37 thoughts on “News/Politics 12-5-17

  1. Yep.


    “The Strzok report comes on heels of the widely derided Justice Department investigation into IRS discrimination against conservative groups, including the disposition of allegations against IRS senior official Lois Lerner, and after the wildly erratic behavior of then-FBI Director James B. Comey during 2016. It also follows the vote to hold then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress — the first ever against a sitting member of the Cabinet — with 17 Democrats voting in support. Mix into this battering of the Justice Department’s and FBI’s reputations the still-murky charges and counter-charges of abuse of “unmasking” powers during the waning days of the Obama era.

    As a result, a large swath of responsible center-right observers are now demanding a full review of the investigation and prosecution powers wielded by the Obama-era Justice Department and FBI. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote in the National Review on Saturday that President Trump should call for a second independent counsel to investigate abuse of the counterintelligence authorities under President Barack Obama, abuses he suggests were undertaken to protect the controversial Iran deal on nuclear weapons.”



  2. Mueller can’t have Manafort’s version getting out. It might counter the stories illegally leaking from his office. He wants to control the narrative.


    “Special counsel Robert Mueller has abruptly reversed course on a bail agreement his office struck with Paul Manafort’s legal team last week that would have allowed him to be released from GPS monitoring.

    Manafort evidently failed to tell the government that he was ghost-writing a draft op-ed about his work in Ukraine as late as November 30. He was working on it with “a longtime Russian colleague” who is “assessed to have ties to Russian intelligence,” according to the special counsel’s court filing.”

    “”Even if the ghostwritten op-ed were entirely accurate, fair, and balanced, it would be a violation of this Court’s November 8 Order if it had been publish,” the government argued. “The editorial clearly was undertaken to influence the public’s opinion of defendant Manafort, or else there would be no reason to seek its publication.”

    The filing continued: “Because Manafort has now taken actions that reflect an intention to violate or circumvent the court’s existing orders … the government submits that the proposed bail package is insufficiently reasonable to assure his appearance as required. The government’s prior general consent to the bail package presupposed that Manafort was complying with the Court’s existing orders.”

    Manafort, who served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager between April and August of 2016, was indicted in late October alongside his longtime business associate Rick Gates on charges that included money laundering, tax fraud, and failure to register as a foreign agent.”


  3. Set up.


    “The documents outlining Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in the Trump-Russia investigation do not allege collusion or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election. They do, however, suggest that the Obama Justice Department was intensely interested in Flynn’s discussions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about policy issues — sanctions against Russia, a United Nations resolution on Israel — during the presidential transition, when Barack Obama was still in the White House and Donald Trump was preparing to take office.

    At the time, top Justice officials suspected Flynn of violating the Logan Act, the 218-year-old law under which no one has ever been prosecuted, that prohibits private citizens from acting on behalf of the United States in disputes with foreign governments. Starting in the summer of 2016 and intensifying in the transition period, the Logan Act, while mostly unknown to the general public, became a hot topic of conversation among some Democrats. A number of lawmakers, former officials, and commentators called on the Obama administration to investigate the Trump team for a possible Logan Act violations — and to do it while Democrats still controlled the executive branch.

    At the same time, inside the Obama Justice Department, it appears the Logan Act became a paramount concern among some key officials in the critical weeks of December 2016 and January 2017. Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has told Congress that the Logan Act was the first reason she intervened in the Flynn case — the reason FBI agents were sent to the White House to interview Flynn in the Trump administration’s early days. It was that interview, held on Jan. 24, 2017, that ultimately led to Flynn’s guilty plea.

    In short, there’s no doubt the Logan Act, a law dismissed as a joke or an archaic irrelevancy or simply unconstitutional by many legal experts, played a central role in the Obama administration’s aggressive and enormously consequential investigation of its successor.

    Democrats began accusing Trump of Logan Act violations in the summer of 2016, immediately after the Republican convention, when Trump sarcastically invited Russia to produce the 30,000-plus emails that Hillary Clinton deleted rather than turn over to investigators. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said during a July 27 news conference. “I think that you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press — let’s see if that happens, that’ll be nice.”


