Eric Ciaramella, the alleged whistleblower, was a young man on a mission. This Ivy-league graduate, said to be fluent in Russian, Ukrainian and Arabic, a favorite among Obama Administration officials, was introduced to us by investigative reporter Paul Sperry on Thursday. Washington insiders, including the mainstream media, have known his identity for quite some time, and for obvious reasons, have remained silent. Even after Sperry outed him this week, we’re hearing crickets from those on the left. The conservative media, however, which understands that history is repeating itself, has gone into overdrive to expose the truth.
Here’s what we know about Eric Ciaramella (EC):
He submitted a whistleblower complaint on August 12th.
He is a registered Democrat.
He is a CIA analyst who specializes in Russia and Ukraine. He ran the Ukraine desk at the National Security Council (NSC) in 2016.
He was detailed over to the NSC in the summer of 2015 and worked for then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
He worked for former Vice President Joe Biden when he served as the Obama administration’s “point man” for Ukraine. He may have flown over to Ukraine with Biden on Air Force Two.
He worked for former CIA Director John Brennan and appeared to have been a highly valued employee.
In June 2017, then-National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster appointed EC to be his personal aide.
EC did not have direct knowledge of the July 25th conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It is very possible he learned about the call from NSC Director for European Affairs Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified last week before Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee.
EC contacted at least one of Schiff’s staff members prior to filing his complaint. Two of EC’s colleagues from the NSC were hired by Adam Schiff this year, one of whom, Sean Misko, was hired in August.
He was posted to the NSC in the White House’s West Wing in mid-2017 and “left amid concerns about negative leaks to the media. He has since returned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.”
EC worked with hyper-partisan Ukrainian-American lawyer and activist Alexandra Chalupa in 2016 to dig up dirt on Trump. (Chalupa’s name will become very familiar as this scandal unravels.) The pro-Hillary Chalupa, a former DNC contractor, has worked in the Clinton administration and has held various staff positions for Democratic lawmakers. Sperry wrote: “Documents confirm the DNC opposition researcher attended at least one White House meeting with Ciaramella in November 2015. She visited the White House with a number of Ukrainian officials lobbying the Obama administration for aid for Ukraine.”
Sperry reported that “federal records show Biden’s office invited Ciaramella to an October 2016 state luncheon the vice president hosted for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Other invited guests included Brennan, as well as then-FBI Director James Comey and then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper. (Sperry: Several U.S. officials told RCI that the invitation that was extended to Ciaramella, a relatively low-level GS-13 federal employee, was unusual and signaled he was politically connected inside the Obama White House.)
Opinions and Theories about EC:
Independent investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has a plausible explanation for why EC submitted his complaint. Attkisson posted Sperry’s report on her blog and wrote, “If the reporting is correct, it implies the “whistleblower” could have been worried Trump was getting close to uncovering Democrat links to Ukraine’s interference in US elections in 2016.
It’s very possible. Attorney General William Barr had publicly expressed his opinion that the Trump campaign had been spied upon. In May, he appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to begin looking into the origins of the Trump/Russia investigation. Being an intelligence community insider, he no doubt had access to non-public, classified information.
On a recent radio show, Rush Limbaugh told listeners he sees this as a race between impeachment and a Durham indictment.
EC may have come up with the original idea, but he required assistance. Recall the last minute whistleblower rule change to allow complaints based on secondhand or hearsay information instead of only firsthand knowledge. In addition, the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson was very aggressive. Impatient with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s inaction, he quickly wrote to Adam Schiff about this “very credible complaint.”
A former White House official who wishes to remain anonymous told Sperry, “He [EC] was moved over to the front office to temporarily fill a vacancy, where he saw everything, read everything…My recollection of Eric is that he was very smart and very passionate, particularly about Ukraine and Russia. That was his thing – Ukraine. He didn’t exactly hide his passion with respect to what he thought was the right thing to do with Ukraine and Russia, and his views were at odds with the president’s policies.”
A second anonymous former NSC official told Sperry that EC was “accused of working against Trump and leaking against Trump.”
An editorial published in Issues & Insights offers an explanation as to why the mainstream media won’t report Sperry’s article aside from the fact that it argues against their narrative. The editors wrote: “If it did, it would have to admit that it’s known the “whistleblower’s” identity all along. And that it knows his biases. And that it’s under no obligation to protect his identity. And, finally, that it covered up his identity to keep the impeachment train rolling.”
And you’ve got to love Rush Limbaugh’s description of EC: “He’s lurking there in the West Wing as an Obama holdover. He’s essentially a spy for John Brennan, and he’s there to do the dirty work of the deep state.”
Limbaugh is not the only one to say EC served as a spy inside the White House.
