Judge Sets Nov. 5 For Stone Trial, Refrains From Gag Sanction


A federal judge on Thursday scheduled for Nov. 5 Roger Stone's trial on charges that he tried to learn about stolen Democratic Party emails in 2016 at the direction of a senior but unnamed Trump campaign official and then illegally tried to keep those actions secret.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, presiding in Washington, DC, focused heavily on scheduling issues and refrained from sanctions for Stone's most recent alleged violation of her pre-trial gag order -- his republication of a book that sharply criticizes Special Counsel Robert S. robert mueller full face fileMueller III (left) and his probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The focus on planning for a trial expected to take two weeks and on the media clamor that Stone has generated tends to obscure the still-myserious drama at the core of the case:

Democratic Party secrets, some of them embarrassing and otherwise deeply harmful to the 2016 campaign, were systematically released by WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, thereby deflating the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (right).

hillary clinton buttonThe overall impact was thus to benefit the campaigns of Trump and other Republicans.

Stone, who once seemed to brag about that process and his overall reputation as an effective political operative for decades willing to do what's necessary to win, has recently been portraying himself as a victim. 

"I now find myself on Crooked Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's hit list because I've advised Donald Trump for the past forty years," Stone wrote in the book's introduction. "Clearly, I was targeted for strictly political reasons."

Mueller is a Republican career prosecutor who was nominated to become FBI Director in 2001 by Republican President Bush and to become special counsel by Trump. For those reasons, his defenders reject claims that the probe is partisan or otherwise unfairly anti-Trump.

The Justice Integrity Project attended the hearing. We observed that Stone, 66 (shown in a screenshot from TV interview), arrived shortly before the scheduled 9:30 a.m. hearing time and did not start through the security process until 9:34 a.m. The judge made no comment about the delay in the hearing's beginning.

The status hearing to plan pretrial issues occurred a day after the judge had sentenced 2016 Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Stone's former GOP lobbying partner during the 1980s, to a 7 1/2-year prison term for fraud, failing to register as a foreign agent, and obstruction of justice.

Manafort's term included 47 months of a concurrent sentence imposed by a Virginia federal court judge for Manafort's massive tax and bank fraud schemes extending for the most part from 2006 to 2016. Some criminal conduct occurred in 2017 and 2018.

amy berman jackson roger stoneOn Feb. 21, Jackson forbade Stone, President Trump's longtime friend and advisor, from publicly discussing his pending case after she told him that she did not believe his explanation of why he broadcast on the social media channel Instagram a photo of her with "crosshairs" next to her head.

Stone distributed the photo (shown at right) along with text implying that his judge was politically biased. The text also denounced Mueller's probe, which had resulted in Stone's indictment in January on seven felony charges relating to WikiLeaks' release of emails stolen in 2016 from the Democratic Party.

Last month, Stone received a stern warning and a tightened gag order from the judge after he apologized for the Instagram message, removed it from public view and said that he had not focused on the symbol at top left in the photo, which Stone characterized as a "Celtic cross" -- and not a symbol for a rifle's crosshairs.

Whatever the case, the "Celtic cross" has been adopted a symbol by some ultra-right organizations and the threat of murder against federal judges or other officials by disturbed, ultra-right Americans is far from theoretical.

Dangerous History

Former Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen reported on the scope of danger facing public officials in a Feb. 20 column Stone's threatening federal judge no laughing matter. "Since 1979,"  Madsen wrote, "four federal judges have been assassinated and the disabled husband and mother of another judge were murdered in an unsuccessful targeted assassination of the judge."

Madsen has reported on many assassinations and threats, including those generated by the alt-right. For example, he documented in his 2018 Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) column Shooter targeting Annapolis Capital-Gazette is an anti-press paranoid and Trump supporter how alt-right messaging appears vital to understanding the actions of an accused killer of five newspaper reporters.

Madsen's subscription-only column about Stone's implied threats, excerpted here with permission, continued:

In 2007, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the same bench on which Berman Jackson serves, asked to be removed from the case involving Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called DC Madam, whose clientele list included some of Washington's most powerful political movers and shakers.

WMR's sources reported at the time that Kessler had been threatened because she showed an interest in revealing the "johns" on Palfrey's list of customers.

Palfrey gave Madsen her records showing about 20,000 phone calls from customers and told him some names that have never yet surfaced aside from his reporting. After her conviction before a new judge who resisted defense efforts to call "johns" as defense witnesses she was found dead by hanging in her mother's tool shed. Madsen does not believe the official finding that she killed herself.

Regarding the Stone case, Madsen's column quoted from the indictment (page 20) as follows regarding an alleged email on April 9, 2018:: 

The witness tampering charge against Stone stems from a threatening email he sent to Randy Credico, a New York media gadfly and comic.

The email to Credico stated: "You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds." In addition, Stone wrote, "I’m going to take that dog away from you," a reference to Credico's therapy dog. Stone also wrote, "Prepare to die cock sucker."

In the wake of Stone's actions, some commentators had predicted that the trial judge Jackson would increase restrictions on Stone Thursday and perhaps jail him pretrial for not informing the court that his book publisher, Skyhorse, was reissuing in paperback one of his books under the new title The Myth of Russian Collusion, accompanied by a new introduction.

Jackson repeated her earlier warning about the need to restrict comments to court filings in order to preserve the right to an unbiased jury. Stone and his allies have sought to portray him, like Trump, as a victim in the proceeding.  

"There is no question that the order prohibited and continues to prohibit the defendant from making any public statements, using any medium, concerning the investigation," the judge wrote Stone last week after revelation of the book's availability.

Mountain of Evidence

Stone pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is free on bail following his arrest in January during a predawn raid on his home in Florida.

amy berman jacksonOn Thursday in court, the judge, 64, shown in a file photo, set the trial date in November because the case involves so much seized evidence that the defense must study.

Prosecutors said in court that they have turned over nine terabytes of data to the defense team so far.

"We could pile it as high as the Washington monument twice" if the electronic data were printed out onto paper, said Stone's attorney, Robert Buschel.

Jackson said that she has not formally ruled on whether Stone broke his gag order.

Jeannie Rhee, a prosecutor on the Mueller team, said that Stone's book has been available online since Feb. 19 and that Stone's publisher notified him and a member of his defense team that most of between 13,000 to 14,000 copies of his book had been shipped to stores last month, but the copies had “not been selling particularly well so far.”

Rhee said that the emails seem to contradict Stone’s claim that he did not communicate with his publisher after the gag order and could not remember when the books became available.

“I don’t intend to dwell on it this morning,” the judge said of the gag order. “I really have not had the opportunity . . . to study the exhibits in any detail so I will continue to review them and decide if I have any questions."

The Bigger Picture

The charges against Stone are part of a broader investigation into how internal emails were stolen from the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chairman John Podesta in 2016 -- and then released in batches wikileaks logo2by WikiLeaks, thereby causing major disruptions to Democrats' efforts to craft effective campaign messages prior to that year's elections.

Stone, his onetime friend and fellow Trump supporter Jerome Corsi, an author and pundit, and Trump are among those who made statements predicting or encouraging release of Democratic documents.

dnc horizontal logoPrevious indictments in the case have alleged that Russian intelligence operatives hacked the documents. Some Trump supporters or security experts dispute the government view, as in an open letter, Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings, to the U.S. Attorney General published by Consortium News on March 13. 

But leading U.S. government agencies have asserted that Russian intelligence compromised electronic communications, a chronology further amplified by such 2018 books as Russian Roulette by Michael Isakoff and David Corn and House of Trump, House of Putin by Craig Unger.

The charges against Stone are narrowly drawn and leave for another day a narrative in public of how precisely documents from Democratic campaigners found their way to the public via WikiLeaks, a transparency organization founded by the Australian-born former computer programmer and hacker Assange.

Assange is shown in a graphic portraying some of the WikiLeaks disclosures in the fall of the 2016 election season and known as an "October Surprise."

julian assange with un header

Assange, WikiLeaks and Manning

As background: Ecuador's embassy in London has housed Assange since August 2012 after it granted him political asylum.

