To illustrate her point, Dyer constructs a timeline for that period. What develops from the timeline is that all the major players come together during this period, and the common element that ties them together is the Steele dossier. Additionally, Dyer draws attention to the Russia Hoax task force that Brennan formed toward the beginning of this period. Obviously Barr's and John Durham's prosecutors and investigators won't focus solely on this time period but, because of the way that the various players interact during these three months, thanks to our knowledge of the task force, a focus on this period has the advantage of pointing toward those exercised overall direction of the Russia Hoax. That knowledge, in turn, will help focus all other investigation.
We know that the first installment in what became known as the Steele dossier turned up dated June 20, 2016. How long the project had been in preparation is difficult to say, but once started events began in earnest--on both sides of the Atlantic. Let's run down a few of them:
On July 5, 2016, FBI agent Michael Gaeta, stationed in Rome, having previously received permission from Department of State's (DoS) Victoria Nuland, traveled to London to discuss the dossier with his old friend, Steele. This is the FBI's first official contact with the dossier.
On July 7 and 8, 2016, Carter Page gave a presentation on “The Future of the World Economy” in Moscow, and the next day, gives the commencement address for the New Economic School at the World Trade Center. (Does this sound strangely like some sort of setup to you, too? I mean, with all due respect, who wanted to hear Page's views on the World Economy?)
On his return trip, Carter Page stopped at Cambridge on July 11 and 12, 2016, to attend a two-day conference called "2016's Race to Change the World", and who do you think were also in attendance? Stefan Halper and Chris Steele. As Mark Steyn amusingly remarks, "Today, Mr Page is better known as the endlessly surveilled "person of interest" whose eternally renewable FISA warrant was the FBI's gateway into the Trump campaign," but then Page was rubbing elbows with the likes of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and a select group of certified Deep State denizens. And Steele and Halper.
By July 19, 2016, strangely or not so strangely, Carter Page's Moscow trip was a hot topic in the latest installment of the Steele dossier, along with the "information" that Page had met "secretly" with Putin insiders and been offered vast sums of money.
Next comes an interesting item. Sometime in "summer 2016" (I've been unable to nail this down to a specific date) Robert Hannigan, head of the UK's GCHQ (their NSA) traveled to Washington, DC, for a "director to director" confab with John Brennan at CIA. Not, be it noted, with his actual US counterpart, Adm. Mike Rogers at NSA. Nevertheless, this trip is said to have occurred before Brennan briefed Obama, so it fits well in this time frame. The topic of the meeting was "information" on clandestine Trump - Russia communications that was Hannigan's-mouth-to-Brennan's-ear sensitive.
Speculation is that the subject of this meeting was simply dossier material on the
"well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [Trump] and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries."
It may also have included the long since debunked "information" about the Alfa Bank server communicating clanestinely with a server in Trump Tower, given that there may have been as many as two FISA applications that were rejected during the summer of 2016 in that regard.
So, July alone was a busy month for Russia Hoaxers, and it ended with a bang: In response to an EC from Brennan, Peter Strzok opened the Crossfire Hurricane case on July 31, 2016. That all this activity was essentially dossier-driven should be clear enough, but Dyer observes:
"Brennan made a subsequent claim that he never actually saw the dossier until December 2016. ... Brennan’s own brief to Obama got the high-level task force started. Besides the facts that the dossier’s contents were known to news outlets as early as July 2016, and the media were asking Brennan about them by August 2016, the dossier’s contents were also known to the task force spearheaded by Brennan.
Getting the FBI on board with a Full Investigation was crucial to advancing the Russia Hoax. FBI involvement provided essential legal cover for the Russia Hoax as well as the promise of legal cover for advanced investigative techniques, such as FISA. None of that would be possible as long as matters remained at the level of an FBI Preliminary Investigation and agency to agency international cooperation. The FBI Full Investigation put it all on steroids.
So, with FBI involvement--and therefore legal cover--in place, Brennan felt able to obtain official White House and NSC involvement. This was done through formation of an interagency Task Force coordinated with the White House and NSC. For that, Dyer points us to an important Washington Post article: Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault, by Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous. The article, please note, follows closely on the heels (June 23, 2017) of the Mueller Inquisition startup--part of a coordinated Deep State effort to build up the inquisition's credibility.
