Daily Check-In 08/16/2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018.

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

The Manafort Trial

The case is now in the hands of the jury.  There was a bunch of excitement as they sent a note to the judge asking four questions.

The first was about FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Reporting) guidelines, and whether or not the rule is 50% ownership or more than 50% ownership.  Judge Ellis told the jury that along with the requirement for people who own more than 50 percent of a company with foreign bank accounts, a person must file FBARs if he “controls the disposition of money, funds, or other assets held in a financial account by direct communications.”

The second question the jury asked was a clarification of the term “shelf company.”  The judge couldn’t help with that one.

The third question they had was they wanted the definition of reasonable doubt.  Judge Ellis responded that reasonable doubt “is a doubt based on reason,” but added: “The government is not required to prove guilt beyond all possible doubt.”  Think of it like this… if Paul Manafort made a convincing argument that his tax person gave him bad advice on the filing requirements, that could be a reasonable doubt.  If he claimed that it wasn’t him filling out those tax forms, but his evil twin Saul, that’s not a reasonable doubt.  Sure, it is possible his evil twin Saul could forged his signatures and impersonated him, but it’s not reasonable.

Finally, they asked the judge if they could have the evidence list amended with the indictment counts for each, so they could go through it and see which evidence goes to which crime.  The judge said no.

This could take a while.  I don’t know when they’ll reach a verdict or announce that they’re hopelessly deadlocked, but I’ll keep you informed.

 

It really was the Russia investigation all along.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal posted late Wednesday, President Trump once again gave away the ballgame when it comes to his efforts to affect the probe and tear down its leaders (both current and former). He confessed that his true motivation for revoking former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance was the “rigged witch hunt” that Brennan once “led.”

“I call it the rigged witch hunt; [it] is a sham,” Trump told the Journal’s Peter Nicholas and Michael C. Bender. “And these people led it!”

He added: “So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

You could be forgiven for having flashbacks to Trump’s interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in the aftermath of his firing last year of James B. Comey as FBI director. Then, as now, the White House offered a series of motivations for the crackdown on a person who was a liability in the Russia probe. Then, as now, it seemed clear what the actual motivation was. And then, as now, Trump appeared to go out and just admit the actual motivation.

There’s this thing called Consciousness of Guilt, when a person who committed a crime commits other actions with the original crime in mind.  When those actions occur and are tied to doing them with the original crime in mind, they’re the actions of a guilty person.

Once again The Dotard says what’s on his mind, and what’s on his mind is Russia.  How he’s going down, how Mueller’s closing in around him, and how everything and everyone around him sees how bad the situation truly is.

Rachel Maddow brought up some great points on her show.  Each and every person on the list of potential security clearance withdraws is a likely witness against Trump.  They’ve seen the classified evidence against him.

However, if they don’t have a clearance, then hypothetically they wouldn’t be allowed to refer to the evidence in the case because it’s too sensitive to view.  If they can’t view it, they can’t testify against Trump.

While it is something to be worried about, there are few flaws with the hypothesis.

First, this assumes that there is no publicly available evidence.  One problem with classified intelligence is that it makes lousy evidence in a court because the source and chain of custody have to be exposed for it to be admissible.  This is why seeing classified intelligence is very rare in a trial.  Why burn an active source when publicly accessible evidence like witness testimony, emails, or phone calls and texts are available that do the same job?

Second, this also assumes that statements, interviews, and testimony before the Grand Jury have not already taken place.  If so, that information is already in the hands of the courts.  Removing a security clearance from someone to harm their testimony after they’ve spoken to the Grand Jury just earns Donald another count of Witness Tampering and Obstruction of Justice.

Third, this also assumes that a collusion story is the first series of charges against Trump to hit.  It won’t.  The first series of charges will be Obstruction-related, mostly covering the cover-up of the Russian investigation since the end of the campaign and the early part of the Trump Administration.  I don’t have any inside sources on this, but if I were building a case to take down the most corrupt American in history, I’d start by removing his supporters, his base, his power, and his ability to protect himself with low-hanging fruit charges.  Then, after it’s shown that he covered up some crimes, I’d go after him for the crimes he covered up.

Still, we need to keep an eye out for this.  I’m hoping this is an angle that’s been wargammed by Mueller’s team as well.

Is it just me or do Trump’s action reek of desperation?  Like, down by 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter with 3 minutes left to play, throw it up and hope someone catches it desperation.

 

Someone might want to tell George’s wife what would happen to him if he tried to “back out” of his plea deal.

He’s already plead guilty to lying to the FBI, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.  They will recommend that he serve all 5 years.  Next, they’d charge him will ALL of the other crimes they have him for, and that he’s admitted to.  Then, after charging him, they will throw the book at him by recommending that he serve the maximum sentence for each and every crime, and that he do it consecutively, not concurrently.  And, they’d also recommend that he should serve that time in the worst prison in the Federal system, with the worst of the worst.

