Trump Has Told Friends and Aides that Paul Manafort Can Incriminate Him

This Howard Fineman piece is getting a lot of attention because it reveals that Trump plans to beat Mueller by forcing Jeff Sessions to investigate him and his team.

Sources say that Trump has adopted a two-track strategy to deal with the Mueller investigation.

One is an un-Trumpian passivity and trust. He keeps telling some in his circle that Mueller — any day now — will tell him he is off the hook for any charge of collusion with the Russians or obstruction of justice.

But Trump — who trusts no one, or at least no one for long — has now decided that he must have an alternative strategy that does not involve having Justice Department officials fire Mueller.

“I think he’s been convinced that firing Mueller would not only create a firestorm, it would play right into Mueller’s hands,” said another friend, “because it would give Mueller the moral high ground.”

Instead, as is now becoming plain, the Trump strategy is to discredit the investigation and the FBI without officially removing the leadership. Trump is even talking to friends about the possibility of asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to consider prosecuting Mueller and his team.

“Here’s how it would work: ‘We’re sorry, Mr. Mueller, you won’t be able to run the federal grand jury today because he has to go testify to another federal grand jury,'” said one Trump adviser.

But the real eye-popping detail comes much earlier, where multiple sources (one source for this story is the omnipresent Chris Ruddy) anonymously tell Fineman that Trump has taken comfort in the fact that Paul Manafort isn’t going to flip on him.

He’s decided that a key witness in the Russia probe, Paul Manafort, isn’t going to “flip” and sell him out, friends and aides say.

Of course, the suggestion that Manafort could get a cooperation deal by flipping on Trump is admission that Manafort — one of the attendees at the June 9 meeting, among other things — could flip on him, that he has proof that Trump was part of the conspiracy with the Russians to tamper in the election.

Never mind that this admission exposes the lie Trump has been telling — that Manafort’s indictment only pertains to consulting he did for Ukraine years ago and therefore doesn’t pose a risk to Trump. Never mind that Trump’s confidence, given the signs that Rick Gates may be prepping to flip, may be premature.

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has quietly added a prominent white-collar attorney, Tom Green, to his defense team, signaling that Gates’ approach to his not-guilty plea could be changing behind the scenes.

Green, a well-known Washington defense lawyer, was seen at special counsel Robert Mueller’s office twice last week. CNN is told by a source familiar with the matter that Green has joined Gates’ team.

Green isn’t listed in the court record as a lawyer in the case and works for a large law firm separate from Gates’ primary lawyers.

Green’s involvement suggests that there is an ongoing negotiation between the defendant’s team and the prosecutors.

[snip]

Superseding indictments, which would add or replace charges against both Gates and Manafort, have been prepared, according to a source close to the investigation. No additional charges have been filed so far. When there is a delay in filing charges after they’ve been prepared, it can indicate that negotiations of some nature are ongoing.

Most of all, I’m simply amazed at how stupid Trump is to be telling multiple people that Manafort could incriminate him.

I mean, sure, Mueller already knew that. But now he can start asking witnesses — including Steve Bannon, who recently doubled down on his suggestion that Manafort was a traitor, even if that young kid Don Jr is not, and who already has a date scheduled with Mueller’s team — whether Trump has told them this himself.

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.

110 replies
  1. dalloway says:

    There’s nobody more stupid than a man who thinks he’s a genius.  He listens to no-one, he learns nothing and he fervently believes he’s always right.  If that doesn’t create a teeming petrie dish for stupid, I don’t know what does.

  2. Trip says:

    We all knew this was the plan: Kill it from the inside out. That’s why Ryan is now trying to distance the Nunes memo from the Mueller investigation. Too late, too obvious. We see you.

    And remember the Manafort attorney filing with the ‘mistaken’ attachment that indicated a mole existed within his organization? Was the mole Gates, unbeknownst to Manafort, or is there another person who knows the secrets that Manafort knows about Trump?

  3. bmaz says:

    So his mater plan is to have Sessions – who is supposedly recused from any of this – prosecute Mueller?

    Uh, that’s crazy.

    And he may be right that Manafort does not want to turn. But if Gates does, what will Manafort do then? Hard to see how Manafort could withstand a prosecution with Gates as a cooperating witness.

    • Trip says:

      It’s no less/more crazy than the GOP mantra that the FBI must be ‘cleansed’ of political preference, because it is detrimental and inhibitive to honest investigations, while their ‘investigation’ and memo is being championed and led by a guy (Nunes, recused) who was on the presidential transition team, and is a staunch political protector of the president (and himself in that role).

    • Avattoir says:

      From that long Frank Foer piece in the Atlantic on Manafort, it’s pretty easy to draw that Manafort ‘loves the action’ (as Fineman reports at least one of his sources portraying Trump), has somewhere between massive difficulty and total incapacity to envision and/or accept future consequences unfavorable to him (including being functionally delusional about risks), and has been bouncing like on a trampoline between mania and depression for upwards of a decade since he & Gates began consulting to Yanukovych & Deripaska.