Sweden had mounted a remarkable effort in cooperation with the United Kingdom to re-question him regarding claims of sexual misbehavior from two Swedish women who separately invited Assange to sleep with them while he visited their country in August 2010 to give a speech.

One of the women, Sofia Wilen, disappeared from public view shortly after making the charges, fostering suspicions that Assange had been targeted in a honeytrap operation enabled in part by a complicit mainstream media in Sweden and elsewhere.

Martin Fredriksson WikimediaMore evidence for that suspicion came from revelation in March 2016 that Martin Fredriksson (shown at left), a prize-winning Swedish journalist noted for his left-wing, pro-NATO and anti-WikiLeaks commentary was a paid agent of Säpo, his nation's security service.

Assange, 47, denied wrongdoing and Sweden never filed any formal charges filed against him although the innuendoes of sex crime have long smeared his reputation.

Our Justice Integrity Project has written extensively since late 2010 Swedish claims against Assange and the sub-rosa involvement of U.S. intelligence assets and those linked to both the Democrat Hillary Clinton and the Republican Karl Rove.

The Huffington Post published our first story in December 2010, Rove Suspected In Swedish-U.S. Political Prosecution of WikiLeaks, revealed that the former Bush White House strategist and dirty tricks expert Rove was by then serving as an official advisor to Sweden's prime minister.

This was at the same time in the summer of 2010 that Rove had called during a Fox News appeanced for Assange's public hanging for releasing documents. WikiLeaks reached global attention in 2010 by publishing leaks provided by Chelsea Manning, a U.S. Army soldier disillusioned by wartime secrets, including what many regard as war crimes, cover-ups and official hypocrisy.

The blatently unfair Swedish legal and smear campaign against Assange, now documented fully elsewhere, led us to the conclusion that the case smacked of a political intrigue to frame him for the purpose of shutting down WikiLeaks, which began in 2006.

The 2010 leaks were drawn from nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents taken by Manning. They included what came to be known as the Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and CableGate (November 2010).

Following the 2010 leaks, the federal government of the United States launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and asked allied nations for assistance against him. U.S. authorities also convicted Manning on espionage charges. Manning, born Bradley Manning before a sex and name change, was imprisoned between 2010 and 2017, with release from a much longer term via pardon by President Obama.

In 2017, Sweden dropped its investigation of Assange, ostensibly because of expirations of relevant statutes of limitations but doubtless also because of the enormous costs and simmering public opposition to such an unprecedented investigation.

We have reached no decisive conclusion in the current probe because much of the evidence is still missing or sharply contested, as we noted during an hour-long radio interview about WikiLeaks on March 15. The show was The Whistleblower Newsroom, hosted by commentators Kristina Borjesson and Celia Farber, on the Progressive Radio Network. 

Current Probes

Julian Assange IndicterRegarding the current investigations, Assange (shown at right in a file photo) has said he was acting legally as a journalist in publishing the Democrats' private materials. He has repeatedly denied any connection to or cooperation with Russia in relation to the leaks.

Court records inadvertently revealed that U.S. authorities have obtained a sealed indictment against him in Virginia's federal court for unknown charges.

UK authorities say that they will seize Assange on charges of breaching his bail conditions whenever he leaves Ecuador's embassy, thereby subjecting him to risk of extradition to the United States. Ecuador's government has been intensely pressured by the United States over Assange and has indicated that it wants him to leave soon. A United Nations body, meanwhile, ruled in 2016 that the UK's actions forcing Assange's confinement constituted a human rights violation.

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning this month has been ordered imprisoned in Virginia for refusing to cooperate in a grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks.

Other witnesses in the case include the conservative pundit Corsi and the New York radio host and comic Credico, each of whom has accused Stone of threatening them if their comments did not support Stone's version of events regarding WikiLeaks.

Truth-Telling, Justice and History

Last week's status hearing on the Stone indictment turned out to focus largely on procedural matters, not the kinds of fireworks that generate headlines. 

But that makes this juncture all the more reason to evaluate the overall process going forward.

This reporter's years in Washington have generated acquaintainceships with a number of the leading players in the background of the Stone prosecution. These include the defendant Stone, Jerome Corsi, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, and (via email communications) Assange attorneys. One advocate has also copied me (along with others) many times via group emails without my encouragement to members of Mueller's prosecution team, occasionally including one of my articles. Prosecutors have not responded to such emails.

Those well-known names underscore the intense partisan, patriotic and civil rights themes in the background of this case. To mention just a few: 

Stone and his defenders seek to wrap his defense into the larger pro-Trump movement.

But many Democrats believe just as fervantly that Stone's prosecution represents just desserts for his long career as an operative who allegedly played a particularly pivotal role, in ways still largely unknown to the public, in allowing the Trump campaign to maximize impact from the Democratic documents released by WikiLeaks and win the 2016 Electoral College vote.

Passionate advocates include also those committed to antiwar, free press, free elections or privacy as paramont concerns.

Several of those values confict with each other. Thus, some strong proponents of the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign continue to detest Clinton and Democratic National Committee so much that they applaud Assange's document release, however it occurred and whatever the consequences on the election. Sanders himself, by contrast, urged his followers to defeat Trump.

Was exposing Democratic hypocrisy during the primary season worth the general election results? Even if a pro-Sanders or anti-Clinton advocate might think so, what would be the reaction if roles were reversed and one's own favorite organization were hacked and all its secrets exposed by its opponents?

We have a justice system to monitor such matters. But what if there are doubts about the justice system?

friedrich nietzscheAs a guiding light, I recommend an extended essay The Use and Abuse of History by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900, shown at right).

A now-tattering copy of the essay bought from my undergraduate days remains within arm's reach for handy reference.

In the essay, the German historian challenged conventional wisdom in a number of ways, including what most would regard as the obvious virtue in "truth-telling" or more precisely (for historical and journalistic purposes), revelation of secrets.

In Part IV of the essay, Nietzsche challenges us all not simply to reveal the secrets of our enemies but to combine any such revelations with a sincere desire for "justice." He defines justice as a process which facts are evaluated according to a truly fair application of law, regardless of whether the end result helps one's friends or opponents.

Such a process is rare but worth respecting.

"Thus," he wrote, "the world seems to be full of men who 'serve truth' and yet the virtue of justice is seldom present, more seldom known, and more often mortally hated....and so, when one speaks to men of truth and justice they will ever be troubled by doubt whether it be the fanatic or the judge who is speaking to them."    

In the Stone case, the judge methodically reached agreements from both sides for a timetable for argument and evidence briefs, with the next status conference for April 30. The process continues.


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Related News Coverage


March 15

Progressive Radio Network, The Whistleblower Newsroom, hosted by commentators Kristina Borjesson and Celia Farber with guest Andrew Kreig (Justice Integrity Project editor, and an author, attorney and commentator), March 15, 2019.The show discussed the federal prosecution of longtime Donald Trump friend and ally Roger Stone, plus related issues surrounding the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

March 14

cnn logoCNN, Judge sets November 5 trial date for Roger Stone, Katelyn Polantz, Sara Murray and Marsh, March 14, 2019. Roger Stone will go to trial in early November in Washington on charges that he lied about his efforts to secretly contact WikiLeaks in 2016, a federal judge decided Thursday. The longtime Donald Trump adviser's trial is now scheduled to start November 5 and is likely to last about two weeks, said Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court in DC.

Roger Stone's lawyers seek to move past judge's gag order concerns. But a question of whether Stone broke his gag order -- with the 2019 release of his book about the 2016 election in which he attacked the Mueller investigation -- has hung over his recent proceedings.

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone trial set for Nov. 5 as judge weighs whether his book violated gag order, Spencer S. Hsu, March 14, 2019. A federal judge set a Nov. 5 trial date for Roger Stone on charges of lying to Congress and obstructing justice in a Thursday hearing where she also postponed any decision of whether a new book by the longtime GOP operative and Trump confidant violated a gag order in his case.

On Monday, Stone’s attorneys, led by Bruce S. Rogow of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., denied using the filing to spike interest in the book, which had been available online since Feb. 19, before the gag order, they noted.

