(THREAD) MAJOR BREAKING NEWS (CNN): Convicted Kremlin agent Maria Butina's longtime boyfriend confirms that Don Jr. met secretly with Kremlin agents for an hour during the 2015 NRA Conference in Knoxville; Don Jr. therefore lied to Congress about collusion. Please RT and read on.
6:44 PM - 22 Aug 2019
1/ This story is still developing—and confusing enough that only those who've researched the Trump-Russia case for years understood its import when it first broke; many others are currently misreporting it. I'm going to do my best to get this 100% right for you—as it's huge news.
2/ SUMMARY: All agree Butina was a Kremlin agent working for a Kremlin official—Torshin; all agree she used sex to access targets; all agree she infiltrated the NRA and aimed to infiltrate Team Trump; all agree her job was to end sanctions. We *didn't* know Jr. met with her team.
3/ BACKGROUND (all taken from PROOF OF CONSPIRACY, the Mueller Report, and major-media sources): in early 2015, the future top Trump adviser on Russia, Dmitri Simes, met with Putin; thereafter, he helped Alexander Torshin and Butina gain access to top federal banking officials.
4/ Torshin and Butina wanted access to banking officials as part of what is now confirmed as a Russian intelligence operation aimed at—among other things—gaining confidential data about the Ziff Brothers, whose Clinton donations the Kremlin thought could be used against Hillary.
5/ During the period Simes—the former top Trump adviser on Russia who now makes $500,000/year working for the Kremlin's TV network, RT—was aiding Torshin/Butina, he was trying to Torshin's aid for the top funder of his pro-Kremlin think tank, the Center for the National Interest.
6/ Filings in the Butina case confirm that—in early 2015—Butina/Torshin aimed to infiltrate the NRA and, if possible, Trump's campaign. Butina's ex-boyfriend, Patrick Byrne, has now confirmed Butina *spoke* of infiltrating four campaigns, but in fact only focused on one: Trump's.
7/ We don't know exactly who puts the FBI onto Russia's activities—though to be clear both the hacking and propaganda operations run by the Kremlin in 2016 had *already begun* by Spring 2015. We also know the FBI was investigating George Papadopoulos as a possible Israeli agent.
8/ Given that it later prosecuted Butina, made Torshin an unindicted co-conspirator, got warrants on Papadopoulos, and turned Simes into the shocking "star" of Volume 1 of the Mueller Report, there's a reasonable chance—but we don't know—that the FBI was long tracking all four.
9/ The upshot to this part of the story is this: FBI agent Peter Strzok was running an FBI probe in early 2015 that believed—it turns out, 100% correctly—that Kremlin agents under Putin's control sought to infiltrate Trump's 2016 campaign. Tonight we got *major* new news on this.
10/ Butina's ex-boyfriend—businessman Patrick Byrne—tonight *confirmed* to CNN that Butina said she had "close ties" to "four of the top seven oligarchs in Russia" and that she was in a position to orchestrate him (Byrne) meeting *one-on-one with Putin himself*. This is 100% new.
11/ Byrne further *confirms* to CNN that Butina said she was working for Torshin, a Kremlin official, and that she'd been tasked with infiltrating Trump's campaign. She said the purpose was "peace"—which is the term the Kremlin uses (systematically) to refer to sanctions relief.
12/ We've long known that at the spring 2015 NRA Conference in Knoxville, Donald Trump Jr. made contact with Torshin; both men claimed that they randomly found themselves near one another and spoke only briefly of inconsequential things—and that's what Don Jr. told Congress, too.
13/ We don't know Torshin's full story—as he fled to Russia. Likewise, we don't know Simes's full story—as he took a job for the Kremlin in Moscow. But in my 2018 book PROOF OF COLLUSION, I wrote of a major-media story that hinted Don Jr. *might* have been lying about Knoxville.
14/ CORRECTION: I mean Nashville, Tennessee, not Knoxville, Tennessee. My sister went to University of Tennessee in Knoxville, so it's more on my brain than it is with most people. Wherever I wrote Knoxville above, I'm speaking of Nashville. OK, to continue with this major story:
15/ PROOF OF COLLUSION offered major-media reporting that a) Torshin's meeting with Don Jr. wasn't accidental; b) they discussed more than pleasantries; c) Torshin had been tasked to get Don Jr. to come with him to a second location for a secret meeting. That's what I had *then*.
16/ According to Byrne, Butina told him that—at a time when she was connected to "four of the top seven oligarchs in Russia" and could orchestrate *face-to-face meetings with Putin*—she and Torshin successfully got Don Jr. to go to a second location for a one-hour secret meeting.
17/ This secret meeting in Nashville took place in April 2015, per Butina, just 60 days before Trump announced his presidential run. At *any* meeting between Torshin, Butina, Trump Jr., and other Kremlin agents, the topic Torshin and Butina were assigned to discuss was sanctions.
18/ By 30 days after Trump announced his run in June 2015, he *still* had not made a major official declaration of his policy on Russia sanctions. Then he went to FreedomFest in Las Vegas in July 2015. Butina was there and Byrne was there. Butina was posing as a young journalist.
19/ The event was televised, so any statement by Trump was certain to be seen by Putin and other leaders. Butina, posing as a journalist, asked Trump to state his position on sanctions. Trump—whose son had apparently secretly met with Butina and her boss—said he wanted them gone.
20/ It was at the 2015 Las Vegas event that Butina first approached Byrne; at the time she was in a relationship with GOP operative Paul Erickson, who's since been indicted on multiple charges. Butina, the Kremlin agent, seduced Byrne, and they soon began a romantic relationship.
21/ Byrne is unclear on whether he contacted the FBI about Butina before or after their romantic relationship began. In any case, Byrne is clear he *wasn't* acting as an FBI CI in Las Vegas; he was there as a *speaker*, but had worked with the FBI previously on unrelated matters.
22/ In any case, Butina's conduct in trying to recruit Byrne is so suspicious that he alerts the FBI because he has prior—unrelated—contacts in the organization. The FBI, which has already—it turns out, 100% correctly—begun investigating Butina, asks Byrne to continue to see her.
23/ Byrne now says federal officials have told him that the order for him to keep seeing Butina came from Peter Strzok, James Comey and one other person—which would make sense, given that these are the men who were heading up the Russian election-interference probe at that point.
24/ In the months after Butina—following a meeting with Trump Jr.—gets Trump to oppose sanctions on TV, Butina so infiltrates the NRA that she's able to arrange a trip by the NRA's top brass to Moscow to meet Putin at the same time Trump adviser Flynn is in Moscow to meet Putin.
