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Timeline: How Rudy Made It Hard for Mike Pompeo to Show Any Leadership

American Oversight FOIAed the documents showing Rudy Giuliani’s campaign to smear Marie Yovanovitch and the Bidens at State. For some of these, this represents another instance where NGOs have successfully obtained documents refused to Congress, but many of these were turned over to Congress by State’s Inspector General Steve Linnick in early October.

I did a thread on the documents here, but wanted to lay out the timeline of what the documents include. What it shows is that Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pompeo spoke twice around the time Rudy delivered a packet of disinformation to the Secretary of State. When Rudy’s campaign started showing publicly, with response from other Ambassadors and Congress, Department of State blew off their concerns.

March 26-29: Rudy shares a packet of information with Mike Pompeo wrapped up with Trump and White House labels

The bulk of these records document Mike Pompeo talking with Rudy Giuliani twice — on March 26 and 29 — and appear to include the materials they talked about, the packet of disinformation Rudy sent to State. The March 26 call does not appear in some of the month-long metrics sheets (see PDF 43), which makes me wonder whether Rudy called out of the blue.

March 26, 9:49AM: S (Pompeo) speaking with Rudy

March 26, 9:53AM: S finished speaking with Rudy

Pages 59-100 appears to be the disinformation packet Rudy sent, as follows:

  • Cover sheet addressing the packet, ostensibly from the White House (59)
  • Trump Hotels cover sheets (60 and 73; 77 and 88)
  • Initial copy of Viktor Shokin notes (61-62)
  • One copy of Yuriy Lutsenko notes, with underlines on section Lutsenko interview (63-66)
  • Annotated copy of Shokin notes (67-68)
  • Annotated copy of Lutsenko notes, incorporating original underlines (69-72)
  • A list of names (including Sergii Luschenko) (74)
  • A March 2016 letter from George Kent on US Embassy in Ukraine letterhead responding to a query about how US assistance was spent, with a post-it titled “Solomon articles” (75-76)
  • Two timelines (in another Trump folder) with no headers or title, ostensibly laying out Obama Administration corruption; the second has a post-it querying about its source (78-87)
  • Four John Solomon articles: one dated March 20 claiming Lutsenko had opened an investigation into how the Black Ledger was released, claiming it was a plot to help Hillary; another dated March 20 reporting Lutsenko claiming Yovanovitch had given him a do not prosecute list; a third dated March 20 reporting Lutsenko’s claim he had opened an investigation into the Black Ledger release; the draft of the March 26 column sent to Lev Parnas, Joe DiGenova, Victoria Toensing, and claiming the US embassy had shut down an investigation into a Soros backed anti-corruption group; the March 26 draft was sent from an unidentified ProtonMail account to someone unidentified (89-100)

That packet seems to show that Solomon wrote his four articles smearing Yovanovitch and Democrats based in part on the notes Rudy took in meetings with Shokin and Lutsenko. The draft status of the last Solomon article suggests that they were shared sometime on March 26, before it was posted.

March 27, 11:28AM: Rudy’s assistant, Jo Ann Zafonte, emails Trump’s then personal assistant Madelein Westerhout, asking for a number for Pompeo

March 27, 11:52: Westerhout asks someone what number she can have.

March 27, 12:03: In response, State gives Westerhout the scheduler’s number.

March 28, 9:27AM: Rudy (apparently, himself) calls to confirm the call on March 29

March 28, 9:34AM: State Ops Center emails someone whose name is redacted to ask if there will be monitors on Rudy’s call to Pompeo

March 28, 9:37AM: The person with redacted name informs David Hale about the call

March 29, 8:14AM: State puts Pompeo through to Rudy on his unsecure cell phone

March 29, 8:18AM: The call ends

April 1, 1:30: Pompeo speaks to Nunes (in one case described as HPSCI “Chairman”) on a secure line

April 8-15: Bill Taylor and other Ambassadors write David Hale about the smear of Yovanovitch

Pages 2-22 show Bill Taylor and other Ambassadors sending a letter decrying the attack on Yovanovitch (it was organized by John Herbst) to David Hale. The letter explained that the attack would not only weaken “the structure of our diplomatic engagement,” but “weaken the alliance” with Ukraine, “making it harder to take effective action against corruption.”

