All posts by Tyler Durden

Rep. Meadows: FBI Knew ‘Within 60 Days’ That Russia Probe ‘Built On A Foundation Of Sand’

undefined

Rep. Mark Meadows confirmed what many have suspected about the Trump-Russia for a long time; the FBI knew early on that the foundation of its counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign was built on 'a foundation of sand,' reports the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross. 

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R) told Hannity Friday night that the FBI knew "within 60 days of them opening the investigation, prior to [Robert] Mueller coming on, the FBI and the [Department of Justice] knew that Christopher Steele was not credible, the dossier was not true, George Papadopoulos was innocent." 

Meadows did not elaborate on why he believes the FBI knew their investigation was built on a mountain of lies, however according to The Hill's John Solomon last month, memos which were retroactively classified by the DOJ reveal that a high-ranking government official who met with Christopher Steele in October 2016 determined that information in the Trump-Russia dossier was inaccurate, and likely leaked to the media. 

Meadows also suggested that the FBI had exculpatory information on Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who was fed the rumor that Russia had negative information on Hillary Clinton, and later bilked for said information by a Clinton-linked Australian diplomat. Papadopoulos would later be subject to a spying operation in which the FBI sent in two operatives to trick the Trump adviser in a failed business / honeypot operation. 
The bureau opened its investigation of the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, after receiving a tip about Papadopoulos from the Australian government. Within those two months, the FBI team leading the investigation received information from Steele’s dossier. The FBI also dispatched a longtime FBI informant, Stefan Halper, to meet with Papadopoulos.

The pair met in London in mid-September 2016 after Halper offered Papadopoulos $3,000 to write a policy paper. Halper, a former Cambridge professor, was accompanied by a woman he claimed was his assistant, Azra Turk. She is reportedly a government investigator.

Meadows in the past has suggested the FBI had exculpatory information on Papadopoulos that showed the Trump aide was not working with Russia. -Daily Caller
The FBI relied on the Steele dossier to obtain surveillance warrants on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, ostensibly allowing the Obama administration to surveil those Page was in contact with.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Mueller Caught In Another Deception; Key ‘Russia Link’ Exposed As Informant For US, Ukraine

undefined

A Ukrainian businessman painted in the Mueller report as a sinister link to Russia was actually a "sensitive" intelligence source for the US State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian issues - and passed messages between the Washington and Kiev, according to The Hill's John Solomon.

Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was described on page 6 of the Mueller report as having "ties to Russian intelligence" - and was cast in a sinister light as a potential threat to democracy. Mueller completely omitted the fact that Kilimnik was working as an informant and intermediary between America and Ukraine, and subsequently indicted him for obstruction of justice.
Kilimnik was not just any run-of-the-mill source, either.

He interacted with the chief political officer at the US Embassy in Kiev, sometimes meeting several times a week to provide information on the Ukraine government. He relayed messages back to Ukraine's leaders and delivered written reports to US officials via emails that stretched on for thousands of words, the memos show.

The FBI knew all of this, well before the Mueller investigation concluded. -The Hill
What's more, the chief political officer at the Kiev embassy from 2014 to 2017, Alan Purcell, told the FBI that State officials - including senior embassy officials Alexander Kasanof and Eric Schultz, thought Klimnik was such a valuable asset that they wouldn't mention his name in official cables out of fear that WikiLeaks would expose him.

"Purcell described what he considered an unusual level of discretion that was taken with handling Kilimnik," said one FBI interview report reviewed by Solomon. "Normally the head of the political section would not handle sources, but Kasanof informed Purcell that KILIMNIK was a sensitive source."
Purcell told the FBI that Kilimnik provided "detailed information about OB (Ukraine's opposition bloc) inner workings" that sometimes was so valuable it was forwarded immediately to the ambassador. Purcell learned that other Western governments relied on Kilimnik as a source, too.

