New Right Hook: Mike Flynn Lied When He Admitted to a Judge He Lied to the FBI

Apparently, the latest Grassley-Graham effort to spin a very understandable reaction to the discovery that the incoming National Security Advisor might be compromised by Russia — to have a meeting about whether that requires a change in the government’s investigative approach and then memorialize the meeting — as a Christopher Steele plots is not an isolated event. To accompany the Grassley-Graham effort to obscure, the right wing is now seeing a conspiracy, best captured in this Byron York piece with follow-ups elsewhere, in Mike Flynn’s guilty plea.

At issue is leaked March 2017 testimony from Jim Comey (in a piece complaining about the leak of Flynn’s FISA intercepts) that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn on January 24, 2017 believed any inaccuracies in Flynn’s interview with the FBI were unintentional.

In March 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey briefed a number of Capitol Hill lawmakers on the Trump-Russia investigation.

[snip]

According to two sources familiar with the meetings, Comey told lawmakers that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe that Flynn had lied to them, or that any inaccuracies in his answers were intentional. As a result, some of those in attendance came away with the impression that Flynn would not be charged with a crime pertaining to the Jan. 24 interview.

From that, York spins out a slew of laughable claims: Mike Flynn would have no reason to address the FBI amid swirling coverage of lies about Russian ties! The Deputy Attorney General “sends” FBI agents to conduct interviews! DOJ “effectively gave” Jim Comey authority to decide Hillary’s fate but then fired him for usurping that authority! They lead up to York’s theory that DOJ may have overridden the FBI agents in forcing Flynn to sign a plea admitting he made false statements.

It could be that the FBI agents who did the questioning were overruled by Justice Department officials who came up with theories like Flynn’s alleged violation of the Logan Act or his alleged vulnerability to blackmail.

[snip]

To some Republicans, it appears the Justice Department used a never-enforced law and a convoluted theory as a pretext to question Flynn — and then, when FBI questioners came away believing Flynn had not lied to them, forged ahead with a false-statements prosecution anyway. The Flynn matter is at the very heart of the Trump-Russia affair, and there is still a lot to learn about it.

Along the way, York feigns apparent ignorance of everything he knows about how criminal investigations work.

For example, York pretends to be unaware of all the pieces of evidence that have surfaced since that time that have changed the context of Flynn’s January 24 interview. There’s the weird dinner Trump invited Comey to on January 27, a day after Sally Yates first raised concerns about the interview with White House Counsel Don McGahn, where Trump told Comey “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” There’s the more troubling meeting on February 14, where (after asserting that Flynn had indeed lied to Mike Pence) Trump asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation.

He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

There’s the March 30 phone call in which the President complained about the “cloud” of the Russian investigation. There’s the April 11 phone call where the President complained about that “cloud” again, and asked for public exoneration. There’s the newly reported Don McGahn call following that conversation, to Dana Boente asking for public exoneration. There’s Comey’s May 9 firing, just in time for Trump to tell Russians on May 10 that firing that “nut job” relieved pressure on him. There’s the letter Trump drafted with Stephen Miller’s help that made it clear Comey was being fired because of the Russian investigation.

Already by the time of Comey’s firing, the White House claim that Mike Flynn got fired because he lied about his conversations to Sergey Kislyak to Mike Pence, was falling apart.

Then, in August, the Mueller team obtained the transition emails that transition lawyers had withheld from congressional requests (and therefore from Mueller), including those of Flynn himself, Jared Kushner, and KT McFarland. The transition would go on to squawk that these emails, which didn’t include Trump and dated to before Trump became President, were subject to executive privilege, alerting Mueller that the emails would have been withheld because the emails (some sent from Mar-A-Lago) reflected the involvement of Trump. Not to mention that the emails tied conversations about Russia to the “thrown election.”

Then there’s Jared Kushner’s interview with Mueller’s team in the weeks before Mike Flynn decided to plead guilty. At it, prosecutors asked Jared if he had any information that might exculpate Flynn.

One source said the nature of this conversation was principally to make sure Kushner doesn’t have information that exonerates Flynn.

