Under Cover of the Nunes Memo, Russian Spooks Sneak Openly into Meetings with Trump’s Administration

On December 17, Vladimir Putin picked up the phone and called Donald Trump.

Ostensibly, the purpose of the call was to thank Trump for intelligence the US provided Russia that helped them thwart a terrorist attack. Here’s what the White House readout described.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called President Donald J. Trump today to thank him for the advanced warning the United States intelligence agencies provided to Russia concerning a major terror plot in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Based on the information the United States provided, Russian authorities were able to capture the terrorists just prior to an attack that could have killed large numbers of people. No Russian lives were lost and the terrorist attackers were caught and are now incarcerated. President Trump appreciated the call and told President Putin that he and the entire United States intelligence community were pleased to have helped save so many lives. President Trump stressed the importance of intelligence cooperation to defeat terrorists wherever they may be. Both leaders agreed that this serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together. President Putin extended his thanks and congratulations to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo and the CIA. President Trump then called Director Pompeo to congratulate him, his very talented people, and the entire intelligence community on a job well done!

Putin, of course, has a history of trumping up terrorist attacks for political purposes (which is not to say he’s the only one).

In Trump’s Russia, top spooks come to you

That call that Putin initiated serves as important background to an event (or several — the details are still uncertain) that happened earlier this week, as everyone was distracted with Devin Nunes’ theatrics surrounding his memo attacking the Mueller investigation into whether Trump has engaged in a conspiracy with Russia. All three of Russia’s intelligence heads came to DC for a visit.

The visit of the sanctioned head of SVR, Sergey Naryshkin — Russia’s foreign intelligence service — was ostentatiously announced by Russia’s embassy.

SVR is the agency that tried to recruit Carter Page back in 2013, and which has also newly been given credit for the hack of the DNC in some Dutch reporting (and a recent David Sanger article). It’s clear that SVR wanted Americans to know that their sanctioned head had been through town.

As the week went on, WaPo reported that FSB’s Alexander Bortnikov and GRU’s Colonel General Igor Korobov had also been through town (GRU has previously gotten primary credit for the hack and Korobov was also sanctioned in the December 2016 response, and FSB was described as having an assisting role).

Pompeo met with Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service or SVR, and Alexander Bortnikov, who runs the FSB, which is the main successor to the Soviet-era security service the KGB.

The head of Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU, also came to Washington, though it is not clear he met with Pompeo.

A senior U.S. intelligence official based in Moscow was also called back to Washington for the meeting with the CIA chief, said a person familiar with the events, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive meeting.

Treasury defies Congress on Russian sanctions

These visits have been associated with Trump’s decision not to enforce congressionally mandated sanctions, claiming that the threat of sanctions is already working even as Mike Pompeo insists that Russia remains a threat. In lieu of providing a mandated list of Russians who could be sanctioned, Treasury basically released the Forbes list of richest Russians, meaning that the sanction list includes people who’re squarely opposed to Putin. In my opinion, reporting on the Forbes list underplays the contempt of the move. Then, today, Treasury released a memo saying Russia was too systematically important to sanction.

Schumer’s questions and Pompeo’s non-answers

Indeed, Chuck Schumer emphasized sanctions in a letter he sent to Dan Coats, copied to Mike Pompeo, about the Naryshkin visit (the presence of the others was just becoming public).

As you are well aware, Mr. Naryshkin is a Specially Designated National under U.S. sanctions law, which imposes severe financial penalties and prohibits his entry into the U.S. without a waiver. Moreover, the visit of the SVR chief occurred only days before Congress was informed of the president’s decision not to implement sanctions authorized the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was passed with near unanimous, bipartisan support. CAATSA was designed to impose a price on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies for well-documented Russian aggression and interference in the 2016 election. However, the administration took little to no action, even as Russia continues its cyberattacks on the U.S.

Certainly, that seems a fair conclusion to draw — that by emphasizing Naryshkin’s presence, Russia was also boasting that it was immune from Congress’ attempts to sanction it.

But Mike Pompeo, who responded to Schumer, conveniently responded only to Schumer’s public comments, not the letter itself.

I am writing to you in response to your press conference Tuesday where you suggested there was something untoward in officials from Russian intelligence services meeting with their U.S. counterparts. Let me assure you there is not. [my emphasis]

This allowed Pompeo to dodge a range Schumer’s questions addressing Russia’s attacks on the US.