"One time, in a meeting with the Italian embassy, Purcell heard the Italian ambassador echo a talking point that was strikingly familiar to the point Kilimnik had shared with Purcell," the FBI report states. -The Hill
And Mueller mentioned none of this in his report despite knowing about it since 2018 - more than a year before the final report.
Three sources with direct knowledge of the inner workings of Mueller's office confirmed to me that the special prosecutor's team had all of the FBI interviews with State officials, as well as Kilimnik's intelligence reports to the US Embassy, well before they portrayed him as a Russian sympathizer tied to Moscow intelligence or charged Kilimnik with participating with Manafort in a scheme to obstruct the Russia investigation. -The Hill
Kilimnik was described by Purcell's predecessor, Alexander Kasanov, as one of the few reliable informants spying on former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, whose Party of Regions had hired Manafort's lobbying firm.
Kasanof described Kilimnik as one of the few reliable insiders the US Embassy had informing on Yanukovych. Kilimnik began his relationship as an informant with the US deputy chief of mission in 2012-13, before being handed off to the embassy's political office, the records suggest.

'Kilimnik was one of the only people within the administration who was willing to talk to USEMB,' referring to the US embassy, and he 'provided information about the inner workings of Yanukovych's administration,' Kasanof told the FBI agents.

'Kasanof met with Kilimnik at least bi-weekly and occasionally multiple times in the same week,' always outside the embassy to avoid detection, the FBI wrote. 'Kasanof allowed Kilimnik to take the lead on operational security' for their meetings. -The Hill
And, despite the Mueller report suggesting Kilimnik is a Russian stooge, state officials told the FBI that he did not appear to hold any allegiance to the Kremlin, and had been "flabbergasted at the Russian invasion of Crimea."

"Most sources of information in Ukraine were slanted in one direction or another," Kasanof told the FBI. "Kilimnik came across as less slanted than others."

Solomon corroborated the FBI interviews with Kasanov and Purcell with "scores of State Department emails" which contain regular intelligence dispatches from Kilimnik on what was going on inside of the Yanukovych administration, the Crimea conflict, and Ukrainian and Russian politics.

Not a threat

Contrary to the dire threat to national security implied in the Mueller report, Kilimnik was allowed to enter the United States twice in 2016 to meet with State officials - meaning he clearly wasn't flagged in visa databases as a foreign intelligence threat.

Mueller also painted a one-sided picture of Kilimnik's peace plan for Crimea which he had presented to the Trump administration - suggesting that it was a "backdoor" way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine. In fact, Kilimnik had presented the idea to the Obama administration in 2016.

As Solomon notes "That's what many in the intelligence world might call 'deception by omission.'"
Specifically, the Mueller report flagged Kilimnik's delivery of a peace plan to the Trump campaign for settling the two-year-old Crimea conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel's Office was a 'backdoor' way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine," the Mueller report stated.

But State emails showed Kilimnik first delivered a version of his peace plan in May 2016 to the Obama administration during a visit to Washington. Kasanof, his former handler at the US Embassy in Ukraine, had been promoted to a top policy position at State, and the two met for dinner on May 5, 2016.

The day after the dinner, Kilimnik sent an email to Kasanof's official State email address recounting the peace plan they had discussed the night before. -The Hill
While Kilimnik did not respond to The Hill for comment, he slammed the "made-up narrative" about him in a May email to the Washington Post, adding "I have no ties to Russian or, for that matter, any intelligence operation."

That said, as Solomon writes "Kilimnik holds Ukrainian and Russian citizenship, served in the Soviet military, attended a prestigious Russian language academy and had contacts with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. So it is likely he had contacts over the years with Russian intelligence figures. There also is evidence Kilimnik left the US-funded International Republican Institute (IRI) in 2005 because of concerns about his past connections to Russia, though at least one IRI witness disputed that evidence to the FBI, the memos show."

However Mueller's omission of his "extensive, trusted assistance to the State Department seems inexplicable."

