The Conspiratorial Game of Telephone in Bannon’s Rag that Made Left, Right, and POTUS Go Crazy

A story published in Steve Bannon’s rag, Breitbart, got circulated around the White House this morning like some President’s Daily Conspiracy, sending President Trump off on a rant attacking the counterintelligence investigation into his aides’ (and possibly his own) ties with Russia.

Let me unpack it.

The story basically captures a narrative Mark Levin rolled out Thursday night (that is, right after Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russian hack investigation), which basically lards out the story of counterintelligence intercepts mostly targeting Russians, to suggest Jeff Sessions was brought down in an invented coup.

The Louise Mensch story

The story starts with this Louise Mensch story. For those who don’t know, Mensch is a former Tory Member of Parliament turned American rock promoter wife. Since quitting Parliament to spend more time with her family, she has become a pundit known for taking reasonable observations, injecting just a bit of whack, and turning them into fairly unhinged theories. Perhaps her best known foray into investigative work is when she unknowingly used her own racist search history to impugn a Jeremy Corbyn supporter. In spite of her still apparent tolerance for racism, she offered up her support to Hillary on Valentines Day in 2016. Of late, she has been writing unified theories of Russian spying that start from real nuggets and important observations, then spin loose from the actual supporting evidence.

Back to Mensch’s original article. At a time when Hillary’s team was furious that the FBI had been publicly discussing her emails rather than Trump’s Russian ties, Mensch reported that the FBI got a FISA order in October, after having been denied a more broadly drawn order earlier in the year.

The timing of the October FISA order has been backed in subsequent reporting. It is Mensch’s explanation for the basis of the order that is the problem, as it relied on the dodgy Alfa Bank story.

Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.

[snip]

The FISA warrant was granted in connection with the investigation of suspected activity between the server and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank. However, it is thought in the intelligence community that the warrant covers any ‘US person’ connected to this investigation, and thus covers Donald Trump and at least three further men who have either formed part of his campaign or acted as his media surrogates. The warrant was sought, they say, because actionable intelligence on the matter provided by friendly foreign agencies could not properly be examined without a warrant by US intelligence as it involves ‘US Persons’ who come under the remit of the FBI and not the CIA. Should a counter-intelligence investigation lead to criminal prosecutions, sources say, the Justice Department is concerned that the chain of evidence have a basis in a clear  warrant

I will return to some other aspects of the Alfa Bank story shortly. But for now, consider that the evidence never said a private server “in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower … was connected to a Russian bank.” Rather, it showed that a marketing server in Philadelphia was pinging Alfa Bank and Grand Rapid’s Spectrum Health. As it turns out, it was pinging at least 16 other servers, but that detail was suppressed when the story got packaged up for the press by yet unidentified people. So even if the FBI would have needed a FISA warrant to read traffic involving a Russian (that is, non-US person located overseas) bank — which it wouldn’t — it’s highly unlikely they would have gotten that far, because the story didn’t hold up (and was easily explained by the spam that the servers in question were getting). Moreover, there is no way the FBI would have imagined “financial and banking offenses” from a spam marketing server sending regular pings to a bank. So even if the FBI continued to investigation suspected ties between Alfa Bank and Trump (again, more on that in a follow-up), the specific reference Mensch used to hang the FISA order on should never have involved allegations of a wiretap in Trump Tower.

This is not to say FISC didn’t issue an order pertaining to financial questions involving Russians. Mensch also points to David Corn’s piece on the Trump dossier, which we now know alleges a bunch of other, far more substantive financial issues. Later reporting described a tip from a Baltic country. But all of those pertain to suspected Russian bribes of people close to Trump or Paul Manafort’s corruption, not a spam marketing server sending spam to past clients of Trump hotels.

Which is to say that Mensch took a great tip — that there had been a FISC order — and slapped it onto dodgy allegations floating around in ways that didn’t even make sense for FISA, much less the allegations themselves.

Only Mensch says Trump was personally targeted in the FISA order

All that’s important because this is where the allegation that the order “covers Donald Trump” comes from.

The BBC, the next outlet to report it, claimed “Neither Mr Trump nor his associates are named in the Fisa order, which would only cover foreign citizens or foreign entities – in this case the Russian banks.” That didn’t make sense either, because — again — if the targets were two Russian banks, then FBI wouldn’t need a FISA order. And while it went on to to say three of Trump’s associates were the “subject” of the investigation (but not the target of the FISA order), it did cite someone outside of DOJ claiming that “it’s clear this is about Trump.” That’s still different than wiretapping Trump Tower.

The Guardian, reporting a week later, says that four of Trump’s associates were the targets of the broadly written FISA requested during the summer.

