I hope in this piece to clear up some confusion relating to the specific FISA warrants that covered Mr. Manafort. In order to get to the good stuff first, I am first providing the FISA warrant timeline for Trump Russia, and then offering analysis as to how I draw the conclusions within it.
The Treason Timeline
All links are my own exclusive reporting, which I hope other journalists will ethically acknowledge, as I they confirm my stories, except where noted in the text.
June: FISA warrant sought and denied on Page, Trump, Manafort and Epshteyn
June 9th: Treasonmeeting in Trump Tower. Exclusive by the New York Times. Paul Manafort’s phone hot-miked by GCHQ. Audio and notes of the meeting recovered and given to CIA and NSA. FBI does not listen, no FISA warrant.
June 24th: Scot 24, the Treasonmeeting 2, takes place in Scotland, where Donald Trump finalizes the details of how Cambridge Analytica will launder hacked data from state voter databases and the DNC’s Vertica databases with AI targeting, in order to win the election. It is the day after Brexit, where Russia and Cambridge Analytica had employed similar techniques in Britain
July 6-8: Carter Page takes tape of Trump promising overturning sanctions for help with hacking to Moscow. There is no FISA warrant on Page in July, but multiple foreign intelligence services, including at least the UK, Ukraine and Germany, had hacked and hot-wired Page’s phone.
July 18-22nd: the GOP Convention. Sergei Kislyak is taped offering dirty Russian money to the entire GOP. Reince Priebus and Paul Ryan are among two of those taped accepting it. The FBI places the entire GOP under a RICO investigation. No FISA warrant is needed for these intercepts as U.S. persons were gathered under “incidental collection”
“Late July”: – James Comey states his counterintelligence campaign into Trump and Russia begins. It is also a criminal inquiry, he says.
Summer: (But on or after late July) The Washington Post exclusively reports that Carter Page is made the subject of a FISA warrant “in the summer”. We cannot say for sure that the warrant was granted in July.
Between late July and October, Carter Page doubtless yielded evidence obtained under FISA that servers from Alfa Bank and SVB Bank are instrumental to the hack on the election. Because no warrant is sought on those banks until mid October.
October 7th: the DNI reports that the Russian state hacked the DNC, and that this was authorized by the highest levels of the Russian government; and that a ‘private Russian company had breached 22 states voter databases.
October 15th: – FISA warrants are granted for “Any US Person” connected to two Russian banks, Alfa and SVB Bank, the latter of which has a deal with Sberbank, suspected of money laundering and financial offenses relating to Trump and Russia
I note with caution, because one author of the Washington Post piece, Ellen Nakashima, has been very wrong before when she uncritically reported as a fact what Mike Pence told her on Mike Flynn – that he was not under FBI investigation – that the Post stated that Page was the only direct FISA named target granted in 2016:
Page is the only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe, officials said.
If, and I emphasize IF, the Post was correct on that detail, then Manafort is likely to have been under FISA surveillance based on the two FISA warrants I reported on Nov 7th, concerning SVB Bank and Alfa Bank and their servers’ communications with the Trump Tower and Spectrum Health servers (it was in fact one warrant per bank, I have learned). As a reminder, those warrants were issued for “any US person” in respect of the money laundering offenses ascribed to those two banks.
The October 15th warrant also allowed the FBI to listen for the first time to the intercepts taken by Five Eyes from Manafort’s phone of the Treasonmeeting on June 9th, and to hear the tapes of Carter Page’s meetings in Moscow in early July, provided by friendly foreign intelligence. My story said:
While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons….The warrant was sought, [sources] say, because actionable intelligence on the matter provided by friendly foreign agencies could not properly be examined without a warrant by US intelligence as it involves ‘US Persons’ who come under the remit of the FBI and not the CIA.
Donald Trump’s tweets would tend to confirm this theory – that the Manafort FISA surveillance was carried out under the warrant covering “any US person” in respect to the money laundering of two Russian banks – with his breathless tweets of March 3rd, in which he stated that just before “the very sacred election [sic]’ “my phones” were tapped. Mr. Manafort lives in Trump Tower.
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
Mr. Trump’s tweets certainly fit with the FISA’s granted on October 15th.
I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
Let it be noted that Trump was criminally obstructing justice here, revealing evidence in an ongoing criminal case. I had reported the existence of FISA warrants, not what Director Comey did with them. At that time, I had no knowledge of how Director Comey implemented the permission he received from the court, or on whom.
Nov 8th, 2016 – CNN exclusively reported that on election day, the FBI was monitoring how Russia influenced and orchestrated social media accounts to hack the election, this includes Facebook and Twitter
December 10, 2016 – The Washington Post exclusively reports that the FBI and the CIA differed to lawmakers over Russia’s motives
During a similar Senate Intelligence Committee briefing held the previous week, the CIA’s statements, as reflected in the letter the lawmakers now held in their hands, were “direct and bald and unqualified” about Russia’s intentions to help Trump, according to one of the officials who attended the House briefing.
