House Intelligence Committee Releases Full Memo Alleging Serious Breaches By FBI In Russian Investigation

HouseofRepSealI will be discussing the memo today in a column in the Hill as well as in the segment with Tucker Carlson.   I fail to see the “grave” classified information that would put the national security at risk.  Indeed, my column addresses the disconnect between the objections made by the FBI and Democratic members and the actual memo. The use of classification laws to prevent disclosure of embarrassing information is itself an abuse of federal law and standards.

The Republicans may have undermined their case by building up this memo as a smoking gun document. Portrayals seems to make this memo the virtual combination of the Pentagon Papers and the Zimmerman telegram. After all of the build up, anything short of a depiction of Hillary Clinton forcing a judge to sign a secret warrant at gunpoint would disappoint most readers. However, there is plenty in this memo that should deeply concern people.

Civil libertarians have complained for years about the tactical use of classification authority by the federal agencies.  This seems a rare and important example of that problem. As to the specific factual representations, they raise clearly troubling questions that need to be addressed on the failure to disclosure information to the FISA court and the alleged heavy reliance on this dossier.

Below is the full memo:

 

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON
February 2, 2018

The Honorable Devin Nunes
Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On January 29, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (hereinafter “the Committee”) voted to disclose publicly a memorandum containing classified information provided to the Committee in connection with its oversight activities (the “Memorandum,” which is attached to this letter). As provided by clause 11(g) of Rule of the House of Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its determination that the release of the Memorandum would serve the public interest.

The Constitution vests the President with the authority to protect national security secrets from it disclosure. As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is the President’s responsibility to classify, declassify, and control access to information bearing on our intelligence sources and methods and national defense. See, Dep of Navy v. Egan, 484 US. 518, 527 (1988). In order to facilitate appropriate congressional oversight, the Executive Branch may entrust classified information to the appropriate committees of Congress, as it has done in connection with the Committee’s oversight activities here. The Executive Branch does so on the assumption that the Committee will responsibly protect such classified information, consistent with the laws of the United States.

The Committee has now determined that the release of the Memorandum would be appropriate. The Executive Branch, across Administrations of both parties, has worked to accommodate congressional requests to declassify specific materials in the public interest. However, public release of classified information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation of powers concerns. Accordingly, the Committee’s request to release the Memorandum is interpreted as a request for declassification pursuant to the President’s authority.

The President understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest obligation. Accordingly, he has directed lawyers and national security staff to assess the declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of classified information, including those under Section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526. Those standards permit declassification when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to protect the information. The White House review process also included input from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice. Consistent with this review and these standards, the President has determined that declassification of the Memorandum is appropriate.

Based on this assessment and in light of the significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification of the Memorandum. To be clear, the Memorandum reflects the judgments of its congressional authors. The President understands that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the circumstances leading to the declassification through this process are extraordinary, the Executive Branch stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards and processes, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.

Sincerely,
Donald F. McGahn II
Counsel to the President

cc: The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Honorable Adam Schiff
Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence


Declassified by order of the President
February 2, 2018

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members
From: HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation Update

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (notunder Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a US citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.

The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. 1805(d)(1)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the ISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the ISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard — particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. Law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of — and paid by — the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo Newsarticle by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo NewsThe Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News — and several other outlets – in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington DC. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.”

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations — an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jonesarticle by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September — before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October — but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling — maintaining confidentiality — and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not, being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files – but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.

a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

4) According to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was — according to his June 2017 testimony – “salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his
anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, Whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.

338 thoughts on “House Intelligence Committee Releases Full Memo Alleging Serious Breaches By FBI In Russian Investigation”

  1. BREAKING: Second Source Comes Forward=> Claims Rosenstein Threatened Nunes and House Intel if They Didn’t Stop Investigation!

    Legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said his sources told him Rod Rosenstein threatened the House Intelligence Committee members three weeks ago.

    Gregg Jarrett: I can tell you a congressional source tells me that Rod Rosenstein in a meeting three weeks ago threatened Chairman Nunes and members of Congress he was going to subpoena their texts and messages because he was tired of dealing with the intel committee. That’s threats and intimidation.

    Now this…
    On Saturday morning Gregg Jarrett tweeted out that a second source now says Rod Rosenstein threatened Chairman Nunes and House Intelligence members if they did not stop their investigation.

    Jarrett also named the crime Rosenstein may have committed.

