The Durham Coverup
Did Ex-CIA Director John Brennan Doctor His Notes to Hide His Role in Russiagate?
May 16, 2023
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John Brennan: Former CIA chief claims he briefed Obama and Biden about Clinton plans to smear Trump as Russian agent.


Reading through the newly released Durham Report, there’s a lot to absorb and I plan to be filling several reviews in the coming days. But it struck me that the section of the report detailing an aspect of John Brennan’s role in the Clinton campaign and Obama administration’s operation targeting Donald Trump and his aides was most urgent. LS.


The only genuine piece of Russian intelligence that US spy services ever received about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia was intelligence that Russia knew Hillary Clinton backed a 2016 campaign plan to smear Trump as a Russian agent.

According to John Durham’s 300-page report, the information reached the CIA in late July 2016. Brennan told Durham that on August 3 he briefed President Barack Obama at the White House on what the special counsel refers to as the Clinton Plan intelligence. Others in attendance at the meeting were Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and FBI Director James Comey.

Imagine Comey’s reaction when he first heard of the Clinton Plan intelligence, only days after the July 31 start date for the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, code-named Crossfire Hurricane: So, if it’s just a dirty trick staged by the Clinton campaign, I should shut down the Trump-Russia probe, right?   

Right. There is little chance Brennan said anything about the Clinton Plan intelligence in that August 3 meeting. Reading the Durham report, it’s not even clear when Brennan first found out about it or the September 2016 CIA memo referring the Clinton Plan intelligence to the FBI’s counterintelligence division.

Brennan’s handwritten notes memorializing his allegedly briefing Obama on the Clinton Plan and the CIA’s referral letter were both declassified by Trump’s Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe in October 2020. Durham’s report sheds light on how the information and subsequent CIA memo were received, who knew about them, and perhaps more significantly who didn’t.

According to the report, virtually none of the officials interviewed by Durham knew about the Clinton Plan intelligence or the referral memo. Former FBI general counsel James Baker “stated that he had neither seen nor heard of the Clinton Plan intelligence or the resulting Referral Memo prior to his interview” with Durham.

Same with Supervisory Special Agent-1, reportedly FBI agent Joe Pientka. According to the report, when Durham showed Pientka the information, he became “visibly upset and emotional, left the interview room with his counsel, and subsequently returned to state emphatically that he had never been apprised of the Clinton Plan intelligence and had never seen the aforementioned Referral Memo. Supervisory Special Agent-1 expressed a sense of betrayal that no one had informed him of the intelligence.”

The reason so few FBI officials knew of the Clinton Plan information is because it was buried. Otherwise, it would have implicated senior Obama officials — the president and vice president and his security chiefs — and the Crossfire Hurricane team in an illegal surveillance and propaganda operation targeting a presidential campaign.

But how did the Russians know it started with Hillary Clinton? Did they have spies buried deep inside the Democratic National Committee? Maybe Christopher Steele, British ex-spy and author of the Clinton-funded memos tying Trump to Russia, had been compromised by one of the Russian oligarchs he worked for?

No, you wouldn’t have needed an intelligence service to find out the Clinton campaign was using Moscow as an instrument to smear the GOP candidate. By the end of July, much of the anti-Trump campaign was public.

As I explained in my 2019 book The Plot Against the President, the media piece of Russiagate started in Winter 2016 when pro-Clinton reporters first started calling Trump and his aides Russian agents. With Franklin Foer’s July 4 Slatearticle, “Putin’s Puppet,” the press component of the Russia-collusion narrative was in full swing.

In a July 21 Washington Post column, Anne Applebaum cited Foer’s piece and asserted that “Russia is clearly participating in the Trump campaign.” In an Atlantic article published the same day, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that Trump has chosen “to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian president Vladimir Putin.”

Before the end of July, scores of articles in the Weekly Standard, the New Yorker, New York Magazine, the New York Timesand elsewhere made the same case: Donald Trump, according to Times columnist Paul Krugman, was the “Siberian candidate.”