March 13

Consortium News, Opinion: VIPS: Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), March 13, 2019. The final Mueller report should be graded “incomplete,” says VIPS, whose forensic work proves the speciousness of the story that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking.

March 10

washington post logoWashington Post, Next judge to sentence Manafort has already been thrust onto national stage, Spencer S. Hsu​, March 10, 2019 (print ed.). The next paul manafort abc flickr Customfederal judge to sentence former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has already been thrust onto the national stage during the year-long run of special counsel cases. Manafort is shown as campaign manager in a 2016 file photo.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, set to decide Wednesday whether she will add prison time for Manafort, is the same judge who was recently in the spotlight for the Roger Stone case (by being prosecuted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team).

She comes primed for her role by three decades as an attorney and judge dissecting sensitive political corruption and white-collar criminal cases in the nation’s capital.

The Baltimore-born daughter of a U.S. Army-trained physician, Jackson, 64, earned bachelor’s and law degrees from Harvard University. She prosecuted violent and sex crimes at the U.S. attorney’s office in the District for six years, then in 1986 joined a law firm that became part of Venable.

March 4

TPM, Roger Stone’s Request About His Book That Ticked Off His Judge, Tierney Sneed, March 4, 2019. Roger Stone wants to know if a book he wrote, which has recently been retitled The Myth of Russian Collusion, will get him in trouble under the gag order in his case, a court filing posted Monday revealed.

The filing is the redacted version of a request Stone previously made under seal in his case, in which he asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson how the book, which was re-published under the new title last month, squares with the gag order she imposed in the case.

In a new introduction to the book, Stone suggested that special counsel Robert Mueller was going to “frame” him on “bogus” charges in order to “silence me or induce me to testify against the president.” He also accuses the Obama administration of spying on and infiltrating the Trump campaign and then fabricating the “Russian collusion myth” to distract from their own misdeeds.

roger stone who framed roger stone coverThe judge has already signaled her annoyance at Stone for not raising this issue sooner. On Friday, while the original request was still under seal, she issued an order demanding that he explain why he didn’t bring the book to her attention at the hearing where she imposed the gag order banning him from commenting on his case or on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation more broadly.

According Stone’s filing, the book was re-released on Feb. 19, after Stone had the month prior apparently submitted an updated introduction to be included in the new edition. Mentions of the introduction appear to be redacted in Stone’s filing. However, prosecutors on Monday filed their own notice that said an “updated Introduction” was what was referenced in Stone’s request.

When Berman Jackson announced the gag order she went through several examples of public commentary Stone would no longer be allowed make, carving out exceptions only for the promotion of his legal defense fund and for declarations of his innocence.

Minutes after the Stone filing was posted publicly to the docket Monday, prosecutors filed a notice of their own that included under seal screenshots of an online preview of the book that include the updated introduction.

The prosecutors also filed under seal a screenshot from an image posted to Roger Stone’s Instagram account (and later taken down) with his photo under the banner “who framed Roger Stone.” The image is shown above at right.


Feb. 28

Law & Crime, ‘A Criminal Proceeding Is Not a Free for All’: Stone Judge Tells Corsi and Klayman to Take a Hike, Matt Naham, Feb. 28, 2019. The judge in Roger Stone‘s case has told right-wing author Jerome Corsi and his attorney Larry Klayman that “a criminal proceeding is not a free for all.” These were Judge Amy Berman Jackson‘s words in a Thursday minute order telling Corsi and Klayman that granting them leave to file an amicus brief did not mean permission to “inform the Court of facts that he wished to bring to the Court’s attention on an ongoing basis.”

Corsi publicly claimed as recently as Wednesday that Stone “through these or other means, continued to harass and threaten me and my family to try to intimidate and coerce me not to tell the truth if I am called by the Special Counsel at his criminal trial.”

Corsi claimed he spotted two unidentified individuals “lingering” in front of his and his stepson’s house “for no apparent reason.” He claimed it was as if “they were watching us and threatening us.” They also attempted to get the judge to look into this.

On Thursday, Judge Jackson (left) told Corsi and Klayman they have no business bothering her with this, and they should take all this stuff to prosecutors if it’s “legitimate.”

Feb. 22

Justice Integrity Project, Judge Tightens Stone Gag Order After His 'Crosshairs' Threat, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 22, 2019. A federal judge on Thursday forbade former Trump advisor Roger Stone from publicly discussing his pending obstruction of justice case after she told him that she did not believe his explanation of why he broadcast on Monday a photo of her with "crosshairs" next to her head.

Stone, a longtime GOP political operative, used the social media channel Instagram to distribute the photo (show at right) along with text implying that his judge was politically biased and denouncing Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe, which had resulted in Stone's indictment on seven felony charges in January.

Presiding in a courthouse in downtown Washington, DC, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone that she was giving him one last chance to comply with her obligation on federal bail law to protect public safety and fair trial rights. She warned that she would jail him pre-trial if he violates again the conditions of his release on a $250,000 bond.

Berman's ruling came during a tense hearing in front of a packed courtroom that included Stone's wife, Nydia, and daughter, Adria, both residents of Florida.

Afterward, two strong supporters of Stone and Trump in attendance privately described to this reporter their sense that the judge's ruling was fair — and that he was very fortunate to escape bond revocation given the overall circumstances, including the judge's expressed disbelief at some of Stone's explanations for his behavior.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge bars Roger Stone from speaking about criminal case, Rachel Weiner and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Feb. 22, 2019 (print edition). A federal judge on Thursday ordered that longtime Republican operative and Trump confidant Roger Stone may not speak publicly about the investigation or case against him.

Roger Stone and “I’m not giving you another chance,” Jackson told Stone (shown with the cover his book on Trump). “I have serious doubts whether you’ve learned any lesson at all.”

If he violates the order in any way, Jackson warned that she would order him to jail.

The judge, who sounded flabbergasted by Stone’s explanations, rejected his claim that the image was not meant to be threatening.

“Roger Stone knows full well the power of words and the power of symbols. “There is nothing ambiguous about crosshairs,” she said. “If the judge’s appearance alone was important to convey some message . . . a perfectly neutral photograph can be found on the court’s website.”

Feb. 20

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Stone's threatening federal judge no laughing matter, Wayne Madsen,. Feb. 20, 2019 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). Longtime Donald Trump adviser and political dirty trickster Roger Stone may have finally pulled off his last stunt.

Feb. 18

Stone Puts His Judge In 'Crosshairs'

roger stone fox news

Raw Story, Roger Stone lashes out at federal judge with threatening picture of her next to crosshairs, Eric W. Dolan, Feb. 18, 2019. Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone (shown in a file photo) on Monday attacked the federal judge presiding over his criminal case in the special counsel’s Russia probe. In an Instagram post, Stone lashed out at U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson (shown at right).

amy berman jackson roger stone“Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges again Hillary Clinton [sic] and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime,” he wrote. Stone then asked for donations.

The Guardian’s Jon Swaine noted that the picture Stone posted on Instagram (shown at right) placed crosshairs next to Jackson’s head.

Last week, Jackson prohibited Stone from commenting on the case near the Washington, D.C., courthouse. But he remains otherwise free to discuss his situation. However, Jackson has warned that she could amend the limited gag order in the future if necessary.

“This is completely out of bounds. The cross hairs will likely lead prosecutors to ask for revocation of his pre-trial release. At best, this is a cheap stunt designed to get the judge to recuse, at worst, an outright threat,” former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance said.

Feb. 16

Guardian, Roger Stone: Mueller Discloses Evidence Trump Adviser Communicated With WikiLeaks, Feb. 16, 2019. Stone says evidence is ‘innocuous Twitter direct messages’ that prove ‘absolutely nothing.’ The US special counsel, Robert Mueller, disclosed for the first time on Friday that his office has evidence of communications between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks related to the release of hacked Democratic party emails.

robert mueller full face fileIn a court filing on Friday, Mueller’s office said it had gathered that evidence in a separate inquiry into Russian intelligence officers who were charged by Mueller with hacking the emails during the 2016 US presidential campaign and staging their release.

