of false flag bombings perpetrated by the people he used to work for, and he immediately blamed Chechnya and launched a brutal war. He's a mass murdering fascist thug who's enriched himself and his pals along the way (and just legalized domestic abuse), and you people are defending him? Why?

there are as far as I can tell only 2 or 3 people here defending and loving Putin..and I have no reason other than that

why someone would work overtime make it his mission and cheerleading for Trump is really beyond me

Rory » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:27 pm wrote:

President Donald Trump has seen a significant positive shift in his polling numbers according to the latest Morning Consult poll.

For the first time in his presidency, a majority of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing, according to the Morning Consult/POLITICO survey. The president's approval rating is at 52 percent, which is the first time he's cracked the 50-50 mark in this specific survey.


Trump and his trumpsters love Putin ...that's a fact and the reason :)

this post is dedicated to a special friend here :P

I Am A Lover And I Am Loved In Return – President Vladimir Putin

DrEvil » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:24 pm wrote:A quick observation: There is no hard evidence that Russia interfered in the US election, but there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence, and if it wasn't Russia, then who? US intelligence hates Trump with a passion and China are not exactly big fans.

If you look at who benefits it's pretty obvious that Russia is on top of the list of likely suspects:
- Trump didn't have enough nice things to say about Putin and Russia during the campaign, he never said anything bad about them, all the while insulting and lambasting everyone else, including close allies.
- Trump has serious money connections to Russia, possibly including organized crime.
- The hackers behind the DNC hack (Cozy Bear etc.) have also been tied to several other hacks that quite obviously were done by Russian interests, so they were either very skillfully faked or Russians did the deed, and again - who else with that kind of resources would do it?

And finally - the kind of allegations thrown at Russia are routinely thrown at the US government around here, and pretty much everyone takes it as a given that it's true, so why is there such a huge difference in standards regarding Russia? Their president came to power on the back of a string of false flag bombings perpetrated by the people he used to work for, and he immediately blamed Chechnya and launched a brutal war. He's a mass murdering fascist thug who's enriched himself and his pals along the way (and just legalized domestic abuse), and you people are defending him? Why?
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:37 pm

continuing with the transcript

SPEIER: On September 26, he takes a leave of absence from the campaign and then Page publicly supports a relationship with Russia, criticizes U.S. sanctions and NATO's approach to Russia, saying -- and then subsequently says he's divesting his stake in Gazprom in August. In 2014, he writes an article criticizing the U.S. sanctions, praising Sechin in an article and global policy and then rebuked the west for focusing on so-called annexation of Crimea.

In July of 2016, he gives a graduation speech at the new economic school, denies meeting with the prime minister, Christopher Steele, in his dossier, says he met with, again, Igor Sechin, offering a 19 percent interest in Rosneft. It becomes the biggest transfer of public property to private ownership.

Now, Carter Page is a national security adviser to Donald Trump. Do you believe that -- why do we -- I guess, again, here's another company that has had sanctions imposed upon it. Could you again clarify why we impose sanctions on companies?

COMEY: Admiral Rogers did it better than I, so I'm going to (inaudible) him.


ROGERS: I apologize. I don't remember the specifics of my answer, but I'll stand by my answer...

COMEY: Which was excellent.

SPEIER: All right.

I think at that point, I will yield back, Mr. Chair.

SCHIFF: I now yield to Mr. Quigley.

QUIGLEY: Thank you, Mr. Ranking Member.

Gentlemen, thank you for your service. Thank you for being here. We've talked a little bit about the Russian playboook, right? Extortion, bribery, false news, disinformation, they all sound very familiar, correct? Well, as we talk, without thinking about anybody in the United States, just generally the Russian playbook and how it's worked in particularly Eastern Europe and Central Europe, a lot of it involves trying to influence individuals in that country, correct?

ROGERS: Yes. QUIGLEY: So what we've talked about a little bit today seems so -- be sort of a black and white notion of whether there was collusion, but does a Russian active measure attempting to succeed at collusion -- does the person involved have to actually know? I mean, does it have to involve knowing collusion for there to be damage?

COMEY: I can answer generally. In the world of intelligence, oftentimes there are people who are called co-optees, who are acting -- don't realize they're dealing with agents of a foreign power and so are doing things for someone they think is a friend or a business associate, not realizing it's for that -- the foreign government. So it can happen, it's actually quite a frequent technique.

QUIGLEY: Is it beyond that sometimes to include things where the -- the actor doesn't necessarily know what they're doing is helping that other government?

COMEY: Exactly.

QUIGLEY: And what are instances, just examples of what that might include in a generic sense, in Europe and so forth?

COMEY: Oftentimes, a researcher here in the United States may think they're dealing with a peer researcher in a foreign government and not knowing that that researcher is either knowingly or unwittingly passing information to a foreign adversary of the United States.

QUIGLEY: And can you explain and elaborate how this sort of -- problems with defining what collusion is -- the differences that might be involved with explicit or implicit collusion?

COMEY: Collusion is not a term, a legal term of art and it's one I haven't used here today, as we're investigating to see whether there was any coordination between people associated with the campaign...

QUIGLEY: Explicit or implicit coordination?

COMEY: I guess implicit, I -- I would think of it as knowing or unknowing. You can do things to help a foreign nation state, as I said, without realizing that you're dealing with. You think you're helping a buddy, who's a researcher at a university in China and what you're actually doing is passing information that ends up with the Chinese government. That's unwitting, I don't know whether it's same as your implicit.

Explicit would be, you know, I'm sending this stuff to this researcher in China and I'm doing it because I wanna help the Chinese government and I know he's hooked up with the Chinese government.

QUIGLEY: Admiral Rogers, would you give other examples of what you witnessed in your career?

ROGERS: Sometimes, U.S. individuals would be approached by other individuals connected with -- with foreign connections who will misrepresent what not just the researcher, they'll assume an identity if you will, hey I want you to think that I'm actually working for a business, exploring commercial interests, those kinds of things. Create a relationship and then it turns out, there really is no commercial interest, here they're acting as a direct extension of a foreign government...


COMEY: And romance can be a feature. Somebody dating someone to create a close relationship and the U.S. government person thinks that they're in love with this person and -- and vice versa and the other person's actually an agent of a foreign power, that's sort of a classic example.

QUIGLEY: You describe this as naive acquiescence?

COMEY: I don't -- I'm not sure I know what that means, exactly (ph).

ROGERS: I don't know what that really means (ph).

QUIGLEY: You're -- you're going along with it and without really acknowledging, understanding in your mind or being naive about the issue.

COMEY: Sure, that can happen.

ROGERS: Yeah, you see that at times.


Going on to things that you -- you probably can't comment upon which is of equal concern. We're all, at this point, very familiar with Mr. Sessions's testimony before the United States Senate in which he specifically said he had -- he wasn't one who had this contact with the Russians. And then there was the amended, I guess, testimony in which he acknowledged I believe two such testimonies. The first was in July during the convention and then later in September afterwards.

All the while, that the issues that we are talking about today, the hacking, the dumping of materials were taking placing and certainly, someone in the position of Mr. Senator Sessions would've been aware of this. Perhaps, would've remembered these conversations or might've mentioned or asked the Russian ambassador to knock it off. But apparently, none of those things happened or at least he didn't remember that they happened. Unfortunately, what we're reading now is that there was a third meeting as early as April of last year in Washington, D.C., a meeting which Candidate Trump was present and the Russian ambassador was present.

At some point in time, this goes well beyond an innocent, under the best of circumstances, oh I forgot sort of thing, or that doesn't count. When you correct your testimony in front of the United States Senate, you're still under oath and you're swearing to the American people that what you're saying is true. Well, the third time is well beyond that and is quite simply perjury. So as we look at this as we go forward, gentlemen, I ask that you take that into consideration. This is far more than what we have talked about just in the general sense, did the Russians hack or not and the scope of this too, a concerted effort and plan to lie to the American public about what took place and what the motivations were beyond these -- this process. Again, I thank you for your service.

And I yield back to the ranking member.

SCHIFF: I yield to Mr. Swalwell of California.

SWALWELL: Thank you, Director Comey and Admiral Rogers.

Director Comey, you've served time in a courtroom as a prosecutor and I'm wondering if you remember the instruction that is read to juries every day that if you decide that a witness deliberately lied about something significant in this case, you should consider not believing anything that witness says.

COMEY: Yes, that's familiar to me.

SWALWELL: And your testimony at the beginning of this hearing was that President Trump's claims that former President Obama had wiretapped him is false.

COMEY: I said we have no information that supports them.

SWALWELL: Thank you.

With respect to Donald Trump, do you remember the other instruction relating to truthfulness of a witness or a defendant? If the defendant makes a false or misleading statement relating to the charged crime knowing the statement was false or intending to mislead that conduct may also show he or she were aware of their guilt.

COMEY: Yes, familiar to me from my distant past.

SWALWELL: I want talk about the Kremlin playbook and there are a number of ways that a foreign adversary can seek to influence a person, do you agree with that?


SWALWELL: Financial?

COMEY: Yes, that can be one.

SWALWELL: Romance you said is another.


SWALWELL: Compromise?

COMEY: Correct.

SWALWELL: Setting up a compromise? COMEY: Sure, to execute on a compromise, yes.

SWALWELL: How about inadvertently capturing a compromise, meaning they have vast surveillance and you stumble into that surveillance and are caught in compromise?

COMEY: And then they take that information, try and use it to coerce you? Yes, that's part of the playbook.

SWALWELL: I'll yield back, Chair, and continue once I'm back with us. Thank you, Director.

NUNES: Gentleman's time's expired.

We'll go back to Mr. Turner.

TURNER: Thank you.

I want to go back to the issue of -- Admiral Rogers indicated that the goal of the Russians is to put a cloud on our system to undermine our system. And -- and I would think, certainly today, Mr. Comey, with your announcement of an investigation that the Russians would be very happy with that as an outcome because the cloud of their actions and activities continues and will continue to undermine and until your finished with whatever your investigation is currently in the scope of.

I want to go back to the issue of how does one open an investigation because again, I'm -- I'm a little confused by -- by some of the things that we hear as to the basis of an investigation. Now, Mr. Comey, if -- if an individual attends a meeting with a foreign leader is -- is that enough to open a counter intelligence investigation?

COMEY: Without more that somebody met with somebody, no.

TUNER: No. OK. Without more than if they had their picture taken with a foreign leader, is that enough?

COMEY: It would depend upon where they were, who took the picture.

TURNER: Well, assume that they're in would (ph) that -- the foreign country, and in that foreign leaders government offices or facilities, if they're having a picture taken with them, is that enough to open a counterintelligence investigation?

COMEY: It would depend.

TURNER: On -- on what? Because I'm saying if there's just a picture. Because I can tell you certainly there's lots of people who have had lots of pictures.

COMEY: Yeah.

TURNER: Is it enough that a person who has just had their picture taken with a foreign leader at the foreign leaders government official offices or place of residence?

