It’s Monday. Time for another installment of “What the Hell is going on?”
STEVE BANNON INTERVIEW ON 60 MINUTES
Steve Bannon, former White House Strategist and CEO of Breitbart, was interviewed on 60 Minutes last night. I didn’t get a chance to watch the whole thing, but in the interview with Charlie Rose, Bannon said that Trump’s biggest mistake was firing Comey. Had he not fired Comey, then the intensity of the Russian Investigation would have been a fraction of what it is today.
While there is some merit to this train of thought, the FBI had been investigating Trump for almost a year when Comey was fired. Within a week of Comey’s firing, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had named Robert Mueller as the Special Counselor. That move was planned ahead of time, in my opinion. Firing Comey just made Trump look even guiltier.
McGAHN, PREIBUS GO HALFSIES ON THE SAME LAWYER
Don McGahn, White House Counsel, and Reince Preibus, former White House Chief of Staff, are the newest people to lawyer up. This time, they both went with the same lawyer, William Burck. Burck specializes in White Collar crime, and is from the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan law firm.
I haven’t taken an official count yet, but this is now like 15 or 20 people that have lawyered up, including 2 attorneys. When your lawyer needs a lawyer, shit’s gone sideways.
FBI INVESTIGATING SPUTNIK AS PROPAGANDA ARM OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
Per Yahoo today, the FBI is investigating Sputnik for claims that they are acting as a propaganda arm of the Russian government, and used their position as a news outlet to push stories that would affect how people viewed the election. These claims came from two former employees of Sputnik in the U.S., one of whom was the former White House correspondent. They both claim that they were asked to perform unethical, and possibly illegal activities, in order to push the narrative that “Moscow” wanted. A thumb drive containing thousands of mails and documents was handed over to the FBI on September 1.
I mean, it’s only one of the two Russian State Sponsored Media Outlets that has an English audience. It’s not like RT is being called a propaganda machine by the United States Government and it’s employees in the U.S. are being told to register under FARA.
UNITED STATES CITIZENS WORKING FOR RT (FORMERLY RUSSIA TODAY) ADVISED TO REGISTER FOR FARA
Well, shit. Newsweek reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has asked people associated with the American arm of RT, formerly Russia Today, to register as foreign agents under the FARA act. The DOJ and the FBI are claiming that RT is using its position as a news outlet controlled by Russia to push propaganda and… look, did you read the last section about Sputnik? Good.
RT and Sputnik are the two largest Russian media outlets, and are run and funded by the Putin controlled government. Whatever message he wants to tell, they’ll tell. They reach all of Russia, and have multiple operations around the world, including here in the United States.
FARA is the Foreign Agent Registration Act. It was enacted in 1938 as a method to ostensibly stope Nazi propaganda from being circulated in the United States, but has a more interesting unofficial use. John Schindler of 20 Committee has a great writeup if I can find it, but the unofficial reason is that top secret wiretaps are inadmissible as evidence in a court of law without exposing the chain of custody, the methods used to gain the information, and the people involved. This was a problem that faced J. Edgar Hoover in the 1930’s, when he caught some Nazis doing some Nazi stuff in the U.S. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a warrant for his phone taps, and couldn’t get one.
Congress came to the rescue with FARA. By requiring people who work for foreign governments to register as agents and disclose what they do, this helps the government identify when someone is pushing someone else’s agenda instead giving an impartial account of the events. If someone lobbies on behalf of another government, they have to register with FARA. If they don’t register with FARA, and they’re caught working with or for another government, this is another, much easier to prove charge that can be thrown at them.
Seldomly is FARA used by itself as a criminal charge, but its often used in conjunction with other crimes when it comes time to charge a spy. If someone is caught working for another government, the courts will often grant leniency or at least take it into consideration at sentencing if someone retroactively registers with FARA. Two recent examples are Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort. They both recently registered as foreign agents, and disclosed several meetings and sources of income officially.
The FBI has a long history of not getting involved with calling out foreign media outlets as propaganda machines, out of fear of trampling over the first amendment rights of the outlets, and to avoid some serious lawsuits. The FBI and DOJ wouldn’t make these moves unless they had something big. Something ironclad and airtight.
I MET CLAUDE
On a lighter note, I met Claude Taylor yesterday. We went to A Fair in the Park, an Art Show in Mellon Park. He was nice, and I was slightly awkward, not trying to come off as too much of a fan boy. Part of the reason I started this blog was to try and keep track of all of the craziness going around. Especially if a story broke on Twitter first, then came to the MSM, and he was one of the people to break it. He’s not always right, but he’s been more accurate than a coin flip.
Claude is going through some legal problems right now. A woman called Cassandra Fairbanks has sued Claude for defamation of character for calling her a spy, a foreign agent, and a cam girl. Given that she’s worked as a correspondent for Sputnik, has infiltrated left-wing groups like Anonymous and various Anarchist groups, then spilled the beans to law enforcement, the only claim that hasn’t been confirmed on Twitter recently was the cam girl part, but supposedly she’s done enough so that if you google her, you can find her boobs pretty quick. She helped inspire Horseshoe Theory by being the poster girl for the Bernie or Bust people that went full Trump after the DNC. Whether or not she went to the other side of the horseshoe naturally, or was paid to, that’s worth looking in to.
REMINDER ABOUT 9/11 AND TRUMP
Today is the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States. Just in case anyone forgets, Donald Trump is a piece of shit. He has lied repeatedly about seeing Muslims cheering in New Jersey, claimed damages on one of his properties that wasn’t affected, and bragged about how after the towers fell, one of his buildings was now the tallest in New York.
That’s it for today. Other things happened, but I don’t want to write about them. Irma’s impact is still being measured, and the DOJ’s attempt at getting Arpaio’s conviction overturned looks like it should be a non-starter. An angry non-starter, but a non-starter nonetheless.
Thank you, and have a good one.