A Thinking Person’s Guide to the Stefan Halper Conspiracy Theory

For some time, I’ve been agnostic about whether Chuck Ross’ series on Stefan Halper derived from his own discussions with George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, and Sam Clovis, or whether he relied on leaks from HPSCI.

Today, he gave one of the leading comments he often does, about Paul Ryan’s claimed concern about “FISA abuse.” (Ryan, remember, pushed through 702 reauthorization this year without reforming a single one of the abuses laid out in this report, but apparently Chuck’s gonna play along with the notion that Ryan gives a shit about FISA.)

That mirrors Ross’ own logically nonsensical focus on the dossier as a source for the Carter Page FISA order in conjunction with Halper. Which, especially since other journalists are making it clear the Halper focus is coming from Hill Republicans, suggests Ross was getting leaks from Republicans.

That’s even more true of this interview with Sam Clovis. In it, Clovis makes it very clear the meeting did not stick out in his memory.

It was an academic meeting. It was not anything other than him talking about the research that he had done on China.

[snip]

No indication or inclination that this was anything other than just wanting to offer up his help to the campaign if I needed it.

After describing how he hadn’t opened up attachments Halper sent later in the month, he said, “that is how little this registered with me.”

And yet, somehow, by March, someone had told Ross about this meeting.

Halper also requested and attended a one-on-one meeting with another senior campaign official, TheDCNF learned. That meeting was held a day or two before Halper reached out to Papadopoulos. Halper offered to help the campaign but did not bring up Papadopoulos, even though he would reach out to the campaign aide a day or two later.

Clovis seems to derive his memory of the meeting, in significant part, from the documentation he does (four emails setting the meeting up) and doesn’t (any notes) have about it.

There’s a record of the exchange of emails that we had, four emails to set the appointment.

[snip]

I had my notebook. Always take notes and always keep track of what’s going on. And there wasn’t anything — I didn’t have any notes on the meeting cause there must not have been anything substantive that took place.

That suggests someone knew to go back to look for communications involving Halper. Now, if HPSCI requested all the comms campaign aides had with investigative target Carter Page, then Clovis would have turned over these emails (which mentioned Page but probably discussed China, not Russia), and HPSCI staffers could have found the tie. If HPSCI only asked for Russia-related comms involving Page, then someone got Toensing or Clovis to search for Halper emails themselves.

Clovis explains that he’s bothered, now, about the meeting because he thinks he was used as an excuse to reach out to George Papadopoulos.

He had met with Carter Page. He had used that to get the bona fides to get an appointment with me.

[snip]

Then I think he used my meeting as bona fides to get a meeting with George Papadopoulos.

Remember, one of the inane complaints in the Nunes memo is that the Carter Page FISA application mentioned Papadopoulos.

The Schiff memo explains that Papadopoulos got mentioned because, after Alexander Downer told the FBI that Papadopoulos had told him the Russians were going to release Hillary emails to help Trump, they opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.

In other words, the frothy right likely believes, like Clovis, that Halper was networking as a way to get to Papadopoulos, and that in some way ties to the FISA application against Page.

And he may well have done so! As TPM clarifies some confusion created by WaPo, both Page, Clovis, and Clovis lawyer Victoria Toensing agree that Halper mentioned Page when he reached out to Clovis.

Clovis’ lawyer, Victoria Toensing, previously said, according to the Washington Post that the informant had not mentioned his other Trump contacts when reaching out to Clovis. Clovis said he wasn’t sure “where she got that information,”since she had access to the emails setting up the September 2016 meeting.

Toensing, in an phone interview Tuesday with TPM, backed up Clovis’ account. She told TPM that the informant had said in an email to Clovis that Page had recommended that they meet. She also claimed that the informant had told Page when they met at the conference that he was a big fan of Clovis’. Page confirmed Toensing’s account in an email to TPM.

Halper met with Clovis on September 1 and then reached out to Papadopoulos the next day.

Though note: Page says Halper raised Clovis at the July conference where they met, a meeting that occurred before dossier reports started getting back to FBI (particularly to the people investigating the hack-and-leak) and before the Papadopoulos report. That either suggests the FBI already had concerns about Clovis by then, or Halper was more generally networking with Page along with checking out someone who had been a live counterintelligence concern in his own right since March and for years beforehand.

Here’s where things start to go off the rails for this whole conspiracy theory, though. Clovis (who, remember, testified to Mueller’s team in the days before Papadopoulos’ cooperation agreement was unsealed, and who therefore may have his own false statements to worry about) believes that the FBI had no business trying to ask Papadopoulos about his April knowledge of Russians dealing Clinton emails in a way that would not arouse Papadopoulos’ suspicion.

What unsettled me … is what he tried to do with George Papadopoulos and that was to establish an audit trail from the campaign or somebody associated with the campaign back to those Clinton emails, whether or not they existed we don’t know.

Clovis believes, as does the entire frothy right, that the FBI had no reason to check out leads from someone who predicted the Russians would leak dirt from Hillary to help Trump a month before it became publicly known.

What were they investigating? To be investigating, there has to be some indication of a crime. And there does not appear to have been any indication for a crime. And by the way the Fourth Amendment protects you in your place and your person from investigation without a clear indication of what, uh, probable cause.

Somehow, Clovis conveniently forgets that stealing emails is a crime. And the FBI had been investigating that crime since June 2016, a month before learning that Papadopoulos might have known about the stolen emails before the FBI itself did.

In other words, at the core of this entire conspiracy theory (on top of pretending that Carter Page wasn’t already a counterintelligence concern in March, as all the designated GOP stenographers do) is the GOP fantasy that the FBI had no business trying to chase down why Papadopoulos knew of the theft before the DNC itself did.

And they’re making an enormous case out of the fact that FBI used Halper — a lifelong Republican to whom Papadopoulos could and did lie to without legal jeopardy — to interview someone Clovis claims was “ancillary” to the campaign at the time.

It’s also clear to me that they misread George’s relationship with the campaign entirely, so, because he was not, he was ancillary at best at that point.

So that appears to be where this is heading: an attempt to criminalize a Republican networking with a goal of learning whether George Papadopoulos, and through him, Sam Clovis and the rest of the campaign, committed what Papadopoulos himself has said (though this is legally incorrect) might amount to treason.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: the GOP doesn’t think Russian theft of Democratic emails was a crime and therefore doesn’t think FBI had reason to investigate Papadopoulos’ apparent foreknowledge of that crime.

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227 replies
  1. sonofnewo says:

    Marcy, you still haven’t answered a very simple question:

    Why, in your opinion, did Stefan Halper and Alexander Downer each arrange private meetings with lowly George Papadopoulos in the summer of 2016?

    • sonofnewo says:

      And did Downer and Halper arrange private meetings with lowly George Papadopoulos for the same reason that Joseph Mifsud, another “professor” with ties to western intelligence, arranged a private meeting with lowly George Papadopoulos?

        • Trip says:

          “Lowly”
          https://media4.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2017_44/2214141/171103-george-papadopoulos-cjn-ac-603p_0d648f3d9ff5a6f1baf81e086dc9e7b8.fit-560w.jpg

          Among the panelists in our (AJC panel) 2016 Republican National Convention program — in a session titled ‘Defining America’s Role in Global Affairs’ — was George Papadopolous, then a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser:

          From left, George Papadopoulos, U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, Michael Scharf, dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law; David O’Sullivan, head of the European Union delegation to the United States; U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and Jason Isaacson listen as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., makes a statement during an AJC panel discussion July 20, 2016.

