About the Two Investigations into Donald Trump

I’m still pretty cranky about the timing and form of Andrew McCabe’s publicity tour.

But since it’s out there, I’d like to comment on three details, two of which have gotten significant comment elsewhere.

Trump wanted Rod Rosenstein to include Russia in the reasons he should fire Comey

The first is that Trump specifically asked Rosenstein to include Russia — McCabe doesn’t further specify what he meant — in the letter recommending he fire Jim Comey.

McCabe says that the basis for both investigations was in Mr. Trump’s own statements. First, Mr. Trump had asked FBI Director Comey to drop the investigation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.  Then, to justify firing Comey, Mr. Trump asked his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to write a memo listing the reasons Comey had to go. And according to McCabe, Mr. Trump made a request for that memo that came as a surprise.

Andrew McCabe: Rod was concerned by his interactions with the president, who seemed to be very focused on firing the director and saying things like, “Make sure you put Russia in your memo.” That concerned Rod in the same way that it concerned me and the FBI investigators on the Russia case.

If Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein listed the Russia investigation in his memo to the White House, it could look like he was obstructing the Russia probe by suggesting Comey’s firing. And by implication, it would give the president cover.

Scott Pelley: He didn’t wanna put Russia in his memo.

Andrew McCabe: He did not. He explained to the president that he did not need Russia in his memo. And the president responded, “I understand that, I am asking you to put Russia in the memo anyway.”

When the memo justifying Comey’s firing was made public, Russia was not in it. But, Mr. Trump made the connection anyway, telling NBC, then, Russian diplomats that the Russian investigation was among the reasons he fired Comey.

The most obvious explanation for this is that Trump wanted to box DOJ in, to prevent them from expanding their investigative focus from one campaign foreign policy advisor, a second campaign foreign policy advisor, his former campaign manager, his National Security Advisor, and his lifelong political advisor to the one thing those five men had in common, Trump.

But it’s also possible that Trump wanted Rosenstein to do what Don McGahn had narrowly prevented Trump from doing, effectively shifting the obstruction to Rosenstein. That seems like what Rosenstein was worried about, an impression he may have gotten from his instructions from McGahn, laying out the case that investigating Russia would get you fired.

It’s possible, too, that Trump was particularly interested in the public statement for the benefit of the Russians, a view supported by the fact that Trump made sure he fired Comey before his meeting with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, and then stated that he had more freedom with Comey gone. That is, it’s possible he needed to prove to the Russians that he could control his own DOJ.

The order to Rosenstein was one of the predications for the investigation into Trump

McCabe elaborates on a story told at least partly by the Peter Strzok-Lisa Page texts: that the day after Trump fired Comey, FBI moved to open two investigations into Trump. A number of people have suggested McCabe just vaguely pointed to Trump’s statements, but he’s more specific than that. One of the statements was that order to Rosenstein to include Russia in the firing memo.

Scott Pelley: How long was it after that that you decided to start the obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations involving the president?

Andrew McCabe: I think the next day, I met with the team investigating the Russia cases. And I asked the team to go back and conduct an assessment to determine where are we with these efforts and what steps do we need to take going forward. I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace.


Andrew McCabe: There were a number of things that caused us to believe that we had adequate predication or adequate reason and facts, to open the investigation. The president had been speaking in a derogatory way about our investigative efforts for weeks, describing it as a witch hunt…

President Trump on Feb. 16, 2017: Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years.

Andrew McCabe: …publicly undermining the effort of the investigation. The president had gone to Jim Comey and specifically asked him to discontinue the investigation of Mike Flynn which was a part of our Russia case. The president, then, fired the director. In the firing of the director, the president specifically asked Rod Rosenstein to write the memo justifying the firing and told Rod to include Russia in the memo. Rod, of course, did not do that. That was on the president’s mind. Then, the president made those public comments that you’ve referenced both on NBC and to the Russians which was captured in the Oval Office. Put together, these circumstances were articulable facts that indicated that a crime may have been committed. The president may have been engaged in obstruction of justice in the firing of Jim Comey.

As McCabe describes it, the other things are obstruction-related: Trump’s attacks on the Russian investigation.

But remember, McCabe had heard the substance of Mike Flynn’s comments to Sergei Kislyak. The rest of us have seen just outlines of it. In some way, Mike Flynn convinced Sergei Kislyak on December 29, 2016, that Russia had Trump’s assurances on sanctions relief. Trump may well have come up specifically. In any case, the FBI would have had good reason — from Flynn’s lies, and his call records showing his consultations before he lied — to suspect Trump had ordered Flynn’s statements to Kislyak.

McCabe describes the genesis of the obstruction and the counterintelligence investigation

Finally, McCabe provides additional details to the dual investigation into Trump: the obstruction one arising out of Trump’s efforts to kill the Russian investigation, and the counterintelligence one into whether Trump was doing that at Russia’s behest (which goes back to my initial point, that Trump may have wanted Russia included in the firing memos as a signal to Russia he could kill the investigation).

Andrew McCabe: …publicly undermining the effort of the investigation. The president had gone to Jim Comey and specifically asked him to discontinue the investigation of Mike Flynn which was a part of our Russia case. The president, then, fired the director. In the firing of the director, the president specifically asked Rod Rosenstein to write the memo justifying the firing and told Rod to include Russia in the memo. Rod, of course, did not do that. That was on the president’s mind. Then, the president made those public comments that you’ve referenced both on NBC and to the Russians which was captured in the Oval Office. Put together, these circumstances were articulable facts that indicated that a crime may have been committed. The president may have been engaged in obstruction of justice in the firing of Jim Comey.

Scott Pelley: What was it specifically that caused you to launch the counterintelligence investigation?

Andrew McCabe: It’s many of those same concerns that cause us to be concerned about a national security threat. And the idea is, if the president committed obstruction of justice, fired the director of the of the FBI to negatively impact or to shut down our investigation of Russia’s malign activity and possibly in support of his campaign, as a counterintelligence investigator you have to ask yourself, “Why would a president of the United States do that?” So all those same sorts of facts cause us to wonder is there an inappropriate relationship, a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the government of Russia?

Scott Pelley: Are you saying that the president is in league with the Russians?

Andrew McCabe: I’m saying that the FBI had reason to investigate that. Right, to investigate the existence of an investigation doesn’t mean someone is guilty. I would say, Scott, if we failed to open an investigation under those circumstances, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs.

With that laid out, I’d like to look at Rod Rosenstein’s August 2 memo laying out precisely what Mueller was — and had, from the start — been authorized to investigate, which both Paul Manafort and the President’s flunkies in Congress spent a great deal of effort trying to unseal. Knowing as we now do that the redacted passages include at least one and probably two bullet points relating to Trump himself, it seems more clear than every that once you lay out the investigations into Trump’s flunkies known to have been predicated at the time, that’s all that would have been included in the memo:

  • Obstruction investigation into Trump
  • Counterintelligence investigation into Trump
  • Election conspiracy investigation into Manafort
  • Ukrainian influence peddling investigation into Manafort
  • Transition conspiracy investigation into Flynn
  • Turkish influence peddling investigation into Flynn
  • Counterintelligence investigation into Carter Page
  • Election conspiracy investigation into George Papadopoulos
  • Election conspiracy investigation into Roger Stone

At that point, there wouldn’t have been space for at least two of the three bullets that now exist on a scope memo, as laid out by Jerome Corsi’s draft plea (though “c” may have been there in conjunction with Stone).