There were reports that Flynn felt like he had been sold out just before he flipped, and I would bet this is part of the reason why. In addition to instructions regarding the sanction calls with Kislyak, which were directed by KT McFarland, Flynn’s statement of offense describes someone we know to be Kushner directing Flynn to call countries, including Russia, to try to persuade them to avoid a vote on Israeli West Bank settlements.

On or about December 22, 2016, a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team directed FLYNN to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood on the resolution and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.

Granted, Mueller’s team didn’t make the point of the lies as obvious as they did with the George Papadopoulos plea, where they made clear Papadopoulos lied to hide that he learned of the “dirt” on Hillary in the form of emails after he started on the campaign and whether he told the campaign about those emails (not to mention that he had contacts with Ivan Timofeev).

Mueller’s not telling us why Flynn’s lies came to have more significance as Mueller collected more and more evidence.

But what they make clear is that the significance of Flynn’s lies was not, as it first appeared, that he was trying to hide the subject of the calls from Mike Pence. I mean, maybe he did lie to Pence about those calls. But discussions about how to work with the Russians were not secret; they included at least Kushner, McFarland, Tom Bossert, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, and Sean Spicer. Some of those conversations happened with McFarland emailing while at Mar-A-Lago with the President-Elect.

So given the weight of the evidence collected since, Flynn’s lies now appear neither an effort to avoid incriminating himself on Logan Act charges, nor an effort to cover up a lie he told others in the White House, but the opposite. His lies appear to have hidden how broadly held the Russian discussions were within the transition team, not to mention that he was ordered to make the requests he did, possibly by people relaying orders from Trump, rather than doing them on his own.

That, by itself, doesn’t make the Flynn conversations (as distinct from the lies) illegal. But it means Trump went to great lengths to try to prevent Flynn from suffering any consequences for lying to hide the degree to which negotiations with Russia during the transition period were the official policy of the Trump team. And when Trump (or rather, his son-in-law) stopped protecting Flynn on that point, Flynn decided to admit to a judge that he had been knowingly lying.

It doesn’t take a conspiracy to realize that the FBI Agents who interviewed Flynn in January had none of the evidence since made available largely because Trump tried so hard to protect Flynn that he fired his FBI Director over it. It takes looking at the evidence, which makes it clear why those false statements looked very different as it became clear Flynn, after acting on Trump transition team instructions, got sold out as other senior Trump officials started trying to protect themselves.

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.

72 replies
  1. K says:

    Russia attack on basic idea of government should be wrapped up within a month according to the thuglicans but a sex act requires 8 years of investigations.

    Bribery by a foriegn power should be given a quick glance and move on but a home server set up by a State Dept. IT guy requires multiple congressional and fbi investigations.

    Bizarro world indeed.

     

  2. Evangelista says:

    Marcy,

    Trying to determine the source of a fart in a mad-house day-room, with all the information sources inmates or staff receiving speculations second-hand from anonymous and necessarily suspect already second-hand sources known to favor sensation, is pretty much a circular exercise.

    And then to try to analyze to characterize the fart, drawing on such a pot-pourri of “source”… it’s an exercise in futility, a passing of only more air, writing aerobic bubble-and-squeak.

    The case, and your dissecting, do, however, highlight the way pre-conception and confirmation-coercion activities in what passes for “legal processes” in the current United States’ caricatures of “law practice” make the whole of whatever the system touches unreliable, unbelievable, fairytale, fiction and propaganda production, and a stench and a stink on the reputation of the producing, to quote the attribution assigned to Trump, “shit-hole nation” that is currently making a place for itself in history for such production.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice argument in favor of obstruction of justice.  It also slices and dices Byron York’s frail counter-conspiracy argument.  It may be one of many that Mueller’s team is marshaling.

    It takes us back to a basic question: what is Trump so desperate to hide?  What would be the purpose of these crimes?  What interest is so vital that Donald Trump would risk indictment and impeachment-trial-removal from office to protect?

    Reaching the presidency is only a partial answer.  Protecting Trump’s fragile ego from the idea that he won only because of Russian help is correct but not worth the candle.  The interest most likely in play was in play during Watergate.  It led to Deep Throat’s lament: “Follow the money.”