Russiagate reporters typically referenced each other's articles to create an unmistakable echo chamber effect. Media analysts at the Russian foreign ministry or in any Russian embassy couldn’t have missed the frequency with which the US press kept inserting their government into a vague account of the Republican candidate’s uncertain loyalties. Thus, it would not have been hard to figure out who was the beneficiary of this extraordinary amount of newsprint devoted to promoting a storyline labeling Trump a Russian agent.

The Durham report does not disclose how US intelligence agencies found out the Russians were discussing the Clinton Plan. Perhaps it came through the signals intelligence that British agencies and other foreign services reportedly shared with Washington.

On August 22, an FBI cyber-analyst passed the Clinton Plan intelligence on to two members of the Crossfire Hurricane team, including fixer Brian Auten. A 2019 Justice Department report faulted Auten for failing to verify the Clinton-funded Steele dossier tying Trump to Russia. In other words, he cleared the central piece of evidence, now thoroughly discredited, that the FBI used to obtain the warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.

On September 2, a US official briefed Auten and other FBI personnel about the Clinton Plan intelligence. Auten related to Durham that he told the official he wanted to see the CIA’s official referral letter. Completed September 7, the memo was addressed to Comey and FBI counterintelligence official and Crossfire Hurricane point-man Peter Strzok.

According to Durham: “None of the FBI personnel who agreed to be interviewed could specifically recall receiving this Referral Memo, nor did anyone recall the FBI doing anything in response to the Referral Memo. Auten said that he couldn’t remember if he shared the memo with other members of the Crossfire Hurricane team.

If Brennan was briefed on it at the time, it seems he didn’t share it with anyone — he almost certainly had not spoken of it during the August 3 meeting with Obama and other administration officials. There’s no evidence that Brennan briefed congressional oversight committees on what US agencies had picked up from the Russians on the Clinton Plan. Nor did he say anything about it when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee in May 2017.

Most significantly, it’s not part of the intelligence that was used to produce the January 2017 intelligence community assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election that Obama directed Brennan to finish before Trump came to office. Indeed, the Clinton Plan intelligence would serve as a powerful rebuttal to the ICA’s central conclusion that Putin sought to help Trump win the 2016 election.

Evidence of Brennan’s hiding the Clinton Plan intelligence and CIA referral letter would strongly suggest that he was a crucial part of the effort to target Trump as a Russian agent.

Perhaps it was rumor of Pientka’s rage after Durham showed him the Clinton Plan intelligence and the referral memo in a July 22, 2020 interview that Brennan moved to protect himself. It was nearly a month later, August 21, when he sat for an eight-hour long interview with Durham. Brennan said that he couldn’t remember when he first received the Clinton Plan intelligence but there was evidence that he didn’t hide it — handwritten notes proving that he told Obama, Biden, Lynch and Comey all about it.

Durham states in his report that he declined to pursue a criminal case related to the Clinton Plan intelligence because it “would face what in all likelihood would be insurmountable classification issues given the highly sensitive nature of the information itself.”




And thus, the section on the Clinton Plan intelligence concludes: the government’s treatment of the information “may have amounted to a significant intelligence failure and a troubling instance in which confirmation bias and a tunnel-vision pursuit of investigative ends may have caused government personnel to fail to appreciate the extent to which uncorroborated reporting funded by an opposing political campaign was intended to influence rather than inform the FBI. It did not, all things considered, however, amount to a provable criminal offense.”









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The Ugly History of the DOJ Hatchet-Man Tasked to Target Trump
Former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell Explains How Jack Smith Nearly Rekindled Conflict in the Balkans to Get Trump


Richard Grenell was one of the Donald Trump administration’s brightest stars. The former spokesman to the UN in the George W. Bush administration, Grenell was named ambassador to Germany in 2018, and in 2020 became acting director of National Intelligence where he declassified information that helped expose the Department of Justice’s anti-Trump plot. Lesser known is the role that Grenell played mediating between once warring sides in the Balkans as special presidential envoy for Serbia and Kosovo peace negotiations. And it was in that post where Grenell first came across Jack Smith.

