On SSCI’s Investigation: Manafort “Conspired” Whether or Not Trump Also “Colluded”

I’d like to point out something about this NBC report headlined, “Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia,” but instead showing,

investigators disagree along party lines when it comes to the implications of a pattern of contacts they have documented between Trump associates and Russians — contacts that occurred before, during and after Russian intelligence operatives were seeking to help Donald Trump by leaking hacked Democratic emails and attacking his opponent, Hillary Clinton, on social media.

I sometimes beat up on Ken Dilanian and I don’t mean to do so here. Putting the headline and lead aside, his report shows the disagreement here, and he even references Mark Warner’s recent focus on Paul Manafort’s sharing of polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik (though it’s not clear he asked Richard Burr about the report).

After it recently emerged that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared campaign polling data with a man the FBI says is linked to Russian intelligence, Warner called that the most persuasive evidence yet of coordination.

“This appears as the closest we’ve seen yet to real, live, actual collusion,” he said on CNN.

No evidence has emerged, however, linking the transfer of polling data to Trump.

Natasha Bertrand says the report soft-pedals the Democrats’ belief.

Senate Intelligence Committee aide tells me, re: NBC story, that right now there is “a common set of facts” that the panel is working with, “and a disagreement about what those facts mean.” They add: “We are closer to the end than the beginning, but we’re not wrapping up.”

But I think something else is going on, in addition to any downplaying Democrats’ views.

It’s that the report shifts back and forth between “conspiracy” and “collusion.”

After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.


“If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview with CBS News last week.


“We were never going find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude,'” one Democratic aide said.


House Republicans announced last year they had found no evidence of collusion, but their report came under immediate criticism as a highly partisan product that excluded Democrats.


“Senator Richard Burr, The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, just announced that after almost two years, more than two hundred interviews, and thousands of documents, they have found NO COLLUSION BETWEEN TRUMP AND RUSSIA!” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Is anybody really surprised by this?”


“This [sharing polling data] appears as the closest we’ve seen yet to real, live, actual collusion,” he said on CNN.


The final Senate report may not reach a conclusion on whether the contacts added up to collusion or coordination with Russia, Burr said.

Democrats told NBC News that’s a distinct possibility.

“What I’m telling you is that I’m going to present, as best we can, the facts to you and to the American people,” Burr told CBS. “And you’ll have to draw your own conclusion as to whether you think that, by whatever definition, that’s collusion.”

The story promises to talk about conspiracy, but then ends up talking about “collusion,” going so far as quoting Burr saying you need to draw your own conclusion about what you think the definition of “collusion” is.

That’s an important distinction, especially in a report that talks about Paul Manafort, not least because Manafort has already pled guilty to conspiring with Konstantin Kilimnik, albeit for covering up crimes in 2018 rather than committing them in 2016.

And while Burr complains we can’t know his or any of the other flunkies’ motives, Andrew Weissmann made it clear that Manafort told the grand jury he didn’t have just one motive when he handed highly detailed, recent polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik to be handed over to his Ukrainian and Russian paymasters.

And I think that in the grand jury, Mr. Manafort said that from his perspective, [sharing polling data] which he admitted at that point was with — he understood that it was going to be given by [redacted] to the [redacted] and to Mr. redacted 9 character name], both. That from his perspective, it was — there was no downside — I’m paraphrasing — it was sort of a win-win. That there was nothing — there was no negatives.


My answer, with respect to the Court’s question about what it is — what the defendant’s intent was in terms of what he thought [redacted] I was just trying to answer that question, even though that’s not one of the bases for saying there was a lie here. And so I was just trying to answer that question. And what I meant by his statement that there’s no downside, is that can you imagine multiple reasons for [redacted]. And I think the only downside —

THE COURT: You meant no downside to him?


THE COURT: You weren’t suggesting that there was nothing — there’s no scenario under which this could be a bad thing?

MR. WEISSMANN: Oh, sorry. Yes. I meant there was no downside — Mr. Manafort had said there was no downside to Mr. Manafort doing it.


MR. WEISSMANN: And meaning all of this is a benefit. The negative, as I said, was it coming out that he did this.

This August 2, 2016 data hand-off occurred in the specific context of Manafort trying to get whole on his $20 million debt to Oleg Deripaska. The data was also going to some Ukrainian oligarchs that Manafort expected to pay him $2.4 million in November 2016. And all that’s aside from whether Manafort expected the Russians to do anything with the data that might help Trump.

He was badly underwater, and — according to his grand jury testimony, at least as described by Weissmann — he clandestinely handed off recent detailed polling data to a guy connected to the agency that was still hacking Hillary Clinton, to be shared with a bunch of oligarchs who could help him reverse his financial fortunes.

It seems there’s a conspiracy there one way another. Either Manafort effectively stole Trump’s campaign data and traded it to foreigners for monetary gain. And/or Manafort handed over that data expecting that the campaign would get a thing of value from the foreigners he was sharing it with.

Richard Burr would seem to argue that’s not “collusion” unless Trump knew about it (whether he did is one of the questions Mueller posed to Trump).

But it is a conspiracy, an agreement with Konstantin Kilimnik to commit one or more crimes, right there in the middle of the election season. Whether Mueller will charge it or do something else with it remains to be seen. But it is fairly clearly a conspiracy, down to the clandestine arrivals and departures from the dark cigar lounge.

Ultimately, Burr’s retreat to that word “collusion” is a tell. Because, given the public facts in this case, Republicans should be outraged that Trump’s campaign manager was so disloyal he shared highly sensitive data with potentially malign actors. Republicans should be outraged that Trump’s campaign manager was putting his own financial imperatives ahead of sound campaign practice.

But they’re not. For some reason, Republicans are not squawking about the explanation for this data hand-off that would suggest the campaign didn’t expect to benefit.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

187 replies
  1. viget says:

    Hmmm… thinking that they are setting up the endgame for the Russian coordination to have been a conspiracy among Manafort, Stone, Kushner, possibly Jr and Flynn, with Trump as having plausible deniability as to the whole thing, except for the Trump Tower hook.

    I bet they actually have evidence Trump was involved but will bury it if Trump agrees to resign. Then Mueller et al can farm out the evidence of other crimes to SDNY (as they’ve already been doing) and have them go after Trump and his spawn out there.

    My only hope is that the conspiracy case in chief is fully made public, along with the methods, so as to expose the Russian infiltration and allow us to take steps such that it never happens again. Also,SDNY, District of Columbia or whatever other district is involved needs to investigate the inauguration payments and money laundering schemes that allow foreign influence to creep into campaign finance (be it Russian, Saudi, Emirati, Turkish, etc…) and bring those cases to trial (which may be, admittedly, a bit difficult).

    The key for the GOP is to have Barr thread the needle such that the conspirators are clearly implicated and do real jail time, but not for the accessories in the GOP (Mitch, Sessions, Lindsey Graham, et al.) to be revealed as the willing co-conspirators they actually were. But if they are going to save face, there better also be a real freaking Church Commission type investigation into campaign finance so this Augean stable gets cleaned up once and for all. Oh, and Trump and his spawn should be exposed for the common, petty crooks that they are as well.

    And then comes the picking up the broken up crockery exercises that were discussed yesterday. That’s going to be.. painful to say the least.

    • MattyG says:

      In Iran Contra Regean had his Poindexer to make the plausible deniabilty gambit. And a congress that almost welcomed the offer. None of DTs minions have the station to pull it off. If the evidence is there he’ll be waving in the wind with the rest of them. As compromised as the GOP currently appears they will cut and run when the T word starts flying.

    • chuck says:

      Very even handed from Seth when reading all of his thread. Nice to see. Even draws out a dollop of humanity from the Republican side. Still, their unwavering service to oligarchs from any nation at the detriment of their own and fellow citizens is a feature not a bug. And that solemn weight Barr feels is either from the seer of daylight or the pang of paying the devil’s dues.

    • William Bennett says:

      Thanks @David, an excellent thread. In a nutshell:

      12/ The case for a conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and Kremlin agents has been made right in front of our faces every week for 2 years. Meanwhile, the media and Trump supporters have made up a fake justice system with fake rules and are assessing Mueller by that.

  2. JKSF says:

    Either Manafort effectively stole Trump’s campaign data and traded it to foreigners for monetary gain. And/or Manafort handed over that data expecting that the campaign would get a thing of value from the foreigners he was sharing it with.


    Republicans should be outraged that Trump’s campaign manager was putting his own financial imperatives ahead of sound campaign practice.
    But they’re not. For some reason…

    Pretty much nails it, and becomes a much more obvious issue once the August 2 date of the hand off becomes unmuddied (NYT!).

    If the campaign didn’t know about the hand off before Aug 2, when did they learn about it? Who discovered it? Who was informed? What was the response? What actions did they take?