In an email criticising media coverage of Mueller’s filing on Friday, Stone, a longtime associate of Donald Trump, said the evidence was “innocuous Twitter direct messages” that have already been disclosed to the House Intelligence Committee and “prove absolutely nothing”.

Also on Friday, a federal judge placed some limits on what Stone and his lawyers can say publicly about his criminal case brought by the special counsel in the Russia investigation.

Stone was indicted last month for lying to Congress about his communications with others about the hacked emails. Mueller did not say at the time that he had evidence of communications with WikiLeaks. Stone, an ally of Trump for 40 years, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Stone has previously acknowledged brief exchanges with WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 but maintains he never had advance knowledge about the release of hacked emails.

But Friday marked the first time Mueller indicated he had obtained related evidence, although it remained unclear if the evidence is more substantial than what is publicly known.

Feb. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge in Roger Stone case warns she might impose gag order, Spencer S. Hsu, Paul Duggan and Matt Zapotosky, Feb. 1, 2019. The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against longtime Trump friend Roger Stone said Friday she is considering whether to impose a gag order after Stone went on a week-long media blitz to discuss the allegations against him.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, left, told prosecutors and Stone’s attorneys to file any opposition to such a directive by next Friday. Stone, a political operative who relishes media attention, has said he worries about a possible gag order because his career is in speaking and writing.

Jackson’s comment came as Stone returned to federal court in Washington on Friday for a scheduling hearing after pleading not guilty this week to charges in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

roger stone mirror portrait SmallThe judge said that Stone might have been justified in making his position clear after his arrest but added that she needed to ensure he received a fair trial.

“This is a criminal proceeding, not a public-relations campaign,” Jackson said, threatening to cut off public comments by parties and attorneys about the case. “I believe it’s better for counsel and parties to do their talking in pleadings, not on courthouse steps, not on the talk show circuit.”


 Jan. 31 

jerome corsi screenshot 2018 09 06

RightWingWatch, Jerome Corsi and Larry Klayman Threaten to Sue Gateway Pundit, Jared Holt, Jan. 31, 2019. Jerome Corsi (shown above in a recent screenshot) and one of his lawyers are waging threats to sue against The Gateway Pundit, an outlet that has been overwhelmingly supportive of Corsi before he began singing to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators in the Justice Department probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Corsi admits that he corroborated evidence that the Mueller team had involving the interactions he had with Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, who was arraigned on Tuesday, with regard to the WikiLeaks dumps of emails hacked from the Clinton campaign by Russian intelligence operatives.

Larry Klayman, the estranged founder of Judicial Watch who is representing Corsi as he processes through Mueller’s probe, appeared on NewsmaxTV yesterday with host John Cardillo to spar with Gateway Pundit contributor Cassandra Fairbanks, who had taken to Twitter the day before to call Corsi “a deranged old man,” and to criticize Mueller for taking information from him. Corsi is also represented by New Jersey attorney David Gray.

Jan. 29

Daily Beast, How the Proud Boys Became Roger Stone’s Personal Army, Kelly Weill, Jan. 29, 2019. The dirty trickster started his initiation last year. Now the ‘Western chauvinist’ group has his back against Mueller and the media. When Roger Stone waived his Nixonian salute on the steps of a federal courthouse in Florida last week following his arrest on the orders of Robert Mueller, he was joined by some unusual supporters: the Proud Boys.

On Tuesday, Stone was arraigned in a Washington, D.C. courthouse on charges he lied about dealings with WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign in 2016. Stone has spent the past two years as the most outlandish character in the Trump-Russia saga, with his colorful quotes and flamboyant wardrobe. At the same time, he’s grown tighter with the violent ultra-nationalist group, hiring them as security and participating in the group’s videos—even repeating its slogan.

With Trumpworld distancing itself from Stone, it was up to Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio to defend him.

“This whole investigation started with the Russia collusion thing. These charges today are just obstruction, nothing to do with that… I believe nothing’s gonna come of it. I believe some of it is manufactured,” Tarrio told The Daily Beast in Florida on Friday.

On Tuesday morning in D.C., a handful of Proud Boys gathered outside, holding signs “Roger Stone did nothing wrong” and promoting InfoWars. The Proud Boys got in arguments with Stone hecklers and were separated by police.

The Proud Boys are a neo-fascist group that glorifies violence against opponents, particularly on the left. Designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group and its members have been involved in a series of bloody brawls across the country over the past three years, leading to the recent departure of founder Gavin McInnes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Who's been charged in Mueller-linked probes, and why, Julie Vitkovskaya, Samuel Granados, Kevin Uhrmacher and Aaron Williams, Updated, Jan. 29, 2019 (Graphic). Thirty-five people, including 26 Russian nationals, have been charged by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in the ongoing probe of possible Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election and in other related cases. Here’s what we know about the charges and who is involved.

Jan. 26

roger stone cnn breitbart

Longtime Trump friend and advisor Roger J. Stone (shown on a file photo screengrab from a 2015 CNN interview)

ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone, a Trump Confidant, Is Defiant Even Under Indictment, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 26, 2019 (print edition). Mr. Stone, who was indicted on Friday, has tried to write himself into history since he worked on the re-election campaign of President Richard M. Nixon, whose face is tattooed between his shoulder blades.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller charges Stone, striking deep inside Trump’s inner circle, Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman, Lori Rozsa and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Jan. 26, 2019 (print edition). The indictment of Roger Stone, a longtime friend of President Trump, goes further than the special counsel ever has toward answering the core question of his probe: Did Trump or those close to him try to conspire with the Kremlin?

robert mueller full face fileIn charging Stone, Mueller (right) has struck deep inside Trump’s inner circle. The indictment charges that Stone, a seasoned Republican political operative, sought to gather information about hacked Democratic Party emails at the direction of an unidentified senior Trump campaign official and engaged in extensive efforts to keep secret the details of those actions.

The 24-page document goes further than Mueller ever has toward answering the core question of his probe: Did Trump or those close to him try to conspire with the Kremlin? The indictment notes that before Stone’s alleged actions in the summer of 2016, the Democratic National Committee announced it had been hacked by Russian government operatives, implying that Stone must have known that.

It does not allege Stone conspired with anyone but suggests his mission was to find out how the stolen material would be made public — something that, on its own, would not necessarily constitute a crime.

Indicting Stone caps one of the special counsel’s longest pursuits since his appointment in May 2017, but it remains uncertain whether Mueller is nearing the end of his investigation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Mueller’s Real Target in the Roger Stone Indictment, Julian Sanchez (senior fellow at the Cato Institute), Jan. 26, 2019. It was probably not Stone himself, but rather his electronic devices. For many, Friday’s arrest of Roger Stone, the veteran political trickster and longtime adviser to Donald Trump, was a sign that the special counsel investigation into Russian electoral interference is entering its final phase. Yet there were also several indications that the probe may not be as near its conclusion as many observers assume — and that the true target of Friday’s F.B.I. actions was not Mr. Stone himself, but his electronic devices.

fbi logoMr. Stone’s early-morning arrest at his Florida home unsurprisingly dominated coverage, but reports also noted that federal agents were “seen carting hard drives and other evidence from Mr. Stone’s apartment in Harlem, and his recording studio in South Florida was also raided.” The F.B.I., in other words, was executing search warrants, not just arrest warrants.

The indictment itself — which charges Mr. Stone with witness tampering, obstruction of justice and false statements to Congress — takes little imagination to translate into a search warrant application, and also hints at what Robert Mueller might be looking for. In describing the lies it alleges Mr. Stone told a House committee, the document places great emphasis on Mr. Stone’s denial that he had any written communications with two associates — associates with whom he had, in fact, regularly exchanged emails and text messages. That’s precisely the sort of behavior one might focus on in seeking to convince a recalcitrant judge that an investigative target could not be trusted to turn over documents in response to a subpoena, requiring the more intrusive step of seizing Mr. Stone’s devices directly.

Though it’s not directly relevant to his alleged false statements, the special counsel is taking pains to establish that Mr. Stone made a habit of moving sensitive conversations to encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp — meaning that, unlike ordinary emails, the messages could not be obtained directly from the service provider.

