Just days after it was sharply rebuked for its conduct in the Russia collusion investigation, the FBI is declaring it possesses no records of any disciplinary action taken against lawyers who pursued a deeply flawed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting the Trump campaign.
The declaration was made Thursday in a U.S. District Court motion seeking to dismiss an open records lawsuit brought by the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a public interest law firm that frequently argues cases before the Supreme Court.
The foundation’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit sought any records from the FBI of actions taken with or communicated to the FISA judges or other disciplinary bodies against lawyers involved in the surveillance warrant that was obtained against Trump adviser Carter Page in October 2016 and renewed three times in 2017.
“The FBI informed Plaintiff that it was ‘unable to identify records responsive to’ the FOIA request,” the government’s motion seeking dismissal states. “Because the search requested by Plaintiff in the FOIA request and the Complaint has been conducted, Plaintiff’s claim is now moot.”
The FBI’s claim is certain to touch off new concerns amongst civil liberties experts and conservatives, who fear the bureau has not taken any disciplinary action against the lawyers and supervisors who submitted a deeply inaccurate, flawed application for the warrant.
The declaration comes just four days after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz excoriated the FBI’s handling of the FISA warrant, identifying 17 significant acts of misconduct, false statements and omitted information. That included one instance in which an FBI lawyer falsified a document in the FISA process.
Horowitz’s report identified a total of 51 violations that rendered the FBI’s search warrant request improper, including nine false statements, nine misleading statements and 33 claims that were not properly documented.
Todd Young, executive director of the foundation, said the FBI’s claim of no responsive records “does not pass the straight-face test.”
“Horowitz laid out a clear pattern of ‘errors and omissions’ – more than 17 such errors – committed by the FBI before the FISC on four separate warrant applications on Carter Page,” he said.
The FOIA lawsuit sought a broad set of document meant to capture any communications between the FISA judges or other disciplinary bodies.
Kimberly Hermann, the foundation’s chief counsel, said she plans to fight the FBI’s effort to dismiss the FOIA lawsuit.
“The FISA court has stringent rules governing behavior because it makes decisions on whether a federal agency can spy on Americans. Further, the burdens to tell the truth, disclose timely, and update the FISA court are even more critical because there are no other parties than the government providing evidence to the court – it’s unlike any other court in America
As a matter of disclosure, Southeastern Legal Foundation has represented me in several open records cases in 2019, including a motion asking the FISA court if it has any disciplinary concerns about the FBI conduct in the Russia case. Those legal matters are pending.
To understand just how shoddy the FBI’s work was in securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting the Trump campaign, you only need to read an obscure attachment to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report.
Appendix 1 identifies the total violations by the FBI of the so-called Woods Procedures, the process by which the bureau verifies information and assures the FISA court its evidence is true.
The Appendix identifies a total of 51 Woods procedure violations from the FISA application the FBI submitted to the court authorizing surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page starting in October 2016.
A whopping nine of those violations fell into the category called: “Supporting document shows that the factual assertion is inaccurate.”
For those who don’t speak IG parlance, it means the FBI made nine false assertions to the FISA court. In short, what the bureau said was contradicted by the evidence in its official file.
To put that in perspective, former Trump aides Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos were convicted of making single false statements to the bureau. One went to jail already, and the other awaits sentencing.
The FBI made nine false statements to the court.
And the appendix shows the FBI made another nine factual assertions that did not match the supporting evidence in the file. In another words, the bureau was misleading on nine other occasions.
The vast majority of remaining Woods violations — 33 in total — involved failing to provide any evidence in the Woods procedure backing up assertion in the FISA warrant application.
That’s serious too since the sole purpose of the Wood procedures is to ensure all evidence cited in a FISA application is documented as accurate and reliable so it can be trusted by the courts.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz
identified 17 serious omissions, inaccuracies and failures involving the FBI’s
conduct in the Russia collusion investigation and its pursuit of a Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting the Trump campaign.
The significant failings are laid bare in a report made public Monday that showed the FBI withheld from the FISA court misgivings about its star informant Christopher Steele, as well as evidence of innocence against targets like former Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
Here is the list of the 17 flagged failures in the FBI’s
handling of FISA warrants in 2016 and 2017, as described in Horowitz’s own
1. Omitted information the FBI had obtained from another
U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including
that Page had been approved as an “operational contact” for the other
agency from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other
agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence
officers, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application;
2. Included a source characterization statement asserting
that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal
proceedings,” which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting
and was not approved by Steele’s handling agent, as required by the Woods
3. Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person
1, a key Steele sub-source (who was attributed with providing the information
in Report 95 and some of the information in Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in
the application), namely that (1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire
Hurricane team that Person 1 was a “boaster” and an
“egoist” and “may engage in some embellishment” and (2) INFORMATION
4. Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele did not
directly provide to the press information in the September 23 Yahoo News
article based on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that he only shared
his election-related research with the FBI and Fusion GPS, his client; this
premise was incorrect and contradicted by documentation in the Woods File-
Steele had told the FBI that he also gave his information to the State
5. Omitted Papadopoulos’s consensually monitored statements
to an FBI CHS in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump
campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks in
the release of emails;
6. Omitted Page’s consensually monitored statements to an
FBI CHS in August 2016 that Page had “literally never met” or
“said one word to” Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded
to any of Page’s emails; if true, those statements were in tension with claims
in Report 95 that Page was participating in a conspiracy with Russia by acting
as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign; and
7. Included Page’s consensually monitored statements to an
FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Page
was an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made that were
inconsistent with its theory, including denying having met with Sechin and
Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements
contradicted the claims in Report 94 that Page had met
secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and
shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton.
8. Omitted the fact that Steele’s Primary Sub-source, who
the FBI found credible, had made statements in January 2017 raising significant
questions about the reliability of allegations included in the FISA
applications, including, for example, that he/she had no discussion with Person
1 concerning WikiLeaks and there was “nothing bad” about the
communications between the Kremlin and the Trump team, and that he/she did not
report to Steele in July 2016 that Page had met with Sechin;
9. Omitted Page’s prior relationship with another U.S.
government agency, despite being reminded by the other agency in June 2017,
prior to the filing of the final renewal application, about Page’s past status
with that other agency; instead of including this information in the final
renewal application, the OGC Attorney altered an email from the other agency so
that the email stated that Page was “not a source” for the other
agency, which the FBI affiant relied upon in signing the final renewal
10. Omitted information from persons who previously had
professional contacts with Steele or had direct knowledge of his work-related
performance, including statements that Steele had no history of reporting in
bad faith but “[d]emonstrates lack of self-awareness, poor judgment,”
“pursued people with political risk but no intelligence value,”
“didn’t always exercise great judgment,” and it was “not clear
what he would have done to validate” his reporting;
11. Omitted information obtained from Ohr about Steele and
his election reporting, including that (1) Steele’s reporting was going to
Clinton’s presidential campaign and others, (2) Simpson was paying Steele to
discuss his reporting with the media, and (3) Steele was “desperate that
Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the U.S.
