By John Helmer, Moscow
Over weeks and months of last year, Adam Waldman (lead image, left), a Washington lobbyist with ties to the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, tried to lure Julian Assange (second from left) into making incriminating admissions to benefit the Democrats’ campaign alleging Russian collusion in Clinton’s defeat by President Donald Trump. Assange tried to use Waldman for a deal with the US Department of Justice, exchanging an offer to withhold disclosure of classified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents and trade other secrets, some Russian, in exchange for a grant of immunity from US prosecution.
At the same time, Oleg Deripaska (third from left), the oligarch in control of the Russian aluminium industry, paid Waldman to offer US prosecutors information about the Trump election campaign manager Paul Manafort and others connected to the Trump campaign, including Russians, in exchange for a US Government promise not to impose sanctions on Deripaska. Last week Luke Harding (right), a reporter for the Guardian, a London newspaper, sold the story of Waldman’s meetings with Assange and Deripaska as a conspiracy to advance a scheme by President Vladimir Putin to control the US Government.
Four plotters; more than four schemes; money in Waldman’s and Harding’s pockets; not a shred of truth.
The story of the Trump collusion plot started with an intelligence fabrication scheme hatched by US and British Government officials and their agents, including journalists in Washington, New York and London. This started with the Golden Showers dossier; the sequel can be followed here.
The story of Deripaska’s engagement of Waldman as his lobbyist with Hillary Clinton at the State Department and other officials in the Obama Administration has been running for nine years. Deripaska’s payments to Waldman have averaged half a million dollars a year; that’s a total to date of about $5 million. The failure of every one of Waldman’s operations on Deripaska’s behalf can be read at this click.
A semi-annual report of Waldman’s lobbying activities for Deripaska is required to be disclosed by the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); the record is accessible at the FARA unit of the Justice Department in Washington. For example, details of which US officials Waldman met and what he wanted them to do for Deripaska were accessible in the FARA filings for 2011 here.
Since then the filings can be followed at six-monthly intervals through December 15, 2017. In last December’s filing Waldman claimed to the Justice Department that, among the purposes of Deripaska’s engagement, he was being paid for selecting animal welfare charities and promotion of a Russian vaccine for ebola.
Waldman claims on his company website that “Endeavor acts as a core member of its Client’s [Deripaska] holding company executive team, and is the sole representative of its Client’s myriad interests before the U.S. government.” Today the FARA dossier on Waldman’s Russian clients shows this:
This means that Waldman’s registration as Deripaska’s agent in Washington remains active and he continues to be paid, even though the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control ordered all US individuals and institutions to cease doing business with Deripaska and his companies from April 6.
The US Treasury did not sanction Deripaska for supporting animal welfare and an ebola vaccine. The reasons for Deripaska’s sanction, according to the Treasury, were that “having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation, as well as pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy. Deripaska has said that he does not separate himself from the Russian state. He has also acknowledged possessing a Russian diplomatic passport, and claims to have represented the Russian government in other countries. Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering. There are also allegations that Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group.” For more on the US action against Deripaska, read this.
Waldman has sidestepped the ban on taking money from Deripaska by changing his registration from Endeavor Group — a lobbying company covered by the OFAC sanction – to “Endeavor Law Firm PC”. That’s a one-man company whose only employee is Waldman; it isn’t mentioned by the Endeavor Group’s website. As a law firm acting for Deripaska, Waldman isn’t banned by the new sanction.
In February of this year the Murdoch media reported that on Deripaska’s instructions, Waldman was attempting to arrange appearances before the US Senate Intelligence Committee for Deripaska and for Christopher Steele, one of the authors of the Golden Showers dossier. Both of them wanted the Democratic minority on the committee to issue the invitations and secure advance undertakings in writing from the Committee, including immunity from US prosecution.
