In January of 2017 California Senator Dianne Feinstein abdicated her position as Vice-Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). Upon the initiation of a new congress, and two weeks before the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Virginia Senator Mark Warner took the SSCI Vice-Chair seat…. and that’s how things get started.
Amid a concerted effort to resist the incoming administration the Russia Collusion Conspiracy was launched. Politicians, the U.S. intelligence apparatus and DC beltway media united in common purpose to push a Trump-Russia narrative.
Within the early days of that effort, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence initiated an investigation into Russian interference with the election. Chairman Richard Burr and Vice-Chair Warner were toasted throughout DC as an example of bipartisan oversight against what House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called a “fraudulent president.”
Sometime in late February/early March 2017 Senator Warner requested a copy of the top secret FISA application used against Carter Page, falsely accusing him of being “an agent of a foreign power.” Simultaneous to this the FBI was trying to track down the details of dozens of classified intelligence leaks to the media from within the DC system. FBI Special Agent, Washington DC Field Office, Brian Dugan appears to have been tasked with tracking and identifying intelligence leakers. Dugan saw an opportunity.
On March 17, 2017, in order to fulfill the request of SSCI Vice-Chairman Mark Warner, Agent Dugan goes to the FISA Court and picks up a copy of the FISA application. At the time there were only two components: The original application (Oct ’16), and the first renewal (Jan ’17). The next renewal did not come until April and then again in June.
The FBI went to FISA Court for their copy. The FISA Clerk stamped the copy with the Date March 17, 2017, and Dugan returned to the Washington Field Office of the FBI.
We know this was the process, because Dugan later writes the copy was “an FBI equity”, meaning the origination of the leaked document came from the FBI. Not the DOJ-NSD or the FISA Court directly (the two other possible sources).
When SSA Dugan returned to the FBI office he changed the dates (by one day) on the application and first renewal, presumably as a leak tracer, and prepared them for release.
Throughout this process DOJ Main Justice appears purposefully unaware. The Washington Field Office FBI were limiting information in order to track classified leaks.
This exclusion process narrows the possibility.
Later in the afternoon of March 17, 2017, the WFO delivered the FISA application to SSCI Security Director James Wolfe. [Wolfe indictment page 6 – Line 17, 18]
Shortly after 4:00pm Mark Warner arrives at the SSCI Sensitive Comparmented Information Facility, or SCIF. We discover this exact timeframe from text messages belonging to Chris Steele’s U.S. Attorney, Adam Waldman. More on that in a minute.
Before, during or after Senator Warner’s review of the FISA application, SSCI Security Director James Wolfe leaked the FISA application content to his allied media cohort, a journalist at Buzzfeed, Ali Watkins.
Additional material later released puts the most likely sequence for Wolfe’s leak coming after Warner’s review.
The leak was accomplished by a series of picture texts. The original FISA application is 83 pages in total with one intentionally blank page [Ali Watkins is “Reporter #2”]:
James Wolfe took a photograph of each of the pages and then sent those 82 image texts to Ms. Ali Watkins. At this moment, March 17, 2017, Ms. Watkins now holds a copy of the unredacted original FISA application. However, the copy also carries the leak tracer.
After reporting of Carter Page (Male 1) appears in Buzzfeed written by Watkins; and after both the New York Times and Washington Post publish articles about the FISA application using the leak trace information; the FBI now knows the leak came from the SSCI.
Over the next several months physical surveillance on Wolfe is conducted. The FBI must have been able to gather very credible evidence that Wolfe was the leaker to Watkins because eventually a DC judge granted the FBI a search warrant for Ms. Watkins records.
It is very difficult to get a warrant on a journalist. There are tight legal protocols for doing so. The evidence gathered must have been very overwhelming. The court granted the search warrant. Ms. Watkins is unaware. Additionally, and importantly, it appears Main Justice now occupied by the Mueller investigation, is also unaware. [Doc Link]
The search warrant runs from Feb 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017. This specific leak of the FISA application is March 17, 2017.
Somewhere in/around this mid-late summer timeframe the Washington Field Office FBI also retrieved text messages from Lawyer and registered Lobbyist Adam Waldman.
