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The ‘Primary Subsource’s’ Guide To Russiagate, As Told To The FBI

The FBI notes of February 2017 interviews with the Steele dossier's dubious 'Primary Subsource' have finally been released.

By Eric FeltenThe Federalist

The ‘Primary Subsource’s’ Guide To Russiagate, As Told To The FBI
Christopher Steele

Much of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation into Donald Trump was built on the premise that Christopher Steele and his dossier were to be believed. This, even though early on Steele’s claims failed to bear scrutiny. Just how far off the claims were became clear when the FBI interviewed Steele’s “Primary Subsource” over three days beginning on Feb. 9, 2017. Notes taken by FBI agents of those interviews were released by the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday afternoon.

The Primary Subsource was in reality Steele’s sole source, a longtime Russian-speaking contractor for the former British spy’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence. In turn, the Primary Subsource had a group of friends in Russia. All of their names remain redacted. From the FBI interviews, it becomes clear that the Primary Subsource and his friends peddled warmed-over rumors and laughable gossip that Steele dressed up as formal intelligence memos.

Steele’s operation didn’t rely on great expertise, to judge from the Primary Subsource’s account. He described to the FBI the instructions Steele had given him sometime in the spring of 2016 regarding Paul Manafort: “Do you know [about] Manafort? Find out about Manafort’s dealings with Ukraine, his dealings with other countries, and any corrupt schemes.” The Primary Subsource admitted to the FBI “that he was ‘clueless’ about who Manafort was, and that this was a ‘strange task’ to have been given.”

The Primary Subsource said at first that maybe he had asked some of his friends in Russia – he didn’t have a network of sources, according to his lawyer, but instead just a “social circle.” And a boozy one at that: When the Primary Subsource would get together with his old friend Source 4, the two would drink heavily. But his social circle was no help with the Manafort question, and so the Primary Subsource scrounged up a few old news clippings about Manafort and fed them back to Steele.

Also in his “social circle” was Primary Subsource’s friend “Source 2,” a character who was always on the make. “He often tries to monetize his relationship with [the Primary Subsource], suggesting that the two of them should try and do projects together for money,” the Primary Subsource told the FBI (a caution that the Primary Subsource would repeat again and again.) It was Source 2 who “told [the Primary Subsource] that there was compromising material on Trump.”

And then there was Source 3, a very special friend. She would borrow money from the Primary Subsource that he didn’t expect to be paid back. She stayed with him when visiting the United States. The Primary Subsource told the FBI that in the midst of their conversations about Trump, they would also talk about “a private subject.” (The FBI agents, for all their hardnosed reputation, were too delicate to intrude by asking what that “private subject” was).

One day, Steele told his lead contractor to get dirt on five individuals. By the time he got around to it, the Primary Subsource had forgotten two of the names, but seemed to recall Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. The Primary Subsource said he asked his special friend Source 3 if she knew any of them. At first she didn’t. But within minutes, she seemed to recall having heard of Cohen, according to the FBI notes. Indeed, before long, it came back to her that she had heard Cohen and three henchmen had gone to Prague to meet with Russians.

Source 3 kept spinning yarns about Michael Cohen in Prague. For example, she claimed Cohen was delivering “deniable cash payments” to hackers. But come to think of it, the Primary Subsource was “not sure if Source 3 was brainstorming here,” the FBI notes say.

The Steele dossier would end up having authoritative-sounding reports of hackers who had been “recruited under duress by the FSB” — the Russian security service — and how they “had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party.” What exactly, the FBI asked the subject, were “altering operations?” The Primary Subsource wouldn’t be much help there, as he told the FBI “that his understanding of this topic (i.e. cyber) was ‘zero.’” But what about his girlfriend whom he had known since they were in eighth grade together? The Primary Subsource admitted to the FBI that Source 3 “is not an IT specialist herself.”

And then there was Source 6. Or at least the Primary Subsource thinks it was Source 6.