          National Security Meeting March 31, 2016
          https://mobile.twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/715725628465680386

        • Avattoir says:

          This dude is a hard right wing white supremacist troll. All you need to know about him you can gather from going to YouTube and keying in his online name. Seriously: the only correct response to him is none – ignore him, or else you’ll encourage him to keep returning and I guarantee you will have contributed to cluttering up the comment threads here. Think of it as doing a solid for everyone here, starting with Fearless Leader in particular.

      • bmaz says:

        Listen up, again, NOBODY here owes you dick shit as to an answer to your bleating repetitive “question”, much less Marcy.

        You can go rot somewhere else, here will not be your troll home. Ever. And, no, I highly doubt Avattoir will be “apologizing” for identifying exactly who and what you are.

        You can be gone, or be made gone. Decision is yours. But commenters here are on to your trolly gig.

    • dc says:

      I suspect you know how to read but choose not to.  I also suspect you understand time and sequence but choose not to.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Feeble, repetitive attempt at distraction. Or are you trying to find out how much Marcy knows? Could the the WH be that interested? I hope you’re on salary and not piece work, and that they’ve improved the seats underneath the tank traps underneath Penn. Ave. Karl installed them for Karl’s Klakkers, and he was a cheap bugger.

    • Peterr says:

      As cheap as Karl was, it’s even worse for people looking to find good trollish help these days. Russian trolls and bots have driven the wages of trolling down even further, such that honest God-fearing ‘merican trolls can’t make a living wage any more.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s attempt to “put this out there” is so transparent.  If the FBI did this, if the FBI did hat, it would be the most horrible thing on the planet since Friedrich Trump left Bavaria and emigrated to America.

    The Don is using a standard character assassination technique.  His base doesn’t hear the conditionality in his language, that the FBi might have done something, however unlikely, however lacking in evidence and steeped in fantasy the president’s comment.  It hears only that the FBI did something.

    The FBI did not put a spy in Trump’s camp.  It was Trump who employed a team of people with strong ties to Russian and Ukrainian interests, most of whom were so generous, they worked for free.

    The FBI did use a lifelong Republican intelligence asset to poke around at the margins of what was obviously a compromised GOP campaign.  The question is how compromised.  The FBI is still looking into that, which is why Beltway tailors are making so many pairs of brown corduroy trousers.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      The political point here is that if you win a compromised election, you acquire the power to retroactively declare illegitimate any investigation into how that compromise took place. This is one of the shitty aspects of a presidential system that resembles an early-modern monarchy.

      I was reading the other day about how Henry VII declared his reign as beginning the day before Bosworth Field (i.e. when Richard III was still king). He then used that declaration to extract land, money and concessions from the aristocrats who’d fought on Richard’s side — retroactive traitors — as part of his consolidation of power.

    • Pig in the Trough says:

      Indeed, it looks like the entirety of the so-called ‘freedom caucus’ was compromised a few years ago –  Most likely about the same time the moniker ‘tea party’ was subsiding.

      I try my best not to think in ad hominem terms (as it is ultimately self-defeating), but these clowns have pushed to the point where no other way seems enough.

  4. Rapier says:

    Hacking DNC email a crime?  Cripes, they want to give Putin the fucking Congressional Medal of Honor.

  5. Rusharuse says:

    Me? I like the Captain Underpants, Broidy, Cohen triumvirate. Power, sex, money, imbrogliated(?) in ways that perhaps only Harold Robbins could comprehend.

  6. Soldalinsky says:

    Ultimately, it comes down to this: the GOP doesn’t think Russian theft of Democratic emails was a crime and therefore doesn’t think FBI had reason to investigate Papadopoulos’ apparent foreknowledge of that crime.

    So why wasn’t the FBI scouring the globe for Misfud throughout all of 2016?  Misfud was the source!!!!!!  Where is Misfud now?  Also, there’s questions about which e-mails were actually hacked or stolen, the chain of evidence custody, if the FBI actually did any forensic evidence, how many e-mails were actually classified, and Hillary’s reckless negligence / failure to mitigate, but the FBI doesn’t care about that.   Wasn’t a huge group of people given immunity too and absolved of any culpability?  The double standards, prosecutorial discretion, and hypocrisy is absolutely unreal.  THIS IS THE PROBLEM!!

    From Comey in early July 2016:

    My investigators had no “direct evidence” that Hillary Clinton’s email account had been “successfully hacked,” both private experts and federal investigators immediately understood his meaning: It very likely had been breached, but the intruders were far too skilled to leave evidence of their work.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/07/us/hillary-clintons-email-was-probably-hacked-experts-say.html

     

    What about the DNC emails?  Nobody has ever inspected the fucking server!!!  Podesta had [email protected] on his stupid account if I remember correctly.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Oh, honey.

      There’s a base level of knowledge here that stops a person looking like an utter dink. You have not reached that point.

      And deceptively quoting David Sanger from mid-2016 during the height of But Her Emails froth really doesn’t help your case.

    • Soldalinsky says:

      Unfortunately, I butchered the above quote even more than the NYT did.  This is directly from Comey’s prepared remarks on July 5th 2016 regarding Clinton’s e-mail system investigation:

      With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal email domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.

      So, no direct evidence of hacking, but the FBI assessed it was possible.

       

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Oh, honey.

        That level of knowledge might earn you a fave from Byron Bouffant, but it’s not sufficient for this class.

    • Desider says:

      So your theory is they successfully hacked Hillary’s emails from home, but chose not to release them? Bwa-ha-ha-har, you *are* the fucking moron of the day, aren’t you.

    • orionATL says:

      sodalinsky is a new kind of troll – a soft troll. very reasonable sounding fellow.

      sophisticated trollery, doncha know.

  7. Jay says:

    GOP HPSCI members and staffers should be investigated and prosecuted for unauthorized disclosure of classified information and suborning obstruction of justice.

    • Peterr says:

      I think you left out the part where you said “. . . and a unicorn should be delivered to my home by a leprechaun bringing me a pot of gold and a glass of fine Irish whiskey that never runs dry.”

  8. orionATL says:

    eoh @7:52p

    paragraphs 2 and 3.

    telling it exactly like it is, simply and directly.

    powerful medicine!

  9. jo blow says:

    “Ultimately, it comes down to this: the GOP doesn’t think Russian theft of Democratic emails was a crime and therefore doesn’t think FBI had reason to investigate Papadopoulos’ apparent foreknowledge of that crime.”

    …Papadopoulos’ apparent foreknowledge of that crime…  some don’t appear to want to consider whether the cia, or m16 help pushed  this ‘foreknowledge’ into papadopoulos ear either, with a specific purpose in mind.. why, the cia or m16 never did anything with an ulterior motive in mind!!!!

    “The FBI did not find “direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain … was successfully hacked”; they assessed it “possible that hostile actors gained access” to it.” but folks here have jumped to “Russian theft of Democratic emails: as fact…

    meanwhile, from comey – “there is evidence that they [Clinton and her team] were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” The investigation found 110 emails that should have been regarded as classified at the time they were sent; another 2,000 emails were retroactively classified which means they were not classified at the time they were sent. Comey said that “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding … should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”

    was there some solid proof of “Russian theft of Democratic emails” that i missed?  stealing is made a lot easier  with clintons carelessness, i will grant you that.. it could just as easily be anyone stealing it but apparently the folks at emptywheel know it was russia and what russian fingerprints look like,  just like they know i better wear gloves when i am around the military grade nerve agent found on the doorknobs at emptywheel..

