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THREAD: The Mueller Report is conspicuously silent on the harm to US national security from the Trump team’s dalliances w Russian emissaries during 2015-2017, but a little-noticed DoJ filing last Friday sheds light on Mueller’s ongoing counter-intelligence (CI) investigation. 1/
On April 19 the DC US Attorney’s Office and DOJ’s National Security Division submitted a sentencing memorandum in the Maria Butina case. 2/ assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5972…
It spells out in stark terms why Butina posed a threat to US national security with a heavy focus on three types of intelligence activities: “access agents,” “spot-and-assess” operations, and “back channel lines of communication.” 3/
Curiously, very few people have picked up on an addendum to the filing written by the fmr head of FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Robert Anderson. It’s easy enough to extrapolate from Anderson some elements of the CI assessment that is a central part to Mueller's inquiry 4/
Robert Anderson, whose declaration appears on pp 24-28, is no run of the mill figure. 5/ courthousenews.com/wp-content/upl…
Anderson worked on many of the Bureau’s most prominent counter-intelligence cases of the past 20 years. 6/ cyberga.com/wp/wp-content/…
He is a surprisingly visible figure who criticized the Trump team’s “calculated, brutal” attacks on Mueller, the FBI, and the US intelligence/law enforcement communities, which he described as “unfair, unwise and disgusting” in a 2018 op-ed. 7/ delawareonline.com/story/opinion/…
Back to the filing. It explains the strategic rationale behind Moscow’s efforts to penetrate US political circles and conduct influence operations. DOJ’s concerns are non-trivial and go to the heart of the Kremlin’s activities and targeting of the Trump team in 2015-2017. 8/
DOJ stresses that Butina’s activities bear the hallmarks of a spot-and-assess operation: “While completely innocuous in other contexts, access agents play a key
role for foreign intelligence services in the conduct of influence operations. ..." 9/
"...Access agents mayor may not be witting—and may be somewhat witting—about the intent behind the foreign government’s taskings.” DOJ explains why the fact Butina didn't act like a covert intelligence operative is actually beside the point. 10/
DOJ explains why Trumpworld's enthusiasm for back-channels was so reckless and ripe for exploitation. “Such channels bypass open channels of diplomacy and can be used to win concessions or influence positions that contradict declared official policies articulated by govt's.” 11/
Per DOJ there was nothing clownish about the activities of Butina and her Moscow-based supervisor Nikolai Torshin. Ditto for Veselnitskaya and the Trump Tower meeting. It also doesn’t matter if these people were freelancers who simply scored meetings with big-name figures. 12/
Think for a moment about everyone in the Mueller report who had unusual contacts with Russians or sketchy figures (or knowledge thereof). It’s a very long list--Trump, Don Jr., Ivanka, Kushner, Mike Flynn, Manafort, Cohen, Bannon, Erik Prince, Roger Stone just to name a few. 13/
The DOJ damage assessment is grim. These types of interactions created a reservoir of information about vulnerabilities that, Anderson explains, “is of substantial intelligence value to the Russian govt and…" 14/
"...Russian intelligence services will be able to use this information for years to come in their efforts to spot and assess Americans who may be susceptible to recruitment as foreign intelligence assets.” 15/
Anderson is scathing about the impact of back channel amateur hour, which can create "commensurate harm to the US, incl harm to the integrity of the US’ political processes and internal government dealings, as well as to US foreign policy interests and national security" 16/
Seen against this backdrop, it’s clear that the conduct outlined in Volume I of the Mueller Report created enormous damage to US national security. Recall that none of what Mueller covers in the CI investigation requires mustering proof of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. 17/
But as Anderson explains, “Russia’s efforts targeting the United States take a myriad of forms — it is, in essence, a numbers game. Not every intelligence campaign needs to be successful for Russia to have achieved its goals.” END
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