At the time of the interview, the Special Counsel’s Office was investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including:

a. the theft of campaign-related emails and other documents by the Russian government’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (“GRU”);

b. the GRU’s provision of certain of those documents to an organization (“Organization 1”) for public release in order to expand the GRU’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign; and

c. the nature of any connections between individuals associated with the U.S. presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and the Russian government or Organization 1.

That’s another to believe — as I have long argued — that bullets a and b got moved under Mueller at a later time, probably around November 2017. After Flynn flipped, the Middle Eastern pass-through corruption would likely have been added, and inauguration graft probably got added after Rick Gates flipped (before the non-Russian parts of both got spun off).

One thing that means, if I’m correct, is that at the time Mueller was hired, the investigation consisted of predicated investigations into probably six individuals. While there would have been a counterintelligence and criminal aspect to both, there was a criminal aspect to each of the investigations, with specific possible crimes envisioned. If that’s right, it means a lot of hot air about Mueller’s appointment simply misunderstood what part of Comey’s confirmed investigation got put under Mueller at first.

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

In any case, the certainty that there are at least one and probably two bullets pertaining to Trump in that August 2 memo is interesting for a few more reasons.

It makes it far more likely that the Strzok 302 — based on a July 19, 2017 interview, drafted the following day, and finalized August 22 — was an effort to formalize Mueller’s authorization to investigate the President. The part of the 302 that pertains to Mike Flynn’s interview takes up the middle third of the report. The rest must lay out the larger investigations, how the FBI found the intercepts between Flynn and Kislyak, and what the response to the interview was at DOJ.

The 302 is sandwiched between two events. First, it follows by just a few weeks the release of the June 9 meeting emails. Indeed, the interview itself took place on the day the NYT published the interview where Trump admits he and Putin spoke about adoptions — effectively making it clear that Putin, not Trump, drafted a statement downplaying that the meeting had established a dirt-for-sanctions relief quid pro quo.

The 302 was also drafted the day before Mueller started pursuing the transition emails and other comms from GSA that would have made it clear that Trump ordered Flynn’s statements and key members of the transition team knew that.

Specifically, on August 23, 2017, the FBI sent a letter (i.e., not a subpoena) to career GSA staff requesting copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones, and other materials associated with nine PTT members responsible for national security and policy matters. On August 30, 2017, the FBI sent a letter (again, not a subpoena) to career GSA staff requesting such materials for four additional senior PTT members.

It also happens to precede, by days, when Michael Horowitz would inform Christopher Wray and then Mueller about the Page-Strzok texts, though that is almost certainly an almost unbelievable coincidence.

In any case, as I’ve noted, unsealing that August 2 memo has been like a crown jewel for the obstructionists, as if they knew that it laid out the investigation into Donald Trump. That effort has been part of a strategy to suggest any investigation into Trump had to be improper, even one investigating whether he engaged in a quid pro quo even before the General Election started, trading US policy considerations — starting with, but not limited to, sanctions relief — in exchange for help getting elected.

The obstructionists want to claim that an investigation that started with George Papadopoulos and then Carter Page and then Mike Flynn (the obstructionists always seem to be silent about Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, as if they knew who engaged in substantive conspiracy with the Russians) should not end up with Donald Trump. And they do so, I think, to suggest that at the moment it discovered that quid pro quo in July 2017, it was already illegitimate.

But as McCabe said, “the FBI had reason to investigate that. Right, to investigate the existence of an investigation doesn’t mean someone is guilty. I would say, Scott, if we failed to open an investigation under those circumstances, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs.”

It just turned out that Trump was guilty.

As I disclosed last July, 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. 

113 replies
  1. Ronald Prentice says:

    I guess I’m just not following this. If Trump instructed Flynn to tell the Russians there would be sanctions relief, so what? That’s within Trumps purview as the newly elected president. He’d been talking all the time during the campaign that he wanted better relations with the Russians. What the Hell am I missing here?!

    • Rayne says:

      You’re missing the fact we only have one president at a time and it is illegal to conduct negotiations on behalf of the U.S. with another country unless one is authorized to do so. And there’s really no good reason why the Russians couldn’t wait from Election Day 2016 to Inauguration Day 2017 to learn from the Trump White House it would work with Congress to lift sanctions.

      Telling one’s base what their position on foreign policy is in general is one thing. Conducting foreign policy in contravention to a current administration’s policy? Nope.

      • P J Evans says:

        Tr*mp was acting as if he had the right and the power to tell the government what to do as soon as the election was over, well before he was sworn in. The media and Congress (and Obama’s administration) should have been very loud about that as unauthorized interference, but…

      • Herringbone says:

        In this context, I’m always amazed at how the audacity of Trump’s defenders combines with McConnell’s cynicism wrt Merrick Garland to give us this rule of thumb: Republican administrations begin immediately after Election Day; Democratic administrations effectively end nine months before.

    • cinnawhee says:

      I think you are right, that the Trump transition discussing their foreign policy plans with Russia before the inauguration was not in itself particularly criminal (aside from obscure Logan Act violation which hasn’t been used since 1800’s) — which makes all of the *lies* about it that much more important. The real issue is that the sanctions relief being discussed was part of a quid pro quo for Russian interference in the election on Trump’s behalf. And *that* is very criminal. That is why Flynn and everyone connected with those communications lied about it.

      • BobCon says:

        Yes, this. This is the part trolls always leave out.

        A president cannot perform official acts for corrupt reasons. Cannot hire someone in exchange for kickbacks. Cannot nominate someone to a court in exchange for  bribe. Cannot perform a foreign policy action in exchange for the rights to buikd a hotel and election interference.

        The fact that Dershowitz isn’t getting a free pass very much on this point these days, outside of Fox, suggests the shelf life on this line is over.

      • Drew says:

        This is right. It is also quite possible that neither the Trumpistas or the Russians took adequate care to conceal the quid pro quo aspects of the deal during their discussions. I mean, you would think that Flynn & Kislyak would have avoided talking about the election or Russian assistance, etc, even while talking about the hardships created for Russian-American relations by the mean Obama administration, but we see over & over that these guys are reckless as hell. (Whether this is intentional on the Russians’ part, I’m not sure, on the part of the Trump folk it’s a combination of stupidity, lack of professional experience, and being part of the culture of impunity of the wealthy that never get investigated for their crimes).

        • Rayne says:

          But look at what both the corporate media and nearly half the voting public did to Clinton when she spelled out Trump’s perfidy: she was vilified with her emails and they blew off everything she said about Trump and Russia rather than digging into her claims.

          For Christ’s sake she was a former SecState and senator, knew something of which she spoke, and she was still blown off.

          Add the suppression of everything Senator Harry Reid asked about and Obama’s reluctance to act more openly to avoid appearance of partisanship.

          That’s why the conspirators were as bold and brazen as they were — there were never any serious roadblocks. They were getting away with it right out in the open all the way. The Russians didn’t care because their ability to take action openly on U.S. soil was a coup, a major benchmark in demoralization and destabilization.

          • Drew says:

            I can’t disagree with you on any of this. All of the way through this, the New York Times, especially, has been really very strangely obtuse. [Moreso, than the other mainstream media, though I’m not arguing that they are alone].  The long received conventional wisdom is that NYT is liberal/centrist pro-Democratic Party in its overall editorial policy. And I think that there still is a kind of truth, or truthiness, to that.

            The recurring theme that I see in all this is a deference to money. That permeates both parties, the mainstream media and law enforcement. Financial crimes aren’t really crimes to worry about–and prosecuting them isn’t worth the trouble. That’s the lesson from the Obama administration approach to the financial crisis. There are plenty of crimes out there that don’t get investigated: money laundering, bank fraud, etc. They are only investigated when someone’s ox gets gored, and by someone, I mean someone important, meaning someone with big money and influence. The New York Times, of course, is only a short subway ride from the Financial District which is the epicenter of this. Thus there inability to perceive anything clearly-and here I’m not talking conspiracy theories, what we have is motivation to fit in, succeed, feel comfortable with the people you’re working with & for, etc. With the Times, it has reached the point of absurdity.

