Four Sentences: What the Legal System Has Said about the Suspect Loyalty of Trump’s Aides

In an attempt to undercut Andrew McCabe’s publicity tour, the President is on a tear, attacking what he claims was McCabe and Rod Rosenstein’s “treasonous” insurance policy.

We’re at a point where both sides are making claims of treason, which only serves to feed the intensity of both sides, without convincing Trump’s supporters (and other denialists) that the concerns about Trump’s loyalty — and therefore the investigation that McCabe opened into him — are well-grounded.

But there are neutral third party observers here, weighing the claims of loyalty. Four different sentencing processes have sided with those questioning the loyalty of Trump and those close to him.

George Papadopoulos

In the first two cases where Trump flunkies have been sentenced, the flunkies themselves have pointed to how their own misplaced loyalties caused them to commit crimes. In George Papadopoulos’ sentencing memo, he attributed the actions that led to his prosecution — his attempts to broker a meeting between Putin and Trump — to a desire to curry Trump’s favor.

Eager to show his value to the campaign, George announced at the meeting that he had connections that could facilitate a foreign policy meeting between Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it.

George’s giddiness over Mr. Trump’s recognition was prominent during the days that followed the March 31, 2016 meeting. He had a sense of unbridled loyalty to the candidate and his campaign and set about trying to organize the meeting with President Putin.

Papadopoulos says he lied to the FBI out of loyalty to Trump.

Mr. Papadopoulos misled investigators to save his professional aspirations and preserve a perhaps misguided loyalty to his master.

[snip]

George explained that he was in discussions with senior Trump administration officials about a position and the last thing he wanted was “something like this” casting the administration in a bad light. The agents assured him that his cooperation would remain confidential.

More specifically, he lied to avoid tainting the Trump campaign with any tie to Russia.

George found himself personally conflicted during the interrogation as he felt obligated to assist the FBI but also wanted to distance himself and his work on the Trump campaign from that investigation. Attempting to reconcile these competing interests, George provided information he thought was important to the investigation while, at the same time, misleading the agents about the timing, nature, and extent of his contacts with Professor Mifsud, Olga, and Ivan Timofeev. In his answers, George falsely distanced his interactions with these players from his campaign work. At one point, George told the agents that he did not want to “get too in-depth” because he did not know what it would mean for his professional future. He told the agents he was “trying to help the country and you guys, but I don’t want to jeopardize my career.”

George lied about material facts central to the investigation. To generalize, the FBI was looking into Russian contacts with members of the Trump campaign as part of its larger investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election. This issue had dominated the news for several months with stories concerning Carter Page and Paul Manafort. The agents placed this issue squarely on the table before George and he balked. In his hesitation, George lied, minimized, and omitted material facts. Out of loyalty to the new president and his desire to be part of the administration, he hoisted himself upon his own petard.

I have argued that this memo served the dual purpose of accepting responsibility while signaling others and reaffirming his loyalty to Trump, and I stand by that. Given his efforts to reverse his sentence, Papadopoulos show of contrition at his hearing was just that, a ruse. But it was one of the things that convinced Judge Randolph Moss to impose just two weeks. Another, however, were the comments of Papadopoulos’ lawyer, Thomas Breen, who argued Trump had obstructed the Mueller investigation far more than his client had.

Trump, Breen said, “hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever could,” by calling the FBI’s Russia inquiry a “witch hunt” and casting doubt on credible allegations of wrongdoing by his associates.

“The president of the United States, the commander in chief, told the world that this was fake news,” Breen said, contrasting this with Mueller’s “professional” and “well-prepared” team.

In imposing prison time, Moss emphasized that Papadopoulos lied about a manner of grave importance.

The judge noted that most defendants convicted on a false-statement charge don’t get any prison time, but he said he considered the Mueller investigation “a matter of enormous importance.” Moss, an appointee of President Barack Obama who served as a top Justice Department official under President Bill Clinton, described the inquiry as an attempt to investigate an “effort to interfere in our democracy.”

“It’s important that the public know there are real consequences when you mislead and tell lies to the FBI about a matter of grave national importance,” he said.

[snip]

Breen said his client was trying to preserve his job prospects in the Trump administration, but Moss told the lawyer that those were “not noble reasons to tell a lie.”

“This was fairly calculated,” the judge said. “It took six months for Mr. Papadopoulos to correct the record.”

So Papadopoulos’ lawyers agreed his loyalties were misplaced and Judge Moss judged that Papadopoulos’ lies pertained to something that strikes at the integrity of our democracy.

Michael Cohen

As Papadopoulos did, Michael Cohen attributed his obstruction to his blind loyalty to Trump and a desire to sustain Trump’s false narrative denying ties to Russia.

I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1.

In his cynical, Lanny Davis-crafted statement at sentencing, Cohen talked about how he put loyalty to Trump over that to his family, ending with an apology to the US.

 I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today, and it was my own weakness, and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light. It is for these reasons I chose to participate in the elicit act of the President rather than to listen to my own inner voice which should have warned me that the campaign finance violations that I later pled guilty to were insidious.

Recently, the President Tweeted a statement calling me weak, and he was correct, but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass. My weakness can be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump, and I was weak for not having the strength to question and to refuse his demands.

[snip]

I stand behind my statement that I made to George Stephanopoulos, that my wife, my daughter, my son have my first loyalty and always will. I put family and country first. My departure as a loyal soldier to the President bears a very hefty price.

For months now the President of the United States, one of the most powerful men in the world, publicly mocks me, calling me a rat and a liar, and insists that the Court sentence me to the absolute maximum time in prison. Not only is this improper; it creates a false sense that the President can weigh in on the outcome of judicial proceedings that implicate him.

[snip]

I want to apologize to the people of the United States. You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.

In sentencing Cohen, Judge William Pauley pointed to how his ties to Trump and the access that gave him led him to lose his moral compass.

[H]is entire professional life apparently revolved around the Trump organization. He thrived on his access to wealthy and powerful people, and he became one himself.

[snip]

But somewhere along the way Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass and sought instead to monetize his new-found influence. That trajectory, unfortunately, has led him to this courtroom today.

Cohen’s guilty plea — particularly the way he tried to cabin off cooperation implicating his family — is cynical as hell. But to the extent he is willing to help prosecutors, it entails being treated as a traitor by the President.

Mike Flynn

The other two Trump flunkies who’ve gotten close to sentencing are even more striking — in part because they have been less successful at crafting a fiction about setting their loyalty to Trump or other paymasters aside.

Flynn was set to get probation until he and his lawyer used their own sentencing memo to continue the line all the other loyal Trump flunkies have, suggesting that the investigation was illegitimate.

There are, at the same time, some additional facts regarding the circumstances of the FBI interview of General Flynn on January 24, 2017, that are relevant to the Court’s consideration of a just punishment.

At 12:35 p.m. on January 24, 2017, the first Tuesday after the presidential inauguration, General Flynn received a phone call from then-Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, on a secure phone in his office in the West Wing.20 General Flynn had for many years been accustomed to working in cooperation with the FBI on matters of national security. He and Mr. McCabe briefly discussed a security training session the FBI had recently conducted at the White House before Mr. McCabe, by his own account, stated that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with General Flynn to talk about his communications with Russian representatives.21

Mr. McCabe’s account states: “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [General Flynn] and the agents only. I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House Counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [General Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”22

Less than two hours later, at 2:15 p.m., FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and a second FBI agent arrived at the White House to interview General Flynn.23 By the agents’ account, General Flynn was “relaxed and jocular” and offered to give the agents “a little tour” of the area around his West Wing office. 24 The agents did not provide General Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 before, during, or after the interview. Prior to the FBI’s interview of General Flynn, Mr. McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport,” one of the agents reported.25 Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that, if “Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used, . . . to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said, . . . they would not confront him or talk him through it.”26 One of the agents reported that General Flynn was “unguarded” during the interview and “clearly saw the FBI agents as allies.”27

While Emmet Sullivan — ever on guard against prosecutorial misconduct — might have done so anyway, this led the judge to ask for the paperwork behind Flynn’s claims. Which in turn led to the production of really damning details of Flynn’s lies. That, in turn, led Sullivan to hesitate before sentencing Flynn, in part because the “great deal of nonpublic information in this case” he read led him to grow disgusted about what Flynn had done. Sullivan, as the first judge to read in detail about Mueller’s underlying investigation, said some absolutely remarkable things (and note, at least some of this language pertains to Flynn selling out to Turkey, not Russia).