COMEY: The reason I said it depends is it would depend. Did the person sneak over to the foreign country and meet them clandestinely, did -- was the picture -- reveal something else about the relationship? It just hard to...

TUNER: Well, let's say it's not clandestine. Let's say it's open, that the person has -- as -- has attended an event and has gone over to meet with the foreign person, foreign government official and is at their foreign government official facility or their official residence and has a picture taken and has no intention of covertly being present with the foreign person, is that picture enough to open a counterintelligence investigation?

COMEY: Tricky to answer hypotheticals, but I think my reaction to that is that doesn't strike me as enough. And I know your next question's going to be deeper into hypos.

TURNER: No, no, I'm not getting deep into hypos. These are pretty straightforward. So what if you're paid, you know, to attend a conference in a foreign -- in a foreign country and you're paid to attend that conference not directly by the foreign government, but nonetheless payment does occur for you to attend a conference? We know President Bill Clinton attended many such conferences and spoke and received payment.

Is receiving payment by attending to speak at a conference -- again, it's not covert, it's open. They're attending to speak at a conference, they receive payment for the purposes of speaking, is that enough to open a counterintelligence investigation?

COMEY: I can't say as I sit here. It would depend upon a lot of different things.

TURNER: If you had no other information or evidence other than the fact that they attended, is that enough for you, for the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation of a private U.S. citizen?

COMEY: I can't answer the hypothetical because it would depend upon a number of other things.

TURNER: I limited it to where there would be no other things, Mr. Comey. I said only, if the only information that you had was that they had intended an event in which they were paid which was a conference and it was not covert, is that only sufficient information to open an investigation against a private U.S. citizen?

COMEY: Who paid them? Did they disclose it? What did they discuss when they were there? Who else was sitting with them? There's lots and lots of other circumstances that make that -- even that simple-seeming hypo difficult to answer.

TURNER: Well, let's say that they've traveled to a foreign country and they openly traveled, wasn't covert. Is traveling there enough?

COMEY: Just traveling around the world, no.

TURNER: OK, well I'm very concerned, Mr. Comey, about the issue of how an investigation is opened and -- and how we end up at this situation once again where Mr. Clapper, had (ph) the director of national intelligence, just said that when he left there was no evidence of collusion and yet, as Admiral Rogers said, we're sitting now where the Russians' goal is being achieved of causing a cloud or undermining our electoral process. So I certainly hope that you take an expeditious look at what you have undertaken because it affects the heart of our democracy.

Mr. Comey, I have a question against -- again concerning classified information. Now, I know that if I attend a classified briefing and I receive classified information and I go and tell someone that classified information, if I leak it, I release it, then I've committed a crime. But what if someone goes to a classified briefing, walks out of that briefing, and openly lies about the content of that briefing? Because it's unclear to me what happens then.

And it's important because, as you know, this committee and certainly both of you gentlemen have handled a lot of classified information and recently, more recently, the purported classified information is put out in the press, The Washington Post, The New York Times reports information. And you know and I know and we all know, having handled classified information, that some of that information is not true. Are the sources of that classified information, if they come out and lie about the content of classified information, have they committed a crime?

COMEY: That's a really interesting question. I don't think so. If all they've done is lie to a reporter, that's not against the law. If they've done it, I don't wanna break anybody's hearts with that but that's not against the law. But it is not and the reason I'm hesitating is, I can imagine a circumstance where it's part of some broader conspiracy or something, but just that false statement to a reporter is not a crime.

TURNER: And I just wanna underscore that for a -- just for a second, because I agree with you. I think it's no crime. And so every reporter out there that has someone standing in front of them and saying oh, I'm taking this great risk of sharing with you U.S. secrets, besides them purporting to be a traitor, are committing no crime if they lie to them. So all of these news articles that contain this information that we know is not -- not the case, are being done so at damage to the United States but without the risk of a crime.

And my next aspect of your question to Mr. Comey, is this. What is the obligation of the intelligence community to correct such falsehoods? Some of this information that we read in the Washington Post and the New York Times, is extremely false and extremely incendiary and extremely condemning of individuals and certainly, our whole system. What is your obligation, Mr. Comey, to be that source to say I can't release classified information, but I can tell you, it's not that? COMEY: Yeah, it's a great question, Mr. Turner, because there's a whole lot out there that is false. And I suppose some of it could be people lying to reporters. I think that probably happens. But more often than not, it's people who -- who act like they know when they really don't know. Because they're not the people who actually know the secrets, they're one or two hops out and they're passing along (ph) things they think they know.

There is -- we had not only have no obligation to correct that, we can't, because if we start calling reporters and saying hey, this thing you said about this new aircraft we've developed, that's inaccurate actually, it's got two engines. We just can't do that because we'll give information to our adversaries that way and it's very, very frustrating but we can't start down that road. Now, when it's unclassified information, if a reporter misreports the contents of a bill that's being debated in Congress or a policy, we can call him and say hey, you ought to read it more carefully. You missed this or missed that. We cannot do that with classified information.

It's very, very frustrating because I have read a whole lot of stuff, especially in the last two months, this is just wrong. But I can't say which is wrong and I can't say it to those reporters.

TURNER: Mr. Comey, if you could help us on this issue, I would greatly appreciate it because what happens, is that you come into a classified briefing with us and you tell us, perhaps what something that is absolutely false, it really shouldn't be classified because you're telling us it's not true. But yet, we can't go tell it's not true because you told us in a classified setting. If there's a way that we can at least have some exchange as to what's not true so the American people don't listen to false stories in The Washington Post and The New York Times that we all know are not true, that would be helpful.

COMEY: Yeah, I don't...

TURNER: If you could think about how you could help us with that.

COMEY: I'd love to invent that machine, but we can't because where do you stop that on that slope?

TURNER: Well, false is false, Mr. Comey.

COMEY: Because then, when I don't call The New York Times to say you got that one wrong, bingo, they got that one right. And so I -- it's just an enormously complicated endeavor for us. We have to stay clear of it entirely.

TURNER: Thank you, Mr. Comey, one last question. So we all read in the press that Vice President Pence publicly denied that General Flynn discussed sanctions with Russia. And I'm assuming that you saw those news reports. Did the FBI take any action in response to the vice president statements?

COMEY: I can't comment on that, Mr. Turner.

TURNER: Mr. Comey, The New York Times reported on February 14th, 2017, that General Flynn was interviewed by FBI personnel. Is that correct?

COMEY: I can't comment on that, Mr. Turner.

TURNER: Mr. Comey, I do not have any additional questions, but I thank you both for your participation. And again, I thank for the -- the chairman and ranking member for the bipartisan aspect of this investigation.

NUNES: Gentleman yields back.

Dr. Wenstrup is recognized.

WENSTRUP: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you gentlemen for being here, I appreciate your endurance in this effort today. One question, how long has Russia or the Soviet Union been interfering or attempting to interfere with our election process?

ROGERS: In the report we've feebly (ph) talked about, we have seen this kind of behavior to some degree attempting to influence outcomes for decades.


WENSTRUP: Going back to -- going back the Soviet Union...

ROGERS: Right. Not to the same level necessary, but the basic trend has been there.

WENSTRUP: So I'm curious also about what triggers a counterintelligence investigation of a government official. And in some ways, I'm asking for myself. For example, last week I spoke at an event on form policy with Atlantic Council. Unbeknownst to me, the Iraqi ambassador of the United States was there. He comes up to me afterwards, introduces himself and says he'd like to meet with me at some time. So this isn't a theoretical, this is real and this is what I'm asking is this.

Will be in trouble or under investigation if I meet with him?

COMEY: This is the slope I tried to avoid going down with Mr. Turner. Dr. Wenstrup, I -- I don't think I should be answering hypotheticals. The question is...

WENSTRUP: It's not hypothetical because I'm asking you in advance because I want to know if I can meet with him and be under investigation or not and I don't think that's an unrealistic question. This is real. This is right now.

COMEY: I get that. The FBI does not give advisory opinions, and so if you're asking about your particular case, I just can't do that.

WENSTRUP: So you'll tell me afterwards?

COMEY: No, I'll -- I'll never tell you.


WENSTRUP: Well, you might. Somebody might, somebody might tell the press, right? And that's where I'm going next because I want to know what -- what can I discuss? What am I allowed to discuss? And what -- what triggers the investigation is really what we're trying to get to in general. You know, maybe not with the Iraqi ambassador, but what about with the Russian ambassador? What are my obligations? What am I -- do I need to advise someone that I'm meeting with them? Do I have to discuss the agenda before I meet with them?

You know, just so we're clear. I mean, this is really what it's coming down to, is a lot about what we're talking about. You know, so I don't think it's unnecessary or ridiculous for me to ask that. And so in intelligence reporting, if the identity of a U.S. official is disseminated to those on an as needed basis -- or those that need to know basis. Does that generally lead to a counterintelligence investigation of that individual?

So in -- in general, if a U.S. official is -- is -- is in this report and it's disseminated, does that lead to an investigation of the individual?

COMEY: No, not in general, not as a rule. No.

WENSTRUP: OK. That answers...


COMEY: It would depend on lots of the circumstances.

WENSTRUP: Next, I want to go to the article from February 14 in The New York Times which I believe we're all familiar. And you may not be able to answer any of these, but the article sites four current and former American officials. Do you know -- know the identity of those four officials?

COMEY: Not going to comment on an article.

WENSTRUP: OK. Well, it's not necessarily on the article, but OK. Do you know for a fact that the four current and former American officials provided information for the story?

COMEY: I have to give you the same answer.

WENSTRUP: OK. With or without an investigation going on, has anyone told you that they know who leaked the information or who leaked any information on Russian involvement in the U.S. elections or Russian involvement with the Trump election team?

COMEY: I'm not going to comment on that.

WENSTRUP: Is it possible that The New York Times misrepresented its sourcing for this February 14 article? Possible.

COMEY: I can't comment on that.

WENSTRUP: Is it possible that The New York Times was misled by individuals claiming to be current or former American officials.

COMEY: I'll give you the same answer, Dr. Wenstrup.

WENSTRUP: Can I ask why you can't comment on that?

COMEY: I think a number of reasons. I'm not confirming that the information in that article is accurate or inaccurate. I'm not going to get in the business of -- that we talked about earlier...

WENSTRUP: OK. Is it -- then let me ask you this.

COMEY: And there's other reasons.


COMEY: That I'm also not going to confirm whether we're investigating things, and so if I start talking about what I know about a particular article, I run the risk of stepping on both of those landmines.

WENSTRUP: I guess one more question before the time is up and we'll come back to me, but I am curious, is it possible -- and nothing to do with this article. Is it possible that a so-called source to a media outlet may actually be a Russian advocate? Nothing to do with this story per say, just is it possible that a Russian surrogate could actually be the source that a newspaper is relying on?

COMEY: In general, sure, somebody could always be pretending to be something they're not.

WENSTRUP: Thank you.

And I yield back at this time.

NUNES: Gentleman yields back.

Mr. Schiff's recognized for 15 minutes.

SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just a couple follow-up questions and then I'll pass it to Mr. Quigley for entering something into the record.

COMEY: Mr. Chairman, can I ask you for an estimated time? I'm not made of steel, so I might need to take a quick break.

NUNES: Would you like to do that now?

COMEY: If you can, I didn't know how much longer you planned to go.

NUNES: I think we want to keep going until the members have asked all their questions.

COMEY: OK. Just a quick rest stop?

NUNES: Yes. So we'll break for about 10 minutes.

COMEY: That's plenty.



NUNES: I'm gonna call the hearing back into order after a brief recess. I wanna get on with questions. I'm gonna yield 15 minutes to the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.

SCHIFF: Director Comey, just a couple follow-up questions before I pass it to Mr. Quigley to enter something in the record. You've been asked a number of questions today about is it enough to open an investigation because someone travels or is enough because they have their photograph taken or enough because they attend a conference. I would imagine that you get so many leads, so many people writing to you with information that they're convinced shows (ph) a crime that if you investigated everything that people sent you, you would be squandering your investigative resources in a way you can't afford to do.

My understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that in order for you to open an investigation, you need to see credible information or evidence that someone has either committed a federal crime or become an agent of a foreign power. Is that an accurate understanding?

COMEY: Yeah, that's a fair statement. And as you said, Mr. Schiff, we have to also choose which -- we get a lot of referrals, which ones align with the threats that the FBI is trying to prioritize because we have limited resources.

SCHIFF: Exactly. So even when those criteria are met, that enough may not be -- that in and of itself may not be enough because you have so many other cases you need to investigate and you have to prioritize.

COMEY: Correct.

SCHIFF: I also wanna ask you, you mentioned that it wouldn't be appropriate for you to be telling reporters that stories they're writing are accurate or inaccurate when they may involve an investigation. That's not an appropriate thing for you to do.

COMEY: Correct, especially if the story involves classified information.

SCHIFF: And that's because you would either be disclosing classified information potentially in what you're confirming, or by rebutting a story that was inaccurate, you may be suggesting other stories that contain classified information or then (ph) accurate?

COMEY: Correct.

SCHIFF: Now, it's inappropriate for you to be batting down inaccurate stories. Would you also agree it's -- if it's inappropriate for you to be batting down inaccurate stories, would you also agree it's inappropriate for the White House to be asking the FBI to be rebutting stories they don't like?

COMEY: Yeah, that's when I don't wanna answer, Mr. Schiff, because I don't wanna talk about communications within the executive branch. I can speak for the FBI, that's not something the FBI can or should do.

SCHIFF: And if you were appearing up before the Senate for confirmation and they asked you as director of the FBI, if you were asked by the White House to refute or acknowledge press stories that they liked or didn't like, what would you tell the Senate in your confirmation hearing? Would that be appropriate for your office?

COMEY: I would figure out what was the right thing for the FBI to do and then do that thing.

SCHIFF: And that right thing would be not to be in the business of confirming or denying stories about classified information?

COMEY: Correct, that's what -- that's with the right thing is for the FBI.

SCHIFF: Let me recognize Mr. Quigley for purposes of entering something in the record.

QUIGLEY: Thank you, Mr. Ranking Member. As I do that, I'm reminded of what Hugo Black said, "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government." I respectfully ask to enter a March 8th article entitled, "Jeff Sessions Likely Met Russian Ambassador a Third Time."

SCHIFF: I now yield to Mr. Swalwell.

SWALWELL: Thank you to our ranking member.

And thank you again to -- to our director and Admiral Rogers. Director, would you agree that the FBI, when it's considering the counterintelligence investigation, views contacts between U.S. persons and say Russia differently than it would view contacts between U.S. persons and the U.K. or France or Germans?

COMEY: Yes, very much so.

SWALWELL: And that's because they're a foreign adversary? COMEY: Correct.

SWALWELL: And so to land on Russia's radar as somebody that they may want to recruit, would you agree that being a businessperson, a prominent business person is something that would be attractive to them?

COMEY: Could be. Might depend upon what industry you're in.

SWALWELL: Could it also -- could also being a politician be something that would be attractive to them?

COMEY: Sure.

SWALWELL: And how about somebody who does business with Russians, would that be attractive to them?

COMEY: Could be. It would depend upon other things as well though.

SWALWELL: And we were starting to discuss this, efforts to recruit include investing in a U.S. person, is that correct?

COMEY: Efforts by Russia to invest typically?


COMEY: In their tradecraft, that can be one of the ways in which they cultivate a relationship, sure.

SWALWELL: And if you are a U.S. person with a business, could it also include investing in your business or being a partner in some of your endeavors?

COMEY: Lots of different ways someone could try and establish a relationship.

SWALWELL: And going back to compromise, can we assume that any prominent U.S. person traveling to Russia would probably be covered by Russian surveillance?

COMEY: Depend upon how you define prominent, but they have an extensive surveillance operation of foreign visitors. So no matter who you are, you ought to assume it, but whether that's true in reality is harder for me to answer.

Or do you want to answer that differently?

ROGERS: No, I agree.

SWALWELL: And Russia is attempting to recruit and persuade individuals that we've discussed before, just as other foreign adversaries are because they want to get something out of them, is that right?

COMEY: Correct. SWALWELL: And in many cases, it could be if that person is ever in a position of power that they could be in a position to influence policy in the United States.

COMEY: To influence policy or to supply them with information that's useful to them and maybe other purposes.

SWALWELL: Now, with respect to your counterintelligence investigations, would be important for you if you were concerned that a U.S. person had financial entanglements with a foreign adversary to see that persons tax returns?

COMEY: That's a hypothetical I really want to avoid answering, but the answer is it would depend really. It would depend upon a whole lot of circumstances.

SWALWELL: That would be one of the pieces of evidence that you would consider looking?

COMEY: Maybe, maybe. You -- you might be able to get the picture you need from other financial records that are more readily available.

SWALWELL: And you're aware director that President Trump has refused, breaking with tradition of the past 40 years to show the American people his tax returns?

COMEY: Not something I want to comment on. I'm aware of it from the media.

SWALWELL: Now, Russia also in their efforts to recruit individuals and develop individuals, praying on or following someone's financial distress is also an avenue number may pursue, is that right?

COMEY: Potentially, if it offers an avenue for leverage on someone.

SWALWELL: And Director, would you consider six bankruptcies that an individual may have as been a point of leverage?

COMEY: I can't say. I don't know.

SWALWELL: And Director, you're aware that President Trump is at six prior bankruptcies?

COMEY: That's not something I'm going to comment on.

SWALWELL: And Director, when your agents are conducting a counterintelligence investigation with respect to a foreign adversary in their efforts to recruit or cooperate with a U.S. person, would you look at the U.S. person's travel to that country?

COMEY: As part of evaluating whether there is an illicit relationship?


SWALWELL: And are you familiar that President Trump has traveled at least three times to Russia?

COMEY: That's not something I'm going to comment on.

SWALWELL: Are you aware that his son, Donald Trump Jr., has traveled at least six times to Russia?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: Donald Trump has said a number of times that he has had nothing to do with Russia and I want to ask you, Director, if you're familiar with Deutsche Bank and its $300 million loan to Donald Trump and his organization.

COMEY: That's not something I'm going to comment on.

SWALWELL: Director, are you aware that Deutsche Bank has been investigated and fined over $400 million by New York State for failing to stop the corrupt transfer of more than $10 billion out of Russia?

COMEY: I think generally from press accounts.

SWALWELL: So an individual's association with the bank that has had dealings with Russian money laundering, that would be something that would be a red flag for a counterintelligence investigation I would assume.

COMEY: That's a hypo I don't want to answer.

SWALWELL: Director, would a U.S. businessperson who is associated with a foreign adversary having tenants in their office building that do business with that foreign adversary, would that be a red flag that a counterintelligence agent would look at?

COMEY: I can't answer that.

SWALWELL: Are you aware that in Trump Tower were two tenants, Vadim Trincher and Anatoly Golubchik, who ran a high-stakes illegal gambling ring that was run out of Trump Tower?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: And are you aware that the prosecutor in that case was U.S. attorney Preet Bharara?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: Are you aware, Director, that that U.S. attorney was recently fired?


SWALWELL: By the president of the United States? COMEY: Well, I don't know who fired him. I know from press accounts that he was asked to leave.

SWALWELL: Director, are you aware of Felix Sater, a former Soviet official and adviser to the Trump Organization?

COMEY: I'm not going to comment on it.

SWALWELL: And Director, outside of Mr. Sater's relationship with the Trump Organization, are you aware that the FBI knew of Mr. Sater because of a $40 million stock fraud case that was prosecuted by the federal government?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: Director, would a U.S. person having multiple trademarks in addition to the other relationships that I just described be a red flag for a counterintelligence investigation if those trademarks were in Russia?

COMEY: Multiple trademarks?

SWALWELL: Yeah, registering trademarks in a foreign adversary's country.

COMEY: I don't know what to make of that.

SWALWELL: OK. Were you aware that Donald Trump had six trademarks in Russia?

COMEY: Not going to comment on that.

SWALWELL: Were you aware that Donald Trump tried to market his Trump Vodka brand in Russia?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: Were you aware that Donald Trump ran Ms. Universe 2013 out of Moscow?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: Are you aware that Donald Trump Jr. said on a number of occasions that Russian money is pouring into the Trump Organization and that there is a disproportionate cross-section of the company's revenue coming from Russian money?

COMEY: Same answer, Mr. Swalwell.

SWALWELL: So hypothetically speaking though, would a foreign adversary and its oligarchs having a disproportionate cross-section of a company's revenue coming from that country, would that be a red flag for a counterintelligence agent?

COMEY: I'm not -- I'm trying to be helpful, but I'm not going to answer that hypo... SWALWELL: I understand. Thank you, Director. Director, are you familiar with a 2004 home purchase by President Trump in Palm Beach County for about $40 million?

COMEY: Not going to comment on that.

SWALWELL: Are you familiar with a 2008 sale of that same property for 129 percent increase at about $98 million?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: Are you aware that the buyer in 2008 was a Russian businessman?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: And under the earlier hypothetical, would a foreign adversary's oligarch purchasing a home in the United States for 129 percent more than the home was purchased four years before. Would that be a tool that a foreign adversary would use to try and recruit, develop or bring somebody onto their side?

COMEY: Same answer as before.

SWALWELL: You said that it's likely or somebody should assume they're being surveilled when they were in Russia. Would you assume that Donald Trump was being surveilled in 2013 when he was in Moscow?

COMEY: I'm not gonna answer. I -- I was trying to confine my answer to prominent people should assume, not you know, students and all those people who might go there for a brief holiday, I don't think I'd ask them to assume that.

SWALWELL: Right. Would it be safe to say that if Donald Trump was doing something he shouldn't have been doing while he was in Russia, the Russians probably saw it?

COMEY: Same answer as before.

SWALWELL: Would it be safe to assume that if a prominent person was doing something they shouldn't have been doing while they're in Russia, the Russians probably saw it?