Plus, his testimony and help has already been used and followed up on for other crimes.  Everyone in the campaign will know that he ratted them out.  Russian mobsters and their ilk don’t like rats.

If George listens to his wife, he’ll be lucky to die in jail an old man.  Otherwise, he’ll probably get shanked by the first person he runs into in the prison yard with a vaguely European last name.

 

TRUMP THE RUSSIAN ASSET

The Trump administration has reportedly reversed an Obama-era framework for how and when the US can use cyber attacks against foes. President Trump undid Presidential Policy Directive 20 yesterday according to the Wall Street Journal‘s sources, and with it reversed a classified framework detailing a multi-agency process that must be followed before carrying out an attack.

The directive was put in place to prevent against bungling multi-year cyber-espionage plans that may be in motion, thus having many agencies involved with the planning process of any attack.

“It wasn’t clear what rules the administration is adopting to replace the Obama directive,” WSJ writes. “A number of current US officials confirmed the directive had been replaced but declined to comment further, citing the classified nature of the progress.”

The moves to undo the directive apparently began in April when John Bolton took up the mantle of national security advisor. The previous administration’s cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel described the directive to the WSJ as “designed to ensure that all appropriate equities got considered when you thought about doing an offensive cyber operation.”

There’s a worry that the directive was dismantled too quickly, and as a result people are concerned because the Trump administration hasn’t outlined its replacement to those involved. Given this administration’s history of putting laws into place seemingly without considering the consequences, coupled with Trump’s contempt for the intelligence community, the lawmakers’ concerns aren’t unfounded.

Once again, a move that helps no one but America’s enemies, executed by the Russian Agent Orange.

 

Brennan and Security Clearances

When Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s internal security service, told me during an early August 2016 phone call that Russia wasn’t interfering in our presidential election, I knew he was lying. Over the previous several years I had grown weary of Mr. Bortnikov’s denials of Russia’s perfidy — about its mistreatment of American diplomats and citizens in Moscow, its repeated failure to adhere to cease-fire agreements in Syria and its paramilitary intervention in eastern Ukraine, to name just a few issues.

When I warned Mr. Bortnikov that Russian interference in our election was intolerable and would roil United States-Russia relations for many years, he denied Russian involvement in any election, in America or elsewhere, with a feigned sincerity that I had heard many times before. President Vladimir Putin of Russia reiterated those denials numerous times over the past two years, often to Donald Trump’s seeming approval.

Russian denials are, in a word, hogwash.

Before, during and after its now infamous meddling in our last presidential election, Russia practiced the art of shaping political events abroad through its well-honed active measures program, which employs an array of technical capabilities, information operations and old-fashioned human intelligence spycraft. Electoral politics in Western democracies presents an especially inviting target, as a variety of politicians, political parties, media outlets, think tanks and influencers are readily manipulated, wittingly and unwittingly, or even bought outright by Russian intelligence operatives. The very freedoms and liberties that liberal Western democracies cherish and that autocracies fear have been exploited by Russian intelligence services not only to collect sensitive information but also to distribute propaganda and disinformation, increasingly via the growing number of social media platforms.

Having worked closely with the F.B.I. over many years on counterintelligence investigations, I was well aware of Russia’s ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. Like Mr. Bortnikov, these Russian operatives and agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found.

In my many conversations with James Comey, the F.B.I. director, in the summer of 2016, we talked about the potential for American citizens, involved in partisan politics or not, to be pawns in Russian hands. We knew that Russian intelligence services would do all they could to achieve their objectives, which the United States intelligence community publicly assessed a few short months later were to undermine public faith in the American democratic process, harm the electability of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and show preference for Mr. Trump. We also publicly assessed that Mr. Putin’s intelligence services were following his orders. Director Comey and I, along with the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, pledged that our agencies would share, as appropriate, whatever information was collected, especially considering the proven ability of Russian intelligence services to suborn United States citizens.

The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.

Such a public clarion call certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do — and what they actually did — to win the election. While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press — of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.

Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.

The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of “Trump Incorporated” attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets. A jury is about to deliberate bank and tax fraud charges against one of those people, Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman. And the campaign’s former deputy chairman, Rick Gates, has pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators.

Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him. Now more than ever, it is critically important that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team of investigators be allowed to complete their work without interference — from Mr. Trump or anyone else — so that all Americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve.

 

Check out those tweets above.  How did a pal of Putin know about these ahead of time?

 

The Admiral in charge of Seal Team Six is speaking up against Trump.  That is nuts.

I’m waiting for the inevitable Fox News hitpiece on McRaven.  Not because I want to see it, but they only have one play to run now.  Kiss Trump’s ass at all costs.