I’m going to also take into consideration the aggravating circumstances, and the aggravating circumstances are serious. Not only did you lie to the FBI, but you lied to senior officials in the Trump Transition Team and Administration. Those lies caused the then-Vice President-Elect, incoming Chief of Staff, and then-Press Secretary to lie to the American people. Moreover, you lied to the FBI about three different topics, and you made those false statements while you were serving as the National Security Advisor, the President of the United States’ most senior national security aid. I can’t minimize that.

Two months later you again made false statements in multiple documents filed pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. So, all along you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country, while serving as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.

[snip]

COURT: All right. I really don’t know the answer to this question, but given the fact that the then-President of the United States imposed sanctions against Russia for interfering with federal elections in this country, is there an opinion about the conduct of the defendant the following days that rises to the level of treasonous activity on his part?

[snip]

I mean, arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for (indicating). Arguably, you sold your country out. The Court’s going to consider all of that. I cannot assure you that if you proceed today you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. But I have to also tell you that at some point, if and when the government says you’ve concluded with your cooperation, you could be incarcerated.

It could be that any sentence of incarceration imposed after your further cooperation is completed would be for less time than a sentence may be today. I can’t make any guarantees, but I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense.

So in this case, Flynn’s bid to discredit the investigation instead led to remarkable comments about how Flynn’s underlying crimes — the ones he lied to cover-up — amount to selling out his country.

Paul Manafort

Which brings us to Paul Manafort, who is currently facing what amount to be several life sentences because he refused to cooperate, even after promising to do so, against Trump and his Ukrainian and Russian paymasters. As I have noted, Manafort’s lies served to avoid giving the government evidence that Trump conspired with Russia to get elected.

But don’t take my word for it. In announcing her ruling in the breach determination last week, Amy Berman Jackson paid special attention to Manafort’s lies about Konstantin Kilimnik. The most important lie, it seems, pertains to Manafort sharing of detailed polling data with Kilimnik at a meeting where they also discussed sanctions relief in the guise of a Ukrainian peace detail. The description of whom Manafort intended that data to be shared with is redacted. But ABJ moved directly from describing the intended recipients to judging that sharing the data amounts to a link with Russia.

Also, the evidence indicates that it was understood that [redacted] would be [redacted from Kilimnik [redacted] including [redacted], and [redacted]. Whether Kilimnik is tied to Russian intelligence or he’s not, I think the specific representation by the Office of Special Counsel was that he had been, quote, assessed by the FBI, quote, to have a relationship with Russian intelligence, close quote. Whether that’s true, I have not been provided with the evidence that I would need to decide, nor do I have to decide because it’s outside the scope of this hearing. And whether it’s true or not, one cannot quibble about the materiality of this meeting.

[snip]

I don’t think that’s a fair characterization of what was said. The intelligence reference was just one factor in a series of factors the prosecutor listed. And the language of the appointment order, “any links,” is sufficiently broad to get over the relatively low hurdle of materiality in this instance, and to make the [redacted] Kilimnik and [redacted] material to the FBI’s inquiry, no matter what his particular relationship was on that date.

She continued by saying that she didn’t even have to determine whether — as the government claims — Kilimnik has active ties to GRU. Whatever Kilimnik’s ties to Russian military intelligence, ABJ still considers his relationship with Manafort to implicate coordination with the Russian government.

I also want to say we’ve now spent considerable time talking about multiple clusters of false or misleading or incomplete or needed-to-be-prodded-by-counsel statements, all of which center around the defendant’s relationship or communications with Mr. Kilimnik. This is a topic at the undisputed core of the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation into, as paragraph (b) of the appointment order put it, Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.

Mr. Kilimnik doesn’t have to be in the government or even be an active spy to be a link. The fact that all of this is the case, that we have now been over Kilimnik, Kilimnik, and Kilimnik makes the defense argument that I should find the inaccurate statements to be unintentional because they’re all so random and disconnected, which was an argument that was made in the hearing, is very unpersuasive.

ABJ’s most striking comments, however, came in language introducing why, even though she didn’t find that Mueller’s team had proven Manafort’s lies about conspiring with Kilimnik to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, it nevertheless was obvious that what Manafort was trying to do in disclaiming a conspiracy with Kilimnik was to “shield his Russian conspirator.”

Mr. Manafort doesn’t just say to the agents, Kilimnik doesn’t believe he was pressuring the witness, or Kilimnik didn’t think he was suborning perjury, he didn’t intend to violate U.S. law, he makes the affirmative assertion that Kilimnik believed the project was a European project, when Manafort plainly knew that Kilimnik knew it wasn’t and the documents plainly reflect that it wasn’t, and that was the basis for the conspiracy count to which he pled guilty in the first place.

To me, this is definitely an example of a situation in which the Office of Special Counsel legitimately concluded he’s lying to minimize things here, he’s not being forthcoming, this isn’t what cooperation is supposed to be. This is a problematic attempt to shield his Russian conspirator from liability and it gives rise to legitimate questions about where his loyalties lie.

We have yet to get Mueller’s sentencing memo in the DC case or ABJ’s response to any claims they may make about why Manafort chose to face a life sentence rather than tell the truth about his conspiracies with Konstantin Kilimnik.

But it’s pretty clear that ABJ believes Manafort’s lies suggest he has suspect loyalties.

Four times so far in this investigation, Trump’s aides have started the sentencing process for their crimes designed to obstruction Robert Mueller’s investigation. All four times, before four different judges, their misplaced loyalty to Trump above country has come up. And with both Flynn and Manafort — where the judges have seen significant amounts of non-public information about the crimes they lied to cover-up — two very reasonable judges have raised explicit questions about whether Trump’s aides had betrayed their country.

Trump wants this to be a case of contested claims of betrayal. But the judges who have reviewed the record have used striking language about who betrayed their country.

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. 

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136 replies
  1. Jonathan says:

    In his inaugural speech, JFK famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you….” But that is exactly what Trump and his minions do. For them the United States — which stands as it does today because of the hard work and sacrifice of many millions of people throughout its existence — is but a teat that they can milk, as long as we let them get away with it. Full stop.

  2. Bay State Librul says:

    Let’s go way back

    “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.’

    M.T. Cicero

    • GKJames says:

      If by “treason” you mean that sense of sliminess that comes with soliciting help from a foreign power to get political advantage, sure, especially if it looks like the help worked. But if you mean in the legal sense, no. The law (see 18 USC 2381, codifying Art. III, Section 3) is clear, as is the fact that whatever the president and his cronies have done, it was never with the intent to betray the US, i.e., to shift their loyalties from the US to Russia. Nor did they give aid and comfort to an identified “enemy”. Treason and these guys’ surrender to the feral impulse for self-enrichment and political power are very different things.

      • LeeNLP says:

        It’s a sad day when the only thing distinguishing the subjects’ behavior from legal treason is a formal declaration of war.  Under different circumstances, the very same behavior could lead to the death penalty.  That is saying something pretty serious, it seems to me.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

          Is it a coincidence that we are fighting a  24/7/365 “War on Terror” when it suits our government to spy on and restrict the freedom of its own people or appropriate funds to pay for foreign military adventures supporting cooperating despots around the globe; but there is a prohibition against mentioning the country’s 24/7/365 war footing when discussing activity by members of the Presindebt’s inner circle and indeed the Presindebt himself that would otherwise be classified as treason in wartime?

      • Drew says:

        Trump, of course, is pure narcissistic id, selfishness, venality & cruelty. He seldom focuses on the niceties of what sort of crime is going on, and is only concerned with loyalty to him-never about his loyalty to anything. Thus your analysis might be right on that level.

        With regard to Paul Manafort, I’m not so sure. I’m by no means the only person who has noticed that his non-cooperation doesn’t serve rational ends, and I find most of the speculative explanations unconvincing. If Manafort is a straight up traitor, however (i.e. transferring his allegiance for considerations, mostly cash) it would be reasonable that he would still be trying to hide that fact, even when he’s been convicted of other crimes and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

        A full on treasonous mastermind would catch the brunt of far more public opprobrium and more concern about higher security lockup than a bank frauding money launderer. AND the intelligence community would be very interested in keeping an eye on his every reaction, interrogating him just in case. There’s good reason to conceal some of his deeper connections. I don’t know this is true, I’m just not satisfied that an unlikely prospective pardon explains his behavior.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        Cicero was an accomplished lawyer but he didn’t even know that America existed, let alone that some of the inhabitants would eventually write down 18 USC 2381, codifying Art. III, Section 3. You give him too much credit.

      • Eureka says:

        Also, you slipped this in:

        is clear, as is the fact that whatever the president and his cronies have done, it was never with the intent to betray the US, i.e., to shift their loyalties from the US to Russia

        (emphasis added)

        which might be considered a set of empirical questions, and asked under different laws (which Cicero also wasn’t citing).