What specific policy issues and topics were discussed by Mr. Naryshkin and U.S. officials?

    1. Did the U.S. officials who met with Mr. Naryshkin raise Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections?  If not, why was this not raised? If raised, what was his response?
    2. Did the U.S. officials who met with Mr. Naryshkin raise existing and congressionally-mandated U.S. sanctions against Russia discussed? If not, why was this not raised? If raised, what was his response?
    3. Did the U.S. officials who met with Mr. Naryshkin raise ongoing Russian cyber attacks on the U.S. and its allies, including reported efforts to discredit the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections? If not, why was this not raised? If raised, what was his response?
    4. Did the U.S. officials who met with Mr. Naryshkin make clear that Putin’s interference in the 2018 and 2020 elections would be a hostile act against the United States? If not, why was this not raised? If raised, what was his response?

Instead of providing responses to questions about Russian tampering, Pompeo instead excused the whole meeting by pointing to counterterrorism, that same purpose, indeed — the same attack — that Putin raised in his December phone call.

We periodically meet with our Russian intelligence counterparts — to keep America safe. While Russia remains an adversary, we would put American lives at greater risk if we ignored opportunities to work with the Russian services in the fight against terrorism. We are proud of that counterterror work, including CIA’s role with its Russian counterparts in the recent disruption of a terrorist plot targeting St. Petersburg, Russia — a plot that could have killed Americans.

[snip]

Security cooperation between our intelligence services has occurred under multiple administrations. I am confident that you would support CIA continuing these engagements that are aimed at protecting the American people.

The contempt on sanctions makes it clear this goes beyond counterterrorism

All this together should allay any doubt you might have that this meeting goes beyond counterterrorism, if, indeed, it even has anything to do with counterterrorism.

Just as one possible other topic, in November, WSJ reported that DOJ was working towards charging Russians involved in the hack after the new year.

The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said. Discussions about the case are in the early stages, they said.

If filed, the case would provide the clearest picture yet of the actors behind the DNC intrusion. U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the attack to Russian intelligence services, but haven’t provided detailed information about how they concluded those services were responsible, or any details about the individuals allegedly involved.

Today, Russia issued a new warning that America is “hunting” Russians all over the world, citing (among others) hacker Roman Seleznev.

“American special services are continuing their de facto hunt for Russians all over the world,” reads the statement published on the ministry’s website on Friday. The Russian diplomats also gave several examples of such arbitrary detentions of Russian citizens that took place in Spain, Latvia, Canada and Greece.

“Sometimes these were actual abductions of our compatriots. This is what happened with Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was kidnapped in Liberia in 2010 and secretly taken to the United States in violation of Liberian and international laws. This also happened in 2014 with Roman Seleznyov, who was literally abducted in the Maldives and forcefully taken to American territory,” the statement reads.

The ministry also warned that after being handed over to the US justice system, Russian citizens often encounter extremely biased attitudes.

“Through various means, including direct threats, they attempt to coerce Russians into pleading guilty, despite the fact that the charges of them are far-fetched. Those who refuse get sentenced to extraordinarily long prison terms.”

And, as I noted earlier, Trey Gowdy — one of the few members of Congress who has seen where Mueller is going with this investigation — cited the import of the counterintelligence case against Russia in a Sunday appearance.

CHRIS WALLACE: Congressman, we’ll get to your concerns about the FBI and the Department of Justice in a moment. But — but let me begin first with this. Do you still trust, after all you’ve heard, do you still trust Special Counsel Robert Mueller to conduct a fair and unbiased investigation?

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-SC, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: One hundred percent, particularly if he’s given the time, the resources and the independence to do his job. Chris, he didn’t apply for the job. He’s where he is because we have an attorney general who had to recuse himself. So Mueller didn’t raise his hand and say, hey, pick me. We, as a country, asked him to do this.

And, by the way, he’s got two — there are two components to his jurisdiction. There is a criminal component. But there’s also a counterintelligence component that no one ever talks about because it’s not sexy and interesting. But he’s also going to tell us definitively what Russia tried to do in 2016. So the last time you and I were together, I told my Republican colleagues, leave him the hell alone, and that’s still my advice.

