All the standard errors that underlie RUSSIA!RUSSIA!RUSSIA! in one place
In September, a retired spook writing under the pen-name, “John Sypher,” looked back at the notorious Steele “Dirty Dossier” that a year earlier had started the Inquisition into the alleged collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian intelligence. The subtitle of Sypher’s article reprinted in Slate.com has been often repeated by others as confirming the supposed truth of the charges: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/09/a_lot_of_the_steele_dossier_has_since_been_corroborated.html
“The Steele Report, Revisited: How much of the infamous document ended up being corroborated elsewhere? A whole lot.”
But, how does the evidence cited by Sypher stack up against the facts that have been unearthed elsewhere? Not very well. A more accurate characterization of the evidence forces an entirely contrary conclusion:
The Steele “Dirty Dossier”: a multitude of factual errors, conclusions not based in evidence, suppositions masquerading as facts, and all the standard errors that underlay Russia!Russia!Russia!
There are three main problems with Sypher’s tale, as we shall see:
1) the Dossier portrays Paul Manafort as a stealthy secret agent of Russia backed by faceless Russians – in fact, Manafort is the least likely person any rational spy would ever choose as a secret Kremlin agent of influence. In fact, Manafort was first publicly outed as having done a lot of business with Russians by his biggest Russian client, Oleg Deripaska, when that Russian ex-client sued him in open court and then publicly accused the Trump’s Campaign Manager of defrauding him just as the campaign was getting under way. Meet the stealthy secret agent for the Russians, Paul Manafort.
2) the other key figure in the Steele Dossier is Carter Page, a NY energy analyst who the dossier portrays as running around trying to arrange Russian handoffs of “dirt” on Hillary to Manafort just as Manafort was being outed by his biggest Russian ex-client. Carter Page also just happened to have been an FBI Informant who testified in court in 2014 as “MALE-1” in an espionage case brought against a Russian SVR foreign intelligence officer working at the UN. The FBI then busted and closed down the SVR residence in NY. Ever since, the Russians surely knew who Carter Page was all along, but the only ones who can’t seem to figure it out are The New York Times, MSNBC, and “experts” on like Mr. Sypher. Page was wearing a FISA authorized wire and exchanged emails with Papadolous, another energy analyst embedded in the Trump campaign. A DOJ Press release after the March, 2016 conviction similarly describe FBI “UCE-1” who actually handed off the bugged binders as an energy analyst whom the Russian attempted to recruit. Meet the very stealthy Russian secret agent, Carter Page and his side-kick, George Papadopoulos.
3) the Dossier presupposes the Russians are hapless fools who employed Manafort as a deeply buried secret agent, and that Russian Intel had no idea who Carter Page was when he was recorded coordinating dirty tricks on the Democrats with George Papadopoulos inside the Trump campaign while the two racked up frequent flyer miles to Moscow during the campaign.
But, thank you, Mr. Sypher(!) for presenting the whole grab bag all in one place. Lots here to chew on. Let’s unpack the accusations piece by piece, as presented by the aptly-named Mr. Sypher:
- In one account, Putin and his aides expressed concern over kickbacks of cash to Manafort from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, which they feared might be discoverable by U.S. authorities
Mr. Sypher needs to recheck his sources. There never were cash kickbacks to Manafort from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Manafort’s departure from the Trump campaign followed anonymous statements and leaked documents that prompted The New York Times in August 2016 to report that he had received $12.7 million in secret cash payments designated from Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party to Manafort’s consulting company between 2007 and 2012. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/us/politics/paul-manafort-ukraine-donald-trump.html
NYT Report, “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief” Was False
The Mueller Indictment of Paul Manafort is almost entirely based in information that is virtually identical to what was originally leaked and revealed to the New York Times article. Some of it is based in dubious documents provided by the CIA-backed Ukrainian regime. However, it turns out that the Times got the story very wrong in one important aspect by reporting as fact allegations of secret payoffs of Moscow-provided cash to Manafort from secret Russian-backed “black accounts.” Nonetheless, it had the intended effect of tarring Manafort as a Russian operative and getting him fired as Trump’s campaign manager. The Times never issued a correction. Mr. Sypher repeated the accusation.