    • JKSF says:

      Note Gates was at the Aug 2 handoff meeting too. He remained with the Trump team through the election and transition, and of course he is now cooperating.

  3. Geoff says:

    Speaking of Russian infiltration, this article really chapped my hide.


    “Yet a close examination of Butina’s case suggests that it is not so. Butina is simply an idealistic young Russian, born in the last days of the Soviet Union, raised in the new world of capitalism, and hoping to contribute to a better understanding between two countries while pursuing a career in international relations.”

    I mean, really? That’s what they think?

    • Rayne says:

      LOL that was pretty funny, in a pathetic sort of way. I’m surprised it was Bamford who wrote that, almost as if he hadn’t read Butina’s arrest affidavit.

      “Fluent in English and interested in expanding gun rights in Russia,”

      Right. Sure. As if anyone raised in Russia to adulthood is naive about Putin allowing more gun rights.

      Have to wonder if Bamford is suffering from a mid-/late-life crisis.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As probable as the 1970s British government asking the NRA to open a field office and import/export agency in Northern Ireland.  Her cover story was so thin, it’s an insult to American intelligence agencies.

  4. orionATL says:

    that the discussions on aug 2 (and possibly succeeding ones) allegedly also included discussions of the russian-ukrainian conflict and of u.s.  sanctions against russia suggests manafort may have had some interest in seeing the larger issue of the campaign benefitting as well as hmself, but he is always compromised by his ukrainian-russian past and will make an easy target for trump defenders. nonetheless, the by now 2-6 month dalliance by high-level trump campaign members and trusted operatives, e.g., sessions, cohen, kushner, barrack, stone, sater, prince severely damages any credibility of the claim trump did not know and approve of what was going on between those working to get him elected and the russians working for putin.

    • Tom says:

      It requires a real mental effort to imagine that Trump didn’t know what was going on.   It fits in so well with his whole pattern of behavior; for example, his Putin-worship, his statements that NATO was “obsolete” and similar pro-Russian comments, the Trump Tower scheme, and his public appeal for Russia to find Hillary’s missing emails in July 2016.   Authorizing active conspiring with the Russians was the next logical step, especially because Trump never expected to win the election in the first place.     Plus, if we can believe Michael Cohen, Trump always kept close tabs on everything that went on in his business organization.   (But then again, maybe we can’t always believe Michael Cohen. )   In any case, I don’t think the gang of Trumpsheviks would have initiated any quid pro quo conspiring with the Russians without receiving some sort of authorization from their boss.

      • P J Evans says:

        You don’t have to take Cohen’s word for it – everyone who’s worked for Tr*mp says he’s a micromanager of the worst kind.

      • Wiiliam Bennett says:

        This thought–

        Authorizing active conspiring with the Russians was the next logical step, especially because Trump never expected to win the election in the first place.

        –struck an odd synapse, compelling me to wonder about how this might have looked from Trump’s p.o.v. at the time. If we posit that he really didn’t think he was going to win, you have to ask what the point of all this maneuvering really was from his p.o.v. We know he was dreaming a dreamy dream about starting his own Trump TV network, monetizing his campaign by thrilling his fanatical followers with election conspiracy stories (“We was robbed!!!”) and going after HRC, amping up all the resentments etc. So how does all this footsie with Putin/Russia play into a post-loss scenario?

        The thought that occurred to me was that it would have looked to him like he was the one collecting receipts–that all this evidence of Putin’s interference in the US election was something that he, Trump, could hold as leverage to secure that $300M hotel deal. How ironic–and completely consistent with his inflated view of his own abilities, combined with his actual obtuseness–if  he thought he was the one drawing the Russians/Putins into his snare. It would put a different complexion on why he/they kept stumbling deeper into the trap, thinking that he was laying it, not falling for it. Even his protestations of innocence would have felt sincere to him, since jimmying the election wasn’t the point at all. He wasn’t thinking of it as an underhanded, criminal way to eke out the win; he thought of it as one of several cunning plans for monetizing the loss.

        Apologies if I’m just experiencing the shock of the obvious, but I’ve never seen this spelled out.

        • Rayne says:

          Yep — how does everything we know look from a malignant narcissist’s perspective when they are the locus of others’ activities the narcissist didn’t entirely intend or plan?

          • Tom says:

            Trump may have assumed that the day after the election he would have been contacting the Russians to say something to the effect of: “Gee, too bad things didn’t work out like we planned.   Now about that Tower …” I think Trump’s lingering resentment towards HRC is at least partly because she didn’t win the election as everyone–including him–expected her to.

            • William Bennett says:

              Yes, that’s what I was getting at. What did he expect to get from the sub rasa Russia games if he wasn’t expecting to win? One thing it might shed some light on is the haphazard, seemingly uncoordinated character of the various approaches to him, something Josh Marshall has wondered about: the fact that there doesn’t seem to have been a single grand plot but a whole bunch of separate actors acting independently, though heading in more or less the same direction. If he didn’t expect any of it to come to fruition in the form of a Trump victory, the apparent lack of coordination isn’t so surprising. Of course there are other explanations as well.

              • Rayne says:

                One thing that has niggled at me since the Illegals Program and the round up and trade-off of Anna Chapman and her cohort was a puzzling offhand explanation of the sleeper cells’ presence and why they were here. I haven’t been able to get my hands on it for some time but the rationale was in case of civic breakdown or something to that effect. At the time I thought it was a goofy idea, a real stretch. Now? Not so much — and I wonder what other sleeper cells remained here, working on their assignments independently of any apparent single grand plot.

  5. Badger Robert says:

    Isn’t that a non denial, denial? Sort of admitting, there is an avalanche of circumstantial evidence that everyone else in the campaign was conspiring to gain assistance from Russian agents? It is probably enough to taint T with allowing some Rep Senators to escape.

    • somecallmetim says:

      “Circumstantial” has become a silver cross raised on right wing radio.   Are they appealing to the dim memories of old Perry Mason fans?

      • P J Evans says:

        I’d refer them to one Henry David Thoreau: “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as finding a trout in the milk.”

  6. Savage Librarian says:

    And don’t forget this post Marcy did that shows how tainted Richard Burr may be. (Is he related to Aaron Burr?)

    May 26, 2018/41 Comments/in 2016 Election2016 Presidential ElectionMueller Probe /by emptywheel

    The WSJ reports that Mueller’s team has obtained an analytical document from Psy-Group, the company of Joel Zamel, that was offering to help the Trump campaign both before and after the election.

    [FYI, posts with multiple links go into moderation and may not be released immediately. Please plan accordingly. /~Rayne]

  7. Savage Librarian says:

    Rayne, apologies for the duplication. It just disappeared and I didn’t think the first one went through. Now I know. Thanks for your help. If deleting one is an option and does not cost you extra work, please do.

  8. MattyG says:

    Looks like a game of collusion chicken: Will DT throw M under the bus to make it look like he went rogue on the “Rusher thing”, or does M rat out DT as the capo di tutti capi? Until now there’s been a certain peace between them and DTs public demonstrations of affection even tell us he’s happy just circling for now. But if M ever has reason to think he’s taking the fall that will change. So it’s a very delicate situation; each pushes gently for slight tactical advantage, but not too much as to upset the narrative. At some point what started as a tacit “we’re in this together” will break and events outside their control will decide matters.

    • Avattoir says:

      That goes to my sense of why the SCO is working over Paulie Rugs so relentlessly. It’s about message: If you don’t cooperate, we’ll do our utmost to ensure you pay the steepest possible price; if you commit to cooperation, no matter the size and thickness of the cloud of doubts & suspicions we have about that, and then you try to pull the rug out, we’ll not only do our utmost to ensure you pay the steepest conceivable price, we’ll throw in the kitchen sink on the front of trying to ensure that the IOU you believe you hold on that pardon is worthless.

      And we’ll do all of these things in court and in court filings, so everyone knows and we get the best shot at maximizing cooperation from even the most endemic rat fuckers and deterrence against them going south on what all they tell to us or testify to a grand jury.

      • bmaz says:

        I think there is both that, and a very practical basis.

        You have to get evidence into the record. There are several ways to do that. But the best way is through a party directly involved in the evidence testifying. I have spent months trying to get people to understand this about Cohen. But such value applies to Manafort too if you can credibly get him.

        • Avattoir says:

          I agree absolutely and trust you allow me to amend my comment accordingly.

          Even today, AS EVERY DAY, not even one news cycle passes without some supposed insider pressing the need to ensure that ‘Mueller’s Final Report’ gets out. When in reality, the SCO’s work product is being reported out on multiple fronts every week.

          • MattyG says:

            Gates alone is not sufficient for the Manafort-Gates angle? Or is it subtler, like Mueller needs M’s coroboration on some critical elements for it to be ironclad – or to advance M-G to a more inner circle? Or is Manafort so much more valuable than Gates in nailing down the ring of principals, or some variation; invloving Flynn etc.? The others who by any measure must be in the know are not yet indicted – so is this a strategic maneover or is Manafort truly the key log?