At the time, the special counsel named to investigate the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination was chief prosecutor for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers at the Hague, Netherlands. The international court is charged with investigating crimes committed during the wars that set the former Yugoslavia ablaze during the 1990s. In 2020, as the Trump White House was on the verge of brokering historic agreements between Serbia and Kosovo, Smith arrested the sitting Kosovar president, Hashim Thaci. And now some European leaders are up in arms about the allegedly phony charges against the man Joe Biden once called “the George Washington on Kosovo.”

As Grenell explains, it's a complicated story, but absolutely essential background for understanding the character and the methods of the man the DOJ has designated to lead the 2024 leg of its ongoing campaign to Get Trump. Here’s an edited transcript of my interview with Ambassador Grenell for my Epoch TV show Over the Target.


RG: A lot of Western media outlets are starting to pay attention to this story because the prime minister of Albania was speaking before the Council of Europe and chastising it for allowing the president of Kosovo to remain in jail on trumped-up charges. He's in the Hague. And the president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, has been there for years and the charges are weak and the prosecutor who put him there is Jack Smith.

This is a very dense case. It's not super sexy, it's not going to be able to be told in 30 seconds. You're not going to understand it in one minute. But there's a long history of what's been happening. And I've been involved in it for a very long time.

President Trump appointed me Presidential Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia Negotiations. I started these negotiations to try to get the two sides to get some sort of economic agreement instead of talking about past problems. We were looking to the future trying to peel the Serbs away from the Russians and the Chinese and have a better relationship with the United States, and at the same time moving Kosovo forward. I was negotiating between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Kosovo president at the time, Hashim Thaci.

LS: This was an underrecognized Trump administration achievement. And as the envoy, you deserve special credit for bringing together the Serbians and the Kosovars.

RG: I have been critiqued and complimented by both sides. In fact, I think I'm the only person in the world to have received the highest medal of honor from both Kosovo and Serbia.

This is a long, complicated history in the Balkans, the war, the bombing that started in 1989. And there are lots of different views. There's lots of war crimes that people were accused of, and there were lots of investigations of those war crimes. I spent eight years at the UN and the UN launched investigations of what had happened. Lots of charges of war crimes on both sides. And this international court was established to work through the details. We spent decades, millions of US taxpayer dollars on prosecutors looking at details, interviewing witnesses, and when the prosecutor at the Hague before Jack Smith resigned he said, I've investigated for years, I've spent millions of dollars and there's nothing here. No one will be indicted.

That's a really important point — the prosecutor before Jack Smith had been there for a long time had looked at everything and said there's nothing to do now. Think about this: an international court investigating for 15 or 20 years and not being able to produce any type of indictment is a serious situation. When I was doing the economic negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, I was throwing a lot of things out on the table, to try to get both sides to think differently. What President Trump charged me with was looking at the economics of it: how do you bring jobs to the region, not political dialogue of the past, not trying to get recognition from each side. We've got a lot of countries at the UN who don't recognize each other, but they're still members of the UN and they still go forward.

So, I didn't ask for mutual recognition between the two sides. I asked for them to create economic opportunities. And one of the things that I threw out on the table was this idea that the international court at the Hague had been around for a very long time, had been spending millions of dollars, the last prosecutor said there's nothing here. Why don't we get rid of the international court at the Hague and have both Serbia and Kosovo investigate these crimes? I'm not saying that the charges or the cases should go away. But that the jurisdiction should go back to the to the individuals in those locations. So let Serbia and the Serbian courts investigate. Let Kosovo and Kosovar courts investigate. By the way, we, the United States taxpayer, has spent millions of dollars training the judges in these places and in the region to stand up and to learn the process. So having this international court, I think was competing with that idea.

LS: The Serbians were going to investigate and try their own potential cases against Serbian nationals, and the same with Kosovo? Or were they going to try each other as well?

RG: We weren't going to dictate what they did. We were just going to say we're going to get rid of the international court system and your own courts can deal with these charges. Again, it's been 15 or 20 years, the court in the Hague was seeming very political, but not coming up with anything. And the prosecutors were throwing up their hands. And so this new prosecutor named Jack Smith came in.

