by Tom Fitton –
… Plot to ‘Wear a Wire’ in Oval Office; Steele & State Dept. Relationship
Judicial Watch Steps Up and Sues for Records on Firing of Biden-Ukraine Prosecutor
Joe Biden deserves a trophy for his audacity, but he’s not going to escape serious scrutiny over his apparent threatening of the Ukraine government for his son’s personal gain.
We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records about the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor after then-Vice President Biden threated to withhold aid. We filed the lawsuit on Wednesday against the U.S. Department of State (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:19-cv-02893)).
We sued after, as per usual, the State Department failed to respond to our May 7, 2019, FOIA request seeking access to the following records:
1. Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to Viktor Shokin’s investigation of Mykola Zolchevsky and Shokin’s resignation at Ukraine’s Prosecutor General.
2. Any and all records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the Department of State and any official, employee, or representative of the Office of the Vice President regarding Viktor Shokin.
In a widely distributed video, Joe Biden confirmed that he successfully pressured, under threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. government aid, the Ukrainian government to fire Shokin, who had allegedly launched an investigation into Burisma, which had purportedly paid Biden’s son Hunter $50,000 a month.
The latest impeachment/coup assault on President Trump is an obvious attempt to protect Joe Biden from the corruption scandals involving his son. Our lawsuit will be the first of many to try to get to the bottom of this influence-peddling scandal.
New Smoking Gun FBI Memo Details Plot to ‘Wear a Wire’ in President Trump’s Oval Office
It’s easy to become blasé about the never-ending flow of astonishing revelations in Washington. A deputy attorney general secretly recording the President of the United States in the Oval Office, because he knows they won’t pat him down at the door?
We just obtained a two-page memo written by then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe detailing how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire into the Oval Office “to collect additional evidence on the president’s true intentions.”
McCabe writes in the May 16, 2017, memo that Rosenstein said he thought it was possible because “he was not searched when he entered the White House.”
The Justice Department turned the document over in response to our February 2019, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. We sued after the Justice Department and FBI failed to respond to September 2, 2018, FOIA requests for documents about any FBI/DOJ discussions regarding the 25th Amendment and plans to secretly record President Trump in the Oval Office (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-00388).
In short, we sued for the coup docs and hit pay dirt.
The memo, which is redacted in key sections, purports to serve as a “contemporaneous recollection” of a meeting that day (“12:30 pm on 5/16/2017”) in Rosenstein’s office. The meeting included Rosenstein, Deputy Assistant AG for Intelligence Tashina Gauhar and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Jim Crowell in Rosenstein’s Justice Department office.
McCabe writes he began the meeting by telling Rosenstein that he “approved the opening of an investigation of President Donald Trump … to investigate allegations of possible collusion between the president and the Russian Government, possible obstruction of justice related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and possible conspiracy to obstruct justice.” In justifying his investigation, McCabe refers to the memos Comey secretly wrote on meetings he had with President Trump and an NBC interview with Lester Holt. McCabe writes he “informed DAG [Rosenstein] that as a result of his role in the matter, I thought he would be a witness to the case.”
Rosenstein responded by recounting his discussion with President Trump, then-Attorney General Sessions and then-White House Counsel Don McGahn about Comey’s imminent firing and that President Trump wanted him to write a “memo explaining the reason” for Comey’s firing. McCabe writes:
As our conversation continued the DAG proposed that he could potentially wear a recording device into the Oval Office to collect additional evidence on the President’s true intentions. He said he thought this might be possible because he was not searched when he entered the White House. I told him that I would discuss the opportunity with my investigative team and get back to him.
We discussed the issue of appointing a Special Counsel to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. The DAG said he has two candidates ready, one of whom could start immediately.
Additionally, McCabe admits that Rosenstein told him that McCabe had a “credibility problem” because a Rosenstein staffer had provided him with photos of McCabe wearing his wife’s campaign t-shirt in contradiction to McCabe’s “assurance” he had no role in her campaign. McCabe writes he told him the photos were not from campaign events and that he confirmed with “my ethics counsel at FBI” that wearing such a shirt did not “constitute proscribed political activity.”