While he was doing his research on Manafort, the Primary Subsource met a U.S. journalist “at a Thai restaurant.” The Primary Subsource didn’t want to ask “revealing questions” but managed to go so far as to ask, “Do you [redacted] know anyone who can talk about all of this Trump/Manafort stuff, or Trump and Russia?” According to the FBI notes, the journalist told the Primary Subsource “that he was skeptical and nothing substantive had turned up.” But the journalist put the Primary Subsource in touch with a “colleague” who in turn gave him an email of “this guy” journalist two had interviewed and “that he should talk to.”

With the email address of “this guy” in hand, the Primary Subsource sent him a message “in either June or July 2016.” Some weeks later, the Primary Subsource “received a telephone call from an unidentified Russia guy.” He “thought” but had no evidence that the mystery “Russian guy” was “that guy.” The mystery caller “never identified himself.” The Primary Subsource labeled the anonymous caller “Source 6.” The Primary Subsource and Source 6 talked for a total of “about 10 minutes.” During that brief conversation, they spoke about the Primary Subsource traveling to meet the anonymous caller, but the hook-up never happened.

Nonetheless, the Primary Subsource labeled the unknown Russian voice “Source 6” and gave Christopher Steele the rundown on their brief conversation – how they had “a general discussion about Trump and the Kremlin” and “that it was an ongoing relationship.” For use in the dossier, Steele named the voice Source E.

When Steele was done putting this utterly unsourced claim into the style of the dossier, here’s how the mystery call from the unknown guy was presented: “Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership.” Steele writes, “Inter alia,” – yes, he really does deploy the Latin formulation for “among other things” – “Source E acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee [DNC], to the WikiLeaks platform.”

All that and more is presented as the testimony of a “close associate” of Trump, when it was just the disembodied voice of an unknown guy.

Perhaps even more perplexing is that the FBI interviewers, knowing that Source E was just an anonymous caller, didn’t compare that admission to the fantastical Steele bluster and declare the dossier a fabrication on the spot.

But perhaps it might be argued that Christopher Steele was bringing crack investigative skills of his own to bear. For something as rich in detail and powerful in effect as the dossier, Steele must have been researching these questions himself as well, using his hard-earned spy savvy to pry closely held secrets away from the Russians. Or at the very least, he must have relied on a team of intelligence operatives who could have gone far beyond the obvious limitations of the Primary Subsource and his group of drinking buddies.

But no. As we learned in December from Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Steele “was not the originating source of any of the factual information in his reporting.” Steele, the IG reported, “relied on a primary sub-source (Primary Sub- source) for information, and this Primary Sub-source used a network of [further] sub-sources to gather the information that was relayed to Steele.” The inspector general’s report noted that “neither Steele nor the Primary Sub-source had direct access to the information being reported.”

One might, by now, harbor some skepticism about the dossier. One might even be inclined to doubt the story that Trump was “into water sports” as the Primary Subsource so delicately described the tale of Trump and Moscow prostitutes. But in this account, there was an effort, however feeble, to nail down the “rumor and speculation” that Trump engaged in “unorthodox sexual activity at the Ritz.”

While the Primary Subsource admitted to the FBI “he had not been able to confirm the story,” Source 2 (who will be remembered as the hustler always looking for a lucrative score) supposedly asked a hotel manager about Trump, and the manager said that with celebrities, “one never knows what they’re doing.” One never knows – not exactly a robust proof of something that smacks of urban myth. But the Primary Subsource makes the best of it, declaring that at least “it wasn’t a denial.”

If there was any denial going on, it was the FBI’s, an agency in denial that its extraordinary investigation was crumbling.


THE PURSUIT OF MICHAEL FLYNN AND THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE

It may just be that Donald Trump’s biggest sin—as it was with Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan and others who preceded him on the national stage—is that he has blocked what the intellectual heirs of Marx who populate the Democratic Party believe is the United States’ inevitable slide into a permanent socialist welfare state.