COMEY: Yeah, I would stick to what I said before about prominent people should assume.

SWALWELL: Mr. Director, was Donald Trump under investigation during the campaign?

COMEY: Same answer as before. I'm not gonna answer that.

SWALWELL: Is he under investigation now?

COMEY: I'm not gonna answer that. Please don't over interpret what I've said as -- as the chair and ranking know, we have briefed him in great detail on the subjects of the investigation and what we're doing, but I'm not gonna answer about anybody in this forum.

SWALWELL: Director, from our perspective on the committee, the dots continue to connect. President Trump, his team, people in his orbit, to Russia. And the questions that we have, it's quite simple. Are these merely 100 different coincidences or is this a convergence where you're seeing deep personal, political and financial ties, meeting Russia's interference in our campaign?

So I'm wondering, Director, with your extensive counterintelligence expertise and in view of the Russian intelligence campaign to influence the election in which Donald Trump was candidate, do you consider this -- these number of connections between well-connected Russians and Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, the Trump family and the Trump campaign, to be a coincidence or a convergence?

COMEY: I'm not gonna answer, Mr. Swalwell.

SWALWELL: From your perspective, Director, have you ever seen in the history of American politics or at least since you've been alive, any political candidate have this many connections, personal, political and financial, to a foreign adversary?

COMEY: Same answer.

SWALWELL: Mr. Director and Admiral Rogers, this past election, our country was attacked. We were attacked by Russia. It was electronic. It was nearly invisible. Thanks to the hard work of the men and women who serve in our intelligence community, we know that the attack came from Russian. It was ordered by Vladimir Putin. He sought to help Donald Trump and to take down Hillary Clinton. The most disturbing finding for me and my fellow committee members is that Russia intends to do this again.

And I see this as an opportunity for everyone on this committee, Republicans and Democrats, to not look in the rearview window but to look forward and do everything we can to make sure that our country never again allows a foreign adversary to attack us. Because I think, Director, you and Admiral Rogers would agree that it's not only Russia that is sharpening the knives to go back at us or to go at our allies. It's also other countries who have similar capabilities. And so, I think the best thing we can do now is unite around this investigation, have also a parallel, independent commission to make sure we get to the bottom of what happened, why we were so vulnerable and to assure the American people we'll never let this happen again.

And I yield back.

NUNES: Dr. Wenstrup?

WENSTRUP: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

If I can, gentlemen, go back to what we were talking about a little bit before with interference from the Russians possibly in through our media. Have Russians or Soviets historically attempted to spread this information through the U.S. media? As (ph) you -- you mentioned they've been there in over decades trying to interfere, they use media as a resource.

ROGERS: We see them use media writ large as a resource to disseminate disinformation, false information.

WENSTRUP: And is that -- been pretty much regardless of who's in the White House?

ROGERS: It doesn't seem to tie to a particular political party, that tactic, if you will.

WENSTRUP: Thank you.

Mr. Comey, have you ever formed -- this is going back to the article from February 14 in the New York Times, have you ever formed an articulated opinion about the article from February 14 in the New York Times?

COMEY: Have I ever formed and articulated opinion?

WENSTRUP: Formed an opinion or articulated an opinion on that article?

COMEY: I don't want to say, Dr. Wenstrup.

WENSTRUP: OK. Thank you. When I look at your jobs and thank you for being there and doing your jobs. And I mean that sincerely, your job, you -- you observe and you investigate and you assess and you try to predict and you sometimes have to act, would that be correct?

COMEY: Sure.

WENSTRUP: In what you do. My question is, as far as predictions and actions, Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election for the United States presidency. Which certainly most had predicted, I would conject (ph) that even the Russians predicted that she would win. What -- what were the Russians planning for November 9 and beyond that had she won. You mentioned before, and the reason I ask that -- you mentioned before you said they'll be back.

My question is have they left? Because I -- I would contend they haven't left. This isn't something they their turning on and off. This is a constant. So any -- any idea what -- what may have happened November 9 and beyond that had she won?

COMEY: Hard to say.

WENSTRUP: The pattern has been to interrupt us regardless of who is in the White House.

COMEY: Yes. They want to mess with us and in a continuing and general way. It's hard to answer the counterfactual. I assume they would've continued their efforts to undermine President-Elect (sic) Clinton as they had begun doing during the summer, especially with European allies to create a divide there and probably lots of other things. What I meant by they'll be back is, they're not going away. But in the -- in the -- I mean that that in the sense of their next opportunity to mess with our election is two years from now and in four years. That's what I meant by back.

WENSTRUP: Thank you. I think your job is -- is difficult because there's a lot of conjecture about any relationship with Russians in general and questions from me and others about, can I meet with the Russian ambassador? Does that get me investigated? Business ties here and there, you know, I mean currently we share a space station with Russians. We buy engines from the Russians for -- for our rockets and in the '90s we had joint military exercises with the Russians. It gets a little bit tough as -- for you guys decide what and -- and when do we investigate and I appreciate you taking the time with us today.

And I yield back.

NUNES: Gentleman yields back.

Mr. Stewart?

STEWART: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And to the witnesses, thank you both. You know, I'm impressed. I was a B-1 pilot, when I took off one of the first certain (ph) thoughts I had was how long is it going to be until I get to go to bathroom? You guys went almost 4 hours. Our plan was to keep you here until you are in such pain that you would just answer all of our questions.


I have a list of questions here but I want to divert a little bit and -- and follow up on some of things that have been said here today. Mr. Comey, you confirmed that there's an investigation in the Trump campaign officials. The fact that there is an open investigation does not indicate guilt though, does it? COMEY: Certainly not.

STEWART: And in fact many times in an investigation may find that there is no wrongdoing.

COMEY: That's one of the reasons we don't talk about it, so we don't smear people who don't end up charged with anything.

STEWART: I appreciate that and I would say that is especially likely to have, when I say especially talking about have the finding of no wrongdoing when there is a political motive. And if there's one thing that we've seen here today, I think, from some of the line of questions is clearly been a certain political motive in some of the questions that have been asked to you.

Mr. Clapper, the former DNI, and we all know who he is, this is someone who should know. I want to read what he said just a few weeks ago. Mr. Clapper then went on to say that to his knowledge there was no evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. We did not conclude any evidence in our report and when I say "our report," that is the NSA, FBI, and CIA with my office, the director of national intelligence said anything -- any reflection of collusion between the members of Trump campaign and the Russians, there was no evidence of that in our report.

Was Mr. Clapper wrong when he said that?

COMEY: I think he's right about characterizing the report which you all have read.

STEWART: Well, I want you to know I agree with Mr. Clapper. And at this point, everyone on this dais should agree with Mr. Clapper because we in the committee have seen no evidence, zero, that would indicate that there was collusion or criminal wrongdoing between any members of the previous administration or campaign and Russian officials.

And I'm going to comment very quickly on the leaks. You've said very clearly that it is a crime, both of you have said that, you've indicated it endangers national security which I certainly agree with. It makes it hard for us to reauthorize very important tools that we will need in order to protect our national security and many times, it's inaccurate.

And I would ask you then if someone in intelligence community has some concerns, if they feel like there's been an overreach or the government is doing something they shouldn't be doing, any government official, is there a process they can go to where they could make that known and express their concerns?

COMEY: Yes. All of us, the intelligence community have robust whistleblower provisions that we educate our folks on and part of the whistleblower track is they can bring information to the appropriate committee of Congress.

STEWART: That's exactly right and are both of your agencies capable of handling accusations agree with me on that. I'd like to shift quickly if I could to the integrity of the report which the previous DNI when he determined along with your acquiescence, I might add, both of you, that Russia developed a clear preference for Mr. Trump and this is a huge deal. I mean, think about this story the American people have been told and some believe that our president was elected maybe because of the influence of a foreign government.

And I love you guys, you know that, and I defend you and we respect what you do but I do need to make this point and that is the intelligence community is not perfect, is it?

COMEY: Not perfect?


COMEY: Certainly not.

STEWART: Certainly not. We...

COMEY: I can speak for me, I don't -- he might be perfect.


STEWART: Mr. Rogers, I'll allow you to answer the same question.

ROGERS: I am not -- same as the Director.

STEWART: And as has been indicated here, and look again, that's not a criticism, it's just the human endeavor. We sometimes make mistakes as do agencies sometimes make mistakes and all of us can think of examples of that including meaningful mistakes, by the way. Mistakes that had clear implications for our policy. And as has been indicated here as well, there's a difference in the level of confidence.

Now, Mr. Comey, you have a higher degree of confidence in this report than you do, don't you Mr. Rogers?

ROGERS: To be specific, a different level of content on one specific assessment or judgment...

STEWART: Understanding (ph)...

ROGERS: But a concurrent overall, in that judgment.

STEWART: But that one judgment, that one is in a very important part of this report. And if I could make just this last point and this is an important point, I think. And that is the difficulty of determining motive. I mean, we can go back, we can look at facts. We can look at what happened. We can often determine who did it, who they did it with, when they did it. But to determine motive, you've got to crawl inside someone's head. And that's much, much more difficult.

And in fact, quoting from the preamble in this report, talking about a leader's intentions. It says, this objective is difficult to achieve when seeking to understand complex issues in which foreign actors go to extraordinary lengths to hide and obfuscate their activities. Once again, we're trying to determine motive, which is very different -- difficult. Do you agree with that? The determining motive is one of the most difficult challenges when it comes to an intelligence analysis?

COMEY: I -- I do Mr. Stewart. And I should -- I should emphasize something that Admiral Rogers said earlier, we made no judgment on whether the Russians were successful in any way and having an impact on the election, I just wanna be clear. That -- that's not in report because we didn't opine on it. We didn't -- that's not within our -- our...

STEWART: I understand that, but we're looking at Russian activities. And we're making a conclusion of why they did that. In this case, that they preferred one -- one candidate over the other. I was in Moscow last August. I came home and I did some media interviews and talked to some folks. And I said, they're gonna mess with our elections. And that wasn't based on any intelligence analyst or specific information, this was just based on history, we knew that they would. And I was always asked, well, who do they want to win?

And I said then, I don't think they care. I don't think they A, could believe they could determine who would win and others (ph), as we've said here a number of times, they just want to break down the foundation, they just want to break the trust in our institutions. They want to take away that faith we have in our electoral process. And by the way, the intelligence community agreed with us, with me, on that analysis. For a long, long time, up until December. And then suddenly, they didn't.

And was when the president asked for this report and he asked for it to be concluded very quickly and then the analysis changed entirely. And -- and it went from no, no, no, they don't really care to no, no, they want Mr. Trump to win. And I think there's another plausible explanation, which is what I want to talk about in the few minutes that I have remaining. Let me begin by asking you, do you think that the Russians expected Secretary Clinton to win the election?

COMEY: Yes, as of August certainly, August, September.


Mr. Rogers?


STEWART: OK. Well, look, Mr. Comey you indicated as of August, September, do you believe they ever came to a conclusion that you know what? Mr. Trump's going to win.