When I threw this out there, getting rid of the international courts, again, I didn't know who Jack Smith was at the time. I didn't have any politics involved in this. I was thinking about, how do we bring the two sides forward? And this lingering court was not helpful, in my opinion. And both sides had to think about it, they went back and discussed it, and they came to the point reluctantly. Okay, let's get rid of the international court and let's just bring it home.

I got an agreement from both sides to do it. I decided to take this idea that would be presented in the final agreement and bring it to the Department of Justice. Now, at this point, it's important to note that I had moved into a dual role. I was US Ambassador to Germany during these negotiations. Then the President asked me to come back and be the Acting Director of National Intelligence for a couple of months while they found somebody permanent. And I said, Okay, I'll do it. The Vacancies Act, which required me to keep the job in Germany because I was Senate confirmed for that job and to be in an acting position of the cabinet you had to be Senate confirmed. So I had to keep the US Ambassador to Germany job.

LS: You're doing three different high-level particularly controversial jobs at the same time.

RG: Luckily, the time change allowed me to get up early and do it. And then this was COVID, remember, so I couldn't really travel a lot anyway. I decided to call over to the Department of Justice, I spoke to a man named Bruce Schwartz. I'm going to go to my phone right now and I'm going to tell you the exact day that I talked to Bruce Schwartz because I still have the voicemail.

Okay, so I talked to Bruce Schwartz on January 29th of 2020. I believe that that first time that I talked to him, I was just the US Ambassador to Germany. And within two or three weeks after that, then I was DNI and doing these negotiations. I talked to Bruce Schwartz, who was head of the International Programs at the Department of Justice. And I said to Bruce, hey, off the record, totally confidential. The two sides have agreed to get rid of the international court. I know we have to take this to the UN and make it official. But the two sides and the Americans are in agreement here. This is a big deal. And we're going to put it into the final agreement.

Bruce’s reaction was, Whoa, oh no. We have American prosecutors at the Hague. I don't know what they're going to say. I mean, we should tip them off, and let them know, just in case they want to, you know, file indictments or something. And I said, well, I'm not going to tell you how to do your job. But the parties, Bruce, maybe not at the Department of Justice, but the parties are ready to move forward after 20 years. And so we're going to put this into the agreement.

Within weeks, we had both sides coming to Washington to do final negotiations, and this point is going to be in there. And what happened? As Hashim Thaci, the president of Kosovo was on his way making plans to come to Washington DC to meet me at the White House to do final negotiations — and if we concluded the negotiations, to meet with President Trump to sign it — he was indicted by the court. Jack Smith indicted the president of Kosovo on his way to negotiate to get rid of Jack Smith's job at the Hague.

We had agreed to get rid of the courts. Now again, the international court would have had to be dissolved at the UN. But when the United States, which was paying for the court, brings forward this idea and the two parties agree, this would have been a done deal at the UN Security Council. And so the timing was still weeks away to get rid of the court. But I am 100 per cent positive that Bruce Schwartz tipped off Jack Smith and said, Grenell is about to negotiate your job away and the entire court away. And they came up with these charges.

LS: What are the charges?

RG: There was this idea long ago that the charges against Thaci were about trafficking human organs on the battlefield. But when they put forward the indictment, none of that was there. There were no dates. There are no specifics. And here's the clincher, some of the witnesses to that indictment have now come forward and said, I only said what I said because the person interviewing me claimed to be the United States, CIA, and they had evidence and wanted me to say this. That person now has been proven to not be a CIA person. Whoever that person was lied to the witnesses. The witnesses have come forward to say I was lied to, I thought I was working with the CIA. Did Jack Smith know about this? Did he put up these phony CIA people to jam through this.

The charges that Jack Smith put forward on the president of Kosovo did not materialize what he said publicly that he was going to charge him with, this idea of taking human organs and trafficking them on the battlefield. That wasn't even a charge in the indictment. It was all general charges, and Hashim Thaci, the president of Kosovo is still in a Hague prison to this day.