25/ Just over a year after meeting with Putin—who has called Simes a "friend"—and during a period he's still in contact with Torshin and Butina, Simes manages to insinuate himself into the Trump during a March '16 Center for the National Interest event that Jared Kushner attends.
26/ Thereafter, Simes becomes the "Russia whisperer" of the Trump campaign—involving himself in every major Russia-related foreign policy event and policy paper Trump's campaign constructs between March and November 2016. Shortly after Butina is arrested, Simes *flees to Moscow*.
27/ Don Jr. testifies to Congress that he had no significant contacts with Torshin. But media reports suggest that not only—if Butina's claims are true—did Don Jr. meet with Torshin, but *so did Trump himself*. Torshin ultimately tweets out that he met Trump at an NRA conference.
28/ Live television, folks. Going to correct one or two things that don't change the story but more properly align events and dates.
29/ In late 2015, Alexander Torshin claimed on Twitter that he knew Trump from the NRA and could speak to his character. Torshin and Trump both attended the April 2015 NRA Conference in Nashville, so the assumption has been that they met at that time.
30/ The secret Torshin/Trump Jr. meeting occurred, per Butina's statements to Byrne, at *either* the Nashville NRA Conference in spring 2015 *or* the Louisville NRA Conference in spring 2016 *or* both. Byrne, in speaking to CNN, was not clear on this. But Byrne has corroboration.
31/ We already know that prosecutors investigating Torshin abroad have intimated that Trump Jr. is lying about his contacts with Torshin, which (as I wrote in PROOF OF COLLUSION) is further suggested by Trump Jr.'s lies about the meeting and Torshin's plans for an off-site event.
32/ Here's the 2018 YAHOO NEWS article (from Michael Isikoff, the author—with David Corn—of the New York Times bestseller RUSSIAN ROULETTE) about wiretaps that apparently incriminate Trump Jr. with respect to him lying to Congress about Alexander Torshin:
33/ Earlier in the thread, I indicated that we *knew* Patrick Byrne was saying the Trump Jr.-Butina-Torshin meeting happened in 2015; reviewing his interview, it's more accurate to say that he indicates the meeting could have occurred in 2015 in Nashville *or* 2016 in Louisville.
34/ By the way, between those two events Torshin tweeted this:
35/ It's *marginally* more likely the secret Trump Jr.-Butina-Torshin meeting happened in 2016 in Louisville, as we *know* the two men interacted at that event. But that said, it seems Torshin and Trump Sr. interacted in 2015 in Nashville—and *we know Trump Jr. was in Nashville*.
36/ We know Trump Jr. was in Nashville in 2015 because his father said so during his speech:
37/ NOTE: I'm going to say something now that I can't believe I'm going to say... but the next tweet is really one that *everyone* needs to read *carefully* and understand because it could point toward the most important revelation in the entire Trump-Russia investigation so far.
1) Trump and Don Jr. were both in Nashville and both in Louisville.
2) Torshin—by 7 months after Nashville—says he knows Trump via the NRA.
3) Butina says Don Jr. attended a secret meeting with Torshin in either Nashville or Louisville.
4) Why wouldn't *Trump* have gone too?
5) SCENARIO #1: If Kremlin agent Torshin met Trump in Nashville in 2015 as he implies—and if the secret meeting was in Nashville—why would Don Jr. have gone in his father's place, and how would Torshin be able to say he met *Trump* if *Trump* didn't also attend that meeting?
6) SCENARIO #2: If Butina is saying the secret Torshin-Don Jr. meeting was in *Louisville*, that's months *after* Torshin says he already knows Trump—and media reports say Torshin wanted to see Trump in Louisville. So why wouldn't Trump have attended *that* secret meeting?
41/ In any case, what we have now is Don Jr. meeting secretly with Kremlin agent Torshin in—most likely—Louisville in spring '16, and later lying about it to Congress. Torshin is—at the time—apparently connected to an op looking to get dirt on Clinton involving the Ziff Brothers.
42/ When Jr. gets contacted a few weeks later—in early June—and learns the Kremlin has dirt on Clinton it wants to give him, guess what the dirt is about? As confirmed by US media's publication of the Kremlin talking points for that meeting, the info involves...the Ziff Brothers.
43/ Trump and Don Jr. thereafter lie about the meeting in which Jr. learned of the HRC "dirt" Torshin had been connecting to uncovering. And they *also* lie about the *other* topic of that June 2016 meeting: the "peace" Butina was working for, that is to say... sanctions relief.
44/ SUMMARY: So there's now a clear throughline establishing a Kremlin operation involving Putin, his top four oligarchs, Butina, Torshin and Simes—one that involves infiltrating the Trump campaign through the NRA and specifically Don Jr.
Both Don and his dad then lied about it.
45/ To me, the craziest part of all this is that when it hit media this evening, those who picked it up didn't know enough about the Trump-Russia timeline to know what they were hearing. So they fell into a trap laid by the far-right "journalist" who spoke to Byrne—Sara Carter.
46/ Carter falsely claims the *real* story here is... the FBI asking Byrne to keep seeing Butina. I've no idea why that'd be a story, or why it'd be a story if—as Byrne says—Strzok and Comey issued that order. They were...*investigating Russia*. Of *course* they issued the order.
47/ The three Russian election-interference campaigns—hacking, propaganda, and infiltration—began in 2014 and 2015. It was always my assumption—it should've been everyone's—that the best intelligence agencies in the world (ours) were on to the Russians' activities not long after.
48/ That's why, when the story came out that Mueller was looking into Papadopoulos' overseas activities *before* he approached the Trump campaign the first time—in summer *2015*—it made sense: because the multinational collusion(s) PROOF OF CONSPIRACY details had started by then.
49/ I won't rehash the whole Red Sea Conspiracy here—as that's what PROOF OF CONSPIRACY will do when it's published September 3. Suffice to say that activities in Israel, Russia, and the UAE in *2014* communicated to U.S. intelligence that a strange new alliance was being formed.
50/ The FBI, when it's investigating a major national security issue—an attack by a hostile foreign power on our infrastructure, which was being investigated beginning in summer '15 at the *latest*—*absolutely* is going to use a new resource like Byrne if he drops into their lap.
51/ Byrne maintains that the FBI agents he spoke to were honorable, were apologetic about asking him to falsely keep up a Butina relationship, and represented that they were pursuing key law enforcement duties. It's the *last* portion of Byrne's interview that's sowing confusion.
