Trump Administration Still Gaming Intelligence on Election Interference

Last month, I tracked a disturbing exchange between Dan Coats and Martin Heinrich regarding whether any of the efforts to tamper with this year’s election succeeded.

At the Global Threats hearing on January 29, Heinrich asked Coats whether the committee was going to get the results of the assessment of whether any of the tampering had had an effect. A week later, DOJ and DHS issued a report saying “no harm no foul.” Then 10 days later, the entire Senate Intelligence Committee wrote Coats a letter asking for DNI’s findings.

That troubling exchange took place against another one, revealed in a letter sent yesterday from Heinrich, Ron Wyden, and Kamala Harris.

On September 26, 2018, Trump mucked up a UN meeting by claiming, without evidence, that China was tampering in the 2018 midterms. The Democratic Senators apparently asked Dan Coats about it, and he issued a classified response on October 31. During the same Global Threat Hearing where Heinrich raised the general assessment in open session, the Senators raised the China accusation in the closed session. In response, Coats sent a letter on February 8, basically covering for Trump.

As early as August, during a press conference, I stated that Russia was not the only country that had an interest in trying to influence our domestic political environment and that we knew others had the capability and may be considering influence activities. On October 19, 2018 and again on November 5, 2018 my office, in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security, released public statements detailing ongoing campaigns by Russia, China, and other foreign actors, including Iran, to influence public sentiment and government policies and undermine democratic institutions.

But that’s not what the Senators were getting at in their request. In yesterday’s letter, they noted,

The October 31, 2018, letter includes important information about the 2018 elections, as well as the 2016 elections, which your February 8, 2019 letter did not address.

That is, there’s something — apparently about both the 2018 and the 2016 elections — that Coats is hiding, information that surely would embarrass Trump.

And Coats isn’t giving it to us.

Given that just Democratic Senators are on the request (unlike the earlier request), this one seems to amount to Coats running partisan interference to prevent Trump from being embarrassed. Which, if true, would mean that the head of the Intelligence Community is using classification to hide the fact that the President is making bullshit claims about our elections.

81 replies
    • Willis Warren says:

      Just wanna reiterate that I have no evidence but still believe that the Russians (and probably Assange) can prove the Republicans cheated in 2004 by, among other things, stuffing ballots in the South.

  1. fikshun says:

    Is it possible that the reason Coats has been refusing to turn over the report to the committee is because the report that he sent to the president/DOJ was falsified? If Coats believed Trump to be a Russian asset, he wouldn’t want to give Trump a report that would likely ultimately make its way to Russian intelligence. If Coats turned over a report to the committee that was different from the one he gave Trump, that would be a problem.

    • pizza says:

      And maybe Coats knows, because he probably would, that the Mueller hammer is about to drop on POTUS’s ass real soon so he’s just buying some time. He obviously knows he can’t keep it from the committee forever. Burr and Warner are the only two who know what’s in that report and their posture is telling IMO. They don’t sound like they’re in any hurry either.

      • fikshun says:

        Agreed. I wonder why neither Burr nor Warner has had a talk with Heinrich (or maybe they have).

        If there was nothing particularly interesting or threatening about the report, Coats would have given it to the committee. Maybe I’m under-thinking it, but it seems like there are only a few possible motives for Coats’s behavior:

        1) There’s something in the report that could cause the American public to lose faith in the election system and Coats doesn’t trust the committee to keep it confidential.

        2) There’s something in the report that Coats wants to keep away from foreign intelligence – methods, findings, uncertainties, strategies for 2020, etc. and Coats doesn’t trust one or more people on the committee to keep it confidential.

        3) The report that Trump/DOJ received contains only partial or falsified info because Coats and the intelligence community have reason to believe that Trump has been compromised and that someone on the committee would make Trump aware of any discrepancies.

        4) The report that Trump/DOJ received contains only partial or falsified info because they have evidence of hacking from nations that Trump already has a beef with. Coats is trying to smooth out foreign policy by playing keep-away from the president.

        5) Coats has been compromised (either by a foreign power or ‘party over country’) and is playing keep-away from the committee. I sincerely doubt this one but I suppose it’s a possibility.