We learn this four days after deceptive edits were found in the Mueller report regarding a phone call between attorneys for President Trump and former national security adviser Mike Flynn designed to make it appear as though Trump was attempting to strongarm Flynn and possibly obstruct justice by shaping witness testimony.

As Solomon concludes - "A few more such errors and omissions, and Americans may begin to wonder if the Mueller report is worth the paper on which it was printed."

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Assange Hit With Espionage Act Violations As DoJ Unveils 17 New Charges

undefined

The worst fears of Julian Assange's legal team have just been realized.

Just as Wikileaks' editor in chief anticipated, the DoJ has revealed that a grand jury in Virginia has returned a new 18-count superseding indictment against Assange that includes violations of the Espionage Act stemming from his role in publishing the classified documents leaked by Chelsea Manning, as well as his original charge of conspiring to break into a government computer, per the New York Times.

The DOJ said with the indictment that Assange will face a maximum of 10 years for each of the 17 Espionage Act violations, plus the five-year penalty for his earlier hacking charge.

In addition to significantly raising the punishment threshold (from a maximum of 5.5 years under the previous indictment to the prospect of a death sentence for violating the Espionage Act), the new charges will raise serious first amendment issues as Assange will become the first journalist charged under the Espionage Act.

Though it's not a guarantee, Espionage Act violations have, in the past, carried the prospect of a death sentence, though Assange's specific violations will likely spare him the possibility of such a fate (read more about Assange's charges here).

For context, the Espionage Act of 1917 has been used to convict suspected spies - most famously Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs were famously put to death by electric chair in 1953.
The Justice Department’s decision to pursue Espionage Act charges signals a dramatic escalation under President Trump to crack down on leaks of classified information and aims squarely at First Amendment protections for journalists. Most recently, law enforcement officials charged a former intelligence analyst with giving classified documents to The Intercept, a national security news website.

Legal scholars believe that prosecuting reporters over their work would violate the First Amendment, but the prospect has not yet been tested in court because the government had never charged a journalist under the Espionage Act.

Though he is not a conventional journalist, much of what Mr. Assange does at WikiLeaks is difficult to distinguish in a legally meaningful way from what traditional news organizations like The New York Times do: seek and publish information that officials want to be secret, including classified national security matters, and take steps to protect the confidentiality of sources.
Per the NYT, the Obama administration considered bringing the Espionage Act charges against Assange, but balked because it didn't want to raise the First Amendment issue. While Wikileaks had warned of this possibility, they suspected that the US would wait until Assange was on American soil before bringing Espionage Act-related charges, since they would carry a much more severe penalty.

Wikileaks said the new charges were "madness" and that this would be "the end of national security journalism."

Remember, the UK and Ecuador promised that no serious harm would befall Assange - ie that Assange wouldn't be put to death, or face the possibility of rotting in prison for the rest of his life. Whether these new charges will help or hurt Assange's chances of successfully battling extradition remains to be seen.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Trump De-escalating? Satellite Intel Based On Tehran ‘Misreading’ US Intentions

undefined

Soaring tensions of the past nearly two weeks paving the way for a potential direct military clash in the Persian Gulf between the US and Iran could be de-escalating as rapidly as they began as the president attempts to reign in hawks in his own administration, per a new report in FT:
President Donald Trump said he hoped the US would not go to war with Iran, cooling tensions at the end of a week in which worries spiked over the risk of conflict between the US and the Islamic republic. As he stood outside the West Wing waiting to meet Swiss president Ueli Maurer on Thursday, Mr Trump was asked by a reporter whether the US was going to war with Iran. He replied: “I hope not.”
This as the WSJ also reports Trump is fast reigning in his two Iran hawk horsemen of the apocalypse Bolton and Pompeo: "There are sharply differing views within the Trump administration over the meaning of intelligence showing Iran and its proxies making military preparations, people familiar with the matter said," according to the report.