        • Chetan Murthy says:

          It’s pretty clear that Dolt And Rump and his cronies were precisely in it to “betray the US”.  What else could their work to destroy the Western Alliance (NATO, other alliances) *possibly* mean?  Betrayal, precisely.  The only thing that separates these criminals from the legal definition, is that we aren’t in a declared war with Russia.

          • GKJames says:

            It certainly looks like betrayal. But is it? The candidate says, Vlad, help me  undermine my opponent’s campaign and I’ll provide sanctions relief if I win. It would be a betrayal (though still not treason) IF the policies espoused publicly by the candidate were the opposite of what he was promising behind the scenes. The betrayal would have been of the voters who heard (and expected) one thing but got another. Here, the candidate was explicit: my opponent is a corrupt war-monger who will unleash WWIII, whereas I’m for a more accommodating relationship with Russia, and for cutting loose the Europeans who do nothing but mooch off the US. And, Vlad, release those emails! The response from 63 million was, Yup, that’s the man for us.

            • Rayne says:

              The American public was denied informed consent about the candidates — did not know that one of the candidates’ campaigns was being assisted by a foreign government. We were defrauded, sold a bad bill of goods, unaware that one of the candidates had not just jokingly asked for help but corruptly promised economic advantages to a hostile foreign government in exchange for aid deceiving the American public.

              Not to mention the whole undermining U.S. foreign policy at the same time.

              • fikshun says:

                Go back and watch the video from his acceptance speech on the night of November 8th, 2016.  He looked like he was going to be sick.  It was never his intention to win.  He spent the campaign trying to curry favor with Putin, but expected he would come up short.  After Hillary’s election, he expected he’d be able to tell Putin “well, we put a good scare into Hillary didn’t we, so how about that tower in Moscow?” He was putting together a cable/online TV network, dedicated to his ego and conspiracy theories that would make all of the Breitbart and InfoWars trash redundant.  He probably figured he’d get a lot of mileage out of the “rigged” election.

                After he won, he was put in the awkward position of having to actually follow through on the policies that Putin had asked of him.  What’s tragic is that he views the office of the presidency as one of absolute power when it comes dealing with his constituents, but not when it comes to dealing with Putin.  He certainly could have turned on Putin after the election, doubling down on the sanctions that Obama enacted, and putting more muscle into NATO and Syria.  Why didn’t he?  Fear of Putin?  Distrust of the Beltway culture?  The promise of riches and towers in Moscow?  Two years on, Mitch McConnell and the White House staff still haven’t figured out how to manage Trump as well Putin has.

                • Rayne says:

                  I’ve wondered if there were threats made that Trump knows about but the American public doesn’t — and just as the IC didn’t do something about Manafort while he was working for Viktor Yushchenko, IC might know and aren’t doing anything except to allow the counterintelligence investigation to work its way alongside the criminal investigation in Special Counsel’s Office.

                  What if Skripal’s poisoning wasn’t a threat to UK alone but to Trump? What if the gruesome murder of Khashoggi wasn’t merely a political assassination of a critic but a demonstration?

                  • Jockobadger says:

                    Whoa.  I hadn’t thought about the Skripal poisoning being a signal to trump.  That would certainly help explain his cowardly behavior before and after Helsinki.  Trump and his family, the whole inner circle, are sitting on a ticking time bomb.

                    I just hope he doesn’t decide that a bit of adventuring in Venezuela would make a good distraction.  Damn.  Anyway, keep up the remarkable work and many thanks.

              • GKJames says:

                No question that voters didn’t know he was getting extracurricular help. But how many of those who voted for him would have cared had they known (assuming, even, that they’d have acknowledged the facts at all), at least enough to vote differently or not at all? Unknowable, but given Republicans’ unhinged anti-Clinton mania, I suspect it wouldn’t have affected the outcome.

                • Rayne says:

                  If the outcome of the election hung on 1-2 percentage points, it might have had a difference especially if the public had been told that part of the quid pro quo was manipulation of public perception. Remember when looking at percentages of voters there are invisible percentages whose vote was shaped by suppressing their interest to turn out, or to vote the top of the ticket.

            • ChrisB says:

              Sanctions relief may have been a big part of it, but if you’ve been reading Marcy for a while, you’d remember that the inciting incident for her focus on Russia was a text message about Flynn and Syria within hours of the Trump victory.  If Trump traded US military strategic positions for personal gain in an active combat zone… isn’t that basically equivalent to paying off a general to retreat?

  3. Peterr says:

    Rereading your section on Flynn brings me back to then-Secretary of State Tillerson’s meeting with Turkey’s president Erdogan last February, at which Tillerson went in alone without interpreters or notetakers from the US side. As I wrote back then,

    In general, it is in the interests of both parties to a conversation like that to have interpreters and notetakers present, so that in the public discussions that follow (like the one above), everyone agrees on the basic facts of what was said and you don’t getting into a “but you said . . .” and “no I didn’t” back-and-forth. For the meeting to exclude such staffers means that there is something else that overrides this interest.

    In this case, the Turks had to have demanded that Tillerson not bring anyone with him to this meeting. There’s no way he would have told his staff “I got this – you take a break while I talk with Erdogan” on his own. The question is why, and all the possible answers I can come up after reading the Turkish Foreign Minister’s reply to that last question [about Turkey buying weapons from Russia] involve Vladimir Putin wanting Erdogan to pass on some kind of message to Trump — a message that he did not wish to be delivered within earshot of interpreters and notetakers.

    Total absolute 100% WAG here, but I suspect some of what Sullivan saw that no one outside Mueller’s team has seen has to do with intelligence intercepts that came after this meeting. It’s not just that Flynn was acting on behalf of any old  country rather than the US that got Sullivan’s attention, but that this other country is tied to and working with a country that poses a significant threat.

    • BobCon says:

      If that’s right, my guess is it is ISIS, some Al Qaeda offshoot, or another fundamentalist group that the Turks, Russians, Saudis or another group is backing. They want off the books firepower they can insert into places in exchange for funding and arming whatever other agenda the fundamentalists may have.

      Essentially it would be Elliot Abrams stuff all over again, except instead of El Salvadoran drug smuggling death squads it’s food market car bombers in Jordan or Kurdistan.

    • esjr says:

      Turkey…well, it’s complicated. As Tillerson was in Ankara trying to fix the unraveling military cooperation in Syria , ExxonMobil with Qatar Petroleum signed a licence to explore block 10 — where they are now drilling — off the South coast of Cyprus, ignoring Erdogan’s threat of military action against such exploration or drilling licensed by Cyprus. I live in Greece — tho not Greek — and I can tell you there’s a huge amount of military hardware moving around in our backyard.

      There are 2 ‘Siamese’ Trump towers in Istanbul. Erdogan slapped the building’s developer — Dogan — who also owned a sizable media company with a huge tax fine, forcing him to sell his papers and media holdings to a then unknown Erdogan backed group, consolidating his grip on the Turkish media no doubt also sending a signal to the man who’s name adorns the towers.

      Pasha Erdogan, who is said to have once commented “democracy is like a train, you get off when you reach your destination”, sees himself as the leader of a neo-Ottoman empire and defender of the [Sunni] faith, incurring the wrath of the Saudis.

      In short, there are a lot of wires crossing there and Erdogan is tugging them one after the other playing all sides : Trump, the US, the Saudis, Israel, Russia and the EU.

      Erdogan wanting a private chat with the ex-CEO of ExxonMobil, Secretary of State Tillerson to give him the low-down on what he Erdogan knew and could threaten them all with, as you suggest, is spot on.

      Then, when the Saudis arrogantly pulled their insane Kashoggi ‘stunt’ they handed Erdogan a formidable weapon. He could now turn to the civilized world and the international community, cry foul while demanding an investigation and much more importantly threaten the Saudis and the Trump clan with the intel both must now know he has.

      I would also not be surprised if Erdongan has some serious ‘kompromat’ on Trump — from listening in on the Saudis — and Kushner — from his brothers in the faith and new found friends the Qataris.

      • Jockobadger says:

        Good post esjr.  Concise.  The return of the Ottoman Empire and with the goods on MBS and trump.  JHC

        Thank you

  4. jaango says:

    Marcy,

    This is the most stupendous commentary that you have addressed for the past year!

    As a political writer and where my effort is exclusively delivered to the Privates, the Corporals and the Sergeants, collectively, we have very little, if any influence in today’s toxic politics, therefore, my Tip of the Hat to you.

    Consequently, the question of: “Do you feel that you betrayed your country?”, must be asked and answered. and if not, then, more of the same is reflective of the AUMF during the Bush/Cheney administration.