Some will argue this is nonsense. They may be right about that—but the debate about these luminaries on the political right so often devolves into character assassination and the politics of personal destruction that it is hard to be sure. The leaders of America’s elite culture, who have the power to shape people’s thinking and economic behavior as well as influence how they vote, are a leftward lot who cannot be happy they are saddled with Sleepy Joe Biden as a presumptive presidential nominee.

Since coming into office, Trump has complained that he has been the victim of a coordinated campaign to discredit him. The allegation that his campaign colluded with Russian intelligence operatives to tilt the election in his favor—which so many senior congressional Democrats and former Obama administration senior officials assured everyone was both serious and substantive—turns out not to have been true at all.

This is troublesome. Some of the same people who were on television as often as possible reiterating there was truth in the charge were telling congressional investigators that they had no evidence to back up their claims. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

We’ll probably never know everything that went on but, from what we do know, there’s more true than not true about the suggestion, for example, the FBI under James Comey—perhaps at his own direction—sought to intervene in the 2016 election to Trump’s detriment. Using a phony “dossier” as cover that they apparently knew to be full of falsehoods (and paid for, in part, by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign), they wiretapped Trump campaign headquarters looking for dirt. And they set up retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who, for a brief time, served as national security advisor, on the charge of having lied to them.

There are those—and count me among them—who find the idea that lying to the FBI is a crime questionable, especially since the United States Supreme Court has affirmed the FBI and other police agencies can lie to you without penalty or sanction in the course of an investigation. That, it seems reasonable to assert, tips the scales of justice unfairly towards the interests of the state. But that’s an issue of another day.

Michael Flynn
Michael FlynnALEX WROBLEWSKI/GETTY IMAGES

The fact the Flynn investigation is so badly tainted by misconduct, not just by the investigators but also by the prosecutors, taints all the subsequent investigations and prosecutions touching on the Russia collusion investigations. Perhaps they deserve reconsideration, especially the case against longtime Trump political associate Roger Stone—which moved forward, he claims, only after he refused an entreaty to make everything go away if only he would go along with the government’s assertions regarding phone conservations with the president that matched the narrative the FBI was trying so hard to establish.

This whole saga is a black stain on the American system of jurisprudence. The Stone case, from the obvious bias of the judge and jury foreman to how a key witness, it was recently learned, contradicted himself between his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee and what he said in federal court, ratifies rather than reassures the American public that something is rotten in Washington.

It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest, were there not profound political considerations connected to the action, that President Trump should pardon everyone who was convicted or pled guilty to process crimes arising out of the collusion investigation.

Which brings us to the unfortunate tale of Judge Emmett Sullivan. By inviting the submission of amicus briefs and appointing a retired federal judge to argue against the dropping of the case against Flynn—as the Justice Department now wants to do—Judge Sullivan is only prolonging the inevitable. Even if Flynn’s plea of guilty to the charge he lied to the FBI is somehow sustained in Sullivan’s courtroom, it will almost certainly be reversed on appeal.

A pardon would short-circuit that but would make it hard for Flynn and others to claim they were both set up and exonerated. Justice requires they be able to do both.


The Damage Crossfire Hurricane Did To FBI’s Counterintelligence Division ‘Will Last For Years’ Says Former Counterspy

By Sarah LeeRedState

When Attorney General Bill Barr told Congress in April he believed spying did occur against the Trump campaign, he was referring to the work of the formerly respected FBI division of counterintelligence, where Peter Strzok clocked in every day.

The Washington Free Beacon details the almost mythical history of the division and how now, following its fall from grace as stooges for the powers-that-be that wanted Trump out of the game, it is the focus of the Department of Justice’s special investigation into the origins of the Russia collusion probe.

Two senior counterintelligence officials no longer with the bureau are among likely targets of the investigation by John Durham, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut. Both were key managers of the high-profile investigations in 2016 into classified information found on Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and the now-discredited counterspy operation into links between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian government.

