The Hole in the HPSCI Exoneration: Trump’s Hiring of Mike Flynn

I’ll have a lot to say about HPSCI’s attempt to exonerate Trump in their Russia report released today. But for now I want to point to a big hole in it.

After laying out the four members of HPSCI complains (for the most part, fairly) that DOJ didn’t warn Trump about the four members of his staff who were viewed as a CI problem.

The Committee found that the Trump campaign was not notified that members of the campaign were potential
counterintelligence concerns. This lack of notification meant that the campaign was unable to address the problems with each campaign member and was ignorant about the potential national security concerns. AG Lynch recalled that, during her first meeting with Director Comey and McCabe about Page, “one of the possibilities the three of us discussed was whether or not to provide what is called a defensive briefing to the
campaign, wherein there would be a meeting with a senior person with the Trump campaign to alert them to the fact
that … there may be efforts to compromise
someone with their campaign.” 102

The suggestion is that, had someone only warned Trump that people suspected of being recruited by Russians were infiltrating his campaign, they wouldn’t have been there.

Except just before this passage, the report makes clear that the Flynn investigation pre-dated his hiring as National Security Adviser, included an examination of a meeting between him, his spawn, and Sergey Kislyak as well as the better publicized RT event in Moscow.

Trump can’t complain that he wasn’t warned about Flynn before hiring him, because Obama did warn him, and not just because of Obama’s problems with Flynn at DNI, but also because of concerns about his ties with Russia.

Obama warned Trump about Flynn during their Oval Office meeting on November 10, days after Trump was elected president.

“Given the importance of the job, the President through there were better people for it, and that Flynn wasn’t up for the job,” a former senior Obama administration official told CNN Monday.


But at least one former Obama official disputed that, saying Obama’s concerns were not related to the firing of Flynn from the Defense Intelligence Agency but rather in the course of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election.

“Flynn’s name kept popping up,” according to a senior Obama administration source.

In other words, in the one case where we know Trump knew of a tie between a top aide and Russia, he hired the person anyway. And then ordered him to reach out to the Russians to undercut Obama’s policies.

106 replies
    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Cozy or Fancy?

      It is actually a good thing that some in HPSCI realize that ‘attribution is hard’.

  1. gmoke says:

    As the seawater rises over our heads and the unprecedented storms sweep down upon us, I expect the same kind of obfuscatory excuses to come out of the mouths of Republican climate deniers:  “If only you had TOLD us!!!!”

    Same excuse for most every problem when they get caught.  Michael Flynn and Russian infiltration, climate change and sea level rise, it’s the only tool in their box, “If only you had TOLD us!!!”

    • William Bennett says:

      Shortly after 9/11, “No one could have predicted!” became the semi-official motto of the GOP. They’ve lived up to it ever since.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Excellent point.  The committee’s argument assumes Trump would not have hired any of these people, or would have promptly fired them, had he been given timely knowledge that they might have been compromised by agents of a foreign power.

    That would have been true of Obama and earlier presidents.  With Trump, the idea doesn’t pass the smell test.

    Nothing about Trump suggests he would have done that.  That’s especially true if the foreign power was Russia.  He knows more than anyone in the room.  He has been comfortable with Russian and Ukrainian interests for decades.  He cares about his gut instinct, not facts or rational evaluation or proper vetting.  Witness the debacle over his VA nominee.  He hires everybody with that same disdain for process.

    This is more of this GOP-led committee blowing smoke to protect an obviously unqualified but convenient president.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The final nail in the coffin of this committee’s makeshift argument is that Trump kept Flynn as his “National Security” Adviser for weeks after his own administration informed him that he was deeply compromised.  Trump fired him only after word leaked publicly and he could not contain the political fallout.

      Flynn being compromised was A-OK with the Don.  That was part of his usefulness.  The public finding out about it was the problem.  To get even for having to cut-off his right arm, Flynn, the Don fired Sally Yates.

      That’s how much Donald Trump cares about national security, as opposed to the Don’s security.  He should remember that whichever capo regime invites him to the meeting, on his territory, is the traitor.  Hint, it’s not Clemenza.

      As for the world being shocked, shocked that Veselnitskaya is closely tied to a top Russian prosecutor, that was the point of her being at the June 9th meeting.  Note to the Don: the House may not know what blocked telephone number Junior called, but Bob Mueller does.

      • Rugger9 says:

        That “embarrassment prevention criterion” is a policy that has been consistent in the palace from the beginning, and we are now seeing Pruitt testing how hot it has to get before he’s turfed out.  Also, note how after being fired, Trump is still trying to protect Flynn from any consequences.  This continued as well for others, most egregiously for Ezra Cohen-Watnick who helped Nunes’ midnight runs.

      • Frank Probst says:

        I’ve seen one correction in a column in the WaPo that says that the call was actually TO Junior, not FROM him, which makes more sense to me.  I don’t make any calls to blocked numbers, but I receive them all the time.  But yes, Mueller almost certainly knows who it is.

  3. emptywheel fan says:

    Didn’t know where to post this comment, so inserting here even though doesn’t relate to topic. Have enjoyed reading emptywheel and was introduced to it through reddit subgroup r/themueller where emptywheel gets lots of attention.