The clear implication is that any truly incriminating communications would have been conducted in encrypted form — and thus could be obtained only directly from Mr. Stone’s own phones and laptops. And while Mr. Stone likely has limited value as a cooperating witness — it’s hard to put someone on the stand after charging them with lying to obstruct justice — the charges against him provide leverage in the event his cooperation is needed to unlock those devices by supplying a cryptographic passphrase.

Jan. 25

washington post logoWashington Post, Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone indicted in Mueller probe, Rosalind S. Helderman, Devlin Barrett and John Wagner, Jan. 25, 2019. Stone — who faces five counts of false statements along with other charges — has acknowledged exchanging messages with Guccifer 2.0, a Twitter persona that intelligence officials say was a front operated by the Russian military officers. Read the indictment.

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone says he won’t testify against Trump after indictment, Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman, John Wagner and Manuel Roig-Franzia​, Jan. 25, 2019. Stone, a longtime adviser to President Trump, said he has been falsely accused by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Stone (shown above in a file photo) faces charges that he lied and tried to tamper with a witness to hide efforts to learn about releases of Democrats’ hacked emails during the 2016 campaign.

Speaking before a raucous crowd outside the courthouse, Stone vowed to fight the case.

“I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court,” he said. Some in the crowd jeered and chanted “lock him up.” Others shouted support for Stone.

fbi logo“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself. I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated,” Stone said. “I will not testify against the president because I would have to bear false witness.”

With Stone’s indictment, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has struck deep inside Trump’s inner circle, charging a long-standing friend of the president. The court filing charges Stone sought to gather information about hacked emails at the direction of an unidentified senior Trump campaign official, and then engaged in extensive efforts to keep secret the details of those efforts.

 john podesta emails wikileaks image

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Podesta: It might now be Roger Stone’s time in the barrel, John Podesta (shown above with Hillary Clinton), Jan. 25, 2019. John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, served as counselor to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.

john podesta o CustomStone’s connection with and boasting about WikiLeaks during the campaign has always been fishy. But thanks to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, the truth is finally coming out. Friday’s indictment alleges that a senior campaign official “was directed” (and by whom?) to contact Stone about the WikiLeaks releases even after it was widely reported that they were a Russian hacking operation.

The accusations against Stone are serious. He faces a seven-count indictment: five counts of false statements, one count of obstruction and one count of witness tampering. The details of the indictment are devastating and, characteristically of Stone, quite colorful. According to the filing, Stone emailed a confederate labeled “Person 2” (identified by the media as radio host Randy Credico) to dissuade him from testifying truthfully about WikiLeaks before the House Intelligence Committee: “You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds” and “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].” Stone instructs Person 2 to do a “Frank Pentangeli” — a character from “The Godfather Part II” who famously lies to congressional investigators — and, my nostalgic favorite, Stone paraphrases a quote from President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate coverup: “Stonewall it. Plead the Fifth. Anything to save the plan.”

To anyone keeping abreast of the unfolding events in the Mueller investigation, this level of sleaze is not at all surprising. The walls have been closing in for some time. As a key member of Trump’s inner circle, Stone and his course of conduct during the campaign and after have exemplified a culture of cronyism and corruption that ignored all ethical standards and rewarded fabrication over the hard truth of reality.

Related stories:

washington post logo jerome corsiWashington Post, Witness in special counsel probe, former Stone associate, collected payments from Infowars through job Stone arranged, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosilind S. Helderman, Jan. 25, 2019 (print edition). Dr. Jerome Corsi, author and longtime right-wing pundit, shown in a file photo. Corsi also identified himself as "Person 1" in the grand jury indictment of Stone.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 4 takeaways from the indictment, Aaron Blake,Jan. 25, 2019. In many ways, this feels like another “speaking indictment” from the special counsel. There’s a hint that something more could come. As he has in past indictments, Mueller isn’t showing us too much here. But spending so much time detailing the campaign’s interest in WikiLeaks — which speaks to Stone’s alleged lies but probably isn’t entirely necessary — does seem conspicuous. Remember that Mueller routinely includes stuff like this that comes up later — most notably with Konstantin Kilimnik’s ties to Russian intelligence and Michael Cohen’s plea to lying about Trump Tower Moscow.

Alex Jones Show, Opinion: Exclusive update on the arrest of Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Jan. 25, 2019. The FBI conducted a dramatic pre-dawn raid on former Trump campaign advisor and War Room host Roger Stone. CNN admitted that they were waiting outside Stone’s house before the arrest due to “reporter’s instinct.” In his first statement since the arrest, Stone asserts that the indictment against him contains no evidence of Russian collusion and that special counsel Robert Mueller now has more power than President Trump.

• Washington Examiner, Jerome Corsi confirms he is ‘Person 1’ in Roger Stone indictment, predicts he won't be charged, Kelly Cohen, Jan. 25, 2019. Conservative political commentator Jerome Corsi confirmed Friday that he is “Person 1” cited in the indictment of Roger Stone and predicted that he won't face charges. Stone, an ally of President Trump, was arrested and indicted on Friday as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The indictment outlines several communications between between Stone and “Person 1” and “Person 2” about WikiLeaks’ plans to release stolen emails from the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election.

"Dr. Corsi has reviewed the indictment of Roger Stone which references him as Person 1. Importantly, the Stone Indictment does not accuse Dr. Corsi of any wrongdoing and indeed this is the case. Dr. Corsi has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel and his prosecutors and testified truthfully to the grand jury, as well as during interviews with them,” Corsi said through his legal counsel, Larry Klayman and David Gray. In November, Corsi said he was rejecting a deal offered by Mueller to plead guilty to one count of perjury because he said he did not purposely lie to investigators.


Technical Background Debate On Alleged Russian Hacking



Wikipedia, Trump–Russia dossier, Crowd Sources, Updated. In May 2018, former career intelligence officer James Clapper stated that "more and more" of the dossier had been validated over time. Overall, some allegations of the dossier have been corroborated, others remain unverified and, according to a December 2018 Lawfare retrospective, "none of [the dossier], to our knowledge, has been disproven." Some parts of the dossier may require access to classified information for verification.

March 14

New York Times, Tech Firm in Steele Dossier May Have Been Used by Russian Spies, Matthew Rosenberg, March 14, 2019. Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian technology entrepreneur. New evidence suggests that Russian spies used networks run by Mr. Gubarev to hack the Democratic Party in 2016.

Aleksej Gubarev is a Russian technology entrepreneur who runs companies in Europe and the United States that provide cut-rate internet service. But he is best known for his appearance in 2016 in a dossier that purported to detail Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election — and the Trump campaign’s complicity.

Mr. Gubarev’s companies, the dossier claimed, used “botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.”

On Thursday, new evidence emerged that indicated that internet service providers owned by Mr. Gubarev appear to have been used to do just that: A report by a former F.B.I. cyberexpert unsealed in a federal court in Miami found evidence that suggests Russian agents used networks operated by Mr. Gubarev to start their hacking operation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

[Read the report here.]

His networks also appear to have been regularly used by cybercriminals and Russian agents to conduct other attacks, such as an assault on Ukraine’s power grid in 2015, the report found.

Yet the report stops short of directly linking Mr. Gubarev or his executives to the hacking, as asserted in the dossier. As Anthony Ferrante, the report’s lead author and a former F.B.I. agent, noted in a deposition: “I have no evidence of them actually sitting behind a keyboard.”

March 13

Consortium News, Opinion: VIPS: Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), March 13, 2019. The final Mueller report should be graded “incomplete,” says VIPS, whose forensic work proves the speciousness of the story that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking.

We veteran intelligence professionals have done enough detailed forensic work to prove the speciousness of the prevailing story that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking. Given the paucity of evidence to support that story, we believe Mueller may choose to finesse this key issue and leave everyone hanging. That would help sustain the widespread belief that Trump owes his victory to President Vladimir Putin, and strengthen the hand of those who pay little heed to the unpredictable consequences of an increase in tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

There is an overabundance of “assessments” but a lack of hard evidence to support that prevailing narrative. We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of “evidence,” particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions. We know only too well — and did our best to expose — how our former colleagues in the intelligence community manufactured fraudulent “evidence” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

We have scrutinized publicly available physical data — the “trail” that every cyber operation leaves behind. And we have had support from highly experienced independent forensic investigators who, like us, have no axes to grind. We can prove that the conventional-wisdom story about Russian-hacking-DNC-emails-for-WikiLeaks is false.


