Needs update! (See The Real Origination Story of the Trump-Russia Investigation and more recently published evidence)
2018-09-18. It’s possible that the DNC and/or Hillary campaign started preparing the “Russian collusion” story immediately after the initial attribution of the DNC network breach to Russia by CrowdStrike on May 6 (rather than on June 12, as assumed in the article.) That better explains the hiring of Christopher Steele in early June, the issuing of a visa to Natalia Veselnitskaya on June 1, the strange text of the email introducing Veselnitskaya to Trump Jr., and the meetings between Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS with her immediately before and after her meeting with Trump Jr. With this correction, the facts and conclusions of the article stand.
2018-08-17 update: added more evidence confirming that transfer of large batches of the DNC files to WikiLeaks and The Hill predated the launch of the conspiracy theory of Trump-Putin collusion by the DNC/Hillary on July 18, 2016.
2018-08-16 update: Christopher Steele’s firm Orbis was hired by the DNC contractor Fusion GPS in June 2016, likely in reaction to the leaks which the DNC misattributed to Russia. Given that he started “reporting” within less than three weeks from hiring, Steele’s task was to fabricate evidence in support of allegations of Trump-Putin collusion.
2018-08-10 update: Christopher Steele was on the FBI’s payroll while compiling his phony Trump dossier, shown by the FBI payroll forms declassified on August 3. H/t TruePundit which broke this story in September 2017.
The media and the Democratic Party’s obsession with the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory originates from events during April-June 2016. The media operations by the Democratic Party and the media echo-chamber have distorted not only the information about the relevant events, but even the background political picture of April 2016. Then, the Democrats and Hillary were the natural preference for Putin because of their traditionally softer stance on foreign policy. Certain policies of Hillary and Obama were especially beneficial to Russia: Obama’s promise to Medvedev to be more accommodating towards Russia after the 2012 elections, Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, the common cause against fracking and pipelines in the U.S., etc.
CrowdStrike, the DNC cyber-security contractor, INCORRECTLY attributed the DNC network breach to the Russian government. CrowdStrike attributions were just a marketing gimmick. They were unverifiable and rarely taken seriously – until the DNC incident. The DNC and Hillary acted upon the attribution and constructed a conspiracy theory in which Putin ordered the hacking of the DNC network and subsequent mass distribution of the exfiltrated documents to help Trump beat Hillary. Such actions were against Russian interests and very unusual for Russian intelligence.
The DNC and Hillary resolved the contradictions in their theory by claiming collusion between Trump and Putin and made this theme one of the main lines of their campaign. Obama/Hillary loyalists in the FBI/DOJ developed this theory and probably hid key facts from the intelligence community:
- all the data about hacking had come from the DNC and/or its shady contractor CrowdStrike; everyone else relied on this data and methodology used by CrowdStrike
- the link between the leaks and hacks had been likely manufactured by the DNC and/or CrowdStrike and certainly not established independently
Driven by their conspiracy theory, Hillary indulged in anti-Russian rhetoric, and the Obama administration drove relations with Russia to the worst point in the last 40 years. Since the elections (and started by Obama and Hillary), the Democrats, the hard left, and the institutions owned by them have been pushing Trump to aggravate the conflict. But let’s proceed in chronological order.
During the summer and September of 2015, the DNC ignored FBI warnings about alleged Russian hackings. The DNC discovered suspicious activity on its network on April 28, 2016, and called its lawyer, Marc Elias.
How dumb are they? If they get sick, do they call a lawyer or a doctor? And they had their doctor – an IT department that was supposed to secure their network immediately react to any breach and to suggest an external contractor if it was unsure that it could handle the situation. This party ruled the U.S. for eight years – we should be happy we’re still alive.
On May 6, after more than a week of waffling, the DNC brought in cyber-security contractor CrowdStrike, which was selected based on affinity rather than on merit. “Within 10 seconds,” in its own words, CrowdStrike determined not one but two breaches and named the culprits behind them – Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear – alleged by CrowdStrike to be Russian elite hacker units of FSB and GRU. It was CrowdStrike’s fraud as usual. Identifying a sophisticated hackers’ group solely off breach characteristics (malware, methods, external domains, ip addresses, etc.) is impossible. But such identification is neither verifiable nor useful, so CrowdStrike and a few other companies who practiced it had nothing to fear. Most likely, the DNC and Hillary believed in CrowdStrike’s misattribution of the incident to Russia.
It’s unbelievable, but for the next five weeks the DNC and CrowdStrike passively observed as the intruders stole sensitive documents. At least, this was a scenario described by top officials in the DNC and CrowdStrike. This happened due to CrowdStrike’s incompetence and the DNC’s trust in the Russian government. Later, the DNC acknowledged that it had no problem sharing information (which likely included U.S. military and intelligence classified data) with the Russian government. They hid their dirty secrets only from the American people!
