The "Introduction" to the Mueller Report justifies the investigation of Donald Trump by claiming as undisputed fact that, "the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion." But, according to Mueller, this "sweeping and systematic" interference, consisted of:
a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Russian military intelligence conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents.
You have got to be kidding me? The Mueller team present the the Russian social media campaign as some sort of propaganda behemoth and claims it was wildly influential. The Mueller folks cite, for instance, the IRA spending $100,000 on Facebook ads as evidence of this great influence. Nothing is said, however, about the billion dollars the Clinton Campaign spent on media to influence the American public. Apparently, $100,000 dollars from Russia carries more punch than $1,000,000,000,000 from Hillary.
The Clinton campaign, Democratic Party and pro-Clinton expenditure committees and PACs spent a record $1.2 billion, twice as much as the $600 million laid out by the Trump camp, Republicans and pro-Trump groups, the New York Post reported.
The real propaganda here, in my judgement, is what Mueller and his team put out in their report. It is clearly written to feed a meme and promote animus towards Donald Trump under the guise of being an "official" investigation.
I was stunned by Mueller's claim that his investigation uncovered "numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign." As I noted in a previous piece (i.e., Intel and Law Enforcement Tried to Entrap Trump) the Russian "links" to the Trump Campaign were manufactured by the FBI, the CIA and British Foreign Intelligence. This is both disingenuous and dishonest on the part of Mueller. The alleged Russian contacts were initiated by the FBI and the CIA, not the Trump team.
Notwithstanding Mueller's deception, the facts compelled him to conclude that the investigation established that members of the Trump Campaign did not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government.
The structure and presentation of the Mueller report reminds me of propaganda programs I worked on while at the CIA. For example, Mueller reports Russian interference as something unprecedented and unique and strongly implies that this effort was instrumental to Trump's electoral success. Unfortunately, this meme has become accepted conventional wisdom. But it is not true. Those who unquestionably accept this view are guilty of ignorance with respect to our shared history with Russia. The only thing unique and exceptional about the 2016 election was the fact that pundits and pollster were wrong on a grand scale in failing to predict the Trump win. If the Russian social media campaign had actually been so widespread and effective, surely the intelligence community and the media pundits should have identified the activity and raised the alarm about the alleged Russian social media tidal wave.
Here is the cold, hard truth–Russia (I use this as shorthand to include its predecessor, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) has been running intelligence operations inside America for more almost 100 years. These activities include recruiting Americans to gather classified information for Moscow, such as the Rosenbergs, creating front companies, and publishing and disseminating propaganda. At one point there was even a Communist Party of the United States (and former CIA Director John Brennan voted for its candidate). All of this falls under the rubric of espionage. And guess what? We have been and are doing the same thing in Russia.
The American politicians and pundits who decried the Russian activity in 2016 as an act of war deserve either pity for being so stupid and uninformed or condemnation for engaging in such unjustified hysteria.
Robert Mueller may not be eager to testify before Congress. His appearance will likely be a disaster for the Democrats and anti-Trumpers, who desperately hope that Mueller is sitting on info that could force Trump from office. But that will not happen.
Instead, Mueller will have to endorse his own report and its conclusion that there was no coordination nor conspiracy between Trump and the Russians. The report released to the Congress and the public is Mueller's report. It is not Barr's. Mueller also will have to explain why he did not indict Trump for obstruction. We already know, courtesy of Attorney General Barr, that Mueller's decision to not indict was not guided nor influenced by DOJ policy to not indict a sitting President.
Mueller will face tough questions on major gaps and omissions in the Special Counsel investigation. Take Joseph Mifsud, for example, who Mueller identifies as a 'London professor with ties to Russia." Even the most simple-minded investigator would want to know who Mifsud was and how did he have access to information on Hillary Clinton's emails. Not Bob Mueller. Not curious at all. Intrepid internet investigators, such as Disobedient Media and Wikileaks, uncovered evidence linking Mifsud to British Mi6 and the CIA.
