Mueller Prepares to Reveal the First Cards in the Hack-and-Leak Conspiracy

For weeks, I’ve been having a persistent exchange with people, including editors. They say there’s no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russians. I say it wouldn’t be collusion anyway, but conspiracy. They say there’s no evidence of conspiracy either. Then I point to Rick Gates’ guilty plea on conspiracy to defraud the US. I note that Gates effectively pled guilty to hiding the fact that he and Paul Manafort were working for pro-Russian Ukrainians while pretending to be engaging in politics for independent reasons. My interlocutors always say, in spite of the fact that Mueller has always insisted this went through the election period, that that doesn’t have anything to do with the election.

Yesterday’s news that Rick Gates and Alex Van Der Zwaan believed that Konstantin Kilimnik, the Oleg Deripaska crony with whom they were engaging through the entire period Manafort and Gates were working on the Trump campaign, was a current or former Russian military intelligence agent, should put that canard to rest. As the government sentencing memo in Van Der Zwaan’s plea explains,

That Gates and Person A were directly communicating in September and October 2016 was pertinent to the investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel’s Office assess that Person A has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016. During his first interview with the Special Counsel’s Office, van der Zwaan admitted that he knew of that connection, stating that Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU.

Worse still, and less commented on in the coverage of this, at some point, Kilimnik actually worked for Manafort’s company!

Person A worked with Manafort and Gates in connection with their Ukraine lobbying work. Person A is a foreign national and was a close business colleague of Manafort and Gates. He worked in Ukraine at Manafort’s company Davis Manafort International, LLC (DMI).

So Manafort either still was or had employed a person that the FBI believes still works for the intelligence agency behind the hack-and-leak of Hillary Clinton’s emails (the same agency, as I keep pointing out, that Sergei Skripal shared secrets about with the Brits), and that’s one of the things Manafort and Gates were hiding all the way through their election work by not disclosing who they were really working for on the Ukrainian lobbying.

That seems like pretty significant evidence in the hack-and-leak conspiracy.

Still, commentators seem to miss some of what is going on with this disclosure, made to ensure that Van Der Zwaan gets prison time for actions that (as I’ll return to, probably next week) make Van Der Zwaan look far sketchier than even his plea does.

Mueller’s team (effectively, the same prosecutors who are prosecuting Manafort, with one junior prosecutor added) filed this sentencing memo on March 27. Last week, the same folks filed a request for extra time to respond to Manafort’s various challenges to his prosecution so far: a challenge to Mueller’s jurisdiction in this matter (arguing it’s outside the scope of what Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to do), as well as two challenges to the way he was charged. In their motion (which Manafort did not oppose), they asked for an extension from March 28 — yesterday — to April 2 for their response to Manafort’s challenge to Mueller’s authority, and two more days for the challenge to how he was charged. Significantly, they asked for the extension because 1) they were busy with other matters preparing this case for trial and 2) they needed to sit down with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to work out how they were going to respond to the challenge to Mueller’s authority.

Under that schedule, the government’s response to [the challenge to Mueller’s authority] would be due on April 2 and the government’s response to [the challenge to how he was charged] would be due on April 4, 2018. The additional time is needed because the government is preparing its responses while conducting other matters to prepare this case for trial and because one of the responses—involving the challenge to the Special Counsel’s authority to conduct this prosecution—requires the Special Counsel to coordinate closely with other interested components of the Department of Justice, including the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, who is the Acting Attorney General for this case.

Understand, while these are totally valid challenges in their own right, the special counsel challenge, especially, is unlikely to succeed, not least because of the strong precedent in the Scooter Libby case, so long as Mueller shows how Rosenstein approved his actions and agreed they were related to the hack-and-leak case. That said — and the real reason Manafort’s team challenged Mueller’s authority — by laying out how Manafort’s efforts to hide who he’s actually working for and the overwhelming debt that led Manafort to trade influence with Trump to obtain loans to stave off bankruptcy relate to the hack-and-leak and therefore legitimately arose out of that investigation, Mueller will have to disclose a significant part of his theory of the case.

Effectively, Manafort is doing this in significant part to understood how much Mueller understands about the conspiracy as it pertains to the hack-and-leak.

Manafort made a similar (and equally justifiable) demand yesterday for unredacted versions of the search warrants against him, again, to understand more about the investigation and case against him.

Manafort is likely doing this for two reasons. First, to weigh whether he wants to flip on Trump, while he still can. And relatedly, to reveal to Trump where Mueller is going, and how much it implicates things Trump and his family members have done. This is Manafort’s bid to change the momentum in this case, which is now all working against him. 

It has been clear for some time that Mueller has been trying to line up as many cooperating witnesses as he can and obtain evidence in the case in chief without revealing to Trump details that will make Trump do something rash, like firing Mueller and/or pardoning Manafort and all his spawn. Manafort has, unsurprisingly, employed various tactics to undermine Mueller’s ability to implement his timing strategy unchallenged. This one is a legitimate tactic bolstered by his trial schedule.

So faced with the deadline to lay out how the Ukrainian lobbying relates to Manafort’s involvement in the hack-and-leak, Mueller asked for a slight delay. One thing he did in that slight delay was reveal that he knows that Rick Gates knows that Konstanin Kilimnik — who was working with Gates to try to delay the disclosure of how Gates and Manafort had screwed over Ukraine before the election, and was trying to help Manafort spin his prosecution as recently as November — is or was part of the same intelligence agency behind the hack-and-leak conspiracy.

Surely Mueller’s team knew they were going reveal this detail in the sentencing memo, and the certainty that Mueller would provide such details may be why Manafort agreed to the delay.

Mueller just revealed that at the same time GRU was implementing a hack-and-leak campaign designed to hurt or defeat Ukrainian hawk Hillary Clinton, a current or former GRU official was also conspiring to prevent or delay (until after the election) full disclosure of how GRU and Russia conspired with Trump’s campaign manager and his deputy to tamper in Ukrainian affairs.

At the same time GRU was tampering in our election, GRU was conspiring with Trump’s campaign manager to hide how they had conspired to tamper in Ukrainian democracy as well.  

The other thing Mueller did with the delay is win one more day before the grand jury.

I’m vacationing in an undisclosed location right now, writing this while the spouse sleeps so he doesn’t accuse me of failing vacation, hoping to hell none of this breaks while I’m still supposed to be relaxing. But it seems like a whole lot is going to start breaking on Monday.

195 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Glad you could break vacay briefly for this.

    The vdZ sentencing hearing is April 3 (next Tuesday), which perhaps also provided the Weissman branch of Mueller’s team with room to seek that brief delay, since the motion splits the deadlines around it. But I think you’re right that if we get through the Easter weekend without the Idiot trying to pull the plug, next week is going to be very significant in terms of the broader case advancing in public.

    It still raises the question of whether Kilimnik expected his Gmail account to be siphoned up and provide the FBI with a nice corpus of emails to cross-reference with whatever other targets. The sentencing memorandum says that “Person A” sent emails asking to communicate via WhatsApp or Telegram, which suggests a certain degree of opsec but really not so much.

    • emptywheel says:

      No, not that much. I imagine for someone so obviously targetable like Kilimnik, 702 will give you WhatsApp prospectively. And NSA must laugh at Telegram’s weaknesses.

  2. Peterr says:

    Give up the vacation Marcy. There’s no chance this is going to sit quietly while you try to relax. Didn’t Bush ruin your vacation when he commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence? And didn’t another vacation implode when something was breaking on the US Attorney scandal with Rove, Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, and AGAG? Maybe you should just lay in a nice supply of good craft beer instead.

    But speaking of our old pal Scooter . . .

    I, too, have been thinking about the Libby case today, especially with all the talk of Trump conversations last summer about pardons for Manafort, Gates, the Trump family, and possibly even Trump himself. Scooter Libby’s commutation was a travesty that caught many off guard at the time, who were fixated on pardon/no pardon as the two options. I suspect that Trump might want to do something like this for Manafort, to preserve Manafort’s ability to plead the Fifth and remain silent, but so much would likely come out at trial that a commutation would be too little, too late to help Trump. Some of the legal hypothesizing has been pondering the issue of a president using the pardon power to cover up his own crimes. Generally speaking, they say this would be obstruction of justice and thus the pardons would be invalid, but being able to prove that a given pardon was to obstruct justice is a steep mountain to climb.

    The question I keep coming back to is not about Trump but Mueller: who on his dream team might be working on a brief to challenge a pardon issued to Manafort as illegal and evidence of obstruction of justice? Something tells me that we’re not going to be done with this whole mess without some serious appellate work around pardons.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Michael Dreeben, seconded from the Solicitor-General’s office, who has argued 100+ cases before the Supreme Court, and has reportedly spent time looking into the pardon power:

      Acting as Mueller’s top legal counsel, Dreeben has been researching past pardons and determining what, if any, limits exist, according to a person familiar with the matter. Dreeben’s broader brief is to make sure the special counsel’s prosecutorial moves are legally airtight.

      There’s a good chance that the broad ConFraudUS strategy is his as well.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I’d guess the pardons would be valid because the pardon power seems unlimited. That doesn’t mean that exercise of the pardon power for personal protection wouldn’t constitute a crime, and in this case, it might well be a crime. Maybe even in the ConFraudUS sense.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think that’s right.  The pardon power is broad, constitutionally based and with little restriction.  Despite what Trump’s defenders say, I think the argument is good that one could wield a lawful tool to further or commit a crime, making the manner with which it is exercised a crime.  The pardon itself would probably stand for its beneficiary.

        Among the cases Dreeben would be researching in depth, would be Lawrence Walsh’s Iran-Contra investigation.  He made a similar argument against then president and former CIA director, G.H.W. Bush, who pardoned six of the defendants, including former SecDef Caspar Weinberger. Owing to obstruction, not least by the CIA, Walsh had too few facts at his disposal to pursue.  I suspect that’s one reason Mueller has been so deliberate in obtaining a basketful of them.