So Trump doesn't want war, and now with the Senate demanding it be given a comprehensive briefing on just what the increased Iran threat constitutes and the intelligence consensus behind it (or lack thereof), it looks like the war train could be grinding to a halt.

Bloomberg also agrees, per its latest report:
President Donald Trump is wary of drawing the US into a war with Iran, in part out of concern that an armed conflict with the Islamic Republic would imperil his chances at winning a second term, according to people familiar with the matter. US’s evidence of Iran threat readied for release by Pentagon.
But the Pentagon war machine's next move could hinge on what's been revealed as the initial key piece of intelligence "evidence" of Iran's "attack preparations" that got us here in the first place, starting with Bolton's May 5th announcement of a major Iranian threat escalation. The "smoking gun" that started it all apparently hinges on satellite photos showing Iranian paramilitary forces moving missiles on boats in the Persian Gulf (perhaps even in their own territorial waters!?).

The New York Times cited three defense officials who confirmed that, “The intelligence that caused the White House to escalate its warnings about a threat from Iran came from photographs of missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf that were put on board by Iranian paramilitary forces.”

But crucially, according to US intelligence officials cited by the WSJ, the "missile movement" satellite photographs may have just been picking up on Iranian defensive measures that came in reaction to Tehran's belief that a US military attack was on the horizon.

"Intelligence collected by the US government shows Iran’s leaders believe the US planned to attack them, prompting preparation by Tehran for possible counterstrikes, according to one interpretation of the information," reports The Wall Street Journal's Warren Strobel, Nancy Youssef, and Vivian Salama.
However, what was originally set in motion itself has momentum enough to spark confrontation, given on Thursday two Navy destroyers have entered the Persian Gulf as the American military continues to add to its assets in the region to head off any planned Iranian "aggression," USNI reported.

The USS McFaul and USS Gonzalez traveled through the Strait of Hormuz Thursday afternoon without being challenged by IRGC forces. They joined the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is stationed in the Gulf of Oman, as well as a strike force that includes several B-52 bombers out of Qatar.

So there it is: formula for de-escalation; however, the chances of some "accident" happening which leads to clashes remains high and unpredictable, at which point the intelligence debate Congress is demanding could turn into a moot afterthought, as is the pattern with many US wars.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Top British Commander In Rare Public Dispute With US Over Iran Intelligence

undefined

An awkward public exchange unfolded between the US military and its closest allied military coalition force during a Pentagon press conference on Tuesday wherein a top British commander in charge of anti-ISIS coalition forces rebuked White House claims on the heightened Iran threat.

“No – there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” British Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, a deputy head of the US-led coalition, asserted confidently in a videolink briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon in response to a CNN question. “We’re aware of that presence, clearly. And we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in. We are monitoring the Shia militia groups. I think you’re referring to carefully and if the threat level seems to go up then we’ll raise our force protection measures accordingly.”

The British commander's words prompted a rare and swift rebuke from the US side hours later into the evening when US Central Command (CENTCOM) issued its own statement slamming Gen. Ghika's words as inaccurate, insisting coalition troops in Iraq and Syria were an a "high level of alert" due to the "Iran threat".

“Recent comments from OIR’s deputy commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from US and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region,” the CENTCOM statement said.

“US Central Command, in coordination with OIR, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria. As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to US forces in Iraq.”
The US statement went so far as to imply the British general didn't have a grasp of troop readiness and the state of alert of the very soldiers under his command.

And further, it's saying something when you've even lost The Guardian, which has over the past years sought to crush any level of dissent or skepticism of the western mainstream narrative on Syria. The Guardian noted:
The remarkable comments heightened concerns that fabricated or exaggerated intelligence may be being used by administration hawks led by the national security adviser, John Bolton, to further the case for war against Iran, in a manner reminiscent of the buildup to the Iraq invasion.
The incredible public clash among allies came as the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group is en route to the Persian Gulf, along with a B-52 bomber group monitoring the air from Qatar, and new Patriot missile batteries.