    “It is a crime for a government official to use his office to threaten anyone, including a member of Congress, for exercising a constitutionally protected right. See 18 USC 242 and other similar abuse of power statutes.”

    Jarrett also said, “Again, if true, Rosenstein’s action was an illegal abuse of power and he should no longer serve as Deputy Attorney General. He allegedly used threats to try to stop the Intelligence Committee from exposing wrongful behavior in an attempt to cover it up.’

  2. Perhaps the best observations of what’s going on (“Who made the decision to withhold evidence of FISA abuse until AFTER [emphasis mine] Congress voted to renew FISA program?” -Republican Congressman, Thomas Massie.

    Article by Caitlinjohnstone https://steemit.com/politics/@caitlinjohnstone/the-biggest-nunes-memo-revelations-have-little-to-do-with-its-content

    Salient paragraphs:

    […] In addition to Assange’s assertion that government secrecy has far less to do with national security than political security (a claim he has made before which seems to be proving correct time and time again), there’s the jarring question posed by Republican Congressman Thomas Massie: “who made the decision to withhold evidence of FISA abuse until after Congress voted to renew FISA program?”

    Whoa, Nelly. Hang on. What is he talking about?

    It would be understandable if you were unaware of the debate over the reauthorization of FISA surveillance which resulted in unconditional bipartisan approval last month [emphasis mine]; the mainstream media barely touched it. In point of fact, though, the very surveillance practices alleged to have been abused in this hotly controversial memo are the same which was waved through by both the House and the Senate, and by the very same people promoting the memo in many cases.

    The McCabe testimony was in December. FISA was renewed in January. Why is all this just coming out now? If the Republicans truly believed that McCabe said what the memo claims he said, why wasn’t the public informed before their elected representatives renewed the intelligence community’s dangerously intrusive surveillance approval? Was this information simply forgotten about until after those Orwellian powers had been secured?

    Of course not. Don’t be an idiot.

    This makes the kicking, screaming, wailing and gnashing of teeth by the political establishment make a lot more sense, doesn’t it? Now suddenly we’re looking at a he-said, she-said partisan battle over an issue which can only be resolved with greater and greater transparency of more and more government documents, and we can all see where that’s headed. In their rush to win a partisan battle and shield their president from the ongoing Russiagate conspiracy theory, the Republicans may have exposed too much of the establishment foundation upon which both parties are built.

    The term “deep state” does not mean “Democrats and Never-Trumpers” as Republican pundits would have you believe, nor does the term refer to any kind of weird, unverifiable conspiracy theory. The deep state is in fact not a conspiracy theory at all, but simply a concept used in political analysis for discussing the undeniable fact that unelected power structures exist in America, and that they tend to form alliances and work together in some sense. There is no denying the fact that plutocrats, intelligence agencies, defense agencies and the mass media are both powerful and unelected, and there is no denying the fact that there are many convoluted and often conflicting alliances between them. All that can be debated is the manner and extent to which this is happening.

    The deep state is America’s permanent government, the US power structures that Americans don’t elect. These power structures plainly have a vested interest in keeping America’s Orwellian surveillance structures in place, as evidenced by the intelligence community’s menacingly urgent demand for FISA renewal back in December. If there’s any thread to be pulled that really could make waves in the way Official Washington (hat tip to the late Robert Parry) operates, it is in the plot holes between the bipartisan scramble toward unconditional surveillance renewal and the highly partisan battle over exposing the abuse of those very powers.

    If we’re going to see a gap in the bars of our cages, that’s a great place to keep our eyes trained, so keep watching. Watch what happens in a partisan war where both parties have a simultaneous interest in revealing as little of the game as possible and exposing the other party. Things could get very interesting.

  3. An0maly – Progressive Millenial who actually thinks. Like me, he has been accused of being a closet Republican and a Putin supporter. There are millions of us out there – Indies growing in numbers. We will not ever vote for an Establishment Dem.

    An0maly
    ‏ @LegendaryEnergy
    Feb 1

    Remember zombies, Trump did everything! Everything was perfect before him. Politicians & agencies are saints. Anyone saying other wise is Kremlin. Don’t align yourself with racists & xenophobes. Resist all logic, discussions, common sense & self-accountability.

  4. The DOJ’s and the FBI’s violations of 18 U.S. Code § 242 – Deprivation of rights under color of law
    US Code, in obtaining the FISA warrant based on false and misleading information, either with knowledge, deliberate intent, or willful recklessness, is a perfect test to demonstrate the proof of my contention that Leftists are morally depraved hypocrites.

    Here’s the proof.