    • JD12 says:

      being able to prove that a given pardon was to obstruct justice is a steep mountain to climb.

      Trump’s overall pattern of behavior makes a pretty strong case for it though, especially with the news that he actually gave the order to fire Mueller. Their use of the “president can’t obstruct” argument probably didn’t help, it’s basically an admission. Now nobody wants to represent him either. He’s a tough client obviously but some egomaniac would take the case if they thought it was winnable. Time will tell, and it’ll probably be precedent setting.

       

    • emptywheel says:

      One other point about the pardon discussion–those talks reportedly happened last summer. Mueller took some very obvious steps last summer to insulate his case from a pardon, including talking about crimes that could be charged in states, among other things. It’d be too late to do much good against Flynn with a pardon, and the same is (probably after Friday’s GJ) too late for Gates. Also, Manafort’s behavior suggests the pardon plan was to wait out charges — to stall until such time it became politically expedient for Trump to pardon. Especially given the Stormy Daniels stuff, it’s not clear that time will ever come. So even Manafort may realize that’s not a winning plan now. Plus, I think that may explain why Mueller hasn’t yet charged Manafort’s wife to get to him: because he wants to keep her unpardoned until he can charge her if Manafort gets off.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Back on January 30 you quoted a Howard Fineman piece saying Trump has “decided that a key witness in the Russia probe, Paul Manafort, isn’t going to “flip” and sell him out, friends and aides say.”

        Does that suggest that Trump and Manafort have already cut a deal? That would things have gone much further than Dowd’s reported offer last summer.  If that’s true – not sure if it makes sense – that would mean that Manafort’s part of the deal would be to wait as long as possible under house arrest so that Trump could keep his powder dry until necessary.

        Obviously not ideal for Manafort, due to the personal restrictions and mounting legal expenses during that time, but it would still be better than hoping for a miracle at trial, or risking that Mueller’s deal still incorporated several years in prison.

      • orionATL says:

        the presidential pardon is frequently described by legal eagles these days as being very “broad” with the implication of being virtually unassailable. i question that conventional wisdom.

        – the pardon power only applies to federal crimes.

        – the pardon power does not apply to to impeachment (so does that, of logical necessity, have also to apply to crimes that could lead to an impeachment decision by the house?)

        – the pardon only applies to (federal) crimes specified in the pardon (i’m less certain of this point, but ask it be carefully evaluated before being dismissed).

        – (i’m less certain still here, but it’s worth thinking carefully about) challenging a president for appling a pardon with the obvious intent of helping a political ally or a witness to his criminalty might get by district, appelate, or supreme courts, but could be easily made into a potential or devastating political weapon. two republican presidents have engaged in this behavior – gerald ford (who publicly declared his conscience was clear from pardoning nixon) and george h. w. bush who, on christmas eve, pardoned the iran-contra criminals, especially secdef casper weinberger. weinberger, as i recall, had taken good notes that would have sunk g.h.w. and himself.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          the pardon only applies to (federal) crimes specified in the pardon

          The Ford pardon of Nixon was for “all offenses against the United States” during the presidency.

          Manafort has been indicted on tax fraud and bank fraud. That trial is set to take place (thanks to EDVA’s rocket docket) before the FARA and money laundering trial in DC. Pardoning someone for stiffing the IRS is entirely within the Idiot’s power, but it’s going to draw attention to somebody else whose taxes are an issue.

        • David Sanger says:

          With respect to pardons for tax evasion, a quick Google search shows that Obama pardoned at least two people convicted of tax evasion, baseball Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey and Studio 54 owner Ian Schrager. Both had been convicted years before and paid their fines.

          It would seem if Trump pardons Manafort he’d still be on the hook for payment of all the back taxes. Pardoning the crime of not-paying does not  seem to make the tax liability go away.

      • Avattoir says:

        “until he can charge her if Manafort gets off.”

        Or, post-conviction, pre-sentencing, no pardon having been granted, should Paulie Manyrugs still not flip, as the OSC’s last opportunity to exercise leverage on him?

  3. cde says:

    I want to ask about one phrase: the “hack-and-leak of Hillary Clinton’s emails.” As I remember, the hack-and-leaks were of DNC and Podesta emails, not HRC’s (even though Trump publicly called for that, I don’t recall it happening.) Did I miss some event, or are you referring to the DNC and Podesta emails?

    • Mutaman says:

      Same question. I always thought one of the absurd things about the idiotic email scandal was that HRC was the only one who wasn’t being hacked.

  4. dw says:

    I’m slightly surprised to see that Mueller’s alleged overstepping of his appointment order is even justiciable. Clearly, the crimes in the Manafort indictment are matters within the jurisdiction of the United States: is it really any of Manafort’s business that it is Mueller (and not some other DOJ prosecutor) who is leading the investigation?

  5. Desider says:

    Yes, I would assume it
    a) means hacking Team Hillary/Dem emails
    b) is convenient code /meme that was successfully snuck in to further the notion that she had batches of important security info on that home server that got leaked out to the masses or enemy – a curious idea as many of the same people don’t seem to care about conspiracy with the enemy and direct leaks of allies’ top secret info to that enemy along with backdoors designed to circumvent restrictions on working with the enemy. But standard fare State Dept memos from 5-8 years ago still give them a big thrill.

  6. DMM says:

    @cde: I think that’s still a matter of some question exactly which sets of emails are being discussed, not just here, but in Mueller’s investigations. It’s been pointed out several times that it’s unclear from the investigation documents, though many assume it’s the DNC and Podesta emails. Marcy pointed out in one of her posts that Roger Stone indicated he thought a forthcoming tranche of emails from Wikileaks were Clinton server emails, not Podesta emails.

    @Desider: it could have been an attempt to get emails from HC’s server that were non-State related, i.e. those that pertained to the Foundation or were personal.

    • emptywheel says:

      Let me put it differently. There are far more sets of emails floating about than just DNC and Podesta, as I lay out here. The thing is, it doesn’t matter which specific group of emails we’re talking, because the public record shows that GRU hacked the DNC and Podesta, and that Trump people reached out to GRU-connected figures (including Guccifer 2.0) in hopes of finding the other ones.

      Given that the released emails weren’t earth shattering in any case, and that the Russians likely have emails that are of more interest, to them at least, that weren’t released, the hack-and-leak operation is better thought of as a shiny object to serve a narrative that the Russians had to do very little to seed.

  7. Trip says:

    Thank you, Marcy. If something breaks, hidden in the late evening cover of Good Friday, I will be summoning your spirit from across all of the lands and seas to write about it. (I think I may have to go buy sage and a lighter, or something, not sure.)

    • Trip says:

      @Willis, Hasn’t Assange been given “time outs” before, for “acting up”? I don’t think this is as significant as people make it out to be, at least not yet. As a condition of his stay, he supposedly agreed not to broach certain subjects, so the penalty of being cut off from the net doesn’t really register as extreme, especially since it has been done before. I’m not going to argue whether or not he should have been cut off.

      • Willis Warren says:

        he has, but this time the Ecuadorian gov’t sounds scared of the English and is threatening to kick him out.  Obviously, the Skripal murders are a factor, but I imagine some US pressure is a work, too

      • orionATL says:

        the equadorian gov has changed hands and is no longer in the hands of assange’s presidential patron, rafael correa.

        assange, embittered fool he has become from years of incarceration, would do well to consider president lenin’s comment that assange is “an inherited problem”. this assumes assange is not deliberately forcing equador to oust him out of loss of confidence in british legal system and frustration with his imprisonment. he might want to give some consideration what years in florence, colo max security prison in the “no communications” section of that institution would be like.

        on the other hand, he may be setting things up for a presidential pardon from guess who.

        • Trip says:

          Unless Assange is in the possession of serious blackmail material, I really don’t see a Trump pardon. He won’t stick his neck out for anyone. That requires somehow protecting himself; something in it for him.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            What idiot or his lawyer would rely on a Trump promise to do anything?  How many decades of breaking commitments does this guy have to have before people stop believing he will do anything but protect and enrich himself?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Searching threads, finally re-found.

      http://www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/jammers-stop-assange-from-using-internet/news-story/5cc77e330049cd9083da66f648c4cab6

      Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said the WikiLeaks founder must stop tweeting about the Catalan issue.

      He was also asked to erase a tweet which said: “In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia, Lluis Companys, was captured by the Gestapo, at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today, German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the request of Spain, to be extradited.

      Assange did not erase the tweet.

      [Tuff to delete wo net]

      • bmaz says:

        So, you have no answer do you?  This is a very long standing community, not your personal walk in johnny come lately playground.

        • bmaz says:

          You, SLF, relentlessly interject “OT” baloney, and now, lately, have hit us with ignorant allegations about our digital security, what is next from your insidious ass?

          • bmaz says:

            Dear SLF: Listen you malcontent that thinks you run this blog, take your bunk and go away. The next time you come with that crap you tried to post, you will be gone. Again.

  8. Palli says:

    Please excuse this rudimentary intrusion, once again, into this learned site but as I was trying to remember & comprehend all this, I found this article for general background:
    https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/22758-meet-the-americans-who-put-together-the-coup-in-kiev
    1) Would anyone have time to comment if this is a good basic source for general catch up…
    2) Is Ukraine a reason HRC quit the SoS in early 2013 to more easily concentrate on CF’s “private” anti-soviet relations?

    Context: I’m just a progressive artist unable to imagine any reason for the meddling of powerful people, that’s why I try to keep up with emptywheel when I have the energy… (We have close artist friends who are 2nd generation Ukrainian and other than never saying ‘the’ I never appreciated the inner turmoil of their homeland.)

    • Desider says:

      1) No – any site that starts quoting Ray McGovern in the 2nd sentence is quite bonkers loony tunes.