  9. P J Evans says:

    Burr seems to think it’s only a conspiracy if it involves Tr*mp. I don’t think he’s actually that naive (or dim) – but it does make him look like he’s either one (or both) of those, or trying to protect peiople from the consequences of their criminal actions. (Not that any of those are mutually exclusive.)

    • viget says:

      I wonder if that’s the “save face” explanation for the Trump/GOP base.  Trump wasn’t involved, so no conspiracy/collusion (even if all of his senior aides were conspiring).  That way “justice” can be done, but Trump won’t be implicated and the base can go back into their “no collusion” cocoons with little cognitive dissonance.

      The question is then, if that’s the angle, clearly DOJ/IC cannot let Trump stay in power given how compromised he is.  What’s going to be the cover story for Trump’s resignation? Poor health? Tax evasion a la Spiro Agnew?  Some salacious sex scandal yet to be revealed?

      • P J Evans says:

        I’d bet tax evasion – at the state level, where he can’t get a pardon. “Poor health” would have worked if he hadn’t spent so much of the last three years telling us how great his health is. (I’m betting stroke or type-2 diabetes, which I suspect he has and has neuropathy, which is why he can’t walk far.)

        • Eureka says:

          @ viget and PJ- Lol, I had old Sprio on the mind from something above, and agree with PJ that we might have to wait on the state level stuff to take him out of office.  But that might take awhile.

      • Geoff says:

        If it weren’t for Javanka, Uday, and the rest of team spawn, I think you could make a case for Trump as Republican’s stooge or Manchurian candidate (with Republicans as the enemy of their own state, not much of a stretch, given how harmful most of their preferred policies are to 90% of the population.) I mean, a great deal of team R seems hopelessly corrupted by whatever money comes their way, be it pharma, finance, or Russia. They just don’t care, just as long as their conservative and grifting interests align, it’s all good. The nexus of power and money is what matters.

        The problem is, when spawn folk are in these meetings, it just isn’t plausible that Trump wasn’t in on the game. As many have mentioned before, you only need to think about Jr’s “character”, psychological needs, etc, to simply know that any of his actions that put him in a good light, as in, a good helpful grifting son, would be prime candidates for things brought to Daddy’s attention, if they weren’t already directed as homework assignments to Jr.

        Maybe Trump didn’t know ALL of the various schemes going on ( I mean, it’s a lot to keep track of when the country is for sale, and he is basic brain damaged at this point) but when you realize that every venture he engages in crosses at least the line into grey area (the stuff all the other elite engage in, re legal tax evasion, etc) if not outright criminality (the stuff he learned first-hand from Papa Fred), you just know that he’d never understand that once he is President he has to do anything differently. When he has always looked at previous politicians as corruptible, and Presidents as the top of the corruption, you have to figure he thought himself engaging in the very types of things they never get called out for. So, to a rational non-criminal mind, the question of “how did he think he’d get away with it” only seems far-fetched because of the distance from the space such a mind exists from the framework of Trump’s. As John Candy famously said in Splash, “if something works, I stick with it.” And Russia has most definitely worked for him, despite, in reality, he was working for it.

        It bothers me that he might escape the initial clutches of this investigation, but the whole lot hopefully goes down in the end via state prosecutions. Manafort is essentially dead man walking. I can’t imagine how pardoning even saves him at this point. So, you gotta figure, he is the best trump card that trump has. In the end, he tosses him out there. It takes a Manafort level scumbag to make Trump seem potentially less evil, especially because Manafort is head and shoulders smarter than Trump, which is what Trump will play on “he duped me”, blah blah.

        I worry that Manafort will be the biggest fish, tons of small fries get off (see Papadoofalous) with a week in jail, then a book deal, and live like kings afterwards, and that team R comes out of this relatively unscathed. They just have too many supporters that cannot see their way to dealing with reality, facts, and stuff like that.

      • Drew says:

        By now, I believe that it is only a question of *when* not *if* the GOP leadership will throw Trump under the base. And as you point out, *what means* they use to do it while protecting themselves & their party.

        The main consideration for them is not losing the support of the extremists supporting DT, but also avoiding the very worst consequences (like jail) for their own participation.  It still may be a number of months before is resolves how this is happening.

      • BobCon says:

        The only resignation scenario I can see is a lame duck resignation for pardon after November 2020. That doesn’t help.

        Otherwise, he is clinging to office to use its powers for as long as he can. He’ll push as hard as he can for reelection, even against long odds, because he desperately needs the safety of statutes of limitations.

        I don’t expect prosecutors to try for an Agnew. They have no reason to think Trump will want to negotiate, nor do I think he is capable of it. If they had any doubts, his inability to focus for more than five minutes on his take home test makes that clear. And that doesn’t include the likelihood of someone like Hannity spiking any deal as a sellout.

        For what it’s worth, I’m not even sure he’ll go for a resign-and-pardon plan. I’m not sure he’d trust Pence, nor am I sure Pence would go along. And considering the need to get state AGs to accept a deal in the face of a likely voter uprising, I don’t think that piece of the puzzle falls into place.

        I can’t say it’s impossible, but I think the combination of shrinking time, GOP cowardice, Trump’s incoherance and paranoia, and voter outrage makes a resignation deal almost impossible.

        • Drew says:

          Trump will be extraordinarily stubborn. That doesn’t keep the Republicans from throwing him under the bus–allowing impeachment/removal to proceed, for instance–or publicizing his wrongdoings in a way calculated to harm him & shield themselves. He might get primaried in this instance. I do think that he might head for the hills if directly confronted with a combination of public humiliation, losing his fortune and going to prison. Conceivably those things could happen late this fall as the facts and their revelation get ripe, New York State emerges with a viable criminal case, etc.

          Trump would always look for a face-saving gloss. He’s not a courageous hero, stubborn as he is, he will go where he’s forced to go–he won’t hold on until he’s led away in handcuffs.

          I’m not sure that a pardon deal is in the cards for him. Maybe a decision not to return from an overseas flight. There isn’t enough upside for anyone to having a pardoned DJT rattling around the U.S.

          • BobCon says:

            The time for a GOP primary challenge is running very short. Maybe a few months are left to line up resources and stop the process from being fixed for Trump. Not impossible, but I doubt it.

            I think the GOP Senate throwing Trump under the bus is possible, alhough with our limited knowledge of the case so far, I see it as doubtful. I think they’ll essentially adopt a three strikes policy on felonies before they say he’s out.

            I may be misreading the extent of his near term legal exposure, no question. However, I suspect it will take even longer than 2020 for the full picture to emerge. I hope he goes quickly, to be sure. And there is certainly the possibility of some ugly single piece of evidence nailing him quickly.

            • Tom says:

              I keep thinking about Trump’s secret meetings with Putin and wonder if they have not devised some last ditch contingency plan–as unlikely as it sounds–for the President to end his days dictating his memoirs in some birch shaded dacha as a guest of the Russian government.

            • Drew says:

              Conventionally, the time is running short for starting a primary challenge, but there’s nothing conventional about our current situation. A couple of things: 1)The viable candidates can do a lot of organizing/fundraising behind the scenes, esp. in the GOP, without being seen. Thus they can flip the switch in November/December & be ready to go. 2) I’m not so much envisioning a primary challenge to Trump where both Trump & the opponent campaign against one another, I’m envisioning guys like McConnell going, “I’m Shocked! Shocked, I say! That our President would have been conspiring with criminals to do the criminal stuff” and a pretty much coordinated pulling the rug out from under Trump.

              I agree, this has to happen before the Iowa caucuses, but could appear to be sudden in October or November. Appear to be, I say, and the anointed candidate to replace Trump would appear to be reluctantly agreeing to run “for the sake of the nation.” The very suddenness of the transition would be the strategy, stampeding the Trumpers out and stampeding a single candidate (maybe Romney? I don’t know) in.  The public suddenness would not mean that the GOP leadership wasn’t thinking this out in advance, and doing so pretty cynically.

              I’m basing this on the assumption that more is going to come out, and even the leadership of the GOP that is spinning away from that right now, knows that that is inevitable. If Jr., Jared, Stone, Bannon, & the Trump Org., etc. are all indicted by the end of summer. the Republicans are largely screwed if they can’t execute a maneuver to distance themselves from Trump. Having straight up crimes, like money laundering, that directly implicate the President charged, would give them the public rationale to make a sudden change.

    • General Sternwood says:

      The idea that Trump is only culpable if he told Manafort directly to share the polling data reminds me of Giuliani’s claim that Trump would only be guilty with respect to hacking if he did it rather than the GRU. It is like saying that unless Nixon personally set foot in DNC headquarters in the Watergate, he was innocent.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Can I draw my own conclusion about what exceeding the posted speed limit means, Mr. Burr?  That would occasionally save me time and trouble, too.