    • Arj says:

      I know ‘treason’ as technically defined does not apply to these wonderful people; but no-one could argue that they had not betrayed their country.  Ok: no collusion, no treason – but untold heaps of conspiracy & betrayal.

  5. J R in WV says:

    When multiple judges use terms like “betrayed your country” and “treasonous” about a criminal conspiracy, things are getting real. Very real. Really real, even!

    I’m willing to give George Papadopoulos some slack, he seems ignorant of what he was involved in AND stupid in the ordinary sense of that term. The rest of them, though, are guilty, guilty, guilty. Flynn was among the most highly ranked members of the intelligence community, and Manafort was involved in high level politics internationally for decades, while Cohen was the lawyer in charge of smothering legal problems for Trump. None of them have any slack when it comes to the crimes they are obviously guilty of, have in fact plead guilty of.

    Gitmo is too good for them. Florence, CO SuperMax, for many years, at least!

  6. viget says:

    Speaking of Cohen—

    Is he possibly still angling for a Rule 35 sentence reduction for assistance with the SDNY investigation into the inauguration committee? Per the rule, he has until 1 year after sentencing to do so.

    Or is that not going anywhere?

    • Drew says:

      I’m sure that Cohen would love to get sentence reduction based on the recommendation of SDNY, Mueller or any other jurisdiction. It’s clear that he likes to talk. The question is whether he will still try to cynically pick and choose what questions to answer and how far to go in answering them.

  7. Badger Robert says:

    This is the campaign ripple of destruction. Then next wave was the DOJ/FBI wave of destruction, which the obstruction of justice ripple. The bigger ripple is the destruction of the Republican majority in Congress and the vast number of local Republicans who lost their offices.
    The question remains whether there will be a fourth ripple of voters voting Trump out of office. Will that fourth ripple be large enough to overcome the voter distraction and voter suppression campaigns that will certainly be used to defeat it.

    • The Dark Avenger says:

      cascading failure is a process in a system of interconnected parts in which the failure of one or few parts can trigger the failure of other parts and so on. Such a failure may happen in many types of systems, including power transmission, computer networking, finance, human body systems, and transportation systems.
      Cascading failures may occur when one part of the system fails. When this happens, other parts must then compensate for the failed component. This in turn overloads these nodes, causing them to fail as well, prompting additional nodes to fail one after anothe

      • Rayne says:

        This is why I worry our emphasis has been too focused at federal level. So much of the critical infrastructure is state/county/precinct level.

        • Fran of the North says:

          Two levels of failure:

          Not to put words in DA’s post, but I read it as the cascading nodes of failure were the participants in the coverup. One chink in the ‘story armor’ begets wholesale changes in the story. Stress causes those nodes to overload and  everybody’s story has to change.

          Apologies in advance if I’m over analyzing.

          • Rayne says:

            A critical challenge for U.S. citizens is grasping the nature of the cascading failure. We’re more likely to think of cascades like that which led to NASA’s catastrophic Challenger explosion — every system made assumptions about how much room it had for failure but there was no comprehensive assessment for total systemic wiggle room which was clearly exceeded the morning of launch. Every system acted benignly for the most part, in general good faith, but at the very limits of their range.

            The public has assumed for far too long that the media has told them what is black and white, that all the participants are acting in general good faith, and if anybody is acting in bad faith at all they’re lone outliers. Or they believe one party is uniformly in bad faith though that party has been pummeled so badly for so long they’ve suffered from Stockholm syndrome. The public’s assumptions are wrong; the total wiggle room has been exceeded.

            Meanwhile, one party has become nearly universally compromised, acting in bad faith because they either don’t care or fear exposure, and the condition has been co-opted by hostile foreign actors. It doesn’t matter much whose story changes or not because each component acted in bad faith independently and collectively. Cognitive dissonance leaves uncompromised government officials standing there unable to make necessary change. The cascade is a pyroclastic flow the public can’t understand fast enough to get out of its way.

  8. brewstate says:

    Trump is trying to get a generous ruling in the court of Twitter because he knows he has no evidence to back up his claims in an actual court.  He pretends there is nothing he can do if a crime had actually been committed, but he has the DOJ.  If he had any credible evidence at all, he could have every one of the people he rails against indicted in federal court.  Thankfully, our actual court system is not so easily swayed by propaganda and hearsay and you can see his panic as Mueller’s team inches slower into his campaign.  If the revelations we know are shocking, how much more damaging must the things we are not aware of be, evidenced by the reaction from Judge Sullivan?

  9. FiestyBlueBird says:

    First time commenting….been reading since July 4, 2018.

    If Andy goes before a Senate Intelligence lynch mob run by Lyndsey, I can think of no better point for Andy to succinctly advance and remind the committee on, repeatedly for maximal effect, than what Marcy makes here. Need Dems to craft some questions that would allow for that. And there’s always the “Opening Statement.”

    Let Lyndsey foam at the mouth. May Andy stay calm. Comey was able to do that. Was tougher for Rosenstein, though he may get a second chance.

    Thank you, Marcy.

  10. harpie says:

    EW: But don’t take my word for it. In announcing her ruling in the breach determination last week, Amy Berman Jackson paid special attention to Manafort’s lies about Konstantin Kilimnik. 

    Just now Jon Swaine reports 11:12 AM – 18 Feb 2019:

    Roger Stone now directly attacking the federal judge presiding over his case and posting a pic of her head beside crosshairs

    This is what Stone says:

    rogerjstonejr Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges again [sic] Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime. #fixisin Help me fight for my life at @ StoneDefenseFund dot com

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know how Stone’s image hasn’t been seen as a threat and taken down by the platform. Maybe it has by now but I’m not looking in on any platform owned by Facebook.

    • P J Evans says:

      I don’t think it’s going to make the judge look favorably on him. It’s more likely to get that gag order extended to every place he goes and every platform he uses. (If he didn’t need a phone to contact his attorney[s], I’d suggest taking his phones away.)

      • BobCon says:

        There’s always a Firefly phone with a maximum of 48 numbers that can be programmed in by a parent or guardian. The court could order one set up with only numbers for home, his attorney, his doctor, and Mueller in case he wants to confess. Maybe Dominos Pizza too, if they haven’t blocked him for trying to scam them too many times on the 30 minute delivery guarantee.

        The Wimpy Kid books have a “Ladybug” phone. Greg gets one from his parents and it has two phone numbers in it — home and 911. That might be all Stone really needs.

        https://youtu.be/dYkoot-2lwE

    • harpie says:

      Hear’s Dan Murphy with more about the image, 1:53 AM – 18 Feb 2019:

      First prior use of the image I find is at “cosmiconvergence dot org,” which is a site filled with anti-Semitic New World Order conspiracies (with a side of Mayan calendar end-times crazy). / And, yes, the website Trump’s close friend Roger Stone is using to threaten the judge in his federal case also says the Jews are controlling the weather to destroy America. /

    • harpie says:

      Alternate possible meaning of that symbol:
      https://twitter.com/rickperlstein/status/1097864773230886913 6:25 AM – 19 Feb 2019

      Picture @RogerStone apologized to judge for said to feature “crosshairs.” Looks more like the white supremecists Celtic cross. See Storefront logo. Scary dogwhistle to street-fighting allies? We already know Proud Boys say he’s a member. >>> 

      https://www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols/celtic-cross 

      The white supremacist version of the Celtic Cross, which consists of a square cross interlocking with or surrounded by a circle, is one of the most important and commonly used white supremacist symbols. Although usually called a Celtic Cross by white supremacists, its origins date to the pre-Christian “sun cross” or “wheel cross” in ancient Europe. Norwegian Nazis used a version of the symbol in the 1930s and 1940s. After World War II, a variety of white supremacist groups and movements adopted the symbol. Today, this verson of the Celtic Cross is used by neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and virtually every other type of white supremacist. It has also achieved notoriety as part of the logo of Stormfront, the oldest and largest white supremacist website in the world. […] 

  11. Jim_46 says:

    Russia mounted a Pearl Harbor-like attack on our country. The goal was and continues to be the weakening of the West. Third-rate people within Trump’s circle aided the Russians in that attack — wittingly, unwittingly, or in some mix of the two. Because we have never had a president whose election was due in significant part to the organized criminal activity and hostile actions of a foreign country working in part through domestic agents, and because the GOP has spent the last few decades brainwashing its voters into viewing their liberal fellow citizens as the true enemy, there are many, many people who are successfully deluding themselves about the scale of our predicament. We are in proverbial uncharted waters. Articles of impeachment and an impeachment trial in the Senate are what our country needs, whether or not it ends in Trump’s removal from office. As a country, we need to wake up, to accept that it’s irresponsible to talk about a green New Deal or the next presidential election, until we begin acting like we truly care about our democracy.