  4. An old quote from Kevin D. Williamson is appropriate for today:

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ricky, tell Arnold we expect him to make good use of the pork—for public benefit, not just to line his tummy. If things continue the way they are, the two of them could pose a serious threat to Trump/Pence in 2020. :–)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Stonewalling Congress, and protecting his buddies at the FBI, including Comey. And yet some people wonder why most people see this as a total fraud. It’s because it is.


    “Donald Trump is his own worst enemy, as his many ill-advised tweets on the weekend about Michael Flynn, the FBI and Robert Mueller’s Russia probe demonstrate. But that doesn’t mean that Mr. Mueller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation deserve a pass about their motives and methods, as new information raises troubling questions.

    The Washington Post and the New York Times reported Saturday that a lead FBI investigator on the Mueller probe, Peter Strzok, was demoted this summer after it was discovered he’d sent anti- Trump texts to a mistress. As troubling, Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department kept this information from House investigators, despite Intelligence Committee subpoenas that would have exposed those texts. They also refused to answer questions about Mr. Strzok’s dismissal and refused to make him available for an interview.

    The news about Mr. Strzok leaked only when the Justice Department concluded it couldn’t hold out any longer, and the stories were full of spin that praised Mr. Mueller for acting “swiftly” to remove the agent. Only after these stories ran did Justice agree on Saturday to make Mr. Strzok available to the House.

    This is all the more notable because Mr. Strzok was a chief lieutenant to former FBI Director James Comey and played a lead role investigating alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Mr. Mueller then gave him a top role in his special-counsel probe. And before all this Mr. Strzok led the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and sat in on the interview she gave to the FBI shortly before Mr. Comey publicly exonerated her in violation of Justice Department practice.

    Oh, and the woman with whom he supposedly exchanged anti-Trump texts, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, worked for both Mr. Mueller and deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, who was accused of a conflict of interest in the Clinton probe when it came out that Clinton allies had donated to the political campaign of Mr. McCabe’s wife. The texts haven’t been publicly released, but it’s fair to assume their anti-Trump bias must be clear for Mr. Mueller to reassign such a senior agent.

    There is no justification for withholding all of this from Congress, which is also investigating Russian influence and has constitutional oversight authority. Justice and the FBI have continued to defy legal subpoenas for documents pertaining to both surveillance warrants and the infamous Steele dossier that was financed by the Clinton campaign and relied on anonymous Russian sources.

    While there is no evidence so far of Trump-Russia collusion, House investigators have turned up enough material to suggest that anti-Trump motives may have driven Mr. Comey’s FBI investigation. The public has a right to know whether the Steele dossier inspired the Comey probe, and whether it led to intrusive government eavesdropping on campaign satellites such as Carter Page.

    All of this reinforces our doubts about Mr. Mueller’s ability to conduct a fair and credible probe of the FBI’s considerable part in the Russia-Trump drama. Mr. Mueller ran the bureau for 12 years and is fast friends with Mr. Comey, whose firing by Mr. Trump triggered his appointment as special counsel. The reluctance to cooperate with a congressional inquiry compounds doubts related to this clear conflict of interest.

    Mr. Mueller’s media protectorate argues that anyone critical of the special counsel is trying to cover for Mr. Trump. But the alleged Trump-Russia ties are the subject of numerous probes—Mr. Mueller’s, and those of various committees in the House and Senate. If there is any evidence of collusion, Democrats and Mr. Mueller’s agents will make sure it is spread far and wide.

    Yet none of this means the public shouldn’t also know if, and how, America’s most powerful law-enforcement agency was influenced by Russia or partisan U.S. actors. All the more so given Mr. Comey’s extraordinary intervention in the 2016 campaign, which Mrs. Clinton keeps saying turned the election against her. The history of the FBI is hardly without taint.

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mr. Mueller, is also playing an increasingly questionable role in resisting congressional oversight. Justice has floated multiple reasons for ignoring House subpoenas, none of them persuasive.”


  7. Ricky,

    Once again, your anonymous sources are called liars by the people who would know.


