27 thoughts on “News/Politics 8-21-18

  1. Lying or incompetent at lying?


    “Amid All This, the FBI Interviewed Papadopoulos

    The FBI first interviewed Papadopoulos on January 27, 2017. Papadopoulos told FBI agents in that interview that Mifsud had told him the Russians had “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” Papadopoulos, however, also told the agents that at the time Mifsud shared this information, “I wasn’t even on the Trump team.”

    But as noted above, Papadopoulos had joined the campaign as an advisor in March and Mifsud had relayed details about Russia the following month. Papadopoulos also told the FBI that Mifsud was “a nothing,” and that he thought Mifsud was “just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something,” while in fact, Papadopoulos thought Mifsud had high-level Russian connections. These two lies would eventually form the basis of the criminal charges Mueller filed against Papadopoulos and for which he now awaits sentencing.

    Approximately two weeks later, the FBI interviewed Mifsud when, as the special counsel put it, “the FBI located him in Washington, D.C.” That shouldn’t have proven too difficult, given that Mifsud had flown to the United States to present at a conference sponsored by the State Department! Yet the FBI did not detain or arrest Mifsud, and the special counsel’s filing from last week represents the first public acknowledgment of the FBI’s February 2017 interview of Mifsud.”

    But in acknowledging that the FBI had interviewed Mifsud and released him, in the sentencing memorandum the special counsel implies that it was Papadopoulos’ lies that allowed Mifsud to leave the U.S. unscathed:

    The defendant’s lies to the FBI in January 2017 impeded the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Most immediately, those statements substantially hindered investigators’ ability to effectively question the Professor when the FBI located him in Washington, D.C. approximately two weeks after the defendant’s January 27, 2017 interview. The defendant’s lies undermined investigators’ ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States. The government understands that the Professor left the United States on February 11, 2017 and he has not returned to the United States since then. The defendant’s lies also hindered the government’s ability to discover who else may have known or been told about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on Clinton.

    Had the defendant told the FBI the truth when he was interviewed in January 2017, the FBI could have quickly taken numerous investigative steps to help determine, for example, how and where the Professor obtained the information, why the Professor provided the information to the defendant, and what the defendant did with the information after receiving it.

    This Also Isn’t True
    Mueller’s assertions, however, cannot be squared with the facts. First: in his January 2017 interview, Papadopoulos claimed that he was not part of the Trump campaign when Mifsud told him the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary. The FBI knew that statement was false, as demonstrated by the FISA application submitted in October 2016.

    According to Rep. Adam Schiff’s memo, in the FISA application the DOJ informed the “court that the FBI initiated its counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016, after receiving information” concerning Papadopoulos. While Schiff’s memo redacted what Papadopoulos revealed, it expressly stated that the “individuals linked to Russia” informed Papadopoulos in late April 2016 of those details and that they “took interest in Papadopoulos as a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.”

    Also, as the government stated in its court filings, the Trump campaign publicly named Papadopoulos a foreign policy advisor on March 21, 2016. Under these circumstances, Papadopoulos’ first misstatement — that he was not yet working with the Trump campaign — could not possibly have “substantially hindered investigators’ ability to effectively question Mifsud.”

    Similarly, Papadopoulos’ efforts to downplay Mifsud as a nobody during the January 2017 interview shouldn’t have affected the FBI’s questioning of Mifsud. Again, the FISA application filed in October 2016 shows that the FBI knew that Mifsud was “linked to Russia.”

    A simple Google search would have shown the level of connections Mifsud had, such as a July 2016 Russian Embassy photograph and caption stating that Mifsud had spoken with Russian counsellor Ernest Chernukhin about “Russian-British cooperation in the sphere of higher education.” A 2014 press release from the Russian Embassy in London announced that Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko had received Mifsud at the embassy, noting that Mifsud had spoken the previous month at the Global University Summit in Moscow. Mother Jones dug up even more connections between Mifsud and Russia.”