      • Jim_46 says:

        Absolutely, I get that. I think you probably get what I’m saying, too. Is there an appropriate sense of urgency even among Democrats in Congress? Can a Congress that hasn’t really done very much legislating at all since 2010 carry on the normal business of a legislature and impeach the president simultaneously? Is two years in which to do impeach and try Trump very much time? Would it be right for a possibly compromised president to appoint three members of the Supreme Court, if that should happen? Would it have been bizarre for, say, Abraham Lincoln to say, in essence, “Secession? Oh, that. I’d rather talk about the transcontinental railroad.” Or maybe FDR: “The Japanese? Oh, them. Yes, someone’s going to have do something about that eventually. Now, if I could get back to discussion poverty in Appalachia?” We already made one big mistake in 2008, in not making accountable and punishing those who had pushed the world to the brink of another Great Depression, and short of that, inflicted great distress on countless families in this country and elsewhere. Impeachment sends the signal we need to send — accepting help from a hostile nation to win an election and line your own pockets is unthinkable.

  12. Arj says:

    Even by Wheel standards this is an impressively set out, cogent piece.  Sometimes it’s difficult to keep in mind that we are not reading about a literal Mafia case here.  The lies & evasion obviously go far beyond these individuals – how did it come to pass that such a mob of grifters infiltrated the heart of government?  And still there’s shockingly little sign of backbone from the wider GOP; one can only guess how widely & deeply they are compromised.  Ugh…

  13. Keifus says:

    It is a shame media publications will not publish your analysis.  At this point, they (CNN, NYT, WaPo, Politico, Fox, etc) should be paying you to repost your articles since they’ve all done such a terrible job of providing a consistent accurate historical narrative with context.  Thanks.

  14. Badger Robert says:

    As I was listening to McCabe I was thinking what he was dealing with was a cowardly human resources officer pressuring him to adhere to the company line or quit. Usually the pressure to quit is motivated by the desire to eliminate Un Ben liability or to escape a discrimination lawsuit. In this instance the President was trying to escape liability for obstruction of justice.

    The politics of the situation are one thing, but if the situation is reduced to its common elements, its just a coward pressuring an employee who is nearing retirement age. Millions have faced that situation.

  15. Molly Picther says:

    This is an interesting article from the Washington Post, February 17, 2017 by Carlton F.W. Larson, University of California, Davis Law Professor about the “5 Myths about Treason”.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-treason/2017/02/17/8b9eb3a8-f460-11e6-a9b0-ecee7ce475fc_story.html

    I ask the legal experts here, what, since apparently it is not treason, do we call what the Electoral College President and his Kool-aid drinkers have been committing ?

    [Rayne, I apologize, I have yet to read the tutorial about how to clean up links from tracking code, and would ask you to do it, please]

    • Rayne says:

      I cleaned it up, no problem. With WaPo links in particular they append the base URL with a unique identifier tied to your session at their site. It will follow right after the “.html” file format in the URL.

      In this case I removed “?utm_term=.72fd3ed36f07” after the “.html”

      Capisce?

  16. Mark Ospeck says:

    EW,  vg correlations you draw between these various Trump “cooperators.”  Trying to figure out why, even when they understood what the JD had on them-continued to lie. It can’t all be about money.  Practical Russia-style thing is threats against their families.   Expect right now that the GRU will bring everything they got to protect their Manchurian candidate, since that’s KGB style.

  17. orionATL says:

    harpie 2/[email protected]:35pm

    roger stone’s comment, “thru legal trickery deep state hit man …”, features the requisite:
    1) plea about being persecuted
    2) by mysterious malevolent forces
    3) acting thru the president’s political enemies.

    that chracterize the structure of each defense of himself that president trump employs. it is a well known support-garnering structure used in speeches by some of the worst tyrants the world has known.

  18. pseudonymous in nc says:

    This is a great post, and yet the big papers’ WH teams will probably ignore its conclusions because they love the bothsidesism.

    I’m reminded of Brad DeLong’s line: “it’s worse than you can possibly imagine, even when you take into account that it’s worse than you can possibly imagine.” The judges aren’t exaggerating. And even sceptics and agnostics who’ve been briefed in — whether it’s on the level of the congressional intel committees, or at DOJ — seem to become a lot quieter once they’re briefed in. (Unless they’re Devin Nunes.)

    • Jim_46 says:

      I love the Brad DeLong quote: thanks for that.

      As for genuine sceptics and agnostics, not just the politically motivated faux sceptics and agnostics, you have to wonder how they get through an average day. You’d have to really clueless and hapless to have read even just a few headlines over the past two years and conclude that there’s nothing there. Headline: “Trump Fires Comey.” Headline: “Trump in Comment to Russian Officials Visiting White House Implies That Comey Firing Related to Russia.” Headline: “Trump Tells NBC’s Lester Holt That Comey Firing Related to Russia.”

      From which someone can honestly say, “Obstruction, meh”???

    • brewstate says:

      True.  Many often forget we’re not dealing with the usual flashy antics of politicians, but the keep your head down pragmatism of lifelong government workers.  How egregious did behavior have to be for Rosenstein, a mild manner man who has made a career out of being a cog, to raise the alarm in such a spectacular fashion?

  19. Tech Support says:

    Every time I am reminded of how Flynn managed to completely screw himself when he was on the verge of escape, it feels like I’m wrapped up in a warm blanket sewn from plushies and schadenfreude.

  20. Jenny says:

    Thanks Marcy. Excellent post.
    “I judge people based on their capability, honesty, and merit.” Donald Trump
    “Donald is intensely loyal. To family, friends, employees, country.” Melania Trump

    • P J Evans says:

      Those may be true statements in some universe, but not in this one. It appears both parties in that marriage are, maybe, not completely mentally functional.

      • Jenny says:

        Agree.  The visual and copy do not match their drama.  Unfortunately, a drama played out everyday with way too many suds.

  21. sand says:

    Senior Republican senators like Burr must have some additional damning details about Trump and his cronies, like the OSC and these judges do. Yet they continue to allow him to run amok. What on God’s good green earth could justify the risk?

    I appreciated this from Slate (https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/02/trump-rose-garden-speech-analysis-moral-rankings.html) on Friday’s “speech.”

    There is a point where “the fiction that this was a real commander-in-chief giving a serious political speech about a genuine emergency itself becomes improper. . . . It’s honestly gotten to a point where it isn’t even funny to watch Saturday Night Live parody him, it’s just frightening.”

    We are in a 747 piloted by an angry six-year-old, and the first-class passengers are busy complaining that the airline let the wheelchair passengers and babies board right after them. I am clutching my seat cushion.

  22. Pablo in the Gazebo says:

    Re Harpie February 18, 2019 at 2:35 pm,

    I received a fundraising email from the lovely Mrs. Stone just the other day. It was for her husband’s legal defense fund and it was a beaut. Long and chocked full of accusations and vivid descriptions of the FBI invasion force. (Something about the task force used to kill Bin Laden was smaller.) . Very entertaining.
    I’m not sure why I get so many of these emails, but it may stem from taking a bet to vote in an online poll that got out of hand. Roger has ignored me.

  23. What Constitution? says:

    Arj’s comment above — “how did it come to pass that such a mob of grifters infiltrated the heart of government?” — is particularly trenchant, and EW’s laying out of the relative “weight” to be afforded to Trump’s vacuous tweets inciting against those doing their jobs as criminal investigators vs. the courts’ uniform assessments of the motivations behind those grifters’ admitted crimes should hopefully inspire more people to ask that question. One needs only to look at the obsequious conduct of McConnell, Grassley, Graham and lesser thugs such as Nunes to figure out that the [Trump-encircling] Manafort clique could get the money from the Russians who have it, Cohen knew the ropes about how to move it, lesser dupes like Papadopoulos knew how to connect willing right wing dupes like the NRA with overseas money and militarily-connected sycophants like Flynn could siphon funds around foreign powers seeking to enhance and to arm their self-interest. In sum, $, lots of $, and from sources not previously tapped because, well, it was not legal to do so, strictly — you know, technically — speaking…. The Republicans saw these sources of unlimited funding for what they were: a new cesspool that Trump and his henchmen were comfortable swimming in and if the Republicans played along, they could profit too in the form of advancing their agenda before anyone got caught.