      There’s lots in Foer’s piece that ‘suggests’ Manafort’s partners in the consulting firm that started with him (Stone & Atwater to start, at some point adding then subtracting Dem heavy Peter Kelly, ending with Rick Davis and my absolute all-time Hall of Inside R Infamy who knows precisely where all the remains are scattered, the ubiquitous Charlie Black (who, IMO, could, if he chose – which he will never do – to team up with some really compelling writer, like Ron Suskind or Michael Lewis, to write the greatest political business tell-all EVUH), somehow never quite knew all of what Manafort was up to (lots of talk about Manafort making side deals, which so disturbed the others the somehow never quite kicked him out or called him on his supposed secret chronic shenanigans); but it makes no sense that Gates wouldn’t know.

      Gates entered the firm as Manafort’s protege, stayed as his drone, left with Manafort when the firm finally blew up, all thru the times when partners came & left. And it appears Gates was right there as Manafort’s partner, working Manafort’s agendas, right from 2006 on, thru good times & desperate.

      And then there’s the fact that Gates did the actual managing of the Trump campaign while Manafort had some claim to the title, and CONTINUED in that role after Manafort … left?

      This sort of arrangement has the potential to offer up one of the more interesting variations on joint criminal enterprises, where the prosecution has flipped the guy 2 levels down. The prosecution’s task at that point is to find as enough confirmed points of directions trickling down from Mister Big as necessary to overcome the defect of not having the ability to call the thug in the middle, the one with the actual direct contact with Mister Big. Over the years, as nerves-testing and enervating as these types of cases can be, I’ve retained some probably twisted affection for type of case over any other, owing to all the nasty technical challenges.

      Tho, I’ll admit that they certainly seem a lot more charming after the hearings are all over.

        • Evangelista says:

          The weak-link that all of the speculation in this post and all of its comments hangs by is Fineman’s not very professionally written agglomeration of allegations and assertions, asserted by him to be true and truthful truths handed down to him by sources anonymous, whose anonymities are more than only a little likely to be so sacrosanct they may not even be known by God.

          I would advise anyone and everyone to get a little more security of footing before leaning too far, in any direction…

      • orionATL says:

        avattoir –

        “potential to offer up one of the more interesting variations on joint criminal enterprises…”

        “joint criminal enterprises” as in RICO?

          • orionATL says:

            bmaz –

            i guessed this would bring you buzzing out of your nest.

            for those of us without your knowledge and experience, it would help to explain why rico is so disdained – because it’s a sloppy “catch all” criminal statute, because it’s charges are so easily beaten by defense lawyers like you, because it promotes an unconstitutional guilt by association,…

          • Evangelista says:

            When the whole government of the United States, and the governments of the States, and your local locality, right down to city councils and the municipal hustler-“adjudicators” manipulating them (including “administrative hearings” cabals created by any and all of them) are all Racketeering and Influencing and are all Corrupt Operations, What, in a milieu like that, and to gangsters like those, would constitute ‘racketeering, influencing and corrupt operating’?

            Among other things, having more that fifty dollars in one’s pocket while being Hispanic (more than $20 while being black, or more than $100 while being white and not looking like a lawyer).

            It is not only RICO that is a joke.  When the whole law system is a joke RICO only makes it as a straight-line:

            “It says here, in this graffiti that this number is a RICO lawyer;  does that mean like a Public Defender?”

            “No, it means he is a liability lawyer who doubles his takes in his contingency cases by charging as much again for “costs and expenses” as he takes in percentage:  Makes him a muy rico abogado” …

            What is ‘justice’ in this country, where “stock-bumpers” kill the same number of people as the President shot Minute-Man Missiles during his dessert course?  You got me.  I think the only reason everyone is up in outrage about the hotel shooter is because he got more “kills” than the President with his missiles, and for less than $9,000, instead of the $94,000,000 the President blew away…

            • bmaz says:

              You not only continue to not have a clue in the least about how the actual American justice system works, nor even a clue as to what is really wrong when it does not, you are nuts.

  4. Valley girl says:

    Could someone please explain to me this passage from Fineman?

    “Here’s how it would work: ‘We’re sorry, Mr. Mueller, you won’t be able to run the federal grand jury today because he has to go testify to another federal grand jury,'” said one Trump adviser.

    Is the “he” Trump?  Having to go testify to another federal grand jury?  Or Sessions?  Or what?  Doesn’t make sense to me.

    p.s. I did go read the entire Fineman article.

     

    • Valley girl says:

      p.p.s.  Maybe Trump needs to get an emotional support animal, say, a peacock.  bmaz, I hope, will understand this comment.