    The money issue in Watergate involved campaign finance crimes and slush funds used to engage in dirty tricks, crimes.  That might be true here, too.  While important and worthy of impeachment, it does not seem enough to explain Trump’s behavior and that of his campaign staff and transition team.  This Republican Party would not consider it sufficient to justify removing a sitting GOP president.

    An issue that does seem worth putting everything at risk would be exposure of crimes involving the Trump Organization’s accounting and finances.  A string of still prosecutable financial crimes, in addition to crimes involving the campaign and Russia, and obstruction of investigations into them, would derail Trump’s empire as well as his presidency.  It could topple Kushner’s, too, and do lasting damage to the Republican Party.

    After six bankruptcies, the Trump businesses have relied on a narrow lending base for decades, principally Deutsche Bank and Russian oligarch money.  At its core, it seems to be a family real estate business with global aspirations.  It depends on a single, mercurial, two-dimensional figure with no patience for process or the law, who considers lying and “getting away with it” the height of business acumen.  The possibility that serious financial crimes were committed is real.  Vulnerability to Russian threats to cut off that money or to expose other crimes might be one explanation for Trump’s desperation to please Putin.

    That’s a story that would grip the Republic and consume it for a time.  That’s worth losing a presidency to protect.  The country, as with most things Trump, would be an afterthought.

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    To continue the boxing metaphor….

    The main event: Trump vs Mueller

    Mueller is a stylist who relies on skills rather than bravado

    Pound for pound, Trump is a plodder who uses rabbit punches, whereas Mueller plays possum, an outside fighter who prefers operating from long-range

    Mueller has Trump “on the ropes” while The Con Man paws, throwing wild punches to try to knock out the investigation.

    Trump is a palooka, an aging, losing, uncelebrated whiner

    Mueller has a “good set of whiskers” and durable.

    When will the break come? I hope soon.

    We sit ringside, We need to stop the bleeding.  I’m sick of Trump’s sucker punches, a fucking shopworn, rope-a-dope who will go down for the count.

    The final purse: Impeachment

     

  5. wayoutwest says:

    If the quotes of Comey’s March statement are accurate there was no ledgitimate reason to charge Flynn with lying. Mueller must have made the decision to persecute him for political reasons and I read they were spreading the witch-hunt to target Flynn’s son. Threatened and cornered with his family targeted Flynn had no choice but to cooperate with his persecuters and become part of Mueller’s dog and pony show.

    It’s amazing how easily the thin veneer of legality is peeling off of this conspiracy exposing the Clintonite morons behind it, what’s next?

    • Trip says:

      Thanks for the link to that site. I went down the rabbit hole and looked at their investigations into Brexit Funding. Lo’ and behold, up comes the Mercer name, Saudis and misc connections to the Kremlin.

      • Trip says:

        And now Mercer talks about “free speech” and what she believes, while she previously spent a lot of money on making her voice heard over others, in foreign countries even, while also pretending that Trump isn’t a bigot, but rather that he is getting rid of corruption. She pretends that Bannon took Breitbart in the wrong direction, but was more than happy to use him in his editorial and position at the WH, as well as the white supremacy squad of commenters, to get Trump into the WH.

        Rebekah Mercer
        Here’s What I Believe
        I support U.S. generosity, decentralized power, evidence-based science, and open discourse.
        https://www.wsj.com/articles/forget-the-media-caricature-heres-what-i-believe-1518652722

        What a pile of horseshit.

         

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It’s not what she says, it is what she does.

          Before Donald, Fake News! ™ was simply called propaganda.  To anyone but readers of Hermann and Chomsky (and Carey), it was what other countries and their press lords did.  Rupert still owns the WSJ, doesn’t he?

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Edward S. “Herman” and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent.  Alex Carey, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy.  Worth spelling correctly, worth reading again.

      • Alan says:

        The Brexit Dark Money investigation on Open Democracy is well worth following. Occasionally the Guardian or other newspapers pick up bits from Geoghegan and Ramsay, with or without giving credit. Tells you all you need to know about the state of British journalism that the most important stuff is being done by freelancers with crowdfunding.

  6. pdaly says:

    Great read.