Schumer and other Democrats demanding answers about this visit might think about any ways the Russians might be working to undermine Mueller’s investigation or transparency that might come of it.

Three weeks of oversight free covert action

The timing of this visit is particularly concerning for another reason. In the three week continuing resolution to fund the government passed on January 22, the House Appropriations Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen added language that would allow the Administration to shift money funding intelligence activities around without telling Congress. It allows funds to,

“be obligated and expended notwithstanding section 504(a)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947.”

Section 504(a)(1) is the piece of the law that requires intelligence agencies to spend money on the program the money was appropriated for. “Appropriated funds available to an intelligence agency may be obligated or expended for an intelligence or intelligence-related activity only if those funds were specifically authorized by the Congress for use for such activities; or …”

The “or” refers to the intelligence community’s obligation to inform Congress of any deviation. But without any obligation to spend funds as specifically authorized, there is no obligation to inform Congress if that’s not happening.

Since the only real way to prohibit the Executive is to prohibit them to spend money on certain things, the change allows the Trump Administration to do things they’ve been specifically prohibited from doing for the three week period of the continuing resolution.

Senators Burr and Warner tried to change the language before passage on January 22, to no avail.

This year’s Defense Authorization included a whole slew of limits on Executive Branch activity, including mandating a report if the Executive cooperates with Russia on Syria and prohibiting any military cooperation until such time as Russia leaves Ukraine. It’s possible the Trump Administration would claim those appropriations-tied requirements could be ignored during the time of the continuing resolution.

Which just happened to cover the period of the Russian visit.

Our friends are getting nervous

Meanwhile, both before and after the visit, our allies have found ways to raise concerns about sharing intelligence with the US in light of Trump’s coziness with Russia. A key subtext of the stories revealing that Netherlands’ AIVD saw Russian hackers targeting the Democrats via a hacked security camera was that Rick Ledgett’s disclosure of that operation last year had raised concerns about sharing with the US.

President elect Donald Trump categorically refuses to explicitly acknowledge the Russian interference. It would tarnish the gleam of his electoral victory. He has also frequently praised Russia, and president Putin in particular. This is one of the reasons the American intelligence services eagerly leak information: to prove that the Russians did in fact interfere with the elections. And that is why intelligence services have told American media about the amazing access of a ‘western ally’.

This has led to anger in Zoetermeer and The Hague. Some Dutchmen even feel betrayed. It’s absolutely not done to reveal the methods of a friendly intelligence service, especially if you’re benefiting from their intelligence. But no matter how vehemently the heads of the AIVD and MIVD express their displeasure, they don’t feel understood by the Americans. It’s made the AIVD and MIVD a lot more cautious when it comes to sharing intelligence. They’ve become increasingly suspicious since Trump was elected president.

Then, the author of a book on Israeli’s assassinations has suggested that the intelligence Trump shared with the Russians goes beyond what got publicly reported, goes to the heart of Israeli intelligence operations.

DAVIES: So if I understand it, you know of specific information that the U.S. shared with the Russians that has not been revealed publicly and that you are not revealing publicly?

BERGMAN: The nature of the information that President Trump revealed to Foreign Minister Lavrov is of the most secretive nature.

Finally, a piece on the Nunes memo out today suggests the British will be less likely to share intelligence with Trump’s administration after the release of the memo (though this is admittedly based on US congressional claims, not British sources).

Britain’s spy agencies risk having their intelligence methods revealed if Donald Trump releases a controversial memo about the FBI, congressional figures have warned.

The UK will be less likely to share confidential information if the secret memo about the Russian investigation is made public, according to those opposing its release.

Clearly, this meeting goes beyond counterterrorism cooperation. And given the way that both Treasury and CIA have acted contemptuously in the aftermath of the visit, Schumer and others should be far more aggressive in seeking answers about what this visit really entailed.

Update: I’ve added the section on Section 504.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

75 replies
    • Les says:

      Innuendo is the new fact.

      Re: sourcing

      It’s  no surprise to anyone that Israelis, Turks, Americans, or other foreign intelligence officers are embedded within ISIS units.  That they may warn when ISIS there’s potential blowback from their plans is also another non-surprise.

  1. Trip says:

    I wish I had saved the link, but supposedly there had been legitimate effort put into the sanctions list and it was completed, but was then substituted out for the Forbes list.