The DNC also refused to let the FBI access its network, not even to make disk images for forensics. Notice that they denied the FBI access to its network while intentionally allowing GRU and FSB (as they thought) to access it and all the classified information within it. Thus, DNC officials serving at that time are indictable for espionage against the U.S.
On June 12, Assange of Wikileaks declared that he possessed internal DNC documents and was going to publish them. Surprised, the DNC and Hillary’s campaign decided to pre-empt and even exploit this publication. On June 14, the DNC announced the network breach through a WaPo article. A few minutes later, CrowdStrike published alleged technical details on its website. Both blamed the Russian government. The DNC said that only a few documents had been compromised, including an opposition research on Trump. This was an open invitation for WikiLeaks to publish that opposition research.
On June 15, somebody calling himself Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for the hack and posted several internal DNC documents on guccifer2.wordpress.com. The opposition research was among the published files. Independent internet researchers discover Russian fingerprints – the opposition research file shows an error message in Russian! Furthermore, this and three other Word files showed that they had been last saved by user name Феликс Эдмундович, supposedly in honor of Felix Dzerzhinsky (1877-1926), the founder of a repressive GPU NKVD and predecessor of KGB. The media was ecstatic about a rare event when the words of the DNC seemed true. The narrative was established:
- these and later DNC documents came from Russian government hacking rather than released by conscious insiders or hacks by one or more individual hackers
- Guccifer 2.0 is a front for a Russian intelligence operation
- CrowdStrike is an authority in breach detection and attribution
All three parts of this narrative are wrong. The MSM didn’t question why the “elite hackers” opened and saved the pilfered files, why the’ve done it on a computer with Russian settings, and why they elected an exotic username. Aside from that, speaking Russian, being a Russian citizen, and working for Russian intelligence are three different things. About half of native Russian speakers are neither Russian citizens nor residents. Most Russian speakers who write in English as well as Guccifer 2.0 are probably U.S. citizens and residents. Only a small fraction of Russian citizens and residents work for the Russian intelligence or military.
Who is Guccifer 2.0 and why did he release files with artfully planted Russian fingerprints? He is not a front for the Russian intelligence, as the DNC and MSM think. He is probably not Romanian, as he initially claimed.
Some of the most knowledgeable independent investigators think that Guccifer 2.0 is a Donkey in the Bear Costume, a creation of the DNC and/or CrowdStrike. According to this opinion, the DNC and/or CrowdStrike created the Guccifer 2.0 website and Twitter account, modified the opposition research and some harmless DNC files by planting the “Russian fingerprints,” and dumped them on the website to support their Russian hacking narrative and to bring media attention to the DNC smears against Trump.
I prefer another theory. Guccifer 2.0 is a real person, although more than one person might have called themselves this name. WikiLeaks might have received different batches of the DNC/DCCC/HRC documents from different hackers or leakers. But Guccifer 2.0 did hack the DNC network and exfiltrated incriminating documents. Between June 12 and 14, CrowdStrike modified the opposition research and other files using a virtual machine with Russian settings, the user name Феликс Эдмундович, and future time, and fed them to the hacker. They didn’t know the hacker’s identity, but knew it was not the Russian government. The DNC might have not known of this little operation. Either way, the Democrats continued to believe that Russia was behind the leaks.
In June 2016 (in the second half of June, according to some “sources“) another DNC contractor called Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele. He was expected to start reporting in just days, giving him practically no time to collect information from sources in Moscow, even if he had them. But Steele worked in Russia for only three years in the early ’90s, and probably didn’t visit Moscow for twenty years. Thus, Steele was hired to fabricate “evidence” of a Trump-Putin collusion. Steve McIntyre wrote:
In my opinion, the purpose of Steele Dossier was no more and no less than to precipitate an FBI announcement that Trump was under FBI investigation for collusion with Russia. A categorical announcement would have killed Trump candidacy and delivered election to Hillary. Classic Dem dirty tricks. For that purpose, it didn’t matter whether the dossier ultimately stood up to the light of day or not. By the time that the FBI abandoned the investigation, it would be too late.
But Comey didn’t deliver what Brennan and Clapper and Clinton wanted during the campaign. Only much later.
Fusion GPS said it had paid Steele’s firm Orbis only $168,000. This amount would be hardly sufficient to bribe a Kremlin janitor, leaving nothing to Orbis. Fusion GPS, which received more than $1M from Perkins Coie, could not expect Orbis to collect any non-public information for such a small fee. My best guess is that Steele fabricated the whole “dossier” himself using his Russian experience acquired mostly from his work for MI6 in London in order to imitate the writing style of native Russian speakers.