    No major media outlets have picked up on this- but seems like a somethingburger. Posting it for the experts to comment on…

    • Frank Probst says:

      The legal filings reportedly stated that Cohen had 3 clients:  Trump, Hannity, and Elliot Broidy, an RNC official who supposedly paid (or had someone pay for him) $1.6 million to a Playboy model who he was having an affair with.  The model got pregnant, and Broidy supposedly encouraged her to have an abortion, which she supposedly did.


      But in the courtroom, the 3 clients were named as Trump, Hannity, and the Trump Organization.  I think this may have been a simple misstatement, but Avenatti’s point is that if Broidy was NOT a client for Cohen, then who got the $1.6 million, and why?  He’s suggesting that Broidy fell on his sword to cover up something else that Trump did, for which there was a $1.6 million payout.  Personally, I think this requires a LOT of speculation, and I’m just not seeing it, but Avenatti has had a pretty good track record with his predictions, so who knows?

      • JD12 says:

        Avenatt’s track record is perfect so far, that’s the biggest reason to believe it at this point. But the $1.6m was agreed to shortly after the Daniels payment and the paperwork used the name David Dennison again. Also, Broidy didn’t have anyone in court trying to assert privilege either.

    • JD12 says:

      I saw it too and can’t believe it’s not getting covered. Reporters must be digging into it, but they need to make sure they have solid info so they don’t get sued for defamation.

      The Broidy story never really added up, $1.6m to protect a guy most people had never heard of. It would make sense if it was just a cover story. Avenatti keeps talking about lies, threats, and cover ups. This probably still isn’t even the end of it.

      • Rugger9 says:

        There is no need to rush into this one, and note that Avenatti didn’t say there is definitely something here but the fact Broidy hasn’t asked for privilege either is interesting.

        Either way, something like this distinction will be played out in court under oath and the questions will be answered.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    Link to Natalia’s excellent adventure:

    Flynn the Younger won’t shut up either, and he seems clueless about what kind of danger he is in:

    Bob might know the blocked number, but I’m sure he is asking for it if he doesn’t have it already. Also, the GOP is in this up to the eyeballs (as noted by Schiff and others) and even the NRA is getting ready for bad news:

    They all need to be locked up. Any thoughts about Manafort’s civil suit being rejected? How many viable / feasible challenges does he have left aside from legal poo flung into court hoping that it sticks?

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Two things from yesterday that may be important.

    McCay (US prosecutor in SDNY) said that they have forensically saved the data from Two Blackberries and an iPhone that were siezed during the Cohen raids.

    But Avenatti believes there are [redacted] more old phones that were siezed.

    So, two points:

    1. The old phones ‘contacts’ could be interesting. And I bet that Stormy is not there. But Flynn and Davidson may very well be in those contacts.

    2. The BS argument that encryption backdoors are needed, is just bs. It did not take them long to recover the data from the 3 phones that they admitted to. Yes, McCay did say it takes time, but it was completed.

    • JD12 says:

      16 I think is the redacted number. That’s an incredible number, there’s no way all those were Cohen’s. They’re probably burners that they thought would be secure. Daniels said to get in touch with Trump, she would go through Keith Schiller, and he probably wasn’t using his personal phone.

      On top of whatever is recoverable from the phone’s memory, they can also get a ton of information from the service provider. In the Aaron Hernandez case they were able match ping data to traffic and security cameras, nothing is better than video evidence. They even found video of Odin Lloyd getting in the car.

      They might be able to place one of the phones in Las Vegas when Daniels was threatened, and Vegas has a lot of cameras. I don’t see how accurate a sketch could be from that long ago. Avenatti seems confident he can prove the threats and cover ups, so he may know who it is already and is just playing games.

      • Trip says:

        To me, it would be amazing if Cohen went through all of the trouble to get BAT phones and then 1. save them, FFS, but 2., setting up the LLC in Delaware with such little cover of who was behind it. IIRC, he made up one LLC and abandoned it, then opened the Essential Consultants LLC, but then used this LLC for something else, after the payout. (I can not find a link for that now, will continue to search)

        **Apparently, the Broidy payout was made through it too. For some reason, I thought he had used it for more legitimate purposes, but can’t find it.

        • Trip says:

          It will be interesting to see if the money funneled to Cohen’s LLC, from Broidy, was actually UAE money, then used to pay off the abortion story (whoever it belongs to). So many layers of potential criminality there.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      The Manafort civil suit was a complete waste of time and money that *he does not have* and was not going anywhere.

      Anyone spot Cohen suing Trump for the $130k (minus 28 cents)?



      Me neither.

    • Avattoir says:

      “Manafort lost another lifeline today”

      I don’t get that. The filing of that civil lawsuit, one would think, had some sort of rationale, but in this context it was always (properly) fated to be dumped in the courts; put another way, only a flawed &/or improper view of it by some judge(s) would have maintained its status. Bottom line: Judge Berman didn’t cause Manafort to lose anything that wasn’t already a zombie of Manafort’s own making.

      The same manner of description in relation to reporting in WaPo on yesterday’s ruling by Judge Wood to appoint a special master. Either Devin Barrett et al chose to write up their report, or else the editor of it at WaPo chose to set up their report, to highlight the ruling as a “win” (their word) for Cohen. That’s just wrong. The fact is that choosing not to go with a special master would have created an opening for Cohen, or rather his legal counsel, to potentially cobble together and seek to exploit not just a talking point on how the court system is bound up in the Deep State unicorn myth, but also what I’ll refer to here as a ‘process right’ should even one arguable, possible  &/or remotely technical manifestation of the client-attorney privilege slip thru into the public domain which arguably, conceivably even just theoretically could have been avoided had Judge Wood, oh lordy, only had the cautious prudent wisdom (of a man!) to rule in favor of using of a special master, over ‘some already pre-tainted Deep State taint team’.