52/ Byrne—citing no evidence at all—now says that he feels he was used to conduct "political espionage." And even odder, he says that espionage was being conducted against *both* the Trump *and* Clinton campaigns. But his view on this seems to all stem from a single name: Strzok.
53/ That is, people like Sara Carter have convinced a certain brand of conspiracy theorist that just because Strzok didn't like Trump—just like *150 million Americans don't*—it *automatically* means he was willing to throw away his FBI career to try to frame him and stage a coup.
54/ Mind you, Mueller did a thorough review of Strzok's work and found *no* fault with it. Strzok got in trouble due to private texts—not his professional responsibilities. But because Byrne has become convinced—without evidence—that Strzok framed Trump, he feels Strzok used him.
55/ The result of all this is media is reporting the biggest breakthrough in the Trump-Russia investigation so far as though it confirms some sort of "deep-state" conspiracy—rather than just that Byrne isn't happy about what he was asked to do now that he knows Strzok ordered it.
56/ As we've seen, Byrne's revelations in fact have nothing to do with Strzok; rather, they're about: (1) Donald Trump Jr.'s secret meetings and lies to Congress, (2) Maria Butina's much-higher-than-known level of access to Putin and his oligarchs, and (3) the Trump-Torshin link.
57/ Here's what absolutely has to happen now:
(1) Byrne has to be called before Congress.
(2) Donald Trump Jr. has to be called back before Congress.
(3) Trump has to be asked about every meeting he ever had with Alex Torshin, Maria Butina, or any agents of either Kremlin agent.
(4) Media must clean up its reporting from tonight. Byrne is offering *no evidence* he was used for "political espionage"; he's merely angry at Strzok—and therefore upset that Strzok apparently urged him to keep seeing Butina. His story is important for *other* reasons.
59/ But I also want underscore that Patrick Byrne's story isn't *legible* to anyone who hasn't been researching the Trump-Russia case for years. I've been doing that—and have written two books on the subject—and even *I* had to listen hard to understand what Byrne was revealing.
60/ I don't say that to be self-aggrandizing; I believe that *anyone* who fully understands the timeline and players in the Trump-Russia case would see and can confirm all I've said—so I'm not special for having "figured something out." I'm just explaining why US media missed it.
61/ As for Carter, I don't know why she misrepresented this. There's an obvious potential reason—a political agenda—and a less-obvious reason: that some on the right are trying to "launder" bad information for Trump by reframing it falsely. But I don't know if that happened here.
62/ It must be underscored that Byrne is a problematic witness—just not in a way that would necessarily undercut *this* story [i.e., in the way it's important]. He clearly still has feelings for Butina; he deeply admires her; he even thinks that she should be President of Russia.
63/ Byrne's story is significant exclusively because of statements his girlfriend made to him at a time those statements were either (1) against her interest, or (2) corroborated subsequently by other means. Let me explain what I mean by that, as it's important.
64/ Federal filings confirm that Torshin and Butina were running an intelligence op to infiltrate the NRA and Trump's campaign.
65/ It would have been *entirely detrimental to that intelligence op* for either of the two Kremlin agents to falsely claim to have had contact with anyone in the Trump family.
66/ Doing so would risk arousing the ire of their marks and diminishing their credibility and therefore potentially compromising their entire operation. So there are indicia of reliability in what Butina said to Byrne about Trump Jr. It's also consistent with major media reports.
67/ Those news reports place the relevant parties at the relevant locations and with the stated intent to establish communications. We even had prior reporting that Torshin wanted an off-site meeting with Trump Jr. and that wiretaps would prove Trump Jr. lied about what happened.
68/ It's clear Byrne believed his story was helping Butina *and moreover* it is clear from Carter's reporting and Byrne's CNN interview that Butina's *U.S. lawyers* also thought so. So there's no sense *anyone* here realized this would actually sink Butina, or wanted that result.
69/ One would have to be an idiot to hear or see the interview Patrick Byrne gave with CNN and *not* wonder about his reliability. The problem is that media reports also say that the FBI believed his story and, again, the relevant parts aren't really touched by Byrne's weirdness.
70/ And of course I'm leaving out entire swaths of corroboration for the sake of brevity. For instance, we already know that Donald Trump Jr. has lied under oath about these *very matters* (and others), and that Torshin and Simes both fled the country *when Butina was arrested*.
71/ The boasts Butina made about her extraordinarily well-placed Kremlin contacts were *confirmed* when she invited to Moscow, and then hosted in Moscow, top NRA brass, who were then ushered into meetings with top Kremlin officials. So she wasn't lying to Byrne about any of that.
72/ I could go on (for instance regarding the telling synchronicity of Flynn being in Moscow while Butina was hosting the NRA brass, as we know what Flynn was in Moscow to do and who he was there to meet with) but the broader point is that weird people *aren't* necessarily liars.
73/ I can readily understand, given the foregoing, why DOJ (presumably attorneys with the IG) believed Byrne. The question is whether they *only* looked at the Strzok angle, because that's the only thing *they* are tasked with looking at right now. Mueller is [prematurely] gone.
74/ When Bob Mueller, to the shock of everyone except (oddly) the husband of Trump's communications director, closed up shop almost immediately after Trump's handpicked AG, Bill Barr, was confirmed, I was one of those saying, "What happens if new info comes out? Who handles it?"
75/ The one thing Carter may have gotten *right*, albeit inadvertently, is that at present the entirely silly and unimportant Strzok angle *is* the only one being looked at, because Byrne chose to go to DOJ, and therefore the IG looking at *just* that narrow (GOP-invented) issue.
https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status ... 5944974336
(THREAD) It's time to separate fact from fiction in the case of Patrick Byrne, Maria Butina, Trump Jr. and a cadre of FBI agents and leaders. This is a still-developing story—but problematic reporting and Byrne's bad framing are muddling events. I hope you'll read on and retweet.
CLAIM1/ Byrne was "directed" to sleep with Butina by the FBI (CNN).
False. The FBI not only had no authority to "direct" Byrne, but Byrne himself says that he was clearly told that he didn't have to do anything. The FBI asked if he was willing to do something and he said he was.
CLAIM2/ Byrne's activities were coordinated by Strzok, McCabe, and Comey (Byrne).
Unclear. Byrne keeps changing his story—at one point saying "federal authorities" told him this was so, at another point saying he figured it out from TV, at another point implying he/Strzok spoke.
CLAIM3/ Byrne isn't credible (many folks).
Unclear. We know he/Butina had a relationship; we know he'd worked with the FBI before; we know—if true—FBI records will confirm his story; we know DOJ found some of his story credible. It's his odd demeanor convincing people otherwise.
