At Helsinki Summit, Putin Re-enacts the June 9 Trump Tower Meeting

As I laid out last week, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

I know there are a lot of people who aren’t as convinced as I am that a clear agreement was reached between Trump’s top aides and Putin’s emissaries at the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. For doubters, however, Vladimir Putin just re-enacted the meeting on the world stage at the Helsinki summit.

On top of the denials, from both sides, of Russian tampering in the election (and both sides’ embrace of a joint cybersecurity working group), that re-enactment came in three ways.

First, when asked whether Russia tampered in our election, Putin issued a line that was sort of a non-sequitur, asserting that, “I was an intelligence officer myself. And I do know how dossiers are made of.” The line — a reference both to the Steele dossier and Putin’s more damaging kompromat on Trump — is pregnant with meaning (and probably was planned). When asked, later, whether he had any compromising information on Trump or his family, Putin said, “Now to kompromat. I did hear these allegations that we collected kompromat when he was in Moscow. I didn’t even know he was in Moscow.”

This is a reference to the pee tape, allegedly taped when he put on Miss Universe in Russia in 2013. But it’s premised on a claim about which there is sworn counter-evidence in the US. Rob Goldstone — the guy who set up the June 9 meeting — described how Putin not only knew Trump was in Moscow, but was still trying to fit in a meeting with him.

And it went down to the wire. It was on the day of the contest itself that maybe around 4:00 in the afternoon Emin called a few of us into a conference room at Crocus, and his Dad, Aras, was there. And we were told that a call was coming in through from a Mr. Peskov, who I know to be Dmitry Peskov, who I believe is a spokesman for Mr . Putin, and there’d be an answer. And the answer I think, as I may have stated the last time I saw you, was that due to the lateness o f the newly crowned King of Holland who’d been delayed in traffic, whether air or road traffic, Mr. Putin would not be able to meet with Mr. Trump. However, he invited him to Sochi, to the Olympics, and said he’d be happy to meet him here or at any future time. And that’s how it was left, so there would be not meeting taking place.

So not only did Putin lie about whether there could be a pee tape (I don’t think there is one, but I think the 2013 involves compromise in another way), but did so in a way that invoked the Agalrovs as Trump’s handlers going back years.

And did you notice that he never denied having kompromat?

Then, in a response to one of the questions about Putin’s tampering in the election, after he suggested that he’d be willing to have Mueller come to Russia to question the GRU officers who hacked Hillary, he demanded similar cooperation on his legal issues. He then raised Bill Browder (who is no longer a US citizen), complaining that

For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 million [sic] in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States. And yet the money escaped the country, they [sic] were transferred to the United States. They sent huge amount of money, $400 million, as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Aside from being muddled, both in Putin’s delivery and the translation, this is precisely the dangle that Natalia Veselnitskaya used to get into Trump’s campaign back in 2016 to ask to have the Magnitsky sanctions overturned.

This was simply Putin laying out his receipts of Trump’s compromise on the world stage.

There’s one other area where Putin simply showed off how badly he has compromised the President. His prepared talks emphasized cooperation on Syria, claiming it “could be first showcase example of joint work.” As I have noted, that has been the operative plan since less than 15 hours after polls closed in November 2016. And it was known by someone who played a significant role in the Russian attack.

This meeting, then, is just Putin collecting on the receipts collected back on June 9, 2016.

192 replies
  1. Bobby Gladd says:

    Trump wants to BE Putin. He wants to turn the US into Western Russia, a corrupt, oligarchic crony capitalist state where unruly people are summarily dealt with in the harshest fashion. I wouldn’t underestimate his chance of pulling it off.

    • William Bennett says:

      It’s not just Trump. They wouldn’t want it presented to them in so many words, but it’s basically what his authoritarian followers want too. Including among “unruly people” gays, women, liberals generally. Not to mention perks like murdering journalists who point out the emperor’s lack of clothes, strong alliance between the government and reactionary religion–from a Trumpist point of view, there’s very little not to like.

      Basically it just comes down to the fact that the authoritarian virus runs true across cultures and borders.

  2. Trip says:

    “is pregnant with meeting (and probably was planned).”

    Did you intend ‘meaning’ vs meeting?

  3. LowdenF23c says:

    In spite of the fact that I believe that Trump is, and has been for quite some time, owned by Putin, I’m a bit speechless.

    • Trip says:

      I’m more astounded at the fecal material that is almost the entire composition of the GOP. Do something, you pieces of shit!

      • LowdenF23c says:

        Perhaps that body-language-expert/dentist would like to explain it to us? Like Willis Warren, I too am heart-broken.

    • ecomodista says:

      Given what we know about Brexit funders being offered shares in Russian gold mine valued at approximately 1 billion £ (the Guardian reporting) it’s far more likely there is no Kompromat on Trump but instead  a massive payout for his treason (surely the US is a more valuable vassal, slthough Brexits large bonus for the Russians is loss of EU’s access to Tridents). Since Trump has been lying about his net worth for decades until outed last year by Crains, this seems more probable.

    • Silence Hand says:

      I’ll third that.  Trump and Co. are damaging everything they touch, in some cases irreparably.  It’s stunning to watch 70 years of progress getting unglued.

      I guess for their next act Trump and Putin can announce that our long, terrible nightmare of peace and prosperity are finally over.

    • Mister Sterling says:

      I feel like we’ve been living a single bad day since the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree speech. The republic is dead. It’s all over. We can drink and chat about it. But if we aren’t working to reverse this coup, it’s hopeless.

  4. Willis Warren says:

    I just want to reiterate my theory is that the kompromat is tRUmp’s willingness to be a part from the beginning, knowing full well Russia would hack the US and he’d play a role in it all to discredit the Hillary presidency. In his mind, he knows he committed something very close to treason at that moment and he knows that Putin can prove that. Now that he’s president, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it secret.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      The extent to which it was a re-enactment of June 9 and the quid pro quo of 2016 was pretty creepy.

      Putin is telling King Idiot how to proceed — “cooperation” that involves giving Moscow all it wants about the US IC, political prosecutions of Browder and Clinton — and King Idiot sort of likes that path, but isn’t ruthless enough to take it. Yet. It was a trial balloon.

      • Sharon says:

        “…political prosecutions of Browder and Clinton…”

        Wow! You mean they were serious about that lock-her-up stuff? I thought that was just political theater, throwing red meat to the base. Apparently, they were under orders from Putin.

        We are in deep trouble.

    • orionATL says:

      i think you are right that president trump is conpromised by his willingness to work with the russians to subvert the 2016 elections, but there is also the high likelihood of trump having been compromised earlier by his accepting business deals or at least opportunities from the russians.

      i do want to say, though, that i think putin is also compromised. he risked a lot to keep the democratiic party of president obama from retaining the presidency probably because he believed a clinton presidency would have kept the sanctions on the russian economy and kept pressure on him and his hyperwealthy wealthy courtiers.

      most importantly though, putin is compromised by what i’m guessing was his authorization of a long-term MILITARY attack on the democratic party, his participation in the manipulation of american voters’ emotions using the russian military, and his responsibility for fixing the results of the presidential election to favor trump and, likely, for fixing the results of at least some of the senatorial races of 2016. when this information becomes public, it will be discrediting and damaging to putin in russia and in history, confirming russian suspicions of putin’s political “trustworthiness”.

      in this regard, trump knows what he himself was responsible for in terms of having negotiated foreign policy promises with putin (or putin’s stand-ins) prior to the election (this is the major implication of ew’s initial post), but trump also knows what putin was responsible for having authorized in order to secure the benefits of those negotiations – to whit, helping fix the results of the 3016 presidential election.