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

But it doesn’t even confirm that the FISC order took place. Here’s a piece I did in January pushing back against claims that anything should be interpreted by the original “rejection” of the FISA order.

Andy McCarthy relies on Mensch to suggest the FISA order is improper

Mensch’s reliance on the Alfa server story also led Andy McCarthy to suggest impropriety in January, which is the next thing cited in Levin/Breitbart. McCarthy ignores the underlying premise — however discredited — of the Alfa story (that it was being used to bribe Trump) and uses Mensch’s inexact language to suggest FBI agents were instead using FISA to investigate bank crimes.

From the three reports, from the Guardian, Heat Street, and the New York Times, it appears the FBI had concerns about a private server in Trump Tower that was connected to one or two Russian banks. Heat Street describes these concerns as centering on “possible financial and banking offenses.” I italicize the word “offenses” because it denotes crimes. Ordinarily, when crimes are suspected, there is a criminal investigation, not a national-security investigation.

According to the New York Times (based on FBI sources), the FBI initially determined that the Trump Tower server did not have “any nefarious purpose.” But then, Heat Street says, “the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server.”

Again, agents do not ordinarily draw FISA requests around possible crimes. Possible crimes prompt applications for regular criminal wiretaps because the objective is to prosecute any such crimes in court. (It is rare and controversial to use FISA wiretaps in criminal prosecutions.) FISA applications, to the contrary, are drawn around people suspected of being operatives of a (usually hostile) foreign power.

Probably the only thing in the larger range of allegations against Trump people that might be treated as a crime rather than a counterintelligence investigation is Paul Manafort’s acceptance of payments from Ukrainian oligarchs he may not have properly disclosed. Yet later reporting actually confirmed that that started as a criminal investigation, for which (as McCarthy points out) is a lot easier to get warrants. The rest involves bribery by a foreign power, so spying. So an appropriate use of FISA.

The expansion of 12333 sharing and the preservation of evidence

Amid a treatment of the Mike Flynn resignation, the release of the dossier (Breitbart sort of tweaks the timeline of these two, though I get that capturing the timeline is tough), and the Sessions’ disclosures, Breitbart discusses the expansion of information sharing and preservation of evidence.

6. January: Obama expands NSA sharing. As Michael Walsh later notes, and as the New York Times reports, the outgoing Obama administration “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” The new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.

[snip]

10. March: the Washington Post targets Jeff Sessions. The Washington Postreports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign — once at a Heritage Foundation event and once at a meeting in Sessions’s Senate office. The Post suggests that the two meetings contradict Sessions’s testimony at his confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with the Russians, though in context (not presented by the Post) it was clear he meant in his capacity as a campaign surrogate, and that he was responding to claims in the “dossier” of ongoing contacts. The New York Times, in covering the story, adds that the Obama White House “rushed to preserve” intelligence related to alleged Russian links with the Trump campaign. By “preserve” it really means “disseminate”: officials spread evidence throughout other government agencies “to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators” and perhaps the media as well.

I think I was the one who first identified the irony of expanding 12333 sharing rules — a move that had been in the works since 2004, when CIA started pushing to resume sharing it had had under Stellar Wind — right as CIA and FBI were investigating Trump allies as potential Russian spies.

Understand: On January 3, 2017, amid heated discussions of the Russian hack of the DNC and public reporting that at least four of Trump’s close associates may have had inappropriate conversations with Russia, conversations that may be inaccessible under FISA’s probable cause standard, Loretta Lynch signed an order permitting the bulk sharing of data to (in part) find counterintelligence threats in the US.

This makes at least five years of information collected on Russian targets available, with few limits, to both the CIA and FBI. So long as the CIA or FBI were to tell DIRNSA or NSA’s OGC they were doing so, they could even keep conversations between Americans identified “incidentally” in this data.

I still don’t think giving the CIA and FBI (and 14 other agencies) access to NSA’s bulk SIGINT data with so little oversight is prudent.

But one of the only beneficial aspects of such sharing might be if, before Trump inevitably uses bulk SIGINT data to persecute his political enemies, CIA and FBI use such bulk data to chase down any Russian spies that may have had a role in defeating Hillary Clinton.

And while the expansion had been in the works for years, it is definitely true that both James Clapper and Loretta Lynch signed off on the sharing after the time Obama ordered a more detailed review of Russia’s role in the election. Indeed, Lynch signed off on it the day after FBI found Mike Flynn’s conversations with Sergey Kislyak showing Flynn telling the Ambassador not to worry about Obama’s new Russian sanctions. It is even possible that the sharing made available intercepts involving some of the Trump aides the FISC hadn’t approved for surveillance.