Anyway, Steele and/or Fusion GPS produced a series of ridiculously absurd “reports” that became known as Steele dossier. The only public version of which is published by BuzzFeed. The first “Steele report” (2016/080) dated June 20 starts with “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance“ — it looks like Steele has mistaken Trump for Angela Merkel or Justin Trudeau. Then this piece makes bizarre claims, including ”According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes …” The style and substance reflect the disturbed state the dossier writer. This piece also leaves the impression that Steele hadn’t received specific guidance on what he had to write. Meanwhile, the leaks continue.
On July 16, Guccifer 2.0 offered WikiLeaks about 1GB of leaked DNC documents. Mueller’s “GRU indictment” contains slightly different, but compatible dating:
After failed attempts to transfer the stolen documents starting in late June 2016, on
or about July 14, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent Organization 1 [WikiLeaks] an email with an attachment titled “wk dnc linkl.txt.gpg.” The Conspirators explained to Organization 1 that the encrypted file contained instructions on how to access an online archive of stolen DNC documents. (para 48b)
Also, in an article dated 07/18/2016 09:33 AM EDT The Hill reported that it had received a new batch of documents from Guccifer 2.0.
Hillary, convinced that Guccifer 2.0 was a front for the Russian government, concluded that Putin had betrayed her. Probably at that time she decided to invent a narrative that she is tough on Russia while Trump is Putin’s puppet. It was summer 2016, and people did not know that the MSM shifted from being biased to being totally fake news. Hillary’s plan worked.
On July 18, Hillary/DNC launched the Trump-Putin conspiracy theory through WaPo (Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine, Josh Rogin, 12:21pm) and NY Mag (Is Donald Trump Working for Russia? Jonathan Chait, 1:44pm). The NY Mag’s piece is a purported analysis of multiple pieces. It couldn’t have been written in an hour and a half. Note that WaPo was also a conduit for the DNC to announce its theory that the Russian government had hacked its network. That proves beyond a reasonable doubt that these publications took part in a media operation by Hillary and/or the DNC. The MSM was happy to oblige: it picked up both stories and has been running them nonstop. The WaPo article mentioned Paul Manafort.
The WaPo article started with “The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces …”. Was this statement true? No, it wasn’t.
The original platform draft did not call for giving weapons to Ukraine. At a platform committee meeting that took place about a week before the Convention, delegate Diana Denman proposed an amendment including “providing lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine. The committee has appropriately corrected the language and softened the message to “providing appropriate assistance.” See Byron York, What really happened with the GOP platform and Russia and his earlier article in the Washington Examiner.
Has Trump intervened in this issue? No, he hasn’t. Ballotpedia noted: “One striking element of the 2016 Republican platform debate was the lack of intervention by the Trump campaign. While some Trump staffers monitored the deliberations, they didn’t try to dictate outcomes. “They have not strong-armed the delegates,” noted Perkins, comparing the Trump platform effort in Cleveland to previous nominees’ tactics.”
Was anything in the narrative that Trump was “soft on Russia” true? Nothing. The 2016 RNC platform says: “We support maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions, together with our allies, against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored. We also support providing appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination with NATO defense planning.” It also says: “In all of our country’s history, there is no parallel to what President Obama and his former Secretary of State have done to weaken our nation.”
The entire affair was a fabrication by Hillary’s campaign and the DNC aided by the fake news media, intelligence agencies, and Obama/Hillary loyalists in the FBI.
The 3rd “Steele report” (2016/095), probably received by the DNC during the July 20-25 period, mentioned the DNC leaks, the WikiLeaks, and Paul Manafort for the first time. It’s likely that Steele had learned the new party line from the media, but it’s also possible that “Hillary’s boys” told him what to write. This Steele piece just added made up details to the WaPo article. From its summary:
“Suggestion from source close to TRUMP and MANAFORT that Republican campaign team happy to have Russia as media bogeyman …”
“TRUMP associate admits Kremlin behind recent appearance of DNC e-mails on WikiLeaks, as means of maintaining plausible deniability”
Don’t ask me why “Trump associate admits” something on behalf of Kremlin – the whole Steele dossier consists of such rubbish. This “report” has no date and is estimated to be between the dates of the 2nd and 4th ones.
The July 22 WikiLeaks dump revealed that the DNC had cheated Bernie out of likely victory
in the primaries. The Democratic National Convention starts on July 25 with a huge scandal caused by this revelation. Hillary blames Russia and Putin, while the MSM echoes. Hillary, the DNC, and the media conclude that Putin is behind the leaks and therefore behind Trump. Now it’s official – Hillary runs against Vladimir. The 4th “Steele report,” dated July 26, is almost entirely devoted to alleged Russian cyber-operations.