      • Willis Warren says:

        The business deals could be ignored, most likely.  I still don’t think tRUmp cares about the money laundering.  You can’t ignore an agreement to undermine a US presidency, though.  I think tRUmp knows he’s in the can for treason if this gets out.  I know we don’t want to misuse the term, but I think it’s pretty close, as this kind of thing doesn’t really have a precedent.

        He would have run as an independent had he not, somehow, won the Republican nomination.  We can probably thank the Kochs for that, since they put together a shit show of losers for the primary.  Once he won the Republican primary, they reached out to his campaign with an updated strategy.  That’s what we’re seeing in the investigation, but there’s something deeper, more serious at the beginning of all this

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump cares about money, power, and status.  Money laundering charges involving major Trump assets would topple his empire.  The USG would claim any assets bought with criminal proceeds.

          That would end the Trump empire as well as his presidency.  It would probably land him in jail.  Mike Pence would pardon Trump of all charges faster than Ford did Nixon. But that would not void them or readily allow the return of any Trump assets.

          It suggests that Trump cares a great deal about money laundering charges.

        • Trip says:

          Bannon and the Mercers, Cambridge Analytica, Kochs etc. converged on Trump when he won the primary.

          Netanyahu made nice with Putin right before the election too. I recall a story about a drunken Mossad agent in the UK too, trying to influence toward the hard right. Of course it’s a link I can’t locate now.

          Manafort. The NRA, so many avenues. Sater, Levliev, etc

      • orionATL says:

        there is a part of ew’s july 3rd post that i keep coming back to:

        “… Less credibly, in the days after Mike Flynn pled guilty, an inflammatory Brian Ross report was corrected to reveal that “shortly after the election” Trump asked Flynn personally to work with Russia on Syria (Ross left ABC yesterday but as far as I understand the corrected story stands).

        Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn… is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians, initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria.


        The source said Trump phoned Flynn shortly after the election to explicitly ask him to “serve as point person on Russia,” and to reach out personally to Russian officials to develop strategies to jointly combat ISIS.

        The text sent to me matches both those reports — indeed, it makes it clear that “shortly after the election” means just over 14 hours after polls closed… ”

        some of the inferences i draw are:

        1) that general flynn was not, as i had thought, a key negotiator and conduit to/from the russians (because of his presumed expertise in strategic matters) . flynn, in this cite, appears to be a messenger and finalizer of details, not the initial top-level negotiator.

        2) if flynn was chosen merely for his rank and the brass he wore and to take orders, then who did the negotiating that resulted in trump campaign/russian agreements prior to the election?

        senator sessions was an ardent supporter and very high in the trump campaign. he spoke with ambassador kislyak (as has flynn). but the history of trump business ventures is that the highest level actions are taken within the family. it is reasonable then to surmise that trump or a family member would have carried on the negotiations with the russians.

        • orionATL says:

          if one is looking for lines of communication between trump, his family members, and some high official or agent of the russian government, session-to-kislyak is short and unexciting.

          on the other hand, given the recent mueller indictment of a unit of russian military intelligence, a chain of communication that went trump-trump family-manafort-konstantin kilimnik-gru is relatively short and very appealing. manafort was hired into the trump campaign in march, 2016. though he left in aug, 2016, his man friday, rick gates, stayed on with the trump campaign until election day. kilimnik, a russian who was a long-time manafort employee in m’s ukraine adventures, has been marked as having a connection to russian military intelligence. neat, eh? maybe too neat, but we’ll see.

          another possible chain of communication flowing from the june 9, 2018 meeting involved trump-trump, jr-rob gokdstein-ike kaveladze-aras agalarov-and? trump and his son became buddies with aras agalarov, his son emin, and goldstein in 2013 over planning for the 2013 miss universe contest in moscow. the two families caroused in sin city, usa in july, 2013 (the miss america portion of the contest) and then met up again in moscow for the finals.

          also present at the june 9 meeting and forming a possible chain of communication are trump-trump, jr.-natalia veselnitskya-denys katsyv-pyotr katsyv-and? the elder kaysv was vice-governor of the moscow region forcsome years. veselnitskaya had connections to russian gov legal officials.

          all of these relationships have been covered here at emptywheel.

          i have left oleg derpaksa out of the manafort chain out of personal pique (nobody seems to be able to get anything on the guy) :)

        • oionATL says:

          relative to any grand bargin in the middle east may have been a meeting in the seychelles with eric prince, a planeload of russians, and one or more middleeastern poobah’s. there were precursor meetings in new york involving trump campaigners kushner, bannon, and flynn with the russian ambassador kisilyak and with the crown prince of abu dubai. complications best explained here:

        • it's complicated says:

          derpaksa? I remember two guys who you could have been meaning, the most probable one being called “Deripaska”, iirc.

          Or did you really mean Epaksa(cue youtube)? Hey, that guy sure is innocent!

  5. Terrence says:

    This was truly an astonishing meeting. An American president parroting another country’s talking points. What impressed me the most was the non-verbal language. Throughout Putin’s statements, Trump would nod “yes” and periodically turned his head toward Putin as if to pay attention to an important point.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Putin didn’t know Trump was in town.  Unlikely.  Authoritarian regimes like Russia and China maintain elaborate systems to control foreigners and travelers generally.  Airports, commercial and private aircraft, use of hire cars, etc., are closely monitored.

    When checking into a hotel in either country, for example, you are checked into at least two systems: the hotel’s and the one belonging to the security apparatus.  In the time it takes to clear a credit card transaction, the latter know you’ve checked in, who you’re traveling with, where you’re traveling from, where you’re going next, and what room you’ve been given.

    If you’re of interest, the surveillance system is turned on in your room.  Just routine.  I might not be of interest to the Chinese state, for example, but if the head of Goldman or Citibank or GM’s China ops is, the room will be turned on.

    Trump would have been on the Russia watch list.  For decades, he frequently sought and took money from oligarchs, and they bought and sold property through him.  And that’s just the nominally legit business.

    The Russians would know where he was at all times.  When his aircraft landed and where, where he was staying, the main venues he spent time at.  The state would have kept tabs on such things as actions of interest, traffic stops, large meetings or dinners, drunken behavior, use of prostitutes, gambling problems, meetings with people the state favored or disfavored, the lot.

    Last thing.  Jonathan Chait’s recent article was a good primer on Trump and Russia.  But he focused too much on Putin gathering information on Trump when he was in Russia.  Needless to say, given Putin’s reach and the interest of his oligarchs in keeping tabs on Trump, it would not have mattered where Trump was.  Putin could readily obtain info on Trump from anywhere.

    • orionATL says:

      actiny confirmatory tale –

      a chinese-speaking american journalist of chinese origin was traveling and interviewing in small, remote cities in western china in the area where uighur resistance to the central governmen was strong. one day he was approached by two policemen, lightly but formally apprehended, taken and questioned for some hours. his papers were in order and he was authorized to travel where he was traveling, but the gov felt it necessary to lay its hand on his shoulder just to let him know.

      • cfost says:

        Similar things happened to me in Russia, Uzbekistan, Chile, Brazil, Heathrow. And I was just an American working overseas who happened to make a habit of dining with locals on a regular basis.

    • Drew says:

      I read Putin’s remark as positioning it, that Trump was so unimportant that it wasn’t necessary for Putin to know he was in town.  Obliquely humiliating his vassal, while publicly offering to build him up to importance.

      • Avattoir says:

        I took that the same way as you.