Earlier this month, through this same lawsuit, we uncovered DOJ records that also confirmed discussions about wearing a wire to record President Trump. Another Judicial Watch lawsuit recently uncovered documents that show the FBI had to retrieve memos about alleged conversations from Trump, which included classified information, from Comey’s home. And yet another Judicial Watch lawsuit uncovered documents about Andrew McCabe’s conflicts of interest issues related to his wife’s political campaign that took in hundreds of thousands of dollars from then-Virginia Governor Terrence McAuliffe, who is closely tied to the Clintons (see here and here).
This incredible memo details the conflicted and conniving coup effort against President Trump. It is astonishing and shocking that McCabe thought he could have the FBI conduct a “counterintelligence” operation on the president and Rosenstein thought it would be appropriate to wear a wire to secretly record President Trump in the Oval Office. That the DOJ and FBI sat on this smoking gun for a year shows the need for urgent housecleaning at those agencies.
The full text of the redacted McCabe memo is printed below:
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
At 12:30 pm on 05/16/2017, I met with Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rod Rosenstein in his office at the Department of Justice. Also present were Tashina Gauhar and Jim Crowell. The following is a contemporaneous recollection of the main topics we discussed.
I began by telling him that today I approved the opening of an investigation of President Donald Trump. I explained that the purpose of the investigation was to investigate allegations of possible collusion between the president and the Russian Government, possible obstruction of justice related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and possible conspiracy to obstruct justice. The DAG questioned what I meant by collusion and I explained that I was referring to the investigation of any potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. I explained that counterintelligence investigations of this sort were meant to uncover any existence of any threat to national security as well as whether or not criminal conduct had occurred. Regarding the obstruction issues, I made clear that our predication was based not only on the president’s comments last week to reporter Lester Holt (that he connected the firing of the director to the FBI’s Russia investigation), but also on the several concurring comments the president made to Director Comey over the last few months. These comments included the President’s requests for assurances of loyalty, statements about the Russia investigation and the investigation of General Michael Flynn. I also informed the DAG that Director Comey preserved his recollection of these interactions in a series of contemporaneously drafted memos. Finally, I informed the DAG that as a result of his role in the matter, I thought he would be a witness in the case.
The DAG then related his experiences at the White House on Monday, 05/08/2017. He began by stating that he had the feeling that the decision to fire the Director had been made before he arrived. At the White House, he first met with White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who told him that the President had drafted a letter to Director Comey that McGahn did not want the President to send. Shortly thereafter they met with the President and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and possibly others, in the Oval Office. President Trump told the DAG he had written a letter to Director Comey, asked the DAG if he had seen the letter, and instructed McGahn to provide the DAG with a copy. The DAG described the letter to me as being a long list, possibly several pages, of the President’s complaints with Director Comey. Among those complaints was a discussion about the FBI’s Russia investigation, as well as a paragraph about the FBI Deputy Director. The DAG indicated to me that he retained a copy of the President’s letter. The DAG said he told the President [redacted]. The President then directed the DAG to write a memo explaining the reasoning for Director Comey’s termination and that the DAG should include Russia. The DAG said to the President he did not think this was a good idea and that his memo did not need to include Russia. The President replied that he understood, but that he was asking the DAG to include Russia anyway. As our conversation continued the DAG proposed that he could potentially wear a recording device into the Oval Office to collect additional evidence on the President’s true intentions. He said he thought this might be possible because he was not searched when he entered the White House. I told him that I would discuss the opportunity with my investigative team and get back to him.
We discussed the issue of appointing a Special Counsel to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. The DAG said he has two candidates ready one of whom could start immediately. [Redacted] The DAG said that he left a copy of the delegation with Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana Boente to execute in the DAG’s absence if the DAG were suddenly removed from his position. [Redacted] He anticipated that he may be terminated when he puts the Special Counsel in place, in light of the president’s anger with AG Sessions when the AG recused himself from the Russia investigation. The DAG further stated that he was told that others heard the President tell the AG “you were supposed to protect me.”
The DAG related to me that on Sunday, 05/14/17, the AG asked him to participate in the interview of [redacted] for the position of FBI Director. [Redacted].