But Breitbart relies on a PJ Media piece instead, which falsely claims Flynn was targeted in the wiretaps of Kislyak and describes it as an expansion of NSA powers rather than an expansion of FBI and CIA access. Breitbart then concludes that “new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.” The guidelines do aspire to prevent that kind of abuse, but the protections against such abuse are far too weak.

For what it’s worth, I think that 12333 sharing is part of what the NYT reported on, the distribution of information around government. Whereas on January 2, only NSA might have had raw intercepts targeting Russians that might involve Trump aides, on January 3, CIA and FBI (and Treasury, which is also part of this inquiry) might have gotten their own copies, with FBI’s likely stored in an ad hoc database connected with the investigation (and therefore harder to find outside of the CI team investigating it). Nevertheless, the NYT story certainly suggests that Obama’s Administration worked to ensure that Trump couldn’t easily dismantle the investigation into his associates, while hiding the names of Russian spies and other informants. The question is whether it is appropriate to protect an ongoing investigation like that.

Breitbart gets an important detail wrong, however.

It treats the preservation of evidence — something more closely tied to the 12333 sharing and the investigation into people like Manafort and Carter Page — as part of the Jeff Sessions story. It is true that NYT ultimately added the Sessions story to its evidence preservation story, but that was added almost two hours after the story was first posted, to match the WaPo story.

Nevertheless, Breitbart, in a piece written by Trump’s campaign biographer in the rag until recent run by Trump’s consigliere Steve Bannon, links the two, tying this preservation of the ongoing investigation to the events that led to Sessions’ recusal.

Trump goes batshit in response Sessions’ recusal and then reads a misleading story placed in Bannon’s rag

All this is noteworthy because Trump was apparently already lashing out because Sessions recused himself.

Mr. Trump’s mood was said to be explosive before he departed for his weekend in Florida, with an episode in which he vented at his staff. The president’s ire was trained in particular on Donald F. McGahn, his White House counsel, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump was said to be frustrated about the decision by Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, to recuse himself from participating in any investigations of connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Trump has said there were no such connections.

It’s particularly interesting that Trump attacked McGahn, because after what may have been a significant delay this week, he told White House staffers to retain records that may be relevant to the investigation. In addition, Sessions had informed McGahn he was recusing even as Trump was publicly claiming there was no reason to do so.

That’s the backdrop for the moment when Trump read the Breitbart article (I wonder who put it in his hands? Robert Costa reported that Bannon “is working closely with Trump on combating what he calls the ‘deep state’ in intel comm, per multiple people at WH”) and went on a Twitter rant complaining. The rant starts with the same projection he engaged in last night, suggesting Democratic meetings with Sergey Kislyak (about which no one lied about under oath) were just as damning as Sessions’ failure to disclose his own meetings with the Russian Ambassador.

He then immediately transitioned back and forth between the confused allegations from the original Mensch piece to Sessions again.

Which Trump then expands to suggest something even Breitbart did not — that Obama himself ordered the wiretap on Trump.

Trump’s accusations have led a range of sources to deny that Obama ordered the wiretap in both the NYT,

One former senior law enforcement official who worked under Mr. Obama said that it was “100 percent untrue” that the government had wiretapped Mr. Trump, and that the current president should be pressed to offer any evidence for his assertion.

Ben Rhodes, a former top national security aide to Mr. Obama, said in a Twitter message directed at Mr. Trump on Saturday that “no president can order a wiretap” and added, “Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”

And in WaPo,

Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Obama, said in a statement early Saturday afternoon: “A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Why do people believe Trump on Twitter?

In spite of the fact that Trump’s information can be pretty clearly attributed to the Breitbart piece, and the allegations about Trump Tower in it can be pretty clearly shown to be unsubstantiated, both the right and the left took Trump’s tirade to be some kind of confirmation, as if he just got briefed by the spooks that they’ve been listening in on this calls.

Trump hasn’t been bugged. It’s quite likely a number of Trump’s close associates are, after incriminating information showed up about or involving them on other wiretaps. There’s zero reason to believe Obama ordered them, not least because everyone involved believed Obama was responding too nonchalantly to the Russian accusations.

Trump’s associates are bugged, to the extent one or more of them are directly targeted rather than being collected incidentally, because they’re suspected of being Russian assets. That’s one of the key points of FISA, to use it to investigate possible spies working for foreign governments.

But because of the frenzy caused by Trump’s response to the Breitbart story, people are taking as true Trump’s claim he has been bugged, with Democrats claiming this is proof that Trump himself is in the crosshairs and normally surveillance loving Republicans suggesting using FISA to do what FISA is supposed to do is an abuse.