CLAIM4/ There was no "second meeting" between Don Jr. and Kremlin agents Butina/Torshin; Don and Torshin had only a chance May 2016 encounter in Louisville.
In other words, it *does* appear there was such a meeting.
This one will take a few tweets to unwrap.
CLAIM 4-2/ According to Don Jr. and Torshin, all that happened is that they—by chance—were sitting near each other at an NRA dinner and they briefly exchanged inconsequential pleasantries. This bears no relationship/similarity to any meeting Butina has ever told any person about.
CLAIM 4-3/ What Butina told Byrne is that at 2PM on one of the days of the May 2016 Louisville NRA Conference, Butina and her team planned to take Trump Jr. out the back door of his hotel and bring him to her—Butina's—hotel for a 1-hour meeting. The meeting was to be clandestine.
CLAIM 4-4/ Moreover, unlike the story Torshin and Trump Jr. later told—Torshin, who subsequently fled the country; Trump Jr., who subsequently lied to Congress on this and other matters—Butina was, per Butina, slated to be *present* at the meeting between Torshin and Trump's son.
CLAIM 4-5/ Byrne is *unwavering* is saying Butina told him this was her plan, and *unwavering* in saying it was his understanding the meeting *did* happen (leading to his *anger* that the FBI had "let it happen"). When Butina *told* him the meeting had occurred is still in doubt.
CLAIM 4-6/ Byrne says he stopped seeing Butina in April 2016, so they weren't together (or in communication) at the time the planned May 2016 meeting would've occurred. But he reconnected with her after July 2016, and now says the meeting occurred, so she must have told him then.
CLAIM 4-7/ Butina's attorneys are now saying there was no second meeting; as ever, statements made by paid advocates for a Kremlin agent who knows it would be an international scandal if it was revealed that she and others secretly met with Trump Jr. can be and must be *ignored*.
CLAIM 4-8/ Much more reliable are statements made against her own interest—because she was revealing sensitive operational details of a Kremlin operation—Butina made to Byrne in the context of a) a romantic relationship, b) trying to establish a trusting relationship with a mark.
CLAIM 4-9/ Of course, far more reliable than *that* is corroborating evidence: Don Jr., Butina, and Torshin were in the place Butina says they were on the date in question; Don Jr. and Torshin admit to contact; we know from other reporting that Torshin wanted a "second meeting."
CLAIM 4-10/ We know Torshin is under criminal investigation in multiple jurisdictions and was Butina's handler in a course of conduct in which Butina was a covert agent of influence; we know he's fled; we know he took numerous actions to secretly liaison with Trump team members.
CLAIM 5/ Byrne's story is "crazy" (Jim Comey).
First, we *have* to note that the *whole Trump-Russia story* as we now know it—while 100% true, per Mueller—sounds crazy when you first hear it. But Comey isn't, actually, making a *blanket* denial of Byrne's highly unusual claims.
CLAIM 5-1/ It appears what Comey is denying is that *he* oversaw FBI agents' contacts with Byrne—or that *he* in any way directed Byrne to have a relationship with Butina. It's entirely possible for both Comey and Byrne to be right—as Byrne seems to be guessing about some things.
CLAIM 5-2/ Not only did Byrne *only* have contact with field agents—it *doesn't* appear he had contact with FBI leadership—when you actually listen to the facts of his story, rather than his own misguided framing, it's not clear... well... what the field agents *asked* him to do.
CLAIM 5-3/ From July '15 to July '16, Byrne was voluntarily in a relationship with Butina that he voluntarily reported on to FBI field agents. He says when he asked the agents to greenlight the relationship they did—but they were just declining to force him to end a relationship.
CLAIM 5-4/ It *would've* been a scandal if agents *had* told Byrne to end the relationship in late 2015—as it would suggest they saw Butina as dangerous *but* weren't willing to investigate her further. *And* they'd be interceding in Byrne's situation in a way they'd have to own.
CLAIM 5-5/ So the supposed "greenlight" appears to be FBI agents saying, yeah, you can keep us informed if you like, in the event anything untoward happens, but we're not going to stand in the way of your romantic relationship. That appears to be all that happened at that point.
CLAIM 5-6/ What Byrne is *angry* about is that he then kept feeding the FBI agents information—which presumably they memorialized—but that they didn't take any action, which frankly is *exactly* the same reaction Christopher Steele encountered, and actually looks bad for *Trump*.
CLAIM 5-7/ Trump and his allies' conspiracy theory is that there was a massive FBI conspiracy to destroy him—but only if he won the presidency, which they took no action to prevent; follow *that* logic—but Byrne/Steele both suggest the FBI *ignored* evidence of Trump-Russia ties.
CLAIM 5-8/ Coupled with the FBI *lying to the New York Times* in the days before the election about what they knew of Trump-Russia ties, what we're seeing is a *consistent* pattern of the FBI *hiding* what it knows about Trump and Russia rather than weaponizing it in any fashion.
CLAIM 5-9/ Even so, nothing in Byrne's story is even arguably "crazy"—to go back to Comey's claim—until July 2016, when the FBI, inspired by other evidence of Trump-Russia ties, asks Byrne if he's *willing* to not just continue his relationship but continue having it be romantic.
CLAIM 5-10/ But here's the thing: Byrne was already in the relationship—which is confirmed. It'd previously been romantic—which is confirmed. So in what way was the FBI even asking Byrne to do something he wasn't already doing? It's unclear. I think there's an easier explanation:
CLAIM 5-11/ The easier explanation is that in July 2016 the agents communicating with Byrne told him that—in fact—Butina *was* potentially a danger to the US, at which point—presumably—Byrne would've wanted to break things off. The FBI simply asked him to consider not doing that.
CLAIM 5-12/ And that is, I think, the sum total of the far-less-interesting "Strzok-McCabe-Comey" part of the story—Byrne is offended that the FBI even *asked* him to continue seeing Maria Butina after the FBI informed him it was, in fact, worried that she was a foreign agent.
CLAIM 5-13/ But the fact is, the FBI request for Byrne to consider continuing to see Butina came in *July 2016* if it came at all: at a time when—as Byrne says the FBI told him—they were dealing with an extraordinary national security situation. It was *not* some concocted plot.
8:26 AM - 23 Aug 2019
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CLAIM 5-14/ I think, therefore, that Comey can be *correct* that Byrne's framing of events is "crazy" even as his response doesn't do anything to contradict the core facts: the Byrne-Butina relationship; Byrne-FBI contact; Butina's claims—to Byrne—that she and Torshin met Don Jr.