      When I saw that word (“win”), I took that as a typical embodiment of a view that, to able, competent, experienced practicing trial attorneys, such ‘wins’ are almost invariably Trojan. I’d have been much more concerned to have ‘won’ that phony battle, than for the false converse of cautious regard for both the privilege and the largely unpredictable ways in which humans have proved capable of manifesting such practical abstractions.

      Always at least somewhat distressingly, this is a rather typical misread of the tension between the phony “demands” of the news cycle OTOH, and, OTO, that the milling stones of any system based on the Rule of Law seem in comparison to grind “exceeding slow”. Culture seems to have every bit as much of a problem with this maintain a proper conception of this relativity as most folks did – still do – with Einstein’s special and general theories of the same in the context of statistical mechanics.




      • Trip says:

        Yeah. No one, in reality, ‘lost’ with the special master assigned. So no one really wins either, but politics are covered like sports events (likewise court and legal issues). Which is truly dangerous because how either of the ‘teams’ do isn’t a reflection of how the citizenry is making out (as far as politics and policy). People begin to cheer for ‘wins’ which are sometimes to their own grave disadvantage, just because a ‘side’ won. The Trump cult is the most obvious example, but it happens everywhere.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Duly noted, but one wonders how many more of these could possibly work before Manafort’s team sees that it is over and gets the deal.  It will be a race between Paul and Michael and I think only one gets a deal.

        Add to that the [ahem] “clientele” may not be too keen on having all of the details in public and may be more “direct” in dealing with the problem.

        I also agree that Mueller is setting this process up to be “appeal proof” since anything not done strictly by the book opens opportunities for the defense to raise questions.  That could be a problem given how many judges McTurtle is ramming through for the palace.

        • Avattoir says:

          With the possible exception of Gorsuch, it’s highly unlikely that any of those new R appointees will end up with any part to play in these various court cases triangulating about Trump. Most of the joodishul doofusi are being appointed to District Court spots, very very very few are getting even consideration for Circuit Court spots (and then mostly in districts that won’t drawn any of the relevant cases), and even if a Trumpster nom were to participate in an en banc Circuit Court hearing, he’ll be overwhelmed by the noms of predecessor judges, the majority of whom are not even GWB’s.

          And finally, if I’m a attorney on the Trump / Manafort / Cohen side, AND competent, I’d actually wouldn’t be encouraging my client to count on any help from Gorsuch.

          The one exception is the one thing I’m most concerned about, and that’s such a stretch of unlikelihoods it’s impossible to quantify: say the new husband-wife team for Trump asserts some Nixon-level aggressive view of presidential privilege, AND some arguably key document or communication arises from the Cohen seizures that “could” engage that view, at each level BELOW the SCOTUS, that view would be, uh, Trump’d by the Nixon tapes case. But SCOTUS itself remains unbound from its own precedents, and I can foresee Gorsuch potentially being capable of being the key vote that pushes the executive into monarchy territory.

          • Rugger9 says:

            “Doofusi”… I could see Cicero using it in one of his speeches.

            “Trump’d” – tsk, tsk, tsk.

      • Avattoir says:

        The same dynamics are in force to pretty much the same extent with the 90-day stay that Judge Otero ordered today in California on the Stormy Daniels claim. Maybe there’s some strained way in which that could be marked down as a sort of technical loss for Stormy, but if so it’s a phony loss. It clearly would be worse to rule that case can proceed in blithe disregard for implications that might hold for far broader and massively more relevant and vital public interest litigation underway in New York and Washington.

        Plus – BONUS! This means at least 2 more monthly call-ins to Fox & Friends: ‘You folks at home are in for a real treat now: we have a certain caller incoming on the hotline. Good morning Do- uh Mister Pre- uh Mister Barron!’

        • Rugger9 says:

          If the purpose is to make the suit go away, this 90-day delay is not a win for Cohen.  It appears that Cohen’s team is using the stricter rules for criminal prosecution to find out what’s waiting for them in this case.

      • Frank Probst says:

        My personal theory on Manafort is that he’s in extreme denial.  For years, he’s been getting away with activities that almost anyone would suspect are illegal, and he’s never had a problem with the law.  Now he’s being told that he may spend the rest of his life in prison.  I think that’s just not computing for him, and he’s telling his lawyers to “do everything” that they need to in order to make this go away.  He may also be in contact with a bunch of right wing whack jobs (who are not part of his formal legal team) who are telling him to make legal moves like this.


        I think Cohen will flip first.  Avenatti has been exceptionally deft at baiting people into making unforced errors.  When Cohen listened to Trump’s meltdown on Fox & Friends, I suspect the conversations he was having with his attorneys changed dramatically.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          I agree with this: Manafort still sees this as the selective criminalisation of the McMansion dwellers of McLean and environs who’ve been doing dirty shit for dirty people for years. Cohen knows exactly who his friends are and what they do.