The August 15, 2016 NYT article, headlined “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief,” was based in Ukranian allegations raised by the so-called “black accounts” book, a hand-written ledger, said to have been looted from the Yanukovych party headquarters by rioters during the deadly Maidan uprising. It turns out that ten months after the NYT story ran, the Ukraine Information Agency (UNIAN) retracted the charge reported by the Times that Manafort had personally received and signed for cash payoffs. UNIAN reported on June 27, 2017:
Head of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SACPO) Nazar Kholodnytskiy has said there is no signature of the ousted Ukrainian president’s former adviser Paul Manafort on any page of the “black accounts” of Yanukovych’s Regions Party, and information about his fault is just PR technology. https://www.unian.info/politics/1998571-sacpo-finds-no-evidence-of-manaforts-involvement-in-yanukovychs-black-accounts.html
News leaks followed from anonymous intelligence and law enforcement officials that Manafort, then Trump’s campaign manager, was the target of an FBI criminal probe. These reports began to comingle anonymous allegations against Manafort about his activities in the Ukraine with implications he and Trump officials were involved in leaks of the DNC and Clinton campaign emails. On November 1, 2016, NBC report first reported that:
The FBI has been conducting a preliminary inquiry into Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s foreign business connections, law enforcement and intelligence sources told NBC News.
Word of the inquiry, which has not blossomed into a full-blown criminal investigation, comes just days after FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure that his agency is examining a new batch of emails connected to an aide to Hillary Clinton.
While an unnamed source apparently spoke to NBC, the FBI at that time had not publicly announced its inquiry into Manafort’s activities. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/fbi-making-inquiry-ex-trump-campaign-manager-s-foreign-ties-n675881
Indeed, we find that the Mueller indictments of Manafort do not contain this most incendiary allegations contained in The New York Times story – repeated in Mr. Sypher’s story — about huge cash payoffs or the anonymously-sourced suggestions made by NBC elsewhere that he or any of Trump’s staff actually were involved in leaking Hillary’s emails or the DNC/Podesta messages released by Wikileaks.
Mr. Sypher, like many others, repeats the equally false innuendo that Manafort was actually involved in releasing DNC and Hillary campaign email:
- Subsequent reports [in the Dossier] provide additional detail about the possible conspiracy, which includes information about cyberattacks against the U.S. They allege that former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort managed the plot to exploit political information on Hillary Clinton
Indeed, there is nothing in the indictments about any of this. Instead, the Mueller indictment actually accuses Manafort of the much more limited charges of not fully registering all of his companies as foreign agents and that some of his investments were routed through offshore holding companies the bank accounts of which were not revealed on tax returns. Read the indictment: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/30/full-text-paul-manafort-indictment-244307
There is yet another very good reason to doubt the bonafides of the case made out that Paul Manafort was a send-up by Russian intelligence or a Kremlin agent of influence over Trump. Manafort’s biggest Russian client, Oleg Deripaska , was actually the source that “outed” him to the western media early into the campaign, even before The New York Times story broke about Manafort’s role in the Ukraine.
Sypher and the rest ignore the fact that the Russians Outed Manafort first
It is not for Donald Trump that Paul Manafort so forcefully and ultimately destructively pushed his way into the Trump campaign spotlight. Personal political loyalty is obviously not what drives Paul Manafort. Nor was it for Vladimir Putin and the greater glory of Russian intelligence that Manafort worked, although Manafort was not afraid years earlier to cross the CIA and State Department line of the day in pursuit of the interests of his clients in the Ukraine.
So what moved Paul Manafort to get into the Trump Campaign? It has been surmised elsewhere that it was Oleg Deripaska, or more exactly the pressure of owing Oleg Deripaska millions of dollars, that motivated Manafort.