Dec. 14

djt vladimir putin prior to 2018 Helsinki Summit kremlin photo

President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the 2018 Helsinki Summit. (kremlin.ru)

Lawfare, The Steele Dossier: A Retrospective, Sarah Grant and Chuck Rosenberg, Dec. 14, 2018. The dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele remains a subject of fascination — or, depending on your perspective, scorn. Indeed, it was much discussed during former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 7. Published almost two years ago by BuzzFeed News in January 2017, the document received significant public attention, first for its lurid details regarding Donald Trump’s pre-presidential alleged sexual escapades in Russia and later for its role in forming part of the basis for the government’s application for a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page.

Our interest in revisiting the compilation that has come to be called the “Steele Dossier” concerns neither of those topics, at least not directly. Rather, we returned to the document because we wondered whether information made public as a result of the Mueller investigation—and the passage of two years—has tended to buttress or diminish the crux of Steele’s original reporting.

The dossier is actually a series of reports — 16 in all — that total 35 pages. Written in 2016, the dossier is a collection of raw intelligence. Steele neither evaluated nor synthesized the intelligence. He neither made nor rendered bottom-line judgments. The dossier is, quite simply and by design, raw reporting, not a finished intelligence product.

In that sense, the dossier is similar to an FBI 302 form or a DEA 6 form. Both of those forms are used by special agents of the FBI and DEA, respectively, to record what they are told by witnesses during investigations. The substance of these memoranda can be true or false, but the recording of information is (or should be) accurate. In that sense, notes taken by a special agent have much in common with the notes that a journalist might take while covering a story—the substance of those notes could be true or false, depending on what the source tells the journalist, but the transcription should be accurate.

With that in mind, we thought it would be worthwhile to look back at the dossier and to assess, to the extent possible, how the substance of Steele’s reporting holds up over time. In this effort, we considered only information in the public domain from trustworthy and official government sources, including documents released by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office in connection with the criminal cases brought against Paul Manafort, the 12 Russian intelligence officers, the Internet Research Agency trolling operation and associated entities, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos. We also considered the draft statement of offense released by author Jerome Corsi, a memorandum released by House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff related to the Carter Page FISA applications and admissions directly from certain speakers.

These materials buttress some of Steele’s reporting, both specifically and thematically. The dossier holds up well over time, and none of it, to our knowledge, has been disproven.

But much of the reporting simply remains uncorroborated, at least by the yardstick we are using. Most significantly, the dossier reports a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [Trump and his associates] and the Russian leadership,” including an “intelligence exchange [that] had been running between them for at least 8 years.” There has been significant investigative reporting about long-standing connections between Trump, his associates and Kremlin-affiliated individuals, and Trump himself acknowledged that the purpose of a June 2016 meeting between his son, Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was to obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. But there is, at present, no evidence in the official record that confirms other direct ties or their relevance to the 2016 presidential campaign. With that caveat, here are excerpts from the dossier that correspond with details contained in official documents.

Sarah Grant is a student at Harvard Law School and previously spent five years on active duty in the Marine Corps. She holds an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and a BS in International Relations from the United States Naval Academy. The views expressed here are her own and do not reflect those of the Department of Defense, the Marine Corps, or any other agency of the United States Government.

Chuck Rosenberg is a former U.S. attorney, senior FBI official and chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Oct. 1

CNN, The Washington Times settles lawsuit with Seth Rich's brother, issues retraction and apology for its coverage, Oliver Darcy, seth richOct. 1, 2018. The Washington Times on Monday issued a lengthy retraction and apology for an editorial it published in March about Aaron Rich, the brother of the slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich (right) whose unsolved murder became the basis for conspiracy theories on the far-right.

"The Column included statements about Aaron Rich, the brother of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, that we now believe to be false," read part of the retraction.

The retraction added, "The Washington Times apologizes to Mr. Rich and his family. All online copies of the Column have been deleted and all online content referencing the Column has been deleted to the extent within The Washington Times' control."

The retraction came as part of a settlement Aaron Rich reached with The Washington Times after he filed a lawsuit against the conservative newspaper -- and others -- in March, his attorney Michael Gottlieb told CNN.

Gottlieb declined to discuss other terms of the settlement, but said that the "apology and retraction are robust" and that he saw it as "a significant step forward in clearing Aaron's name."

In a statement, Aaron Rich said he accepted the newspaper's apology.

"The last two years have brought unimaginable pain and grief to my family and me," Aaron Rich said. "I lost my only brother to a murder that to this date has not been solved, only to then have politically-motivated conspiracy theorists falsely accuse me of grotesque criminal acts. I accept the Washington Times' retraction and apology, and I am grateful that the Washington Times has acknowledged the indisputable truth that these allegations are, and always have been, false. As to the remaining defendants, I look forward to my day in court."

The Washington Times' initial article, which the lawsuit said was published both online and in print, stated that it was "well known in intelligence circles that Seth Rich and his brother, Aaron Rich, downloaded the DNC emails and was paid by Wikileaks for that information."

May 25
Aleksej Gubarev, XBT Holding S.A., and Webzilla, Inc. vs BuzzFeed, Inc. and Ben Smith, Expert report of Anthony J. Ferrante of FTI Consulting, May 25, 2018 (U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, Case No. 1:17-CV-60426-UU). (Excerpts below.)

I have prepared this expert report summarizing the investigation of statements in what is often referred to as the “Steele Dossier” (“Dossier”) published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.

This report summarizes the key findings of the technical investigation into Aleksej Gubarev, XBT Holding S.A. (“XBT”) and its subsidiaries, including the group of Gubarev web-hosting businesses that carry the name Webzilla.1 FTI investigated the veracity of the Dossier’s statements concerning the plaintiffs, as well as the same statements as applied to other subsidiaries of XBT. FTI also investigated information pertaining to the reputation, if any, of the plaintiffs, as well as other subsidiaries of XBT, for involvement in malicious cyber activity. Specific, high-priority objectives were to determine whether:

• Botnets and porn traffic hosted by XBT, Webzilla, and its affiliates facilitated theft of data from Democratic Party leadership;

• XBT, Webzilla, and their affiliates have a history of engaging in and/or hosting networks used by Russian state-sponsored malicious cyber activity; and

• XBT, Webzilla, and their affiliates have a history of, and reputation for, engaging in and/or hosting networks used for malicious cyber activity.


XBT and its affiliated web hosting companies have provided gateways to the internet for cybercriminals and Russian state sponsored actors to launch and control large scale malware campaigns over the past decade.

Data provided by Bitly indicates that an XBT affiliate owned infrastructure was used to support the malicious spear phishing attack of Democratic Party leadership in 2016 which resulted in the theft and subsequent publication of highly sensitive information related to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.Technical analysis of XBT infrastructure and U.S. government issued reports on Russian cyber espionage tactics indicates that IP addresses owned by XBT were utilized by Russian civilian and military intelligence services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the 2016 U.S. election. Additionally, evidence suggests that COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR, the Russian government affiliated APT groups responsible for hacking the Democratic Party leadership, have used XBT infrastructure to support other malicious activity.

XBT and its affiliated web hosting companies have provided gateways to the internet for cybercriminals and Russian state sponsored actors to launch and control large scale malware campaigns over the past decade.158Data provided by Bitly indicates that an XBT affiliate owned infrastructure was used to support the malicious spear phishing attack of Democratic Party leadership in 2016 which resulted in the theft and subsequent publication of highly sensitive information related to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Technical analysis of XBT infrastructure and U.S. government issued reports on Russian cyber espionage tactics indicates that IP addresses owned by XBT were utilized by Russian civilian and military intelligence services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the 2016 U.S. election. Additionally, evidence suggests that COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR, the Russian government affiliated APT groups responsible for hacking the Democratic Party leadership, have used XBT infrastructure to support other malicious activity.