            So Manafort’s financial crimes, & the Trump Org’s money laundering, etc. were overlooked because conventional wisdom was that they were hard to investigate & prosecute, & not so significant. Now, however, they overstepped, but it has taken massive provocation to get attention focused on it. A big part of that is the simultaneous need to rationalize the niceness, goodness, & wisdom of the big bankers, etc. while trying to tell some of the truth that implicates. them.

    • MattyG says:

      What are you missing? They talked about sanctions relief – DT’s payment to Putin for election engineering and the the dangled Moscow tower deal. And that’s just what’s publicly known.

    • SolidPossiblility says:

      It is not unusual for an incoming NatSec Advisor to have preemptive talks with foreign officials, it is however technically a violation of the logan act to have policy discussion before being authorized by the US govt.  It appears that Flynn gave (multiple) concrete assurances to Kislyak that sanctions would be lifted, when he could have just insinuated that there would be a new administration in less than a month who might want to relook sanctions.  And this might seem like a petty quabble, as Logan Act violations are rarely pursued.

      The real fulcrum of the Flynn investigation happened with his initial FBI interview, where he lied, repeatedly, about his communications with both Kislyak and the transition team.  When FBI agents pushed the issue and asked Flynn if he ever talked about sanctions, using Flynn’s own words from intercepted calls, he again lied.  That is a red flag.

      When SCO pulled on this thread, Flynn flipped (and back filed FARA registration).

    • nsacpi says:

      It is possible that the president had principled policy-related reasons for changing sanctions policy.  But having such reasons doesn’t justify (or make legal) using changes to policy as part of a quid pro quo with Russia.

      Consider the situation in 1972.  George McGovern had principled reasons for wanting to bring the war to an end.  But it would be highly problematic if his campaign conspired with Hanoi to receive help to get elected.

      I should mention it would even more problematic if McGovern was also negotiating a lucrative real estate deal with Hanoi during the middle of the campaign.

      • AlanK says:

        I believe the massive LBJ biography by Caro states that the Nixon campaign’s 1968 “deal” with Hanoi was discussed by the Johnson campaign, and the advice given was to hide it from the public because they didn’t want the public to know that this is the way things are done.

        In addition, it is also well-known that the Reagan campaign met with the Iranian regime in 1980 to ask them to delay the release of the hostages (probably in return for help with the war against Iraq) until after the inauguration.  Again, I believe this fact was well-known but downplayed.

        It seems like the Trump campaign may have been following this play-book (after all, most of the survivors of the Nixon cabal seem to have fallen in with Trump) but with the difference that Trump’s personal interests were involved – which makes it a crime in the eyes of the elite.

        Fooling the people is not a criminal act in the judgement of the elites – even though such foolery has made (and will make) the more serious damage.

    • Twinkie defense says:

      The biggest potential problem is the possibility of sanctions relief being part of a quid pro quo – so for example, dirt on Hillary/help with the election and a $300 mil Trump Tower Moscow windfall for Trump, sanctions relief (aka “adoptions”) and help with Syria and Ukraine for Putin (plus the side benefit of undermining faith in our elections).

      The fact that sanctions relief kept coming up in relation to other things (including the Saudi nuclear deal which would have made a lot of Trumpies very rich), plus the fact that everyone kept lying about their contacts with Russia, is very damning.

      If this was just a discussion about sanctions – policy planning discussions – and not part of some illegal quid pro quo you’d think people like Flynn would have been more honest about their discussions.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There’s also the little matter of Trump’s history with the Russians, and the promises to change American foreign policy that he might have made in exchange for help in being elected, or in exchange for a variety of other things – a hotel/casino project in Moscow, more or continued lending from Russian sources, keeping quiet about already existing kompromat on Trump.

      Given Trump’s thirty-year relationship with the Russians, the options are endless. All are embarrassing to a nominee, president or bidnessman whose only asset is his name.  A good many of them are illegal.

    • emptywheel says:

      One other thing in addition to what everyone else responded.

      Trump told Obama they would not contravene his policy, including with these sanctions.

      So it’s not just that they did so. It’s that they did so clandestinely, after saying they would not.

  2. Kevin Finnerty says:

    I’m on board with your point that the report of prosecution and declination decisions required by the special counsel regulations will be dwarfed by the “report” made up of Mueller’s speaking indictments. But what becomes of the counterintelligence information gathered by Mueller if very senior people, including the president are found to be compromised?

    The counterintelligence angle is the only scenario I can think of where the mandatory confidential report could be more valuable than the speaking indictments. As in, “Jared Kushner did such and such but OSC declines to prosecute because it would reveal sources and methods.”

    Is there any reason to think counterintelligence information gained from this investigation will make its way to congress? The gang of eight? Is there any reason to think information is already being shared?

    • BobCon says:

      I think Trump will fight it tooth and nail. That doesn’t mean that a future president won’t decided to declassify at least some of it, but it will be in the face of chronic institutional bias in favor of secrecy.

      Congress can grant immunity to witnesses, so in theory someone like McCabe or Rosenstein could be convinced to speak at length, although without the benefit of a paper trail. Even with immunity, it may be difficult to get witnesses to open up, given the risk of big legal fees to defend against frivolous actions.

      There’s also the possibility of leaks, of course. I wouldn’t be surprised if leakers are holding back now because they don’t want to mess up Mueller’s work, but once he wraps things up, they may feel greater freedom.

      Basically I think some details will come out, but unless there is a strong commitment by the next president to expose the truth, it will be a lot of scattershot stuff. I think even if the next president wants a full accounting, you’ll see a lot of defensive moves inside the intelligence community to avoid the obvious question of why they didn’t push back harder against Trump and do it a lot sooner.

    • cinnawhee says:

      Yes I keep coming back to this, as well — what actions can the intelligence community take to counteract a national security threat in the White House? If the IC investigation has determined that the president is indeed compromised, and that information cannot be made public because it’s highly classified, what can they legally do?

      Can the IC withhold sensitive info from the president in the interests of national security?  Can they transmit evidence directly and securely to congress to prompt impeachment hearings?  Are there any constitutional provisions for something like this?

      I would like to see Trump and gang prosecuted for all of the corruption, but it seems like the URGENT issue is how to neutralize the threat to national security.

  3. orionATL says:

    mccabe comes across as very resolute and very confident of his facts.

    it would be a shame if media types ended up degrading this important presentation by repeatedly pointing out the utterly trivial point that mccabe is doing a book tour.  that is precisely how the media’s ethical nannies degraded and trivialized the information james comey had to offer the public.

    • Herringbone says:

      McCabe and Comey trivialized their own information by turning their obligation to speak out into a book tour. In doing so, they made it impossible for the public to separate what they said from their need to self-promote. You can’t blame the media for that.

      • P J Evans says:

        They want their books to sell. Book tours are part of that – the media don’t generally cover them, so you don’t see them unless one of the stops is at a bookstore in your area.

  4. Peterr says:

    I’m wondering if the investigation had deeper roots. In the course of ordinary IC work by the CIA, DIA, and NSA, and given some of the obviously poor tradecraft of some of the players in this drama, I would expect that both Manafort and Flynn were on the radar of the IC before the FBI/DOJ either opened their own investigation or were read in on what the foreign-focused IC agencies had been watching.