     

     

    • Trip says:

      So what you’re saying is there should be an FBI investigation opened into the unsecured phones of POTUS. Good point!

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Once again, blow job, there’s a small amount of basic factual information required  to take this class, and you should come back when you show awareness of it.

      • bmaz says:

        Yes. And thank you for helping police the bullshit. Also as to “sonofnewo”.

        Folks, don’t feed these idiots. They will be taken care of in due course.

      • jo blow says:

        sorry i can’t join you and the 5 or 6 posters here at emptywheel that are stuck on hating trump and anything russian… in fact, in spite of your attitude and choice of words, i don’t hate you either! i know what an infantile response looks like when i see one though..

        • bmaz says:

          Nobody here “hates” you either, you duplicitous malefactor. By the same ill inserted token, you have been identified for the malignant cancer you truly are.

          That may suck for you, but it is what it is, as is your worthless trollish ass.

          • Trip says:

            The very mature response given was actually a derivative of “haters gonna hate”. Tween girls/boys think it’s hard-hitting, as do the Kardashians.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Oh, blow job, honey. I’ll make the entry-level test very clear. Describe the following:

          1. Email accounts and documents known to be hacked where there was a public release, an attributed hacker and an documented intrusion.

          2. Email accounts and documents hacked and released for which there is less clear attribution of both source and hacker.

          3. Email accounts believed by certain parties to have been hacked through 2016 but for which there is neither public evidence of a hack nor a public release.

          Once you accomplish that, you can talk emails.

  10. Mitch Neher says:

    Halper did not introduce Papadopoulos to Timofeev. Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to Timofeev. Halper did not introduce Papadopoulos to Mifsud. Mifsud introduced himself to Papadopoulos. Halper did not tell Papadopoulos that Russia had Clinton emails. Mifsud told Papadopoulos that Russia had Clinton emails. Halper did not delete Papadopoulos’ Facebook account nor any of Papadopoulos’ emails to and from Timofeev. Papadopoulos deleted his Facebook account and some of his emails to and from Timofeev.

    So long as the foregoing statements are true, Trump’s latest crock of cockamamie will remain Trump’s latest crock of cockamamie.

    • SteveB says:

      It is always helpful to get a concise summary of the convicted felon’s course of conduct over a period of time, his interaction with hostile foriegn actors, concealment of the same as compared to his interaction with domestic counter intelligence services and assets.

      The American Professor induced neither Papadopolous nor Page to do anything they have concealed, regretted or complained about.

      That’s the difference between being willingly groomed by a hostile intelligence operation, and an attempt to investigate what the hostile actors were up to.

  11. Avattoir says:

    Maybe the opening words in the title to this post work like bait to attract displays of metacognition, so help explain the ensuing virtual troll pride parade.

  12. Avattoir says:

    Chuck Ross:

    “I stand by my reporting at The Daily Caller and take pride in my reporting there, even if I am unable to say the same about my past work”.

    The way things work in this universe means that, AOT, as of today Ross’ piece published yesterday at TDC forms part of Ross’ body of “past work”.

    Maybe I’m last here to learn of this Erik Wemple takedown on Chuck “Chuck Rudd” Ross:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2017/09/14/daily-caller-reporter-renounces-racist-misogynistic-writings

    AOT, Wemple shows Ross on Ross rationalizing how, inevitably, nothing he writes can be his fault. One big culprit? The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

    So now we can all look forward to when Ross posts some like this:

    “I’ve matured immeasurably since then,
    and I regret that I put these ill-formed
    thoughts out into the public domain.”

    except on his contemporary writing on The Hunt For Great White October: Moby Halper, MAGA “embed”.

     

  13. Willis Warren says:

    I agree that the Republicans don’t think hacking the DNC was a crime, as McConnell and Ryan basically told Clapper in 2016 when all of this went down.

    So, why don’t they believe hacking an election is a crime?  is it because Republicans have been doing this for years?

    Again, no one seems to be asking the question:  why do the Russkies like the Republicans so much?  they know something about them we don’t.

    • Trip says:

      If hacking is ‘not a crime’, isn’t that an open invitation to hack Trump’s unsecured phones?

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Yep. Hacking when you’re the beneficiary: who’s really hurt by that? Only people who you believe deserve to be hurt. It’s like when cops shoot black people.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      No. Don’t buy it completely until real evidence exists. Please, do not fall for the bait.

      What Dutch intel *thought* they were observing, may have all come from a Hollywood^W NSA studio.

      Think about Tor, and why attribution is hard.

      The setup is actually very easy.

      • bmaz says:

        Don’t be an ass. Mr. Ockham has been here for more than a decade of extremely competent analysis. Something that, ten years from now, will never be said about you.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Mr. Ockham has indeed been a valuable contributor for over a decade.  Smart as his namesake.

      • jo blow says:

        dutch intel provided the non proof on the m17 crash too.. in fact, the dutch are supportive of the propaganda vehicle violet syria  – there version of the uk/usa propaganda opt ‘white helmets’ working on regime change still in syria…. at this point dutch intel is indeed highly suspect…

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Completely different angles. My argument is that SIGINT can be faked. Your point is about HUMINT. Do not mix the two unless one confirms the other. And even then, an IC group could still be misled.

        • orionATL says:

          what nonproof ? your cryptic, inarticulate paragraph is full of nothing but insinuations. this is syraight propaganda, pure and simple, designed to impress simpletons.

          out with it. give us some citations to read and evaluate that support your argument, otherwise you are just dealing in implications, a favorite tool of propagandists.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        What a hoot.  It’s sad when blood brothers fall out.

        I hope Mickey can keep track of all the old friends he’s pissing off.  Some of them might not like it.  None of them would be thrilled if he has to flip on the Don.  Who’s to say who else he might flip on?

    • harpie says:

      Trump lawyer ‘paid by Ukraine’ to arrange White House talks; BBC News, Kiev; 11 minutes ago 

      Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (£300,000) to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump, according to sources in Kiev close to those involved.
      The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, the sources said, though Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law.
      The meeting at the White House was last June.
      Shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home, his country’s anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. […]
       

      • harpie says:

        dfriedman33:

        […] / This report claims arms sales to Ukraine were part of a secret deal that involved the end of Ukraine’s Manafort probe. / […]

        Wendy Siegelman: [with an educated guess]

         […] / “a former aide, who asked a loyal Ukrainian MP for help” – a loyal Ukrainian MP who was in touch with Cohen and Sater was Andrii Artemenko, who was involved in the Cohen, Sater Ukraine peace plan delivered to Michael Flynn early 2017 / […]

        • SteveB says:

          The Poroshenko Trump meeting at WH was 20 June 2017

          They also met on sidelines of UN General Assembly 21 Sept 2017

      • harpie says:

        Marcy’s not impressed by this BBC report:

        There’s a lot I find sketchy abt this BBC report. Most of all, though, is that Poroshenko (or any Ukrainian politician) would be shocked by bribery going on anywhere, much less a Trump casino. / […]

         

      • orionATL says:

        see, i told y’all, in trumpland government policy follows (has a 1-1 corespondence with), uh,”input” from policy seekers. that most certainly includes foreign policy.

        • orionATL says:

          to put it differently: let fi(x) = y be the fix function.

          that is, an input of x in dollars or votes results in a policy action (y) taken by trump himself or one of his major appointees.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Then integrate the equation, and add the constant C, called Cash.