And there are three known FBI informants–aka Confidential Human Sources aka CHS–that targeted Trump and his campaign team–Christopher Steele, Felix Sater and Henry Greenberg. Steele's status as a fully signed up CHS was exposed in August 2018 when documents were released, thanks to a Judicial Watch FOIA request, showing that Steele received at least 11 payments during the 9 month period that he was signed up as a Confidential Human Source.
The key is to look at the report forms; there are three types–FD-1023 (Source Reports), FD-209a (Contact Reports) and FD-794b (Payment Requests). There are 15 different 1023s, 13 209a reports and 11 794b payment requests covering the period from 2 February 2016 thru 1 November 2016.
These reports totally destroy the FBI claim that Steele only came into contact with the FBI sometime in July 2016. It is important for you to understand that a 1023 Source Report is filled out each time that the FBI source handler has contact with the source. This can be an in person meeting or a phone call. Each report lists the name of the Case Agent; the date, time and location of the meeting; any other people attending the meeting; and a summary of what was discussed.
What is truly outrageous is that Christopher Steele's status as a FBI CHS is not acknowledged and the anti-Trump dossier he put together at the behest of a firm hired by the Clinton Campaign (i.e., Fusion GPS) is referenced as follows:
Several days later , BuzzFeed published unverified allegations compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele during the campaign about candidate Trump 's Russia connections under the headline "These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia."
The Mueller team knew that Steele's Dossier was one of the predicates of the FBI investigation and the request for a FISA warrant against Carter Page. But now one word of explanation is given and no evidence is provided to show that the Mueller team investigated the matter.
Similar reports, i.e., 1023s, should exist for Felix Sater and Henry Greenberg as well. You can bank on it. Why did Robert Mueller and his team not request these reports on Sater and Greenberg? Sater was the impetus for the Moscow Tower Project. But you would not know that from Mueller discussion of this aspect of the case in his introduction:
2015. Some of the earliest contacts were made in connection with a Trump Organization real-estate project in Russia known as Trump Tower Moscow. Candidate Trump signed a Letter oflntent for Trump Tower Moscow by November 2015, and in January 2016 Trump Organization executive Michael Cohen emailed and spoke about the project with the office of Russian government press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
Once you understand that Felix Sater had been an FBI CHS since December 1998 (and was signed up by Andrew Weissman), you can see how dishonest and deceptive is Mueller's account of the Trump Tower Project.
I am eager to hear Bob Mueller's answer to these and other questions. His investigation can be charitably described as sloppy, inept and inadequate. There also is a case to be made that it was corrupt given critical information that was excluded from the report. With the benefit of hindsight, it appears that Bill Barr made sure to publish as much of the report as possible in order to get the evidence of bias and error by Mueller exposed to the public.
But it gets worse. The Democrats, all them, are the intellectual heirs of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. They are quite prepared to re-educate and if necessary, destroy, anyone who doesn’t get with their program. It’s to save the planetary environment and end racism of course. Clearly the intelligence establishment is happy to channel their desires.
Beware of anyone who believes in an “ism” and is obsessed with making the rest of us see the beauty of their revealed truth……..or else. And that is where the social justice warriors and environmentalists are today.
This whole business is totally depressing. It is really worrying, or maybe surprising how little people understand about the government of the country and how people are completely unswayed by evidence or lack thereof.
If the US Political and Media class continues on this path there I can’t see how USA can survive as it is. 20 years left.(give or take a decade)
The rabbithole goes deeper than you’ve described here. They also set-up Wikileaks.
IMO the intent was not to “get Trump” as much as it was to initiate a new McCarthyism. “Russian meddling” was not enough for that. Russiagate (possible Trump collusion) allowed the media to spew anti-Russian themes for two years.
The new McCarthyism acts to bind the Empire and helps to squash dissent.
Bill H says
There are three aspects of Mueller’s accusation against the Russian IRA which cannot really stand up to even the most cursory rational examination.