A central figure is Peter Strzok, deputy assistant FBI director for the counterintelligence division, who was fired in August. Another key player was his boss, Bill Priestap, assistant FBI director for counterintelligence, who quietly resigned in December.

In the three years since the controversial investigations, the FBI counterintelligence division has sought to rebuild its reputation by conducting aggressive operations untainted by past allegations of liberal political bias through recent high-profile spy cases.

This merry band of partisans has nearly destroyed what was once a highly respected division doing impressive work. In fact, the Free Beacon reports, during the presidency of Bill Clinton onward, the division began to suffer from terrible mishaps of duty.

Since the 1990s, however, FBI counterintelligence has suffered numerous failures. They include botched counterspy investigations into Chinese nuclear spies that stole American warhead secrets; a Chinese double agent who worked as an informant for the FBI in Los Angeles; and, most damaging, failing to uncover FBI turncoat agent Robert Hanssen who worked as an FBI counterspy and Moscow agent undetected for more than 20 years.

Other counterintelligence lapses included a Cuban mole that operated secretly inside for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the loss of more than two dozen recruited CIA assets in China, and the arrests of numerous recruited intelligence agents in Iran beginning in 2010.

Strzok is the newest member who is the source of the division’s ills, and while Barr indicated in his interview with CBS This Morning that he could see a scenario in which these agents felt they were doing what’s right, Strzok is being criticized for being particularly ill-suited to any role in counterintelligence due to extramarital affairs, accepting media favors against FBI policy et al.

The cumulative effect of a department run by employees with loyalty to a political outcome rather than to the work of counterintel to protect their country is highly damaging, reports the Beacon.

“The damage they’ve done to the FBI will last for years,” said former FBI counterspy I.C. Smith.

DeGraffenreid said the fallout from Crossfire Hurricane likely will further weaken an already poor FBI counterintelligence capability. Bureaucratically, the fallout will further erode support for aggressive counterintelligence and dissuade the most capable people from seeking counterspy positions.

Strzok, based on his congressional testimony and publicized text, revealed himself to be ill-suited for counterintelligence. The FBI counterspy came across as “an arrogant bureaucrat” in his congressional testimony, deGraffenreid said. “He’s not George Smiley.”

Also, as outlined by the Justice IG, the FBI’s protective bureaucratic culture is in need of correcting.

“There’s extreme bureaucratization there with a culture that thinks the bureau is something other than the United States,” said deGraffenreid who worked with senior FBI officials in government for more than 30 years.

“More than any other government bureaucracy, the FBI will openly lie to protect the FBI’s reputation,” he said, adding that of all the intelligence disciplines, counterintelligence requires the smartest and best analysts and operators free of political bias like that shown by Strzok.

It is beyond frightening that one of the most important and secretive divisions within the federal police force was thick with partisanship and so far removed from their proper mission that they would engage in spy games to unseat a president. But that appears to be exactly what happened. We’ll know more when all the subsequent “investigations into the investigators” are released.

But one thing is already certain: the FBI needs to do a little housecleaning. Before this is all over, I suspect we’ll find other agencies do as well.


Media Gaslighting Can’t Hide Fact Trump Campaign Was Spied On

By Mollie Hemingway • The Federalist

On Saturday night, heavily redacted copies of the FBI’s application to wiretap Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page were released. The portion of the 412-page document that was not redacted supported the claims of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), as well as those made by the majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The senators and the representatives had issued reports alleging that the FBI used an unverified Clinton campaign document to secure a wiretap against an American citizen, that the application for the wiretap used circular reporting and lacked verification for its central claims, and that it made materially false claims related to the source’s credibility.