      • greengiant says:

        Devin Nunes,  Devlin Barrett,  for the casual reader note there is little or no chance to self edit a correction. A reminder of props to Avattoir read their comment here in response to another Devlin story,  while no small part of the echo chamber was wondering how to fit and update 650,000 emails on a laptop.

        • Desider says:

          That’s an amazing timely (Oct 30, 2016) post.
          FBI gunning hard to find something/anything on Clinton Foundation despite orders to stand down. Weiner laptop gives them a last Hail Mary (if they ignore lack of proper subpoena to review). (much of the McCabe “news” 2 weeks ago was just rediscovering this, though poorly with mangled details)

          Any chance same SDNYuys might have also tampered with evidence? (Again, supposed 15-year-old from North Carolina contacted Weiner, not other way around, had exceptionally mature taste in literature (like someone born in 60s/70s), Weiner supposedly told her direct he didn’t think she was 15, and she was so upset she went not to the police report, but to a *UK tabloid*. This strikes me as the Linda Tripp kind of advice to give a friend in need. Could rogue FBI agents have even been behind setting up this sexting session as sone kind of entrapment? (Like the way the FBI likes giving explosives to dumb kids to expose them as “terrorists”?)

          Since Weiner pleaded guilty, I assume some of this went unexamined. His long sentence surprised me if it were dodgy, but perhaps he’d given up his chance to challenge, and he wouldn’t get any sympathy from the public at large, much less the new administration. (sorry for the conspiracy bit, but there *was* a conspiracy, so it’s a matter of finding how far it went)

  6. William Smithers says:

    PLEASE, in every article you write, spell out the full name of any group or organization you mention at your first use of its acronym! This is, or should be, standard journalistic behavior.

    You should understand that not every reader of your posts is a long-time political junkie.


      • bmaz says:

        Now now, lets be nice to Mr. Smithers. He played one of the great guest roles on one of the truly great original Star Trek episodes, Merik in “Bread and Circuses”. Remember seeing that episode as a kid, remember it to this day. He is golden!

        Not all people follow this stuff like we do daily (if not hourly). And it is not just Marcy, I have been guilty of this over the years too. It happens when you don’t have editors and just fly along in your typing and posting. No pain in well intentioned people asking help.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Hail, Merik Caesar.

          Crowe made a better gladiator than Shatner, but Bill can be a lot funnier, especially when making fun of himself.

        • Trip says:

          Sorry, my snark has a life of its own sometimes. I’ll try to keep it on a leash.

          *Goes to search machines to look up Star Trek episode*

          @earl, he (Shatner) has had some funny song-reads. Although I prefer Christopher Walken reading fairy tales, hilarious.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Well, if one were to google:

        IRA – Will you get Irish Republican Army?
        SCO – Will you get Santa Cruz Operation?

        Maybe, maybe not.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Was not intentionally directed at you actually.
            Sorry. I was not clear.

            Just pointing out a couple of examples.

            Search engine results may vary.

            Point is, for future readers, best to not use acronyms.

            At time X, from content, the acronym may be pretty obvious.

            But, at time X+Y, unless a future reader goes thru an entire article/thread, the context may not be obvious.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  With the likes of Devin Nunes on it, it is a mystery what it selects for.

    PLEASE use all caps sparingly.

  8. matt says:

    In other words, in the one case where we know Trump knew of a tie between a top aide and Russia, he hired the person anyway. And then ordered him to reach out to the Russians to undercut Obama’s policies

    “Ties” with Russia don’t mean a damn thing.  And neither does undercutting Obama’s policies- which is the playbook of every top administrator Trump has appointed.  We’ve had face off with Russia in Syria and sanctions, with no obvious quid pro quo from Trump to Putin.

    Not all Trump associates are aligned with Russian interests as those aligned with  Saudi/Israel/UAE are anti-Russia.

    Flynn, Manafort, Gates, Stone, Jared, Page, Papa, Prince, etc, can be guilty of their own criminality without having Trump complicit in their actions.  And, Trump can have criminality related to his real estate organization and sexual behavior… but actually be right about (himself) not colluding to meddle with the 2016 election.

    So where is Mueller going?  Vox from two days ago has nine possibilities, and ironically obstruction seems like the winning ticket, though Trump may not have been personally complicit in the crimes for which he helped obstruct justice.

    So, HPSCI is done- washed their hands of it.  But, now we have SDNY investigation + DNC lawsuit.  Seriously? Will Mueller please end this already?  Put your bleeping cards on the table and tell America if Trump criminally colluded with the State of Russia to turn the 2016 election and, thus should be impeached.


      • matt says:

        Mueller is sitting on crap ton of evidence, and I can assume that the cases are already made the other characters not yet indited.  Maybe, as some have speculated, he’s just waiting till mid-terms and a presumably more sympathetic congress.  I suppose too, if he lays low, he can avoid giving Trump a pretext for his ouster.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          More like him getting ducks in a row and letting each quack at the right time and in the right sequence.  That requires considerable skill, discipline and strategy, especially if you have to plan on winning multiple times on multiple issues in this Sup. Ct.

    • JD12 says:

      The problem with undercutting Obama is it happened before inauguration. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. He should’ve just waited a few weeks and it would have been fine.