    So Flynn ‘stuck his neck into the meat grinder,’ but it didn’t help matters. Now there is an облако hanging over the White House, albeit (at least for now) not specifically over the VP.

  7. Trip says:

    I wish someone would reveal why the attorney for the WH couldn’t get a security clearance. The Flynn situation was obvious once the layers were peeled away. I can’t imagine what McGahn’s background holds to keep him from meeting qualifications. Anyone want to take a gander?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      McGahn not having a permanent security clearance is a tad hard to believe, isn’t it, except that it’s the Trump White House.  McGahn and another 130 temporary clearances, 47 of whom report directly to the Don.  These guys invent their own rules and their own facts and call it “reality”.  If this White House had a Director of Engineering, it would be a cross between ‘Fredo and Rube Goldberg, with all the fun taken out.

      McGahn has been around DC a long time.  The top jobs in every White House get top priority in the clearance process.  McGahn must have an interesting FBI file if he doesn’t have a permanent clearance by now.  Seems unlikely he’ll get one.  Would we be safer if everyone reporting to the Don  who holds only a temporary clearance after six months were denied access to classified information?

      • Rayne says:

        I feel for poor Sally Yates. Imagine begin a competent, ethical lawyer and having your critically important job upended because of this sad sack who can’t get a security clearance.

        I don’t think she was terminated for her stance on the Muslim travel ban. I think she was fired because of what she told McGahn about Flynn and he couldn’t find a way around it besides using the travel ban as an excuse to get her out of the way. The travel ban was a convenient rabbit they pulled out of their hat, half-baked but enough to change the subject.

        Yates’ testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last May exposed how fucking incompetent McGahn was; this should burn him if anything does:

        GRAHAM: OK. Now what did you finish? What did you tell the White House?

        YATES: So I told them again that there were a number of press accounts of statements that had been made by the vice president and other high-ranking White House officials about General Flynn’s conduct that we knew to be untrue. And we told them how we knew that this – how we had this information, how we had acquired it, and how we knew that it was untrue.

        And we walked the White House Counsel who also had an associate there with him through General Flynn’s underlying conduct, the contents of which I obviously cannot go through with you today because it’s classified. But we took him through in a fair amount of detail of the underlying conduct, what General Flynn had done, and then we walked through the various press accounts and how it had been falsely reported.

        We also told the White House Counsel that General Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI on February 24[*]. Mr. McGahn asked me how he did and I declined to give him an answer to that. And we then walked through with Mr. McGahn essentially why we were telling them about this and the first thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that General Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself.

        [. . .]

        WHITEHOUSE: OK. And the scenario that you were concerned about was that you were seeing all these statements coming from the White House that were inconsistent with what you knew, you presumed that the White House was being truthful which meant that Flynn was misleading them.

        YATES: Right.

        WHITEHOUSE: Which meant that he was vulnerable to manipulation by the Russians, who knowing what had actually taken place could call up the national security advisor to the president and say, you got to do this for us or we’re going to out you with all your folks and your career is done.

        YATES: That’s right, because one of the questions that Mr. McGahn asked me when I went back over the second day was essentially, why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another White House official?

        And so we explained to him, it was a whole lot more than that and went back over the same concerns that we had raised with them the prior day, that the concern first about the underlying conduct itself, that he had lied to the vice president and others, the American public had been misled.

        And then importantly, that every time this lie was repeated and the misrepresentations were getting more and more specific, as — as they were coming out. Every time that happened, it increased the compromise and to state the obvious, you don’t want your national security advisor compromised with the Russians. . . .

        Bold mine. Jesus H. Christ. She had to explain something this elemental, this basic to White House Counsel? I have to ask: does he have a valid license to practice law in DC?

        Good gravy, I hope Yates is vindicated by McGahn’s ignominous job loss if not his perp walk.

        [*] I believe she meant January 24, not February.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I don’t think she was terminated for her stance on the Muslim travel ban. I think she was fired because of what she told McGahn about Flynn and he couldn’t find a way around it besides using the travel ban as an excuse to get her out of the way. The travel ban was a convenient rabbit they pulled out of their hat, half-baked but enough to change the subject.