  8. And another shoe drops.


    “A journalist claims that the Rev. Jesse Jackson and director John Singleton made inappropriate comments and advances toward her while she was doing her job.

    Danielle Young, writing for The Root, says that while she was working for a media company, Jackson delivered the keynote speech at the end of a meeting. After discussing the responsibilities of black journalists in his speech, according to Young, she and her colleagues lined up to have their picture taken with Jackson.

    “I walked toward Jackson, smiling, and he smiled back at me,” Young wrote. “His eyes scanned my entire body. All of a sudden, I felt naked in my sweater and jeans. As I walked within arm’s reach of him, Jackson reached out a hand and grabbed my thigh, saying, ‘I like all of that right there!’ and gave my thigh a tight squeeze.”

    The reporter said she was too shocked to react and giggled uncomfortably as he “pulled me closer,” while her co-worker took photos of them. She described herself as feeling “deflated” after she was finally able to pull away from the man she once admired who “marched alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.”

    Young noted that she reached out to a woman there with her that day at her previous job who remembers the situation in the same way.

    “‘I remember him being inappropriate with all the women,'” Young said her former co-worker said. “‘And I also remember you telling me that he did something more with you. And then we brushed the s–t off and chalked it up to him just being a dirty old man.'”


  9. And again, the same name keeps popping up when it comes to questionable decisions at the FBI.


    “The Daily Caller is reporting that the FBI also has some answering to do.

    Summaries of the interviews [of Mills and Abedin], known as 302s, were released by the FBI last year.

    A review of those documents conducted by The Daily Caller shows that Mills and Abedin told Strzok and Laufman that they were not aware of Clinton’s server until after she left the State Department.

    “Mills did not learn Clinton was using a private server until after Clinton’s [Department of State] tenure,” reads notes from Mills’ April 9, 2016 interview. “Mills stated she was not even sure she knew what a server was at the time.”

    Abedin also denied knowing about Clinton’s server until leaving the State Department in 2013.

    “Abedin did not know that Clinton had a private server until about a year and a half ago when it became public knowledge,” the summary of Strzok’s interview with Abedin states.
    We know that is false because there are emails from 2009 and 2010 in which both Mills and Abedin discuss Hillary Clinton’s private server, including hacking attempts directed at it.

    Making it more obvious, James Comey admitted knowing that these answers are false:

    Former FBI Director James Comey defended the Clinton aides’ inconsistent statements in a House Judiciary Committee hearing held on Sept. 28, 2016.

    “Having done many investigations myself, there’s always conflicting recollections of facts, some of which are central [to the investigation], some of which are peripheral,” Comey told Jason Chaffetz, a former Utah congressman who served on the committee last year.
    Denying knowledge of the server when the server is the central focus of the whole investigation is hardly peripheral. (I’d also note that absolutely no one is howling for Comey to be charged with obstruction of justice for dropping the investigation of two people who blatantly and casually lied to the FBI.)

    And the lead investigator in questioning both Mills and Abedin was none other than our good pal, Peter Strzok.

    Strzok is the former head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division until his removal from that job in August. And, unlike with Michael Flynn, Strzok didn’t think it useful to pursue charges of lying to the FBI in this case. Since then we’ve learned that he was involved in literally every part of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as well as instigating the “collusion” investigation on the strength of the Trump dossier he received from Fusion GPS. And we know he was, if not a Clinton partisan, he was at least anti-Trump and pro-Clinton during the 2016 election as well as being a close friend of deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.

    But this is all just a coincidence because we all know how noble and above-it-all the FBI is.”

    And if it was a crime when Flynn did it, why not when these 2 did?


    “A terrific catch by the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, whose story you should read in full. It was widely known that Peter Strzok, the FBI agent dismissed by Mueller from the Russiagate probe due to anti-Trump bias, had had a lead role in the Hillary Emailgate investigation. But I hadn’t realized until now that he was one of the agents who interviewed top Clinton cronies Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.

    Or, more importantly, that they pretty clearly lied to his face about when they found out that Hillary had her own email server.