        As in:

        It is not necessary that I Putin be informed of such mundane coming and going ons. Such are the design, construction, training, and fine tuning of our intelligence operations that they function to much the same efficiency and focus without as with my personal involvement. Moreover, at that time, it would have been beneath my status to pay particular attention to this quite ridiculous parody of supposed American business genius. Then he was like, how would you say in American sport, Tebow: flash to some perhaps, but obscure – a marginal prospect.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The dual check-in computers at hotels are not limited to authoritarian regimes.  You would likely find them in Paris, Rome and Berlin.  But they seem to use them with the most vigor.

  7. lamsmy says:

    I am just astonished that Trump did not have a better answer prepared for the question of interference. He had to know it would be asked. He could have prepped a somewhat graceful dodge with his handlers (on both sides) well in advance.

    That he did not think this necessary is all the proof anyone should need of his utter incompetence.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The only thing more nauseating than Trump’s presser was the Republicans throwing up their hands and saying nussink we can do, the President is in absolute charge of foreign policy.  Bullshit. 

    Congress has considerable control over foreign policy, not least its power of the purse.  And that’s without considering the impeachment and trial powers of the House and Senate.

    The president is a public employee.  He works for and is responsible to the entire country, not just to the people who voted for him.  The GOP has a job here, to oversee Trump’s functioning as president.  Whether they do it should be front and center in this November’s election.

    • Silence Hand says:

      I continue to be slack-jawed about this.  At some point the fever HAS to break – doesn’t it?  The only solution just can’t be Dems winning by +10 nationwide…can it?

      • Bob Conyers says:

        The obvious followup question to “what does Putin have on Trump?” is “who has what on the GOP?”

        Even the retiring members are part of it. What leverage does Trump have over Corker? Over Goodlatte? They’re rich, they’re old enough to retire from public life.

        Many of these people are true believers, others are unwilling to break from their tribe, but these things aren’t universal. And there are non-trivial forces that should be breaking more people away — fear of a political backlash, legal issues, potential political gain by establishing early credibility… For some, at least, patriotism isn’t dead.

        Is it complicity with criminal activity by the NRA? Other legal issues? Massive threats from unified funders? Again, what doesn’t make sense is that not all of these people are in love with serving in Congress, and would probably be just fine with returning to their car dealership or dentistry practice.

        Not all of them are dependent on Mercer or Adelson money (I’m not convinced the Kochs are all-in with Trump). Not all of them would be heartbroken if the GOP lost a lot of seats in November.

        I realize the tribal bonds are much stronger for the GOP than the dems, but I’m seeing a set of forces that ought to account for 80% or 90% loyalty, not the 99% that we’re seeing.

  9. Silence Hand says:

    Returning to a point I brought up some time ago, can you imagine what life must be like for US intel assets in Russia and its satellites right now?  I’ve discussed this at length with an old friend who’s ex-Naval Intelligence, and his sense is that they’re probably on the verge of starting to roll everything up.  At the least, our assets there are in the process of shitting many, many bricks.  It will be interesting to see how damage control (at least at the level of preserving human lives, if not a functional humint apparatus) will work.  Any notable Russian emigrations recently?  Of course, Putin’s shown that they’ll Novichok wherever they please, so who knows.

    Because, make no mistake about it, from here on out it’s all damage control.  Yikes.

  10. Rugger9 says:

    Fun fact, today was also the centenary of the murder of the Romanovs in Yekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks.  Somehow I would expect Putin would be well aware of this and selected the date for that reason (he’s positioning himself as the next Tsar).  Kaiser Quisling wouldn’t have any clue of course about today’s historical importance.

    I also noted the non-denial of kompromat.  I personally think it is financial, noting the change to all-cash purchases starting when Turnberry was bought (see Eric’s comments then) and the consistent refusal to release KQ’s tax returns, but given how creepy KQ is and how the palace revelations have gone, it’s probably worse.

  11. PeasantParty says:

    Yes, Putin did do an re-enactment!  However, Trump is a reality star of the Bigly type. LOL  I am still wondering where the Hillary server is in all of this investigation.  How can we base the facts of when, where, why, who, and how without access?  If I remember correctly, Hillary was first out of the gate with Russia hacked it.

    Also, I have had information that 10 out of those 12 Russians are actually in America and have been here for a long while.  I can’t reveal my source, but it appears that some simple muckracking has uncovered them.  Hmmm.  Double, Triple, or Quadruple agents?  Is Awan’s Pakistan ISI involved somehow?  There are still so many questions yet to be answered, plus this new revelation of the 10 so-called Russian agents being RIGHT HERE!

    • Trip says:

      You found almost all of the Russian agents but not the indictment which is actually ONLINE, where there is a full description of how the server(s) was/were investigated. LMAO

      • Rusharuse says:

        Call the next witness . .
        Ex-CIA chief John Brennan calls Trump ‘nothing short of treasonous’ after fawning press conference with Putin and says performance goes beyond ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Political theater rarely sticks to the facts, let alone the law. We should pay more attention to them.

          Brennan understands the difference, but is misusing the term intentionally, the way TV lawyers misuse “collusion”.

        • Just Rob says:

          I’m pretty sure the assumption is based on your “wondering where the Hillary server is in all this investigation.”  But maybe you weren’t stating an interest in how the server was investigated; you just want to have a look at it, like Trump.  Innocent misunderstanding.

    • cat herder says:

      So the Democrats & ‘Deep State’ hate Russia SO MUCH that they False Flagged themselves and threw the election just to make Russia look like the bad guys? Isn’t that Alex Jones’ position? Or maybe Cockburn. Or Greenwald. Hard to tell them apart these days.

      • William Bennett says:

        The Deep State knew that HRC had to be defeated because if Trump didn’t win their whole plan to destroy his presidency would have fallen apart. It’s obvious!

  12. cfost says:

    I agree with Brennan that the meeting and DT’s comments were an act of treason. And yes, Putin was sending messages, public, private, and unconscious. But I can’t help but think that Trump would have never gotten this far without a GOP Congress that is also corrupt and compromised. Between the Congessional GOP leadership and Fox, they would have us believe that everything is good. Just heard a Fox talking head suggest it was the Dems fault for not having stronger passwords! Also, in my opinion, an act of treason. If this keeps up, my prediction is that we will see violence in the US streets, or a prostrated US. Not advocating for violence, just predicting it.

    Now then; back to figuring out which of Marcy’s mystery men would have “A 1 humint.”.”

    • Avattoir says:

      That’s a thing I have confidence you in particular are unlikely to ever work out for yourself.

      It’s now become almost too ridiculously easy to pick out the trolls & non-readers here from those who read closely and pay honest attention. One way: note the blithe & oblivious resort to such terms as “treason” and “traitor”, notwithstanding Ms Wheeler’s repeated reminders.

  13. Rusharuse says:

    Forget the pee-tape and the laundered dough folks, its Treason! Trump sold out the country for Russian assistance in the election. He be a lousy traitor. Putin knows, Mueller knows and Trump knows they know. You can smell the fear . . Trump is fucked!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Stop with the Treason.

      None of this involves treason as understood in the United States.  Betrayal, absolutely.  Deeply corrupt and compromising, yes.  But it’s not treason.  Misusing the term just creates opportunities for the Right to scream conspiracy theory.

      • Silence Hand says:

        There may be literal treason somewhere in this mess, but not in evidence from what’s publicly known.  I agree that the term has to be used with precision and care.

        Towards that end, @EOH, what WOULD constitute treasonous acts in the context of Confraudus?  I think developing a rigorous definition of this sort would serve the conversation well, in addition to exhortation not to misuse the loaded word.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          We’ve had this discussion repeatedly.  I’m not going to repeat it.  Neither, I suspect, will bmaz.