CLAIM 6/ AG Barr intercepted Byrne's evidence, even though it should have gone to the DOJ's IG—Horowitz—and Barr should've had nothing to do with it.
Unclear. Byrne says that Barr knows the entirety of his (Byrne's) story, but it's not clear if he's presuming that or knows that.
CLAIM 7/ Byrne "set up" persons "X, Y, and Z"—who he appears to now identify, respectively, as McCabe, Strzok, and Comey—for federal "felony charges."
False. There's zero evidence any of these men did anything wrong or were even involved in the field agents' contacts with Byrne.
MARIA BUTINA’S LAWYER CHANGES HIS STORY ABOUT HER ROMANCE WITH PAUL ERICKSON
August 23, 2019/1 Comment/in emptywheel, Informants, Intelligence, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
There are a number of inconsistencies and sketchy claims (about who he thinks was targeted by the FBI and the timing of his disclosures) in former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne’s claims (Sara Carter’s story, NYT story) that he had been a “non-standard” informant for the FBI about Maria Butina.
The short version is that she sought him out in July 2015, telling him Aleksandr Torshin had asked her to do so, then started a sexual relationship with him, then later turned her attention to networking with presidential campaigns. All along the way, Byrne claims, he kept the FBI informed and acted on their requests regarding his relationship with Butina. Then, 9 months after she was arrested, in April 2018 and at a period too late to help her sentencing, he reached out to the FBI and first without counsel and then with a lawyer told the FBI what had happened. He attributes coming forward to a conversation with Warren Buffet, though Buffet claims not to know what he was involved with.
I may return to the oddities in Byrne’s story.
For now, however, I’d like to examine what her lawyer Robert Driscoll has claimed about Byrne.
In a letter to John Durham, DOJ’s IG, and OPR (shared with Carter), Driscoll suggested that he should have been provided details of what Byrne shared with the FBI as Brady information.By email, letter, phone, and in person, the defense repeatedly pressed the government for any Brady material and was not provided any. In particular, we suggested to the government a strong suspicion that counterintelligence or other FBI investigators used confidential informants (“CIs”) in their investigation of Maria, and that information provided by such witnesses to the government might be relevant to guilt or sentencing. Moreover, we suggested that the government had presented Maria with one or more “dangles” — that is, orchestrated opportunities to provide the government information unwittingly while being observed.
In writing, the government denied the existence of any such Brady material. Orally, during debrief sessions with Maria, I directly told the government that I believed Patrick Byrne, Chief Executive of Overstock.com, who had a sporadic relationship with Maria over a period of years prior to her arrest, was a government informant. My speculation was flatly denied. My associate Alfred Carry made similar assertions in a separate debrief that he covered and was also rebuffed.
Mr. Byrne has now contacted me and has confirmed that he, indeed, had a “non-standard arrangement” with the FBI for many years, and that beginning in 2015 through Maria’s arrest, he communicated and assisted government agents with their investigation of Maria. During this time, he stated he acted at the direction of the government and federal agents by, at their instruction, kindling a manipulative romantic relationship with her. He also told me that some of the details he provided the government regarding Maria in response was exculpatory — that is, he reported to the government that Maria’s behavior with him was inconsistent with her being a foreign agent and more likely an idealist and age-appropriate peace activist.
Byrne evidently informed the government of many meetings with political and other figures that Maria had mentioned to him, often in advance of the meetings themselves. The government did not try to intervene or try to stop any meetings, nor did they express any concern. (This undercuts the government’s position at sentencing that Maria’s activities involved collection of information that could be of “substantial intelligence value to the Russian government” or pose a “serious potential to harm U.S. foreign policy interests and national security” as those same activities were observed and permitted for years.)
At some point prior to the 2016 election, when Byrne’s contact with Maria diminished or ceased, the government asked and encouraged him to renew contact with her and he did so, continuing to inform the government of her activities. Byrne states he was informed by government agents that his pursuit and involvement with Maria (and concomitant surveillance of her) was requested and directed from the highest levels of the FBI and intelligence community.
As time passed, Byrne became more and more convinced that Maria was what she said she was–an inquisitive student in favor of better U.S.-Russian relations–and not an agent of the Russian government or someone involved in espionage or illegal activities. He states he conveyed these thoughts and the corroborating facts and observations to the government.
Now, I absolutely don’t rule out the government withholding information that would be helpful to the defense. They do that far too often, and there are good reasons to doubt the prosecutors in this case. But Driscoll’s claim that this might be a Brady violation is premised on two things: first, that the FBI really considered Byrne an informant — which is what they denied when asked directly — and that the FBI considered anything he gave them to be exculpatory.
In fact, the story Byrne told is actually quite damning to Butina. From the very start, according to what he told Sara Carter, Butina was pursuing him, not vice versa. She told him, from the very start, she had been sent by Torshin and explained (credibly, given Putin’s interests) they were interested in Byrne because of his involvement in blockchain technology. And her offer of a trip to Russia with networking there matched her M.O. in approaching the NRA.Byrne revealed details about his intimate relationship with the Russian gun right’s activist Butina. Byrne was a keynote speaker on July, 8, 2015 at Freedom Fest, a yearly Libertarian gathering that hosts top speakers in Las Vegas. Shortly after his address, Butina approached him. She told him she was the leader of a gun right’s organization in Russia. He congratulated her, spoke to her shortly, but then “brushed her off.”
The young redheaded Russian graduate student then approached him again over the course of the conference and explained that she worked for the Vice Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia and sent by them to make contact with Byrne.
She also said “Did you know you’re a famous man in Russia in certain circles? We watch your Youtube videos, we know about your relationship with Milton Friedman.”
She said she was appointed to lead Russia’s gun right’s group by Lieutenant-General Mikhail Kalashnikov, who was a Russian general, most notably known for his AK-47 machine gun design. Byrne says he considered the designation by Kalashnikov a significant honor, a signal of a kind he knows some mythical figures make on their way out. Byrne then had an “extensive conversation about Russian history and political situation. Butina told him that the purpose of her visit was primarily to extend an invitation to Byrne to come to Russia to speak at the Central Bank. After that, there would be a trip to a major resort to meet with various intellectuals and dignitaries from the Russian power structure. Butina told Byrne the event would offer him the opportunity to meet senior Russian officials and oligarchs. She wanted to see Byrne again to start preparing him for such a trip.