    Strzok is the same agent who reportedly replaced “grossly negligent” with “extremely careless” in Comey’s statement on Emailgate after the probe ended, and he’s also one of the agents who conducted the interview with Mike Flynn that earned Flynn a charge of making false statements to federal officials. One agent with a bias, even a supervisor, doesn’t discredit an entire investigation with dozens of people involved, especially after he’s been kicked off by the top prosecutor because of it. But the question remains: If Mike Flynn’s lies were sufficient to warrant being charged, why weren’t Abedin’s and Mills’s?

    Summaries of the interviews, known as 302s, were released by the FBI last year.

    A review of those documents conducted by The Daily Caller shows that Mills and Abedin told Strzok and Laufman that they were not aware of Clinton’s server until after she left the State Department…

    But undercutting those denials are email exchanges in which both Mills and Abedin either directly discussed or were involved in discussing Clinton’s server.

    “hrc email coming back — is server okay?” Mills asked in a Feb. 27, 2010 email to Abedin and Justin Cooper, a longtime aide to Bill Clinton who helped set up the Clinton server.
    Comey was asked about Abedin’s and Mills’s lies during congressional testimony last year and spun his decision not to recommend charges by claiming that, hey, sometimes people misremember things and sometimes those things aren’t essential to a case.”


  10. And once again The Trump Cult takes at face value the denials of an Administration spokesperson. As Trump told Billy Bush, “You just say things and people will believe you.”


  11. Articles by journalists with many, many sources are generally much more believable than blanket denials from press spokespersons from the single most dishonest Administration in history.


  12. Word of advice: Don’t get too cocky, and save the smarm, when posting about these things

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ricky’s link even said as much. But Ricky ignored that and went with the anonymous source telling him what he desperately wants to hear.
    “Mueller issued a subpoena to Germany’s largest lender several weeks ago, forcing the bank to submit documents on its relationship with Trump and his family, according to a person briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the action has not been announced.”
    But there is a chance this is just another of Mueller’s intentional and illegal leaks and that one will be served soon I suppose.


  14. Remember when we were told all these lawyers on Mueller’s team who donated to Hillary and Obama were totally non-partisan, neutral, and unbiased?

    Yeah. Good times.

    We’re starting to get an idea why they’ve been stonewalling turning over documents at the FBI and DoJ.


    “Judicial Watch released emails from the Department of Justice today and some of them showed support for former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates when she refused to support President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions from some Middle East countries.

    It sounds like no big deal, right? Well, it turns out one of the supporters is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Deputy Andrew Weissman. He is one of the top prosecutors in Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

    On January 27, shortly after the inauguration, Trump issued a travel order on several Middle East countries. Yates demanded the DOJ not to defend the executive order on January 30. Trump fired her for her actions later that day.

    Weissmann, who worked as the Chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Fraud Section, emailed Yates:

    “I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.”

    As you can see, Yates forwarded it to her personal email address. Weissmann sent the email a little after Trump fired her. He was not part of the Mueller probe, yet. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton blasted the find:

    “This is an astonishing and disturbing find. Andrew Weisman, a key prosecutor on Robert Mueller’s team, praised Obama DOJ holdover Sally Yates after she lawlessly thwarted President Trump,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “How much more evidence do we need that the Mueller operation has been irredeemably compromised by anti-Trump partisans? Shut it down.”

    The New York Times published an article in October that described how the indictment of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort set the tone for the investigation.

    The article mentions Weissman:

    Admirers of Andrew Weissmann, one of the team’s senior prosecutors, describe him as relentless and uncompromising, while his detractors say his scorched earth tactics have backfired in some previous cases. Greg B. Andres, another one of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors, once ran an investigation into a Mafia kingpin. Zainab N. Ahmad made her name as a prosecutor pursing high-profile terrorism cases.

    Records show that Weissmann is a Democratic donor, giving $6,600 combined to former President Barack Obama and failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.


  15. Guys, Can you point to specific leaks that came from Mueller? The leaks in this Administration generally come from the moron or his family or his aides or his lawyers or his “friends”.