    Manafort’s work in Ukraine had to be under scrutiny by the CIA as part of their ordinary “what’s going on over there?” work, and when Manafort saw to it that the only suggested change by the Trump team to the GOP platform draft was the Ukraine plank, they would have sat up and taken notice.

    Flynn’s approaches to Russia had already made folks at the DIA and CIA nervous before he was “retired,” and that only got worse when he assumed an advisory role to the Trump campaign. He also raised eyebrows in the IC with his work for Turkey before the campaign work.

    Once upon a time, the wall between the CIA and FBI was pretty solid (at least on paper) and the former would not tell the latter anything unless they had to get the FBI to investigate something domestic. Post 9/11, things got more flexible so that folks could “connect the dots” — but when would the CIA, DIA, and NSA have read the FBI in on their concerns about Manafort and Flynn?

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know about Manafort; seems very odd he wasn’t picked up sooner for all his bank and tax fraud if he was being watched. Flynn I think is far more likely to have been under scrutiny since Obama had warned Trump about hiring him.

      • Peterr says:

        As closely as the Ukranian elections (and other events) were being followed, Manafort had to have been under scrutiny. Not necessarily for illegal behavior, but simply because he was a US person in the middle of a situation involving upheaval on the border with Russia.

        • Rayne says:

          Which means — especially with the revelations inside his daughters’ hacked texts — that the intelligence community turned a blind eye to his criminality as they watched him. Could Trump’s campaign have gone differently if Manafort had been in custody and prosecuted before he could become campaign manager?

          So aggravating.

          • AMG says:

            hi rayne – i’ve got the trumpcast podcast queued up – today is:

            Paul Manafort and the Heart of Collusion – Virginia Heffernan talks to Danny Cevallos, a criminal defense attorney and MSNBC legal analyst, about Paul Manafort, branching off into Michael Cohen, Mikhail Lesin, Konstantin Kilimnik, and the idea that Trump is not the top of the Mueller investigation.

            i’m curious to see where heffernan and cevallos go w/ their discussion – if Trump is not at the top, then who is?

            it’s a situation i’ve pondered myself since there’s a documented record of a long history of the FBI pursuing a noted Russian mafia “boss of bosses” and there’s quite a bit of compelling evidence to put manafort a few degrees of separation or less away from said boss.

            but to your point – i cannot imagine how the IC could NOT have known manafort’s name and thus have “turned a blind eye” to his criminality. though that does make me think that the intel the IC was getting from him was worth it.

            that being said, one of my biggest fears right now is that there’s a parallel situation going on w/ trump. i mean, how the f**k would the IC NOT have known about trump’s criminality all this time???

            welp, that’s quite a ramble for my first comment.

    • viget says:

      Absolutely it does.  I bet Manafort was being surveilled by the IC, now as to why he wasn’t prosecuted, not sure.  It’s possible that he (or rather Oleg Deripaska through him?) might have been trying to play both sides as a double agent, which reminds me of the discussion from this thread from back in August 2018 regarding Bruce Ohr’s conversations with Christopher Steele.  It was clear that in early 2016, Steele thought he was turning Deripaska to be a  double agent, and as such, relied on him heavily for his dossier.

      Just a WAG, but something had to have happened in late May 2016 or around the time of the infamous June 9th meeting that made the FBI/IC realize that Steele had been duped and that Deripaska/Manafort were involved in a quid pro quo with Trump (and that the GRU behind the DNC/DCCC hacks were involved with Deripaska).  Shortly after the June 9th meeting, we have our first public reporting by Nakashima that the Russians had hacked the DNC/DCCC, info that they had been sitting on since at least early May, and I’m sure that the DNC wasn’t too keen on publicly releasing.

      Worth noting too that the very next month, we have Jim Comey announcing no prosecution of Hilary Clinton for the email server, followed by the opening of the CI investigation Crossfire Hurricane at the end of July (Strozk’s investigation into Papadopolous and Page).

      I’ve been thinking this for a while, but was the Clinton email investigation just a massive red herring that Deripaska and possibly others kept feeding to keep the FBI off their scent?  Would explain why the same folks involved in that investigation were the ones to open the Trump Campaign CI investigation.

      • CaliLawyer says:

        In one of McCabe’s interviews, where he discusses why the Trump and Clinton investigations were handled differently, he talked about “several” investigations into Trump at that time, which were kept secret because they hadn’t been publicly referred like the Clinton email investigation. This was before election day, so the transition craziness wasn’t even on the conspiracy radar yet. Manafort, Flynn, Page and Papadopolous would have all been under scrutiny due to their direct contact with dodgy Russians, and anyone touching Wikileaks would also have been under scrutiny due to long-standing surveillance of Assange. Factor in IC assets like Sater, and the IC would have had access to voluminous info on TrumpCo long before Mueller appeared on the scene. Sater has supposedly been helping the IC track Semion Mogilevich, which is one reason (could be others) he’s been allowed to continue his life of crime. Cohen is protecting his father-in-law by not cooperating fully with the SDNY, although his roll as glorified bagman for TrumpCo might have put him on the FBI radar, too. It seems likely to me that Cohen’s father-in-law’s Russian/Ukrainian mob connections are what kept him in Trump’s orbit, rather than that silly HOA cover story (although the Russian/Ukrainian mob could well have been the real players in resolving that drama). Trump’s threat to the father-in-law seems like a pretty good tell – both in terms of what Trump really knows about his associates, and why they’re in his orbit in the first place.

  5. Rugger9 says:

    What do we make of Roger Stone’s potshot at Judge ABJ?  He’s trying to spin it as a First Amendment topic but when released with conditions I think (IANAL) that usually take unfettered FA claims out of the picture.

    So why do it if one is not already guilty and / or otherwise signaling for a pardon? Stone hasn’t had his trial yet, I would think it’s too soon to ask for pardon.

    • JacquesClouseau says:

      I think Stone may be trying to get thrown in jail pretrial and he is going to continue to escalate his rhetoric until that happens. He wants to be behind bars screaming about a judge who is corrupt and ‘unfair’ and from the Clintons or whatever else he wants to spew. Then trump can use his pardon power, he will say it is the only way to get an old man out of jail who is being unfairly detained by the deep state. A great way for trump to test the waters of his pardon powers as well.

      • Frank Probst says:

        ABJ tends to be tough but fair.  The “crosshairs” photo was ambiguous enough that she probably won’t decide that it’s an imminent threat, so I don’t think she’s going to throw him in jail.  I think she’ll just impose a very tight gag order.  Which he’ll violate, of course, but I think ABJ will give him more than enough rope before she tosses him in jail.

        I think this particular stunt backfired.  When your attorneys file an apology with the court within hours of something happening, it’s pretty much an admission that you crossed the line.

  6. CD54 says:

    Recycled/Repositioned from the previous thread:

    There were a lot of reports since last week about SCO possessing Roger Stone’s communications with GRU/IRA/(?)/Wikileaks. Maybe Roger realized how screwed he is and “false flagged” himself in order to get good and gagged while he does a major darkened sellout.

    Just claiming my spot in case it turns out.

  7. Eureka says:

    The McCabe interview (esp. as under your “detail 1′ section) really made Trump’s Lester Holt interview make sense- just as all of their daft-isms make sense, given the right retrospective detail(s). He was of a one track mind to let RU know, in no uncertain terms, as publicly as possible, why he’d fired Comey. Barring a (Rosenstein-authored) gov’t doc/press release to that effect, POTUS on the teevee would have to do. Redundancy and officialness of this message seem to have been important (i.e. beyond Lavrov/Kislyak meeting).