What was Oleg Deripaska’s interest in Manafort, aside from recovering a debt? Deripaska has a reported net worth in excess of $5 billion. What’s a trifling $19 million in the Russian oligarch’s money that Manafort is reported to have kept from a 2009 cable TV investment deal in Ukraine that went bad. That’s a good question that Mr. Sypher doesn’t even ask.
According to an AP report in March: https://www.apnews.com/122ae0b5848345faa88108a03de40c5a
[Manifort and Deripaska] had a falling out laid bare in 2014 in a Cayman Islands bankruptcy court. The billionaire gave Manafort nearly $19 million to invest in a Ukrainian TV company called Black Sea Cable, according to legal filings by Deripaska’s representatives. It said that after taking the money, Manafort and his associates stopped responding to Deripaska’s queries about how the funds had been used.
So, how did Oleg Deripaska help Manafort repay that debt, if indeed that was what he was doing, if we are to assume that the debt to Deripaska motivated Paul Manafort? We know that Manafort was the subject of CIA and FBI surveillance for years. http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/18/politics/paul-manafort-government-wiretapped-fisa-russians/index.html So did Oleg Deripaska. So did Russian intelligence. So, what, supposedly, did Deripaska do after their falling out? He put his financial relationship with Paul Manafort into the public eye by suing him in open court. We know this from the same AP report:
Early in the 2016 presidential campaign, Deripaska’s representatives openly accused Manafort of fraud and pledged to recover the money from him. After Trump earned the nomination, Deripaska’s representatives said they would no longer discuss the case.
Are we supposed to believe that Deripaska or Putin put Manafort, who was known to all to be in the cross-hairs of American intelligence and the subject of a law suit by Deripaska right into Trump’s campaign? Why would any intelligent spook choose Manafort, who was already under close scrutiny for such a sensitive role? Why, once he was there, would the Russians – if we assume they were all working together through Manafort — call further attention to him by publicly accusing Manafort of fraud, right as the Trump campaign was getting started?
And, once there, why would anyone with an interest in maintaining Manafort’s access to (and supposed influence over) Trump have a role in dispatching Rob Goldstone, the manager of the son of another Russian billionaire, to arrange a very high-visibility sit down in Trump Tower with Fusion-GPS operatives in June 2016? A meeting to which Goldstone carefully laid out a trail of electronic breadcrumbs and selfies?
The conventional narrative as told by Sypher completely breaks down when we know the background facts. None of it makes sense, unless the object of all was to set up Manafort. Who had motive for that? Obviously, the CIA, the FBI, the Clinton loyalists in the State Department and the DNC (an overlapping group with the Ukraine government through Alexandra Chalupa, a “consultant” on the DNC payroll who was also a coordinator of State Dept an Ukrainian anti-Russian intelligence officers, journalists, and politicians in Kiev). And, last but not least, Oleg Deripaska, had motive to set up Manafort for a spectacular fall.
Carter Page: Known to be an FBI Informant by Russian Intelligence since 2014
There is a second important figure in this story about whom Sypher shows a curious lack of curiosity: Carter Page. Sypher goes on repeat the canard that is central to the “Dirty Dossier” about Carter Page acted as a Russian agent of influence. Sypher states:
- According to the report, Trump campaign operative Carter Page is also said to have played a role in shuttling information to Moscow.
For a well-connected and trained former CIA analyst, Mr. Sypher seems to be woefully unaware of the most basic fact that undermines the credibility of the Steele Dossier – Page has been FBI informant since 2014. Here’s an [updated] excerpt of the post in which that was demonstrated: https://jackpineradicals.com/boards/topic/heres-the-backstory-behind-russiagate-the-msm-wont-tell-you/
In 2014, the FBI quietly infiltrated and just as quietly arrested a ring of Russian SVR intelligence service operatives working under diplomatic UN cover in New York. They were quietly expelled, but a Non-Official Cover (NOC) agent was tried early the next year for among other things, seeking information about U.S. economic sanctions against Russian banks.