The FBI official’s remarks to the lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee were, in comparison, “fuzzy” and “ambiguous,” suggesting to those in the room that the bureau and the agency weren’t on the same page, the official said.
December 16 – five days later, the Washington Post exclusively reports the FBI is now in agreement with the CIA that Russia was trying to help Trump. The authors blame lawmakers for giving them a false report of what took place in the House Intelligence Committee:
FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday, as President Obama issued a public warning to Moscow that it could face retaliation.
New revelations about Comey’s position could put to rest suggestions by some lawmakers that the CIA and the FBI weren’t on the same page on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions.
Sources familiar with events speculated that yet another FISA warrant may have been obtained in December between the House hearing and the report of the 16th, allowing the FBI to examine the packet data, or messaging, transferred between the Spectrum Health server and SVB and Alfa Bank’s two servers. Because the Spectrum server could have been transmitting health data information, these sources say, legal protections were higher for it than for the Trump Tower server.
As I exclusively reported, the FBI then discovered that the servers were washing money but also data laundering – targeting the hacked state registration, and DNC Vertical databases, with Cambridge Analytica’s chosen propaganda, and their analytics, to help Mr. Trump cheat his way to the White House.
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Analysis of FISA and Paul Manafort
In November, 2016, I broke the story of the FBI’s investigation into Trump and Russia, contradicting the New York Times (and I, not the New York Times, was correct).
In that piece, published on the eve of the election, I reported that there was a failed application to the FISA court in June 2016 which named Donald Trump and three of his associates. I later reported exclusively that these names were Boris Epshteyn, Carter Page and Paul Manafort.
Some commentators online have suggested my reporting of November was incorrect because a FISA warrant was later granted on Carter Page. However, they were mistaken. The June application on Manafort, Trump, Page and Epshteyn was denied, since it featured Mr. Trump. Sources familiar with the matter have speculated that the tape of Donald Trump that Carter Page took to Moscow, wherein he discusses changing sanctions policy in return for help with hacking the election, may have been recorded without Trump’s consent at the Mayflower Hotel, when all four men were discussing the matter with Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s then Ambassador to the United States. As I exclusively reported, Mr. Kislyak’s phone was hot-miked throughout by an exploit placed upon it by a Five Eyes nation.
Indeed, James Comey testified in April that his counter-intelligence operation into the Trump campaign began in late July, 2016. Therefore, no FISA warrant allowing the FBI access to US persons in this respect had been granted in June 2016.
COMEY: It’s hard to say because I don’t how much longer it will take. But we’ve been doing this — this investigation began in late July, so for a counterintelligence investigation that’s a fairly short period of time.
Other outlets have reported that Carter Page and Paul Manafort were under prior FISA warrants. However, these warrants need renewal. Because the June application, which included both men along with Epshteyn and Trump was rejected, there was no FISA warrant in place for a Trump-Russia investigation until, per Director Comey, late July.
It may be that FISA warrants were granted on both Page and Manafort in late July; we know one was granted on Page in the summer, because of the Washington Post’s exclusive. Late July would post-date Page’s trip to Moscow with the tape of Trump, and coincides with, or immediately post-dates, the GOP Convention, July 18-21 in Cleveland, Ohio.
I exclusively reported at Patribotics that Sergei Kislyak was hot-miked at the GOP Convention agreeing to wash money into the GOP; that the entire GOP was thereafter under a RICO case, and that Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, was on intercepts with Kislyak agreeing to accept dirty Russian money into the campaign. No FISA warrant would have been needed for this recording, as Ambassador Kislyak is a foreign national. The U.S. persons on those tapes were collected under ‘incidental collection’.
It is quite probable therefore that Page certainly, and possibly also Manafort, were directly targeted in a warrant dated “late July” , after the GOP Convention concluded and they were taped with the Ambassador.
Although the next story was reported by me earlier, the event it describes was later – October, 2016. Knowing, from the recordings made of Sergei Kislyak at the Convention, that Trump, Ryan and Reince Priebus had all agreed to accept laundered Russian money to assist in hacking and influencing the election, James Comey then sought FISA warrants on how this was being done – through Alfa Bank, which sent Trump Russia’s money, and SVB Bank, which had its own server, communicating with the Trump and Spectrum Health servers, and which sent the Trump campaign the Cambridge Analytica targeting for the hacked state voter databases, which, I exclusively reported, the Trump and Spectrum servers were washing hourly with Alfa Bank.
I reported that the two FISA warrants on SVB Bank and Alfa Bank granted by FISC to the FBI to surveil ‘any US person’ in conjunction with financial and banking offenses that connected to Russia were granted in October.
the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October ….
