Good Thursday morning.
Here is what’s on the president’s agenda today:
- The president and first lady participate in the 75th commemoration of D-Day
- The president and first lady participate in a viewing of the Normandy American Cemetery
- The president participates in a bilateral meeting with the president of the French Republic
- The president participates in a working lunch with the president of the French Republic
Senate Intel Committee wants to talk to a mysterious British security consultant
Who dis? The Senate Intelligence Committee has summoned a British security consultant named Walter Soriano.
On April 5, just 2 weeks after Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his final report on Russia’s election interference, the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to a British security consultant named Walter Soriano asking for a voluntary, closed-door interview and documents with various Russia probe figures dating back to June 2015.
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.
A super secret source says the committee’s interest is not just a “fishing expedition.”
“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.
There certainly appears to be a relationship between dossier fabulist Christopher Steele and Deripaska. The committee has asked Soriano for any communications with a variety of RUSSIA hoax characters, as well as “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 why the Senate committee believes Soriano may have a connection to the private Israeli firms — one of which, Psy Group, was enlisted by Trump’s deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates in 2016 to use social media manipulation to help Trump beat his Republican primary opponents and Hillary Clinton. Psy Group’s founder Joel Zamel also owns WikiStrat, which reportedly gamed out how to successfully interfere in an election as early as 2015. Black Cube is one of Zamel’s main rivals, according to the Wall Street Journal.
[A spokesman for Black Cube reached out to PJM after publication with the following statement: Neither Black Cube nor anyone acting on their behalf has ever had any communication or collaboration with Walter Soriano or anyone on his behalf. ]
Must read: Lee Smith’s “Spies Are the New Journalists”
This is such a terrific piece. Lee asks the question, “What’s the difference between the Julian Assange and The New York Times, Washington Post or CNN?” It’s a good question because all of those media outlets have published or broadcast highly classified material as Assange has been accused of doing. The media characters got Pulitzers, Assange got jail.
It’s useful comparing the nature of the leaks Assange published and those made public by the Post. Of the more than 250,000 diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks published, half were unclassified. The rest were mostly classified “Confidential,” with 11,000 classified “Secret.” None are classified “Top Secret.” The reports regarding Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay were classified no higher than “Secret.”
By contrast, intercepts of foreign officials, like the one regarding the Russian ambassador, are so sensitive that they are available only to a very few senior U.S. officials. The fact that the substance of one such intercept appears to have been leaked and discussed, according to the Post, by nine U.S. officials, should have sparked an immediate investigation.
The Justice Department did not respond to Tablet’s email asking whether any of the nine officials who discussed the Flynn leak are currently under investigation.
D-Day 75th anniversary roundup
And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!