Fox News contributor and investigative journalist Dan Bongino has a theory about the spy angle as well which he explained on his 10/31/19 podcast. He starts with an April 25, 2019 letter written by Senators Ron Johnson and Charles Grassley to Attorney General William Barr:
Dear Attorney General Barr,
During your April 10, 2019, testimony before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, you stated that you are looking into the “genesis and conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016.”(1) You further stated that “spying did occur,” and that you believe it is your obligation to look into the question of whether surveillance activities by the Federal Bureau of lnvestigation (FBI) or other intelligence agencies were adequately predicated.
We share your concerns about these activities, and are troubled by the apparent unauthorized disclosures of surveillance efforts and other classified information during the same time period. We bring to your attention information that may assist your review.
First, in the course of our oversight work we have reviewed certain text messages that may show potential attempts by the FBI to conduct surveillance of President-elect Trump’s transition team. In text messages exchanged between former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and former FBI Attorney Lisa Page, the two discussed the possibility of developing “potential relationships” at a November 2016 FBI briefing for presidential transition team staff. Specifically, it appears they discussed sending “the CI guy” to assess an unnamed person(s) “demeanor” but were concerned because it might be unusual for him to attend. A few weeks after the presidential election, Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page discussed the logistics for the briefing.
Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page said the following:
Strzok: Talking with Bill(3). Do we want Joe(4) to go with Evanina(5) instead of Charlie(6 )for a variety of reasons?
Page: Hmm. Not sure. Would it be unusual to have [sic] show up again? Maybe another agent from the team?
1 Gregg Re and Brooke Singman, Dems rage against Barr for backing claims of Trump campaign ‘spying’ by FBl Fox News (April 10, 2019). Available at https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dems-rage-against-barr-for-backing-claims-of-trump- campaign-spying-by-fbi; Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, Barr Asserts Intelligence Agencies Spied on the Trump Campaign, The New York Times (April 10, 2019). Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/10/us/politics/barr-trump- campaign-spying.html; Philip Ewing, Citing ‘Spying’ On Trump, Barr Says He Is Looking Into Origins Of Russia Inquiry, NPR (April 10, 2019). Available at https://www.npr.org/2019/04/10/711852861 /citing-spying-on-trump-barr-says-he-s-looking-into- origins-of-russia-inquiry.
3 “Bill” most likely refers to E.W. Priestap, former Assistant Director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division.
4 “Joe” most likely refers to Joe Pientka III, FBI Special Agent.
5 “Evanina” most likely refers to William R. Evanina, Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
6 At this time it is unknown who “Charlie” is.
Strzok: Or, he’s “the CI guy.” Same.might [sic] make sense. He can assess if thete [sic] are any news [sic] Qs, or different demeanor. If Katie’s husband is there, he can see if there are people we can develop for potential relationships
Page: Should I ask Andy(7) about it? Or Bill(8) want to reach out for Andy(9)?
Strzok: I told him I’m sure we could ask you to make the swap if we thought it was smart. It’s not until Mon so Bill can always discuss with him tomorrow. (10)
The nature of these communications, and the precise purpose of any attempts to “develop relationships” with Trump or Pence transition team staffare not immediately clear. Were these efforts done to gain better communication between the respective parties, or were the briefings used as intelligence gathering operations? Further, did any such surveillance activities continue beyond the inauguration, and in the event they did, were those activities subject to proper predication? Any improper FBI surveillance activities that were conducted before or after the 2016 election must be brought to light and properly addressed.
Additionally, we note that a number of news outlets have reported sensitive information related to the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Those reports have revealed sensitive information focusing on the FBI sending informants to meet with Trump advisors; a warrant to surveil Carter Page; and the United Kingdom signal intelligence agency briefing former CIA Director John Brennan on alleged communications between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, among other things.( 11) Notably, the Justice Department Inspector General’s review of the Clinton investigation found “profound concerns about the volume and extent ofunauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel…”(12 ) It appears the same happened during the Russia investigation. Leaks to the media about ongoing investigations undermine the ability of investigators to properly investigate. Moreover, sensitive leaks to the media while members of congress performing constitutionally mandated oversight are kept in the dark is unacceptable.(13)
Accordingly, please contact our staff to schedule a briefing and answer the following no later than May 9, 2019:
7 “Andy” most likely refers to Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI.
8 “Bill” most likely refers to E.W. Priestap, former Assistant Director ofthe FBI’s counterintelligence division.
9 “Andy” most likely refers to Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI.