Remember, at least according to Sessions, he had decided to recuse before the WaPo disclosures on his ties with Kislyak. Whether or not that’s true, Trump is furious that Sessions recused even after a clear conflict became known.

And in response he tried — with a great deal of success — to discredit the very notion of this investigation.

Update: NYT updated their piece to reveal that WHCO Don McGahn is chasing down the purported FISA order covering Trump and his associates.

But a senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working on Saturday to secure access to what the official described as a document issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing surveillance of Mr. Trump and his associates. The official offered no evidence to support the notion that such a document exists; any such move by a White House counsel would be viewed at the Justice Department as a stunning case of interference.

Based on the assumption there is a FISA order covering at least some of his close associates, but probably not one covering him, understand what has happened here:

  1. Trump’s Attorney General, who claims he had already decided to recuse, recused after his nomination lies were exposed, meaning he no longer controls the investigation into his boss
  2. A misleading article written in response to that recusal led Trump to claim he was being targeted
  3. Based on the claim, Trump sent out his WHCO to find a FISA order probably not targeting him but probably targeting his aides
  4. Having just been deprived of visibility and control over the investigation, Trump is forcibly obtaining another way to control it
Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

73 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nicely done. Izzy would be proud.

    Among the things the context here reveals is the depth of Trump’s ignorance of facts and process, his Bushian unwillingness to learn, his reliance on similarly flawed but equally ambitious advisers. Session’s recusal, for example, in the context of the legal system and Session’s role in it, was unavoidable. Best to get on top of it and get it out of the way, while trying to control the process and its revelations from a distance. Trump treats it, however, as if it were contestable and (unlike the anticipatory giveaways Mr. Obama was prone to), that it would be unmanly to concede even the time of day to someone on the other side of a deal. (Mr. Trump seems to interpret everything in terms of his manliness, behavior a Freudian would love to explore.)

    We’re in for a long haul. Thanks for the commentary. How about that Wasp victory over Bath?

  2. greengiant says:

    IMO the Trump team has been using #fakenews on Donald and perhaps this is one article too far, or not, 15,000 plus comments on Breitbart so far. False flag OPs have been predicted, though slamming Obama was not on my list. https://www.emptywheel.net/2017/02/27/white-house-confident-no-fire-to-russian-fire-because-investigation-has-lasted-six-months/
    Mensch has been on the top of my long list of possible False flag bloggers and honeypots. Totally did not predict that Breitbart and Levin would be the “victim” of the #fakenews. The paradigm has modified, no longer spread #fakenews, create news with false actions. We should expect worse, these people did Hillary the pedophile.

    • Avattoir says:

      In 2002, shadow preznit Cheney uses leaks to a corrupt NYT reporter of dubious intel that, if true, would support the WH’s sales campaign to invade a fanciful foreign “enemy”, in order to game Congress and the American public.

      15 years on, shadow preznit Bannon uses leaps of ignorance by rightwing pundits promoting implausible reasoning that, if true would support pursuing a fanciful domestic political “enemy”, in order to game the POTUS.

      Progress!

  3. Eve Hammond says:

    Technically, Mensch is a former chick-lit novelist, turned Tory MP, turned wife of rock promoter

    • emptywheel says:

      LOL.

      It is hard to do Mensch “justice” in just one paragraph. You’re right. I should have mentioned that.

       

  4. P J Evans says:

    I’ve seen comments elseweb about this where they’re wondering about warrants and what’s collected and how it’s stored and whether we can get information from foreign agencies.
    (All that stuff that’s been discussed here since 2003.)
    I suspect they were after one of Himself’s associates, and may have gotten some of his own calls – but I don’t think he has a clue how it’s done, either legally or physically.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agree on all counts. There’s still some question if there WAS a FISA warrant, given that most confirmation is from British sources who are obviously getting the law wrong (the exception is a single source confirmation from McClatchy).

       

      • Avattoir says:

        There’s also the excruciatingly annoying yet annoyingly persistent inability of many to understand that a communication has at least two participants, only one of which needs to be covered by warrant.

        In fairness, it’s a common enough error even among attorneys.

        • emptywheel says:

          It’s also often obfuscated purposely by those trying to downplay how much surveillance happens in this country. So I’m willing to forgive that one.

  5. Bailey says:

    Nice recap of events. Although I think I’d quibble that the left has taken Trump’s twitter bait in quite the way you suggest. I doubt anyone believes Trump was actually briefed on this before flying off the handle. Mostly people take this as further evidence of him being a combination of insane and ignorant of how things work.