The DAG told me that he informed the AG that I should remain in my role as Acting Director until the permanent Director was chosen. The DAG opined that my only “problem” was that some people believe that I was involved in my wife’s 2015 campaign for State Senate in Virginia. The DAG said it was a “credibility problem” because after having told him during my May 13 interview that I played no role in her campaign and attended no campaign events, the DAG said a staffer had provided him with a photograph found on the internet of me and my wife wearing Dr. Jill McCabe campaign t-shirts. The DAG suggested that this photograph contradicted my statement that I had not campaigned for my wife. I pointed out to the DAG that the photograph he saw was taken not at a campaign event, but rather at [redacted] I further informed the DAG that I confirmed with my ethics counsel at FBI that the Hatch Act does not prohibit wearing a campaign button or shirt away from the office, and that attending [redacted] wearing such a shirt does not constitute proscribed political activity.
Documents Reveal Extensive Relationship between Dossier Author Steele and Top Obama State Department Officials
It is now abundantly clear that Clinton spy Christopher Steele had an outsized influence at the Obama State Department that proved useful when the Clinton campaign needed help smearing Trump in 2016 and beyond.
This becomes clear in 146 pages of State Department documents which reveal that former British spy and Dossier author Steele’s close working relationship with high-ranking Obama State Department officials dating back to May of 2014.
The documents we obtained in a FOIA lawsuit show that, from May 2014 to November 2015, Steele filed dozens of reports with his close associate at State, Special Coordinator for Libya Jonathan Winer, who would then pass them to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. The reports focused mainly on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and U.S. sanctions on Russia.
The documents show that Steele’s work was also distributed to State Department Coordinator for Sanctions Policy Daniel Fried and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Jones, whose focus in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs was on Russia and Ukraine policy.
The documents are Orbis Business Intelligence reports that Steele provided to the State Department. Steele, a former MI6 spy, co-founded Orbis in 2009.
We filed our lawsuit on April 25, 2018, on behalf of The Daily Caller News Foundation after State failed to respond to three separate FOIA requests (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:18-cv-00968)). The lawsuit seeks:
• All records of communications between State Department officials, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, on the one hand, and British National Christopher Steele and/or employees or contractors of Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence, on the other hand.
• All records and/or memoranda provided by Christopher Steele and/or his firm Orbis Business Intelligence or by others acting on Steele’s/Orbis’s behalf, to State Department officials.
• Any and all records in the custody of the State Department related to the provision of documents to British national Christopher Steele and/or his firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, or the receipt of documents from Steele or his firm. Time period is January 20, 2009 through the present.
• All records created in 2016 by Jonathan M. Winer relating to research compiled by Christopher Steele.
Winer passed along an early Steele report to Nuland on May 19, 2014. It discusses Russia-Ukraine policy. Winer writes: “Toria, another piece that is not in my lane but which I wished to pass on to you. My friend Chris Steele (Orbis Intelligence, former MI-6 Russia expert), provided me the enclosed memo yesterday, describing a recent conversation (redacted) on Russian Ukraine policy. As I was provided it from a person in private sector, I am treating it as low side.”
In a November 20, 2014, email exchange, Winer offers to introduce Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Paul Jones to Steele while Steele was to be in town, and he provides Jones and Nuland with three Steele reports, discussing: “Ukraine looking towards [redacted]”; “Ukraine economy shrinking due to loss of East [redacted]”; and “President Putin’s current priorities [redacted].” Winer writes to Jones: Paul, if you are still free, does 3 pm work to meet with Chris Steele? I would pick him up downstairs, get him to your office, and sit in. Will be sending you another Orbis report regardless in a few minutes, it just arrived but I haven’t had chance to open it and manicure it yet.”
“The more we dig, the more access we see the disgraced spy behind the ridiculous dossier had at State. And we’re going to keep on digging until we learn just how deep this went,” said Christopher Bedford, editor in chief of The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The new documents show that on June 13, 2014, Winer forwarded to Nuland a Steele report on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the Kremlin being emboldened to challenge U.S. sanctions.