          Article III, sec. 3, defines treason, in pertinent part, as follows:

          Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

          “Enemies” in this context means during a time of war.  “At war” does not mean anecdotally or de facto, it means Congress has declared it.  No cite.  Explore it on your own.

          Try betrayal.  It fits the facts, is well-known culturally – ask a betrayed wife – relates to abandonment of social obligations without attempting to define violations of law.

          Conspiracy to defraud the US is another crime entirely.  “Collusion” has no legal bearing.  It is shorthand for ConFraudUS, adopted by the media because they’ve decided they will lose readers if they explain conspiracy.

          Trump uses the term for that reason.  In Nixonian fashion, he is denying a non-crime.  He does not say he or his direct reports have not conspired.  He usually says there’s no collusion, zero collusion, or no evidence of it.

          Nor is Mueller looking for it.  He probably has lots of evidence of conspiracy, and probably keeps looking for more.

        • orionATL says:

          i’ve asked this question here before but got no takers:

          from earl of h:

          “… Article III, sec. 3, defines treason, in pertinent part, as follows:

          Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

          “Enemies” in this context means during a time of war.  “At war” does not mean anecdotally or de facto, it means Congress has declared it. … ”

          will someone please tell me if there has ever been an interpretation of the meaning of the “or” in

          “levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort”

          you don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to see that one interpretation is that either “levying war against them” is treason and, seperately, “adhering to their enemies…” is treason.

          alternatively, “levying…” and “adhering…” are both considered a part of the same treasonous act. presumably of war?

          has there been a supreme court, appeals court, lower court, act of congress that clarifies this?

          close reading in constitutional matters is not unheard of :). judge scalia was a close reader, and an arrogantly wrong reader, in his decision changing entirely stare decisis associated with the second amendment:

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You did have had a reply:

          “Enemies” in this context means during a time of war.  “At war” does not mean anecdotally or de facto, it means Congress has declared it.

          We have been through this repeatedly.  “Treason” under US law is a shiny object in this context, a distraction.  We don’t need it to justify an impeachment or to prosecute him after he leaves office.

      • cfost says:

        If the Russian attack on our country was an act of Ambiguous War, then Trump’s deeds constitute an act of treason. This might be a good time to provoke and set some legal precedent. Regardless of the legalities, or the optics, it is long past time to redefine what constitutes war.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:


          There are lots of warlike acts.  None constitute a war without the political decision to declare one, or to affirm by acceptance the executive’s decision to wage one.

          Process conveys meaning and importance.  It restrains passion, especially the sovereign’s.  It is a prerequisite for justice.

          Trump understands only that process means restraint.  It is why he hates it, and those who know how to use it and why it’s important to do so.

        • cfost says:

          I agree with you about process, and restraining political passion, something discussed at length in the Debates on the Constitution. We have two pressing problems, I think: 1) the President can deploy our military in warlike actions without a declaration of war by Congress, and 2) given the state of technology and the traditional idea of what “war” is, Congress and the nation will be destroyed before they know that an enemy is waging war against us. It is no longer tanks and guns, but bits and bytes. There is no longer time for reaction. To survive, we must be proactive. So I am adamant that what Russia did (and is doing) is an act of war. If I read today’s Butina Indictment correctly, I would say that the USA agrees (see para.  10+11 of the Affidavit).

        • Silence Hand says:

          @Cfost encapsulates the difficulty I’m having with this.  I would agree that the “T” word isn’t one to be casually bandied about, but the era of “levying war” as the Framers knew it is well and truly over.  The problem with “betrayal”, which is surely an accurate description of what’s going on here, is that it’s not something prosecutable or punishable.  Right? I can feel “betrayed”, but by what statute can I seek legal redress for this when it’s the President doing it?

          Process is important.  I guess what I’m suggesting is that a modern definition of “levying war” needs to be incorporated into the process for it to be at all relevant.  MW has repeatedly described what the Russians did as an attack on America; is this “levying war”?  Is the action of the stateless terrorists who attacked on 9/11 levying war?We need some kind of update here.  Otherwise, it’s all just antiquarian gobbeldygook.

        • SteveB says:

          The relationship between cyber warfare, the use of military force, the law of armed conflict and the laws of war are extensively discussed at lawfare, justsecurity and elsewhere.

          A cyberstrike at civil or political infrastructure, particularly if intended to disrupt or manipulate elections is clearly very serious. IMHO it falls short of being an act of war unless it is accompanied by or is a close prelude to the use of military force, and is associated with such use of arms.

          I think we ought to be very very careful about what we allow to be labelled as “acts of war” and be wary of expanding the category too readily: remember States are entitled to use military force in  premptive self defense with respect to anticipated attacks: such defence is governed by principles of necessity and proportionality; however, broadening the category of things we call warfare makes the triggers for actual use of force more hair-like.

          There are plenty of available non lethal responses to cyber attacks  and other hostile measures evidently undertaken by Putin et al.

        • Silence Hand says:

          Thank you.  I agree with this.  Overall, I think this illuminates the issue considerably.  Lawfare’s take is excellent; I hadn’t tuned into it. I also think this thread adds materially to the issue of cyberstrikes, at least for me.

          I don’t think clarifying this should be dealt with dismissively or in a crabby fashion, and back-referencing discussions very specifically such as this should be the common response.  This blog and its generally exceptionally incisive comments are widely read, by people who don’t actually comment.  The “Treason!1!!” thing is currently very much in the news cycle right now, and thus it won’t be the last time it cycles through here.

        • Silence Hand says:

          Hence, an American participating in planning and executing something like the 9/11 attacks is not treasonous.  I actually agree with this.

  14. Drew says:

    I happen to believe that there probably is a pee tape (for reasons beyond the Steele dossier) but I agree that it largely doesn’t matter–the levers which give Putin control over Trump are broader and deeper than that.

    Trump is smart or crafty in certain self-interested ways (underestimating that is a big mistake that many make), but he does not think strategically, only in terms of directly addressing his current predicament or opportunity (whatever it is at any given time). This is why he has never fired Mueller or Rosenstein–there are, among his advisors, people who clearly see the downside of such an action from a strategic perspective and argue that.  Whether they are right from the perspective of Trump’s interest, is more open to debate, but he responds situationally to them and gives in.

    It would appear to me that, on the one hand, it would be much in Trump’s interest to have Mueller & Rosenstein already gone but on the other, that the current context would be a very difficult time to actually fire either one, since the indictments put his actions squarely and publicly in their sights.

    Perhaps someone else has another view?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The pee tape is a MacGuffin.  It either does not exist or is of little importance.  Any kompromat the Russians have on Trump would be more damning, not just embarrassing, but career-ending.

      • arbusto says:

        What difference unless some brave anti Putin intel person with access to the file releases it.

      • Silence Hand says:

        Yes.  And, even if it does not exist, it serves Putin’s purpose.  We will never be able to prove a negative.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The difference is between public embarrassment for a president and Republican Party who are no longer capable of shame, and hard evidence of criminal conduct that could topple a supposedly billion dollar empire, ruin a family, end a political career, and send Trump and possibly his children to jail (barring the inevitable pardon(s) from Mike Pence).

        • Bob Conyers says:

          That’s right. Trump survived Access Hollywood and the Stormy Daniels news, I think the alledged tape won’t be anything more than a footnote, if it ever existed.

  15. Trip says:

    southpaw‏ @nycsouthpaw

    southpaw Retweeted Justice Department
    Maria Butina charged by the DC US Attorney and the DOJ’s National Security Division. I saw no mention of the Special Counsel in the press release.