    Step one: Leftists argue that the fact that DOJ and FBI officials favored Clinton and did what they did to obtain the FISA warrant was a “nothing burger” and a “big yawn.”

    Can we all agree on step one? If not, go back and read or see stories on CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, or any other of your favorite Leftist drivel to verify that step one is true.

    Step two: Now, instead, assume that all of the facts had occurred exactly as they did, but with two important exception. One, assume that the “dossier” was bought and paid for by the Republican Party and was about Hillary Clinton, instead of Donald Trump. Two, also assume that the DOJ and FBI officials involved were actually Trump supporters and obtained the FISA warrant to conduct surveillance of an individual closely connected to the Clinton campaign based on the anti-Clinton “dossier.”

    Step three: Assume that all of the above suddenly becomes public knowledge because the Democrats have prepared a memo describing these new facts, that implicitly accusing Donald Trump and his team of rigging the election in his favor with the help of pro-Trump officials in the DOJ and the FBI.

    Now, given all these assumption, would the Leftists be arguing that the Democrat’s memo was a “nothing burger” and a “big yawn?” Or would the Leftists and the mainstream media be calling this “worse than Watergate” and Trump’s immediate removal from office and for the officials at the DOJ and FBI to be serving jail time?

    You know the answer. And you know I’m right.

  5. hmm, does this have any merit? Sigh, never mind – those people will never be held accountable.

    @blysx

    Fake opposition research by FOREIGN NATIONALS (BRITISH) paid by political party to use in U.S. courts to SPY on opposing political party in a Presidential Election = TREASON

  6. This whole parody mounted by so called members of the GOP with a 3rd world 24 hour stream via Fox amounted to a ‘nothing burger.”

    1. It might not be a smoking gun but it’s not a nothing burger. We’ll be getting ahead of our skis if we unpack this thing too soon (although I don’t know what the best tick-tock would be). We may have to collect more dots before we can connect the dots, and we’ll have to think outside the box before we can add value to the situation. Just be careful of what you hear on Faux News or MSLSD.

      Clichés–is there anything they can’t do?

  7. For the hoi polloi among us..

    Translation: FIB Director Comey looked President Elect Trump in the eye, and lied..
    (nuff said)

    1. bettykath, I’d like to read that, too. But I’d be truly dumbfounded if Trump declassified anything that verified and corroborated anything in the dossier–not even the portion of the dossier that refers to Carter Page, who has not been charged with a crime, anyhow.

      1. Diane – Judicial Watch has filed suit (yesterday) for the FISA applications.

  8. I think the leftist crowd at the FBI were duped by the Clinton Mafia and, in their confirmation bias, rushed to the FISA Court to save America, flags flying. They wouldn’t be the first folks manipulated by the stooges of Hillary to do her bidding. Why isn’t this shrew in jail?

    1. The FBI had a FISA warrant on Carter Page in 2014, as well. Most likely the FBI relied on all of the intelligence it gathered on and through Carter Page over the years to verify and corroborate at least the portions of the dossier that referred to Carter Page and possibly a few other dossier allegations as well. Besides, there’s still the magnificent Aussie, Alexander Downer, who tipped the FBI about George Papadopoulos. That tip plus the hack of the DNC emails remain the true origin for the Russia investigation. And then, of course, there’s that business with Trump firing Comey and getting stuck with Mueller, instead. Surely that swap is the least artistic deal Trump has made thus far. But there’s always tomorrow. Trump could still outdo himself with even less artistic deal than Comey/Mueller swap-o-rama.

      1. Carter Page has never been allowed to testify before Congressional committees on his own behalf. He has never been charged with a crime. There is a difference between calling someone an ‘agent of a foreign power’ actively engaged in clandestine activities and an American being in contact with an agent of a foreign power in the course of doing business in Russia.

        I’m still waiting for an explanation as to why the FBI never examined the DNC server and only relied on a third party evaluation that concluded it was ‘hacked’ by the Russians. The FBI apparently said they felt comfortable relying on the findings of an outside company because “Crowdstrike is pretty good” at what they do. So the DNC refused to allow the FBI to ever examine the server. Then the server disappeared. And the DNC’s story that their server was “hacked by the Russians” is supposed to stand unquestioned?

        I believe Julian Assange when he says that none of the WikiLeaks emails came from the Russian government or Russian state actors.

        Many questions remain. Will Mueller’s investigation eventually answer any of them? We’ll see. In the meantime, watch for more carefully timed (illegal) leaks to come out of Mueller’s investigation.