The FISA warrant was granted in connection with the investigation of suspected activity between the server and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank. However, it is thought in the intelligence community that the warrant covers any ‘US person’ connected to this investigation, and thus covers Donald Trump and at least three further men who have either formed part of his campaign or acted as his media surrogates.
Paul Wood of the BBC later clarified that date as October 15th. Wood also confirmed my reporting that the FISA warrants covered Trump and the three associates I later named as Page, Manafort and Epshteyn:
On 15 October, the US secret intelligence court issued a warrant to investigate two Russian banks….
ultimately, the investigation is looking for transfers of money from Russia to the United States, each one, if proved, a felony offence.
A lawyer- outside the Department of Justice but familiar with the case – told me that three of Mr Trump’s associates were the subject of the inquiry. “But it’s clear this is about Trump,” he said.
McClatchy DC later confirmed Wood’s exclusive that a six-agency financial task force had begun earlier than the FBI’s specific counter-intelligence and criminal investigation; it also confirmed the FISA warrant.
The BBC reported that the FBI had obtained a warrant on Oct. 15 from the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing investigators access to bank records and other documents about potential payments and money transfers related to Russia. One of McClatchy’s sources confirmed the report.
Indeed, Mr. Comey appears to have chosen his language carefully. Although he dates a targeted Trump-Russia counterintelligence investigation from July, 2016, which, I presume, was when his first FISA warrant was granted in connection with Trump’s campaign and Russia specifically, his later testimony
also said that he became aware of Russians hacking America’s politics in late summer 2015:
BURR: Okay. When did you become aware of the cyber intrusion?
COMEY: The first cyber — there was all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. The first Russian-connected cyber intrusion I became aware of in the late summer of 2015.
I shall have more on what Director Comey described there in a later story.
I have, however, also reported that Mr. Manafort’s phone was hot-miked in an exploit placed upon it by GCHQ (other nations had also hacked Mr. Manafort’s phone) and that not only did it record everything at the Treasonmeeting on June 9th, but that the ‘notes’ on Mr. Manafort’s phone were taken from this exploit and that the FBI and Justice Department have those notes and recordings.
This complements my prior reporting. Until he obtained his FISA warrant in October on the two banks, Director Comey could not listen to the evidence that other US intelligence agencies had heard long before.
However (again), I reported exclusively in the spring that at least six FISA warrants had been granted in Trump-Russia. Sources close to the matter indicate that at the Treasonmeeting, the Russians present used the word ‘adoption’ as fairly obvious code for ‘sanctions’.
CNN’s story may inadvertently mislead readers, although it is correct in its reporting as written. It states:
The FBI wasn’t listening in June 2016, the sources said, when Donald Trump Jr. led a meeting that included Manafort, then campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, with a Russian lawyer who had promised negative information on Hillary Clinton.
That is precisely right, but GCHQ and other allied nations were listening, and once a broader FISA warrant was obtained, this recorded evidence was passed to the FBI. The notes taken from Mr. Manafort’s phone were also obtained from this same exploit. Precisely like Sergei Kislyak, Paul Manafort, had he only known it, was ‘wearing a wire’ throughout the 2016 campaign. The FBI only reviewed that evidence once a FISA warrant covering Manafort was obtained. CNN’s story says of the audio that exists in that respect:
Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.
I am not sure whether CNN’s sources have filled them in on, or are aware, of the entire picture. But I note that in December – which is after October, as the eagle-eyed among you will note – the FBI suddenly appeared to “change its mind” over whether Russian hacking into the election, propaganda warfare, and so on, was done to benefit Donald Trump directly. Having not joined the CIA and NSA in their assessment of this, the FBI suddenly turned around and said “Yes, we agree the Russians were trying to help Donald Trump”.
This is because, sources with knowledge believe, without certainty, that a further FISA warrant was obtained in December for the FBI to examine evidence the NSA had provided on encrypted communications, passed by iodine Xfer transfer, between the Russian bank servers and servers within Trump Tower and Spectrum Health, the company connected to Betsy De Vos and her brother Erik Prince. That was a refinement of the October warrant, because a health care company was used by the traitors since health data has high levels of protection under US law. To examine the packets – what was being sent to Moscow – the FBI had to demonstrate to the FISC court, which they successfully did in December, that what was being sent back and forth was not in fact ‘health data’ on Americans, but rather was encrypted messages between the traitors of the Trump campaign and their paymasters in Moscow.
As soon as that FISA warrant was granted, and James Comey was able legally to read the messages that the CIA and NSA already knew about, the FBI “suddenly” changed its mind on Russia’s intentions with Trump. As I reported on Nov 7th, 2016, when breaking the story of the FBI’s investigation into Trump and Russia, Director Comey was always concerned from the start of his work to ensure that criminal prosecutions had a basis of evidence that was legally obtained and legally read by the FBI.