Waldman’s telephone texts were exchanged with Senator Mark Warner, a former governor of Virginia; Democratic Party runner for president; and at present vice-chairman of the Intelligence Committee. The messages were leaked by Republicans in Congress to the Murdoch media, and then confirmed by Warner himself.
Read the Waldman-Warner series in full.
Deripaska, Waldman told Warner, was trying to negotiate his testimony at the Intelligence Committee against Manafort and the Trump presidential campaign in exchange for protection from US Government sanctions. Exactly what Deripaska told Waldman he was ready to tell the Senate Committee about Russian Government involvement with Manafort and the Trump election campaign has not been disclosed because Waldman failed to get any concession for Deripaska from either the Senators or from the Justice Department officials whom he was lobbying at the same time.
Interpreting the series, a Fox News reporter claimed: “Over the course of four months between February and May 2017, Warner and Waldman also exchanged dozens of [telephone] texts about possible testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee from Deripaska, Waldman’s primary Russian billionaire client….In the dozens of text messages between February 2017 and May 2017, Waldman also talked to Warner about getting Deripaska to cooperate with the intelligence committee. There have been reports that Deripaska, who has sued Manafort over a failed business deal, has information to share about the former Trump aide. In May 2017, the Senate and House intelligence committees decided not to give Deripaska legal immunity in exchange for testimony to the panels. The text messages between Warner and Waldman appeared to stop that month.” Trump responded by tweeting: “All tied into Crooked Hillary.”
For the full story of Deripaska’s relationship with Manafort, read this.
Assange was first mentioned by Waldman in a message to Warner on February 15, 2017. By then, according to Ecuadorian Embassy meeting logs exposed only now, Waldman had met Assange three times in January, and was planning to meet him again in March. Waldman told Warner that for this he was acting “pro bono”; that’s to say, Assange wasn’t paying Waldman’s bill. To protect himself, Waldman also claimed that if US officials, including Warner, didn’t appreciate the value of Waldman’s negotiations with Assange, he would stop them. In retrospect, Waldman continued meeting Assange for another nine months. Waldman’s trips to London and his expenses there for at least some of those occasions were charged to other clients of Waldman’s.
EXCERPTS FROM THE WALDMAN-WARNER TEXT SERIES
The significance of Waldman’s messages about Assange were ignored in the US at the time of their first release because US reporters were focused on Waldman’s Russian connexion, and the potential for damage the reporters believed this might do to Trump. Likewise, Waldman’s reports of what Assange told him have been ignored in the London media until the Guardian revealed the Ecuadorian government reports on Assange and the visit logs. The Guardian’s purpose, like the earlier Murdoch media reporting, was to find a Kremlin connection.
In retrospect, the Waldman-Warner texts reveal that it was Assange’s intention to use Waldman to make a connection, not to the Kremlin, but to the US Government, trading Wikileaks for Assange’s freedom. Assange was requesting, so Waldman told Warner, safe passage to Washington and release from threats of US prosecution in return for information regarding “future leaks” and a promise not “to do something catastrophic for the dems, Obama, CIA and national security”. Waldman wrote that to Warner on February 16, 2017, adding: “I hope someone will consider getting him to the US to ameliorate the damage”.
On March 7, 2017, Wikileaks released publicly what Assange had already described to Waldman. This was the start of publication of the CIA’s Vault-7 and Vault-8 files. The files, claimed Wikileaks, were “the largest ever publication of confidential documents by the agency.” They revealed the extent, cost and penetration, inside the US as well as globally, of CIA cyber-warfare operations of many kinds, including hacker attacks which the CIA created as false flags, making them appear to originate from Russian sources.
“Since 2001,” Wikileaks announced, “the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities. By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other ‘weaponized’ malware.”