      2) No – Occam would tell you HRC stepped down at the end of Obama’s term to focus on running for prez and detaching from the prior administration.

      3) (bonus) any quote mentioning Victoria Nuland’s now so overreferenced “Fuck the EU” is a giveaway that whoever’s writing the nonsense isn’t interested in discussing seriously.

    • Watson says:

      @Palli – Ukraine:

      Ukraine 2014 began as a battle among its oligarchs; it was also an ethnic conflict.

      Russia’s annexation of Crimea violated Ukrainian law, but not necessarily international law (self-determination).

      Crimea’s secession was in direct response to a 2014 CIA-sponsored coup on Russia’s strategic doorstep. The foot soldiers of that coup were violent ultra-nationalist Ukrainians who targeted ethnic Russians, most of whom are concentrated in SE Ukraine and Crimea, Crimea being the home of many ethnic Russian pensioners.

      The secession followed a referendum whose announced result was 96% in favor of integration with Russia. There were no shots fired, no casualties, and no subsequent unrest. (Compare US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.)

      Imagine the US reaction if Russia had installed an anti-American government in Panama or Mexico. Actually, we don’t have to imagine what would have happened. It more-or-less already happened, and it was called the Cuban missile crisis.

      • Desider says:

        Really? is this the blog for this kind of nonsense? just to highlight 1 absurdity, a quick post-facto “referendum” to justify an invasion is hardly fitting international norms. Anyway, this crackpot bot-driven propaganda stuff sucks – back to #Russiagate and lawyering. Moderators??!!?

      • greengiant says:

        No shots fired?   Inserting lies into comments is a prima facie agitprop attempt to hijack a discussion. Up your game.

        • Watson says:

          @ greengiant

          * There were plenty of shots fired in Lugansk and Donetsk in SE Ukraine. Not so in Crimea. The ‘Donbass’ is now the site of a ‘frozen conflict’ which threatens to go hot at any moment. Russia has provided substantial logistical and personnel support to the ethnic Russian separatists there. If you want an unfavorable comparison for 2014 Crimea, it might be the 1938 Nazi anschluss in Austria, although ethnic Germans were not being threatened in Austria.

          * Hijack the discussion? My comment was in response to an earlier comment which asked about an article on the ‘coup in Kiev’. The original post is largely about former Ukrainian employees Gates and Manafort, and it uses the words ‘Ukraine’ or ‘Ukrainian’ nine times.

          • greengiant says:

            Google “shots fired Crimea”.   So I get you.  If Putin’s men in green do the shooting,  and Ukranians die it is “no shots fired”

            • Watson says:

              @ greengiant 3:44 pm

              OK, *virtually* no shots fired.
               
              Ukraine had become extremely polarized ethnically by the coup. The evidence is that the overwhelming majority of the 2M+ Crimeans (85% of whom are ethnic Russian) wanted to secede.
               
              For reasons of geo-politics (not least its naval base in Sevastopol) and ethnic solidarity, Russia facilitated the secession, but did not coerce the population. Again, compare Iraq and Afghanistan as to the amount of violence and the apparent consent of the ‘occupied’.
               
              The Russians’ primary use of force in Crimea was the presentation of an ultimatum by the ‘men in green’ (= RU special forces) to the personnel of a Ukrainian military base who subsequently withdrew without firing shots.

              • Desider says:

                For fuck’s sake, they’re not ethnically different – they just speak a different language (ok, in the west moderate diff between polish/lithuanian/ukrainian roots; in east there’s zero).
                Get your factless propaganda out of here.

                • matt says:

                  Please learn something about the complex history of Eastern Europe and recent current events in Ukraine… once you have handle on that take issue on any given point made by the comment that you disagree with.

                  Your view belying  ethnic diversity in Ukraine is odd, because that was Putin’s pretext for annexation of Crimea.

                  • Rayne says:

                    Your view ignoring the role social media has played in Crimea and Ukraine is also odd since Putin may well have constructed social pretext.

                    Especially since this site has been looking at the use of social media by foreign and domestic agents to construct pretext for electing Trump and the gradual elimination of NATO’s most powerful member.

                  • Desider says:

                    @Watson @Matt Perhaps we should fucking characterise it as “the majority of people in a developing democracy that was for many years a colony” vs. “the totalitarian-backed minority from said imperialists who don’t want to let go”. Ukrainians form 57-58% of those in Donbas, Donabas is *less than 10%* of the country’s population, and it’s not like this situation hasn’t been largely driven by Putin with Yanukovich rigging elections and Yanukovich pushing towards renewing a Soviet-like future while the majority of the people were interested in being like other new aspirants to the European Union where East Europe has done quite well. But like most abductors, Russia isn’t easily willing to let go, even smugly stealing Crimea back while making up bullshit about “little green men”.

                    In any case, this isn’t how international law is supposed to be done, and however much you make up bullshit about how violent the Kiev government is (have you assholes noted what actual violent governments act like in Syria and elsewhere where hundreds of thousands get killed and many more go into exile and scrape for survival? so cut the “brownshirt” bullshit – no one’s buying. it`s been several years now, no sign of gas ovens et al.)

          • matt says:

            @Watson brings up the uncomfortable fact that the Hilary State Dept, the CIA, Western NGO’s and  NATO were all maneuvering in Ukraine to expand influence and profit from oil/gas since 2008- and in other Eastern European countries since the late 90’s.  Worse than usurping energy interests (like Biden and Kerry’s sons), was the military installation of “said” missile defense systems in Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary) to possibly include plans for nuclear sites even closer to Russia that are already in place in Western Europe.

            This violated agreements made in the 90’s not to expand NATO into Eastern Europe- to refresh your history see this LA times article.

            God’s honest truth is that the World Powers, be it UK, EU, NATO, the US, or Israel all have blood on their hands when it comes to extreme resource dominance and militaristic aggression.  Putin’s no saint, but why should we expect him to be in light of “our” nefarious actions in “his” backyard.  Some have compared the violation of post Cold War agreements to a “reverse Cuban Missile Crisis” for Russia.

            Putin has been responding to our aggression, and our meddling… but, before anyone here at EW gets on their high horse, I’m no Russophile.  I’m just sick and tired of American Exceptionalism- where Americans go to bed at night thinking, “yea, I’m the good guy.” Russia’s a turd shit- backwater nation with a GDP half of California.  But watch… the exceptional Americans will be forced to defend the world against another evil demon of Freedom and Democracy.

            Orrah!

            • Rayne says:

              “I’m no Russophile.” Sure.

              At one point in the not-too-distant past, 80% of Europe’s natural gas supply traveled from Russia through pipelines across Ukraine. It was surely coincidence that Russia would shut down its end of the pipeline during winter when gas was needed most for holiday cooking and home heating in both Ukraine and Europe.

              • matt says:

                To be sure, oligarchs, pundits, and corporate interests aligned with Russia or aligned with the West have all had dirty dealings in Ukraine- that is the central issue gas and pipelines- and who’s gonna control em.’  I suppose I’m a pragmatist- I just don’t see one side better than the other.  America’s ravenous oil appetite has taken us to the far reaches of the globe, and our subversive political actions to acquire control in Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and even in our own country (Standing Rock) has been disastrous for local populations.  I just don’t believe the lie that we’re gonna do it better than Putin for the Ukrainians.

                If Americans would just look back to who started these global messes* in the news, they’d see a big American Flag in the mirror.   Instead, we choose to demonize the current despot or the blame the quagmire we created on someone else.

                *Ukraine, N. Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, etc.

                • Rayne says:

                  Don’t conflate U.S.’ excess reliance on fossil fuels with the situation in Ukraine. We don’t use Russian oil and gas piped through Ukraine nor need it; however, we’ve been obligated as members of NATO to defend NATO members and cutting off fuel to the EU is both an economic and humanitarian attack.

                  I also note you have zero issues with Putin’s criminality which siphons off fossil fuel wealth due the Russian people while preventing any approximation of democracy. It’s just American’s government with which you take issue while you claim “I just don’t see one side better than the other.”

  9. Rapier says:

    Firing Muller and ending the SC are two different things. The latter would be the goal and just firing Muller would not accomplish that would it? It would take some amazingly partisan and hacktacular moves by Rosenstein and Sessions or God forbid their successors and maybe the courts themselves to shut the whole SC process down I would think.

  10. klynn says:

    Marcy,

    I think a timeline would be great about now…the one determination to make would be: what year does it start? May need to reverse engineer the timeline. I follow a few timelines now that are pretty good but they miss the “language of logic” to explain connections that are in the timeline. Can you imagine Mueller’s timeline team?

    Have a great vacation. BTW, as I recall, big stories breaking while you are on vacation seems to be a pattern!

  11. Frank Probst says:

    Just so I’m clear on one point:  Even though Alex Van Der Zwaan has pleaded out (i.e., pleaded guilty to less than he would have been charged with if he went to trial), he is NOT a co-operating witness, correct?  That sentencing memo pretty much buries him. It looks like they’re saying that the government should toss him into prison even though his wife’s pregnant.  I had been assuming that he was co-operating.  Now it’s looking like he’ll do his time (if any) and then live happily ever after on Russian money from his in-laws.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Well, sent to prison but for a short enough time that he could be home to greet the new baby in August 2018.  Less than six months.  But as lots of people in the streets scare politicians into doing things their donors would rather they not do, a little time in an American federal prison would adequately intimidate a white shoe lawyer from a magic circle firm in London.  The incarceration would make it even less likely he would keep his license to practice.  As did John Dean, he’s likely to find another career, especially if his wife and her dad stand by him.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Mueller probably doesn’t need anything from vdZ, given that Gates is cooperating and investigators got hold of the information he withheld through other sources. The time to be forthcoming was when he was covering shit up. A few months in the federal pen is pour encourager les autres, especially lawyers of means.