    The interview also gave a solid glimpse of the personal ‘holy shit this is happening’ terror they all must have felt in those moments. This part I ‘read’ like a combo of your first two reasons under ‘detail 1:’ Trump wanted to kill the investigation before it got to him by making the FBI render itself dirty in doing so. Mobsters and narcissists are always looking to dirty-up others to create co-conspirators.

    So I’ll go with the three-fer on that one, as in that context the reasons and outcomes become somewhat indivisible.

    Also salient: Trump can hold on to a firm intentionality (TELL PUTIN I FIRED COMEY, I CAN PLAY BALL AND FINALLY DELIVER YOUR POLICY DEMANDS, WHEW), over the course of days, when it suits him.

    • Eureka says:

      And I still want to know who coaches him on potboilers like Montenegro.  Who was locally reminding him to stay en pointe in May 20017, and who’s doing all that lately?

      • rip says:

        Totally agree. “And I still want to know who coaches him on potboilers…”

        As far as I can tell there are no people of adequate intelligence and skills within the WH staff to coach donnie. Even from outside the WH and within the gov’t.

        Game of chess, anyone?

        • P J Evans says:

          There are – but they’re not people who are getting the media’s attention: Bannon might have, Miller, Gorka: they all are smart enough and had Tr*mp’s attention.

      • BobCon says:

        I suspect it’s someone like Kushner, who has been there since the beginning and has Trump’s trust that he is speaking to the right people in Russia. Kushner is also deep enough in the conspiracy that he doesn’t have the option of backing out, but not in so deep that he is under the immediate threat of an ankle bracelet and gag order.

        Somebody like Barrack seems like another possibility, although I wonder if Barrack himself is under too much scrutiny to be an effective go between.

  8. Mitch Neher says:

    Isn’t the firing of Comey one of the “overt acts” taken in the furtherance of Trump’s and the Trump campaign’s Conspiracy to Defraud the United States? How would construing that same overt act as obstruction of justice, instead, make Trump’s overt act of firing Comey separate and distinct from the ConFraudUS case against Trump and his campaign? And shouldn’t all of the false statement and lying to Congress charges against members of the Trump campaign and Trump associates also be regarded as “overt acts” taken in the furtherance of the conspiracy?

  9. CD54 says:

    @Mitch Neher at 4:51 am
    In a 1970’s uncorrupted country — yes. In THIS country at THIS time — absolutely not.

    • Mitch Neher says:

      My assumption was only that an “overt act” could be innocent when considered separately from a criminal conspiracy, but not that it has to be innocent when considered separately. I am not a lawyer. So I don’t know if an overt act could also be a criminal act when considered separately from a conspiracy.

  10. Hops says:

    As for the timing of this, I can see 2 possibilities. One is that McCabe is irresponsible to stir things up before Mueller is done. The other is that McCabe knows what is about to come out soon and figures the time has come.

    HPSCI postponed the Cohen testimony until the 28th so as not to “interfere with the investigation” so I assume some aspects of the investigation will wrap up by then.

    So, perhaps McCabe is framing the context of what is about to come out.

    • Peterr says:

      Or perhaps his publisher said “Here’s when we’re going to publish. We want this out while the topic is trending up, not have it get lost in a crush of other stuff or miss the peak of interest.” It’s in the publisher’s interest to get this out NOW.

      And I don’t think McCabe could argue with their decision about the publishing date. At least not without jeopardizing his contract and any advance he may have received.

        • P J Evans says:

          Authors don’t generally get a choice of publishing dates, any more than they get a choice of cover art.

          • Drew says:

            In any relationship each party has some leverage. McCabe, for instance, could decline to be as forthcoming as he has been in going beyond the actual words in the book during interviews. Publishing dates can change, though publishers like to imply they are immutable. (“Fire and Fury” was  pushed forward by a week for instance)

            McCabe is clearly on board with this publicity tour, he might not have the savvy to figure it out on his own, but he definitely agreed with what he was presented.

            • P J Evans says:

              None of which conflicts with what I said: authors don’t set publishing dates. They generally have deadlines to meet for making the date set by the publisher. (I read blogs by actual authors.)

              • quickbread says:

                I can concur with PJ on this. The publishing house, especially at a big publisher like McCabe’s, plans book launches and tours to maximize sales and to coordinate production schedules across their whole list of releases.

                Authors get no say in their launch timing. And they have a contractual obligation to the publisher to promote their book during the launch. Perhaps the publisher bet on releasing now while the probe is still active and hot, but that decision’s the house’s, not the author’s.

    • SomeGuyInMaine says:

      McCabe has to be out front in public to help rehabilitate his image.  He been attacked and attacked by the current administration.  Including the incredibly petty pension thing.  McCabe needs visibly little to make his points heard far and wide.

      The book is a great way to do this. The timing is not accidental.  It’s a good strategy.  He’s being treated seriously as a career FBI man, very counter to Trump’s portrayal.  I think the money may be fairly secondary. The more that comes out the better McCabe may look.

      It will be interesting was Rosenstein says as he exits.

      The way to fight a man with a megaphone is to get your own megaphone.  This book and tour is the best megaphone handy.

  11. Tom Marney says:

    “Blood Drains From Mueller’s F ace After Realizing Russia Investigation Might Go All The Way To White House,” said the Onion nearly a year ago. Watching the McCabe interview, I couldn’t help but be agog that, despite the fact that the IC knew that the Russians were working on Trump’s behalf in 2015, despite the Gang of Eight briefing months before the election, despite any number of other events, that Rosenstein didn’t realize how serious Trump’s Russia connection was until Comey’s firing? And was so disoriented that he thought that the 25th Amendment process was a realistic way of dealing with the situation? I must be missing something.

  12. Tom says:

    Seems all the more important to find out what’s been discussed in the President’s private meetings with Putin. Could it be that Putin is not only ingratiating himself with Trump by ‘advising’ him on international affairs in a collegial sort of way but also giving him compromising information–true or manufactured–on his political opponents in the U.S.?

  13. ivaluemyprivacy says:

    Some folks here have no manners, so you are likely to receive an inconsiderate reply.

    What you are missing is the likelihood of an explicit quid pro quo, ie that in exchange for promises of sanctions relief, and friendlier attitudes toward Russia’s actions in Ukraine, etc. Russia would assist Trump in getting elected, would get Trump Tower Moscow built, etc. Those things are clearly both illegal and unethical.

  14. StringOnAStick says:

    I am now reasonably suspicious that it was Russia that obtained the Page-Strozk texts and outted their affair in order the muddy the FBI investigation. I’m also embarrassed for them that were too stupid to not realize that as FBI agents, Russia was sucking up their communications, leaving themselves wide open to attack. I do hope that FBI agents are now fully aware that their phone comms are all being collected by Russia, to be used as needed.

  15. PSWebster says:

    Isn’t this relevant big time to the push back by Graham et al? No one objected to notice May 2017
    Laura Jarrett

    Verified account

    Follow Follow @LauraAJarrett
    McCabe confirms for first time to @SavannahGuthrie on Today that the FBI informed the Gang 8 in May 2017 the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump and “no one objected. Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds, and not based on the facts.”

    4:52 AM – 19 Feb 2019

    • Leila512 says:

      FWIW, Malcolm Nance has been asserting this for 2-3 years–that DT has been (a) compromised (idiot) from the get-go

    • MattyG says:

      Agreed – it’s truly unreal that to think HRC hatred (if that’s the driving force) can *still* blind people that they can’t spot such an obvious plant. And after Helsinki even.

