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If you’re like me, you get an initial impression of a story but then, after thinking about it for another day or so, you sometimes realize there are even more far-reaching implications than anyone is talking about. Such was the case for me and my research staff after reading about the newly declassified footnotes from the IG report on the FBI’s FISA warrant applications.

Yes, we know that Russia might have been running a disinformation campaign on Christopher Steele. (This could be true even though we have reason to believe that a lot of it actually came from Glenn Simpson with Steele’s name attached.)  We know the Russians had information by summer of 2016 that he was working for Fusion GPS to help Hillary.

Yes, we know that the FBI knew about this possible Russian involvement --- BEFORE the FISA warrant application was renewed to spy on Carter Page and before the Mueller special counsel had been appointed. (I believe they were duty-bound to alert the FISA Court of any problem with information in their original application, but they ignored that and blithely went on to renew it three more times.)

But there’s something MORE we know: that, contrary to what the FBI said and the Intelligence Community concluded in their January 2017 report, Russia was NOT doing this to help Trump. They weren’t even doing it just to “create chaos,” although that was a plus.


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So what was their actual goal? Well, class, if they were doing it to help Trump, if they were “colluding” with Trump to win the election, wouldn't they have been spreading damaging stories about HILLARY?  Why would they be spreading phony stories like the one about Trump attorney Michael Cohen going on a suspicious trip to Prague (he never went), or the one about Trump frolicking with incontinent hookers in a Moscow hotel (it didn’t happen)? These are two examples of stories, as revealed in the IG footnotes, that the FBI thought might have come from a Russian disinformation campaign. Who does that kind of story help? I’ll give you a hint: not Trump.

And why would Christopher Steele’s sub-source be a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton, as is revealed in the footnotes? Who would his information be intended to help? Hint: Not Trump.

Why would Steele himself, an ardent Clinton supporter who was hired by Hillary and the DNC, who was “desperate” to make sure Trump didn’t win and who had a deadline of Election Day to get his anti-Trump “dossier” out, be doing this project in the first place? Who was he trying to help? Not Trump.

So where does anyone get the idea that the Russians were trying to hurt Hillary and help Trump?

That was the FBI’s narrative in the summer of 2016 and onward, and it led to years of ridiculous investigation, but the truth was actually just the opposite. Everyone connected with this scheme --- Steele, his sources and sub-sources, Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS, the Democratic National Committee, Hillary’s lawyers, the top echelon of the FBI, the director of the CIA, the special counsel team, Democrats on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, allies at the DOJ and State Department, and, obviously, RUSSIA --- was aligned with Hillary. They were all trying to hurt Donald Trump and help Hillary Clinton, whom they surely believed would be the next U.S. President. This isn’t a wild conspiracy theory; with all we know now, any other conclusion defies logic.


RELATED READING:  More IG footnotes show the FBI was NOT "duped" by Russia


I would add that with a group of this size, power and scope aligned with Hillary, the then-President of the United States was aware of their activities. Hard to prove, but, again, it defies reason to think he wasn't informed about a lot of it. As Lisa Page texted to Peter Strzok in September 2016: “POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.”

Here’s a concise report on what the footnotes, just released by acting Director of National intelligence Richard Grenell, reveal:

It was so important for the FBI and whoever else was working with them to “get” Trump that they violated the rights of innocent Americans such as Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, who were literally caught in the “Crossfire.” Papadopoulos even got jail time. 

And speaking of George Papadopoulos, Lindsay Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has just declassified and released documents and transcripts relating to him and the FBI’s targeting of him. The material he released falls into three categories:

1) Declassified information related to “Crossfire Hurricane.”

2) Timeline of correspondence sent and received by the Committee regarding FISA abuse investigation.

3) Corrective action taken by the DOJ and FISA Court as a result of FISA abuse investigation.

We learn from the correspondence that the DOJ has produced the following documents:

–- Transcript of conversation between Papadopoulos and the FBI confidential human source (CHS, or “SPY”).

–- Another transcript of conversation between Papadopoulos and the aforementioned SPY.

--- The original FISA warrant application to spy on Carter Page.

--- Renewals one, two and three of the original Carter Page application (written AFTER the FBI knew of the problems with the “dossier” used therein).

--- A July 2018 letter from the DOJ to the FISA Court alerting them to some of the errors and omissions in the Carter Page application.

You can read the transcript of the conversation between George Papadopoulos and the SPY here, at the link.

When Papadopoulos was informed that this material had been declassified, he had an interesting reaction. A big question, of course, is who sent Hillary supporter and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer to London to meet with Papadopoulos in the spring of 2016? Recall that the FBI said their conversation, in which Papadopoulos reportedly said the Russians had damaging information about Hillary (which appears to have been fed to him by another CHS), is what sparked the opening of “Crossfire Hurricane.” Here’s what Papadopoulos tweeted on Thursday evening:

"Senator Graham in his letter to Australia made it clear that Alexander Downer was instructed to meet with me. Mueller’s team acknowledged he was recording me after I reported him to them (the irony). The key question is, who put the Clinton errand boy up to it? DURHAM KNOWS.” (Emphasis mine.