We know the text messages are from Waldman’s side of the conversation from the attached screenshots later released. We also know the date of the capture was similar to Ms. Ali Watkins. Feb 15, 2017 to May 15, 2017. Again the Wolfe leak was March 17th.
The telephone communication of both SSCI Vice-Chairman Senator Warner and Journalist Ali Watkins were captured. This indicates both were suspects in the investigation. Thus, it seems likely the Wolfe pictures were sent *after* Mark Warner reviewed them, not before.
It would be very tenuous for the FBI to capture texts messages from the sitting Vice-Chair of the SSCI. This is not something the Washington Field Office of the FBI would do lightly. That aspect also explains why the texts were captured from the Waldman side of the conversation. Much easier to get the texts of a lobbyist than a sitting SSCI member.
In October 2017 the FBI first approached Wolfe with an fyi on the leak investigation to see how he would respond. [Indictment Here] By mid December 2017 Wolfe is confronted. He lied repeatedly, until shown the evidence, then he admitted, and admitted he lied.
James Wolfe was quietly removed from the SSCI immediately after, and was in a state of suspension until his indictment was unsealed June 8th. However, it’s the story between December 2017 and June 8th where things are very interesting.
As you can see from above, Mueller and the 17 resistance members that took over Main Justice had no idea any of this FBI investigation was happening, UNTIL the FBI investigative files were transferred to seat a grand jury to hear the evidence.
It appears FBI SSA Brian Dugan finished his investigation immediately after Wolfe left the SSCI; or soon thereafter. Somewhere around the end of January, to first week of February, all reports and FBI evidence would be submitted.
That transfer included: the March 17, 2017, FISA application with leak tracers; the Ali Watkins phone records; the Adam Waldman/Mark Warner phone records; and all the subsequent interview notes with James Wolfe and other parties (FD-302’s etc).
Keep in mind, every investigation that touched on Trump-Russia became proprietary to the Robert Mueller Special Counsel. This FBI investigation centered around the FISA application which was at the center of the special counsel probe.
This means the Mueller special counsel took ownership and control over the FBI evidence in the totality of the Wolfe investigation.
The evidence did not go to a grand jury.
On February 9, 2018, the evidentiary text messages capturing Mark Warner’s involvement with James Wolfe were sent back to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:
In essence, Senator Mark Warner was given a head’s up. Or put another way, time to clean up any sticky issues and narrate a justification.
Four days later, February 13, 2018, the DOJ notified Ali Watkins, and the New York Times, that all of her communications were intercepted as part of the investigation. By now Wolfe was two months removed from his position; undoubtedly Watkins knew.
The Wolfe Grand Jury was not seated until May 3, 2018; and the indictment unsealed on June 8, 2018. [link] All the work that SSA Brian Dugan put into catching an intelligence leaker was ignored. Wolfe was only indicted for lying to the FBI because it appears the grand jury never saw the evidence of his leaking the FISA application.
Why not? Because an admission of the FISA leak would have been toxic to the special counsel. It would have also been toxic to the SSCI and specifically Senator Mark Warner.
It appears the evidence file went into Main Justice with clear and overwhelming evidence of Wolfe leaking the FISA, only to have it return to DC USAO Jessie Liu, for presentation to the grand jury, with the evidence of that core element removed. Ergo, Wolfe was only charged with lying to the FBI.
However, it appears Dugan didn’t relent. In a sentencing attachment on December 14th 2018, well after the plea agreement was concluded, Dugan swears under oath that James Wolfe leaked the FISA application:
“In this case, because the known disclosure of classified information – the FISA application– involved an FBI equity, the FBI devoted substantial agent and intelligence analyst resources”…
The evidence is irrefutable that Wolfe leaked the FISA application on March 17, 2017.
Once that point is established…. then the reason why the special counsel released the FISA application under the premise of a FOIA application, July 21, 2018, starts to have much more significance.
However, before getting into even more. Let’s just stop there.
The FISA application was leaked March 17, 2017, by James Wolfe.
Why wasn’t he prosecuted for it?
Not a single media outlet has ever admitted James Wolfe leaked the FISA application.