Also overnight the State Department ordered the immediate evacuation of all non-essential personnel from the US embassy in over unspecified Iranian threats.

Washington and Tehran have recently exchanged threats of direct conflict while jostling to assert control over the vital Strait of Hormuz narrow oil shipping passage, which has further left global oil markets on edge and rattled.

The military build-up is claimed to be in response to intelligence the White House says confirms that US troops face imminent threat of attack by Iran and its regional proxy forces in places like Iraq, Syria, and the gulf.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Pompeo Skips Moscow Trip To Pressure EU Officials In Brussels On Iran

undefined

It seems for the State Department lately it's all Iran and Venezuela all the time, or perhaps there's just an aversion to real diplomatic work.

After snubbing Germany's Merkel last week to make an unplanned stop in Iraq to pressure leaders there into resisting cooperation with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday scrapped a scheduled trip to Moscow, diverting his plane for a surprise visit to Brussels to presumably crash an EU meeting exploring ways of salvaging the Iran nuclear deal.

It appears the "maximum pressure" campaign involves America's top diplomat throwing his weight around in person anywhere around the globe their might be dissent among US allies.

Key European signatories of the 2015 landmark deal — the British, French and German governments — are seeking European coordinated efforts to prevent the JCPOA from collapsing.
Pompeo scrapped plans for a brief trip to Moscow and will land in the Belgian capital as his 28 EU counterparts gather. President Donald Trump’s top envoy plans to meet with key European allies, though the details are not yet known. — Bloomberg
Iran's leaders last week threatened to pull out of key terms of the deal, asserting Europe has done little toward sanctions relief, and issued a 60-day ultimatum for Europe to honor its obligations. The EU responded that would reject any ultimatums.

According to Bloomberg, Pompeo will still travel to Russia on Tuesday where he plans to meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters just ahead of the EU meeting in Brussels: “This agreement is necessary for our security; nobody wants Iran to possess an atomic bomb,” while EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini described plans for Pompeo's visit and meetings “still up in the air”.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Bolton Held “Extremely Rare” Iran Meeting At CIA Headquarters

undefined

NBC has revealed that national security adviser John Bolton convened what was described as a "highly unusual" meeting at CIA headquarters last week to discuss Iran among top intelligence, diplomatic and military advisers.

The outside-the-norm nature of the meeting hearkens back to the Bush-Cheney White House's direct intervention over Iraq intelligence in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, which involved the VP and his staff making multiple personal visits to CIA headquarters and Pentagon to pressure the intel analysts into conforming to a preferred "narrative".

Such meetings, NBC noted, are typically held in the White House Situation Room, especially given the involvement of State Dept. and military leaders. "The six current officials, as well as multiple former officials, said it is extremely rare for senior White House officials or Cabinet members to attend a meeting at CIA headquarters," the report said.

"The meeting was held at 7 a.m. on Monday, April 29, and included CIA Director Gina Haspel, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, five of the officials said," reported NBC.

The officials interviewed expressly denied the meeting was about the recent intelligence touted by Bolton as precipitating the carrier strike group deployment to the Persian Gulf region under CENTCOM, and did not provide details.

The intelligence officials further said there could be two likely factors at play. Such rare meetings at CIA headquarters could involve briefings on "highly sensitive covert actions" or another scenario could involve deep disagreement at the highest levels over what the intelligence actually shows.

As part of its report NBC identified "a seasoned intelligence officer, Mike D'Andrea" as overseeing the CIA's Iran operations, who previously helped lead the hunt for bin Laden and al-Qaeda operatives.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Bolton Held “Extremely Rare” Iran Meeting At CIA Headquarters

undefined

NBC has revealed that national security adviser John Bolton convened what was described as a "highly unusual" meeting at CIA headquarters last week to discuss Iran among top intelligence, diplomatic and military advisers.