12. Failed to update the description of Steele after
information became known to the Crossfire Hurricane team, from Ohr and others, that provided greater clarity on the political origins and connections of Steele’s reporting, including that Simpson was hired by someone associated with the Democratic Party and/or the DNC;
13. Failed to correct the assertion in the first FISA
application that the FBI did not believe that Steele directly provided
information to the reporter who wrote the September 23 Yahoo News article, even
though there was no information in the Woods File to support this claim and
even after certain Crossfire Hurricane officials learned in 2017, before the
third renewal application, of an admission that Steele made in a court filing
about his interactions with the news media in the late summer and early fall of
14. Omitted the finding from a FBI source validation report
that Steele was suitable for continued operation but that his past
contributions to the FBI’s criminal program had been ” minimally
corroborated,” and instead continued to assert in the source
characterization statement that Steele’s prior reporting had been
“corroborated and used in criminal proceedings”;
15. Omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI CHS in late
October 2016 denying that the Trump campaign was involved in the circumstances
of the DNC email hack;
16. Omitted Joseph Mifsud’s denials to the FBI that he
supplied Papadopoulos with the information Papadopoulos shared with the FFG
(suggesting that the campaign received an offer or suggestion of assistance
from Russia); and
17. Omitted information indicating that Page played no role
in the Republican platform change on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine as alleged
in the Report 95, which was inconsistent with a factual assertion relied upon
to support probable cause in all four FISA applications.
The FBI’s investigation into alleged Russia-Trump collusion was properly opened without political bias in 2016 but quickly devolved into “serious performance failures” that misled the courts about the flaws with the bureau’s evidence and its star informant Christopher Steele, the Justice Department’s chief watchdog concluded Monday.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz spared few words for the
FBI and its chain of command as he concluded the bureau misled the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court with at least 17 errors and omissions that
rendered each of four applications for surveillance warrants grossly inaccurate.
“Our review found that FBI personnel fell far short of the
requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a
FISA application are ‘scrupulously accurate,’” Horowitz wrote. “We identified
multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA
application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate
documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time
the application was filed.
Specifically, the IG found, FBI agents had not corroborated
any of the allegations in Steele’s dossier before using his source information
to support its first FISA warrant on Oct. 21, 2016 and even blew past concerns
of a senior DOJ official about Steele’s political biases.
In subsequent applications to renew the FISA warrants in 2017, the FBI failed to inform the FISA judges that Steele’s main intelligence source had raised a stunning red flag by disavowing information attributed to that source, the report said.
The massive omission and false assertions in the FISA applications
“made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger
than was actually the case,” the IG found.
“We concluded that the failures described above and in this
report represent serious performance failures by the supervisory and
non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications,” the IG
While evidence indicated that the case agents in the Russia
probe were mostly to blame for failing to flag the inaccuracies, omissions and
Steele credibility issues, accountability needed to be assigned all the way to
the top of the bureau, Horowitz said.
“In our view, this was a failure of not only the operational team, but also of the managers and supervisors, including senior officials, in the chain of command,” the report said.
Attorney General William Barr on Monday applauded the IG work, saying it had substantiated “a clear abuse of FISA process.”
“In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source,” Barr said.
The biggest winners in the long-awaited IG report were Rep.
Devin Nunes and his Republican colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee
who flagged the serious flaws in the FISA process back in 2018 and Carter Page,
the Trump campaign adviser targeted by the surveillance warrants whose privacy
was clearly violated by faulty FBI warrants.
Specifically, the IG found, that none of the four
allegations Steele had made about Page and that were included in the FISA warrants
was corroborated, including that he met in July 2016 with two senior Russians
close to Vladimir Putin.
“We found that the FBI did not have information
corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page in Steele’s
reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or
subsequent renewal applications,” the report said.
Steele, the former MI6 agent who was hired by Clinton’s
Fusion GS opposition research firm, was among the biggest losers in the report,
which portrayed his dossier as essentially intelligence garbage.
The report divulges that concerns about Steele’s reliability
as an informant pre-dated the first FISA applications when a senior Justice
official, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart Evans in the National Security
Division, flagged Steele’s political bias and connections to Hillary Clinton’s
campaign, which paid for his dossier.
Evans warned that “Steele may have been hired by someone
associated with presidential candidate Clinton or the DNC, and that the foreign
intelligence to be collected through the FISA order would probably not be worth
the risk of being criticized later for collecting communications of someone
(Carter Page) who was politically sensitive,” the report found.
But senior DOJ and FBI officials, including then-Deputy FBI
Director Andrew McCabe, chose to proceed.
That decision resulted in the courts getting a substantially
false picture of Steele’s credibility, one that was never corrected during the
time the FISA warrants were active, the report said. The FBI misstated the
value of Steele’s past intelligence work and hid the lack of corroboration for
the allegation in his dossier, the IG concluded.
The report quoted the FBI agent handling Steele as saying “he
would not have approved the representation” that Steele had been a reliable informant
because “most” of his information had not in fact been corroborated.
“We concluded that these failures created the inaccurate
impression in the applications that at least some of Steele’s past reporting
had been deemed sufficiently reliable by prosecutors to use in court, and that
more of his information had been corroborated than was actually the case,” the
The report divulges that other intelligence community
assets, including the CIA, so distrusted Steele’s dossier that they urged it
not be included in the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia
interference in the 2016 election.
“The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) expressed concern
about the lack of vetting for the Steele election reporting and asserted it did
not merit inclusion in the body of the report. An FBI Intel Section Chief told
us the CIA viewed it as ‘internet rumor,’” the report noted.
Separately, the report also confirmed reporting I did more than
a year ago that the FBI obtained exculpatory information from Page and George
Papadopolous, two of the targeted campaign aides in the investigation, but did
not disclose that information to the FISA judges even though it “raised
questions about the validity of allegations under investigation.”
The report cites several instance, including Page telling an
FBI informant in August 2016 he never had contact with Manafort and Papadopoulou\s
repeatedly insisting to an informant that the campaign wasn’t involved in
hacking or distributing Clinton’s emails.