    One would think that the Senate, when not reviewing an impeachment case, would be looking for evidence of probable cause.  If it found sufficient evidence, it would then turn it over to federal prosecutors for further investigation.  That’s where this should go.  Alternatively, it could make a recommendation to the House regarding impeachment.

  11. ereich says:

    If Manafort was cheating Trump on the side, a good narrative for trump, why are his lawyers and Trumps so invested in understanding what he’s telling Mueller to the point a pardon for him was discussed at one point with Dowd and his cooperation ends up falling apart ?

    • Geoff says:

      Do recall that although Trump always demands loyalty, he has none to others, only to himself and perhaps his spawn as the maximum exceptions. So take what he is doing with a grain of salt. Until there IS a pardon, there ISNT one, and all the information gathering is simply cover thy own ass when it all falls apart.

    • MattyG says:

      @erich: A good enough reason to believe Manafort *wasn’t* cheating behind his back. At this point M can only hope DT skates somehow and pardons him, and he’ll take his prison time for the other stuff rather than facing Russian heavies. Manafort’s fallback is full rat.

      I can’t see how it plays out where DT has the luxury of an “exit plan”. Unless Mueller only has enough to roll up the Manaforts DT will have no where to turn. Personally I find it unreal to even contemplate DT in 2020.

  12. viget says:

    BobCon @ 1451

    I see what you’re saying there. But check my comment upthread. What if they already have the goods on Trump? If Trump knew this and wanted to keep his name out of “Collusion-land”, wouldn’t it make sense to broker a resignation-for-no-prosecution deal w/ Mueller? Not saying that SDNY or NY state doesn’t get a crack at him (or the spawn), but Mueller agrees to bury the evidence wrt the SCO probe.

    Besides, if the cover story is well contrived enough, he can go out a martyr with his base and blame it all on “those evil Dems.” Until SDNY or NY state exposes him for the fraud that he is, at least.

    Plus the sooner that he’s out of power, the sooner that Putin no longer has leverage over him.

    Finally, here’s my crazy CT hot take: This gov’t shutdown stuff? It ain’t about the wall. Never was. It’s about negotiating Trump’s exit strategy. Trump’s using the specter of extraordinary powers with regards to an emergency declaration as leverage to get what he wants out of the resignation deal, while keeping the Dems and even his own party in check. That’s why all three parties need to agree for the deal to work. And why on the same day Mueller dropped Stone’s indictment, Trump caved on reopening the gov’t.

    There’s more there vis a vis other happenings in the DC environs, but I won’t go down this rabbit hole any further. Not that I have any personal knowledge of any of this, just a hunch. Please feel free to lambaste me.

    • BobCon says:

      No lambasting. With Agnew, there is a good example of a high figure taking a deal in exchange for resignation.

      I just think the combination of too many moving parts and Trump’s steaming hot mess makes it too hard to achieve in the next twenty months. I could be misreading how much hurt he’s facing if he doesn’t take a deal, though.

    • BroD says:

      “a resignation-for-no-prosecution deal w/ Mueller?”

      I guess such a thing might be possible in some universe but it seems extremely doubtful in the one we live in.

  13. RisingDown says:

    If I were Burr (or McConnell, for that matter) I’d see some value in starting to temper expectations from Senate findings instead of hiding behind technical language of “collusion” as a standard not cleared, when it’s not even a crime!

    We already know the case for conspiracy across several lead Trump Campaign officials is strong. We already have convictions headed up the chain of command around lies told to muddy investigative waters, with no immediate end yet in sight. If Senate staff have been unable to corroborate a single finding of the SCO, well, then it hasn’t been much of an investigation.

    And it’s only going to become more challenging to claim The Senate handled its investigation with integrity the further GOP messaging departs from SCO’s continued indictments. I’d wanna start pulling off the band aid.

    • Avattoir says:

      I think an argument can be made that what Schiff and several of the other minority members of the HPSCI were able to due notwithstanding Nunes being chair has turned out substantially more valuable, certainly in the senses of public perception and politics, than what all that so-called Burr-Warner collegiality bullshit has achieved in its counterpart in the Senate.

      IMO, Burr is as good or better – certainly smoother – than Chuck Grassley proved to be as chair of the SJC in working the “IANAL” gambit.

      And Mark Warren, tho he has a law degree, is like an enormous number of such people I’ve run into over the decades practicing law, even WITH a lot of them: pretty much just as easily seduced, even self-seduced, into believing that, because they got that law degree, they think or are capable of replicating the discipline of a criminal trial attorney.

      In reality, an awful lot of them are WORSE that non-lawyers at understanding trials and trial process, especially in the  criminal context, due to hubris brought about from having that piece of paper. I can’t begin to recover every incident where my section was engaged in defending on some high profile or big money case and the non-criminal-practice especially non-trial-practice partners and associates were consistently and utterly dismissive of whatever we were up to, preferring to conclude that we secured the outcomes we did from some mix of ‘who we knew’, bullshit baffling brains, outright ‘shenanigans’, or just freaking magic. They’ve even said as much to corporate clients. It’s like they’re serious news and we’re sports pages. I’ll work with them because such is the way of this world; but I’m a lot more discerning about who among them I consider a friend.

      So my take on what we’ve seen in from political-legal news beaters is that Burr’s had a handle on this front all along and may be so far out in front of the committee’d minority leader that Mark Warren is endemically incapable to even staying with him, leave aside catching up.

      Moreover none of the rest of the Ds that committee, not even Wyden, is doing the country any good with going on along with Burr’s Warren Feeding Program. To fuck with Senate collegiality.

      • P J Evans says:

        I wonder if some of it is getting the JD, going to a company non-legal job or into politics,  and never passing the bar – that’s a lot of work right there, just getting ready for that exam. (Niece who did it says that getting through law school requires being very organized, very disciplined.)

        • Avattoir says:

          Well, everyone’s experience is unique, but once I found the law school library, I can’t recall feeling I was ever actually doing work or applying discipline to the law school process, except maybe for one required senior year class in commercial transactions that subsequent actual practice proved had been complete bullshit.

          The bar exam process, tho, was different: we were told from the outset how the marking process would seem “demanding and exacting”, which I took to mean ‘arbitrary and cruel to all who got into law school as other than a legacy entry’, IOW an early wake-up shock to the nuts about how the world was really going to be. So I way overworked the living shit out of the required materials, to the point where the exams themselves were exercises in nothing more than restraint.

          The thing I saw chase way more law school grads away from court practice than the bar license process was the actual experience of going into court hearings and interrogatories and having someone senior looking oh so respectable as they smashed you in the mouth or surgically inserted a shiv between your ribs. Most attorneys aren’t at all eager to re-enter the competition after that kind of experience.

          I, on the other hand …

      • BroD says:

        “It’s like they’re serious news and we’re sports pages.”

        Litigation is sooo, you know, “applied”–ICK!

      • bmaz says:

        It is amazing how many people, including famous and popular law professors and other legal commentators, who claim to be experts in criminal trial law, but have never actually done a criminal trial, much less to a jury. It is a different world, and if you have not done it, you really don’t know.

        This is why I relentlessly carp about judges getting appointed to critical appellate courts that don’t have any trial experience. If you have not seen the bias in evidence and procedure, you cannot possibly understand the dynamics behind criminal appeals. You just cannot.

        • bg says:

          bmaz: This. Thank you so much.

          “If you have not seen the bias in evidence and procedure, you cannot possibly understand the dynamics behind criminal appeals. You just cannot.”

      • RisingDown says:

        I appreciate Avattoir’s take here re: Schiff, Swalwell (although at time he seems a blowhard…) and co.’s relative successes in messaging against Nunes and his hostile band of idiots compared to Warner’s failure to combat Burr’s comparatively demure posture.

        I’ll admit I had some hope that “adults” were in the Senate at the onset of Russian investigations, given the congenial tone Burr and Warner seemed eager to promote. At times I’ve even wondered if the two were working together to ensure they carried the proverbial fire should House Committees continue to dick around and SCO be shut down.

        But this comment by Burr is pretty much an exact quote from Nunes’ absurd talking points in months past. Warner – in contrast to his House colleagues- offers a lame duck response about “respectfully disagree”ing and wanting to let the process play out.

        When the public record shows demonstrable conspiracy, fraud and lying under oath what greater purpose is served by Warner in letting a process play out? That process is being actively fucked with and degraded and it should be shouted from the domes of Capitol Hill.

          • RisingDown says:

            I don’t mean to “attack” Swalwell, I just find Schiff to be a more effective communicator. Both of them have done well to insert themselves often into national press coverage to cry foul over Nunes’ and GOP’s tactics to thwart investigation, but Schiff comes off as less self-promoting than Swalwell in my mind. Just an opinion.