    • greengiant says:

      “he” refers to Mueller.  The “joke” has two parts, there could have been a period after today,  one part the statement to Mueller,  the other part the punchline.

      • Valley girl says:

        thanks.  My first thought was that “he” was Mueller, but given the way it was written, I just didn’t get it, coming from a Trump adviser. I should have taken into account that the statement, poor syntax and all, did come from a Trump adviser!

  5. Peterr says:

    I’m simply amazed at how stupid Trump is to be telling multiple people that Manafort could incriminate him.

    I’m not. Not one bit.

    This is the same guy who told Billy Bush, a camera crew, and a live mic about his sexual assault approach to beautiful women, and who did much the same on live television/radio on a regular basis in conversations with Howard Stern. He tells people what he wants to tell them, firm in his belief that he will never be held accountable for saying them — and he’s got a lot of history that proves him right. Ivanka and Marla did a certain amount of holding him accountable, but Trump locked much of that behind NDAs and has never looked back. Even accountability can be blunted and forgotten.

    The only thing I find incredible is that this kind of thing hasn’t come to light earlier.

    From the piece:

    “He called to congratulate me on how brilliant and prescient I was to tell him to run for president,” said one friend, who asked not to be identified, laughing at the thought. “What he was really doing was flattering himself by flattering me. But for him, it was a long and very enjoyable monologue.”

    That is a great distillation of Trump. “I’m so great I wouldn’t have even realized it without you pointing it out to me. Thanks!” With regard to his comments about Manafort not flipping, Trump’s not really talking about Manafort but about himself, and when he talks about himself, he’s always the best, the one whom no one else can hold accountable for anything. “I’m safe, I’m secure, I’m not in danger at all.”

    Says Team Mueller, back in the office, as they discuss Fineman’s piece: “You just keep telling yourself that, Mr. President.”

    Team Mueller will have a lot of legal fun crafting of the progression of questions to ask Trump in a deposition. Do you lead him down the path and make him feel safe enough to incriminate himself in an unguarded moment, or do you make him uncomfortable from question one and ramp up the pressure from there, until he simply cracks?  Both options have merit, and God knows both would likely be very effective. Trump does not do well in depositions.

    Just ask Geoffrey Zakarian.

    • Charles says:

      It really depends on who gets to land the first punch, doesn’t it, Peterr. Unless Mueller acts in the near-term to make it politically impossible for Trump to continue to screw with the investigation, more FBI dominoes will fall until there’s no one to protect the field agents from direct presidential interference. Indeed, at the SOTU, Trump asked Congress for the power to reach through civil service protections to strike at anyone who could take action against him.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice work, all day I might add.  I question the framing of the Plan A/Plan B scenario.  Not yours, Trump’s.  I’d like to pursue where it might go.

    I don’t think Plan A, Trump playing nice and waiting for vindication, is credible or possible for Trump.  It is more likely an artifact of his advisors trying to keep him from doing more self-harm by lying to him about the probable course of Mueller’s investigation.  It has been spun as a “strategery” that now needs supplementing because it was based on a lie.

    Plan B may be spin, but it has more ugly potential.  To appear credible, Sessions would have to shut down Mueller, not delay him.  And Mueller’s whole team would necessarily defend themselves with vehemence, while attempting to have one or more states pursue state law claims against his principal targets.

    Like Nunes’s fake memo, Sessions would attempt to do everything under a cloak of secrecy, to avoid scrutiny of his nonsensical claims – they would make John Yoo’s appear Brandeisian – and to prevent Mueller from disclosing his defenses.  The absurdity of the minuet would become clear to a court, but only after all the dancers and the country were exhausted, with as little regard left for the players and the government as has Trump.  The truth might never out.

    A more credible Plan B, for example, would be for Trump to remove Mueller.  But that would put the blame and responsibility – and the obligation to explain himself – on Trump.  That’s a non-starter.  Our coward-in-chief would never do it.  Credibility is not his aim.

    What then?  This supposed Plan B would be tremendously hard to control.  In fact, it would generate government-wide chaos.  The DoJ and FBI would freeze as they descended into factional infighting.  Our principal allies would be forced out of alliances with us, adding to their own hardships, while the US’s position in the world plummeted.  The military would grow alarmingly concerned.  Trump and his allies would have cover to privatize and gut what used to be known as the federal government.  Putin would lay prostrate in ecstasy.

    This is too fantastic for Donald Trump or Sessions to invent, but they might try to pull it off: Donald would do anything to protect his ego and his empire, and Sessions would do anything his president asks of him.  But it’s not too fantastic, for example, for the odd pair of billion brothers to come up with.  Looting is always more profitable than governing.  I sincerely hope your sources are wrong.

    • mister bunny says:

      The element of plan B that raised a question for me is one that you seem to take for granted: that “Sessions would do anything his president asks of him.”