COMEY: No, our -- the assessment of the intelligence community was that early on, they thought he might have a shot. And so they wanted to mess with our election, hurt our country in general, that's always the baseline. They hated her, Secretary Clinton, wanted to harm her and thought they might have a chance to help Mr. Trump. And then later, concluded that Mr. Trump was hopeless and they would focus then on just trying to undermine Secretary Clinton, especially with the European allies.

STEWART: Got that, so up -- up until summer and through the fall, they believe that Secretary Clinton would win, is that true?

COMEY: I think the assessment was, late in the summer, they concluded based on the polling I think a lot of people were reading, that Mr. Trump didn't have a chance. And they shifted to just focusing on just trying to undermine her.

STEWART: And I tell you, if you were to tell me and I know you didn't but I'm just saying, if anyone were to tell me that they concluded Mr. Trump is going to win. I'd just say they're nuts, because there was no one in the world who thought that. Every media organization, every political organization, every government organization that I'm familiar with last fall thought that Secretary Clinton would be the next President of the United States.

COMEY: I think the Russians agreed.

STEWART: I -- absolutely they did agree. Then this is the point and this is such a fine line, but it's such an important point, and that is how can you know for certain if the Russians were motivated by hurting the person they thought in fact, fully expected was going to be the next President of the United States and comparing that with a mode (ph) of this kind of a Hail Mary pass. You know what, maybe this guy's got a shot. Let's try and help him get elected because those motives would be -- and that's -- that' again coming back to my original point, determining motives is very difficult.

You have to either have very direct information or you have to be able to get inside someone's head and really figure out what it is that's driving them. And knowing the Russians expected Secretary Clinton to win, would you see that some of those things that they've done would be consistent with undermining her presidency, not necessarily because they thought Mr. Trump was going to win and they wanted help.

COMEY: Again, I think it's too close related sides of the same coin. I mean, to put it in a homely metaphor, I hate the New England Patriots and no matter who they play, I'd like them to lose. And so I'm at the same time rooting against the Patriots and hoping their opponent beats them. Because only two teams on the field but what the intelligence community concluded was early on, the hatred for Mrs. Clinton was -- was all the way along.

When Mr. Trump became the nominee, there was some sense that it'd be great if he could win, be great if we could help him. But we need to hurt her to matter what and then it shifted to he has no chance so let's just focus on undermining her. That was the judgment of the intelligence community.

ROGERS: Well, I'd also if I could highlight, I acknowledge the challenge at times about trying to understand intent, but the level -- we're not going to go in any specifics in an open unclassified forum. But the level of sourcing, the multiple sources we had, which were able to independently corroborate the judgment. And there's a reason why we were high confidence in everything, except just one issue.


ROGERS: To include the intent.

STEWART: I understand. I spent some time out at the CIA last week. I went -- was with the staff as best we could, through the 2000 some odd pages and by the way, not many people did. And some people are casting, you know, aspirations (ph) and not making the effort to go out there and actually look at that.

But I'm telling you that having done that, I think a reasonable person could say what I've said here today, that there is another -- another element to this. That there is another, as you said Mr. Comey, another side of the coin. And this is a very, very difficult to, in my opinion, thing to say with high levels of confidence. Which is why, once again the intelligence community isn't perfect sometimes. And we do make mistakes.

And Mr. Chairman, I yield back. I'd like to come back for just a few minutes if we could after.

NUNES: Gentleman yields back.

Mr. Schiff's recognized. SCHIFF:

Thank you. Just a couple of quick follow up questions by myself and Mr. Himes and then we'll go to Mr. Castro.

Director, you were asked about the Director Clapper's comments and I think your response indicated that they were correct as far as the unclassified intelligence assessment goes.

COMEY: Yes. I understood the question to be about the report itself.

SCHIFF: I want to make it clear to people though the intelligence assessment -- the unclassified intelligence assessment doesn't discuss the issue of U.S. person coordination with the Russians. And I assume that's because at the time of the report in January of this year that was under an investigation that you have now disclosed, is that right?

COMEY: Correct. The counterintelligence investigation is the FBI's business. The IC report was about what the intelligence community had about what Russia had done. So there is nothing in the report about coordination writing like that. It's a separate responsibly the FBI to try and understand that, investigate it and -- and assess it.

SCHIFF: So we shouldn't read Mr. Clapper's comments as suggesting that he takes a different view of whether you had sufficient -- sufficiently credible information and evidence to initiate a FBI counterintelligence investigation.

COMEY: I don't know exactly what he meant. All I can say is what -- what the fact is which as we just laid out. There's the report and then there's our investigation.

SCHIFF: And the report doesn't cover the investigation?

COMEY: Correct.

SCHIFF: Mr. Himes?

HIMES: Thank you, Mr. Schiff.

Gentlemen, in my original questions to you, I asked you whether the intelligence community had undertaken any sort of study to determine whether Russian interference had had any influence on the electoral process and I think you told me the answer was -- was no.

COMEY: Correct.

ROGERS: Correct, we said the U.S. intelligence community does not do analysis or reporting on the U.S. political process or U.S. public opinion, that is not our...


HIMES: OK. So thanks to the modern technology that's in front of me right here, I've got a tweet from the president an hour ago, saying the NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process so that's not quite accurate, that tweet?

COMEY: I'm sorry, I haven't been following anybody on Twitter while I've been sitting here...

HIMES: I can read it to you. It says the NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral -- the electoral process. This tweet has gone out to millions of Americans, 16.1 million to be exact. Is the tweet, as I read it to you, the NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process. Is that accurate?

COMEY: Well, it's hard for me to react to that, let me just tell you what we understand the -- the state of what we've said is. We've offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact because it's never something that we looked at.

HIMES: OK. So it's not too far of a logical leap to conclude that your -- that the assertion that you have told the Congress that there was no influence on the electoral process is not quite right?

COMEY: Right, it wasn't -- it certainly wasn't our intention to say that today because we don't have any information on that subject. And that's not something that was looked at.

HIMES: Right. Admiral Rogers, before I -- before I yield back to the ranking member, there's another tweet that says NSA Director Rogers tells Congress unmasking individuals endangers national security. My understanding was, as a member of the committee, that there is a lengthy and very specific process for the unmasking but that it does not inherently in of itself endanger national security.

ROGERS: I assume the comment is designed to address the leaking of such information, but again, I -- I have not read what you're saying to me so I'm not in a position to comment on it, sir.

HIMES: Thank you, I'll yield back to the ranking member.

SCHIFF: Mr. Castro?

CASTRO: Thank you. And thank you gentlemen for your service to the nation and for your testimony today. I wanna take a moment to turn the Christopher Steele dossier, which was first mentioned in the media just before the election and published in full by media outlets in January. My focus today is to explore how many claims within Steele's dossier are looking more and more likely, as though they are accurate. First, let me ask you, can you describe who Christopher Steele is?

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COMEY: No, I'm not gonna comment on that.

CASTRO: Are you investigating the claims made in the dossier?
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:40 pm

Comey: We had to notice hundreds of entities, maybe over a 1000, that the Russians were trying to hack.

Michael Adams‏ @mla1396 1h1 hour ago
Michael Adams Retweeted emptywheel
READ: "Which would suggest Mike Flynn may be a very central figure in this investigation" by @emptywheel


March 20, 2017/0 Comments/in Cybersecurity, Russian hacks /by emptywheel

As every newspaper in town has reported, at today’s hearing into Russia’s hack of the DNC, Jim Comey confirmed that the FBI has a counterintelligence investigation into the hack that includes whether Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian actors. Along the way, Comey refused to join in James Clapper’s statement that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump’s aides and Russia. When the now retired Director of National Intelligence said that, Clapper had emphasized that his statement only extended through the end of his service, January 20; he warned that some evidence may have been discovered after that.

A far more telling detail came close to the end of the hearing, during NY Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s questioning. She started by asking what typical protocols were for informing the DNI, the White House, and senior Congressional leadership about counterintelligence investigations.

Stefanik: My first set of questions are directed at Director Comey. Broadly, when the FBI has any open counterintelligence investigation, what are the typical protocols or procedures for notifying the DNI, the White House, and senior congressional leadership?

Comey: There is a practice of a quarterly briefing on sensitive cases to the Chair and Ranking of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The reason I hesitate is, thanks to feedback we’ve gotten, we’re trying to make it better. And that involves a briefing briefing the Department of Justice, I believe the DNI, and the — some portion of the National Security Council at the White House. We brief them before Congress is briefed.

Stefanik: So it’s quarterly for all three, then, senior congressional leadership, the White House, and the DNI?

Comey: I think that’s right. Now that’s by practice, not by rule or by written policy. Which is why, thanks to the Chair and Ranking giving us feedback, we’re trying to tweak it in certain ways.

Note that point: the practice has been that FBI won’t brief the Gang of Four until after they’ve briefed DOJ, the DNI, and the White House. Stefanik goes on to ask why, if FBI normally briefs CI investigations quarterly, why FBI didn’t brief the Gang of Four before the last month, at least seven months after the investigation started. Comey explains they delayed because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

Stefanik: So since in your opening statement you confirmed that there is a counterintelligence investigation currently open and you also referenced that it started in July, when did you notify the DNI, the White House, or senior Congressional leadership?

Comey: Congressional leadership, sometime recently — they were briefed on the nature of the investigation and some details, as I said. Obviously the Department of Justice must have been aware of it all along. The DNI … I don’t know what the DNI’s knowledge of it was, because we didn’t have a DNI until Mr. Coats took office and I briefed him his first morning in office.

Stefanik: So just to drill down on this, if the open investigation began in July, and the briefing of Congressional leadership only occurred recently, why was there no notification prior to the recent — the past month.

Comey: I think our decision was it was a matter of such sensitivity that we wouldn’t include it in the quarterly briefings.

Stefanik: So when you state “our decision,” is that your decision, is it usually your decision what gets briefed in those quarterly updates?

Comey: No. It’s usually the decision of the head of our counterintelligence division.

Stefanik: And just again, to get the details on the record, why was the decision not to brief senior congressional leadership until recently, when the investigation had been open since July, a very serious investigation. Why was that decision made to wait months?

Comey: Because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Stefanik then got Comey to reconfirm what the IC report says: that Russia had hacked numerous entities, he would later say over a thousand, including Republican targets.

Stefanik then turned to the Yahoo investigation. She asked whether the FSB officers involved conducted the hack for intelligence purposes — a question Comey refused to answer. He also refused to answer what the FSB did with the information stolen.

Stefanik: Taking a further step back of what’s been in the news recently and I’m referring to the Yahoo hack, the Yahoo data breach, last week the Department of Justice announced it was charging hackers with ties to the FSB in the 2014 data breach. Was this hack done, to your knowledge, for intelligence purposes?

Comey: I can’t say in this forum.

Stefanik: Press reporting indicates the Yahoo hack targeted journalists, dissidents and government officials. Do you know what the FSB did with the information they obtained?

Comey: Same answer.

Stefanik: Okay, I understand that.