The prime minister of Albania Edi Rama — I hope people go to his

speech — starts his speech by quoting Joe Biden calling Hashim Thaci, who's now in prison because of Jack Smith, “the George Washington of Kosovo.”

LS: Why did Jack Smith go after the president of Kosovo? To save his job? Could he have gone after someone else? Or did he go after other people as well?

RG: This is a really good question. There’s a long history of the investigation of all of the war crimes. Again, this is why the important point is the prosecutor who came before Jack Smith, who spent years looking at everything, said there's nothing else to do here. There's no more indictments when Jack Smith came in, and he spent years living in Amsterdam, and having a big European life. When you're the head of an international court living in Europe, it's a cushy job. But after the Trump administration completely upended the Balkan negotiations, we started making progress and we signed four agreements.

The final agreement, the bigger agreement, was going to be the historic one that would redo the courts. And I think that the answer, in my opinion, is that Jack Smith saw the Trump administration really making a lot of progress in the Balkans, and Hashim Thaci was widely reported as the negotiator. And if you look at the media back then it was saying, Wow, these guys have signed three agreements, they're going for a big one at the White House. This could be very historic for economic normalization. And I think that he had the cards in his hand, because he was investigating Hashim Thaci, to stop this momentum.

What ended up happening is we still signed a historic agreement, we did not include that piece on the court in the final agreement. Thaci was put into that the Hague prison under arrest. And the new leader in Kosovo, who took his place because he had to resign, was then the one who negotiated the final agreement. We still negotiated the agreement with the leader of Kosovo, but I think it was put off by several months, because of Jack Smith's action.

And here's the rub: If Jack Smith had put forward an indictment that had the goods. that had the specifics about some sort of war crime, and he had done something that previous prosecutors couldn't find, if he had new evidence, great. My accusation is that he became very political just because he hated Donald Trump. He decided that he was going to try to stop these negotiations, by putting forward an indictment. Again, publicly they had talked about this indictment as something that was going to be about trafficking in human organs, something that's outrageous if someone was charged with doing that. He didn't prove that.

And so now the prime minister of Albania, our NATO ally, Edi Rama, who's not a conservative, by the way, he stepped forward at the Council of Europe last week to chastise the Europeans for allowing this court to indict Hashim Thaci, who's still in prison. The Europeans have allowed this to happen. If you read the details of what Edi Rama is saying, he's saying that the Russians are the ones who are putting forward this misinformation. So the question would be, did the Russians put forward misinformation about Hashim Thaci? And did Jack Smith fall for it? I think that our US media has to get much more inquisitive about what the connections here are. The charges are explosive.

LS: Can I just ask you to clarify the charges made by the Albanian Prime Minister? He's asking, was it the Russians who provided this information to the American prosecutor?

RG: What he’s saying is, why was Europe duped into phony trumped-up charges about Hashim Thaci, to the point where this international court at The Hague, Jack Smith, indicted and arrested him. Why are the Europeans being duped? He says shame on us. Shame on all of us for allowing this. These phony charges to put the president of Kosovo into an indictment and an arrest and an ongoing legal case. And take the prime minister of Albania's words for it, they’re trumped-up charges they’re phony charges, and Jack Smith was the prosecutor. This is an indictment of Jack Smith, when the Prime Minister of Albania goes after these phony charges.

LS: So there are two possible motives for Smith bringing these charges? One, as you brought up earlier, was for him to keep his job in Europe. But the other motive was to thwart an important Trump administration foreign policy initiative?

RG: Jack Smith is clearly ambitious. And he took a job at the Hague as the head of the court, and he took the job knowing that the prosecutor before him, threw up his hands and gave up. Jack Smith went into a job where somebody wasn't able to indict the president of Kosovo. And he spent years trying to come up with new charges, and publicly when they indicted Hashim Thaci, that there were no new charges, there are no dates. There is only one conclusion to come up with. When you look at the timing, and you look at the actual indictment from Jack Smith, there's only one conclusion: He decided to do it when Hashim Thaci was days away from going to the White House to sign this final agreement.