The FBI actually had recorded undercover statements from Papadopolous
stating in fall 2016 that “as far as I understand … no one’s
collaborating, there’s been no collusion and it’s going to remain that
The Justice Department inspector general’s report into the Russia collusion investigation lays out incontrovertible evidence that the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court through false information and omissions, according to sources familiar with its findings.
The evidence that the judges were misled is so sweeping that it could provide grounds, if Attorney General William Barr chooses, to withdraw the FBI’s application for the surveillance warrants that began in October 2016 to target ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the sources added.
Such a move, while mostly legally symbolic since the probe is long since closed, would still amount to a resounding rebuke to an FBI probe that the bureau, Democrats and their media allies relentlessly defended.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment on Monday morning.
“The evidence of false statements, false information, deception through omission is going to raise an important debate about FISA,” one source told me.
The report is expected to conclude the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia in 2016 was adequately predicated but that its subsequent reliance on the so-called Steele dossier and execution of FISA warrants to assist the probe were problematic.
That reliance became even more troubling in early 2017 when the FBI conducted an interview with one of Christopher Steele’s sources that raised further concerns about the reliability of a dossier that was funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
One question, the sources said, is whether FBI officials with access to the facts failed to adequately divulge issues in the case to those officials who signed the warrant, which was approved Oct 21, 2016 and renewed three times in 2017.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz is slated to release the report midday Monday after briefing certain congressional oversight committees.
As I reported last week, some key revelations to watch:
· Did the FBI withhold exculpatory evidence (proof of innocence) against such investigative targets as Page and fellow Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos?
· Did the FBI withhold derogatory information about the reliability and political motives of the former British spy Christopher Steele?
· Did the FBI fail to verify evidence in the Steele dossier before using it as evidence?
· Will there be a criminal referral of an FBI employee suspected of falsifying evidence in the FISA matter?
Next week Americans will finally get their most complete accounting
to date of what the FBI did right and wrong in the Russia collusion investigation
that probed President Trump’s campaign with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act warrant at the end of the 2016 election.
Predicted to span more than 500 pages and 100 witness
interviews, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report Monday
will provide a comprehensive catalog of what offenses, mistakes and oversights
the FBI committed during one of the most politically polarizing investigations
in recent history.
As such, it will serve as a non-partisan roadmap for a much
longer process of holding the investigators to account, a process that now
includes a criminal probe being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham and
investigative hearings by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham.
In the evitable political bitterness that grips Washington, each political party will seek to score points by cherry-picking their favorite Horowitz findings. But there is a far weightier question than electoral politics to be resolved: Can the FBI be trusted going forward to adequately, fairly and honestly protect civil liberties of Americans while conducting counterintelligence, counterterrorism and criminal investigations.
With that bigger question in mind, here are the 10 revelations I believe will be most important in the Horowitz report.
The scope of failure and misconduct
Were there isolated mistakes, systemic cultural and procedural failures or intentional acts involved in the investigation, the pursuit of the FISA warrant against ex-Trump adviser Carter Page and the renewal of the FISA warrant for more than a year? I expect the Horowitz report to identify between six and 12 failures, mistakes and acts of misconduct. These will range from the serious offense of altering a government document to failures to provide the courts evidence and information required under the FISA process. The large number of problems, if confirmed, should be a wakeup call to the FBI and those who provide oversight of its activities.
Exculpatory evidence withheld
The issue of whether the FBI failed to tell the FISA judges, as required, about evidence of innocence concerning some of the Americans it targeted has been raised for more than a year by key members of Congress like Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Ca., and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. I expect the IG to identify exculpatory statements made by key figure George Papadopoulos to an undercover informant that were not properly disclosed to the court. A second revelation to watch is whether the FBI possessed similar evidence of innocence involving Page that was not disclosed.
Derogatory information about informant Christopher Steele
The FBI stated to the court in a footnote that it was unaware of any derogatory information about the former MI6 agent it was using as “confidential human source 1” in the Russia case. This claim could face a withering analysis in the report. Congressional sources have reported to me that during a recent unclassified meeting they were told the British government flagged concerns about Steele and his reliance on “sub-sources” of intelligence as early as 2015. Bruce Ohr testified he told FBI and DOJ officials early on that he suspected Steele’s intelligence was mostly raw and needed vetting, that Steele was working with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in some capacity and appeared desperate to defeat Trump in the 2016 election. And documents show State Department official Kathleen Kavalec alerted the FBI eight days before the first FISA warrant was obtained that Steele may have been peddling a now-debunked rumor that Trump and Vladimir Putin were secretly communicating through a Russian bank’s computer server. Most experts I talked with say each of these revelations might constitute derogatory information that should be disclosed to the court. On a related note, Horowitz just released a separate report that concluded the FBI is doing a poor job of vetting informants like Steele, suggesting there was a culture of withholding derogatory information from informants’ reliability and credibility validation reports. You can read about that here.
News leaks as evidence
One of Horowitz’s earlier investigative reports that recommended fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for possible prosecution put an uncomfortable spotlight on the bureau’s culture of news leaks. Since then, a handful of other cases unrelated to Russia have raised additional questions about whether the FBI uses news leaks to create or cite evidence in courts. One key to watch in the Horowitz report is the analysis of whether it was appropriate for the FBI to use a Yahoo News article as validating evidence to support Steele’s dossier. We now know from testimony and court filings that Steele, his dossier and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson played a role in that Yahoo News story. If so, was the use of the article “circular reporting” instead of independent corroboration? It’s an important question for Horowitz to resolve.
Verification under the Woods Procedures
For years the FBI has been required to certify to the FISA court that all information submitted in a warrant application was “verified” under the so-called Woods Procedures. Lawmakers with access to classified information have said for months they fear a key allegation gleaned from Steele’s dossier – that Carter Page had met with two senior Russian officials close to Putin in summer 2016 – was never verified when it was used as evidence in the FISA warrant. We know from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that those contacts alleged by Steele never happened. Horowitz should provide valuable insight on this issue.
Steele dossier heartburn
Former FBI Director James Comey has consistently testified he understood the Steele dossier to be “salacious” and “unverified” and yet the bureau submitted four “verified” warrant applications that relied on evidence from the dossier. A major question for Horowitz to answer is: who else besides Comey shared that distrust and how early did those concerns about the dossier emerge? Congressional Republicans have demanded the release of a series of email chains they claim might show FBI and DOJ officials had similar heartburn about the reliability of the document. In addition, the FBI kept a spreadsheet analyzing the claims in Steele’s dossier. Sources who reviewed it have said the vast majority of the dossier’s claims fell into one of three categories: debunked, could not be verified or traced to open-source intelligence typically found on the Internet.