For the Deep State to reveal publicly, through the WaPo, the involvement of Obama and his closest advisers is remarkable on the face of it. Of course, it follows on the expulsion action taken against Russian diplomats in the closing days of the Obama administration--undermining Trump's nascent foreign policy--and seeks to reconfirm and reinforce the narrative of Obama struggling manfully against the evil Russian threat, in the face of probably Trump collusion. Nevertheless, to confirm Obama's personal involvement at an early date--August, 2016--suggests the desperation behind the revelation as well as the bottom line motive for the Mueller Inquisition: CYA for Obama and his top advisers.
Brennan, in 2017, confirmed the formation of the Task Force. Dyer summarizes the import of it:
... if the Washington Post is right – we already know that that’s when the highest officials in the Executive Office of the President, the intelligence community, the State Department, the DOJ, and the FBI began working together on a special task force to “analyze” whether Trump and his associates were “colluding” with Russia, and decide what to do about it.
The agencies, in other words, in which there was, verifiably, “separate” knowledge of the Steele dossier, were working together on a special task force convened on Obama’s order, meeting in the White House Situation Room, and accountable to the Oval Office.
The task force included the highest-level officials. But it also included “several dozen” hand-picked analysts from the CIA, NSA, and the FBI. The assembling of this band of analysts makes it impossible that the dossier – and other key elements of the putative brief against “Trump” and “Russia,” whatever they may have been – were known only within agency compartments, from which information was not being shared. It makes it impossible for the FBI to have been pursuing an “FBI investigation” that no one else had visibility on – about the very subject for which the task force had been convened.
This highly melodramatic excerpt from the WaPo article describes the physical circumstances and security restrictions of the Task Force, which in turn suggests just how important the effort was--even if the importance was really purely political rather than national security related:
Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.
Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.
But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.
Brennan convened a secret task force at CIA headquarters composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI.
The unit functioned as a sealed compartment, its work hidden from the rest of the intelligence community. Those brought in signed new non-disclosure agreements to be granted access to intelligence from all three participating agencies.
They worked exclusively for two groups of “customers,” officials said. The first was Obama and fewer than 14 senior officials in government. The second was a team of operations specialists at the CIA, NSA and FBI who took direction from the task force on where to aim their subsequent efforts to collect more intelligence on Russia.
The secrecy extended into the White House.
Susan Rice, Avril Haines (Deputy national security adviser and former deputy director of the CIA under Brennan) and White House homeland-security adviser Lisa Monaco convened meetings in the Situation Room [i.e., in the White House] to weigh the mounting evidence of Russian interference and generate options for how to respond. At first, only four senior security officials were allowed to attend: Brennan, Clapper, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and FBI Director James B. Comey. Aides ordinarily allowed entry as “plus-ones” were barred.
Gradually, the circle widened to include Vice President Biden and others. Agendas sent to Cabinet secretaries — including John F. Kerry at the State Department and Ashton B. Carter at the Pentagon — arrived in envelopes that subordinates were not supposed to open. Sometimes the agendas were withheld until participants had taken their seats in the Situation Room.
The article goes on with more "details," all ever more absurd in describing the supposed security measures. Follow the link for a good laugh.
I know what you're wondering at this point. What happened to this "intelligence bombshell"? How is it that Mueller ultimately conceded "no collusion"? Are those pathetic indictments of a few Russians engaged in a piddling amount of internet activity--is that really the sum total of the "mounting evidence of Russian interference"?
Good questions. All of them and more, and we'll return to the topic. But for now, let's note the date of this meeting: "Early August." In fact, within days of the FBI opening the Crossfire Hurricane full investigation on "four Americans" connected to the Trump campaign:
The WaPo story ... indicates that Obama’s order to convene the task force was given in the week before he went on vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, which he departed for on Saturday, 6 August 2016.
There can be no doubt whatsoever that all this was dossier driven--if nothing else has surfaced, then those sealed envelopes "for eyes only" contained Steele's creatively written narratives. And that means that the Task Force that arose from all that dossier driven activity could only have been focused on the Trump campaign. Not the nonsensical "Russian meddling."
As Dyer notes:
Susan Rice’s email for the record from 20 January 2017 serves as a reminder that the task force existed – and thus as a mental corrective for any depiction of the Obama administration’s actions as decentralized, with offices and agencies unaware of what others were doing.