 

 

Press

 

Military Parade

The Military Parade is “delayed.”  Good, this whole parade is a stupid idea.  America is the big swinging dick of the world.  When you’ve got the biggest dick, you don’t need to whip it out.  Only the schmuck that’s hung like a snail feels the need to brag about how big their dick is.

That’s enough dick talk.  Time to class it up a bit.

 

THE OMAROSA TAPES

Really?  I said class it up.

So there’s more than 200 tapes of conversations with pretty much everyone, and the one she posted with Lara Trump sounds like it’s either awfully close to a campaign finance violation, or a blatant bribe and hush money attempt.  Probably both.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m looking forward to the next collection of WTF to come from her.  I’ve questioned her morals, ethics, fashion sense, and whether or not she’s a fire-breathing dragon, but I haven’t questioned her intelligence.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s evil, but she’s also smart enough, evil enough, and vengeful enough to play Trump’s game.

 

TRAITOR TOTS

The Wall Street Journal reported something interesting today about Michael Cohen: back in September 2016, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer contacted him about making a hush money payment to keep Stormy quiet about her affair with Trump. Cohen told him to pound sand.

But a few weeks later, the Access Hollywood “grab ’em by the pussy” tape became public and Stormy’s lawyer decided to give Cohen another call. Sure enough, suddenly he was interested in cutting a deal. This suggests that the $130,000 payment they eventually agreed on wasn’t meant, say, to keep the affair secret from Melania. After all, why would you be indifferent about that in September but suddenly care deeply about it in October? Election law expert Rick Hasen explains what this means:

The Journal reports federal prosecutors view the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape as the “trigger” for Cohen’s payments to Daniels.That’s a big deal. Two important Republican election lawyers have attempted to set a high bar for how to tell when a payment in this context might be campaign-related rather than personal.

Charlie Spies told the Journal in February that the payment to Daniels was “an expense that would exist irrespective of whether Mr. Trump was a candidate and therefore should not be treated as a campaign contribution.” And former Federal Election Commission chair Brad Smith wrote in an April op-ed in the Journal that “FEC regulations explain that the campaign cannot pay expenses that would exist ‘irrespective’ of the campaign, even if it might help win election. At the same time, obligations that would not exist ‘but for’ the campaign must be paid from campaign funds.”

In other words, this is evidence that the $130,000 payment wasn’t“irrespective” of Trump’s campaign. The campaign was in full swing in September and Cohen didn’t care, but as soon as the Access Hollywood tape increased the damage that Stormy Daniels could do, he cared a lot. If a jury agrees, this becomes a serious, full-blown campaign finance violation. And all the evidence suggests that Trump knew about it.

 

FIGHTING BACK

The Press Is Not The Enemy

Those of us who are horrified by the vilification of the news media, those of us who cringe at the sight of angry mobs jeering at the cordoned-off journalists at Trump rallies, far outnumber those who are swept up by this ugly passion. We are still in the majority. But if we are silent, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t raise our voices and say, “This is not America,” it won’t matter that we are in the majority. Silence didn’t create this country; brazen, unwavering commitment did. And one of those commitments was to a free press — one not controlled or hampered by a demagogue who has a good day only when he’s being flattered.

See the bottom of this post for my thoughts on The Press.

 

Security Clearances

 

IMMIGRATION

 

COLD WAR 2.0

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

 

TRADE WAR AND ECONOMY

 

SCOTUS

 

WHITE HOUSE CHAOS

 

GOP: THE PARTY OF LINCOLN IS DEAD

 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Pedophile Priests

 

ELECTION 2018

 

PROGRESS IS PROGRESS

 

QUEEN OF SOUL

 

RUMOR MILL

 

 

That’s it for Thursday.  As promised, below are my thoughts about The Press.

The Press is not the enemy of the people.  It has many enemies, but the people are not one of them.

The Press is the enemy of the corrupt, the abusive, and the power-hungry.

The Press is the enemy of the status quo that accepts complacency and corruption in their lives.

The Press is the enemy of ignorance.

The Press is the enemy of bigotry, racism, misogyny, and hate.

The Press is the enemy of those that would use the above to distract the otherwise vigilant while they consolidate their power.

The Press is the enemy of the Propagandist, the one who spins a story to meet their goals.

The Press is the enemy of the Liar, who can only exist as long as they control the narrative.

The Press is the enemy of the Criminal, who depends on secrets to thrive.

The Press is the enemy of the Bully, who needs to project an image of toughness.

The Press is the enemy of the Hypocrite, who can’t have anyone know about their past.

The Press is the enemy of the Tyrant, who demands absolute loyalty from all.

In other words…

The Press is the enemy of Donald J. Trump.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

2 thoughts on “Daily Check-In 08/16/2018

  1. Shew, that’s a LOT to unpack! I am also on board with your assessment of Omarosa. This is more drama than the old DALLAS tv series. 😉

    Like

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