What investigators learned from Steele
We know from State Department memos that more than a week before the first FISA warrant was obtained, Steele visited with senior State officials and acknowledged he was working with the FBI, leaking to news media and had an election day deadline to get his information public. Likewise, Steele similarly indicated to senior Justice official Bruce Ohr as early as summer 2016 he was desperate to stop Trump from being elected and was working in some capacity with Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton. So here is a big development to watch: What did Steele tell the FBI about these very important issues? And when did the FBI first learn he might be leaking? The FBI ended its informant relationship with Steele on Nov. 1, 2016, a little over a week after using his dossier to support the first FISA warrant. And the reason they did so was because agents had concluded he improperly leaked to the news media. But did the FBI know or have reason to suspect that problem before the first FISA warrant? Stay tuned.
Bias, intent and incompetence
The issue of which of these three problems to blame will be the political football most tossed around by partisans. But in the end it is less important to the question of protecting civil liberties. One’s privacy is infringed wrongly whether the FISA application was harmed by intentional bias or incompetence. That said, expect a mixed verdict on this issue. I suspect there is evidence that an FBI lawyer intentionally altered a piece of evidence that affected the FISA process. That could be criminal. I suspect it is less likely that the IG will conclude that the audacious anti-Trump bias expressed in the official text messages of FBI agent Pete Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page impacted specific actions in the FISA process, especially because many more DOJ and FBI than those two were involved in the process. But we already know from the release last month of Strzok’s disciplinary file that the FBI considered the bias expressed in the text messages to be “misconduct” that cast a pall on the credibility of the FBI and its Trump-Russia and Clinton email cases. And I suspect the IG will identify a number of systemic and individual mistakes that tarnished the FISA process in the Russia case.
Criminal referrals and disciplinary actions
Horowitz has already referred Comey’s mishandling of sensitive Russia memos for possible prosecution, which was declined. He also referred McCabe for prosecution for lying, an issue which McCabe contests and which appears unresolved. Lots of people will be watching to see if more referrals for prosecution are included in the latest Horowitz report. I would expect at least one, if not more, referrals will have grown out of the Horowitz’s FISA report, which is likely why Durham’s probe recently was converted from administrative to criminal. Other remedies for accountability could fall into the disciplinary category.
This may not be the most politically hot
topic to emerge from the report, but it is potentially the most important for
protecting against future civil liberties violations and FBI intrusions on an
American election. What will Horowitz recommend as remedies so we don’t have another
Russia collusion fiasco in the future? Do FBI and DOJ need new rules and
thresholds for opening probes of candidates and campaigns? Does the FBI system
for vetting informants need to be fixed? Does the FISA court need a public advocate
to protect the liberties of Americans targeted for warrants to create a check
and balance on the FBI? Do the Woods procedures for verifying evidence for a
FISA warrant need revision or overhaul? These are weighty questions that the
FBI, DOJ and Congress almost certainly will face in the coming months.
The Horowitz report Monday and the IG’s testimony next
Wednesday before the Senate start a new phase of accountability for the FBI and
those government officials in the intelligence community who worked on the
Russia case. But it is only a beginning of a process that likely will take many
more weeks or months.
And the final script won’t be written until Americans can be
assured the FBI can conduct future counterintelligence investigations without
repeating the mistakes made during the Russia collusion probe.
Just before Christmas 2015, the British intelligence operative Christopher Steele emailed a report to private clients that included an American lawyer for a Ukrainian oligarch.
The title of the dossier was “FIRTASH Abortive Return to Ukraine,” and it purported to provide intelligence on why the energy oligarch Dmitri Firtash tried, but failed, to return to his home country of Ukraine.
“FIRTASH’s talk of returning
to Ukraine a genuine ambition rather than merely a ruse to reveal Ukrainian
government’s hand. However the oligarch developed cold feet upon the news of a
negative reception at Boryspil airport,” Steele reported on Dec. 23, 2015.
Perhaps most important to the recipients, the former MI6 agent’s report purported to share the latest thinking of Russian and U.S. officials on Firtash, who at the time faced U.S. criminal charges and was awaiting extradition from Austria.
Those charges and extradition remain unresolved four years later. Firtash insists on his innocence, while the U.S. government stands by it case despite recent criticism from Austrian and Spanish authorities.
“The prevarication over his
return has lost FIRTASH credibility with the Russians, but his precarious
position in Austria leaves him little choice but to acquiesce with Moscow’s
demands,” the Steele report claimed. “Separate American sources confirm that US
Government regards FIRTASH as a conduit for Russian influence and he remains a
pariah to the Americans.”
The anecdote of the Firtash
report underscores that challenges the FBI faced when it used Steele in 2016 as
a human source in the Russia collusion probe.
He not only opposed Trump and
was paid by Hillary Clinton’s opposition research firm to dig up dirt on the then-GOP
nominee, he also was in the business of selling intelligence to private clients
– all perfectly legal — while informing for the FBI.
Steele had engaged the U.S. government on occasion since his retirement from MI6 in 2009, both as an FBI informant in the FIFA soccer corruption case and as intelligence provider to the Obama State Department. So any assessment he offered from U.S. officials was closely watched by private clients.
His Firtash report cited an unnamed
intelligence source indicating that Firtash had little chance of winning any favor
under the Obama administration, but that other oligarchs in the region might be
welcomed by the Americans if they sought to play a role in Ukraine.
“The source had a separate
confirmation from US sources that Washington regarded FIRTASH as a conduit for
Russian influence,” the report said. “Whilst the USG was prepared to do
business with the likes of Rinat AKHMETOV and Ihor KOLOMOISKY, FIRTASH remained
The U.S. lawyer who received Steele’s report represented Firtash and had spent part of 2015 checking whether there was an opportunity the State or Justice Department might negotiate to settle the criminal case against his client. He determined the U.S. government did not, something Steele’s report only affirmed anew.
Steele did not immediately respond to a message to his London business office seeking comment. But his firm has issued a blanket statement on its Web site saying it does highly professional work but doesn’t comment on specific clients or products.
Business Intelligence has an established track record of providing strategic
intelligence, forensic investigation and risk consulting services to a broad
client base,” the firm wrote. “The nature of our business, and our high
standards of professionalism dictate that we would not disclose to the public
information on any specific aspects of our work. We remain fully
committed to the secure provision of our services to our clients and partners
Steele and his infamous dossier alleging an unfounded
conspiracy between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to hijack the 2016 election are
expected to play a starring role in a long-awaited Justice Department inspector
general’s report reviewing the FBI’s Russian collusion probe.