Assange was quoted in the Wikileaks release as saying: “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of ‘Year Zero’ goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”
This was what Assange had told Waldman, days earlier, was the “something catastrophic” he was planning. But Assange told Waldman more. He was willing to deal if the Justice Department would agree to a quid pro quo. Waldman’s messages to Warner confirm this; they also reveal that Waldman got no swift response from Justice Department officials, so he asked Warner for his help. Assange then started his slow release of the Vault-7 archive, one week at a time:
Assange’s last publication in the CIA Vault series was on November 9. Waldman’s last meetings with Assange were in the same month.
What exactly were the terms Assange asked Waldman to trade with the Justice Department and Warner’s Intelligence Committee? Was he telling Waldman that he would stop the release of more CIA Vault-7 documents in return for immunity from prosecution? Did he reveal to Waldman enough information for the CIA and Justice Department to identify the source of the CIA documents?
Last week, on June 18, the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan announced that it had indicted a former CIA software engineer, Joshua Schulte (right), as the source of the Wikileaks releases. Read the 14-page indictment here. Schulte, 29, had worked in the CIA’s Engineering Development Group, which designed the hacking tools used by its Center for Cyber Intelligence. In late 2016, he left the Agency and moved to New York to work for Bloomberg. The prosecutors have charged thirteen counts against Schulte; nine of them relate to the Wikileaks releases, and carry a total of 90 years’ imprisonment on conviction. Schulte has pleaded not guilty.
Bloomberg has reported Schulte’s indictment and court appearance, noting that after he left the CIA in November 2016 he “worked briefly for Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, leaving the company in March 2017.” Bloomberg has not been charged with gaining unlawful advantage from Schulte’s expertise. US media reporting the Schulte charges claim his disclosures were one of the worst losses of classified documents in the CIA’s history. Earlier document releases through Wikileaks by Edward Snowden in 2013 came for the most part from the National Security Agency (NSA), for which Snowden had been a contractor. He has been charged by US prosecutors with espionage, and been granted asylum in Russia.
Wikileaks isn’t named in the Schulte indictment; instead, it is referred to as “Organization-1 which posted the Classified Information online”. Schulte, the court papers imply, obtained the classified information during 2016, in the months leading up to his departure from the CIA in November of that year. Two months later Assange had the files, because he told Waldman about them during their January meetings.
By the time in March, when Assange started publishing from Vault-7, investigators from the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had already identified Schulte as their suspect. In last week’s court papers it is revealed that Schulte was first interrogated by the FBI within days of the first Wikileaks publication.
How did the FBI find its way so swiftly to Schulte? Had Waldman’s contacts with the Justice Department in February, relaying what Assange had told him, helped pinpoint Schulte as the Wikileaks source?
Assange’s current barrister in London is Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers. She and a press spokesman, Elina Gibbons-Plowright, were asked to clarify the meetings between Waldman and Assange which had taken place in 2017. In addition to multiple telephone-calls to their offices, the questions were recorded on Robinson’s answer-phone and emailed. She and Gibbons-Plowright were initially reluctant to respond.
Julian Assange and Jennifer Robinson during London court proceedings in 2011. Assange took refuge at the Ecuador Embassy in June 2012; he was granted diplomatic asylum by the Ecuador Government in August 2012, and Ecuadorian citizenship in December 2017. US threats to have the UK Government arrest him and extradite him have been renewed by the Schulte indictment of last week.
Then on Friday Robinson replied by email: “Mr Assange is cut off from phone and internet, and is only permitted legal visits, so the only way I can put your questions to him is to physically go into the embassy. I have no scheduled visits until next week. I trust you understand the difficulties of his current circumstances and the impact of this in terms of ability to provide comment and will acknowledge this in however you report this story.”
I replied: “The Waldman-Assange meetings commenced, with your knowledge and counsel for your client, more than a year ago. The SMS texts were published four months ago. Consequently, the questions are for you to answer. You will know that Mr Waldman purports to be the one-man employee of the Endeavor Law Firm PC, as well as the principal of Endeavor Group, a lobbying firm. You knew that he and Mr Assange discussed matters of law and proposals for the US Department of Justice.”