    Maria Butina was the one cozying up to the NRA, and also was the one who asked Trump about his future relationship with Russia at the 2015 NRA meeting (which I think was Trump’s first official signal to Putin that all was a go)

    ‏ @nycsouthpaw

    This FBI affidavit describes Maria Butina’s efforts on behalf of a Russian govt official to influence American politicians through coordination with a domestic gun rights organization, presumably the NRA.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Don apparently didn’t learn much from Roy Cohn.  As Don Corleoni explained in exasperation to Sonny, “Never let anyone outside the family know what you’re thinking again.”  Sonny’s faux pas didn’t work out so well for him or for his dad.

    The Don says he paid attention during his many WH briefings, at which his own intelligence staffs were telling them that Russia meddled in his election and was continuing to do so.  He obviously listened to Putin, expert agent handler that he is, who swore from the bottom of his heart that he did not.  The Don then tells the public he doesn’t know whom to believe, but that he knows of no reason to blame Russia.  The Democrats did it, anyway.

    Management 101 teaches that when you disagree with your team, you do it behind the woodshed, never in front of the other side.  The Don didn’t learn much about business either.

    • Silence Hand says:

      Putin, of course, reminded us directly today that he’s an Intel officer.  An expert asset handler.

      DJT was to stupid to get what he meant by that.  But you can be sure that all the intel folks recognized him showing off how he makes his little puppet dance.


  17. HanTran says:

    It would be nice if Congress would declare a cyberwar, might make Treason a bit more legitimate.  :)

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Most interesting about the Maria Butina charges will be the counterparties to any crimes.  They will almost certainly be Americans, who will implicate their organizations.

    • Trip says:

      From what I just heard, she wasn’t charged with spying, but more like being an unregistered lobbyist of Russia. Did I get that wrong? Which, it may be one and the same in reality, but the actual indictment may be different.

      • emptywheel says:

        She was charged with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent, of the spying type. This is not the FARA (Paul Manafort) type. It’s real spying. IIRC this is what Carter Page’s handlers got charged with.

    • Trent says:

      Let’s all call it what it is, the International Rifle Association. A pejorative to poke their amygdala.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Guardian’s characterization:

      A Washington-based pro-gun activist affiliated with the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been charged with spying in the US for Russia.

      Maria Butina was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian federation within the US without prior notification to the attorney general.

      It appears to be more than a simple failure to register under FARA.  The characterization in the criminal complaint is that she was a NOC, a spy not working with official cover, such as an embassy consular officer.  More here.  The DoJ release is here.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    People continuing to work for Donald Trump are not protecting America from him. They are enabling him and those he hires to destroy more. Enough with the Faustian bargain. Resign.

  20. Rusharuse says:

    There has been a delay in the Manafort proceedings. Has Mueller found an i-pod track that Paulie can sing-along to?

  21. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Butina’s charges aren’t under the special counsel, but they are ConFraudUS – FARA, along the lines of the Manafort / Gates charges.

    There’s also a notable gap in the Butina affidavit around the time in spring 2016 when various NRA/GOP people were doing backchannel outreach to the presidential campaign at Butina and Torshin’s prodding.

  22. JAAG says:

    This is total capitulation. I can’t even understand why Trump wanted this whole show to run rather than leave the planning for their hacker-think tank to diplomatic channels and avoid the meeting. He is making a Broadway show out of his weakness, but cannot resist a hot moment presser.

  23. Willis Warren says:

    Earl, when I say tRUmp doesn’t seem to care about money laundering, I mean he doesn’t seem to think he’s going to get caught. Maybe he does and that is just the least of his worries, I don’t know. He doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with it, though. Maybe he’s just stupid.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Sarah Kendzior has a couple of relevant lines: one, that if it’s a choice between personal sacrifice and taking down the republic, then he’ll save himself; two, that the one thing better than not being found out and going unpunished is being found out and still going unpunished.

      He’s a psychopath.

      • Drew says:

        Trump’s behavior confuses most people who work on rational lines, making standard political or business, or security assumptions. But if one starts with the hypothesis that he is a psychopathic narcissist, each and every one of his behaviors & decisions makes sense. It is perfectly consistent with this described condition. (btw this doesn’t mean that he can be treated or cured or should have any excess of sympathy or be given a break–what it means, in simplest terms is that he is entirely without a conscience-not that his conscience or moral sense is impaired, but that he has none). I was not in the least surprised by this performance in Helsinki.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “Maybe he’s just stupid.”

      Yep.  He has a feral sense of survival and a keen sense of weaknesses in others, but can’t see anything inside himself.

      There are a lot of people around him who are not.  They have hitched their wagons to him in order to achieve their own ends.  They will not willingly abandon him, regardless of his behavior, so long as they can pursue their own ends.

      That’s especially true when the opposition party is slowly becoming less a party of Hillary Clintons and Diane Feinsteins and more a party of Elizabeth Warrens and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes. 

      To them and their agendas, the presence of such progressive politicians is an existential threat. It doesn’t matter how much Trump owes to Putin, so long as they can stay in nominal power.

      • Anne George says:

        Perfectly said.  Republicans seem to no longer identify with America as their country.  They’re successfully transitioning the government to a plutocracy.

        It’s been only a year since Bernie, really, but it seems the progressive movement is on fire.  I hope this isn’t just an echo chamber that I’ve created for myself, I hope we can still topple the plutocrats.  I also hope the Koch Brothers and Adelson die, and the Mercers contract a horrible skin-eating disease.

      • Valley girl says:

        @earl= Progressive politicians are a threat to the hidebound Democratic party.   The DCCC has interfered in primaries, for 2018 election, and before, by finding and supporting candidates who are anything but progressive.  (Straight out of the Rahm Emmanuel playbook.) Rich people who can fund their own campaigns, Rs who suddenly decided to become Ds. It’s the money, honey. When a progressive beats one of their chosen ones, no endorsement, no money, no help.  And, the DCCC’s idea of help is to get a captured candidate to, e.g. have a web page with bland platitudes, and to spend their money on viper “consultants” who earn money by “being consultants”.  The Rs are truly awful, but the Ds in control now, I mean Pelosi and Perez, for example,  see progressive candidates as a threat.  And not existential threat.

  24. DJ says:

    I guess it’s the first gut-check time for the GOP.

    Are they the Grand Old Party or  Guys of Putin?

    Right now, I would bet 80% of them side with Putin.

  25. Dutch says:

    The Russians didn’t make Trump President, the Republican Party and Hillary Clinton did that. Feeding propaganda and fake news to another country’s electorate is standard procedure for every nation.  How many foreign elections has the US interfered with? I can’t get too exercised over Russia doing the same thing to us. But did Russia change the vote counts? Not according to the evidence I’ve heard about. Remember, Republicans and Democrats have been rigging our elections for two centuries. They are so good at stealing votes, stuffing ballot boxes, and manipulating voter rolls that nothing the Russians or anyone else could do could possibly make a difference in the outcome.  Trump wasn’t forced on us, we created him all by ourselves by the traditional means.

    • Trip says:

      Nice, let’s throw our hands up then and forget about the coming fascism and the whole thing. It’s better to exercise by walking, BTW.

      How do you know whether it affected the vote? Has every single person or a large sampling been polled? Have these people been subjected to propaganda and then studied to see if attitudes changed after? There was a barrage of propaganda. Like 24/7 Madison Avenue brainwashing. Do you think that’s effective, or as a country are we lax consumers, not motivated by repetitive advertising?

      The Russians gained access to voter rolls. You have no issue with that apparently.

      Yes, we created Trump in being a narcissistic society in general. That doesn’t make Putin benign. Nor does it excuse any US citizens who assisted and worked with a foreign gov’t to fuck over MOST voters who did not want Trump.