    The NRA had $40 Million to invest in Trump/RNC 2016 and today it’s closing offices and laying off staff? Manafort offered to “work for free” and that raised no eyebrows at the RNC? The US Attorney specifically warned the incoming administration that Flynn had lied regarding communications with the Russians and that was ignored? This list is too long to continue here. It’s not a glitch that these people were all unethical miscreants, it was an expectation, it was a requirement, it was a source of expertise regarding funding and execution. And these expectations were shared by the RNC, and by McConnell, and Grassley, and Graham, and Nunes — who cling to no more than a hope of claiming “plausible deniability” when confronted.

    And no, it was not, is not, and can never be allowed to become a “flaw” of the US Department of Justice or the FBI that suspicions along such lines should be investigated.

    • Randomizer says:

      Which came first the money of the corruption.  I would argue the former.  The historic pattern-seeker in my head is seeing links between all the hot money, the financialization of economies, the rise of oligarchs and the decline of liberal democracies.

      Some of the threads include an excellent long read https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/03/how-kleptocracy-came-to-america/  which hit the press right after I had watched the must-see documentary “The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/spider-web-britain-second-empire/

      It all starts with “The City” of London which taught the wealthy how to hide their misbegotten gains from the taxman.   New York was not to be outdone.  And now there is so much wealth sloshing around in the underground economy that it threatens to swamp the current world order.

      What we see is the ripples on the tide.

      R.

  24. punaise says:

    a propos of not much, an anagram generator for “Flynn Cohen Manafort” yields a few tangential chucklers:

    Manna Fetch For Nylon
    Fecal Fanny Nth Moron
    Channel Many Front Of
    Clean Affront Hymn No
    Focal Nanny Men Froth
    Merchant Fan Fly Noon

    https://new.wordsmith.org/anagram

  25. Savage Librarian says:

    Marcy, I am grateful that you are able and willing to promote hope even in the face of despair. To me, this is a clear sign that our collective DNA is morphing into something better.

    To wax philosophically for a moment about the present predicament:

    Illusion is everything. It perpetuates the narrative of having done the right thing. Suffering is subsumed by propaganda.

    This is the story of all stories, the ghost of purpose lingering in human lives for some haunting immortality. Sapiens seem uniquely cannibalistic in this consumption. The historical record is permeated with it, like some marinade that makes the meal more palatable.

    But one day we WILL take a step back and say, human purpose belongs elsewhere. Just like we eventually learned the Sun is the center of our planetary system, not the Earth, we will realize our purpose is not to compete but to cooperate.

    Maybe our purpose is not to always want more, more, more. Maybe our purpose is to find a way to alleviate the human suffering of illusory power and control.

  26. orionATL says:

    molly pitcher 2/[email protected]:02pm

    why, you call it “treason” if that is the word you want to use.

    the law in a society does not rule over the use of language in that society except insofar as certain words are given very specific legal meaning when used in a legal context; this restraint applies, or should apply, only in that context. you would never guess that though from reading american definitions of “treason”, all of which seem hidebound by the peculiar constitutional definition.

    but fortunately there are the british who also speak english :)

    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/treason

    “treason noun [ U ]

     UK ​ /ˈtriː.zən/ US ​ /ˈtriː.zən/

    (the crime of) showing no loyalty to your country, especially by helping its enemies or trying to defeat its government:

    In 1606 Guy Fawkes was executed for treason.

    Compare
    betrayal
    treachery formal”

  27. Molly Pitcher says:

    orionATL February 18, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    The other citation that you did not include was “In 1807, Burr was arrested and tried for treason, but he was acquitted.” That is the 12th cousin of the duplicitous Senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr, who is apparently living up to his family heritage.

    • RLHall says:

      I saw that relationship asserted in an article before, and it bothered me.

      The current Mr. Burr can’t be a “twelfth cousin” because of the intervening generations.  If he is related, then it is counted from the closest cousinship, i.e. first, second, or whatever, and then how many generations removed.  So it would be “x-st cousin, x times removed.”  “Twelfth cousin” is a ridiculously distant relationship.  If we count that far out, then we are pretty much all related to each other some kind of way.

      Wouldn’t be such a bad thing if we all treated each other as long-lost kin.

      • P J Evans says:

        Yeah, that’s so: my brother’s daughter in law is about a 10th cousin of both my brother and his wife – by different routes. (I was a little surprised, but not very much, as the extended tree is cross-linked all to hell and back.)

  28. orionATL says:

    keep well in mind that, while the trump collusion with putin – the republican party’s 2016 collusion for money and technology with russia – is the most extensive, the most blatant collusion the republican’s have ever carried out, there have been very successful republican party collusions with foreign governments to gain the presidency since the time of richard nixon and his dalliance with the vietnamese. this includes candidate reagan and the iranian republican guard. (boy, i’ll bet those republican guards now regret ever collaborating with such treacherous characters as american republican pols.)

    all of these republican-foreign collusions resulted in the republicans gaining the presidency. it would be interesting to consider just how many truly legitimate republican wins of the presidency there have actually been since 1968. certainly the trump presidency has now been thoroughly exposed as an illegitimate presidency where victory was based on critical help from a foreign government in the forms of theft of documents, expert psychological manipulation of voters, and money.

    • sand says:

      The conspiracists have been warning us for years about a new world order of leftists that would rule in the shadows with no regard for national loyalties. Maybe they weren’t off by much. Putin, Trump, Erdogan, Netanyahu, . . . other than the leftist angle, maybe the crazies were out ahead of all this.

      Fortunately, Trump forgot to invest in infrastructure, so the secret codes on all the road signs are hopelessly outdated. Putin will be marching to Gettysburg to capture our critical supply of shoes.

  29. Cautious Watcher says:

    I have to wonder, did none of these people ever consider that they may see a day in court? They had to know their boss was like a blind bull in a china shop in the middle of moonless night and would certainly get attention attracted to him. Considering his history, do they really think playing these games will get them pardoned? He has no history of looking out for ANYONE who isn’t named Donald J. Trump.

  30. Tom says:

    I notice that the President hasn’t denied any of McCabe’s specific statements; for example, that he accepts Putin’s assessments of North Korea’s missile capabilities over reports from his own U.S. intelligence professionals. Trump “doth protest too much”. His rhetoric is way over the top and betrays a guilty conscience. But if he has any more beefs about the FBI and Mueller’s “witch hunt”, maybe he should “Tell it to the Judge!”

  31. Tom says:

    @orionATL at 5:47 pm – Guy Fawkes wasn’t just executed, he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Mercifully for him, his initial drop from the gallows was enough to break his neck before the executioners proceeded with the rest of their butchery.

  32. Tommy D Cosmology says:

    I frequently wonder what the selfish, bigoted, drooling, knuckle-dragging, vengeful, “what about her e-mails”, Republicans would have done by now if 1/10th of 1/100th of this had been done by a coffee boy in a Democratic administration.

  33. InfiniteLoop says:

    On the flip side, Trump’s idea of an “illegal, treasonous coup” entails following a Constitutionally defined process that would require the public cooperation of Pence, half of Trump’s own Cabinet, and 2/3 of both houses of Congress.

    Just sayin’.

  34. SICK says:

    As a May report from the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee pointed out:

    “In 2016, cyber actors affiliated with the Russian Government conducted an unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign against state election infrastructure. Russian actors scanned databases for vulnerabilities, attempted intrusions, and in a small number of cases successfully penetrated a voter registration database. This activity was part of a larger campaign to prepare to undermine confidence in the voting process.”

    As Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the committee in February, “Persistent and disruptive cyberoperations will continue against the United States and our European allies using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy.” As he put it, “Frankly, the United States is under attack.”

    Trump has repeatedly waffled on whether Russia conducted the attack and has refused to forcefully rebuke them for it, let alone punish them for it.

    Nevertheless, Congress almost unanimously passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

    Trump signed the bill reluctantly in August, complaining that it “impinged upon his executive powers” and could “dampen his attempts to improve ties with Moscow.”

    Since signing the bill, Trump has repeatedly attacked the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference as no more than a “witch hunt”.

    How is Trump’s public campaign to impede the investigation into an “attack on the United States” not a treasonous (and impeachable) act…???

    • Jim_46 says:

      How is Trump’s public campaign to impede the investigation into an “attack on the United States” not a treasonous (and impeachable) act…???

      It absolutely should be considered as such.

      • Vinnie Gambone says:

        They did punish them. They lifted the sanctions. Now they have to deal with the headaches that come with having more money.

  35. P J Evans says:

    Stone’s lawyers have filed an apology with the court. We’ll see what the judge does. (IMO, he’s violated the gag order and threatened the court, and his bail should be revoked.)