Key to the FBI’s investigation in 2013, an obscure energy trader named Carter Page was turned as a cooperating FBI witness, and during the 2015 trial, he testified as “Male-1” against the SVR agents who had attempted to recruit him. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/15/politics/russia-spy-recruitment-tactics-fbi-carter-page/index.html
Carter Page is also at the core of the Christopher Steele “Pee Pee” Dossier, which set off the “Russiagate” scandal when it first emerged publicly in mid-2016. Page was the target of electronic and human surveillance when he traveled to Moscow in 2015 and 2016 — it’s significant that Page is the only figure [aside from Manafort] for whom the Obama DOJ actually obtained a FISA warrant — and it appears in the summer of 2016 he was still acting as an FBI informant as he allegedly implicated others in the Trump campaign in Russiagate. A few months ago, it was confirmed that a FISA warrant had been obtained to monitor Page in his travels to Russia: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/carter-page-fisa-russia-trump-237137
[ . . .]
The Short and the Long on Carter Page
The short and the long of the story is that since 2013 the FBI had been engaged in Counter-Intelligence operations using several confidential sources, including Carter Page, and the continued smokescreen about him was justified at the time on the usual grounds of not compromising intelligence assets and methods. Page’s role, while undoubtedly known to Russian intel since the arrests of their agents in 2014, and never very well protected in court records and DOJ statements, still remains obscured by the major media. That much of the surveillance gathered against Trump associates was obtained by pretext and was politically motivated also likely factored into the peculiar way in which this matter has unfolded.
Is Carter Page an FBI informant who wormed into Trump’s campaign?
The strongest and the weakest part of the public case that Russia tried to influence the 2016 elections involves one man, Carter Page, during part of 2016 a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign.
Page has been portrayed in a number of media accounts as a dupe of Russian intelligence. He’s actually a 45 year old New York energy market analyst and investment banker who helped the FBI prosecute a Non-Official Cover Russian intelligence officer and a group of SVR agents in 2014.
As far as the cat can be walked back, the beginnings of “Russiagate” may have been FBI surveillance of Carter Page during a 2013 meeting with Victor Podobnyy, a Russian “Junior Attache” to the UN in NY. U.S. intelligence had Podobnyy under human and electronic surveillance as a suspected Russian SVR intelligence operative, and the FBI had recorded a conversation in March of between Podoobnyy and a second Russian agent discussing his attempt to recruit Page as an asset.
According to court documents, in January 2013, Carter Page first met Podobnyy at an international energy conference in NY, and later that year Page provided information about the U.S. energy industry to Podobbny. But, this is where it only starts to get really interesting.
In a letter published by CNN, Page informed a US Senate committee that shortly after he met with Podobnny in 2013 he was interviewed by federal agents in June, 2013 and that he became a cooperating witness in the federal investigation and resulting 2015 prosecution.
Indeed, a court document in the 2015 trial of an SVR officer confirms that Page was indeed interviewed by two FBI Agents about dealings with Podobnyy. Carter Page is referred to in the Affidavit as Male-1: [See FBI Affidavit for the Prosecution, http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/2015_0126_spyring2.pdf.%5D ]
34. On or about June 13, 2013, [FBI] Agent-2 and I interviewed
Male-1. Male-1 stated that he first met VICTOR PODOBNYY, the
defendant, in January 2013 at an energy symposium in New York City.
During this initial meeting, PODOBNYY gave Male-1 PODOBNYY’s
business card and two email addresses. Over the following months,
Male-1 and PODOBNYY exchanged emails about the energy business and
met in person on occasion, with Male-1 providing PODOBNYY with
Male-l’s outlook on the current and future of the energy industry.
Male-1 also provided documents to PODOBNYY about the energy business.