The report to be made public next month is expected to
reveal that one FBI official falsified a document and other U.S. officials
withheld information both about Steele and the innocence of some of the targeted
individuals when the FBI sought a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant
to probe the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia starting in October 2016.
Some intelligence experts have
been quoted recently as saying Steele’s information against Trump, much of
which the FBI could never verify, may have been Russian disinformation designed
to sow chaos during the U.S. election.
After two-plus years of investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded this spring that there was no collusion or conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign. Nonetheless, the allegations have lingered over the Trump presidency and divided the country bitterly.
Steele’s Firtash report is a cogent reminder that while Steele on occasion worked for the U.S. government, he also was simultaneously pitching intelligence he got from American sources and others to his private clients, some who had different interests than the United States.
The back and forth between U.S. and other contacts in Steele’s business was laid bare by email and text messages released by the Justice Department last year. For instance, the messages show that less than three weeks after emailing the Firtash report, Steele reached out in January 2016 to senior U.S. Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, a prosecutor with responsibility for Eurasian oligarchs, to set up a possible meeting in London.
Steele and Ohr had frequent contact all the way through 2017, including when Steele shared on July 30, 2016 some of his anti-Trump evidence with Ohr, who then took it to the top of the FBI. Steele was eventually dropped by the FBI as an informant for leaking to the news media.
Fiona Hill, a recent impeachment witness and a former top Russia expert on the National Security Council, suggested to lawmakers in a deposition recently that Steele’s dual role as government insider/informer and private intelligence provider left him vulnerable to Russian disinformation when he wrote his dossier.
“He was constantly trying to drum up business,” Hill testified when asked about her own contacts from time to time with the former British intelligence agent.
She said that when she read Steele’s anti-Trump dossier in
January 2017 she instantly feared it might be disinformation fed to Steele by
the Russians because he previously had done spy work for MI6.
“That is when I expressed the misgivings and concern that he
could have been played,” Hill testified.
She added: “The Russians would have an axe to grind against
him given the job he had previously. And if he started going back through his
old contacts and asking about that, that would be a perfect opportunity for
people to feed him some kind of misinformation.”
The IG report set to be released Dec. 9 will give Americans
a more comprehensive look at Steele and the FBI’s reliance on him as an informant.
And then it will be up to the FBI, DOJ and congressional
oversight committees to re-evaluate what lessons can be learned from the now-debunked
Russia collusion probe.
Those likely are to include better vetting of informants, stronger oversight of the FISA process and new regulations for when the FBI can investigate a candidate during the middle of an election, especially when the allegations emanate from a political opponent.
There are still wide swaths of documentation kept under wraps inside government agencies like the State Department that could substantially alter the public’s understanding of what has happened in the U.S.-Ukraine relationships now at the heart of the impeachment probe.
As House Democrats mull whether to pursue impeachment articles and the GOP-led Senate braces for a possible trial, here are 12 tranches of government documents that could benefit the public if President Trump ordered them released, and the questions these memos might answer.
Daily intelligence reports from March through August 2019 on Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky and his relationship with oligarchs and other key figures. What was the CIA, FBI and U.S. Treasury Department telling Trump and other agencies about Zelensky’s ties to oligarchs like Igor Kolomoisky, the former head of Privatbank, and any concerns the International Monetary Fund might have? Did any of these concerns reach the president’s daily brief (PDB) or come up in the debate around resolving Ukraine corruption and U.S. foreign aid? CNBC, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal all have done recent reporting suggesting there might have been intelligence and IMF concerns that have not been fully considered during the impeachment proceedings.
State Department memos detailing conversations between former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko. He says Yovanovitch raised the names of Ukrainians she did not want to see prosecuted during their first meeting in 2016. She calls Lutsenko’s account fiction. But State Department officials admit the U.S. embassy in Kiev did pressure Ukrainian prosecutors not to target certain activists. Are there contemporaneous State Department memos detailing these conversations and might they illuminate the dispute between Lutsenko and Yovanovitch that has become key to the impeachment hearings?
State Department memos on U.S. funding given to the George Soros-backed group the Anti-Corruption Action Centre. There is documentary evidence that State provided funding to this group, that Ukrainian prosecutor sought to investigate whether that aid was spent properly and that the U.S. embassy pressured Ukraine to stand down on that investigation. How much total did State give to this group? Why was a federal agency giving money to a Soros-backed group? What did taxpayers get for their money and were they any audits to ensure the money was spent properly? Were any of Ukrainian prosecutors’ concerns legitimate?
The transcripts of Joe Biden’s phone calls and meetings with Ukraine’s president and prime minister from April 2014 to January 2017 when Hunter Biden served on the board of the natural gas company Burisma Holdings. Did Burisma or Hunter Biden ever come up in the calls? What did Biden say when he urged Ukraine to fire the prosecutor overseeing an investigation of Burisma? Did any Ukrainian officials ever comment on Hunter Biden’s role at the company? Was any official assessment done by U.S. agencies to justify Biden’s threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid if Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin wasn’t fired?
All documents from an Office of Special Counsel whistleblower investigation into unusual energy transactions in Ukraine. The U.S. government’s main whistleblower office is investigating allegations from a U.S Energy Department worker of possible wrongdoing in U.S.-supported Ukrainian energy business. Who benefited in the United States and Ukraine from this alleged activity? Did Burisma gain any benefits from the conduct described by the whistleblower? OSC has concluded there is a “substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” involved in these activities.
All FBI, CIA, Treasury Department and State Department documents concerning possible wrongdoing at Burisma Holdings. What did the U.S. know about allegations of corruption at the Ukrainian gas company and the efforts by the Ukrainian prosecutors to investigate? Did U.S., Latvian, Cypriot or European financial authorities flag any suspicious transactions involving Burisma or Americans during the time that Hunter Biden served on its board? Were any U.S. agencies monitoring, assisting or blocking the various investigations? When Ukraine reopened the Burisma investigations in March 2019, what did U.S. officials do?
All documents from 2015-16 concerning the decision by the State Department’s foreign aid funding arm, USAID, to pursue a joint project with Burisma Holdings. State official George Kent has testified he stopped this joint project because of concerns about Burisma’s corruption reputation. Did Hunter Biden or his American business partner Devon Archer have anything to do with seeking the project? What caused its abrupt end? What issues did Kent identify as concerns and who did he alert in the White House, State or other agencies?