LS: How can they hold him?

RG: They came up with some phony accusation of a politician not exercising leadership during moments of a war. So they're trying to prove war crimes through a lack of leadership. It's a stretch, as anyone who watches these international courts will tell you — it’s unbelievable, a charge with no specifics.

LS: What does this tell us about the character and methods of the man who is now leading the investigation of President Donald Trump?  

RG: He's highly political and extremely ambitious and selfish in his motives.










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How the US Ruling Class’ Plot Against Trump Woke A Sleeping American Giant
The Making of The Plot Against the President


My friend Mark Granza put together a terrific feature for his great magazine IM-1776. He and his all-star editorial team — Daniel Miller, Benjamin Braddock, Lafayette Lee, and special guest editor Tiger Lilly — did a Q&A with the masterful TechnoFog and me and then published the conversation. Mark’s final question for me elicited a response so long I figured it was best to turn it into a separate piece. It’s about the institutions and industries that poisoned our political system and the forces that rallied to fight for the truth — including Devin Nunes, Kash Patel, Amanda Milius, Russiagate twitter sleuths, and a cast of millions. I’m posting below, with the second half available to supporters only, and in any case hope you’ll give it a read. I wish you and your loved ones a good Memorial Day. May God bless America and all those who gave their lives for us. LS.


The release of the Durham report represents a sort of end to Russiagate. Researchers will continue to study the plot against Donald Trump and publish newly found details of it in the coming months and years, I’m sure. But we’ve known most of the important facts for some time now, thanks to Devin Nunes’ investigation. It was a little more than six years ago that as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee he convened a press conference to say he’d seen evidence of spying on Donald Trump’s presidential transition team.

When he left the capitol building that day in March to tell the White House what he’d seen, the former congressman not only kicked off an investigation but also ignited a re-awakening, a kind of compulsory enlightenment that forced lots of Americans to open their eyes to see how bad it had become while we were sleeping. I was one of them. Sure, I’d heard Trump say that the ruling class was sticking it to middle-class Americans, but here was Devin Nunes with the evidence to prove it was true. The Durham report tells us little we didn’t already know — including the fact that if we want our country back, the federal bureaucracy isn’t going to hand it over, so we are going to have to do it ourselves.

It’s because no one has been held accountable for Russiagate that I think it’s especially useful to understand how it was built and deployed. It’s the essential template for all the subsequent campaigns targeting Trump, his supporters, dissidents, and the character of our constitutional republic — from Charlottesville and the first impeachment to January 6 and the Mar-a-Lago raid. I hope that knowing details about how this first effort worked may help us prepare for the inevitable assaults coming down the road. And it is no small thing to know something that may help us protect ourselves and our loved ones from a powerful political faction that aims to impoverish and disenfranchise more than half the country.

I started reporting on Russiagate shortly after Trump was elected, but like many of you I was first made aware of it in the summer of 2016 when various news articles sourced to unnamed US officials suggested that the GOP candidate had suspicious ties to Russia. It was my friend and Tablet Magazine colleague Tony Badran who first remarked to me how strange this conceit was.

Tony is a great political analyst who learned how to read closely, line by line, as part of his seminary training. Instead of becoming a priest he decided to write on the modern Middle East. He’d been writing on the Syrian war since it began in March 2011 and was following closely the Barack Obama administration’s strategic realignment in the region, especially how the White House had invited Russia to plant its flag there for the first time in decades.

Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative was the Iranian nuclear deal and to preserve it required his respecting, as he put it, Iran’s “equities” in Syria. In translation, that meant keeping US regional allies from toppling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s ally and the central node in its weapons supply line to the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. From Obama’s perspective, when Russia intervened to support Assad, it also protected the nuclear deal. Vladimir Putin was Obama’s Middle East Fixer.