        • pizza says:

          My hypothetical conspiracy needle is pointing toward possibly 1 but more likely 3. There’s also the small possibility that Coats knows someone in the committee has been compromised as well. I suspect if that’s the case, that individual might be exposed the same day the Mueller report goes public or at least to Congress. There were an awful lot of GOP senators making quiet trips to Moscow in and around 2015-2016 and we know the NRA was infiltrated to some degree. The FBI may have discovered one or more turncoats in Congress during its counterintelligence work on our Sleazebag-in-Chief. Maybe this explains why GOP senators so quickly and completely abdicated their constitutional responsibilities and just handed over their souls to the devil. It’s not likely but it’s possibly possible. Maybe.

          In normal times, I would say that, obviously, all these theories were hogwash but definitely great exercise for writing some Clancy-esque work of fiction. But these are not normal times. If one (pathetic excuse for a) man can partner with one of our biggest foes to become president and proceed to wreak all the havoc that has been thrown upon our system in such a short time, literally anything is possible. It’s alarming how little most Americans understand the significance of what DT is doing to our democracy. Our first strongman president has very efficiently (with outside guidance perhaps) manged to expose and exploit massive and critical weaknesses in our system of government. There’s never been anything like this but so many people I know literally do not know and damn thing about the history being written right before our eyes. There’s nothing in our school history books that can ever come close to touching this.

          Pre-2016, we never thought RU interference could/would actually influence a national election not to mention very likely turn the fucking POTUS into a RU mole reporting back to Putin. No surprise at all that we’re coming up with all kinds of crazy theories about that report.

    • Wajim says:

      I thought Glen Beck was killed at Comet Pizza in 2017. It is certainly possible. Of course, it’s possible it may only be possible, possibly.

  2. Tim Tuttle says:

    No harm, no foul. Seriously?

    What will it take, and will it ever happen, to have US Intel groups give us the full story on 2016 abuses? Is it simply that we can’t handle the truth? Or that it’s so bad that it could destroy all credibility in our voting process? If the truth were revealed would people just stop participating or would every election be subject to unlimited scrutiny and potential overturn.

    North Carolina is experiencing it right now on a far smaller scale and it’s still a total clusterfuck.

    Maybe the truth is just too much for the system and our collective fragile egos to handle.

    Heaven help the fools. Best we figure this out very, very soon.

    It’s not going in the right direction. And every other nation knows it.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      Maybe US Intelligence is embarrassed and ashamed of their inability to stop Russia from getting a criminal and a probable traitor elected? I mean, what the heck were they doing in 2015-2016? There should be an investigation into that.

    • Keifus says:

      Well, we have elections around the corner. Maybe start vetting candidates who promise to release this information to the public. Elect officials who are pro transparency and are for creating laws that are pro transparency. Or better yet run for office. We can control the system. It just takes a lot of work because a lot needs to be changed.

  3. Yogarhythms says:

    “Keep up and be great” by Sat Jivan Singh my late yoga teacher. R’s keep elevating party before country; violating oath of office. Vote Tuesday 3NOV20

    • The Dark Aveger says:

      “When you decide just to be brave, it opens up way more possibilities than trying to be perfect ever does.”


  4. CaliLawyer says:

    Every time I see a professional try to navigate this chaos, I can’t help but think of Josh Marshall’s Donald Trump loss of dignity event horizon: “Coming into the orbit of Mr Trump, taking his yoke as it were, requires not only total submission, a total relaxation of every muscle and defense but a farewell to all independence and dignity.” What are their real motivations? The self-serving stories will be endless.

    • Fran of the North says:

      What are their real motivations? Greed pure and simple.

      Proximity to power (prior to POTUS mostly illusory) and the potential to make massive amounts of money.

      • fikshun says:

        I’m not sure that’s the case on this one. Coats and Trump appear to have a contentious relationship. Coats criticized Trump last year during a security conference and Trump has been recently talking about firing Coats. From the transcripts, it appears that Coats said something to committee chairman Burr and vice-chairman Warner that placated them enough such that Burr was willing to interrupt Heinrich’s questioning of Coats. It would appear that Coats trusts Burr and Warner, but not the open committee.

        • Fran of the North says:

          My apologies if I wasn’t precise enough. Agreed 100% Coats doesn’t need (and is probably averse) to sucking up to POTUS. The intelligence community is (hopefully) very aware of how hot the dumpster fire is.

          My comments were referencing the general populace of asteroids that get sucked into orbiting and ultimately burning up in the poisonous atmosphere that surrounds Individual-1, his spawn, spouses and other servile lackeys.

          The intelligence community is often reviled and underestimated. I’d suggest that they are VERY aware of who can be trusted and who can’t.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    According to MSNBC, Manafort’s Judge Ellis thinks Paul Manafort has largely led a “blameless” life and that the sentencing guideline’s range is “excessive,” meaning too high. So odds are that Ellis will recommend less than the minimum in the guidelines.