  2. Ohr and more….


    “The two big stories this week are interrelated: the utter collapse of the Russian Collusion Fantasy and the conclusion of the Manafort case, a case of selective and apparently not very persuasive prosecution which flows from that fantasy.

    The Manafort Trial Ends

    This week marked the end of the trial of Paul Manafort. The jury is now deliberating his fate. I cannot with certainty opine on the prosecution’s handling of the case. I can’t because all we know — in the absence of transcripts of the trial — is what reporters have told us. In my experience they often lack the background to adequately apprise us of what went on. Reporters also give more weight generally to salacious details — in this case Manafort’s wardrobe and Gates’ affairs — than they do to the more significant documentary evidence. Finally, as I learned in covering the Libby trial as an observer, even the best reporters have deadlines, which means their stories are often filed before the cross-examination of key witnesses and begin the next day with the direct examination of the next witness, which means half of what occurred — often the most important part to my mind — is unreported.

    Nevertheless, from even those accounts, it would appear that the prosecution was hardly a slam dunk, and Manafort’s lawyers obviously thought so in closing without presenting any case.’

    “The Ohrs

    As the selective prosecution of Paul Manafort draws to a conclusion, the villains of the Russian collusion fairy tale that was the impetus for the appointment of a Special Counsel who brought this case, are being further unmasked.

    Reputable accounts reveal that former associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie (an undisclosed employee of GPS Fusion) continued to receive reports from Christopher Steele, author of the now discredited dossier. They did so after Steele was terminated as an FBI source because of Steele’s leaks to the press and lying to the agency about them. Ohr and his DOJ and FBI cohorts in this stove-piping operation apparently “operated outside the chain of command, misled their bosses (and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) and concealed evidence from Congressional oversight committees.” And they did this work even after Trump was elected and inaugurated.

    The evidence to date suggests that Rod Rosenstein, who is tasked with supervising Robert Mueller and his team, was kept in the dark about Ohr’s continued work with Steele when he signed the last FISA warrant application, post inauguration, in June 2017. The Ohr-Steele exchanges which have made it to public view suggest that Ohr’s boss, now fired but then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, most likely received the stove-piped reports, okayed this channel of information gathering, and even oversaw it.

    John Solomon at The Hill broke the story about the Ohr-Steele work-around.”


  3. To quote Johnson over at PowerLine, if you’re getting your news from The NY Times, you are spectacularly ill-informed.


    “ince late 2017, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr has emerged as a central character in the Trump dossier saga, including the contested way the dossier’s allegations were presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He has been an object of the president’s ire, of late, and so August 17 a trio of New York Times reporters, Michael Shear, Katie Benner, and Nicholas Fandos, came to the DoJ man’s defense with an article titled “ Embracing Conspiracy Theory, Trump Escalates Attack on Bruce Ohr.” To hear them tell it, Ohr is an innocent bystander. It’s an effort at elision so strained it makes one hope the Times writers didn’t hurt themselves.

    “President Trump threatened on Friday to quickly revoke the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a little-known Justice Department official” the Times reports, describing Ohr as “a midlevel government worker.” Katie Benner had written a solo-bylined story two days before titled “ Little-Known Justice Dept. Official Makes Trump’s Security Clearance List.” Just in case anyone missed the drift, the first graph of Benner’s August 15 article describes Ohr as “a little-known career Justice Department official.” Two days later, Shear, Benner and Fandos wrote that in targeting Ohr, Trump “reached deep into the bureaucracy.”

    Anyone familiar with Washington could be forgiven for assuming that means Ohr is a GS-14, or maybe at most a GS-15, the typical job scale for a midlevel federal careerist. You’d never think from reading the New York Times article that until recently Ohr was one of the most senior officials at Justice Department—associate deputy attorney general.