      For one thing, we know he failed to do Trump’s bidding in recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

      So what would Session’s motivation be to attempt such a brazen attack on Mueller?

  7. Christopher says:

    This is so much fun. Rome is truly burning and we are witnessing the first embers in real time. Will a fire emerge without a bellows. Is EW the bellows? Are R’s helicopters with flame retardants?

  8. bell says:

    posters here keep on underestimating trump… didn’t work before the election and i doubt it is going to work here either… what about the thought trump decides another investigation needs to take place – independent of this investigation on whether russia tampered in the election? an investigation on the fbi playing partisan would be very interesting… it could run in parallel with this one..

    • Rugger9 says:

      With what evidence to back it?  A single tweet taken out of context?

      Not that the GOP won’t try this, however, as it is the whole purpose of the Nunes memo: to justify an investigation like the one over Benghazi that somehow failed to notice the starving of the State department security funds by the GOP (who also ran the eight investigations).

  9. Wm. Boyce says:

    ” what about the thought trump decides another investigation needs to take place – independent of this investigation on whether russia tampered in the election?”

    The GOP hasn’t got time before the next election to do a Benghazi-style propaganda barrage. They had years to drum that lie into the idiot public’s mind, and it came to almost nothing.

    Mueller’s not screwing around – this is deadly serious.

    • bmaz says:

      Don’t feed the troll. That is what he wants. He is here only to spew horse manure and disrupt our threads.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        They seem to be multiplying; good sign that this site is worrisome.

        There’s always the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, but read the counting directions before use.

        • Silence Hand says:

          I sure could use some lambs,

          and sloths,

          and carp,

          and anchovies,

          and orangutans,

          and breakfast cereals,

          and fruit bats,

          and ….

  10. Willis Warren says:

    Marcy, have you seen the “Shearer dossier” claims?  I’d bet you a hundred bucks that stupid fuck was how the Russkies knew to give false information to Steele.  Shearer was hired to do his own dossier and I’d bet they knew about it because they’d hacked her.

    • greengiant says:

      Someone has been laying pipe to bury Shearer for a long time or laying honeypot web sites, (don’t touch with cookies or without TOR). In 2016 references to Shearer and “Farm 42”.  But “Farm 42”, supposedly a 5 billion dollar Deutche bank account has all manner of Russian language hits.

      The questions should be why wasn’t Trump prosecuted years ago, how did Sater’s FBI handlers end up on Trump’s security team, what did GOP operatives hack,  what election hacking tricks did Manafort and Gates take from the US to the Ukraine, and what did they bring back. Where is the dossier on that?  The answers of course is that Giuliani and the rest of corrupt Trump law enforcement know all manner of deep state buried bodies in Europe and Asia. US 2018 is what happens when everyone is on the K-street payroll and everyone can be blackmailed.

      • Rugger9 says:

        It is a question I have asked for a while, floating the idea that the Kaiser’s an informant since that explains why the NYC Feebs protected him and were able to get the DC Feebs to not go after him.  That underscores his importance in contrast to the amount of laundering and mob ties across two continents that should have landed Donny in jail (especially during the BK times), and yet somehow did not.  It’s not like Trump has changed character except to be a little more nasty.  Not a lot of other reasons make sense as an explanation, and no one has been able to show anything other than a shrug.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Exceptionally fine coiffure the Don was wearing last night.  Must be employing a new mechanic.

    Hope his blood pressure is under control; when he finds out Mueller’s not going to “wrap this up soon”, he might need to up his meds.

    • Avattoir says:

      Recent anon-sourced reporting on the Trump White House’s apparent ‘new’ strategy suggests:

      1. not only has Trump been told that the OSC investigation is reasonably expected to go on for longer,

      but

      2. at least at some point, rather than run whatever risks & gamble on whatever rewards might derive from firing, either came up with or he accepted advice (despite that both seem unlikely) to follow a new plan, under which the usual GOP minions do that thing they do best:

      to harass, hound, limit & undermine the OSC investigation.

      So now it’s something of a daily test of memory & resolve.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        War of attrition, then.  GOP is good at it; Donald hasn’t the patience to wait for a fresh Big Mac.

        Yea, blue tie was not like Donald, very restrained.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I would be happy if Trump’s lies about foreign auto industry investments in the US were his most harmful.  I doubt it. About car industry investments, he was wrong on his dates, the companies, even the states they invested in.  Whoever does this guy’s research hasn’t discovered the Internets – or, gasp, they just lied.

    The lie that Donald Trump last night genuinely offered some sort of “middle ground” on immigration is a lot more harmful than lying about where Japanese auto plants are located in the non-union South.

    • Trip says:

      Trump’s entire shtick on “bi-partisan” is boiled to down, “I want both sides to acquiesce to MY terms”. He doesn’t hold olive branches, but guns to the head, instead.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Pretty much.  “Compromise” for the Don is getting everything he wants, pissing on his opponent and having him say thank you.  It’s what he does and he’s proud of it.

