Daily Check-In 08/20/2018

Monday, August 20th.



The Manafort Trial, Day 15

On day 15, the jury stayed a little later, which made everyone trip over themselves in thinking that a verdict was imminent.


The jury is still deliberating this case, and will continue on Tuesday.



Donald Trump has a credibility problem, but so do the media. A case in point is the weekend story that White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller. Let’s try to navigate through this Beltway Hall of Mirrors.

The thesis of the New York Times story is that Mr. McGahn cooperated in a way that could hurt Donald Trump in order to protect himself and because he doesn’t trust the President. This fits the media narrative that Mr. Trump is covering up his collusion with Russia and his obstruction of justice, and thus Mr. McGahn must be scrambling to save himself.

Yet lost in the resulting tempest is a crucial fact that appears to contradict this spin: Mr. Trump had to waive executive privilege for Mr. McGahn to cooperate with Mr. Mueller.

Mr. McGahn is not Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, so attorney-client privilege isn’t at issue. But as White House counsel Mr. McGahn represents the Presidency. He is a careful enough lawyer to advise Mr. Trump that agreeing to answer Mr. Mueller’s questions would waive executive privilege. And the Times reports that Mr. McGahn’s attorney, William Burck, said on the record that Mr. McGahn cooperated only after Mr. Trump waived any privilege claim.

This in turn meant that Mr. McGahn would have to answer all of Mr. Mueller’s questions. Once privilege is waived, Mr. McGahn couldn’t decide to answer, say, what Mr. Trump told him about Attorney General Jeff Sessions but refuse to discuss the President’s state of mind when he fired James Comey at the FBI. Without invoking privilege there is no legal basis for Mr. McGahn to refuse to answer a question.

This isn’t what you’d expect if Mr. Trump is leading a coverup. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton fought extensive legal battles with prosecutors over executive privilege. Mr. Clinton invoked privilege to block aides Bruce Lindsey and Sidney Blumenthal from testifying to Ken Starr’s grand jury.Yet when Mr. Trump doesn’t invoke privilege for his White House counsel, he gets no credit.

Could it be that Mr. Trump let Mr. McGahn cooperate with Mr. Mueller because he felt he had nothing to cover up? This is precisely what Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday: “I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide.”

Because Mr. Trump makes so many false statements, this claim is also assumed to be false—though legal logic and the public evidence suggest that in this case it may be true. Keep in mind that Mr. Trump’s lawyers cooperated extensively with Mr. Mueller for months, turning over tens of thousands of documents—also without claiming executive privilege.

In recent months, as the Mueller probe has dragged on, Mr. Trump has turned to denouncing it as a “witch hunt.” His lawyers now fear that letting the President talk to Mr. Mueller’s team, as Mr. Trump has said he wants to do, could be walking into a perjury trap. This is a rational fear, but the lawyers are still negotiating with Mr. Mueller.

Mr. McGahn has been one of the President’s most effective advisers—notably on judicial nominations. But some in and outside the White House resent his influence and might want to portray him as undermining Mr. Trump. The bottom line is that readers should remain skeptical about what is reported about Mr. Mueller’s probe, waiting to see the evidence he actually produces.




The Russian Escort.  No, the other one.  No, the other other one.

We mentioned her back on Daily Check-In 03/13/2018.  Looks like she’s working on a deal with Oleg Deripaska to get out of jail, and not end up the victim of a Russian Heart Attack.


Butina and Bolton

One piece of information that might have fallen through the cracks in the past month was John Bolton working on an Pro-Russian Gun Rights video with none other than Maria Butina. (Daily Check-In 07/16/2018Daily Check-In 07/18/2018)

That’s right, the National Security Adviser worked with a Russian Spy to create propaganda.  Yet he still has a security clearance?




Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, which is responsible for the company’s response to email phishing schemes, took the lead role in finding and disabling the sites, and the company is launching an effort to provide expanded cybersecurity protection for campaigns and election agencies that use Microsoft products.

Among those targeted were the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank active in investigations of corruption in Russia, and the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit group that promotes democracy worldwide. Three other fake sites were crafted to appear as though they were affiliated with the Senate, and one nonpolitical site spoofed Microsoft’s own online products.

The Senate did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Monday.

This is interesting.  While the first headline makes it sound that the Republicans were attacked, too, it goes deeper than that.

The two organizations are pro-democracy and anti-authoritarian, which means they are anti-Russia.  APT28 attacked anti-Russian organizations.

The hackers successfully infiltrated the election campaign computer of David Min, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives who was later defeated in the June primary for California’s 45th Congressional district.

The incident, which has not been previously reported, follows an article in Rolling Stone earlier this week that the FBI has also been investigating a cyber attack against Hans Keirstead, a California Democrat. He was defeated in a primary in the 48th Congressional district, neighboring Min’s.

David Min lost the primary for the 45th Congressional District, in Southern California.  Last week, it was reported that Dr. Hans Keirstead lost his primary for the 48th (Daily Check-In 08/15/2018).

Both men had earned an endorsement from the California Democratic Party.  Both were facing Republican incumbents.

If I had to take a guess, this list of endorsements will contain the names of other people targeted by Russians.





The executive order to which he referred was promulgated by President Bill Clinton and later amended in 2008. It sets out a process that, if followed by the administration, could take years to play out, Zaid said.

It requires, with a major escape hatch to be sure, that those facing revocation shall be provided, among other things:

A “comprehensive and detailed . . . written explanation” of the decision.

Notice of their right to be represented by a lawyer at their own expense.

The chance to request “any documents” and reports . . . “upon which a denial or revocation is based.”

A “reasonable opportunity to reply in writing, and request a review” of the decision.

A right to appeal to a “high level panel” appointed by the head of the relevant agency, presumably the CIA in Brennan’s case.

An opportunity “to appear personally” and present materials before “an adjudicative or other authority.”

The same process would apply to all those threatened by Trump with security clearance revocation if indeed the president followed through.

But “Trump is unlikely to go down this path because it affords far too much due process for his taste,” as Bradley P. Moss, a partner in Zaid’s firm, wrote in Lawfare in July.

“It would require civil servants at the respective agencies [of those losing their clearances] to sign off on the paperwork. I can say with a reasonable degree of confidence,” Moss wrote, “that those civil servants would not put their names on a document moving to revoke someone’s security clearance for nothing other than bad-mouthing the president on television or writing a book.”

Rather, Moss suggested, the administration would be more likely to invoke a “national security” exception in the executive order that eliminates the appeal process. But, Moss wrote, this would require “current agency heads” to sign off on a bypass of due process. And some might not consent.

Trump would then have to claim the “inherent constitutional authority” to revoke the clearances.

That, he wrote, “has never happened before.”

“If the president were to take this unprecedented exercise of his authority . . . it would set up a serious clash of constitutional questions,” Moss wrote, with an unforeseeable response from the courts.

“As the president would say, we’ll just have to wait and see.”







Sacha Baron Cohen

Queen of Soul

Avenatti and Stormy

Captain America



























Pedophile Priests








Yes, Donald Trump was a confidential informant for the FBI against the mob.  Even though he was helping the mob.  It gets confusing, but he pointed Federal Investigators, led by Robert Mueller, in the right direction to take them down.


That’s it for Monday.  This post was a little lighter because of two reasons.  I’m tired, and Tuesday’s looking to be BIG.  I don’t want to give any spoilers, but as I write this, barricades are being set up around the SDNY courthouse and news crews are showing up.


Thank you, and have a good one.


“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

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