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ITALYGATE / 2 SPECIAL – From Mifsud-Di Gabriele to the Steele dossier, the “Spygate” shocks are felt as far as Rome


The investigations on what was renamed “Spygate” in America and seems to be strengthened every day more and more by the determination of the White House to go to the end, to see clearly about the origins of the Russiagate and the conduct of the FBI and of other intelligence agencies. The Trump Campaign has been “spied on” and it is necessary to understand whether in doing so these agencies have complied with laws and procedures, if there was a justified reason, given the extreme delicacy of the case: an administration that decides to put the presidential president first under surveillance , and the elected president then, of the adverse political party. President Trump has just given Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify surveillance documents and any other activities on his campaign, and ordered the intelligence community to “cooperate quickly and fully” with the AG investigation . In addition to the Inspector General of the Justice Department Michael Horowitz, who is reviewing the FBI’s conduct in both the request of the FISA mandate to oversee Carter Page and the use of informants during the early stages of the investigation, he has been working “for weeks” John Durham, Connecticut attorney, who is focusing on the time before the day of the election and on the work not only of the FBI, but also of the other intelligence agencies.In particular, Durham was asked to help Barr “ensure that all information gathering activities related to the Trump Campaign were lawful and appropriate”.

As we have already pointed out in the first episode of our “Italygate”, the main tracks of the Russiagate – the Papadopoulos-Mifsud case and the dossier compiled by the former British services agent Christopher Steele – originated in Italy or passed away, and this calls into question our country, the role of our services, at the time of the facts under the governments Renzi and Gentiloni. Yet, except for a written question presented by two deputies of the Democratic Party on the role of Mifsud and Link Campus University founded by former interior minister Vincenzo Scotti, and some sporadic articles in the national press, no one seems to care.

But in Washington, the magnifying glass on the origins of Russiagate only grows and points in all directions. In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State Pompeo and to the directors of the CIA, NSA and FBI, the entire American intelligence community, the Republican deputy Devin Nunes, former president of the Intelligence Committee of the Chamber, asks to have all the information in their possession on Mifsud.

On Monday, the Telegraph reported that British intelligence chiefs (MI6, MI5) and a close security advisor to premier Theresa May had been informed of the Steele dossier by his own author a few days after Trump’s victory, even before so that the elected president would know about it (January 6, 2017). Which raises some questions about the role of US allied governments in spreading the false statements contained in the dossier and about what actions they have taken based on them and responding to any solicitations from US agencies – not just the FBI. What did Italian services know in those months, given that the dossier also passed through Rome?

Nunes returned to office two days ago, with a letter to President Trump suggesting a series of questions to ask the British premier: among these, if US intelligence agents have informed their British counterparts of the contents of the dossier or any other accusation of collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia; if the British government was informed of, gave permission for, or participated in surveillance and intelligence activities of any government against members of the Trump Campaign; whether current or former British officials and officials have forwarded information, classified or otherwise, to US counterparts about alleged contacts between members of the Trump Campaign and suspected Russian agents;whether on the British side, an assessment of Steele’s reliability and motivation has been provided to current or former intelligence agents and government officials.

But one of the questions concerns Mifsud and takes us back to Italy: President Trump asks May to “describe any communication or relationship that Joseph Mifsud, potentially known – writes Nunes – also as Joseph di Gabriele (a code name that does not sound very British , ed), had with the British intelligence and any information in the possession of the British government about the ties of Mifsud with any other government or intelligence agency “.

Who knows, perhaps these questions have not already been addressed or are not going to be addressed to the Italian government.

Meanwhile, the news of the cancellation of the second lines of our services decided by the President of the Council Conte is the last few days. Now, it may well be that this is a normal spoil system , the “bond of trust” that must exist with the new Executive, but after a year or so since the birth of the government of Venice, the case has meant that the request for resignation of four deputy directors of our intelligence (two from the Dis, one from Aise and one from Aisi) matured just in the days when Trump called our premier to discuss the Libyan dossier and a delegation of US congressmen led by the president of the Justice Commission, close to the president, at the Farnesina he met foreign minister Moavero Milanesi.

An important deadline is also approaching for another “Italian” case that could have something to do with the Russiagate and of which we have already spoken in the first episode of our special : the “EyePyramid” case. On the table of the Prosecutor’s Office of Perugia there are the complaints of the brothers Giulio and Francesca Maria Occhionero, sentenced in first instance to Rome for abusive access to computer systems, which accuse their accusers of making the case against them. They denounce an intense hacking activity even before the news of the crime, several attempts to access Occhionero’s American servers. The magistrates of Perugia have however considered that they have elements that would require the prosecutor in Rome and former president of the ANM Eugenio Albamonte to be indicted, due to the omission of official documents and ideological falsehood, by the technical consultant Federico Ramondino, accused of abusive access a computer system, and two CNAIPIC agents, Ivano Gabrielli and Federico Pereno, for failure to report and false. The hearing before the GUP was set for July 17th.