    “Blameless?” That would require a level of intentional ignorance I find astounding. At best, he means that Manafort has not previously been convicted of a crime. Any review of his prior work and client list would suggest that he has worked for some of the most brutal, corrupt, violent regimes in the world. Then again, hundreds of the high and mighty loudly proclaimed that Roy Cohn was the salt of the earth, especially when he kept their secrets and washed their dirty laundry so quietly and quickly.

    We’ll have to see what ABJ does with her sentence.

    • P J Evans says:

      Intentional ignorance, or willingness to believe what the defendant says – because I don’t believe that Manafort is remorseful in any way. I suspect he’s more like Shkreli, who somehow got a cellphone into his cell and was running his company – until the authorities caught up to him.

    • BobCon says:

      The blameless piece is particularly galling when you think how he’s also guilty of multiple counts right across the river.

      Ellis is basically saying he doesn’t believe Jackson is doing her job when she accepted the guilty plea, and she should recognize that everything Manafort did in her case is a big nothing.

      I realize Ellis should probably not consider her piece to give Manafort an especially heavy sentence, but it’s insulting to act like nothing she’s been considering even exists.

      • Theresa says:

        Ellis sure has his prejudices, including willful blindness and likely misogyny toward Judge ABJ.

        • Ruthie says:

          Judges are no more immune to the cultural forces that surround them than anyone else. In other words, some judges watch Fox News and don’t see it for the propaganda it is.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Federal District Judge Ellis gives Manafort 47 months imprisonment. Who needs a pardon? I guess lawyers and judges in Metro DC have a different understanding of the rule of law than Main Street Americans. I wonder what would have happened to Manafort if he had been accosted by police after having fallen asleep in his car at a fast food drive-in. I gather that Ellis thinks Manafort would have never been in his courtroom if he had worked for a different president.

    Let’s hope ABJ decides that Manafort’s next sentence should be served consecutively rather than concurrently, and that she has a different understanding of “blameless” conduct.

    • Theresa says:

      I bet Mueller expected this downward departure, if not worse. I’d like to console myself into believing this.

  7. Rugger9 says:

    Manafort is still liable for state charges as well, I would think, since such slimy activities rarely stay in nice Fed versus State bins (although I haven’t heard of any). Given the adventures ABJ has gone through I do not think she will be as (ahem) “understanding” as TSE about the actions of palace minions and I am sure OSC will point to the general lack of remorse by Manafort in his latest statement. Given Ellis’ hammering of OSC attorneys in the various hearings, I’m surprised Paulie didn’t just get time served.

    As ridiculous as the Senate is on oversight (remember the GOP is still in charge there and have every reason to prevent a close look) the HPSCI can and should look into this as well. Call Schiff.

  8. dwfreeman says:

    Russia has been openly interfering in our elections for nearly a decade, and covertly for much longer. Trump has become a converted asset of Putin’s government, which began cultivating him for that political purpose since at least 2011. You can almost track Trump’s Russian influence through his business practices and public statements. Of course, his business interests with Russian actors go even further back in time. He has essentially been connected to Russia since his invitation there in 1986 from Soviet ambassador to the US.

    Today his administration policies reflect a near capitulation to Russian government interests regardless of GOP efforts in Congress and his administration to obfuscate or deny that almost transparent influence. His views on trade, NATO and other international dealings reflect a clear Russian bent.

    To actually accept his contention that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian government officials would demand that Trump account for at least 100 documented campaign official contacts and another 28 meetings currently known to have occurred between them.

    As the Center for American Progress notes in its comprehensive The Moscow Project report, it also requires believing that when candidate Trump cited Wikileaks 164 times in November 2016, he didn’t know that stolen emails were part of Russia’s campaign.

    In fact, there were two election campaigns supporting Trump, the domestic one he supposedly ran and didn’t think could defeat Hillary, and the one the Russians ran for him with all the hope in the world that he would be victorious and achieve the results that they are now enjoying through his tainted policies.

    Guess what the Kilimnik polling data was used for? They met repeatedly and exchanged various emails in May and July leading up to the Aug. 2 cigar bar meeting. Guess why Manafort was hired in March and then never fired in August, the njght after the campaign was told about Russian influence in the election. Manafort left the campaign the following day. Guess what happened, Cambridge Analytica’s Steve Bannon was hired to take over Manafort’s role?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Woodie Guthrie was right:

    “Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
    I’ve seen lots of funny men;
    Some will rob you with a six-gun,
    And some with a fountain pen.”

