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Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe partially declassified numerous documents Thursday on the FBI’s defensive briefing given in August, 2016 to then Republican candidate Donald Trump, former national security advisor Michael Flynn and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Those documents are now public and have been reviewed by this reporter.
Ratcliffe sent the declassified briefing documents to Senators Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Ron Johnson, with the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
“Pursuant to multiple prior requests regarding intelligence briefings provided during the 2016 Presidential campaign, including your letters dated 25 April 2019; 16 October 2019; and 16 April 2020, please see the enclosed declassified documents,” Ratcliffe stated in a letter to the Senators.
The now declassified defensive briefing documents from 2016, were signed and approved by former FBI Special Agent Kevin Clinesmith, who was outed by the DOJ’s Inspector General for falsifying and omitting information in the Foreign Intelligence Application warrant against Carter Page. The other signatory on the defensive documents was former Special Agent Peter Strzok.
Strzok was removed from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump Russia and was later fired by the bureau after thousands of anti-Trump texts were discovered between him and his then lover FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The now debunked Russia probe investigation and the investigations looking into the bureau’s malfeasance reveals that the FBI was collecting information directly on Trump for political purposes.
The case ID on the defensive briefing document titled ‘(Redacted) Document Brief to Republican Candidate for U.S. President’ is noted as 97-HQ-2026661 (Redacted) Crossfire Hurricane; Foreign Agents Registration Act – Russia. It was a summary written by FBI Special Agent Joe Pientka, who is still employed by the bureau. Pientka also conducted the briefing with Trump and the officials on the 25th floor of the FBI’s New York Field Office in a classified SCIF.
“(Redacted) Statistically speaking the FBI has approximately (redacted) cases of Known or Suspected Russian IOs posted to the US,” stated Pientka during the briefing.
“We also have approximately (redacted) cases on Known or Suspected Chinese IOs – almost (redacted) the Russian establishment presence,” he told the group that day. No one realized that while Pientka was debriefing them, he was also collecting information on them believing that Flynn, along with Trump, may have been in the pocket of Russia’s intelligence services.
Pientka recalled in the summary that Trump asked the following question, “Joe, are the Russians bad? Because they have more numbers, are they worse than the Chinese?”
Pientka said that he responded with “both countries are bad.”
Flynn appeared to be more concerned about the lack of resources the bureau had and that there wasn’t enough budget or manpower to deal with the growing threat of violent extremists. He asked Pientka, “How many Special Agents are in the FBI?”
Pientka responded that he thought over 10,000 bureau Special Agents. Flynn stated “you have 17,000” showing his knowledge of bureau resources.
“How many HVE (Home Grown Violent Extremists) cases does the FBI have,” asked Flynn, and Pientka responded but that number is redacted from the documents.
Pientka then stated in his summary that Flynn spoke to Trump saying, “See, they don’t have enough resources to work the HVE (Home Grown Violent Extremists) threat and the IOs (Intelligence Officers).”
Flynn then asked Pientka “Is it worse now than during the Cold War?”
Pientka stated in document that the “number of identified known and suspected IOs from hostile Foreign Intelligence Services posted in the U.S. are equal to or greater than during the Cold War.”
A former federal law enforcement official told this reporter, “It’s interesting that the defensive briefing for a potential president was listed as part of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”
“It reveals that the bureau went beyond Flynn in collecting information on then candidate Trump,” stated the source, with knowledge of the case. “It’s unbelievable actually and crossed a very dangerous line.”
The once highly classified defensive briefing summary dated August 30, 2016, states: “This communication documents writer’s counter(intelligence)…security briefing to the Republican candidate for U.S. President Donald J. Trump, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and General (retired) Michael Flynn.
It also notes the day the FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation as July, 31, 2016.