1. As you have pointed out, the miniscule scope of their efforts, amounting to something like 1% of the volume of posts made by the political parties themselves, and .001% of the total volume of Facebook itself. Their feeble effort was not really even visible, and they knew it.
2. Mueller himself did not even actually state that their purpose was directly to affect a single election, and certainly not that their purpose was to get Trump elected, but rather that they intended a more general goal of “sowing discord and diminishing the US voters’ trust in democracy.”
Even that claim must be viewed with a jaundiced eye, since he does not say who told him that and seems to have arrived at it by some arcane form of mind reading, and at very long distance since he never interviewed the principles and never got closer to them than some several thousand miles.
3. And no one arrives at the obvious point that if we have a sufficient number of voters who are informing their electoral decisions by reading Facebook posts so as to sway a national election, then this nation has problems far worse than anything that can be done to it by a handful of Russians.
Mad Max_22 says
Pigs is pigs. When you order out meat from the farmer running the pig farm, you’re going to get pig.
Who could not have understood that Mueller was being put into his job to establish a) that the Russians owned Donald Trump and b) to vindicate his pal Jim Comey who got fired because he couldn’t make up his mind. Indeed did Mueller have a single worker on his farm that didn’t understand precisely why they were being hired on.
The question has to do with the circumstances of his appointment. Were Comey, Mueller, and Rosenstein all on board with the appointment before Comey leaked to the NYT with the express purpose of generating a special counsel to carry on the ill founded investigation of the President, or did it just serendipitously work out that way. Barr needs very much to scrutinize how Mueller came to be the spear head of the deep state actors, Brennan, Comey and Clapper.
In the end, Mueller had no choice but to make up his mind about the so called Russian collusion, whatever that ever actually meant. There was no evidence. But he disingenously left the obstruction issue hanging, intimating the possible existance of one his teams signature process crimes because there had been no original crime. Why did he do this? because this is what he had been paid to do.
Mueller’s is another reputation that has been trashed. I think it was Christopher Hitchen’s who first said that if it can be found in the wake of the Clintons, it’s garbage. No surprise that in the wake of her failed Presidential Campaign there would be in the wake of it loads of garbage.
Mark McCarty says
As to the claim that the Russian government engineered a social media campaign to elect Trump via the Internet Research Agency, Moon of Alabama has completely decimated that claim:
And Mueller’s indictment of the IRA is literally hilarious – the charges are brought for:
– 13 ads, probably costing a total of about $500, which advocated for Trump or against Hillary during the election season (it is illegal for foreigners to buy campaign ads for US elections);
– co-opting the identity of one US person (said person suffering no known adverse consequences) so that the IRA could receive payments via PayPal;
– perjury on a visa application when two employees of the IRA visited the US in 2014; Mueller claims that the purpose of the visit was business rather than pleasure (even though the two DID do a lot of sightseeing throughout the US).
THAT’S IT! Read it yourself! Not to mention that no one has brought forth evidence that the IRA, a private corporation, was operating on instructions from the Russian government.
It’s as if the Salem Witch hysteria had gone national, for years.
Rick Merlotti says
Yes. In my opinion any new president would have been given this treatment had they evinced a detente with Russia policy. Especially Trump, tho, in that he was an outsider. The real underlying reason this goofy hoax was run is that the Geopolitical theories that are Religion to Anglo-American elites say Russia and China must be crushed one way or another. They are just too crazy to give up their dying empire, even if it means the destruction of human civilization. How odd that the great American experiment rests its hopes on Donald F N Trump. I wish him Godspeed but don’t have much confidence he is up to the task. Gotta admire his fighting spirit, tho.
Yes. what you are speaking of are Borgist elites as opposed to the traditional elites I mentioned earlier/
The Twisted Genius says
“The American politicians and pundits who decried the Russian activity in 2016 as an act of war deserve either pity for being so stupid and uninformed or condemnation for engaging in such unjustified hysteria.”
