February 7, 2023 / by emptywheel


Disclosure Statement on Russian Investigation

I wrote this page as part of my response to Jeff Gerth’s “Russiagate” series published in CJR.

Virtually every time someone who uses the term “Russiagate,” as Gerth does, as part of a complaint that journalists didn’t identify problems with the dossier or other topics in real time, they suggest that only Russia denialists did so (they never substantiate that claim with reporting of denialists doing so). 

As I lay out below, I did identify such problems.

But even while I was critical of problematic parts of the Russian investigation, unlike the denialists, I did a good deal of work on what actually happened and what Mueller actually found.

Here’s just some of the work that made it easy to fact-check Gerth’s piece claiming that journalists weren’t being factual.

I predicted on July 30, 2015 that Trump could win the election.

I first criticized the Alfa Bank allegations on November 1, 2016. But I also showed how badly the FBI screwed up the investigation into the anomalies. 

I first laid out problems with the Steele dossier on January 11, 2017, and continued relentlessly ever since. I raised problems with a Jane Mayer profile of Steele. But unlike the “Russiagate” [sic] crowd, I also thought through the implications of signs it included disinformation. I described the double game that Oleg Deripaska deployed with Christopher Steele. I laid out how possible disinformation in the dossier exploited the secret call to the Kremlin that Trump and Michael Cohen were keeping from voters. 

On September 16, 2017, I described the impact of the Russian social media campaign this way: “So thus far what we’re seeing is the equivalent of throwing a few matches on top of the raging bonfire that is the well established, vicious, American-funded inferno of far right media.”

In my coverage of the Mike Flynn prosecution, I caught DOJ mixing up Pete Strzok and Joe Pientka’s notes, and caught Sidney Powell making 29 errors — a preview of her shoddy work on vote fraud claims. After DOJ set about attempting to undermine the Flynn prosecution, I caught them altering footers and adding post-it notes with dates — in at least one case, inaccurate — on Strzok and Andrew McCabe’s notes. I also caught them redacting Brandon Van Grack’s name in an interview report from a pro-Trump FBI agent used to attack the Mueller investigation, one that Gerth cites twice without context.

I’m one of just a few journalists who reported on Roger Stone’s discussions — starting no later than 7 days after the 2016 election — of a pardon for Julian Assange. I was, and (as far as I know) I remain, the single journalist who reported on a footnote unsealed on November 2, 2020 showing that an investigation into whether Roger Stone conspired to hack with Russia continued after the period when Mueller wrote his report.

More recently — and more directly relevant to this post — I laid out all the ways that Bill Barr deliberately sabotaged any obstruction charge against Trump before he left.

I’ve done far more reporting on the Mueller files that Jason Leopold liberated than anyone else writing publicly. That includes summaries of the testimony of people like George Papadopoulos, Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon, Rick Gates, and Sam Patten. I also did “Rashomon” stories, showing what four sets of documents said about the investigations into Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

But I didn’t shirk the critique of the Russian investigation. I did a long series on the DOJ IG Report; this summary post links to all the others. But I also showed ways that DOJ and FBI under Barr obfuscated the real take-away from the Page report.

I correctly laid out all the problems with John Durham’s indictment of Michael Sussmann. More uniquely, I correctly laid out all the problems with John Durham’s indictment of Igor Danchenko (this post includes links to all my Danchenko prosecution coverage).

Perhaps my most important and awkward disclosure is the fact that I shared information with the FBI about someone that I believed — and still believe — had a role in the operation. I’ve laid out limited aspects of what I shared on five occasions:

  • On July 3, 2018, I explained the reasons I went to the FBI, including my belief he might have contributed to damage to innocent people (which was a reference to the worldwide damage done in a cyberattack using files released by Shadow Brokers, NSA’s hacking tools repurposed against the world). I went to the FBI because of certain lies I had learned he had told to others. I went to the FBI because I worried his admitted attempts to exploit this website, on top of endangering the site itself, might otherwise expose the privacy of my readers. I’ve since learned I was not the only person alarmed by his fraudulent behavior.
  • On October 26, 2020, I described how a comment he covertly signed, Guccifer 2.0, led me to reconsider things he did immediately after the disclosure of the DNC hack and things he had told me months before that. I had no way of knowing then, but a number of the things he told me earlier are entirely consistent with details (such as time and place of key events) we’ve since learned of the operation.
  • On November 1, 2020, I explained how being told there was a forensic tie between Shadow Brokers and Guccifer 2.0 led me to have more confidence in my suspicions that he had a role in Shadow Brokers.
  • On March 28, 2022, I confirmed that he had played a (minor) role in pushing the NYT to pursue the Alfa Bank allegations.
  • On March 29, 2022, I explained how he had done things — like telling a false story with what I believe to be a fabricated DNS record — that was similar to accusations John Durham was making, without basis, against others.


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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/portfolio-item/disclosure-statement-on-russian-investigation/