Even more significantly, as Byrne tells it, after Butina first suggested she was using a romantic relationship with him as cover to explain their communications, she’s the one who first pushed sex.He rented a hotel room with two bedrooms because he was under the impression that the romantic texts were simply her way to cover for communicating with him. However, she arrived at the hotel beforehand, occupied the room before Byrne’s arrival, and when he arrived, she made clear that her flirtatious texts were not simply a disguise.
And Byrne claims he grew quite alarmed by Butina’s interest in networking with political campaigns.“Eventually, her conversations became less about philosophy and it became clear that she was doing things that made me quite uncomfortable,” stated Byrne. “She was basically schmoozing around with the political class and eventually she said to me at one point I want to meet anyone in the Hillary campaign, the Cruz, the Rubio campaigns.”
Butina had also told Byrne, that Torshin, the Russian politician who she had been assisting while she was in the U.S., had sent her to the United States to meet other libertarians and build relations with political figures.
Byrne also claims he told Butina she needed to disclose her activities to the government, something that directly contradicts what Butina claimed repeatedly during the sentencing process, that, “If I had known to register as a foreign agent, I would have done so without delay.”Byrne said he warned Butina: “Maria the United States is not like Russia, and knowing powerful people ‘like oligarchs and politicians’ won’t help if the FBI believes a line has been crossed.” Byrne believed Butina was naive but not blameless. He said during the interview, “If you’re reporting to any Russian official as you’re doing this stuff and not disclosing yourself here, there are these men in black here and they don’t really give a shit who you know here -that’s not going to save you.”
It is true that Butina repeatedly told him she wasn’t a spy and Byrne ultimately became convinced that was true. But even in his description of that, he told Carter that he believed Butina was being used by US and Russian intelligence, not that he believed she had no tie to intelligence.Although Byrne was concerned about Butina’s possible motives, he eventually became convinced that she was an intellectual being used by both the Russians and American intelligence apparatus. She was stuck between two highly contentious and secretive governments, he claimed. He relayed those concerns to the FBI, he said.
If that’s what he told the FBI, it does nothing to make her any less of an unregistered agent of Russia.
Very significantly, though, Butina’s involvement with Byrne during the period she was supposedly in a meaningful romantic relationship with Paul Erickson refutes the claims her attorneys have made about that relationship.
As I have laid out, from the very start, Driscoll portrayed the government’s claim that she caught Paul Erickson in a honey pot as sexism, with mixed success.Then there’s the specific government insinuation that Butina was engaged in a honey pot operation. It substantiates this two ways — first, by suggesting she’s not that into Erickson.Further, in papers seized by the FBI, Butina complained about living with U.S. Person 1 and expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with U.S. Person 1.
It also alleges she offered sex for favors.For example, on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than U.S. Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.
Driscoll pretty convincingly argues the government misinterpreted this last bit.The only evidence the government relied on for its explosive claim was an excerpt from an innocuous three-year-old text exchange (attached as Exhibit 3) sent in Russia between Ms. Butina and DK, her longtime friend, assistant, and public relations man for The Right to Bear Arms gun rights group that she founded.
DK, who often drove Ms. Butina’s car and thus was listed on the insurance, took the car for its annual government-required inspection and insurance renewal, and upon completion, texted (according to government translators), “I don’t know what you owe me for this insurance they put me through the wringer.” Ms. Butina jokingly replied, “Sex. Thank you so much. I have nothing else at all. Not a nickel to my name.” DK responded: “Ugh . . . ( ”—that is, with a sad face emoticon.
Aside from the fact that Maria is friends with DK’s wife and child and treats DK like a brother, the reference to sex is clearly a joke.
We still haven’t seen the government response to this, but what Driscoll presents does support his claim this is a “sexist smear.”
But Driscoll’s dismissal of the other claim — that Butina disdained living with Erickson — is far less convincing.[I]n response to her girlfriend’s own complaints about her boyfriend’s failure to call in three weeks (accompanied by an angry face emoji) that Maria responds that her own boyfriend (Mr. Erickson) has been “bugging the sh*t out of me with his mom” and that she has “a feeling that I am residing in a nursing home.” “Send a link to the dating app[,]”
Driscoll spins this as an attack on Erickson’s now late mother, but doesn’t address the central allegation that she likened living with her much older boyfriend to living in a nursing home. Nor that she started the exchange by saying “let’s go have some fun with guys!!!” because she was “Bored. So there.” Furthermore, Butina seemed concerned that her use of Tinder would become public because she logged in using Facebook.
Though he has been sharing schmaltzy videos of Butina and Erickson with ABC, Driscoll also doesn’t address the fact that as early as May, Butina was proffering to flip on Erickson in fraud charges in South Dakota, which would have the effect of putting her in a position to negotiate permanent visa status independent of him, while limiting her own legal exposure.
Even in her sentencing memo — long after he knew of her relationship with Byrne, according to his public statements — Driscoll claimed she moved to the US in 2016 so she could be in the same hemisphere as Erickson.On a personal level, Erickson and Maria kept in touch after the 2013 meeting and she began a romantic relationship with him in the following year.
She also wished to be in the same hemisphere as her romantic interest. So Maria and Erickson explored both educational and business opportunities for her. This is the genesis of the Description of the Diplomacy Project proposal referenced in the Statement of Offense.
Among the events Butina planned to attend as part of that Diplomacy Project was the July 8-11 Freedom Fest convention where she first sought out Byrne. And before she moved to the US, she was already involved sexually with Byrne, according to his claims.
The portrayal of Butina’s relationship with Erickson as true romance has long been suspect — not only did she offer to flip on him in May 2018 (in exchange for which she might have gotten a permanent visa), but she did flip on him months before her plea deal. But if Byrne’s claims are true, it suggests she was using sexual relationships to help network in the US, and it further suggests Driscoll knew that when making claims about the import of her relationship with Erickson. If the FBI did obtain information from Byrne they chose (justifiably or not) not to release to defense attorneys, it might explain why they believed she was operating as a honey pot: because that’s what Byrne told them happened to him.
In his public comments to the NYT, Driscoll explained that Butina didn’t want to settle down (the implication is, with Byrne; he has claimed she wanted to settle down with Erickson).“I think she admired him, but I don’t think she was looking to settle down,” Mr. Driscoll said.
In his comments to Carter, he suggests that he suspects there were other sources for the FBI.Driscoll said there was suspicion that the FBI did not disclose all the information it had on Butina and he stated that he believed “Patrick is not the only one” who was giving information to the FBI.
“We’ve thought of several possibilities and some we are more confidant than others. I’m firmly convinced,” said Driscoll, who shared numerous letters and emails with this reporter that he exchanged with the FBI.