          That’s much more likely than the official cover story.  After all, she was warning the WH that its NSA was a security risk, an exquisite irony matched only by the WH staff’s enormous clearance problem.  They didn’t want to believe Yates because the Don liked him and because he was doing precisely what the Don and Kushner wanted.  They were never gonna ditch him.

          McGahn’s question during Yates’s second visit – why does it matter to the DoJ if one WH official lies to another, or the public? – might be even more complicated.  I think it reveals his expectation that he and others would be doing it every day.  I think he was telling Yates it was none of her business.  He was fishing for how the DoJ would respond to that and not liking what he was hearing.  McGahn knew that without more than “lying” – Donald’s passion, the pickling in which he is preserved – the WH would keep Flynn as NSA.  That would perpetuate a problem with the DoJ and Comey’s FBI that could only fester.  The WH tried to cure it by firing Yates and, ultimately, Comey.  Like everything this WH touches, that hasn’t worked out so well.

          And, yeah, I think McGahn is looking at the risks of his own indictment.  His fingerprints are on a string of obstruction related acts.  I suspect he’s decided that since he’s in too far to get out, he might as well go further in.

          McGahn and his colleagues must feel like Dennis Weaver in Steven Spielberg’s Duel.  The Mueller Peterbilt 281 is tearing down the road behind them.  Their pedal is to the floor, the Peterbilt keeps getting bigger in their rear view mirror, and there are sharp curves ahead.

          • Rayne says:

            Yup, if he’s somehow involved in Yates’ termination, he’s on for obstruction along with conspiracy, on top of disbarment (assuming he’s currently licensed somewhere). I hope it leaves a mark; would be nice if it was shaped like a mirror-image Peterbilt logo.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Not many would get that pre-Jaws reference.  I don’t think McGahn getting a bigger boat would help him, either.  But he might find that Robert Maxwell’s yacht, the former Lady Ghislaine, is available.

              McGahn’s a creature of the RNC, :Patton Boggs and Jones Day. I believe there’s a Koch connection there, too. We have him to thank for the Neil Gorsuch nomination.

              • bmaz says:

                Eh, partially. Think it was much more Len Leo and Fed Soc that chose Gorsuch, McGahn was just the designated shepherd that they trusted in an otherwise idiot Trump Admin.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  McGahn has been a true-red RNC man since law school while at Patton Boggs and Jones Day.  The guy without a permanent clearance acting as gatekeeper for the other 129 WH staff without one.  He was part of the Trump campaign since the early primaries.  He and Sessions and Jared.  Tick tock.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Telling the House is telling Trump.  Better to spill the beans to Mueller, whose team leaks about as much as the hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls’s front porch.

      • Christopher OLoughlin says:

        Thank you EW for designing fantastic scaffolding detailing: meetings, communications, personality power dynamics within the Palace. OT back in the day I protested a lot and was even paid to protest. Then I got a real job that paid real money and needed a security clearance. After a few months I was taken to lunch and learned security clearance process is itself “secret” and that I had not received a security clearance yet. I was told the “secret” clearance process doesn’t allow for the communication of “your security clearance officially denied” rather I received the direct communication that I did not receive a security clearance at this time and secret process is on going. However  I had 90 days to find a new job. Today in Washington there has been a process of security applications in the Palace and non-granting of security clearances after 14 months of investigation. Officially because the process is secret if you allow someone who has made an application for security clearance to work with classified material because the person is a “Security Clearance Applicant” with no security clearance application process closure all of the applicants in the Palace may still be working until 2020 and perhaps beyond. Thank you again for tying up the frayed threads unraveling daily by SC investigation processes.

  8. lefty665 says:

    In addition to the Logan Act foolishness, Flynn had other areas of vulnerability. They included failure to register as a foreign agent, likely failure to declare income from that activity, and his son was involved. Seems Mueller offered him a deal he could not refuse, lying to the FBI, that protected his kid and made other charges go away in exchange for his cooperation in providing an inside view of Trump land. Notably what he pled to had nothing to say about improper discussions with Russians.

    There is irony that some of Flynn’s Russian conversations were at Jared’s behest in support of Israel.  Pence would have liked those. Hard to believe he did not hear about them. We haven’t heard much about Israeli interference in our elections. Perhaps we could offer Bibi a plea deal.