     

     

    • Avattoir says:

      It reads like a Grade 3 report on a book the kid didn’t read. Every phrase comes across like it was drafted in crayon.

      The most disturbing thing about it s that those involved in putting it up have actual government power.

  2. Trip says:

    As a refresher, Cummings wrote a letter to Gowdy about a whistleblower:

    Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, told a former business associate that economic sanctions against Russia would be “ripped up” as one of the Trump administration’s first acts, according to an account by a whistle-blower made public on Wednesday.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/us/politics/michael-flynn-russia-sanctions-ripped-up-whistleblower.html

    When the whistleblower asked why the United States needed to be involved in a Middle East nuclear project, Mr. Copson explained that the U.S. would provide military support to defend these installations. He also explained that this would provide a pretext for placing US.military forces in these countries

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/06/us/politics/document-Gowdy-Flynn-Letter.html

    Yes, working together on “terrorism”, with an increase of military spending, while really brokering energy deals.

    BTW, The Nunes letter dropped.

    • matt says:

      I’m still torn on this issue.  The IP3 deal is a better alternative for development and reducing endless war in the Middle East.  Yes our National interests are still protected and we still semi-dominate as an imperial power… but a presence that involves defending the economic engines of a developing economy (nuclear plants) is better than occupying heaps of rubble (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen…) that only serve to inflame US opposition.  I’m no “troll” of  Marcy’s viewpoints and I’m not a fan of Putin… but is it remotely possible that compromising with Russia is the least bad option moving forward with US foreign policy?

      • Trip says:

        In order to buy this as a turning, one must actually believe that Trump is someone with altruistic leanings and a master of diplomacy. I don’t accept either of those prerequisites. I think it’s simply a shift in control, with governments being used to enrich specific oligarchal systems, using military might to ensure and protect it. The fact that the shift is toward more hard line and hard right despot-leaning structures, with bigotry attached, should cause pause. That this is all about peace and an egalitarian international society should register as nonsense. It’s still a thrust toward consolidating power and resources, while keeping ‘undesirables’ out, and risking nuclear war capabilities in unstable regions. When you start off with the premise that certain people aren’t invited to the party, you insure that there will be conflict.

        Trump has never been about anyone else, but Trump.

    • Trip says:

      It looks like cribnotes from kid who hasn’t read the entire book.
      But yeah, completely anticlimactic, after the hype. This doesn’t look like the blockbuster the studio producer thought it might be. Plus, McCabe’s comment without context and the transcript document doesn’t amount to much. We can’t read the FISA requests, etc.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Yep. But Comey knows more context than what is now public.

        https://www.twitter.com/Comey/status/959498570532577285

        “That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”

        • Trip says:

          One thing I will say, I don’t really understand how this memo was highly classified material. It didn’t reveal methods, or harm national security, did it?  I realize I don’t have expertise in this area, it simply came across to me like the gov’t classifies everything. But I did only do one run through the memo.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Still parsing after two passes.

            There is some interesting info.

            Wondering if there are *two* investigations.

            Interesting is that it *was* classified TS//NOFORN

            Why? Just default? Or was it to catch leakers via the NOFORN?

            • Trip says:

              Here’s what Marcy said:
              Folks: The reason the FBI et al say the memo harms NatSec is: 1) It tells Page (some of ) exactly when he was targeted. 2) It will make it easier for defendants to get to review their FISA application, which no defendants have in 40 years.

  3. TarheelDem says:

    If everything was indeed as copacetic as presented, we would be due for a set of Strategic Arms Reduction Talks that lowered the number of nuclear weapons to 300 and then launched talks for complete build-down of nuclear weapons with a reprocessing regime that directed the nuclear fuel to subsidize electric generation plants as it did in previous START treaties.  It has the bold public move that an egomaniac would like.   Crazy sanity like the Reykjavik Summit would be appreciated by ordinary people right now.

    If everything was indeed as copacetic as presented….

    Can anyone else see the possibility of nation states uniting to get the non-state actors out of their game?

    Or are we heading toward the metastasis of militias, jihadis, and mercenaries?

    Having economies with work that diverts from the security of a military career would also help.