There are many oddities in the EyePyramid case: starting with the question that Maurizio Mazzella, a friend of Giulio’s accused of aiding and abetting, hears from CNAIPIC agents during a search on January 9, 2017 (on the eve of the Trump settlement in the White House): “Who is your Trump team contact?” Then the international rogatory for Occhionero’s servers on American soil, which the Rome Public Prosecutor never produced in court; the refusal of the FBI manager of the US embassy in Rome, Kieran Ramsey, to testify in the trial; the common attendance of Link University by many actors of the EyePyramid case, by the safety manager of ENAV Francesco Di Maio, from which the news of crime originated, at the Albamonte pm, passing through the former head of the Postal Police of Ties.

Meanwhile, in Washington it is always emerging with greater clarity that the opening of the first formal cross-intelligence “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, on July 31, 2016, and the request for authorization to spy on the Trump Campaign through Councilor Carter Page, advanced by FBI to the FISA court on October 21, was based on false premises, if not real excuses – as ex-prosecutor Andrew McCarthy concluded in National Review . In the first case, the alleged Russian help with Clinton’s e-mails that Mifsud proposed to Papadopoulos, in the second Steele file. That the FBI was misled, by the antipathy to Trump that his agents shared with the Democrats or by the nondescript friendlies (especially Clinton), or that she herself was co-star in her leadership of a manufacture, it is to be seen. But both these strands, as we have seen and as we shall see, originated in Rome, or have at least passed away.

According to what can be seen from the Mueller report, the FBI has never had serious elements that credited the hypothesis at the origin of everything – namely that the Trump Campaign was aware, and potentially complicit, of the fact that Russia possessed and intended spread the hacked emails to the National Democratic Committee (DNC), to damage Clinton and help Trump – and therefore justify the opening of investigations and the use of such invasive investigative tools. At least not from the meetings between Papadopoulos and Mifsud, which instead the FBI claims were the basis of the first formal investigation opened on July 31st.

Papadopoulos knew nothing about emails hacked to the DNC and probably no other email. Beyond its version, there is no evidence that Mifsud really talked to him about these emails. The FBI questioned him on February 10, 2017, a couple of weeks after he started questioning Papadopoulos, and the professor denied ever knowing, and never spoke in their meetings of emails owned by the Russians .

The Trump-Russia investigation continued for over two years, Mueller accused many people, including Papadopoulos, of lying to the FBI. Still, he never accused Mifsud, evidently believing he had no reason to doubt his denial and to think he could know something about the famous emails.

A careful reading of the Mueller report does not lead to the certainty that the mysterious professor was a Russian agent.Mueller alludes to this, writes that Papadopoulos was right to believe it, but does not claim that it really was. Certainly, if it was, an incredible number of Western academic, political and security personalities and institutions with whom he was in close contact – and as it happens Mueller fails to mention in his report – could have been seriously compromised, a gigantic flaw in the security of the United States and allied governments. But Mifsud has never been treated as such a potential threat, neither by the FBI nor by other Western services.

If it is not an asset of Russian services, however, the FBI and Mueller have a problem in their narration. Why in his report does the special prosecutor suggest that he is without actually affirming it directly? If it were an asset of some Western intelligence, then this would prove that Papadopouls was lured and framed, as early as the spring of 2016, long before the formal Crossfire Hurricaneinvestigation was opened.

So the question is: who was he working for, or who was Mifsud working with when he came into contact with Papadopoulos in a way that was anything but casual, as soon as he joined the Trump Campaign?

The answer could be found in Rome, since it is at Link Universitythat they met for the first time, and it is still in Rome that the professor was seen for the last time before disappearing (according to some reconstructions of the press at the suggestion of the Italian secret services) and where it would still hide.

From what was recently revealed by the New York Times , the attractive woman named “Azra Turk” in whose company Professor Stefan Halper met Papadopoulos in London in September 2016, presenting her as his research assistant, was actually an agent of ‘FBI undercover. The agency, the NYT reports, had sent it to London as part of the Trump-Russia ties that it opened on that summer: it wanted a qualified detective to get information or even just a witness in the event of a criminal proceeding. Several resources were used overseas with members of the Trump Campaign as a target, but “without obtaining profitable information,” the newspaper said.

Papadopoulos recently revealed in an interview that the FBI even asked his current wife, Simona Mangiante, Italian, to wear a microphone and intercept it. A former collaborator of Gianni Pittella in the European Parliament, Mangiante knows George in September 2016 while working in London for Mifsud (known in 2012 thanks to the former president of the SD group and now a deputy Pd), but the two will meet only in March 2017 “There are many beautiful women who have entered my life since I met Mifsud,” Papadopoulos commented, testifying at the Congress.