  16. Jim_46 says:

    If I understand Marcy correctly, she’s saying that “obstructionists” argue (more or less) that the memo of August 2, 2017, was drafted by Deep State enemies of the president to create a retroactive pretext for the investigations of Trump that had begun earlier, when they were initiated by corrupt and politically motivated hacks to overturn the results of a democratic election, and subsequently handed off to Mueller and his team of 17 angry Democrats.

    That’s a bizarrely legalistic defense of Trump. “He’s innocent. There’s no evidence of his participation in a conspiracy or effort to obstruct any investigation. And putting all that aside — suppose he did conspire and then seek to obstruct — Mueller’s entire investigation is illegitimate. It’s fruit of a poisonous tree.”

    Well, yes or no: is there a strong circumstantial case already in public view that Donald Trump himself engaged in a quid pro quo with Russians, which involved providing sanctions relief for the Russians in exchange for (1) their cyberoperations to help him win the election, and (2) in the event of a loss in that election, further assistance in the construction of Trump Tower Moscow, and (3) in either eventuality, keeping hidden all the compromising evidence of his and his organization’s many illicit activities?

    I say “yes,” though I welcome disagreement, tweaks, and quibbles. In any case, more-than-merely-circumstantial evidence may emerge, but in the meantime, we are at risk of getting so overwhelmed by minute study of twigs and branches as to lose sight of the forest as a whole. Trump is a criminal and a traitor, but he is also the embodiment or emblem of broad historical trends both at home and globally. We need to deal with this criminal traitor expeditiously, and then we need to turn our attention to those broad trends, among them, more and more money in politics, growing wealth inequality, technological disruption of our economy and social life, decline in the quality of our educational systems, and the like.

    • Jim_46 says:

      From Natasha Bertrand’s piece in the The Atlantic:

      Bertrand: That reminds me of a passage that jumped out at me in your book: “He thought North Korea did not have the capability to launch such missiles. He said he knew this because Vladimir Putin had told him so … the president said he believed Putin despite the PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] briefer telling him that this was not consistent with any of the intelligence that the US possessed.” How do you explain that?

      McCabe: It’s inexplicable. You have to put yourself in context. So I am in the director’s chair as acting director. My senior executive who had accompanied the briefer to that briefing, who sat in the room with the president and others, and heard the comments, comes back to the Hoover Building to tell me how the briefing went. And he sat at the conference table, and he just looked down at the table with his hands out in front of him. I was like, “How did it go?” And he just—he couldn’t find words to characterize it.

      • Jim_46 says:

        No, I’m not. Not mostly, not at all. And I am 100% confident that you could not sustain that insult with any evidence from my comments. All my contributions have been supportive of Marcy Wheeler’s work, relevant to her posts, thoughtful, and make an argument. I have been clear that in my view Mueller’s investigation and prosecutions are immensely important but should not relieve us of the need to oppose Trump in other ways. That’s been a theme for me — that there’s danger in waiting on Mueller, in heroizing him, in thinking in narrowly legal or criminal terms, if you will.

        You’ve taken exception from the beginning to any suggestion that the Special Counsel’s role and work are open to critique. Your very first reply to one of my comments was dripping in sarcasm, patronizing, and dismissive of a perfectly unremarkable opinion. Since then, you have doubled down on personal attack. I have refused to back down. And you are obviously angry about that.

        I despise bullying, bmaz. And there’s no other word for what you’re doing. In any case, the fact that Marcy and Rayne put up with your behavior is all the indication I need that my presence here is not wanted. I leave you all to it, with regret, because it’s a great blog and there are some smart people here.

        Cheers, Marcy. Keep up the great work.

        • bmaz says:

          Naw, you are completely full of shit. And I am not the only one who has said so, and, yes, starting at the beginning. Exactly one month ago when you were blowing shit out of your ass about Leopold and Buzzfeed.

      • Avattoir says:

        He appears!

        I applaud your forbearance. This is one of the mostly densely filled conspiracy theist [sic] choir practice sessions I can recall happening at this website in a long time.

  17. Mark Ospeck says:

    Hops says:  So, perhaps McCabe is framing the context of what is about to come out.

    sounds about right.  Why would the spooks not use McCabe as their asset? i. e. authorize more and further revelations from him that will  dovetail into the coming Mueller findings?  I assume that in situations where the CIA has a high degree of confidence that the American president is a Russian Agent that there are national security over rides presently in  place.  That is, the Marquis of Queensbury rules are out. Also, McCabe is a great, succinct, to-the-point briefer.  In this extraordinary circumstance why not use him as a Mueller mouthpiece to neutralize the threat?

    On a different note, I respect the 538 math methods and many academics I know swear by it.  However, am troubled by their static readjustments, which can be gamed.   For ex. on 538 today Trump is an aggregate 12 underwater. Take just Feb and the 3 (most common) 538 polls: YouGov (B, -1 correct), Harris (C+, -3 correct), and Rasmussen (C+, -6 correct).  538 is playing by its stated rules, but these are a static target, and I suspect are being gamed.  Several recent examples of Ras have Trump -1,+1, +5,-3 and these are all dealt with simple static -6 corrects.  Did not do the calc, but Ras has to be 4 or 5 standard deviations from the true mean. For ex. a good poll, Ipsos (B+, +2.5 correct) has Trump 19 and 20 underwater (prior to correct).  Why this matters: 538 is frequently used as a gold standard reference and the tv news will say things like Trump is now only 12 underwater. Which helps Trump.  imo this damages the country and the false benefit needs to be taken away from him.  It’s important to use good data, not junk, when doing statistics.

  18. Jeffrey L says:

    in the second sentence after the quote block:
    “…Knowing as we now do that the redacted passages include at least one and probably two bullet points relating to Trump himself, it seems more clear than every that once you lay out the investigations into Trump’s flunkies…”
    every -> ever

  19. viget says:

    OT, but looky what I found on CNN on an article about the Dem Oversight Cmte report re: Flynn’s nuclear ambitions—

    Rick Perry, Trump’s Energy Secretary, has revived talks about nuclear cooperation, telling Congress in May 2018, “[W]e tried to really drive home to the crown prince … that if you want the best reactors in world, you have to come to the United States and you have to use Westinghouse.” Westinghouse was acquired by a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management in early 2018.
    Brookfield took over a lease of Kushner’s troubled 666 Fifth Avenue office tower. Representatives for Kushner did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

    Brookfield Asset Mgmt is a partially owned subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority.  This is a money laundering scheme, pure and simple.  They are using QIA just like 1MDB was used.  Not to mention, Russia will get lucrative servicing contracts for these reactors and will also get the spent fuel to use for likely renewed nuclear arms production or to sell to the highest bidder.

    I also see that Marcy’s tweeted about this, but wowee.  Something big is coming down.

  20. orionATL says:

    herringbone /[email protected]:53a

    these guys wrote books with publisher contracts. these days, when it is time to publish and sell, authors go on a book tour. what would you have them do, engage in idle chit-chit with their teevee interviewers now with the hope that at some later time they would get invited back for serious discussion and still have the attention of the nation in these important matters?

    you strike when the iron is hot and now is a perfect time both with regard to public education and sales. you have to take both together.

    • Herringbone says:

      After I wrote the above, I did reconsider. In a way, we’re in a situation that necessitates the privatization of these sorts of revelations, since these days getting the media’s attention requires having the muscle of a publisher’s PR department behind you and the entree generated by a best-seller.

      Still, I feel that we shouldn’t need Hachette or Bertelsmann standing behind a whistleblower: in a stronger democracy and a less polarized environment, we’d have Comey testifying for a few days à la Oliver North, followed by McCabe. Maybe we’ll still get that, but for the moment I’m nostalgic for the hearings of yesteryear.

