Guest post by Larry C. Johnson
The “Introduction” to the Mueller Report justifies the investigation of Donald Trump by claiming as undisputed fact that, “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” But, according to Mueller, this “sweeping and systematic” interference, consisted of:
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A social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Russian military intelligence conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents.
You have got to be kidding me? The Mueller team present the the Russian social media campaign as some sort of propaganda behemoth and claims it was wildly influential. The Mueller folks cite, for instance, the IRA spending $100,000 on Facebook ads as evidence of this great influence. Nothing is said, however, about the billion dollars the Clinton Campaign spent on media to influence the American public. Apparently, $100,000 dollars from Russia carries more punch than $1,000,000,000 from Hillary.
The Clinton campaign, Democratic Party and pro-Clinton expenditure committees and PACs spent a record $1.2 billion, twice as much as the $600 million laid out by the Trump camp, Republicans and pro-Trump groups, the New York Post reported.
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The real propaganda here, in my judgement, is what Mueller and his team put out in their report. It is clearly written to feed a meme and promote animus towards Donald Trump under the guise of being an “official” investigation.
I was stunned by Mueller’s claim that his investigation uncovered “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.” As I noted in a previous piece (i.e., Intel and Law Enforcement Tried to Entrap Trump) the Russian “links” to the Trump Campaign were manufactured by the FBI, the CIA and British Foreign Intelligence. This is both disingenuous and dishonest on the part of Mueller. The alleged Russian contacts were initiated by the FBI and the CIA, not the Trump team.
Notwithstanding Mueller’s deception, the facts compelled him to conclude that the investigation established that members of the Trump Campaign did not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government.
The structure and presentation of the Mueller report reminds me of propaganda programs I worked on while at the CIA. For example, Mueller reports Russian interference as something unprecedented and unique and strongly implies that this effort was instrumental to Trump’s electoral success. Unfortunately, this meme has become accepted conventional wisdom. But it is not true. Those who unquestionably accept this view are guilty of ignorance with respect to our shared history with Russia. The only thing unique and exceptional about the 2016 election was the fact that pundits and pollster were wrong on a grand scale in failing to predict the Trump win. If the Russian social media campaign had actually been so widespread and effective, surely the intelligence community and the media pundits should have identified the activity and raised the alarm about the alleged Russian social media tidal wave.
Here is the cold, hard truth–Russia (I use this as shorthand to include its predecessor, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) has been running intelligence operations inside America for more almost 100 years. These activities include recruiting Americans to gather classified information for Moscow, such as the Rosenbergs, creating front companies, and publishing and disseminating propaganda. At one point there was even a Communist Party of the United States (and former CIA Director John Brennan voted for its candidate). All of this falls under the rubric of espionage. And guess what? We have been and are doing the same thing in Russia.
The American politicians and pundits who decried the Russian activity in 2016 as an act of war deserve either pity for being so stupid and uninformed or condemnation for engaging in such unjustified hysteria.
Robert Mueller may not be eager to testify before Congress. His appearance will likely be a disaster for the Democrats and anti-Trumpers, who desperately hope that Mueller is sitting on info that could force Trump from office. But that will not happen.
Instead, Mueller will have to endorse his own report and its conclusion that there was no coordination nor conspiracy between Trump and the Russians. The report released to the Congress and the public is Mueller’s report. It is not Barr’s. Mueller also will have to explain why he did not indict Trump for obstruction. We already know, courtesy of Attorney General Barr, that Mueller’s decision to not indict was not guided nor influenced by DOJ policy to not indict a sitting President.
Mueller will face tough questions on major gaps and omissions in the Special Counsel investigation. Take Joseph Mifsud, for example, who Mueller identifies as a ‘London professor with ties to Russia.” Even the most simple-minded investigator would want to know who Mifsud was and how did he have access to information on Hillary Clinton’s emails. Not Bob Mueller. Not curious at all. Intrepid internet investigators, such as Disobedient Media and Wikileaks, uncovered evidence linking Mifsud to British Mi6 and the CIA.
And there are three known FBI informants–aka Confidential Human Sources aka CHS–that targeted Trump and his campaign team–Christopher Steele, Felix Sater and Henry Greenberg. Steele’s status as a fully signed up CHS was exposed in August 2018 when documents were released, thanks to a Judicial Watch FOIA request, showing that Steele received at least 11 payments during the 9 month period that he was signed up as a Confidential Human Source.
The key is to look at the report forms; there are three types–FD-1023 (Source Reports), FD-209a (Contact Reports) and FD-794b (Payment Requests). There are 15 different 1023s, 13 209a reports and 11 794b payment requests covering the period from 2 February 2016 thru 1 November 2016.
These reports totally destroy the FBI claim that Steele only came into contact with the FBI sometime in July 2016. It is important for you to understand that a 1023 Source Report is filled out each time that the FBI source handler has contact with the source. This can be an in person meeting or a phone call. Each report lists the name of the Case Agent; the date, time and location of the meeting; any other people attending the meeting; and a summary of what was discussed.
What is truly outrageous is that Christopher Steele’s status as a FBI CHS is not acknowledged and the anti-Trump dossier he put together at the behest of a firm hired by the Clinton Campaign (i.e., Fusion GPS) is referenced as follows:
Several days later , BuzzFeed published unverified allegations compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele during the campaign about candidate Trump ‘s Russia connections under the headline “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia.”
The Mueller team knew that Steele’s Dossier was one of the predicates of the FBI investigation and the request for a FISA warrant against Carter Page. But not one word of explanation is given and no evidence is provided to show that the Mueller team investigated the matter.
Similar reports, i.e., 1023s, should exist for Felix Sater and Henry Greenberg as well. You can bank on it. Why did Robert Mueller and his team not request these reports on Sater and Greenberg? Sater was the impetus for the Moscow Tower Project. But you would not know that from Mueller discussion of this aspect of the case in his introduction:
2015. Some of the earliest contacts were made in connection with a Trump Organization real-estate project in Russia known as Trump Tower Moscow. Candidate Trump signed a Letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow by November 2015, and in January 2016 Trump Organization executive Michael Cohen emailed and spoke about the project with the office of Russian government press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
Once you understand that Felix Sater had been an FBI CHS since December 1998 (and was signed up by Andrew Weissman), you can see how dishonest and deceptive is Mueller’s account of the Trump Tower Project.
I am eager to hear Bob Mueller’s answer to these and other questions. His investigation can be charitably described as sloppy, inept and inadequate. There also is a case to be made that it was corrupt given critical information that was excluded from the report. With the benefit of hindsight, it appears that Bill Barr made sure to publish as much of the report as possible in order to get the evidence of bias and error by Mueller exposed to the public.