  6. greengiant says:

    Emptywheel …. “Trump is forcibly obtaining another way to control it” … “find it” …. Yes. Yes. Yes. Set piece Reichstag fire.type operation. HTF can the White House Counsel get access to a FISA order? Some on the alt-right speculate Sessions has already seen it. Another sword over Trump, anyone who knows who holds the 950 million dollar tax write off debt marker, that supposedly will never be called. All investigations into team Trump halted and burned in 3,2,

  7. Interested says:

    IMO, Trump, using leaked FISA documents, then has his lawyer go after the full FISA warrant by FOIA, saying the leaked docs are in the public domain.  The point, to cripple/ruin FISA investigation re, him, his associates and Russia

  8. Joeff says:

    OK on all fronts, EXCEPT:  “…. with Democrats claiming this is proof ….” Which Democrats?  Where?  Some documentation, por favor?

  9. Blackfoot Girl says:

    Amazing piece; thank you. I’m so nervous that you wrote,“Trump is forcibly obtaining another way to control it.” Do you mean “trying to obtain” or is he actually obtaining some way to do that?

  10. wayoutwest says:

    Too much denial and diversion coming from the chattering classes for there to be no fire in this story, They are screaming about unsubstantiated charges when no investigation has even begun. Trying to portray the well planned release of these charges as simply a outburst because of a Breitbart story is another addition to the serial underestimation of the CiC. Any so called inside information sources are probably directed by Trump’s team choreographing what the isolated media are fed.

    That special prosecutor the Clintonites demand may have a real crime to investigate, a rogue spy operation linked directly to Obama.

      • P J Evans says:

        Dependign on how you feel about Himself and his tantrums. Pence, as bad as he would be, would be less likely to launch nukes.

        (I think Pence is involved in the Russia stuff up to his well-trimmed hair. Remember, he was supposed to be doing the actually day-to-day management, and he was supposed to be running the transition.)

        • lefty665 says:

          You misunderstand the neocons and their neolib, elitist and fat cat co conspirators.  Pence is a full fledged neocon and right wing religious fanatic. It is hard to overestimate the dangers he poses. The danger from Trump is indeed a transient emotional act, but that random danger pales in comparison with premeditated malignancy. Dems clearly did not have enough fun with Duhbya, Cheney, Feith, Wolfowitz, Bolton, et al, or Hillary as Sec State. How much fun will it take to be enough?  Will Crusader Pence and Armageddon do it?

          The current New McCarthyism and anti-Russian hysteria augmented by the tantrums of Dem “useful idiots” threatens life on earth. Y’all would be well advised to take a look at the strange political bedfellows you are cozying up to. They are playing you for fools, and you’re reveling in it.

          Unfortunately, insight seems to be in profoundly short supply among Dem elites these days. It is far easier to rail about THE RUSSIANS than to accept that a corrupt, elitist, greedy, neocon and neolib party nominated a corrupt, elitist, greedy, neocon and neolib candidate who ran an incompetent campaign. How incompetent was it? It was so idiotic the country elected Donald F**king Trump and Repubs in preference Hillary and Dems. It was even worse than ’04 when the country was ready to be shed of Duhbya but the Dems and Kerry convinced a majority that Bush and Repubs were better choices. No learning curve.

          So go ahead, keep holding your breath until the country turns blue and advocate for Crusader Pence as preferable to Trump. Don’t ever pause to exercise caution, judgment, or question who you’re in bed with. I’m sure everything will be just fine if you get what you wish for (snark).

          • Name says:

            Sure there were multiple conventional errors. (October Surprise by Comey, overlooked Wisconsin, etc.)

            But distinctively significant in 2016 were:

            * The ever-growing GOP confiscation of democratic rights grew into a huge enough effect (see polls including exit polls discrepancies.)

            * MSM’s free media-saturation campaign time that benefited Trump. (IIRC twice than MSM gave to Clinton.)

            * Putinbots and their idiot chemtrails victims on the web. This was going to outgrow the AM radio brainwashing effect someday. It happened in 2016.

            * Though long successful in redstate house and state districts… only with Trump 2016, did the GOP merge into a single presidential candidate, the appeal of Sarah Palin derpwit with the appeal of Romney/Ryan’s obligate lying.

          • Name says:

            ’04 when the country was ready to be shed of Duhbya but the Dems and Kerry convinced a majority that Bush and Repubs were better choices

            Wrong.

            * The GOP timed the Iraq War to increase the incumbent administration’s favorable ratings.

            * The foreclosure-catalyzed crash didn’t begin until spring of 2006.

  11. maybe ryan says:

    I think you need to add Senator Coons comments that “there are transcripts” to the recipe here.  That may well have been what pushed Trump over the edge.