Which again leads us to the conclusion that public confirmation of Obama's personal at this early date--the first week of August, 2016--speaks to the desperation that led to the Mueller Inquisition and high profile media campaign.
So, let's continue with the timeline. What happened after the Task Force was launched, what intelligence can we glean? Nine days or less after the Task Force launching comes the "insurance policy" text between Strzok (a task force member) and Lisa Page. Here I quote Dyer and add the content of the text--note how Dyer's observation regarding what may have been in their minds takes on added significance when viewed in the context of the timeline:
Next in the timeline is the “insurance policy” text between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, on 15 August 2016 after a meeting with (then) deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe. The events in the WaPo article suggest that some allusion to the task force of which the FBI formed an integral part, and to which it contributed some of the “several dozen” analysts, had to be on Strzok’s mind when he sent that text.
[August 15, 2016. Strzok texted Page, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in [deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe’s] office that there's no way he gets elected -- but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40…”]
Could they not have been thinking of the Task Force?
Brennan, of course, remained active. Ten days after the "insurance policy" text, on August 25, Brennan briefed former Senator Harry Reid (at that time Senate minority leader, a member of the Intelligence Gang of Eight) on the supposed “interference” information from John Brennan. In fact, once again, we know that the "information" passed to Reid was dossier "information." Brennan as always is the key figure in disseminating the dossier around Washington among the political classes and Deep State operators.
Reid then sent a letter to James Comey at the FBI on 27 August 27 demanding action--and, not in the least coincidentally, providing the FBI with additional cover for opening the Full Investigation. This letter confirms that the "briefing" from Brennan was, as always, dossier driven. It was not "interference" information.
This brings us up to September. On September 2 Strzok and Lisa Page texted. The context of this text is all important. Strzok and Page had been tasked with preparing talking points for James Comey because Obama apparently wanted to be kept abreast of the case.
Strzok and Lisa Page then had their next famous text exchange ... in which they referred to an upcoming meeting Strzok would attend – apparently about “Russiagate” – and Page stated that “potus wants to know everything we are doing.” The meeting in question took place on 7 September.
Can there be any doubt that this was a Task Force related meeting, and that Obama was maintaining a hands on posture toward the Russia Hoax?
Interestingly, virtually every single account of this text that I've come across (with one exception) maintains that this text, Obama's desire to "know everything we are doing," related to the Hillary email case. But that makes no sense. The Hillary email case had been closed in July and was yet to be reopened. The briefing strongly suggests Obama staying on top of a developing situation, as does the circumstance of Strzok's meeting. The one exception I found was from a lefty site, which reproduces Lisa Page's testimony. Page makes it abundantly clear that Obama wanted to "know everything" the FBI was doing about Russia:
Mr. Ratcliffe. Let me move on to a text message on September 2nd of 2016. It’s a series of texts that you exchanged with Agent Strzok. And at one point you text him: Yes, because POTUS wants to know everything we are doing.
Ms. Page. It’s not about the Midyear investigation, [i.e., Hillary email] if that’s the question. It has to do with Russia. It does not have to do with the Clinton investigation at all.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Okay. It does have to do with Russia, the Russia investigation?
Ms. Page. No, not the Russia investigation. It has to do with the broader look at Russian active measures.
Meadows; I think early on, August 5th, there’s the first original what we called at that time the Russia investigation briefing that happened. Peter Strzok comes back from [London], makes it just in time for you to have that. There’s a briefing that occurs on August 8th. And there’s a briefing with Denis McDonough at the White House where Jonathan Moffa and others attended.
Page: But those were not about the Crossfire. To the best of my knowledge those were not —
Meadows: So they had nothing to do with any potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign? That was never mentioned?
Page: Not to my knowledge. It was always about the Russian active measures effort.
And here I have to say that I just am not buying what Lisa Page is selling. All these briefings on Russian "active measures", and yet the evidence is absolutely threadbare? To this point everything appears to be verifiably dossier driven. I simply don't believe that these briefings did not involve Crossfire Hurricane. It was always cover.
In the meantime ...
Christopher Steele was coordinating with Glenn Simpson at Fusion GPS, with Jonathan Winer and Kathleen Kavalec at DoS (who, in turn, we now know, was coordinating with the FBI and others at a high level), with Michael Isikoff at Yahoo! and with the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and CNN.