But back to the Turk, if in September the FBI was still trying to confirm with its own resources what Mifsud had revealed to Papadopoulos, and to understand the extent of contacts between the Trump Campaign advisers and Russia, this leads to excluding that the professor was an own resource of the agency and to hypothesize that it was perhaps of allied services. Which, going back to one of the questions we already asked ourselves in the previous episode , would support the hypothesis that the FBI was led to suspect a collusion between Trump and Russia from foreign intelligence information and resources.

However, before being questioned by the FBI in January 2017, it does not appear that Papadopoulos himself has ever told anyone that Russia had Clinton emails – not even to his superiors in the Campaign, which he kept up to date on his talks with Mifsud. It is only from the interrogation, nine months after his interview with Mifsud, that it emerges for the first time that the “dirt” material on Hillary owned by the Russians that Link’s professor was going to talk about consisted of “thousands of Clinton emails “(Who told the agents what they wanted to hear?).

But there is no evidence that Papadopoulos was ever really told anything about those emails and Russia’s intentions to spread malicious information about Clinton. And no proof that he ever talked to anyone, including Alexander Downer. The Australian diplomat reports his May conversation with Papadopoulos over two months later, on 26 July. Four days earlier WikiLeaks had begun to spread hacked emails to the DNC. Only then did Downer remember the conversation with Papadopoulos, previously considered insignificant, and arrive at the groundless deduction that Papadopoulos was referring to those emails when he confided to him that Russia had “dirt” material on Clinton.

But with Downer, Papadopoulos never talked about emails. And neither Downer nor Papadopoulos ever claimed that there was talk of email. It does not appear in the Mueller report. Nor is it claimed that Mifsud told Papadopoulos that Russia intended to spread harmful information about Clinton through an intermediary ( WikiLeaks ), or that Papadopoulos reported anything like this to Downer. Neither in the Mueller report nor in the “Crime Declaration” filed in connection with Papadopoulos’ admission of guilty, it is alleged that Mifsud told him what Russia was planning to do, and why, with the “dirt” material on Clinton in his possession.And again: Mifsud has repeatedly denied having said anything about emails and Mueller has never accused him of falsely declaring it.

In any case, the “thousands of Clinton emails” to which, according to Papadopoulos, Mifsud referred were not those hacked to the DNC and broadcast by WikiLeaks in July, but the thousands of emails from the State Department and the Clinton Foundation that the candidate had kept in her private server when she was Secretary of State. Those of the case called “emailgate” , on which an FBI investigation was underway and of which the media spoke extensively in the weeks, between March and April 2016, of the meetings between Papadopoulos and Mifsud, when neither of them could know anything about the emails hacked to the DNC.

Thus, Downer’s mistaken assumption that Papadopoulos referred to these latest emails fueled the theory of the Trump-Russia conspiracy in the Obama administration – first in the State Department, then in the Justice Department, the FBI, and in the entire intelligence community.

Also on this passage Mueller is ably elusive in his report. He avoids mentioning both Downer and Papadopoulos, he does not describe what Papadopoulos really told Downer, but what Downer understood Papadopoulos to have “suggested”, suggesting that Russia’s dissemination, via WikiLeaks, of emails hacked to the DNC should be what Papadopoulos had told Downer while he wasn’t.

The suspicion, therefore, is that the emphasis on Papadopoulos’ role served the FBI to cover the credit given to the Steele dossier – another key element at the origin of Russiagate which, as we shall see, also passes through Rome.

In June 2016 the author, or rather the compiler of the dossier, is in Rome to report to “an FBI contact” with whom he had already collaborated in the past. And on July 5, about three weeks before the Downer report, with the approval of the State Department for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, the agent Michael Gaeta, FBI attorney at the Rome embassy , flies to London, where he meets Steele (at his company’s headquarters: the Orbis ), who shows him “from two to four pages of brief notes”. Why not the agent stationed at the US embassy in the British capital? It is very probable that it was the agent Gaeta, from Rome, who managed the Steele resource. Obviously, after obtaining the support of the State Department and the FBI’s go-ahead for the meeting, Gaeta did not fail to report what he had learned. “Our immediate reaction”, will tell Nuland, who had already received many reports from Steele on other events, was that they had to “reach the FBI”, that it was “something to investigate”. In September Steele is back in Rome, where he meets with four other FBI and Department of Justice agents, in a place defined as “discreet”.

Thus, concludes McCarthy, when in late Downer reports about his conversation with Papadopoulos in late July, the Obama administration has been at work for at least a month, that is, since he began receiving the first reports of the Steele dossier, on the theory that Russia was helping Trump, with whom the DNC email hacking was done with a brush.