    This is not a matter of a little breach of norms.  Either it is a new global system or it isn’t.  Right now the duplicity of the Cold War Republican Party means that it is neither fish nor fowl.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In my opinion, reporting on the Forbes list underplays the contempt of the move.

    Indeed.  It’s a pike in the eye to both parties in Congress, especially his own.  It’s putting Trump’s personal interest ahead of everything else.  It also gives up nuthin’.  The names on the Forbes list were already out there; Trump’s intel community gave up none of their own names, which might have included friends of Mr. Putin.  Who knew being president could be so easy?

    “Russia was too systematically important to sanction.”

    That language, a variation on Too Big To Fail, may come back to haunt Obama’s Dems and their support for NYC’s Wall Street firms, whose rapacious practices nearly brought down the global financial system. Instead of threatening global finance – which refuses to lend to him – Mr. Trump threatens American governance and the rule of law. He’s the Best!

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    We don’t need no stinkin’ Limeys! Or Dutchmen! Or Israelis! Or anybody. Teacake anyone?

    How happy is Mr. Trump making his Uncle Vlad that he’s undermining American alliances and intelligence sharing with everyone but Russia? What Trumpian interests could be worth upending seven decades of information sharing and alliance building? The Chinese must be pretty happy, too. Most countries have to be invaded to obtain these sorts of results.

    Mr. Trump is right, “It’s a disgrace what’s happening in this country.” He’s what’s happening to this country.

    • 200Toros says:

      It would not surprise me at all if we learn that Putin has hired someone (young, pretty, exquisite manicure) whose sole responsibility is to pinch him occasionally, throughout the day (but not too hard), just so he can be sure he’s not lost in some euphoric fantasy. Surely even in his wildest, most late-night, wantonly optimistic estimations of how his opportunistic machinations might play out, he couldn’t possibly have imagined all THIS.

  6. Trip says:

    I have to repost this, it’s so funny

    emptywheel‏ @emptywheel

    MAN YOU GUYS GOT TAKEN FOR A FUCKING HAY RIDE BY DEVIN NUNES.

    News at 11.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Ironic. Yeah, the house and potus got on the hayride, but none of them probably know that there is no hay on a hayride. It is straw.

      And it sure looks like they are grasping at straws.

      [To keep them straight:

      Hay is alfalfa. Straw is wheat stalk.
      Hay is for horses. It is feed. It is nutritious.
      Straw is fiber, not nutritious.
      Horses sleep on straw, they do not eat straw]

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Maybe it is only Nunes grasping at straws, because election. Maybe it is all about name recognition. That the entire purpose of the nothingburger memo is to help Nunes get re-elected.

          Yet…

          We keep hearing about how it is the dems that hired Fusion GPS. Little noise about pubs hiring Fusion GPS *to investigate Trump*!

          http://www.fresnobee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/political-notebook/article192652244.html

          Janz pointed to a New York Times report that says the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website funded by billionaire Republican donor Paul Singer, informed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that it hired research firm Fusion GPS in 2015 to investigate Donald Trump and other presidential candidates.

          The Free Beacon released a statement saying none of the information it paid Fusion GPS to dig up was in the dossier.

          [If Nunes not around next year to ‘steer’ committee…]

  7. Willis Warren says:

    Ya know, for a guy who gets insulted by every little thing… Trump has been pretty quiet about the sossier. I mean, he lashes out at anyone who slights him remotely, but the dossier has some real BIG accusations and he’s never really addressed them beyond calling them fake.

    Methinks he knew it was coming

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Memo is a puff piece used in support for weeks of Republican attempts to discredit the FBI and the Mueller investigation.

    The Memo tries to tar the leadership of the DoJ and FBI, to create a sense of illegitimacy in their work.  Its bootstrap to get near that larger objective is an allegedly faulty application to the FISA court (four, really, an original and three renewals, reviewed by different judges), seeking authorization based on probable cause to surveil a former aide to Donald Trump, Carter Page.  A thin bootstrap for such a big objective.

    The Memo contains no support for its exaggerated assertions.  It implies without support, for example, that the Steele Dossier was the sole factual basis for the application to surveil Page.  Information already public (the applications are classified) suggests there was abundant evidence beyond the Dossier that could have been used in the application to the FISA court.