        A twelve-year path to citizenship, for example, is absurd.  It kicks the problem down the road, when someone else can later say, no, sorry, didn’t meant it.  The path will be loaded with traps that will lead to prompt ejection, by design.

        Or take the claim that he’s devoted to Family – cue close-up of Melania: a crowbar couldn’t separate her jaws.  Donald Trump is separating families every day.  The best, most productive, tax paying, law abiding, family oriented and church going neighbors in America, poof, off to a country they don’t know and haven’t lived in since they were children.

        Congressman Kennedy’s speech was fine, he has a good future, having successfully avoided the pitfalls of money and fame.  His constituents are lucky.  But the Dems need to recognize that his type is no longer the exclusive representative of their future.  If they don’t, they won’t have one.

        • Trip says:

          I haven’t read Kennedy’s rebuttal yet, so I have no opinion on that.

          To Trump, families are disposable. He’s a guy who trades wives in for the next object, has another round of children, and moves on. Cheats, grabs without consent, covets good friends’ wives and pursues them, he cut off healthcare for a sick child in his own family, as an act of vengeance, and destroyed mom and pop businesses after using and then stiffing them, forcing some into bankruptcy. And I recall Ivanna (sp?) remarking that the Donald didn’t get involved in her kid’s lives until they were in college, and that she raised them as a single parent, largely.

          Trump uses. That’s it. Family is nothing unless you count the structure of La Cosa Nostra, with ‘family loyalty’ directed only at the top.

          Trump’s history and use of immigrants, some illegal, shouldn’t be a shock. That we are still playing the “family values” game is just absurd, bordering on satirical silliness.

        • orionATL says:

          “… The best, most productive, tax paying, law abiding, family oriented and church going neighbors in America,…”

          that has been my experience over the last two decades with hispanic workers and family, remarkable, admirable people.

          and let me say they do not match this epitomy of america’s best citizen because they are trying to mimic american values, they are this way because those are the values woven into their individual personalities, that is how they were raised, that is how they would behave in whichever country they lived.

          just good people i like and trust.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            One of the best lines in Twelve Angry Men comes when the thoughtful, mild-mannered Juror 11 gently confronts the bigoted Juror 10, who whines about Juror 11’s manners:

            Juror 10: “‘I beg pardon?’  What are you so polite about?”

            Juror 11: “For the same reason you are not: it’s the way I was brought up.”

            Juror 11 was a well-spoken immigrant.  Juror 10 was homegrown and mangled his native tongue.

  13. Trip says:

    BREAKING: A train carrying members of Congress to their legislative retreat in West Virginia hit a truck.

    The metaphors just write themselves, at this point.

    • Rayne says:

      Hah. GOP members enroute to luxe-louche Greenbriar resort hit a GARBAGE TRUCK. Killed at least one person in the truck. Road-track crossing doesn’t appear to have had gates, only signage.

      It’s as if God figured She had to be a bit more direct with the GOP about their personal excesses, impact on other fellow Americans, and the value of safety regulations. Oh, and they’re trash.

      I feel so sorry for the family of the deceased. Imagine having to deal with this circus on top of losing a loved one.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      We’re finally hearing about someone other than a congresscritter.  Accidents involving railways are “almost a daily occurrence”. Ask Washington state.

      MSNBC is incomplete when is it says it’s almost always the pedestrian or car driver’s fault.  It is frequently the fault of poorly maintained lines and moving stock, and faulty operation.  We don’t know how well designed or maintained this level crossing was, but they are inherently dangerous.

      American railways have been on life support since Truman left office.  The plug has barely been connected since Nixon resigned.  Meanwhile, games are played with such things as serial strategic bankruptcies of operators, separating ownership of moving stock and lines, wholly inadequate funding, legislative scams that obscure oversight and avoid operator liability, and long delays in implementing what are elsewhere routine train and track safety features.

      Yes, how ironic that broken West Virginia is playing host to millionaire congresscritters at the ultra-luxurious Greenbrier resort.

      • Trip says:

        Another note, it was a chartered train, so how familiar they were with the route, speed, crossings, etc., I don’t know.

        Infrastructure is a mess across the entire country. Of course the answer will be privatization and more fees.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          That suggests it was unusual for a train to cross at that location or at that hour.  Drivers are professional, the trash truck and the locomotive.  So human error on the part of a driver is not necessarily the only or the sole cause.

      • posaune says:

        West Virginia, state with the greatest concentration of opioid deliveries in the nation:  poverty, unemployment and addition;  playground for the 1%.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Then there’s this tidbit from the Guardian (emphasis added):

        Benny Layne said the garbage truck landed on his property Wednesday after the accident and that he had recently seen lines of cars stopped at the crossing, with the arms lowered even though no train was approaching. He said motorists would get out of their cars to help guide other motorists around the malfunctioning arms so they could cross the tracks.