      It doesn’t excuse Trump screwing over allies in worship of a dictator.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      You are completely full of shit.

      I live in a state with mail-in ballots, and in Oct-Nov 2016, the two other household ballots arrived on time.  Mine did not.  Neither of the other voters donated money, read or commented on political blogs, and did not participate in caucuses in Washington state.  I did all those things — hundreds to Bernie, and hundreds more to several Dem Congressional candidates.  I read and commented at NakedCapitalism and Sic Semper Tyrannis. I was a Bernie delegate at the local level.   It would have been very, very easy for Cambridge Analytica to track my ISP, Democratic state delegate status and contact info, my bank info, and/or my opinions.

      The week before the election, I called my local voter registration department to check on whether my ballot had been mailed.  That is when I learned that my status had been altered to ‘non-voting’. That is classic voter suppression, and it happened to me.  Reading your asinine comment, in view of my experience, is genuinely galling.

      Because I have voted at the same legal residence for more than two decades, and because I have an extremely consistent voting record (often voting for Mickey Mouse, but I bloody well vote), it was quite simple to have the P/T temp working the voter registrar’s office look at my voting history, ask me about local history, and confirm my identity (turns out we knew quite a few of the same people).

      After confirming my identity, she said, “This is weird… it’s as if someone walked in here and altered your voting status...”  She was mystified, and at the time,  the idea that my vote may have been suppressed by a server in St Petersburg was inconceivable to both of us.  I was busy at that time and didn’t give it much more thought, until the Russia investigation started drip, drip, dripping.  When I listened to Christopher Wylie’s interview about his work at Cambridge Analytica, the hair on the back of my neck stood right  up in utter horror.

      Just to underscore my point, and why I find your comment utterly despicable, there are US military cemeteries containing the remains of relatives of mine going back to the 1800s.  I have been to military graves on several continents, always with a sense of deep respect and a sense of obligation to civic duty.   I was raised to bloody well vote, even if I write in Tinkerbell and Peter Pan.

      I am convinced that the Russians absolutely ‘made’ Donald Trump, although they could not have done it without the complicity of the GOP, particularly McConnell, the sophomoric Silicon-Valley wannabe Paul Ryan, the depraved Roger Stone, Rudy Guiliani, and (it now appears) the   compliance of a cadre of GOP electeds.

      For you to come to EW’s and insinuate that the Russia investigation is all bullshit, or that no one’s vote was hacked, or that ‘it’s all Hillary’s fault’ is pure propaganda.  I sincerely hope that bmaz hands you your ass on a platter.

      What Tammany Hall, or vote-stealing, may have done in the past is a toddler’s task compared with the funding of the Mercers, the ideology of Bannon, the prepping of Trump over years, and the sinister manipulations of Cambridge Analytica.

      Trump is what happens when democracy is laboring in distress, but I genuinely believe that this whole mess may be a rare and badly needed chance for Americans generally to wake up.  Trump was never forced on us: he’s a symptom that we badly need to fix our campaign system, Congressional structures, and government.  Nothing more, but also nothing less.

  26. HanTran says:

    JAAG:”I can’t even understand why Trump wanted this whole show …..”

    I am not sure how I see the summit affecting the coming elections. Not sure if it helps or hinders either party. It appears to have given many R congresscritters the opportunity to “sound” tough on Russia while still supporting Trump’s multi-faceted and highly damaging domestic policy actions. Not saying that is why he did it, but I do see lots of opportunistic posturing coming from it.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think he had a choice. I think he had to take it or Putin was going to move against him.

    • Rayne says:

      Could be an opportunity to distance themselves from Trump ahead of the elections, but the problem is money — I can’t think of a GOP congress critter who didn’t take money from the NRA and they have known for some time the NRA ‘laundered’ Russian money into campaign donations. I don’t see the GOP distancing themselves from the NRA or its money; they didn’t do it when they had good reason to do so after the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the mass shooting in Parkland FL.

  27. Dan says:

    “I didn’t even know he was in Moscow”

    That’s “I”, not “we”. It seems entirely plausible that everything was handled by the Kremlin without the top man needing to be personally informed. And if not, who is going to disprove that?

    Also perfectly compatible with Goldstone’s testimony. I assume many potential meetings get declined by presidential flunkies.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Putin knew what he wanted to know.  His direct knowledge is not relevant to the knowledge of his security apparatus.

  28. Anne says:

    I’d really prefer the whole security state be dismantled, but, nonetheless, what are the FBI agents thinking right now?  I’m sure I’d like to quit if my manager flat out showed contempt for my work day in and day out.

  29. cwradio says:

    I’ve enjoyed your columns and the comments by so many well-informed people. I have withheld commenting because the Trumpian ground seems to be better rooted out here than anywhere else.

    Yet on the subject of the Syrian war, I am relieved that there will finally be an end to it, regardless of how it was done. Assad is a rotten person, as are all dictators. Terrorizing your populace is a job requirement in his field. But war is so much worse. At least people had homes and electricity and water. Now they have only rubble, which is in my opinion, is the direct result of Western meddling; the uprising was not supported by enough Syrians to succeed and would have ended quickly otherwise.  Let nations handle their own problems without being bombed by “humanitarians”.  Afghanistan (911 vengeance), Iraq (oil), and Libya (no nukes, so why the hell not?) are all disasters created by plutocracies under the guise of democracy.

    Oh, well. Maybe Putin will order the Republicans to stop meddling in our elections.

    • Rayne says:

      Your reply is rather simplistic and little more than an apologia “Terrorizing your populace is a job requirement in his field” merely rationalizes one set of deaths over another set of deaths caused by conflict.

      Your whataboutism, however, is a bit more complex than the average attempt at propaganda.

      Welcome to emptywheel. Bring a better game.

      • cwradio says:

        Sorry to upset you with a piece that doesn’t adhere to your beliefs, but that doesn’t make me a troll.

        Do you always attack commentators you disagree with, or are you just having a bad day, Rayne?

  30. Rugger9 says:

    One of the favorite talking points for the MAGA Trumpies calling into sh0ws appears to be that the only other option to craven caving by Kaiser Quisling is letting the nukes fly.  It’s an old HRC trope as well, trying to paint her as a warmonger, but not true.  However, it did make me recall and paraphrase what Winston Churchill had to say about Chamberlain’s Munich agreement (“Peace in our time”):

    He was given a choice between war and dishonor.  He chose dishonor, he will have war.

  31. dude says:

    I think it is time to call Mr. Trump what he is above all else: a coward. He will not take on Russia. We can speculate all day long about what Putin or anybody else has on him or his family–it doesn’t matter. He is afraid of anyone who can hurt him and when they have the power and the willingness to use it, out President becomes the coward he is. He makes no effort to stand up against those actors who are aggressors, but he’s perfectly fine with picking on those who are powerless—children for example. But he cannot handle people or nations who show any power or willingness to actually hurting the United States. Trump is a coward.

  32. RWood says:

    Quoting yourself is stupid, but I’m going to do it anyway. My comment on yesterdays post:

    “Putin could give Trump a two sentence script and my guess is he would still try to spin it for his own gain, off the cuff and on camera of course, with the results being another word-salad that Mueller can use to implicate him.”

    Not sure he implicated himself, but he may have done even better. The Trumpster came through for me. I should have put some money on it.

  33. dutch says:

    @readerOfTeaLeaves: How do you know it wasn’t Republican or Democratic operatives that changed your voting status? They certainly have a track record of doing such things. Seems a more likely explanation. Even so your non-vote didn’t change the results. If you have evidence that enough votes were changed in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan to have changed the electoral vote I would like to hear it. As far as changing peoples’ minds via propaganda: that’s what political campaigns are all about. Lies, innuendos and mud-slinging are de rigueur. Like I said, we do it to them – they do it to us. Nobody rigs elections better than we do right here in the good old US of A!