    Devin Nunes made shit up.  He used it to justify weeks of bad political theater demonizing the DoJ and the FBI.  Both have a checkered history in protecting civil rights.  But this matter and this issue are not part of that.  Nancy Pelosi is correct.  Nunes should be dismissed from his chairmanship and from the HPSCI.  His behavior is corrupt. To repeat the billion dollar question, what is Donald Trump protecting that he is willing to go to these lengths? (Somebody please get Carter a new hat.)

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    United States Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions just threw his own DoJ under the bus.

    Consistently using the passive voice, Sessions post-Memo press release says that he supports his great department, but that no department is perfect.  So he will send to appropriate people in his department any information he receives from Congress about this “grave affair” (the circumstances described in the Memo).  He and his department work for the American people, and Jeffy will have his people “get to the bottom of this.”

    Man, does this guy have thick knee pads.  I never thought that Alberto Gonzales would have so much competition for worst Attorney General ever.

    • Trip says:

      So he will send to appropriate people in his department any information he receives from Congress about this “grave affair”

      I read this in the voice of Scarlet O’Hara.

    • Avattoir says:

      Patterico has repugnant politics & I’m not alone among the emptywheel readers who got into online tussles with him during Fitzgerald’s investigation in the CIA leaks and in the Scooter Scrolls, but he is (or was at that point, at least; I haven’t kept up with him) an actual government prosecutor.

      (Supposedly NR’s Andrew McCarthy was also a prosecutor at some point, as distinct from a government lawyer, but that’s way harder to swallow.)

  10. greengiant says:

    Russian spooks following Cheney rules, nothing in writing?  Fill in the blanks for demands and requests. What do they bring in return? The results of hacking and phishing, information even the CIA and FBI can’t legally get, metadata and such to identify US targets and what else?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      She never intended to go anyway.
      Potus is full of crap.

      http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/new-york-times-forced-to-heavily-amend-another-supposed-kt-mcfarland-scoop/article/2642586

      Ms. McFarland had told lawmakers that she did not discuss or know anything about interactions between Sergey I. Kislyak, who had been Moscow’s ambassador to the United States, and Mr. Flynn, according to Senate documents.

      But emails obtained by The New York Times appear to undermine those statements. In a Dec. 29 message about newly imposed Obama administration sanctions against Russia for its election interference, Ms. McFarland, then serving on Mr. Trump’s transition team, told another transition official that Mr. Flynn would be talking to the Russian ambassador that evening.

  11. Rapier says:

    The weirdest thing to me in the Putin phone call, which I am seeing as Dec 14 and updated on the 15th, was Putin’s praise of the stock market.

    “Look at how the markets have grown. This speaks to investors’ trust in the American economy.

    “This indicates the confidence of investors in the American economy. This indicates they have confidence in what President Trump is doing in this sphere.”

    Those are the quotes I got here,
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-15/trump-thanks-putin-for-remarks-on-strong-us-economy/9263338

    This would be a strange thing to put out for public attribution by any foreign official. However by a Russian President the statement is bizarre, except as the most obvious sort of flattery. If Putin is actually all in on inflating US stocks and other assets to the moon, well… there is simply no possible way to understand how he could be.

    No, I think Putin understands full well that financial markets are vulnerable and heck, when push comes to shove, would not be unhappy to see financial market deflation and even serious liquidity issues further paralyze politics and governance here. . I will say an odd thing, Without inflating asset prices Trump is toast.

  12. JAAG says:

    Hmmm. Bruce Ohr’s wife works for Genn Simpson. Glenn Simpson gets Dossier out and into McCaain hands. McCain launches anti trump movement in GOP. Nunes releases first few minor details that GPS could be DOJ cut out.

    Did Dossier start in FBI prior to Trump candidacy? Was it boomeranged out via point man Steele to reintroduce to the GOP fold from outside?

    Just reacting to a small data point. Not up to granular speed

    • cat herder says:

      Very few things in this modern world are simple binaries – yes/no, good/bad. I know this must be a shock to you. Get over it and grow up.

      • Avattoir says:

        Is this Nunes caper another of those “the Left will support us on this” crayon-simple delusions to which Trump et al are so hilariously prone?

        And, is Devin Nunes actually Ralph Wiggum?