      • DMM says:

        The matter simply can’t hinge on “undercutting” Obama on Russia sanctions though, on what would probably be a very shaky attempt to apply the Logan Act. For one, every president-elect in the last 50 years has sent someone to ask the Russians/Soviets to take it easy in responding to anything the outgoing administration has done so they can start afresh. Obama sent McFaul, for example. More fundamentally, “Hey Russia, please don’t react to these sanctions” can hardly realistically be said to undermine US policy.

        Moreover, it’s questionable whether the Logan Act could apply to the president-elect. Maybe under a strictly literal interpretation, but such a construction, in light of key govt’al and constitutional purposes and as applies to the president-elect (i.e. especially having secured the Electoral College majority) during our weird temporal twilight zone overlap between election and inauguration, would itself be weird. And then there’s the First Amendment question (at least in the absence of any inducement or coercion).

        The Logan Act’s only real potential applicability would likely be Flynn/Trump’s asking Kislyak to veto or delay a pending UN resolution regarding Israel. This will be a hard sell itself, if for no other reason than it has nothing to do with any Trump/Russia election conspiracy.

        Note also that nowhere (to my knowledge, at least) has Mueller even referenced the Logan Act. Maybe he’s holding it back, but it seems as plausible that it’s because he doesn’t consider it an applicable or legitimate charge.

        • matt says:

          Such is the difficulty determining and enforcing sanctions.   And, as you say, connecting a quid pro quo between Trump or Trump associates and Russia will be difficult if not impossible.

    • Greenhouse says:

      uh, I believe the point of the article is that Marcy is calling BS on HSPCI’s claim that Trump wasn’t notified about nat sec concerns of people on his team. He clearly was notified about Flynn and, irregardless of that fact, chose to keep him on his team. Stop your bitching.

        • Trip says:

          Flynn also entertained the idea of extraordinary rendition of a person in the US to a foreign country.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            For a considerable payment, I believe, subsidized by the USG’s military and intelligence communities.  How Trumpian.

                • Trip says:

                  Flynn isn’t dangerous since he is gone. But he was of the DeVos and Prince school of propaganda and worldwide religious war. He was cozying up to Erdogan and at least willing to do his bidding for money. I don’t think it’s something that can be properly assessed. He was a mercenary himself.  He was likely willing to undo any Iran deal deal at the urging of Trump.


      • DMM says:

        Your rebuttal is true but meaningless. Even though Trump had been notified of natl security concerns about people on his team, matt’s point (as I take it) is that there’s no crime that follows from that. It’s a typically-Trumpian stupid decision, but there’s no crime in it.

        • bmaz says:

          Baloney. Complete baloney. At a minimum, many of these actions could be obstruction of justice or conspiracy to obstruct. Making the blank statement that there simply is no crime even possible is beyond silly.

          • matt says:

            I’m not trying to be a smart ass.  Help me understand how Trump himself could be involved in obstruction for “knowing” Flynn had contact with the Russian ambassador.  That’s what National Security Advisers do- communicate with foreign ambassadors.  As it stands, the charges do not indicate (at this time) that Flynn’s communications were criminal or illegal.  The charges state that he lied on two occasions to the FBI.   I guess if Trump told Flynn to lie to the FBI that would a different story, but to my knowledge there is no evidence of that.

    • Trip says:

      Plausible deniability is a thing, as you know. It just depends on whether someone spills the beans on connections. But it’s pretty difficult to imagine that Donald had no idea what junior was up to, trying to get stolen emails and dirt from Russians, in the Tower. That’s not about anti-Obama policy. That’s looking for ill-gotten gains for personal reward.

      Oh wait, it was all about adoptions.

      • matt says:

        Vlady may well have “gifted” the dirt and coordinated the Guccifer/Wikileaks events for his own personal gains.

        • Trip says:

          That completely ignores all of the GOP operatives seeking emails. Smith, Stone, to name a few; Smith asserting Flynn in that operation. I suppose there is a .01% chance Trump was oblivious, but then while campaigning, he literally asked Russia for the emails.

          I still think nothing will happen because 1. he has the entire GOP as cover, and 2. the position of the presidency tends to cancel out any action, as far as any criminal charges, at any point. In my mind, the best outcome would be Trump flipping on the Mercers, Bannon and big guns (pun intended for possibility of NRA) for their role in the conspiracy.


          • matt says:

            “In my mind, the best outcome would be Trump flipping on the Mercers, Bannon… for their role in the conspiracy.”

            Oh my gosh, yes.  Why hasn’t Bannon been indited?  Probably because he’s too close to an American oligarch, and a Bannon trial would rip open Facebook.

            And, yea, on point #2 it must be “good to be the king,’ being able to fire your investigators and/or pardon your friends.

            I don’t think “knowing” about the emails will be enough.  If all the hacking and releasing was done on the Russian side and no evidence of a quid pro quo deal surfaces.  If any help came from the Trump side it seems more likely to have come from Stone or Bannon, not Trump himself… and even if Trump was in the loop, they are not likely to flip on him… as long as he does not flip on them, as no parties involved want mutually assured destruction.

            If Mueller keeps waiting, his investigation may end up in a stalemate.  Especially if Trumps presidency gains more momentum and establishment connections to the neocons. In this regard, Muller will be less and less likely to air the American establishment’s dirty laundry and just leave it where it’s at- Russian trolls/IRA are to blame for election meddling- case closed.  The Dems/Liberals can get their pound of flesh with the sex scandals that will surely keep drip, dripping over the next year, disgracing Trump and barring him any possibility of re-election.