All cables, memos and documents showing State Department’s dealings with Burisma Holding representatives in 2015 and 2016. We now know that Ukrainian authorities escalated their investigation of Burisma Holdings in February 2016 by raiding the home of the company’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky. Soon after, Burisma’s American representatives were pressing the State Department to help end the corruption allegations against the gas firm, specifically invoking Hunter Biden’s name. What did State officials do after being pressured by Burisma? Did the U.S. embassy in Kiev assist Burisma’s efforts to settle the corruption case against it? Who else in the U.S. government was being kept apprised?
All contacts that the Energy Department, Justice Department or State Department had with Vice President Joe Biden’s office concerning Burisma Holdings, Hunter Biden or business associate Devon Archer. We now know that multiple State Department officials believed Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma created the appearance of a conflict of interest for the vice president, and at least one official tried to contact Joe Biden’s office to raise those concerns. What, if anything, did these Cabinet agencies tell Joe Biden’s office about the appearance concerns or the state of the various Ukrainian investigations into Burisma?
All memos, emails and other documents concerning a possible U.S. embassy’s request in spring 2019 to monitor the social media activities and analytics of certain U.S. media personalities considered favorable to President Trump. Did any such monitoring occur? Was it requested by the American embassy in Kiev? Who ordered it? Why did it stop? Were any legal concerns raised?
All State, CIA, FBI and DOJ documents concerning efforts by individual Ukrainian government officials to exert influence on the 2016 U.S. election, including an anti-Trump Op-Ed written in August 2016 by Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington or efforts to publicize allegations against Paul Manafort. What did U.S. officials know about these efforts in 2016, and how did they react? What were these federal agencies’ reactions to a Ukrainian court decision in December 2018 suggesting some Ukrainian officials had improperly meddled in the 2016 election?
All State, CIA, FBI and DOJ documents concerning contacts with a Democratic National Committee contractor named Alexandra Chalupa and her dealings with the Ukrainian embassy in Washington or other Ukrainian figures. Did anyone in these U.S. government agencies interview or have contact with Chalupa during the time the Ukraine embassy in Washington says she was seeking dirt in 2016 on Trump and Manafort?
I honor and applaud Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s
service to his country. He’s a hero. I also respect his decision to testify at
the impeachment proceedings. I suspect neither his service nor his testimony
But I also know the liberties that Lt. Col. Vindman fought on
the battlefield to preserve permit for a free and honest debate in America, one
that can’t be muted by the color of uniform or the crushing power of the state.
So I want to exercise my right to debate Lt. Col. Vindman about
the testimony he gave about me. You see, under oath to Congress, he asserted all
the factual elements in my columns at The Hill about Ukraine were false, except
maybe my grammar
all the key elements were false,” Vindman testified.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y, pressed him about what he meant. “Just so I understand what you mean when you say key elements, are you referring to everything John Solomon stated or just some of it?”
elements that I just laid out for you. The criticisms of corruption were false….
Were there more items in there, frankly, congressman? I don’t recall. I haven’t
looked at the article in quite some time, but you know, his grammar might have
Such testimony has been injurious to my reputation, one earned during 30 years of impactful reporting for news organizations that included The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and The Daily Beast/Newsweek.
And so Lt. Col. Vindman, here are the 28 primary factual elements in my Ukraine columns, complete with attribution and links to sourcing. Please tell me which, if any, was factually wrong.
Fact 1: Hunter Biden was hired in May 2014 by Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, at a time when his father Joe Biden was Vice President and overseeing US-Ukraine Policy. Here is the announcement. Hunter Biden’s hiring came just a few short weeks after Joe Biden urged Ukraine to expand natural gas production and use Americans to help. You can read his comments to the Ukrainian prime minister here. Hunter Biden’s firm then began receiving monthly payments totaling $166,666. You can see those payments here.
Fact 3: Vice President Joe Biden and his office were alerted by a December 2015 New York Times article that Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma and that Hunter Biden’s role at the company was undercutting his father’s anticorruption efforts in Ukraine.
Fact 4: The Biden-Burisma issue created the appearance of a conflict of interest, especially for State Department officials. I especially refer you to State official George Kent’s testimony here. He testified he viewed Burisma as corrupt and the Bidens as creating the perception of a conflict of interest. His concerns both caused him to contact the vice president’s office and to block a project that State’s USAID agency was planning with Burisma in 2016. In addition, Ambassador Yovanovitch testified she, too, saw the Bidens-Burisma connection as creating the appearance of a conflict of interest. You can read her testimony here.
Fact 5: The Obama White House invited Shokin’s prosecutorial team to Washington for meetings in January 2016 to discuss their anticorruption investigations. You can read about that here. Also, here is the official agenda for that meeting in Ukraine and English. I call your attention to the NSC organizer of the meeting.
Fact 6: The Ukraine investigation of Hunter Biden’s employer, Burisma Holdings, escalated in February 2016 when Shokin’s office raided the home of company owner Mykola Zlochevsky and seized his property. Here is the announcement of that court-approved raid.
Fact 7: Shokin was making plans in February 2016 to interview Hunter Biden as part of his investigation. You can read his interview with me here, his sworn deposition to a court here and his interview with ABC News here.
Fact 8: Burisma’s American representatives lobbied the State Department in late February 2016 to help end the corruption allegations against the company, and specifically invoked Hunter Biden’s name as a reason to intervene. You can read State officials’ account of that effort here
Fact 9: Joe Biden boasted in a 2018 videotape that he forced Ukraine’s president to fire Shokin in March 2016 by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid. You can view his videotape here.
Fact 10: Shokin stated in interviews with me and ABC News that he was told he was fired because Joe Biden was unhappy the Burisma investigation wasn’t shut down. He made that claim anew in this sworn deposition prepared for a court in Europe. You can read that here.
Fact 11: The day Shokin’s firing was announced in March 2016, Burisma’s legal representatives sought an immediate meeting with his temporary replacement to address the ongoing investigation. You can read the text of their emails here.
Fact 12: Burisma’s legal representatives secured that meeting April 6, 2016 and told Ukrainian prosecutors that “false information” had been spread to justify Shokin’s firing, according to a Ukrainian government memo about the meeting. The representatives also offered to arrange for the remaining Ukrainian prosecutors to meet with U.S State and Justice officials. You can read the Ukrainian prosecutors’ summary memo of the meeting here and here and the Burisma lawyers’ invite to Washington here.
Fact 13: Burisma officials eventually settled the Ukraine investigations in late 2016 and early 2017, paying a multimillion dollar fine for tax issues. You can read their lawyer’s February 2017 announcement of the end of the investigations here.