    But the Times really, really wants us to believe that poor Bruce Ohr is a nobody, an unlucky schlemiel plucked from obscurity by right-wingers to be propped up as a presidential punching bag. Shear, Benner, and Fandos tell us that Ohr is “A largely anonymous part of the 113,000-person Justice Department work force.” Either the Times reporters know nothing about the structure of the Justice Department (which is unlikely) or they are being dishonest with the reader (which would be shameful). Aside from the fact that Ohr had climbed nearly to the top of DoJ’s greasy pole, how many “anonymous” DoJ employees are regularly featured in departmental press releases, as Ohr once was? Typical is the September 16, 2016, announcement that for National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week, “Bruce G. Ohr, Associate Deputy Attorney General and Director of DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program will participate…”

    Not only is Ohr a “little-known,” worker from “deep into the bureaucracy,” the Times would have us believe that Ohr has been lied about. “Departing the White House for a fund-raiser,” Shear, Benner, and Fandos write, “the president told reporters that Mr. Ohr was ‘a disgrace’ and said incorrectly that Mr. Ohr played a part in starting the investigation into Russian election interference and possible links to Trump associates.” Really? Before we accuse Trump of speaking “incorrectly,” is it too much to ask what the president actually said? Notice that though Trump’s “disgrace” declaration is quoted verbatim—as signaled by quotation marks—the Times does not quote the statement that they denounce as incorrect. Perhaps that’s because Trump said nothing resembling what they suggested he said.”

    “So what is it that little-known Bruce Ohr was doing?

    We know that Bruce Ohr was in frequent contact with Christopher Steele, author of the opposition research dossier on Trump. (Steele, of course, was hired by political research firm Fusion GPS, which was paid by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee by way of law firm Perkins Coie.) Shear, Benner, and Fandos do their best to play this down as just an ongoing and innocuous friendship: “Mr. Ohr was in touch with Mr. Steele, a professional acquaintance whom he had known before Mr. Steele began working for Fusion GPS.”

    What the Times fails to mention was Ohr’s role as a go-between allowing Steele to feed his unverified reporting to the FBI long after the bureau had officially dropped Steele as a source. The dossier was a key part of the initial warrant application the FBI filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court October 21, 2016, to surveil Carter Page. In that application, Steele is touted as Mr. Credibility. But soon after that original filing, the bureau discovered Steele had been talking to the press, which they had forbidden him to do. When it came time to renew the warrant, the bureau told the FISA court it had “suspended its relationship” with Steele. When it came time to renew the warrant again, the bureau stated—and they underlined it for emphasis—that it had “ closed” Steele “ as an FBI source.”

    And yet, all that time, the FBI continued to collect information from Steele—just not directly. Bruce Ohr would talk with Steele and then report back to FBI agents who wrote down Steele’s stories in official “302” memos summarizing the Ohr-Steele conversations. That’s no mean accomplishment for a little-known, mid-level worker from deep in the bureaucracy. Especially one who, according to the New York Times, “has no direct involvement in the inquiry.””


  4. What’s makes them better than the rest of us who lost our clearance when we left the service of our country?

    “Pulling Their Clearances Is Only the Start – It’s Time to Stamp out Elite Privilege”


    “Help, I’m being oppressed! My freedom of speech was been utterly stripped from me because when I retired from the Army those fascist monsters took away my TOP SECRET security clearance. See, a security clearance is a special privilege I should be entitled to exploit for as long as I want to because… well, shut up peasant, that’s why. I learned this in my Con Law class, right after we studied the Constitution’s text enumerating the rights to abortion, wedding cake baking servitude, and to be called by the bizarre pronoun of your – I mean “xir” – choice.

    Oh wait, all of that – except the giving up my clearance part – is utter nonsense.

    But John Brennan, that hack, and his elite pals are supposed to get the special privilege of keeping it. Why? As a professional courtesy. See, security clearances are things you pass out as favors or rewards, I guess, at least among the elite. Courtesy among them, nothing for you, though. You aren’t special. You’re just some guy serving his country and not turning it into a profit center on the outside. Like a sucker.