It states that the writer of the document, is Joe Pientka, III, who provided a “counterintelligence and security briefing to U.S. Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump” along with Flynn and Christie. Pientka is still with the bureau and has never been questioned by Congress. He was with Strzok in January, 2017 at the White House when they went to question then national security advisor Flynn.
“The briefing is standard practice for potential candidates for presidency and their senior advisors,” stated a former FBI Official. “However, spying on a presidential candidate during a briefing isn’t.”
The documents states that “(Redacted) Writer’s brief lasted approximately thirteen minutes, stating at 1555 and ending at 1608,” in military hours.
“Upon entering the room Trump, Christie and Flynn shook hands with all the briefers. Trump, Christie and Flynn sat with their backs to the clocks facing the windows while the briefers sat across from them. An ODNI briefer, Edward Gistaro, initiated the briefing by discussing the history job the briefings and establishing the ground rules regarding the brief, specifically that the briefers would not answer policy related questions and would not discuss any operations,” the document written by Pientka states.
“Gistaro then introduced writer, who approved the following brief (not verbatim, this is a summary):
Good afternoon gentlemen and welcome to the FBI’s New York Field Office. My name is Joe Pientka and I’m a Supervisory Special Agent of a Foreign Counterintelligence Squad at the FBI’s Washington Field Office,” stated Pientka, who went on to introduce himself to the group, stating that his brief would give Trump, along with the team, “a baseline on the methodology used by Foreign Intelligence Services to the detriment of U.S. National Security.”
“In addition, this brief will advise you that if you are not already a target of a Foreign Intelligence Service, due to the fact you are receiving this classified briefing, you will be,” stated Pientka, as disclosed in the document. “Foreign intelligence Services want information pertaining to political, economic, energy, technology and military policy/plans of the U.S. This information is extremely valuable to our trusted allies. Putting it plainly, Foreign Intelligence Services look to collect inside information to give their country a competitive advantage over the U.S.”
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Multiple states launch lawsuit against Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan
Breaking Thursday, the states of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, and South Carolina joined together to file a lawsuit against President Biden’s administration in order to stop the student loan-forgiveness program from taking effect.
“In addition to being economically unwise and downright unfair, the Biden Administration’s Mass Debt Cancellation is yet another example in a long line of unlawful regulatory actions,” argued the plaintiffs in their filing.
The attorneys general spearheading the legal challenge also submit that “no statute permits President Biden to unilaterally relieve millions of individuals from their obligation to pay loans they voluntarily assumed.”
Biden, however, has argued that he is able to unilaterally cancel student debt to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, writes National Review, a Department of Education memo released by his administration asserts that the HEROES Act, which passed in 2003 and allows the secretary of education to provide student-debt relief “in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency,” provides the legal basis for the cancellation.
But, National Review notes that the plaintiffs point out that Biden declared in a recent 60 Minutes interview that “the pandemic is over.”
The legal brief also adds:
“The [HEROES] Act requires ED [Education Department] to tailor any waiver or modification as necessary to address the actual financial harm suffered by a borrower due to the relevant military operation or emergency… This relief comes to every borrower regardless of whether her income rose or fell during the pandemic or whether she is in a better position today as to her student loans than before the pandemic.”
Moreover, they argue that the HEROES Act was designed to allow the secretary to provide relief in individual cases with proper justification.
The first lawsuit against Biden’s executive order came Tuesday from the Pacific Legal Foundation:
“The administration has created new problems for borrowers in at least six states that tax loan cancellation as income. People like Plaintiff Frank Garrison will actually be worse off because of the cancellation. Indeed, Mr. Garrison will face immediate tax liability from the state of Indiana because of the automatic cancellation of a portion of his debt,” wrote PLF in their own brief.
The state-led lawsuit was filed in a federal district court in Missouri, and asks that the court “temporarily restrain and preliminarily and permanently enjoin implementation and enforcement of the Mass Debt Cancellation,” and declare that it “violates the separation of powers established by the U.S. Constitution,” as well as the Administrative Procedure Act.
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