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page watched the Democratic National Convention. From the Strzok-Page texts on July 28-30 (Texts from Mr. Strzok are on the left, texts from Ms. Page are on the right):
What Does the US Government Know About Russia and the DNC Hack? – Lawfare https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-does-us-government-know-about-russia-and-dnc-hack
Interesting. Good comments about Comey, too [?] Trump and the Powers of the American Presidency, Part III - Lawfare https://www.lawfareblog.com/trump-and-powers-american-presidency-part-iii
Stupid *ss Bernie supporters shouting no more war so that he couldn't be heard hardly at all. I'm sorry, they're idiots.
They really are. And he was a really important speaker for them.
I know. I'm really angry.
Trump & Putin. Yes, It's Really a Thing http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-putin-yes-it-s-really-a-thing
This article highlights the thing I mentioned to you earlier, asking if Bill [Priestap] had noted it to 7th floor. l'm going to send it to him I'm not going to be able to hold out until Obama [probably refers to his convention speech - LG]
Hi. I’ll be glad when the convention is over ... l'm exhausted. [Why to watch the Democratic National Convention? Oh, well - to know the Party line – LG]
No. Need to go see andy [McCabe?]
And I'm not surprised. All indications are he's a d*ck. Want to hear about it of course.
Hey if you discussed new case with Andy would appreciate any input/guidance before we talk to Bill at 3. Let me know I'm happy to come up if that's easier. News breaking Russians hacked Clinton email. Yeah Kortan [FBI head of public affairs] told us DCCC and Hillary Campaign hacked.
Hi. l'm partial to any woman sending articles about how nasty the Russians are.
hate them. I think they’re probably the worst. Very little I find redeeming about this. Even in history. Couple of good writers and artists I guess.
… f*cking conniving cheating savages. [I feel ashamed of such countrymen - LG]
Probably after watching the Democratic Party convention and reading media reports and Steele pieces conveying the Democratic narrative, Strzok was urged to act. On July 31, (two days after this conversation) he and a few other Obama/Hillary loyalists in the FBI and DOJ started Crossfire Hurricane, a spying operation against candidate Trump that quickly morphed into a no-holds-barred crackdown attempt against Trump and the Republican party.
Crossfire Hurricane was not an investigation into some staffers in the Trump campaign, but into Trump himself. Based on articles in the partisan and unaccountable media that originated from the DNC and Hillary campaign, Strzok and his accomplices started spying on candidate Trump and his electoral campaign. On August 1, Lisa Page texted to Strzok: “l mean seriously. What in the hell is this guy talking about? Donald Trump Gives Questionable Explanation of Events in Ukraine http://nyti.ms/2arMCyV. How Paul Manafort Wielded Power in Ukraine Before Advising Donald Trump http://nyti.ms/2aFY026.”
Only after launching Crossfire Hurricane, Strzok met an Australian diplomat and Clinton Foundation donor Alexander Downer who alleged that George Papadopoulos had told him in May 2016 that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Clinton. I don’t know what Papadopoulos told Downer, but thousands of emails from Hillary’s illegal bathroom email server leaked from 2012 to 2013. Anybody could guess that Moscow and Beijing received their copies. That happened long before the alleged 2015-2016 DNC hacking.
In this connection, note how the task of Strzok and this team to bury the investigation into Hillary’s bathroom server tied their hands in the handling of the 2016 DNC network leaks. They were sure that Hillary would become president and they were afraid to pursue any leads that might connect Hillary and any server. So, they chased Trump. Within a couple of weeks, CIA Director John Brennan and other parts of the Obama administration joined the Crossfire Hurricane. The DOJ, FBI, CIA, DHS, and other arms of the Obama administration incited top Republican Senators against Trump, spread anti-Trump propaganda through media leaks, and even boosted the DNC/Hillary conspiracy theory of a Trump-Putin collusion using national security announcements.
All this became possible only because of the almost certainty that Hillary would become the next president. Victor Davis Hanson eloquently explains that in his articles Hillary’s ‘Sure’ Victory Explains Most Everything and If Only Hillary Had Won … .
See also Seven Mysterious Preludes to the FBI’s Trump-Russia Probe by Lee Smith.
A billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer has recently revealed his wish for a NUCLEAR WAR to get rid Trump.
Skip Folden (added later on the day of publication) – disappeared from the web
David Blake (added on 2018-08-16)
Krebs on Security: Blowing Whistle on Bad Attribution (added on 2019-01-07)
Krebs on Security: Security Firm Redefines APT: African Phishing Threat (added on 2019-01-07)
Originally published on 2018-08-08.
2018-08-16: timing of the 2015 call from FBI to DNC corrected from summer to summer or September