    • Jack Assels says:

      He didn’t violate the (weak) gag order.  It only required him to shut up about the case in the environs of the courthouse.  He may even dodge the charge of threatening a judge, given that the cross-hairs were part of the site’s logo, not intentionally added to the image.  However, it’s hard to see how he’ll make the case that he shouldn’t be held in contempt of court.

      • P J Evans says:

        Yeah, right. The image was cropped to leave the crosshairs and remove a skull emblem – that’s intentional.

        • BobCon says:

          One attorney’s take:

          https://twitter.com/Popehat/status/1097652491926130688

          I’ve been doing federal criminal law for 24 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. This is not normal.

          I prosecuted a dude who thought he didn’t have to pay taxes because he was a Natural Constitutional Man or some shit and who thought I was part of a black-helicopter UN conspiracy and he was, like, FAR more normal and sensible than this gang of imbeciles.

          • Marinela says:

            Contempt of court means jail, I hope.
            I agree is intentional since he alter one part but not the cross-hairs logo.
            Also, the place he took the original photo from, he probably planned/colluded to have that photo available that way, so he could claim deniability.
            How in the world there was such “convenient” judge photo already available for him to use it? Fishy.
            Hoping they can protect the judge.

        • Jack Assels says:

          Of course it was intentional, and he’ll be remarkably lucky to stay out of jail. I’m just trying to imagine how ABJ might bend over backwards to avoid satiating Roger’s lust for martyrdom. My point was that an exceedingly tolerant judge could entertain the bare possibility that no threat was intended, but there’s absolutely no way to read the message as anything less than contempt.

  36. TheTrialist says:

    A very large number of US citizens view our country as nothing more than a place to live. They call themselves libertarians but really they are just disloyal.

  37. LeeNLP says:

    I finally did it. There was never a doubt that I wanted to support EmptyWheel, but this post pushed me over the threshold. Now my monthly widower’s mite is going to one of the most worthy causes I can imagine. I invite others to do likewise.

    Thank you so much, Marci, Bmaz, Rayne and all the rest. If I ever get rich I’ll send you much, much more.

  38. P J Evans says:

    @Jack Assels February 18, 2019 at 8:15 pm
    Also, the image he used wasn’t the first one that came up (at the time) when a search was done for images of that particular judge – it was down about a dozen or so, and it was only found on RW sites. He chose that one intentionally.

  39. milton wiltmellow says:

    For those confused or lost or overwhelmed by this information, let me sketch a very simple map that answers the question, “what’s the most direct route from Trump City to Moscow and back again?”

    In case anyone asks for a shorter version.

    Route #1 Stone-Assange Parkway with a rest stop at Guccifer Township.

    Route #2 Manafort-Kliminick Tollway. No exit ramps.

    Route #3 Butina-NRA International Highway with many tourist sites like Aleksandr P. Torshin First Christian Church of the Gun and Paul Erickson Ye Olde Sexe Shoppe and Pat Buchanan Fetish gifts.

    Route # 4 Deripaska-Mnuchin Restricted Access HOV Private Cashway for Republican Senate tour buses.

    These are the main routes casual tourists can use if they want to avoid the very intricate Greewald series of polemic cul de sacs.

    Meanwhile many more routes exist for the adventurous off-the-beaten track explorers who want to absorb the full and foul atmospherics of collusion and betrayal. But a warning. It’s dangerous. Here is a Chinese travel guide listing the fates of some of those who’ve tread these more treacherous paths. https:// www. theepochtimes .com/ strzok-joins-list-of-25-top-fbi-doj-officials-who-have-been-recently-fired-demoted-or-resigned_2624607.html

    [FYI: link “broken” to prevent users from accidentally clicking through. /~Rayne]

      • P J Evans says:

        It’s on a shelf at my grocery store (which has a fair number of Asians, being close to a college – though they’re more likely to be Koreans than Chinese). More than once I’ve wanted to take a red pen to their front page and mark the lies on it.

        • Eureka says:

          Plus a snippet from the wiki:

          The German edition of the newspaper, The Epoch Times Deutschland, which became Web-only in 2012, is aligned with the German far-right, attracting readers supportive of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the anti-immigrant group Pegida.[69]
          Trump administration
          According to BuzzFeed News, The Epoch Times is known for its positive coverage of the Trump administration.[70]
          In April 2018, The Epoch Times publisher Stephen Gregory and editor in chief Jasper Fakkert reported a thirdhand claim that Donald Trump reads The Epoch Times every day and “it’s the one newspaper that he believes to be a truthful and correct paper.”[71][72]
          In September 2018, The Epoch Times photographer Samira Bouaou broke White House protocol and handed Trump a folder during an official event.[73]
          (internal links removed)

          Wonder what was up with that purple folder handed directly to Trump, where their photog had to enter a restricted area to do so?

          • Eureka says:

            BuzzFeed notes that the ET newspaper prints Breitbart-worthy content.  ET also positively reviewed, period, Cubic Zirconia and Acetate’s ‘film.’

            A Newspaper Banned In China Is Now One Of Trump’s Biggest Defenders

            Compare what they are doing with what they say they are doing:

            A section devoted entirely to the Trump presidency on the Epoch Times’ website is remarkably free of the scandals that have plagued the administration since before the president was sworn in. Instead, the stories include a photo essay on a recent Trump rally in Montana, an “Angel Mom’s” push for the president to seal the border with Mexico, and Trump’s call for Sen. Elizabeth Warren to apologize after her DNA test last week. Other political stories show a clear nod to Trump’s base, including one with the headline “Democrat Operative for Soros-Funded Group Arrested for Assaulting Republican Campaign Manager.”

            The site’s opinion section offers an even clearer stance on Trump’s time in office (…) “Our leftist media describes the Trump presidency as tumultuous — a construct they have manufactured, one that doesn’t exist,” one article claims. Another chides the media’s coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh saga, noting that “[l]ike Trump, Kavanaugh was depicted as the nominee of white male privilege and ‘toxic masculinity,’ a beer-swilling Deplorable and an avatar of creeping authoritarianism.” Even in pieces that don’t directly deal with Trump — like one that argues that the endgame of climate change advocacy is socialism — the administration’s line holds.

            “Being independent, we investigate issues overlooked — or avoided — by other media outlets,” Jan Jekielek, a senior editor with the Epoch Times, told BuzzFeed News in an emailed response to questions about the paper’s editorial stance. “We do this because we believe journalism must play the role of being truly responsible to society. We aim to highlight solutions and what’s good in society, including in our reporting on the Trump administration, rather than focusing on the conflicts that divide us.”
            (internal links removed; emphases added)

            It’s worth reading the whole BF piece beyond the fair use excerpt, as it continues on with delineating the publication’s “courting” of Trump, the ET Editor-in-Chief praising Trump admin “efforts to change socialist policies in America” — whatever that means– etc.

            Between wiki, WaPo, and BuzzFeed- among additional sources- one might notice a trend at the ET:  propaganda.  I have noticed more links to ET being posted in the comments here lately- and uncritically so- for reasons unclear.

            • Rayne says:

              I went back and checked the comments database. We’ve had less than a handful of shared links to ET and I’d broken the links of all but the last while indicating the site could contain malware.

              I’ve now tweaked the system so that any comments containing ET links go to moderation first.

              • Eureka says:

                Thank you as always, Rayne.

                You know I’m ‘sensitive’ so zero links to a few links here and there piques me as a possible trend.

                OP wilton miltmellow may have given a reason for the ‘why’ below, if they are getting top search rankings (though that could become a nested set of ‘why’ questions).

            • P J Evans says:

              I noticed their love of Tr*mp from looking at the front pages at the store. It’s also quite noticeably far right in a lot of ways – and this in an area where the “left wing” paper isn’t left of center.

  40. orionATL says:

    p.j. evans 2/18 @7:42 and 9:42pm

    i suspect stone did that primarily to provoke a response from judge berman. threatening her he surely did, but tying her up in argumentative political knots may have been his primary goal. were i judge berman i would turn the issue of this audacity over to the u.s. marshalls’ service, the fbi, and another federal judge.

    this behavior can be contagious, particularly in light of the not-yet-reigned-in rightwing crackpot contingents at places like infowars and 4chan. i’m sure the marshalls understand that.

    this should end up being one of ol’ rog’s dumbest moves ever, but… white boy terrorism seems to thrive in our current legal environment.

  41. CD54 says:

    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.

  42. John Q Citizen says:

    […] “it was never with the intent to betray the US, i.e., to shift their loyalties from the US to Russia…”

    That’s an extremely unreasonable assertion, for, if your intention is to make the motive “monetization”, as courtiers, new patrons of a Federal regime (the ideology of the profit motive?) then you might ask yourself what exactly was say — Aldrich Ames motives?