  21. Bay State Librul says:

    I believe James Comey
    I believe Andrew McCabe
    I believe M.T. Cicero
    I believe Alan Watts
    I’m not sold on Rod Rosenstein
    I rest my case.

    • Rayne says:

      Hey BSL old buddy — if you happen to run into a situation where a comment doesn’t publish, double check your username and email address used when you comment. You had a typo in the first version of this comment, forcing auto-moderation. I’ve deleted the duplicate. ;-)

  22. Jeffrey L says:

    Anyone think it at all likely that Rosenstein may have gone ahead on his own and worn a wire into the White House? He seemed confident he could get away with it, and brought it up twice, along with floating the idea of using the 25th amendment to remove Trump. He seemed pretty ready to take extreme measures. I wonder if he’s been laying low, watching and waiting for the right time. Granted, I don’t claim to have a good read on his basic motivations as a politico. I’m spitballing based on McCabe’s statements.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL What if all the chatter around Rosenstein wearing a wire was a distraction?

      I will say that one meager upside to this debacle is that counterintelligence personnel are going to have to up their game. They were pants’d and they know it.

    • Cathy says:

      [WARNING:  Rant Alert]

      Incapacitation v Compromise

      Obviously, McCabe’s book tour is juicing the speculation about 25th Amendment discussion(s) within DOJ in the aftermath of Comey’s firing. When that interlude was made public (NYT) Rosenstein, in full soothe mode, issued his own statement emphasizing,

      ”… But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

      Of course, in September 2018 as now, there were active DOJ investigations that needed protecting and Rosenstein’s public statement may have focused on presidential capacity in deliberate avoidance of the topic of presidential compromise, a topic much closer to those investigations.

      Yet this morning Sen. Dick Durbin, who has no mandate to avoid discussing active DOJ investigations, continues the soothe narrative on cable news, noting that regardless of the context in May 2017, no discussion of the 25th Amendment could be serious because the DAG/FBI concerns at that time revolved around possible compromise of the president, and the 25th Amendment specifically addresses incapacity (Morning Joe, MSNBC).

      • Cathy says:


        Back in September 2018, the NYT piece included a couple tidbits pointing to an actual concern about incapacity:

        …Mr. Rosenstein expressed frustration at how Mr. Trump had conducted the search for a new F.B.I. director, saying the president was failing to take the candidate interviews seriously.


        To Mr. Rosenstein, the hiring process was emblematic of broader dysfunction stemming from the White House. He said both the process and the administration itself were in disarray, according to two people familiar with the discussion.

        Keep in mind that the hiring process was the most likely the DAG’s first extended exposure to Trump’s behavior. He seems to have found it alarming, pointing specifically to Trump’s behavior during interviews and apparently speculating that that behavior extended to other duties with actual impact on the functioning of the White House (“emblematic of broader dysfunction”).

        If not him, then Mr. McCabe or other F.B.I. officials interviewing with Mr. Trump for the job could perhaps wear a wire or otherwise record the president, Mr. Rosenstein offered.

        Perhaps the alarming behavior that the DAG appears to wish to record is the President insisting on personal loyalty as a predication for hiring an FBI director (in support of a corrupt intent to obstruct investigations he considered damaging to himself and his interests). Or maybe it’s blatant crazytown speech and disorganization that Rosenstein feared could have pointed to a basis for telling

        Mr. McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment.

        Interestingly the NYT itself (journos? editors?) projects the obvious concerns aired by their reporting onto the DAG himself:

        The extreme suggestions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the disorienting days that followed Mr. Comey’s dismissal.

        • Cathy says:

          Crazytown Deniers

          Maybe government folks avoid discussing incapacity for the same reason Democratic Leadership avoids discussing impeachment: unless they can win it, giving oxygen to such a scenario only fuels a distraction, both from other government business and from other removal mechanisms (election, anyone?).

          Maybe it’s a type of NatSec concern:  difficult as it is to hide Trump’s behavior, the government can still project itself, to allies and enemies, as a viable enterprise by signaling that the President’s public behavior has minimal impact on the execution of his duties of office and more generally on the functionality of the federal government.

          Or…maybe it’s a containment tactic. As in…”You think he’s crazytown now? How about when his paranoia reaches critical mass? Keep that paranoia fuel line choked back…[finger-wag] Do *not* call the Crazy Man crazy. At least, not where he can hear you…”

          [End of Rant]

  23. PR says:


    The third and most pressing investigation goes silent, but not unseen. Its crimes go unabated by GOP actors in plain sight: GOP leadership obstructs justice, engages in cover ups, destroys the EPA, the OBM, the Treasury, Dept of Edu, Dept of Energy (only slightly bc we know what it really does – Rick Perry you’re a fucking joke – what do they do? Really? Now you know you ignorant, misplaced bitch), and the GOP gave away billions of dollars in tax cuts we cannot afford to make the ultra-rich even richer and out of reach.

    America, do we really want to a 3rd world country?

    Because that’s where Republicans are making us into: Sham elections. Shady dealings. Quid pro quo. Violations of the Economic Espionage Act abound: Russia, Trump, Cyprus, Manafort. Nunes, Rohrabacher. Gutting education, refuting science, killing innovation, engaging nationalism and hate crimes.

    When McConnell stole the Supreme Court seat from Obama, he breached his oath of office and the limits of his constitutional powers; this was not a legal, slick move, it was wholly illegal.  IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END of McConnell. HE SHOULD PAY. Gorsuch is bullshit and should be impeached.

    McConnell should be prosecuted. Obstruction of Justice is a Crime. So, Nunes and yes, Ryan and Paul all need to be face justice.

    Look at the mess we’re in right now: A rapist on SCOTUS who is indebted over baseball games. Good Judgment? Going the follow the law? No. Again, impeach.

    Status quo will kill us.

    At least Romney has learned from his  47% comment, actually believes in something, and understands geopolitical headwinds. We can all do without the cheerleading Lindsey Graham’s of the GOP barking up a storm so as what? To hide their stained blue dresses?

    I’m no one’s bitch. Investigate GOP leadership. I know you’re listening. I’m not in SAVAGE mode anymore. Where in a whole new….

    • Avattoir says:

      … whereupon I fully expect Judge ABJ to commence putting a series of skill-testing questions to King Rat Fucker.

      She doesn’t invite flattery or accept it’s false type, she doesn’t fawn over celebrity, she shows no inclination to accept yes for an answer (any dismissive for that matter), she’s interested in all this, she surely recognizes therefore welcomes her role as this presidential outrage’s Judge Sirica, and she surely won’t leave a bent cannon like Stone to roll around the decks causing havoc.

      • Peterr says:

        Scene: Judge ABJ’s courtroom

        ABJ calls Roger Stone to stand and she addresses him with a few questions . . .

        Let’s explore your recent Instagram posting, shall we? Leaving aside your choice of photo and your comments about the Special Counsel, let’s take a look at a couple of other lines in your message to the world, specifically your comments about me and my court . . .

        “. . . my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson . . .”

        I need some clarification here, Mr. Stone. Are you saying that I run show trials in this court, or are you saying that I am so stupid I allow my trials to become show trials without my knowledge? Are you saying I am a crook or an idiot?

        “. . . an Obama appointed judge . . .”

        Let’s explore this a bit, as well. Are you saying that my rulings are governed not by the law but by fealty to the president who appointed me? Or, with your subsequent reference to Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, are you saying that I am governed not by the law but by a broader fealty to the political party of that president?

        “. . . and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime . . .”