The questions for Robinson were: 1. After meeting with Mr Assange in mid-February 2017, Mr Waldman sent an SMS to Senator Mark Warner saying Mr Assange wanted “safe passage from the USG to discuss the past and future leaks”. Please explain what “safe passage” meant then. 2. In February Mr Assange told Mr Waldman that he was planning “something catastrophic for the dems, Obama, CIA and national security” – was that the Vault 7 disclosure? 3. Mr Waldman also quoted Mr Assange as saying he wanted to go to the US “to ameliorate the damage” – what did Mr Assange mean by “ameliorate the damage”? 4. Mr Waldman says Mr Assange agreed to “serious and important concessions” for Mr Waldman to take directly to the US Department of Justice and discuss with those officials. What were these concessions? 5. Within hours or days of the first Wikileaks publication of the Vault 7 files, the FBI went to interview Joshua Schulte. Did Mr Assange give Mr Waldman information or promise information about Mr Schulte to help the FBI and CIA to identify him as a source for the Vault 7 files?
Robinson has not answered.
In Washington Waldman hides from email and telephone contact. His website contact email address is secured behind a password barrier set up in Germany. His office telephone number 202-715-0966 provides an extension number 1006 for Waldman, but no message can be left on the answer-phone. Waldman himself does not pick up during office hours. Neither is there an office receptionist. The telephone directory number, like the email address, is a blind.
Questions were sent to Waldman’s personal email address, which he has used to communicate with me in the past. Waldman was asked to “clarify what were the client relationships and purposes you held out to Mr Assange which the latter believed to be in his interest to pursue as often with you as he appears to have done?” Waldman refuses to answer.
Harding, a Guardian correspondent in Moscow between 2007 and 2011, reported last week that “US intelligence agencies concluded with ‘high confidence’ last year, in an unclassified intelligence assessment, that the Kremlin shared hacked emails with WikiLeaks that undermined Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign as part of its effort to sway the 2016 election in favour of Donald Trump.” For identification of the faults of the US intelligence agency report, read this.
For months after the election in November 2016, Harding has suggested by innuendo, the visits Waldman made to Assange from January to November 2017 – ten reportedly counted from secret logs obtained from the Ecuadorian Government — indicate that Waldman, Assange and Deripaska were scheming to advance Russian interests in the defeat of the Democratic Party campaign against Trump.
“It is not clear why Waldman went to the WikiLeaks founder or whether the meetings had any connection to the Russian billionaire, who is now subject to US sanctions”, Harding reported, then drawing his own conclusion: “But the disclosure is likely to raise further questions about the extent and nature of Assange’s alleged ties to Russia.” This was Harding’s cue for the answer he has already decided – Waldman was Assange’s back-channel to the Kremlin. In November 2017, Harding had published a book with this conclusion in the title, “Collusion – How Russia [sic] Helped [sic] Trump [sic] Win the White House”. The Latin qualifier has been added to identify the innuendoes for which Harding has reported no conclusive evidence.
The headline claims the Ecuadorian surveillance reports on Assange count nine visits by Waldman. In Harding’s text, he reports three Waldman visits to Assange in January 2017; two in March; three in April; and two in November. If accurately counted, they add up to ten. Source: https://www.theguardian.com/ The Waldman telephone texts to Senator Warner which have been published start in February 2017, and refer to contact with Assange which Waldman had had already. In March, when Waldman met Assange twice, he told Warner he had “convinced him to make serious and important concessions and am discussing those w/DOJ [with US Department of Justice].”
The web and print displays of the story don’t provide evidence for the reported connection between Deripaska and Assange on which Harding sets store. Assange refused to reply to the questions Harding had sent him; Waldman and Deripaska likewise.
Harding believes Assange met Waldman as a go-between through Deripaska to Moscow. It did not occur to Harding that Assange was negotiating with Waldman for a deal with Washington.