Hale forwarded it to Counselor Thomas Brechbuhl and Philip Reeker, as an FYI. Later that day, Reeker sends Brechbuhl an email memorializing a meeting about the topic which is entirely redacted under a deliberation exemption. The next day, Herbst sent a copy to Brechbuhl and someone else, the latter of whom responded to the FOIA. Herbst explained, “As we offered David, we would be happy to provide further information…” Brechbuhl responded mid-day the next day saying, “Thank you for your concern and offer. It’s much appreciated” — a polite brush-off.

On April 15, Hale sends it to someone whose name is redacted saying, “Not sure what to do with this.”

April 12-Jun 11: State ignores the concerns of Steny Hoyer and Eliot Engel

Pages 27-31 and 34-37 involve an April 12 letter Steny Hoyer and Eliot Engel sent to Pompeo urging him to defend his diplomats, using Yovanovitch as the urgent example. Internally, State (including Charles Faulker, who has been ousted for corruption) note that the Congressmen will not make the letter public. But Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the Legislative Affairs Assistant Secretary, does ask that it be tasked and turned around quickly.

Nevertheless, Taylor does not respond until June 11, in a letter in which she deflects with the Congressmen, claiming that Yovanovitch was due to finish her assignment this summer, and the end of her service coincided with the presidential transition in Ukraine.

Other

This doesn’t fit into the timeline at all, but pages 23-25; 32-33 include details Trident Acquisitions Chairman Edward Verona sent to Mike McKinley (these are included because he makes a reference to Yovanovitch) about a November 2018 visit to Ukraine.

[Photo: National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, MD via Wikimedia]

Lawfare “Breaks” News: NSA Hasn’t Restarted the Section 215 CDR Function

Last week, Lawfare’s podcast had on Luke Murry, National Security Advisor to Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Daniel Silverberg, National Security Advisor to Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

At 5:10, in response to a question from Margaret Taylor about what kind of oversight Congress will exercise in this Congress, one of them says,

I think my mind goes to the must-pass things. Let’s use that as lowest common denominator. One which may be must-pass, may actually not be must-pass, is Section 215 of USA Freedom Act, where you have this bulk collection of, basically metadata on telephone conversations — not the actual content of the conversations but we’re talking about length of call, time of call, who’s calling — and that expires at the end of this year. But the Administration actually hasn’t been using it for the past six months because of problems with the way in which that information was collected, and possibly collecting on US citizens, in the way it was transferred from private companies to the Administration after they got FISA court approval. So, if the Administration does ask on that, that’s inherently a very sensitive subject. And we’ve seen that sensitivity be true in other areas of USA Freedom Act so I think that’s going to be a real challenge for Congress. But I’m not actually certain that the Administration will want to start that back up given where they’ve been in the last six months.

The staffer seems a bit confused by what he’s talking about.

By description — the description of this being metadata turned over by providers — this must be the Call Detail Record of USA Freedom Act, not all of Section 215. It appears to be public confirmation that the government never resumed the CDR program after it announced that it had destroyed all its records last June (though that works out to be 8 months, not just 6).

That, in turn, suggests that the problem with the records may not be the volume or the content turned over, but some problem created either by the specific language of the law or (more likely) the House Report on it or by the Carpenter decision. Carpenter came out on June 22, so technically after the NSA claims to have started deleting records on May 23. It also may be that the the NSA realized something was non-compliant with its collection just as it was submitting the 6th set of 180-day applications, and didn’t want to admit to the FISC that it had been breaking the law (which is precisely what happened in 2011 when the government deleted all its PRTT records).

Just as an example, I long worried that the government would ask providers to use location data to match phones. Under the law, so long as the government just got the phone number of a new phone that had been geolocated, it might qualify as a CDR under the law, but would absolutely be a violation of the intent of the law. Such an application — which is something that AT&T has long offered law enforcement — might explain what we’ve seen since.

One other thing, though: The NSA almost never gives up a function they like. Instead, they make sure they don’t have any adverse court rulings telling them they’ve broken the law, and move the function some place else. Given that the government withdrew several applications last year after FISC threatened to appoint an amicus, and given that the government now has broadened 12333 sharing, they may have just moved something legally problematic somewhere else.

In any case, there’s no follow-up on the podcast, which might at least clarify the obvious parts of this revelation, to say nothing of asking for the underlying detail. So it will take some work to figure out what really happened.

Steny Hoyer Thinks All Americans May Be Pre-Investigation Terrorist Communicators

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 8.05.39 AM

Like Glenn Greenwald, I’m appalled by the crazy language Steny Hoyer circulated yesterday to oppose the Amash-Conyers amendment. Here’s the language:

2) Amash/Conyers/Mulvaney/Polis/Massie Amendment – Bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act (as codified by Section 501 of FISA) to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who may be in communication with terrorist groups but are not already subject to an investigation under Section 215.