    I trust Jay Sekulow as far as I can throw him. He is the James Carville of this administration.

    Poor Pence has been made to look foolish on multiple occasions when the con man and/or various assistant con men lied to Pence before Pence went out and spoke to the press.


  16. Does anyone want to make a bet on whether Bloomberg’s Deutsch Bank subpoena story is true. I will put up five pounds of Texas brisket. Let all who believe Sekulow put up something of similar value. It is all going to come out eventually. MAGA means Mueller Ain’t Going Away.


  17. Sure, I’ll take that bet, Ricky. Yeah, I might lose. But if we met here every day and placed a similar wager on the veracity of some Trump story you post that day, I’d probably break even. You trust the media and don’t like Trump. Others like myself mistrust the media and don’t like him. Either way works.


  18. Here was my favorite part of the Pence article. It provoked an interesting lunch discussion on the tax treatment of the $800,000,000 both to Trump and to the billionaires:

    Trump’s phone calls to his running mate reportedly went unreturned, and anonymous quotes began appearing in news stories describing Pence as “beside himself” over the revelation. One campaign staffer told me that when she was asked on TV the day after the tape came out whether Pence would remain on the ticket, she ad-libbed that, yes, he was 100 percent committed to Trump. She remembers walking away from the set and thinking, “I have no idea if what I just said is true.”

    It’s been reported that Pence sent Trump a letter saying he needed time to decide whether he could stay with the campaign. But in fact, according to several Republicans familiar with the situation, he wasn’t just thinking about dropping out—he was contemplating a coup. Within hours of The Post’s bombshell, Pence made it clear to the Republican National Committee that he was ready to take Trump’s place as the party’s nominee. Such a move just four weeks before Election Day would have been unprecedented—but the situation seemed dire enough to call for radical action.

    Already, Reince Priebus’s office was being flooded with panicked calls from GOP officials and donors urging the RNC chairman to get rid of Trump by whatever means necessary. One Republican senator called on the party to engage emergency protocols to nominate a new candidate. RNC lawyers huddled to explore an obscure legal mechanism by which they might force Trump off the ticket. Meanwhile, a small group of billionaires was trying to put together money for a “buyout”—even going so far as to ask a Trump associate how much money the candidate would require to walk away from the race. According to someone with knowledge of the talks, they were given an answer of $800 million. (It’s unclear whether Trump was aware of this discussion or whether the offer was actually made.) Republican donors and party leaders began buzzing about making Pence the nominee and drafting Condoleezza Rice as his running mate.

    Amid the chaos, Trump convened a meeting of his top advisers in his Manhattan penthouse. He went around the room and asked each person for his damage assessment. Priebus bluntly told Trump he could either drop out immediately or lose in a historic landslide. According to someone who was present, Priebus added that Pence and Rice were “ready to step in.” (An aide to the vice president denied that Pence sent Trump a letter and that he ever talked with the RNC about becoming the nominee. Priebus did not respond to requests for comment.)


  19. On the $800,000,000:

    1. Does anyone think a “Trump associate” would have quoted that figure without running it by (or having it dictated by) Trump himself?

    2. Where did that number come from? It looks like a figure that would have made Trump debt-free for the first time in almost 50 years.

    3. But those taxes …

    A. One thing is clear. The billionaires would not have been allowed to deduct the payments as an expense no matter how much American embarrassment would have been prevented.

    B. The billionaires would have wanted the payments to be reported by Trump as ordinary income and taxed at 39.6%.

    C. Trump would have countered that the payments were gifts and that the billionaires owed the IRS a 40% gift tax on top of the payments to Trump.


  20. Reuters, like Bloomberg, is not backing down from their Deutsch Bank subpoena story. Their story includes the reason for the subpoena: Mueller wants to know if Deutsch Bank may have sold some of Trump’s debt to a Russian entity.


  21. The story was first reported in a German business newspaper. This story has a link to that German newspaper report if someone wants to translate the German for us.


  22. Twitter briefly froze Arnold’s account. Something about him not being real. Can you believe that? They let Trump tell the most outrageous lies on a daily basis and then crack down on Arnold!


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