        If true, it would be representative of decades of poor maintenance across America’s rail system. Combine that with the arrival of an unscheduled chartered train, and you literally have an accident waiting to happen. 

        That rebuild the infrastructure promise from Mr. Trump?  Crickets.

        Oh, and if I were the trash truck driver’s family, when the dust settles, I would contemplate a whopping lawsuit for defamation against right wing pundits over their claims that this was a “plot”.

  14. Avattoir says:

    Mother of mercy, is this the end …?

    (Probably not: after Little Caesar, Edward G. Robinson appeared in another 88 films.)

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Was this a taxpayer paid junket? “Lots of legislative business” to be done says one congresscritter, which is why these Republicans needed to spend a full day getting to the 5-star Greenbrier and return to DC. Many with their families.

    I am relieved that several members who are medically trained provided sorely need aid. I am happy that there were so few injuries. It is a good thing that politicians and their families are treated as normal adults, rather than as single recruits in a party army, as was Gingrich’s wont. There would be more humanity, and probably more legislative compromise, if there were more bipartisan such gatherings.

    But the cost of this junket would pay for a lot of other things, though possibly not as much as would half a dozen of Trump’s trips to market his Mar-a-Lago resort in sunny Florida.

  16. Trip says:

    Marcy linked the committee transcript in her twitter feed. Interesting read, as well as her comments about it.

  17. Rugger9 says:

    Gowdy announced abruptly (adding to the exodus of GOP Congresscritters) to go back into law enforcement / justice after his term is up.  I do not think that means Sessions is leaving, it more likely means that Gowdy will be the new Rosenstein once our current one is forced out and the “retirement” will become immediately effective.  Then Mueller will be fired.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/01/rep-trey-gowdy-abruptly-announces-retirement-congress/

    Something else I haven’t seen mentioned (sorry if I missed this) but a Russian spymaster on the sanctioned list traveled to the USA to (allegedly) meet with Coats on our side, ostensibly to discuss Syria.  However, since everyone was in Davos in Switzerland at that time, why not meet there on neutral ground?  This could be an article of impeachment after the 2018 midterms if the Ds wrest control despite gerrymandering, voter suppression and other GOP dirty tricks including the Russians left in freedom to do it to us again. It also underscores the fact that the Kaiser will not do anything at all to annoy his BFF Putin, and is daring Congress to do something about it. Now that the GOP is in full party-before-country-loyalty mode, nothing will be done until the Rs are turfed out.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/01/russian-spy-chief-met-us-security-officials-washington-last-week-despite-sanctions-blacklist-sources/

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    By all accounts, Trey Gowdy represents a ruby red district. What if Gowdy, instead of taking Sessions’s slot, takes over from Mueller, gives the president the result he needs, and is given a seat on a federal circuit court?  How does that scan?

    Any such scenario depends on many things.  Central to all of them is Donald Trump’s willingness and ability to keep his promises.  Trump has spent half a century proving that he never does.  Not to his wives, his partners, his lenders, his suppliers and contractors, or his customers.  The good folks of West Virginia might still believe in him, for example, but that’s religion; he’s not making their lives easier, except by giving them false hope that this time he’ll behave differently.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Maybe if Mueller is removed, but the question would be who will do the firing?  That’s why I would favor a Rosenstein replacement by Gowdy.  Trump would probably get Blake Farenthold of TX to take over for Mueller to kill it by incompetence.  IIRC he was the one who admitted he wanted to pull a “Handmaid’s Tale” on his staff and still sits in the GOP caucus in the House.  IOKIYAR.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Regardless of the scenario, Trump is likely to replace his top legal staff this year and next.  Chaos is as good as a win for him.  For Donald, the law is only good when he can bang an opponent over the head with it.  It’s never something he is to be subject to. So endeth Roy Cohn’s lesson.

      Even if every new AG or FBI director or special counsel were Eliot Ness, it would still take them time to get up to speed and move the ball forward.  That would predictably be when a guy like Trump would end their tenure.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Excellent, valid points.

        I think there is a ‘program’ in place that may bear fruit at some point. Give it at least a decade.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s presumably now former LPGA champion golf partner is telling tales.  Hers are limited to golf, but made me think of Goldfinger.  One, he cheats as often as he lies.  Two, his caddie may not be a Korean martial arts master who can crush a golf ball in his hands, but it seems that wherever Donald hits his drive, by the time he gets to it, it’s in the middle of the fairway.

  20. Rugger9 says:

    OT but only tangentially: it seems our HPSCI Chairman Nunes altered the memo after the committee voted to release it to the palace which means the vote is invalidated, Nunes might be a criminal (lawyers please weigh in on this), and the Kaiser has different information than the committee has.  None of this is good news for the palace or its enablers.