            Except C is not constant, therefore breaking the Theory of Calculus.

            • Avattoir says:

              Cash meaning per se being constant – just not in any particular amount – would revert to Calculus.

              • SpaceLifeForm says:

                And then we are into derivatives, and who recieves them.

                It’s all so slippery slope-y.

            • orionATL says:

              Space life firm & avvatoir –

              I never use rotflmo, but for this I make and exception.

              It’s no wonder the guy uses 40 accountants and 100 lawyers. What is the classification in spookdoom? “Special compartmentalized g no domestic distribution.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Guardian seems firmly headed into he said-she said reporting about Donald Trump.  But there’s hope in the disconnect between the delicate editing and the more straightforward reporting by Sabrina Siddiqui.

    “Trump escalates attacks on FBI as he fights back against Mueller inquiry.”

    Mr. Mueller is running an “inquiry,” not an unprecedented criminal investigation into the campaign of a sitting president.  Mr. Trump “fights back,” Trump’s own words, and what parents encourage their children to do when confronted by a persistent bully.

    A president does not normally confront his own Justice Department and federal police, led by his leaders he picked and staffed by many members of his own party.  Such state agencies are usually a president’s staunchest supporters, not his interrogators.

    “Escalates attacks,” is the sort of thing governments do when fighting insurgents, not properly appointed and empowered members of their own government, doing a job the federal judiciary has declared they would be negligent were they not to do it.

    The subheading is more accurate: “President wields authority to discredit agency as he claims, without evidence, that it planted informant in campaign.”

    An astonishing statement.  A sitting president is attempting to permanently damage the FBI – claiming, without evidence – that it committed a political if not legal crime.  The president does not use time-honored methods, such as a documented letter or brief, a private phone call or meeting, or a well-planned and delivered speech.  He does it in a tweet, to the public, as part of a PR campaign of “resistance” to his own government.

    That would ordinarily lead to congressional calls for censure.  Instead, Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn and Paul Ryan, among others, defend the president in both his means and his goal.

    The reporter, Sabrina Siddiqui, is a little more straightforward.  She gets to the heart of Trump’s campaign, if only in the third to the last paragraph, geography not many readers venture into:

    But if there is to be a moment of reckoning, it may ultimately lie with the American public. And that is where Trump’s efforts to taint the FBI and its independence might prove most consequential.

    Selling snake oil helped Trump into the presidency.  He hopes it will keep him there.

    • orionATL says:

      earl of h –

      “… The Guardian seems firmly headed into he said-she said reporting about Donald Trump.  But there’s hope in the disconnect between the delicate editing and the more straightforward reporting by Sabrina Siddiqui….”

      this is a tendency i’ve noticed just recently in the other major papers, too. guess the editors are getting bored by the steadiness of the mueller investigation, or maybe readership is showing disinterest.

      the nytimes’ frank bruni has this piece of displacing-responsibility nonsense up today:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/22/opinion/mueller-trump-russia-investigation.html

      bruni’s argument is that mr. mueller, you see, is responsible for newspapers like the nytimes not reporting the many other damaging actions president trump and his major appointees are foisiting on the nation. if only mueller were not doing this investigation, the nytimes, for example, would probably be able to report on these other serious matters.

      could a times editorialist write a more inane piece?

      SAAD.

      • Trip says:

        He was a restaurant critic. He doesn’t know how to pick a fucking entree from the menu, on his own, and then write about it? What weak sauce.

        • Pig in the Trough says:

          They say the truth hurts, but if you’re not interested in the truth then you feel no pain.  Hence, the Trumpians are happy as a bunch of larks.

          Put another way, bandwagon journalism:

          1. sensationalize rather than report the facts.
          2. in the absence of facts, concoct whatever might draw the most viewership.
          3. be as fluid as possible so as to agilely change position when your past drivel no longer works (viewership).

        • Trip says:

          David Cay Johnston 
          @DavidCayJ

          I vigorously disagree with my respected former colleague @nickconfessore on Trump coverage — No @NYT stories on Trump & drug trafficker, 1979 bribery probe, Grand Hyatt audit, missing Manhattan sewage scandal & much more that I wrote about, but world’s best newspaper ignored.

  15. Trip says:

    Oh, FFS. Which Fortune 500 company? Name it.

    Matt Katz‏Verified account @mattkatz00

    NJ Attorney General Grewal, who wears a turban, arrived to speak on diversity at a Fortune 500 HQ but “was stopped at the gate, told he wasn’t on the list,” spent “15 mins explaining to the guard that he was the chief law enforcement officer in the state”

  16. harpie says:

    Ryan Goodman just hat-tipped emptywheel:

    […] / Here is the fairly clear evidence that Donald Trump Jr. also likely lied to Congress about the Aug. 3 meeting with Erik Prince and the UAE-Saudi emissary George Nader (hat tip @empytwheel) 6/6 <end>

  17. pseudonymous in nc says:

    The Papadopoulos status update due today (the one I mentioned in a previous thread) is no longer punting and refers the case for a presentencing report, with a further update in 30 days. That suggests that whatever Coffee Boy was going to provide to the investigation has been provided. (Or perhaps that he and people familiar with his thinking have been a little too chatty of late. But I mostly discount that.)

    • bmaz says:

      I think the former is the case. The Papa input is done, and he is ready to go.

      The better question is not as to him, but what that portends in the bigger case, if anything. Either way, do not focus on George.

    • orionATL says:

      May 23, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      Re popodoupolis –

      Sure it may be time for ofc to let the popodoupolis bird out of its cage, but the timing happens to be coincidental with the frothy right recycling Mr. P’s case once again in yet another coordinated house (house of reps/whitehouse) propaganda attack on the ofc.

      The bird being freed from its cage, it can sing

      And will attract predators with its song.

      P. S. Didn’t Mr. P have to sign a detailed statement acknowledging guilt for whatever he did after his interrogation/evaluation in order for the ofc to let him off light? Can he now lie publicly in contravetion of this statement without legal consequence?

    • Trip says:

      Ned Price‏Verified account @nedprice

      Many of us know former colleagues who lost their security clearance because they fell behind on student loans–or ran into other seemingly minor issues. It’s hard to square this decision with that reality unless there was a lower bar for Kushner.

      • Interstitial Matter says:

         
        Per that lower bar:
        Current events, with regards to government, should remind of an era before 1780s France, the Ancien Régime. Our Executive’s actions appear to be operating similarly in the use of  lettre de cachet. As well, to privilege, Kushner is the recipient of favor by marriage into the monarchy. So we could envision these actions as – King Donald John Trump has issued a lettre de cachet that Prince Jared d’Kushner shall receive all the intelligence he wants.
        Now, if history repeats, as it does, then what comes next is going to be potentially ugly in modern times. The question then becomes who will lead the equivalent Reign of Terror, that is, who will be the next Robespierre? And, whose head will roll next? How many others are involved and with what?
        It’s a shitstorm that’s hardly done.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yea, how on earth did that happen?  FBI change its mind?  Trump override them?

      As you say, a top secret clearance is as easy as pie to lose and hard to get.  This makes no sense.  How he got it is of public interest.  And what’s happening on all the other temporary clearance problems in the White House.

      • Trip says:

        Maybe Trump finally got the loyalty pledge from a few career security officials.

        Or perhaps Trump was sharing everything anyway.

      • Trip says:

        Wouldn’t it be a kick in the ass if Kushner actually flipped and that’s why he got cleared? (I’m not actually thinking this is true)

    • orionATL says:

      The nytimes’s Matt Apuzzo tells: “Jared Kushner Gets Security Clearance, Ending Swirl of Questions Over Delay”.