The Nation, A Leak or a Hack? A Forum on the VIPS Memo, Various Contributors, Sept. 1, 2017. A letter from dissenting members of VIPS, a reply from VIPS, and the results of our independent review.

* * *

When Facts Are Not Facts by Thomas Drake, Scott Ritter, Lisa Ling, Cian Westmoreland, Philip M. Giraldi, and Jesselyn Radack, Sept. 1, 2017

The recent article published on August 9, 2017, in The Nation by Patrick Lawrence leans heavily on a July 24, 2017, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) memo published by Consortiumnews.com and then picked up by several media outlets.

However, a number of VIPS members did not sign this problematic memo because of troubling questions about its conclusions, and others who did sign it have raised key concerns since its publication.

The heart of the VIPS memo centers on two statements that relate to an alleged “Guccifer 2.0” cyber-attack against the Democratic National Committee (DNC):

“After examining metadata from the ‘Guccifer 2.0’ July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device.”
“Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying was performed on the East coast of the U.S.”

Two critical analytic issues emerge from these statements. First, the intelligence-community assessment from January 6, 2017, which reflects the judgment of the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA, asserts as fact (absent categorical proof or evidence) that “Guccifer 2.0” accessed data from the DNC through a “cyber operation.” This could mean via the network, the cloud, computers, remote hacking, or direct data removal. However, “Guccifer 2.0” claimed access to the DNC server through remote hacking.

The third-party analysis of the “Guccifer 2.0” claims (including from Adam Carter and the Forensicator) analyzed in the VIPS memo directly contradict these conclusions (while raising legitimate questions), but the VIPS memo asserts as a “slam dunk” fact the categorical conclusion of a local leak that is not supported by the third-party analysis either. There is also no evidence from the available metadata that can definitively state when the transfer or copying of the data took place, nor does the data prove that “Guccifer 2.0” had direct access to the DNC server or that the data was located on the DNC system when it was allegedly copied on July 5, 2016.

The implications of this leap-to-conclusions analysis of the VIPS memo—which centers on claiming as an unassailable and immutable fact that the DNC “hack” was committed by an insider with direct access to the DNC server, who then deliberately doctored data and documents to look like a Russian or Russia-affiliated actor was involved, and therefore no hack occurred (consequently, ipso facto, the Russians did not do it)—are contingent on a fallacy.

Data-transfer speeds across networks and the Internet measured in megabits per second (or megabytes per second) can easily achieve rates that greatly exceed the cited reference in the VIPS memo of 1,976 megabytes in 87 seconds (∼22.71 megabytes per second or ∼181.7 megabits per second), and well beyond 50 megabytes, depending on the capacity of the network and the method of access to that network. Speeds across the network vary greatly, and sustained write speeds copied out to local devices are often quite a bit slower.

* * *

William Binney (shown a Miquel Taverna photo via Flickr)

The Nation: A Rebuttal: Why This Is Important, William Binney (shown above in a Miquel Taverna photo via Flickr), Skip Folden, Ed Loomis, Ray McGovern, and Kirk Wiebe, Sept. 1, 2017.

The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) scientists make our technical judgments based on given facts and do not speculate without a factual basis. The main issue here is: Who gave the DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks? “Handpicked” analysts from three intelligence agencies “assess” that the Russians hacked into the DNC, but provide no hard evidence for this.

We think back to the evidence-free “assessments” 15 years ago before the attack on Iraq. Several “high-confidence” intelligence judgments had been fraudulently “fixed” to dovetail with the Bush/Cheney agenda for war. In June 2008, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report five years in the making. Mincing no words, he wrote: “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

We worry that this may be happening again. Adding to our concern, in recent years we have seen “false-flag” attacks carried out to undergird a political narrative and objective — to blame the Syrian government for chemical attacks, for example. Forensic evidence suggests that this tried-and-tested technique (in this instance, simply pasting in a Russian template with “telltale signs”) may have been used to “show” that Russia hacked into the DNC computers last June.

For more than a year, we have been pointing out that any data acquired by a hack would have had to come across the Internet. The blanket coverage of the Internet by the NSA, its UK counterpart GCHQ, and others would be able to produce copies of that data and show where the data originated and where it went. But US intelligence has produced no evidence that hacking by Russia led to it acquiring the DNC e-mails and passing them on to WikiLeaks.

Historically, the United States has disclosed classified information when it has suited its purposes. One need not go all the way back to the release of U-2 photography during the Cuban missile crisis, or to President Ronald Reagan’s decision to sacrifice a lucrative source (which enabled us to intercept and decipher Libyan communications) to prove that Libya was behind the April 5, 1986, bombing of a Berlin disco that killed two and wounded 79 US servicemen. Much more recently, in 2014 and 2015, the United States released significant details to verify the successful hack by which China stole over 21.5 million official records, including security background investigations, from the Office of Personnel Management.

Independent research into the metadata associated with the July 5, 2016, cyber-event that was blamed on “Russian hacking” shows that what actually took place was a copy onto an external storage device, and that the copy took place on the East Coast of the United States by someone with physical access to the DNC server or computers. Most curiously, the FBI did not have access to the DNC computers to do its own forensics, even though prominent politicians were calling the alleged Russian hack “an act of war.”

After examining the recent forensic findings, Skip Folden, co-author of the VIPS memo titled “Was the ‘Russian Hack’ an Inside Job?,” sent a more detailed technical report to the offices of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking them to investigate the latest findings.

We will not dwell on the nontechnical evidence at hand, but we would be remiss if we did not mention something that has recently been in the public eye. Julian Assange has denied that the source is the Russian government or any other state party, and, truth be told, his record of credibility compares favorably with the records of those who demonize him. An associate of Assange, former UK ambassador Craig Murray, has said the WikiLeaks source was a leak from an insider. “To my certain knowledge,” said Murray, “neither the DNC nor the Podesta leaks involved Russia.” Oddly, Murray has not been questioned by any US official or journalist.

Commentary on the Dissenting Memo

What follows are our comments on the dissenting memo written by Thomas Drake, Lisa Ling, Cian Westmoreland, Philip M. Giraldi, and Jesselyn Radack.

Aug. 10

New York Magazine, Opinion: The Nation Article About the DNC Hack Is Too Incoherent to Even Debunk, Brian Feldman, Aug. 10, 2019. Yesterday, The Nation published an article by journalist Patrick Lawrence purporting to demonstrate that last summer’s pivotal DNC hack was, in fact, an inside job. Maybe unsurprisingly, it’s proven especially popular among people who hold it as an article of political faith that the Russian government and intelligence services played no role in the theft and publication of a cache of emails from DNC staffers:

Conclusive proof, or even strong evidence, that the DNC emails were leaked by an insider and not by Russian-sponsored hackers would indeed be a huge story — among other things, it would contradict the near-unanimous opinion of U.S. intelligence agencies, and raise some very serious questions about their objectivity and neutrality.

But this article is neither conclusive proof nor strong evidence. It’s the extremely long-winded product of a crank, and it’s been getting attention only because it appears in a respected left-wing publication like The Nation. Anyone hoping to read it for careful reporting and clear explanation is going to come away disappointed, however.

If you want to get to the actual claims being made, you’ll have to skip the first 1,000 or so words, which mostly consist of breathtakingly elaborate throat-clearing. (“[H]ouses built on sand and made of cards are bound to collapse, and there can be no surprise that the one resting atop the ‘hack theory,’ as we can call the prevailing wisdom on the DNC events, appears to be in the process of doing so.”) About halfway through, you get to the crux of the article: A report, made by an anonymous analyst calling himself “Forensicator,” on the “metadata” of “locked files” leaked by the hacker Guccifer 2.0.

This should, already, set off alarm bells: An anonymous analyst is claiming to have analyzed the “metadata” of “locked files” that only this analyst had access to? Still, if I’m understanding it correctly, Lawrence’s central argument (which, again, rests on the belief that Forensicator’s claims about “metadata” are meaningful and correct) is that the initial data transfer from the DNC occurred at speeds impossible via the internet. Instead, he and a few retired intel-community members and some pseudonymous bloggers believe the data was transferred to a USB stick, making the infiltration a leak from someone inside the DNC, not a hack.