    Ellis thinks the fountain pen guys deserve a break. Everybody else deserves what they get.

    As for Manafort’s vulnerability to state charges, state prosecutors will have less motivation to prosecute him because of the optics of Ellis’s sentence.

    Congress cannot address this directly, but it can support its many investigations of team Trump, because there’s a lot of evidence of serial wrongdoing. It can also pass reform legislation about presidential records, mandatory physical and mental health assessments, mandatory disclosure of tax returns and other information, mandatory divestiture of business and financial holdings, mandatory accounting and disclosure of presidential inaugurations, banning conflicts of interest and self-dealing transactions, and so on to make it less rewarding for presidential candidates and their minions to repeat Donald Trump’s behavior. An important element of that should be reforming the election process regarding voter registration, voting, and vote counting.

  10. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    Actually, with respect to the tax charges and the FBAR charges, a low-end sentence is not without precedent. Ty Warner, Mr. Beanie Baby, got no jail time. I did not read any of the sentencing memoranda filed in the ED Va Manfort case, but I suspect that the defense included statistical evidence of the sentences handed down in criminal cases involving FBAR violations. The relative prison time handed out in these cases is quite low. The government fairly recently changed the way they argue the sentencing guidelines in FBAR criminal cases to make it harder for Courts to do what they have done in Ty Warner’s and Manafort’s cases.

    That doesn’t make it “right”, but 47 months is not shocking for the tax and FBAR related crimes, per se. I’m wondering if this Judge has ever handed down similar sentences in other FBAR/tax cases.

    • bmaz says:

      And, yet, it was more than 15 years less than the minimum guidelines calculation. Is it your position that is common? If so, why? I cannot claim to be a FBAR specialist, but that was far from the only part of the case. It still looks very weirdly low to me. Willing to be convinced otherwise. But less than ten is shocking to me. Especially with a statement from the court indicating no finding of acceptance or remorse. Seriously stunning.

      • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

        My focus is on the FBAR and tax charges. Yes, courts have fairly consistently (but not always) handed down low end sentences in FBAR cases. I’m familiar with one case where the defendant was offered a plea with a stipulated guideline range that, if followed by the Court, would have resulted in 4+ years prison time. The defendant rejected it and went to trial. Lost. Sentence was 1 yr 1 day.

        I can’t speak to “typical” sentences in cases involving convictions of other white collar crimes, such as the non-tax/FBAR convictions in Manafort’s case. But the government has been seriously disappointed with sentences in many FBAR cases around the country. That is one reason they changed the way they argue the sentencing guidelines in FBAR cases.

        I’m surprised, but not shocked, by the 47 month sentence. Maybe I should be shocked, but I’m not.

        • BobCon says:

          This is just speculation, but my nagging suspicion is that Ellis is partly pissed that this came to trial at all and wasn’t dealt with by a plea bargain like so many white collar crimes are.

          I’m wondering if Ellis is basically calculating what a typical case of this magnitude would come down to if the prosecutors weren’t wasting his oh so precious time and tossed most of the charges in exchange for a guilty plea and some token prison time.

      • Rollo T says:

        Speculating here: What if Ellis wants the sentence to be low enough so that Trump doesn’t pardon Manafort?

        • Tom says:

          OTOH, Trump might figure he’ll face less blowback for pardoning a man whose sentence was much less severe than was expected.

        • Tom says:

          But Manafort appears again for sentencing next week before Judge Jackson, so it’s not over yet.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That doesn’t square with the “blameless life” reference, which is as creative a description I have heard of for Paulie’s career in lobbying and influence peddling for some of the grimmest clients on the planet. Nor does it square with fraud charges or the considerable income Paulie failed to declare and pay tax on. But I guess that does not fall far enough outside the norm in Metro DC for Judge Ellis to hand down a hefty sentence.

  11. Taxidermist says:

    From twitter:

    Laura Coates
    FYI in 2018, #JudgeEllis sentenced Frederick Turner, 37, to a mandatory minimum of 40 years in prison for dealing methamphetamine: “I chafe a bit at that, but I follow the law. If I thought it was blatantly immoral, I’d have to resign. It’s wrong, but not immoral”.

  12. gedouttahear says:

    The sentence Ellis imposed while surprising and outrageous, was not too too surprising given the fact that he tried both pre-trial and during the trial to sabotage the prosecution. I like to think that Paulie will not have a good week next week. Or for a long time thereafter.