      So the questions about kushner’s fitness to hold a very high level clearance have been resolved, eh.

      Any context for that decision?

      Like it was made during an intense 3 month attack on the fbi by the coordinated house (house of reps/Whitehouse) attack on the fbi in an effort to derail the off inquiry into trump&co. electoral and financial corruption.

      Or like kushner’s family business seems to have benefited from his work, especially his foreign policy work, for his father-in-law.

      • orionATL says:

        In today’s digital NY times (5/24/18) this Matt apuzzo story carries the headline

        “… Jared Kushner Gets Security Clearance After Long Process

        By MATT Apuzzo. Jared Kushner’s F.B.I. background checks had dragged on for a year, fueling questions over his Russia contacts…”

        in the top left column of the front page.

        But inside the digital newpaper the headline remains the same as yesterday, the one I posted immediately above. Did I miss something yesterday, or did the paper change its” bookcover” headline for today?

      • greengiant says:

        Seems like almost all the coverage is orchestrated if not written by Trump.org. I get it, it’s a dogpile of journalism where no one wants to lose their source in chief. This pandering to sources resulted in McCabe faking himself out of his jock strap when Barrett of the WSJ dropped the Trump.org version of the Clinton investigations as if the sources had any basis in fact. Same goes for Jason Leopold and his Sater piece in the intercept. Not one word about Mogilevich or Sater’s connection to financial fraud in the 2000s. Has anything out of the Trump WhiteHouse not been crap? So goes Kushner, as if Mueller had anything to do with a clearance. This is cover for more interference in the DOJ. As in right cleared with Russia, but how about all those other bribers.

  18. Yogarhythms says:

    lower bar, another angle, unequal playing field, no. Joe Alioto said “ organized crime” doesn’t exist. Couldn’t be. Wait I know let’s ask DOJ to app…. Ain’t life grand.

  19. yogarhythms says:

    Wait I thought Justice and liberty for all, equal protection. You don’t think because Prince clown is married to palace his security clearance was expedited? Say it ain’t so.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Must keep the Princes straight. Erik has been trying to keep low profile. Alwaleed bin Talal definitely low profile since buying his way out of of hotel arrest. Only $6B.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I, and we, know.

      It is not always perfect, but there is a LOT that goes on to protect this site that is not forward facing. It is being done though.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I assume so.  Just feedback.  Thought that post would get lost in the ether.

    • orionATL says:

      Me too, a couple of days ago.

      But I never take it personal, don’t ya know. Why should I? :)))

      P. S. These days I am assuming hardening the site is an absolute necessity.

  20. Avattoir says:

    Among the (many important) things I would not know but for read emptywheel.net:
    Huib Modderkolk is the actual name of a real human who off his twitter feed is a definite front runner in any contest among security beat reporters involving that certain smoldering look.

    • orionATL says:

      Sater better hope he is not a celebrity. that dread, staring eye of the media focused on you is how you lose whatever reputation you ever had, even with mogelevitch.

  21. Trip says:

    While the GOP/WH make hay over Halper, whatever happened to the IG report expected to come out this month, on whether the FBI leaked to Giuliani? There’s only a week (from today) left in this month. It’s truly amazing how they accelerated and completed the probe on McCabe in record time, so that he could lose his pension.
    Apr.21.2018

    Congressman Eric Swalwell talks with Rachel Maddow about what is expected from a Department of Justice inspector general report reported to be coming next month that could include the results of an investigation into whether Rudy Giuliani received leaks from the FBI New York office.

    https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/pending-doj-ig-report-could-have-answer-to-giuliani-leak-inquiry-1216087619808?playlist=associated&v=a

  22. orionATL says:

    Trip  –

    Do you have an html citation I can click on re:

    “… May 23, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    David Cay Johnston 

    @DavidCayJ

    I vigorously disagree with my respected former colleague @nickconfessore on Trump coverage — No @NYT stories on Trump & drug trafficker, 1979 bribery probe, Grand Hyatt audit, missing Manhattan sewage scandal & much more that I wrote about, but world’s best newspaper ignored… ”

     

     I Don’t have ditect access to Twitter.

    Tx

      • orionATL says:

        Thank you, harpie. This is one that looked interesting.

        And thanks so much for the many informative stories you post. I may not use Twitter, but I am now completely sold on its extraordinary ability to get information one recognizes as valuable out to many multiples of people nearly instantaneously. .

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Beats Facebook any day for real news.

          Just follow those that actually dig for info.

          Unlike “msm’, that does not.

          The 4th Estate is people that care.

  23. SteveB says:

    “Dear Bob

    A window has opened in my schedule.

    Is 12 June 2018 any good for you?

    Let’s talk.

    Affectionately

    Donald “

    • harpie says:

      South Korea and some in the administration blindsided:
      Anna Fifield@annafifield  “South Korea’s presidential Blue House seems blind-sided by Trump’s cancelation of the summit: “We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means,” says spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom. / South Korea’s president has just called an emergency meeting at the Blue House, summoning his chief of staff, national security adviser, foreign minister, unification minister and intelligence chief. It’s midnight in Seoul.
      *
      Steve Inskeep:  The news seems also to have surprised much of the administration, too. Admin. officials were tracking the NK statement that Trump gave as his reason to cancel; they assessed it as “low-level propaganda,” posturing before the meeting, possibly without much meaning.

        • SteveB says:

          The attempt to look Strong and Decisive vs the DoJ certainly did not play ou how he wanted.

          And re DPRK there was much well informed comment that he had been played.

          So with Wormtongue Bolton whispering in his ear, and making hostile noises off stage I would not be in the least bit surprised if he was in a mood to be persuaded to Show Kim Who’s Top Dog.

          What an idiot. Getting into talks without prep was foolish, pulling out on a pathetic pretext looks even worse.

      • SteveB says:

        “Surprise much of the administration”

        I wonder if Bolton is on a list of the surprised.

        His “like Libya” troll  was a monkey wrench in the mechanicals.

      • harpie says:

        WSJ: SCOOP: Trump ordered White House to release the Kim letter without telling global allies; Officials said the president—who has complained he wasn’t informed about the Kim-Xi meeting—was concerned about leaks. [WSJ] 12:34 PM – 24 May 2018 

    • harpie says:

      Good thread on this fiasco by Frank Jannuzi: Thread: Trump’s Morning of Intemperance  
      [quote] @potus badly mishandled DPRK policy. USA weaker as result. 3 changes made summit possible: 1) President Moon elected President ROK, reaching out to DPRK; 2) KJU consolidated political and military power; 3) Max pressure by UN/Trump […] [The whole thread is worth your time] / I am in Seoul this week, meeting with our allies.  I can report that this announcement takes ROK COMPLETELY by surprise. They had NO INKLING that Trump was about to pull the plug on the summit.  So once again, damage done (serious harm) to US credibility as an ally. / […]

      • orionATL says:

        Just as important, North Korea’s leaders (Kim Jong IL and Kim Jong Un) have a long history of playing off other nations with their “we’ll talk with you about our nuclear weaponry” gambit.

        But I think the most important conclusion one can draw from this episode is that trump is a truly incompetent “deal maker”. No sensible, experienced deal maker would threaten Kim Jong in with assassination. That is stupid beyond belief.