            I think my perspective is rooted in the idea that, eventually, should Trump and Co. be as guilty as I assume they likely are, it will matter who communicates the evidence and how. For me, Schiff’s tone comes across as more tied to straight factual analysis and his delivery is calm and measured, even as he’s sharp in critique.

            So, any beef I have with Swalwell is stylistic. Don’t mean to suggest he’s off-base other than I can’t shake the feeling he’s always running for higher office. Of course I’d take a Senate full of Swalwells over Warners.

  14. Areader2019 says:

    Finally, here’s my crazy CT hot take: This gov’t shutdown stuff? It ain’t about the wall. Never was. It’s about negotiating Trump’s exit strategy.

    Nah, viget, you are way ahead of the facts.  We have heard a lot of these projections from both sides, and I think it adds to the fog of disinformation.  The wall is a big MAGA deal, Trump is angry about the wall….it makes more sense he is throwing a temper tantrum about the wall.

    Sure, there are Ds who hope that Mueller is in a secret negotiation that will suddenly end all this craziness.   And there are Rs who think he will turn around and indict Hillary.

    But the facts support neither.

  15. Jenny says:

    Marcy, thank you.
    Burr saying draw your own conclusion about “collusion.” Synonyms for collusion are: complicity, connivance, conspiracy.

    Burr was an adviser for Trump’s campaign and now Senate Intel Chairman investigating Russian involvement. Draw your own conclusion about “conflict of interest.”

  16. Areader2019 says:

    Mueller: Trump’s campaign manager shared highly detailed polling data w/a GRU asset at a meeting where he discussed sanctions relief.

    Aaron, Glenn, & their minions: Hey look at what Richard Burr says!!!
    Yeah…I feel like the press is reduced to the intellectual level of watching a Scooby Doo episode, and they expect Mueller to rip a rubber mask off Pence…and he was Putin all along!

    And if that does not happen, anything else is complicated and boring and too detailed to follow.

  17. bie phiephus says:

    Remember Casey’s role in Iran-Contra? He died and was promoted to fall guy. Given the age and poor health of the players involved (and the interaction with the Russian mob), before the proverbial shit hits the fan there’s a good chance someone dies. And that guy was the mastermind all along.

    Sort of surprised that they haven’t tried already to pin it on Peter Smith, but I guess he was too tangential to pin fall guy status on.

  18. cfost says:

    For Burr, there may be a couple of “complexifiers,” at play, if I may borrow Bezos’ term.
    Given the wide sprawl of corruption that has been uncovered by Mueller’s investigation and by others, I would be surprised if Burr wasn’t running interference for a few of his fellow GOPers who are still in the corruption closet, so to speak. Because if Trump goes down, maybe a few other politicians go down with him. Then there is the task of saving the GOP from the damage Trump has caused.
    Burr was one of eight people who were briefed on the Russian interference before the 2016 election. He could have said something then. This whole party-before-country strategy looks, to me, very similar to the situation that brought down the Soviet Union, wherein the term Communist Party became synonymous with Organized Crime. Burr could have given the interview to anyone: why Dilanian?

  19. Nehoa says:

    Speculation alert:  could relief of sanctions on Deripaska be linked to keeping Manafort happy?  Get Deripaska compensated and off Manafort’s (and family’s) back as an incentive to not cooperate too much with SCO?  Getting the sanctions reduced would have taken some time, and the initiation of the relief efforts in the Administration could have an interesting match up with Manafort’s timeline.

    • anaphoristand says:

      I’ve speculated similarly, and indeed it seems quite brazen. Settling Manafort’s outstanding debts for him is pretty on-its-face obstruction, and short of maybe pardoning him (which I doubt Trump presently maintains the necessary political capital to get away with), is his best means of buying Manafort’s silence. It also has the lovely side benefit of being a huge boon to the Russian economy, and thus Putin’s political survival, while putting a ton of money directly into Putin’s pocket (as the deal for surviving as a Russian oligarch is half of all you’ve got goes to Vlad).

  20. Njrun says:

    What drives me crazy about the news coverage is the collective daily amnesia. It’s like every day’s news is reported as if that is the only thing we know about Trump and Russia. But of course every piece of news is just another piece of a very large puzzle for which a good deal is already filled out.

    The number of contacts, the length and depth of the business contacts with Russia, the eagerness to work with Russia and other countries that finance real estate, the obvious quid-pro-quo foreign policy, the foreign corruption of the inauguration, the lying about the meetings, the attempt to stop the investigation — these are all part of a picture that can only lead to one serious conclusion. And that isn’t “well, who knows, maybe there’s a good excuse, maybe its incompetence.”

    What’s more, every reaction by the Trump campaign confirms this even more. If Trump’s staff was just grifting behind his back, Trump would be righteously outraged and happy to uncover the malfeasance done in his name. But of course he was in on it and is doing everything in his power to avoid getting to the truth. Just like the GOP congress and the right-wing media.

  21. OldTulsaDude says:

    OT: Why does the media forget that Flynn was pitching a Saudi-Russia nuclear reactor deal, and now Individual-1 refuses to blame the Saudi prince for Kashoggi’s death while making more plans for a reactor deal with Saudi Arabia?

    • Greg Hunter says:

      It is ironic that the Saudi’s are adopting their Iranian adversaries policy in constructing Nuclear Power plants to defray the impending production decline.  The world seems to be economically balanced to exploit all of the Earth’s resources “economically”.  Fracking does not pay, but we do it anyway?

      • viget says:

        As much as I abhor fracking, and I really hate to say this, but I think having it right now is a matter of national security. Russia is so freaking dependent on the petro-economy that they cannot weather the low prices of oil, like we can.  Right now, our supply of oil is keeping the price artificially low, even though we really don’t need it (although it also has the nice side effect of making American folk feel richer than they actually are).  Basically, economic sanctions (specifically denial of access to the global banking sector, so the mafia state that is  Putin& the oligarchs can’t launder their ill-gotten criminal gains) and low oil prices are keeping Russia’s hegemony in check in their corner of the world.

        The side effect of this plan, however, is that we also piss off the Gulf states, cause they are kind of in the same boat.  Luckily for them, they’ve been doing this oil thing a lot longer than the Russians have, so they have a built up wealth cushion, but I wonder if some of the reason that UAE/KSA have conspired with Russia is to try the knock the USA down a few pegs, thereby releasing its iron grasp on the petroeconomy, and allowing the price of oil to soar again.

        Of course the common sense solution to all of this, and the one that would benefit our planet the most, is to direct our national resources toward renewable sources of energy, thereby freeing us from the need to depend on authoritarian states for our addiction to cheap oil.  Then, who cares what the oil market does?  In addition, we would become net exporters of renewable technology that the rest of the world would also want.  I think Obama was trying to do this, but was stymied by the oil&gas interests in our country.  Unfortunately, their profit is to be made outside the US, and in a way, their incentives align much more with Russia and the Gulf States. Probably that’s the reason why Putin found the GOP such an easy mark.

        • Rayne says:

          I disagree. The Kochs who profit off fracking are the other side of this coin. As long as this country (and EU+UK as well) are stuck between competing sources for fossil fuels, we are not free of their attempts to co-opt, capture, occupy our systems.

          We desperately need a moon mission but on a rapid, skunk-works basis in order to ditch fossil fuels. It will both serve the aims of the Green New Deal and get us out of this geopolitical trap between oil/gas/coal producers.

          • Eureka says:

            There’s a great paper that I often wish I could find again that summed up how our entire foreign policy (etc.) changed with dependence on fossil fuels in such a short period of time.  But was an optimistic piece that read like a path to future freedom from all this ish.  The brain itch on this is driving me nuts, because the itch isn’t deep enough to dig it out, lol.

            • Rayne says:

              If you run across it, please share – I would love to read it. I remember in the late 1980s participating in scenario planning event in which fossil fuels figured largely. At the time Royal Dutch Shell was the preeminent user of scenario planning in managing their future; they were developing alternative energy business based on what had come out of these sessions. And yet by 2000 they had regressed, were not any further along with development. Something had changed dramatically in that ~12 year window.

              Sadly, we’re going to pay for whatever that obstruction was within the next 12 years.

              • P J Evans says:

                When did they discover that they could get oil out of shale, and when was fracking developed that could do it?

                • Rayne says:

                  It’s been around commercially since the 1950s. I think there was some sort of industry-wide agreement they would push back on climate change science, with Exxon probably doing the heavy lifting. I think the real question is whether this was integral to classified foreign policy.

                  If we implemented a rapid skunkworks moon mission to go green, we’d have to deal with the foreign policy implications upfront and aggressively. These assholes have had plenty of time to see this coming; I’m sure climate change is the real driver behind KSA moving to a sovereign fund for new revenue streams apart from oil. But they will fight like cornered animals — witness Russia fucking with our elections to deter our intervention in their oil development.