        The Weissman branch of the investigation has been pretty aggressive in going after lawyers who crossed ethical and legal lines on behalf of Manafort and Gates.

        • Avattoir says:

          Plus Mueller has a nice, clean cut Boy Scout witness in the form of Greg <–> Craig to articulate the main part of the chapter that needs to be told out of that opinion factory. And Craig/Greg can, on behalf of the partnership, evoke shock, shock they all say (now), over finding out the true facts.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It seems vital to pursue Manafort’s sources and uses of funds for the election period.  He’s not the sort and almost certainly could not have afforded to work for Trump’s campaign for free.  He could not have waited for some sort of payback from a post-election Trump, which would have been non-monetary anyway.  He needed a lot of cash.

    His normal rates were eye-popping.  Anyone funding him was making a campaign contribution.  Hard to do legally, impossible to do if those funding him were foreign.  Hard to prove, but might disclose more illegal foreign involvement, demonstrate the fraud against the US, and it’s one more potential crime for Manafort, Gates, and ultimately, Trump, as well as for whomever provided the funding.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I slightly disagree here. The dodgy loans featured in the EDVA charges — especially the sequence of failed applications based on doctored statements — suggest that he was scrambling around for a year’s worth of laundered liquidity, perhaps two years at the most, and willing to doctor statements and perhaps make other promises to get fast cash. The implication from the EDVA indictments is that Manafort didn’t have his old sources of funding available in 2016.

      That doesn’t account for how he was going to pay back those loans or settle things up with Deripaska, of course, but that was all TK TK TK. And I’m curious to know how Kevin Downing’s getting paid.

      • Markus says:

        From February 2018:  Manafort’s suspicious financial transactions: “Wachovia officials also flagged $25,000 in “fraudulent charges” at Duane Reade stores in New York City in September 2007. Bank officials said the debit card was in Manafort’s possession during that time.”  Thank BuzzFeed and the Palmer Report for this.  

        It shows the man will do anything for funds when his normal flows are watched or cut off. How bad a businessman does he have to be to stay in dire financial condition for what appears to be decades on end.

        I hope I live long enough to read the 1,500 page book that details all of what went on in 2016/17 with Trumpski and the vast conspiracy that put him in office.

        • joejoejoe says:

          It’s funny but it is things like the Duane Reade fraud that will sway public opinion. Duane Reade stores are the NY/NJ version of Walgreens. There is a story about what you can buy at a Duane Reade for $25K in NorthJersey.com:

          How does one spend $25,000 at a drug store in one month? Pricey prescriptions are one possibility, but one can’t help but wonder how many pounds of M&Ms that would equal (it’s more than 5,400 pounds, by the way).”

          10,917 Chapsticks, 60,000 rolls of toilet paper, 5,827 bottles of Pepto-Bismol. And so it goes. It’s pretty plain that you are not honest when you running these kind of transactions through your corner drug store.

           

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As was pointed out on a tweet, Don McGahn, as White House counsel, is responsible for pardon reviews and recommendations.

    John Dowd was Trump’s personal lawyer, and formally outside that loop.  But it was Dowd who supposedly shopped the pardons-as-reward idea, in the manner of Henry II, asking rhetorically who would rid him of his turbulent priest (Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, assassinated the next day).  Dowd’s wielding it makes the pardon part of Trump’s personal legal defense, which quickly takes us into obstruction territory.

    The Becket analogy is even more interesting (not that Trump could hold a candle to a horse young Henry rode in on), in that it captures the monarchical Trump.  Simon Schama‘s translation of Henry’s lament:

    “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?”

    Robert Mueller, low-born cleric.

    • Peterr says:

      I don’t know how many pardon applications McGahn has reviewed, but per wiki, Trump’s granted only 2, plus a commutation:

      Republican President Donald Trump has pardoned two people and commuted one person’s sentence as of March 9, 2018:

      • Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, was convicted of contempt of court and was awaiting sentencing. Pardoned on August 25, 2017.[36]
      • Sholom Rubashkin, sentenced to 27 years in prison for bank fraud. Commuted on December 20, 2017.[37]
      • Kristian Saucier, convicted of unauthorized possession and retention of national defense information. Pardoned on March 9, 2018.[38]

      (Internal links omitted)

      Arpaio we know, and this was nothing but Trump supporting a border wall authoritarian ally. From the BBC, after the pardon was issued:

      President Trump tried to have the case dropped months ago, US media say.

      He asked both Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, and Donald F McGahn II, the White House counsel, what the options were for helping Mr Arpaio, a longtime Trump supporter, the New York Times says, quoting unnamed officials.

      Mr McGahn and Mr Sessions both promptly told the president the case could not be dropped and the charges wiped away, according to the officials, speaking anonymously.

      “After talking with Sessions, Trump decided to let the case go to trial, and if Arpaio was convicted, he could grant clemency,” a Washington Post story says.

      (Internal links omitted)

      Rubashkin’s commutation, per wiki, was supported by a bipartisan group of members of Congress and the broader legal community, including Orrin Hatch and Nancy Pelosi, who viewed the sentence as excessive for a first offense. (He served 8 years of a 27 year sentence.)

      Saucier, at his sentencing, argued for leniency, noting that he was convicted of far less than Hillary Clinton was clearly guilty of with respect to her emails. His argument failed to sway the judge, but it sure as hell swayed Trump.

      So what we’ve got here are three uses of the clemency powers. The two pardons are clearly political in nature, and the commutation was granted on Dec 20, 2017 at the request of various members of Congress, just as Trump was trying to corral votes for his tax cut. I suspect, but have no direct knowledge, that this was on the wish list of someone whose vote Trump needed, and once the vote was final, the commutation was issued.

      Looking at these three, my WAG is that McGahn had little to no role in reviewing these acts of clemency, except after the fact (“put together the right language to make these happen”). Similarly, the pattern here would support the notion of Dowd talking with the legal folks for Manafort & Gates, because that seems to be how Trump rolls. For Trump, it seems that clemency orders are for making political points and/or making political deals.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Three cases don’t seem enough to make a valid pattern.  Misusing a personal attorney for public business may be how Trump mismanages his presidency, but that still seems to make it personal, not business.

        • Peterr says:

          Agreed on the limited number of data points – thus the repeated “seems” in my comment.

          But when all three data points line up in the same direction, it is suggestive of a general approach to Trump’s clemency powers and the lawyers that ostensibly review and recommend how they be used, especially when it lines up with Trump’s overall style of governing that boils down to repeatedly asking “What can you do for me?” and/or “How have you made me look good?”.

          Kind of reminds me of Rod “I’ve got this thing, and it’s fcking golden” Blagojevich, now that I think about it.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Fair points.  Certainly consistent with Trump’s behavior.  Sometimes he stovepipes, sometimes he blabs to anyone at his dinner table, but it’s always that the world owes him reassurance of his greatness.  One or two Roman emperors had similar personality problems.

  14. TheraP says:

    Two Metaphors and In Praise of Marcy Wheeler:

    We (collectively) are operating on Two Chessboards (simultaneously).

    Chessboard A is the “Conspiracy to Defraud” the US. A historical chess game, where we seek to understand the layout of pieces from move to move. The strategies of the players. (It’s more like 3 dimensional chess with multiple players.) And like any mystery, we’re trying to solve it ex post facto.

    Chessboard B is the Nutcracker Suite / Nutcracker Sweet! The ongoing chess game of the good guys against the bad guys. Mueller directly after them. The rest of us, viewers and players as well, doggedly pursuing leads, parsing them, writing, analyzing. While the other side seeks to defeat us. It’s a fascinating game. But it’s also our Reality and it’s chess game with life and death consequences. For us. For our Republic.

    Marcy Wheeler is one stupendously amazing lady! Capable of playing, doggedly, brilliantly, on Chessboard B, while astutely analyzing – even better than editors – Chessboard A. I’ve written before about her allegiance to the Truth and her pursuit of the Ethical in addition to the Veridical. That’s what sets her apart. She’s not after fame, though she has it. She’s after Truth. And willing to pay a price for it – because she’s not after money or power. (Those are assumptions I’m making. But I think I’m on firm grounding making them.). She’s giving us the “play by play” on both Chessboards. Simultaneously. (I can hardly follow all this. But I’m gob-smacked!)

    She’s doesn’t need my saying this. But it needs to be said.

    I’m writing this as my spouse sleeps. As he does more and more of the time. (It’s easier for him to breathe lying down. Asleep. With his Cpap assisting & O2 – 24/7)

    Enjoy those vacations, Marcy! Because you don’t know how much precious time you two have together. Thanks for everything!!!! (And to him too.)

    • pdaly says:

      Nice metaphors, TheraP.
      I’ve mentioned before that Marcy is like an expert climber, scaling seeming sheer cliffs of ice and then consistently tossing us a rope to keep up.

      It sounds from your other comment that your husband’s breathing is getting progressively worse if he requires supplemental oxygen 24/7. You are always a comforting presence on this site and I can imagine you provide great comfort to him. My thoughts are with you.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Problem is, chessboard A is operating with two queens.

      To defeat, we need at least four knights, a bishop, and either a rook or two pawns.

  15. david_l says:

    Marcy,
    Thanks for this.

    I would really like to see your analysis of Manafort’s illegal “WITCH HUNT!” argument in his ED VA motion (link below) which seems very like the one Dershowitz makes based on 1) no credible evidence of a crime/probable cause in the first place to justify this SC with the SC’s specific Charge as given in Rosenstein’s authorization document, 2) an overly broad Charge (especially matters arising), 3) reachback to indict on already DOJ-disposed Manafort issues from years back that have no bearing on the 2016 election, 4) no evidence that Mueller asked Rosenstein for broader authority (I assume the motion was made to force disclosure of this, which I assume exists), and 5) inclusion of the protective “can’t be fired unless he does something illegal or really bad” reg.