        “art of the deal” my ass, trump couldn’t make a deal for a McDonald’s franchise in podunk. His book is fantasy volumn which describes a fantasy of himself he concocted. In fact, from his childhood lies about his sports competence on, trump could be said to be absorbed in creating an image for others to believe of a competent person and businessman that simply does not match the real Donald trump. It should be no surprise he has been as an incompetent president as well he was a businessman.

        • Interstitial Matter says:

          Indeed!!!

          Some of us figured that out in the 80’s when he was still doing his John Barron call-ins. He’s like a reincarnation of P.T. Barnum, except with an overcompensating id.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        North Korea.  A combination of Trump’s gross ineptitude, ignorance and lack of patience, his crudity and narcissism, his complete in ability to recognize or network with other living things.

        North Korea has little responsibility in this outcome.  It is a difficult party to negotiate with, to be sure, but its recent actions were in response to overt threats from Trump, Bolton, Pence and Pompeo.  Nobody comes to the table under those circumstances.

        Not telling the principal US partner in this fiasco is reckless disregard at best.  Given Bolton and Pompeo’s preference for violence instead of diplomacy, it looks more like intentional misconduct.  “Trump’s” letter of explanation contains more threats and lamely blames the North Koreans.

        This was never about diplomacy or its failure.  As one commentator said, this was a stunt.  Diplomacy takes a plan and a process, it takes the kind of staffing that Trump and Tillerson fired, demoted or won’t use.  It takes preparation that Trump never does and allows no one in his orbit to do.  It takes a series of baby steps, bunts, singles and walks, leading up to a double or triple.  Meetings between principals productively happen only at the end of a long, multi-step process.

        A meeting in Singapore between heads of state to start this process might have worked.  Their meeting with an expectation that they would start and finish at a single meeting was always a fantasy.

        MSNBC’s Carol Lee’s attempt to salvage this news by suggesting that there is a process going on here is also fantasy.  Trump plays bumper cars in the real world, trashes everything, and calls it a strategy when he walks away.

        Trump had no credibility internationally going into this.  He and the US have less than that now.  Best course is for the South and North to keep working on it, for China to bear an oar, to keep going on this despite and in disregard of the US.  It has demonstrated that under this President it is a wholly unreliable partner.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Chipmunk.

            And Speaker Ryan is skidaddling out of town instead of attending the Gang of Eight meeting with the DoJ and FBI. He’s attending a fund raiser in Texas. He’s not running for re-election, so who’s re-election is so important? Or is he as gutless as I think?

            • Trip says:

              @earl, he’s more gutless than you think. And he has no moral/ethical code.

              And Kelly will supposedly be in both meetings. So we’re supposed to pretend that neither he or Loon-ez are going to report back to the czar, because we’re idiots who live in fairy tale.

        • SteveB says:

          “President is a wholly unreliable partner”

          Unless you cross his palm with silver, he is then merely sloppy and ill disciplined

    • orionATL says:

      Donald,

      Tuesday the 12th? no Tuesday won’t work.
      How about never? is never OK with you? *

      *With appreciation to Mankoff

  24. Trip says:

    International investigators confirm what Bellingcat already discovered: MH17 was brought down by Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade
    the Buk missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board, was fired from a Russian military unit.

    https://meduza .io /en/news/2018/05/24/international-investigators-confirm-what-bellingcat-already-discovered-mh17-was-brought-down-by-russia-s-53rd-anti-aircraft-missile-brigade **

    and

    The JIT “has come to the conclusion that the Buk-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from the 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia,” top Dutch investigator Wilbert Paulissen told reporters. “The 53rd Brigade is part of Russia’s armed forces.”

    https://www.rferl.org/a/mh17-criminal-probe-to-appeal-to-the-public-for-help/29246988.html

    ** [Readers should use extra caution when opening Meduza links. / ~Rayne]

  25. Rapier says:

    I wonder if Rosenstein had something to do with the now announced second act of the dog and pony show , to include Democrats, about “spies” in the Trump campaign.  If he wasn’t,,,,,,,,,   well, it’s an ugly thing. It’s ugly anyway.  At least as ugly as the poison letter he wrote about Comey which he had to know full well would be used for political purposes.

  26. Trip says:

    Avenatti’s back.

    Good.

    Avenatti Seeks to Revive Hush Money Suit After Trump Comments
    Adult film star Stormy Daniels’s lawyer asked a judge to lift a hold on her lawsuit that seeks to void a hush agreement with Donald Trump because there is no need to question president’s lawyer Michael Cohen now that Trump admitted to knowing about the deal. Michael Avenatti, the attorney for the  actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said in a filing Thursday that he’d agree not to depose Cohen if the case is revived. He said he’d pursue only a deposition of Trump and that the president is “fully equipped” to handle the matter without Cohen.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-24/avenatti-seeks-to-revive-hush-money-suit-after-trump-comments

     

  27. SteveB says:

    Meeting 1 of Spygate briefing

    CNN reporting that Kelly attended, as did Emmet Flood (briefly) !

    Schiff a “late invitee” to this meeting.

    What a mess. How does this even begin to look like “Congressional Oversight”?

    • Trip says:

      It doesn’t SteveB, unless you are a brainwashed cult member, or a billionaire who made out under the Romanovs.

      • SteveB says:

        The more messy the membership of the meeting, the more confused the agenda becomes, the stronger the grounds for DoJ representatives to restrict the information they release.

        • Trip says:

          Flood should have never been let in the room. The capitulation to Trump is INSANE. There are no checks and balances. We have officially moved into tyranny.

          • harpie says:

            …toward, in any case… The following is from by Sarah Kendzior, who studies autocratic regimes: Authoritarianism 101, First Fire the FBI Director; Opinion; Globe and Mail; 5/10/17

            The firing of FBI director James Comey is an ominous yet predictable sign of the erosion of democracy in the United States of America. It is a textbook authoritarian move […]  Another tell-tale sign of autocracy is the blatancy of the administration’s actions. The firing of Mr. Comey can be reasonably interpreted as an admission of guilt – but the transparency does not bother them. In fact, it pleases them. Their actions are meant to tell the public: “We know that you know what we did, and we do not care, because there is nothing you can do about it. […]

          • Palli says:

            Am I right when I think Rosenstein isn’t stupid or cowed & assume that anything shared at this meeting is air-tight, strategic & convincing or the capitulation wouldn’t be happening? Mueller’s team knows more than can be shared in 3 hours.

            Isn’t it telling that Ryan isn’t there for another reason: he knows much of it & that’s why he’s taking the money now & running home to be with his kids in 6 months.

            • Trip says:

              That is completely irrelevant. THIS IS NUTS. This is a constitutional crisis because they are flouting actions outside of procedures.  They have pushed boundaries toward authoritarianism. They are gaslighting the public. Rudy is bragging about looking for info for Trump’s defense. They brought Trump’s defense lawyer into these briefings. They aren’t even hiding it. And the entire GOP is in on it. Fuck the guy who said this is crazy shit, where is he in stopping it?

              Just so you know, I’m not yelling at you. Just yelling.

              • Palli says:

                @ Trip & all here: I’m sorry if I have to think with irrelevant simplicity. I appreciate the gravity of most of the Constitutional issues here. With or without the legal wording, it is easy to see the rottenness of it all. (Who thinks a football coach should be given the playbook of the opposing team before the game?) But I’m trying to get at why there is compliance with this outrage. Is it a trap set for another obstruction charge? Surely Rosenstein & others know there is no placating trump [not least, because he himself  knows he is guilty as hell]. So I’m wondering how compliance with an unconstitutional presidential demand fits into the objective to right the ship of state? I probably have less trust in American law & government than many here, but somehow it’s hard for me to see this acquiescence being mere submission to trump.