This is important for a number of reasons, including the evidence that the FSB was hiding their hacking from others in Russia.

Stefanik then turned to the sanctions, asking if Comey had any insight into how the Obama Administration chose who got sanctioned in December — which included Alexsey Belan but not the FSB officers involved (one of whom, Dmitry Dokuchaev, was already under arrest for treason by the time of the sanctions).

Stefanik: How did the Administration determine who to sanction as part of the election hacking? How familiar are [] with that decision process and how is that determination made?

Comey: I don’t know. I’m not familiar with the decision-making process. The FBI is a factual input but I don’t recall — I don’t have any personal knowledge about how the decisions were made about who to sanction.

Again, her interest in this is significant — I’ll explain why in a follow-up.

Stefanik then asked what the intelligence agencies would do going forward to keep entities safe from Russian hacking. As part of the response, Mike Rogers revealed (unsurprisingly) that NSA first learned of FSB’s hacking of those many targets in the summer of 2015.

Finally, Stefanik returned to her original point, when Congress gets briefed on CI investigations. Comey’s response was remarkable.

Stefanik: It seems to me, in my first line of questioning, the more serious a counterintelligence investigation is, that would seem to trigger the need to update not just the White House, the DNI, but also senior congressional leadership. And you stated it was due to the severity. I think moving forward, it seems the most severe and serious investigations should be notified to senior congressional leadership. And with that thanks for your lenience, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

Comey could have been done with Stefanik yielding back. But instead, he interrupted, and suggested part of the delay had to do with the practice of briefing within the Executive Branch NSC before briefing Congress.

Comey: That’s good feedback, Ms. Stefanik, the challenge for is, sometimes we want to keep it tight within the executive branch, and if we’re going to go brief congressional leaders, the practice has been then we brief inside the executive branch, and so we have to try to figure out how to navigate that in a good way.

Which seems to suggest one reason why the FBI delayed briefing the Gang of Four (presumably, this is the Gang of Eight) is because they couldn’t brief all Executive Branch people the White House, and so couldn’t brief Congress without first having briefed the White House.

Which would suggest Mike Flynn may be a very central figure in this investigation.

Update: I’ve corrected my last observation to match Comey’s testimony that the delay had to do with keeping things on a close hold within the Executive Branch. That may be nothing, it may be Flynn (if you normally brief the NSC, after all the National Security Advisor would be among the first to be briefed), but it also could be Jeff Sessions.

Tags: Elise Stefanik, Jeff Sessions, Jim Comey, Mike Flynn, Mike Rogers ... stigation/
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby kool maudit » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:44 am

Well, I caught myself up. What a miasma! I remain of the view that detente with Russia is a desirable foreign policy goal, and that this fury of bipartisan opposition to such is a fragment of the imperial, 'Great Game'-style thinking that lies at the core of both neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

The cloak-and-dagger specifics are meaningless as anything but tactics. I hope that the US can break free of the neo-consensus by any means necessary.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby kool maudit » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:47 am



Rex Tillerson To Skip NATO Meeting, Will Visit Russia Instead ... ia-instead

If after a day full of James Comey's dramatic testimony in Congress, which according to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough was “the worst day of Donald Trump’s presidency” after Comey stated on the record that he is not aware of any wiretapping of Trump Tower and that the FBI has been probing Russia for ties with the Trump campaign since July, Trump wanted to send the world a signal that his priorities remain focused on Russia, and he is not backing down from demanding NATO pay its "fair share", his Secretary of State has done just that after Reuters reported that Rex Tillerson plans to skip the April 5-6 meeting of NATO foreign ministers to be present during the first US visit by China's president, and will one week later travel to Russia, "a step allies may see as putting Moscow's concerns ahead of theirs", or in other words - an intentional snub.

As Reuters adds, Tillerson intends to miss what would be his first meeting in Brussels with the 28 NATO members to attend President Donald Trump's expected April 6-7 talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. While it goes without saying, two former US officials told Reuters that "the decisions to skip the NATO meeting and to visit Moscow risked feeding a perception that Trump may be putting U.S. dealings with big powers before those of smaller nations that depend on Washington for their security."

It is also likely to prompt further speculation of NATO-alternative alliances. State Department spokesman Mark Toner had no immediate comment on whether Tillerson would skip the NATO meeting or visit Russia. Two U.S. officials said Tillerson planned to visit Moscow on April 12.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:47 am

Yes I am sure you will be very happy that Tillerson/EXXON will FINALLY get their 500 BILLION DOLLLAR DEAL



Things to note

It says Paul Manafort & Carter Page were colluding w/Russians



Thing to note:It says ex-Ukrainian President told Putin he paid Manafort

Last edited by seemslikeadream on Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby kool maudit » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:49 am

seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:47 am wrote:Yes Iam sure you will be very happy that Tillerson/EXXON will FINALLY get their 500 BILLION DOLLLAR DEAL


I don't really care about that (why would I?). The bigger picture is the dismemberment and disempowerment of a longstanding foreign policy stance.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:54 am

No you do not care about the U.S. you care about Russia

thanks for playing
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:54 am

This was an extraordinary day ...amazing... it will be better than Watergate :)

President Trump faces his hardest truth: He was wrong

President Trump listens with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by his side during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House on March 17. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
By Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker March 20 at 6:23 PM
On the 60th day of his presidency came the hardest truth for Donald Trump.

He was wrong.

James B. Comey — the FBI director whom Trump celebrated on the campaign trail as a gutsy and honorable “Crooked Hillary” truth-teller — testified under oath Monday what many Americans had already assumed: Trump had falsely accused his predecessor of wiretapping his headquarters during last year’s campaign.

Trump did not merely allege that former president Barack Obama ordered surveillance on Trump Tower, of course. He asserted it as fact, and then reasserted it, and then insisted that forthcoming evidence would prove him right.

But in Monday’s remarkable, marathon hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey said there was no such evidence. Trump’s claim, first made in a series of tweets on March 4 at a moment when associates said he was feeling under siege and stewing over the struggles of his young presidency, remains unfounded.

FBI Director James B. Comey Jr., left, and Director of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers testify before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Comey did not stop there. He confirmed publicly that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and associates with Russia, part of an extraordinary effort by an adversary to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election in Trump’s favor.

Questions about Russia have hung over Trump for months, but the president always has dismissed them as “fake news.” That became much harder Monday after the FBI director proclaimed the Russia probe to be anything but fake.

“There’s a smell of treason in the air,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. “Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mind-
boggling event.”

[FBI Director Comey confirms probe of possible coordination between Kremlin and Trump campaign]

For Trump, Comey’s testimony punctuates what has been a troubling first two months as president. His approval ratings, which were historically low at his inauguration, have fallen even further. Gallup’s tracking poll as of Sunday showed that just 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, with 55 percent disapproving.

The Comey episode threatens to damage Trump’s credibility not only with voters, but also with lawmakers of his own party whose support he needs to pass the health-care bill this week in the House, the first legislative project of his presidency.

Furthermore, the FBI’s far-reaching Russia investigation shows no sign of concluding soon and is all but certain to remain a distraction for the White House, spurring moments of presidential fury and rash tweets and possibly inhibiting the administration’s ability to govern.

What happened today in Washington, in three minutes Play Video3:10
FBI Director James B. Comey on March 20 testified before the House Intelligence Committee while Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Some of Trump’s defenders said the impact of Comey’s testimony could easily be overtaken if the White House is disciplined enough to marshal its agenda, as well as Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, through Congress.

“All that really matters this week is Gorsuch moving forward and the House passing step one of Obamacare repeal,” said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist who works for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “All the rest is noise.”

On the Russia issue, Trump and his aides were defiant Monday in the face of Comey’s testimony. Before Comey was sworn in at the hearing, Trump tried to set the tone with a series of early-morning tweets decrying the accusations of collusion with Russia as “FAKE NEWS” being pushed by defeated Democrats and arguing that the real scandal is the leaking of sensitive information from within the intelligence community.

“Must find leaker now!” he wrote in one tweet from his personal account.

During Comey’s testimony, Trump offered live commentary on his official presidential Twitter account, pushing the argument that Russia did not influence the election.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer picked up the torch in the afternoon, trying in a contentious briefing with reporters to deflect attention from Trump’s false wiretapping charges while steadfastly refusing to admit any wrongdoing.

“I think we’re going to test the outer limits of the Trump ‘fake news’ cult,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist. “The central contention that Barack Obama wiretapped Donald Trump in Trump Tower was blown out of the water and utterly dismissed.”

As always in Trump world, where the guiding ethos is winning at any cost, the worst sin is conceding defeat.

Jennifer Palmieri, who served as communications director on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, said Trump’s wiretapping situation reminded her of his “death spiral” after lashing out at a federal judge over his Latino heritage.

“He just cannot let it go,” Palmieri said. “Except this time he is getting slapped down by the sitting FBI director. That’s a brutal blow to his credibility and a huge opportunity cost. He should be focused on salvaging his health-care bill, not continuing to draw all of America’s eyes to the Russia investigation.”

A master showman, Trump surely could intuit the theatrical power of Comey trekking to Capitol Hill to testify for several hours about Russia, all broadcast live on national television.

“It just makes it much more vivid,” said Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center who has worked in the three previous Republican administrations. “It’s one thing to read statements from a transcript or a newspaper, and that’s not unimportant, but when you see it on video, it carries a punch.”

[The Fix: Sean Spicer’s laughable effort to distance President Trump from Paul Manafort]

Spicer’s defense strategy was in part to distance Trump from the figures under investigation by the FBI for their ties to Russia. In Spicer’s telling, Paul Manafort was a virtual nobody, someone who “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”

Manafort was actually Trump’s campaign chairman and de facto manager for five months last year, from the end of the primaries through the summer convention and the start of the general election.

“Watching Sean Spicer twist himself into a pretzel yet again to try to pretend that Paul Manafort isn’t an influential figure is ludicrous,” Wehner said. “It’s like saying Aaron Rodgers isn’t a central figure for the Green Bay Packers.”

Brinkley, who has published biographies of such presidents as Gerald Ford, Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, said of Trump’s start, “This is the most failed first 100 days of any president.”

“To be as low as he is in the polls, in the 30s, while the FBI director is on television saying they launched an investigation into your ties with Russia, I don’t know how it can get much worse,” Brinkley said.

But Trump’s supporters have proved largely impervious to the political winds, at least so far. The president jetted late Monday to Louisville, to rev up another mega-rally crowd — separating himself from the swamp of Washington by more than 600 miles.

“My gut is that he’s bulletproof with his base,” said Austin Barbour, a Mississippi-based Republican strategist. “There’s just this massive distrust of Washington, and whether that’s fair or not — of Washington, of the intelligence community, of Congress, of the judicial branch — it’s just the reality outside of the Beltway.” ... b79e26e353

The FBI's investigation into Trump and Russia coincided with game-changing, Russia-related events on the campaign trail

Natasha Bertrand

FBI Director James Comey said on Monday during a public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee that the bureau opened its investigation into Russia's interference in the US election in July and concluded by December that Russia had interfered to "hurt" Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and "help" President Donald Trump.

Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that the investigation, which "includes whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts," was still in its early stages and that he had "no timetable" for its conclusion.

But the FBI's opening of its investigation coincided with a flurry of events that increased scrutiny of the Trump campaign's friendly attitude toward Russia.

Those events included a hack of the Democratic National Committee in June that was attributed to Russia, an early foreign-policy adviser's trip to Moscow in early July, a change made before the Republican National Convention in July in the GOP platform's policy toward arming Ukraine, WikiLeaks' release of stolen DNC documents in late July, and Trump's subsequent urging of Russia to hack Clinton's email server.

The DNC confirmed in mid-June that it had been hacked, and the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike said that it had concluded with "a very high degree of confidence" that the hack was linked to the Russian government.

Shortly after the DNC hack was made public, Carter Page, then a foreign-policy adviser to Trump's campaign, traveled to Moscow, where he delivered a commencement speech at the New Economic School that was highly critical of US foreign policy. Page had served as an adviser "on key transactions" for Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom before setting up his own energy investment fund, Global Energy Capital, with Sergey Yatesenko, a former Gazprom executive.

Page was in Moscow for three days, but it's unclear what he did or whom he met with before and after the speech. Yahoo's Michael Isikoff, citing a Western intelligence source, reported in September that Page had met with Igor Sechin, a Russian oligarch and the CEO of Russia's state-owned oil company, Rosneft. Page has denied those reports, but he resigned from the campaign shortly after the report was published.

In July, while Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign manager, an amendment to the GOP's draft policy on Ukraine, which had proposed sending "lethal weapons" to the Ukrainian army to fend off Russian aggression — a stance that was generally consistent with the Republican Party's position — was watered down to say "provide appropriate assistance."

Manafort had advised the Russia-friendly Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, whom he helped win the presidency in 2010.

The language change was orchestrated by two national-security experts sent to sit in on a national-security subcommittee meeting on behalf of the Trump campaign, according to one of the experts, J.D. Gordon, and the original amendment's author, Diana Denman, who was also in the meeting. As Business Insider has reported, the circumstances around the language change are controversial, and there are conflicting accounts about the reason for the change. The policy amendment with the softer language was ultimately included in the GOP platform.

A few days later, WikiLeaks began publishing emails that had been stolen from the DNC and the Clinton campaign. The timing coincided with the start of the Democratic National Convention the following week.

WikiLeaks didn't reveal the source of the documents. But the emergence in early August of a shadowy figure who called himself Guccifer 2.0 claiming responsibility for the DNC cyberattack added to suspicions that the hacking and disinformation campaign was linked to the Russian government.

Guccifer 2.0, who said he targeted Democrats in the heat of the election last summer, has denied having any links to Russia. But ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm based in Arlington, Virginia, has concluded that Guccifer 2.0 used the Russian-based virtual private network Elite VPN to secure later communications with politicians and reporters.

Roger Stone, a former Trump adviser and longtime confidant, said he exchanged private messages with Guccifer 2.0 in mid-August that were "short and innocuous."

During a press conference on July 27, Trump called on Russia directly to hack his opponent.

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said, apparently referring to the emails that were deleted from Clinton's private email server before it was handed over to the FBI in late 2015.

"I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump added. (There had been a media frenzy surrounding WikiLeaks' release of the DNC emails.)

On October 7, shortly after an "Access Hollywood" video surfaced of Trump making lewd remarks about women, WikiLeaks published the first batch of emails stolen from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

Seventeen US intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia interfered in the US election — hacking into the DNC and Podesta's inbox and leaking the stolen documents to WikiLeaks — to undermine Clinton.

Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers said on Monday that that assessment had not changed. ... aks-2017-3

The 4 bombshells of James Comey
Washington (CNN)The first time that James Comey ever delivered bombshell testimony on Capitol Hill, it was about how he stood up to the White House, refusing to let it carry on with warrantless wiretapping through the National Security Agency.

Ten years later, he was at the center of attention again, sitting alongside the NSA, refuting the suggestion that a president could ever unilaterally wiretap without a warrant.
Those two bombshells, which are totally unrelated but share some weird parallels and the common thread of warrantless wiretapping, bookend two other ones about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Whether it involves sitting presidents, top White House aides, or a former secretary of state, Comey does not appear to discriminate along party lines or anything else.
Comey's first piece of incredible testimony was the yarn about a late-night standoff during his time as deputy attorney general in his boss John Ashcroft's hospital room. Comey had it out with officials from the Bush White House about the NSA's use of warrantless wiretapping, threatening to quit his job if the administration went against him and authorized the program by getting an incapacitated Aschroft, who had just had gall bladder surgery, to sign off. The 2004 affair ultimately helped lead to changes both in the way the NSA conducted its business and an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
President Barack Obama picked Comey to be FBI director in 2013 in part on the merit of that first bombshell, which Comey recounted to a rapt audience of senators in 2007.
Read CNN's 2007 report about bombshell No. 1
"He's that rarity in Washington sometimes," Obama said when nominating Comey to lead the FBI in 2013. "He doesn't care about politics, he only cares about getting the job done. At key moments, when it's mattered most ... he was prepared to give up a job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong."
Comey proved himself not to care about politics when he dropped his second bombshell, announcing that the FBI would not recommend prosecution for Hillary Clinton nor members of her staff for mishandling classified information. Comey was nonetheless piercing in his criticism of how Clinton's server was handled. Democrats pointed to the lack of charges. Republicans pointed to the carelessness.
Read CNN's July 2016 report about bombshell No. 2
Comey's 7 most damning lines about Hillary Clinton
Democrats went from relatively satisfied to absolutely livid at Comey over his third bombshell. About a week before the presidential election, he notified Congress in writing that the FBI was again looking at issues related to Clinton's emails. He didn't say it publicly, but it became clear the emails in question were found on a machine shared by top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. The FBI notified Congress two days before the election that, after further review, they still wouldn't be recommending charges. Then-Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said the FBI's actions cost Democrats the election. That's debatable, but the late drama certainly didn't help.
Read CNN's November 2016 report about bombshell No. 3
Clinton was barely mentioned by Democrats or Republicans at the House Intelligence hearing Monday on the issue of Russian meddling in the election, during which Comey confirmed what has long been reported in the press: that throughout the heat of the general election, the FBI was also investigating possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Comey said that investigation began in late July, although he did not go into detail.
That's bombshell No. 4, which is actually more of a twofer. Comey also refuted President Donald Trump's assertion on Twitter that Obama had ordered wiretaps of his phones at Trump Tower. Comey said there was no evidence to support those tweets.
Read CNN's March 2017 report about bombshell #4
Trump did not respond directly to Comey on the wiretapping issue, but he did tease the idea that maybe either Comey or Obama had leaked information about the investigation to the press. And he also tweeted "The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process."
When a congressman read the @POTUS tweet to the FBI director, he was able to dismiss it almost in real time.
"It was not our intention to say that today," Comey said, creating the strange effect of the FBI director and the President communicating publicly through social media and congressional testimony.
But for Comey, there was nothing strange about being at the center of attention -- while dividing opinion among some of the most powerful people on Earth. ... mes-comey/
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:56 am

What Did We Learn Today?

ByJOSH MARSHALLPublishedMARCH 20, 2017, 5:48 PM EDT

Judged by time, today's House Intelligence Committee hearing was mainly an exercise in hypotheticals and 'no comments'. For those who hadn't gotten the full treatment until now, it was also an exposure to what we might term James Comey's militant earnestness.

What did we learn?

Let's start with the least mysterious: we learned today about as definitively as we are likely to learn that President Trump's claim that President Obama wiretapped him in Trump Tower is false. Seeing this stated so clearly is significant. But mainly we knew this.

The big revelation is that there is an on-going investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and potential "coordination" between the Trump campaign and those Russian efforts.

This revelation is consequential enough to quote Comey verbatim: "I've been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI as part of our counterintelligence mission is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts."

Comey said this investigation is on-going and that it began in "late July."

To draw the very direct conclusion: the investigation continues and one of its key components is whether there was coordination between the Trump entourage and the Russian hacking effort. Ergo, it is false to suggest that that question has been settled in the negative. We have also heard from a number of people who are either disinterested or clearly unsympathetic to Trump that there is as yet no clear evidence of collusion or coordination. So that question remains open, at least as far as we know.

Let's now look at the reference to the investigation starting in "late July." This is highly significant since it appears to have well predated much of the public discussion of the Trump/Russia issue. Indeed, it came only weeks after Comey's extraordinary public statement on the end of the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails.

Back on July 23, I published a lengthy post on Trump and Russia ("Trump & Putin. Yes, It's Really a Thing"), my first on the subject as far as I can remember. No, you can relax. I'm not going to claim my post triggered anything. What I do believe is that there were a series of developments coming together at right around that time which built up to a critical mass of intriguing and suspicious evidence that something was afoot. Things that had seemed a bit odd or weird began to seem like something more tangible and requiring of explanation. There were public developments I and others were reacting to. There were also others we did not know about at the time.

While my post was on July 23, I actually researched and wrote it in the few days preceding. The initial WikiLeaks leak of DNC emails was on July 22. In other words, this happened in the midst of the two or three days I was working on the post. The whole thing struck me as bizarre and improbable - too far-fetched to include in a discussion of what I considered quite tangible and probative information. So I didn't include the emails because it wasn't clear at the time, at least not to me, that there was any connection between that and Russian hacking, let alone Trump.

But consider what else had happened in July.

On July 7, Carter Page gave a speech in Moscow which was generally hostile to US policy vis a vis Russia. He may have had other meetings - there are various unproven claims. But the speech is a public fact. The visit was approved by Corey Lewandowski, Trump's soon to be fired campaign manager, after being rejected by J.D. Gordon, Page's supervisor on the campaign's National Security Advisory Committee.

On July 11 and 12, there was the fiddling with the platform language dealing with Ukraine at the GOP convention. Gordon played into that, too, as the person who muted the language about "lethal aide" at the behest of the now-President.

On July 22, Wikileaks released the first batch of DNC emails allegedly purloined by Russian intelligence agents.

On July 27, now-President Trump made his infamous pronouncement asking Russia to do more hacking of Hillary Clinton. "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 33,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

As you can see, quite a lot came up in rapid succession in July 2016. It's hardly a surprise that that's when the probe began. There are a few other developments to note in the month previous. Paul Manafort was put in charge of delegate management on March 28 but it was only on June 21st that he took over as campaign chief after Corey Lewandowski was fired. A few days earlier on June 17, The Washington Post published this story detailing the candidate Trump's deep financial ties to Russia. Three days earlier, on June 14, the Post published the first account that claimed that the Russian government had penetrated the DNC computer networks and stole material. Also notable was this too little seen Bloomberg article detailing the scale of Trump's indebtedness. That was published on July 19.