  13. Claes Hagstromer says:

    Since Nunes has said he appointed only one of his investigators to read the actual FISA request/order and it will not be made public, we either have to trust the Nunes memo that the dossier was a primary reason for the McCabe FISA order or not! And we also have to trust that the memo depicts McCabe’s testimony saying the same thing or not! So why not have this aide and McCabe testify PUBLICLY like the good old Watergate hearings when we actually had ONE version of the truth afterwards i.o. TWO versions now (left and right)????!!

  14. TGuerrant says:

    To give us something to look forward to, Nunes now says there will be more memos and the next one will be on the State Department’s role in the Russian investigation.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      The Zhenya operation. Sort of an extension of the Illegals Program that caught Anna Chapman and others in 2010. The conversations about Page were mentioned (though he was not identified) in that linked announcement.

  15. bellesouth says:

    TITLE I—ENHANCEMENTS TO FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE COLLEC-
    TION AND SAFEGUARDS, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND OVERSIGHT

    http:// docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20180108/BILLS-115S139-RCP115-%2053.pdf

    It looks like the FBI got its FISA ticket neutralized by this legislation. Any lawfags can take a look?
    JANUARY 05, 2018 RULES COMMITTEE PRINT 115–53 TEXT OF THE FISA AMENDMENTS REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2017 [Based on the text of H.R. 4478, as reported by the Permanent Committee on Intelligence]

  16. tim ashby says:

    russia has done nothing to us that we haven’t done and aren’t currently doing to them in spades. the dnc’s revealed chicanery wasn’t a hack, it was a leak. The leak went to assange, who said it wasn’t a state actor who provided the leak. but he’s a russian tool, right? like anyone else who doesn’t fall for the requisite misdirection, a ludicrous “new cold war” explanation for the most embarrassing loss in electoral history. what the two gluttonous and bribed parties agree on is worth covering, too — the bipartisan support for re-upping FISA and our pretty much blanket domestic surveillance and our global hegemony and perennial war. if you’re looking for the democrats to save us, you’re mistaken, just as you would be to be cheering on the republicans or imbecile trump right now. we have about a thousand foreign bases around the globe. russia has about two. can you imagine if russia had its own kind of NATO in central america down through south america as we do virtually on its border in eastern europe (breaking our word) or manufactured a coup in costa rico as we did in ukraine? perhaps we’re the only country who can invade another, completely ignoring international sovereignty, and cause so much death and destruction and chaos that it makes the remaining denizens long for the despot we deposed. our bipartisan increase in defense spending was like tens of billions of dollars more than was even requested by the recipient agencies, the increase alone billions more than the entire military budget of whole nations. the russians can’t do anything to the increasingly precipitous decline of our country that we haven’t already or aren’t willing for purposes of greed and power to do to ourselves. it’s heartbreaking seeing the Left, of all people, cheerleading the fbi and cia, who have proved themselves to be particularly creepy and nefarious enemies of the Left (not just domestically, but all over the world) — to see the Left, of all people, kettling anyone who disagrees into a category like “russian bot” is outrageous. you might as well go all out and call anyone who didn’t jump up and down about the goldwater girl’s loss to a moron “pinkos” and let the rotten corpse of joe mccarthy consummate. clinton and obama, under cover and aid from out international war machine, utterly destroyed libya, which is now run by hooligans and terrorists and openly public slave traders who make qaddafi look like yoda. cool-headed, eloquent, well-coiffed obama (see macron & trudeau), our nobel-peace-prize-winning president, in his last year in office alone, 2016, dropped over 26,000 bombs on the middle east (equals 70 a day, 3 per hour, 24 hrs. a day). remember his kill lists, making assassinations par for the course? remember when he put social security on the bargaining table (thank god the stupid republicans kicked the entire table over in one of their fits). remember what he allowed to happen to Chelsea Manning? Remember that he arrested and charged under the draconian Espionage Act more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined? remember how he deported more people than any other president (that’s the record insensate trump is trying to beat). remember how he used to slip awful little things into his national defense authorization acts? there’s a lot to protest right now, but it isn’t freakin’ russia.

    • bmaz says:

      Trip is right when says:

      You really don’t comprehend nuance, if you think Marcy is all about cheering for the FBI.

      Heck, you apparently don’t even understand the straight up obvious or have never particularly read this website.