    • Rayne says:

      If you have evidence that enough votes were changed in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan to have changed the electoral vote I would like to hear it.

      What a coincidence that recounts and audits in these states were thwarted in one way or another. Look, voter suppression takes many forms and the majority of them are driven by the Republican Party. Like the voter ID laws implemented in states with GOP legislatures; Wisconsin in particular was affected most in 2016, locking out hundreds of thousands of voters who were mostly minorities. You can research that detail, I’m not producing it here for you because you’ve been spouting without producing any evidence of your own.

      I will point to the 1982 consent decree against the RNC as evidence of the Republicans’ persistent efforts to suppress voters. That the decree expired in 2016 before the election is also another amazing coincidence.

      Wrap up your whataboutism. It’s not helping fix anything.

  34. Rugger9 says:

    Such as with voter suppression and people pitched off of voting rolls because of flawed Crosscheck information. Add to that the already known attack by the GRU on the voter rolls in several states. So, yeah, they did swing the election with the help of the NYC FBI office leaking innuendos.

  35. Worried says:

    My understanding is that Russia was successful in hacking BOTH Democratic and Republican campaigns.   They strategically decided to help the Republicans. But, what did they learn from the information they discovered in the hack of the Republicans?

    • bittersweet says:

      I respect that this is a site of proof and links, of which I have none. However, I keep wondering which other republican leader(s) Putin’s operatives have kompromat on. It does not appear that the republican leadership is acting as they have in the past on issues involving Russia, free international trade, US Dept Ceiling, NATO, really much of the platform they have held since they were in office. We dismiss each issue individually, but is it possible that a handful of key leaders like McConnell and/or Ryan (why is he quitting?), etc. are also compromised? Why are  these otherwise strutting self centered men cowed by a man they laughed at one time or another? They seem to have repainted their own stripes! If one were going to conspire to change a government, would not a smart person attempt on more than one avenue? I hope someone on Mueller’s team is taking a broader look around.


  36. Mitch Neher says:

    FWIW, try to imagine the campaign ads that will be run against Trump in 2020–if he makes it that far. The Helsinki press conference with his old pal Vlad will be exhibit A in the case against reelecting Trump. Better yet, Trump might fail to win New Hampshire and Iowa–if something Republican can be bothered enough to challenge Trump in the primaries. How many times can Trump throw the Republican party under the bus and still count on their support?

    Yeah, it sure looks like Trump just openly conspired with Putin to get more Russian interference in the 2020 election. But how’s that going to work the second time around?

  37. harpie says:

    9:15 AM – 16 Jul 2018 Disaster is one word. Calamity, catastrophe, debacle and fiasco are four other ways to say the same thing. #TrumpPutin #Synonyms  
    2:39 PM – 16 Jul 2018  Top searches, in order: treason, abase, traitor, collusion, presser
    6:37 PM – 16 Jul 2018 18 USC §954 makes it a federal crime to lie under oath in relation to a controversy between a foreign government and the United States, knowing the lie may be used to influence the foreign government’s conduct and injure the United States.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Presumably a separate crime from just lying under oath, which is perjury.  Presumably, the lie would be to a federal officer, which would be another separate crime.

  38. harpie says:

    In other similar news:

    1] 2:46 AM – 17 Jul 2018

    Recap of what we know now that we didn’t know on June 23, 2016.

    1) That Vote Leave cheated.

    2) That LeaveEU cheated.

    3) That Russia meddled.

    4) That Farage’s friend Donald Trump wd be elected.

    5) That he & Putin wd begin break-up of North Atlantic alliance.

    A Russian billionaire living in #Greece has given hundreds of thousands of euros to Macedonian opponents of the country’s proposed name change. The recipients include football #hooligans who have rioted in the capital.

  39. FRANK TRIPOLI says:

    the poisonings in the UK are a message to Americans….. No one is beyond our reach….

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The poisonings are not reliably sourced to the Russians. The toxic agent blamed does not behave in the manner reported here.  Several countries, including the US, UK and Israel are capable of making it, as are non-state actors.  Blaming the second poisoning on materials “left around” by the first poisoner(s) beggars belief.

      The UK government’s explanations are inconsistent and contradictory.  The absence of comment by the victims, when they could easily support or contradict the government’s official line, further weakens the government’s explanations.

      Whatever the stories are about both poisonings, odds are it has not come out.  It seems premature to place them at Putin’s feet.  That he’s capable of doing it is not at issue.  Others are, too.  The issue is whether he did do one or both.

      • Trip says:

        Something that crossed my mind was, were the people who were sickened part of some plot to use the agent? They may be, and most likely, are innocent victims, but the story of the left behind vial that no cops found after the last investigation is very odd.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The permutations of possible conduct are many.

          The idea that after weeks of frenzied public investigation into the Skripal poisoning, an innocent-looking vial was left anywhere in Salisbury, serendipitously picked up by two innocents and exposed only them is a Graham Greene farce.

          It makes the police and security services look incompetent.  It makes the perpetrators look like a villain from the Spy Who Shagged Me.

          Even Theresa May’s creativity-challenged government could do better.  If she and her predecessors hadn’t closed so many libraries, the security services could have borrowed a copy of Our Man in Havana.

      • SteveB says:

        It was not an innocent looking vial. It was what appeared to be a small fragrance spray bottle, which is why it was innocently picked up:

        As per the brother of the recovering victim, reporting what victim recounted to him, interviewed on BBC days ago.

        The symptoms of both the Skripals and the latest victims consistent with novichok.

        We will see whether the forensics on the agent discover here matches the high purity of the samples re the Skripals.

        Will your belief still be beggaring then, or will you want to see the servers?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          “Small fragrance spray bottle.”  Puts me on high alert.  If it had a skull & crossbones on it or a legend that read, “Property of Porton Down BioChemical Weapons Lab,” it might have made me nervous.

          Comment from the now apparently healthy Skripals would say a lot. They seem to be incommunicado. Nor is their apparent health “consistent with” exposure to N.

          By all accounts, if these four people had been exposed to what the government claims they were, they would have been dead before they could call 999.  That’s not N or “consistent with it”, which isn’t N either, and it says nothing about its origin or delivery.

          There are as many possibilities here as there are real servers involved in what Trump considers a single server.

  40. TheraP says:

    I’m beyond words.

    We’re all watching a lit fuse. Meanwhile our GOP (Guise of Putin) Pols, like Rand Paul last night on PBS, are saying the equivalent of: “But there’s a beneficial side to this: Look, there’s more light.”

    Future historians, some of us did see the Lit Fuse. We raised the alarm. We watched in horror. In grief. In disbelief.

  41. Rusharuse says:

    I can’t get past this . .
    Trump: “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer.”

    • Trip says:

      I know, and as Marcy said, Putin is just doubling down on Browder and Magnitsky. It’s a giant fuck you, kick in the ass, and Trump says, “Thanks, can I have some more?”  That isn’t diplomacy, it’s extortion. And Trump thinks it’s swell for Putin to question our intelligence agencies as a great bargain.

  42. dutch says:

    @Rayne: The evidence of tampering you allude to suggests it was good old Republican voter suppression. That’s is my whole point. The Republican party engineered Trumps electoral victory with the assistance of the weak opponent HRC. The Russian interference only added to the statistical noise. The Trump calamity is a self inflicted wound.