Having cooperated with the FBI in a counter-intelligence operation and later as a witness in the 2015 trial of a Russian intelligence officer, it seems implausible that Page could have been a willing secret agent of the Russians at any point thereafter. Note that Carter Page [and George Papadoppulos] made their way into the Trump campaign right at the point that the Podobnyy trial was over. More likely, [Page] was playing out a role assigned to him, perhaps under duress, by the FBI. Page was apparently sufficiently trusted by the FBI that he was allowed to travel to Russia several times before and after the Bureau busted the Podobnny cell in September 2014.
It should be pointed out that Page was never charged as an accomplice [and that he has not been indicted by Mueller].
In fact, Page insinuated himself into the Trump campaign suddenly in early 2016 when it was short-handed without persons with direct foreign experience. He seemingly emerged out of nowhere. A biography in Newsweek portrayed him as something of a mystery whose role in the campaign is unclear, as is how he managed to gain nearly instant access as a junior foreign policy advisor to Trump: http://www.newsweek.com/carter-page-fbi-surveillance-us-presidential-election-russia-donald-trump-583066
Reporters who went foraging for information on him during the race for the White House found little. Within Trump’s team, no one seemed to know who hired him, or what he did for the campaign. Among U.S. businessmen who had worked in Russia, and the Russians they had worked with, few knew Page’s name. In a scathing Politico article about Page, an unnamed Western investor in Russian energy told the author: “I can poll any number of people involved in energy in Russia about Carter Page and they’ll say, ‘Carter who? You mean Jimmy Carter?’”
What’s notable here that seems to have evaded previous notice at Politico, The Washington Post, CNN and the rest is that instead of being a Russian agent of influence, Page at the time he spang briefly into a prominent role within the Trump campaign in early 2016, was already an FBI informant, something the Russians would obviously know. This becomes even more crucial later that summer after Page returned from a business trip to Moscow when he was repeatedly named in the James Steele “dirty dossier” as a close confident of Russian energy officials and bankers. Page actually appears to have all the hallmarks of an FBI informant, or an agent provocateur, who was planted into the Trump campaign as part of an intelligence operation. Only, it seems apparent, the intelligence service he was actually serving was American rather than Russian.
That is significant for another very important reason – according to the Washington Post, the FBI obtained a FISA warrant last summer to spy on the Trump campaign under the pretext that Page was alleged to be a Russian agent. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-obtained-fisa-warrant-to-monitor-former-trump-adviser-carter-page/2017/04/11/620192ea-1e0e-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html?utm_term=.ee32735cc79b
The Russian UN employee was charged with two others in 2015. There is an interesting section in the Justice Department press release that accompanied the March 11, 2016 conviction of one of the three Russians. Seemingly overlooked by everyone in the major media are intriguing suggestions in that DOJ document that Page is not the unwitting Russian pawn he was later made out to be, and was instead quite aware of his role as a willing informant in FBI operations: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/evgeny-buryakov-pleads-guilty-manhattan-federal-court-connection-conspiracy-work
BURYAKOV worked in New York with at least two other SVR agents, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy. From November 22, 2010, to November 21, 2014, Sporyshev officially served as a trade representative of the Russian Federation in New York. From December 13, 2012, to September 12, 2013, Podobnyy officially served as an attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. The investigation, however, showed that Sporyshev and Podobnyy also worked as officers of the SVR. For their roles in the charged conspiracy, Sporyshev and Podobnyy were charged along with BURYAKOV in January 2015. However, Sporyshev and Podbonyy no longer lived in the United States and thus were not arrested.
BURYAKOV’s Co-Conspirators Are Recorded Inside the SVR’s New York “Residentura”
During the course of the investigation, the FBI recorded Sporyshev and Podobnyy speaking inside the SVR’s offices in New York, known as the “Residentura.”