    • emptywheel says:

      Doubt it, though it likely helped send the left over the edge.

      Trump doesn’t watch NBC. With Trump one of the first things is to understand where he learned something to learn what he thinks.

      Also, I think Coons walked those back a bit. I find it interesting that someone not on SSCI raised them though.

      • lefty665 says:

        “With Trump one of the first things is to understand where he learned something to learn what he thinks.”  Profound, that’s the key!  Some of the places he frequents are scary.

  12. bloopie2 says:

     
    What does all this prove?  Well, until someone studies everything, then, as the old saying goes, “No one knows anything.”  True as ever.  Here’s an example
     
    From Rayne’s post of September 11, 2016:, surced to an article that cites a 2015 EU report.  “Volkswagen Group is the single largest passenger vehicle manufacturer in Europe. This isn’t a little deal considering half of all passenger vehicles in Europe are diesel-powered. Health and environmental damage in the U.S. from 600,000 passenger diesels has been bad enough; it’s taking lives in the tens of thousands across Europe. 75,000 premature deaths in 2012 alone were attributed to urban NO2 exposures, the source of which is diesel engines”. 
      
    In today’s news.  “Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculated that 1,200 people will die prematurely from exposure to illegal levels of toxic pollution pumped out of the 2.6 million Volkswagen cars in Europe rigged with “defeat devices” between 2008 and 2015, when a recall was issued. That accounts for all brands of Volkswagen Group cars sold with the cheating devices, including Audi, VW, Skoda, and Seat.”
     
    How do these studies jibe?  How do I know what to believe, without investigating the facts myself?  “No one knows anything.”  And if the scientists can’t get it straight, how can the politicians and the spies, all known liars.

    • [email protected] says:

      In the case you mention, I suspect the first article was just worded somewhat imprecisely. Diesel engines wouldn’t be the only source of NO2 emissions, just one source.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I understand your issues with this pair of reports. In dealing with scientific matters, the best course is to assume that future predictions aren’t as useful as historical findings. In this case, we would guess that people would die as a result of increased emissions, because in the past, when emissions declined, deaths declined. The future impact is not likely to be predictable. And in general, I’d take tha later study over the earlier, because the second writers had the benefit of the earlier study to guide them, and had their analysis as a starting place.

  13. Tim O'Donnell says:

    To the jackass “earlofhuntingdon” who said Trump was “Bushian”. First of all, Bush was a decent man who stood by his principles. Like him or not, this is indisputable. Trump on the other hand has no principles, except what benefits Trump. Bush, as it is told from his close aides like Dana Perino, was way more intelligent than you give him credit for. Perino tells of meetings where everyone would be laying out there argument and Bush would be taking in all of the info, he would then ask questions of folks in the room that were so insightful it would send the plans and conversations off into ideas never thought of by the team of experts. I doubt Trump is asking questions of his team that couldn’t be answered by a 4th grader. So like his politics or policy or don’t, but comparing a good man like Bush to Trump is not being cute or smart, it’s just being a partisan hack. Assholes like you are what turned the American people against the left so badly that you caused the rise of this fuckwad Trump.

    As for the article, it was well written and informative. Pointed out the important piece of information that the FISA warrant would not have been issued had there not been an American target of the investigation. Had it just been the Russian banks, as the Slate & Heatstreet articles indicated then the FBI & CIA wouldn’t have needed the warrants. Also telling is the original intent of the server at Trump tower was to spam mail former guests of Trump hotels. How does this server end up in communication with the Russians?

    Missing from the article though is the possibility that the Obama administration did misuse FISA & go after a members of the opposition party. Just the appearance of impropriety is enough.

    I say, let’s investigate both Trump & Obama, whoever is dirty on this, one or both, we should lock them up.

    • person1597 says:

      Bush did stand by his principles… even when they were completely ridiculous…

      Two months into the war, on May 29, 2003, Mr. Bush said weapons of mass destruction had been found.“We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories,” Mr. Bush told Polish television. “For those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.”

      Then-primary candidate Trump rips Bush’s BS POV…

      “You do whatever you want. You call it whatever you want. I want to tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass” destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.

      A pithy [and slightly modified] quote found on-line suffices…

      It is no secret that modern [Republicans] have in some cases assumed their own hypothesis from the start, ignoring the evidence of falsehood. 

      Bush is dirty on this…

    • John Casper says:

      “To the jackass ‘Tim O’Donnell,'” you’re not a conservative. “A#$%^&*s like you are what turned the American people against” the Bill of Rights “so badly that you caused the rise of this [email protected]#$%^d Trump.”