A seemingly disturbed homeless man, Hamdy Alex Abouhussein, who has asked to submit an amicus brief in Butina’s appeal (the public defender whom Judge Tanya Chutkan appointed to make sure that Driscoll had no conflicts when she pled guilty, AJ Kramer, is representing her in her appeal) claimed (incorrectly) that he’s the reason Butina got thrown into solitary and that FBI used Butina as a dangle to entrap him. So he also claims to have tried to provide exculpatory information.Plainly, one cannot tell exactly when, before accepting Butina’s guilty plea, did Judge Chutkan learn of the jail’s blocking of Abouhussein’s letters to Butina, including his pictures, or the FBI dangle operation. Moreover, as the plea hearing transcript shows, Butina responded to the Judge’s sequence of questions about effectiveness of each of her then-three attorneys3, including the just-appointed for the plea negotiations role, A.J. Kramer4, who was yet to meet Abouhussein (they met outside the courtroom after the plea hearing, see pre-plea email from Abouhussein to Kramer, exh 2). Upon information and belief, Butina approved her attorneys’ performance only because they, under DOJ’s duress and a gag order, never informed her of the FBI dangle operation and surrendered to the prosecutors’ intimidation by keeping the dangle operation out of the public eye and trial record5. Admittedly, choice was either a rock or a hard place.
However, Judge Chutkan did sentence Butina to 18 months in prison after the notice of Abouhussein’s Amicus Brief Docket No. 77 was entered, which means Judge Chutkan was t/me/y presented with the “FBI dangle” and “letters blocked by Butina’s jail” Brady issues. Per Rule 51, this Honorable Court now has a lawful duty to investigate the issue of the FBI’s dangle operation that intentionally built up an oligarch-connected naive student as a false spy before casting her sex lure to hook the homeless Abouhussein, who was attending a public event at the Heritage Foundation to eat the free lunch as usual. Had he swallowed the lure6, any Grand Jury would indict this HamdySandwitch of a spy couple with ties to Putin, which explains Prosecutors’ honeypot sex allegations tainting Butina upon her arrest. Only in America!
So, yeah, there are other allegations, but Driscoll is right to suggest Byrne is more credible than, at least, this one.
But if Byrne’s story is credible, then it’s not clear that it helps Butina, at all, because it undermines the story her defense has been telling for a year.
Given her repeated assertions she’s happy with Driscoll’s representation, it’s unclear the basis for Butina’s appeal. I think the government operated in bad faith when they asked for 18 months, but that’s not a basis for an appeal. I think Driscoll made a mistake both by not arguing more forcibly that given the most relevant comparable sentence on 18 USC 951 charges, that of Carter Page recruiter Evgeny Buryakov’s 30 month sentence, a 9 month sentence would have been proportionate for someone like Butina who was neither recruiting nor operating covertly.
I also think that if Driscoll really cared about the declaration from former Assistant Director of FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Robert Anderson Jr at her sentencing, he should have questioned what documents Anderson relied upon to judge that Butina was a spotter for Russian intelligence instead of deciding that, “I’m happy to leave the record as it is.” But if Driscoll had reason to believe the FBI had really damning information from Byrne that undercut his claims about Butina’s romance with Erickson, it might explain why he didn’t ask those questions.
The other day, Butina’s lawyer for her appeal AJ Kramer asked for an extension on his deadline to submit Butina’s appeal, which could mean he wants to add claims of Brady violations in her appeal (though he says he needs more time to consult the public record, and Driscoll and his associate Alfred Carry, by Driscoll’s own admission, never put their request for information about Byrne in writing).
But given Byrne’s public claims, it’s not actually clear that will help her case, as it mostly provides an explanation for why the FBI was so insistent on some of the allegations it did make.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/08/23/m ... -erickson/
seemslikeadream » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:53 pm wrote:Deep state': Shares in $960m company plummet after CEO's bizarre statement
By Michael Corkery
August 16, 2019 — 9.24am
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne said he was motivated to come forward in recent weeks because he believed that top law enforcement officials had not handled the investigation into Butina properly.CREDIT:BLOOMBERG
He was the philosophising founder and chief executive of Overstock.com, a publicly traded e-commerce retailer that sells discount furniture and bedding with a market capitalisation of around $US650 million ($960 million). She was an ambitious graduate student from Russia.
It was the start of a three-year relationship between the e-commerce executive, Patrick Byrne, and the young woman, Maria Butina, that became romantic at times. She is now serving 18 months in prison after being accused by federal prosecutors of trying to infiltrate powerful political circles in the United States at the direction of the Russian government. She ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Byrne's relationship became widely known this week, when his company took the unusual step of issuing a news release that called attention to it. In the release, which was put out in response to a report that Byrne had been involved in the federal inquiry into the 2016 presidential election, Byrne said he had been helping law enforcement agents, whom he referred to as "Men in Black," with their "Clinton Investigation" and "Russia Investigation."
In an interview late Wednesday, Byrne said he wanted to shed light on what he saw as problems in the way top law enforcement officials had handled the government's case against Butina.
The release, titled "Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State," sent the company's shares plummeting more than 30 per cent over the next two days, while opening an intriguing new chapter in the tale of Butina and her connections to influential Americans. Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, confirmed that Butina and Byrne had been "romantically involved" and that, according to Byrne, government officials had instructed him on how to interact with her.
In the interview, Byrne said he was still "quite fond" of Butina. "Maria should go home and be president of Russia one day,'' he said. "That is the best thing that could happen to Russia and the US."
Butina, 30, was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent. She achieved notoriety by networking with groups like the National Rifle Association, and by posing for pictures with Republicans like Donald Trump Jr. and Scott Walker, the former Wisconsin governor.
For a time, she dated a Republican political operative who had worked on several campaigns. Her lawyer said she was dating the Republican operative while periodically seeing Byrne.
Byrne, whose father had been the chief executive of the insurance company GEICO, has a reputation for speaking his mind with financial analysts and in interviews. The news release Monday was particularly colourful and, at times, cryptic.
It did not mention Butina specifically, but instead cited two articles published recently on the website of Sara Carter, a journalist and Fox News contributor. One of the articles detailed his relationship with Butina. In the news release, Byrne said he "confirmed" Carter's account.
Maria Butina was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent.CREDIT:AP
The relationship, Byrne said in the interview, began in Las Vegas, where he was giving a talk at the FreedomFest convention, an annual gathering of libertarians.