Once again, we are in rare agreement with this statement of yours, although our reasoning behind our agreement may differ. What Russia did was certainly not an act of war and there was no need to get hysterical over it. I said as much with my first SST posting on this subject back in December 2016 entitled “The Russian concept of reflexive control.” I looked back at the comments to that posting and noticed the many Vizzini-like cries of INCONCEIVABLE to the notion that Russia sought to influence our election. My guess is that Trump acolytes are deathly fearful that even the possibility that Russia attempted to influence the election would put an asterisk next to Trump’s winning of the 2016 election. Trump fears this and I believe you have voiced the same fear in some of your postings, Larry. That idea is as stupid and uninformed as the idea that Russia waged war against the US or that the 2016 election was illegitimate. This subject will be difficult to discuss as long as true believers on both sides cling to any of these silly ideas.
Revisiting some of comment to my two plus year old posting may interest some of you. Now that we are not using disqus, the old comments are now much easier to read.
blue peacock says
Devin Nunes has done more to expose the conspiracy among our top law enforcement & intelligence officials along with their counterparts in the UK, Australia & now Italy. I don’t get why Trump listens more to the neocons than someone like Nunes who had advised Trump to declassify.
This interview of Nunes by Maria Baritromo is getting to the crux. What was the predicate to launch the counter-intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign?
The Twisted Genius says
Bill H, you are probably unwittingly minimizing what the Russian effort entailed. For example the TEN_GOP twitter account masqueraded as the official account of the Tennessee GOP with 100,000 followers and 2,000 archived tweets still available. This effort cost nothing. A media researcher called UsHadrons has a collection of over 5,000 memes from over 50 twitter accounts and web sites. And this does not include the bot retweeters. Another media researcher, Jonathan Albright, did a series of articles on the dynamics of how these memes spread through social media, alternate media and mainstream media. It’s a science and an effective science. If it wasn’t, the advertising industry would not be embracing it.
I will add that half of the US adult population get their news from social media, primarily Facebook and Instagram. That’s frightening and it’s a fertile ground for a social media based influence operation.
Did any other government interfere? There are tens of thousands of their citizens working in the US on H1B visas.
The Twisted Genius says
Fred, I don’t know if other governments interfered in the 2016 election. I haven’t heard of anybody even looking for evidence of that. We hear plenty of how Israel interferes in our political process through already elected officials. I would think China would be doing something to influence our political decisions as well. I haven’t a clue as to how they’re doing it or to what extent their efforts extend. I doubt India is mounting an organized effort on behalf of their H1B visa applicants. It’s the companies using the H1B visa holders that are mounting the influence campaigns in this case.
Bill H says
My reference was specifically to the Mueller indictment of the Russian business form IRA. He indicted a few other individuals, but to my knowledge the TEN_GOP twitter account was not among his indictments, nor were any of the other “5,000 memes and 50 twitter accounts.”
That “half of the US adult population get their news from social media” is more than frightening. How can democracy survive in the face of such a misinformed electorate?
Considering the ever-shorter attention spans of far too many people, if I were Trump I wouldn’t begin to declassify too soon before the 2020 general election. Why give the opposition any more time than necessary to spin their narratives? Look how they’ve reacted to the Mueller report, deeply flawed as it is, because it disappointed them.
Hopefully in the meantime, AG Barr will be doing what needs to be done to serve justice, at long last.
” I haven’t heard of anybody even looking for evidence of that.” Should scare everyone, especially when you think that Peter Strzock was head of FBI counter intelligence.
” It’s the companies using the H1B visa holders…”
They are a praetorian guard making demands which the Pertinaxes of leadership disregard at their peril.
English Outsider says
There are also some comments from you from the Disqus period that I believe are relevant. I didn’t store them so I have to go by memory on those.
Those comments, and the other comments and articles you refer to, were conclusive for me for two reasons –
1. They give a broad over-view of how specific influence operations are conducted on social media. This is “analyst’s territory” and impenetrable territory at that. I think one has to have been sitting in front of the screens, and seeing the thing as a whole, to have any useful opinions on the subject.