The outside-the-norm nature of the meeting hearkens back to the Bush-Cheney White House's direct intervention over Iraq intelligence in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, which involved the VP and his staff making multiple personal visits to CIA headquarters and Pentagon to pressure the intel analysts into conforming to a preferred "narrative".

Such meetings, NBC noted, are typically held in the White House Situation Room, especially given the involvement of State Dept. and military leaders. "The six current officials, as well as multiple former officials, said it is extremely rare for senior White House officials or Cabinet members to attend a meeting at CIA headquarters," the report said.

"The meeting was held at 7 a.m. on Monday, April 29, and included CIA Director Gina Haspel, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, five of the officials said," reported NBC.

The officials interviewed expressly denied the meeting was about the recent intelligence touted by Bolton as precipitating the carrier strike group deployment to the Persian Gulf region under CENTCOM, and did not provide details.

The intelligence officials further said there could be two likely factors at play. Such rare meetings at CIA headquarters could involve briefings on "highly sensitive covert actions" or another scenario could involve deep disagreement at the highest levels over what the intelligence actually shows.

As part of its report NBC identified "a seasoned intelligence officer, Mike D'Andrea" as overseeing the CIA's Iran operations, who previously helped lead the hunt for bin Laden and al-Qaeda operatives.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

Biden’s Ukrainian Corruption Scandal Casts Ominous Shadow Over 2020 Run

undefined

It looks like Joe Biden isn't the chosen one after all.

After getting that whole "groping" thing out of the way and announcing his 2020 bid for the White House, Biden emerged as the Democratic frontrunner this week according to several polls.

Alas for Biden, his past is catching up with him, again.

While Politico and Marketwatch have dinged Biden over free-trade fails and comments on China, perhaps most damning is a late Wednesday article in the New York Times slamming the former vice president's major Ukraine conflicts. We reported on this nearly four weeks ago following reporting and interviews with key players by The Hill's John Solomon, and it looks bad for Joe.

At the heart of the matter is Biden's role in threatening Ukraine if they didn't immediately fire their top prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin - who was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into a natural gas firm - Burisma Holdings - which Biden's son, Hunter, sat on the board of directors.

Biden openly bragged about this at a January CFR event.
In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in US loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. -The Hill
Biden's campaign maintains that the former vice president carried out US policy without regard to Hunter's activities, and that the two never discussed the matter. Biden claims he found out his son was on the board of Burisma "from news reports." Incredible.

It goes much deeper though...

As the Times notes, "new details about Hunter Biden’s involvement, and a decision this year by the current Ukrainian prosecutor general to reverse himself and reopen an investigation into Burisma, have pushed the issue back into the spotlight."
Hunter Biden was a Yale-educated lawyer who had served on the boards of Amtrak and a number of nonprofit organizations and think tanks, but lacked any experience in Ukraine and just months earlier had been discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine. He would be paid as much as $50,000 per month in some months for his work for the company, Burisma Holdings. -New York Times
In fact, the Obama State Department at the time were concerned that Hunter Biden's work for Burisma would pose a conflict for his father's diplomatic efforts, according to the report which cites former officials.

"I have had no role whatsoever in relation to any investigation of Burisma, or any of its officers," said Hunter Biden in a Wednesday statement. "I explicitly limited my role to focus on corporate governance best practices to facilitate Burisma’s desire to expand globally."

Republicans, meanwhile, have seized - pounced if you will - on the Bidens' Ukraine conflicts. Leading the charge has been Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who last week told Fox News "I ask you to keep your eye on Ukraine."
Mr. Giuliani declined to comment on any such phone call with Mr. Trump, but acknowledged that he has discussed the matter with the president on multiple occasions. Mr. Trump, in turn, recently suggested he would like Attorney General William P. Barr to look into the material gathered by the Ukrainian prosecutors — echoing repeated calls from Mr. Giuliani for the Justice Department to investigate the Bidens’ Ukrainian work and other connections between Ukraine and the United States.