Butina, according to Byrne, introduced herself and said she wanted to discuss her gun rights group, but he was not interested. She then told a different story: that she was working for a top official at Russia's central bank and wanted Byrne to go to Moscow to speak about blockchain technology. Byrne arranged to meet her for lunch in his hotel suite the next day.
They hit it off, he said, discussing Russian history, literature and philosophy. "She said, 'You are a very famous man in Russia,'" he recalled.
Still, Byrne described being somewhat suspicious of Butina's intentions. Eventually, he said he began to communicate with the FBI about their interactions. Driscoll, Butina's lawyer, said Byrne had contacted him after she was sentenced to prison in April and had told him he had spoken periodically to the FBI about Butina. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.
Maria should go home and be president of Russia one day. That is the best thing that could happen to Russia and the US.
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne
After the convention, Byrne and Butina kept in touch through text messages. She told him she wanted him to meet her in Paris, Rome or Montenegro. They finally decided to meet at the Bowery Hotel in New York in September 2015. Byrne, who calls himself as a "56-year-old bachelor," said the rendezvous in New York quickly became romantic. They met several more times in different cities around the United States, and she visited him at his home in Utah.
"I think she admired him, but I don't think she was looking to settle down," Driscoll said.
Overstock shares fell 30 per cent in two days before regaining some lost ground on Thursday. CREDIT:AP
During the visits, Byrne said Butina spoke increasingly about meeting or seeking to meet people involved in the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Trump, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, which made Byrne wary. Her lawyer said she was merely an ambitious person hoping to advance her career by improving relations between the United States and Russia.
Bryne has recently been focused on developing a blockchain business called tZero that he describes as the place where "blockchain meets capital markets." Overstock is based in Utah, and until this week its stock had been soaring. On Thursday, the company's share price rallied to rise more than 16 per cent, erasing many of the recent losses.
In the news release Monday, Byrne said he had previously worked with law enforcement authorities in a case involving a friend who was murdered and also as part of a "shake up" of Wall Street a decade ago.
Byrne said he was motivated to come forward in recent weeks because he believed that top law enforcement officials had not handled the investigation into Butina properly. In the company's news release, he said the investigation was "less about law enforcement and more about political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump."
Citing Byrne's concerns, Driscoll wrote a letter to the Justice Department's inspector general and office of professional responsibility on July 25, saying the Overstock executive had told him that during his relationship with Butina, he had "acted at the direction of the government and federal agents by, at their instruction, kindling a romantic relationship with her."
Driscoll urged Justice Department officials to examine Byrne's concerns further.
"As an adjunct professor and CEO of a public company, Byrne is a credible source of information, who from my view has little to gain, but much to lose by discllevinosing a sporadic relationship with Maria," he wrote. "His claims are worthy of investigation."
The New York Times
https://www.theage.com.au/business/comp ... 52ho9.html
Rep. Brad Schneider Becomes The 134th House Democrat To Call For Impeachment Probe
https://www.politicususa.com/2019/08/22 ... hment.html
Langevin 133th House Democrat comes out for Trump impeachment inquiry
https://www.wpri.com/news/politics/lang ... t-inquiry/
Nadler asks House committees probing Trump to share docs for its impeachment investigation
By ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY
08/22/2019 05:40 PM EDT Updated 08/22/2019 06:04 PM
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on Thursday asked four House panels investigating President Donald Trump to share documents and other information to aid his committee’s investigation into whether to file articles of impeachment against the president.
In a letter to the chairs of four key investigative committees, Nadler (D-N.Y.) asked for “documents and testimony, depositions, and/or interview transcripts” that might be relevant to the Judiciary Committee’s ongoing impeachment probe.
The letter — addressed to the leaders of the House Intelligence, Financial Services, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs panels — also references the Judiciary panel’s recent pronouncement in various court filings that it is considering whether articles of impeachment are warranted, a decision that came without a formal vote of the House or the committee itself.
Together, all five committees have launched investigations, interviewed witnesses and subpoenaed documents relating to the president’s conduct, foreign business ties, presidential campaign, hush-money payments and personal finances. The Intelligence Committee also has dozens of transcripts from its 2017-18 investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that may become relevant to the Judiciary Committee probe.
Nadler’s request comes one day after Trump’s attorneys argued that two of the committees — Intelligence and Financial Services — may not invoke the possibility of impeachment in order to gain access to Trump's personal financial information held by Deutsche Bank and Capital One. Trump’s lawyers called impeachment “a non-legislative power that the Committees do not and cannot invoke here (because, among other reasons, they have no jurisdiction over it under the House Rules).”
The Judiciary Committee’s move request appears to directly answer that claim: All documents gathered by other committees investigating Trump might become relevant to its impeachment probe. That also bolsters House General Counsel Douglas Letter’s effort to link the Intelligence and Financial Services Committees’ demands to the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
“In fact, the House Committee on the Judiciary is investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment against President Trump,” Letter wrote. He issued a similar filing in a separate lawsuit on behalf of the Oversight Committee, which is seeking Trump’s financial records through his accounting firm, Mazars.
The president’s attorneys say those panels have no right to obtain Trump’s financial documents because only the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over impeachment. Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, too, argue that the panel hasn’t formally invoked impeachment since there hasn’t been an official vote of the committee or the House, a precedent that has been adhered to in all prior presidential impeachment probes.
Nadler’s letter references the Judiciary Committee’s intention to work with the Intelligence Committee to review sensitive grand jury information relating to counterintelligence. Nadler said his request to the other committees “would build on that sharing agreement and would similarly allow for sensitive or confidential information to be received.”
In the past, formal impeachment inquiries have transformed the Judiciary Committee into the clearinghouse for all potentially damaging information about the president, but under Nadler’s proposed arrangement, all five committees would continue their parallel investigations and share information only as it becomes pertinent — a prospect that would dramatically broaden efforts to unearth impeachment-related information to dozens of additional members of the House, including powerful lawmakers like Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters. Waters has long called for Trump’s removal from office.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far resisted growing calls among her colleagues to open a formal impeachment inquiry, though she has signed off on the legal strategy that references the House’s ongoing impeachment investigation. As of Thursday, 135 Democrats — well over half of Pelosi’s caucus — have indicated they would vote to open an inquiry, a number that has grown steadily since former special counsel Robert Mueller testified on Capitol Hill last month and confirmed allegations of obstruction of justice against Trump.
Though Pelosi tasked six committees with investigating aspects of Trump’s business and personal activities, Nadler’s letter notably omits the Ways and Means Committee, which is seeking Trump’s federal tax returns and is suing the Treasury Department and IRS to obtain them.
https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/ ... nt-1472475