President Trump tweeted triumphantly and hyperbolically about what the documents showed regarding the FBI’s behavior toward his campaign. Whatever you think about Trump’s reaction to the release of the FISA application, the media reaction to the story was disingenuous and even more hyperbolic than the president’s tweets. After a year of continuous and alarming revelations, the media are still more interested in proving the Trump campaign treasonously colluded with Russia than wrestling with the fact that the FBI spied on a presidential campaign, and used dubious partisan political research to justify their surveillance. Continue reading


The IG Report On FBI’s Clinton Probe Reveals This Saga May Be Just Getting Started

By Margot Cleveland • The Federalist

The media has focused almost exclusively on the conclusion of the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe, which found bias did not impact the probe, as well as the lack of any newly announced indictments or criminal referrals. The goal of course being to downplay the negative findings of the report.

At the same time, the press gave, at most, passing mention to the statement Attorney General Jeff Sessions simultaneously released. But his statement and the findings of the report make one thing clear: This isn’t over.

Here’s why. Throughout the 568-page report, the IG highlighted several areas meriting additional investigation. And Sessions said the report “reveals a number of significant errors by the senior leadership of the Department of Justice and the FBI during the previous administration,” and stressed “this is not the end of the process.” Continue reading


Obama’s Attorney General Used Fake Identity To Hide Clinton Investigation E-Mails

By Bre Payton • The Federalist

Former President Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, used a fake name to cover up an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, indicates an admission from Lynch’s attorney.

Lynch was caught conducting a secret meeting with Bill Clinton aboard a private plane on a tarmac in Phoenix last year as Clinton’s wife pursued the presidency and amid an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private, unsecured email server, which she illegally used during her tenure as secretary of State. Soon afterward, the former attorney general reportedly used a pseudonym to coordinate a narrative about the meeting with Department of Justice officials, Chuck Ross at The Daily Caller reports.

Also shortly after the private plane meeting, former FBI director James Comey announced that agency would not pursue a case against Clinton, despite admitting he had enough evidence to do so. Continue reading


Loretta Lynch prepped with talking points about Phoenix tarmac meeting

by Christopher Sign • ABC

Newly released documents reveal former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was prepared for questions about the now-infamous tarmac meeting at Sky Harbor International Airport with former President Bill Clinton.

The private meeting happened in Phoenix on the evening of June 27, 2016, a matter of hours before the Obama Department of Justice decision on whether then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had revealed classified information when using a private email account while secretary of state.

ABC15’s Christopher Sign broke the story of the tarmac meeting two days later, prompting a chain of events that would include an unprecedented news conference by then-FBI Director James Comey.

Documents reveal Department of Justice staffers were given a ‘heads-up’ that ABC15 had learned about the meeting, and assisted the Attorney General on how to address any potential questions from reporters. Continue reading


Comey Didn’t Sink Hillary. Hillary Sank Hillary

By David Harsanyi • The Federalist

Hillary Clinton was back yesterday, taking “absolute personal responsibility” by blaming Russia, James Comey, and misogyny for her second presidential election loss. If the election had taken place on October 27, Clinton maintained, she’d be president. Perhaps if we all lived in a vacuum where the electorate ignored everything the Democratic Party’s flawed nominee had said and done (and tried to hide), she may well be in the White House — although even that’s debatable.

Clinton’s counterfactual tale about the infamous “Comey letter” has been a security blanket for many Democrats. But, as luck would have it, the FBI director was testifying in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee today, and he reminded us of some factors that Clinton ignored. That’s because even if we concede that Comey’s letter to Congress helped sink Clinton, Hillary deserved that letter, and the FBI director had no choice but to send it. Continue reading


Susan Rice’s White House Unmasking: A Watergate-style Scandal

By Andrew C McCarthy • National Review

The thing to bear in mind is that the White House does not do investigations. Not criminal investigations, not intelligence investigations.

Remember that.

Why is that so important in the context of explosive revelations that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national-security adviser, confidant, and chief dissembler, called for the “unmasking” of Trump campaign and transition officials whose identities and communications were captured in the collection of U.S. intelligence on foreign targets? Continue reading


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