                We all know what “they”, McConnell/Ryan & patrons, have a long game & a strategy was this  pact with trump. He has never  hidden his unethical behavior and every republican & democrat knew it. (Birds of a feather?) This 18 month disgrace results from deliberate disregard for democracy from the beginning of his third  presidential race-by leaders in both parties & all of Congress, the Media, the legal system; let alone. the money people behind it all. Thanks, and sorry again.

                 

                • Trip says:

                  No Palli, I did not intend to direct that at you personally. And I’m sorry that I wasn’t clear. Your point was valid, I meant that the gamesmanship is a gambit of what end result? What do we win, in other words? Look at what we have lost already. Every little step down the road breaks it all down.  I did not/do not think you are contemplating it all in a simplistic manner, I know you were seeking the silver lining Again, sorry. But these acts are being normalized and accepted.

                  • Palli says:

                    Trip, thanks. I knew you weren’t

                    I doubt I’m adding much here either…But as a nation society, we normalize unconstitutionality daily. That doesn’t mean I don’t rage about trump as he abuses the presidency, the body politic, the Law & society in general.

                    Can this silver lining do it? The gambit may be towards making a critical mass of lawmakers & citizens aware of the crass lawlessness of trump behavior. What makes me really angry is, somehow, trump was allowed to behave this way for decades. The Law let him do it, just likr the law lets cops kill a 12 yearold black biy. Why did aggrieved women settle for money & NDAs? Why did contractors swallow his unpaid bills? Why does anyone stay in trump hotel DC? People can & must learn to see this president does the things they wouldn’t tolerate in their own circles. Polls tell us Americans haven’t thought about the commonplace logic that makes what trump is doing so wrong.

                    We built it, we can rebuild it better if, indeed, we include all of us  & if we want to. I’m not convinced politicians do and our electoral system? …well, that’s OT.

                     

    • orionATL says:

      Indeed it was “oversight”.

      Oversight in not including the head Democrat on hpsci, congressman Adam Schiff.

      Oversight in allowing Flood to even put a balli-shod loafer toe in the room – not a congresscritter, may not have adequate/ credentials to attend such a briefing.

      Oversight in including Kelly who is not a congress Ritter or a briefer and may not have proper credentials to attend a congressional briefing.

      Major Oversight in abusing the congressional oversight process by lying publicly that this was an oversight matter when in fact it was a calculated diversion from the outflow of embarrassing, politically damaging news about the ofc/sdny investigation of trump and his lawyer-fixer, Michael cohen. And the related Michael avenatti revelations suggesting major graft in payments to cohen that may have been bribes. Plus possibility of bribes involving the trump inaugural committee-cum-extended hand.

      Was the briefing of highly classified material? If so, was it in a secure compartmented facility?

  28. harpie says:

    Lindsay Graham to Lisa Desjardins:  

    “why he (the president’s lawyer – Emmet Flood) is there (in these classified briefings), I don’t know.  That is a bit  odd. If the president’s lawyer is there, I’d like to know why.”

    Spencer Ackerman:

    You already know / Here, Rudy makes it explicit. No more pretending. 

    …links to Kyle Cheney interview with Rudy:

    “We want to see how the briefing went to today and how much we learned from it. If we learned a good deal from it, it will shorten that whole process considerably.”

    Lisa Desjardins

    Giuliani told me today that an interview with Mueller won’t happen unless they get whatever report DOJ produces about the FBI informant.

    • Trip says:

      So the “DOJ can’t be extorted” means the DOJ can easily be extorted. Got it.

      And calling something “odd” when it should be an outrage is the typical duplicitous nature of Graham. He likes to pretend he has scruples, but waters every goddam thing down to insignificance.

    • harpie says:

      Matthew Miller:

      They are bragging about how openly corrupt this all is and that they are getting away with it. 

      Marcy:

      Honestly, the takeaway from today should be: BREAKING: After claiming to be doing Congressional oversight for 6 months, Nunes and Ryan make it clear this has always been about Trump’s criminal defense.

      • Trip says:

        And no one, not one news person, will have the balls to put it as plainly as Marcy and Matthew. It’ll be bothsidesisms and bullshit about NK and how Trump is using strategy.

        I’m so pissed off, I could spit.

        What a mockery they have made of democracy.

        • TheraP says:

          To coin a new term: “demockery”

          It’s a Flea Circus Free-for-All!

          I’m torn between disgust and a sense of derealization. If only it were a matter of giving Trump a huge hypodermic dose of Haldol. (But they’re all actively complicit!)

          We need a screaming, hair-tearing GreekChorus!

          • Trip says:

            It is a conspiracy on top of a conspiracy.

            And there is no reason why Flood needed to introduce himself. He has NO BUSINESS being anywhere near these briefings, nor Kelly. The briefings themselves shouldn’t even be happening.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Mr. Flood might have the necessary TS clearance, but last I checked, he was not White House Counsel.  He’s still in private practice.  So what gives, Congress, White House, FBI, DOJ?

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                It’s worse, as Flood is the president’s personal lawyer, not a gubmint employee.

                As Sarah Sanders says, Flood’s job, when he joins the WH, will be to protect the president.  Ms. Sanders misses that as White House Counsel, Flood would represent the presidency, not Trump personally.  A very different brief.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        When the behavior is so open and notorious, it makes it harder to impose penalties.  Everyone is deemed to have accepted and affirmed it.  Argument doesn’t always work, but it’s one more hurdle.

    • orionATL says:

      Giuliani is just playing the Lucy-tricks-charliebrown-about-the-football gag with Mueller, but Mueller and his boys are the last guys on earth I would want to try that gag on. They know neither Giuliani, nor probably flood, nor mcgan if he were asked, will allow trump to talk to Robert Mueller. That would be like putting your guilty-as-hell client on the stand in a murder trial.

      So Mueller will have to go with a subpoena. That’s good because then trump’s lawyers will turn it down and Mueller will go to Supreme Court on expedited claim. Maybe we will get to see in action the entire hyperpartisan, rotten-to-the-core republican political system that corporate and hyperrich money, evangelical and conservative catholic hypocrisy and self interest, and fanatical federalist society determination to pack the Supreme and appellate courts has built since 1980 working to protect its claim on absolute political power. That scenario might set off another American revolution.

      • Rugger9 says:

        What if SCOTUS rules against Mueller in that scenario?  I can’t see much good coming from that outcome.  Sometimes it is not the best idea to test a limit without being sure of the outcome.  Given how Gorsuch, Alito, Thomas, Roberts et al, are GOP hacks and Kennedy is nicknamed “Weathervane” for a reason (h/t Charlie Pierce) I’m not OK with pushing even black-letter law with a court that belched out the Citizen’s United decision that trampled on a century of black-letter law and attendant precedent to create much of this mess.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        At which point, they will get to work,
        on attacking the 2nd Ammendment.

        Pronto, cause, ya know, school shootings.

        GOP, Insane hypocrites, nothing more.

  29. RandallHague says:

    While all you’re having such a good time laughing at the wingnuts, I thought I’d leave this 2010 video of Stefan Halper with his good friend and colleague, Alexander Downer.

    Enjoy!

    • bmaz says:

      Bye the way, the next time you try to access this blog with serial sock puppetry, I will bounce your, apparently, trolling ass.