Mr. Giuliani said he got involved because he was seeking to counter the Mueller investigation with evidence that Democrats conspired with sympathetic Ukrainians to help initiate what became the special counsel’s inquiry. -New York Times
"I can assure you this all started with an allegation about possible Ukrainian involvement in the investigation of Russian meddling, and not Biden," said Giuliani. "The Biden piece is collateral to the bigger story, but must still be investigated, but without the prejudgments that infected the collusion story."

The decision to reopen the Burisma investigation was made in March by Ukraine's current prosecutor general - who had previously cleared Hunter Biden's employer over two years ago. The announcement was made following a contentious presidential election, and was seen in some quarters as a bid by the prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, to curry favor from the Trump administration on behalf of his boss - incumbent president Petro O. Poroshenko.

Poroshenko lost his re-election bid last month to a comedian who played a president on TV, Volodymyr Zelensky - who says he will replace Lutsenko as prosecutor general. Zelensdky has not indicated whether Lutsenko's replacement will be asked to continue the investigation.
Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, a deputy for Mr. Lutsenko who was handling the cases before being reassigned last month, told The New York Times that he was scrutinizing millions of dollars of payments from Burisma to the firm that paid Hunter Biden.

...

Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine appears to have been well compensated. Burisma paid $3.4 million to a company called Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC from mid-April 2014, when Hunter Biden and Mr. Archer joined the board, to late 2015, according to the financial data provided by the Ukrainian deputy prosecutor. The payments continued after that, according to people familiar with the arrangement.

Rosemont Seneca Bohai was controlled by Mr. Archer, who left Burisma’s board after he was charged in connection with a scheme to defraud pension funds and an Indian tribe of tens of millions of dollars. Bank records submitted in that case — which resulted in a conviction for Mr. Archer that was overturned in November — show that Rosemont Seneca Bohai made regular payments to Mr. Biden that totaled as much as $50,000 in some months. -New York Times
Now to see if Ukraine's new president, Zelensky, keeps the investigation alive.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

US Troops In Syria For ‘Long Haul’ Atop ‘A Lot Of Oil Resources’ – Pentagon Official

undefined

A high level Pentagon official has admitted that US forces will be in Syria for "the long haul" and coupled his statement by declaring the territory contains “a lot of the oil resources and arable land.”

The unusually frank remarks were made this week by Michael Mulroy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, while addressing a conference at the D.C. based Center for a New American Security (CNAS), months after President Trump appeared to have caved to his advisers, reversing course earlier this year from his stated goal of a full and rapid US troop exit from Syria.

Mulroy said “we have a very capable partner” — in reference to the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — and quickly noted the US-trained SDF happens to occupy key regions in eastern Syria with "a lot of the oil resources and arable land," and added that, "we are there with them".

The Pentagon official further vouched for the think tank's new feature policy recommendations on Syria which call among other things for continuing to "maintain a presence in over one-third of the country."

Referencing the CNAS' new policy report entitled “Solving the Syrian Rubik’s Cube,” regional Iraqi media outlet Kurdistan 24 reported:
Nicholas Heras, one of the study’s co-authors, spoke with Kurdistan 24. He explained that of the six scenarios considered in the report, 'The option that we supported is that the United States should continue to maintain a presence in over one-third of the country' and 'should invest more, both in terms of financial resources and personnel to stabilize' that region of Syria.
Earlier this month the SDF and western coalition forces declared total defeat over ISIS after fully securing the last ISIS holdout town of Baghouz.

Meanwhile, the majority of Syria's population is now under the Syrian government, now reeling from the worst fuel shortage in the nation's history as a result of new oil sanctions targeting Damascus and its ally Iran.

Even with the Islamic State's territorial caliphate now long gone, major oil and gas sites like al-Omar oil field in Deir Ezzor province in Syria's east remain controlled by the SDF and its US backers, something which Damascus has repeatedly condemned before the United Nations as an illegal violation of its sovereignty.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.