    Also they seem to have carefully avoided bringing up the “links” part of “any links and/or coordination” piece of the (b) (i) SC Charge document for what I think are obvious reasons but I’d appreciate your take.

    I had the feeling that aside from tactical moves to force disclosure they want this to go to SCOTUS, that someone with deep pockets is paying for it, and they (deep pockets) want to get an injunction at SCOTUS to suspend the SC investigation and prosecutions/sentencings until all the pieces are adjudicated, hoping that, at worst, this puts them past the midterms and, at best, gives them a nuke to prevent a blue wave and completely take over the House and Senate. And of course to keep them all out of prison.

    Apparently Mueller’s response is coming next week to the ED VA Manafort Dismiss (as you note) and I assume there will be a delay, ruling, and appeals. How do you think that will play out?

    Thoughts?
    Thanks.

    https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4424746/EDVA-Motion-to-Dismiss.pdf

    • emptywheel says:

      I’ll try to take a look when I’m done vacationing. My guess, though, is that they’re trying to use the dual venue thing to get a second bite at the special counsel apple, as one advantage of a new circuit. It probably doesn’t stand a chance, and will look silly as Mueller reveals more of where he’s heading. But it’s cost free (except in legal fees) for Manafort in that 1) it’s a good delay tactic until Trump brings the expected pardon and 2) it forces Mueller to reveal more of his hand.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Maybe relevant. Note ‘natsec’.

      https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/29/politics/who-is-john-huber/index.html

      Since then, Huber has taken on a leadership role on Sessions’ advisory committee of US attorneys that provide counsel to him and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

      Before becoming Utah’s top federal prosecutor, Huber clocked in 13 years as an assistant US attorney with experience handling violent crime and national security cases, according to his official biography.

      • harpie says:

        More about Huber:
        Matthew Miller‏@matthewamiller: [quote] He also held a highly inappropriate press briefing from the WH podium last year, something I’ve never heard of a US attorney doing before. A bit troubling. / For more on Huber’s appearance at the WH podium and why it was a troubling sign, read @johnson_carrie’s piece from last year: [NPR link] [end quote]

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Probably a good time to mention that Marcy’s invaluable work is paid for by readers and friends.

    Imagine how much less we would know – and how much less fun we have coming to know it – if all we had was All the News That’s Fit to Print.

    • orionATL says:

      and the tedious, verbally challenged headline writers who first direct our eyes to this or that bit of “fit to print”.

      and the tedious editors, endlessly cadging respect for their journalistic professionalism by editing the vital moral content or evidence of a powerful subject’s incompetence or bias out of a reporter’s work.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Times does seem marvelously willing to defer to the executive when it finds embarrassing tidbits.  And as you say, editorial choices exaggerate or misdirect.  Obliterating necessary context is another pet peeve, which makes an important story or topic too bland to read.  All in service to manufacturing consent.

      I don’t find any of that here.  I find a refreshing frankness with the context and analysis necessary to digest it.  A potty mouth with a big brain and a lot of heart.  Works for me.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        To demonstrate, HuffPost writes about a senior editor at the WSJ, who apparently tried to pull a graphic from a story, then the story, because he found it “not politically palatable.” The editor was apparently the editor-in-chief, and the “problem” was a story on how little has changed on Wall Street ten years after its excesses gave us the Great Recession. The piece focused too much, he complained, on “social/political” issues.

        The editor was basically telling his staff not to give readers sufficient context, but to give them “just the facts”. Sorting out what they mean is the reader’s problem:

        “Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?”

        It seems probable the editor was more concerned about complaints from his pals on Wall Street, who didn’t want to hear criticism from what they regard as their house organ. Different problem entirely. One we don’t have here.

        • TheraP says:

          Self-censorship is insidious! Dangerous! Makes for bad precedents. It’s like the child who is abused and comes to act in a complicit way. It normalizes wrong-doing. It’s how dictatorships thrive.

    • JAAG says:

      The MSM really owe EW way more in the way of shout outs for leads.  NYT and WAPO, do you donate?

       

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes, I find it frustrating as a reader that, say, Wittes happily has a well-paid gig with Brookings and Harvard while Marcy is apparently getting paid piece work.  I’m glad she has the independence, but we need a better foundation for independent journalism.

        • Trip says:

          The old expression “It’s not what you know, but who you know” seems appropriate. I have nothing against Wittes, he seems like a decent-enough guy. But his rise to stardom had everything to do with his association with Comey. Or, at least, I was unaware of him until that point.

  17. harpie says:

    Possibly related?: Zoe Tillman‏@ZoeTillman 

     

    Update on the special counsel case against Richard Pinedo, who pleaded guilty to identity fraud and who ran a company that appeared to be tied to the Russian troll farm case — prosecutors asking to delay sentencing another two months (his plea deal incl. a cooperation agreement)

     

  18. david_l says:

    Marcy,
    Thanks.

    The reason I take the Manafort ED VA (and DC) Dismissal motion seriously and am trying to understand it – and especially its implications – is that Manafort’s argument follows Dershowitz’s closely and Dershowitz is no fool.

    Dershowitz’s position – not unreasonable and perhaps even right – is that after the Special Prosecutor mechanism was allowed to expire and was replaced with the SC mechanism, it doesn’t fix the problems of probable cause or WITCH HUNT!.

    Apart from the issue of probable cause in this SC investigation, Dershowitz says 1) SCs, just like SPs, are graded on whether or not they find crimes so are motivated to find anything illegal (such as lying to the FBI) and 2) the right forum for this kind of investigation is a nonpartisan, publicly visible, Special Commission (like Challenger; 9/11; etc.) with spin-off prosecutions if crimes are found.

    Dershowitz’s overarching position is that the secretive SC mechanism could be/can be/is used as a political tool of retribution, that it is intrinsically dangerous to civil rights, and that just because we hate Trump, and Trump is obviously a crook and is working against the interests of the US, we should not use a political vengeance tool to go after him because it is one more slip on the slippery slope to political witch hunts like “Lock Her Up”.

    I think that’s a compelling civil rights argument based in the due process and equal treatment parts of the Constitution so I was interested in your assessment of the Constitutional issues, the probable disposition by the ED VA (and DC) Courts, whether Manafort could get it to SCOTUS on appeal if he loses in ED VA or DC and, if so when and what are they likely to do e.g., refuse to hear it, or hear it and rule narrowly, or take it on as a civil rights/due process case and settle the issue once and for all.

    And of course what Mueller’s initial response might/could/should be…

    Thanks much!

    • Avattoir says:

      … bearing in mind, of course, that Ms. Wheeler is not a lawyer (let alone constitutional scholar), but rather a sleuth.

      The post that prompts this thread is a great example of her sleuthing skills at work. What’s she done is link up a bunch of the many facts and factors that might bear on the meaning underlying a few court filings – Mueller’s communication form – turning them into a chain of reasoning. Reason chains can be dangerous things left to the ungifted, but Ms. Wheeler isn’t among those many.

      An example is the several times she refers to the technical steps that Team Manafort has undertaken here as not just legal, or even that plus comprehensible, but justified (in Manafort’s circumstances). What’s looming before Manafort is Team Mueller’s overarching theory of ConFraudUs. He and his attorneys can plainly see that from the treatment of Gates, AOT.

      Now if I were in the position of Manafort’s attorneys, and my client’s instructions were to defend, I’d make it a priority to determine the government prosecution’s theory with as much precision and particularity as possible, the more narrow and delimited the better. And that’s quite apart from the peculiar circumstances here where my client is being treated as if he’s the key to unlocking the door to Mister Big. Why? Because the government may well then proceed to succeed in making out to the jury “a” case against me, or several of them, but not “THE” case that gets after who’s behind that door they want opened – and in the attempt at the latter, the prosecution may well fail to convince the jury of some more modest crime(s) that the evidence and law conspire to make me guilty.

      This isn’t fanciful. I can’t say exactly how many cases referred to me as ‘hopeless’, or where staff working up the case file have reported their views that the client was ‘cooked’, but once we tooled up and got down to the actual lawyering, eventually acquittals resulted. Dozens, anyway.

      In short, quite apart from ConFraudUS and nailing Spanky, I see at least potential benefits flowing to Manafort from these motions, just on the charges he will face at trial. And what our host does is consider the writhing mass of hints and allegations and sleuth out the practical implications, all without a law degree.

      It’s freaking impressive, is what it is. But she’s still not a constitutional scholar.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Hers seems a more reliable take on legal issues than, say, Benjamin Wittes.  His bio lists him as a graduate of Oberlin, no law degree.  He’s a journalist writing about national security, governance and the law for Brookings, and co-chairs a legal project with Harvard.

        I find Marcy a more reliable resource, with considerably more training in writing, argument and rhetoric, necessary to parse the Orwellian words and logic in which lawyers and politicians cloak themselves.  Her apprenticeship reporting on the Libby trial produced the standard analysis of its workings and implications.  Her analysis is close, but she excels at context and meaning, the areas lawyers often avoid.

        I agree, it’s freaking impressive.

    • maestro says:

      There’s a lot wrong from a legal standpoint about the concerns you raise (and I guess that Dersh raised). I’ll address these as best I can in the order that you mentioned them in your post.

      Dershowitz’s position – not unreasonable and perhaps even right – is that after the Special Prosecutor mechanism was allowed to expire and was replaced with the SC mechanism, it doesn’t fix the problems of probable cause or WITCH HUNT!.
      Apart from the issue of probable cause in this SC investigation, Dershowitz says 1) SCs, just like SPs, are graded on whether or not they find crimes so are motivated to find anything illegal (such as lying to the FBI) and 2) the right forum for this kind of investigation is a nonpartisan, publicly visible, Special Commission (like Challenger; 9/11; etc.) with spin-off prosecutions if crimes are found.