The language is crazy on the macro level, as Glenn notes, but I’m also fascinated by the structure of it. First, the language reverses the structure of the actual “relevant to” language that has been blown up beyond all meaning pretending it is instead specific: “pertain to persons who may be in communication with terrorist groups.” But this language is only true if you assume every single American is a pre-investigative terrorist communicator (and to be fair, with the permission to go three hops deep into the dragnet database, we probably all are “in communication with terrorist groups”). Steny then qualifies this group (all of us, really, now that we’ve all been defined to be terrorist communicators through the genius of the half-Bacon) as “not already subject to an investigation.”

But you will be, America. You will be subject to an investigation, according to Steny Hoyer.

Then there are details of the language that suggest why the Administration panicked so badly. This language would have defunded all bulk collection under Section 215, including phone records, but also including acetone and hydrogen peroxide and probably now pressure cookers. Presumably, that’s what Keith Alexander and James Clapper explained to Congress in their TS/SCI briefings the other day (not having learned they’re better off admitting their dragnets rather than having them exposed).

Which is why I find it interesting that Steny noted this would apply to NSA “and other agencies,” which includes, but is apparently not limited to, FBI.  And these other agencies are using 215 to collect, “records, including telephone call records.” And probably including health records and geolocation and gun records and the like.

And Steny wants to make sure the FBI and other agencies can get this information about us, because after all, once you go three hops deep, every American just becomes a terrorist communicator not yet under investigation.

The Congressman from NSA Wants Contractor Contributions to Remain Secret

To be fair, Steny Hoyer can’t lay sole claim to be the Congressman representing the National Security Agency–the NSA actually gets three Congressmen: Steny, John Sarbanes, and Dutch Ruppersberger.

But I think it fair to note that Steny has, at key times, been the beneficiary of big political contributions from corporations with NSA sensitivities–like AT&T and Mantech. Just as notably, he’s gotten even bigger money from the banksters (particularly JP Morgan Chase, which has its own chunk of federal business) and other finance companies that ruined our economy.

In other words, Steny’s opposition to contractor transparency might be considered self-interest.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said government contracts should be awarded based solely on the reputation of the company and the substance of its bid. The issue of political contributions, he said, has no place in the process.

“The issue of contracting ought to be on the merits of the contractor’s application and bid and capabilities,” Hoyer told reporters at the Capitol. “There are some serious questions as to what implications there are if somehow we consider political contributions in the context of awarding contracts.”

Now, perhaps it’s the reporting, but consider the logic of this funny claim: “There are some serious questions as to what implications there are if somehow we consider political contributions in the context of awarding contracts.” Who is the “we” here? Contracting officers? If they were to consider donations to affirmatively award contracts, they’d be committing Hatch Act violations and risk losing their job. But seeing big donations from, say, Mitchell Wade to a powerful Congressman like Duke Cunningham might raise concerns from contracting officers about undue influence (though admittedly, Cunningham’s staffers made it pretty clear to contracting officers what they wanted).

Is the “we” Congressmen themselves? Is Steny really suggesting that Congressmen are not aware of who their donors are, are not intimately familiar with how much they’re raking in from contractors?

Which leaves the possibility that by “we” Steny means “us,” citizens, journalists, and good government advocates. Is Steny suggesting that “we” shouldn’t consider the (ahem) possibility that members of Congress push contracts for their campaign donors? That we shouldn’t consider the implications of such possibilities?

Then again, the guy who steered warrantless wiretapping immunity through Congress might simply want to avoid making it easier for us to understand not just how contracts tie to political donations, but legislation itself.

Congress Reviews the Taxpayers' Investment

One of the biggest stories at the North American International Auto Show yesterday was not the cars, but the congressional delegation — led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — that came to the show. In addition to Pelosi and Hoyer, much of Michigan’s delegation (the only Republican was Fred Upton, though Candice Miller had intended to attend before bad roads got in the way), Ohio Representatives Tim Ryan and Betty Sutton, and Senators Byron Dorgan and Tom Carper attended the show. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis were there, too; and until last Thursday, Obama was planning to attend (until the Secret Service decided it would be a security nightmare).

