Politics

Strzok Rebutted New York Times Piece Alleging Trump Campaign-Russian Intelligence Contacts

Peter Strzok, the former FBI head of counterintelligence operations known for his vitriolic anti-Trump texts messages, has torn apart a 2017 New York Times article that alleged the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump had contacts with Russian intelligence. Strzok criticized the article as inaccurate in multiple regards in a recently declassified internal document.

The Feb. 14, 2017, New York Times piece titled “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contact With Russian Intelligence” was said to rely on information from four unnamed “current and former American officials.”

“Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trumps presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election,” the article said in its opening paragraph.

“This statement is misleading and inaccurate as written,” Strzok said, annotating the article with comments on how it squared with reality as he was portraying it (pdf). “We have not seen evidence of any individuals affiliated with the Trump team in contact with [Russian] IOs [intelligence officers].”

Strzok was leading at the time an FBI investigation into supposed Trump-Russia collusion that was said to have swayed the election. The investigation, taken over in May 2017 by a special counsel, former FBI head Robert Mueller, ultimately didnt establish any such collusion.

The document was released on July 17 by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chair of the Senate judiciary committee.

“The statements by Mr. Strzok question the entire premise of the FBIs investigation of the Trump Campaign and make it even more outrageous that the Mueller team continued this investigation for almost two and a half years,” Graham said in a release.

In an email to The Epoch Times, New York Times senior vice president for communications Eileen Murphy said, “We stand by our reporting.”

Undercutting Dossier

The FBI officially opened the investigation into the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, shortly upon being notified that then-Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos had allegedly “suggested” during a drink with an Australian ambassador that the campaign received “some kind of suggestion” that Russia could help it by anonymously releasing information damaging to Trumps opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Four sub-cases were opened on Trump campaign aides Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Papadopoulos, and Carter Page in August 2016.

The FBI looked at the campaigns contacts with Kremlin officials but found them “almost entirely” limited to then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak and the Russian Embassys congressional liaison, according to Strzok.

Page had some contacts with the Russian intelligence service “but not during his association with the Trump campaign,” Strzok wrote.

The FBI obtained a spying warrant on Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in October 2016 and renewed it three times over the next nine months. But the warrants were deeply flawed, found the Inspector General (IG) at the Department of Justice (DOJ). The FBI later acknowledged that at least the last two renewals of the warrant resulted in illegal surveillance.

Page was in fact providing information about his contacts with Russian intelligence to the CIA and even helped to bust one Russian agent in the past. The FBI withheld this information from the secret FISA court that approved the warrant.

The FBI withheld this information from the secret FISA court that approved the warrant.

The key allegation in the warrant that Page was a part of a “well-developed conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russia was lifted verbatim from the Steele Dossier, a collection of rumors spread to the media, the FBI, the State Department, the DOJ, and Congress in 2016 by operatives funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The dossiers compilation was contracted by Clinton and the DNC through a law firm to former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The New York Times article said that “senior F.B.I. officials believe … Steele … has a credible track record.”

Strzok commented that “recent interviews and investigation … reveal Steele may not be in a position to judge the reliability of his subsource network.”

Steele told the FBI that information in the dossier came from a single source that had a network of other sub-sources.

The FBI interviewed the primary source over three days of Jan. 24-26, 2017. A heavily redacted FBI report from the questioning—also released by Graham—says Steele had had the source on payroll through another entity for some time as a researcher. The report suggests the source was not based in Russia and was neither a current nor former Russian government official.

The source “never expected” Steele to put their “statements in reports or present them as facts,” said a Dec. 9 IG report (pdf) into some aspects of the FBI investigation.

The source “made it clear to Steele that he/she had no proof to support the statements from his/her sub-sources and that it was just talRead More From Source

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