    At what point does this become criminal obstruction?

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/31/1737761/-BREAKING-Devin-Nunes-Altered-His-Memo-After-The-Committee-Approved-It-s-Release

    And this about Corallo, already corroborated on how the Kaiser and Hope obstructed things.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/31/1737752/-NYT-Ex-Trump-Legal-Spokesman-to-Tell-Mueller-of-Flagrant-Obstruction-by-Trump-amp-Hope-Hicks

  21. Trip says:

    Hope Hicks knew, and Bannon knew, about the trouble with her part in re the Russia meeting:

    The author of “Fire and Fury” appeared Thursday on “Morning Joe,” where he discussed a new report about Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks discussing Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians — which Wolff witnessed himself.
    “At one point she and Bannon had a screaming fight, and it was sort of about Bannon said to her, ‘If you don’t go and get a lawyer now, I’m going to call your father and make him get you one,’” Wolff said.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/done-msnbcs-mika-boots-michael-wolff-disgraceful-innuendo-nikki-haley-trump/

    Apparently, the morning Joe people can’t see the forest for the trees, so they prattled on about Nikki Haley and the innuendo about an affair and her denial response, which I really couldn’t care less about, it’s inconsequential.

    Will Hope Hicks flip? Has she already? No way Bannon doesn’t save his own ass.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Charlie Pierce asks the question that has been bandied around here for a while.  Why all of the risky effort by a lot of people to hide an inconsequential meeting?  In short it is because the meeting was not inconsequential, indeed possibly very very bad.  Combined with the Nunes antics and the meeting with the Russian spymaster who was on the earlier persona non grata list (not the freshly updated one with apparent Kremlin input) on US soil it seems that the collaboration with the Russian government to interfere in our election is what the GOP is trying to hide.  One could speculate (after putting on the tinfoil hat) that this is the purpose of all of the dark money changes, to hide the fact that it isn’t Joe Six Pack funding the GOP, it is Putin and Prince Bandar, et al.

      http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a15954380/what-is-the-nunes-memo-about/

      I’ll agree that Bannon sings to save himself, and am a little surprised we haven’t heard of Manafort singing, but perhaps Gates is doing it for him and/or Mueller is keeping it close to the chest. The first to flip gets the best deal.

      Not that I put a lot of stock in the affair BS, but if I were betting it would be Hope, not Nikki, since Nikki is in NYC at the UN most of the time while Hope is attached to the hip so to speak in the WH (it would be expected of the comms director, so get the minds out of the gutter), and I would never expect the Kaiser to go older for a fling when his history is always about cradle robbing to this point.

  22. Trip says:

    Senate GOP leader cautions Nunes on FBI memo

    Thune, speaking to reporters at a Republican retreat, said that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) should first share the memo with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) before releasing it publicly, noting that Burr has been unable to obtain the document.
    “I think the Senate Intelligence Committee needs to see it, for sure. Sen. Burr would like to see it and hasn’t been able to yet,” Thune said, arguing that the Senate Intelligence Committee should be apprised before the document becomes available to the public.
    Thune also said that Nunes should heed the concerns of FBI Director Christopher Wray about divulging information about the agency’s sources and methods.
    “They have to take into consideration what the FBI is saying and if there are things that need to be redacted, I think they need to pay careful attention to what our folks who protect us have to say about how this bears on our national security,” he said.
    Thune also urged Nunes to release the Democratic memo if he goes ahead and makes public the Republican-authored document. 
    “If you’re going to release one, I think you have to release the other,”
    he said. 
    http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/371774-senate-gop-leader-cautions-nunes-on-fbi-memo

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The memo is coming, the memo is coming!  GOP pranksters are displaying a passion for Paul Revere and early Yul Brynner westerns:

    Calvera is coming, he’s on his way, he’s getting close, his riders are at the village gates.  Hide your women and children, your corn and chickens, your wine and cigars!  Calvera is here!  Will Yul Brynner and his six mates be waiting for him?

    The Goopers have an enviable message discipline.  All have the same talking points, if not the same ties and Armani suits.  The memo is becoming virtually irrelevant.  The theater surrounding its coming is the dramatic distraction.  That the memo is weak or false will be lost in the time it takes for Trump to change his tie.  The methodology is McCarthyite: all threat, all smoke and no cigar, but with lasting damage.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The congressional bible should leap from the House chamber when Paul Ryan walks in.  His denials about the purposes of the infamous Nunes memo, his claim that it is the Dems who want to distract and destroy, are lies of biblical proportion.  None of them come to close to his claim that his purpose here is to protect “American civil liberties”.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If I had been director of the FBI for a few months and was already so worried about the president’s behavior that I threatened to resign over it – behavior the president displayed time and again and refused to heed advice to stop – why would it be appropriate to wait?  If my point was so fundamental and the president’s behavior such a threat, it would be unprofessional to wait.