    It is worth remembering that Mueller was running the FBI when it hounded Bruce Ivins to commit suicide. Flynn’s decision may have been made in cognizance that he could be targeted for a similar fate if he didn’t roll over. “Nice little life you got here, good pension from the service, foreign income, nice family, be a shame if it ended the way it did for Bruce Ivins. Poor guy, if he’d only cooperated…”

     

    • orionATL says:

      lefty opines:

      “… Flynn’s decision may have been made in cognizance that he could be targeted for a similar fate if he didn’t roll over. “Nice little life you got here, good pension from the service, foreign income, nice family, be a shame if it ended the way it did for Bruce Ivins. Poor guy, if he’d only cooperated…”… ”

      what a goofball analogy, lefty. it’s pretty clear from their stories that ivans and flynn had completely different personalities and life trajectories.

      you have a bad habit of making any possible connection or citing any possible source, e. g., righwing propaganda rags, no matter how unlikely, illogical, or false in support of another one of your angry criticisms. your rational thinking is deteriorating.

      • bmaz says:

        Here is the deal: I am sick of you two carping at each other. It very much does not forward any discussion on this site. From now on, if you cannot refrain from this,  the missiles you send at each other will be subject to deletion. Just stop. I implore you. And regret having to say this. How it goes from here is up to you. The current status quo is not helpful or acceptable.

        • orionATL says:

          ah, come on, bmaz.

          this is a is a very legitimate response to lefty’s comment. it describes holes both in this argument and in his recent syle of arguing.

          a long string of back and forth is one thing; a single response is another.

          i note you consistently weigh in on my responses. how come?

          you consistently threaten my comments while you just bark at all the trolls that pass thru here?

          i suggest you reverse your priorities and quit focusing so diligently on on my comments to.lefty.

          • bmaz says:

            I am focusing on both of you. And, as you know, I have been here all along.

            I am asking both of you to stop. I have done so before, but the fabric is wearing thin here. It is NOT one before the other, it is both. You can both comment. Going at each other has long ceased to be anything other than detrimental to blog.

            • orionATL says:

              you ducked my point, bmaz, which was that my response to lefty was a legitimate criticism – wasn’t it?

              lumping us both to gether is sloppy, indiscriminate administrative reasoning of the “a pox on both of you” kind.

              and by the way who calls you up to check on this? or to put it differently, how did your eagle eye miss this exchange? take the time to read it all the way to the very end.

              how did you happen to miss this one, bmaz?

              orionATLsays:

              February 13, 2018 at 10:39 am

              well, after a year and a half of official washington gasping and gossiping about russian realpolitik, it’s about time somebody did this. there’s nothing like a lawsuit hanging over your head to provoke action.

              it will be interesting to see how the team goes about verifying what was recalled and written up from what i assume were mostly phone conversations…

              Tripsays:

              What do you do with portions of disinformation? Confirm the tales being spread? Buzzfeed posted the dossier with the disclaimer of unverified allegations. I wonder, if in the end, that will be their undoing in a civil case. An attorney, here, would have to chime in. Because they published it, not believing that the information was ‘truth’, but that it hadn’t been verified by the source, and they acknowledged that….

              lefty665says:

              February 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

              You think that just because we have not heard about it that no one, especially those with national technical means, has established the lack of veracity in the Dossier?

              Marcy is right. Don’t be a fool, give up on the Dossier.  All you do is enable the Repubs every time you say or write the word. Move on to real issues, and there are some…

              orionATLsays:

              lefty blows hard:

              “You think that just because we have not heard about it that no one, especially those with national technical means, has established the lack of veracity in the Dossier?”

              a) as usual, you have absolutely no facts to support that statement.

              b) even taken at face value your statement is absolutely irrelevant to the american political context.

              c) yesterday you got caught out here trying to peddle two rightwing memes. and that’s not the first time rightwing “facts” have showed up in one of your comments.

              where are you coming from?…

              Madchen Vapidsays:

              February 13, 2018 at 8:31 pm

              You think that just because we have not heard any facts from leftyXYZ, that no one, especially leftyXYZ with no logical means, has established a lack of veracity in his argument? *I think I just broke my brain writing that one….