In other words, there was a big presence of DC bigwigs at the auto show. As Pelosi, in particular, worked her way from the General Motors’ display (she got a close look at the Volt) to the Chrysler to the Ford one (she checked out the new Focus), the media followed along in a big pack, filming her chatting with the CEOs of America’s (and, in the case of GM and Chrysler, the taxpayers’) auto companies. In the YouTube above, she and Hoywer are talking to Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

The crowds and media attention their presence brought tells you something — that DC has been far too distant from America’s industrial base for far too long.

Indeed, some of the DC-MI folks I spoke to pointed out to me that the US car companies have not done a good job at reaching out to the press in recent years, and nor has DC shown much interest in exchange.  The hope was that yesterday’s visit may begin to change all that. (I know GM plans a series of Volt test drives for politicos at the DC auto show later this month.)

And, at the very least, Pelosi has promised to come back next year. Read more

The FISA Loss: Recommendations for the Future

Selise’s superb diary on FISA has finally persuaded me to write a post that I’ve been thinking about for some time: a recap of the FISA fight with thoughts on what we could have done differently.

Before I talk about what we could improve though, let me say this. Everyone involved, Republican, Democrat, House and Senate, attributes the unexpectedly tough battle over FISA to the work of the Netroots: bloggers, MoveOn, and most importantly their readers, partnering with the civil liberties groups and a few leaders in Congress to push back against a legislative tidal wave. Aside from Josh Marshall’s resoundingly successful campaign to save social security–in which public opinion and Democratic leadership always supported the same goals as the Netroots–this was the first real sustained legislative campaign waged by the Netroots. We were fighting against a telecom and intelligence contracting industry that, in addition to being rich, has been fighting these battles for years. Looked at from that perspective, we had remarkable success. And if we replicate this effort on other topics, we will have more success in the future. In fact, I rather think the news that Chris Dodd is one of the few people confirmed to have made the vetting stage of the VP search (though I highly doubt Obama will choose him–I think it’s political theater), when Hillary and Jim Webb and Joe Biden and others have not, suggests Obama recognizes that he took our efforts too cavalierly. We did a lot right in this fight; if we learn the right lessons from it, we will be more powerful and effective in the future.

That said, here are some things we should do in the future:

  • Improve intelligence oversight
  • Admit we’re dealing with legislators
  • Identify the real terms of debate
  • Recognize when leadership begins to negotiate
  • Profile all the key players

Improve intelligence oversight

As Selise points out in her diary, we were fighting against a leadership that–because they were among the only ones briefed on the President’s illegal program–had an incentive to support telecom immunity because they had, at least by virtue of not mounting an effective opposition to the program, bought off on it. The still-serving Democrats who had been briefed on the program before it became public in 2005 are: Pelosi (from the very first briefing on October 25, 2001 as HPSCI ranking member, and continuing as House Minority leader), Reid (in his role as Minority Read more

The Commission on Warrantless Wiretapping and FISA Compromise

Apparently, while I’ve been on my Haggis and Beamish pilgrimage, Steny Hoyer has been busy brokering a compromise on FISA.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday a FISA deal is “still in flux” but he described the latest developments as “promising” and said he hoped to have a solution soon.

[snip]

Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, the top Republican on the Intelligence committee and one of the GOP’s top negotiators on the issue, said he met with Hoyer to discuss the issue on Monday, but did not say a breakthrough had been achieved.

“This is still a ping-pong match,” said Rep Jane Harman (D-Calif.), referring to the back and forth on the bill between the two chambers.

Harman said the latest developments signify "positive movement" on the bill and praised the job Hoyer has been doing on the issue.

Hoyer has been the strongest proponent of a compromise in the Democratic leadership and has worked hard to broker a deal on the issue. He often acts as an intermediary between liberal House Democrats unwilling to grant the telecom companies immunity and conservative Senate Republicans and the White House, both of whom will not accept any FISA bill without immunity.

Now, before I say what I’m about to say, let me reiterate that I believe we should not compromise. The telecoms broke the law when they accepted a letter authorizing the spying on Americans signed by the White House Counsel in lieu of the Attorney General in March 2004, and they should be held accountable for breaking the law.

That said, let me make some points about what basis for compromise Steny might be negotiating, and how such a compromise might be an avenue for transparency about the Administration’s (as distinct from just the telecom’s) lawbreaking with the illegal wiretap program.

Remember that Steny is not just the chief broker currently on FISA. He was also the chief broker on the House bill that passed on March 14. And that bill had one provision that seems to have been forgotten in recent discussions of compromise, but was clearly intended, even in March, to serve as the kernel of any future compromises: the call for a commission to investigate the illegal wiretap program.

Read more