Papadopoulos Reacts to Declassification of Spygate Transcripts: "Durham Knows" Who Sent Clinton Errand Boy to Meet with Me in London

So we can add Alexander Downer --- and whoever sent him to London --- to the massive column of Spygate characters who were out to HELP HILLARY WIN. And, yes, we can add Russia, too.  Much more to come, because Durham knows.

 

But wait, there’s more! In my recent commentary on revelations in newly declassified footnotes from the Horowitz report, I said the FBI would try to claim they were duped by the Russians but that they actually weren’t. As of yesterday, we have hard evidence that if the Russians were getting in on the act and supplying disinformation to Steele, FBI agents KNEW IT.

In other words, there was no “duping” going on. Well, maybe of Steele, but not of the FBI.

As Chuck Ross at the DAILY CALLER reports, Russian intelligence knew during the 2016 campaign that Christopher Steele was investigating Trump’s campaign. Just-declassified footnotes from the IG report show not only that Russian intelligence might have been collecting information on Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, but that in January of 2017, a member of the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” team had evidence of this.


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Recall that Steele started working for Fusion GPS on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in June of 2016. There’s a footnote in the IG report that says a June, 2017, intel report “indicated that two persons affiliated with RIS [Russian Intelligence Service] were aware of Steele’s election investigation in early July 2016.”

So the Russians knew he was doing this almost from the beginning and very likely were feeding him disinformation; this would certainly help explain the many inaccuracies.

But, to me, this isn’t the most important part of the story. It was almost a given that the Russians would have known what Steele was up to and would have tried to create a little chaos. (It’s what they do.) The really important part is that the FBI agents KNEW about this. Information released on Wednesday, in the form of these declassified footnotes, shows that the FBI found out on January 12, 2017, two days after BUZZFEED published the “dossier.” At that point, they knew, for example, that the fake story Steele had provided about Michael Cohen going to Prague in August of 2016 was likely Russian disinformation.

Oh, and the fake story about Trump and the hookers in the Moscow hotel? On February 27, 2017, the FBI found out that might have been Russian disinformation, too.

In fact, the FBI had been questioning Steele’s value as a source since 2015 because of his multiple contacts with Russian oligarchs and/or their intermediaries.

There were problems with the sub-source, too (the person who passed information to Steele), and the agents knew about that, too, as of early June 2017. According to these footnotes, the sub-source (not identified) had contacts with an individual in the Russian presidential administration in June/July of 2016. Also, the sub-source had voiced “strong support” for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. (I would add that Steele had, too.)

So, once the FBI agents involved in “Crossfire Hurricane” knew that Russians might have compromised Steele’s information, did they go to the FISA Court and say, “Um, we see that there might be a problem with some of the information in our original warrant application...”? Heck, no, they just kept right on renewing the application and continuing their spying. Why spoil a good thing? And did they go to BUZZFEED and say, “You know that Trump ‘dossier’ you published a couple of days ago? There’s some false information in there that we are pretty sure was planted by the Russians.” Again, heck no.

As Chuck Ross reports, “The lead supervisory intelligence analyst on the FBI investigation told the IG’s office he did not know as of June 2017 that Steele’s source network “had been penetrated or compromised.”

Read the full report here.

On Wednesday’s HANNITY show, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes said, “...You’re beginning to see what we wanted you to see all along….Here’s the problem that we have with the dirty cops at the FBI and DOJ and elsewhere: ...House Republicans were running an investigation, starting in 2017, on everything ‘Russia,’ remember? Well, here, the whole time, who had this information? The FBI knew that Steele could be compromised.”

"I hope,” he said, “that---there better be people who are charged with lying and obstructing a congressional investigation, because we should have been given this information.”

Nunes also noted that in the Intel Community Report on Russia –- the one that concluded Russia had interfered in our election to help Trump –- Steele’s phony “dossier” had been used. (I would add that both John Brennan and James Comey were pushing hard for it to be included in that report.) “Now, if that is all of the information that we have from all of our intelligence assets, where was the information that we now learn from the Horowitz report? Why was that not in the ICA?”

House Judiciary Committee member Matt Gaetz added that when he questioned Robert Mueller directly, asking if the Steele “dossier” was part of the Russian disinformation campaign, he said, “That’s not my purview.” I would observe that if he really didn’t know the answer to this most basic of questions, then he couldn’t possibly have been in charge of the special counsel investigation into Trump/Russia “collusion” (as if we didn't already have plenty of reason to conclude that), and that makes the Mueller probe a big fraud. And if he did know, then he was lying his head off, which also makes the Mueller probe a big fraud and Mueller himself guilty of lying before Congress.