Downer information, then from a friendly government, allowed the Obama administration to cover up an investigative hypothesis it was already pursuing. But it needed the false connection between what Papadopoulos had told Downer and the hacker and the spread of DNC emails to justify the opening of a formal investigation, Crossfire Hurricane , to cover the fact already underway. Too bad it was on the basis of a fake dossier, compiled by Steele and paid for by a company, Fusion GPS , to which the DNC and the Clinton Campaign had commissioned the search for compromising material on the opponent, Donald Trump, during the election campaign .That is why it was necessary to validate, or rather to fabricate another event as a trigger for the investigation and because today all the former Obama administration’s intelligence officers try to distance themselves from the dossier.

Not surprisingly, in the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), its conclusions on Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, the Obama administration did not include the Steele dossier, which instead had used all the way, for four times, for obtain a mandate from the FISA court to supervise the advisor of the Trump Carter Page Campaign. Why? Because everyone knew that the statements in the file were not verified. “Salacious and unverified,” the FBI director Comey called him in Congressional hearing.

But these days it also emerged that, even before making its first request to the FISA court, the FBI knew 1) that the file was not verified and probably not even credible and 2) that it was compiled with a political purpose, damage Trump, commissioned by his opponents.

About ten days before the Court first authorized the surveillance according to FISA rules on October 21, 2016, Steele was questioned by a State Department official, Kathleen Kavalec, who collected notes of the meeting and then moved on to the ‘FBI. From that interview it emerged that one of Steele’s main claims was an invention. In her notes, Kavalec also clearly warned that Steele had admitted that his clients were “anxious” to release his information before November 8, election day. In short, they had a political deadline, rather than intelligence. Even from notes and testimony from Justice Department official Bruce Ohr it emerged that Steele had admitted from the outset that he “desperately wanted” to have Trump lose the election, that he was working for his opponent and that he considered his information raw and unverified. Ohr testified to Congress that he had warned the FBI and other officials of the Department about this in August 2016. Yet, in 2016 alone, 11 payments made by the agency to Steele were reported by the Department of Justice and the FBI, some of which, therefore, while he was already working for Fusion GPS in search of compromising material on Trump.

In short, the FBI knew that Steele had political motivation and election day as a deadline to make his dossier public.

While the procedures require that the information be examined from the point of view of their factual accuracy before being submitted to the FISA Court, the FBI has carefully avoided reporting these “details” in the first “Verified Application” delivered to the judges, who they were deliberately led to believe that Steele was trustworthy and that “derogatory information” was not known about him. In some footnotes, he confined himself to assuming that he could have political motivations, while he was certain of them. Not only that, the FBI continued to include the statements contained in the dossier in subsequent applications for the three surveillance renewals – in January, April and June 2017. Furthermore, the FBI also told the judges not to believe that Steele was the a “direct” source of the file’s leaks to the media, while not only most likely it was, but Steele himself had told Kavalec that he was having relations with the press and that some of them had his information.

Who of the Obama administration’s intelligence community has continued to “push” the file despite its unreliability being known even before it was used, insisting that it be included in the ICA? The blame game started: Comey suggests he was the director of CIA Brennan. Brennan says Comey. And if Steele was not the “direct” source of information contained in his file, but only his compiler, who were the real sources of the file?

In its notes, Kavalec pinned only two names as “sources”: the former Russian agent, and first deputy foreign minister, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, and Kremlin councilor Vladislav Surkov. Steele himself worked as a private investigator for Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum oligarch known to be Putin’s close friend. All this makes the Steele file appear in a different light: that it was a Russian disinformation operation in which US agencies fell is a hypothesis at this point “not entirely speculative”, noted Barr. In that case, it would be a full part of the interference attempts in the elections and would be the only real element of collusion between Russia and one of the two candidates for the US presidency in 2016 – only, not Trump.

But did Steele also use other sources? One of the hoaxes contained in the dossier is that in the summer of 2016, at the height of the campaign, Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, traveled to Prague – entering however from another Schengen area country to lose his tracks – to meet secretly with Russian agents and pay the hackers who had hacked the DNC servers. But Cohen was not in Prague that summer, the Mueller investigation has established. How did it end up in the file then? Cohen had actually arrived in Italy, in Rome, on 9 July 2016, for a holiday in Capri with family and friends (including musician Steven Van Zandt), and then departed from Rome Fiumicino airport on 17 July. And perhaps another Cohen (a fairly common name) may have taken a flight from Rome Fiumicino to Prague at that time. Not the same person, then, but someone may have linked Trump’s attorney’s flight to Rome with the flight of one of his names from Rome to Prague. It would be interesting to ask ENAV, the body that manages civil air traffic in Italy.

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