            In the end, the Left and MSM have all been (purposefully?) distracted by the incessant Russia Collusion story, and lost sight of deeper issues/threats to the success of our democracy- the two biggest being billionaire funding of elections (Kochs, Mercers, etc) and Neocons/Netyanyahu’s incessant pressure on the USA for continued implementation of the grad scheme for restructuring (destroying) Muslim state threats to Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East.

            Here’s an honest take from Medium that still rings true from over a year ago:


            • Trip says:

              There is more than enough circumstantial evidence as far as I can see to demonstrate an obligation to Russia (not wanting to impose sanctions, tip offs before strikes, twice now. Telling the Russians classified intelligence and why he fired Comey). I’m not sure if the reward to Trump, before or after, has been adequately connected.

    • Desider says:

      Oh, Matt in the Hat is Back. A dozen Trump advisors caught up in illegal Russian connections and other illegal activity doesn’t reflect on Trump, despite his claim he has “the best people”. Good to know. That Russian lawyer meeting w Don Jr and Jared (who maybe got a call from daddy in the meeting) now says she’s been an “informant” for 5 years (meaning “spy”), but no problem for Donny. Donny has a diarrhea session on Fox News and threatens the FBI *3 times* to lay off or else, but that’s business as usual in Trumpville. The president can’t even get straight whether his lawyer is his lawyer or not his lawyer – that’s a first.
      And the Saudis and UAE are doing major oil and nuclear energy plotting w Russia worth up to trillions, so you even fucked that part up.
      So back to the thread, Matt – how come Trump hired Flynn, reported to be doing business with Russia, if he’s so goddamn smart and innocent? How come he lined up treasonweasel Carter Page as his bag boy to Russia if it didn’t mean a thing? Why was a presidential candidate sucking up publicly to a Russia-aligned group that had hacked and stolen his oppent’s and opposing party’s emails and strategy plans, an attack akin to the Watergate break-in to steal DNC info 44 years earlier? And how come you’re so keen to wish it all away and crawl up Trump’s butt in the process? Enquiring minds want to know. (And yeah, a president who pays off porn stars to the the tune of a quarter mill if not $2 mill, along with settles his scam university suit for $25 million gives you the idea the guy is both unethical and pretty open to blackmail and coercion. Doesn’t that scare you? Or his evangelists will make it all better?)

      • matt says:

        I wouldn’t be a daily reader of EW if I wasn’t afraid of Trumps disastrous presidency- especially his appointments.

        But, there is nothing, I repeat, nothing wrong with diplomacy between Russia and the Trump White House, and nothing wrong with international business relationships with Russians (or other foreign nationals) and Trump associates unless criminal/election tampering is directly involved.

        All speculation aside, we have yet to receive an answer from Mueller to the million dollar question.  Weather I dislike Trump or not, does not change the fact- for a multitude of reasons- that the Mueller investigation may not find enough evidence to link Trump himself to impeachable charges, and for political reasons (depending on where the political winds blow) may not want to even if they could make the case.

        In regards to Putin’s deals with the Saudi’s and Israel… Putin has forced himself into a seat at the big boys table.  Even in the midst of these proxy wars, opposing parties must negotiate the energy future of the world, while they simultaneously may be battling it out as enemies in various political/business fronts.  Welcome to statecraft 101.

        • Desider says:

          “All speculation aside, we have yet to receive an answer from Mueller” – yeah, Rob called to send his apologies – he knows he promised you a personal summary by New Years, end of Feb latest, but got caught up with kids’ schoolwork…
          So cooperating w Russian hackers to steal and publish his political opponents’ emails and strategy plans isn’t enough? Secretly meeting with Russians in Trump Tower and Seychelles to illegally circumvent sanctions and then lying about it to the FBI and Congress isn’t enough? Illegal Russian money laundering into Trump properties isn’t enough? Hiding million dollar payments that circumvent campaign law restrictions isn’t enough? Actively working with Russians to destroy critical functions of US government, especially the State Department, isn’t enough? Obstruction of justice and suborning leaks of criminal investigation info that includes him via Nunes isn’t enough? A continual verbal assault against government institutions and the press isn’t enough? 5 lies a day on average to the American people over the course of 15 months isn’t enough?
          Mueller’s doing fine. Anything faster would open himself up to complaints and risk Trump’s team or slipping out thru loopholes. Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos, Priebus, Carter Page, Nuberg(sp?), Cohen… all where they need to be, it’s a slow-to-moderate moving Trumpian train wreck.

          • matt says:

            “So cooperating w Russian hackers…”

            This is pure conjecture at this point, as I keep saying Vlady may well have “gifted” the emails (just like the painting Marcy noted in her post today).

            “meeting with Russians in Trump Tower and Seychelles to illegally circumvent sanctions”

            Sanctions are always under negotiation.  Russia has every right as sovereign  nation state to discuss trade issues- discussing is not a crime.  Circumventing sanctions is akin to a child escaping “time-out.”  Sanctions are nearly useless, not to mention arbitrary, and rarely enforced.

            “Illegal Russian money laundering into Trump properties”

            Yes, but I don’t think this has anything to do with the 2016 election meddling.  I mean, Russian oligarchs are “diversifying” their assets with plenty of real estate developers in the UK, US, and elsewhere.

            “Actively working with Russians to destroy critical functions of US government”

            No way.  Our American oligarchs are doing that without any Russian help whatsoever.