Fact 14: In March 2019, Ukraine authorities reopened an investigation against Burisma and Zlochevsky based on new evidence of money laundering. You can read NABU’s February 2019 recommendation to re-open the case here, the March 2019 notice of suspicion by Ukraine prosecutors here and a May 2019 interview here with a Ukrainian senior law enforcement official stating the investigation was ongoing. And here is an announcement this week that the Zlochevsky/Burisma probe has been expanded to include allegations of theft of Ukrainian state funds.
Fact 15: The Ukraine embassy in Washington issued a statement in April 2019 admitting that a Democratic National Committee contractor named Alexandra Chalupa solicited Ukrainian officials in spring 2016 for dirt on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in hopes of staging a congressional hearing close to the 2016 election that would damage Trump’s election chances. You can read the embassy’s statement here and here. Your colleague, Dr. Fiona Hill, confirmed this episode, testifying “Ukraine bet on the wrong horse. They bet on Hillary Clinton winning.” You can read her testimony here.
Fact 16: Chalupa sent an email to top DNC officials in May 2016 acknowledging she was working on the Manafort issue. You can read the email here.
Fact 17: Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington, Valeriy Chaly, wrote an OpEd in The Hill in August 2016 slamming GOP nominee Donald Trump for his policies on Russia despite a Geneva Convention requirement that ambassadors not become embroiled in the internal affairs or elections of their host countries. You can read Ambassador Chaly’s OpEd here and the Geneva Convention rules of conduct for foreign diplomats here. And your colleagues Ambassador Yovanovitch and Dr. Hill both confirmed this, with Dr. Hill testifying this week that Chaly’s OpEd was “probably not the most advisable thing to do.”
Fact 18: A Ukrainian district court ruled in December 2018 that the summer 2016 release of information by Ukrainian Parliamentary member Sergey Leschenko and NABU director Artem Sytnyk about an ongoing investigation of Manafort amounted to an improper interference by Ukraine’s government in the 2016 U.S. election. You can read the court ruling here. Leschenko and Sytnyk deny the allegations, and have won an appeal to suspend that ruling on a jurisdictional technicality.
Fact 19: George Soros’ Open Society Foundation issued a memo in February 2016 on its strategy for Ukraine, identifying the nonprofit Anti-Corruption Action Centre as the lead for its efforts. You can read the memo here.
Fact 20: The State Department and Soros’ foundation jointly funded the Anti-Corruption Action Centre. You can read about that funding here from the Centre’s own funding records and George Kent’s testimony about it here.
Fact 21: In April 2016, US embassy charge d’affaires George Kent sent a letter to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office demanding that Ukrainian prosecutors stand down a series of investigations into how Ukrainian nonprofits spent U.S. aid dollars, including the Anti-Corruption Actions Centre. You can read that letter here. Kent testified he signed the letter here.
Fact 22: Then-Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said in a televised interview with me that Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during a 2016 meeting provided the lists of names of Ukrainian nationals and groups she did want to see prosecuted. You can see I accurately quoted him by watching the video here.
Fact 23: Ambassador Yovanovitch and her embassy denied Lutsenko’s claim, calling it a “fabrication.” I reported their reaction here.
Fact 24: Despite the differing accounts of what happened at the Lutsenko-Yovanovitch meeting, a senior U.S. official in an interview arranged by the State Department stated to me in spring 2019 that US officials did pressure Lutsenko’s office on several occasions not to “prosecute, investigate or harass” certain Ukrainian activists, including Parliamentary member Leschenko, journalist Vitali Shabunin, the Anti-Corruption Action Centre and NABU director Sytnyk. You can read that official’s comments here. In addition, George Kent confirmed this same information in his deposition here.
Fact 25: In May 2018, then-House Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions sent an official congressional letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking that Yovanovitch be recalled as ambassador to Ukraine. Sessions and State confirmed the official letter, which you can read here.
Fact 26: In fall 2018, Ukrainian prosecutors, using a third party, hired an American lawyer (a former U.S. attorney) to proffer information to the U.S. government about certain activities at the U.S. embassy, involving Burisma and involving the 2016 election, that they believed might have violated U.S. law. You can read their account here. You can also confirm it independently by talking to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan or the American lawyer representing the Ukrainian prosecutors’ interests.
Fact 27: In May 2016, one of George Soros’ top aides secured a meeting with the top Eurasia policy official in the State Department to discuss Russian bond issues. You can read the State memos on that meeting here.
Fact 28: In June 2016, Soros himself secured a telephonic meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to discuss Ukraine policy. You can read the State memos on that meeting here.
Lt. Col. Vindman, if you have information that contradicts
any of these 28 factual elements in my columns I ask that you make it publicly
available. Your testimony did not.
If you don’t have evidence these 28 facts are wrong, I ask that you correct your testimony because any effort to call factually accurate reporting false only misleads America and chills the free debate our Constitutional framers so cherished to protect.
For weeks now, Democratic members of Congress, career State Department and National Security Council experts and their allies in the media suggest questions about Joe Biden and a Ukrainian gas company and Ukraine meddling in the 2016 election were nothing more than debunked conspiracy theories.
In reality, the facts on both these issues are clearly substantiated. And as I pointed out last week, many of the witnesses that House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff called during the impeachment proceedings confirmed concerns about both.
Here is a detailed timeline of key events in the Ukraine scandal, complete with the corroborating evidence. You make your own judgement as to what happened.
Vice President Joe Biden named by
President Obama to be U.S. point man on Ukrainian crisis after Euromaidan
Revolution of Dignity leads to ouster of Viktor Yanukovych as Ukrainian president.
February 21, 2014
George Soros’ Open Society
Foundation publishes anticorruption strategy for Ukraine identifying the Anti-Corruption
Action Centre, a nonprofit that Soros’ foundation and the U.S. State Department
jointly fund, as the leading edge of the foundation’s strategy for Ukraine.
New Ukrainian elections set for
May 2014 and Petro Poroshenko emerges as top Western-friendly candidate for
April 13, 2014:
Devon Archer, the business
partner of Hunter Biden, son of the VP, and Christopher Heinz, stepson of
Secretary of State John Kerry, is named an independent director of the
Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings.
Holdings makes two payments to the Morgan Stanley account of Devon Archer’s and
Hunter Biden’s firm Rosemont Seneca Bohai in the amounts of $83,333.33 and $29,424.82,
according to financial records obtained by Ukrainian authorities and the FBI.
Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s partner in Rosemont Seneca Bohai and Burisma Holdings, checks into White House for meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, according to the Secret Service’s official WAVES entry logs for the Obama White House.