      Among other crimes, Bush/Cheney let the elites use the FBI to take down the Sheriff of Wall Street, Gov. Elliot Spitzer, commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence, bailing out Wall Street leverage, which was more expensive than bailing out the underlying assets, the homes.

      Evidently, you don’t know how Ms. Perino got the nickname, “Pig Missile.” Google is your friend. You sure you want to rely on her for  how smart Bush was?

      If you were a conservative, you’d support the Nuremburg trials after WW2. Bush/Cheney/Obama overturned those convictions.

      Apologize to Earl and stop claiming to be a conservative.

      We need President Bush to pull the Republican party back towards democratic capitalism.

    • Name says:

      but comparing a good man like Bush to Trump is not being cute or smart, it’s just being a partisan hack.

      Maybe you didn’t notice that in 2015 it was fricktwerp Trump who criticized “good man” George Bush.

    • Name says:

      Assholes like you are what turned the American people against the left so badly that you caused the rise of this fuckwad Trump

      It was the uppity stubborn misbehaving disobedient Jews who forced the Nazis to cram Europe’s Jews into death camps, right?

      Wrong. Decades of hate-mongering RW MSM (“Liberal Nazis”, “Democrats are the party of KKK”, etc) impregnated now-omnipresent hate into conservatism, this impregnation including the incurable irrational hatred that you exposed by your regurgitation of the trendy “Jesus’s voices made me do it” victim-blaming.

      Compare 2016 to 2008?
      Too many years of improving economic conditions allowed the common RW idiot the luxury of indulging its addiction to suicidal political sadism in 2010 and increasingly since.

  14. martin says:

    “Alexa.. cancel drone delivered popcorn. Order 2 gallons 100prf Crème de Impeach and four 1/2gal bottles Pitchfork beer.”

    sheeezusHchrist.. nothing left to do but get shitfaced until this reality show is over. Hopefully by March 17th. At least I can celebrate then. “Alexa.. order 5th of Jameson on March 16th.”

  15. sillybill says:

    Perhaps the target of the investigation was subject to a roving wiretap. Then the target just roved on into Trump Tower, if the target then turned his cellphone off or left it somewhere, the nearest phone would become targetable. Hmmm… and some smart phones can be turned into bugs without looking like they are even on. So maybe thats what tRump is twitting about.

    • lefty665 says:

      Are there any consumer grade phones, smart or not, wireless or wired, that can’t be used as bugs?

      Expect EW’s got it right, Trump turned up in conversations with people who were subject to wiretaps.  Whether phone to phone or phone as iBug makes no difference. As far as Trump is concerned he’s been violated in his home.

  16. Watson says:

    Our ‘very sacred election process’.

    Someone needs to remind Trump that right up until the end of his campaign he claimed that the process was rigged against him, and he explicitly refused to accept the results if he lost.

  17. Yastreblyansky says:

    I think you nailed the Mensch mess. Further evidence is that the Saturday morning tweets that don’t refer to that Breitbart story all refer to other Friday Breitbart stories–the “Obama White House sent Kislyak to Cleveland” story, the “Obama met with Kislyak 11 times more than Sessions did” story, and Arnold Schwarzenegger blaming Trump’s toxicity for the failure of the new Celebrity Apprentice. Bannon (who wasn’t in Palm Beach–he and Priebus were banished for the weekend in Trump’s Friday-morning Oval Office tantrum) must have faxed or messengered him the whole thing Friday night–Trump’s getting gaslighted.

    Also didn’t Mensch’s November FISA story miss the fact that the Philadelphia server had been taken out of commission shortly after September 21 or weeks before the putative warrant would have been issued?

  18. Dc says:

    Clapper on NBC this morning straight up denied FISA warrant, but left open warrant for criminal investigation that he would not be apprised of. That would point more to an associate rather than Trump, but if that person was based in Trump Tower might explain DTs tweet of “My phones” were tapped. Regarding Flynn, could they have gotten him by recording Kislyak without a need for FISA warrant? It’s been too long since I have thought about these things and I can’t remember if US citizens forfeit rights if they are talking to foreign agents….

    • Name says:

      recording Kislyak without a need for FISA warrant

      As I’ve read, all of the Trump clan and domestic mob associates could be recorded without FISA warrant, IF chatting with a foreign agent.

      Of course, the foreign agents know they are involuntary honeypots…

  19. greengiant says:

    What pivot point is Trump spreadeagled on that such a Breitbart story would tip him off balance. Feb 17th Comey briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee?Clapper denies wiretap on Trump, associates or campaign, and “not to my knowledge” the FISA warrant, says Trump was briefed on kompromat.. Guess Mcghan did not get very far digging up the FISA warrant or did? WH now calling for investigation and breitbart doubling down on Obama dirting. http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/03/05/deepstategate-obama-trump-surveillance-fisa-investigation-russia/ Gone from telling the big lie, to a sending out a tornado of big lies 24/7 serving Bannon’s goal to destroy the media.