Here's one more speculative possibility. We know from numerous published reports that Gen Mike Flynn's communications with Russian Ambassador Kislyak began before the Presidential election. How far back did they go? Flynn's role in the Trump campaign solidified in the late Spring of 2016. If Flynn was having those contact before of the July, that likely would have figured into the decision to launch a probe. Significantly, the leadership of intelligence community would have known that soon after the convention Trump would receive his first intelligence briefings, likely along with Gen. Flynn.

As I said, a number of things fell into place in July 2016. Those came after other developments in June which weren't so clear cut but may have raised more suspicious when see through the prism of events in July.

Here I would like to add what I think is another key part of the equation. As I argued early this month, the CIA and FBI almost certainly knew years before Trump became a presidential candidate that he had deep business ties to members of the Russian criminal underworld and significant reliance on money from the former Soviet Union to fund his business ventures. Before Trump became a possible President this probably didn't matter all that much. He was flashy real estate developer and a reality tv star. He may have had some protection if he had some long-standing relationship with the FBI.

But all of this would have taken on greater significance as he made his improbable move from reality tv clown to possible president. I believe this is the backdrop through which we must see everything prior to the summer of 2016. By July, there was probably enough, probably more than enough to start an investigation. Remember, conspiracy theories aside, everyone involved – NSA, FBI, CIA, DOJ – likely would have been quite skittish about getting even close to the national election. At some time in July, there was enough smoke to overcome those concerns.

What we do not know is whether there were yet other developments, not known to the public, which also pushed things forward. ... earn-today

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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:03 am

FBI’s Russian-influence probe includes a look at far-right news sites

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say.

Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused by the FBI of ordering a campaign intended to influence the U.S. election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused by the FBI of ordering a campaign intended to influence the U.S. election. Mikhail Klimentyev AP
The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bot attacks are part of an FBI-led investigation into a multifaceted Russian operation to influence last year’s elections.

Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives. Their participation, however, wasn’t necessary for the bots to amplify their news through Twitter and Facebook.

The investigation of the bot-engineered traffic, which appears to be in its early stages, is being driven by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, whose inquiries rarely result in criminal charges and whose main task has been to reconstruct the nature of the Kremlin’s cyber attack and determine ways to prevent another.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment on the inquiry into the use of bots.

Russia-generated bots are one piece of a cyber puzzle that counterintelligence agents have sought to solve for nearly a year to determine the extent of the Moscow government’s electronic broadside.

“This may be one of the most highly impactful information operations in the history of intelligence,” said one former U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Bureau director James Comey confirmed Monday at a House Intelligence Committee hearing what long has been reported: t`hat the FBI is investigating possible links between individuals in the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian campaign to influence the election and whether there was any coordination between the two.

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, one of multiple congressional panels examining Russia’s intervention, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that there was “circumstantial evidence of collusion.” There also is “direct evidence . . . of deception, and that’s where we begin the investigation,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California.

U.S. intelligence agencies charged in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the offensive, in which cyber operatives also hacked tens of thousands of emails from Democratic National Committee staff, Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta and other Democrats.

A top priority of investigators is to determine who delivered those hacked emails to WikiLeaks, a London-based transparency site that published them online, the sources said. News stories about the emails embarrassed Clinton at key points in the campaign. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied that the Russian government was the source of the email dump.

As for the bots, they carried links not only to news stories but also to Democratic emails posted on WikiLeaks, especially those hacked from Podesta and made public in October, said Philip Howard, a professor at the Oxford University Internet Institute who has researched the bot attacks.

Howard said that, as an example, bots had spread links to fictional stories that accused Clinton of involvement in running a child-sex ring in the basement of a Washington pizza parlor. The posts inspired a North Carolina man to drive to Washington and fire an assault weapon in the restaurant, according to police reports.

Howard’s study of bot-generated Twitter traffic during last fall’s Trump-Clinton campaign debates showed that bot messages favorable to Trump significantly outnumbered those sympathetic to Clinton.

He said his research showed that Americans who call themselves “patriotic programmers” also activated bots to aid Trump. In interviews, they described coding the computer commands in their spare time, Howard said.

Unlike counterintelligence investigators with more cyber-sleuthing capabilities, Howard has not established that Russia was the source of the bot attacks he studied.

Russia also used “trolls,” hundreds of computer operatives who pretended to be Trump supporters and posted stories or comments on the internet complimentary to Trump or disparaging to Clinton. Sources close to the inquiry said those operatives likely worked from a facility in St. Petersburg, Russia, dedicated to that tactic.

“Russian bots and internet trolls sought to propagate stories underground,” said Mike Carpenter, a former senior Pentagon official during the Obama administration whose job focused on Russia. “Those stories got amplified by fringe elements of our media like Breitbart.”

“They very carefully timed release of information to shift the news cycle away from stories that clearly hurt Mr. Trump, such as his inappropriate conduct over the years,” he said, referring to the October release of a video in which Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. That event corresponded with a surge in bot-related traffic spreading anti-Clinton stories.

An additional Russian tool was the news from its prime propaganda machine, Russia Today, with a global television and digital media operation and a U.S. arm, RT America.

Last Nov. 19, Breitbart announced that its website traffic had set a record the previous 31 days with 300 million page views, driven substantially by social media.

Breitbart, which has drawn criticism for pursuing a white nationalist agenda, was formerly led by Stephen Bannon, who became chief executive officer of Trump’s election campaign last August and now serves as Trump’s strategic adviser in the White House. The news site’s former national security editor, Sebastian Gorka, was a national security adviser to Trump’s campaign and presidential transition team. He now works as a key Trump counterterrorism adviser.

Breitbart’s chief executive officer, Larry Solov, did not respond to phone and email requests seeking comment.

Bannon and Gorka have controversial profiles. Bannon has been accused of taking anti-immigrant and racist positions. Last week, the Jewish newspaper Forward reported that Gorka had taken a lifelong loyalty oath to a Hungarian far-right group that for decades was allied with the Nazi Party.

The White House declined to respond to questions about Gorka.

Breitbart is partially owned by Robert Mercer, the wealthy co-chief executive of a New York hedge fund and a co-owner of Cambridge Analytica, a small, London-based firm credited with giving Trump a significant advantage in gauging voter priorities last year by providing his campaign with at least 5,000 data points on each of 220 million Americans.

InfoWars is published by Alex Jones, a Texas-based conservative talk show host known for embracing conspiracy theories such as one asserting that the U.S. government was involved in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. During the 2016 campaign, was a loyal Trump public relations tool. Trump was on Jones’ show and praised his reporting.

“It’s the major source of everything,” Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant and campaign adviser, said last fall. Stone, who has regularly appeared on Jones’ show and was on Monday, has said he invites an FBI investigation into his campaign role. The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Stone to preserve documents in connection with the Russian election inquiry.

Jones responded to questions from McClatchy on his talk show.

“I’m not gonna sit here and say, ‘I’m not a Russian stooge,’ because it’s a (expletive) lie,” he said, denying any contact with the Kremlin operatives about bots. He said this issue stemmed from “this whole ridiculous narrative of the bitching left.”

“It’s as if we didn’t build InfoWars,” he said. “It’s as if we don’t have a huge audience.”

Noting he had appeared on RT “probably 100 times or more,” he said sarcastically, “There’s my Russian connection.”

Boosted by bots, the surge in readership for such websites amplified Clinton’s negatives. Some stories falsely described her health problems as dire. Jones said Monday that people gravitated to his website “because we were the first to report Hillary Clinton falling down.” He referred to Clinton appearing to collapse last Sept. 11 after visiting the World Trade Center memorial. She was diagnosed with pneumonia.

“The full impact of the bots was subterranean and corrosive,” Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, told McClatchy in an interview. “The distribution channels were being flooded with this information. . . . We perhaps underestimated the strategy of pushing fake news out through social media and how it impacted the race.”

Donna Brazile, the former interim director of the DNC, said that neither the party committee nor the Clinton campaign had used bots to widen the reach of their anti-Trump messages.

At least one of the congressional committees investigating the Russian meddling is looking into the bots.

The Senate Intelligence Committee “intends to look actively at ‘fake’ news and the ways that Russian bots and trolls were used to influence the election,” said Rachel Cohen, a spokeswoman for Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel’s ranking Democrat.

Russia’s offensive might have been anticipated from a speech a top Kremlin official made in February 2016.

In the speech in Moscow, Andrey Krutskikh told a conference of Russian computer security officials that the Putin government would be unleashing a cyber nuclear attack reminiscent of Russia’s 1949 development of the atom bomb. Krutskikh, whose speech was first reported by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and independently confirmed by McClatchy, also reportedly said the offensive would cause U.S. officials to gain respect for Russia’s cyber capabilities.

“Russia has again figured out from its old Soviet playbook that its greatest weapon in the world is information,” said Lauren Goodrich, senior Eurasia analyst at the Stratfor Corp., a global intelligence firm based in Austin, Texas. “Its information and disinformation campaigns have skyrocketed.”

She said the Kremlin’s budget for “public information” had quadrupled this year as it mounted similar cyber attacks on behalf of right-wing candidates in France, Germany and other European countries.

Read more here: ... rylink=cpy

FBI now investigating Breitbart and InfoWars as part of its probe into Donald Trump and Russia
By Bill Palmer | March 20, 2017 | 0

Just hours after FBI Director James Comey confirmed on live national television today that his agency is actively investigating Russia and the Donald Trump campaign for their roles in rigging the 2016 election, it turns out the probe is even wider than acknowledged. McClatchy is now confirming that the FBI is also investigating the actions of two far right news outlets with direct ties to the Trump administration, as part of its Trump-Russia probe.

Part of the Russian government’s strategy for rigging the election involved using automated internet bots to spread pro-Trump news stories from sites like Breitbart and InfoWars in rapid fashion, helping those stories artificially go viral on social media, and giving Donald Trump a boost in the process. The FBI is investigating whether or not those news outlets were knowingly involved in this Russian government promotional process.

This hits close to home for Donald Trump on both counts. For the past several years, including the first half of the 2016 election cycle, Breitbart was run by Steve Bannon, who later took over Trump’s campaign and now serves as his White House Chief Strategist. InfoWars is run by Alex Jones, who serves as an informal Trump adviser. In a sign of just how little control Donald Trump now has over the exploding Trump-Russia investigation, the FBI is now investigating both news sites to determine whether they were conspirators in the effort to rig the election.

The often false stories published by sites like Breitbart and InfoWars are not necessarily a crime under the law. But if these sites did conspire with a hostile foreign government in an effort to influence the election, that would be a different matter. So this FBI investigation into these two sites (source: McClatchy) is a big deal – and yet another potential blow to Donald Trump. ... ssia/2002/
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:11 am

Jim McGovern‏Verified account @RepMcGovern 6h6 hours ago
5. Both FBI Director #Comey and NSA Director Rogers confirmed US Intel report that Putin authorized #RussianHacking to help Trump win.


Jim McGovern‏Verified account @RepMcGovern 6h6 hours ago
1. FBI Director #Comey confirmed investigation of #RussianHacking AND possible #TrumpRussia coordination → could lead to criminal charges.

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