It’s impenetrable territory to us in the general public because a great deal of the material examined is classified. The analyst must therefore set out his conclusions without being able to release the totality of the facts he has examined.
Your comments and articles do, however, give one enough background to be able to evaluate what others say on the subject – for instance, Brad Parscale’s dismissal of the claim that there was an attempt to influence the Presidential election campaign. That dismissal debunked a significant part of the claim but it’s clear from the background you have given that simply looking at traceable payments to Facebook isn’t sufficient to debunk all of it –
So although I found the Parscale interview illuminating, and also liked very much what he had to say and how he said it, it doesn’t penetrate deep enough into what I have termed “analyst’s territory” to put the subject to bed. So too with many other non-specialist attempts to evaluate the Russia scare as that relates to manipulation of social media.
Putting your articles and comments together with material that does emerge into the public domain – as a random example, Cambridge Analytica’s work on influencing the Latvian elections – what I finally take away from it all is this, from the article linked to above – “But one thing I can assure all of you, it’s happening,” with the caution that you repeat in various forms several times over the entire run of comments – “What Russia did was certainly not an act of war and there was no need to get hysterical over it.”
For a member of the public wishing to get the general drift I believe that is sufficient to dispose of the subject.
2. That subject disposed of, there’s the Steele dossier left over. From what I remember of the Disqus comments it does seem to me that you are regarding that as a different matter. Not high tech PR and social media manipulation. Merely an old fashioned political smear campaign. One that, although on this I do not recollect you expressing an opinion, it was obvious from the start was conducted from both sides of the Atlantic. I hope I did not misread your comments in that respect, because of course it is that aspect of the Steele affair that is really the most relevant aspect of this attempt to destabilise the Trump administration.
There is another participant in The Malevolent Farce who validates your conclusions re: Henry Greenberg – Trump friend and campaign volunteer Michael Caputo.
Mr Caputo had an interview with Washington Examiner columnist Byron York last week to discuss the attempts by Henry Greenberg to entice Mr Caputo to take the “Stolen Clinton Email” bait in the Mueller Hoax. Mr Caputo does not discuss Felix Sater, but has much to say about Henry Greenberg.
You may be interested in Mr Caputo’s recollections. In the first 15 min 40 sec of the podcast – after the intial pleasantries – are solely on Henry Greenberg’s approach to Mr Caputo. Up to around the 35 min mark, Mr Caputo discusses his interactions with Mueller interrogator Zelinski, and Zelinski’s questions regarding Henry Greenberg. Zelinski’s actions appear to be a near-perfect description of a perjury trap. imo
Mr Caputo also discusses being approached by a person who claims to be a NatSec contractor who wishes to pass on the “Stolen Clinton Emails” to Mr Caputo. When asked the current location of said emails, the “NatSec contractor” replied “in Clapper’s office.”
Personal observation – is this the way our FBI and Intel agencies truly operate? If so, how pathetic, and boy, are we in trouble.
If interested, the Caputo-York interview is found here – https://ricochet.com/podcast/byron-york-show/hey-was-that-russian-with-the-fbi/
Or to download, RSS feed here, Episode #11 – https://ricochet.com/series/byron-york-show/feed/
Thank you, Mr Johnson, for your extensively researched articles and thoughts, and many thanks to the Colonel for providing space for your words. Your words are read and appreciated by more than you know.
Glad to hear you on the John Batchelor Show again tonight. Please continue with Mr Batchelor. Mr Batchelor is an excellent interviewer, imo, and sometimes listening is better than reading.
blue peacock says
Politically folks are locked & loaded on both sides. Nothing is going to change the opinions of either side. Making declassification another political football is not going to benefit Trump nor the cause of holding accountable an out-of-control law enforcement & intelligence apparatus that manipulated a presidential election. Any indictment & prosecution will require time and Trump’s got less than couple years to make that happen. Waiting until election season means that he’s not serious about prosecuting any of these seditionists.