    • orionATL says:

      Photo boy –

      Photos don’t make friends, photo boy. Do you have a point to articulate with facts and words, or are you just going to let some propagandist implication hang in the air?

  30. Peacerme says:

    We have not accepted some really disturbing facts about the situation we are in. To my observation, the United States of America and her people have been unsuccessful in exerting influence over this president, repeatedly. And as a result, like battered souls we are capitulating to him, as if everything will go back to normal soon. It’s quite possible, that Putin’s influence over our reality has shifted enough to destroy our democracy. The power to control us is in place because no one, can stop him. It’s already happened. Is happening and we are losing this fight. It’s 120 to zero (attempts to curtail or influence the behavior of those in charge…and this is a made up number, but I don’t see many wins here). He’s in charge of Trump and Trump is doing whatever he wants to do in this country regardless of the laws and constitution. It’s as if a drunk guy is driving the bus of the USA, with Putin giving radio direction. Very much like Bush/Cheney (drunk on alcohol/drunk on greed). We’ve been out of control for a while but the reveal is there and should cause panic. Our checks and balances have been disarmed.

    • Trip says:

      I agree. NO ONE is taking this seriously enough. Mueller isn’t gonna save us. We are already in a constitutional crisis. Not, “It might happen”.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        [Trip, not directed purely at you. Mueller *is* helping though]

        Please, do not say ‘NO ONE’. There are many people at this site and elsewhere on the net that are paying attention, that give a damn, and are seriously paying attention. It’s the worthless congresscritters that are not doing their fucking job!

        If you are a US citizen, and you do not vote 2018-11-06, *YOU* are part of the problem!

        You will have no excuse. Make sure you are not a lazy ass!

        • orionATL says:

          Spacelifeform –

          Well said.

          A lot of people I know are passionate about what has been happening since Nov 2018 and about voting, and are working hard to encourage others to vote.

            • orionATL says:

              yes! and we are getting those candidates and they are speaking out, ignoring the input of the dem party’s central casting’s misdirectors, those ever-tin-eared, ever-timid consultants – “slide in just under the tag” is their operating mantra.

    • TheraP says:

      They’ve got so many people so confused or stupefied or mesmerized ….  except for those of us who can see clearly and are aghast and apoplectic.

      A Lunatic Sociopath drives the Ship of State.  And accomplices salute.

      I’m trying to remain sane and calm.  Glad at least it’s still possible to read some sanity.

  31. harpie says:

    Roger Stone! 

    WSJ: NEW: Roger Stone Sought Information on Clinton from Assange, Emails Show May 24, 2018 3:50 p.m. ET

    Two quotes from the emails [I don’t know if the second responds to the first…the article is behind a paywall]:

    Stone: “Please ask Assange for any State or HRC e-mail from August 10 to August 30–particularly on August 20, 2011.” [This was probably about Clinton’s alleged role in disrupting a purported Libyan peace deal in 2011, according to Rebecca Ballhaus

    Randy Credico: “That batch probably coming out in the next drop…I can’t ask them favors every other day.” 

    Adam Schiff: [via Kyle Griffin] “If there is such a document, then it would mean that his testimony was either deliberately incomplete or deliberately false.”

    • SteveB says:

      Randy Credico did a full aw shucks half Sam Nunberg interview on Intercepted Podcast 6 December 2017 regarding his subpoena and not wanting to drop Stone in it, but of course he wasn’t an intermediary and he didn’t know why Stone had put his name up in lights, but Roger is Roger.

      What a fuckwit

    • harpie says:

      This is what Marcy has to say [emphasis added]:

      I often say the Russians wouldn’t need GOP help on electoral issues (in part bc they had access to Dem targeting data). But reading abt Stone using back channels to get FOIAed docs from Wikileaks makes it clear the GOP needed RU help. / Also I know y’all are sure this is the smoking gun against Stone, but (especially given that Mueller hasn’t interviewed Credico), I think what Mueller is looking at is more smoking and central to case in chief. 

    • orionATL says:

      One might not know that

      – Jennifer Rubin is denominated a conservative writer for the Washington post.

      – no columnist I regularly read has been as persistently, severely critical of President trump since the day he obtained power.

      – Rubin’s writing can remind me of the passion and controlled anger of mary mcgrory.

      G I am not sure what specific passions lie behind rubin’s criticism but I’d guess lying, hypocrisy and abuse of power:

      “… What we do know is that Trump has used the power of his presidency to change FBI investigative procedures because he is personally affected. From the outside, we see what appears to be a grievous injury to the notion that the Justice Department is above politics. It makes Justice another executive department obligated to comply with whatever its boss wants… ”

      In particular, I have been impressed l with rubin’s capacity over the last 18 months to be harshly critical of trump and his political retinue in hard, deliberative language, hammer blow-by-hammer blow, without falling into the frustrated use of common political pejoratives.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Former Air Force Lt. Gen. and DNI (until 11/16) James Clapper to PBS, via WaPo’s Greg Sargent (h/t Digby):

        “As a private citizen, it’s what I would call my informed opinion that, given the massive effort the Russians made, and the number of citizens that they touched, and the variety and multi-dimensional aspects of what they did to influence opinion … and given the fact that it turned on less than 80,000 votes in three states, to me it exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election. And it’s my belief they actually turned it.”

        Pity the general hadn’t that information or do more about it earlier.  But it’s a useful opinion that I’m sure Mr. Mueller has heard, and others like it.  Sargent’s takeaway:

        The key point is this….Trump and his GOP allies don’t want to know the full story of what Russia’s operation entailed in and of itself, because it doesn’t concern them in the least, and indeed they are engaged in an active effort to keep that story suppressed.

        As EW said earlier, the congressional circus orchestrated by Nunes and Ryan has always been about Trump’s criminal defense, and, I would add, to suppress the story of how the Ruskies might have put the GOP in power.

        • TheraP says:

          I found your description of his (imperial) penis (above) to be hilarious. ;-)

          It has definitely been a trying day. No doubt about it. We are trapped in a terrible nightmare.

        • orionATL says:

          Trip –

          Around here we don’t get paid enough to be harshly dispassionate in a thoughtful way, nor criticized by a national audience if we aren’t.

          In fact, we are watching the play as groundlings, jeering and cheering in our natural language.

          :)

      • orionATL says:

        Rearranged and corrected comment.

        Sometimes when the edit clock has ticked down to 30 secs I like to pretend I’m Aaron Rodgers and know just when to let the ball go. But sometimes I end up throwing like Brett favre.

        The clever Aaron Rodgers’ throw I envisioned before being harried by clock hands would have been:

        ” In particular, I have been impressed l with rubin’s capacity over the last 18 months to be harshly critical of trump and his political retinue in hard, deliberative language, hammer blow-by-hammer blow, without falling into the frustrated use of common political pejoratives.

        I am not sure what specific passions lie behind rubin’s criticism of trump&co, but I’d guess lying, hypocrisy, and abuse of power:

        “… What we do know is that Trump has used the power of his presidency to change FBI investigative procedures because he is personally affected. From the outside, we see what appears to be a grievous injury to the notion that the Justice Department is above politics. It makes Justice another executive department obligated to comply with whatever its boss wants… ”… ”

        end of comment. First down!

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      UPDATE: Late Thursday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) released a statement after the Gang Eight briefing with the Justice Department: “Today’s Gang of Eight briefing was conducted to ensure protection of sources and methods. Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a ‘spy’ in the Trump Campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols.” We have heard nothing from Republican as to whether they’ve found their “spy.”

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