    He was convicted of [ 18 U.S.C. § 794(c) –] also inherits its “mask” for body of law in re “treason” from same clauses in constitution that produced 18 U.S. Code § 2381 ] and his stated motive was “money”, lucre, i.e. personal enrichment (fleeting or significant duration; dividend producing wealth, serial payments to pay gambling debts, buy a better care or a better gas grill)

    –it doesn’t matter the content associated with monies paid, and for what) — it is the stated motive (did Aldrich Ames not eventually allocute and plead out?).

    Ames: [snippet] “con game” to satisfy his immediate indebtedness — “could never step back”.

    He pleaded guilty on April 28 [ 18 U.S.C. § 794(c) ] and received a sentence of life imprisonment. As part of a plea bargain by Ames, his wife received a five-year prison sentence for tax evasion and conspiracy to commit espionage.[37]

    again, his stated motive and his motive when instantiating the crimes was monies. (monies to pay debts).

    QED, your assertion which I’ve pasted below is easily diminished and proven to specious (poor reasoning).

    “But if you mean in the legal sense, no. The law (see 18 USC 2381, codifying Art. III, Section 3) is clear, as is the fact that whatever the president and his cronies have done, it was never with the intent to betray the US…”

    bye now.

  43. milton wiltmellow says:

    @Eureka:
    “PSA: One might look into the “Epoch Times” before posting or clicking a link to same.”

    Yikes!

    Epoch Times was top Google link. I checked their “about” statement because I wanted to avoid a Russian or rightist disinfo site. They claimed to be in opposition to Chinese government policy on Tiananmen and Falun Gong based in NY. I took Epoch Times as a dissident site in exile.

    I wanted a quick reference to the aggregate collection of Trump associates who were already charged or implicated in Russian collusion.

    I regret not giving the site a more thorough vetting.

    Thanks for the PSA.

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks for sharing how you got the link, it’s interesting to know that came up top in rankings.

      Broadening the convo just a bit, the Daily Beast did a piece last summer on the Chinese gov’t’s influence on US policy via US citizens, also worth a read:

      China Built an Army of Influence Agents in the U.S.
      Sub head:  The Russians may be getting all the attention for influencing American opinion and policy. But Beijing has been at it for decades.

      Point being, even if the ET is what it says it is (or is/was said to be), one would think it is also an attempt to counter what is cited in the DB, i.e. part of another country’s propaganda war for US eyeballs.  Ain’t got time for that, except in an academic sense.

  44. Marinela says:

    This stunt by Roger S. some people are saying he did it to get judge Amy to recuse, as she cannot possibly give him a fair trial, they say now.

    What world are we living in…

  45. milton wiltmellow says:

    At the risk of overposting, I think this stunt displays a very common tactic.

    Phony pretext becomes a reason or justification.  Ex:  9/11 –> invasion of Iraq; Kenya birth –> anti-american; Clinton emails –> corrupt insider; Benghazi –> warmonger;

    I thought the same thing as you — that Stone is creating a pretext to remove Jackson.  It is definitely not an unforced error or clumsy mistake.

    They’ve used the same playbook for years.

  46. OldTulsaDude says:

    The most sobering and disheartening aspect of this entire episode is the fact that Individual-1 still has approval ratings of 40 or thereabouts. I was a teenager during the sixties and still have vivid memories of that turmoil. The slaughter at Kent State that went unpunished instilled in me a profound emptiness as the picture of what it meant to be American and what America stood for shattered.

    That a worshipful 40% continues to support this demagogic strongman who is determined to destroy democracy and democratic values, vilifies the FBI, attacks the free press as enemies, praises autocrats as strong leadership, values adversaries’ opinions over American intelligence, and supports instant death sentences handed down by dictators for drug cases without the rule of law interfering destroys once again my image of what America stands for and what it means to be American.

      • Rayne says:

        The swing portion of his base will be getting their taxes done over the next eight weeks. The question before them: is their support of white supremacy (regardless of its leadership) more valuable to them than their personal financial well being?

        Because that’s what I think the 10-12% consists of, a mix of racists and upper-middle class whites flirting with a economic slide backward.

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        The other 10-12% may be reachable.

        Think about that P. J. Why would anyone want to depend upon the 10-12% of people who are supporters of this Presindebt after two years of his unforgettable, juvenile and disgusting behavior in the White House? Do they know anything about the Presindebt’s “Best People”, the cabinet members he chose to help govern the country? Do they know how many of the best people the Presindebt knows have been implicated in corruption and self-dealing? How many have been forced to resign? Do they know how many have falsified disclosure forms and been forced to resubmit information multiple times? Do they know how many have been caught in public lies? How many cannot pass a security clearance? Is it acceptable to judge people by the company they keep, or the world leaders they praise?

        Why would anyone want to depend upon the support of people whose main source of pleasure seems to be watching this fraud of a commander in chief attack career public service employees? Do they really enjoy watching intellectuals and liberal members of their community undermined and embarrassed; humiliated by a vain, fake-tanned, corrupt, drug addled, bullshit artist who cannot remember from one day to the next what lies he has spread?

        It is difficult to know people, but I try to avoid the 30% of hard core Trumpers who broadcast their venality and stupidity, and to the extent I can, the 10-12% who may or may not be inadvertently supporting, for whatever reason, the worst president in the history of the United States.

  47. P J Evans says:

    The judge has set Thursday afternoon for a show-cause hearing for why Stone shouldn’t have a complete gag order issued or his bail revoked. (Via dKos and Natasha Bertrand)

    Docket Text

    MINUTE ORDER as to ROGER J. STONE, JR., Defendant is ORDERED to show cause at a hearing to be held on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. as to why the media contact order entered in this case [36] and/or his conditions of release [21] should not be modified or revoked in light of the posts on his Instagram account on or about February 18, 2019. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 2/19/19.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Like Trump, the only “defense” Roger has left is to look like a victim to a base that finds him heroic.  Like Paulie, he also has to look like he would fall in his sword rather than disclose his client’s secrets.

      • bmaz says:

        Today’s reports on Trump/Whitaker and SDNY/Cohen are significant. As much as I pan the NYT, they put a lot of byline on their report. Almost like the walls are closing in a bit on the Trumpalos. Whitaker may be a dumbshit, but not sure he is going to take this dive. The fractures are starting to be fault lines.

  48. Ollie says:

    https://www.axios.com/saudi-arabia-nuclear-power-house-oversight-report-7e02528a-ff4f-4935-8a56-82306908ec44.html

    Tuesday by the House Oversight Committee.The big picture: The report cites “serious, bipartisan concern” over ongoing efforts — led first by former national security adviser Michael Flynn and, more recently, Energy Secretary Rick Perry — to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia without congressional review. It also raises questions about the nature of the Trump administration’s relationship with the Saudi government, pointing to potential conflicts of interest among top advisers like Flynn, Jared Kushner and inaugural committee chairman Tom Barrack

    Whew.  I hope to hell this gets major coverage.  I swear to god these MAGA thugs need to be jailed.

  49. Manqueman says:

    Trump’s demand for Mafia-level loyalty cracks me up given his disloyalty to the man who made him the piece of crap he is, Roy Cohn.

  50. von E-Town says:

    Thought experiment: suppose Trump wanted to use the office to imitate Putin, become America’s Putin—a central strongman surrounded by oligarchs he ‘made’ by allowing them to steal state assets, thereby making them a) rich, b) powerful, and c) fiercely loyal—what kinds of things would he be doing that he isn’t already?

  51. skua says:

    @ Ollie
    Would the proliferation of nuclear armed states assist Putin’s long term goals for Russia’s place in the world?

    If so, Putin’s plan might be the root cause for Trump doing this.

  52. oldoilfieldhand says:

    What Constitution – sorry can’t get reply to work today…

    “The US Attorney specifically warned the incoming administration that Flynn had lied regarding communications with the Russians and that was ignored?”

    Sally Yates was was not just a US Attorney, she was the Acting Attorney General of the United States when she warned White House Counsel Don McGahn that General Michael Flynn, Retired, the man serving as the Presindebt’s National Security Advisor, could be compromised by the Russians. She provided detailed and explicit information in the form of transcripts from phone calls made by and to Mike Flynn intercepted by U.S, Intelligence as evidence.
    So, ignoring her warning and/or waiting 18 days to remove Flynn from his White House position was tantamount to deliberately ignoring a very specific warning from the United States Department of Justice.
    Coincidentally, the testimony of Retired General and traitor to his country, Michael Flynn is the primary evidence against the sitting Presindebt of the United States in the Conspiracy and Fraud Against the United States case currently being led by Robert Mueller.

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