“IF THAT’S NOT SPYING, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS”
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 12, 2019) — On the May 12 edition of “Sunday Morning Futures” hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham recounted what he characterized as a “bombshell” report published by John Solomon of The Hill last week revealing stating that on October 11, 2016, a State Department official spoke with Russia dossier author Christopher Steele and reflected in notes from the meeting that Steele expressed an urgency for the dossier to be released publicly prior to the November 8 presidential election.
Steele had worked as a confidential informant to the FBI, reportedly violating his agreement by leaking parts of his work product, commissioned by the Clinton campaign and DNC through a private company, Fusion GPS, as opposition research on Donald Trump.
The contents of the dossier have not been verified to this day, and Steele himself has admitted that he used open-source material, in part, to compile it. The 35-page volume was published by Buzzfeed on January 10, 2017 after other media outlets reportedly declined to do so.
Graham said that after the State Department official sent her observations from the Steele meeting to the FBI, the agency was “on notice” that the dossier was politically-motivated. Nevertheless, Graham said, it was used ten days later to secure the first of four successive FISA warrants on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
After assuming the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee this year, Graham pledged to investigate whether or not there was “FISA abuse,” meaning that applications for surveillance warrants on American citizens, which must be approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), were obtained by the FBI and Justice Department outside of required protocols.
Page was said in the FBI’s FISA applications to be an agent of the Russian government. He was the subject of a year of surveillance and testified to Mueller’s team and never charged with a crime. In an interview with Sharyl Attkissonin March, Page said he has assisted the FBI on Russian matters in the past based on his military experience, spent in the Navy after he graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
The FBI purports that it opened a counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016 after receiving information from a foreign government’s intelligence service that Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos had told that nation’s top diplomat to the UK that Russia was in possession of Hillary Clinton’s emails, allegedly suggesting that someone within the campaign was “colluding” with Russia to sway the election toward Trump and away from Clinton.
In his book, “Deep State Target,” Papadopoulos relates that he does not recall having mentioned “emails” to Australian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Downer, whose assistant asked Papadopoulos to meet with him at the Kensington Wine Rooms in London on May 10, 2016.
Papadopoulos describes the meeting as “hostile,” and, on Friday night, tweeted that he had just become aware that on May 9, 2016, the day before his meeting with Downer, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano stated on-air that Russia had approximately 20,000 of Clinton’s emails.
In testimony to members of Congress last month, Attorney General William Barr said he plans to investigate the “predicate” for the FBI’s launching of a counterintelligence probe into a political campaign.
The FBI continued its investigation until May 2017, when Director James Comey was fired. Eight days later, on May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as “Special Counsel” quote to complete the FBI’s work.
After 22 months of investigation which included the conducting of 500 interviews, executing approximately 500 search warrants, making 13 “evidence requests” to governments of other nations, and issuing 2,800 subpoenas, Mueller’s team concluded that there was no “criminal conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 election.
In response to Bartiromo’s question about the FBI’s investigation of then-Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server over which she sent classified information while serving as Obama’s Secretary of State, Graham said that the media “could care less” about it. On July 5, 2016, Comey officially ended the Clinton email investigation when he gave an unprecedented solo press conference enumerating a litany of transgressions Clinton had allegedly committed yet declined to recommend her for criminal prosecution.
“But we’re in a new stage now,” Graham told Bartiromo. “Mueller’s report is in: no collusion, no obstruction, now it’s time to go back and look at how it started. We’ll look at the Clinton investigation…we’ll look at the counterintelligence investigation, FISA warrant; we’re going to have all that looked at to make sure it never happens again.”
Bartiromo asked Graham about a letter he recently wrote to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is expected to issue a major report within the next six weeks on the FBI’s procuring of FISA warrants on at least one Trump campaign member. In response, Graham said he is seeking “all the documents related to the 11th October meeting between Christopher Steele and a member of the State Department. The lady in question took notes about the meeting, and in her notes, she indicates that Steele was urging to get the dossier out before the election, and she also, in handwritten notes, indicates that it was paid for by the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, the dossier. The most important thing is she transferred that information to the FBI, so the FBI is now on notice on October the 11th that their confidential informant is trying to get the dossier out for political purposes and that the State Department figured out the Democrats paid for it. How could they then go get a warrant based on that same document and not tell the court what the State Department told them?”
After Bartiromo mentioned that former FBI Director James Comey appeared at a CNN “townhall” discussion on Thursday night defending the FBI’s actions against the Trump campaign, Graham said, “We now also know that somebody was planted in the Trump campaign, either by the FBI, the CIA, to start a counterintelligence operation. If that’s not spying, I don’t know what is.”
Bartiromo said that her sources have told her that Horowitz’s report will include will indicate the “complicity” of the media in circulating information from the dossier, then cited by the FBI in the FISA warrant applications, in what is known as “circular reporting.” Graham replied that a document which remains classified shows that “there really is no verification other than media reports” of the dossier’s contents. “The bottom line is the dossier has never been independently confirmed; it was used to get a warrant; they knew the author of the dossier was on the Democratic Party payroll; he hated Trump; they got the warrant anyway.”
“Most Americans should be upset about that,” he added. “I’m very upset about it, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
Graham recounted that Democrats heartily approved of Mueller’s appointment two years ago but lacking the “outcome” they hoped for, “they want to take Mueller’s work product and politicize it,” referring to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s demand to Barr for a completely unredacted copy of the Mueller report.
“The goal is to stop Trump, and the rules don’t matter,” Graham said, referring to Nadler’s demands as a “freak show in the House” which he hopes not to see arise in the Senate.
Graham predicted that when the president declassifies a host of documents associated with the Russia investigation, the origin of the FBI’s counterintelligence operation will be revealed and that “Papadopoulos wasn’t working with the Russians; they put it in his head that the Russians stole Clinton emails.”
Bartiromo recounted Papadopoulos’s appearance on her show last week, during which he told of his 2016 meetings with a mysterious Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud, in Rome and London. The latter occurred on April 26, 2016, during which Mifsud reportedly told Papadopoulos that “Russia has Hillary Clinton emails” (Bartiromo’s words). “This was an incredible strategy that they had,” Bartiromo opined. “It wasn’t just the dossier; it was informants; it was a media-leak strategy…”
Portrayed in the Mueller report as having Russian connections, Papadopoulos has since said that Mifsud is actually a Western intelligence asset and was working for the FBI when the two met. Papadopoulos claims that Mifsud has received cover from the Italian government since testifying to Mueller’s team early in its investigation and that he believes Trump is aware Italy’s complicity in creating the scenario which ensnared him and others.
“Here’s the big point: did they catch Papadopoulos working with the Russians, or did they start the narrative, put it in Papapdopoulos’s mind?” Graham responded to Bartiromo. “Here’s what I think happened: Papadopoulos wasn’t working with the Russians; they created that narrative by telling him about emails being stolen by the Russians, and he was repeating what he was told by our own people. So there was never a situation where Papadopoulos was working with the Russians to try to effect the 2016 election. This was all a setup, I think, and we’ll know more here soon.”
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.