Tag Archives: FISA Court

Latest in the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, Britain’s The Guardian reports. British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia:

GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information.

Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.

The European countries that passed on signals intelligence – known as SIGINT – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.

Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.

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House Intelligence Committee members refute chairman Nunes

It turns out that Rep. Devin Nunes’ breathless news conference a couple of weeks ago was much ado about nothing, a dog and pony show designed to create a grand distraction for the Trump administration after a very bad day of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that he chairs.

Now that members of his committee and its staff have had a chance to review allegedly the same documents that White House sources shared with Nunes, their assessment is that there is nothing to see here.

CNN reports CNN Exclusive: Classified docs contradict Nunes surveillance claims, GOP and Dem sources say:

After a review of the same intelligence reports brought to light by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides have so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal, multiple sources in both parties tell CNN.

Their private assessment contradicts President Donald Trump’s allegations that former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice broke the law by requesting the “unmasking” of US individuals’ identities. Trump had claimed the matter was a “massive story.”

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FBI is sweeping up Russian hackers in a global dragnet

A Russian hacker arrested in Spain this past weekend is the latest suspect swept up in a global dragnet that U.S. officials hope will yield intelligence on Russian government interference in November’s presidential election. Russian Hacker Busted in Spain Latest in Global U.S. Roundup:

At least six Russians have been arrested in Europe on international warrants over the past several months, according to McClatchy Newspapers. The most recent arrest was Friday in Barcelona, where a 32-year-old Russian computer programmer was nabbed.

Pyotr Levashov, 32, was arrested Friday. A tweet from the Spanish National Police said that “In cooperation with the FBI, one of the most wanted cybercriminals has been detained in Barcelona. He is accused of scamming and data theft.” The U.S. has charged that Levashov is spam kingpin Peter Severa, who is closely associated with Russia’s most active cyber criminals.

According to Russian television, quoting Levashov’s wife, armed police stormed into their apartment in Barcelona and quizzed her husband for two hours. Later in a phone conversation from a Spanish jail, Maria Levashov said her husband told her the arrest was “linked to Trump’s election win.”

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House Intelligence Committee chairman has undermined the credibility of the committee

On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes Apologized to Intel. Committee Members—But Won’t Explain His Stunt:

On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chair of the House intelligence committee, blew up the congressional intelligence oversight process. On Thursday morning, at a private committee meeting, he apologized to his colleagues. But, according to a committee source, Nunes would not say what he thought he had done wrong or explain his actions.

Without consulting with the members of his committee—Republicans and Democrats—Nunes on Wednesday held two press conferences, during which he claimed he had been given information indicating that members of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team, including possibly Trump, were picked up during lawfully authorized intelligence surveillance of other targets and that their identities were disclosed in intelligence reporting based on these intercepts. Nunes also rushed to the White House to share this information with Trump.

Note: House Intelligence chair partially backs off claim about surveillance of Trump transition team: “The head of the House Intelligence Committee partially backed away from his dramatic claim [on Wednesday] that officials in President Trump’s transition team had been subjects of surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies, with an aide saying that Chairman Devin Nunes did not know “for sure.” “Until Nunes sees the actual documents, he does not know whether any of the transition officials were actually part of the surveilled conversations or were just talked about by others, spokesman Jack Langer said Thursday.” “He’ll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure,” Langer said.

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‘All the president’s men’: following the Russian money and the Foreign Agents Registration Act

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Paul Manafort is gone, but his business associate remains a key part of Trump’s operation:

The White House on Wednesday sought to again distance itself from President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is under increasing scrutiny over his connections to Russian business interests.

But even as Trump officials downplay Manafort’s role, his ­decade-long business associate Rick Gates remains entrenched in the president’s operation. Gates is one of four people leading a Trump-blessed group that defends the president’s agenda. As recently as last week, he was at the White House to meet with officials as part of that work.

Through Manafort, Gates is tied to many of the same business titans from Ukraine and Russia, including Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with strong ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Manafort had a multimillion-dollar contract with Deripaska between at least 2005 and 2009 that was aimed at helping the political interests of Putin.

Manafort has acknowledged the contract with Deripaska but denied that it, or any other of their dealings, had anything to do with the Russian government. In a brief interview, Gates described his work as being focused on “supporting the private equity fund started by the firm and democracy building and party building in Ukraine.”

Gates also acknowledged a role in at least two recent, controversial deals involving separate Putin-connected oligarchs, including one other with Deripaska. Both led to lawsuits in which Gates was listed as a partner to Manafort, though Gates said he holds no equity interest in the firm.

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Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, on Wednesday evening said that he has seen evidence that is “more than circumstantial” of collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and Russia. Schiff: Evidence Of Trump Camp Russia Collusion ‘More Than Circumstantial:

“I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” Schiff said on MSNBC after host Chuck Todd noted the congressman’s comment on Sunday that there is “circumstantial evidence of collusion.”

“You have seen direct evidence of collusion?” Todd then asked Schiff.

“I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and is very much worthy of investigation. So that is what we ought to do,” Schiff replied.

CNN reported later on Wednesday night that the FBI has evidence that may show that Trump associates communicated with Russian officials about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, citing unnamed U.S. officials. US officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians:

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN.

This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source.

The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.

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