10 November 17, 2016, Strzok-Page Texts Part 2, p. 159, DOJ-PROD-0000325. Emphasis added.
11 Eli Lake, Focus on the Leaking, Not Just the Spying, Bloomberg Opinion (April 11, 2019). Available at
12 A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau oflnvestigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016
13 For example, former Deputy Director McCabe was fired for making unauthorized disclosures to the media regarding the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation and then lying about it. In addition, transcripts of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s phone calls with Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, were leaked. On February 15, 2017, the Judiciary Committee requested information from the Justice Department and FBI relating to that leaked information. On March 15, 2017, the FBI provided a briefing about the FBI’s Russia investigation which answered a few ofthe questions posed by the Committee, but most were not.
1. Please describe the nature and extent o f your review o f FBI surveillance of the Trump Campaign, President-elect Trump’s transition staff, Vice President- elect Pence’s transition staff, President Trump’s staff, and Vice President Pence’s staff, including your efforts to determine whether that surveillance was adequately predicated.
2. How many counter-intelligence briefings were provided to the Trump and Pence transition staffs prior to Inauguration Day? Please list the dates, all agencies involved, and each official that represented those agencies at the briefings.
3. Many of the FBI employees involved in these activities are no longer employed by the federal government. How will your review obtain information needed from these individuals?
4. Will you commit to providing the results of your review once completed?
5. What steps have you taken to investigate whether DOJ or FBI officials had unauthorized contacts with the media during the Russia investigation?
We anticipate that your written reply and most responsive documents will be unclassified. Please send all unclassified material directly to each Committee. In keeping with the requirements of Executive Order 13526, if any of the responsive documents do contain classified information, please segregate all unclassified material within the classified documents, provide all unclassified information directly to each Committee, and provide a classified addendum to the Office of Senate Security. Although our Committees comply with all laws and regulations governing the handling of classified information, they are not bound, absent prior agreement, by any handling restrictions.
Should you have any questions, please contact Joshua Flynn-BrowrI of Chairman Grassley’s Finance Committee staff at (202) 224-4515 or Brian Dowriey of Chairman Johnson’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee staff at (202) 224-4751.
Dan Bongino’s take:
Strzok and Page are talking about developing sources to spy on the White House. They’re talking about sending a CI guy and they’re worried about outing “Charlie.” They’re talking about leveraging an existing relationship with an FBI employee, Katie, who is working for Strzok. Her husband works as Chief of Staff for Mike Pence at the time. Bongino says he has asked repeatedly who Charlie is.
CI? One might think counter-intelligence. But what would a counter-intelligence agent be doing working in the White House? Bongino wonders if it might mean “Confidential Informant” instead.
Charlie? Bongino remarks that he’s never, ever seen Sperry include a “pronunciation note” in his pieces. And he finds it very odd. He wonders if “Char” in “char-a-MEL-ah” might be a code name.
Further, Ciaramella (pronounced char-a-MEL-ah) left his National Security Council posting in the White House’s West Wing in mid-2017 amid concerns about negative leaks to the media. He has since returned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
It could be a stretch. It might not be. Clearly, Senators Grassley and Johnson were concerned about it as well. A conservative watchdog group, The American Center for Law and Justice, led by President Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow, has filed a series of FOIA lawsuits to obtain all of former FBI Director James Comey’s emails from April 1, 2016 through May 31, 2017, “seeking information about two bureau officials it accuses of being “spies” for former FBI Director James Comey in the White House.”
Bongino develops his theory in the video below. (Relevant segment begins at 6:45.)
Finally, also discussed in Bongino’s podcast, is an invitation for a series of events sponsored by major Clinton Foundation donor ($25 million) and Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk in the spring of 2016. It looks to be an Ukrainian outreach type of event. Ukrainian member of parliament Olga Bielkova is scheduled to meet with none other than Eric Ciaramella. She hates Trump. (This can be viewed at 22:08 in the video.)
The emerging image of EC shows him to be a hyper-partisan Democrat, well-connected within the ranks of the deep state, who was possibly spying on the Trump White House for the FBI. As voters see the individual behind the whistleblower complaint which has triggered an impeachment inquiry, they will “have thoughts” about the Democrats.
The Russian collusion hoax was, I have to say, audacious, creative, well-planned and executed. And it almost worked. The whistleblower scandal, by comparison, is bold, but, thrown together by necessity at the last minute, it lacks the planning, the coordination and the sophistication of its predecessor. Just months after their first coup attempt ended in failure, a scandal which preoccupied the news cycle for nearly three years, they’re trying to foist a new one upon us. Do they really believe American voters have such short memories?
The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkin’s, Jr. says this far more eloquently. “Democrats’ and the media’s astonishing and studied obliviousness to the bonfire they made of their own credibility with the Russia hoax. Unless I miss my guess, even many Trump-skeptical voters have no interest in giving victory to so corrupt an opposition.”