          1. Ding! You get the prize. I inserted that line in there as a test to see if anyone actually read what I wrote. Either that, or I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Could be either one. Ha!

            We are all fortunate you are here staying on top of things. 😉

      1. Carter Page has an outstanding academic record and a fine military record, to boot. I can’t help it if the Russians called Carter Page an idiot. The FBI has thus far declined to charge Page with any crime. Maybe Carter Page should have offered his services to the FBI as a confidential informant.

        1. L4D said, “Carter Page has an outstanding academic record ”

          Oops. Evidently there is a minority opinion on Carter Page’s academic record. His doctoral dissertation was rejected twice before it was finally accepted. All the same, Carter Page graduated The United States Naval Academy in the top ten-percent of his class. And that’s no mean feat. So there.

          1. Diane – it is not unusual to have your dissertation rejected, once or twice. I had a classmate who wrote to the author of a textbook because she blamed him for failing her comprehensive. The textbook was not the problem. 😉 He was kind enough to write her a very snotty letter back telling her that.

      2. That is what swarthmoron does and by quoting another she feels she can maintain her integrity.

        1. I am no expert in national security law so I quote those that are and unlike you you I will freely admit it.

          1. Swarthmoron, you quote snippets rather than complete ideas and even snippets that have been disproven. You particularly like character assassination and you do that using other people’s words.

            1. You’re constantly missing the point, Allan. It’s almost certainly true that the documents that Carter Page handed to a Russian spy in 2015 were quite perfectly innocuous economic analyses; since the FBI interviewed Carter Page several times for many hours and declined to charge Carter Page with a crime. However, the point you’re missing is that the FBI was tracking the Russian spy to whom Carter Page handed those harmless documents. Ergo, the FBI had gathered intelligence on Carter Page independently of the dossier that was used to apply for the October, 2016 FISA warrant on Carter Page and that same independently gathered intelligence from 2015 corroborated the portions of the dossier that refer to Carter Page. Game, Set, Match. You polezni durak, you.

              1. Diane – if all that is true then they would not have needed to use the Stelle dossier and lie about it. Game, set, match..

              2. Diane, we don’t have all the facts, however, based on what we know the Steele dossier was too questionable to be entered as evidence. Entering it as evidence tells one that the other FISA evidence presented wasn’t strong enough for the warrant. This indicates both sloppiness and an attempt to “lie” to the judge. If any of the additional features of the dossier weren’t presented such as Steele’s relationship with the DNC then I would leave out the quotes and call it an FBI lie.

                Sloppiness within the FBI is dangerous because that same sloppiness could violate our individual rights so this is a bigger problem than just the election.

                My comment you are responding to had to do with character assassination and was not a discussion of the merits of the FISA warrant so your insult was misplaced.

                You should say the same about yourself, (полезны дурак) useful fool, except you aren’t even useful.

  9. America is over. What this showcases is that the educational institutions of America has failed across the board. All of this is a sign of the lack of Virtue and that Ideology is paramount in many people’s eyes. This also goes to the total disgrace of the American media.

    America is a banana republic. It is just descending deeper and deeper into chaos. We are in a cold civil war that is just itching to go hot.

    1. Great work, swarthmoremom. Poor Carter Page. He’s reputed to be highly intelligent and extremely well educated. And yet, he was so enthusiastic about doing business with Russians that they called him an idiot. Well, maybe that’s a good thing for Carter Page. Had he not been such a doofus, he might’ve found himself in the same boat with George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and Paul Manafort.

  10. Time to put every government official under oath who complained during the last week that Nunes’ memo contained classified information that would somehow damage or endanger national security if released, and ask them to explain precisely what contents of Nune’s memo damage or endanger national security.

    Perhaps more than FISA reform, we need classification reform, because it’s clear that bulk quantities of information are being classified for reasons having nothing to do with national security, but for the purpose hiding embarrassing information and/or covering up criminal activity by government officials.

    And I don’t think the statute of limitations has yet tolled on James Clapper’s Congressional Perjury about the NSA not collecting “any” form of data concerning American citizens.

  11. In 1999, my former customers were Condi Rice, Karl Rove, George Allen and……. Although not a Republican myself, none were accused of any wrongdoing in the year 1999 (before executive privilege protections).

    In 1999, my biggest (non-criminal) complaint was that Rice & Rove didn’t feed the help for 4 hours at the jobsite – a high-end steakhouse. This is all public knowledge in a federal lawsuit against the United States government years later.

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