Winer passed two Steele reports to Nuland on July 1, 2014, with one discussing someone claiming success in the Russian-Ukraine crisis, and the other discussing the Crimea annexation.
Winer sends an email from his verizon.net account to his state.gov account on July 11, 2014 under the subject “Likely Measured Russian Response to Ukrainian Military, (redacted) Orbis report. Winer writes: “I note in particular their focus on sanctions and the fact that they are biting deep already, though maybe someone should tell him that Administration doesn’t need Congress to add to those…”
Winer passes to State Department Coordinator for Sanctions Policy Daniel Fried on July 17, 2014 an Orbis report on the Russia-Ukraine Crisis and increasing hostilities.
On July 18, 2014, Winer passes to Nuland a Steele report on a (redacted) company avoiding U.S. sanctions and “the problem of early warning of U.S. action.”
Winer passed Nuland a Steele report on Aug. 1, 2014 discussing “Early Russian Leadership Views on Counter-Sanctions against the West.”
On August 29, 2014, Winer passes to Nuland three Steele reports discussing: Ukrainian views on a Poroshenko-Putin meeting in Minsk; Ukrainian views on Russia’s military goal of a corridor to Crimea before winter; and someone “still seeking bilateral Russia-UK Gas deal despite conditions.”
On Aug. 29, 2014, Winer forwarded to Nuland a Steele report discussing the Ukrainian crisis and “Putin’s performance from within Russian leadership.”
On September 11, 2014, Winer forwarded to Fried a Steele report titled “Moscow fears Western sanctions.”
On October 20, 2014, Winer sent to Nuland four Steele reports dealing with: Growing Kremlin frustration with Kiev and pro-Russian forces in Ukraine; Petro Poroshenko’s efforts to secure victory in upcoming parliamentary elections; Kiev’s view of international relations; and efforts by a Kremlin owned insurance company, SOGAZ, to evade U.S. sanctions.
On November 3, 2014, Winer forwarded to Nuland three reports: One dealing with an early Kremlin reaction to the Ukrainian election outcome; another discussing a gas negotiations deal; and the third discussing Ukrainian internal politics and EU attitudes.
On November 7, 2014, Winer sends Nuland a Steele report titled “Signs of a more conciliatory Kremlin position” relating to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
On December 6, 2014, Winer forwarded Nuland a Steele report about Putin seeking a PR campaign designed to combat sanctions.
On December 11, 2014, Steele sent a report to Winer/Nuland about a Russian Central Bank warning to Putin that there would be insufficient funds to support all “SOEs” hit by sanctions.
On January 12, 2015, a Steele report was sent to Nuland and Winer discussing Ukraine’s worry that it would be trade bait between the U.S. and Russia.
On February 16, 2015, Steele sent a report to Nuland and Winer about a company “secretly owned by Putin, Putin’s mistress and friends.”
In a March 19, 2015, email thread, Winer and Nuland are forwarded Steele reports dealing with Ukraine political instability and the possible return to power of Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko.
On April 17, 2015, Nuland and Winer received two Steele reports, one related to why Russia was supplying Iran with missile defense, and the other related to Russian exports of gas to Europe through Ukraine.
On June 19, 2015, Nuland and Winer received a Steele report concerning the likely political demise of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his successor and the country’s geopolitical reorientation toward China.
On July 6, 2015, Steele sent a report to Nuland and Winer about the “boozing” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko struggling to deal with fellow oligarchs amid growing dysfunction.
On August 19, 2015, Weiner and Nuland received another Steele report related to the possibility of a Ukrainian leader retaining a U.S. passport.
On November 5, 2015, Nuland sent colleague Geoffrey Pyatt three Steele reports dealing with: Ukraine relations and military situation in eastern Ukraine; Ukraine politics and elections; and President Poroshenko’s “evolving constitutional agenda” and deepening partnership with someone.
This is just the latest of many important revelations uncovered by our massive investigation into the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump dossier and its use to obtain FISA warrants in order to spy on the Trump campaign. You can track our over 50 Deep State coup lawsuits on our new Internet site at www.judicialwatch.org.