If Obama’s relations with Putin seem extraneous to the core Russiagate story, the point is that by the summer of 2016, the entire US national security and foreign policy establishment understood that no president in American history had ever compromised US interests and allies the way Obama did by integrating Russia into his plan for the Middle East. And yet the rumors tying Trump to Russia continued to circulate throughout Washington, DC. It seemed the only rational explanation was that the Trump-Russia whisper campaign was yet another echo chamber project designed to deflect attention from what Obama himself had done. Of course, we later learned there was more to it than that.

Another Tablet colleague, David Samuels, wrote the definitive piece on the echo chamber and the Obama aide who managed it, Ben Rhodes. If you want to know how the Obama faction and their allies in the national security establishment have taken control of America’s communications infrastructure to poison our public sphere, you should read David’s great piece. It’s worth noting that his May 2016 article is likely the last piece of genuine journalism the once-esteemed New York Times will ever publish.

That the New York Times became a leading Russiagate organ is evidence of how Obama turned the media into an arm of the intelligence apparatus. The Times had been covering Trump since the mid-1970s. It was the central pillar of a NYC press corps whose obsessive coverage of the real estate magnate’s every move, professional and personal, helped build his world-famous brand. But it’s not as though the media were just reprinting PR releases, for other parts of the press were looking to cut him down to size.

The industries he worked in, especially casinos and hotels, were famously penetrated by organized crime, a fact that naturally got the attention of investigative reporters, like Wayne Barrett, whom I worked with at the Village Voice. He wrote the first, and highly critical, biography of Trump. If there was evidence of serious criminal corruption in Trump World, investigative journalists, as well as the New York Police Department and the FBI’s NY field office, would have come down hard.

Because the Times had spent more than 40 years obsessing over Trump, it effectively vetted his presidential run. The story invented by Obama’s spy chiefs, the Clinton campaign, and the Times, among other prestige press outfits, is not only absurd but evidence that the Paper of Record had repudiated its past record. You say that the most public and most publicized man in the world’s media capital “colluded” with Russian officials? And you missed it?

Russiagate wasn’t real is why it wasn’t uncovered by investigative journalists; it was fed to national security reporters. To cover national security honestly, a conscientious journalist starts with the understanding that most sources on their beat are not only trying to use the press to advance their bureaucratic position but are also trained to lie — they’re spies. With the Obama White House, skepticism and common sense became professional liabilities. Most national security reporters had no choice but to accept what Ben Rhodes’ shop handed out, because if they crossed Obama, they’d get cut off from the information stream. National security reporters either served the echo chamber or had to find another job.

Granted, most of the Washington press corps was happy to advance Obama’s agenda, regardless of how that relationship corrupted the media and how his policies damaged the national interest. But it’s important to see the political and professional arrangement that gave rise to Russiagate and how it metastasized throughout the media. Once journalists outside the national security beat saw Russiagate as a path to advancement and even celebrity, they all wanted a piece of it. As a result, the press as a whole adopted the scruples and habits of the culture that plotted Russiagate — the national security establishment. America’s once independent press became the propaganda arm of US spy services because Barack Obama incentivized it.

The media knew from the beginning that Russiagate was not a real story but an instrument to destroy Trump. This fact is crucial to understanding what’s happened the last seven years because there are still many pundits on the right, and a handful on the left who covered Russiagate honestly, who think that the media got the story wrong and should make amends to US news audiences that they misled for nearly a decade. It was never a story, it was an intelligence operation; and the press didn’t fail, its success was so spectacular that it nearly toppled a president.

The media’s role in Russiagate was indispensable. First, it was the platform for the operation itself, with the FBI and others regularly leaking information to the press to prosecute the campaign against the president. Even more significantly, it gave the conspirators cover. Without the media generating enormous popular support for the Trump plot, there is little chance a small cadre of spies would have risked their reputation, their liberty, and maybe their lives by attempting a coup against an American president. But had they, the criminals would have been isolated, discovered, betrayed by colleagues fearful of finding themselves also caught in the dragnet, denied access to the US public in front of whom they might plead their case, and buried in a black hole.