            Mueller’s doing fine. Anything faster would open himself up to complaints and risk Trump’s team or slipping out thru loopholes. 

            If Mueller had a strong enough case for impeachable offences there would be no loopholes to slip through.  Complaints?Mueller has not shown one iota of concern about Trump’s complaints.  My concern is that Mueller is not the “white night” people think he is- I think regardless of Trumps culpability, he is stalling.  Waiting to act based on the political winds of the establishment- which by most accounts is warming up to the Trump presidency.

            • Desider says:

              Sorry, “gifting” stolen emails is still illegal. Plotting to circumvent sanctions is still illegal. I don’t know what you think breaking the law means, but I”d suggest you’re way wrong, even if I’m not a lawyer.

              • matt says:

                Yes, “illegal” by the parties committing the crime, likely Cozy and Fancy Bears, Not Donald Trump.  Though, we’ll see if Roger Stone or Jr. are indited along with the Russians.

                “Plotting” (negotiating) is not illegal, the act of sanctioned trade is illegal- but to my knowledge no fines have been levied by the Treasury related to sanctions violations after Obama’s punitive sanctions (the Exxon mobile fines were related to the Crimea Annexation sanctions).

                • bmaz says:

                  Seriously, this is beyond silly. If you have not picked up on the nuances and intricacies of conspiracy and attempted offenses, then, please, Matt, go back and review a long litany of explanations. It is not our job to keep re-edifying the intransigent minds that wander in here, whether well meaning or trollish.

                  • matt says:

                    My silly, wondering, intransigent mind cannot even respond to your comment as you’ve made no discernible arguments challenging any statements in the discussion.  Thanks for the insults, though.

                    • bmaz says:

                      You are full of shit. I responded to you, as did many other commenters. And, yet, here you are. Whining because your original premise was completely full of shit.

                      You came in here to Emptywheel originally as a gun nut advocate in the face of gun tragedy, and are still insidiously injecting repeated bullshit. You have established what you are “Matt”, at this point just wondering whether you are being paid, or are just trolling us sui generis.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A long list of worthies, several of whom have already been indicted or pled guilty to felonies.  They’re connection is to Trump, not each other.  But Trump needn’t be complicit in their actions.  Mickey Medallions can expect to be repaid that $130K any day now then.

    • Avattoir says:

      If you follow Susan Simpson, she’s got a line on argument that it already happened – the Mickey Medallions Disbursement Adjustment, that is. She’s pointed to experts on statistics that assert that the odds are in excess of 1,000:1 that the $130k disbursal to Stormy’s attorney and the same amount less 3 cents being billed out of Mickey’s operations to the Trump Org, AND PAID, is some ‘mere coincidence’.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I read $.28, but yea.  If it wasn’t Trump personally who paid it, it sure looks like a campaign contribution.  And Trump never pays his own bills.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            The key thing to note is that First Republic Bank put the money into a Cohen account on 2016-10-26.

            He had to pay next day.

            But not all of the ‘charges’ at Trump properties were finished until 2016-10-25. AMEX covered the last $10k quickly.

            So how does one put $10K on their AMEX on
            2016-10-25 at a Trump property, and then it is already covered by said property the next day and get wired to Cohen that day?

            That is *fast* bank processing that most people do not experience.

  10. HanTran says:

    “This lack of notification meant that the campaign was unable to address the problems with each campaign member and was ignorant about the potential national security concerns.”

    The claim that the campaign was not notified, ergo they did not know about it is irrational. Not to mention what “senior person” from the campaign would have been notified who was not a person with  “potential national security concerns”.

    • Avattoir says:

      Interstate commerce, man: that’s the 100% pure as fresh snow driven federal junk. State AGs would need something like specially-adapted statutory status to take even a piece of that.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yep. If “interstate commerce” gave the feds jurisdiction to imprison the then most successful African American boxer – for accompanying his girlfriend across state lines a hundred years ago – it is good enough today to give the feds jurisdiction over real interstate financial crimes. Not to mention its jurisdiction over mail, wire and bank fraud.

  11. SteveB says:

    Re Not All Team Trump Aligned with Russia : Isreal/Saudi/UAE hate the Russians

    I suspect that insofar as Trump team had a “Grand Plan” for the Middle East it is of the “Rip up and remodel” sort.

    We have seen the partial execution of the Isreali/Saudi/UAE limb
    Ie fuck the Palestinians, fuck Iran get those governments on board with that.

    In the North ie Syria and Iraq etc the plan was :
    Get out of Dodge asap
    Fuck Isis, Fuck Iran Fuck Hezbollah ; the Kurds and the Lebanese will justhave to eat shit

    The North is for Russia and Turkey to control, The South for USA, Israel, Saudis and UAE : everyone hates Iran and Iran gets fucked every which way.

    Flynns activities vis a vis Russia, Turkey and Nuclear power business development in south gives some clues to this overarching “plan/wish list”

    Thus there was more to Trumps idea of playing nice with Putin than the vague “it would be a good thing”
    As ever its also about intermingling the excercise of State powers with wealth creation opportunities for the big players.

    Obviously Flynn being forced out messed with the early stages of the Russia Turkey limb as did other factors.