                  Tighten the tinfoil: I am leaning toward declaration of an extinction level event (ELE); if climate changes so much that we have subtropical climate inside 20-30 years up to 40N across the U.S., we won’t grow enough food and can’t adapt fast enough ahead of it.

                  Now I’m going to go pour myself a stiff drink.

                  I have friends who worried we’d be at 10 billion population by 2050; I think we’ll collapse before that at this rate. And the richest people don’t give a fuck because they believe they’re immune. Learn how to use old-fashioned can openers and crowbars because we’re going to pry them out of their tuna cans.

  22. Rusharuse says:

    If Whitaker has seen pardon docs then so has Rosy and by ext Mueller. Mueller must find a way to expose Trumps confuckiracy.
    Stone (Oliver not Roger) must make this movie! Wait – maybe Mel Brooks?

  23. anaphoristand says:

    You can’t publicly throw Manafort under the bus for selling off valuable campaign data for personal profit, while simultaneously seeking to publicly justify pardoning him — which is the ongoing leverage Trump has (there may be other individuals like Deripaska with different leverage) to keep Manafort from fully cooperating with Mueller. But as Marcy points out, the WH & congressional GOP’s not throwing him under the bus for this is something of a tell that personal profit wasn’t the sole reasoning for Manafort’s sharing the polling data with Kilimnick, which is obviously far more inculpatory for Trump & the campaign. I think this particular entre-rock/hard place goes a long way toward explaining the obfuscation and outright lying from the anonymous source (curious to see ultimately whether on the WH or Manafort side of things, for the slightly different implications) in the recent run of Marcy-challenged NYT reporting. When the most sensible move is to throw Manafort under the bus, but you also can’t afford to, the only real recourse is to try to muddy the waters on what has demonstrably if convolutedly (redactions et al) already made its way into the public record, and its actual much larger implications.

  24. punaise says:

    OT housekeeping note: a Reply button semi-fix

    Maybe others have already discovered this, which I just stumbled upon. If the Reply button isn’t working (it comes and goes, as we all know, with the not terribly cumbersome default workaround of commenting “@so-and-so at x:xx pm” at the bottom of the thread).

    Try posting a new comment as a placeholder. That seems to liberate the Reply button that was stuck for previous comments. Then within five minutes go back and delete the new comment (as warranted) at the bottom of the thread using the Edit function. Mods OK with this?

    • North Jersey John says:

      Hi punaise – another Reply work around is to hit Reload on browser.  Refreshing seems to help

    • BobCon says:

      I think Trip has described that, but he’s occasionally been skunked and left orphan comments behind, so it’s maybe a hemidemisemi-workaround.

      • punaise says:

        Something like that. Looks like one can post “test” or anything else, immediately delete it, then go back up-thread  to reply to the intended comment. Anyway, trying not to overthink this or otherwise add to thread clutter.

  25. I Felt Mark says:

    If Manafort shared internal polling data with Kilimnik, wouldn’t it be easy to cross-reference that info against the Internet Research Agency’s social media campaigns?

    For example, if Manafort says, “Hey, we’re closing the gap among older, college educated whites in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania,” the IRA could turn around use that information to buy ads and target that granular demographic.

    According to Andrew Weissman in the breach hearing, Rick Gates’ mentioned the Aug. 2nd meeting with Kilimnik during a proffer session on January 30, 2018:

    MR. WEISSMANN: Yes, I do. So, I would direct the Court’s attention to Exhibit 236, which is a 302 with respect to Mr. Gates, and the date of that is January 30th, 2018. And —

    THE COURT: What exhibit number is it?

    MR. WEISSMANN: 236. And on page 3 it discusses the August. 2nd meeting. And I can tell you that Mr. Gates — I  think it may have been his first proffer session — told us about [redacted].

    It seems likely if Gates had knowledge the polling data was being used by the IRA in their social media blitz, he would’ve mentioned it in the same interview or a subsequent one. Recall just two weeks after Gates’ aforementioned proffer session, on February 16, 2018, the Internet Research Agency indictment dropped.

    If there is a strong correlation between Trump campaign polling data and IRA social media targeting, they may not even need Gates’ testimony. All Mueller will have to do is show the analytic fingerprints left all over the scene of the crime.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Or even the scheduling of rallies, though it’s harder to infer conspiracy from that. This is where Facebook and Twitter better have retained and handed over very detailed logs on microtargeting.

      Semi-OT: I laughed at John Dowd saying that “we’ve got, probably, better intelligence than [Mueller]” because of the joint defense agreements. Really? You know what the GRU and IRA were doing? Because it looks like Mueller does. (In truth, Dowd doesn’t even know for sure what his former client did or knew.)

    • Tech Support says:

      If Manafort shared internal polling data with Kilimnik, wouldn’t it be easy to cross-reference that info against the Internet Research Agency’s social media campaigns?

      Conceptually easy, yes. Tedious and painstaking to actually map out, but the OSC likely has all the pieces they need to conduct the analysis you are proposing:

      1. A lot of data (if not all) about the specific actions taken by the IRA over the course of the campaign.

      2. The contents of the polling data that was given to KK.

      3. Gates’ testimony about what was explained or suggested during the “walkthrough” of the aforementioned data.

      3. The contents of the polling data that was stolen during the DNC hack.

      If the IRA did in fact use illicitly obtained polling data from both campaigns to refine their disinformation and voter suppression efforts (seems super likely), then I imagine that would be a critical component to ultimately demonstrating proof of a conspiracy.

      Here’s the thing though. Of all the angles being pursued in these various investigations, this one is the most terrifying. One of things that gets brought up over and over again when talking about the Russian influence campaign is this notion that “we’ll never know if it changed the outcome.” There’s no way to test an election, control for variables or the like. So from an empirical standpoint, sure. However I don’t think that standard of proof is required here.

      However I do believe that if you could take ALL of the data that is available… the proprietary data from within the campaigns, the data on the IRAs efforts during the campaign, and then ran that up against the election modeling performed in 2016 by entities like fivethirtyeight, you might very well be able to find correlations in both data sets that serve to demonstrate the actual real-world impact of Russian influence in the 2016.

      There’s a perverse comfort that comes from saying “we’ll never know.” Because if you can say confidently that there is a high likelihood that the Russian influence campaign actually did change the outcome of the election, then you are saying out loud that the emperor has no clothes. It casts a shadow of doubt over the entire electoral system as it exists today and drags our current mechanisms for protecting speech down with it.

      I realize I’m getting a little hyperbolic here, but worrying about Diebold machines seems quaint by comparison.

  26. Geoff says:

    Ohhhh snap! Perhaps WP HAS been reading here! (Not quite on it yet, but closer than the feeble-minded grey lady)


    But alas, there is this : “internal polling data from Trump’s presidential campaign”…and then this : “What exactly might have been shared with Kilimnik at the Grand Havana Room appears to be a matter of dispute.” Seriously?? Internal polling data from Trump’s campaign? That is just not helpful.

    • Geoff says:

      Did anyone here ever mention that the Havana Club just coincidentally happens to be in Kushner’s number of the beast building at 5th ave?

      • I Felt Mark says:

        I’ll do you one better. Rudy Giuliani is on the board of directors.

        Although it has been almost a generation since Rudolph Giuliani was the mayor of New York, there is one place in the city where he still presides: the Grand Havana Room, a tatty cigar club that occupies the top floor of 666 Fifth Avenue. Giuliani is on the Grand Havana’s board of directors and is a regular presence at the club.

  27. ivaluemyprivacy says:

    Of what value would such polling data be to the GRU? Couldn’t that be had just by hiring a polling firm in the US?

    • bmaz says:

      Um, no. Do you not understand the difference between obtaining your own info and having data and cross tabs spoon fed to you?

      Really???? Tell us again, first time commenter, what it is you really value.

      • P J Evans says:

        I wonder if that data includes the actual questions used in the polls, and the kinds of posts (with images) being passed around on FB.

    • Eureka says:

      …hiring a polling firm in the US?

      They did.  Goes by “Paulie Rugs, Unlimited Liability Corporation.”  Though some might quibble over the use of ‘hiring’ as opposed to ‘paying off debt.’

      • Rayne says:

        Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe. Debt = a transfer which doesn’t look like taxable income.

        Still intrigued by Manafort’s note from the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting mentioning “not invest – loan.”

        • Eureka says:

          From past episodes of Shark Tank, I would deduce that those are *generally unfavorable* terms.  (Unless they were e.g. floating money to Trump Org, where Trump would want to retain full ownership- then it’s be preferable.)  What’s the ‘interest rate’ and payback, I wonder.

          Also, is Paulie a good speller?  Is “Illici” instead ~Elicit? Or is “Illici” homonymic code – or more likely accident of note-taking-  for LLC? (I’m feeling the LLC from context right now.)

          Is “Active sponsors of RNC” some reference to the NRA?

          Adding: yup, definitely leaning on LLC. All of his line items are nouns/nouny or references to same (i.e. add ‘it is’ or ‘they are’ in front of some of his list items, that’s the sense I mean).