It’s all becoming clearer by the day. Lying (both to Congress and the FISA Court) and obstruction of a congressional investigation --- those are crimes, the sort of thing U.S. Attorney John Durham has been looking into and (let's hope) making a case. Attorney General Bill Barr had good reason to say that what happened to President Trump was “a travesty.”

Here's another excellent report on the story, from Law Enforcement Today.

Declassified Report: FBI knew Steele Dossier against Trump had ‘Russian disinformation’

Bergen-Belsen Anniversary

April 16, 2020

Wednesday, Germany observed a national moment of silence in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on April 15, 1945. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus shutdown, the memorial was closed, survivors who had planned to attend were forced to stay home, and events to mark the date had to be postponed to 2021.

Bergen-Belsen was one of the first camps to be liberated by the Allies. It’s estimated that more than 50,000 people died there. British troops found it riddled with disease and more than 13,000 unburied corpses. They freed about 60,000 prisoners who were in shockingly bad condition, sick and starving and in desperate need of medical care. The victims included Anne Frank and her sister Margot, who are now believed to have died of typhus about two months before the Allied troops arrived.

Even though current circumstances have forced the official commemoration to be postponed, you can learn more about this horrific chapter in history online at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum site. Once you read the story of Bergen-Belson, and the other concentration camps, you’ll understand why we must pass it on to future generations so that it is never forgotten and never allowed to happen again.

From Tom:

I keep writing to you here, Mike, and you keep missing my statement. The azithromycin is more dangerous to those most vulnerable to coronavirus than the virus (the solution is more dangerous than the problem) because the major side effect is heart arrhythmias, which cause heart attacks. The better mix is hydroxychloroquine with doxycycline with zinc. Doxycycline provides the same benefits without [the] side effects [of] azithromycin.

Please don't kill me (74 with heart issues) with kindness. Thanx Mike and keep smiling, young fella.

From the Gov (with a smile):

Actually, Tom, I have mentioned that azithromycin in combination with HCQ is associated with possible heart arrhythmias in some patients and that doxycycline might be prescribed as a safer alternative. I’ll mention it again and remind all that this is why no one should be on this or any prescription med or combination of meds without a doctor’s supervision --- certainly not someone with heart issues, such as yourself. Don't self-medicate, don't drink fish tank cleaner --- and don't blame President Trump if someone does.

From Jeremy:

I am a physician and know more than most about treatments for ailments. I use a lot of medications off-label because I was taught and shown in my residency that they work surprisingly well for conditions the drug was not labeled for. This is a very good article [on fact-checking the WAPO "fact-checkers"].

As Trump has stated, this medication (along with others to form a 'cocktail') has shown progress and has indeed 'cured' a good handful so far. There is no time, unless we want a total economic collapse, to wait for a trial, which takes years, typically. As mentioned in this article, most medications have the potential for multiple bad side effects...On that, as he [Trump] said, 'What do we have to lose?' Between taking an experimental drug for this virus or dying, I guarantee that the writers [the WaPo “fact-checkers”] would choose the former over the latter if they were in the situation of choosing. I cannot believe that the Democrats have no shame.

From the Gov:

Thanks for writing, Doctor. I would add that hydroxychloroquine is not just experimental, at least in the sense that it has been used quite safely for many years, just for other maladies. It's too soon to call this an outright "cure" for COVID-19. but Trump is being truthful about what we know so far.

A WASHINGTON POST “Fact-Checker” column (quotation marks deliberate), not by Glenn Kessler but by Elyse Samuels and Meg Kelly, gives “Four Pinocchios,” the worst rating for lying, to President Trump for allegedly promoting hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for the COVID-19 (Chinese –- that's a fact) coronavirus.

Where to begin? Aside from the headline, which makes sure to include the words “false hope” (they don’t know that), I suppose we could start right up front, with the quotes in which Trump allegedly tells his overwhelming LIES about it being a cure. Huge whoppers such as, “I don’t know, it’s looking like it’s having some good results. That would be a phenomenal thing.” And “It’s this powerful drug on malaria. And there are signs that it works on this. Some very strong signs.” And of course, “What do you have to lose?” Well, there’s a hardcore sales pitch!


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Likewise, the writers’ case for dismissing hydroxychloroquine (which is being used in combination with other drugs, not alone) is that there aren't yet any clinical trials proving efficacy. But here's a FACT: those take time, and people who might die in the next 24 hours don’t want to wait for results to come in months from now., especially with the many “anecdotal” accounts of the drug’s success. That’s why Trump said, “What do you have to lose?”