      First, there’s no “probable cause” issue or problem here. By law, the government does not have to meet any particular legal standard to conduct an investigation, of any issue or person. There is a rule set forth in DOJ guidelines that says there needs to be “allegations” of wrongdoing to open a preliminary investigation, but again there is no legal requirement and this is just a guideline. Flouting it could get someone in trouble with their superiors at DOJ but it’s not against the law and has no impact on the validity of any subsequent findings. Various legal standards like “probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion” only come into play when the government wants to do things like obtain search warrants or issue grand jury subpoenas.
      Second, there seems to be some confusion as to the purpose of a Special Counsel. Per the SC regs, an SC is appointed to handle an investigation when normal DOJ personnel are either conflicted out or there are “extraordinary circumstances”, and that it would be in the public interest to appoint an SC to assume responsibility. SCs operate under the same DOJ rules and guidelines that a normal US Attorney would operate under, the only difference being that rather than having jurisdiction over a geographic area the SC has jurisdiction over a particular subject matter. So it’s a strawman to say they are “graded” or “motivated” to “find anything illegal”. Their motivations are exactly the same as a US Attorney’s motivations. If you think a US Attorney would let obstruction and lying to investigators charges slide, you would be very wrong.
      Third, mention of an independent commission is a red herring. People have been calling for one for a year! Democrats have introduced bills with dozens of cosponsors calling for the formation of one! I’ll let you guess why that hasn’t happened.

      Dershowitz’s overarching position is that the secretive SC mechanism could be/can be/is used as a political tool of retribution, that it is intrinsically dangerous to civil rights, and that just because we hate Trump, and Trump is obviously a crook and is working against the interests of the US, we should not use a political vengeance tool to go after him because it is one more slip on the slippery slope to political witch hunts like “Lock Her Up”.

      This is another strawman based on a faulty understanding of the SC regulations. The appointment of an SC is no more a danger to civil rights than the existence of US Attorney offices. Neither Rod Rosenstein nor Bob Mueller initiated this investigation; they reassigned it after events made it clear that it could not be conducted per the normal DOJ chain of command. The investigation started because evidence emerged of a conspiracy between Russian intelligence services and members of the Trump campaign. The existence of the investigation was a zealously guarded secret at FBI, who took enormous pains to keep it from being disclosed publicly while at the same time missing no opportunity to dump on Hillary Clinton. The idea that its existence and pursuit is a tool of “political vengeance” is laughable, and that’s before you even consider that the men responsible for it (Comey, Rosenstein, and Mueller) are all Republicans.

      I think that’s a compelling civil rights argument based in the due process and equal treatment parts of the Constitution so I was interested in your assessment of the Constitutional issues, the probable disposition by the ED VA (and DC) Courts, whether Manafort could get it to SCOTUS on appeal if he loses in ED VA or DC and, if so when and what are they likely to do e.g., refuse to hear it, or hear it and rule narrowly, or take it on as a civil rights/due process case and settle the issue once and for all.

      There really is no compelling civil rights, due process, or equal protection argument here. As Marcy has pointed out, Scooter Libby tried to challenge the constitutionality of the SC regs and lost. Again, the SCO has powers equivalent to a US Attorney office, whose authority you would never question. The only difference is the scope of jurisdiction is based on subject matter rather than geography.
       

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Thank you.  Dershowitz seems past it.

        Manafort’s lawyers have to pursue all possible lines of defense, but that doesn’t mean that they, we or Manafort should have confidence in any of their arguments.  Only a few are likely to have merit, but we’ll have to sift through all of them.

        It’s a bit like the Cohen/Trump claims about the Stormy Daniels NDA.  The party that wants to enforce it – apparently Trump, but through Cohen as a cut-out – is the one who didn’t sign it.  Moreover, Trump has consistently denied knowledge of her or it.  Nor could Trump claim to have any benefit from the NDA as a non-party, since he disclaims knowledge of it.

        Cohen’s LLC has no role in the NDA but to pay over money.  Whose money and why that LLC exists are nice questions, so far unanswered.  Every other aspect of the deal is up to Trump, who is as absence from the deal as he probably is from Melania’s bedroom.  The affairs probably lead to jeopardy for Trump in his pre-nup, but that’s another story.

        Cohen’s position should get him into big trouble with his bar association, as should the $130k.  Even that’s up in the air, since the stories about who paid it are becoming as numerous as Trump’s liaisons.

        • maestro says:

          Yeah all of Dersh’s arguments seem to be red-herrings, strawmen, or made intentionally in bad faith. He wants to get himself hired for the defense.

          Manafort’s arguments about his specific charges may or may not have merit, I’m not a criminal attorney in federal practice so I don’t know. What doesn’t have any merit is challenging the appointment of the SC in the first place and is being done for strategic purposes as discussed elsewhere.

          I do wonder if the SCO will do what Marcy expects and publicly tie Manafort to the election conspiracy. I feel like it’s equally possible he could simply say that Manafort’s actions were discovered in the course of the investigation and he obtained authorization from Rosenstein to pursue them. That may not require tipping Mueller’s hand vis a vis the election conspiracy.

          • emptywheel says:

            It’s neither true that Mueller discovered Manafort’s crimes pursuant to this investigation (as he points out, DOJ was already publicly considering well before Mueller got involved) nor that he’s unimportant for the hack-and-leak.

            The entirely unsurprising CNN report that Mueller got Gates to flip on Trump, not Manafort (as dullards previously insisted) is testimony to how central they were to the direct conspiracy.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Starting with that Gates, and presumably Manafort, knew so much that their flipping was central to Mueller’s work.

              While the unreliable Trump is in the best position to help Manafort, it still seems that Manafort’s past work puts him in jeopardy with others if he were to flip on Trump.  Not a precedent his past clients would want to encourage.

               

            • maestro says:

              Marcy, I certainly agree that Manafort is important to the hack-and-leak! I shouldn’t have said Manafort’s crimes were discovered during the course of the investigation, since as you point out we know they weren’t. A better way of putting it might be that they “arose out of” it. I’m just trying to think of ways that the SCO might avoid tipping their hand at the present moment.

              • Dan DH says:

                Wondering the same thing – whether this challenge will actually force them to reveal some things and make Monday exciting, or if they can avoid it. But it seems like they wouldn’t need to “coordinate closely” with the DAG on the response if it were something simple like “it arose from our investigation and he authorized us to pursue it”, no?

    • Trip says:

      That’s kind of an ironic position coming from a guy who aligned with an organization that witch-hunts (Gatestone), and who also helped Trump craft the Muslim Ban.  Dershowitz is in the bag, so to speak.  Just so you know. He isn’t some impartial observer and analyzer of law. He may be right, he may be wrong, but he definitely isn’t dispassionate, though he pretends so on TV.

    • bmaz says:

      Dear David_I, yes, at this point, Dersh very much is little more than a publicity seeking fool and hack.

        • Trip says:

          Gatestone association, Jeffrey Epstein, Bolton supporter, co-writer of Muslim ban.  Hard-right Lukid/Netanyahu supporter.   He’s pushing his politics. Enough said.

          It’s such bullshit that no one calls him out on this in MSM and that they still entertain his opinions.

          • Willis Warren says:

            He has in fact given lip service to the “lock her up” stuff, but I don’t see any instances of him opposing the DOJ’s bullshit investigations they’re floating

            • Trip says:

              I can’t stand the sight of him any more and the pretend game that he is objective, so I routinely turn him off. What’s worse is the other pundits who play along with him, like he is this god of law on the constitution, when he so VERY obviously has a dog in the race. Sickening.

              Anyway, I guess my long winded point is that I no longer give a good s* about what he opposes.

  19. orionATL says:

    as husband, for decades, of an energetic, intelligent, politically engaged woman who even consults her damn cell phone while talking with me (and is always kindly, if unconvincingly, apologetic if i object to being objectified :) ), take comfort, you will do what you feel you must, hubby will rightfully complain, all will be made up in due time, you will stay married :)

  20. orionATL says:

    why am i suddenly getting this message when i try to copy and paste a citation to an article?

     

    “this HTML class. Value is https://www.washingt

     

    this does not happen with  articles from most media sources.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I find the WaPo’s address line annoying.  It’s divided into two; the right side contains the traditional full url.  With major media, I have to cut and paste the url into a word document.  That way, I can read it more easily, and find and remove the tracking data before I insert the address into a link.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Regardless of whether Trump pardons Flynn and Manafort, his son-in-law, himself or others, no exercise of his pardon power would inhibit Congress from impeaching and trying him.  People should think about that when it comes time to organize, campaign and vote in November.

  22. Palli says:

    RE: Assange comments way, way above: Elizabeth Lea Vos thinks this is the last tweet from Assange before the silencing:

    In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, was captured by the Gestapo, at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today, German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the request of Spain, to be extradited.
    10:10 PM – 25 Mar 2018

    • Greenhouse says:

      Yes, but he hasn’t been extradicted yet. It’s a calculated political move on Puigdemont and other leaders of his administration who have fled to other European countries to test the laws of the EU and shine a light on post WWII democracies and rule of law. Switzerland didn’t extradite, neither did Brussels.  Will Germany repeat history? We don’t know yet.  Puigdemont is smart and I believe this has been well thought out and conceived.

  23. Palli says:

    @Watson above (reply doesn’t consistently for me) Sorry, you lost me at “… Imagine the US reaction if Russia had installed an anti-American government in Panama or Mexico. Actually, we don’t have to imagine what would have happened. It more-or-less already happened, and it was called the Cuban missile crisis.” It didn’t happen, no more or less. Thanks, tho

    • Watson says:

      @ Palli

      I meant that in both cases, a nation reacted forcefully when it believed that its ‘sphere of influence’ had been violated.
       

    • greengiant says:

      We already know what happened when the Ukraine voted to look Westward.  Putin and his allies hired Manafort to jack the next election. There are two big dots out there,  US election vote count hacking,  and Ukrainian election vote count hacking.  Connecting them is not required for taking out Manafort and freinds but it would be entertaining.