And yet Steele still had time to meet with Bruce Ohr, and assorted other FBI and DoJ officials in late September or early October, 2016. Strangely--or maybe not--these officials were able to take time off from preparing presidential briefings on Russian interference to pursue the matter of FISA applications in Crossfire Hurricane. Here's how I described the meeting in The FBI: Working Hand In Glove With Clinton Operatives:
When Ohr met Steele again in either late September or early October, 2016 he did so in company with quite a group: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page from the FBI, and three DOJ career officials from the criminal division, Bruce Swartz, Zainab Ahmad, and Andrew Weissman--currently Robert Mueller's deputy. Note that while Crossfire Hurricane was a CI case and Strzok was second in charge of Counterintelligence at the FBI, the DoJ officials were all from the Criminal Division. For prosecutors to meet with an asset at this early stage strongly suggests they were planning strategy. But this also probably means that they were planning for the FISA application, given that the application was submitted on October 21, 2016, immediately after Steele's October 20 report--the report in which Michael Cohen's famous trip to Prague for a "clandestine" meet superseded the clandestine Moscow meet of Carter Page, who was no longer with the Trump campaign. Which leads to the supposition that this meeting with Steele was to tell him, inter alia, that more detailed information was needed for the FISA application--which Steele duly provided, in the form of the now famous Cohen-Prague miscue.
All in all, it's an interesting picture: three officials from DoJ's Criminal Division meeting with the second in command of the FBI's CI division (accompanied by the Deputy Director's counsel) to plan for a FISA on--in effect--a candidate for the presidency. Coaching the asset on what was now needed for the FISA to go through, which would be typical Weissman tactics. And all this without informing the Acting AG, Sally Yates. Or so they say.
Having reviewed much the same data, Dyer concludes:
The date associated with the FBI’s FISA submission on Carter Page was 21 October 2016, three weeks later.
This was top-organized and cannot have been decentralized in operation or decision-making.
The takeaway from this timeline is that during the entire period when these things were happening, a high-level task force was operating under the direct supervision of the Executive Office of the President, with several dozen analysts from the FBI, the CIA, and NSA.
Cognizant officials on the NSC staff, at the State Department, at the Justice Department, at the FBI, and at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the CIA were all aware of what the task force was doing. The FBI, DOJ, and State Department all knew about the Steele dossier.
All of this gives us an interesting take on the now well known Oval Office meeting of January 5, 2017. I suggest that this meeting was, in effect, the last Obama administration Task Force meeting--as well, of course, the first Resistance Task Force meeting. Here's how Dyer describes it:
The meeting [Rice] wrote about occurred immediately after a “briefing by IC leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election.” That means either DNI James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, or their high-level deputies, were present for the briefing. Rice’s email recorded that “President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office. Vice President Biden and I were also present.” It was in this follow-on conversation that the question of sharing information with Trump was discussed.
These are the actors and agencies whose presence clarifies that the “Trump-Russia” topic had the top-level visibility of the Oval Office.
Any suggestion that such centralized visibility didn’t exist cannot be credible. This is not a banal observation; it goes to the heart of the long-running, implicit narrative from Democrats and the media that agencies and officials in the Obama administration had little knowledge of what others were doing, and in particular, that no matter who knew about the Steele dossier, the dossier wasn’t a central document and was never really important.
Yes, it takes us to the heart of the Russia Hoax--it's centralized direction. The meeting involved actors who would soon be gone in a new Trump administration as well as several--notably, Comey and possibly Yates--who might well stay on indefinitely and would thus be in a position to direct the Resistance. In fact, we see that continued coordination of Comey and Yates in the Flynn case. With the Yates and Comey firings the Resistance Task Force appears to come to an end, but it took on vastly greater energy with the appointment of Robert Mueller.
But the Mueller Inquisition, too, has come to an end, and the new AG, Bill Barr, seems determined to conduct a search and destroy mission throughout the Intel Community and, indeed, a major part of the federal bureaucracy, to root out the Resistance. Time is of the essence, however. I don't suggest that anything be rushed, but it would be helpful to see some of those indictments Mark Meadows has been talking about. In the meantime, the preceding timeline may offer a useful context in which to view legal and investigative activity--there are some big fish out there. Everyone is rooting to see someone like Strzok indicted. However, conspirators at his level are probably most useful for their cooperation. Plea deals and debriefings take time.