April 22, 2014:
VP Joe Biden meets with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy
Yatsenyuk and urges Ukraine to ramp up energy production to free itself from
its Russian natural gas dependence. Biden boasts that “an American team is currently in the region working with Ukraine
and its neighbors to increase Ukraine’s short-term energy supply.” Yatsenyuk
welcomes help from American “investors” in modernizing natural gas supply lines
Britain’s Serious Fraud Office
freezes $23 million in assets kept in London by Burisma Holdings and its
founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, on grounds it was fraudulently transferred from
Ukraine. Zlochevsky and Burisma deny wrongdoing.
Hunter Biden announced as a board
member for Ukraine’s largest natural gas company Burisma Holdings, which is run
by Mykola Zlochevsky, a former Cabinet official for
ousted president Victor Yanukovych.
Christopher Heinz, business
partner to Devon Archer and Hunter Biden and stepson to John Kerry, sends
email to Secretary of State’s top aides distancing himself from Archer, Biden
appointments to Burisma Holdings board, according to FOIA released to Citizens
Burisma Holdings makes two equal
$83,333.33 payments totaling $166,666.66 to the Morgan Stanley account of
Hunter Biden’s and Devon Archer’s firm Rosemont Seneca Bohai, according to the
company’s official ledger and Rosemont Seneca Bohais bank records obtained by the
FBI. Similar payments are made every month for more than a year.
Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor
Shokin’s office opens criminal investigation of Burisma Holdings and Mykola
Zlochevsky for alleged corrupt award of gas exploration permits and eventual
looting of company, according to Ukrainian prosecutor general’s case file.
Sept. 16, 2014
Burisma Holdings makes $33,039.77 payment to Boies Schiller law firm,
according to company records.
VP Joe Biden speaks in Ukraine,
praising the decision to appoint a new head of the NABU, the new Ukrainian law
enforcement investigative arm set up by United States.
March 22, 2015:
Hunter Biden emails his father’s
longtime trusted aide, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, with the
following message: “Have a few minutes next week to grab a cup of coffee? I
know you are impossibly busy, but would like to get your advice on a couple of
things, Best, Hunter.”
Blinken responds the same day
with an “absolutely” and added, “Look forward to seeing you.”
The records indicate the two men
were scheduled to meet the afternoon of May 27, 2015.
Burisma Holdings makes $20,000
donation to the Delaware Community Foundation in the name of Beau Biden, the
vice president’s oldest son who died of cancer, according to the company’s financial
records released by Ukraine prosecutor general’s office.
The New York Times publishes article
stating Prosecutor General Shokin’s office is investigating Burisma Holdings and
its founder Zlochecvsky, and that Hunter Biden’s participation on Burisma board
is undercutting Joe Biden’s anticorruption message in Ukraine. VP Biden office
quoted in story.
Obama White House invites leaders
of Ukraine’s general prosecutor office to Washington for a hastily arranged set
of meetings to discuss anticorruption cases, including Burisma and Party of
Regions case involving Paul Manafort..
Ukraine general prosecutor’s
office under the direction of Viktor Shokin announces the seizure of assets
from Burisma Holdings founder Mykola Zlochevsky under a continuing criminal
investigation. The seizure occurred on Feb. 2, 2016, according to the announcement.
An American representative for
Burisma Holdings, Karen Tramontano of Blue Star Strategies, seeks meeting with Undersecretary
of State Catherine A. Novelli to discuss ending the corruption allegations
against the Ukrainian gas firm. Hunter
Biden’s name was specifically invoked by the Burisma representative as a reason
the State Department should help. “Per our conversation, Karen Tramontano of
Blue Star Strategies requested a meeting to discuss with U/S Novelli USG
remarks alleging Burisma (Ukrainian energy company) of corruption.”
Secretary of State Victoria Nuland demands Ukraine “appoint
and confirm a new, clean Prosecutor General, who is committed to rebuilding the
integrity of the PGO, and investigate, indict and successfully prosecute
corruption and asset recovery cases – including locking up dirty personnel in
the PGO itself.”
VP Joe Biden engages in phone
call from Washington DC with Ukrainian president Poroshenko about U.S. loan
guarantees. It is believed in this call that Biden renews his demands that the
president fire Prosecutor General Shokin, who is overseeing the Burisma
prosecution, or risk losing the next $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
John Buretta, an American lawyer
hired by Burisma Holdings, seeks to contact the Acting Prosecutor General
Sevruk seeking a meeting about the Burisma investigation just hours after his
boss, Prosecutor General Shokin, was fired under pressure from VP Joe Biden,
according to email Buretta’s legal team sent the Ukraine embassy in Washington.
Burisma Holdings’ U.S. legal team
seeks help of Ukrainian embassy official Andrii Telizhenko in Washington seeking
urgent meeting with new Acting Prosecutor General of Ukraine, according to
legal team’s email to embassy.
George Kent, a senior US official
at the American embassy in Ukraine, writes a letter asking Ukrainian general
prosecutor’s office to stand down their investigation of the Soros-funded group
the Anti-Corruption Action Centre.
Burisma Holdings’ U.S. legal team
of John Buretta, Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano meets with Ukraine’s Acting
Prosecutor General Sevruk to seek resolution of Burisma criminal investigation.
American lawyers apologize for “false information” spread by U.S. government to
force the firing of Shokin and offer Prosecutor General’s office an olive
branch of arranging a meeting in Washington to clear the air.
Yurii Lutsenko named the new
Prosecutor General of Ukraine, taking over investigations that include Burisma
Holdings. VP Joe Biden later praises Lutsenko as a “solid guy” during 2018
speech at Atlantic Counsel.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington,
Valeriy Chaly, takes extraordinary step of writing an OpEd in The Hill intervening
in the US presidential election, slamming Trump’s policies and comments on
John Buretta, the American lawyer
for Burisma Holdings, gives interview in Kiev confirming there were criminal
cases open in 2016 in Ukraine but all have been settled, the last with a
penalty for tax violations.
Former VP Biden boasts at Council
of Foreign Relations events in Washington that he strong-armed Ukrainian
president Petro Poroshenko into firing Prosecutor General Shokin, using loan
guarantees as leverage. He also calls Shokin’s replacement, Yuriy Lutsenko,
court rules that the efforts by Ukrainian parliamentary member Sergey Leschenko
and NABU chief Artem Sytnyk to publicize the Manafort black ledger documents in
2016 were an improper foreign intervention in the American presidential
embassy in Washington issues statement confirming that in spring 2016 the DNC
contractor Alexandra Chalupa sought the embassy’s help seeking dirt on Donald
Trump and Paul Manafort and asking for Ukraine’s president to meet with an
investigative reporter working on the issue.