      • matt says:

        when the Ukraine voted to look Westward

        … you mean when the US State Dept, CIA, OSF, NED, and IMF meddled/hacked the 2004 Ukraine election to install Yushchenko?

        US election vote count hacking

        This I don’t doubt.  Too bad my Republican controlled State (WI) won’t investigate.

  24. orionATL says:

    psuedonymous in n.c. [email protected]:51am

    thanks for the comment and especially the cite about deeben. his inclusion is just another indication to me of how wise mueller is and how precisely he is planning his moves (“his” includes the input of his team of course).

    note: “reply” does not seem to be working normally in this thread.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Frequent problem.  Right click on “reply”, open new tab, “leave a reply” box will appear, insert comment and post.  It will appear in the correct location.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Yes, but what orionATL saw (above)

        “this HTML class. Value is https://www.washingt

        Is different.

        This tells me that CF is hacked/not trustable and that there is javascript injection happening.

        Which would also explain why the reply issue is not consistently happening for everyone on a given day.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I just had considerable trouble leaving a post up-thread.  When I clicked “post comment,” the site couldn’t find this thread.  I tried half a dozen times.  I could post a comment with a nonsense filler, “osejdloj”.  I finally deleted a single link and a proper name from my comment, and inserted it as an edit to that nonsense filler.  Went through.  Very strange.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            It could be a combo problem.

            If, as BMAZ said, the server backend has been a WIP, then you could expect some weird behaviour maybe, at times.

            But these weird issues could be due to a combination of javascript, wordpress, and the users browser (and therefore the javascript engine).

            I’ve seen cases where just minimal text would fail, no link involved.

            Seen 404 errors too.

            Seen some weird CloudFlare errors too.

            (have seen the normal CloudFlare error when server is down, but that is a very clear error message)

            I always do the right click (long press on touchscreen), open in new tab, route.

            I’ve even seen that silently fail, but if I try again, it works.

            Testing a lot of combinations is a lot of work.

            Curious if orionATL was using Edge browser.

            • orionATL says:

              [email protected]:31pm

              i use the standard samsung browser, sometimes going there from firefox focus.

              when i ask the browser to search for the phrase that the browser had responded with ( “this HTML class. Value is https://www.washingt”) when i was trying to copy a citation (from wapo or nytimes), i too get a reference to java script. i just don’t know how to interpret and use that info (or if i should).

              the complaing response seems to focus on a difference between http and https. but,who is sending this response – the media server or an intervening internet server or the ew server?

              edit:
              hey, this reply ended up exactly where it should, just below SLF’s comment to which i was replying.

              • SpaceLifeForm says:

                You also encountered this problem with NYT.

                And you have provided a clue!

                In both cases, the host name was truncated at 8 characters.

                washingt
                nytimes.

                It would be extremely helpful if you could try another browser, if only to point to a browser issue or to eliminate it as an issue.

                Guessing platform here, not a real new android?

                Please start a new thread on this.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Here’s a oldie and a goodie. Seen many times over years now.

            Just encountered mins ago replying to BMAZ with the troyhunt link. Below.

            I did not try to submit twice.

            This points to *TWO* or more MITM boxes, and *ONE* of them won the race to the server, or it points to one MITM box (could be CloudFlare, could be another internet router) that got an error, then retried in spite of the fact that the first try was actually successful!

            Here was the error message:

            Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!

            • SpaceLifeForm says:

              Just to be clear, when I get this error, I go back to the parent tab and force reload, to find out if it really made it or not. It did. This is why I always open in new tab, so I can see what happened. It is a debugging technique.

              I suspect based on ‘stuff’ over many years, it is multiple MITM boxes.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Another error that Trip recently encountered:

            Error 504 Ray ID: [redacted]
            Gateway time-out

            [Seen nunerous times even when server was really up]

            [I kid about the redaction. Trip removed anyway]

        • bmaz says:

          Or maybe, SLF, there is ongoing work we are doing behind the scenes, and have been doing for a while. Don’t make bullshit statements about hacking and trustability when you have no knowledge whatsoever about our backstage.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Well, if you want to insinuate that CloudFlare and all of the other internet routers between the EmptyWheel server and the end-user are squeaky clean, then that implies that all of weird behaviour is due to the EmptyWheel server.

            I do not believe you really want to say that.

            CloudFlare is a MITM (Man in the middle) *BY DESIGN*.

            And routers outside of the control of CloudFlare between CloudFlare and the end-user, or between CloudFlare and the EmptyWheel server, are also potentional MITM boxes.

            Funny stuff can be happening anywhere.

            • SpaceLifeForm says:

              Here is a really good article on this.

              https://www.troyhunt.com/cloudflare-ssl-and-unhealthy-security-absolutism/

              Even if you use CloudFlare in Full (strict) mode, an NSL will suffice. Now, I doubt that is the case here, so, by not using Full (strict) mode, there are spots that can be used as attack points.

              Point is, the weird behaviour may not all be due to server side issues.

              Which I do not believe to be the case, and I do not believe that you want to think that either.

              • Trip says:

                I encountered an error the other day that actually had a graphic of the cloud, server etc. I think it said I timed out, but I was only in a few seconds before it happened. (Really short response to earl).

            • greengiant says:

              Can confirm that there are visible differences between user platforms and browsers.  User edit available on one, not on another. Can also confirm things change as the EW team modifies their “backstage”.  We can all understand that some actors would prefer to get the EW user metadata on the pseudo sly rather than just buy it from such as the VPNs, twitter, facebook, google, adware cookie monsters, or the ISPs.

  25. orionATL says:

    greengiant – [email protected]:03pm

    u.s. “election vote count hacking”?

    now that would really be interesting. and certainly possible given the extraordinary insecurity of the digital-based machines which has been publicly discussed at least since the likely g.w. bush vote count hacking of 2004.

    • Palli says:

      A huh, shaking my head. From my armchair in Ohio, I cannot get the idea of 016 vote hacking out of my head as it circles around the axiom: “If you build it they will come.” I’ll sign off before someone…

  26. orionATL says:

    maestro [email protected]:13pm

    thanks for this excellent exegesis of the comment and, presumably, dershowitz’s similar position.

    i don’t know what has gone haywire in the D’s mind since, say, a decade or so ago, but something sure has.

  27. pseudonymous in nc says:

    The idea that Manafort and his lawyers were scrabbling around to find representation for Gates (that he could afford) is the most interesting takeaway from the CNN story. Manafort’s past operations can’t have taken place without some degree of professional help, and perhaps he was trying to call in a few favours? (As Atrios noted, foreign dictators with blood on their hands can usually find white-shoe lawyers in DC to represent them, as long as the price is right and the client does what he’s told, which is why the Idiot’s failure to attract willing counsel is telling.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Or trying to find lawyers for Gates who would play ball with those for Manafort and Trump.  It appears that Gates found his own lawyers.

      It also seems strange that these guys blew through so much many.  Makes one wonder how much of their earnings were being laundered for principals and how little they were allowed to keep.

  28. Peterr says:

    OT news of note to longtime EW readers:

    Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a liberal stalwart on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for nearly four decades, died Thursday in Southern California. He was 87.

    Reinhardt died of a heart attack during a visit to a dermatologist in Los Angeles, court spokesman David Madden said.

    “As a judge, he was deeply principled, fiercely passionate about the law and fearless in his decisions,” 9th Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Thomas said in a statement. “He will be remembered as one of the giants of the federal bench.”

    Reinhardt was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and went on to become the sixth longest-serving judge on the court.

    He was considered to be one of the most liberal judges on the 9th Circuit and his rulings often placed him on the side of immigrants and prisoners. Reinhardt wrote a 2012 opinion striking down California’s gay marriage ban. . . .

  29. harpie says:

    Marcy, on vacation, retweets the news that [apprx. 2 hours ago] “Czech Justice Ministry confirms to Reuters that alleged Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin extradited to United States. “We confirm extradition to the United States,” a spokeswoman said in a text message.”

    • harpie says:

      These are some of the things Marcy’s written about him before [I’m only including the most recent link]:
      6/2/17: While the focus on the Russian hack has always centered on an alleged phish, in fact the mailboxes sent to Wikileaks better match up with credentials made available via the theft Nikulin is alleged to have carried out; the passwords of most of the people would have been available in barely encrypted format. And the mention of Alexey Belen might tie the Yahoo hack to the DNC hack as well.
      6/23/17: Given the Yahoo and other indictments working through San Francisco (including that of Yevgeniey Nikulin, who claims FBI offered him a plea deal involving admitting he hacked the DNC), I’m particularly interested in the shift in sanctions from NY to San Francisco, where Nikulin and Dokuchaev’s victims are located.
      9/2/17: So I’m wondering if the FBI had more specific reasons to use the opportunity of Russia refusing our sweetheart deal to want to close this consulate and flush whatever and whoever is in it out into the open? That’s true, especially given the criminal hacking cases targeting Silicon Valley companies we’re trying out there (the Yahoo and the Nikulin one both may have tangential ties to the DNC hack).
      10/2/17: Back when Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin got arrested in Prague in association with US charges of hacking Linked in and DropBox, Russia quickly delivered up its own, far more minor indictment of him to set off a battle over his extradition. Months alter, Nikulin’s legal team publicized a claim that an FBI Agent had discussed a deal with him, related to the hack of the DNC — a claim that is not as nuts as it seems (because a number of the people hacked had passwords exposed in those breaches). Whatever the reason, Russia clearly would like to keep Nikulin out of US custody.

      • orionATL says:

        wow, i’ve been wondering what happened to the nikulin extradition request, and if the russians would win the battle for his body. sounds like he got spirited away in the dead of night. i guess the u.s. still has some clout in parts of eastern europe.

        on the surface nikulin seemd like a key person from the eaarlier reporting, but he is not directly gsu or fsb is he? so how does he fit in with the “gsu did it” story?

        anyhoo, let’s see what the fbi can get from him now.