    I got my clearance for the same reason you readers who got one got yours –because I needed it to do my job in the service of our country. And when I stopped needing it because I was no longer doing a job in the service of my country, I didn’t get to keep it to inflate my value as a pundit or “consultant.” Mine went away. As did yours, I’ll wager. The chances are pretty infinitesimal that you are one of the special somebodies who get handed power and privilege not to serve our country but as a perk for being part of the in-crowd.

    Being a colonel was just a job for me, and doing what you did was just a job for you. But for a lot of these retired generals and senior bureaucrat timeservers, it’s a lifestyle. I always saw my eagle as leased; they think they hold the pink slip on their positions. Oh, and do they ever have contempt for Normals like you.

    Security clearances get pulled routinely when the holder no longer needs access because the fewer people with access, the safer the info is – pretty basic stuff. But hey, we’ll take the chance on classified info spilling if it means elite jerks can get to bask in the warm light of being In The Know. It’s not like any of our betters ever got caught up in classified info shenanigans. Not Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit. Not that Towering Doofus James Comey. Not David Petreaus. And not his mistress.

    Oh, wait – all of them totally did. But, of course, these elite malefactors are all in jail, because you or I would be if we did what they did. Aren’t they?

    Oh, right. They aren’t. They’re special. More professional courtesy. More special rules for special people.”

    Nailed it.


  5. A straight plea deal. That means either Cohen didn’t offer anything good, or he had had nothing.


    “Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, is in talks to plead guilty to criminal charges in a deal that would bring an end to a months-long investigation that has riled the President, according to sources familiar with the matter.

    The details of the plea are still being negotiated, the sources cautioned, and talks could fall apart. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating Cohen for potential bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. If talks fall apart, federal prosecutors are expected to indict Cohen.

    As part of the plea deal under discussion, Cohen is not expected to cooperate with the government, one source said. However, by pleading guilty both Cohen and prosecutors would avoid the spectacle and uncertainty of a trial.”

    Looks like once again, Mueller has nothing to use against Trump.


  6. So is Cohen lying now, or then? Because his story has changed. I’m guessing now…..

    “A source close to Cohen said prior to the plea that Cohen agreed to a plea deal “to save millions of dollars, protect his family, and limit his exposure,” the source said.”


    “In total, Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

    Cohen could have received up to 65 years in prison if convicted of all charges. However, as part of his agreement, Cohen agreed not to challenge any sentence between 46 and 63 months. The deal does not involve a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors.”


  7. Also, only one count has anything to do with Trump, the one count of excessive campaign contributions.

    Which has a penalty of…..

    Fines in nearly all cases.

    No one goes to jail for it. Bernie didn’t, and neither did Obama. So I don’t think Trump is very worried. Ticked, but not worried. They didn’t even try to do so. They learned their lesson when they couldn’t convict John Edwards for it.


  8. Old Trump does produce some interesting reactions. One of my NeverTrumpers (a very conservative Christian grandmother) just posted: “God bless Stormy Daniels!” She followed that up with an explanation, but I couldn’t get past that hilarious first line.


  9. Another white wash to benefit Democrats.

    Move along….. nothing to see here….


    “A federal judge declined to give jail time to former Democratic IT aide Imran Awan Tuesday, saying he has “suffered enough” at the hands of politicians “at the highest levels of government.” In addition, the Department of Justice said it did not find any evidence that supported criminal charges.

    Imran choked back tears, saying, “We want to thank the prosecution, the FBI and the Capitol Police,” while his lawyer submitted a letter referring to President Donald Trump, Sen. Chuck Grassley and other Republications as “deranged,” “pathetic” and “without a shred of decency.”

    Judge Tanya Chutkin gave Imran three months of supervised release. Imran’s attorney had hoped to avoid the supervision, indicating Imran wanted to go back to Pakistan: “By ending this today, you will allow Hina to build her family wherever she chooses and allow Imran to visit his father’s grave and secure his legacy,” the attorney said.