    • bmaz says:

      There are a myriad of factors that “but for” Clinton wins and Trump loses the election. You are focused on one. There is also the Comey injection, bad analytics by Clinton camp, Russian interference, and likely several others.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Every party tries to get its nominee elected.  The view that an opponent’s weaknesses “assisted” that end is constricted.  As bmaz says, there are dozens of factors involved.

      The evidence already made public suggests that Russian involvement was much more than “statistical noise”.  That framing excuses them.  Gerrymandering and voter suppression, lately mostly Republican vices but not always so, are factors. There are many others.

      The sophistication of the software analytics that micro-target vote influence campaigns is not easy to appreciate.  They reach down to the level of street and house.  That’s one reason it was so ominous that the Russians targeted the Dems’ analytics to steal or manipulate.

      Doing that successfully can misdirect one party’s efforts and enable those of opponents.  It’s also computer fraud and would be illegal for anyone, domestic or foreign, to do.

  43. dutch says:

    Yes – many factors. But Republican voter suppression was very likely the most important. We don’t need to look beyond our borders for the real culprits.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, we absolutely do. Of all the factors possible within our borders, that is one thing. But conspiracy to own a Presidential administration by a hostile foreign government, especially Putin and the Russians, is quite another, and extremely problematic. Trying to soft sell that is ridiculous and misguided.

      • Trip says:

        It falls into trolling. Blame something internally, say it was always bad, and nothing matters.

        • Kick the darkness says:

          I agree.  I think this poster is trolling.  The larger scheme of the Russian disinformation effort is to foment internal division, most successfully by pointing at something that has some truth attached and then distorting it.  I think that is what we are seeing here.  The distinction to be made is the attack and the susceptibility to the attack.  Particularly in light of the events of the last 48 hrs or so, we must deal with this ongoing attack first, and hope that our institutions are up to the challenge.

  44. harpie says:

    Speaking of elections/voting, Marcy just retweeted this article from Motherboard:
    New: a top voting machine vendor admits it installed remote-access software on systems sold to states. Senator Wyden said this “is the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.” Kim Zetter Jul 17 2018, 8:00am
    [quote] The nation’s top voting machine maker has admitted in a letter to a federal lawmaker that the company installed remote-access software on election-management systems it sold over a period of six years, raising questions about the security of those systems and the integrity of elections that were conducted with them. // In a letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in April and obtained recently by Motherboard, Election Systems and Software acknowledged that it had “provided pcAnywhere remote connection software … to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006,” which was installed on the election-management system ES&S sold them. // The statement contradicts what the company told me and fact checkers for a story I wrote for the New York Times in February.[…]

    • Palli says:

      Admission came in April 2018 but many people knew it was something like that in 1996. Chuck Hagel retired as CEO of Omaha-based ESS and was a first time candidate for Senator [actually any public office] from Nebraska that year. Republican, of course. It was the first use of the EES voting machines in a Nebraska election. Dole & Hagel overwhelmingly won every predominately black precinct in Omaha & Lincoln. The capacity to change ballots remotely has been proven over & over again and ignored by elected officials throughout the US. Deliberate inaccurate ballot count is not a bug in electronic voting machines; it is a feature-a distinct element in the design brief presented to engineers working in Republican owned corporations.

  45. dutch says:

    @bmaz: Putin certainly seems to have something on Trump. And it seems Putin did whatever he could to help Trump win. But that does not mean the Russian efforts were decisive in getting Trump elected.  Trump’s victory in all probability was home grown. To say otherwise is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence – which I just don’t see.  Without proof positive of Russian efforts swinging the election, Occam’s Razor should guide our beliefs.

    • Wm. Boyce says:

      Voter suppression in this country was vital to “electing” the creature. When the margin of victory was 80,000 votes in three swing states, you have to take a close look at how clean those state’s elective processes were.

      See the work of Greg Palast for detailed info.

      • Trip says:

        There’s no doubt about that. But it doesn’t mean the Russian interference was inconsequential.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Exactly.  Or that we should do nothing to defend our frail democracy but say, “Meh, both sides do it.”

    • Just Rob says:

      Are you suggesting, with your Occam’s Razor advice, that Trump is president b/c elected by the US citizenry?  Fairly?  And we (the US citizenry) should simply accept that and move on?

      Um, no.  Not going to do that.  Conspiring to defraud the American voter has too many moving parts, and has involved far too many lies and convenient memory lapses, for me to subscribe to such simple logic.  Occam’s Razor might still apply, just not as you are suggesting.

    • Palli says:

      Not to mention, there was no recount to have proof positive, even with electronic voting, discrepancies would have become apparent. Without a national ballot and non-partisan electoral administration, our elections are especially insecure.

  46. Trip says:

    Just a stream of consciousness, but I wonder if Trump’s performance yesterday has some element of self-sabotage.  Like pushing the envelope so far, to be so blatant, that it will all end. If it doesn’t end, then he sees the response as acceptance of his promoting Kremlin issues above the US and its allies.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The hard part is that Trump is always sabotaging himself, so it’s hard to tell when there’s something different about his behavior based on that criterion.

      The Republicans have jumped onto the “Shame on you, Mr. Trump,” bandwagon, seemingly in hopes that they need do nothing more.

      As Marcy called out Flake on twitter, all they need do is abandon him rather than continue to bail him out.  All the Republicans seem to be doing, however, is to pass around bailing buckets.

  47. Wm. Boyce says:

    I’m genuinely puzzled by the firm belief of writers at Consortium News that the whole Russian connection is bunk. They present their version of evidence and events which seem to be 180 degrees from the analysis on EW. For example:

    “Forensic studies of “Russian hacking” into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computer. After examining metadata from the “Guccifer 2.0” July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device.

    Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack.” 

    This strikes at the basic premise presented here that it was a hack at all. Any comment from the regulars?

  48. TheraP says:

    Breaking:  Trump says Summit “even better” than NATO meeting – as media/political furor continues.

    So good we have Trump to reinterpret things for us.  /s


    He also speaks of the NATO meeting, which he describes “raising vast amounts of money,” as if it were like a meeting to raise political money.

    [Please note a portion of the URL you shared contained a unique ID used for tracking readers; it wasn’t readily visible because it had been embedded using HTML. You’ll note similar tracking strings on the end of links from other sites like the New York Times. Please remove this portion of URLs you share in the future. Thank you. /~Rayne]

  49. holdingsteady says:

    I wanted to add a reply relating to the discussion above about whether a case for treason can be made.

    One legal expert cited in the article states that since we are on opposite sides with Russia in Syria, a case that we are at war could possibly be made. I know nothing about whether that holds any water, just curious about legal opinions from the folks here.

    (I tried to embed it to a relevant place in this thread but my reply button didn’t work.)

    Also, big thanks to many here, special thanks to reader of TeaLeaves – I will get on checking my voting status, we recently switched to mail in and it worries me.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      No. Being on opposite sides is not being at war, a requirement for an act to be treason in the US.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, let me tag on to Earl. This has been explicated relentlessly here. Any “legal expert” that said that is an idiot. Not even remotely close to the statutory and constitutional edict, much less interpretive law. Russia does not count. Full stop.

  50. dutch says:

    @Just Rob: Trump was elected by the electoral college as prescribed by the constitution. Were the popular votes in critical states illegally manipulated? Very possibly, but there is no proof, despite the well known modus operandi of Republican election officials in those states.  These officials were perfectly capable of swinging the election without Russian help.  Occam says don’t add in any more assumptions than needed to explain the facts.

  51. dutch says:

    @Trip: If you look back you’ll see that this was an answer to a direct question from Just Rob as to whether Trump was fairly elected.  If it was repetitive, take it up with him/her.

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