    I have perhaps joined the dots in a batshit crazy conspiracy way: I am well aware of Occams razor, and the Trump Russia story is as simple as an electoral quid for a sanctions reduction pro quo; but Kushners efforts with Israel and Saudis suggests a greater level of ambition.

    • Trip says:

      Agreed @ SteveB. They were cutting the pie up in new ways, driven largely by personal gain, and the long range machinations of dark money.

    • matt says:

      @Steve, you’re not crazy- looks like you’ve followed the shifting alliances.  I would claim that “the enemy of my enemy of my friend,” and “politics makes strange bedfellows.” are even more important maxims in understanding current events than Occams razor.  You seem to understand that clearly.

  12. Lamsmy says:

    Apologies – reply not working.
    To EW Fan and others above re Broidy.

    I agree. Avenatti’s suggestion that this was a cover-up for another Trump payoff seems much more logical than a relative unknown paying a mistress 10 times the money Trump’s girls got. (Unless Cohen and Davidson were using the opportunity to get their hands on a large chunk of the payoff.)

    Also the dates seem telling. The FBI raided Cohen’s properties on the 9th of April. Realizing that another (much more damaging) Dennison contract was going to be unearthed in short order, they needed a fall guy fast. Three days later the Broidy story is “leaked” to the WSJ.

    If true however, Broidy may have been a poor choice for the fall guy. He is currently facing multiple investigations and charges look very possible. The last time he was charged and convicted of a felony he cooperated fully with prosecutors to avoid jail time.

    I have a feeling the SDNY team will take a long hard look at this contract and the related bank transfers.

    • Trip says:

      Nader is cooperating (his partner). There is a chance that the funds for the payoff were foreign.

      • SteveB says:

        Davidson is also cooperating.

        The evidence of his collusive behaviour with Cohen while supposedly acting on behalf of Stormy, “Broidy’s paramour” and McDougal is growing.

        The boiler plate for the NDA from Cohen used against Davidsons recent clients was word for word identical to the NDA  created by Davidson in the Hulk Hogan case.

        Davidson seems to have been deeply duplicitous in these matters, He also has had past troubles re ethics I believe.

        Lots of incentives for him to have cut a deal shafting Cohen.


        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Confident that Davidson has already dealt with at least one subpoena. Due to a week-old hint.

          • bmaz says:

            There is no cognizable evidence of a subpoena to Davidson whatsoever. Both sides on that equation have consistently said that all information produced to date was voluntarily done so.

  13. Palli says:

    RE: Frank Probst, April 27, 2018 at 9:25 pm
    OT and a bigger long term question: (IANL) but a couple of small arts businesses [$1M gross] I know have been yearly quizzed & hounded by the IRS and their private contract bill collectors. (Of course, different IRS triggers than this crowd.) I continue to be baffled by the fact Manafort has “been getting away with activities that almost anyone would suspect are illegal, and he’s never had a problem with the law”. Why has it taken a screwy presidential election for any one of these high rollers to be scrutinized. How does this neglect happen & continue? The rationale cannot be simply “the rich are different”.

    • Frank Probst says:

      I’ll defer to @bmaz for the legal reasons.  My guess would be that these things are easy to see but difficult to prove.  Much of the evidence against Manafort is the result of a “no knock” search warrant executed by the FBI.  Those aren’t easy to get, so you probably have to be damn sure you need one before you even consider asking a judge for it.  And this one came from a special counsel.  I doubt the DOJ has the resources to do things like this for your run-of-the-mill white collar crooks.

      • bmaz says:

        I never understood how the Manafort warrant was “no knock” and, given the crack of dawn execution, it always seemed like it was more a tradition SW. Which is exactly how the Feds aggressively execute regular warrants. Turns out that was correct, it was not a no knock after all the bullshit expended on that meme by wing nuts. And which we all fell for for far too long, including me, even when it did not seem right.

  14. harpie says:

    Here is an observation from Judd Legum regarding the Report on Flynn:
    [quote] 1. To me, the previously unreported July 15, 2016 email from Flynn is a bombshell
    He says things “will happen…via cyber operations…by both hacktivists [and] nation-states” […] [end quote]
    He has a screen shot from the Report, but here’s the language:
    [quote] [pdf 82/253; p.72] (U) Michael Flynn: On July 15, 2016, retired Lieutenant General and Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn forwarded an email to communications advisor [redacted] in an attempt to connect a friend from the military with the campaign’s social media operation. Flynn included the following editorial comment: “There are a number of things happening (and will happen) this election via cyber operations (by both hacktivists, nation-states and the DNC).” 109 This statement does not necessarily indicate non-public knowledge, and could have instead reflected commentary on then-current public events- including the mid June attribution of the DNC hack to Russia by the security firm CrowdStrike, and the subsequent claim of credit by the then-unknown persona “Guccifer 2.0.” (See Chapter 2.) // [Footnote 109. Email from Michael Flynn to [redacted]. July 15, 2016. [FLYNN HPSCI 00002980-81] [end quote]

  15. Rugger9 says:

    Avattoir / Earl:
    Duly noted about interstate commerce (definitely JeffBo’s prerogative) but I would be very surprised if there aren’t local (e.g. NYS only) transactions that Schneiderman can charge. I wasn’t arguing about the federal side aside from JeffBo’s silence in his otherwise rabid War on Drugs ™, but the local one. After all, NYS also has financial laws they seem to be able to extend their reach on since the securities are traded on Wall Street.

Comments are closed.