There have been some small-scale trials showing promise, such as those by French doctor Didier Raoult. But the authors wave his work off as “discredited.” But how? I followed the link in the story to the journal that allegedly “discredited” the study. Here is the entirety of what it said on that subject:

“The ISAC (International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy) Board believes the article does not meet the Society’s expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety.”


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Does that mean the drug wasn’t shown to be effective? The WaPo writers certainly imply as much. We’ve talked about this very small study here, right after the news broke that a hydroxychloroquine “cocktail” of drugs had helped some patients in France. The news was encouraging, but very preliminary; I said at the time that it appeared to have been rushed out and that the French-to-English could have been smoother. My staff and I were as skeptical as anyone should be of the results of a preliminary study announced on Skype. But after that, there was another, larger study that supported the first, and French President Macron went to the institute where it had been conducted and reportedly received a three-hour presentation on the promising results. In light of this, it is not overselling the treatment for Trump to say there are “some very strong signs” that it works.

And there are other studies currently underway, including in South Dakota, the first state to launch one. None of this would be happening without a lot of encouraging “anecdotal” evidence.

The writers reference these studies and quote spokespeople as saying that’s it’s too early to know for sure.

But what about that growing mountain of “anecdotes” from the many people who report they believed they were about to die but quickly began recovering after receiving this treatment? One was the 96-year-old (!) father of Dr. Marc Siegel; he was quite ill before receiving the treatment but recovered in just a few days. Even a Democrat politician has credited Trump’s publicizing of the drug with saving her life. Well, ignore them all. The WaPo writers say that to a layperson, anecdotal evidence “may not sound bad, but it’s actually an insult in the scientific community,” akin to “a Yelp review.”

That assertion, in itself, is a distortion of fact. If someone cited only anecdotal evidence as “proof” of a “cure,” then, yes, that would be pseudoscience, but President Trump hasn’t claimed this. Personally, if my life were in the balance, there were no proven cure, and a few thousand Yelp reviews said “this medicine saved my life,” I would at least give it a try. And you know what? I’ll bet the authors of this hit piece masquerading as a “fact-check” would, too.

In FACT, according to a new survey by the healthcare staffing firm Jackson & Coker, 65 percent of physicians would prescribe the drug to a family member with COVID-19, and 67 percent would take it themselves. Only 11 percent said they would not use it. In other words, a vast majority of doctors are encouraged –- not insulted –- by the anecdotal evidence.

Another point they use to discredit the drug is that there can be serious side effects if not used under a doctor’s supervision. Isn’t that true of virtually all prescription drugs, which is why you need a prescription? Numerous doctors, even some cardiac specialists, have said this is one of the safest drugs on the market. (Read the list of possible side effects in the paperwork that comes with most prescriptions, and you’ll think twice before taking ANY drug.) This article even cites the very suspicious story about the man dying after deliberately swallowing fish tank cleaner containing a very different ingredient with a similar name. (Talk about relying on “anecdotal evidence” to prove your case!) Sorry, but I can’t find any example of Trump telling people to take this drug without seeing a doctor, or to ingest fish tank cleaner.

They also bring up the concern about lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients facing shortages of this drug because of the demand. I would say that if there is a demand, it’s because a lot of doctors –- repeat, doctors –- see the value in prescribing it for their COVID-19 patients. (See survey, above.) Ironically, the problem of supply vs. demand might actually be exacerbated by the tendency of politicians to “play doctor” and try to limit the use of the drug. A solution might be to go the opposite way: green-light mass production and distribution. A supply should, of course, be reserved for those patients already depending on it for maintaining their health.

The article also warns that a focus on this drug might cause researchers to “put all their eggs in one basket” and miss finding more promising treatments. On the contrary, those studies are going on as well.

Here are a few FACTS for those in the “fact-check” business who have trouble recognizing one. Trump has never called this a “cure.” He’s said he’s heard good things (so have I, so I know that’s true). He’s said what have you got to lose (if there is no other treatment, and the alternative is dying on a ventilator, that sounds pretty accurate as well.) It’s impossible to have perfect, long-term clinical trials at this stage; this is a never-before-seen virus and a treatment that’s only recently been tried. Many doctors, when faced with no alternative for a possibly terminal patient and no available clinical trials, make recommendations based on anecdotal evidence, particularly when there is a vast and growing library of it.

The authors surely know that slapping a "Four-Pinocchio" rating on Trump's comments implies to the public that they've made an ironclad case for deliberate, malicious LYING. Yet the last paragraph in particular reads more like an overly dramatic editorial than a dispassionate assessment of facts. And it is inaccurate (a LIE!!) for them to say that politicians and the media have turned this “unknown drug” into a “100 percent coronavirus cure.”

After reading through this article, I have to award Samuels and Kelly Four Pinocchios for their claim to be objective “fact-checkers.”