      Also, please learn the concept of paragraph breaks when issuing your obtuse missives..

      • Trip says:

        This seems to be a theme. I know I am verbose, but jeez, the other day someone responded to you with a run on sentence that was a paragraph long. There were a million commas, with a multitude of digressions inserted, where it became completely incomprehensible. (and headache inducing)

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If they weren’t talking about “counterterrorism”, what were the top Russian and American intelligence officials talking about? Why did the Russians out those conversations?

    Normally, those conversations and their location remain secret. How often do we hear about US intel meetings with French, German or British counterparts, for example? Normally, if the parties announce them, it’s a joint or concurrent announcement, with an agreed cover story about their discussions.

    Not so with Putin and his top intelligence officials. Putin is on top, shirt off, in control. He’s smoothly hip tossed Trump to the ground and has him in a choke hold. That’s some Russian leverage over a Republican President.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      On Auntie Beeb, “pissed” means drunk, of course, not “angry”.  About as couth as saying “loo” for toilet, and is a less polite word for the American “bathroom”, which is a tad unfair to the English, since the toilet is often in another room from the bath, which Americans “take” and the English “have”.

      But the Beeb is more politically correct than NPR.  Besides, it probably thinks its listeners will have enough trouble with standard American without asking them to parse colloquialisms.  Odd, given its penchant for American television and that it asks its listeners to parse regional dialects now, in addition to RP.  Thankfully, Oxbridge is right out.

      Had Marcy said, “Piss off”, she wouldn’t have gotten away with it either, but that doesn’t mean “angry”, it means “fuck off”, which would lead to mirthful letters about bumptious colonials and the odd question in Parliament.  Nicely done, Dr. Marcy.

  18. Avattoir says:

    I feel I only have myself to blame for failing to anticipate earlofhuntingdon’s inquisition, when I could also have worked in that time last summer when Marcy almost gave poor Amy Goodman a stroke in calling out “ratfucker” Ed Butowsky.

  19. Rapier says:

    So I guess a partnership between the CIA and the Russian intelligence agencies the SVR the FSB and the GRU hasn’t raised any opposition and is barely mentioned anywhere from the entire US intelligence world because if there was we would have heard about it.  From their lips to the major medias ears and then our eyes is sure and certain when these things are in play.  After all who are you going to trust? Christopher Wray or  Sergey Naryshkin. It’s pretty much  a slam dunk even Wray will probably agree, advantage Russians.

    Personally I don’t have any problem with Russian intelligence being part of US counter intelligence. I mean, why not?

  20. x174 says:

    Trip–

    In your comment to matt (February 3, 2018 at 8:05 am), you wrote:

    “I think it’s simply a shift in control, with governments being used to enrich specific oligarchal systems, using military might to ensure and protect it.”

    I greatly appreciated this insight and would just like to add “military [and possibly intelligence] might to ensure and protect it” which seems to be a key concern of the piece.

    mt–
    your work discussing the Nune’s memo and the orbit of related players fills in some ever-widening gaps in the reportage in the msm, and i would like to thank you for sharing your expertise and knowledge, and pointing out certain loose threads that need pulling

  21. orionATL says:

    the matters directly discussed in ew’s post above strike me as extremely serious and probably constitute additional collusion between the trump administration and the russian state – in this case, amazingly, all three of the major cyber commands, at least two of which helped trump get elected.

    even if these russian entities had not helped trump get elected, it is hard to overemphasize just how extraordinary and contrary to american national security history and interests these trump admin behaviors are.

    pompeo is mentioned, what of coates and wray?

  22. orionATL says:

    ew, above:

    “… Instead of providing responses to questions about Russian tampering, Pompeo instead excused the whole meeting by pointing to counterterrorism, that same purpose, indeed — the same attack — that Putin raised in his December phone call…”

    it’s clear the trump administration is getting used to using ” we’re protecting national security” as part of its coverup of the real objectives of its actions and as part of its propaganda.

    while trump’s and pompeo’s behaviors don’t have to be explained as payback to the russians for helping trump get elected, that possibility is certainly being highlighted by meetings such as this involving both flagrant ignoring of congressional mandates and congressional co-operation from some trump-loving congresscritters to faciliate ignoring congress.

    psuedo-populism, ignorant, foolish citizens, and the world turned upside down.

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