The crux of the whole thing — the opening argument — rests on the fact that, according to “metadata,” the data was transferred at about 22 megabytes per second, which Lawrence and Forensicator claim is much too fast to have been undertaken over an internet connection. (Most connection speeds are measured at megabits per second, not megabytes; 22 megabytes per second is 176 megabits per second.) Most households don’t get internet speeds that high, but enterprise operations, like the DNC — or, uh, the FSB — would have access to a higher but certainly not unattainable speed like that.

If that’s your strongest evidence, your argument is already in trouble. But the real problem isn’t that there’s a bizarre claim about internet speed that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It’s that Lawrence is writing in techno-gibberish that falls apart under even the slightest scrutiny. You could try to go on, but to what end? As an example: Lawrence writes that “researchers penetrated what Folden calls Guccifer’s top layer of metadata and analyzed what was in the layers beneath.” What on earth is that supposed to mean? We don’t know what “metadata” we’re talking about, or why it comes in “layers,” and all I’m left with is the distinct impression that Lawrence doesn’t either.

Aug. 9

The Nation, A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack (disabled), Patrick Lawrence, Aug 9, 2017, relocated to this site of The Nation. Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak — an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system (Excerpts below).

Introduction by Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher, The Nation

VIPS, formed in 2003 by a group of former US intelligence officers with decades of experience working within the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and other agencies, previously produced some of the most credible — and critical — analyses of the Bush administration’s mishandling of intelligence data in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The most recent VIPS memo, released on July 24, whatever its technical merits, contributes to a much-needed critical discussion. Despite all the media coverage taking the veracity of the ICA assessment for granted, even now we have only the uncorroborated assertion of intelligence officials to go on. Indeed, this was noticed by The New York Times’s Scott Shane, who wrote the day the report appeared: “What is missing from the public report is…hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack…. Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

As editor of The Nation, my purpose in publishing Patrick Lawrence’s article was to make more widely known the VIPS critique of the January ICA assertions, the questions VIPS raised, and their counter-thesis that the disseminated DNC e-mails resulted from a leak, not a hack. Those questions remain vital.

Subsequently, Nation editors themselves raised questions about the editorial process that preceded the publication of the article. The article was indeed fact-checked to ensure that Patrick Lawrence, a regular Nation contributor, accurately reported the VIPS analysis and conclusions, which he did. As part of the editing process, however, we should have made certain that several of the article’s conclusions were presented as possibilities, not as certainties. And given the technical complexity of the material, we would have benefited from bringing on an independent expert to conduct a rigorous review of the VIPS technical claims.

We have obtained such a review in the last week from Nathan Freitas of the Guardian Project. He has evaluated both the VIPS memo and Lawrence’s article. Freitas lays out several scenarios in which the DNC could have been hacked from the outside, although he does not rule out a leak. Freitas concludes that all parties “must exercise much greater care in separating out statements backed by available digital metadata from thoughtful insights and educated guesses.” His findings are published here.

We have also learned since publication, from longtime VIPS member Thomas Drake, that there is a dispute among VIPS members themselves about the July 24 memo. This is not the first time a VIPS report has been internally disputed, but it is the first time one has been released over the substantive objections of several VIPS members. With that in mind, we asked Drake and those VIPS members who agree with him to present their dissenting view. We also asked VIPS members who stand by their report to respond.

In presenting this follow-up, The Nation hopes to encourage further inquiry into the crucial questions of how, why, and by whom the DNC e-mails were made public — a matter that continues to roil our politics. We especially hope that other people with special expertise or knowledge will come forward.

* * *

Article by Patrick Lawrence (Excerpts)

dnc horizontal logo

It is now a year since the Democratic National Committee’s mail system was compromised — a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment.

The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole.

All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that “hack” and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.

Lost in a year that often appeared to veer into our peculiarly American kind of hysteria is the absence of any credible evidence of what happened last year and who was responsible for it.

We come now to a moment of great gravity.

There has been a long effort to counter the official narrative we now call “Russiagate.” This effort has so far focused on the key events noted above, leaving numerous others still to be addressed. Until recently, researchers undertaking this work faced critical shortcomings, and these are to be explained. But they have achieved significant new momentum in the past several weeks, and what they have done now yields very consequential fruit. Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak. But its certain results so far are two, simply stated, and freighted with implications:

There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year — not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak — a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.

Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.

This article is based on an examination of the documents these forensic experts and intelligence analysts have produced, notably the key papers written over the past several weeks, as well as detailed interviews with many of those conducting investigations and now drawing conclusions from them. Before proceeding into this material, several points bear noting.

One, there are many other allegations implicating Russians in the 2016 political process. The work I will now report upon does not purport to prove or disprove any of them. Who delivered documents to WikiLeaks? Who was responsible for the “phishing” operation penetrating John Podesta’s e-mail in March 2016? We do not know the answers to such questions. It is entirely possible, indeed, that the answers we deserve and must demand could turn out to be multiple: One thing happened in one case, another thing in another. The new work done on the mid-June and July 5 events bears upon all else in only one respect. We are now on notice: Given that we now stand face to face with very considerable cases of duplicity, it is imperative that all official accounts of these many events be subject to rigorously skeptical questioning. Do we even know that John Podesta’s e-mail address was in fact “phished”? What evidence of this has been produced? Such rock-bottom questions as these must now be posed in all other cases.

Aug. 8

Consortium News, Commentary: A New Twist in Seth Rich Murder Case, Joe Lauria, right, Aug. 8, 2017. The U.S. mainstream media joe lauria head bookdismisses any link between the murder of DNC official Seth Rich and leaked DNC emails as a “conspiracy theory” – while blaming Russia instead – but a new possibility has arisen, writes Joe Lauria.

With U.S.-Russia tensions as dangerously high as they’ve been since the worst days of the Cold War, there is potential new evidence that Russia was not behind a hack of the Democratic National Committee, although Congress and the U.S. mainstream media accept the unproven allegation of Russia’s guilt as indisputable fact.

The possible new evidence comes in the form of a leaked audiotape of veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in which Hersh is heard to say that not Russia, but a DNC insider, was the source of the Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks just seymour hershbefore the start of the Democratic National Convention in late July 2016.

Hersh, left, said on the tape that the source of the leak was former DNC employee Seth Rich, right, who was seth richmurdered on a darkened street in a rough neighborhood of Northwest Washington D.C. two weeks before the Convention, on July 10, 2016.

But Hersh threw cold water on a theory that the murder was an assassination in retaliation for the leak. Instead, Hersh concurs with the D.C. police who say the murder was a botched robbery.

Jan. 6

U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution, Staff Report, Jan. 6, 2017.

Background to Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment that has been provided to the President and to recipients approved by the President.

The Intelligence Community rarely can publicly reveal the full extent of its knowledge or the precise bases for its assessments, as the release of such information would reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence inthe future.Thus, while the conclusions in the report are all reflected in the classified assessment, the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.


Dec. 14

Washington Times, WikiLeaks figure says 'disgusted' Democrat leaked Clinton campaign emails, Dave Boyer, Dec. 14, 2016. craig murray uk ambassador"Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians," said Craig Murray, right, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. "The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks."

A WikiLeaks figure is claiming that he received leaked Clinton campaign emails from a “disgusted” Democratic whistleblower, while the White House continued to blame Russian hackers Wednesday for meddling in the presidential election and asserted that Donald Trump was “obviously aware” of Moscow’s efforts on his behalf.

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said in the report by the Daily Mail that he flew to Washington for a clandestine handoff with one of the email sources in September.

He said he received a package in a wooded area near American University.

“Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,” Mr. Murray told the British newspaper. “The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.”

WikiLeaks published thousands of emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, providing a steady stream of negative news coverage of the Democratic presidential nominee during the final weeks of the campaign. Mr. Murray said the leakers were motivated by “disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.”

The Daily Mail report noted that Mr. Murray was removed from his diplomatic post amid allegations of misconduct.