              lefty665says:

              February 13, 2018 at 11:33 pm

              Nah, looks like it’s been broken for a long time…

              lefty665says:

              February 13, 2018 at 11:32 pm

              fool

              Reply

              https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/02/12/graham-and-grassley-are-seeing-christopher-steeles-ghost-where-mike-flynn-lurks/

              • Rayne says:

                Thank you, orionATL, for the clarification. I think these threads are making it difficult (especially for mobile device users and those of us using the editing tools at the backend) for us to follow the chain of communication. Let’s let this chain go for now. I will watch more closely for ad hominems, especially those chasing off newer or infrequent commenters.

                • orionATL says:

                  using “ad hominems” as a criterion for criticizing a comment is certain to be unfair in some cases.

                  as i’ve said before, calling a horse thief a horse thief is both “bad hominem” and an accurate description of the person;
                  calling president donald trump a liar for his comments about having “lost” due to votes for immigrants is both an ad hominem and an accurate description of our president’s behavior and personality.

                  further, crying and whining about being subject to an ad hominem attack is a certain sign of a troll who is, at the very same time, operating to subvert the arguments at the website and the very post he is commenting at.

                  personally, i never cry ad hominem to a moderator. lefty (and anyone else) can call me a fool all he wants to, more the fool he :))

                • orionATL says:

                  rayne –

                  you are the undisputed computer champion here, but i think you are mistaken in yourcattribution of the comment “fool” posted at 11: 32pm to commenter “madchen vapid”.i believe it refers to me.

                  these matters can get complicated on the front end too. the only way i’ve found to trace back which prior comment a particular one of a long chain of comments refers to is to begin at the fartherest right comment(s) and trace the line just to the left of that comment up until it hits a prior comment. then take the comment(s) just to the left of that furtherest right comment and trace the line just to ITS left up until it hits another prior comment.

                  doing so in this case matches the comment “fool” with a prior comment from orionATL :)

                  somehow bmaz missed all this. maybe his attention hadn’t been drawn to it.

                  • Rayne says:

                    We know about the exchange. If we see this kind of thing happening again it will be dealt with. Bear with us. In the mean time, carry on, we have fresh fodder to ponder with Gates’ flippage.

  9. Rapier says:

    Well one thing about arguing that Flynn was or is lying. There’s a good chance your right, so like in this case throw it out there. Nobody is going to start screaming he’s George Washington.

  10. Trip says:

    Non-sequitur:

    Whenever Trump does the scripted speech of ’empathy’, he reminds me of a 4th grader reading a book report, written by his older brother (and the first time he set eyes on it), in front of the class.

    Also, my stupid theory: the stranger, more F-ed up Trump’s hair looks within a given day, the more trouble he is in.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Always reading a book report for a book he hasn’t read.  His acclaim for Martin Luther King, Jr, for example, which sounded as if he’d never heard of the man.  A seventy-one year old New Yorker.

      • Trip says:

        Yep. So unprepared. But he’s not good at faking human emotion either as it pertains to others’ pain or misfortune.

  11. maybe ryan says:

    Friendly advice – the writing in this piece is unnecessarily sinuous, making it difficult to follow the argument.

    The headline opens with snark before we even know what the subject is or why the assertion is absurd.  I started out thinking the piece was pointing in a different direction.  I am likely naïve.  But snark would be more effective after it’s established what you’re being snarky about.

    So perhaps partly because I’m dumb, I set out wrong-footed.  I next encountered the opening sentence.  Which has some sort of grammatical issue.  Something got edited out, or never typed, or a singular noun got converted to plural; or a plural verb to singular; or something.  That can happen.  No big deal.

    But that sentence is already such a whirlwind of clauses and parentheticals pointing in different directions that it takes several re-reads for a reader to verify her instinct that something is wrong.  I still don’t know what that sentence is trying to say.

    So I’ve read the headline and the lead, and I still don’t have even a basic idea of what we’re talking about, why it’s interesting, new or penetrating.

    By the next sentence, it seems clear we’re going to learn something important about Sen. Grassley and Graham.  They’ve been mentioned twice already!  Excellent.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  I don’t know precisely what dastardly deed they’re being accused of, but clearly we’ll learn more.