If that scenario, an America without media, sounds implausible, these are precisely the conditions that the Biden Justice Department has invoked to frame January 6 defendants as “insurrectionists” and win convictions for charges like “seditious conspiracy.” The political and national security establishment has imposed a media blackout so that the public at large is unaware that the Joe Biden White House has turned the law into a weapon to destroy its political opponents.

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GOP Lawmakers Demand Answers on Russiagate Ringleaders, FBI’s Comey and McCabe
Durham Report Shows Top Feds Ran Anti-Trump Plot But Special Counsel Didn’t Interview Them


Special Counsel John Durham’s just published report shows that former FBI director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe led the Bureau’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Now Republican Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson want to know why Durham failed to interview them and other former top law enforcement officials for his investigation of crimes and abuses arising out of the 2016 election campaigns.  

In a May 23 letter to Durham, the two senators noted that “several high-level former government officials directly involved in Crossfire Hurricane either declined or partially declined to cooperate with your investigation.” Grassley and Johnson asked for information explaining how these “individuals would be allowed to avoid fully cooperating with your office, particularly given your authority to compel testimony and records.”

By comparing Durham’s investigation to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s, the letter indicates that the senators find the former’s efforts wanting. In two years of investigating President Donald Trump and his aides for the purpose of furthering the Russia collusion narrative and covering up US government crimes and abuses, Mueller issued more than 2,800 subpoenas and executed nearly 500 search warrants. During a four-year probe that was hoped to hold US intelligence and law enforcement officials accountable for interfering in the 2016 vote and plotting against the chief executive, Durham served less than 200 subpoenas and executed seven search warrants.

Among the others who snubbed Durham’s interview requests are FBI agents Peter Strzok, Bill Priestap, Kevin Clinesmith, as well as Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, the Hillary Clinton campaign contractor that paid an FBI informant to produce reports alleging Trump’s ties to Russia.

The senate letter asks Durham if these figures were subpoenaed, and if the Justice Department impeded his “investigative activities.”

“It’s astounding that Durham did not pursue depositions,” says Derek Harvey, a former congressional investigator who worked on former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ investigation of the FBI and CIA's role in the anti-Trump plot. “The only reason I can imagine that he didn’t get depositions is because the FBI and DOJ continued to shelter the bad actors and obfuscate and impede Durham’s investigation. You can only imagine the skullduggery within those departments.”

Durham’s report shows that the FBI’s two top officials supervised the Bureau’s election interference efforts, conducted under the color of a counterintelligence investigation. According to Durham’s report, Crossfire Hurricane was opened by Strzok at the “direction of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.”

Comey, according to the report, “was getting daily briefings” and “was intimately involved with the team that was working the case.” It was "a top priority for Director Comey.”

With delays in securing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that would allow the FBI to spy on the Trump campaign, McCabe “asked who the FBI needed to speak with at DOJ ‘to get this going.’" Comey was also impatient, repeatedly asking McCabe "where is the FISA, where is the FISA? What's the status with the … FISA?" According to the report, “the FISA was something McCabe definitely knew Comey wanted.”

FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith helped secure the FISA by falsifying a CIA email showing that the subject of the warrant, Trump aide Carter Page, had been an Agency source. The fact that Page had worked with US intelligence services against a foreign threat would disprove the FBI’s contention that Page was acting on behalf of the same foreign power. Thus, to obtain the FISA allowing them to spy on Page and sweep up the Trump team’s electronic communications, Clinesmith changed the email to read that Page was not a source.

Durham’s 300-page report also shows that Clinesmith knowingly misrepresented the CIA information to other FBI agents to obtain the spy warrant. In other words, Clinesmith tampered with evidence showing that FBI leadership never believed that Trump or his aides were in league with Russian officials.

In August 2020, Durham brought relatively mild charges against Clinesmith, a slap on the wrist that left many with the hope that the career prosecutor had turned the FBI lawyer into a witness willing to testify against Crossfire Hurricane ringleaders. Grassley and Johnson are among the many Americans surprised to find that after Clinesmith declined to be interviewed, Durham did not issue a subpoena to compel his testimony.




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