          • Eureka says:

            *as in the other items are concrete/not states of being

            also, maybe ‘elicit’ if that goes with the next line like ~ elicit funds/support from active sponsors of RNC, or something like that

          • Eureka says:

            I saw that WaPo thinks that Illici _does_ go with the next line, but that it _is_ for “illicit” and that RNC is a typo for DNC based on Akhmetshin’s statements, so nevermind that part.

            And now in that light, seeing the list items as _all_ RU talking points (instead of a weaving of e.g. intro- what RU wants, middle, end-what RU wants), I’m guessing that they were somehow complaining that Browder owes them money (i.e. it was a loan, not an investment, re ‘Not invest-loan’).

                • So_n_so says:

                  What’s old is new again:

                  Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
                  And it shows them pearly white
                  Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
                  And he keeps it out of sight
                  Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
                  Scarlet billows start to spread
                  Fancy gloves, wears old MacHeath, babe
                  So there’s never, never a trace of red
                  Now on the sidewalk, sunny morning,
                  Lies a body just oozin’ life,
                  And someone’s sneakin’ ’round the corner
                  Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

  28. I Felt Mark says:


    What value would highly detailed polling data be to an intel agency in the country that quite literally invented “active measures”? Gee, I can’t think of one…

  29. viget says:

    @OldTulsaDude @1710–

    So glad you brought that up.  Why do you think Russia wanted those reactors so badly?  Because they were losing money in oil&gas due to low prices near the end of Obama’s presidency.

    Enter the Rosneft sale of December 2016 (timeline ring a bell?).  Perhaps that $11B was going to finance Russia’s portion once the sanctions were lifted?  Note also the players involved in the sale, VTB (same bank that was going to finance the Trump Tower deal), Intesa Sanpaolo (largest retail bank in Italy, previously fined $235 million by NY State for money laundering), and of course, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

    Now go read this articlethis article, and ESPECIALLY THIS article.

    While the last one is not from an outfit I recognize, it makes explosive allegations.  Basically, the QIA is being used as a cutout for money laundering Russian funds to US officials and companies.  VTB  “loans” the money to QIA, who then “invests” it in a shell company which is really a payoff to an American such as Cohen for making the deal happen.  This may be how the inauguration donations were laundered.

    Furthermore, the last article also explains that the brokerage fee from the 19.5% stake of Rosneft (sold in Dec 2016) would amount to, guess what, $300 mil, exactly the amount that Trump was promised from the aborted Trump Tower Moscow deal.  And this understanding was made by none other than Carter Page (as per the dossier).

    Now this could be a bunch of malarky, but it’s certainly at least an interesting coincidence.  It’s also worth noting that QIA has done business with Colony Capital before (to purchase Miramax from Disney), and Colony Capital’s CEO is none other than Trump BFF, and inauguration co-chair Tom Barrack.  Furthermore, QIA is also invested in Brookfield Asset Management, who bailed out the Kushner’s failed 666 5th Ave. investment.  Oh, and QIA also just recently promised to inject a boatload of new capital into our old friend Deutsche Bank this past month.

    All of this is to say, TL;DR QIA is almost certainly the mystery appellant, as Marcy had predicted.  Mueller needs something  from the NYC branch (which by the way just opened in Sept 2015, interesting timing) to prove that Flynn, Trump, Cohen et al. were paid off by QIA shell companies, thus giving us the Quo of quid pro quo.  The quid, of course, is sanctions relief, which I guess has only been partially fulfilled as of yet.

      • viget says:

        I know, right?  There’s your quo.

        I wonder where the money is though.  Trump still hasn’t made good (totally) on his end of the deal yet.  I assume the money would be in some sort of escrow in a shell company somewhere until Trump complies.

        I hope Mueller’s crack money laundering team can find it or already knows where it is.  Maybe that’s why he’s subpoenaing QIA,  he needs the records.

        This just leaves the gulf states angle, which seems like was the financing behind whatever other election shenanigans PsyGroup and Blackcube was up to.  I’ll remind you  that the reports of election hacking (like at the state and county board level)  we have seen thus far publicly have only mentioned Russian hacking, and specifically stated there were no vote tally changes, just unauthorized access to voter registration info.  But they never mentioned any other nation-state or private corp hackers…

  30. paulpfixion says:

    After reading a bit of the twitter about this NBC article I found myself being annoyed by one person in particular for the umpteenth time:

    Does anyone have a link to something that explains Glenn Greenwald and his major malfunction?

    The Intercept seems to do decent work (I have read the post from Jan 2018 on EW re:MW’s experience with the org–that sucks, but explains a lot about the problems with that org). Glenn is sometimes intelligent and at times strikes chords that resonate to what I feel are the heart of matters, but other times (e.g. anything Mueller related) he seems to be ignorant, obfuscatory, and dissembling–but why? Is he just a self-serving master troll, in the vein of Andrew Sullivan–in it for the controversy clicks? Or something else? Hates the Lieberman/Clinton/Cuomo Dems so much he turns into a fucking lizard at times? Fuzzy Assange feelings leftover from the Snowden deal?

    Thank you for indulging me this slightly off topic question.

    • Andy Olsen says:

      I follow him on Twitter and wonder about this constantly.

      You name some possible explanations. However, we should not overlook that we worked directly with Guccifer 2.0 who provided him with emails stolen from the Clinton campaign. Greenwald published the stolen emails while providing no information then or since on his dealings with G2, how he verified the documents were genuine and not altered or anything else about G2. (This despite his complaints about other journos doing similar).

      It may be he is in some legal jeopardy due to this Guccifer dealings.

      Related, I keep asking if stealing emails should become an acceptable campaign tactic. GG and his followers are fine with it. But who would use this the most and benefit if it becomes a stock tactic.

      And if Greenwald is find with stealing emails then what about his? Would he be OK with them being stolen?

      I do agree with him on a number of subjects.

    • Tech Support says:

      I think the simple answer is that Glen is a left-wing conspiracy nut. The conservative “flavor” of paranoid magical thinking will be easier to identify when it overlays a belief system that is fundamentally different than yours, but there’s certainly no ideological monopoly on making shit up in your own mind and then believing it must be true.

  31. Savage Librarian says:

    Another important “c” word is conduit. It just occurred to me that maybe more subterfuge was happening than first impressions reveal.

    If Manafort used Kilimnik as a conduit to transfer Zamel’s polling data to Lyovochkin (who is Akhmetov’s friend,) then the whole Natalia Veselnetskaya (is that the right name?) story and sequence of events may take on another dimension.

    What if Natalia was there to act also as a conduit for Akhmetov. The envelope she had at the June 9 TT meeting might have had Zamel polling data.

    This could also explain why Lanny Wiles would pay Akhmetov money as a fee. At the House subcommittee meeting on June 14 where Susie Wiles saved Natalia a seat for the Magnitsky hearing, maybe there was an exchange of money from the Wiles to secure Zamel polling data to win the FL election.

    So, maybe there are more things going on than first seems obvious.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      I think the specks are like slime  mold. It starts with many small bits and builds to a massive glob. Then it starts all over again, spewing small bits.

      To me, Zamel is key to keeping the slime mold thriving.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Keep in mind, also, that Mukasey is Zamel’s attorney. Mukasey has a strong connection to Rudy…

        Of course, Zamel is not the only one with the skill set he has. There are others. Others who are growing into their own slime molds.

  32. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I try to avoid grand conspiracy stuff, but a *lot* of weird shit happened late in the campaign in NC, a state that was meant to be competitive but didn’t end up that way. The focus shifted away to the midwest and Coal Widget Factory Dude.

    • Rayne says:

      I haven’t forgotten that local GOP office fire in Hillsborough NC (NC-4) which stirred everybody up. Happened about the same time Lara Trump was campaigning in NC (the one Trump who always gets a pass for some reason though she was the intermediary with Parscale). I need to go back and revisit that fire in light of NC-9 House race.

    • Herringbone says:

      Beyond the Hillsborough fire, what “weird shit” do you mean? I’m not doubting, but I’m also not remembering anything too crazy (in comparison to the rest of the election).

      • Rayne says:

        You mean like the part where NC’s highly restrictive voter ID law was knocked down by the 4th Circuit while the state was ramping up advertising to roll out the voter ID law? And the state still went to SCOTUS to try and enact this discriminatory BS?

        Or how NC’s intense gerrymandering denied Democratic and minority voters equity in representation? Per WaPo: “…In 2016, Democrats in North Carolina won 47 percent of the statewide popular House vote but took home 23 percent of the seats. …”

        Or iffy race results, particularly NC-9 where voters (mostly minorities) who requested an absentee ballot had their votes destroyed or altered in favor of the Republican candidate?