  13. Tom says:

    It shouldn’t take long for Trump to extrapolate the “blameless life” descriptor as applying equally as much to himself, his children, and anyone else in his coterie caught up in the Russia investigation; except, of course, for the “rats”.

  14. Eureka says:

    Ut.oh. The “Manafort Juror” is on MSNBC Lawrence right now. Muted so can’t tell what the tone has been.

    But asked just now about the Cohen testimony, her reaction is “Sad.” Voted for Trump, wants the country to come together, let him finish his term (I am about to mute this once again).

    (Adding: something something Russia but I didn’t catch it. Given the context of her other replies to Lawrence’s Qs, I’ll assume she doesn’t frequent this site.)
    END Diner Dispatch

    • hester says:

      I found her impossible to listen to. I didn’t think she had much to say and whatever it was, she didn’t say it well. I don’t think her powers of perception or judgement are particularly astute.

      • Eureka says:

        Yeah, this brief glimpse was a reminder that her statements come off like some kind of PR polished for dictation to very young children. ~~ Hands-over-ears- stop-talking-about-the-crimes- it’s-sad-you-used-to-be-friends~~ was basically what I got.

        Adding: I checked and it turns out she also had some quip about no Russians being at the polls and said that Americans like her voted for Trump “without any influence” and that’s how Trump was elected.

        Well, then. THE END.

        • Eureka says:

          polished for dictation…i.e. emptily patronizing (to listeners of all ages).

          Any of which I bother to note for the exercise of imagining potential compositions of any future ConFraudUS juries, or the general populace come possible impeachment. It’s a look into how media may need to better explain what “Russian influence” means, at least, which is different from and more limited than ~ ‘conspiring with Russians to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections.’ And that is besides that this woman’s ‘definition’ is itself highly constricted. Could she or others like her relate to ‘voter suppression?’

          In other words, the short-hand phrase “Russian influence” might be working– like “collusion,” but perhaps inadvertently– to diminish the public’s understanding of the SCO investigation.

          Someone is going to have to explain this to Trumpers and others who see themselves as fair-minded but may be stuck in a limited literalism.

        • P J Evans says:

          People who get their news from CNN, Facebook, and Fox may have a hard time understanding what “influence” is, because it isn’t the in-your-face stuff that they get fed.

        • Eureka says:

          Sure, and it’s against their interests to unmask ‘influence’ when they intend to influence…

          We can only fight limited concepts with better concepts. Unfortunately, we have both plenty of material to work with and our democracy at stake.

          It seems like when there’s interest by one MSM outlet in a given topic, it spreads at least momentarily to most others. And since they like ‘breaking’ news, maybe there’s more news to be broken on various subtopics, such as some of the 81 House request recipients and their ‘reasons,’ that can help re-claim the bigger picture.

          Also, civics for the multinational big data ratfucker era: instead of reporting on voter suppression as incidents of news, identify it as part of the election process along with socially-engineered vote-forcing. List the symptoms of the disease, and when to call your doctor.

          ‘Influence’ must be dealt with because it will never cease.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yes. Nor is it like the grade school version of bribery preferred by the conservative wing of the Supreme Court. Except for obtuse morons like Trump, it is more subtle and indirect; the gifted hide it without trace.

  15. harpie says:

    Ellis was the Judge for William Jefferson’s corruption case, from Tim Dickinson:
    [links to:] William Jefferson reports to Texas prison to begin 13-year sentence // May 4, 2012
    [quote] Virginia Federal Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presided over Jefferson’s six-week trial in 2009, had recommended Jefferson be assigned a prison camp near New Orleans. But the Bureau of Prisons, which makes the assignments, doesn’t normally assign inmates with sentences over 10 years to camp facilities and didn’t do so with Jefferson. […] After sentencing Jefferson to 13 years in prison in November, 2009, Ellis, an appointee of the late President Ronald Reagan, allowed Jefferson to remain free, under electronic monitor, while his appeals process moved forward. But after a three-judge appellate panel on March 26 rejected a plea by Jefferson’s lawyers for a new trial, Ellis revoked the $50,000 bail he had set for Jefferson and ordered him to begin his sentence by Friday at noon. […]
    Ellis, who said he hoped the punishment given Jefferson would serve as a “beacon” to warn other public officials not to succumb to corruption, gave him the longest corruption sentence ever for a member of Congress. It was five more years than another judge gave former Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-Calif., after he pled guilty to more egregious charges, steering lucrative defense contracts in return for bribes. […]

  16. Thulla says:

    It seems like a worthy exercise to catalogue Ellis’s sentencing in similar cases to this point — Jackson’s too. A lot of chatter is emerging out there about his bias against poor, non-white defendants. If ABJ throws him to the clink for any more than 5 years (a good bet), the WH spin will likely pitch two different federal judges against each other. A clear record of both trends could be helpful in cutting through that spin.