    If Chris Wray is considering resigning over the president’s behavior  – behavior that Donald Trump has displayed time and again – Chris Wray has no credible reason to wait. Whatever the president is hiding by way of this behavior, it’s more important to him than his presidency.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Donald Trump is dim about many subjects, but he is not naive or inexperienced.  He understands enough about what’s going and on and what’s at stake.  It’s just not as important to him as protecting the family jewels.  To paraphrase a strategist, when you’re too far in to get out, you’re only course is to go farther in.

  26. Rugger9 says:

    OT but in the long run could be a problem, it seems the SCOTUS in the person of Sam Alito has decided to intervene in a purely PA constitutional decision without any federal law in play. This is the judicial activism the GOP endlessly complains about, except of course IOKIYAR. The PA SC deliberately avoided any reference to federal statutes for this reason, and the PA references are extensions (i.e. not in conflict) with federal law on these topics (as opposed to a poll tax law that is specifically unconstitutional).

    The effect will be to permanently impose gerrymandered districts to deny democrats their vote (small ‘d’ intentional).

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/2/1/1738002/-SCOTUS-May-Be-Preparing-To-Gut-Any-State-Court-Oversight-Of-Elections-Ensuring-GOP-Dominance

    https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/justice-alito-prepares-an-attack-on-state-sovereignty-over-voting-rights.html

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Here I thought that the Court in Bush v. Gore specifically said that its decision was a one-off, with no precedential value.  The reasoning was flawed and overtly political, so that was a good thing.  Perhaps Alito, in imitation of Dick Cheney, wants to resurrect supposedly lost power and enhance it beyond recognition.

  27. Evangelista says:

    bmaz,

    I do know about the U.S. “Justice System” and how it works, and why it does not. Not only when it “does not”. I also know where, when and how it “went wrong”, or, more correctly, was turned wrong, and by whom it was, and who consented, and who continues to consent, and to carry it on along, wrong, and use and manipulate its wrongs and wrongings.

    That is why I advocate Constitutionally compliant fair trials for Treason against all those who know, or, if they deny, have, for their educations and abilities to read, reason to know they are participating in, and profiting from, personally or with or for their friends, or compatriots in Treason, conduct of the business of an overthrowing government they, by their actions help to maintain in supervention over the overthrown Constitutional United States, whose Constitution confined permitted and permissible law they and their system over-ride.

    That kind of action is, of course, for later, for after, when the supervening commercial-law imposing pseudo-state’s privatized gangster-model ‘government’ has collapsed under the weight of its own obtuseness, arrogance, power-greed and corruption. Then, history indicates, my advocacy will be as futile as today, the mantra then coming to be, as it has always come to and been in past collapse-and-response situations, that fair trials, and the reasonable and rational rules they depend on are for peace-times. And that slaughter is necessary to reach peace-time.

    It is to avoid the heaviness this knowledge of the future could bring (it made Cassandra old before her time, so that today she is ancient) that I like to introduce levity when I can, by such things as citing to and alluding to Perry Mason and similar sources when judiciary idiocy provides opportunity, and, in part, raising RICO. The in part is for RICO issue raising being required, as raising Constitutional issues is, to preserve the issue, and, in RICO case, to be able to include the idiot on the bench with the government and agency and others engaged in the victim abusing instant.

    If you read the law you may notice (with this tipping) that while RICO was written with a parameter of focus to loan-sharking and shaking-down, there is an “or” before the specific references to those and ‘collecting’ activities.

    You don’t even have to go spend time observing any and every lower-level court in the land, especially municipal, traffic, justice and similar non-supervised empowered venues and forums, to observe, see or discover that the courts in the current usurper-state United States are all engaged in racketeering and depend on lawless law, lying and common gangster corruption to generate the revenues they do, that are their purpose and the justification for their actions. You do not today, because Ferguson Missouri put the methods, means, objectives and actions of all of them, who all do the same for the same reasons, up in lights (whose Administrative Owners then, you might have seen, if you were on the ball, tried to legislate their co-conspiring parties out of liability.

    If that don’t demonstrate, and illustrate, racketeering, attempt of infuencing, corrupt operation, and the engagement in all of those constituting the acting and sponsoring organizations illegal organization, whatever legal authorities the organizations might originally have been constituted under, then there ain’t nohow nowhere no organizations outside ones specifically in mind in the legislating target ones, that RICO would apply to.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Pardon my levity, but I hear that Reynolds is having a one-size fits all sale.  Buy now while supplies last.

  28. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Gates suddenly loses three lawyers, the reasons are under seal, and he picks up a new white-collar defense attorney.  Is he flipping?  If he were, how loud would be the screams ringing in Manafort’s and Trump’s ears?

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