        And I don’t think we’ve yet seen everything about the two NC hackers who were arrested in September 2016 for hacking federal officials. These guys were part of a ring which hacked John Brennan and made at least one bomb threat in Palm Beach County FL. May or may not be election related but how do we know?

        pseudonymous in nc, you have anything else to add?

        • NorskieFlamethrower says:

          Rayne, IMO it’s time to start suspending disbelief and looking for connections that go well beyond 2015 and even beyond Trumpty Dumpty’s political and financial history. If we don’t, then a lot of the “anomalies” like North Carolina, Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin will never make sense. In my opinion, the structural foundation for the rolling coup was set institutionally in the period between 1963 and 1975. The the relationship between the elements of the security state (CIA, FBI, and military) and the economy of war destroyed our politics and ultimately destroyed the dialectic between the political parties. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts ironically left the old FDR Democratic Party high and dry and holding on to power only through fealty to the oil and weapons industry. In short, if we don’t start trying to extend our understanding of this Trump/Russia crisis into something akin to a unified historical theory we won’t get past 2020.

          • Rayne says:

            What’s happening now at scale with the federal judiciary sets in motion patterns which last a lifetime. We can see some of how it works even as the next wave unfolds.

            • NorskieFlamethrower says:

              I wish I had your optimism but with the packing of the entire federal judicial system if we don’t get to it by 2020 we won’t get to it. And I sincerely hope I’m wrong but I find myself remembering what I learned about about politics, war and the military while spending many hours sitting in a cracker box ambulance in 1968-69 outside a bunker 40 miles from ground zero for the first atomic bomb test. Namaste

              • Rayne says:

                I’m not optimistic at all (or I should say on a spotty, limited basis I have hope). I only point out we can see what they’ve done by what they do now — it was systemic then and it’s systemic now.

                You may have forgotten I’m a woman of color (friends who know me in RL often do as well because I pass). I’ve never seen any sustained signs this war for social justice will ever be over but failing to fight for it is not an option; resignation is death.

          • Rayne says:

            Yeah, that flight. I think there many more oddly proximate trips, at least one more in NC. I’d like to know who else was in NC each time Lara Trump was there in 2016.

            • cfost says:

              This incident brings three possibilities to mind:

              1. The Russians were far more sophisticated in their understanding of U.S. politics than we thought. They could have targeted parts of the country more susceptible to misinformation and propaganda. “Struggling, disaffected uneducated white male in NC” would fit.

              2. Given that Ryobvolov’s plane was: described as being very well appointed; was at the same airport at the same time as Trump’s in NC (2x), Las Vegas and Miami: it is easy to imagine that the plane was equipped with sophisticated electronic surveillance and communications. No one would have even needed to deplane in order to transfer information.

              3. Even so, the plane and Trumps kids were reported to have stayed in Charlotte for many hours after Trump left in his plane. All this makes it easy to say they never met or spoke to each other. There was no need.

          • CitizenCrone says:

            And lest we forget, it was Wilbur Ross–who ran a bank in Cypress–that put DT and Ryobvolov together for the sale of DT’s FL mansion.

    • harpie says:

      And with cfost‘s comment, to this question, we can bring two sub-threads together:

      1] “Who is Richard Burr, Really? Why the public can’t trust his voice in the Russia probe” and

      2] “a *lot* of weird shit happened late in the campaign in NC”

      cfost says:

      2. Given that Ryobvolov’s plane was: described as being very well appointed; was at the same airport at the same time as Trump’s in NC (2x), Las Vegas and Miami: it is easy to imagine that the plane was equipped with sophisticated electronic surveillance and communications. No one would have even needed to deplane in order to transfer information.

      In response to Goodman’s article, DCPolls tweets this thread, 10:55 AM – 13 Feb 2019:

      On Oct 3, 2016 Burr said, “I’ve yet to see anything that would lead me to believe” Russia was interfering to benefit Trump –– contrary to what CIA had told him. // In 2016, Russian-linked NRA spent $6.2M on Burr, the most it ever spent on a down-ballot race. / And how could we forget that in 2016 & 2017 Burr’s home state of NC gave $10M+ in tax breaks to a money laundering front [Alevo] owned by Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Russian oligarch who in 2008 famously funneled $60M to Trump via a shady real estate deal. /

  33. G Holland says:

    @punaise 11:11 p.m.
    Uggggghhhhhhhhhhhh…some puns are more equal than others. I want to be you when I grow up.

      • G Holland says:

        UUUGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!! That was even better. I mean worse. I mean – you’re my hero.

        Anyway, it’s the Republican senators who need some grow-up air. I’m a woman, but my balls are nonetheless way bigger than theirs.

          • G Holland says:

            OMG – seriously! You gotta stop!!!  I’m trying to work but am laughing too hard! Picturing the red & blue GOP elephant swinging his trunk between his legs, searching for balls but instead scratching the insides of his legs with his own tusks.

            Idk how you come by your genius but I want some too. When I make it to Oz, I’m gonna ask the wizard to scoop a cupful to pour into my head.

  34. Eureka says:

    Rusharuse @ 130am- Oh, shit, I cannot even click that from the keywords in the title. The horrors of these horrible people never end.

  35. harpie says:


    bmaz tweets: “Trump Pal Tom Barrack Defends Khashoggi Murder” linking to a TPM article. I just want to add that Laura Rozen links to the following thread and article about that:

    https://twitter.com/EdClowes/status/1095377201141297152 9:40 AM – 12 Feb 2019 News: Speaking in Abu Dhabi today, key Trump ally Tom Barrack said that “whatever happened in Saudi Arabia [with regards to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi], the atrocities in America are equal, or worse, to the atrocities in Saudi Arabia.” Story here: [link] 

    One of the Barrack quotes in the thread:

    “The atrocities in any autocratic country are dictated by the rule of law,” he continued. “So for us to dictate what we think is the moral code there, when we have a young man and regime that is trying to push themselves in to 2030, I think is a mistake.”  

    • Rayne says:

      Barrack’s comments absolutely infuriate and revolt me. Khashoggi was a US-resident journalist; one would think being either of those things would elicit concern but no — a theoretical future envisioned by a psychopath has more value to Barrack.

  36. harpie says:

    Ryan Goodman wrt BURR, this morning:

    I’ve spent enormous time and effort researching this article: // “Who is Richard Burr, Really? Why the public can’t trust his voice in the Russia probe” https://www.justsecurity.org/62573/richard-burr-leadership-senates-russia-investigation-disintegrate/ …Burr’s words and deeds in the 2016 campaign raise very serious concerns.

    First paragraph:

    On the same day [10/7/16] that Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) officially joined the Trump campaign as a senior national security advisor, the U.S. intelligence community released a statement that the Kremlin was trying to interfere in the election. But the Senator already knew those facts, and much more. Burr had been fully briefed in secret by the U.S. intelligence community a few weeks earlier. Senior U.S. officials told Burr that Russia’s interference was designed to support Donald Trump’s electoral chances. Burr decided to team up with the Trump campaign anyway, and hitch his own electoral fate in North Carolina to Trump’s political fortunes. […]

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m thinking that congresscritters and cabinet officers should be barred from being campaign officials of any kind. The conflicts of interest are so effing obvious that even they should be able to see them.

  37. The Old Redneck says:

    I think these Congressional Republicans have become wary about making bold pronouncements. One too many times, they’ve made them, until to have Mueller embarrass them by proving otherwise later. Their own investigation was half-assed, so they don’t know what Mueller is holding, and they don’t want to be wrong again. They may not be the smartest, but they don’t want to end up spluttering and stepping backward all other themselves like Rudy Guliani.

  38. Jockobadger says:

    Borderwall = Toxic orange + hypoxic blue.
    Wtf color does that make? Don’t have a colorwheel hereabouts.
    Thanks for all of the hard work.

      • Tom says:

        Speaking of the border wall, Trump’s new slogan should be “Finesse the Wall”; i.e., to persuade his supporters that’s he’s won out this campaign issue when he really hasn’t.

        • BroD says:

          If he were smart he’d go with “Wall–Done!” and move on.  The base would go, “Yay–you’re wonderful, Donald!!!” and then he’d go play golf.

          • P J Evans says:

            He’s going down to Mar-al-Ego for golf this weekend. I wonder which sucker[s] he’s playing with, and how much he’s going to cheat.

  39. P J Evans says:

    @Rayne February 13, 2019 at 10:12 pm
    I’ve seen dates as early as 2030, and the estimates that pollinating insects may disappear by 2120 if not sooner would be the outside limit – they’re vital to so many crops! And that’s without the sea-level rise that is expected by everyone (everyone but the southeastern states that will go under first).

  40. Tom says:

    @Eureka Feb. 13th at 8:47 pm — In January of 1914 archaeologist T.E. Lawrence ran into two young American men in the southern desert area of Palestine. They claimed to be making a tour of the Holy Land but in truth were scouting for potential oil fields on behalf of the Standard Oil company.

Comments are closed.