  20. Slater Dunn says:

    Western Ukraine is a chameleon to the media- blue or red as suits their agenda. 1) The oligarch controlled Kiyev machine are heroes when needed. Victoria Nuland (f the EU) hands out cookies to ‘peaceful demonstrators’ on the Maidan. but 2) the Uke Oligarchs become ‘Russians’ if Manafort does business with them.

  21. John Casper says:

    @lefty665 at 11:50 a.m.,

    Will you apologize to P J for not reading what he wrote?

    “Pence, as bad as he would be, would be less likely to launch nukes.”

    Your condescending and uncivil comment contains no awareness of the dangers of the unitary executive. Impeachment could strengthen the institutional pride of the legislative and judicial branches.

  22. P J Evans says:

    John Casper says: March 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I assume that lefty665 is one of the various resident trolls who have made the site so unpleasant to visit in the last year, and ignore hir.

    • lefty665 says:

      Actually PJ, it’s not fun, but someone has to talk sense to the hysterical folks. I’ve probably been around for as long as you have, and we have disagreed for well more than a year. Your Hillary fandom has been pretty unpleasant too.

      I’m no trump fan, but the idea that Pence is preferable is bonkers. If you want to get shed of Trump, you need to start with Pence. Agnew before Nixon is the precedent.

      • wayoutwest says:

        The Nixon comparison is ironic because it is Obama playing that criminal dirty tricks persona in this drama. Barry may think twice about returning to DC to lead the assault on the  destroyer of his legacy now that he will soon be the target of real High Crimes investigation.

        Trump has plenty of work to do and he and his team are moving quickly to begin many projects, no weak and defeated snowflakes and their enablers will stop this juggernaut.

         

         

        • lefty665 says:

          They’ve bought a house in D.C.  Guess we’ll know what he’s thinking if it goes back on the market after his kids get out of school this spring. Unlike Trump, Obama has never had much taste for contention. The current level, and prospects for more, may be enough to run him off. Building houses with Jimmy Carter far away from D.C. may be looking a lot more attractive. Believe he’s tall enough to do drywall mud without stilts.

           

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The ownership’s important not just because I’m critical of the media Murdoch controls, and his priorities and political power generally, but because the Scott Trust was and is a novel, non-profit example of a way to preserve fast-disappearing quality journalism.

  24. alphie says:

    Hypothetically, would it be possible to bug Trump in a criminal investigation? Say, Eric Schneiderman needed info…?

  25. John Casper says:

    “Actually” lefty665, “it’s not fun, but someone has to talk sense to you hysterical folks. I’ve probably been around for as long as you have, and we have disagreed for well more than a year. Your Hillary fandom has been pretty unpleasant too.”

    Since Pence supports TPP, the elites want him as POTUS. Or are you so “bonkers” you think the GOP controlled House will impeach him? Or do you think DoJ will indict him? If so, for what?

    • Name says:

      After perpetrating much of their dirty deeds, the GOP will clearly need Pence to be president.
      The globalist oligarchy will payoff the Trump clan, including Mercer, Bannon, Miller et al, to leave with deliberately ineffectual objections.

  26. Ajo says:

    Great summary and analysis, but I think you glossed over this crucial confabulation in the Breitbart piece: “No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes.” McCarthy didn’t “note” any such thing, he pulled a bait and switch and concluded based on nothing that there was a FISA order and wiretapping took place. The idjit in chief clearly read the Breitbart article and believed the phony sourcing without investigating or checking with his keepers. Then everyone falls all over themselves trying to figure out what he “knows.” It reminds me of the scene from Being There: “It is for sure a white man’s world in America.”

    • Name says:

      No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue
      That was the popular phrase that Minitrue disseminated throughout twitter.
      Whoever wrote that Breitbart propaganda consciously fabricated the phrase from nothing they found in the Mensch source link.

      • wayoutwest says:

        Chasing minutiae and denial may make you and the true believers feel safe  but it won’t last long.  Many snowflakes plead to make this story smaller and more easily buried but the dirty tricks are too obvious and the sandbagging by the perp’s mouthpieces is too defensive and lame.

        Obama is facing felony accusations for abuse of power and manipulation of an election. This is not petty finger pointing at Putin but  High Crimes ordered by the head of state.

        The Clintonites need to continue to think Trump is reeling and reacting from their pink revolution not acting and a step or two ahead of these repeated losers.

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