    Unfortunately, that too turns out to be a bit of misdirection.  Grassley and Graham have nothing to do with the topic at hand.  They’re just thrown in as a point of reference for another bit of snark, essentially, “hey, York is a jerk in the same way Grassley and Graham are jerks.”

    Honestly, even after a couple reads, I’m not sure how well MW has refuted York.

    I’m likely missing something.  I admit to being obtuse.  But I’m also much more aware of the issues than even many people who would take an interest and might arrive here at EW.

    This site is filled with extraordinary insights.  I think it’s worth re-reading the posts and editing them for clarity to make those insights more accessible.

  12. JAAG says:

    OT: Gates is definitely taking a plea, according to CNN article just posted.  He has had what they call a Queen for a day interview.  What a phrase.

  13. orionATL says:

    just a small tidbit that caught my eye:

    “…  In addition to instructions regarding the sanction calls with Kislyak, which were directed by KT McFarland,…” (from mar-a-largo. so guess who was the conductor directing that new opera, “russia and the u. s. are friends for life”.)

  14. orionATL says:

    it seems to me that from this final sentence of para 1

    “.. .To accompany the Grassley-Graham effort to obscure, the right wing is now seeing a conspiracy, best captured in this Byron York piece with follow-ups elsewhere, in Mike Flynn’s guilty plea…”

    thru the rest of her post, emptywheel has done something very interesting – maybe unique. she has caught and described in some detail the very birth of a republican propaganda piece designed to protect president trump. sprung fulll-grown at birth, this protective tale can now be tagged and followed throughout its life spinning slowly round the “rightwing media gyre” (a beautiful phrase which i attribute, i hope correctly, to psuedonymous in nc. if not please correct me)

    the motive to deploy this new myth is described here:

    “… [Flynn’s] lies appear to have hidden how broadly held the Russian discussions were within the transition team, not to mention that he was ordered to make the requests he did, possibly by people relaying orders from Trump, rather than doing them on his own… ”

    now that it has been observed and catalogued, we get to trace its progress over the next few weeks and moths. perhaps we wil discover that having been exposed to sunshine so early in life will stunt its growth.

  15. Bjorn Jensen says:

    Just flipped through online Internet news outlets and landed on CNN-
    Although this ( EW) is not a news site –
    Robert Mueller has just issued 13 indictments against Russian individuals/ operatives / organizations ( St Petersburg) – intel, humit, etc- an unexpected
    development- apparently mega bucks involved-

    Important to maintain a clear head, calm, as the information unfolds –

    Now will the ” Trump” fire Mueller?

    You couldn’t make this stuff up…

  16. Bjorn Jensen says:

    Certainly the team here will read the legal details –
    Will await the analysis – from the expert heads here-
    “Apparently” it is a detailed indictment –

    • Rayne says:

      Wray’s tied up with the Florida situation. Probably not wise to have him near this. And Rosenstein is technically Mueller’s oversight so…also makes it harder for Trump to fire Rosenstein who is now shoving this indictment in his face and showing him 1) there was Russian interference, and 2) Trump is ignoring criminal acts related to Russian interference.

  17. Bjorn Jensen says:

    Astonishingly Rod Rosenstein ( on the “Trump” hit list) is about to speak to explain RM’s conclusions …

  18. Bjorn Jensen says:

    So Associate AG Rachel Brand left for Walmart … Walmart ?

    What’s the connection here? Rosenstein has grown some ….

    When was the last time your heard this guy’s voice?

    Sadly, this release has usurped the Florida HS
    tragedy … any adjective as a discriptor to this recurring American nightmare is woefully inadequate – I’m so sorry to have put these opposing events in the same paragraph –

    The loss of all those beautiful young souls is all that really matters -that purity, hope and promise –

    The so called “consoler-in-chief” is empathetically vacuous –

    What more can be said ?

  19. wayoutwest says:

    @EW, reply button not working for me.

    I read the post and I saw a Byzantine presentation of assumptions based on opinions but lacking any real evidence. My comment was a simple reality check about what real crime is beginning to be exposed and the probability that Clintonites, once in high places, will be held to account for their actions.

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