        Mr. Stone, I’m glad you mentioned this in your post. I’m glad you are aware of Mr. Manafort’s situation. You see, Mr. Stone, Mr. Manafort stood in my courtroom and lied to my face. I ordered him incarcerated while awaiting trial because he lied to my face and disobeyed the orders of this court with respect to his conduct while out on bail. I know a lot of judges, appointed by a lot of different presidents, and none of us — not one of us — likes being lied to or having our lawful orders disobeyed.

        Ponder that for a moment, Mr. Stone, before you answer this next question.

        In your written apology to the Court, you said that the photo you posted was “improper and should not have been posted.” I notice, however, that you had nothing to say about the text you wrote that accompanied that photo.  You went on to say “I had no intention of disrespecting the Court.” Would you like to explain how the hashtag “#fixisin” can be interpreted in any manner other than to express disrespect for the Court?

        I have one final question for you, Mr. Stone.

        What size orange jumpsuit do you wear?

  24. Jenny says:

    Send self labeled dirty trickster Stone directly to jail.
    Do not reward bad/disrespectful/defiant/criminal behavior.
    Revoke his bond, put him in an orange jumpsuit and lock him up.

  25. Frank Probst says:

    Since it’s in the analysis above, I think this is a relevant question:  What happened to Carter Page?  I haven’t heard anything about him in ages.  And he was the one who looked the dirtiest to begin with.  The FISA court authorized several warrants on him, didn’t they?  What happened to him?

    • Jenny says:

      Frank good questions.  I wondered what happened to Carter Page too.  He is rather quiet.  Also curious as to what happened to Felix Sater and Allen Weisselberg (CFO for Trump Organization).  No doubt they have dirt on Trump.  So many characters in this layered investigation.

      • Avattoir says:

        Well, you two may not have noticed, but Page actually has been ‘in the news lately’. First his goofball lawsuit which he chose for WTF reason to file in Oklahoma got dismissed on sound technical grounds a week or 2 ago, and since then he’s been busying himself throwing ‘supplemental materials’ at the court clerk on pretty much a daily basis, not, as one might imagine, for appeal purposes – apparently he understands any appeal will be on the district level record and not some ‘ab initio’ proceedings – but rather to gin up the most pruriently and broadly asserted unsupported pronoucements that enter his silly skull.

        From the few of his drats that I was able to read thru without giving up entirely, it seems the Page is following the Jerome Corsi style of making outrageous and often inconsistent allegations, like Corsi treating them once stated as a sort of accepted element in pile of facts, with the main difference being the Corsi is better at giving off the illusion he has sources. Page’s version is more akin to the Town Fool taking over Speaker’s Corner and going all shouty.

  26. punaise says:

    with apologies to Lewis Carroll:

    Tweet’ll dumb (Trump) and Twee, dull he (Jared)
    Agreed to have a battle!
    For Tweet’ll dumb said Twee, dull he
    Had spoiled his nice new prattle.

    Just then flew down a monstrous crew,
    Investigating full-barrel!
    Which frightened both the zeroes who,
    Then quite forgot their quarrel.’

  27. Twinkie defense says:

    “Trump specifically asked Rosenstein to include Russia — McCabe doesn’t further specify what he meant”

    At some point early in the Trump administration, Trump got Comey to tell him that he was not personally being investigated as part of the Russian inquiry. (IDK if Comey was being truthful about this, But Comey confirmed publicly that he did indeed tell Trump this.) Trump then wanted Comey to state publicly that Trump was not being investigated, but Comey refused to do this. So one of the explicit reasons Trump wanted Comey fired was because Comey didn’t publicly say that Trump was not under investigation.

    This is what McCabe meant by Trump wanting Rosenstein to “put Russia in the memo” – Trump wanted Rosenstein to include this failure by Comey to state publicly that Trump was not under investigation in Rosenstein’s memo, which Trump then used to justify Comey’s firing.

    In short, Trump might say, “I fired Comey because he refused to state publicly (like he had privately) that I was not personally under investigation.”

  28. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What Trump should have known was that committing overt acts to demonstrate to Vlad that he could control his own DoJ and/or kill any investigation he wanted to would itself be evidence of kompromat. Some of the connections with Russia were extraordinary for a GOP president or hopeful and glaringly obvious. Surely, there were more not so obvious.

    American presidents are not Russian presidents: their connections to oligarchs and their ability to impose their will are at least one remove from their Russian counterparts. Nor is the American DoJ the president’s personal law firm or hit squad: it takes law, precedent and actual facts to commit an enemy to an asylum, to seize an enemy’s assets, or have an awkward journalist or opposition legislator killed or thrown in jail.

    Trump didn’t know those differences or didn’t care: reality and myth are interchangeable in his limited mind. What may have surprised Putin is how completely the GOP has sided with Trump, to the point of McConnell, Lindsey, Ryan and Jordan being his standard bearers. None of them will go quietly. They will attempt to break all the crockery instead of making amends and admitting liability for breaking a prize tea service.

  29. Avattoir says:

    Marcy is currently tweeting out a virtual three ring Circe du Soleil predicated on the latest ‘hot hot hot insider tip’ (this particular one to MSNBC’s otherwise sober-appearing Pete Williams) to the effect that Mueller’s wrappin’ ‘er all up in a REE-port in a mere week or so, before headin’ off down the trail a la Sam Elliot in The Big Lebowski.

    It’s such a snort-inducing recurrent theme, it could kinda feel just about right if fearless (or bmaz or rayne in solidarity), were to deploy it for an open thread on the whole durn human comedy potential in it – maybe headed up by Hall & Oates’ “She’s Gone” (featuring a cameo chorus of Pete Williams and Matt Schlapp in falsetto:
    ‘She’s gone, she’s gone, I can’t believe it …
    oops: he’s not … I guess not actually RIGHT now …
    Ooooo what went wrong?
    I’d pay the Devil to believe
    I really gotta learn to believe it …’

    • BobCon says:

      Grrrr. Things that frustrate me about this kind of reporting:

      — If the sources are right and Mueller is wrapping up, the reporters had better be prepared to explain what that means. Is he throwing in the towel on a lot of people known to have worked with Russia? Filing a ton of indictments? Either way, this isn’t a soft landing and they need to be prepared to talk about the implications of a big honking deal like either scenario.

      — If the sources are wrong, the reporters need to assure us that they’re going back for an explanation of why the sources screwed up — or why the reporters misinterpreted what was being said. If, in fact, what Mueller is submitting is something like Manafort’s sentencing report, then they need to clarify how that is not a final report but instead the latest installment in an ongoing saga.

      Of course, it’s only going to get worse now that CNN has hired Jeff Session’s former press secretary as editor of their 2020 election coverage. It’s going to be even more mainlining of anonymous source axe-grinding straight into our veins.

  30. Avattoir says:

    For whatever reason, the site isn’t letting me in to reply right THERE to Rayne’s link, but I did want to respond that I’m torn between this version LFDH and one recorded live on tour with Oates in 1976. But Imma resolve all my angst by asserting that what Hall’s done with LFDH elevated from him from era-frozen pop idol to all-time American music treasure; so this one wins.

    • Rayne says:

      I debated about the studio’s produced version from 1974 and the 1976 live version; the live was a little too woolly and unfocused for me. They weren’t my favorite live performers at the time, either. LOL

      • Eureka says:

        *opens can of cheese whiz to spray all over ew blog*

        They were my first concert (ducking), though thereafter we were allowed to go to shows unsupervised, in packs— so, bonus.  Must’ve been the same year friend and I went for Halloween as the duo.

        Agree with Avattoir that LFDH rescued the musicianship element.  (Side-bummer, the nocookie version doesn’t work for me/browser. Yet?)

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