    I wish I were expert enough to do that, but I’m not. And it sounds like an awful lot of work. Still, MSNBC is floating rumors among prosecuters about Ellis’s bias. It would be good to work on more than rumors.

  17. OmAli says:

    Just recalled something odd about Coats. He and Mike Rogers refused to answer questions about the Comey firing. They were asked by committee members, during either a Senate or House inquiry, what Trump had told them about his motivations. Both refused to answer, and neither, even when asked repeatedly by increasingly frustrated members, would give the reason why. It seemed very strange.

    • Omali says:

      To edit my comment, I was mistaken. It wasn’t about the Comey firing. Coats and Rogers refused to say whther or not Trump pressured them to downplay the Mueller probe. From the Politico article:

      “Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, NSA Director Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats repeatedly stonewalled when asked about news reports that Trump asked each of them to downplay or refute the FBI’s probe, which is examining whether Trump’s associates colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.”

      What seemed odd was that they wouldn’t tell the committee on what grounds they wouldn’t answer the questions.

  18. Rusharuse says:

    No pundit got within 6 mebe 10 years of the Mano forte sentence. Worrisome that!

    If the rule they followed led them to this, then what use is the rule?
    Anton Chigurh

  19. harpie says:

    Quinta Jurecic @qjurecic, who is now calling herself “otherwise blameless”
    recommends: “I’m a federal judge and I’m smarter than you” >>>
    >>> APPOINTED FOREVER, by the Bar and Grille Singers. [VIDEO]
    Yesterday, Susan Simpson tweeted:

    [quote] Years ago I was on a case before Ellis, and a senior attorney who’d been practicing in EDVA forever made a comment about him that I keep thinking of now: “As long as you let him feel like he’s the smartest MAN in the room, everything will go fine.” [emphasis added] [end quote]

    • harpie says:

      WARNING: don’t listen to this video unless you want to be humming “Happy Together” for the rest of the day.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Judge T.S. Ellis (Princeton, Harvard Law, Magdalen College, Oxford) likes to be considered the smartest guy in the room, a trait as common in DC as the cold. In choosing the phrase, “the otherwise blameless life” of Paul Manafort, the engineering, naval aviator and legal mind of Judge Ellis had to reject competing phrases that were not quite right: short happy life, wonderful life, purpose driven life, double life, corrupt and wasteful life.

    With his choice of words, Ellis identifies with Paulie and his Beltway peers. That strikes me as cultural affinity more than overt bias, a kind of he’s-one-of-us English class snobbery, the kind that condemned the Clintons on their arrival in DC for not kowtowing to the social elite who were there before them.

    Like Trump and Roy Cohn, Ellis may admire those who “get away with it” more than he does their victims. He may feel, like the Good Shepherd, that this is his court, his town and his country, and the rest of us are just visiting. Or, he may simply agree with Poppy Bush, who said of investigations into his Iran-Contra teammates (several of whom he pardoned before leaving the White House) that the prosecutors were attempting to “criminalize politics”.

    Whatever his reasons, Ellis’s phrase, like Bush’s, will keep the not yet retired senior judge in the news for some time, and give him another reason to politely ask his neighbors to get off his lawn.

    • AitchD says:

      Right. The “otherwise blameless life” is code for “Thank you for your service. Without ratfuckers like you I wouldn’t be here today.”

  21. Rapier says:

    Other than here I have not seen this story or issue mentioned anywhere. The Democrats on the panel are not talking about it outside the hearing room as far as I know so it follows nobody else is either. This wheel isn’t squeaking and that must be intentional.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    America does, indeed, have a mass incarceration problem. It puts people in prison as fast as it spends money on the Pentagon. It imprisons at a rate and for a length of time beyond any other country. Like the war on drugs, which is a part of it, the system is intentionally and painfully racist. Prison conditions, including much too frequent solitary confinement (which observers consider torture), are often brutal and grossly unfair: prisoners are charged for basic services and are forced to work in slave-labor like conditions.

    But Paul Manafort is not a victim here. He is the last convicted felon who should be used as a poster child for reforming that system.

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