    • harpie says:

      And I still wonder, as I did in my March 29, 2018 at 10:39 am comment above, if  this might be related:

      Zoe Tillman‏@ZoeTillman Update on the special counsel case against Richard Pinedo, who pleaded guilty to identity fraud and who ran a company that appeared to be tied to the Russian troll farm case — prosecutors asking to delay sentencing another two months (his plea deal incl. a cooperation agreement)

      Marcy, 2:17/18: 

      Here’s the important thing about all this. While Pinedo pled guilty and faces 12-18 months even with his cooperation agreement (and even there, while the information makes it clear he knew he was dealing with foreigners, his lawyer has made it clear he didn’t know who or what he was dealing with), there are only two other known illegal roles in this conspiracy, and there’s no reason those roles would have had to be carried out by Americans. Perhaps Mueller has others cooperating, perhaps those other criminals are unknown. 

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I wonder who the Don had a chat with (Carl Icahn?) before he dissed Amazon and its stock went tumbling. The Don likes to brag to close friends about what he’s doing or about to do. And being president gives him so much to talk about.

    Is the Don, with his “executive time” taking up so much of his day, really going to become his own chief of staff? Unlikely, but he may do without a formal one. Maybe he hopes his distress over taking on so much will bring Hope back to the White House. Then he can complete that kiss when Melania’s not looking.

  31. harpie says:

    FBI questions Ted Malloch, Trump campaign figure and Farage ally; [American once touted as possible ambassador to EU tells of being detained at Boston airport and subpoenaed by Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia inquiry]; 3/30/18

    [quote] […] In a statement sent to the Guardian, Malloch, who described himself as a policy wonk and defender of Trump, said the FBI also asked him about his relationship with Roger Stone, the Republican strategist, and whether he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has resided for nearly six years. […] [end quote]
    *
    Also in Assange news: Quinta Jurecic‏ @qjurecic 14m14 minutes ago: “wikileaks botching an effort to contact jordan peterson has made my entire week”

     

    • greengiant says:

      In the politico link above there is even a call out from Assange and Stone buddy Charles Johnson. One of Johnson’s ultimate trolls would have been to have had nothing to do with Assange and then make that photo op on the Ecuadorian embassy steps with Rohrabacher. Then the social media GOP Kremlin wikileaks defenders nexus is strong.

  32. orionATL says:

    willis [email protected]:22pm

    thanks for this detailed info. czech republic to san francisco is a really long nighttime flight. now we wait to see if nikulin ever plied his trade in d.c.

  33. Avattoir says:

    What if Dowd’s conversations last year with at least one attorney representing Manafort and at least one (other) representing Gates, were not about “pardons” per se, but about what we tend to lump in with pardons along with the other aspects of presidential clemency?
    I’ve tried to find all the reports purporting to quote Dowd directly on his reaction to being confronted with the accusation. I note that they’re all – all the ones I’ve see so far – pretty cryptic. For example, this from the NYT piece published March 29, 2018 starting on the front page:

    ‘ He denied on Wednesday that he discussed pardons with lawyers for the president’s
    former advisers.
    “There were no discussions. Period,” Mr. Dowd said. “As far as I know, no
    discussions.”

    Dowd’s neither an idiot nor incompetent at this stuff. He knows the materially different effects of pardons versus commutations.

  34. Markus says:

    I am a gay man.  Why you might ask is that relevant here?  I will tell you.

    The GOP has made is clear to ALL of you that they hate gay men.  They have done so for decades.  The want nothing more than to stuff us back into the closet, or barring that turn the nation back to an era where we go back into the closet voluntarily.  The same for women.  The same for people of color.  The same for immigrants (which my father was).

    We are at a crossroads.  We either accept GOP rule with all it’s fear, lies, corruption, and understand that Wall Street controls them, or we pick up arms and do what they claim they need to do, own machine guns to prevent overbearing government.

    I do not want this, but there is no other option.  It will take a civil war again to stop this.  Trumpsky is a symptom not the disease.  The disease is in the voters who voted for him and we all know Hillary won the popular vote, the electoral college was rigged based upon a few precincts being rigged.

    The USA cannot be allowed to end.  That we even discuss this is proof of what has been done to us.  The USA is the one rock of stability that has held the rest of the world together.

    But I will vote to end the USA if it is to be presided over by a traitor and general ass clown as we have now.  He has to go, not last year, or last month, nor tomorrow.  This moment.  By violent means if need be.  I am a 100% disabled vet.  I have been prepared to give my life for our constitution since I was 17 and took the oath.  I will be 60 in a month.  I took that oath and it had no expiration date.  I did not swear to defend Donald conman Trump.  I swore to uphold the constitution of the United States of America.  And I will.  And he has to go.  And we have to do something about our constitution.  It no longer works.  That we are ruled by people who sell their positions for money.  That corporations can own us.  That we can have two republican presidents in a row that lost the popular vote but resorted to courts to “win.”

    And last, I doubt that North America will overcome this.  The USA will dissolve.  It will form city states.  Cities being mostly blue will ride rough on all empty spaces we now call red.  But the USA as we have known it will be dead and gone by next year.  Because the right GOP fascists basically said last year this is the way it will be or civil war.  So they cheated and put Trumpsky in charge.

    Well, we better be prepared.  I am not a prepper in general.  But they are.  So we have no choice but to prepare better than they can.

    • Rayne says:

      I have been worried sick for all my LGBT friends as well as female and POC friends. Family members, too. What gives me hope: youth and demographics. We outnumber them already as the popular vote showed; with a highly motivated youth vote and a growing solidarity between other factions on the left, from women to all minority groups, we can swamp the nominal attempts made at suppression. Hang in there, Markus. We will try to get through this together and safely.

  35. arisakubota says:

    Cest la version factuelle, toi tu répètes la version hystérique où il y a des russes cachés partout. lien vers le PDF Est-ce que tu las lu? Il ny a rien dans ce document qui implique la campagne présidentielle de Donald Trump ou le processus électoral. Je me trompe? Dis moi quelle page. Les accusations contre Manafort et son copain datent davant son embauche pour remplacer lautre avant la convention du parti. Manafort a plus dexpérience et il a déja participé à des conventions gagnantes et des campagnes présidentielles gagnantes. Cest pourquoi il a été engagé avant la convention, le 28 Mars, et puis ensuite congédié après la convention, le 19 Août, après des reportages négatifs sur ses affaires en Ukraine. Il a été là 4 mois et demi. Je ne doute pas que Manafort est bel et bien impliqué dans des magouilles financières mais si le FBI décidait de façon impartiale denquêter sur tous les lobbyistes de lenvergure de Manafort ils seraient tous accusés de fraude fiscale et de blanchiment dargent. Les deux frères Podesta et plein dautres seraient déja en prison.

  36. SpaceLifeForm says:

    The reply problem.

    This should work fine, because it is new thread.

    [Edit[
    And it did, with plain left-click.

    Next, will try reply to this with left click.

    Does not work, silent fail.

    Now will wait for the edit timeout to occur, and then try again.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Ok, silent fail again, even with a forced reload.

      In order to attempt to post this reply, I had to go the right-click route.

      [Edit]

      Which works as expected. Never fails for me.

      • bmaz says:

        Seriously, fuck off and see my last comment. You are a jackass that has tried to make a home here. But you are still a jackass.

      • bmaz says:

        Also, listen, the next time you spew shit out of your ass that you have no clue about. I will bounce you. You are just an asshole to this blog now. You were never that informational, but you are now a problem. You will be treated as such.

        • bmaz says:

          As just another parting shot “SLF” please delineate your contributions here to the blog, monetarily, other than blowing shit out of your ass.

          I have been here for a while, and I can discern. Please, pray tell, how YOU want Emptyweel to be and read.

          Tell me. Please, let your freak flag free, and tell me.

           

      • bmaz says:

        Come on SLF, educate us. You relentlessly purport to try to. Why don’t you give us something, even if one of your self centered “OT’s”?

        I have been here over a decade. Please elaborate on your new found crap. You want to challenge this blog, then have the balls to bring it.

        • bmaz says:

          For the record, SLF tried to post some more bullshit that was antithetical to the existence of this blog. That will not be accepted or allowed.

  37. bmaz says:

    Hey there SLF. Fuck off. Are you just a cloying internet bitch or an actual member of this community.

    Because you seem to have some inner predilection to the former rather than the latter. Take your cloying and accusatory (and sometimes outrageous bullshit claims) and shove it.

    This place is the wrong place to prove itinerant jackassery.

  38. Palli says:

    RE: arisakubota says:
    March 31, 2018 at 4:15 am
    (Wondering about this kinda bizarre trolling comment, I decided to be confidant with my head’s translation. Had a few minutes, so I sent it thru 2 translating bots. Wow, goggle is far superior to SDL free translation-at least French to English. Here’s the google translation, if anyone is interested as we wait for Marcy’s Mueller prediction. Know this commenter?)

    “This is the factual version, you repeat the hysterical version where there are Russians hidden everywhere. link to PDF Did you read it? There is nothing in this document that involves Donald Trump’s presidential campaign or the electoral process. I am wrong? Tell me what page. The charges against Manafort and his boyfriend date back to his hiring to replace the other before the party convention. Manafort has more experience and has already participated in winning conventions and winning presidential campaigns. That’s why he was hired before the convention on March 28, and then later fired after the convention on August 19, after negative reporting on his business in Ukraine. He was there 4 months and a half. I have no doubt that Manafort is indeed involved in financial shenanigans but if the FBI impartially decided to investigate all the large-scale lobbyists of Manafort they would all be accused of tax evasion and money laundering. The two brothers Podesta and many others would already be in prison.”

Comments are closed.