The FBI obtained the recordings after Sporyshev attempted to recruit an FBI undercover employee (“UCE-1”), who was posing as an analyst from a New York-based energy company. In response to requests from Sporyshev, UCE-1 provided Sporyshev with binders containing purported industry analysis written by UCE-1 and supporting documentation relating to UCE-1’s reports, as well as covertly placed recording devices. Sporyshev then took the binders to, among other places, the Residentura. [emphasis added]
During subsequent recorded conversations, Sporyshev and Podobnyy discussed, among other things, Sporyshev’s SVR employment contract and his official cover position, their work as SVR officers, and the FBI’s July 2010 arrests of 10 SVR agents in the United States, known as the “Illegals.”
While there seem to be some remarkable coincidences, it is not known what relationship Page, referred to in court documents as “MALE 1” had with the second unnamed figure, “UCE-1” who fits the same profile as Page. Most likely, the FBI used Page to introduce one of its own employees pretending to be a coworker in Page’s NYC-based energy trading company, who subsequently passed bugged binders to the Russians. Page was previously reported in court papers to have been identified as “MALE-1.” Indeed, the FBI Affidavit in the Polodny case states that two FBI Special Agents interviewed Male-1, Carter Page, on June 13, 2013, and it only stands to reason they had use for Page thereafter.
Finally, Carter Page has admitted that he and George Papadopoulos were in communication with each other during the time that both were jetting off to Moscow. Just by coincidence, perhaps, both Page and Papadoploulos are described as New York energy analysts.
Sypher Ignores the Obvious, and Doesn’t Even Try to Address It
The whole thing has been a series of orchestrated set-ups involving wiretaps, planted false evidence, agents provocateur, and strategic leaks going back to well before Trump even came into the picture. Manafort has been under surveillance since 2014 as a result of his activities in Ukraine that were perceived to conflict with a CIA and State Dept. regime change operation there. Page was and continued to be an FBI Informant since 2014. The Russians were well aware of that and who Carter Page was and that Page was an FBI informant wearing a wire. [More recently, there is the additional wrinkle of George Papadoploulos, as second energy analyst and junior Trump aide who was turned at some point into an FBI informant.] It is now crystal clear about the Dossier – everything said and done around Page in Russia was exactly what the SVR wanted the CIA and FBI to hear. Much of that ended up in the Dossier, which makes the dossier a conflation of Russian disinformation, Moscow hotel employee gossip, and raw snippets of illegally leaked wiretaps. That has been further detailed in a series of articles linked here:
P.S.: For those who may doubt the centrality that Carter Page played in conceiving and promoting the alleged Russian-Trump conspiracy to tarnish Clinton by leaking emails as described in the Dossier, below is an excerpt of a passage at page 17 of 35 (17/35): https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html
1. Speaking in confidence on 9 August 2016, an ethnic Russian associate of Republican US presidential
candidate Donald TRUMP discussed the reaction inside his camp, and revised tactics therein resulting
from recent negative publicity concerning Moscow’s clandestine involvement in the campaign.
TRUMP’s associate reported that the aim of leaking the DNC e-mails to Wiki Leaks during the Democratic
Convention had been to swing supporters of Bernie SANDERS away from Hillary CLINTON and across to
TRUMP. These voters were perceived as activist and anti-status quo and anti-establishment and in that
regard sharing manyfeatures with the TRUMP campaign, including a visceral dislike of Hillary CLINTON.
This objective had been conceived and promoted, inter alia, by TRUMP’s foreign policy adviser Carter
PAGE who had discussed it directly with the ethnic Russian associate.Koko, travelerxxx, Odd John and 28 othersPastiche, Blackspade, 7wo7rees, OCMI, ccinamon, chknltl, Oilwellian, ThinkingANew, baran, Marym625, djean111, bemildred, Charles, nevereVereven, Pam, davidgmills, rudycantfail, winter is coming, SonofaSailor, Fire with Fire, ozoneman, MistaP, Betty Karlson, VagrantPeters, duckpin, Two way street, Ichingcarpenter, Mom Cat like this
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