By Jon Dougherty
A report from Politico on Thursday claims that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is supposedly still conducting an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, wants to talk to a shadowy British security consultant who may have had ties to the Trump campaign, via a private Israeli security firm.
On April 5, the site reported, just a few weeks after former special counsel Robert Mueller filed his ‘no collusion, no obstruction’ report on his ‘investigation’ into the 2016 Trump campaign, the committee fired off a letter to Walter Soriano seeking documents from as far back as 2015 that are linked to various figures in the Russian probe.
The panel is seeking a closed-door interview and thus far it appears as though the request is for a voluntary appearance.
The letter, obtained by Politico, offers yet another window into the panel’s secretive — but largely bipartisan — two-year-old investigation, and reveals the investigators’ interest in what, if any, role Israel may have played in attempts to manipulate the 2016 election.
The panel’s interest in Soriano is not a mere fishing expedition, according to a source familiar with the investigators’ internal deliberations who requested anonymity to discuss them freely.
“They’re surprised by how connected he seems to several people of interest,” this person said, including the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska — a former business associate of Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who offered Deripaska private briefings about the campaign in 2016. Deripaska is believed to have worked with Soriano on corporate intelligence matters, this person said.
The committee sent the letter to Soriano’s London address for his firm USG Security Limited. Senators want to see “all communications or records of communications” with Manafort and POTUS Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Christopher Steele, author of the bogus “dossier” the FBI relied on to obtain FISA court warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, has ties in this as well. Politico noted:
The committee also requested Soriano’s communications with three Israeli private intelligence firms: Psy Group, Wikistrat, and Black Cube, as well as any communications he may have had with Orbis Business Intelligence, a firm co-founded by the former British spy Christopher Steele.
It isn’t clear whether Soriano has responded to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s letter.
As for the Israeli ‘connection,’ the panel appears to be most interested in the Psy Group, “which was enlisted by then-candidate Trump’s deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates in 2016” to use social media to help promote him over his GOP rivals and Hillary Clinton (Politico‘s writer used the term “manipulate” because, being anti-Trump, that word sounds more nefarious and ‘illegal’ — when in fact, Obama’s 2012 campaign enlisted most of Facebook’s data to ‘manipulate’ — influence — voters).
The news site also threw in some shade regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Right-leaning politician in the mold of POTUS Trump:
Soriano is virtually a ghost online, aside from publicly available corporate records listing him as the director of a London-based security firm called USG Security. He has been accused in the Israeli press of spying on police officers involved in the corruption probe of Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu—an allegation he’s staunchly denied. Soriano also produced a documentary about Netanyahu’s late brother, Yoni Netanyahu, who died leading Israel’s raid on Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976.
As for Steele, he’s worked with Deripaska in the past, but a source close to Orbis — Steele’s firm — told Politico that they hadn’t heard of Soriano.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller had begun looking more closely at any potential Middle Eastern involvement — that is to say Israeli involvement — with the 2016 Trump campaign:
Mr. Mueller has been conducting interviews about the work of Joel Zamel, an Australia-born Israeli businessman with experience in social media and intelligence gathering. Mr. Zamel is the founder of several private consulting firms—including a crowdsourced analysis firm called Wikistrat as well as the Psy Group, a secretive private intelligence firm with the motto “shape reality.”
Mind you, there has been no evidence presented to indicate any Israeli firms were working side-by-side with the Trump campaign to, you know, ‘steal the election’ from Hillary.
But…if that turns out to be the case, it’s most likely because Netanyahu was giving Obama some payback for interfering in Israeli elections with an aim to defeating him. What’s more, Obama made sure American taxpayers paid for the interference, per the Washington Times in 2016:
The State Department paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers grants to an Israeli group that used the money to build a campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in last year’s Israeli parliamentary elections, a congressional investigation concluded Tuesday.
Some $350,000 was sent to OneVoice, ostensibly to support the group’s efforts to back Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement negotiations. But OneVoice used the money to build a voter database, train activists and hire a political consulting firm with ties to President Obama’s campaign — all of which set the stage for an anti-Netanyahu campaign, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a bipartisan staff report.
In one stunning finding, the subcommittee said OneVoice even told the State Department’s top diplomat in Jerusalem of its plans in an email, but the official, Consul General Michael Ratney, claims never to have seen them.
He said he regularly deleted emails with large attachments — a striking violation of open-records laws for a department already reeling from former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s handling of official government records.
What this proves, more than anything, is that our government has clearly been hijacked by a deep state cabal that operates in the shadows — outside of any congressional oversight (on behalf of the American people) and well beyond the reach of government accountability.
This is the faction still working to depose POTUS Trump.
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- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10