It wasn’t just what ex-FBI director James Comey told senators about the lead-up to Donald Trump burning him over his Russia investigation. It was what he intimated, indicated, gleamed, and implied about possible ties between Team Trump and the Kremlin.
Throughout the three-hour hearing, Comey declined several breadcrumbs for legislators, FBI inspectors, reporters, concerned citizens, and Tweetstormers to follow. Here are five members of these enticing possible clues.
American Hackers ?
So far, there are few public indications that there were any Americans involved in hacking the 2016 expedition. The Democratic Party structures were infiltrated by the Russian-intelligence-aligned spoofing gangs known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear. The disseminators of the exfiltrated data are entities either known to be or suspected of being foreign: DCLeaks, Guccifer2. 0 and WikiLeaks. But Comey showed- perhaps idly, surely publicly- that there might surely have been a domestic tie-up.
As the nearly three-hour discovering trace to a open, Comey mused about the “vital” importance of special admonish Robert Mueller’s inquiry, owing to the lingering threat from Russian electoral intervention.” I know I should have said this earlier, it’s obvious, but if any Americans were part of helping the Russians do that to us, that is a very big deal ,” Comey spoke.” And I’m confident that if that is the case, Director Mueller will find that testify .”
Establishing a tie-up is not simply to Russia but to the spoofing legions themselves is very likely to lead to an active criminal case. Practically two years after the Russians inaugurated attending digital reconnaissance on the Democratic National Committee structures , no American has been accused of aiding them, let alone impeached, let alone convicted.
Thus far, the closest known fasten between any American and Russian hacking squads is a series of August 2016 Twitter direct messages between Guccifer2. 0 and geriatric dandy and dirty tricksman Roger Stone, a Trump ally, who boasted of knowing about John Podesta’s spoofed emails before the latter are public. Stone also said last summer he was in contact with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, ahead of a WikiLeaks Podesta email dump that Stone months earlier mused would be an” October amaze .” WikiLeaks revokes any such contact took place. As well, the Wall Street Journal lately reported that Guccifer2. 0 was also in contact with a Florida Republican operative, Aaron Nevis, who too posted pilfered DNC documents to his pseudonymous blog.
The loathsome” Golden Showers” dossier, compiled by onetime British agent Christopher Steele, has been largely lambasted as a part of rumor and fiction. But Comey on Thursday implied there might be something to at least some of the dossier’s pretensions, even as he announced some of the information that is” salacious and unverified .”
” If you &# x27; ve got a 36 -page document of specific claims … the FBI would have to, for counterintelligence rationales, try to verify anything that might be claimed in there … Maybe first and foremost is the counterintelligence concerns that we have about coercion. Would that be an accurate statement ?” questioned Sen. Richard Burr, the committee’s Republican chairman.
” Yes. If the FBI receives a reliable allegation that there is some effort to co-opt, pressure, direct, employ covertly an American on behalf of the members of the foreign capability ,” Comey refuted.
” And when you read the dossier, what was your reaction ?” Burr countered.
” Not a few questions I can answer in open place, Mr. Chairman ,” Comey replied.
The dossier’s most outlandish accusations concerned Trump being are available in lewd routines with Russian fornication workers. In his written and oral testimony, Comey said this was a subject Trump brought up more than formerly. Months after Comey had told Trump about the dossier’s allegations, the president again introduced them up. Trump” said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with prostitutes in Russia, and had always presumed he was being entered when in Russia ,” Comey wrote.
Shifty Jeff Sessions ?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from Russia-related inquiry matters on March 2. Sessions did so reluctantly, after it was been demonstrated that he had met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But Comey intimated there was something more at work.
Sessions’ recusal was ” inevitabl[ e ],” he told Senator Ron Wyden. But then Comey said he and the FBI were “also” aware of” facts that I can &# x27; t discuss in an opening mounting that would constitute his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic .”
The fact that Sessions matched Kislyak several times is public — Hearing contained a news conference about them. If the latter are the sum total of his “problematic” ties to Russia, Comey would have no need to go into closed session to discuss them.
Additionally, Senator Kamala Harris, a freshman Democrat and onetime California attorney general, leaned hard into suggestions that Sessions has not fully recused himself from the examination. Comey said his former boss was that he had consulted with” job morals officials that know how to run a recusal ,” but didn’t know how solely Sessions is fencing himself off from the inquiry.
Vice President Mike Pence has been evoked as the principal victims of Michael Flynn’s perfidy for “re fucking lying to” him about his entitle with Kislyak about sanctions. Nonetheless, Comey said it’s his “understanding” that Pence was aware of its deep concern bordering Flynn prior to or during his tenure as national protection consultant. Those relates included Flynn’s non-disclosure of his lobbying on behalf of Turkey and his remittance for a speech to Kremlin-owned network RT. Rep. Elijah Cummings sent a letter to the Trump transition team on Nov. 18 — the day Flynn was announced as national insurance adviser — informing them of Flynn’s foreign troubles. Pence was the heads of state of the transition team, but despite that has claimed he was unaware Flynn was a non-registered foreign agent until Flynn registered with the Justice Department in May.
And it’s not just Pence. Interviews also circumvent what and when CIA Director Mike Pompeo knew about Flynn- whom Comey approved on Thursday has been under active criminal investigation.
That investigation stemmed from Flynn lying to FBI negotiators about his conversations with Kislyak, something that then-acting us attorney general Sally Yates first told the White House about on January 26. Yates’ fear, she would afterward vouch, is that the national certificate consultant was vulnerable to Russian blackmail, “the worlds largest” counterintelligence regard a elderly U.S. official can front. Yates testified that her concerns were discussed within the U.S. intelligence community. One of the officials who might be expected to have been looped in on that is CIA director Pompeo.
On May 11, during Senate testimony, Pompeo told Wyden he had no ” first-hand ” knowledge of Yates’ applies- nor even any” second-hand or third-hand knowledge of that conversation either .”
But Comey indicated otherwise on Thursday when Wyden would like to know whether Yates’ horrors about Flynn would have been discussed with” anyone at the CIA or Dan Coats’ role, the DNI ?”
Comey was far away from exhaustive, but nevertheless rebutted:” I would assume, yes .”
The Bank of Spies
During the hearing, Sen. Angus King asked a seemingly innocuous contention:” What do you are familiar with the Russian bank VEB ?”
Comey promptly answered,” Nothing that I can talk about in an open[ unclassified] mounting .”
But there is quite a bit are well aware of the Russian state-owned development bank known as VEB, suddenly for Vnesheconobank. The bank, leader by a former intelligence officer Sergei Gorkov, is so close to the Kremlin that the U.S. authority sanctioned it after Russia made over Crimea in 2014. (” This is not a bank ,” one adviser told the New York Times.” We should rather treat this bank as a government agency .)
One of the executives still listed on its website, Evgeny Buryakov, is a convicted spy who recently completed his sentence in federal confinement and was instantly kicked out of the country. Buryakov’s counterparts in Russia’s foreign intelligence service, or SVR, is seeking to draft Carter Page before he became a foreign policy consultant to the Trump campaign.
Most importantly, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top aide, privately is consistent with Gorkov after Trump’s election.
What exactly they examined is subject to contravention, but Comey intimated Thursday that whatever investigates uncovered about that conversation–and about the bank–would be extremely sensitive.
— Additional reporting by Justin Miller