    The lawyer, former Hillary Clinton aide Chris Gowen, said Imran was motivated by love for his father, who was dying in Virginia when Imran flew to Pakistan. Imran, he said, was in a “panic” to get money to urgently build a charity hospital, described in court as a “women’s shelter.” He described the urgent moves as “securing his father’s legacy.”

    The story is at odds with a 2009 Pakistani newspaper article, police reports and lawsuits in Pakistan, as well as interviews. Those allege Imran tried to cut others out of a fraud-plagued real estate deal and secure a massive inheritance in the form of a major real estate complex, known as a “colony.”

    A dozen farmers accused Imran and his father of stealing their land and subdividing it to build the development. The 2009 article said that Imran used political “muscle” stemming from his job in Congress to attempt to frame his alleged victims. Later, Faisalabad Agricultural University faculty apparently paid for some of those plots, but said that they, too, were ripped off. Dr. Zafar Iqbal, a university professor and president of the faculty association, told TheDCNF that Imran and his father refused to turn over the deeds and that in January 2017, Imran cautioned them that he “has got powerful political connections.”

    In addition to two separate groups of victims, the Awans had two partners in this land deal — Rashid Minhas and Shabbir Ahmed — both of whom were allegedly cut out of the partnership. Minhas said that when he went out of town, they seized his share of the proceeds. Ahmed’s widow, Bushra Bibi, said in the 2009 article that, immediately after a car crash killed both Ahmed and the Awans’ mother, Imran threatened her with “dire consequences” to force her to give up her share, and framed her brother-in-law. A support letter submitted by a former aide to Rep. Robert Wexler seemed to contradict the widow’s own statements, claiming “Imran would send money every month to the widow and children of the driver to help take care of them.”

    “Gowen said Democrats did not want to fire Imran even though the Democratic-appointed inspector general found that he made “unauthorized access” to House computers. “The employers had no interest in letting them go and were forced to let them go because of a politicized investigation,” Gowen said, appearing to blame Phil Kiko, the Republican chief administrative officer of the House who wrote a letter calling for their ban.

    Multiple former Democratic chiefs of staff, including those of Reps. Ted Deutch and Gregory Meeks, wrote letters of support for Imran, and one even said he would still entrust data to him, even though the Capitol Police said in a July 3, 2018 statement that they found he’d committed “numerous violations of House IT internal controls.”

    Imran and his family were banned from the House computer network in February 2017 after the House’s top law enforcement officer wrote that Imran is “an ongoing and serious risk to the House of Representatives, possibly threatening the integrity of our information systems,” and that a server containing evidence had gone “missing.” The inspector general said server logs showed “unauthorized access” and procurement records were falsified.

    The Department of Justice said it could substantiate only the bank fraud charge, despite investigators’ findings and other apparent violations in public records — such as the hiding of LLCs, one of which took $100,000 from an Iraqi government minister — on House ethics disclosure forms. Though media outlets reported prosecutors as having “debunked” “conspiracy theories,” the DOJ never explained the discrepancy between their legal conclusion and the evidence at hand, including falsified invoices.”


  10. This was her full post, and it is not bad:

    “God bless Stormy Daniels. I would never stand in judgment of the path this woman has walked because I’m old enough to understand that there by the grace of God, go I. As much as Trump disrespects women, isn’t it poetic justice that she is the one that had the courage to stand up and be heard, insist he be accountable, and now force a President of the United States to be deposed under oath.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This was the Tweet to which she was responding:


  12. The first Member of Congress to endorse Trump (Chris Collins) was indicted a few days ago. The second Member of Congress to endorse Trump (Duncan Hunter) was indicted today. The third Member to endorse Trump was Senator Jeff Sessions.


  13. Two different worlds. Two completely different sets of facts.


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